On Thursday, May 7th, at noon PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom held his daily briefing to provide an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Newsom kicked off his comments by speaking about the state’s budget. Specifically, he offered a contrast, “One year ago, we were debating how to balance a budget with a $21.4 billion operating surplus. We are effective in balancing last year's budget, so much so that our bond rating increased and we were able to pay down the wall of debt.” Now, he stated, we are projecting tens of billions of dollars of shortfall all related to COVID-19.
This morning, the Department of Finance (DOF) issued a Fiscal Update reflecting updated economic and revenue forecasts, as well projected budget deficit resulting from COVID-19 pandemic. DOF projects an overall budget deficit of approximately $54.3 billion, of which $13.4 billion occurs in the current year and $40.9 billion is in the budget year. The update and the associated PowerPoint can be found here.
Despite these devastating figures, Newsom offered a sense of some optimism – noting that the state is "better positioned" than in recessions of years past, particularly during 2003 and 2009. However, his optimism he said is conditioned on more federal support. Specifically, “this requires a historic level of partnership between states and federal government. We are grateful for aid we have already received. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) has been profoundly beneficial. But sadly, the enormity of this moment, requires even more support for the state, cities, and counties.” Further, he was clear that this budget situation is directly related to COVID-19, not mismanagement.
Newsom also issued new reopening guidance that extends opportunities in retail, manufacturing, and logistic sectors – “all with adaptations and an eye to moving into a new phase of our economic recovery.” Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly joined Newsom at the briefing to provide more specifics about this second phase.
The guidelines specify that before reopening, all facilities must:
- Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan
- Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them
- Implement individual control measures and screenings
- Implement disinfecting protocols
- Implement physical distancing guidelines
Additional information, including specific sector guidance, can be found here.
Dr. Ghaly also addressed regional variance criteria with the slide below. He noted some communities may move through Stage 2 faster if they are able to show greater progress. On this Newsom stated, “some may see the guidelines as impediments, but we see them as common sense. We don't have all the ideas, solutions and answers, and are humbled by that. We look forward to working with local partners to move in deeper.” Further, Newsom said that next Tuesday he'll offer information on how locals can "self-certify" their local COVID-19 conditions in terms of further reopening efforts.
During the Q&A, Newsom was asked about in-person dining at restaurants. His response: “The likelihood of some counties meeting the guidelines for dine-in restaurants that we'll put out Tuesday is high in some parts of the state. We can see that happening in the next week or so."
The first community spread of the virus in California started in a nail salon, Newsom said in describing why salons are in the third phase, rather than the second phase, of reopening.
When asked how tomorrow will be different, given that many have retailers have already been offering curbside pickup, Newsom said, “We put out 17 sectoral guideline augmentations today. You'll see that will increase activity and appetite for people to move cautiously into this next phase.”
Additionally, the Governor’s press office also announced that in continuing with the Economic Recovery & Reinvention Listening Tour, Newsom will host a virtual roundtable later in the afternoon with restaurant owners and workers. They will discuss their experiences and insights for what recovery can and should look like in a new economic landscape coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital roundtable will happen at 2:00 PM PDT and the livestream is available on the Governor’s YouTube page.
Following yesterday’s briefing, the Governor’s press office issued a news release regarding Newsom’s workers’ compensation Executive Order (EO), which creates a time-limited rebuttable presumption for accessing workers’ compensation benefits applicable to Californians who must work outside of their homes during the stay at home order. As noted in the news release, “Those eligible will have the rebuttable presumption if they tested positive for COVID-19 or were diagnosed with COVID-19 and confirmed by a positive test within 14 days of performing a labor or service at a place of work after the stay at home order was issued on March 19, 2020. The presumption will stay in place for 60 days after issuance of the executive order.” A copy of the news release can be found here. The text of the EO can be found here and a copy can be found here.
Newsom also signed another EO that waives penalties for property taxes paid after April 10th for taxpayers who demonstrate they have experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic through May 6, 2021. This will apply to residential properties and small businesses. Additionally, the EO will extend the deadline for certain businesses to file Business Personal Property Statements from tomorrow to May 31, 2020, to avoid penalties. The text of this EO can be found here and a copy can be found here.
On the legislative front, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) announced a revised calendar for the remainder of the 2020 Legislative session. A copy of the joint statement can be found here.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced it will reopen select field offices across the state on Friday, May 8th, to assist customers with appointments and with transactions that require an in-person visit to a field office during the COVID-19 pandemic. A copy of the DMV news release can be found here.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There are now a total of 58,815 confirmed positive cases and 2,412 deaths in California. As of May 5th, 809,036 tests have been conducted in California and reported to the California Department of Public Health. This represents an increase of 29,134 tests over the prior 24-hour reporting period. Also, as of May 5th, local health departments have reported 6,368 confirmed positive cases in health care workers and 36 deaths statewide. More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.
The CDPH also issued a release regarding the launch of an interactive website to help Californians find COVID-19 community testing sites near them. The testing locator website features community testing locations, including sites operated by Verily and OptumServe, which are open to Californians who meet current testing guidelines. A copy of the CDPH news release can be found here.
The https://www.covid19.ca.gov/ website is being updated continuously.
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