Around The Capitol

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  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Carmela Coyle, president of the California Hospital Association to talk about the challenges that hospitals face as they deal with this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, “an order of potential magnitude that we just haven’t seen before.”
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) on California's COVID-19 response  (2020-03-19)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Lenny Mendonca, Chief Economic and Business Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom, on the economic impact of the COVID-19 (2020-03-12)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senators Jim Beall (D-San José) and Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim) on the Census (2020-03-12)
  • Look West (Assembly Democratic Caucus): Assembly member Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) and Secretary of State Alex Padilla on the Census (2020-03-12)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Politico's Carla Marinucci on primary results and Warren's departure (2020-03-05)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Paul Mitchell on the departure of Elizabeth Warren and what's next in the presidential (2020-03-05)

The Nooner for Saturday, March 21, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • State employees
  • Coronavirus/COVID-19
    • The numbers (cases and testing)
    • The order
    • The enforcement
    • National Guard
    • Elections
    • Restaurants: alcohol
  • Ballot update
  • Cakeday and classifieds

Well, hello there. I hope you, your family, and your friends are doing well as we live out a sci-fi movie that came out of nowhere. Or did it? .

I have a feeling this will be another two-Nooner day as I anticipate additional news will come forth tonight.

State employees: On Friday, March 13, there was a broad rumor among folks in state agencies that Governor Newsom was going to announce a shutdown that evening of "non-essential" state government. I've written about the political and practical hazards of characterizing employees as essential v. non-essential. Governmental critics would use it to ask "If we have non-essential folks in state government, then why do we keep them on the payroll? Among state employees, there was fear about who would be and who wouldn't be deemed essential.

When Governor Newsom announced the first steps last Sunday, many state employees were on their seats, but the main announcement was about setting the stage for local closures.

From what I can tell (and have heard talking to folks), it was less about the essential/non-essential downsides that I've talked about and more about the logistical problems in government (and many businesses) of quickly implementing "telework" policies. Here are some of the questions I've heard this week:

  • How do you measure performance of employees teleworking, including those in demand-oriented positions that may be essential during normal times but whose workload has dropped for the time being?
  • If an employee teleworks, must the employer provide a computer or reimburse the employee for personal computer use?
  • Does the employer reimburse the employee for internet service? If so, is it a flat amount standard for all employees regardless of the service they use? If not, how do you identify the cost of internet service when it is bundled with, say, phone or cable service?
  • For employees accessing sensitive information, does the employer procure virtual private networking services or does the employee pick their own and seek reimbursement?

These are just some of the questions I heard from both managers and employees alike all week and the answers were different among departments and agencies. After Thursday night's order by Governor Newsom, many state employees who had been showing up to the office didn't know if they were expected to when they went to bed. If they did get an email saying "You need not come in," many didn't know the answers to the above questions.

I'm not blaming Governor Newsom. These are questions that should have been answered with plans developed 10+ years ago and updated with changes in technology and workforce. That said, we can't just have duct tape solutions in this crisis but make a to "do list" for going forward.


    • California confirmed cases: 1,286 (+360 from yesterday), with 24 deaths (+7 from yesterday). Confirmed cases in 34/58 counties (+1 from yesterday). [h/t SFChron]

    • Testing count from CDPH: "As of 6 p.m. PDT on March 19, approximately 23,200 tests had been conducted in California. This includes the latest numbers California has received from commercial and private labs. At least 11,487 results have been received and another 11,700+ are pending."

      Note: the testing count MAY not include the hospital-based testing at Stanford, UC medical centers, and the like, as those data may be delayed. It does include the commercial and public health labs.


      California is behind smaller states in testing...
      - NY: 45,437 (@NYGovCuomo this AM)
      - CA: 23,200 (CDPH: 03/19 @ 6pm)
      - WA: 23,343 (Cuomo presser)

      ...which likely explains the difference in confirmed cases (as of 03/21 0822 Cuomo presser):
      - NY: 19,356
      - WA: 1,402
      - CA: 1,261 (Chron number is higher because they use county health confirmed reports before logged by the CDC)

      Most notably, CDPH is the number above that of the 23,200 tests in California, only 11,487 had been run as of 6pm Thursday. In that report, they identify 1,006 confirmed California cases. Matching those with the test, that means 6.9% of tests are coming back positive. However, the rationed testing can both understate and overstate the virus's spread. We don't really know.

