Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
November 6, 2020
After a long and hard fought campaign season, the country took to the polls this past Tuesday to decide the next President of the United States. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country witnessed an election day unlike any other. Early returns showed President Donald Trump leading in several key states, but with no clear winner decided over the course of several days as counting continues in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. As of Friday afternoon, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is leading the count in all 4 of these states. Winning either Pennsylvania or Arizona and Nevada will clinch the 270 electoral votes Biden needs to become the President-Elect. The count currently stands at 253 electoral votes for Biden and 213 electoral votes for President Trump. It is possible the winner will be announced any moment now, however it may take longer for the contest to be officially decided. The Trump campaign has stated they will seek recounts in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin. The winner will be inaugurated on January 20, 2021.
Heading into Election Day, polls around the country predicted Democrats making big gains in both houses of Congress, however Election Day returns didn’t meet predictions. While still holding onto their majority in the chamber, Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives, with Republicans making gains in key races. In races called by NBC, Republicans have flipped a net six seats – with Democrats having won 208 seats and the GOP has carried 195. There are 32 seats that remain uncalled. In the US Senate, votes are still being counted but returns are showing that Republicans are likely to retain a slim majority in the upper house. Democrats defeated Republican Senators in Arizona and Colorado while Republicans picked up a seat in Alabama. Assuming Sens. Thom Tillis (NC) and Dan Sullivan (AK) hold on, as seems likely, Republicans will control at least 50 seats in the incoming Senate. However, BOTH of Georgia’s Senate seats are likely to be decided in runoff elections on January 5, which will ultimately decide the makeup of the Senate.
In California, it appears that Democrats will be expanding their supermajority in the Legislature. In the 40 member State Senate, there is a possibility of a Republican Caucus made up of only 7 members. Assemblymembers Susan Talamantes Eggman and Monique Limón will be joining the Senate. Senator Holly Mitchell won her election to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. This will likely create an electoral domino effect. Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager announced her intention to run for Mitchell’s Senate seat in a special election. If Kamlager wins that election, there will likely be a special election to fill her current District 54 Assembly seat. If current trends continue, new members to the State Senate will likely include Dave Min (D) who holds a 51.6% to 48.4% lead over incumbent John Moorlach ®, Josh Newman (D) who holds a 51.3% to 48.7% lead over Ling Ling Chang ®, Josh Becker (D), Dave Cortese (D), and John Laird (D). Current contests that remain much too close to call include:
- Senate District 21
Kipp Mueller (D) – 49.6%
Scott Wilk ® – 50.4% (Incumbent)
- Senate District 23
Abigail Medina (D) – 49.8%
Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh ® – 50.2%
In the Assembly, Democrats are also seeing their supermajority holding steady. The chamber will see the State’s youngest legislator, Alex Lee elected to fill the District 25 seat at the age of 25. Assemblymember Reggie Jones Sawyer (D) has fended off a challenge from the left in District 59 and Sabrina Cervantes (D) will hold her District 60 seat as will Steven Choi ®. New members to the Assembly will include Kathy Miller (D), Thurston Smith ®, Steve Bennett (D), Suzette Valladares (D), Lisa Calderon (D), Kelly Seyarto ®, Chris Ward (D), Laurie Davies ®, and Janet Nguyen ®.
This year, Californians decided 12 propositions on the ballot. Below are the results as they stand now:
- Proposition 14 – Bonds to Continue Stem Cell Research
Yes 51%, No 49%
- Proposition 15 – Split-roll Property Tax
Yes 48.3%, No 51.7%
- Proposition 16 – Affirmative Action in Government Decisions
Yes 43.9, No 56.1%
- Proposition 17 – Restores Right to Vote After Prison Term
Yes 59%, No 41%
- Proposition 18 – 17-year-old Primary Voting Rights
Yes 44.8%, No 55.2%
- Proposition 19 – Changes Certain Property Tax Rules
Yes 51.4%, No 48.6%
- Proposition 20 – Parole Restrictions for Certain Offenses
Yes 37.7%, 62.3%
- Proposition 21 – Expands Governments’ Authority to Rent Control
Yes 40.3%, No 59.7%
- Proposition 22 – App-Based Drivers and Employee Benefits
Yes 58.4%, No 41.6%
- Proposition 23 – State Requirements for Kidney Dialysis Clinics
Yes 36%, No 64%
- Proposition 24 – Amends Consumer Privacy Laws
Yes 56%, No 44%
- Proposition 25 – Eliminates Money Bail System
Yes 44.4%, No 55.6%
The latest election results on all California state contests can be found here. There are still an estimated 4.5 million ballots to be counted in California and the Secretary of State has 35 days left to certify the election by December 11, 2020.
