December 4, 2020 Edition

Legislature Convenes for 2021-22 Organizational Session Next Week

On Monday, December 7, the California Legislature will convene in Sacramento to formally commence the 2021-22 Legislative Session. During Monday’s session, elected lawmakers will be sworn into the Senate and Assembly. Notably, the desk will open on Monday, allowing Senators and Assembly Members to introduce their first measures of the new legislative session.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, additional precautions will be taken by both houses to mitigate the transmission of the virus. Legislative leaders have announced that family members will not be allowed to attend the organizational session as is the tradition. Additionally, the Assembly will be convening off-site at the Golden One Center in Downtown Sacramento, while the Senate will convene in its chambers at the State Capitol.

With the conclusion of the 2019-20 Legislative Session that formally ended this past Monday, several lawmakers either retired, termed out, or were defeated in the November election. These include Senators Jim Beall, Ling Ling Chang, Cathleen Galgiani, Jerry Hill, Hannah-Beth Jackson, Bill Monning, John Moorlach, and Mike Morrell. Assembly Members include Bill Brough, Ian Calderon, Kansen Chu, Tyler Diep, and Christy Smith. Senator Holly Mitchell resigned her seat to become a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and Assembly Member Todd Gloria was elected the Mayor of the City of San Diego.  

Looking ahead to the new year, the Senate and Assembly will have their work cut out for them when they begin their legislative work in earnest. With the state continuing its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators are anticipated to face numerous competing priorities from education to business relief to pandemic recovery efforts, and more. CHEAC will continue to keep members apprised of legislative activities next week and into the new year. 

State Issues Statewide Travel Ban, Regional Stay-at-Home Order Tied to ICU Capacity

On Thursday, the State of California announced a regional stay-at-home order in light of alarming rises in COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations throughout the state. The order, issued by Acting State Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan, requires additional sector restrictions in a region when intensive care unit (ICU) capacity among hospitals in that region drops below 15 percent.

The public health order takes effect at 12:59 pm on December 15. After taking effect, if a region falls below the 15 percent ICU availability threshold, jurisdictions will have 24 hours to implement the stay-at-home order. The five regions consist of:

  • Northern California: Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, and Trinity
  • Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma
  • Greater Sacramento: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba
  • San Joaquin Valley: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Tuolumne
  • Southern California: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura

Once triggered, regions will remain in the stay-at-home order for at least three weeks. Counties will then be eligible to exit the regional stay-at-home order after three weeks if their hospital ICU capacity projection four weeks out reaches at least 15 percent. Counties will then return to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy tier determined by their case rate and test positivity after becoming eligible to exit the regional stay-at-home order.

Under the regional order, residents are instructed to stay at home as much as possible to limit mixing with other households that can lead to COVID-19 transmission. The following sectors must be closed under the order when triggered:

  • Indoor and Outdoor Playgrounds
  • Indoor Recreational Facilities
  • Hair Salons and Barbershops
  • Personal Care Services
  • Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums
  • Movie Theaters
  • Wineries
  • Bars, Breweries, and Distilleries
  • Family Entertainment Centers
  • Cardrooms and Satellite Wagering
  • Limited Services
  • Live Audience Sports
  • Amusement Parks

Other sectors must make additional modifications under the order in addition to mandatory face coverings and physical distancing:

  • Outdoor Recreational Facilities: Allow outdoor operations only without any food, drink, or alcohol sales; overnight stays at campgrounds are prohibited.
  • Retail and Shopping Centers: Indoor operations at 20 percent capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in stores; special hours should be implemented for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
  • Hotels and Lodging: Open for critical infrastructure support only.
  • Restaurants: Allow for takeout or delivery only.
  • Offices: Allow remote except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote work is not possible.
  • Places of Worship: Outdoor services only.
  • Entertainment Production (including Professional Sports): Operation without live audiences; testing protocol and “bubbles” are highly encouraged.

Notably, the order does not modify existing state guidance regarding K-12 schools. Sectors including critical infrastructure, non-urgent medical and dental care, and childcare and pre-kindergarten are allowed to remain open when a remote option is not possible. Appropriate infectious disease preventive measures and mandatory face coverings and physical distancing will be required.

As part of Thursday’s announcement, the state additionally indicated all non-essential travel is temporarily restricted statewide. Under this guidance, no hotel or lodging entity in California shall accept or honor out-of-state reservations for non-essential travel unless the reservation is for at least the minimum time period required to quarantine and the persons identified in the reservation will quarantine in the hotel or lodging entity until after that time period has expired. Additional information relative to quarantining procedures is expected to be forthcoming from the state.

Today, six Bay Area jurisdictions announced the issuance of a regional stay-at-home order, effective on Sunday, December 6 at 10:00 pm. The Bay Area order takes action ahead of the state’s mandated regional stay-at-home order that is tied to ICU capacity. Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and Santa Clara counties, as well as the City of Berkeley, issued the order, which is expected to be in effect until Monday, January 4, 2021.

