In summary

Newsom calls on retired doctors, medical students to help with coronavirus response as number of ICU cases triples in span of four days.

Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, March 31.

CA’s new health corps: students, retired doctors

USNS Mercy hospital ship admit first patients on March 29, 2020. The ship is treating non-COVID-19 patients in an effort to relieve overwhelmed Los Angeles area hospitals.
Sailors assigned to the hospital ship USNS Mercy admit a patient in Los Angeles. Photo by Erwin Jacob Miciano, U.S. Navy

Gov. Gavin Newsom called Monday on recently retired doctors and soon-to-be-graduated medical and nursing students to join the California Health Corps to help care for COVID-19 patients.

Over the past four days, the number of Californians being treated for the virus in ICUs tripled and the number of hospitalizations doubled. Not only will the state need an extra 50,000 hospital beds by mid-May, it will also need a “human capital surge,” the governor said.

  • Newsom: “If you’re a nursing school student or medical school student, we need you. If you just retired in the last few years, we need you. If you are looking to expand your scope of practice … we need you.”

Other things to know about the California Health Corps:

  • Newsom’s executive order relaxes licensing laws and the always-controversial “scope of practice” rules — they determine which medical professionals can provide which services — through June 30. The general consensus so far? It’s vague but has been met with support, CalMatters’ Julie Cart, Elizabeth Aguilera and Ana Ibarra report.
  • The state estimates there is a pool of 37,000 retired or inactive health care professionals to draw from, and is looking to recruit “thousands.” All will be compensated.
  • The cost of the California Health Corps program will be “borne in a myriad of ways,” Newsom said, including the health care system, state and federal government.

Despite the projected surge in patients and the need for more hospital staff, officials said California’s shelter-in-place is making a difference.

  • Newsom: “We believe very strongly the stay-at-home order has helped advance our efforts in reducing the stress on the system that we believe would have already materialized in more acute ways had we not advanced those protocols when we did.”
  • Mark Ghaly, CA’s Secretary of Health and Human Services: “The modeling that we show … is that our current efforts around surge meet the moment and that we’re able to take care of anybody who needs a hospital bed today, anyone who needs an ICU bed or needs a ventilator, and our efforts to increase staff, increase beds, increase supplies, are on track to continue to meet that for weeks to come.”

As long as Californians continue sheltering in place.

  • Newsom: “If you’ve ever gone skydiving, the worst thing a human being can do is cut the parachute when you’re not even close to the ground. We’re not yet close to the ground.”

The Bottom Line: As of 10 p.m. Monday night, California had 7,426 confirmed coronavirus cases and 149 deaths from the virus, according to a Los Angeles Times tracker. (These numbers are different from those of the state Department of Public Health, which are updated less often.)

Newsom hints at frustration with Trump on late-night TV show

Screenshot of Gov. Gavin Newsom on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” March 30, 2020.

Newsom, who once called himself governor of the “most un-Trump state in America,” has generated headlines for the complimentary attitude he’s shown President Donald Trump during the coronavirus crisis.

However, he hinted at frustration with Trump and the federal government in a Monday night virtual appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” although he stopped short of open criticism.

  • Noah: “In your opinion, where is the federal government falling short, and where do you think states need to step up and do more to fight this pandemic?”

Newsom didn’t miss a beat: “We have not received any ventilators in a state of 40 million to meet our needs.” He added the federal government sent Los Angeles County 170 ventilators, but “none of them worked.”

“Rather than complaining about it,” Newsom said, the state refurbished the ventilators.

“We’re not waiting around for the federal government,” he added, a bit tartly. “We need more support, but at the end of the day we have to be resourceful.”

“All of that being said,” he continued, “I want to thank the president in this respect: We got that USNS Mercy, that large hospital ship, 1,000 bed capacity, into LA a couple days ago. And that’s the kind of thing we do count on the federal government for.”

Other stories you should know

1. Bay Area shelter-in-place extended through May 1

A woman pushes a cart past the shuttered Fox Theater in downtown Oakland on March 25, 2020. Today it was announced that Alameda, along with five area counties, would extend school closures through May 1 in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
A woman pushes a cart past the shuttered Fox Theater in downtown Oakland. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Bay Area residents will now be settling into their shelter-in-place routines through at least May 1, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. The original shelter-in-place order, which affected seven counties, was set to end April 7. But as cases continue to spike across California and the country, the guidelines aren’t going anywhere; President Donald Trump said Sunday that federal social distancing guidelines would remain in place through the end of April, and possibly until the beginning of June.

  • How well have Californians been sheltering in place so far? Some counties have reduced travel by over 70%, while others haven’t changed behavior much. Check out this map to learn more.