California continues to see 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 in line with the rest of the country which is experiencing rapid growth. THESE are the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health.
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: 10 counties
- Red: 20 counties
- Orange: 19 counties
- Yellow: 9 counties
Judge rules against Newsom Administration on use of Executive Order. A Sutter County judge has ruled against Governor Newsom in a lawsuit brought by state Republican Assemblymembers James Gallagher and Kevin Kiley. The lawsuit centered around the that ordered every registered voter to be sent a vote-by-mail ballot for the November general election. The Governor cited a law that allows him to take action in the event of an emergency. The Judge ruled that the act only allows the Governor to suspend statute or regulation, but not create new laws as that is the constitutional role of the Legislature. During session, the Legislature codified the Governor’s Executive Order avoiding any question of the validity of those ballots that were sent, but the Governor has issued approximately 50 Executive Orders since the beginning of the Emergency that may be called into question. The Governor has committed to challenge the ruling.
- December 7 – 2021-22 Legislative Session Begins
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
- Wednesday, November 18 – The Assembly Agriculture Committee will hold an informational hearing on the impacts of wildfires on agriculture
- Monday, November 23 – The Senate Health Committee will hold a hearing on the role of private insurance in COVID care.
Here are updates on the state budget front:
- - The California Department of Finance released a memo outlining expenditure assumptions. Current expenditure assumptions for November 2020 are $9.8 billion, $2.5 billion over the August 2020 estimate of $7.3 billion.
- - The California Department of Finance has released a letter this week outlining expenditure reductions as the state continues to face a budget shortfall.
- - The Legislative Analysts’ Office released an update on the state’s expenditures on fighting 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:
- EDD Director to Retire - Director of the Employment Development Department Sharon Hilliard has stated that she is going to be retiring from the position. This comes as EDD has been in the spotlight for months over their backlog of unemployment claims and lack of a handle on fraud due to the volume of claims caused by the COVID-19 pandemic induced recession.
- EDD Claims - The California Employment Development Department has announced that its claims backlog has fallen below 1,000,000 claims.
- Insurance Protection - The California Insurance commissioner issued an order that will not allow insurance companies to drop homeowners insurance due to risk of wildfires.
- Los Angeles FEMA Center - A FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center will be open for three days, Friday-Sunday, Nov. 6-8, in Pearblossom, Calif., to assist Bobcat Fire survivors in Los Angeles County.
- San Bernardino FEMA Center - A FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center is open Saturday, Nov. 7, in San Bernardino County to serve El Dorado fire survivors for one day only.
- Trinity FEMA Center - A FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center in Trinity County to serve August Complex wildfire survivors will extend operations through Nov. 10. New hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Congress to reconvene after election week. With all eyes on the General election, Congress was not in session as members returned to their districts. Leaders of both houses have indicated a desire to work on a new stimulus and relief package for the country. Below is a recap of additional federal actions:
- Expanded Testing - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced an expansion of COVID-19 testing for lawmakers.
Local governments continue to take actions they deem appropriate given their unique circumstances. Here are some highlights:
- No Mask, No Service - The Los Angeles City Council has voted to allow businesses to turn away patrons without masks.
- Fresno Board to Isolate - The Fresno County Board of Supervisors will self quarantine after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
- Sacramento Warning - With cases in the county continuing to rise, Sacramento County health officials are asking people to avoid gatherings as the possibility of returning to the PURPLE tier looms, which will cause businesses that have reopened to close up again.
- San Diego Cases Continue to Rise - San Diego County continues to teeter on the edge of returning to the purple tier as they struggle to control their infection rate.
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
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