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COVID-19 State Policy Update 04.03.20

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April 3, 2020

At noon today, Governor Gavin Newsom held his daily briefing event on the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  He also provided an update on the state's emergency actions to protect Californians experiencing homelessness from COVID-19.   Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who serves as head of the Homelessness Task Force, also spoke during the briefing.

Governor Newsom focused his opening remarks on homelessness, saying that with the help of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), 6,877 hotel rooms have now been secured with the goal of 15,000 units total for phase one.  FEMA is providing 75 percent reimbursement of the hotel costs, a "first in the nation" effort.  However, he stated those who are housed must be COVID-19 positive, exposed, or "high risk" to the virus.  Currently, 869 people are in hotels.  The Govenor also stated that $800 million in grants were awarded to local efforts on homelessness, most of that funding coming from last year's state budget agreement.   However, he is still getting criticism from homeless advocates that these efforts do not go far enough.  A copy of the Governor’s office news release detailing the efforts to protect homeless individuals can be found here.

The Governor again provided the latest COVID-19 hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) patient figures.  The number of coronavirus hospitalizations is now 2,188.  The number of coronavirus patients in ICU beds is 901, a 10.4 percent increase from the day before.

Tomorrow, Governor Newsom said he will announce testing protocol guidelines and strategies.  This coming Monday, Newsom intends to lay out all the physical assets procured in the state's surge capacity efforts.

With regards to California Health Corps, after just four days, more than 75,000 health care professionals have applied.  When asked, the Governor said these individuals will be paid through a mix of state, federal and hospital funds.

During the Q&A, he was also asked about California’s COVID-19 modeling.  He said California will likely hit its peak in "first few weeks of May," though declined to give an exact date.  He said each day is “dynamic” and hopes that the later date will allow the state to procure needed beds, ventilators, and personal protective equipment (PPE) material in anticipation of that apex.

In terms of who is paying companies and individuals donating or providing medical and relief resources, the Govenor said each situation is different.  The state has a form that is being used where companies can describe the resources they have to contribute, either for donation or purchase, to support California’s response to COVID-19.  The form can be found here

Governor Newsom concluded his initial remarks by urging Californians to continue staying home and practicing safe physical distancing.  He also said a myriad of other efforts are currently underway.

On Thursday, the Governor issued an Executive Order (EO) restricting water shutoffs to homes and small businesses while the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.  A copy of the Governor’s news release can be found here.  A copy of the Governor’s executive order can be found here.

Also, following yesterday’s small business announcements, the Governor’s office issued a news release regarding the series of new resources to aid small businesses and help California workers who have lost work due to COVID-19.  A copy of the Governor’s press release can be found here

Additionally, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced actions it is taking to accelerate the use of its programs to help reduce the impact of anticipated higher energy bills due to many Californians staying at home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  A copy of the CPUC news release can be found here.  For a list of consumer protection provisions utilities are enacting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CPUC recommends visiting the following web page: www.cpuc.ca.gov/covid19protections.

Yesterday, the California State Board of Education, California Department of Education, California State University, University of California, California Community Colleges, and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities issued, a joint statement on college admissions and placement agreements.  A copy of the joint statement can be found here.

California Legislature Update

Today, it was reported that the California Legislature will delay its return beyond April 13th due to coronavirus.  Last month, on March 16th, the Senate and the Assembly both voted on ACR 189 which provided that the Legislature shall be in joint recess from March 20th until April 13th.  However, the resolution specifies, “The Legislature may extend the joint recess by joint proclamation of the President pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the Assembly.”  Further, the resolution states, “If the Governor or the Governor’s designee declares that continued home isolation is, or similar preventative measures are, necessary to address the current state of emergency, the joint recess shall be extended until the Legislature recalls itself from the joint recess.”

This morning it was reported that Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) stated that the April 13th is not tenable.  “Given what the governor and our public health officials have stated, it has become increasingly clear that the April 13 return date the Legislature envisioned isn’t feasible,” Atkins told Voice of San Diego in a statement.  “Our top priority has to remain helping flatten the COVID-19 transmission curve to prevent our health care systems from being overwhelmed. I will continue working with Speaker [Anthony] Rendon on a bicameral path forward, and I hope that in short order we will be conducting our business in a way that ensures the public’s participation and protects the public’s health.”  A link to the news story can be found here.   Notably, two legislative deadlines, passing a budget by June 15th and passing bills by August 31st, are constitutional and functionally immovable, but other deadlines are more flexible.

As of April 2nd, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19 – there are a total of 10,701 positive cases and 237 deaths in California.  Also, as of April 1st, local health departments have reported 156 confirmed positive cases in health care workers.  Approximately 94,800 tests had been conducted in California.  At least 35,267 results have been received and another 59,500 are pending.  More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.

As a reminder, the https://www.covid19.ca.gov/ website is being updated continuously.