Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
January 8, 2021
Governor Newsom unveils 2021-2022 budget proposal that includes significant focus on pandemic response. Governor Newsom released his 2021-2022 budget proposal totaling $227.2 billion. California’s budgetary stability has taken a significant hit due to the pandemic induced recession. However, the Department of Finance still estimates a $15 billion budget surplus, which is a much more conservative estimate than the $26 billion number previously released by the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office. The fiscal outlook for future years is more dire with a deficit of $7.6 billion projected for 2022-23 that is forecast to grow to over $11 billion by 2024-25. The Governor’s budget includes a number of items and initiatives aimed at addressing the impacts of COVID-19 (vaccine distribution, school reopening, small business relief, and more), mostly one-time expenditures, proposals to stimulate the economy, revamp initiatives that were put on the back burner last year, and augmentations to the Rainy Day Fund and other reserves. Here are some of the top line items released today:
- $2 billion for safe school reopenings
- $2.4 billion for a one-time $600 payment to CalEIT recipients
- $2.5 billion for COVID testing
- $300 million for vaccine distribution
- $1.5 billion for infrastructure and incentives to implement the state’s zero-emission vehicle goals
- $4.5 billion for job recovery (small business grants, business fee waivers, and more)
- Implementing the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) initiative
- Creating the Office of Health Care Affordability
- Requiring health plans, providers and others to participate in a health information exchange
- Investments for wildfires preparedness, such as $143 million for new fire crews
The Governor is asking for $5 billion in immediate action by the legislature.
- $2 billion for safely reopening schools
- $575 million in small business grants
- $71 million in fee waivers for small business
- $2.4 billion for the Golden State Stimulus
In his press conference, the Governor stated that the state may exceed the Gann Limit, the legal limit of money the state can spend, by an estimated $102 million. Additional budget activity includes the following:
- Golden State Stimulus - Governor Newsom is proposing to give a $600 payment to recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit and extend the state’s eviction moratorium while expediting the distribution of $2.6 billion of federal rental assistance to low-income tenants.
- Equitable Recovery - Governor Gavin Newsom previewed the Equitable Recovery for California’s Businesses and Jobs plan, the business and workforce recovery elements of his 2021-22 State Budget that are designed to help California through the COVID-19 pandemic and advance an equitable, broad-based recovery.
California COVID-19 Statistics
Unprecedented surge continues. New cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations in California continue their rise according to the latest data released by state and local health departments. These are the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health:
- New Cases
- 7-day average of 39,439 new cases
- 14-day average of 37,597 new cases
- 7-day average of 367
- 14-day average of 328
- 21,855 Current COVID-19 Hospitalizations
- 14-day average of 20,686
- 4,812 Current COVID-19 ICU Admissions
- 14-day average of 4,464
- 1,147 ICU beds available
- Positivity Rate
- 7-day positivity rate of 14%
- 14-day positivity rate of 13.3%
Region Status - California is divided into 5 regions for determining the Governor’s mandatory 3 week stay-at-home order. When any given region’s ICU bed capacity falls below 15%, the stay-at-home order is triggered. As of today, 98% of California’s population is under the order, with only the Northern California region demonstrating capacity consistently above 15%. Below are the current ICU capacity numbers for the 5 regions:
- Northern California: 7.5% ICU Capacity
- Greater Sacramento Area: 6.4% ICU Capacity
- San Joaquin Valley: 0% ICU Capacity
- Bay Area: 3% ICU Capacity
- Southern California: 0% ICU Capacity
Vaccine distribution off to a slow start. 586,379 of the over 2 million COVID vaccine doses distributed to California have been administered to date, primarily to health care workers and nursing home residents and staff. The Drafting Guidelines Workgroup and the Community Vaccine Advisory Committee are in the process of drawing up guidelines for phases 1B and 1C of vaccine distribution. Information on the vaccine allocation prioritization for phase 1A can be found here. More information on California’s vaccine efforts can be found here. A breakdown of doses allocated across the state can be found here.
Nationally, 4,060,225 doses have been distributed through the federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens for vaccination in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. Of those, 693,246 first doses have been administered.
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:
- Travel Advisory - The California Department of public Health is recommending that Californians should avoid nonessential travel to no more than 120 miles from their residence and self quarantine for 10 days upon their return.
- Driving Test - The Department of Motor Vehicles is suspending behind the wheel driving tests through February 1, 2021.
- Hospital Transfer - The California Department of Public Health has issued an order that Hospitals must accept transfers from hospitals that are out of intensive care beds.
Assembly to hold first budget hearing of 2021. Following the rollout of the Governor’s Budget proposal, the Assembly Budget Committee will be holding an informational hearing on Monday, January 11 at 2:30 pm on the proposal. Both houses of the state legislature are scheduled to reconvene on January 11th for the 2021 session.
President-elect Biden’s Administration continues to take shape. Below is a recap of additional recent actions:
- Attorney General - President-elect Joe Biden has selected Merrick Garland to be his Attorney General. Garland was a President Obama nominee to the Supreme Court that was not considered by the Senate.
- Labor Secretary - President-elect Joe Biden has selected Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be his labor secretary.
- Commerce Secretary - President-elect Joe Biden has selected Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to be his commerce secretary.
- U.S. Small Business Administrator - President-elect Joe Biden has selected Isabel Guzman to head the U.S. Small Business Administration. Guzman has been the Director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate since 2019.
- Georgia Wins - In the Georgia special election, Democrat candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated Republican candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, which will hand control of the United States Senate to Democrats.
Unprecedented descent on Capitol Hill. The United States Capitol was temporarily taken over by protestors when Congress was in a joint session certifying the results of the Electoral College. Congressional members and staff had to seek shelter from riots for several hours but were ultimately able to certify the votes for President Elect Biden hours later. There were also preliminary discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the President from office. Impeachment is also being discussed by Congressional leaders, but with President Elect Biden set to be sworn in on January 20th there is little time to effectuate such an effort.
- 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