While progress has been at times slow and frustrating, we are starting to see some positive movement on various issues related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I have included updates in this report.
We all know that much more needs to be done. I will continue my efforts to advocate for further progress for our region with the Governor’s office and state government agencies.
The good news is that there are signs that our physical distancing efforts are starting to “flatten the curve” of new infections, which is helping to ensure our medical professionals can treat everyone who needs urgent assistance.
While Governor Newsom did not give a date of when he will modify his “stay-at-home” order, he did unveil six key indicators on April 14 that he will consider before doing so.
We all want a return to normalcy so our economy can recover and people can work again. However, reopening our state must be done responsibly so we do not experience a second COVID-19 outbreak that would cause the Governor to re-impose another devastating lockdown. Public health guidance based on facts and science will determine California’s path to reopening for business.
There is reason to believe that better days will come. If our nation can get through the Great Depression, World War I, World War II, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we will get through COVID-19.
If you need further assistance, my staff and I will do our best to help. Please click here for contact information.
PATRICIA C. BATES
Senator, 36th District
Updates on COVID-19 Related Issues
Federal “Stimulus” Payments
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is starting to deliver Economic Impact Payments (also known as “stimulus” payments) to Americans, beginning with the lowest income earners. If you have not received your payment yet, click here for more information on when to expect yours (if eligible).
Unemployment Insurance Benefits
After asking the Governor’s office to address the extreme difficulty that people have in connecting with Employment Development Department (EDD) representatives regarding unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, the Governor has taken action.
The Governor announced that the EDD will launch a new call center on Monday, April 20, that will operate 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. He is adding 1,340 employees to the Unemployment Insurance Branch, including 740 EDD employees and 600 employees from across state government.
The EDD will also establish a one-stop shop for individuals applying for UI benefits and the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program starting April 28.
The Governor previously announced that starting on April 11, Californians who are receiving unemployment benefits will receive an extra $600 on top of their weekly amount, initiated by the federal CARES Act.
To apply for UI benefits and to learn of the latest EDD updates, click here.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
My staff and I have been working on this issue every single day since the COVID-19 crisis hit.
There is a worldwide shortage of PPE. The Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) from both Orange and San Diego counties are distributing PPE as it becomes available. Each provider agency is in frequent contact with the EOCs to update them on what they have on hand and what they need. Requests are being filled daily, though it is often the case that those requests are only partially filled.
The Governor is in the process of securing 200 million PPE per month through a $990 million contract with a vendor. As a Member of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, I have supported the Governor’s efforts to ensure the fastest possible delivery of this much-needed PPE to California.
Small Business Loans
Many small business owners are facing challenges applying with banks for the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan program.
The federal CARES Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic. PPP provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward.
However, the PPP program has ran out of funding due to the overwhelming number of businesses that have applied. I have sent a letter to our congressional delegation urging support of increased PPP funding as soon as possible.
Click here for more information on the Paycheck Protection Program.
Californians deserve a thoughtful review of what has worked well and what can be done better in the state’s COVID-19 response.
On April 15, I was appointed vice chair of the newly created Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response. This bipartisan committee will help review the state’s actions and make findings and recommendations for future preparedness. Click here to learn more.
Click here to view what the State of California is spending to address COVID-19.
Visit www.covid19.ca.gov to learn of other updates regarding California’s efforts.