Good morning, California. It’s Thursday, April 1.

Future J&J supply halted

Today, California’s vaccine floodgates will open to millions of people 50 and over — even as some mass vaccination sites close due to a lack of doses and health officials warn of weeks-long appointment backlogs

Adding to the Golden State’s supply challenges, the federal government on Wednesday halted future shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after ingredients were mixed up at a Baltimore lab, ruining around 15 million doses. 

That throws yet another wrench in California’s distribution plans, which have been plagued with tech complications and delays. Blue Shield, the health insurer running the state’s vaccine distribution system, was supposed to assume full administrative control of the network on Wednesday. But only 38 of 61 local health jurisdictions representing 82% of the population have signed on so far, according to the state Department of Public Health. 

Meanwhile, the state will soon lose thousands of doses when the federal government stops operating two mass vaccination sites in Oakland and Los Angeles on April 11 — four days before eligibility opens to everyone 16 and older. California Sens. Alex Padilla and Dianne Feinstein asked the feds in a Tuesday letter to continue sending additional doses to the sites, pointing out that “it would be counterproductive to close them before the vast majority of the population is vaccinated.”  

Paradoxically, even as demand outstrips supply, the state is also confronting lack of demand. Around 20% of adults told the Public Policy Institute of California they probably or definitely won’t get the vaccine — potentially hampering the state’s ability to reach herd immunity and posing a hefty political challenge for Newsom and lawmakers, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports. The governor, who is 53, is scheduled to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this morning.


The coronavirus bottom line: As of Wednesday, California had 3,568,426 confirmed cases (+0.1% from previous day) and 57,936 deaths (+0.3% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.

California has administered 18,023,603 vaccine doses.

Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.

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1. Bay Area secures more vaccine funding

National Guard members direct traffic at a mass drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine distribution clinic at Oakland Coliseum on Feb. 26, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
National Guard members direct traffic at a mass drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Oakland Coliseum on Feb. 26, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

Nine Bay Area counties will receive around $7.6 million to administer vaccines in underserved areas after lawmakers complained their communities were left out of the state’s equity plan reserving 40% of doses for 400 low-income ZIP codes, Sen. Dave Cortese, a San Jose Democrat, said Wednesday. The announcement, which followed weeks of private negotiations with the Newsom administration, raises the question of whether other regions will petition the governor for more funding to distribute vaccines — especially given the state’s sizable surplus. The vast majority of the 400 disadvantaged ZIP codes are in Los Angeles County and the Central Valley, suggesting that large swaths of the state could plausibly argue their needy communities were excluded.

  • Cortese: “This is a step in the right direction, but not nearly all that is needed to assist those that are suffering from a clear geographic and socioeconomic disadvantage.”

2. Schwarzenegger’s advice for Newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger inspect new firefighting aircraft at McClellan Airport on Aug. 1, 2019. Photo by Barbara Harvey for CalMatters
Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger inspect new firefighting aircraft at McClellan Airport on Aug. 1, 2019. Photo by Barbara Harvey for CalMatters

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the only California governor to win a recall election and the last Republican to lead the state, has spoken out for the first time about the effort to recall Newsom. Here’s a breakdown of interesting nuggets from Schwarzenegger’s interview with Politico, as well as some advice he has for Newsom.

  • On what helped Schwarzenegger win the recall: “The people were looking for an outsider. … I made it very clear to the people of California that I don’t see the Democrats as the enemy, and I don’t see Republicans as the enemy.”
  • On Newsom depicting the campaign as a “Republican recall” led by extremists: “This is the crazy thing here, when they say it’s a ‘power grab’ of the Republicans. Let me tell you, the (California) Republicans couldn’t even get anyone elected. … These are the signatures of the ordinary folks that have signed on.”
  • On who might jump into the race: “What would happen if George Clooney would run for the governorship? What if Brad Pitt would run? If Oprah Winfrey would run?”
  • On what Newsom should do: “He should … really always just think about the people — and not about the unions, not about the party, not about any of that — just the people. And to solve the problems. Solve the problems.”

3. Californians support citizenship pathway

Jasmeen Odeh, of San Jose, left, and activist Michael Petrels, wearing a rainbow flag burka, gather with other protesters during a rally on Mission and Seventh Streets in San Francisco, on Sept. 5, 2017. Photo by Jane Tyska, Bay Area News Group
Jasmeen Odeh, left, and activist Michael Petrels, wearing a rainbow flag burka, attend a rally in San Francisco on Sept. 5, 2017. Photo by Jane Tyska, Bay Area News Group

An overwhelming majority of Californians support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and two-thirds say the state should provide them health care, according to a poll released late Tuesday by the Public Policy Institute of California. The figures come amid a two-decade high in border crossings to which two California Democrats — Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra — are leading the national response. The Golden State is home to about 2 million undocumented immigrants, the most in the nation.

But while a citizenship pathway is supported by 93% of Democrats, 81% of independents and 68% of Republicans, that bipartisanship ends when it comes to health care. Only 20% of Republicans support giving coverage to undocumented residents, compared to 82% of Democrats. (California already provides health care to undocumented residents up to age 25.) Still, the overall 66% support is much higher than the 54% rate in 2015, the last time PPIC polled the issue.

  • PPIC CEO Mark Baldassare: “If there’s one thing I saw where I thought, ‘Well, this must be something the pandemic has really moved the public opinion about,’ it’s this.”

CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: California’s system of compensating workers for job-related disabilities is due for another major decennial battle.

A better way to help workers: The Legislature must reform the Private Attorneys General Act to relieve financial pressure on businesses and improve the workers’ compensation system, argues Joel Fox, a professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Public Policy.

Clear rape kit backlog: The majority of California’s local law enforcement agencies are denying justice to survivors of sexual assault, writes Kate Karpilow, previous director of the California Center for Research on Women and Families.

Other things worth your time

Four killed, including child, in mass shooting at Orange office complex. // Los Angeles Times

Entire Mount Diablo school board faces possible recall. // Mercury News

San Francisco school board member sues district, colleagues over response to her tweets. // San Francisco Chronicle

How crowded study spaces are affecting California college students. // CalMatters

Hundreds of San Diegans missed out on rent relief when landlords didn’t take the money. // inewsource

New bill would sharply limit Ellis Act evictions. // San Francisco Chronicle

How Fresno became the nation’s hottest housing market. // Los Angeles Times

California expands attendance at prep football, other outdoor events. // Mercury News

After a string of bungled tech upgrades, California tries a new approach. // KQED

Senate Republican Caucus changes begin under Wilk. // Santa Clarita Valley Signal

‘VC Lives Matter’: Silicon Valley investors want to oust San Francisco’s reformist district attorney. // Mother Jones

California Lottery mishandled ‘Ellen’ giveaway, audit finds. // Los Angeles Times

Underwater meadows of California seagrass found to reverse symptom of climate change. // San Francisco Chronicle

See you tomorrow.

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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...