COVID-19 State Policy Update 04.15.20

In his daily briefing Governor Gavin Newsom focused on new initiatives to support California workers impacted. 

On unemployment insurance (UI), Governor Newsom reported that in the last four weeks, 2.7 million people have filed UI claims.  To respond to this “unprecedented” figure, the Employment Development Department (EDD) call center that will operate 7 days a week from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

The Governor also mentioned that starting April 28th, the EDD will have a one-stop shop to file for UI & the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, where benefits will be issued in 24-48 hours.  With regards to the PUA program, independent contractors and the independently employed will qualify, but Newsom stressed that this is not a way to get away with misclassification.  Specifically, he stated, “not all employers are not paying into the unemployment benefit system, which is why through AB 5, we codified it to address these misclassifications. Their status — even if you choose the PUA process — is not in peril in terms of benefits and the ultimate decision of classification.”  Secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) Julie Su also offered some comments at the briefing. 

Governor Newsom also announced that California will be first state to provide direct financial relief to undocumented Californians.  More specifically, with philanthropic contributions, Newsom says the state is creating a $125 million disaster assistance fund for undocumented Californians, who have not benefited from expanded unemployment or the federal stimulus.  Approximately 150,000 undocumented adult Californians will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult with a cap of $1,000 per household.   

While the Governor was speaking, his office issued a press release with additional details on these efforts.  A copy of the Governor’s office press release can be found here.  A copy of the Governor’s executive order (EO) can be found here and text can be found here.

Governor Newsom also provided the latest COVID-19 hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) patient figures.  The number of coronavirus hospitalizations went up to 3,171, a 1.5 percent increase.  The number of coronavirus patients in ICU beds is 1,175, a 0.2 percent DECREASE from the previous day.   

During the Q&A, the Governor was asked about his communication with the Legislature.  In response, he mentioned the Legislative hearings beginning tomorrow, “they’ll start budget oversight hearings and we’ll get feedback and guidance on those.”

Regarding testing, the Governor stated that over 12,000 tests were conducted yesterday and is in line with the goal of 10,000 tests a day, additionally he stated that California is on track to meet the goal of 25,000 tests per day by the end of the month. 

Yesterday, April 14th, Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order (EO) that addresses the release and reentry process at the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The EO calls for all discharge and reentry hearings to be held via videoconference to minimize the youth’s and other participants’ exposure to the virus.  A copy of the EO can be found here and text can be found here.  A copy of the Governor’s Office press release can be found here.

Additionally, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is extending driver licenses expiring during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Licenses for drivers younger than 70 that expire between March and May 2020 are now valid through May 31, 2020.  All commercial driver licenses, endorsements and certificates expiring between March and June 2020 are now valid through June 30, 2020, aligning with a recent emergency declaration from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  Notably, these temporary extensions are in addition to other steps the DMV announced earlier this month to help Californians with expiring licenses.  A copy of the DMV press release can be found here.  

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and the Department of Insurance (DOI) issued a Notice requiring insurance companies and other Department licensees to comply with their contractual, statutory, regulatory, and other legal obligations and fairly investigate all business interruption claims caused by COVID-19.  A copy of the Notice can be found here.  A copy of the DOI press release can be found here

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19, there are a total of 23,338 confirmed positive cases and 758 deaths in California.  As of April 13th, local health departments have reported 2,599 confirmed positive cases in health care workers.  This includes on-the-job exposures, and other exposures, such as travel and close family contact.  More than 215,400 tests had been conducted in California. At least 202,208 results have been received and another 13,200 are pending. More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.

The website is being updated continuously, it now also has Spanish and, according to the Governor, they are working on expanding it to seven languages.

California Legislature

On the legislative front, the Senate Special Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on COVID-19 Response will hold a hearing tomorrow, Thursday, April 16th, at 2 PM PDT, to provide oversight of the state’s COVID-19 response.  The Senate will livestream the hearing on their website at  The public may submit comments or testimony in writing to the committee or participate via telephone at the conclusion of the hearing, during the public comment period.

Wednesday, April 15th, Senate pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) announced the creation of a special committee on California’s COVID-19 emergency response.  According to a press release from Atkins, “The Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response, a bipartisan committee of eleven senators, is tasked with reviewing the state’s response to the COVID-19 health crisis – what has gone right and what could be improved.  The committee also will make findings and recommendations for future preparedness if the coronavirus returns later in the year, or if the state faces a subsequent pandemic.”  The special committee will be chaired by Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), vice-chaired by Senator Patricia C. Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), and will include the following Senators: Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno), Anna M. Caballero (D-Salinas), Bill Dodd (D-Yolo), Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Brian W. Jones (R-Santee), Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana), and Scott D. Wiener (D-San Francisco).  A copy of the press release can be found here.


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