In summary

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement comes as some county public health officers in California face severe pushback for their face mask orders.

Good morning, California. It’s Friday, June 19.

Pushback sure to follow

A woman wears a surgical mask with ‘Obey’ written in marker safety pinned to the back of her top during a protest at the California Capitol demanding that Gov. Gavin Newsom end the shelter in place order. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
A woman wears a surgical mask on the back of her top during a Reopen California protest in Sacramento. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Masks on, California.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered all Californians to wear face coverings in public places and at work, as well as outdoors when it’s impossible to stay six feet apart from others — setting a state standard that overrides a patchwork of different county rules.  

  • Newsom: “Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered — putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease.” 

The governor’s announcement, which carries the force of law, comes as some county public health officers face severe pushback for their mask orders. Last week, Orange County health officer Dr. Nichole Quick resigned after receiving death threats for requiring residents to wear masks in public — an order the sheriff refused to enforce and which was reversed after her departure.

Californians who don’t obey the new order could be charged with a misdemeanor and face a fine, among other penalties. It remains unclear how the governor plans to enforce the order, which is certain to be met with continued public resistance and polarization

Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler told CalMatters reporter Ana Ibarra he won’t wear a face mask. 

  • Uhler: “This has absolutely nothing to do with us reopening and it has 100% to do with the protests he allowed and encouraged.” 

The mandate requires Californians to wear face masks when inside of or waiting to enter any indoor public space, accessing health care, using public transit and outdoors when impossible to physically distance. There are also specific rules for workers.

Californians exempted from following the order include children under two, those with medical or developmental disabilities, the hearing-impaired, people eating and drinking at restaurants and the incarcerated.

Find the complete list of rules and exceptions here.


The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Thursday night, California had 161,099 confirmed coronavirus cases and 5,290 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. What the Supreme Court’s DACA decision means for Californians

DACA recipient Flor Martinez attends a rally following President Trump's rescinding of the program in 2017. Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled he could not halt the program, affects nearly 200,000 California 'Dreamers.' Photo by Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group
DACA recipient Flor Martinez attends a rally in 2017. Photo by Karl Mondon, Bay Area News Group

In a decision affecting nearly 200,000 undocumented people living in California — many of whom are high school or college students — the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration cannot, for now, dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The decision brought relief to DACA recipients who, at least for the time being, can continue to go to school and work without fear of deportation, CalMatters’ Mikhail Zinshteyn reports. It was also a major victory for Janet Napolitano, who as president of the University of California sued Trump over his bid to end the program — which she built as Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security. The big question: What happens next?

2. CA COVID-19 hospitalizations approach previous record high

Image via iStock

Following two weeks of mostly stable numbers, California’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations are fast approaching the record levels set in late April, CalMatters’ hospital tracker shows — an uptick that comes as nail salons, tattoo shops and massage therapists plan to reopen in some counties today. There were 3,439 COVID-positive patients hospitalized Wednesday, up from 3,421 on Tuesday. The previous all-time high was 3,497 patients on April 29, CalMatters’ Ana Ibarra reports. Recent increases are mostly concentrated in Southern California and some Central Valley counties.

  • Deputy Royjindhar Singh, Stanislaus County spokesperson: “Once things opened up, a lot of people started ignoring some of the social distancing protocols. … Our case numbers have almost doubled, and with that our hospital numbers have also gone up.”

3. How homes in California’s black neighborhoods are devalued

Homes in West Oakland on December 15, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Homes in West Oakland on December 15, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

A home in a black-majority area of the Bay Area is worth about $164,000 less than a home in an area with few black residents, controlling for size, school quality and access to parks and neighborhood amenities — the product of systemic racism in the state’s public policy and private housing market, CalMatters’ Matt Levin reports.

  • Mary M. Lee, veteran advocate for fair housing policies in Los Angeles: “When they say real estate is about location, location, location — it’s actually about race.”

Matt breaks down how the astronomical rise in California’s rent and home prices has disproportionately impacted its black residents. One example: black residents make up about 5.5% of the state’s population but nearly 30% of its homeless population. For more, check out his podcast on the same topic with the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon.

4. Newsom shores up his vote-by-mail executive order

Newsom on Thursday signed legislation codifying his previous executive order to mail every active registered California voter a ballot for the November election. That methodology will also likely be the resolution to legal back-and-forth over another executive order specifying the number of in-person voting sites counties must offer. A California district judge last week temporarily suspended the order, only to be overruled by another judge on Wednesday. However, a bill to codify the order is making its way through the Legislature — one Newsom is sure to sign if it lands on his desk.

CalMatters commentary

Inside CSU’s plans for systemic change: Our actions will equip CSU graduates in every major to see, question and dismantle the racial and social injustices that stain our nation, writes chancellor Timothy White.

DACA remains vulnerable: Until Congress grants Dreamers access to permanent legal status, the Trump administration could still end DACA if it provides sufficient legal justification, write Caitlin Patler and Erin Hamilton, UC Davis professors.

Dreamers deserve path forward: Congress can act on the will of the American people to give citizenship to every Dreamer, argues Misla Barco, a Spanish teacher at East Palo Alto Academy.

Reject SB 10 in November: It will lead to more racially biased outcomes in our criminal justice system, and the price tag is far too high, argues Joe Coto, chairman of United Latinos Vote.

A more sustainable method: Our chemically-dependent approach to agriculture is at the core of many problems like climate change and biodiversity loss, writes Steve Shimek, CEO of The Otter Project.

Other things worth your time

Why California’s economic recovery is among the slowest in the nation. // Sacramento Bee

Los Angeles school board considers phasing out school police amid intensifying demand. // Los Angeles Times

San Francisco removes Christopher Columbus statue near Coit Tower. // San Francisco Chronicle

Meet the new PG&E. It looks a lot like the old PG&E. // Los Angeles Times

The delays that plagued LA County’s March primary election primarily due to electronic check-in system. // Los Angeles Times

California rent relief plan would give tenants until 2034 to make up late payments. // Sacramento Bee

San Diego OKs new housing blueprint to triple yearly construction through 2034. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Why a huge group of blue whales is gathering off Northern California this week. // Mercury News


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...