Connect with us

California

SMARTER Plan, next phase of California’s pandemic response unveiled

Published

on

Governor Gavin Newsom (Screenshot via The Sacramento Bee)

FONTANA – As California emerges from the Omicron surge, Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday unveiled the state’s SMARTER Plan, the next phase of California’s pandemic response in a news conference from a state warehouse overflowing with pandemic supplies in Fontana, east of Los Angeles.

Building on lessons learned over the past two years and the state’s ongoing commitment to equity, the SMARTER Plan will guide California’s strategic approach to managing COVID-19 while moving the state’s recovery forward, state health officials Newsom pointed out.

“We are moving past the crisis phase into a phase where we will work to live with this virus,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. 

A disease reaches the endemic stage when the virus still exists in a community but becomes manageable as immunity builds. Newsom stressed that “This pandemic won’t have a defined end. There’s no finish line.” 

Read the California SMARTER Plan: The Next Phase of California’s COVID-19 Response here

“As we enter the next phase of the pandemic, the state is better equipped than ever to protect Californians from COVID-19 with smart strategies that save lives and advance our ongoing recovery,” said Newsom. “Building on proven tools – rooted in science and data – that have been honed over the past two years, we’re keeping our guard up with a focus on continued readiness, awareness and flexibility to adapt to the evolving pandemic. As we have throughout the pandemic, the state will continue applying the lessons we’ve learned about the virus to keep California moving forward.” 

The SMARTER Plan’s core pillars and preparedness metrics focus on lifesaving public health measures and strategies the state has successfully used to slow the spread and protect Californians. Recognizing that each variant brings with it unique characteristics relative to the specific conditions in our neighborhoods and communities, the Plan preserves needed flexibility and ensures the state has the resources and capabilities in place to tackle the COVID-19 challenges that lie ahead: 

  • Shots- Vaccines are the most powerful weapon against hospitalization and serious illness. Under the Plan, California will maintain capacity to administer at least 200,000 vaccines per day on top of existing pharmacy and provider infrastructure.   
  • Masks- Properly worn masks with good filtration help slow the spread of COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses. The state will maintain a stockpile of 75 million high quality masks and the capability to distribute them as needed.    
  • Awareness- We will continue to stay aware of how COVID-19 is spreading and evolving variants, communicate clearly how people should protect themselves, and coordinate our state and local government response. California will maintain capability to promote vaccination, masking and other mitigation measures in all 58 counties and support engagement with at least 150 community-based organizations.   
  • Readiness- COVID-19 isn’t going away and we need to be ready with the tools, resources and supplies that will allow us to quickly respond to protect public health and to keep the health care system well prepared. The state will maintain wastewater surveillance in all regions and enhance respiratory surveillance in the health care system while continuing to sequence at least 10 percent of positive COVID-19 test specimens. The state will also maintain the ability to add 3,000 clinical staff within 2-3 weeks of need and across various health care facility types.    
  • Testing- Getting the right type of tests – PCR or antigen – to where they are needed most. Testing will help California minimize the spread of COVID-19. California will maintain commercial and local public health capacity statewide to perform at least 500,000 tests per day – a combination of PCR and antigen.   
  • Education- California will continue to work to keep schools open and children safely in classrooms for in-person instruction. The state will expand by 25 percent school-based vaccination sites supported by the state to increase vaccination rates as eligibility expands.    
  • Rx- Evolving and improving treatments will become increasingly available and critical as a tool to save lives. The state will maximize orders for the most clinically effective therapeutic available through federal partnerships, ensuring allocations of effective therapeutics are ordered within 48-hours.   

The SMARTER Plan maintains the state’s focus on targeted investments and outreach to tackle COVID-19 health disparities in disproportionately impacted communities. The Plan features a new COVID-19 Assessment and Action Unit to monitor data and frontline conditions in real-time.

It also includes building upon a robust, regionally-based waste-water surveillance and genome sequencing network to have early and rapid insights into the changing nature of the virus and early identification of variants. 

In collaboration with external partners and the federal government, California will launch the first-in-the-nation impacts of COVID-19 longitudinal cohort study to examine the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on individuals and communities over time. Under the Plan, the state is pursuing a public-private partnership with a test manufacturer to drive down the costs of at-home tests while securing a reliable and timely supply chain for California.

