With a series of temporary protections that helped Californians get through the first few months of the pandemic set to expire soon, Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted he will today extend some programs in another flex of executive power.

Additional federal unemployment benefits of $600 per week end July 31, foreshadowing a wave of evictions and what Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf predicted will be a “homelessness Armageddon.” Meanwhile, many workers are resisting returning to work for fear they aren’t adequately protected against the virus, even as unemployment continues to rise.

  • Newsom on Wednesday: There’s “growing recognition … that we are walking towards the edge of a cliff.”

He added that he is “looking at the authority vested in me” to extend executive orders for eviction moratoriums, workers’ compensation, sick leave and protections for essential workers. 

Negotiating with unions will play a key role. Workers backed by powerful labor groups are calling for stricter safety measures as they point to outbreaks that have ravaged nursing homes, hospitals, grocery stores and warehouses. The United Farm Workers union wants Attorney General Xavier Becerra to investigate the Primex Farms pistachio plant in the San Joaquin Valley, where nearly 25% of workers tested positive for coronavirus and one died.  

But the prospect of further executive action isn’t likely to please everyone. Assemblymember Kevin Kiley, a Rocklin Republican, has compiled a 123-page document of all the laws Newsom has changed via executive order during the pandemic, calling it a “monarchy.” 

And landlords and businesses are facing financial cliffs of their own. 


The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Thursday night, California had 425,616 confirmed coronavirus cases and 8,027 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. Feds monitoring San Jose for COVID outbreak

Mayor Sam Liccardo wears a San Jose branded face mask while waiting to speak at a press conference at the COVID-19 testing site in the parking lot of PAL Stadium in San Jose on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Photo by Karl Mondon, Bay Area News Group
Mayor Sam Liccardo at a press conference in San Jose on May 20. Photo by Karl Mondon, Bay Area News Group

San Jose is among 12 cities the federal government is monitoring for a worrying uptick in coronavirus cases and which need to take “aggressive” action to mitigate spread, White House Coronavirus Task Force Leader Dr. Deborah Birx said in a private call Wednesday — news that came as a surprise to city leaders, who didn’t know about or participate in the call. Mayor Sam Liccardo told the Mercury News Thursday he didn’t understand why San Jose was on the list when other California cities, such as Los Angeles, have been more severely impacted by the virus.

  • Liccardo: “I literally texted every city and county official I know who had been deeply engaged in this. Everyone collectively responded with ‘huh?’ So we’re catching up to the White House’s announcement right now.”
  • Santa Clara County in a statement: “Our (case) numbers remain much lower than those of most metropolitan areas in the state and the country. We are concerned about the increase in cases nationally and believe that this highlights the need for a coordinated national approach to address this pandemic, something the President has failed to put into effect.”

2. Families fight to enter California nursing homes

Caroline Harrison, left, Jackson Harrison Shirk, 11, right, and his mother, Virginia Harrison, far right, visit with Jackson’s grandmother, Debbie, center, at The Chaparral House, a Berkeley skilled nursing facility. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

As California nursing homes remain sealed off to almost all visitors, families and watchdogs are increasing pressure on state officials to allow at least one “essential caregiver” inside to check up on loved ones, many of whom suffer from dementia, CalMatters’ Barbara Feder Ostrov and Jocelyn Wiener report. The state does allow inside visits, but under such tight restrictions that few homes can offer them — and those that could often have liability concerns. Meanwhile, many residents are experiencing increased loneliness, anxiety and cognitive decline due to limited interaction with family members.

  • Dr. Mike Wasserman, president of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine: “At some point keeping older adults isolated will cause considerable harm. I think it is critical that families … be able to go in the facilities and lay eyes on the residents.”

3. So you want to be a California contact tracer…

Screenshot of contact tracing video by Meredith Lackey for CalMatters

By now you’re probably sick of hearing the phrase “contact tracing” — but what does it actually mean? In this short video, CalMatters’ Meredith Lackey takes us inside the hectic world of four contact tracers at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, who are working around the clock to get a clearer picture of the virus’s spread by coaxing key information from residents hesitant or afraid to cooperate.

  • Contact tracer Victor Scott: “This has gone beyond everything I’ve ever done. The fear or anxiety that people may have when they’re on the phone — or even anger…”

CalMatters commentary

Better distance learning approach needed: New research provides key lessons for how to ensure high-quality educational opportunities online, writes Heather Hough of Policy Analysis for California Education.

Health care costs another crisis: The state needs to strengthen price transparency and price competition to build a more efficient health care system, argues Glenn Melnick, a USC professor of health care finance and public policy.

Thank you for speaking out about mental health: I read Lenny Mendonca’s column through tears and admire his courage in admitting that he was battling a mental-health crisis, writes Shereen Walter of the California State PTA.


Other things worth your time

Podcast: Can Newsom regain control of California’s coronavirus crisis? Past gubernatorial advisers weigh in. // Sacramento Bee

San Francisco will open “learning hubs” to help 6,000 students with online education. // San Francisco Chronicle

In apparent first for Northern California, nursing home to close amid pandemic. // Sacramento Bee

Racism in Trader Joe’s products? How a Bay Area teen fired up the nation. // San Francisco Chronicle

California gears up for a blockbuster year of ballot measures. // Politico

California’s online community college still has a lot to prove. // EdSource

You see the warnings everywhere — but does California’s Prop. 65 really protect you? // Los Angeles Times

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...