Today's Law As Amended

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AB-93 Pandemic response practices.(2021-2022)

As Amends the Law Today

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) From March to December 2020, the national media highlighted the scientific data that ethnic and racial minorities were disproportionately represented in positive cases and deaths caused by COVID-19. Despite this media coverage, little concrete action resulted that measurably improved these trends.
(b) The lack of transparency and allocation of vital equipment and supplies caused the positive rates of COVID-19 to increase to unprecedented levels, and resulted in loss of life throughout the nation.
(c) States pursued their supply chains of personal protective equipment, including masks and respirators, often competing with one another in securing supply chains of this vital equipment.
(d) California has the most comprehensive and well-funded public health and health care infrastructure in the nation. County health care systems, hospitals, county public health systems, and community health centers all serve the California public. These care systems can provide an integrated model that can handle any public health and natural disaster crisis appropriately.
(e) The State of California, like the federal government, did not create a uniform, disciplined infrastructure to handle the pandemic.
(f) The California health care infrastructure’s full and comprehensive capacity did not function collectively and collaboratively, but rather competitively. This undermines state objectives and did not serve the public well, particularly ethnic and racial minority communities.
(g) Complicating the response and efforts in ethnic and racial minority communities was the complete omission of the state and county public health care systems to integrate the federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in their local actions. Despite having the United States Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response designating FQHCs and community health centers as first responders in a public health crisis, this fact, and potential contributions, were wholly ignored. There were many instances in which health centers’ participation and role could have significantly improved the state’s most impacted communities.
(h) Prime examples of where these problems were experienced most acutely were in farmworker communities throughout the state and African American and Latino communities in urban centers. Significant numbers of “essential workers” reside in these two principal areas, and the incidence of positive virus cases was the highest. Substantial outbreaks occurred in the Central Valley, along the United States-Mexico border, coastal valleys, the City of Los Angeles, the City of Oakland, and other urban centers.
(i) Exacerbating these problems was the lack of oversight and monitoring of how counties were using and distributing personal protective equipment, allocating and locating COVID-19 testing, protecting essential workers, and distributing and targeting vaccine application.
(j) The data gathered and provided by the State Department of Public Health reveal that on March 3, 2021, the percentage of Latinos with positive COVID-19 cases was 56.4 percent, and deaths were 49 percent, while the Latino population in the state is 38.9 percent. In July 2020, Latinos accounted for 57 percent of COVID-19 cases and 46 percent of deaths. These data confirm that little improvement was made from July 2020 to March 2021.
(k) On February 4, 2021, APM Research Lab reported that “of the more than 444,000 U.S. deaths catalogued in this Color of Coronavirus update, these are the numbers of lives lost by group: Asian (14,019), Black (63,207), Indigenous (4,506), Latino (72,291), Pacific Islander (706), and White (241,440).” These numbers tell us that Latinos are 2.4 times more likely to have died of COVID-19 than White Americans. Similarly, Blacks are 2.1 times more likely, Indigenous people 2.2 times more likely, and Pacific Islanders 2.7 times more likely, to have died from the virus than Whites.
(l) Consequences of the lack of uniform policies and of structural and operational failures have made prevention, protection, and compliance with COVID-19 precautions more challenging to bring about. These errors have also caused a lack of confidence and trust that vaccines will be effectively and efficiently distributed to the most vulnerable populations, especially those identified as priorities that have been underserved.

SEC. 2.

 Part 7.1 (commencing with Section 122446) is added to Division 105 of the Health and Safety Code, to read:

PART 7.1. State Pandemic Response

 (a) During a state of emergency proclaimed by the Governor pursuant to Section 8625 of the Government Code, or a health emergency declared by the State Public Health Officer pursuant to Section 101080, in response to a viral pandemic or any other health crisis involving an imminent and proximate threat of the introduction of a contagious, infectious, or communicable disease, chemical agent, noncommunicable biologic agent, toxin, or radioactive agent, the State Department of Public Health (department) shall include federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in the organizational response structure established by the Office of Emergency Services.
(b) (1) The department and the California Health and Human Services Agency shall coordinate in maintaining an annual inventory of the personal protective equipment and all other related medical supplies that the state maintains in its stockpiles. This inventory shall be consistent with the stockpile- and inventory-related provisions described in Section 131021 of this code and Sections 6403.1 and 6403.3 of the Labor Code.
(2) No later than December 1, 2023, and every two years thereafter, the department and the agency shall submit a report on the utilization of the equipment and supplies in the state stockpiles to the Assembly and Senate Committees on Health, the Assembly Committee on Budget, and the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review.
(3) The department and the agency shall, in consultation with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local public health departments, hospitals, and FQHCs, determine the contents of the stockpiles and the amount of those contents that can be effectively utilized at any given time. The determination shall factor in previous experiences, utilization rates, costs, and availability of a supply chain.
(4) The department shall ensure that all elements in the stockpiles are viable and can be activated and distributed within a reasonable timeframe to address the level of need established by any public health crisis, consistent with Section 131021 of this code and Sections 6403.1 and 6403.3 of the Labor Code.
 (a) The State Department of Public Health shall develop a statewide, comprehensive plan to conduct an outreach and education campaign relating to COVID-19, including all of the following components:
(1) Education on factors that contribute to the COVID-19 virus or its variants, the facts surrounding COVID-19, and how vaccinations are developed, clinically tested, monitored, and studied to reduce risks for all individuals receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
(2) Activities aimed at preventing COVID-19 infections and increases in COVID-19 cases.
(3) Activities aimed at encouraging COVID-19 vaccination and booster shots.
(4) Activities to address and correct the organized false information efforts relating to COVID-19 and that are carried out on social media. The Legislature finds that this false information has been determined to be instrumental in creating confusion, hesitancy, and resistance to being vaccinated against COVID-19 and could lead to a repetition of the high rates of infection and death as possible variants evolve.
(5) Preventive messaging and activities that address how health disparities among specific ethnic or racial groups with the highest rates of COVID-19 positive cases and COVID-19-related deaths result in increased risks for contracting the COVID-19 virus or its variants. For purposes of this paragraph, health disparity conditions include, but are not limited to, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure (hypertension).
(6) Any other preventive efforts recommended by the CDC or the State Department of Public Health.
(b) The campaign shall focus on those communities in each county with the highest rates of health disparities, and shall include outreach and education materials in the non-English languages prevalent in each county. Materials shall be culturally sensitive to populations that experienced a high rate of health disparities that contributed to greater susceptibility to COVID-19.
(c) The campaign shall provide communities that have a high rate of health disparities with information addressing, among other issues, all of the following:
(1) The health and economic consequences of health disparities.
(2) Initiatives that those communities can undertake to combat and change health disparity trends.
(3) Eating habits that contribute to health disparities.
(4) The effect of housing overcrowding and low wages on health disparities.
(d) Subject to subdivision (e), implementation of the campaign shall commence on November 1, 2023, and operate for at least three years.
(e) (1) Implementation of this section is subject to an appropriation in the annual Budget Act for purposes of this section.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that the future appropriation described in paragraph (1), if made, utilize available federal funds that are allocated to the State of California for activities relating to COVID-19, to the extent that use of those federal funds for the purposes described in this section is authorized by federal law.