5 Things California: Q&A w/Asm. Bonta, Topical Agenda, Pfizer vaccine

I tested positive for COVID last week. I had mild symptoms, but they were significant enough that they rattled me a bit. It worked out fine in the end. I’m through it and I expect to come out of my quarantine in my home office at the end of the day today.

No one in my family got it. No one at my place of work got it. No one on my street or social circles got it. Everyone tested negative. I caught it because of a routine test ahead of a minor outpatient procedure I had planned.

I think the reason it was so mild for me and that no one else caught it is that when I came in contact with the viral load, I had a mask on. My viral dosage was limited because of my mask, so there wasn’t as much of the virus in me to spread to others, reflecting the thinking of leading virologists on transmission.

So, you just never know when you’ll come in contact with this thing. And, while it was manageable for me, it was still worrying. Like lots of things in COVID, the mental health impacts are real. Best to keep the mask on, and your mental health intact as we head into the dark winter.

Anyway, that’s advice that’s worth what you paid for it…





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Q&A with Asm. Rob Bonta

Assemblymember Rob Bonta represents California’s 18th Assembly District in the central East Bay area. Bonta is a member of both the Assembly Health Committee and the Appropriations Committee, and is a Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Racial Disparities Task Force in Oakland.

Reporter Shawna De La Rosa caught up with Asm. Bonta for a conversation on racial disparities in health care and the ways in which vulnerable populations have been impacted by the COVID pandemic. “Every Californian should have access to high quality care, despite their race and gender. And that explains everything I do,” he says. Looking to the future, Bonta said he is interested in legislation that prohibits agencies such as ICE from accessing contact tracing data, and legislation that defines who gets the COVID vaccine in a fair and equitable way.

2. Topical Agenda now available!

In case you missed it, this week we released the Topical Agenda for the 2020 Southern California State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference coming up on December 8th!  It’s a set of topics pulled together from scores of hours of conversations with our Convening Panel, key stakeholders, and sponsors. We’ll be exploring politics and policy in health care, discussing the future of Medi-Cal, and diving deep into COVID’s impact on the economy, tele-health, and health equity.

You can view the Topical Agenda here for a sense of the conversations we have teed up, and if you have suggestions for speakers let us know! If you haven’t already registered, we’d be honored to have you join us! Our Early Bird Registration will expire on October 27th, so now is the time to sign up if you want to take advantage of the discounted rate!

3. Leadership Series on COVID vaccine

Last week State of Reform had the opportunity to speak with David Hering, Pfizer’s North American Regional President for Vaccines, as part of our virtual “Leadership Series.” During the one-on-one conversation, I spoke with Hering about Pfizer’s work in developing a COVID-19 vaccine and what the road ahead looks like.

In the video interview, Hering says vaccine developers are on the cusp of a real leap in science, particularly as it relates to the mRNA model vaccines being developed by Pfizer and others. “The ability to basically tell your own cells to…provide antibodies for these diseases instead of having to put the actual virus, you know attenuated or other ways, into the bloodstream is a really fantastic advancement and one that should have broad applicability,” says Hering.


4. San Diego County races to watch

With November’s election right around the corner, San Diego County is proving to be an area worth watching, where shifts in the political balance appear to be on the line. In this rundown, reporter Emily Boerger breaks down some of the races, candidates, and storylines to watch on election night.

With a locked in 2-2 party split, the Board of Supervisors District 3 race will determine the Board’s partisan makeup, potentially shifting it to Democratic control for the first time in years. We’re also watching San Diego’s mayoral race where two Democrats are facing off in a potentially tight race, and a series of US House races which will determine at least 2 new members of Congress this year.


5. Workforce shortage solutions

According to a recent policy brief from California Health Policy Strategies, California’s behavioral workforce shortage is expected to worsen in the coming years as an aging psychiatry workforce retires and demand continues to increase. According to the UCSF Healthforce Center, the number of psychiatrists in the state is expected to decrease 34% between 2016 and 2028.

The brief recommends increasing residency positions in the state, prioritizing CA students for these positions, and creating a publicly accessible database that tracks information about practicing psychiatrists. Speaking to California’s health care workforce more broadly, Health Net recently released a report identifying top strategies – including cultural competency training and upward mobility opportunities – to overcome the state’s workforce shortage.