The state has announced that California has met the vaccine equity goal that allows public health jurisdictions in Los Angeles County, including Pasadena, to move into the red tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy effective Monday, March 15.
City officials confirmed the move Friday, when the state met the threshold of administering 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in low-income communities across California that have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
When it met that threshold, the state eased the requirements for counties to advance through the four tiers of the blueprint, which governs business restrictions based on the spread of COVID-19. The new requirements allow the city to move out of the most restrictive “purple” tier and into the “red” tier.
Under “red” tier guidelines announced Thursday, indoor dining can resume at 25% of capacity. The county will require restaurants to have 8 feet of distance between all tables, which will be restricted to a maximum of six people from the same household. The rules also call for ventilation to be increased “to the maximum extent possible.”
Restaurant servers are already required to wear a face mask and a face shield. With the new rules, the County Department of Public Health “strongly recommends” that employees upgrade their face coverings, through the use of higher-grade N95 or KN95 masks, or a combination of double-masking and a face shield.
Health officials also strongly recommend — but do not require — that all employees be informed about and offered the chance to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Food service workers are already eligible to receive the shots.
Rules for other businesses that will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday largely align with state guidance for the “red” tier:
museums can open indoors at 25% of capacity;
gyms and fitness centers can open indoors at 10% capacity, with required masking;
movie theaters can open at 25% capacity with reserved seating to provide at least six feet of distance between patrons;
retail and personal care businesses can increase indoor capacity to 50%;
indoor shopping malls can reopen at 50%, with common areas remaining closed, but food courts can open at 25% capacity and in adherence with the other requirements for indoor restaurants.
The rules also permit resumption of activities at institutes of higher education, and reopening of in-person instruction for students in grades 7- 12.
Private indoor gatherings are also permitted for people from up to three different households, with masking and physical distancing. People who are vaccinated can gather in small groups indoors without masking or distancing.
From the New York Times (on Thursday):
The House of Representatives approved the nearly $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan and President Biden signed it into law — a landmark moment. The plan, which passed without any Republican votes, will send direct payments of up to $1,400 to many Americans, expand a child tax credit and extend a $300 weekly unemployment supplement. Mr. Biden is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday. It was signed by President Biden on Friday.
While the stimulus checks will be a boon to many struggling families, the package is also geared toward strengthening efforts to bring an end to the pandemic.
It provides $14 billion for vaccine distribution and another $48 billion for testing and contact tracing. There’s also close to $8 billion for state and local public health departments to help them beef up their public health work force and infrastructure.
“Long before the pandemic, state and especially local health departments were way underfunded,” Abby said. “We saw the effects of that over the past year. Local health departments are going to have so much work to continue doing, moving forward, to prevent flare-ups of the virus and keep this kind of thing from happening again.”
Community health centers, which Abby said act as primary care clinics for low-income Americans or for those who don’t have health insurance, will get nearly $8 billion. Around $200 million will go to nursing homes, and while Abby said that was not a lot of money, it will be used to keep infection out of these facilities, which were savaged by the virus.
The plan also includes a number of mostly temporary, but important changes to certain health insurance programs that are vital to addressing the pandemic.
Despite the infusion of cash, the country still faces huge challenges to building up its public health system, while also trying to deal with the pandemic and its aftereffects
Other rules and guidelines:
The U.S. government relaxed guidelines for visiting nursing home residents, saying indoor visits should be allowed “at all times and for all residents,” except in a few circumstances according to the Washington Post.
California Business Grants:
ROUND 3 (Waitlisted from Rounds 1 and 2): Round 3 is a CLOSED round and only available to eligible applicants that have been waitlisted in Rounds 1 and 2. Applicants will be selected from the existing pool of waitlisted applicants. Applicants do not need to reapply.
ROUND 4 (Arts & Cultural Program): Round 4, The Arts & Cultural Program, will support California eligible nonprofit cultural institutions defined as registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities that satisfy the criteria for a qualified small business, and that are in one of the following North American Industry Classification System codes:
(A) 453920 - Art Dealers
(B) 711110 - Theater Companies and Dinner Theaters.
(C) 711120 - Dance Companies.
(D) 711130 - Musical Groups and Artists.
(E) 711190 - Other Performing Arts Companies.
(F) 711310 - Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events with facilities.
(G) 711320 - Promoters of Performing Arts, Sports, and Similar Events without facilities.
(H) 711410 - Agents and Managers for Artists, Athletes, Entertainers, and Other Public Figures
(I) 711510 - Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers.
(J) 712110 - Museums.
(K) 712120 - Historical Sites.
(L) 712130 - Zoos and Botanical Gardens.
