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State Offers New Rape, Assault Protections for Health

Care Workers

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Posted: October 12, 2020 Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media

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California is expanding aid and protections to health care workers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues through two new laws and an executive order.


Late last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that orders new actions on health care in response to the pandemic.


The order allows public health officials working to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic to participate in the Secretary of State’s address-confidentiality program, known as the Safe at Home program.


The Safe at Home program provides substitute addresses for groups that need protection against harassment or violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence victims. Multiple public health officials have reported receiving death threats, including Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer and Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.


“Our public health officers have all too often faced targeted harassment and stalking,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. This “program can help provide more peace of mind to the public health officials who have been on the frontlines of California’s COVID-19 response.”


The order also authorizes the Department of Managed Health Care to gather data to assess the impacts of the pandemic on health care providers and health care service plans.


Gov. Newsom also recently signed two bills, AB 2537 and SB 275, that would increase the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers.


Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) introduced AB 2537. The law requires hospitals to stockpile a three-month supply of PPE by April 2021.


“We are currently experiencing something we haven't before, and healthcare workers are at the frontlines of it all. While dealing with this pandemic, the last thing our workers should be worried about is whether or not, they will be protected from exposure. We must protect those providing care so that they too can continue to do their work,” said Rodriguez.


SB 275 mandates the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to establish a 90-day PPE stockpile for health care and other essential workers within one year. It also requires major health care employers, such as hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis clinics, to build an additional 45-day stockpile of PPE by 2023 or later.


Under SB 275, essential workers will receive PPE from the CDPH stockpile include school workers, childcare providers, in-home support providers, and any workers who provide services directly supporting patient care. SB 275 was sponsored by the Service Employees International Union California.


“One of the hard-learned lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for a well-managed supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep California's healthcare workforce and other essential workers safe. SB 275 creates a reliable supply of PPE to ensure healthcare workers, essential workers, and the public at large are protected during the next health emergency,” said SB 275 author Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).



Merced County at risk of Moving Back to More Restrictive Category

October 21, 2020

MERCED COUNTY, CA - Merced County is at risk of moving back to the more restrictive Purple (Widespread) Tier on the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. On October 6, 2020, Merced County progressed into the Red (Substantial) Tier which allowed several non-essential indoor businesses to resume operations with safety restrictions. To remain in this tier and continue to advance along the State’s reopening blueprint, the County’s COVID-19 metrics must remain stable or improve.


Within the last week, Merced County has experienced a higher case rate of COVID-19, and the number of people testing continues to decline. As a result, we are in jeopardy of not meeting the State’s metric to remain in the Red Tier. Reverting back to the Purple Tier means that some businesses and activities for county residents will become further restricted. This would include the closure of most indoor services that were recently authorized to reopen. Schools that have opened while the County is within the Red Tier can remain open; however, any schools that have not yet opened would no longer be able to open.


To help the County remain in the Red Tier, residents need to get tested for COVID-19. Increasing our COVID-19 testing rates is the main way to assist with lowering the overall case rate, thereby preventing the County from reverting back to the Purple Tier. The CDC and State Health Department recommends ongoing surveillance testing defined as being screened once every 14-day period to ensure that you are not ill. “We are asking all County residents to assist by getting tested every 14 days if possible. Increasing our county’s surveillance testing will allow us to stay on the path to reopening and move through the tiers more rapidly,” said Rodrigo Espinoza, Board Chair and District 1 representative for the Merced County Board of Supervisors.


“It would be disappointing for our County to move backwards, when so much progress has been made to move forward into recovery. Everyone must do their part to help, get tested, and continue to follow safety measures,” said Dr. Salvador Sandoval, Merced County’s Public Health Officer.


Currently, the State of California is funding two Merced County testing sites; these sites are under threat of being defunded if their usage continues to decline at the current pace. COVID-19 testing is available to all Merced County residents, free of charge, at the following locations:


State Funded Testing Locations in Merced County:


Merced County Fairgrounds

900 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

Merced, CA 95341







Los Banos Fairgrounds

403 F St.

Los Banos, CA 93635





Merced County health officials strongly urge all residents to exercise the following safety measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19:


• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces

• Practice social distancing

• Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds

• Use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol base, when handwashing is not possible,

• Stay home and isolate, if you’re are feeling sick


A complete list of industries authorized to reopen in Merced County can be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/. All industry safety guidance can be found at www.covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance. Further COVID-19 information is located on Merced County Department of Public Health’s resource website at www.countyofmerced.com/coronavirus.


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