The state will also continue taking steps to ensure the health care facilities can continue to ramp up with additional staff and resources to respond to potential surges while minimizing strain on the health care systems. 

“California is prepared to lean in on the principles that have made us successful in our COVID-19 response. Under the SMARTER Plan, we will use the significant knowledge we have gained and the tools and resources we have developed over the last two years to adapt and respond to whatever is next,” said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “Californians should rest assured we are ready and prepared to meet any public health challenges that may lie ahead.” 

“How do we continue to live with a virus that changes and kind of throws curveballs at different times?” Ghaly said then noted; “The focus is going to be being prepared and being ready.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, California has led the nation’s fight against COVID-19 with early, robust public health measures that have saved tens of thousands of lives, contributing to California’s maintaining one of the lowest death rates among large states.

California’s pandemic response to date has administered more than 70 million COVID-19 vaccines; distributed more than 870 million N-95 and surgical masks; deployed more than 28,000 state supported staff to support health care facilities; and administered more than 140 million COVID-19 tests, distributed 33 million at-home COVID-19 antigen tests and established more than 7,500 testing sites statewide.

The state has also significantly closed disparities in infection and death rates in disproportionately impacted communities through equity-focused vaccination and testing outreach and culturally-competent engagement and information. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement

California

Newsom & LGBTQ Caucus lift up California’s fight for equality 

Governor joins LGBTQ Caucus 20th anniversary Pride celebration, announces signature of AB 1741 to honor victims of transphobia

Published

on

Governor Newsom joins members of the LGBTQ Caucus at the Governor’s Mansion (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom and First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom today joined members of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus at the historic Governor’s Mansion for the Caucus’s 20th anniversary Pride celebration and to highlight California’s leadership on LGBTQ rights.

“In California, we fight for and celebrate our LGBTQ community’s right to live their lives out loud,” said Governor Newsom. “I’m proud to stand with our LGBTQ Caucus today and lift up their commitment to advancing equality, freedom and acceptance. As we push back on the forces of hate that seek to undo our progress, California will continue to lead the way to a better, fairer future for all.”

“I’m so proud to live in California where we understand the value of diversity and support and embrace everyone who lives here,” said First Partner Siebel Newsom. “We’re committed to supporting members of the LGBTQ community to live as their most authentic selves and will fight to safeguard the policies that protect those rights. Alongside the Governor and the LGBTQ Caucus, I encourage us all to continue to lead with California’s values of respect, equality, kindness, and acceptance because that’s the California Way and the best way forward.”

Governor and First Partner join members of the LGBTQ Caucus at the Governor’s Mansion for 20th anniversary Pride celebration
(Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

Governor Newsom today announced that he has signed AB 1741 by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Campbell), an LGBTQ Caucus priority bill that designates November 20 as “Transgender Day of Remembrance” to honor those who have been killed as a result of transphobia. The Governor also signed AB 421 by Assemblymember Christopher M. Ward (D-San Diego), which makes technical changes to the procedures for changing gender and sex identifiers on official documents, such as a marriage certificate.

California was the first state in the country to officially form a caucus of openly-LBGTQ state legislators and continues to lead in advancing policies that create safer, more inclusive communities. Governor Newsom has signed a number of measures to advance these efforts, including AB 493 to develop a training program for educators to better support LGBTQ youth; SB 932, which ensures comprehensive data collection to understand how COVID-19 is impacting the LGBTQ community; AB 2218 to establish the Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund to provide grants for programs focused on trans-inclusive health care; AB 1094 to collect data on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identify in cases of violent death to help inform prevention efforts; and SB 1255 to end the practice of insurance companies discriminating against individuals because of their HIV status.

In 2020, the Governor appointed Justice Martin Jenkins to serve as the first openly gay man on the California Supreme Court, and this year appointed Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Andi Mudryk, the first openly transgender person to serve on the state’s judicial bench. Shortly after taking office, the Governor launched a new initiative to pardon people who were prosecuted in California for being gay.

Continue Reading

California

EDD recovers $1.1 billion in Unemployment Insurance funds

Recovery follows EDD’s recent thwarting of 47,000 potentially fraudulent claims worth up to $560 million across California

Published

on

The California Employment Development Department HDQTRS (Screenshot/ KGO-TV San Francisco)

SACRAMENTO – In another major step toward continuing to investigate fraudsters and recover unemployment insurance funds, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) today announced it has recovered $1.1 billion in unemployment insurance funds.