(M) 712190 – Nature Parks & Other Similar Institutions
Important Dates for Round 4: Application Opens: March 16, 2021, Application Closes: March 23, 2021, Start of Selection Notifications: TBD
How to Apply: Eligible nonprofit cultural institutions for the Arts & Cultural Program will be permitted to complete a new application even if they already applied in the COVID-19 Relief Grant Program; provided that such entity has not otherwise been awarded a grant. Visit www.CAReliefGrant.com for more eligibility, criteria, and updates.
ROUND 5: (Waitlisted from Rounds 1, 2, 3 and 4 plus new applicants): Eligible applicants include current waitlisted small businesses and non-profits not selected in Rounds 1, 2, 3 and 4, and new applicants that meet eligibility criteria. Applicants not selected to receive a grant in Rounds 1, 2, 3 and 4 do not need to reapply as they will be automatically moved into Round 5.
Important Dates for Round 5: Application Opens: March 25, 2021, Application Closes: March 31, 2021, Start of Selection Notifications: TBD
ROUND 6: (Waitlisted from Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 plus new applicants): Eligible applicants include current waitlisted small businesses and/or non-profits not selected in Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 and new applicants that meet eligibility criteria found at CAReliefGrant.com.
COUNTY SETS DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR SMALL BUSINESS LOAN PROGRAM: The Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) has announced that the Small Business Stabilization Loan Program will accept applications through April 16, 2021, or until $20 million in funding requests is received, whichever occurs first.
Launched on January 28, 2021, the Small Business Stabilization Loan Program provides eligible businesses with a competitive interest rate for loans ranging from $50,000 to $3 million. Businesses interested in applying for the Program must have been in operation for at least two years and seeking working capital, equipment purchases, real estate acquisition, or refinancing of existing loans at higher interest rates. As of March 2021, the LACDA has received over $14 million in funding requests.
The Program pairs the loan with technical assistance from partners that offer complementary online webinars, one-on-one financial consultations, application assistance, and an evaluation of a business' readiness to submit an LACDA loan application. The final “How to apply for an LACDA loan” webinar, a pre-requisite for submitting a Small Business Stabilization Loan application, will be held on March 25, 2021, in English and Spanish.
To register for a webinar, or obtain more information on the requirements to apply for the Small Business Stabilization Loan Program, please visit BizStabilization.lacda.org, or call (626) 586-1550. All media may contact Elisa Vasquez, LACDA Public Information Officer, at (626) 586-1762.
New COVID infections remained in the single digits in Pasadena as just eight new cases and there were no new COVID fatalities Saturday as Pasadena prepared to move into the loosened Red Tier restrictions Monday at 12:01 a.m.Pasadena reported eight new COVID-19 infections and five additional deaths on Thursday, according to city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian. Several of the deaths were believed to have resulted from infections contracted during holiday gatherings, she said. All but one of the eight new infected patients detected Thursday were under 50 years old, Derderian added.
In total, Pasadena health officials had recorded 11,011 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 327 fatalities Over the prior week, an average of seven new infections per day were reported.
Huntington Hospital reported treating 30 COVID-19 patients on Thursday, with eight of them in intensive care units.
Meanwhile, the county’s rate of new cases and hospitalizations continued their general decline on Saturday. The county health department reported 793 new cases of COVID-19 and 42 additional deaths, bringing the totals to 1,209,632 cases and 22,446 deaths since the pandemic began. The number of county residents in the hospital with the virus dropped from 979 on Friday to 951, with 281 in intensive care.
In California, as of Thursday, there were 1,056 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 30% of these people are in the ICU. Testing results are available for nearly 5,927,000 individuals with 19% of people testing positive. Today’s daily test positivity rate is 2.1%.
VACCINE: The Pasadena Public Health Department updated the City's COVID-19 vaccine webpage to include an inquiry portal for people with severe heath conditions as defined by the California Department of Public Health. The portal can be found here.
Joe Biden will direct states to make every adult eligible for a coronavirus vaccination by May 1, in a push to bring the country “closer to normal” by the Independence Day holiday, according to senior administration officials. The new goal set by the White House reflects a much more optimistic assessment of America’s ability to bring the pandemic under control than had been previously laid out by the US president.
UCLA Forecast: CA economic recovery is expected To outpace the nation. Thanks to aggressive virus-control restrictions across California and a rapidly expanding vaccination roll out, the state’s economy will likely bounce back faster than the nation’s as a whole, although lagging tourism will continue to impact hospitality sectors, according to a UCLA economic forecast released Wednesday.
