April 8, 2022 Edition

Reminder: 2022 CHEAC Annual Meeting Workshop Abstract Proposals Due Monday

The CHEAC Annual Meeting provides networking and learning opportunities to local health department leadership and staff throughout California. This year’s conference will occur October 5-7 in Sonoma County with the theme of “Public Health Equity & Readiness Opportunity (HERO) – Achieving an Equitable and Resilient Workforce and Recovery.” The conference will once again include keynote sessions with guest speakers, as well as a myriad of workshops intended to stimulate best practice sharing and/or discussion around issues impacting public health.

CHEAC invites local health departments and key partners to submit workshop abstracts should you wish to host a workshop session.  Roughly 15 workshops will be hosted between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm on Wednesday, October 5 and Thursday, October 6.

Those interested in submitting an abstract can find more information on our website here. All abstract proposals are due to CHEAC via email by COB Monday, April 25, 2022.

CHEAC Celebrates 2022 National Public Health Week

CHEAC celebrated the 2022 National Public Health Week (NPHW) each day this week, highlighting the critical role of governmental public health agencies in promoting and protecting the health of all residents. This week’s themes focused on specific public health topics and included:

  • Monday: Racism: A Public Health Crisis
  • Tuesday: Public Health Workforce: Essential to our Future
  • Wednesday: Community: Collaboration and Resilience
  • Thursday: World Health Day: Health is a Human Right
  • Friday: Accessibility: Closing the Health Equity Gap
  • Saturday: Climate Change: Taking Action for Equity
  • Sunday: Mental Wellness: Redefining the Meaning of Health

CHEAC has promoted each of these themes through our CHEAC Twitter Account, available here. We are grateful for the continued, important efforts of our California local health officials and personnel who make a significant impact in communities throughout the state. Happy National Public Health Week!

Legislators Break for 10-Day Spring Recess, Will Return on April 18

Upon adjournment of Senate and Assembly Floor Sessions yesterday, California lawmakers began their 10-day Spring Recess. Legislators are set to return to Sacramento on Monday, April 18. When lawmakers return to Sacramento, they face an April 29 deadline to hear and advance bills with a fiscal impact from policy committees to fiscal committees in their house of origin. As such, the final two weeks of April are set to be very busy in Sacramento.

This week featured a whirlwind of legislative activities with numerous policy committees, legislative debates, and press conferences. Legislators continue to grapple with a handful of big-ticket policy issues, including gas prices, behavioral health, gun violence, and criminal justice, that will undoubtedly be top-of-mind as lawmakers return from Spring Recess and prepare to receive the Governor’s May Revise Budget in mid-May.

In other legislative news, Assembly Member Lori Wilson of Solano County was sworn into the seat previously held by Jim Frazier who resigned earlier this year to pursue employment in the transportation sector. Assembly Member Wilson is the former mayor of Suisun City and ran unopposed in the special election to fill the vacant seat. Two other special elections occurring this week to fill other vacant legislative seats appear to be headed to runoff elections in June.

Below, we highlight several measures of interest to CHEAC Members. For a full update, the latest edition of the CHEAC Weekly Bill Chart is available here.

Access to Health Services

AB 2320 (C. Garcia) as introduced February 16, 2022 – SUPPORT  

AB 2320 by Assembly Member Cristina Garcia would require the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to establish and administer the Reproductive Health Care Pilot Program to provide funds to community health clinics providing reproductive health services in five counties that agree to participate. AB 2320 was heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Wednesday where it was advanced to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on an 11-2 vote with two members not voting.

Chronic Disease Prevention & Wellness Promotion

AB 1953 (Maienschein) as amended March 29, 2022 – SUPPORT IN CONCEPT

Assembly Member Brian Maienschein’s AB 1953 was heard in the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee on Wednesday. The measure would require all owners and operators of transit hubs, local parks, public buildings, publicly owned buildings, shopping malls, or municipal golf courses with a water infrastructure source to install and maintain at least one accessible water bottle refill station. AB 1953 was advanced to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 7-1 vote with one member not voting.

