Orange County residents making up to $75,000 a year could get a $600 stimulus check from the state if state legislators approve Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal.
“That tax rebate will impact just shy of 80% of all tax filers” across the state, Newsom said at a Monday news conference.
He noted many were left out of the previous $600 bailout that went to people making less than $30,000 a year.
“We need to provide direct relief to people in the middle class — people earning up to $75,000,” Newsom said. “That represents almost 80% of all tax filers in California.”
State officials have indicated there’s over $75 billion in surplus money and the Democratic super majority state legislature is crafting proposals on how to spend that money. Nearly $12 billion of that will be used for the stimulus checks.
And the state expects to receive more than $27 billion in federal relief funds.
One proposal calls for a $5.2 billion renter relief fund for low-income residents.
Newsom said he’s not sure how much back rent is owed throughout the state.
“That’s why we’re increasing the total number available on the higher end [$5.2 billion] to make sure we’re covering a worst case scenario,” he said.
Some OC cities, like Anaheim, created a rental relief using previous federal bailout money.
Residents need to file their taxes to qualify for the stimulus money and the filing deadline is May 17th.
Newsom — after not publicly saying much for a couple weeks — said he’s going to unveil new surplus money and bailout fund spending plans throughout the week.
The budget proposals also come as the Governor is slated to face a recall election, with Gubernatorial candidates John Cox and Caitlyn Jenner kicking off their campaigns last week.
Meanwhile, state health officials expect a Golden State reopening to happen June 15 — when all pandemic restrictions, except masks, are slated to be lifted.
But vaccinations have slowed down statewide.
Shots have also slowed down in Orange County and county health officials are slated to close the vaccination supersites early next month to shift to a neighborhood clinic strategy.
Community health clinics throughout Orange County have been in overdrive since the coronavirus pandemic began — they’ll soon be asked to do more vaccinations as some clinics face dwindling funds.
It’s a move county officials hope will help tackle some vaccine hesitancy in OC.
Clinics, and the community organizations supporting them, have been working to bring testing, education and isolation resources to OC’s hardest hit communities over the past year.
The network of community groups and clinics soon began working with hospitals, pharmacies and cities across OC to bring vaccinations to the county’s hardest hit residents.
“It took everybody — the clinics, the community based organizations, the cities, some of the private doctors, the pharmacies,” said Ellen Ahn, executive director of Korean Community Services. “Now is the final kind of stretch for neighborhood small pods.”
Ahn, in a Friday phone interview, said she’s seen an overwhelming uptick in vaccinations among the Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
County officials previously said they’re going to redirect resources from the vaccination supersites to the neighborhood clinic efforts.
Alexander Rossel, CEO of Families Together of Orange County, said his health clinic needs more funding.
“At this point we have zero indiation of that — we’re hoping to get some funding. We’re still working in the deficit and delivering the vaccines and not being compensated for other work that we do, but we gotta do it,” Rossel said in a Friday phone interview. “I believe they’re making the right decisions by closing down the big pods.”
Local health officials are also trying to battle vaccine hesitancy throughout OC.
At a Thursday news briefing, Dr. Margaret Bredehoft, deputy director of the OC Health Care Agency, said county health officials are going to be working with a host of community organizations and clinics to help stem vaccine hesitancy.
Public comments during meetings at the OC Board of Supervisors and the county Board of Education have become a hotbed of conspiracy theories about the vaccine and the pandemic in general.
Some residents have compared the public health safety measures and vaccinations to the Holocaust — a move that drew the ire of Jewish community leaders.
Last month, dozens of people railed against the vaccinations and slowed an Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting to a halt, prompting Supervisor Don Wagner to try and clear the air about false vaccine information with county Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau — a conversation that later became viral.
Isabel Becerra, CEO of the Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers, said the clinics will continue focusing their efforts on people who want the shot and some who may be “on the fence” about it.
“I think those people who are non-vaxxers, I don’t see how we change their minds at this point,” Becerra said in a Friday phone interview.
Instead, she said, efforts should continue in the hardest hit communities where many essential workers live.
“These are the communities or the areas that could take us back a tier if outbreaks happen again,” Becerra said. “That’s where the focus should be, compared to trying to convince someone to take a vaccine who wouldn’t take an array of vaccines available pre-pandemic.”
Orange County’s virus hospitalizations have been slowly decreasing.
As of Sunday, 84 people were hospitalized, including 21 in intensive care units, according to the county Health Care Agency.
The virus has now killed 5,008 people — more than nine times the flu does on a yearly average.
COVID deaths surpassed average yearly cancer deaths in OC.
It’s also killed more than heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and strokes do on a yearly average, respectively.
Orange County has averaged around 20,000 deaths a year since 2016, including 543 annual flu deaths, according to state health data.
Last year, more than 24,400 OC residents died, according to the latest state health data.
According to the state death statistics, cancer kills over 4,600 people, heart disease kills over
2,800, more than 1,400 die from Alzheimer’s disease and strokes kill over 1,300 people.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio