Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
February 1st, 2021

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The spread of COVID-19 across California and the country is impacting everyone’s personal and professional lives. To ensure you are receiving the most up to date and pertinent information, Weideman Group is closely monitoring actions being taken by the state (Governor, Legislature, regulatory agencies) and the federal government. We will be sharing the most significant COVID-19 and other important information with you on a periodic basis. Below is a summary of relevant news from this past week.   

State and Federal Leaders Focus on Vaccination Roll Out 

California announced that it will be adjusting its strategy to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine by establishing a new vaccination network. The state has partnered with Blue Shield of California, a Weideman Group client, to act as a third party administrator assisting the state with COVID-19 vaccinations. Blue Shield will be tasked with improving what has been a bumpy start to California’s vaccination efforts. Among the challenges that need to be overcome is better allocation of vaccine doses to public health departments, pharmacies, hospitals, community health centers and other health care providers, as well as improving the efficiency and uniformity of the state’s vaccination program and ensuring that low-income neighborhoods and communities of color have equitable access to the vaccine. 

Governor Newsom signed an executive order that extends liability protections to healthcare professionals in order to encourage more providers to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. The executive order also directs the Department of Consumer Affairs to take disciplinary action against licensees who divert vaccine supplies for financial gain. The text of the order can be found here.

The Biden Administration also committed to take action to boost vaccine distribution, including ordering 100 million doses of vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna. The additional order of vaccine doses translates to a total of approximately 300 million Americans gaining access to the vaccine. In order to reduce any possible bottlenecks in the vaccine distribution, the President is also invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure availability of medical supplies necessary, such as syringes, are widely available.

 

Early Budget Action on Eviction Relief

The Legislature passed and the Governor signed emergency budget bills - SB 89 and SB 91 - that extend the state’s eviction moratorium and provide rental relief to tenants and landlords. The moratorium has been extended to June 30th and requires tenants to pay at least 25% of their rent to avoid being evicted, but they will still owe any remaining rental debt. The rental relief legislation utilizes $1.5 billion from the most recent federal relief package to assist both renters and landlords with back due rent. The program provides relief to landlords by giving them 80% of rent owed if they forgive the remaining 20%. The legislature will revisit the evictions moratorium as we get closer to June 30th expiration date. 

 

Biden Weighs in on Climate Change

The President signed a series of executive orders designed to make strides in combating climate change, including the following specific actions – establishing climate considerations as a part of foreign policy and national security, establishing a White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, establishing a national Climate Task Force, directing agencies to strictly enforce labor agreements for projects, pausing new leases for oil and natural gas on public land and offshore, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, establishing a goal of preserving 30% of lands, and directing federal agencies to procure zero emission vehicles. These orders build on the President’s commitment to combat climate change and reduce emissions. 

 

EDD Fraud

A report from the state auditor has found $10.4 billion in fraudulent claims were paid out by the Employment Development Department (EDD) and an additional $19 billion in suspicious claims are being investigated. EDD has been under intense scrutiny since the beginning of the pandemic due to its inability to process unemployment insurance claims in a timely and secure fashion. Over the past few months, the Governor has brought in new leadership, expanded personnel, and convened a task force to improve the embattled agency, but it still faces a massive backlog of claims and fraud. The audit states that EDD did not do enough to bolster fraud detection, waiting 4 months to implement an anti-fraud measure. Addressing this issue remains a top priority for the Legislature and bills aimed at overhauling the current system have already been introduced. The full audit can be found here.

 

California’s New Secretary of State 

Former Assembly Member Dr. Shirley Weber of San Diego was confirmed by the legislature to succeed U.S. Senator Alex Padilla as California’s new Secretary of State. Dr. Weber will be the first African American woman and only the second woman to ever hold the position. Dr. Weber’s confirmation leaves Assembly District 79 vacant and a special election date to fill the seat has yet to be announced by the Governor. The contenders to succeed Weber include Dr. Akilah Weber (Dr. Shirley Weber’s daughter), labor organizer Leticia Munguia, and La Mesa City Councilman Colin Parent. 

 

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 updates can be found here

Looking for ways to help your community? Visit this site here