Environmental Health

AB 1737 (Holden) as amended March 28, 2022 – OPPOSE

AB 1737 by Assembly Member Chris Holden would expand the definition of an organized camp include a new definition of a children’s camp, tasking local agencies with oversight and regulation of children’s camps statewide. CHEAC regrettably opposes AB 1737 with county colleagues CSAC, UCC, RCRC, HOAC, and CCDEH. While we commend the author’s goal to create an oversight and enforcement structure for children’s camps, CHEAC and our partners are concerned with placing the responsibility with local health departments. Instead, CHEAC encourages consideration of assigning this responsibility to an agency with appropriate experience and expertise in oversight of entities with children in their care, such as the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). CHEAC and our county colleagues continue to engage with the author’s office on potential amendments to the measure.

AB 1737 was heard on Tuesday in the Assembly Health Committee and advanced on a 10-5 vote with five members not voting. The measure now moves to the Assembly Public Safety Committee where it will be heard on April 26.

Health Coverage/Health Care Reform

SB 872 (Dodd) as introduced January 24, 2022 – SUPPORT

Senator Bill Dodd’s SB 872 would authorize a county or a city and county to operate a licensed mobile pharmacy unit to provide prescription medication to individuals without fixed addresses, individuals living in county-owned housing facilities, and those enrolled in Medi-Cal managed care plans operated by the county, a health district, or a joint powers authority. SB 872 was heard in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development on Monday and advanced to the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 13-1 vote with one member not voting.

Injury Prevention

AB 1929 (Gabriel) as amended March 15, 2022 – SUPPORT

Assembly Member Jesse Gabriel’s AB 1929 would require the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to establish a community violence prevention and recovery program under which violence preventive services are provided by qualified violence prevention professionals as a covered benefit within the Medi-Cal program. The measure was heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday and advanced to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a 13-0 vote with five members not voting.

Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Services (MCAH)

AB 1937 (Patterson) as amended March 16, 2022 – SUPPORT

AB 1937 by Assembly Member Jim Patterson would require the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to establish a health expense account for pregnant Medi-Cal and Medi-Cal Access beneficiaries. Beneficiaries would be eligible for reimbursement of out-of-pocket pregnancy-related costs not to exceed $1,250 within three months of the last day of pregnancy. AB 1937 was set to be heard on Wednesday but was canceled at the request of author.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

SB 1464 (Pan) as amended March 28, 2022 – SPECIAL INTEREST BILL

Senator Richard Pan’s SB 1464 was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, but the measure was pulled from the agenda at the beginning of the hearing. SB 1464 would change existing statute relative to the enforcement of local public health officer orders by local sheriffs from permissive to mandatory. The bill would also require state funds for law enforcement to be withheld from law enforcement agencies that publicly announce they will oppose a public health order and require those withheld funds to be reallocated for public health purposes to the county public health department of the county in which the law enforcement agency operates. Senator Pan indicated during Wednesday’s hearing that the measure may be rescheduled by the end of the month, pursuant to the Legislature’s deadlines for fiscal bills.

CalHHS and DHCS Appointments Advance from Senate Rules

This week, the Senate Rules Committee held a hearing to review the appointment of three nominees from Governor Newsom: California Health and Human Services Agency (CalHHS) Undersecretary Marko Mijic, CalHHS Deputy Secretary for Program and Fiscal Affairs Brendan McCarthy, and Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Director Michelle Baass.

Members of the committee questioned all three nominees on a variety of topics including CalAIM, the Medi-Cal program including street medicine, Care Court, services to the developmentally disabled community, the operation of the Valencia laboratory, hospice regulatory issues, and housing and homelessness programs and funding.

The Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously to confirm all three nominees, and their confirmations will now go before the full Senate for consideration.

CDPH Transitions to Twice-Weekly COVID-19 Reporting

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) this week transitioned from publicly reporting COVID-19 data on a daily basis to two days per week. Reporting on COVID-19 cases, test positivity, hospitalizations, ICU numbers and availability, deaths, and vaccine coverage will now be reported on CDPH’s public dashboards only on Tuesdays and Fridays.

CDPH Updates COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Guidance

This week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) updated its COVID-19 guidance for local health jurisdictions on the isolation and quarantine of the general public. The latest guidance updates remove quarantine recommendations for asymptomatic exposed persons, add recommendations for work exclusion or restriction in certain specified high-risk settings, and include an updated definition for close contact and infectious period.

