A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week, including a coronavirus update and the latest from Sacramento….
Governor Signs Paid Sick Leave Bill
Governor Gavin Newsom today signed SB 95, legislation to ensure access to up to 80 hours of Covid-19 supplemental paid sick leave for eligible employees, including those advised to quarantine or isolate and those caring for COVID-impacted family members.
“Paid sick leave gives workers the time they need to care for themselves and loved ones while keeping their coworkers, families and communities safe,” said Governor Newsom. “Even as case rates and hospitalizations decline and vaccinations ramp up, we can’t let our guard down and must do all we can to stop this virus from spreading. I thank the Legislature for its continued leadership and commitment to supporting California workers affected by this pandemic.”
SB 95 extends protections through September 30, 2021 and is retroactive to sick leave taken beginning January 1, 2021. Small businesses employing 25 or fewer workers are exempt from the legislation, but may offer supplemental paid sick leave and, if eligible, receive a federal tax credit.
Two Asian Americans Attacked in San Francisco
On Wednesday, two older Asian Americans were violently assaulted in San Francisco in separate, apparently unprovoked attacks. Coming one day after the murders of eight people, six of whom were Asian Americans, in Atlanta, the attacks highlight an alarming increase in hate crimes against the AAPI community nationwide.
The San Francisco Police Department reports that on Wednesday morning, officers responding to calls about an aggravated assault arrived and located two victims, a 75-year-old female and an 83-year-old male, both of Asian descent. The victims were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Officers took custody of the suspect who was detained by a nearby security guard. The suspect is identified as 39 year-old Steven Jenkins. Witnesses told officers that Jenkins was involved in a physical altercation in U.N. Plaza approximately 30 minutes prior to the assaults.
A GoFundMe campaign set up by the Community Youth Center of San Francisco to help the victims of has so far raised a combined total of more than $700,000, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It includes more details about the attacks, including the victims’ identities.
US Senate Confirms Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Governor Gavin Newsom issued the following statement:
“Today, Xavier Becerra again makes history, and our nation takes a bold step towards a full and equitable recovery from COVID-19. Xavier’s distinguished record of public service, and lifelong commitment to the most vulnerable, reflect the best of California’s values and exactly the qualities we need in the national leaders who will shepherd us through the end of this pandemic.
“As Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, he will proudly continue his decades-long fight for quality, affordable health care for all, and in turn make our country healthier and stronger. I congratulate Xavier on his historic confirmation and join with his family and all Californians in celebrating this milestone.”
Two Million Vaccine Doses Delivered to Hardest-Hit Communities
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced on March 12 that 2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to Californians in some of the state’s hardest-hit communities, increasing immunity where the state’s transmission rates and disease burden have been the highest during the pandemic. With this equity metric met, a previously announced update to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy to account for progress with vaccine administration has gone into effect.
After reassessment using new thresholds, 42 counties are now in the red (substantial) tier, representing 87.7% of California’s population. Eleven counties remain in the purple (widespread) tier, while four are in the orange (moderate) tier and one – Alpine County – is in the yellow (minimal) tier. Going forward, the Purple Tier threshold is greater than 10 cases per 100,000 people.
“California is doubling down on its mission to keep equity a top priority as we continue to get COVID-19 doses into the arms of all Californians as safely and quickly as possible,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency. “Focusing on the individuals who have been hardest hit by this pandemic is the right thing to do and also ensures we are having the greatest impact in reducing transmission, protecting our health care delivery system and saving lives.”
More information about the Blueprint for a Safer Economy is available here.
State Launches “Let’s Get to ImmUnity” Campaign to Boost Vaccine Acceptance
On Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced a new public education campaign under its Vaccinate ALL 58 effort to ramp up the connections being made with Californians who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and address questions and concerns they have with the vaccine.
The “Let’s Get to ImmUnity” integrated media campaign is one part of the state’s Five Part Plan for Vaccination Equity. The goal is to offer answers and reassurance that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and our greatest tool to end the pandemic and move all of our lives forward again. The campaign is part of a broader $40 million effort that includes radio, print, TV and billboards, with a focus on multicultural and multilingual media outlets.
The effort will also include digital advertising, including native advertising, search, paid social media advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and an influencer campaign on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube focused on doctors, nurses and other health professionals educating people on the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Non-health influencers will also be included to appeal to a wide range of Californians, with an emphasis on communities with high levels of hesitancy.
The first TV ad begins airing in English and Spanish on March 22. The ads encourage Californians to stay informed on vaccine availability by signing up for My Turn notifications at myturn.ca.gov or by phone at (833) 422-4255.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the most recent statistics on Covid-19 in the state today. The numbers continue to improve. California has 3,538,821 confirmed cases of to date, which includes 3,287, newly recorded cases on Thursday. The seven-day positivity rate is 2.0%. Since the beginning of the pandemic,56, 027 Californians have died due to Covid-19.
As of March 19, providers have reported administering a total of 13,769,061 vaccine doses statewide. The CDC reports that 17,661,490 doses have been delivered to entities within the state.
Remember to sign up at myturn.ca.gov for a notification when you’re eligible for a vaccine.