Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, July 7.

Newsom ramps up enforcement

Doug Mahon reaches for a cocktail from a masked server at Cole’s Chop House in Downtown Napa on May 22. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Amid intense criticism for reopening California’s economy too quickly, Gov. Gavin Newsom is ramping up enforcement of his coronavirus orders following the 16th straight day of record hospitalizations.

Twenty-three counties are now on the state’s coronavirus watch list, with new additions Colusa, Madera, Marin, Merced, Monterey and San Diego ordered Monday to close for at least three weeks indoor portions of restaurants, wineries and movie theaters. Bars get fully shuttered. (Contra Costa was also added back to the list after being removed last week.)

Over the Fourth of July weekend, agents from the state Department of Alcohol Beverage Control visited nearly 6,000 restaurants and bars, issuing 52 citations, Newsom said. Other state regulators contacted an additional 440,000 businesses to ensure compliance.

  • Newsom: “We’re not going out there with a punitive frame, but we are going out with the resolve that this moment needs to make sure people are protecting themselves and protecting others to mitigate the spread of this virus.”

Also on Monday, the top medical officer for California prisons was ousted following a massive outbreak in San Quentin State Prison due to the transfer of inmates from a Chino facility who “should not have been transferred,” Newsom said.

Some local governments are also stepping up enforcement, while others continue to defy — or remain confused by — Newsom’s orders.

West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Monterey plan to fine residents who don’t wear masks in public, with charges ranging from $100 to $500.

Meanwhile, tensions are brewing between the state and Santa Clara County, which has been one of the slowest to reopen. After California denied the county’s recent application to reopen more businesses, armed agents on Saturday visited restaurants in Morgan Hill and Gilroy and warned them to close their outdoor dining service. Local officials said they were unaware of a state law banning outdoor dining.

  • Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine: “We’re not trying to break the law, we’re trying to follow the law. We just need to know what the law is.”

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Monday night, California had 271,684 confirmed coronavirus cases and 6,337 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.


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Other stories you should know

1. Why California’s Latino kids suffer higher rates of COVID-19

Image via iStock

More young people are testing positive for coronavirus, including children. And in California, Latinos make up nearly 67% of the minors who have tested positive for coronavirus, though they make up just 48% of the state’s population of children, CalMatters’ Elizabeth Aguilera reports. Experts attribute the higher rate of infection to the fact that many Latinos are essential workers, with multiple generations often living together in close quarters, making self-isolation impossible. Though no children have died in California from COVID-19, physicians worry it’s just a matter of time as cases continue to climb and some children come down with a rare but severe post-infection multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

2. With schools opening soon, both in-person and online learning a challenge

Betty Hunter and her son, Angel, 13, at Crocker Amazon Park in San Francisco on June 26. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

As California’s coronavirus outbreak surges, schools’ fall reopening plans remain uncertain — and contentious. The state expects schools to hold in-person instruction “to the greatest extent possible,” while also improving the quality of and students’ access to distance learning, which was implemented unevenly in the spring, CalMatters’ Ricardo Cano reports. Yet around 765,000 computers and 416,000 wifi hotspots are needed to bridge California’s digital divide, with a price tag in the billions of dollars. Meanwhile, some educators and pediatricians warn that students will incur major health, social and educational risks if they don’t return to school in the fall.

  • Betty Hunter, a San Francisco mother: “My son is already behind. It’s scary. If we don’t create a plan (for distance learning) now, over the summer, then students will only continue to fall further and further behind.”

3. Low-income and Californians of color struggle to enter legal cannabis market

Linda Grant, 51, the founder and CEO of JustBlaze Delivery, smokes at her home in Oakland on June 29. Photo by Jose Carlos Fajardo, Bay Area News Group

A new 87-officer police force is set to crack down on California’s underground cannabis market thanks to a $9.6 million allocation in the budget Newsom signed last week, the Mercury News’ Laurence Du Sault reports in a CalMatters collaboration. Experts and advocates say the ramped-up enforcement is likely to disproportionately affect people of color and low-income Californians, for whom the startup funding and licensing fees required to enter the legal market are often high barriers despite state equity programs aiming to give them licensing priority.

  • Dr. FloJaune Cofer of Public Health Advocates: “We allowed people who already have money and position to jump on this new business opportunity. And the people who were underground are still underground.”
  • Marc Matulich, founder of dispensary Airfield Supply: “If you don’t have an attorney helping you, if you don’t have the funds to hire the right resources to get you started, it’ll be very difficult.”

4. Interesting takeaways from California’s small-business loans

Curious which California businesses received loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program to help keep employees on payroll amid the pandemic? The Treasury Department on Monday released an overview of who got what in the first round of the program, and CalMatters’ Lauren Hepler broke down the interesting — and surprising — findings. Beneficiaries include Burning Man, tech startups, and a winery group Newsom founded. (CalMatters also applied for and received a small-business loan, which you can read about here.)


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CalMatters survey

Have you been tested for coronavirus? How difficult was it to access a test? How long did you have to wait for results? Fill out our COVID-19 testing questionnaire to share your experience with health reporter Ana Ibarra. All answers are confidential and identifying information will only be used with your permission.


CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Gov. Newsom now owns the pandemic in California every bit as much as President Donald Trump owns it at the national level.

Addressing my depression and anxiety: We have too few business and public leaders making public space to discuss mental health, destigmatize professional shame and protect against the resulting impact it can have on people’s careers and our economy as a whole, writes Lenny Mendonca, Newsom’s former chief economic and business advisor.

Make UC applications automatic: California should enact an “Automatic Application and Admission” plan for the UC system to increase diversity across race and class lines, argues UC Berkeley law professor Prasad Krishnamurthy.

Getting (un)comfortable with white privilege: Imagine living daily without the presumption of peace, acceptance and belonging, writes Greg Sazima, a teacher at the Stanford/O’Connor Family Medicine Residency Program.

Efforts to silence public health officials must stop: They must be free to follow the science where it leads and speak uncomfortable truths, writes Manal J. Aboelata of the Prevention Institute.


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Other things worth your time

California severely short on firefighting crews after COVID-19 puts many inmate fire camps on lockdown. // Sacramento Bee

California megadrought? Not if you look at precipitation. // Los Angeles Times

Podcast: Why California’s housing market isn’t tanking despite the worst economy since the Great Depression. // CalMatters/Los Angeles Times

For the Bay Area’s homeless crisis, cautious hope even as calamity looms. // San Francisco Chronicle

California police partnership with Amazon Ring raises concerns about racial bias and privacy. // Sacramento Bee

LAPD responds to a million 911 calls a year, but relatively few are for violent crimes. // Los Angeles Times

California bill would require companies like Amazon to guarantee restroom breaks. // The Hill

State lawmakers to Newsom: Stop transferring inmates to ICE amid pandemic. // KQED


See you tomorrow.

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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...