The updated guidance does not apply to health care personnel in settings covered by CDPH’s AFL-21-08.8. It also does not apply to emergency medical services personnel, who are permitted to follow the guidance on quarantine for health care personnel detailed in AFL-21-08.8.

CDPH notes local health jurisdictions may continue to implement additional requirements that go beyond the statewide guidance based on local circumstances, including in certain higher-risk settings or during certain situations that may require additional isolation and quarantine requirements.

Additional information is available here.

OSHSB Publishes Proposed Third COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) this week published a notice of its proposed readoption of the COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS). The current ETS was adopted by OSHSB on December 16, 2021, and became effective on January 14, 2022.

The emergency filing of regulations proposes to adopt new sections relative to COVID-19 precautions in California workplaces, as well as establish further alignment with other state guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The proposed regulation is set to be considered by OSHSB during its April 21 meeting.  

Additional information, including the proposed regulatory text, is available here.

CDPH Issues Safe and SMART Events Playbook

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) late last week issued the Safe and SMART Events Playbook to support event operators produce events that are safe from COVID-19 transmission. The Playbook is based on the California SMARTER Plan and seeks to provide best practices and resources to be used for any type of event.

The Playbook includes three examples of checklists that can be customized for any event:

  • A checklist that can be used to highlight protective measures in place for the event – “What are we doing to create a Safe and SMART event?”
  • A checklist for attendees – “As an attendee, what should I consider before I attend an event?”
  • A checklist for hosts and operators – “Safe and SMART Quick Reference Event Checklist for Operators”

The full Safe and SMART Events Playbook is accessible here.

State to Terminate PerkinElmer Contract on May 15

Consistent with the California SMARTER Plan, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently announced it has notified PerkinElmer of its intent to terminate its contract for COVID-19 PCR test processing through the Valencia Branch Laboratory (VBL). Effective May 15, 2022, CDPH will transition from a centralized COVID-19 test processing model at VBL to a network of commercial testing laboratory partners throughout the state.

Recall, the Newsom Administration entered into a billion dollar contract with PerkinElmer in August 2020 to support COVID-19 laboratory testing in California. The state has indicated few changes or disruptions in COVID-19 test collection and processing are anticipated as part of the transition from the VBL to the commercial laboratory network.

Supplemental COVID-19 Funding Stalls in U.S. Senate

This week, the U.S. Senate failed to advance a $10 billion COVID-19 relief measure to provide continued funding for COVID-19 therapeutics, research, development, and response through the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF). The new funding would be offset by repurposing unspent, previously appropriated COVID-19 relief funds.

Late last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Mitt Romney struck a bipartisan deal on the supplemental funding, but the passage of the measure became complicated this week over announced changes by the Biden-Harris Administration to the Title 42 policy relative to migration. The Title 42 policy change drew opposition from Senate Republicans and numerous Senate Democrats. Senate Republicans withheld their support on a procedural motion for the $10 billion COVID-19 supplemental measure after Senate leadership refused to allow a vote on an amendment to block the Title 42 policy change, which likely would have had the votes to pass.

Both the U.S. Senate and House are in recess for the next two weeks, preventing further consideration of the supplemental measure until late April. Without additional funding, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) anticipates running out of antibody treatments in May and experiencing shortages in testing supplies in June.

HHS Makes Available OTC COVID-19 Tests to Medicare Beneficiaries

This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that more than 59 million Americans with Medicare Part B, including those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, now have access to over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests approved or authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at no cost. Persons with Medicare can receive up to eight tests per calendar month from participating pharmacies or health care providers for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE).

According to HHS, this is the first time that Medicare has covered an OTC self-administered test at no cost to beneficiaries. The new initiative enables payment from Medicare directly to participating eligible pharmacies and other health care providers to allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive tests at no cost, in addition to the two sets of four free at-home COVID-19 tests Americans can continue to order from covidtests.gov. National pharmacy chains participating in the initiative including Albertson’s, Costco Pharmacy, CVS, Food Lion, Giant Food, The Giant Company, Hannaford Pharmacies, H-E-B Pharmacy, Hy-Vee Pharmacy, Kroger Family of Pharmacies, Rite Aid Corp., Shop & Stop, Walgreens, and Walmart.

