Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
February 5th, 2021
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.
Vaccination Roll Out
President Joe Biden announced that the federal government will establish 100 mass vaccination sites nationwide in an effort to get millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of Americans. This week, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California will open 2 of these mass vaccination sites in partnership with the federal government. One will be located at the Oakland Coliseum and the other will be located at California State University, Los Angeles. Once fully operational, these sites will be able to administer 6,000 doses per day. These doses will be on top of the doses the state has already been allocated. The President additionally announced that his administration will begin shipping vaccines directly to retail pharmacies including Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid beginning February 11.
Federal Stimulus Talks
Promising to provide another relief package immediately, President Biden introduced a $1.9 trillion package last month. Republicans have expressed their concern about the size of the relief package. A group of 10 Republican Senators developed a smaller $618 billion package but no mutual agreement between the parties and the Administration has been reached yet. The smaller package introduced by senate Republicans includes payments of $1,000 for those that make up to $40,000 a year and phasing down from there with a cap at $50,000 a year. President Biden is insisting on including $1,400 stimulus checks, but signaled that he is open to capping eligibility to those that make under $50,000 a year. In Congress, Democrats are laying the groundwork to pass the package through budget reconciliation, a process that allows them to pass the measure without any Republican votes.
Governor Sets Special Election and Mulls AG Pick
Following the swearing in of Dr. Shirley Weber as the new Secretary of State, the Assembly District she represented is now vacant. Governor Newsom has declared a special election for the vacant seat for April 6, 2021 with the runoff election on June 8, 2021. Some of the contenders vying to succeed Weber include Dr. Akilah Weber (Dr. Shirley Weber’s daughter), labor organizer Leticia Munguia, and La Mesa City Councilman Colin Parent.
We also expect Governor Newsom to make his pick for Attorney General known in the very near future. Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been selected to serve as the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency in the Biden Administration and is expected to be confirmed by the US Senate soon. Becerra’s confirmation officially opens up an opportunity for Newsom to select a new AG. Numerous groups have lobbied heavily for the Governor to select Assemblyman Rob Bonta for the post, while U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is supporting Representative Adam Schiff. Other contenders vying for the appointment include Congressman Ted Lieu, Rick Chavez Zbur of Equality California, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Contra Costa County DA Diana Becton, Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen, CA Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, and Assemblymember Ash Kalra.
After months of turmoil at the Employment Development Department accompanied by a scathing audit, members of the Assembly, who have formed an unemployment reform workgroup, introduced a package of bills aimed at improving the agency. The workgroup includes Assemblymembers Chiu, Gonzalez, Mayes, Nazarian, Petrie-Norris, and Wicks. The package includes AB 110 (Petrie Norris) requiring the department to cross match claims with prisoner records, AB 400 (Petrie Norris) creating an oversight board, AB 402 (Wicks) establishing a claimant advocate to resolve problems with obtaining benefits, AB 401 (Chiu) requiring language translators, and more. The reforms are designed to address and improve the efficiency of the department and crack down on the recent rampant fraud of unemployment insurance claims.
ACA Subsidy Expansion
The Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats are taking a page out of California’s playbook and are considering boosting the premium subsidies associated with the program that help peoples purchase health coverage on the Exchange. Reports suggest that the most substantial expansion of Obamacare since the law’s passage is being woven into the President’s economic recovery plan. If the federal government is able to expand these ACA subsidies, a move California already made on its own in order to increase enrollment in CoveredCA, the state would save up to $350 million annually that could be invested in other programs or added to California’s rainy day fund.
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
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