Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
November 20, 2020

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California sees record infection rates as cases surge. New cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations in California continue their rise according to the latest data released by state and local health departments. This is consistent with the rest of the country, which is experiencing record 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 four 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 more restrictive tiers, including Sacramento County,  which will force sectors to close or significantly cut back operations. The most recent updates leave the counties’ tier status as follows:

  • Purple: 41 counties 
  • Red: 11 counties 
  • Orange: 4 counties 
  • Yellow:  2 counties

Newsom Administration

California institutes limited stay-at-home order in an attempt to get transmissions under control as cases surge. Governor Newsom and his Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly, announced a limited stay at home order that goes into effect this Saturday, November 21 and will last through December 21 (but could be extended). Under the order, counties in the purple tier will have to cease non-essential business operations between the hours of 10:00 pm and 5:00 am. During these hours residents will still be permitted to visit grocery and drug stores, pick up takeout, and walk their dog. This follows Monday’s announcement that the state is “pulling the emergency brake,” putting 41 counties in the most restrictive “purple tier”, representing 95% of the state’s population. The Governor also found himself facing criticism this week for attending a dinner at Napa Valley’s French Laundry restaurant with a sizable group that was not wearing masks. Below is a recap of additional actions and announcements:

  • Jobs Recovery Report - Governor Gavin Newsom announced that his Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery  released the “Recovery for All” report. The report outlines key priorities and challenges in the state’s fight against COVID-19 and ongoing work to rebuild the economy. The report can be found here
  • California Rebuilding Fund - Governor Newsom announced the California Rebuilding Fund, which will support California’s small businesses by offering flexible, affordable capital and free advisory services through community-based lenders
  • Mono Fire Emergency - Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation for Mono County due to the effects of the Mountain View Fire. The text of the proclamation can be found here
  • Native American Heritage Month - Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring November 2020 as “Native American Heritage Month” in the State of California. The text of the proclamation can be found here.
  • Klamath Dam Removal -  California Governor Newsom was joined by Oregon Governor Kate Brown, leaders of the Yurok and Karuk Tribes and PacifiCorp to announce the removal of dams on the Klamath River. 
  • Project Roomkey Funding - Governor Gavin Newsom announced plans to direct $62 million in one-time funds from the State’s Disaster Response Emergency Operations Account to counties around the state to continue providing housing to current Project Roomkey participants.

Budget

This week, the Legislative Analysts’ Office, released a report on the fiscal outlook that details a one-time windfall of $26 billion for the state. However, the report also states that California is continuing to face significant projected deficits in subsequent budget years. Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins also released a statement listing a number of priorities including restoring funding to programs that were part of the trigger cuts, assisting local governments, homelessness and emergency preparedness. Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon released a similar statement outlining assembly priorities for utilizing the additional funds. The Speakers priorities include funding the Employment Development Department, safely reopening schools, improving worker protections, and the continued response to the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Newsom will release his first budget proposal in January. In his weekly press conferences, the Governor has stated he is looking to help small businesses struggling during this pandemic. 

The Department of Finance released an interim fiscal update on coronavirus relief funds. California received $15.3 billion in coronavirus relief funds from the Federal Government in March, with $9.5 billion allocated to the state and $5.8 billion to counties and cities with populations over 500,000. They also released the November Finance Bulletin. The bulletin states that unemployment continues to decline and California is $11.332 billion above the 2020-2021 budget act forecast of $52.552 billion.

California Legislature 

Important Dates:

  • December 7 – 2021-22 Legislative Session Begins
  • January 4 – Legislature Reconvenes
  • January 10 – Governor Must Submit January Budget
  • February 19 – Bill Introduction Deadline

Legislative leadership announces new Legislative Counsel. Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon and President Pro-Tem of the Senate Toni Atkins jointly announced their selection of Cara Jenkins as their candidate to be the next Legislative Counsel for the California State Legislature. Jenkins has over 10 years experience working in the Legislative Counsel’s office. Her candidacy will be voted on by both houses of the Legislature on December 7 when the next session convenes.

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

  • Tuesday, November 17 – The Assembly Health Committee held an informational hearing on health care industry consolidation and its impact on California’s health care prices. On hand to testify were representatives of the Department of Justice, the Department of Managed Health Care, and an expert on healthcare price and competition. 
  • Tuesday, November 17 – The Assembly Labor and Employment Committee held an informational hearing on safeguarding our frontline workers during COVID-19. On hand to testify were representatives from the Legislative Analyst’s’ Office, Cal OSHA, California Labor Agency, the California Labor Federation, and the UFCW Western States Council. 
  • Tuesday, November 17 – The Senate Human Services Committee held an informational hearing on food assistance for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. On hand to testify were representatives from the Legislative Analysts’ Office, the California Department of Social Services, Central California Foodbank, and the Office of Emergency Services. 
  • Wednesday, November 18 – The Assembly Agriculture Committee held an informational hearing on the impacts of wildfires on agriculture. On hand to testify were representatives from CalFire, the University of California, the California Farm Bureau, California Cattlemen Association, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Upcoming legislative hearings. The Assembly and Senate have announced several additional legislative hearings scheduled during the interim. Below are some of the hearings scheduled:

  • Monday, November 23 – The Assembly Select Committee on Police Reform will hold an informational hearing on setting better standards for police. 
  • Monday, November 23 – The Senate Health Committee will hold a hearing on the role of private insurance in COVID care. 
  • Monday, November 23 – The Senate Governance and Finance Committee and the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee will hold a joint healing informational on a state bank.

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:

  • Holiday Guidance - The California Department of Public Health released guidelines for how best to safely enjoy the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. 
  • DIR Emergency Action - The Department of Industrial Relations Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board unanimously approved requirements as part of a broader package of protections aimed at protecting millions of workers from getting coronavirus on the job. 
  • CHP Commissioner - Governor Newsom swore in Amanda Ray as the new Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol. Ray is the first woman to lead the state law enforcement department in its 91 year history. 
  • COVID Fine - Cal OSHA issued a fine to a Farmer John plant for COVID-19 health safety violations. 
  • California Audit - A report released by the California State Auditor found that California has forfeited $2.7 billion that could have gone towards building affordable housing due to mismanagement. The report can be found here
  • Tree Removal - Butte County is starting the removal of hazardous trees as part of its wildfire mitigation and recovery efforts. 
  • Shasta County Intake Center - A FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center will be open this weekend in Shasta County to serve wildfire survivors. 
  • Lassen County Intake Center - A FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center opened to serve Lassen County wildfire survivors.

Federal Government

COVID-19 stimulus negotiations at a standstill. While COVID stimulus negotiations are not currently moving forward, talks on an end-of-year funding bill were happening.  It’s possible some existing COVID relief programs will be renewed in the funding bill. Congress has until December 11 to pass a funding plan to avoid a government shutdown.

Local Action

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

  • San Francisco Restrictions - With a surge of cases, San Francisco is implementing new restrictions to curb spread. Among other things, offices will be closed to nonessential workers and occupancy capacities in businesses will be reduced. 
  • LA Expands Testing - Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city will expand testing as COVID-19 cases surge. 
  • Anaheim Cuts Rent - The City of Anaheim announced that it will cut the rent on more than 1,000 middle-income apartments as residents struggle to make ends meet during the pandemic induced recession. 
  • Orange County In-Home Kits - Orange County will distribute thousands of free in-home COVID-19 testing kits that test saliva. 
  • LAX Testing - Los Angeles International Airport announced a program for testing fliers on site for COVID-19.   

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