The full regional stay-at-home order is available here. An announcement from the Governor’s Office is available here.

ACIP, California Workgroups Finalize Recommendations for First Phase of COVID-19 Vaccines

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued its recommendations for recipients of the first round of COVID-19 vaccines. ACIP determined both health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities be offered the first vaccines that are anticipated to be distributed over the coming weeks. The full CDC ACIP recommendation is available here.

Additionally, this week, the California COVID-19 Drafting Guidelines Workgroup and Community Advisory Committee similarly finalized its recommendations for recipients of the first round of COVID-19 vaccines. In Phase 1a, California will prioritize health care personnel and long-term care facility residents. The state is anticipated to receive 327,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine within the next two weeks.

Based on the scarcity of vaccine supplies expected to be received, the state will additional sub-prioritize vaccine allocation into three tiers:

Tier 1:

  • Acute care, psychiatric, and correctional facility hospitals
  • Skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and similar settings for older or medically vulnerable
  • Paramedics, EMTs, and other providing emergency medical services
  • Dialysis centers

Tier 2:

  • Immediate care facilities
  • Home health care and in-home supportive services
  • Community health workers
  • Public health field staff
  • Primary care clinics, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Centers, correctional facility clinics and urgent care clinics

Tier 3:

  • Other settings and health care workers
  • Specialty clinics
  • Laboratory workers
  • Dental/oral health clinics
  • Pharmacy staff not working in settings at higher tiers

Additional information on COVID-19 vaccine distribution in California is available here.

CDC Recommends Universal Masking Anytime Outside Home

Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) an article detailing the high levels of COVID-19 transmission in the U.S. As a result of the sustained high levels of spread, the CDC recommends universal face covering anytime an individual is outside of their household. The CDC additionally recommends physical distancing and limiting contact and avoiding nonessential indoor spaces and crowded outdoor settings. Other non-pharmaceutical interventions recommended by the CDC include prompt case investigation and contact tracing and expanded testing, diagnosis, and isolation efforts.

The full MMWR article is available here.

DOF Transfers $1.5 Billion to Continue COVID-19 Response Efforts

Last week, the California Department of Finance (DOF) notified legislative leaders of the Newsom Administration’s intent to transfer $1.5 billion from the state’s Disaster Response-Emergency Operations Account (DREOA) to support the state’s continued response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to DOF, the transfer will support:

  • Procurement: Costs associated with procurement-related activities and invoices, including personal protective equipment and medical supplies and equipment.
  • Statewide Testing: Costs associated with state laboratory testing and updates/amendments to existing statewide testing contracts for specimen collection and transportation.
  • Contact Tracing and Tracking: Costs to support ongoing statewide contact tracing and tracking.
  • Hospital and Medical Surge: Costs associated with continuing to maintain capacity to support up to 5,000 beds in the event of a surge in cases.
  • Hotels for Healthcare Workers and Support Staff: Costs for hotels for medical staff who care for or come into contact with COVID-19 patients in the medical system and who cannot self-isolate at home.
  • State Response Operations: Costs for ongoing state response activities and other support services.
  • Vaccine Task Force: Anticipated costs associated with the initial Vaccine Task Force needs.
  • Public Awareness and Community Outreach: Costs associated with continuing the state’s COVID-19 public awareness and community outreach campaign.

The full DOF memo is available here.

Governor Newsom Announces Relief Efforts for Entities Impacted by Pandemic

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced immediate relief efforts available to small businesses amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Newsom indicated that California will provide temporary tax relief for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. The announcement offers an automatic three-month income tax extension for taxpayers filing less than  $1 million in sales tax, extends the availability of existing interest and penalty-free payment agreements to companies with up to $5 million in taxable sales, and provides expanded interest-free payment options for largest businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

The Governor additionally announced the creation of a $500 million COVID-19 Relief Grant to be administered by the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GoBIZ). Funds are being awarded to selected intermediaries with established networks of Community Development Financial Institutions to distribute relief grants of up to $25,000 each to micro and small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and cultural institutions. The grants are anticipated to be awarded through early 2021.

Governor Newsom also announced an increase of $12.5 million to the California Rebuilding Fund, providing additional financial support to impacted small businesses to rebuild from the current economic crisis.

A full announcement from the Governor’s Office is available here. A memo from the California Department of Finance (DOF) detailing these investments is also available here.

Newsom Administration Releases Master Plan for Early Learning and Care

The week, the Newsom Administration released the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: California for All Kids report, detailing a research-based roadmap for building a comprehensive and equitable early learning and care system over the next decade. The plan is anticipated to better assist the state in understanding the challenges families, children, and early learning and care providers are facing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The report identifies key policy goals to ensure that all California children can thrive physically, emotionally, and educationally in their early years through access to high-quality early learning and care programs. These goals include universal preschool, enhanced workforce development and equitable career pathways for educators and caregivers, and funding reforms to promote equitable access to high-quality early learning and care.

