Good morning, California. It’s Wednesday, August 5.

State, counties underreporting cases

California’s glitchy tech systems strike again.

Both the state and counties have been underreporting coronavirus cases and positivity rates due to data “getting stuck” in California’s disease reporting system, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary, said Tuesday.

  • Ghaly: “We’ve discovered some discrepancies. … We’re working hard and immediately to reach out to the labs that we work with to get accurate information.”

The length of time the state and counties have been underreporting, the magnitude of the undercount, and the timeline for fixing the glitches remain unclear — potentially complicating California’s efforts to assess how well its shutdown measures are working and tempering some of the good coronavirus news Gov. Gavin Newsom shared Monday.

The undercount doesn’t affect two pieces of good news: Both California’s hospitalization and intensive-care admissions rates are declining.

But it does cast doubt on the state reporting its two lowest increases in daily coronavirus cases since July 5, with 4,526 Tuesday and 5,739 Monday. And Newsom on Monday extolled a 21.2% decline in the state’s seven-day positivity rate, a figure Ghaly said “is absolutely affected” by the undercount.

The latest glitches also underscore the extent to which state tech systems have struggled to handle increased demand amid the pandemic.

Outdated technology at the state unemployment department has contributed to a backlog of nearly 1 million claims — which likely won’t be resolved until September — and the department head said last week it could take the system up to 20 weeks to process any additional federal benefits.

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Tuesday night, California had 514,901 confirmed coronavirus cases and 9,388 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. San Quentin has nation’s worst outbreak

The Lower Exercise yard at San Quentin Prison in 2019. Photo by Penni Gladstone for CalMatters

San Quentin State Prison is now home to the nation’s worst coronavirus outbreak after its case levels on Tuesday passed those at an Ohio prison, according to data compiled by the New York Times. San Quentin has logged 2,470 cases and 22 deaths since the May transfer of inmates from a Chino facility hard-hit by the virus, which Assemblymember Marc Levine, a San Rafael Democrat, called “the worst prison health screw-up in state history” and which ultimately led to the ousting of California’s top prison medical officer. However, the outbreak appears to be lessening. San Quentin had 168 prisoners infected as of Tuesday, compared to more than 1,600 in early July, the Mercury News reports.

2. Will California mandate corporate boardroom diversity?

Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters; elements via iStock

California corporate boards would no longer be allowed to have only white members if a bill currently under consideration in the Legislature passes, CalMatters’ Elizabeth Castillo reports. The bill, which would require publicly held companies to have at least one person of color on their corporate boards by 2021 or face a $100,000 fine, follows on the heels of a controversial 2018 law that mandated women in corporate boardrooms — and is almost certain to face legal challenges, just as the gender diversity law did. Nationally, 81% of Fortune 100 board members are white, compared to 11% Black, 4% Latino and 4% Asian, according to a 2018 Deloitte report.

  • Maria Contreras-Sweet, formerly of the Small Business Administration: “These times have brought a greater awareness and more conversations in boardrooms about … unconscious bias that may exist.”
  • Anastasia Boden of the Pacific Legal Foundation: These types of laws “very often can harm the very people they intend to help.”

CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: California Democrats are debating whether to borrow heavily or tax the rich as the pandemic wreaks economic havoc.

New school funding policy harms students: It favors schools with declining enrollment at the expense of schools in growing communities, argues Jeff Rice of the Association of Personalized Learning Schools and Services.

A closer look at rejected mail-in ballots: California rejected about 100,000 mail-in ballots in the March primary — but it’s important to understand why, writes Garrett Jensen of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project.

Fix or defeat: AB 3030 fails to recognize that meaningful marine biodiversity protections already exist in California, argue Marc Gorelnik of the Pacific Fishery Management Council and Mike Conroy of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.


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Other things worth your time

San Jose teachers will return to the classroom — to teach remotely. // Mercury News

Caltrain saved? Officials reach deal to place measure on ballot to avoid shutdown. // San Francisco Chronicle

Too many bills, too little time: Why COVID-19 has California Democrats feuding. // Sacramento Bee

California donors spend $38 million trying to tilt Senate races around the country. // Los Angeles Times

California sued over climate change policy — by the nation’s biggest gas utility. // Los Angeles Times

Shutdown of California’s fourth-largest refinery prompts calls for ‘just transitions’ for oil workers. // 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...