Businesses, counties to state: Try to stop us

Good morning, California. It’s Friday, May 22.

Will CA enforce stay-at-home order?

More than a thousand gathered in front of the California Capitol building to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay at home order and demand that the state re-open on May 1, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
More than a thousand gathered at the California Capitol building to protest Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home order on May 1. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

As California heads into Memorial Day weekend, tensions are rising along with the temperature.

Although this week Gov. Gavin Newsom significantly relaxed reopening requirements, clearing 42 of 58 counties to reopen dine-in restaurants and malls, for many it wasn’t enough. An increasing number of businesses and counties are taking a page out of Elon Musk’s playbook, reopening on their own schedules and daring authorities to come after them.

The big question: Will they?

After Tulare County’s Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to reopen hair salons, movie theaters, gyms and churches in defiance of the state order, Newsom’s administration threatened to yank state and federal disaster funding.

On Wednesday, more than 1,200 California pastors signed a “Declaration of Essentiality” in which they committed to hold in-person church services starting May 31. The letter asked Newsom to allow churches to reopen before then, “so as to avoid such a conflict,” and came a day after the U.S. Department of Justice warned the governor he was violating constitutional rights by not allowing churches to reopen sooner. (Newsom also faces at least four lawsuits from churches and a synagogue.)

It’s unclear how the state will respond to a mass reopening of churches. But it hasn’t been cracking down on businesses that have reopened too early.

Despite investigating nearly 1,100 complaints, the state barbering board hasn’t taken any enforcement measures, and the state Alcoholic Beverage Control department has only responded to a few, the Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, some sheriffs refuse to enforce the governor’s order.

  • Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco: “It’s time to get back opening up our businesses and letting our people do what our normal business activities are. … The government should not be picking and choosing who gets to open.”

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The Bottom Line: As of 9 p.m. Thursday night, California had 84,057 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,374 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker. (Note: As of yesterday, I’m no longer using the Los Angeles Times tracker. CalMatters has a different methodology, so you may have noticed the number of cases and deaths went down.)

Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

Other stories you should know

1. University of California ditches SAT and ACT in historic decision

SAT study guides at Barnes and Noble bookstore in Emeryville. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

The University of California will no longer require students to submit SAT or ACT test scores as part of its admissions process, the Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday in a historic decision likely to have national ripple effects. Instead, the nine campuses plan to develop by 2025 a new standardized test for California residents that will better reflect what students learn in school and mitigate racial biases and inequities that critics say the SAT and ACT exacerbate. If it can’t develop a satisfactory exam, it will drop the standardized testing requirement completely for Californians, CalMatters’ Mikhail Zinshteyn reports. (It’s unclear if out-of-state applicants would still have to take standardized tests and, if so, which ones.)

  • UC President Janet Napolitano: The regents need “to drill down into factors that contribute to the disproportionate representation, or un-representation, of students from underserved communities within our student population. We are a public university, after all.”

2. Immigrant women’s jobs hit hardest by pandemic, study finds

Image via iStock

The workers hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic are non-citizen women — immigrants with green cards, work visas or who are undocumented — with nearly one in three losing their jobs between Feb. 15 and April 18, a study published Wednesday by UC Merced Community and Labor Center researchers found. Unlike the Great Recession, which principally affected the male-dominated manufacturing and construction industries, this recession is impacting the female-dominated service and hospitality industries, CalMatters’ Jackie Botts reports. Undocumented immigrants are especially at risk, since they don’t qualify for most safety net programs.

  • On Monday, California opened applications for one-time $500 payments for undocumented immigrants impacted by the pandemic. There were so many calls that phone lines crashed, La Opinión’s Araceli Martinez Ortega reports in a CalMatters collaboration.
  • Martina Avila Mendez, a Los Angeles street food vendor: “I feel disappointed. I’ve been calling since yesterday, and nobody answers the phones. … I feel humiliated to be begging for those $500.” 

3. Capturing history: How to share your COVID-19 experience with future Californians

Do you want to document your COVID-19 experience so future generations of Californians can better understand what it was like to live through the pandemic? Now you can. The California State Archives is collecting submissions for its new “community memory project” called the California COVID-19 Archive. If accepted, your submission could become part of the archive’s historical collections and be featured online. To share your story and experience, fill out the following form.

CalMatters commentary

Lawmakers should investigate SoCalGas threat: A group funded by SoCalGas threatened that if the San Luis Obispo City Council voted to encourage construction of all-electric buildings that would not use gas appliances, it would hold a protest without social distancing, writes Heidi Harmon, mayor of San Luis Obispo.

Why does the Legislature want to weaken credit unions? AB 2501 would compromise credit unions’ ability to work individually with members and corrupts progress made by the governor, argues Diana Dykstra, president and CEO of California Credit Union League.

Federal relief needed: The federal government can and should fund another economic relief package with at least $1 trillion for state and local governments, argue Maurice Obstfeld and Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Berkeley professors who belong to the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Extra baggage for grocery stores: Several ideas have been floated to reduce plastic waste, but one idea makes little sense – to have grocery stores serve as recycling centers, writes Ronald Fong, president and CEO of the California Grocers Association.

Empower teachers with more tools: Teachers need top-notch professional development to continue moving California’s students forward with distance learning. Here’s why, writes Therapi Zaw-Kaplan, an elementary learning specialist for Walnut Valley Unified School District.

Other things worth your time

The pandemic hasn’t killed California’s big housing plans — but they’ve mutated. // CalMatters

Newsom raises record $26 million in COVID-19 donations, some from companies that lobby the state. // Politico

Tesla drops its lawsuit against Alameda County. // The Verge

Nearly 124,000 people have signed up for the state’s health care marketplace since March. // The San Francisco Chronicle

A month inside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s COVID-19 war room. // Los Angeles Magazine

California’s alcohol regulators pave way for new outdoor drinking zones amid the pandemic. // Eater SF

Mega pod of more than 1,000 dolphins stampede off Laguna Beach’s coast. // The Orange County Register

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See you Tuesday. Have a good Memorial Day!

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