Assembly Convenes Hearing on COVID-19 Response Activities

On Tuesday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 6 on Budget Process, Oversight, and Program Evaluation and the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization convened a joint informational hearing to receive an update on California’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing featured an overview of the state’s operational efforts to contain the pandemic, investments in emergency disaster funds, and preparations for vaccine distribution and additional personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement.

The hearing’s first panel included representatives from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) and Department of Finance (DOF) to provide an overview of the state’s expenditures on COVID-19 response activities. LAO and DOF walked the committees through their fiscal update reports that were published late last week (LAO available here and DOF available here). The LAO discussed options available to the Legislature to ensure oversight of the Administration’s emergency response activities and spending.

The first panel additionally included representatives from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to provide updates on state activities to mitigate COVID-19 transmission risks, deliver necessary public health, health, and social safety supports to vulnerable residents, and procurement and logistics operations. CDPH Chief Deputy Director Susan Fanelli discussed the state’s planning efforts for a forthcoming COVID-19 vaccination, including ongoing work with local health jurisdictions throughout the state in carrying out response activities, issuing sector guidance, and planning for vaccine distribution.

The second panel included representatives from the Department of General Services (DGS), Cal OES, and the LAO to provide an update on the state’s procurement process and availability of PPE. The bulk of the presentations focused on state contracting, medical supply procurement, and distribution and allocation of PPE throughout the state.

During the question and answer section of the hearing, Assembly Members raised questions around funding equity, legislative involvement in and oversight of state spending decisions, DOF fiscal reporting, COVID-19 public messaging and communications, epidemiological trends, testing and contact tracing, and economic recovery efforts, among others. Notably, Assembly Member Dr. Joaquin Arambula raised questions around the impacts of the pandemic on social determinants of health, including employment, housing, and access to healthy foods.

The hearing agenda is available here. A video recording of the hearing is available here.