      That's because the only people being tested are generally those with a doctor's order who are symptomatic or one-one (first-degree) contact with someone who has. That can overstate the spread. The spread can also be understated because health care workers are rarely being tested.

      Seriously ill non-ambulatory patients with influence-like illness (ILI) and have tested negative for the flu are not generally not being tested but kept in isolation. Without a COVID-19-specific therapeutic, to my knowledge a test result doesn't change the care provided of broad-based antibiotics to minimize the change of bacterial pneumonia, nutrition, and ventilator support if necessary. That can understate the spread.

      The low prioritization of testing among the seriously ill patients with ILI likely explains the relatively low number of serious COVID-19 cases for the United States relative to countries who are reporting fully and have similarly large case loads.

  • THE ORDER: Late yesterday, the state provided a more comprehensive list of essential businesses and employees that can stay open and which workers are deemed essential. Like other elements of the statewide order, locals may add to, but not remove from, additional businesses and workers the list.

    The initial website was consumer-friendly, while the the full list is very similar to the exhaustive ones in the Santa Clara model order initially crafted for the six Bay Area counties.
  • ENFORCEMENT: The San José police chief reports that they had encountered 53 instances of violations by businesses of the local order issued last week but provided warnings only. However, that may not last. 
  • National Guard: Governor Newsom yesterday deployed California National Guard reserves to assist with providing food security for isolated and vulnerable Californians, particularly with providing stability for food banks.
  • Elections: Yesterday, Governor Newsom signed an executive order relating to elections. It provides:
    • That the May 12 special general elections in CA25 (Santa Clarita-Palmdale) and SD28 (Temecula-Blythe) and the April 7 recall election in Westminster shall be conducted by all-mail ballot according to the procedures in Elections Code provisions that govern such. The order also delays all deadlines for reporting results for the May 12 specials to be extended by 21 days to June 2.
    • Extends the time for the complete county canvass of March 3 election results by 21 days to April 23, along with associated deadlines. The order encourages counties to complete if possible by the original April 2 date
    • Allows local agencies to switch from at-large to district-based elections under Elections Code §10010 without otherwise required hearings during the period state or local officials have issued a social isolating order. 
  • Restaurants: alcoholic beverages: I didn't catch this until yesterday after talking to laid off restaurant employees at the corner market where I get my street intel. The state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) announced Thursday of a suspension of enforcement for bona fide eating places with EXISTING on-side licenses to sell such beverages under their current licenses for take-out purposes. 

    Beverages under the respective licenses can sell prepackaged (i.e. canned/bottled beer and bottled wine) or beer, wine, or mixed drinks with a secure lid or cap packaged on site that is designed to prohibit consumption without removal of the lid (no straw holes). Businesses that sell such beverages on site must post a notice that the beverages are considered "open containers" and thus in most cases must be transported in the trunk.

    Conditional licenses that limit sales earlier than the generally applicable 2am or later than the generally applicable 6am will also not be enforced. So, if Elmo's Bar and Grill has a license that includes a condition of no sales before 9am or after 9pm can sell pursuant to the restrictions above during the generally applicable 6am-2am hours applicable to grocery and convenience stores.

    Specifically, I heard that Sacramento's Red Rabbit on J Street is selling mixed drinks this way, which is why I looked up the order.

    Not for me these days, but back in the day... Anyway, an option for those of you who do drink to support local restaurants that are struggling without in-person dining.

    ABC's guidance provides several other provisions of regulatory relief affecting licensees.

more after the jump... 

BALLOT UPDATE: We're getting closer...

  • Ballots counted: 9,479,777 
  • Ballots counted are up +10.9% from 2016's 8,548,301
  • Turnout so far in 2018: 9,479,777 of 20,660,465 registered 15 days out (45.88%)
  • Turnout in 2016: 8,548,301 of 19,023,417 registered 15 days out (45.49%)

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research


CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Rubén Lizardo, Greg Lucas, and Cathy Mitchell!



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