Today, March 18th, Governor Gavin Newsom held another press conference at 5:45 PM providing an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, he spoke for approximately 20 minutes today and then opened it up for Q&A. The first question raised was the issue of a statewide “Shelter in Place” order. In response, Newsom specified that there is not a statewide directive on this yet but that many counties are instituting or have already instituted such guidelines. The press conference concluded at approximately 6:12 PM.
More specifically, during the press conference, Newsom provided an overview of the series of executive orders he released last night and throughout the day today. Those actions are outlined below in the subsequent paragraphs. Additionally, Newsom said that by this Friday (3/20), the state will be announcing that two large hospitals will be brought online. The state has also requested federal support, including two mobile field hospitals and asked the Navy to lend the state the USS Mercy to bolster response. California has also requested the Federal Government more tests to increase capacity and for additional supplies.
Late last night, March 17th, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to ease restrictions on commercial drivers engaged in support of emergency relief efforts. The executive order also suspends existing law for employers directly impacted by COVID-19 and directs the Labor and Workforce Development Agency to provide guidance to impacted employees by March 23rd. More specifically, the order suspends, as long as specified conditions are meet, certain sections of the Labor Code for an employer that orders a mass layoff, relocation, or termination caused by COVID-19. The full executive order can be found here.
This morning, March 18th, Newsom issued another executive order to waive eligibility re-determinations for 90 days for Californians who participate in: Medi-Cal health coverage; CalFresh food assistance; CalWORKS; Cash Assistance for Immigrants; and In-Home Supportive Services. The executive order also waives certain provisions of the Bagley-Keene Act. More specifically, the order states that subject to specified notice and accessibility requirements, a local or state legislative body may hold public meetings via teleconferencing. The full executive order can be found here.
This afternoon, Newsom announced the launch of a new COVID-19 public awareness campaign “to provide useful information to Californians and inform them of actions they can take to further prevent the spread of the virus.” The campaign is anchored by a new, consumer-friendly website, www.covid19.ca.gov. The press release on this announcement can be found here.
He also issued another executive order to waive, pending federal approval, this year’s statewide testing for students in K-12 schools. The full executive order can be found here.
At 4:30 PM, Newsom publicized a series of emergency actions to protect Californians experiencing homelessness from the virus. As part of that effort, the Governor signed another executive order granting local flexibility on spending and building shelters. The full executive order can be found here.
As of 6 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on March 17th, the California Department of Public Health announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. California now has 598 confirmed cases – a 21 percent increase. More information can be found here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/OPA/Pages/NR20-026.aspx.
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