Additional information is available here.

Commonwealth Fund Releases Report on Impact of U.S. COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

The Commonwealth Fund this week issued a report exploring the impact of U.S. COVID-19 vaccination efforts, including an update on averted deaths, hospitalizations, and health care costs through March 2022. The Commonwealth Fund notes that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have trended dramatically downward from their peaks earlier this year, but uncertainty still exists as hundreds of deaths and outbreaks continue to occur.

In December 2021, the Commonwealth Fund reported that the first year of the COVID-19 vaccination effort had averted 1.1 million deaths and 10.3 million hospitalizations (compared to a no-vaccine scenario). As Congress continues to consider additional funding to support the country’s COVID-19 response, the Commonwealth Fund report assesses the impact of the country’s vaccine efforts on the most recent Omicron outbreak.

Between December 12, 2020, and March 31, 2022, the Commonwealth Fund estimates that COVID-19 vaccination efforts prevented over 2.2 million deaths and 17 million hospitalizations. In the absence of vaccination, there would have been an estimated 66.1 million infections and nearly $900 billion in associated health care expenditures.

The Commonwealth Fund report highlights the significant impact of the vaccination program in reducing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. The report additionally notes that continuing to vaccinate and boost Americans can produce substantial health benefits and financial returns for the country.

The Biden-Harris Administration issued a statement on the report, underscoring the report’s findings and calling on Congress to provide additional funding to continue COVID-19 response activities.

Additional information is available here.

Biden-Harris Administration Issues Presidential Memorandum on Long COVID

The Biden-Harris Administration this week announced whole-of-government actions in response to millions of Americans’ experiences with prolonged illness from COVID-19, known as “Long COVID.” President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate a new effort across the federal government to develop and issue an interagency national research action plan on Long COVID. According to the Administration, the effort will advance progress in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of services and supports to individuals experiencing Long COVID and associated conditions.

The Presidential Memorandum additionally directs HHS to issue a report outlining services and supports across federal agencies to assist people experiencing Long COVID, individuals who are dealing with a COVID-related loss, and people who are experiencing mental health and substance use issues related to the pandemic. This report will specifically address the long-term effects of COVID-19 on high-risk communities and efforts to address disparities in access to services and supports.

Additional information is available here.

CDC Set to Terminate Title 42 Order on Migration Protocols

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) late last week announced it is issuing a Public Health Determination and terminating an order issued under Title 42, suspending the right to introduce migrants into the U.S. The termination is set to be implemented on May 23, 2022, enabling the Department of Homeland Security to implement appropriate COVID-19 mitigation protocols.

Recall, the order was put into effect in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky determined that an order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary after considering current public health conditions and increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19.

Additional information is available here.

Biden Takes Additional Action on Health Coverage Access, Affordability, and Quality

This week, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. announced a series of actions to strengthen access to affordable, quality health care coverage throughout the U.S. Building upon an executive order issued last year to strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the President issued an additional order this week directing federal agencies to review agency actions to identify ways to continue to expand the availability of affordable health coverage, to improve the quality of coverage, to strengthen benefits, and to help more Americans enroll in quality health coverage.

As part of this review, federal agencies must examine:

  • Policies or practices that make it easier for all consumers to enroll in and retain coverage, understand their coverage options, and select appropriate coverage
  • Policies or practices that strengthen benefits and improve access to health care providers
  • Policies or practices that improve the comprehensiveness of coverage and protect consumers from low-quality coverage
  • Policies or practices that expand eligibility and lower costs for coverage in ACA Marketplaces, Medicaid, Medicare, and other programs
  • Policies or practices that help improve linkages between the health care system and other stakeholders to address health-related needs
  • Policies or practices that help reduce the burden of medical debt on households

The Biden-Harris Administration additionally proposed a rule to strengthen the ACA by fixing the “family glitch.” Under the ACA, individuals who do not have access to affordable health insurance through their employment may qualify for a premium tax credit to purchase affordable, high-quality coverage on the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces. Current regulations define employer-based insurance as “affordable” if the coverage solely for the employee, and not family members, is affordable, making family members ineligible for a premium tax credit. According to the Administration, the “family glitch” impacts about five million people and has made it impossible for many families to use the premium tax credit to purchase affordable, high-quality coverage through the Marketplace.

