Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
October 2, 2020

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The spread of COVID-19 across California and the country is impacting everyone’s personal and professional lives. To ensure you are receiving the most up to date and pertinent information, Weideman Group is closely monitoring actions being taken by the state (Governor, Legislature, regulatory agencies) and the federal government. We will be sharing the most significant COVID-19 information with you on a periodic basis. Here is a summary of important information from this past week. 

POTUS and First Lady Test Positive for Coronavirus

President Tests Positive - President Donald Trump and First Lady Milania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday. The President is receiving care at Walter Read medical center. This comes with the General Election just a month away, raising questions about the implications of this news, including the effect it may have on the confirmation process for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. There have been 11 positive tests identified in the White House. Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife tested negative for the virus. Vice President Pence and the second lady have also tested negative.

California Statistics

California continues to improve and positivity testing rates continue to be below 3%. New cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations from the virus in California continue to decline in the latest data released by state and local health departments. THESE are the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health.

Newsom Administration

As the state improves on the COVID-19 front, Governor Newsom shifts his focus to the wildfires. California COVID numbers are on a steady downward trend, allowing additional counties and economic sectors to begin reopening, but wildfires are raging in Northern California. Here is a recap of recent actions and announcements:

  • State of Emergency - Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties due to the Glass and Zogg fires. The Governor reassured citizens that the state has sufficient resources to continue to fight the wildfires. 
  • Iger Resigns Economic Task Force - Disney Chairman Bob Iger has resigned from Governor Newsom’s economic recovery task force following tension over the reopening of Disney theme parks in California. This comes as Disney announces plans to lay off 28,000 employees as a result of harm to their business due to the pandemic induced economic recession, with no plan for the reopening of theme parks in California in sight. 
  • Executive Orders Codified - Governor Newsom has signed numerous bills that codify some of the actions he previously took via executive order. The Governor signed the following bills that supersede some executive orders: AB 1857 on paid sick leave, SB 1159 on workers’ compensation, and AB 860 and SB 423 on elections. 
  • Equity Metric - Governor Newsom and his CHHS Secretary, Dr. Ghaly, have been speaking about the development of an Equity Metric designed to increase focus and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among disproportionately impacted communities. 
  • Project Homekey Awards - Governor Newsom announced that $137 million has been awarded to projects under Project Homekey. This is the third round of awards under the program designed to help local jurisdictions address homelessness. The Governor has additionally requested $200 million from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee to continue to invest in the program. 
  • Native American Action - Governor Newsom, on Native American Day, announced several policies his Administration will be taking to examine and address the historical wrongdoings committed against Native Americans. These policies and directives include co-management and access to ancestral lands, identifying and redressing racist names, and the release of a Digital Atlas of California Native Americans. He also announced that he signed a number of bills, including SB 869 that codifies tribal-state gaming compacts. Congratulations to Mooretown Rancheria of Maidu Indians, a Weideman Group client, on the successful enactment of their compact with the state. 
  • Prison Closure - Governor Newsom announced during a criminal justice bill signing ceremony that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will be closing down the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy by September 30, 2021.  
  • U.S. EPA Response - Governor Newsom received a letter from the United States Environmental Protection Agency in response to his transportation-climate change executive order, which seeks to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. The EPA letter questioned the legality of the Governor’s order.
  • HEROES Act Statement - Governor Newsom issued a statement on the updated HEROES Act introduced by House Democrats. The Governor applauded the proposed $436 billion in funds for state and local governments in the measure.
  • Joint Statement - Governor Newsom joined governors from Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Virginia, Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico in issuing a joint statement on recent reports on threats to circumvent the upcoming November General Election. 
  • County Status - Every week the state updates the list of counties on the 4 colored tiers that allow for various degrees of modified business operation as part of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. This week, there was significant movement of counties into less restrictive tiers, which in turn will allow additional sectors to open back up. The most recent updates leaves the counties standing at:

Purple: 18 counties

Red: 23 counties

Orange: 14 counties

Yellow:  3 counties

 California Legislature 

Important Dates:

  • November 3 – General Election
  • December 7 – 2021-22 Legislative Session Begins

2020 Legislative Session Concludes with Governor’s Actions on Bills. The deadline for the Governor to sign or veto bills was on September 30th. The Legislature sent Governor Newsom a total of 428 bills during the last few weeks of session (in 2019 the Legislature sent him over 1,200 bills). Out of the 428 bills that hit the Governor’s desk, he signed 372 and vetoed 56. The Governor held a number of Zoom signing ceremonies for select bills, including AB 376 the Student Borrower Bill of Rights and AB 1196 banning the use of the chokehold by law enforcement. Other noteworthy bills that the Governor signed include AB 890 authorizing full practice authority for nurse practitioners, SB 275 mandating PPE stockpiles, and AB 979 requiring corporate boards to diversify. These bills represent wins for multiple Weideman Group clients. 

