Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 3 Discusses Infectious Diseases

At Thursday’s hearing in Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 3, a panel of experts including representatives of the California Department of Public Health and Dr. Arnold Leff, Santa Cruz County Health Officer, discussed recent infectious disease outbreaks. Discussions ranged from the detailed plans and practices employed during an outbreak to the capacity at the state and local level.

Dr. Leff provided insights about the Hepatitis A outbreaks that reached Santa Cruz and touched on both collaboration with CDPH, in addition to their local needle exchange as key factors in stopping the outbreak. He further expressed the lack of surge capacity in the county needed to contain the outbreak much quicker.

Senator Monning asked whether California was closing the gap in the number of individuals that lack immunizations. Both Dr. Leff and Dr. Gil Chavez did indicate that the vaccination rate is increasing despite the encroachment of the number of medical exemptions without merit.

In Senator Pan inquired about infectious disease control funding and where any funding for surge capacity does and/or would come from. He noted the adverse impacts to the local health department that commenced during the recession years and acknowledged that many jurisdictions have not yet returned to pre-recession staffing levels. He urged the LAO, CDPH and locals to explore what the appropriate staffing level for local health departments would be to ensure California is adequately prepared to respond to outbreaks.

The item was for discussion only and no action was taken.