As such, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are proposing to fully eliminate the “family glitch.” Should the proposed rule be finalized, family members of workers who are offered affordable self-coverage but unaffordable family coverage may qualify for premium tax credits to purchase ACA coverage. An estimated 200,000 uninsured persons would gain coverage, and nearly one million Americans would have access to more affordable coverage. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on Thursday and remains open for public comment through June 6, 2022.

Additional information from the White House is available here.

President Biden Issues Proclamation on Black Maternal Health Week

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on Friday issued a nationwide proclamation declaring April 11 through April 18, 2022, as Black Maternal Health Week. The President calls on all Americans to raise awareness of the state of Black maternal health in the U.S. by understanding the consequences of systemic discrimination, recognizing the scope of the problem and need for urgent solutions, amplifying voices and experiences of Black women, families, and communities, and committing to improvements in birthing experiences for Black women.

The full proclamation is available here.

HRSA Announces Funding Opportunity to Support Community-Based Doulas

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently announced the availability of $4.5 million for hiring, training, certifying, and compensating community-based doulas in areas with high rates of adverse maternal and infant health outcomes.

The funding, provided through HRSA’s Healthy Start Initiative, will increase the number of Healthy Start doula programs from 25 to approximately 50 nationwide. HRSA’s Healthy Start Initiative works to improve health before, during, and after pregnancy and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in rates of infant deaths and adverse maternal health outcomes.

Additional information is available here.

DHCS Launches Health Coverage Ambassador Campaign

This week, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) announced it is launching a statewide effort to help Medi-Cal beneficiaries maintain their Medi-Cal coverage or be enrolled in other coverage.

During the national public health emergency (PHE) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, annual reevaluation of ongoing eligibility was temporarily halted to ensure vulnerable residents had ongoing access to health coverage. When the PHE is terminated, the state will resume normal Medi-Cal eligibility operations and the annual eligibility review. As a result of that process, an estimated two to three million residents may no longer be eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. DHCS, along with partners, are engaging in a comprehensive campaign to reach beneficiaries with information about what to expect and what they need to do to keep their coverage.

DHCS, as part of its initiative, has made available a Medi-Cal Continuous Coverage toolkit and webpage to help trusted entities and individuals such as DHCS Coverage Ambassadors to push communications to Medi-Cal beneficiaries to encourage them to update their contact information with their counties to ensure they receive important information about maintaining Medi-Cal coverage.

DHCS’ effort is one of many being launched across the country as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will soon begin the process of redetermining eligibility for about 85 million people nationally who use these programs to access health coverage and care. National estimates place the number of individuals who might lose their Medicaid or CHIP coverage at approximately 16 million.

Additional information from DHCS is available here.

DHCS Seeks Section 1115 Amendment on Asset Limits

This week, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) submitted to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) an application to amend the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) Section 1115 demonstration to increase and eventually eliminate asset limits for certain low-income individuals whose eligibility is not determined using the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI)-based financial methods.

AB 133 (Chapter 143, Statutes of 2021) directed DHCS to seek federal approval to implement a two-phased approach to increase and eventually eliminate the asset limits for non-MAGI coverage groups. Under Phase I, effective July 1, 2022, DHCS must apply a disregard of $130,000 in nonexempt property for a single Medi-Cal enrollee and $65,000 for each additional household member, up to a maximum of ten members. Under Phase II, effective January 1, 2024, DHCS must eliminate the asset test for non-MAGI Medi-Cal programs.

