A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week, including a wildfire update, coronavirus news and the latest from Sacramento.
Governor Newsom Passes a Series of Significant Environmental Bills
Governor Newsom this week signed several bills plus an Executive Order designed to help California meet future climate targets.
The Executive Order signed by the Governor on Wednesday bans the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks by 2035. All new cars and passenger trucks sold in California must be zero-emission vehicles. The law is designed to reduce transport pollution, move away from reliance on fossil fuels, create jobs and spur economic growth. Transportation currently causes more than 50% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. The new law is predicted to achieve at least a 35% reduction in those emissions.
AB 793, signed by the Governor this week, is the first law in the nation establishing a minimum amount of recycled materials to be used in plastic beverage containers. Plastic containers for drinks must include at least 15% recycled plastic by 2022, 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030. The law intends to reduce dependence on new plastics, reduce the use of fossil fuels and develop a domestic market for recycled materials. AB 793 was introduced by Assembly members Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks).
AB 3214 by Assembly member Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) doubles fines for oil spills, representing the first such increase in 30 years. Oil companies that cause or cover up a spill will be fined up to $1 million per day and up to $1,000 per gallon spilled.
SB 1320 by Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas) was also signed into law this week. It requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to conduct a study on climate change every five years. The study will examine the effects of climate change, including economic costs, on California, and will inform future legislation.
Tuesday Was National Voter Registration Day
Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day, and Secretary of State Alex Padilla urged all Californians to register to vote. He also encouraged the 21 million Californians already registered to vote to check their voter registration status and to track their vote-by-mail ballot using the WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov tracking tool.
“The 2020 General Election will be the most consequential election in a generation, and voter excitement is at a fever pitch,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “But for the many eligible Californians who have yet to register, National Voter Registration Day is the perfect time to sign up. Californians can register to vote in a matter of minutes at RegisterToVote.ca.gov.”
The voter registration deadline for the November 3, 2020 General Election is October 19. Voting starts on October 5, when counties will begin mailing ballots to registered voters in California.
Governor Signs Bills to Reform Mental Health Care in California
Today, Governor Newsom signed a package of bills reforming the state’s behavioral health care system. AB 1976 reforms Laura’s Law to increase access to care for those needing outpatient behavioral health treatment. SB 855 requires insurers and health plans to cover medically necessary mental health and substance use disorder services.
“The bills I am signing today will help Californians access the behavioral health services they need to recover,” said Governor Newsom. “Earlier this year, I pledged to put these critical services within reach of more Californians, through reforming our Mental Health Services Act and laws that allow loved ones and service providers to ask courts to compel those who need treatment into community-based outpatient care. Today, we do just that.”
Five of the largest 20 wildfires in California history have occurred in 2020. This week saw significant improvement in some of the season’s worst fires, with the LNU Lightning Complex fire in the North Bay and SCU Lightning Complex fire in the East Bay both at 98% contained. Those fires have burned 363,220 acres and 396,624 acres respectively.
Cal Fire crews continue to battle 25 major wildfires. The largest fires burning statewide include the August Complex fire in Mendocino National Forest, a 867,335-acre blaze that is 40% contained and caused one fatality; and the North Complex fire in Plumas National Forest, which is 78% contained at 304,492 acres and caused 15 fatalities. The Creek Fire in Fresno County is 36% contained after burning 291,426 acres; and the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest has burned 113,986 acres and is at 55% containment as of today.
Source: CalFire’s Daily Wildfire Report.
According to the California Department of Public Health (CDHP), California has 794,040 confirmed cases to date, and 15,398 Covid-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic. This includes 3,400 cases newly confirmed on Thursday.
California’s seven-day positivity rate is 2.8% and the 14-day positivity rate is 3.0%. The state’s testing capacity and turnaround times have improved, with 69% of patients getting test results within one day and 90% within two days.
Go to covid19.ca.gov to find out the latest Covid-19 statistics in your county.
The CDPH is urging Californians to get a flu shot as soon as possible; doing so is more important than ever. As always, wear a mask, wash your hands, and keep your distance.
Blood Donations Can Now Help Coronavirus Patients
The American Red Cross has announced that plasma made from blood donations that test positive for Covid-19 antibodies may now be used to help coronavirus patients.
“Donations that come back positive for Covid-19 antibodies now undergo secondary testing to confirm antibody results, and that enables the Red Cross to then potentially use the plasma from those donations for COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Erin Goodhue, executive medical director of direct patient care with the Red Cross Biomedical Services. “With approximately 2% of the U.S. population testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies, every donation is important to ensure patients with coronavirus have access to every treatment option available to them.”
Visit RedCrossBlood.org to schedule an appointment.
A Reminder to Take the Census
Did you take the Census yet? Click here to do so now!