|April 23, 2020|
|Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, April 23, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
In a news briefing Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom again maintained that California’s stay-at-home order must continue, despite a smattering of protests and an increasing number of cities and counties urging him to ease the restrictions.
As my Sacramento colleagues Phil Willon and Taryn Luna explain in their story, the governor has thus far resisted those demands, saying that COVID-19 remains a serious and growing health threat and that loosening his statewide order prematurely could lead to a second wave of infections and fatalities.
[Read the story: “Newsom says California shutdown must continue, but surge in testing will help” in the Los Angeles Times]
But for Californians longing to get back to some semblance of normalcy, the briefing was not without a ray of hope. Newsom has said that easing restrictions requires more testing, and several new efforts to increase testing in California were announced.
The results of that expanded testing will play a key role in determining when to ease stay-at-home orders. The ability to closely monitor and track potential cases is one of the six goals that Newsom previously said must be met before the state can begin to ease the unprecedented stay-at-home order.
[Read the story: “Gov. Gavin Newsom names six goals that must be met to lift California coronavirus order” in the Los Angeles Times]
One other announcement during the briefing raised cause for optimism: Newsom announced that California hospitals can resume providing some elective surgeries, which reflects confidence in the capacity of the statewide hospital system. These will only be surgeries that are “foundational to people’s health,” such as heart valve replacements or tumor removals, and will not include surgeries deemed to be solely cosmetic.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
Even as California continues to bend the curve, officials have warned that a “second wave” of coronavirus could be far worse for the state than the first. The concerns have also been echoed on a national level, with the CDC’s director warning of the possibility that the assault of the virus next winter could be even more difficult than what the nation has already seen. Los Angeles Times
President Trump signed an immigration order sharply different from what he said he planned: The order, which Trump signed on Wednesday afternoon, will restrict some people from entering the country over the next 60 days, but does not shut off applications for permanent residence as he had publicly declared just one day earlier. The proclamation caps two days of confusion over immigration policy that began with a tweet from Trump on Monday night saying that he planned to sign an order to “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Los Angeles Times
Sixty-six more coronavirus deaths were reported in L.A. County as the case count climbed past 16,000. Of all those who have died from coronavirus infection in the county, 88% had some kind of underlying health condition. Los Angeles Times
L.A. sweatshops are still open. But now they make masks. “Santiago finally got paid at the end of his first week making masks: $230, in cash, for 50 hours of work. That’s $4.60 an hour, for essential work.” Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles City Council balked at imposing a ban on evictions that goes further than the restrictions it has already passed, voting 7 to 6 against a stricter moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic. Los Angeles Times
L.A. County will begin listing restaurants that have had COVID-19 outbreaks online. It’s unclear how the policy will be implemented, what constitutes an outbreak or how long the restaurants will be listed online. Los Angeles Times
Coyotes, falcons, deer and other wildlife are reclaiming L.A. territory as humans stay at home. “While naturalists like [Gerry] Hans have thrilled to the prospect of new wildlife sightings, some Southern California residents have been rattled by their brushes with the great outdoors.” Los Angeles Times
An image of a deer captured on April 17 from a remote camera just outside the boundary to Griffith Park. (Gerry Hans)
How the coronavirus changed these landlords’ and tenants’ lives: The Times spoke with four landlords and four tenants across Los Angeles County to understand how they’re coping with the fallout. Los Angeles Times
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IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER
The ACLU is suing for a “drastic reduction” of immigrant detainees along the California border because of the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
The California Highway Patrol is temporarily banning rallies at the state Capitol and other state facilities because of the pandemic. Associated Press
Modesto schools are now offering free childcare to healthcare workers and public safety first responders. The district’s own nutrition services employees who have kept up take-home lunches and breakfasts during this period of home study will also be eligible. Modesto Bee
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
California’s poppy bloom is tempting visitors to break stay-at-home orders. Please just use the live cam. Like everything else deemed nonessential during the pandemic, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve near Lancaster is closed to visitors. Los Angeles Times
Tired of working from home? These luxury Southern California hotels offer day use from $69. Los Angeles Times
A closed San Clemente skate park was filled with sand, so dirt bikers showed up. The park was closed due to coronavirus concerns, and the sand was intended to deter potential skaters. Orange County Register
“I’ll take out a home equity loan if I have to.” The owner of a legendary Berkeley deli is determined to not give up. SF Gate
Kern County oil producers have dodged the worst of the U.S. price collapse. “Because California is an ‘energy island’ geographically isolated from much of the U.S. oil industry, local producers do not get paid based on the price posted for West Texas Intermediate, the domestic benchmark that sank into negative territory Monday.” Bakersfield Californian
In rural California, children face isolation and hunger amid school closures. Educators in vast stretches of rural California are struggling not only to teach their students but also to reach them. Los Angeles Times
A stark sign of the times: Instagram is accelerating plans to add a new account memorialization feature for deceased users “in light of COVID-19.” BuzzFeed News
NOT EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE
Tony Bennett is asking Bay Area residents to come together for a mass sing-along to his signature tune, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” at noon on Saturday, April 25, in honor of the frontline workers engaged in responding to the pandemic. San Francisco Chronicle
Why did Netflix CEO Reed Hastings videoconference in to his company’s earnings call from what appears to be a children’s bunkroom in a vacation house? Some questions are unknowable. But no video call background is accidental, and a new Twitter account is delightfully rating the Skype and Zoom interiors of pundits and celebrities alike. The National
From the annals of fun facts: Today I learned that musician Joanna Newsom and Gov. Gavin Newsom are distant cousins. Spin
A poem to start your Thursday: “Jet” by Tony Hoagland. Poetry Foundation
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Los Angeles: sunny, 89. San Diego: sunny, 78. San Francisco: sunny, 67. San Jose: partly sunny, 76. Fresno: windy, 74. Sacramento: sunny, 85. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Susan Killoran:
I was 5 years old in 1945 when WWII ended. My family lived in Brentwood on Bundy Drive. My mom, dad and aunt were all smokers and of course cigarettes were rationed. I remember each of them searching through the ashes in the fireplace looking for cigarette butts. I also remember my dad being able to buy nylons (with the seam up the back) for my mom and aunt (nylons were also rationed). They were thrilled.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)