To date, DHCS has submitted and CMS approved State Plan Amendment (SPA) 21-0053 to implement the resource disregard under Phase I to increase asset limits for most non-MAGI coverage groups. DHCS has not yet submitted to CMS a SPA for Phase II but intends to do so in the near future. However, because the statutory authority to apply disregards is limited to certain enumerated coverage groups, SPA 21-0053 does not apply to “Deemed Supplemental Security Income (SSI) groups,” specifically those mandatory Medi-Cal eligibility groups comprised of individuals who would be eligible for Medicaid if they were receiving SSI and/or State Supplementary Payments, but are not longer receiving such payments and are thus “deemed” eligible for Medi-Cal. Therefore, to maintain access to coverage for individuals in the Deemed SSI groups under both phases, DHCS is requesting that CMS approve a Section 1115 demonstration amendment to permit the state to increase and eventually eliminate asset test limits for these groups.

Additional information from DHCS is available here.

LAO Publishes Series of Reports on Climate Change Impacts on California

This week, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) issued a series of six reports detailing impacts of climate change on various sectors and what key corresponding policy and fiscal issues the Legislature will face in the coming years. According to the LAO, the reports are intended as framing documents to help the Legislature adopt a “climate lens” across multiple subject areas.

Notably, the LAO indicates California already is experiencing significant impacts of climate change, including its hottest average summer temperatures, its second largest wildfire, and its third driest year on record. The LAO notes that scientists anticipate these types of extreme events and weather to becoming increasingly prevalent in the coming years as the climate continues to change. While climate change is often thought of as an “environmental” issue, the LAO asserts that while a changing climate does impact the environment, its impacts are significantly more widespread.

According to the LAO, climate stressors present California with five key climate hazards: 1) extreme heat events; 2) more severe wildfires; 3) more frequent and intense droughts; 4) flooding due to extreme precipitation events; and 5) coastal flooding and erosion resulting from sea-level rise. These hazards have major impacts on public health and safety, as well as property and infrastructure. As such, per the LAO, climate change affects all of California’s residents, employers, and workers, along with the state’s economy, budget, health care systems, transportation and water infrastructure, agricultural operations, housing market, and educational services.

The LAO’s series of six reports grew out of an initial project conducted for the Speaker of the California Assembly. Given the complexity of the issues, the reports do not contain explicit recommendations or a specific path forward; instead, the reports are intended to frame the issue of climate change across various subject areas. Five reports discuss how climate change will impact specific sectors, and an additional reports highlights issues and themes that cut across all policy areas. Each report contains: 1) a summary of climate hazards affecting California; 2) how those hazards impact the specific sector; 3) a discussion of pertinent existing state-level efforts that are underway; and 4) resulting key relevant issues and questions facing the Legislature.

The six-report series includes:

  • Cross-Cutting Issues: Given the magnitude of climate change impacts already being experienced by California, the LAO indicates the Legislature will confront persistent questions about how the state should respond, including the need for coordination, additional information, prioritization of efforts, state-level technical and financial assistance, and a focus on the most vulnerable residents. Report available here.
  • Health: Climate change has a wide variety of direct and indirect health impacts on residents, with rising temperatures, extreme heat events, and wildfire smoke posing particular threats. Certain populations, namely lower-income, older, medically compromised individuals, and outdoor workers, will disproportionately bear the adverse health burdens of climate change. Report available here.
  • Housing: The risks posed by climate change will need to be considered as a more significant factor when building new housing and modifying existing homes and communities to ensure protection against climate-driven hazards. Encouraging community-level mitigations, keeping the insurance market healthy, and mitigating disproportionate risks faced by low-income residents are areas where the Legislature could consider actions. The state will also want to ensure that impacts on housing supply and affordability are considered as part of any actions, per the LAO. Report available here.
  • K-12 Education: More extreme weather and climate-driven events will result in more frequent emergencies and school closures, negatively impacting student learning, school facilities, and school district budgets. The Legislature will want to consider how the state can support schools in preparing for and responding to more frequent emergencies and public health issues. Report available here.
  • Transportation: Some existing transportation infrastructure will need to be modified or relocated to remain useable under a changing climate, and planning, construction, and maintenance will increasingly need to account for the effects of climate change to maintain the current longevity of transportation infrastructure. Report available here.
  • Workers and Employers: Changing conditions, such as more days of extreme heat and widespread wildfire smoke, increasing the likelihood of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities for exposed workers, particularly those who work outdoors or indoors without adequate air conditioning and ventilation. Certain workers are also likely to face greater work instability in the short-term due to extreme weather events and in the long-term as affected industries shift operations or locations in response to climate change impacts.

