In summary

Newsom details plans for what may reopen and when. Nursing homes hit hard by coronavirus. Rising sea levels spark coastal debates.

Good morning, California. It’s Wednesday, April 29.

Haircuts and live-audience sports still months away

Nika Gambarin, left, brings her daughter Jamee, center, to her kindergarten class on the first day of school at R.I. Meyerholz Elementary School in San Jose on Aug. 16, 2018.
Nika Gambarin, left, with her daughter at R.I. Meyerholz Elementary School in San Jose in 2018. Gov. Newsom announced Tuesday that schools could reopen as early as July. Photo by Randy Vazquez, Bay Area News Group

It looks as though we’re getting a little closer to that elusive light at the end of the tunnel.

In a few weeks, you may be able to pick up clothes curbside at retail stores. Kids may start the fall semester of school as early as July to make up for lost learning. But getting your hair done or attending a Major League Baseball game is likely still months in the future, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday while outlining the state’s plan to reopen the economy in four stages.

  • Stage 1: Improving testing and tracing, procuring personal protective equipment and ensuring hospital surge capacity.
  • Stage 2: Opening, with adaptations, school and child care facilities and lower-risk workplaces like retail stores, manufacturers and offices. Park and trail restrictions will also be loosened.
  • Stage 3: Opening higher-risk workplaces, like gyms, nail and hair salons, movie theaters, sports without live audiences and churches.
  • Stage 4: End of the stay-at-home order; reopen highest-risk workplaces, like concerts, convention centers and live-audience sports.

The governor said California is “weeks, not months, away” from entering Stage 2. He also emphasized that state government, not local officials, will decide when to enter the second stage.

  • Newsom: “The expectations we have of making any regional augmentations … are going to be stringent. … Just because people think they’re ready to reopen even more loosely than the state guidelines, we’re not going to just blithefully (sic) do that.”

He also said opening schools in July or August could help compensate for “a learning loss,” an announcement that took some local superintendents by surprise.

  • Don Austin, Superintendent of Palo Alto Unified School District: “Until a few hours ago … we were looking at exactly the opposite approach: To delay the start of school so it can be as normal an experience as possible. It would give teachers more time to gear up. If the idea is to jump back in potentially one month after an extended shelter-in-place expires — if it’s not extended again — I mean, it just doesn’t seem feasible.”

The shelter-in-place order will only be fully lifted once a vaccine has been developed, Sonia Angell, director of the state Department of Public Health, said Tuesday.


The Bottom Line: As of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night, California had 46,435 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,872 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. Over 30% of California’s COVID-19 deaths are nursing home residents

photo of Hospice Nurse visiting an elderly male patient
Photo illustration via iStock

Nursing home residents make up 32% of California’s COVID-19 deaths, revealing long-term care facilities to be the state’s deadliest sites of virus outbreak, according to data released for the first time Tuesday by the state Department of Public Health. But the actual number of deaths could be higher, the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Pohl reports. The health department acknowledged “it is not a comprehensive count,” as current data only include deaths “known by the facility” and not those that may have occurred after resident transfers, and only 86% of California’s skilled facilities have shared data with the state.

2. “The water is coming”: CA wants to relocate those living along the coast. Residents refuse.

The aftermath of an ocean surge in Imperial Beach, California, January 2019. Rising seas boost tides and imperil the city's coastline. Photo via Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
The aftermath of an ocean surge in Imperial Beach. Photo via Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego

Tension about sea level is rising in many of California’s coastal towns, with state authorities trying to manage residents away from the water and residents pushing back. With sea levels predicted to rise up to 10 feet by 2100, endangering $150 billion worth of property and erasing two-thirds of the state’s beaches, the California Coastal Commission wants coastal cities to plan to move homes and infrastructure away from the shore in a process called “managed retreat.” But many locals fear this amounts to a government takeover of their property, and have launched a full-on coastal revolt, CalMatters’ Julie Cart reports.

3. Multimillion-dollar state cleanup of toxic site stalls — again

The Exide battery recycling plant in southeast Los Angeles. Photo by Nick Ut, AP

One more thing the coronavirus pandemic has stopped in its tracks: the ongoing cleanup of thousands of homes contaminated by Los Angeles’ Exide battery-recycling plant, which released toxic lead and arsenic into surrounding working-class Latino neighborhoods for decades before shuttering in 2015. This isn’t the first delay for the state Department of Toxic Substances Control-supervised cleanup, which has so far cost taxpayers over $250 million, fallen years behind schedule, and is under investigation from California’s state auditor, Capital & Main’s Dan Ross reports.

CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: California’s long-running battle over educational accountability now has additional, pandemic-induced wrinkles.

We must remain vigilant: California is flattening the curve, but we must stay the course because the virus continues to compromise people’s health and take lives, argue Dr. Robert Ross of The California Endowment and Dr. Anthony Iton of the California Endowment for Healthy Communities.

Autism awareness: About 2% of this year’s college-bound students will be individuals with autism. But no mandate requires faculty to welcome these students or figure out how to integrate them into their classrooms, writes Jan Blacher, associate dean of UC Riverside’s Graduate School of Education.

Other things worth your time

First shipment of Newsom’s $1 billion mask deal arrives. // The Associated Press

How coronavirus has impacted air travel in and out of California. // The Los Angeles Times

How Nancy Pelosi is staying safe during the coronavirus pandemic. // The San Francisco Chronicle

Even if California campuses reopen, will college students want to come? // EdSource

Coronavirus research — including two California studies — leads to some iffy conclusions. // The San Francisco Chronicle

Inside Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff’s $25 million quest to get PPE. // The New York Times

Now that Californians aren’t driving as much, what will happen to highway projects funded by gas taxes? // The Sacramento Bee


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...