In summary

Pointing to a sharp uptick in coronavirus-related hospitalizations and ICU admissions, Gov. Gavin Newsom implored Californians to wear face masks.

Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, June 23.

Hospitalizations hit all-time high

First responders at a Kaiser emergency room in San Francisco on April 9, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Pointing to a sharp uptick in coronavirus-related hospitalizations and ICU admissions, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday implored Californians to wear face masks, warning that restrictions may have to be tightened again if current trendlines don’t improve.

Over the past two weeks, hospitalizations increased by 16% and ICU admissions by 11%, Newsom said, though he stressed the state still has plenty of surge capacity. On Sunday the state hit an all-time high with 3,702 COVID patients hospitalized, breaking the previous record of 3,547 set on Saturday.

  • Newsom: “Those that suggest we’re out of the woods, those that suggest this somehow is going to disappear — the numbers tell a very, very different and sobering story.”

Newsom emphasized the importance of Californians following his Thursday order to wear face coverings in public places to help mitigate the virus’ spread — a message reinforced in a Monday video also featuring former Republican Govs. Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Govs. Jerry Brown and Gray Davis.

But pushback to Newsom’s mask order, which carries the force of law, remains. At least seven county sheriffs have said they refuse to enforce the order, and at least one mayor questioned Newsom’s authority to issue it in the first place.

The governor on Monday said the state has “tools in the toolkit” to “go after people who are simply thumbing their noses” at the order, but said he is primarily relying on “the moral persuasion” of “individuals to be good examples.” He also suggested that Californians report businesses that aren’t following state health guidelines. 

  • Newsom: “It’s your individual decision-making that will determine our fate and future.”

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Monday night, California had 178,054 confirmed coronavirus cases and 5,515 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. Newsom and Legislature reach budget deal — but details scarce

Members of the state Assembly question Newsom’s administration about its budget plan at the Capitol on May 26. Photo by Rich Pedroncelli, AP Photo/Pool

Newsom and the Legislature reached a budget deal Monday that avoids the governor’s proposed cuts to K-12 schools, community colleges and health care and safety net programs but reduces funding for the UC and CSU systems, courts and state employee salaries. Full details of the agreement were not released Monday.

The agreement, which comes a week after lawmakers passed a placeholder budget to keep receiving paychecks, calls for closing the state’s projected $54 billion deficit with various accounting maneuvers and cuts that will be reversed if the federal government sends aid by Oct. 1.

  • Newsom and legislative leaders: “The size and scope of the pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis have been unprecedented — leaving California to make hard choices and figure out how to sustain critical services with much less. … This budget required some tough decisions and more work remains ahead.”

Lawmakers will vote on the agreement later this week before sending the budget package to Newsom for his signature.

2. Will California limit the production of gas-powered trucks?

Electric trucks are displayed outside of the California EPA. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

California’s air resources board this week is poised to pass a rule limiting the production of gas-powered trucks — but it will need the Trump administration’s approval to enforce the rule, which seems unlikely given it’s currently battling the administration in court over fuel standards for passenger cars, the Sacramento Bee reports. The proposed rule would require truck manufacturers to cut their production of gas-powered vehicles by more than 50% over the next 15 years and instead sell trucks powered by batteries or hydrogen.

  • The Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Earthjustice and other environmental advocacy groups: “[The new rule’s] passage is a crucial step in transforming California’s transportation system to zero-emissions.”
  • Western States Petroleum, an oil and gas lobbying group: “The proposed rule package sends the wrong signal to the market, discouraging competition from other technologies that could have a more significant impact on emissions in the nearer term.”

3. Measure to keep funding state stem cell agency qualifies for Nov. ballot

A measure that would infuse $5.5 billion into California’s financially strapped stem cell research agency qualified Monday for the November ballot. The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which is on the verge of running out of its $3 billion in state funding, is pledging to dedicate at least $1.5 billion to research diseases and conditions affecting the brain and central nervous system, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, brain cancer, schizophrenia and autism. CIRM was created in 2004 after voters passed Prop. 71. Without more state funding, the agency will begin closing its doors next fall.

CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Southeastern Los Angeles County is a “corridor of corruption,” in the words of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. The Legislature is finally doing something about one example.

Feeding hungry children: California lawmakers should guarantee that children can continue accessing meals from schools over the summer, argue Tia Shimada and Jared Call of California Food Policy Advocates.

Importance of teaching science: There are signs that budgets and K-12 school reopening plans may fail to recognize science as part of the academic core, writes Teresa Barnett of Community Resources for Science.

Preserve Newsom’s “Master Plan on Aging”: It would be horrific if our state budget cut back on critical health and human service programs for seniors and people with disabilities, argues Beaumont resident Steve Mehlman.

Other things worth your time

California police unions are watching their clout crater amid protests — but for how long? // Los Angeles Times

Santa Clara County officials push to declare racism a public health crisis. // Mercury News

Thousands of community college students withdraw after a semester lost to coronavirus. // Los Angeles Times

PG&E power shutoffs are coming back. Here’s what you need to know. // SF Gate

One proposed constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting bites the dust. But Native American tribal governments are still pushing another. // Sacramento Bee

California to ban state-funded travel to Idaho due to its new laws discriminating against the transgender community. // San Francisco Chronicle

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