According to Jerry Nickelsburg, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast the roll out of multiple vaccines as well as the general easing of the number of new cases from the latest peak suggests a reduced economic impact of the pandemic in 2021. Though California responded, as before, with more restrictive non-pharmaceutical interventions via mask mandates, closures and gathering restrictions than elsewhere in the U.S., the fourth quarter of 2020 indicates a faster recovery in the coming year.
The forecast downplays suggestions of a major exodus of businesses from California in response to the pandemic and the accompanying restrictions, with the report finding that “the data do not support permanent out-migration.”
Although the timing may be offset with California beginning a significant recovery later than some other states, we expect the California recovery to ultimately be, once again, faster than the U.S. The leisure and hospitality sector will be the last to recover due to the depth of the decline in this sector and its reliance on international tourism, but the recovery will be earlier in business, scientific and technical services and in the information sector due to the demand for new technologies for the way we are working and socializing, and faster in residential construction as California’s shortage of housing relative to demand drives new developments.
The report forecasts a first-quarter unemployment rate of 7.7% in California, with the rate falling to 6.8% for the whole of 2021, followed by drops to 5.1% and 4.1% in 2022 and 2023.
Total employment growth for the three years in the forecast is predicted at 5.6%, 3.1% and 2.2%.
In spite of the recession, the continued demand for a limited housing stock coupled with low interest rates leads to a forecast of a relatively rapid return of homebuilding.
The report predicted 127,000 net new housing units this year, rising to 134,000 by 2023.
From the Pasadena Star-News: Southern California’s pandemic unemployment pain was 23% worse than previously reported — with the Inland Empire the lone exception.
The four-county region lost an additional 137,800 positions in 2020’s last 10 months, according to an annual revision of employment data by the state. The new tally shows Southern California had 8.51 million jobs at year’s end, still 749,600 jobs shy from February’s employment total before the pandemic smacked the economy.
My trusty spreadsheet tells me these harsh employment losses were not evenly divided across the region. Los Angeles County’s revised numbers show a job drop that’s 119,900 larger than first reported, equal to 30% more cuts. Orange County’s dip was 33,500 larger — a 27% jump in job losses. But in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, new data shows job losses were 15,600 smaller than previously reported — a 17% improvement.
Large revisions to jobs data are nothing new, but the scope is stunning. And to be fair to job counters, the pandemic posed added challenges in surveying employers and households, which are the backbone of data tallied monthly. Revised stats are largely based on employers’ unemployment insurance filings, which are viewed as a more reliable, but slower, count.
What the fresh figures depict is an even wilder employment roller coaster in 2020.
The region was clobbered by an initial economic shock as lockdowns designed to slow the coronavirus put many people out of work. The surge of layoffs hit 1.26 million workers — 74,000 more than first known.
The rebound from the springtime’s depression-like depths also was weaker than previously reported — 513,000 jobs restored or 63,800 fewer than the first glance. Simply put, 1-in-10 local jobs were gone by year’s end.
The revisions also provided strong clues about which industries were heavily altered by the pandemic economy.
In Los Angeles, government had 20,500 fewer workers in December than was first reported; professional services were off 20,000; retail had 18,000 fewer workers.
In Orange County, the revisions found 11,000 fewer business-services workers. Jobs at arts, entertainment and recreation businesses were actually down another 10,000 — meaning these “fun” enterprises lost half their workers last year.
And the Inland Empire’s massive logistics industry had 36,000 more workers at year’s end than first reported. The holiday shopping rush helped these transportation businesses — boosted by red-hot online commerce — gain 36,000 more workers than pre-pandemic February. Yes, more workers.
So it’s no surprise that Southern California’s jobless rate also worsened, finishing 2020 at 10.5%, up from 9.7% initially reported. The jobless rate in February 2020 was 4.2%.
In Los Angeles, December’s 12.3% rate was up from 10.7% initially reported and 4.7% in February. Orange County was at 7.4% — same as first reported — but far above 2.8% in February.
The Inland Empire, again, had better numbers. Its 8.7% unemployment rate in December was down from 9.1% originally reported but up from 3.9% in February.
The report also shows 2021 had a poor start as renewed business restrictions attempting to stall the winter’s pandemic resurgence cost more workers their jobs.
Southern California began the year with 868,200 fewer jobs than January 2020, an 11.1% drop — the biggest percentage-point dip in eight months. Los Angeles and Orange counties were both down 12%, the Inland Empire was off 7%.
January’s regional unemployment rate jumped to 10.8%, a four-month high, with L.A. at 12.7%; the Inland Empire at 8.6%; and Orange County at 7.4%.
There’s hope, though. Uglier-than-feared employment trends may turn upbeat this spring as the state aggressively reopens businesses now that coronavirus cases decline and vaccines protect more Californians.