Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
Oct 30, 2020

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California Statistics

California sees a modest increase in positivity testing rates. New cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations from the virus in California are on the rise in the latest data released by state and local health departments. This puts California on a track similar to what we are seeing in other parts of the country, although not quite as pronounced. THESE are the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health.

Newsom Administration

Governor Newsom unveils the Perkin Elmer testing lab. Governor Newsom announced the opening of the PerkinElmer lab in Valencia designed to significantly expand the state’s testing capacity. The lab will be fully operational by March 2021, will have the capacity to run 150,000 PCR tests, give results within 48 hours with a goal of eventually turning results around within 24 hours, and will theoretically drive the cost per test down. Currently, the cost per test is $150. The opening of this facility is estimated to drive the cost per test down to $30.78 once fully operational. The Governor also noted that there will be testing modalities that will allow for testing for both the flu and COVID-19. Below is a recap of additional actions and announcements:

  • Project Roomkey Update - Governor Newsom announced the seventh and last round of awards to nine jurisdictions. This last round totals $129.6 million for 17 projects totaling 932 housing units.
  • Omnibus Executive Order - Governor Newsom issued an executive order addressing an array of issues impacted by COVID-19. These include the creation of a process for issuing temporary permits to expand outdoor dining options, allowing people 70 years of age or older to renew their drivers’ licenses by mail, extending provisions related to deadlines for the payment of real estate license application and renewal fees, and continuing education requirements for licensees. The text of the order can be found here.
  • On the Record - Governor Newsom released his latest “On the Record” column highlighting resources and protections for renters in California experiencing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The column can be found here.
  • States Join Vaccine Safety - Governor Newsom announced that Nevada, Oregon, and Washington will join California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to ensure that a COVID-19 vaccine is safe for the public when it becomes available.
  • Blue Ridge Wildfire Assistance - Governor Newsom announced that California has secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) from FEMA to suppress the Blue Ridge Fire burning in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
  • Silverado Fire Assistance - Governor Newsom announced that California has secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) from FEMA to suppress the Silverado Fire burning in Orange County.
  • Amicus Brief - Governor Newsom announced that the state has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in People v. McDaniel, a case before the court that involves racial bias.
  • Larry Itliong Day - Governor Newsom issued a proclamation declaring October 25, 2020 Larry Itliong Day. The text of the proclamation can be found here.
  • 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 will allow additional sectors to open back up. The most recent updates leave the counties’ tier status as follows:

Purple: 9 counties

Red: 22 counties

Orange: 17 counties

Yellow:  10 counties

Election

It’s the Friday before Election Day! President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden continue to focus on Midwest battleground states today, with both candidates holding events in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Biden continues to hold an advantage in national polls while the race appears to be narrowing in several battleground states including Pennsylvania and Arizona. We are currently on track for over 100 million votes cast BEFORE election Election Day, which would nearly be double the number of advance ballots cast in 2016.

California Legislature
 
Important Dates:

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

Members of the Legislature are using the interim recess to hold numerous hearings on timely issues affecting Californians. Below is a brief recap:

  • The Senate Education Committee and the Special Select Committee on Pandemic Response held a joint hearing on K-12 distance learning. On hand to testify were representatives from school districts, a representative of the telecommunications industry, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and California Public Utilities Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves. Topics discussed were device procurement, the inadequacy of current internet infrastructure, and how to improve infrastructure in the state.
  • The Assembly Budget Subcommittee 2 on Education held an informational hearing on safely reopening public schools. On hand to testify were representatives from school districts, the California Department of Public Health, the Department of Finance, and the Legislative Analysts’ Office. Topics discussed included state guidance for in-person instruction, hybrid model best practices, and testing.
  • The Assembly Health Committee held an informational hearing on health care affordability. On hand to testify were representatives of the healthcare industry and experts from UC Hastings Law School and the Pardee RAND Graduate School. This hearing continued the conversation on controlling escalating health care costs in California by adopting best practices from other states and establishing an Office of Health Care Affordability. This was the first of several hearing the Committee has planned on this topic.
  • The Assembly Budget Subcommittee 6 on Budget Process Oversight and Program Evaluation held an informational hearing on COVID-19 in skilled nursing facilities. On hand to testify were representatives from the California Department of Public Health, The Department of Health Care Services, Weideman Group client SEIU, and the Association of Health Facilities. Topics discussed included staffing challenges, state fiscal and regulatory oversight, and vaccination distribution efforts at skilled nursing facilities.

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

  • Monday, November 9 – The Assembly Natural Resources Committee will hold an informational hearing on expanding the use of prescribed fire including cultural burning to reduce California’s wildfire risk
  • Tuesday, November 10 – The Assembly Committee on Health will hold an informational hearing on health information exchange
  • Tuesday, November 10 – The Assembly Budget Subcommittee 6 and Governmental Organization Committee will hold a joint oversight hearing to provide an update on the state’s COVID-19 response
  • Tuesday, November 17 – The Assembly Health Committee will hold an informational hearing on health care industry consolidation and its impact on California’s health care prices
  • Tuesday, November 17 – The Assembly Labor and Employment Committee will hold an informational hearing on safeguarding our frontline workers during COVID-19
  • Tuesday, November 17 – The Senate Human Services Committee will hold an informational hearing on food assistance for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic

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:

  • Becerra Leads Coalition - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading a coalition of states to encourage federal funding for scientific and medical research during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  • Trinity Mobile Intake - A FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center opened Thursday, Oct. 29, in Trinity County to serve August Complex wildfire survivors.
  • Scam Advisory - Cal OES and FEMA are warning wildfire victims of scams and urge them to report suspicious activity.
  • Mendocino Mobile Intake - A FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center opened in Mendocino County to serve wildfire survivors.
  • Prepositioned Resources - In preparation of dangerous fire weather conditions across the state, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services strategically positioned critical fire resources in nine counties across the state.
  • Wildfire Victim Assistance - A FEMA assistance program is available to homeowners and renters in Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, Napa, San Bernardino, San Diego, Shasta, Siskiyou and Sonoma counties, that are covered in the Oct. 16, 2020, federal disaster declaration.

Federal Government

Senate adjourns for the time being without a COVID-19 relief package. Senator Mitch McConnell decided to adjourn the Senate until November 9 after the Senate formally  confirmed Amy Coney Barret as the newest Justice to the Supreme Court. While the White House has signaled its willingness to pass a package above $1 trillion, Senate Republican leadership have stated they are not willing to pass a package that large citing fiscal concerns. In a recent letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Speaker Nancy Pelosi lists all the areas that remain unresolved in the negotiations. The results of the election are likely to influence whether the Senate reconvenes and if the stimulus discussions will advance.

 Local Action

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

  • OC Childcare Fund - Orange County has set up a $5 million fund for local childcare providers.
  • San Francisco Waives Fees - The City of San Francisco is waiving fees for nightclubs, bars, and music venues as their revenues plummet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • San Diego Digital Divide - The San Diego Foundation announced it is donating an additional $1 million to help provide internet access to students across the county.
  • SoCal Alliance - The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a report that called on the county to seek an alliance with other Southern California counties and collectively put pressure on Sacramento to change it’s reopening strategy.

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