Assembly Budget holds informational hearing on public health data and CalREDIE. The Assembly Budget Subcommittee 6 on Budget Process and Program Evaluation held a hearing this week that focused on the state’s public health guidance and the California Reportable Disease Information Ex. The committee heard from the Department of Public Health and the Department of Technology about the new county tier system and received a status update on CalREDIE, the system the state uses to collect and aggregate data on all communicable diseases, including COVID-19. A couple of months ago, Governor Newsom announced that CalREDIE had been experiencing severe technical issues that led to the underreporting of positive cases and hampered the ability for the state system to pass along information to the local public health departments. The Health and Human Services Agency and Department of Technology have since awarded a $15 million contract to OptumHealth to enhance the data tool. There are still many concerns being expressed by stakeholders and legislators alike about the ability to share the necessary information in a timely manner with county officials and providers. 

Senate to conduct oversight and informational COVID-19 and energy related hearings. The Senate is scheduled to hold three different hearings in the coming weeks 1) the Senate Special Select Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response will be meeting on October 7 for an oversight hearing on Workplace Health and Safety Issues During the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2) the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Subcommittee on Gas, Electric and Transportation Safety will be meeting on October 13 for an informational hearing on Gas Safety Retrospective: A Decade Since San Bruno, and 3) the Senate Labor and Employment Committee will be meeting on October 14 for an informational hearing on Moving Beyond Crisis: An Exploration of Ongoing and Future Efforts by EDD to Address the COVID-19 Crisis.

 Regulatory Agencies and Department Actions

Multiple departments provide updates on their efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and the wildfires. Here are some highlights:

  • DCA Waiver - The Department of Consumer Affairs issued an order extending time to satisfy examination requirements for a number of professions, including doctors of chiropractic. 
  • Flex Alert - The California Independent System Operator (ISO) issued a statewide Flex Alert, on October 1, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. to prepare for possible energy shortages due to an unusually warm beginning of October.
  • DMV License Extension - The California Department of Motor Vehicles is extending expiring licenses until December 31. This extension covers commercial licenses, learners permits, and endorsements that expire between March and December. This extension is in accordance with recently updated guidelines by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 
  • SBA Disaster Loans - The Small business Administration has issued 124 disaster loans to businesses and individuals that were victims of the August wildfire. 
  • Earthquake Campaign - The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) announced the launch of a public awareness campaign to educate all California residents about California’s innovative earthquake warning system — Earthquake Warning California.
  • Texas Firefighters - 165 firefighters from Texas that have been battling California wildfires are returning home and being replaced after a 2 week deployment. 
  • Glass Fire Federal Assistance - The State of California has secured a federal grant to fight the Glass Fire in Napa County. 
  • Zogg Fire Federal Assistance - The State of California has secured a federal grant to fight the Zogg Fire in Napa County.

Federal Government

House passes updated HEROES Act but a deal still appears elusive. On Thursday, the Democratic led House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package. Although the House passed this package, there is still no bipartisan agreement. Next week is the Senate’s last week in Washington before the election and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated the last week will be focused on the confirmation of the President’s Supreme Court nominee. Below is a recap of additional federal actions: 

  • Supreme Court Nominee - President Trump has chosen Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court to fill the vacant seat left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With the nomination of Barrett highly politicized before the election, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell signaled he is open to confirming her in a lame duck session. 
  • Defense Production Act - President Trump issued an executive order employing the Defense Production Act to bolster the domestic mining industry. 
  • No Sail Order Extended - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention extended the “no sail order” for cruise ships through October 31, 2020. 

Local Action

Local governments continue to take actions they deem appropriate given their unique circumstances. Here are some highlights:

  • L.A. Openings - Los Angeles County will be allowing malls, nail salons, and playgrounds to reopen. 
  • San Francisco Indoor Dining - San Francisco will allow indoor dining to resume after the county was reclassified to a lower restrictive tier.
  • San Diego Schools Reopening - San Diego Unified School District will allow some students to return to in-person instruction on October 13. 
  • Grocery Stores Fined - Grocery stores in the Los Angeles area have been fined for not meeting proper COVID-19 safety measures.

Resources

  • California Coronavirus Response website can be found here
  • California Department of Public Health guidance documents can be found here
  • California COVID-19 risk screening and testing can be found here
  • California Local Public Health Authority information can be found here
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 updates can be found here
  • Looking for ways to help your community? Visit this site here