Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
May 29, 2020

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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 information with you on a periodic basis. Here is a summary of important information from this past week.

California cases continue on a stabilization trend as California moves further into reopening. The compliance with the stay at home order has given the Governor and public health authorities the confidence to continue reopening the state, but they urge compliance with physical distancing to minimize the surge in positive COVID-19 cases. CLICK HERE for the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health.

Newsom Administration

Governor Newsom continues to focus on a methodical safe reopening.  With 47 counties self-attesting they meet the requirements to reopen, the Governor announced additional industry guidelines moving the state to transition into Stage 3 of the reopening. Stage 3 includes the reopening of retail, places of worship, and hair salons — these are considered higher risk venues. Here is a recap of recent actions and announcements:

  • Domestic Violence Support - Governor Newsom and the First Partner announced the state is expanding its capacity for texting to 911, partnering with the private sector to support survivors fleeing violence, and providing new public and private funding for organizations addressing domestic violence and the role of women in rebuilding California’s economy. 
  • Retail Guidelines -  Governor Newsom announced the release of updated guidelines for in-person retail shopping that are recommended to be followed by everyone in counties entering into Stage 3. This activity can resume in retail locations that make necessary modifications to protect customers and employees, which include cleaning protocols, employee training and physical distancing.
  • Barbershop and Hair Salon Guidelines - Governor Newsom announced that counties who have self-attested their ability to begin to move into Stage 3 can begin to reopen barbershops and hair salons as long as they follow the state guidelines, which include wearing face masks. 
  • Places of Worship Guidelines - Governor Newsom announced the release of  guidelines for places of worship. They can resume services with up to 25% capacity or a maximum of 100 people, whichever is less.
  • Fitness Roundtable - Governor Newsom held a roundtable with leaders from the fitness industry where they discussed their challenges and guidelines for reopening. The Governor alluded to guidelines being released in the next week or so. 

Regulatory Agencies and Department Actions

Numerous departments navigate the reopening and continue work on other non-COVID matters. Here are some highlights:

  • PUC Approves PG&E’s Bankruptcy Plan - The California Public Utilities Commission approved PG&E’s bankruptcy plan requiring the state’s largest utility to split into regional operating units along with having a safety monitor that reports to the PUC. 
  • EDD Mass Hiring - The Employment Development Department announced they are hiring an additional 1,800 employees to meet the demand for claims processing and call centers. 
  • DMV Opens Offices - The California Department of Motor Vehicles announced they would open 46 more offices in the state in addition to the 25 previously opened for in-person services.  
  • DMV Further Extends Expired Licenses - The DMV is extending expiring licenses through July for people under 69 years old, and extending expiring licenses for 120 days for those 70 and over. 
  • ABC Emergency Regs Approved by OAL - The Office of Administrative Law has approved emergency regulations for Alcoholic Beverage Control to temporarily suspend or impose conditions on licensees in situations involving immediate threat to public health, safety and welfare that requires immediate action.
  • CDE Renews Call for Tech Investments - California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond renewed calls for technology investments to continue to meet the needs for distance learning for underprivileged students. The SPI has estimated that $500 million is needed to meet the technology needs for all students. 
  • Cooling Center Guidelines - The Department Public Health released guidelines for cooling centers to ensure the most vulnerable do not succumb to the heat.

California Legislature

Important Dates:

  • June 15 – Budget Must Be Passed
  • June 19 – Assembly House of Origin Deadline
  • June 19 – July 13 -  Assembly Summer Recess
  • June 26 – Senate House of Origin Deadline
  • July 2 – July 13 -  Senate Summer Recess
  • August 31 – Last Day of Session

The Assembly convenes as a Committee of the Whole to discuss the budget. Speaker Rendon convened all  Assemblymembers to meet in a committee format, known as Committee of the Whole, to hear testimony and provide comments on the state budget. The Assembly heard from the Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst’s Office who provided an overview on the Governor’s May Revise and were on hand to answer questions.  Assembly Members took this opportunity to talk about issues they find to be priorities that should not be facing the cuts proposed in the Governor’s May Revise, implored the body to preserve programs they deem essential, and also proposed ideas that would generate new revenue. Some of the main themes from the committee included a wealth tax, legalizing sports wagering, fully funding education, expanding child care slots, and preserving programs for wildfire victims and workforce development.

The Senate adopts their Budget Plan. The Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee released and approved their budget plan, which includes numerous rejections of proposed cuts in the Governor’s budget proposal.  Leaning more heavily on deferrals and revenue transfers, the plan also assumes the state will receive additional federal funding, pushing back the date when trigger cuts would start to October. The Governor’s trigger cuts would commence on July 1 if there is not federal funding and the Senate’s date is October 1. Senator Holly Mitchell, Chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, noted that this is not the final action the body will be taking on the budget, as they will continue to pass trailer bills after the June 15 deadline. These trailer bills have substantive policy changes associated with the budget.

Budget Process Moving Forward. There are some unknowns on the process leading up to the constitutional deadline to pass a budget on June 15. While the Senate has held subcommittee hearings, as they would in a typical year, we do not expect the Assembly Budget Committee to hold any hearings to vote on their budget plan prior to June 15. The Assembly Budget Chair has indicated that their version is very closely aligned with the budget that the Senate adopted. Both houses will be working to land a deal over the weekend and are likely to have a structural agreement in place by early next week to vote on a bill by the June 15 deadline. It is likely that there will either be no conference committee this year or a very limited conference focused on a small number of issues. 

Federal Government

Congressional Republicans and Democrats continue to disagree on further federal aid.  Yesterday, The House of Representatives passed a bill to allow small businesses to more easily utilize funds from the Paycheck Protection Program by extending the loan forgiveness as Congress focuses on small businesses. Senate Republicans are backing a different approach and have not signaled if differences will be reconciled. Acknowledging the likely need for another relief bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the next COVID bill, likely in the next month or two, will be the last. He firmly said it will not be on the $3 trillion scale of the Democratic led HEROES Act and will originate in the Senate with the administration’s backing. Here are some additional highlights of actions taken at the federal level:

  • House of Representatives Casts First Remote Vote - With legislative bodies looking for ways to continue business while maintaining safety, House lawmakers for the first time caset remote and proxy votes on legislation. 
  • CDC Pharmacy Guidelines  - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines for pharmacists and their staff to protect against exposure to COVID-19. 
  • CDC Direct Providers Guidelines - The CDC has released guidelines for direct service providers, caregivers, and people with developmental and behavioral disorders to protect against the spread of COVID-19. 

Local Action

With stay-at-home requirements continuing to ease, local governments continue on their journey of reopening. Here are some highlights:

  • Counties Pulling Back on Reopening – While many counties and citizens are eagerly awaiting a return to normal with reopening of nonessential businesses, counties like Lake and Sonoma are pulling back despite permission from the state, as they see their COVID-19 numbers rising.
  • Los Angeles School Guidelines - Los Angeles County has released guidelines for schools to reopen including students sitting 6 feet apart, wearing masks, and even having class outside.
  • San Francisco Reopening Timeline -  The City of San Francisco released a plan to slowly begin reopening schools, restaurants, gyms, and resuming some sports activities.  
  • Yolo County Lifts Shelter-In-Place - Yolo county has lifted its local shelter-in-place order, but stress that state-wide orders remain in place and must be abided by.
  • Sacramento Trials Resume - Sacramento County Superior court will resume jury trials June 15th with precautions set in place such as temperature checks and requiring facial coverings.

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