KEEP TABS ON THE LATEST CALIFORNIA POLICY AND POLITICS NEWS
Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, July 14.
Bars, indoor dining, gyms, churches to close
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered massive swaths of California’s economy to close back down, largely reverting the state to where it was in March, as a surge in coronavirus patients pushes rural hospitals to the brink.
Newsom directed all 58 counties to close bars and shutter indoor restaurants, movie theaters and wineries indefinitely. He also ordered 29 counties on the state’s watch list to close gyms, churches, offices, hair salons, indoor malls and other businesses effective immediately, with Santa Clara and Alameda counties likely to follow suit on Wednesday. Altogether, those counties represent 80% of the state’s population.
- Newsom: “We’re seeing an increase in the spread of the virus, so that’s why it’s incumbent upon all of us to recognize soberly that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon until there is a vaccine or an effective therapy.”
The closures are the governor’s latest attempt to regain control of a pandemic that has pushed California’s coronavirus positivity rate to 7.4% over the last two weeks and threatened to overwhelm hospital systems, especially in rural counties.
Newsom said Monday that limited ICU capacity in Placer, Butte and Lake counties and inadequate ventilators in Imperial County were the main reasons for the new limitations.
Whether businesses will abide by them remains to be seen. Though the state has ramped up enforcement in recent weeks, mixed messaging and a complex patchwork of rapidly changing rules have left many local governments and businesses frustrated and confused.
- Sarina Paulson, owner of three Willo Aveda Salons in Sacramento and Placer counties: “It’s really upsetting for our team. I was actually really shocked because I haven’t heard of any evidence that suggests cases are being facilitated by hair salons.”
- Sung Won Sohn, a business economist at Loyola Marymount University: “Any thought of a V-shaped economic recovery has been nipped in the bud. There is no chance of that at all.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Monday night, California had 329,162 confirmed coronavirus cases and 7,040 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. Los Angeles, San Diego to start school year with distance learning
Students in California’s two largest public school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego Unified, will begin the school year with distance learning instead of physically returning to campus, superintendents announced Monday. They join an increasingly long list of districts that are delaying in-person classes amid a coronavirus surge and inadequate funding to implement complex sanitation and physical distancing policies. But others are taking the opposite approach: The Orange County Board of Education recommended Monday that students return to school in the fall without face mask or physical distancing requirements.
Despite shutting down a majority of the state’s indoor spaces, Newsom is leaving school reopenings up to local districts. But he hinted Monday that state guidance is forthcoming, and “you’ll be hearing a lot more in the next few days and presumably weeks as we get closer to the opening of the school year.”
2. Trump can’t pull funds due to California sanctuary law, court rules
The Trump administration can’t rescind millions of dollars for California criminal justice programs because of its “sanctuary” laws that limit police cooperation with federal immigration agents, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Monday. Had the ruling gone the other way, California would have stood to lose over $31 million in grants for state and local programs addressing drug crimes, violent crimes and gangs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The news comes a month after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the Trump administration’s challenge to the Golden State’s sanctuary law, effectively upholding a prior decision that local and state authorities don’t have to help enforce federal law.
3. In other pandemic-esque news: San Andreas earthquake more likely
The likelihood of a large earthquake occurring on California’s San Andreas fault in the next few years has tripled following the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes, according to a report published Monday in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. It’s now 100 times more likely that, in the next year, a portion of the Garlock fault along the Mojave Desert will experience an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 or higher. That, in turn, increases the chances of a big earthquake along the San Andreas fault the following year. Nevertheless, the odds remain small — a 2.3% probability for the Garlock earthquake and a 1.15% chance for the San Andreas earthquake.
- Ross Stein, the study’s co-author and CEO of catastrophe modeling company Temblor: “So, the sky is not falling. But (the probability) is significantly higher, in our judgment, than what it would have been had the Ridgecrest earthquake not occurred.”
Are you on California’s health care frontlines? If so, CalMatters health reporter Jocelyn Wiener wants to hear from you. What are you experiencing at work and at home? What are the biggest challenges you face? Are you getting the support you need? Fill out the questionnaire here. All information will be kept confidential unless you consent to it being used.
Tuesday, July 21 at 10 a.m.: The Crisis in California Mental Health. How is the state government, now facing massive budget cuts, responding to the mental health impacts of the pandemic? Register here for a conversation with Dr. Rhea Boyd, a pediatrician and public health advocate; John Connolly, deputy secretary for behavioral health at the California Health and Human Services Agency; CW Johnson, outreach coordinator for the Mental Health Association of San Francisco; and Dr. Jonathan Sherin, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Submit your questions here.
Tuesday, July 21 at 1 p.m.: The Future of Work as Jobs Go Remote. How many jobs permanently migrate away from in-person offices has massive implications for California’s decades-long push for higher density, housing affordability and downtown development. Join CalMatters and the Milken Institute for a conversation with State Sen. Anna Cabellero, a Salinas Democrat; Kome Ajise, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments; and Lili Gangas, chief technology community officer at the Kapor Center. Register here and submit your questions here.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: The political onus for deciding whether to reopen public schools to California’s 6 million students falls mainly on Newsom, who has assumed the powers of a benevolent dictator on pandemic-related issues.
Help close racial wealth gap: A coalition of mayors is advocating for a guaranteed income that would tangibly improve the lives of many California children and families, writes Shimica Gaskins of the Children’s Defense Fund-California.
Electoral College levels playing field for small states: And that’s exactly what it was designed to do, argues Jeff Moore, a Redding resident.
Other things worth your time
Bankruptcy forced this California city to defund its police department. Here’s how it affected public safety. // Los Angeles Times
How the pandemic is reshaping how people get around San Francisco — and what it would look like as a car-free utopia. // San Francisco Chronicle
In a California manufactured home park, seniors asked to sign leases that may outlive them. // Sacramento Bee
San Gabriel Mission fire provokes deep, conflicting reactions. // Los Angeles Times
Blackouts have triggered an energy storage boom in California. // E&E News
Why Joe Biden has his eye on Karen Bass, a Democratic U.S. Rep. from Los Angeles. // The Atlantic
See you tomorrow.
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