Assembly Convenes Hearing on CalOES and Pandemic Response

Earlier this week, the Assembly Committee on Emergency Management, chaired by Assembly Member Freddie Rodriguez, convened a hearing entitled “The Role of Cal OES and Emergency Management in Providing an Equitable Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The hearing featured two panels – one with local representatives and one with state officials.

Up first, the local panel featured Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Yolo County Health Officer Aimee Sisson, Los Angeles County Chief Science Officer Paul Simon, and Sean Rogoff, Director of Special Operations, Global Medical Response (GMR). Drs. Sisson and Simon discussed their respective counties vaccination efforts, and both highlighted their coordinated vaccination efforts with local partners including fire and EMS. Chief Osby discussed Los Angeles County Fire’s partnership with their local public health department to support PPE distribution during the initial stages of the pandemic and subsequent testing and vaccination activities. Mr. Rogoff emphasized GMR supporting vaccination clinics in several jurisdictions statewide as well as partnering with EMSA on mobile vaccinations for the homebound. Dr. Simon recommended to the Committee that the state continue to support the Medical Health Operational Area system and encouraged increased coordination with CalOES and federal partners to enhance local efforts.

The following panel, made up of state officials, focused on lessons learned and was comprised of CDPH Director Tomás Aragón, EMSA Director Dave Duncan, and CalOES Director Mark Ghilarducci. Dr. Duncan detailed the various programs EMSA instituted or expanded including ambulance strike teams, distribution of PPE/ventilators, CalMAT teams, and their mobile vaccination efforts for the homebound. For CDPH, Dr. Aragon expressed his sincere appreciation of all the hard work of local health and EMS officials and staff during the pandemic, and he discussed their efforts to address vaccine disparities in various communities. Dr. Aragon noted at the end of his remarks discussing how CDPH will need to examine finding a balance of supporting local efforts while also utilizing the scale of state government to support that work. Director Ghilarducci outlined all the programs run through CalOES during the pandemic including Project Roomkey, Housing for the Harvest, Great Plates, and their support for the FEMA mass vaccination sites in Northern and Southern California.

An agenda and the video of this hearing can be found here and here