Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
October 9, 2020

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California Statistics

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

While COVID-19 is still a priority, we are seeing Governor Newsom shift his attention to other issues like climate change.  Governor Newsom issued a biodiversity executive order that builds off of his previous order that phases out gas-powered passenger cars by 2035. The newly released order focuses on biodiversity and using nature-based solutions to reach carbon neutrality. Notably, the EO establishes a state goal to conserve at least 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030, launches the California Biodiversity Collaborative, and stresses the role of natural and working lands as a pillar of California’s climate change strategy. The text of the executive order can be found here. Below is a recap of additional actions and announcements:

  • Project Homekey Awards - Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled the latest round of awards for Project Homekey, Friday. In a press conference that included southern California officials, the Governor announced an additional $147 million million in awards for 20 projects in 12 cities and counties, funding 1,109 rooms. Weideman Group client Blue Shield of California was recognized for its $20 million contribution to Project Homekey. 
  • Power Outages Analysis  - Immediately after the energy blackouts on August 14 and 15, Governor Newsom asked the energy agencies to conduct a root cause analysis detailing why the outages occurred.  A draft of that report was released this week and can be found here.  
  • Supreme Court Nominee - Governor Newsom nominated Judge Martin Jenkins to the vacant seat on the California State Supreme Court. Judge Jenkins will be the third Black man to serve on the court and the first openly gay man. 
  • First Counties Move Back - Governor Newsom’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, announced that Tehama and Shasta counties have become the first 2 counties to be moved back into a stricter tier under the state’s new Blueprint for a Safer Economy. This move is due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in those communities. 
  • 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 leave the counties standing at:

Purple: 16 counties

Red: 24 counties

Orange: 11 counties

Yellow:  7 counties

 California Legislature 

Important Dates:

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

Employment Development Department takes center stage.  This week, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee 4 on State Administration held an informational hearing on the report the Governor’s EDD strike team released.  As part of the Strike Team’s recommendations, EDD stopped processing new claims for two weeks in order to implement new processes designed to improve the unemployment insurance claims system. However, during the Assembly hearing it became evident that legislators are still frustrated about the fact that nearly 1.6 million claims remain unresolved. A legislative request for an EDD audit by the California State Auditor is still pending. A follow up hearing is expected once the State Auditor completes the audit. 

Senate Special Select Committee on Pandemic Response holds an oversight hearing focused on workplace health and safety issues.  The Senate’s Special Committee on Pandemic and Emergency Response, which was created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed hearings now that the legislative session is over and legislative action has slowed. This week’s hearing focused on workplace safety where issues such as PPE availability, testing, contact tracing, and state enforcement were discussed. The Committee heard from numerous state representatives (Department of Industrial Relations, Cal OSHA, and the Department of Public Health) and from an array of front line workers and their representatives (UFCW, UFW, nurses, and garment workers). 

Upcoming legislative hearings. The Assembly and Senate have several hearings scheduled during the interim. Here’s a list highlighting some of the currently scheduled hearings:

  • Monday, October 12 – Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee will hold and oversight hearing on the August electricity outages
  • Tuesday, October 13 – Senate Utilities, Energy and Communications Committee and Subcommittee on Gas, Electric and Transportation Safety will be holding an informational hearing on gas safety a decade after San Bruno
  • Wednesday, October 14 – Assembly Communications and Conveyance and Education Committees will hold a joint informational hearing on student access to the internet for distance learning
  • Wednesday, October 14 – Assembly Select Committee on Police Reform will hold its inaugural hearing on the history of police reform 
  • Tuesday, October 20 – Assembly Budget Subcommittee 3 on Resources and Transportation will hold an informational hearing on wildfire mitigation measures
  • Monday, October 26 – Senate Special Committee on Pandemic and Emergency Response will hold an oversight hearing on K-12 distance learning

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:

  • EDD Verification Tool - After closing for new claims for two weeks, the Employment Development Department announced a new identity verification tool to fight fraudulent unemployment claims. 
  • Disaster Unemployment Extended - The Employment Development Department is extending the deadline to file Disaster Unemployment Assistance for those affected by the wildfires to November 30. 
  • Aid Deadline Extended - Cal OES announced that the deadline for survivors of August wildfires to register with FEMA for individual disaster assistance and apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has been extended to Nov. 21.
  • Sonoma FEMA Intake to Close - Cal OES announced that a FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center serving wildfire survivors in Sonoma County for nearly three weeks will close Saturday, Oct. 10.
  • Intake Center in Livermore -  Cal OES announced that a FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center serving SCU Lighting Complex wildfire survivors will operate Oct. 8-12 outside of Livermore.
  • Local Assistance Center Opens in Tulare - Cal OES announced the opening of a new Local Assistance Center (LAC) in addition to those centers already operating in other counties to aid wildfire survivors. 
  • Santa Cruz FEMA Registration Center - Cal OES announced that a FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center serving wildfire survivors in Santa Cruz County will operate through Oct. 21. 
  • Survivor Legal Aid - Cal OES announced that wildfire survivors in Butte, Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties are eligible for free legal aid to help with disaster-related legal concerns.

Federal Government

White House halts then restarts stimulus talks. Shortly after being released from Walter Reed Hospital where he was being treated for COVID-19, President Trump ordered members of his staff to halt negotiations on a stimulus package with congressional Democrats but the President has since said the conversations should continue.  Top economic officials, including the Chair of the Federal Reserve, have voiced the importance of another package. It is uncertain whether a deal can actually be reached before the November General Election. No relief bill will leave states, including California who faced a $54 billion budget deficit, with the responsibility to cut additional programs in the next fiscal year. Below is a recap of additional federal actions:

  • Presidential Debate Cancelled - Earlier this week, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the second debate scheduled to occur on October 15 would be virtual due to the President contracting COVID-19. President Trump stated he would not participate in a virtual debate. After back and forth between the campaigns with no compromise agreed upon, the second debate has been cancelled, the commission announced Friday afternoon.  The third debate is still scheduled for October 22. 
  • Presidential Panel - House Democrats introduced legislation to create a permanent panel to determine the President’s capacity to serve, invoking the 25th Amendment. This comes as questions arise about the President’s capacity while undergoing treatment for COVID-19.
  • President Trump Released from Hospital - After being hospitalized for COVID-19, President Trump has been released back to the White House where he will isolate at the residence. 
  • Joint Chiefs Isolate - After the Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard tested positive for COVID-19, all but one member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are self-isolating at home for 14 days. This has raised concerns from top national security officials as it may leave the country vulnerable to adversaries.

Local Action

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

  • LA Allows Breweries and Wineries to Reopen - Los Angeles County has revised its public health order allowing for further openings in various sectors.  
  • OC Health Agency Recommends Reopening Theme Parks - The Orange County Public Health agency has stated their belief that it is safe for Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm to reopen. The Governor has repeatedly said he does not believe theme parks are ready to reopen.
  • Chula Vista Pushes Back Reopening - Chula Vista will postpone the reopening of elementary schools following concerns from teachers.   
  • Riverside Revises Reopening Plan - The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday in favor of a revised COVID-19 reopening plan, a modified version of a proposal that would have put the county on a faster track to reopening than the state recommends.

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