The recovered funds were located on approximately 780,000 inactivated benefit cards. Most of the recovered funds will return to the federal government because the fraudulent claims are from the emergency federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which was the primary target of fraud nationwide.

“Fraudsters and criminal organizations ripped off California, along with every other state, during one of the worst crises in history – we’re taking aggressive action to return that money to the taxpayers,” said Governor Newsom.

In July 2021, California hired McGregor Scott as EDD Fraud Special Counsel. Scott aids the state’s work with law enforcement to combat fraud—including supporting state, federal, and local investigations and prosecutions. Working with EDD, he has leveraged his experience to deliver leads and evidence to aid prosecutions and strengthen ongoing investigations.

“We will continue working with law enforcement to put fraudsters behind bars and recover every stolen dollar that we can,” Scott stated.

Today’s billion-dollar recovery furthers the monumental efforts of EDD and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to investigate and prosecute criminals who defrauded federal emergency unemployment benefit programs. Within the past 15 months, ​​total investigations, prosecutions, and dollars seized in the counties reporting information to the state  include:

  • Total investigations – 1,525
  • Arrests – 467
  • Money seized – $3,474,448
  • Convictions – 162

Other actions California has taken to strengthen its fraud fighting include:

  • Stopping over $125 billion in attempted fraud by deploying a new identity verification system, ID.me, in 2020 and partnering with Thomson Reuters to help detect and prevent UI and PUA fraud.
  • Setting up the 1099-G call center to help victims of identity theft deal with any tax related questions—work that answered 24,000 calls. Fraud can be reported by selecting Form 1099G in Ask EDD or calling 1-866-401-2849.
  • Working with Bank of America to issue chip-enabled debit cards that enhance security and to strengthen fraud-prevention strategies.
  • Working with the California Office of Emergency Services Fraud Task Force on over a thousand active investigations, arrests, and prosecutions across California.
  • Creating law enforcement investigative guides and offering technical assistance to law enforcement partners who are working fraud investigation cases.
  • Setting up designated regional contacts for each division of the state and working with any agency that needs assistance with an unemployment insurance fraud case.
  • Continuing to issue consumer scam alerts throughout the pandemic that warn about cell phone and email phishing schemes designed to steal personal information.

EDD runs one of the nation’s largest public benefit systems. Over 20 million people filed over 60 million unemployment, disability insurance, and paid family leave claims over the past decade. EDD prepared, printed and mailed 45 million documents to customers through the most recent fiscal quarters. EDD was mailing nearly 600,000 documents a day during the height of the pandemic.

Continue Reading

California

Newsom proclaims Juneteenth day of observance

“This Juneteenth, I urge all Californians to reflect on the ongoing cause of freedom for Black Americans” – Gov. Gavin Newsom

Published

on

Juneteenth flag raised over the State Capitol in Sacramento (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today proclaimed June 18, 2022, as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance” in the State of California.

PROCLAMATION

America does not only celebrate our independence on July 4. On June 19 each year, we look back to this day in 1865, on which Union General Gordon Granger led troops into Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of the Civil War and the insidious institution of slavery. Thousands of enslaved people in Texas – among the last to learn of their independence – tasted hard-won freedom for the first time.

Over the next several decades, African-Americans who journeyed out of the South seeking better lives brought Juneteenth celebrations with them. The thousands who settled in California, especially in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, taught our state that America’s struggle for independence did not end in 1776 or 1865, but continues to this day.

This Juneteenth, I urge all Californians to reflect on the ongoing cause of freedom for Black Americans – remembering that, though General Granger’s announcement in 1865 called for “absolute equality,” that vision was, and remains, far from complete.

With the Juneteenth flag proudly raised over the State Capitol, let us celebrate how far we have come and take stock of how far we must go, and honor all those who have lived and died in pursuit of a more perfect union.

NOW THEREFORE I, GAVIN NEWSOM, Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim June 18, 2022, as “Juneteenth National Freedom Day: A Day of Observance.”

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 17th day of June 2022.

GAVIN NEWSOM
Governor of California

ATTEST:

SHIRLEY N. WEBER, Ph.D.
Secretary of State 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular