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Newsom ushers in state’s full reopening at Universal Studios Hollywood

California was one of the only states to achieve a week-over-week increase rate of vaccinations, most recently with a 22% increase

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Governor Gavin Newsom ushers in state's reopening at Universal Studios (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of California)

STUDIO CITY – As California moved to fully reopen the economy Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom welcomed the milestone at Universal Studios Hollywood, where he highlighted the attractions Californians can look forward to revisiting this summer.

Starting today, June 15, the restrictions that have been in place over the past year will be eliminated, including physical distancing, capacity limits, county tier systems and masks in almost all settings for vaccinated Californians.  The Golden State was one of the only states in the country to achieve a week-over-week increase in the rate of vaccinations, most recently with a 22 percent increase in vaccinations.

“Today, we celebrate the incredible strength and resilience of Californians – from our heroic health care workers to essential workers across the board to everyday Californians from all walks of life – who have supported each other through hardship and heartache over the past year, making sacrifices to save countless lives and enable us to turn the page on this pandemic,” said Newsom. “As we look ahead to better days, we will continue to look out for one another, redoubling our support to those hit hardest by the pandemic and making unprecedented investments to address California’s most persistent challenges, so that the entire state comes roaring back together.”

Newsom also selected 10 lucky Californians to receive $1.5 million each – for a total of $15 million – as part of the final cash prize drawing in the state’s Vax for the Win program. 30 prior winners won a total of $1,500,000.

Tuesday’s selection of 10 $1.5 million winners caps off the cash prize giveaways as part of the $116.5 million Vax for the Win program – the largest vaccine incentive program in the nation. The program previously selected 30 winners to receive $50,000 each, for a total of $1,500,000. In addition, the program is providing $100 million in $50 prepaid or grocery cards for newly vaccinated people, while supplies last. Governor Newsom also highlighted the upcoming California Dream Vacations, a new Vax for the Win incentive in which vaccinated Californians have the chance to win one of six in-state vacation packages in a drawing on July 1.

In a press release, the Governor’s office touted his administration’s accomplishments that had been spread out over the duration of the pandemic in the past 15 months.

  • California is forecasted to outpace the country’s economic recovery, ranked as the No. 1 U.S. economy for “expanding GDP, raising household income, investing in innovation,” and more.
  • California is creating more jobs than any other state for three months in a row, adding 385,000 jobs; in April alone, California created 38 percent of the nation’s jobs.
  • The state consistently has amongst the lowest case rates and transmission rates in the nation, and hospitalizations dipped to the lowest point since March 2020.
  • More than 40 million vaccinations have been administered in California, surpassing the next closest state by 16 million, with over 70 percent of adults having at least one shot. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health noted that at the peak of the pandemic the County was losing 277 residents a day. Hospitals were under enormous strain, with more than 8,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19 and there were more than 15,000 new cases diagnosed each day.

L.A. County is in a better place than any other metro area of similar size in the entire nation. Each day, on average, only 1.5 cases per 100,000 people are diagnosed in L.A. County, compared with 2.8 cases in the same population in the New York City metro area, 2.9 cases in Chicago, 3.5 cases in Atlanta, 5.3 cases in Houston, and 9.1 cases in Miami. Only 0.4% of COVID-19 tests in L.A. County are positive, compared with 0.8% in New York, 1.3% in Chicago, 1.7% in Atlanta, 3.3% in Houston, and 3.7% in Miami.

Over the past six months, the tremendous effort to get the vaccine into the arms of residents has gotten the County to a place where as of June 11, more than 5,490,637 (66%) of eligible L.A. County residents have received one dose of the vaccine and 4,668,783 (56%) are fully vaccinated.

“After 16 months of enormous upheaval and loss, we can now move forward with a genuine sense of hope. We can and should feel joy while recognizing and honoring the immense collective effort that brought us to the point where we can fully reopen. We remain committed to protecting your health and to closing gaps in health outcomes associated with COVID-19.,”said Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“Case counts and transmission are low because of our shared efforts to implement a layered approach to preventing transmission.  As we reopen, we are mindful that for those not yet vaccinated, protection is highly dependent on our continued actions to take care of each other. Sensible protections for our essential workforce will be instrumental in keeping transmission of COVID-19 in check,” she added.

Unvaccinated people need to remain very careful and wear masks when they are around people outside their household, and if in close contact with others, including at worksites, they should consider upgrading their masks to a respirator, such as an N95, or a KN95.  These masks do a much better job protecting the wearer from other people’s germs, a spokesperson for Public Health said.

Public Health continues to urge unvaccinated people to get vaccinated. Through Thursday, June 17 at County-run vaccination sites, participating LA city and mobile sites, and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center sites, everyone 18 and older coming to get their first vaccine or who brings a first-time vaccine recipient with them to their second dose appointment, will have an opportunity to win a pair of season tickets to the 2021-2022 home season of the Clippers, the Rams, or the Chargers. Official rules and participating site locations are posted online on the Los Angeles County Vaccination Sweepstakes page.  Winners will be contacted by phone and/or email.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound.  Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

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California

California voters give Newsom thumbs down on homelessness response

“I don’t think homelessness can be solved – I know homelessness can be solved,” said Newsom. “We are going all-in with innovative solutions”

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New Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell & Governor Newsom tour Folsom Lake reservoir (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of California)

BOSTON – In a new poll released Friday conducted by Inside California Politics and Emerson College of more than 1,000 registered voters, half rated Governor Gavin Newsom’s response to the homelessness crisis in California as ‘poor.’

The poll of more than 1,000 registered voters has a margin of error of +/-2.9%  (Graphic via KTLA)

Newsom’s low marks comes after an announcement earlier this week at a Project Homekey site located in Sebastopol, West of Santa Rosa, where he signed the largest funding and reform package for housing and homelessness in California history as part of the $100 billion California Comeback Plan. The package includes $10.3 billion for affordable housing and $12 billion over two years towards tackling the homelessness crisis head-on – helping tens of thousands of people off the streets while also demanding greater accountability and more urgency from local governments.

The new homelessness funding includes $5.8 billion to add 42,000 new housing units through Homekey – a national model for homeless housing. $3 billion of this investment is dedicated to housing for people with the most acute behavioral and physical health needs. This investment is the biggest expansion in decades in terms of clinically enhanced behavioral health housing in California.

According to the poll, homelessness ties with housing costs at 19% as the number one issue the state is facing today. COVID-19 ranks close behind at 16% (Graphic via KTLA)

“I don’t think homelessness can be solved – I know homelessness can be solved,” said Newsom. “We are going all-in with innovative solutions that we know work – with a focus on creating housing to support people with severe mental health challenges, and with more money than ever to move people out of encampments and into safer situations.”

California is home to more than a quarter of the nation’s homeless people with an estimated 161,000 people are experiencing homelessness, according to federal government data, and it has reached crisis proportions in many cities, especially in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in his annual State of the City address on April 19, 2021 that he will seek to spend nearly $1 billion on initiatives for addressing homelessness, as well as allocate $235 million for the city’s Emergency Rental Assistance program, intended to help up to 100,000 households and other critical needs.

There are deep disagreements in how to solve a problem that goes beyond economics, advocates claim they can’t house people quickly enough with a shortage of housing units and high rents. The issue is also further exacerbated by the complications of mental illness and addiction issues that require treatment and can make people resistant to accepting shelter.

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California

Newsom signs legislation to bolster state’s film and television industry

The film & television industry provides 134,000 production-related jobs, 83,000 jobs in distribution & 643,000 jobs created by vendors

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Governor Newsom signs legislation to expand Film and Television Tax Credit Program alongside film studio representatives, labor leaders and legislators (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor of California)

LOS ANGELES – In a boost for California’s nation-leading economic recovery, Governor Gavin Newsom today signed legislation investing $330 million to expand the state’s successful Film and Television Tax Credit Program, which works to retain and attract production jobs and economic activity across California – generating nearly $18 billion in production spending for the state to date.

Alongside film studio representatives, labor leaders and legislators, the Governor signed SB 144 – co-authored by Senator Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblymember Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood) – today at historic Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood. The legislation expands the current film credit program with a $180 million increase over two years and an additional one-time $150 million incentive to be used over multiple years for the construction of certified motion picture soundstages – building out studio infrastructure to keep pace with the growth in production. With new diversity workplan provisions and a pilot skills training program, the legislation creates expanded career opportunities for more Californians.

“California’s iconic entertainment industry is a point of pride that creates important revenue and opportunity for workers, businesses and communities across the state,” said Governor Newsom. “Today’s investments ensure film and television production will continue to fuel the California Comeback through thousands of good jobs right here in the Golden State, training opportunities to increase access, and a focus on fostering diversity and inclusion for a workforce that better reflects our vibrant communities.”

