Weekly News Roundup for Friday, February 19th, 2021

California State Capitol Building in Sacramento

A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week, including a coronavirus update and the latest from Sacramento….

Legislators Introduce Bill to Guarantee Health Care as a Human Right for All Californians

Today, Assembly Members Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Alex Lee (D-San Jose) introduced AB 1400, which would guarantee comprehensive, high-quality health care to all Californians as a human right. The California Nurses Association (CNA) is the sponsor of AB 1400, the California Guaranteed Health Care for All Act (CalCare). The CalCare program establishes an improved Medicare for All-type health care system.

Nearly 3 million Californians have no health insurance, while millions more have insurance that they can’t afford to use because their copays and deductibles are too high. Meanwhile, for-profit insurance companies and health care systems are reporting record-breaking profits, even while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage California and medical-related bankruptcies are at an all-time high.

“The wealthiest nation in human history has failed to guarantee healthcare as a human right. Two thirds of the bankruptcies in this country are tied to medical debt,” said Assembly Member Alex Lee. “We’ve seen from the pandemic that employment-based healthcare doesn’t work – through CalCare we can guarantee healthcare for all Californians.”

If authorized and financed, CalCare will ensure that all Californians, regardless of employment, income, immigration status, race, gender, or any other considerations, can get the health care they need, free at the point of service. CalCare also includes long-term services and supports for people with disabilities and the elderly, a health care cost control system, and ways to address health care disparities.

State Allows Recreational Sports to Resume in Some Counties

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) today released updated guidance for youth and recreational adult sports. The guidance applies to all organized youth and adult sports, including school and community-sponsored programs, and privately organized clubs and leagues. CDPH’s guidance is aimed at giving communities guidelines on how to safely remain physically active while reducing transmission in their communities. Under the updated guidance, outdoor high-contact and moderate-contact sport competitions may resume in the red and the purple tiers, with modifications, including testing requirements for certain outdoor high contact sports.

Under the updated guidance, outdoor high-contact sports can be played in counties in the purple or red tier with a case rate at or below 14 per 100,000. Weekly testing will be required for football, rugby and water polo participants age 13 and over in counties with a case rate between 7 and 14 per 100,000. Weekly testing is required for all participants and coaches in these sports, with results made available within 24 hours of competition. Outdoor moderate-contact sports, such as baseball, cheerleading and softball, can be played in these counties without the testing requirement.

Nation’s First Community Vaccination Sites Open in Los Angeles and Oakland

California Governor Gavin Newsom and the Biden-Harris Administration on Tuesday announced the opening of the nation’s first community vaccination sites in Oakland and Los Angeles. These pilot sites at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum and California State University, Los Angeles opened their gates on Tuesday morning as part of the wider effort to establish a series of vaccination sites nationwide to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sites are co-run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of California through the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). FEMA and the Department of Defense are providing resources and federal staffing support to establish these new community vaccination centers as well as operational support.

Also opening this week were four mobile vaccination clinics – two paired with each vaccination site – which can be deployed to multiple locations within the community to amplify and provide distribution to areas that otherwise lack sufficient support.

Registration for vaccine appointments at these two sites will be available through visiting the state’s My Turn website or by calling 833-422-4255.

State Approves Relief to Californians Experiencing Pandemic Hardship 

Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon announced on Wednesday that they have reached an agreement on a package of immediate actions that will speed needed relief to individuals, families and businesses suffering the most significant economic hardship from the COVID-19 Recession.

The compromise builds on the initiatives in the Governor’s state budget proposal to provide cash relief to lower-income Californians, increase aid to small businesses and provide license renewal fee waivers to businesses impacted by the pandemic. In addition to these measures, the agreement provides tax relief for businesses, commits additional resources for critical child care services and funds emergency financial aid for community college students.

Among other key provisions, the agreement provides $600 in one-time relief to households receiving the California EITC for 2020. In addition, the agreement provides a $600 one-time payment to taxpayers with Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITINs) who were precluded from receiving the $1,200 per person federal payments issues last spring and the more recent $600 federal payments.

Separately, the Governor and legislative leaders said that discussions are continuing on measures for the safe reopening of the state’s K-12 schools, including strategies to address learning loss caused by the pandemic.

Coronavirus Update

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the most recent statistics on Covid-19 in the state today, revealing a trend of significant week-over-week improvement. California has 3,428,518 confirmed cases of to date, which includes 6,798 newly recorded cases on Thursday. The seven-day positivity rate is trending downwards again at 3.1% and the 14-day rate is also down at 3.8%. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 48,344 Californians have died due to Covid-19.

As of today, providers have reported administering a total of 6,929,954 vaccine doses statewide. The CDC reports that 8,828,480 doses have been delivered to entities within the state, and 8,858,445 vaccine doses, which includes the first and second dose, have been shipped.

As of Tuesday, 52 California counties are in the purple tier, three counties (Mariposa, Plumas and Del Norte) are in the red tier, three counties (Alpine, Sierra and Trinity) are in the orange tier, and no counties are in the yellow tier.

Remember to sign up at myturn.ca.gov for a notification when you’re eligible for a vaccine.

Visit covid19.ca.gov

Coming into the final week of February, here are “10 Virtual Exhibitions Celebrating Black History Month in 2021.”

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