Governor Newsom Announces New Initiatives to Support California Workers Impacted by COVID-19

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Governor announces new initiative to expand call center hours at the Employment Development Department to better assist Californians with unemployment insurance applications

EDD will also implement a one-stop shop for those applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, including the self-employed and independent contractors

Governor announces $75 million in statewide Disaster Relief Assistance funding to provide financial support for immigrant workers affected by COVID-19

Philanthropic partners commit to raising an additional $50 million to support undocumented Californians

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced new initiatives to support the millions of California workers who have lost jobs or wages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Governor’s direction, the Employment Development Department (EDD) will launch a new call center on Monday that will operate 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Unemployment Insurance Branch will be upstaffed with 1,340 employees, including 740 EDD employees and 600 employees from across state government. The Governor also directs EDD to expedite access to the Work Share program to avert layoffs.

The EDD will also stand up a one-stop shop for individuals applying for unemployment insurance and the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program starting April 28. The PUA will provide federally funded benefits distinct from UI program for certain individuals out of work or partially unemployed due to COVID-19. This includes the self-employed, ​individuals who may be employees but who lack sufficient work history and independent contractors. Federal guidelines include gig workers and California’s gig workers will continue to be protected by our strong laws against misclassification in the administration of PUA. PUA benefits will be issued within 24-48 hours – not the traditional 21 days ​for regular UI claims.

“Many Californians are one paycheck away from losing their homes or from being able to put food on their tables, and COVID-19 has only made these challenges worse,” said Governor Newsom. “California is focused on getting relief dollars and unemployment assistance in the hands of those who need it as quickly as possible.”

The Governor also announced an unprecedented $125 million in disaster relief assistance for working Californians. This first in the nation, statewide public-private partnership will provide financial support to undocumented immigrants impacted by COVID-19. California will provide $75 million in disaster relief assistance and philanthropic partners have committed to raising an additional $50 million.

“California is the most diverse state in the nation. Our diversity makes us stronger and more resilient. Every Californian, including our undocumented neighbors and friends, should know that California is here to support them during this crisis. We are all in this together,” said Governor Newsom.

California’s $75 million Disaster Relief Fund will support undocumented Californians impacted by COVID-19 who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief, including the CARES Act, due to their immigration status. Approximately 150,000 undocumented adult Californians will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult with a cap of $1,000 per household to deal with the specific needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals can apply for support beginning next month.

The state’s Disaster Relief Fund will be dispersed through a community-based model of regional nonprofits with expertise and experience serving undocumented communities.

In addition to the $75 million in state funding, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), a network of foundations focused on immigration issues, has committed to raising $50 million to support direct financial assistance to families of undocumented immigrants through the California Immigrant Resilience Fund, with initial lead investments of $5.5 million from Emerson Collective, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, The James Irvine Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an anonymous donor, among others. Those interested in supporting this fund can donate at www.immigrantfundCA.org.

“During this moment of national crisis, undocumented immigrants are risking their own health on behalf of the rest of us, saving lives as health care workers; caring for our loved ones; and growing much of the food we depend on,” said Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and President of Emerson Collective. “With the federal government and so many states failing to provide undocumented immigrants the economic and health supports all Americans deserve, I hope that corporations, foundations and individuals across the country will join us in providing the emergency relief these members of our community need to weather this challenging time.”

California has developed an immigrant resource guide to provide information about COVID-19 related assistance, including public benefits, that are available to immigrant Californians.

Last week, Governor Newsom announced that California is seeking to take appropriate steps to ensure care and treatment for COVID-19 for its residents, regardless of immigration status. Given the current public health emergency, COVID-19 testing, evaluation and treatment services are being deemed as emergency services under Medi-Cal, regardless of the location where it is received. Deeming COVID-19 testing and related treatment services as an emergency will entitle all Medi-Cal beneficiaries, regardless of their scope of coverage under Medi-Cal or their documentation status, to receive all medically necessary inpatient or outpatient services related to a COVID-19 diagnosis.

A copy of the Governor’s executive order can be found here and text can be found here.

Learn more about the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts here. Visit covid19.ca.gov or covid19.ca.gov/es for critical steps Californians can take to stay healthy, and resources available to those impacted by the outbreak.

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