Over the duration of the summer, California regulators reached out to one million businesses to inform them of mandatory public health guidelines necessary to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, the state recently revealed that they were more focused on educating business owners rather than enforcing guidelines and penalizing businesses for going against the rules.
Of the one million businesses that received notices, from barbershops to boutiques to restaurants, less than 0.1% have faced enforcement.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that his “strike teams” of regulators from different boards and departments would take an educational approach to COVID-19 precautions, providing them with the tools and resources necessary to make a positive contribution towards the health of their communities.
However, the state of California is also considering the economic toll that the coronavirus has on its economy, and continues to attempt to bridge the gap between enforcing rules amongst businesses and helping keep businesses open. With record-breaking unemployment numbers and plummeting gross domestic products across California counties, state officials are looking for the best solutions to uniquely tackle the need for economic regrowth and slowing the spread of the virus.
“We deeply desire to reopen this economy fully, and we deeply recognize the stress businesses are under,” Newsom said earlier this month.
California isn’t the only state taking preventative measures during an economic crisis. Across the nation, states and cities are issuing their own protocols based on what they believe is safest for the community at large.
For instance, earlier this month, Atlanta officials announced that they would no longer respond to non-injury car accidents. According to the Barnes Firm, a team of Oakland accident lawyers, though this is a decision made with good intent, it could have some unintended consequences, as what’s considered “injury” could be subjective depending on the individual; what one person considers an injury, another person might not consider serious.
And while states like California take the preventative approach, states like New York aim to enforce. The state initiated a total shutdown, enforced stay-at-home orders, and were vigilant in their mission to keep social gatherings at bay. The law and communication of those rules played a big role in the state’s ability to slowly and safely begin to reopen: on July 11th, the state reported no new cases for the first time – a far cry from April, where there were nearly 500 new cases reported each day.
According to some experts, despite a range of state and local laws, only five states qualify under a specific set of criteria to reopen their economies safety. According to experts, there are five crucial elements necessary for a safe reopening:
- A two-week drop in coronavirus cases
- Fewer than four daily new cases per 100,000 people per day
- At least 150 new tests per 100,000 people per day
- An overall positive rate for tests below 5 percent
- At least 40 percent of their ICU beds free
Based on these criteria, the qualifying states include Vermont, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
California continues to be among the states that struggle to rebuild and contain. Despite the state’s efforts to educate business owners, there’s been a significant rise in COVID-19 worker’s comp claims. Recently, the Farmer John meatpacking plant in Vernon denied its essential workers access to company-provided masks and hand sanitizer, stating that it wasn’t their responsibility to provide those items. As a result, there were nearly 300 people infected at the plant.
According to projections by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute, these claims could cost employers and insurers $2 billion. State lawmakers continue to struggle with the best response to these claims, but there are high hopes for a number of bills in place, including AB 1159, which covers health care and public safety workers infected with COVID-19 through July 2024.