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COVID-19 State Policy Update 04.04.20

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April 4, 2020

Governor Gavin Newsom opened his daily briefing by giving an update on testing.  California has tested 126,700 people thus far, which the Governor characterized as a low figure.  On testing problems in the state, he said, "the testing space has been a challenging one for us and I own that." 

However, Governor Newsom continued by stating that  "a new day" has arrived on testing efforts as the state launches a new Task Force, led by private and public sector leaders, on the issue.  The Task Force will be co-chaired by state public health official Dr. Charity Dean and Blue Shield of California CEO Paul Markovich.  The goal is to increase testing by five-fold over the next few weeks.  He also mentioned a new “antibody” test that Stanford University is working on and hopes to have available to Californians soon.

On medical supplies, the Governor promoted the web page – http://covid19supplies.ca.gov.  The site has a form where companies and manufacturers can describe the resources they have to contribute, either for donation or purchase, to support California’s response to COVID-19. He thanked Salesforce for their assistance is setting up this website.

Governor Newsom again provided the latest COVID-19 hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) patient figures.  The number of coronavirus hospitalizations is now 2,300.  The number of coronavirus patients in ICU beds is 1,008, a 10.9 percent increase from the day before.

With regards to California Health Corps, in less than a week, more than 79,000 health care professionals have applied. 

During the Q&A, the Governor was asked about healthcare budget requests, specifically his prescription drug overhaul, California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) proposal, and the Office of Health Care Affordability.   In response, he said health care will remain a top priority, but that he's “recalibrating” the health expenditures proposed in January in relation to the budgetary crisis that is beginning to manifest and the economic crisis that is self-evident.  The Governor said a total of  2.1 million Californians have applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits since March 12th.

Asked if he expects there will be major sporting events in California this summer, in light of the President meeting with major sports leagues recently, he said he is, "not anticipating that happening."

Throughout the briefing, Governor Newsom continued to encourage people to practice safe physical distancing and to comply with stay-at-home orders to bend the COVID-19 curve. 

On Friday, April 3rd, the Governor issued an Executive Order (EO) expanding consumer protection against price gouging.  The order generally prohibits sellers of any kind from increasing prices on food, consumer goods, medical or emergency supplies, and certain other items by more than 10 percent.  The order also gives additional tools to the California Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s Office, among others, to take action against price gougers.  A copy of the Governor’s press release can be found here.   A copy of the EO can be found here, and the text of the order can be found here.

Additionally, the Governor issued another EO to expand telehealth services.   The order relaxes certain state privacy and security laws for medical providers, so they can provide telehealth services without the risk of being penalized.  A copy of the Governor’s press release can be found here.   A copy of the Governor’s executive order can be found here, and the text of the order can be found here.

Yesterday, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued a Notice instructing all insurance companies to stop enforcing policy or statutory deadlines on policyholders for claims or coverage until 90 days after the statewide “state of emergency” or any other “state of emergency” has ended related to COVID-19.    A  copy of the Insurance Commissioner’s press release can be found here.  A copy of the Notice can be found here

As of April 3rd, there are a total of 12,026 positive cases and 276 deaths in California.  Also, as of April 1st, local health departments have reported 156 confirmed positive cases in health care workers.  More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.

Lastly, as reported yesterday, Senate President pro Tem Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that they will now call the Senate and Assembly back to the Capitol on May 4, 2020.  The released media advisory stated, “the date changes the previous target return date, April 13th, under the guidance of public health officials who seek to minimize opportunities for COVID-19 infection.”