A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week, including a coronavirus update and the latest from Sacramento.
Scientific Safety Experts to Review Covid-19 Vaccines Before Distribution in California
Governor Gavin Newsom has named a group of nationally acclaimed California physician scientists with expertise in immunization and public health to the state’s Covid-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group will independently review the safety and efficacy of any vaccine that receives FDA approval for distribution before it can be distributed in California. The state is also putting a system in place for the distribution and administration of vaccine as supply becomes available.
“Our response to Covid-19 has and will continue to lead with data and science including when it comes to Covid-19 vaccines,” said Governor Newsom. “California leads in science and by bringing together our state’s brightest scientific minds, we can ensure that any vaccine distributed here meets safety requirements. Recognizing that supplies will be limited initially and the first doses of vaccines must go to health care workers, first responders and others who are especially vulnerable to this disease, we are working to ensure that administration and distribution of an approved vaccine is equitable.”
California Gets a New National Recreation Trail
The U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt designated the Amboy Crater Trail as California’s newest national recreation trail this week. The 1.5-mile trail passes through a lava field and ends at top of the Amboy cinder cone volcano in the Mojave Desert. It is within the Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark, a place of geological and scenic significance and one of the youngest volcanic fields in the United States. Amboy Crater is approximately halfway between Barstow and Needles off Historic Route 66.
EDD Has Paid $105 Billion in Unemployment Benefits to Pandemic-Impacted Workers
The State of California Employment Development Department reports that over the past seven months it has provided a total of $105 billion in wage replacement relief to workers, families and communities impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The benefits stem from around 15.2 million claims that have been processed by the EDD. This is four times the number of claims processed during 2010, the worst year of the Great Recession.
Additionally, EDD reports it is making progress in reducing the backlog of claimants awaiting resolution. The backlog has declined 44% for initial claims and 26% for continued claims since September 19th and the onset of a two-week reset period in the UI program.
Los Angeles Mayor Celebrates Approval of New Wind Farm Agreement
Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti this week celebrated the passage of the Red Cloud Wind Farm, a major renewable energy agreement that will provide enough clean energy to power 222,300 homes in Los Angeles. Located in New Mexico, the Red Cloud Wind project will be the largest, highest capacity, and lowest cost wind farm in LADWP’s renewable energy portfolio.
The project moves the City significantly closer to its goal of achieving a 55% renewable energy portfolio by 2025, 80% by 2036, and 100% by 2045. The project will boost LADWP’s renewable energy portfolio by six percent and provide 1,333,000 megawatt-hours of energy for LADWP customers each year, which will help save approximately 464,040 metric tons of carbon emissions annually — the equivalent of removing nearly 100,000 gas-fueled cars from the road.
The latest statistics released by the California Department of Public Health state that California now has 886,865 confirmed cases of Covid-19 to date. These cases include 6,141 newly confirmed cases on Thursday, which include an estimated 2,000 backlog cases from Los Angeles County. There have been 17,262 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The seven-day positivity rate is 2.9% and the 14-day positivity rate is 2.8%.
(See last week’s News Roundup to compare the stats.)
Go to covid19.ca.gov to find out the latest on Covid-19 in your county.
Cárdenas & Kennedy Blast Trump on Failed Mental Health Policy
Congressman Tony Cárdenas and Congressman Joe Kennedy III this week delivered a rebuke of the Trump Administration’s record on mental health care and substance use disorder treatment. Citing Medicaid cuts, the Affordable Care Act lawsuit, immigration policies and more, the lawmakers illustrated President Trump’s failure regarding mental health with substantive action throughout his first term.
“There is no health without mental health. The Trump Administration has failed the millions of Americans with mental health and substance abuse issues,” said Rep. Cárdenas. “For years, President Trump has done nothing but attempt to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and strip health care away from millions of Americans. And now, at the height of a public health crisis that has exacerbated mental health challenges in the United States, Donald Trump has a case before the Supreme Court to dismantle the ACA. He is continuing to make it more difficult for people to access mental health care. Trump betrayed the American public by not fulfilling his promise to strengthen and support our behavioral and mental health systems.”