A key economic driver, the film and television industry in California provides more than 134,000 production-related jobs, over 83,000 jobs related to distribution and over 643,000 jobs created by related vendors and businesses. The Film and Television Tax Credit Program has provided $335 million to 48 projects since the start of the pandemic. Twenty-seven television series have relocated to California from other states and nations since the program’s launch in 2009.

“These strategic investments reaffirm the Golden State’s role as a leading player in the global entertainment industry – a vital sector that represents billions in wages and revenue for California workers and businesses,” said Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) Dee Dee Myers. “The film tax credit program has already provided $335 million to support projects across the state since the start of the pandemic, lifting up local economies and helping drive our nation-leading recovery. With a forward-looking new incentive to modernize studio infrastructure, this package will help keep the cameras rolling in our state well into the future.”

SB 144 requires recipients of both the existing film credit program and the new infrastructure incentive to provide aggregated data on the diversity of their workforce, including gender and racial background, and to submit a workplan to the California Film Commission identifying diversity goals. 

“The bill Governor Newsom signed today builds on the success of California’s Film & Television Production Tax Credit program and ensures that the film, television and streaming industry continues to be a vibrant part of California’s economy,” said Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association Charles Rivkin. “SB 144 preserves both recurring and relocating television and streaming series, creates a new program that incentivizes private investment in construction of soundstages and establishes new benchmarks and commitments on diversity.” 

“I am incredibly grateful for Governor Newsom’s leadership and for his commitment to the entertainment industry. He understands that it is a core economic driver for California and a big part of my district’s vitality,” said Senator Portantino. “Investing in new sound stage construction is a critical addition to our efforts to increase filming in our Golden State. Modernizing our studio infrastructure and achieving diversity goals will ensure that future entertainment careers will flourish in California and generations of people from across the country will continue to see our state as the entertainment capital of the world.”

The legislation ensures the construction of new soundstages supports high road jobs by requiring prevailing wages and setting labor standards for construction and ongoing maintenance. Creating pathways for more Californians to access film and television industry jobs, the California Film Commission will implement a pilot program to provide technical skills training to individuals from underserved communities.

The Entertainment Union Coalition, which represents members of the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA, California IATSE Council, LiUNA! Local 724 and Teamsters Local 399, also welcomed the news “SB 144 enhances and improves the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program which since its inception has resulted in the creation of 156,000 below-the-line cast and crew jobs and has generated $18.4 billion in direct revenue for our State. SB 144 ensures that our members can remain working in California and that more productions will be able to shoot here for decades to come,” a spokesperson said.

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California

Calif. appellate court rules Trans pronouns law violates freedom of speech

Law protects LGBTQ seniors in long-term care facilities from discrimination & mistreatment based on sexual orientation & gender identity

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The State of California Third District Court of Appeals Sacramento Courthouse (Photo Credit: California Courts)

SACRAMENTO – The State of California Third District Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that a state statute requiring nursing home staff to use the correct pronouns for trans and nonbinary patients is a freedom of speech violation.

The Court, in a unanimous 3-0 decision, struck down this key provision of the LGBTQ Long-Term Care Facility Residents’ Bill of Rights, created by SB 219 in 2017, authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California. The Court upheld the provision in the law that requires nursing homes to place transgender patients in rooms that match their gender identity.

“The Court’s decision is disconnected from the reality facing transgender people. Deliberately misgendering a transgender person isn’t just a matter of opinion, and it’s not simply ‘disrespectful, discourteous, or insulting.’ Rather, it’s straight up harassment. And, it erases an individual’s fundamental humanity, particularly one as vulnerable as a trans senior in a nursing home. This misguided decision cannot be allowed to stand,” Senator Wiener said in a statement.

SB 219, also known as the LGBTQ Senior Bill of Rights, protects LGBTQ seniors in long-term care facilities from discrimination and mistreatment based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Wiener authored and passed SB 219 in 2017, and then-Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law.

“The Court’s decision is a beyond disappointing, especially for our state’s transgender and nonbinary seniors. Let’s be clear: refusing to use someone’s correct name and pronouns isn’t an issue of free speech — it’s a hateful act that denies someone their dignity and truth,” said Equality California’s Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur.

“Study after study has shown that trans people who are misgendered face alarming and life-threatening rates of depression and suicidal behavior. And older LGBTQ+ people face feelings of isolation, poor mental health and extreme vulnerability to communicable diseases like COVID-19. California’s nursing home patients deserve better than this — and we’ll be fighting until this decision is overturned,” he added.

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