The series of LAO reports on climate change are accessible here.

California Unveils Updated Climate Adaptation Strategy

This week, the Newsom Administration launched the state’s Climate Adaptation Strategy outlining an all-hands-on-deck approach to building climate resilience across California. The Climate Adaptation Strategy identifies six key priorities to drive resilience actions throughout the state:

  • Strengthen protections for climate-vulnerable communities
  • Bolster public health and safety efforts to protect against increasing climate risks
  • Build a climate-resilient economy
  • Accelerate nature-based climate solutions and strengthen climate resilience of natural systems
  • Make decisions based on the best available climate science
  • Partner and collaborate to leverage resources

The strategy brings together nearly 150 climate adaptation actions from existing state plans and strategies and, for the first time, introduces success metrics and timeframes for each action. The strategy has also been developed to guide and link several sector-based efforts already underway to address climate-driven threats and connects region-based efforts across the state.

The Climate Adaptation Strategy is being made available through an interactive website rather than a traditional hard copy report. The website will provide an ongoing hub for information on climate resilience and will be updated to track progress and adjustments.

The Climate Adaptation Strategy must be updated every three years pursuant to state law. It has been developed through a range of public input guided by leaders from across the Newsom Administration.

The full Climate Adaptation Strategy is available here. Additional information from the Governor’s Office is available here.

Cal/OSHA Reminders Employers to Protect Workers from Heat Illness

On Wednesday, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) reminded all employers statewide to protect outdoor workers from heat illness. The reminder comes as the National Weather Service has issued heat advisories throughout the state.

According to Cal/OSHA, employers must take steps to protect workers from heat illness by providing water, rest, shade, and training. Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor worksites. To prevent heat illness, the law requires employers to provide outdoor workers with fresh water, access to shade at 80 degrees and whenever requested by a worker, cool-down rest breaks in addition to regular breaks, and maintain a written prevention plan with training on the signs of heat illness and what to do in case of an emergency.

Additional information is available here.

CDPH Publishes April 2022 Climate Change & Health Equity Updates

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) published their Climate Change & Health Equity Section newsletter that highlights their work in advancing climate change, health equity, improving living conditions through policies, systems, and environmental changes. This week the newsletter features ongoing climate planning process, the public health workgroup on climate action, and state government updates, including requests for proposals, webinars they will be hosting, transformative climate communities program applications, and more.

This week’s addition of the Climate Change & Health Equity Section newsletter is available here

DEA Warns of Mass-Overdose Events Involving Fentanyl

This week, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a warning to federal, state, and local law enforcement entities about a nationwide spike in fentanyl-related mass-overdose events. Fentanyl-related mass-overdose events, defined as involving three or more overdoses occurring close in time and location, have happened in at least seven American cities in recent months, resulting in 58 overdoses and 29 deaths.

According to the DEA, these events are being driven by the presence of fentanyl that is increasingly being mixed with other illicit drugs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that in the 12-month period ending in October 2021, more than 105,000 Americans died of drug overdoses with 66 percent of those deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Last year, the U.S. experienced more fentanyl-related deaths than gun- and automobile-related deaths combined.

The DEA notes its availability to assist state and local partners during mass-overdose events, including through investigating and identifying responsible parties, providing priority access to drug laboratories and subject matter experts, and warning the public about fentanyl, among other activities.

Additional information is available here.

Healthy Places Index 3.0 Now Available

This week, the Public Health Alliance of Southern California (Alliance) launched the Healthy Places Index (HPI) 3.0, representing a new, more robust tool designed to advance health equity and racial justice at the neighborhood and community levels.

HPI 3.0 features updated data and new tools to support the ability to compare data across geographies and time periods, examine the link between race and place, find communities that meet certain conditions, access over 375 decision-support layers, review policy recommendations tailored to the needs of the community, display historic redlining data, and filter by race, ethnicity, and country of origin.

HPI 3.0 can be accessed here. A launch webinar was held this week; presentation slides are available here and a recording is available here.