November 6, 2020 Edition

LAO Provides Update on COVID-19 Spending in California

On Thursday, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) published a report providing a high-level summary of state and federal funds expended to date in responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The LAO’s report explores state and federal authorities for COVID-19 spending, state, federal, and other funding sources for COVID-19 spending, and the amounts of COVID-19 spending authorized to date. Notably, the report excludes funding allocated directly by local governments or money allocated by the federal government directly to local governments.

The LAO discusses emergency response actions taken by the president, Congress, the governor, and the California Legislature at the beginning of the pandemic. Types of COVID-19 spending are detailed in the report, totaling $30 billion for efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, facilitate physical distancing, support essential work, and mitigate secondary effects of the pandemic. Education and childcare received the most funding, while health and public health activities received slightly less.

The LAO lays out several issues for legislative consideration, particularly as the Legislature begins to consider budgetary and legislative action in the new year. The LAO poses a series of questions on whether COVID-19 spending to date aligns with the Legislature’s view of the state’s needs, whether allocations have been effective, and whether the spending plan aligns with the Newsom Administration’s overall plan to control the spread of the virus and mitigate its negative effects.

The full LAO report is available here.

CDPH Issues COVID-19 Playbook to Stand Up Community-Based Testing Sites

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) this week issued the Playbook to Stand Up Community-Based Testing Sites, offering a step-by-step guide to organizations (e.g., schools, agricultural associations, places of worship) on how to partner with the state’s new Valencia Regional Laboratory, powered by PerkinElmer, to ramp-up capacity of COVID-19 testing.

The playbook details five steps in establishing a community-based testing site, including: 1) creating a test plan, 2) setting up test collections at local sites, 3) conducting tests, 4) transporting samples for processing, and 5) reporting and billing. The document additionally specifies state responsibilities and responsibilities as an organization providing testing.

Relatedly, California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS) Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly on Thursday issued a letter to school leaders statewide detailing the state’s actions to support schools in safely reopening, including use of the state’s Valencia Regional Laboratory. The state additionally plans to issue models and best practices on school-centered COVID-19 testing.

The full CDPH COVID-19 Playbook on Community-Based Testing Sites is available here.

COVID-19 Exposure Notification App to Expand to Additional UC Campuses

This week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Technology (CDT) announced an expansion of the Exposure Notification Express app to additional University of California (UC) campuses. Recall, CDPH and CDT announced in September the new partnership with Google and Apple to confidentially notify individuals who opt in if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The state initially launched the pilot project with UC San Diego and UC San Francisco.

The pilot project will now expand to UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Riverside in mid-November. According to CDPH, the app will assist campuses in curbing the transmission of COVID-19 while prioritizing privacy and security of users. The exposure notification platform uses Bluetooth technology to notify individuals who have been in close proximity of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 without revealing users’ identity or location.

To date, nearly 15,000 users have activated the app at UC San Diego, representing close to 50 percent of the on-campus community. UC San Francisco estimates 5,000 users out of an estimated 10,000 on-campus population. More than a dozen private codes have been issued to students and employees using the software who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The full press announcement from CDPH is available here.

CDPH Issues COVID-19 Rideshare Safety Toolkit

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently developed a new communications toolkit to share information on reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 while ridesharing in a private vehicle. The toolkit includes a handout, social media content, and information for local leaders to share with their communities.

The full rideshare toolkit is available here.

Analysis Released for Initiative to Limit Government Authority During Public Health Crises

This week, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released its analysis of the proposed statewide ballot initiative to limit the government’s role to an advisory capacity during any health crisis. Recall, paperwork was filed with the California Attorney General’s Office in September to begin the initiative process, which will eventually be required to collect 623,212 signatures once cleared for circulation.

The LAO’s analysis provides background on current government authority to declare and respond to emergencies, state and local government powers during emergencies, and local public health powers without a declared emergency. The analysis details the proposed initiative, which would prohibit the use of emergency powers to respond to public health emergencies, as well as certain local public health orders. The LAO determines that the measure could impact state and local government costs and revenues in different ways, though the actual fiscal impact is unknown and is difficult to predict.

The full LAO analysis is available here.

BSCC Expected to Release Second RFA for Prop. 64 Grant Program This Month

The California Bureau of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) is expected to announce in November a new request for applications (RFA) for a second round of the Proposition 64 Public Health and Safety Grant Program. Recall, Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis, requires grant funds to be provided to local governments to assist with law enforcement, fire protection, or other local programming to address public health and safety associated with the legalization of cannabis.

For the second round of the grant program, total funding is expected to be at least $14 million and as high as $44 million. Local governments that allow for the indoor or outdoor cultivation of cannabis and that allow for retail sales are eligible to apply. The grant period covers three years and the maximum amount for which any eligible applicant may apply is $1 million. Eligible collaborative applicants may apply for a maximum of $2 million.

There are four project purposes areas for which applicants may apply: 1) youth development, 2) public health, 3) public safety, and 4) environmental impacts. All applicants must dedicate a minimum of 10 percent of requested funds to support youth development, prevention, and intervention. Projects should additionally be trauma-informed, culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate, and community-driven. Funded activities can include but are not limited to peer mentoring, job training/apprenticeships, substance use education, juvenile record expungement, and youth outreach program. Local governments may subcontract with community-based organizations for delivery of services.

Information on the Proposition 64 grant program is available here.