2. Coronavirus stretches CA’s special education system to brink

Linda Soares, left, helps her son, Daniel, 16, with his history homework at their dining room table. Soares says that she has been able to learn from her son’s school aid, who is a friend, on how to best assist him with his class work. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Linda Soares, left, helps her son, Daniel, 16, with his history homework at their dining room table. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

The 800,000 students with special needs in California are likely to be most affected by the shuttering of school campuses and the move to online distance learning, CalMatters’ Elizabeth Aguilera and Ricardo Cano report. Parents and educators fear the school closures will cause the students not only to regress in academics but also to lose some of the essential skills they’ve developed through working closely with teachers, paraprofessionals and behavior and speech therapists.

3. Hotel and retail furloughs hit California workers particularly hard

A row of hotels and motels near Oakland airport on March 25, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
A row of hotels and motels near Oakland airport on March 25, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Over 40 percent of the roughly 1 million jobs related to California’s hotel industry will be slashed because of the coronavirus pandemic, a new Oxford Economics study shows. “Even if the COVID-19 impact is over in 60 to 90 days, the hotel industry is pretty much done for this year,” an expert said. Retail isn’t faring much better. Macy’s announced Monday that it would furlough most of its 130,000 workers, including 5,000 in the Bay Area. Many hotel and retail workers make minimum wage and will likely file for unemployment, increasing the pressure on California’s overloaded unemployment insurance system.

4. What will the post-coronavirus future look like?

Some scholars and thinkers shared their thoughts on what a post-coronavirus world will look like in the San Diego Union-Tribune. They predict:

  • A renewed investment in public health infrastructure and rediscovery of the “fact that we do need the government.”
  • Increased health consciousness, with people paying more attention to washing their hands and covering their coughs.
  • Increased appreciation for teachers and caregivers.
  • Improved gender equality as men working from home “get a fuller picture of the child-care responsibilities” normally handled by women.

CalMatters coronavirus content

  • Check out the latest “Gimme Shelter” podcast on how California’s housing crisis is complicating its coronavirus response, hosted by CalMatters’ Matt Levin and the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon.
  • Do you have questions about homeschooling and distance learning during the coronavirus pandemic? Tune in to our webinar Wednesday at 1 p.m. with Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the CA State Board of Education, and Cindy Marten, superintendent of San Diego Unified School District. Register here and submit your questions here.
  • How are California universities handling distance learning? Join us for a livestream Thursday at 1 p.m. with California State University Chancellor Tim White. Register here.

CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Two major actions should help PG&E’s emergence from bankruptcy — a deal with Gov. Newsom and a guilty plea for the Camp Fire. But even if the utility settles all of its issues, its creditors and customers still face years of financial turmoil.

In dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, is the stay-at-home cure advocated by Newsom worse than the economic problem President Trump would like to end? Read this cost-benefit analysis from Joe Nation, a Stanford public policy professor.

Spurred to offer online college courses because of the coronavirus pandemic, California should use this opportunity to become a pioneer in innovative online education, writes Tom Epstein, president of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.

Other things worth your time

Berkeley economists: Why is coronavirus destroying jobs in the U.S. more quickly than in other countries? // The New York Times

The Grand Princess cruise ship is still anchored in San Francisco Bay — and handling its sewage has been quite a challenge. // KQED

One-third of Los Angeles high school students haven’t logged into online classes every day, and 15,000 haven’t logged in at all. // The Los Angeles Times

Here’s how quickly COVID-19 deaths are occurring in California compared with other states. // The Sacramento Bee

For the sick, coronavirus testing bottlenecks mean excruciating wait times. // The Los Angeles Times

Telemedicine is “having a moment” in the age of coronavirus. Here’s what you should know. // The San Francisco Chronicle

A surfer was charged $1,000 for surfing at a beach closed to slow the spread of coronavirus. // The Los Angeles Times

The bubonic plague in Europe changed art history. Could coronavirus do the same? // The Los Angeles Times

Wild animals are starting to pop up everywhere as humans shelter in place — from bald eagles in the Bay Area to coyotes in San Francisco to bears in Los Angeles.


See you tomorrow.

Tips, insight, or feedback? Email

Follow me on Twitter: @emily_hoeven

Subscribe to CalMatters newsletters here.

Follow CalMatters on Facebook and Twitter.

We want to hear from you

Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact CalMatters with any commentary questions:

Emily Hoeven wrote the daily WhatMatters newsletter for three years at CalMatters . Her reporting, essays, and opinion columns have been published in San Francisco Weekly, the Deseret News, the San Francisco...