Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
January 15, 2021
COVID-19 infections are beginning to plateau but the strain on hospital capacity still remains an issue across the state, with the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California at 0% ICU capacity. Currently, the 7-day positivity rate sits at 12% with a 7-day average of 41,569 new daily infections. The state’s stay at home order has been lifted in the Greater Sacramento Region, which has reverted back to the Purple Tier, allowing residents to dine in restaurants with outdoor spaces, visit hair salons and barbershops, and shop at indoor malls operating at 25% capacity.
State and local leaders are working towards administering as many vaccinations as possible and have opened mass vaccination sites at CalExpo, Dodger Stadium, Petco Park, and Disneyland to reach more residents. The state has also announced that COVID vaccinations will be made available to all individuals 65 years and older, in line with recent CDC recommendations designed to ramp up vaccination efforts. It is recommended that individuals check in with their local public health officials to verify the availability of the vaccine for this new population as vaccine protocols vary by county. As of January 13, a total of 971,829 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered statewide.
California Legislature Back in Action
The Assembly and Senate Budget Committees held informational hearings this week on the Governor’s budget proposal. Members had the opportunity to question the Department of Finance on details of the proposal and sought guidance from the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office. Common themes that emerged in the hearings included – hesitation on whether schools can safely reopen by spring, the need for additional funds to assist small businesses, providing more oversight and attention on reforming EDD, and the need for additional funding to address housing and homelessness.
Several members of the public made thinly veiled threats of violence against the Legislature in the Senate Gallery during the public comment section of the hearing. As you may remember, a cup of blood was thrown from that gallery onto the Floor during a prior legislative session. As a result of this week’s incident, the Senate has decided to close the gallery to the public to protect the safety of Senators and staff. Members of the public who wish to observe session in the Capitol will now be directed to a separate committee room.
Due to demand on large committee rooms necessary for members of the Legislature to appropriately socially distance themselves during official business, budgetary sub-committee hearings will begin much earlier than normal this year. These committees are aiming to get the bulk of their work completed during February and March. Preliminary schedules for the Assembly can be found here and the Senate subcommittees will have a similar schedule.
Biden Unveils Stimulus Plan
President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal to be introduced shortly after he takes office next week. The package includes $1,400 stimulus checks, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, $130 billion for school reopening, $20 billion for vaccine distribution, extends unemployment benefits through September at $400 a week, expands food aid, contains $30 billion in rental assistance, and a plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. With Democrats soon to control the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Biden Administration is increasingly hopeful that this package has a reasonable chance of passing.
Newsom Activates National Guard for Inauguration
Following the recent violence and incursion at the U.S. Capitol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned of threats against state capitols all over the nation during the days leading up to and on Inauguration Day. In anticipation of this, Governor Gavin Newsom has activated the California National Guard and is deploying 1,000 guardsmen to protect critical infrastructure including the California State Capitol. Additionally, the California Highway Patrol is not issuing permits for events around the Capitol through the inauguration and the state is coordinating with local law enforcement around the clock to quickly act on any incident that may arise. In a video message, the Governor stated that the right to peaceably assembly is fundamental, but violence will not be tolerated.
Safe Schools for All Hub
Governor Newsom announced the launch of the Safe Schools for All Hub. This website, schools.covid19.ca.gov, will host state guidance and resources on safely resuming in-person learning in one consolidated location. Through the website, school administrators can seek technical assistance on drawing up and implementing safety plans for reopening. The site also allows parents and staff to report safety concerns at a given campus via an electronic hotline. The launch of this website follows the Governor’s budget proposal for immediate action by the legislature on $2 billion for the safe reopening of in-person instruction.
President Trump is Impeached for a Second Time
On Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump. The House of Representatives passed a single article of impeachment for inciting an insurrection, following the events that took place in the Capitol on January 6. The vote was 232 to 197, with 10 Republicans joining the Democratic majority. This impeachment vote marks the first time in U.S. history that a sitting president has been impeached twice. Mitch McConnell has announced that the U.S. Senate will not begin the impeachment trial until after President-elect Joe Biden has been sworn into office. McConnell has also signaled that he is not yet sure how he will vote on impeachment. It takes a two-thirds vote of the Senate to formally impeach President Trump. If the Senate votes to impeach, President Trump could be made ineligible to seek federal elected office again.
Power Outages Root Cause Analysis
For the first time in almost 20 years, California experienced rolling blackouts in mid-August during a multi-day heat wave. Following the outages, Governor Newsom ordered the California Independent Systems Operator, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission to examine the cause of the blackouts. The three entities released their final Root Cause Analysis this week detailing the causes of the energy shortages and providing updates on their activities related to implementing recommendations found in the preliminary analysis. The analysis found that there were three major factors that contributed to the outages: 1) weather conditions, 2) resources adequacy and planning processes, and 3) market practices. The agencies are taking steps to update their planning and procedures in an effort to ensure sufficient capacity for summer 2021 and beyond. The final Report can be found here.
- 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