Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, February 9.
School reopening deal coming
Get ready for some big developments in the state’s pandemic response.
At a Monday press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom rattled off a list of big-ticket items likely to be unveiled within the next week. Here’s a closer look at what’s coming:
- A school reopening package with a framework for teacher vaccinations. Newsom said he and the state Legislature hope to announce the deal “this week.” Neither lawmakers nor teachers unions supported Newsom’s previous plan to reopen schools and disagreement persists on whether all teachers should be vaccinated before returning to campus.
- A mass vaccination site in the Central Valley. The site will be California’s third in conjunction with the federal government and will be announced “in the next number of days,” Newsom said.
- A framework to vaccinate Californians with disabilities and underlying health conditions. Newsom said he and Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s top health official, “made a commitment to each other … to figure this out once and for all by the end of the week.” California’s recent pivot to an age-based priority system dismayed advocates for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions.
- A vaccination demographics dashboard. Newsom said the dashboard will launch “later this week,” but added the data won’t be “truly representative of the diversity of the state,” as doses have been going primarily to health care workers and the elderly.
- More details about the state’s partnership with Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente. Newsom said the contracts underpinning California’s new vaccine distribution system will be released on Feb. 15.
When it comes to accelerating the pace of vaccinations, the biggest challenge is supply, Newsom said. Although California is slated to receive 1 million doses this week and around 1.2 million next week, it’s “simply not enough.”
The state is also working on guidance for dividing supply between first and second doses, Ghaly said. Numerous counties, including Los Angeles and Napa, are limiting first-dose appointments this week in order to prioritize those ready for their second shot.
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 3,346,340 confirmed cases (+0.3% from previous day) and 44,150 deaths (+0.5% from previous day), 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. Trump’s influence in California
The reverberations of Donald Trump’s presidency are still washing across California, carrying with them lasting political implications, two reports released Monday show. The first, from the nonpartisan firm Grassroots Lab, found that Republicans now control only 35% of California’s city government seats, down from 46% in 2011. Meanwhile, Democrats’ share of seats skyrocketed from 45% in 2011 to 51% in 2021 — a change driven in part by Trump, who motivated many progressive candidates, including more women and people of color, to run for office. This, in turn, could decrease the number of California Republicans who go on to hold state or national office, experts say.
Still, support for Trump — whose second U.S. Senate impeachment trial begins today — remains strong among California Republicans, 65% of whom said they would back him if he runs for president in 2024, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll. In addition, 24% of California GOP voters said they identify more with Trump than the Republican Party, putting the state’s GOP lawmakers — especially those from swing districts — in a no-win situation. Some examples: Rep. Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita voted against certifying the electoral college votes affirming President Joe Biden’s victory. Rep. David Valadao of Hanford voted to impeach Trump. Both men are now being called traitors.
2. Elected officials face violent protests
In a disturbing trend, California officials are dealing with violence and vandalism coming from both sides of the political spectrum. Last weekend, a group of about 50 left-wing demonstrators vandalized Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s home, destroyed a homemade art piece and repeatedly shouted his children’s names during a protest criticizing the city’s homelessness response. Steinberg is just the latest mayor to experience such an attack: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s wife, Amy Wakeland, told the Los Angeles Times that she called the police around 80 times last year due to disruptions from protesters gathering outside their home, preventing their 9-year-old daughter from doing her homework or sleeping. Both San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf saw their homes vandalized amid racial-justice protests last summer.
- Steinberg: “This was not protest. This was anarchy. You want to challenge me, challenge me at City Hall. Challenge me in the community. Challenge me at the ballot box.”
Meanwhile, anti-mask protesters have sent death threats to public health officers and held demonstrations outside their homes, prompting numerous directors to quit. Anti-vaccine protesters threatened state lawmakers with violence at a recent budget hearing. And about two weeks ago, an alleged right-wing extremist was slapped with federal charges for apparent plans to attack Newsom, among other things.
3. Judge blocks Gascón policy
The union representing the deputy district attorneys who sued their boss, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, over his controversial ban on sentence enhancements secured a big win Monday when a superior court judge ruled the ban violates California law. But the battle is far from over: Gascón plans to appeal the ruling, a move likely to widen the growing gap between California’s so-called progressive prosecutors and more traditional law-and-order district attorneys. It also heightens the stakes of Newsom’s looming appointment for California’s next attorney general, should Xavier Becerra be confirmed as Biden’s Health and Human Services secretary.
- Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen: “The next attorney general can have an enormous impact on the direction of criminal justice reform in California and nationwide. When the largest state moves in a certain direction, that has ramifications for the rest of the country.”
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Who should be held accountable for the meltdown of California’s unemployment department?
A message for Biden’s Education Secretary: Miguel Cardona should look to America’s community colleges to help lead a healthy and equitable recovery, writes Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges.
How to cut affordable housing costs: For the moment, building all-electric is the best decision for our communities, argues Tim Kohut of National Community Renaissance.
Other things worth your time
EDD fraud fueling California street violence, prosecutors say. // Sacramento Bee
Whistleblower allegations from inside California’s new COVID testing lab. // CBS Sacramento
California bullet train project seeks $4.1 billion as costs grow. // Los Angeles Times
Newsom promised to end California’s water wars. Now that Trump is gone, can he do it? // Sacramento Bee
California utilities to spend billions to cut wildfire risk. // Associated Press
New data sheds light on California student achievement gaps. // EdSource
The head of the San Francisco Board of Education on renaming the city’s schools. // New Yorker
Losing $535,000 a month on Ash Street lease, landlord countersues San Diego. // San Diego Union-Tribune
302 Fairfield housing units sit vacant because Air Force refuses to turn the water on. // San Francisco Chronicle
Why a tweet from California’s AG about a global privacy tool has companies scrambling. // Digiday
See you tomorrow.
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