In summary

Californians should not expect a return to normal this summer. Undocumented immigrants struggle with economic fallout from COVID-19. Covered CA sees spike.

Good morning, California. It’s Wednesday, April 15.

Not your typical California summer

San Francisco resident Dave Mahon shows off a protective mask that he decorated in order to make ‘things feel more friendly’ at Ocean Beach. California is entering the fourth week of sheltering in place to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
San Francisco resident Dave Mahon shows off a protective mask at Ocean Beach. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

“You may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, maybe a face mask. Dinner where the menu is disposable. … Where half the tables in that restaurant no longer appear. Where your temperature is checked before you walk into the establishment.”

Such was the picture Gov. Gavin Newsom painted Tuesday of California’s new reality once the shelter-in-place order begins to roll back — although when exactly that will happen remains unclear. Newsom said he won’t be able to release a more precise timeline for at least another two weeks.

What is clear: Things will not go back to normal anytime soon.

  • Newsom: “We talk about what the new normal will look like. As I said, normal it will not be, at least until we have herd immunity and we have a vaccine.”

It could take as long as 12 to 18 months to lock down a vaccine. In the meantime, the state is preparing to slowly reopen the economy by developing the ability to test, track and isolate those who are sick, making sure hospitals have adequate equipment and setting guidelines for schools and businesses to reopen while ensuring everyone inside can practice physical distancing, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher and Rachel Becker report.

Businesses and retailers will have to redesign their stores, Newsom said. Schools are considering new protocols for the fall, such as staggering class times to limit the number of students in a classroom at a time, reducing group meals and changing PE, assembly and recess policies. And there will be “deep sanitization, massive deep cleaning.”

Oh, and don’t get your hopes up about attending a Fourth of July parade or going to a summer concert.

  • Newsom: “The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine. So large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers … is not in the cards” for “June, July, August.”


The Bottom Line: As of 9 p.m. Tuesday night, California had 25,742 confirmed coronavirus cases and 789 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.)

Also: CalMatters is tracking, by county, positive and suspected cases of COVID-19 patients hospitalized throughout the state. We’re also tracking the state’s daily actions. And we have an explainer for everything you need to know about California’s response to coronavirus.

Other stories you should know

1. Undocumented immigrants struggle to make ends meet during pandemic

Legal Aid at Work attorney Kim Oulliette assists a client. Photo courtesy of Legal Aid at Work

Although California’s 2 million undocumented immigrants don’t qualify for unemployment insurance, they can qualify for state disability insurance, paid family leave and workers compensation, La Opinion’s Jacqueline Garcia and the Mercury News’ Erica Hellerstein report in a CalMatters collaboration. Meanwhile, members of California’s Latino Legislative Caucus called on Newsom to extend the state’s earned income tax credit to undocumented workers who file taxes, and U.S. Rep. Lou Correa of Anaheim introduced legislation to ensure taxpaying immigrants are eligible for the federal government’s $1,200 coronavirus relief check.

  • Erin Quinn, senior staff attorney at the Bay Area-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center: “The relief checks … [are] missing the fact that they are families that have been paying into the system and contributing in a formal way to our economy.”

2. Covered California sees 300% spike in enrollment

Covered California Obamacare
Photo by Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group

Covered California, the state version of Obamacare, said Tuesday that 58,400 people signed up for health coverage between March 20 and April 10, representing a 300% increase from the same period last year. Last month, Covered California extended its enrollment period in response to COVID-19, allowing people to sign up for coverage through June 30.

  • Peter Lee, Covered California’s executive director: “We’re playing this like the governor: moment by moment. If the epidemic is still having effects, it’s possible we’d extend that deadline.”

While tens of thousands of people were expected to sign up during this period as a result of losing income, Lee said he did not anticipate almost 60,000 signups in just the first three weeks. “The economic effects of this pandemic are truly unprecedented,” he said.

CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: The panic-buying of toilet paper hints at the chaos that would occur if food were in short supply. We should have a new appreciation of what it takes to put food on our tables — and show it with fair pay for farmworkers and foreign seasonal workers and a dignified pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown: In the decades following Prop. 13’s implementation, I’ve come to recognize the law’s many benefits. A proposed change would harm small businesses, especially those owned by minorities.

Newsom for President: Now more than ever, we put ourselves in a precarious position by nominating someone in their mid-70s for the nation’s highest office. Joe Biden should turn over his nomination to Gov. Gavin Newsom, argues Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School.

Other things worth your time

Video: How to access financial help during the pandemic. // CalMatters

Los Angeles is getting a government-run tent city for homeless veterans amidst the coronavirus pandemic. // The Los Angeles Times

Trump has created a new federalism helmed by Newsom and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. // The New Yorker

Commentary: Elon Musk still hasn’t sent California ventilators. That’s why it’s important to nail down the details of Newsom’s mask deal. // The Sacramento Bee

An illegal SF nightclub used a janitorial company as a front to keep partying during the outbreak. // The San Francisco Chronicle

UC and CSU will still award college credits for high scores on shortened online AP exams. But some students are still concerned. // EdSource

How coronavirus could impact state mental hospitals. // KQED

California’s iconic Joshua trees have been nominated for an endangered species listing — primarily because of climate change. // The Desert Sun

Bay Area women turning to midwives and home births during pandemic. // The San Francisco Chronicle


See you tomorrow.

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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...