In summary

Newsom’s big medical mask deal leads to #PresidentNewsom buzz on Twitter. Is it safe to clean and reuse medical masks during coronavirus pandemic?

Good morning, California. It’s Thursday, April 9.

As governors step up, CA assumes nation-state status

Left: California Gov. Gavin Newsom, right: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Left: California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Right: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photos by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters; Marc A. Hermann, MTA New York City Transit via Flickr


That’s the hashtag that was trending on Twitter on Wednesday morning after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Tuesday announcement on “The Rachel Maddow Show” that California will soon receive 200 million medical-grade masks per month, enough to meet the state’s needs and maybe those of others, too.

It didn’t hurt that on Monday, Newsom sent 500 ventilators to seven states, including the particularly hard-hit New York and New Jersey.

The message: California provides. The subtext: Because the federal government isn’t.

But Newsom said Wednesday his actions shouldn’t be taken as a critique of the federal government’s supply distribution.

  • Newsom: “This is not political, this is not in any way, shape or form usurping or undermining, this is all in the spirit of all of us stepping into this moment and doing what we can.”

President Donald Trump has taken a mostly hands-off approach when it comes to coordinating purchases of protective equipment and medical supplies. States have been competing with each other in an escalating bidding war for limited resources, and the governors “have to work that out,” Trump said. With the federal government stepping back, governors with national political ambitions, particularly Newsom and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have stepped up, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

  • Newsom: “We need to coordinate and organize our nation-state status as we can only in California with our procurement capacity that is quite literally second only to the United States itself.”

In response to concern that California could be taking resources from others, Newsom added:

  • “We are not just looking at supplies in a scarce marketplace where it’s a zero-sum game. We are being additive. … California, in this case, has been a catalyst to increase supply that will not only avail itself to the state of California but more broadly across this country and potentially in other parts of the globe. And so that’s how we perceive our role … not trying to drive up more competition, but advancing the framework of collaboration.”


The Bottom Line: As of 8 p.m. Wednesday night, California had 19,031 confirmed coronavirus cases and 505 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 in response to coronavirus.

Other stories you should know

1. Inside Newsom’s $1.4 billion deal for personal protective equipment

In this March 28, 2020, file photo, Gov. Gavin Newsom writes down a note during a tour of the Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale. The company has switched over to refurbishing ventilators as an increasing number of patients experience respiratory issues as a result of COVID-19. Gov. Newsom announced Monday, April 6, 2020, the state would loan 500 ventilators to the national stockpile for use by New York and other states experiencing a crush of coronavirus-related hospitalizations. Photo by Beth LaBerge/Pool Photo via AP
Gov. Newsom during a March 28 tour of Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale, a company that switched its focus to refurbishing ventilators. Photo by Beth LaBerge/Pool photo via AP

California’s freshly inked deal to obtain 200 million medical-grade masks each month along with other personal protective equipment, like gowns and gloves, hinges on an unprecedented relationship between unlikely partners: manufacturing companies, nonprofits and the federal Emergency Management Agency. For more details on the who’s who of Newsom’s supply chain, check out this report from CalMatters’ Jackie Botts and Dan Morain.

  • Some groups didn’t realize they were part of the supply chain until Newsom’s Wednesday announcement: “The governor has apparently done something extraordinary by making arrangements we were not privy to, but we’re delighted,” said Thomas Tighe, president and CEO of Direct Relief, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit that provides medical supplies around the world.

2. CA plans to clean and reuse medical masks. Is it safe?

An N95 mask. Image via iStock

Even as California works to increase its supply of new N95 masks for health care workers, it’s planning to deploy technology from an Ohio-based defense contractor to clean masks so they can be reused up to 20 times. But it’s not that simple, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports. Experts say that even with the cleaning technology, there’s still potential for cross-contamination and infection, and warn that the method should only be used as a last resort.

  • David Rempel, UCSF professor of medicine: “[I hope] that none of this ever has to be done, and that enough new masks come in that no hospital has to decontaminate any masks at all.”

3. VIRTUAL EVENT: How to prioritize mental health during the pandemic

coronavirus mental health
Come talk about mental health with us. Photo via iStock

These aren’t typical times. Many Californians are experiencing heightened anxiety and stress as the coronavirus upturns everything from the economy to our everyday routines. Tune in today at 1 p.m. to CalMatters’ virtual conversation with clinical psychologist Dr. Amy Ahlfeld and psychiatrist Dr. Mark Levine for some helpful tips and strategies on how to take care of your mental health during this difficult time. Register here and submit questions here.

CalMatters commentary

Census critical for California: Though many foreign-born residents, including many in the Asian community, may be distrustful of the government, participating in the U.S. Census will ensure California communities get the resources they need and representation they deserve, writes California state Treasurer Fiona Ma.

Teen trouble: With the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, how can we find a way to persuade teenagers to be more careful, for their safety as well as our own? asks Jessica Londeree Saleska, a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

Other things worth your time

How California Volunteers’ mission of civic and community engagement applies in the age of coronavirus. // The Atlantic

Bernie Sanders, who won California’s primary, drops out of the presidential race. // The New York Times

California releases limited racial breakdown of coronavirus deaths. // The Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles residents required to wear face coverings in essential businesses. // The Los Angeles Times

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey pledged $1 billion to fight coronavirus. But will he actually follow through? // The San Francisco Chronicle

How California disasters like earthquakes and wildfires helped the state respond to coronavirus. // Politico

Balcony celebrations are bursting out nightly in San Diego. // The San Diego Union-Tribune


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...