Good morning, California. It’s Friday, June 26.

Hospitalizations rise in southern, central CA

Healthcare workers at a Kaiser hospital in San Francisco on April 9, 2020. Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state would make hotel rooms available to care providers in regions with high rates of COVID-19 infections who need to self-isolate. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Health care workers at a Kaiser hospital in San Francisco on April 9. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Amid a continued surge in hospitalizations and ICU admissions, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday made public the coronavirus models California is using to inform its public health orders, calling on “citizen scientists,” “experts in artificial intelligence,” “Nobel laureates” and everyday people to help improve the models.

The request followed a 32% increase in hospitalizations and 19% increase in ICU admissions over the past two weeks. It also came a week after Newsom issued a statewide order requiring Californians to wear masks in most public places, which numerous county sheriffs refuse to enforce.

Newsom on Thursday suggested that sharing the models and open-source data would help convince more Californians that wearing masks is necessary.

  • Newsom: “Dare I say this, we want to back up the health professionals because this is the data they use to guide their decision-making. And often that decision-making is questioned by pundits … We want to put all of this out there, and we want it tested, and we want it challenged.”

The uptick in coronavirus-related hospitalizations largely derives from several southern and central California counties, including Imperial, Kings, Los Angeles, Stanislaus, San Bernardino, Orange and Kern counties, CalMatters’ tracker shows. Imperial has by far the highest concentration, with about 45 people hospitalized per 100,000.

  • Newsom: “Imperial County … simply cannot absorb the total number of new positive cases, hospitalizations. … When our system cannot absorb, when there’s a capacity consideration or limitation, that’s when we obviously have alarm bells that are raised.”

The state is currently monitoring 15 counties experiencing hospitalization upticks, increased virus transmission or limited hospital capacity.


The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Thursday night, California had 195,571 confirmed coronavirus cases and 5,733 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.

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. Stricter consumer privacy measure qualifies for November ballot

As California lawmakers fine-tune the state's landmark data privacy law, which takes effect in 2020, new battles are shaping up. Photo credit: Anya Berkut for iStock
Image via iStock

A measure that would add teeth to California’s landmark 2018 online consumer privacy law qualified Wednesday for the November ballot — another indication that Big Tech has a lot at stake in the upcoming election. The initiative would prevent businesses from sharing consumers’ personal information and limit their access to sensitive data, including location, race, religion, sexual orientation, union membership and private communications. It would also create a state agency to enforce the law and triple penalties for companies that sell data from children under 16 without their consent.

Opponents argue the measure could cost small businesses jobs and that Californians haven’t had enough time to gauge the effectiveness of the 2018 law, which the state will start enforcing next month.

2. In historic move, CA mandates zero-emission big rigs, trucks, buses

Electric trucks are displayed outside of the California EPA. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Electric trucks are mandated in California under a new rule adopted today. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

California on Thursday adopted the world’s first regulation to force manufacturers to ramp up sales of zero-emission trucks and buses over the next 15 years, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports. Under the rule passed unanimously by the state’s air board, 55% of delivery vans and large pickups, 75% of larger vehicles like school buses and 40% of big rigs sold in California must be zero-emissions by 2035. Though manufacturing costs will shoot up, the air board estimates the new rule will result in billions of dollars of savings in the long run and reduce smog and pollution disproportionately concentrated in low-income communities and those of color.

3. Lawmakers want answers from CA’s unemployment department

Can California’s outdated tech system keep up with unemployment claims? Image via iStock

Lawmakers are fed up with the state department that handles unemployment claims. Assemblyman Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican, requested Thursday a state audit of the Employment Development Department, pointing to data showing 75% of Californians who called the department one week in May couldn’t reach a live representative. The move came the same week Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat, posted several Twitter threads excoriating the department.

  • Chiu: “It’s difficult to say this as someone who generally believes in govt’s ability to help, but @CA_EDD is failing CA. I have done just about everything I know how to do as a public official to make things work, but my colleagues, my staff, my constituents & I are at our wits’ end.”

As of Thursday, 5.7 million Californians had filed new unemployment applications. Over 287,000 filed first-time claims last week, around a 20% increase from the week before.

4. California’s upcoming all-mail election, explained

California is moving to an (almost) all-mail election for 2020. Image via iStock
Image via iStock

As California gears up for an all-mail November election, officials are scrambling to ensure that every registered active voter will receive a ballot in the mail — while also preparing in-person voting options that lend themselves to social distancing and frequent sanitizing. Can the state pull it off? And there are political challenges beyond the logistical ones, with President Donald Trump alleging that remote voting will give Democrats an unfair advantage and lead to mail fraud. How secure are mail-in ballots, and do they actually advantage one party over another? CalMatters’ Ben Christopher has an explainer for your election-related questions.


CalMatters commentary

Time to ditch office culture for teleworking: COVID-19 has shown that many of us can embrace a healthier future of work, both for ourselves and the planet, argues Dean Florez of the California Air Resources Board.

Support electric trucks rule: It will create thousands of clean transportation jobs, inject billions of dollars into the economy and slash cancer-causing pollution, write Sam Appel of the BlueGreen Alliance and Patricio Portillo of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

How to fight climate change, create jobs? Retrofit homes and replace gas appliances for low-income Californians and small businesses, argue Srinidhi Sampath Kumar of the California Housing Partnership and Panama Bartholomy of the Building Decarbonization Coalition.

We need to better protect migrant farmworkers: Here are some recommendations from Noe Paramo of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and Joel Diringer, a farmworker health expert.


Other things worth your time

Five signs California is heading in the wrong direction when it comes to coronavirus. // Mercury News

Californians are desperate to see friends and family. Officials debate how to do so safely. // Los Angeles Times

California schools chief: We’re reimagining role of campus police, but officers needed on some campuses. // Associated Press

Legislature calls on school districts to spend less money on police and more on counseling, other student supports. // EdSource

Attorney General declines to investigate Vallejo police shooting of Sean Monterrosa. // San Francisco Chronicle

Oakland cuts nearly $15 million from city police budget. // San Francisco Chronicle

Tahoe ski resort considers changing its name. // SF Gate

See you Monday.

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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...