Released by the California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Agency, the plan was a collaborative effort among WestEd, the RAND Corporation, Child Trends, American Institutes for Research, Glen Price Group, the Neimand Collaborative, Low Income Investment Fund, Stanford University, and SparkPlace. The plan builds upon the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission report and is rooted in the understanding that access to high-quality early learning and care improves outcomes among all children and families and helps address racial and economic inequities.

The plan’s recommendations include:

  • Unifying programs for infants and toddlers and improving access to paid family leave
  • Providing universal preschool for all four-year-olds and income-eligible three-year-olds and those with disabilities
  • Prohibiting suspensions and expulsions in subsidized early learning programs, which has disproportionately impacted young black boys
  • Supporting the development of dual language learners who represent 60 percent of California’s young children
  • Building a licensure and workforce development system based on the knowledge and skills of the workforce that supports and rewards the workforce
  • Implementing funding reform to address regional cost of care differences, help sustain a high-quality workforce, and allow for sliding fees for more private-pay families to participate
  • Growing shared services networks to support childcare providers and help their small businesses grow
  • Improving data sharing to advance equity, efficiency, and continuous improvement

The full master plan is available here. An announcement from the Governor’s Office is available here.

Coalition Submits Over 1 Million Signatures to Overturn Flavored Tobacco Ban

Last week, a coalition consisting of retailers and tobacco industry representatives, including tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris USA, submitted over one million signatures from California voters in an attempt to overturn SB 793 (Hill) that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products statewide. Recall, the coalition initially filed referendum paperwork to overturn the measure just days after the bill was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Proponents were required to collect at least 623,212 signatures of registered California voters. The California Secretary of State will now assess all signatures. If sufficient valid signatures were collected, SB 793 will not go into effect as currently planned on January 1, 2021. The measure will then likely be placed on the ballot for consideration by California voters in 2022.

Additional information on the status of the filed referendum is expected over the coming weeks.

CDPH Announces Valley Fever Cases Hit Record High in 2019

This week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced 9,004 new cases of Valley Fever were reported in California in 2019, the highest number since the state began tracking cases in 1995. The highest incidence in Valley Fever in 2019 was reported in counties in the Central Valley and Central Coast regions of the state, including Kern, Kings, San Luis Obispo, Fresno, Tulare, Madera, and Monterey counties.

According to CDPH, it remains unclear why the state reached a record level in 2019, but the above average level of rainfall during the 2018-19 winter may have contributed. While anyone can be infected with Valley Fever, those most at-risk for severe disease include individuals who are black or Filipino, adults 60 years or older, pregnant women, and people with diabetes or conditions that weaken the immune system.

CDPH posts data on Valley Fever cases monthly, issues periodic updates, and provides educational materials on the CDPH website. During 2019-20, CDPH implemented a multimedia Valley Fever awareness campaign to reach more people and providers, including residents living in areas with moderate to high rates of Valley Fever and those at risk of severe disease.

More information on Valley Fever is available here.

DHCS, OSG Announce ACEs Aware Grant Opportunity

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), in partnership with the Office of the California Surgeon General (OSG), recently released a request for proposals (RFP) for a second round of ACEs Aware grants. The new round of grants will target California communities that want to build or execute a robust Network of Care to effectively respond to ACEs and toxic stress to meet the needs of children, adults, and families.

Network of Care grant funds will be available to create, augment, and sustain formal connections between healthcare providers, social services systems, and community partners to address the referral and response needs of Medi-Cal providers, patients, and families following an ACE screening and to prevent future trauma and toxic stress.

Two types of grants will be available: network of care planning grants and network of care implementation grants. Planning grants are targeted for communities that have a high prevalence of ACEs, rural areas, tribal communities, or other communities that do not have existing ACEs response activities underway. Implementation grants will be awarded to communities that demonstrate a high level of readiness and engagement with Medi-Cal providers to operate trauma-informed networks of care.

RFPs are due on December 21, 2020. An informational webinar will be held on December 11 from 9:00 am to 10:30 am. Potential applicants are encouraged to submit questions for the webinar via email to by noon on Monday, December 7.

More information about the RFP, including details on the informational webinar, is available here.

Bureau of Cannabis Control Announces Updates

It was announced earlier this week that Lori Ajax, Chief of the State Bureau of Cannabis (BCC), would be retiring as of Wednesday, December 2. Tamara Colson, Assistant Chief Counsel, BCC, has been appointed to serve as Acting Bureau Chief beginning on Thursday, December 3, 2020.

The Bureau also announced this week they have published a Revised Branded Merchandise Fact Sheet providing information about the sale and distribution of branded cannabis merchandise. This document is available here.