Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.
Thursday, April 15
Just days after federal health officials paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine over concerns about rare blood clots, Gov. Gavin Newsom officially announced California's vaccine eligibility expansion to anyone 16 year or older.
The change in eligibility also comes as Newsom noted two other milestones in the state’s COVID-19 efforts: Every county has moved out of the state’s most-restrictive purple tier, and nearly half of all Californians eligible for vaccination have received at least one shot against the coronavirus.
Newsom said the Johnson & Johnson vaccination halt should not prevent anyone eligible from receiving their dose and should not hamper California’s work to completely reopen by June 15.
“While it is true that we had a temporary pause, a temporary setback with one of the approved vaccines, J&J represents just 4% of our weekly dose administration,” Newsom said.
Newsom added that the state is more than able to make up for the lack of Johnson & Johnson doses with its supply of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which is expected to increase in the coming weeks.
The California Legislature has passed a bill requiring some hotels and event centers to offer laid-off workers their jobs back, according to the Associated Press.
The bill lawmakers sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday applies to employees who had their jobs at least six months before the pandemic started but lost their jobs due to coronavirus-related reasons.
Many Republicans opposed the bill, arguing it puts a burden on businesses by making them susceptible to fines of $500 per employee per day. However, Newsom has not said if he will or will not sign the bill. He vetoed a similar bill last year because he said it was too broad.
A much-awaited economic boom coming off the pandemic recession appeared to edge closer to reality Thursday, with fresh data showing the pace of layoffs dwindling, consumers spending freely and manufacturing rebounding.
According to the Associated Press, the latest barometers point to an economy that’s steadily regaining its health as vaccinations accelerate. Business curbs are lifted in many states and more people are willing to travel, shop, eat out and otherwise resume their spending habits.
Though many Americans who have lost jobs or income are still suffering, hopes are rising that the recovery benefits will spread further in the coming months to groups of people who have yet to benefit.
State health officials said they learned on Wednesday that a Nevadan was one of the six people nationally who have reported serious reactions to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the Associated Press, state officials said when they announced on Tuesday the stoppage of that vaccine that no Nevadans were among the six cases federal authorities are investigating. On Wednesday, the governor’s spokesperson said they weren’t informed of the reported reaction in Nevada until a meeting earlier in the day of the public federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
She said Nevada officials are seeking an explanation as to why the report wasn’t provided to the state earlier.
As more people get COVID-19 vaccines, efforts are underway to develop a way to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test, according to the Associated Press.
“Vaccine passports,” or vaccine certificates could help you get into places such as stadiums or even countries that are looking to reopen safely. Supporters say passports could make reopenings faster and easier.
Critics say the passports would benefit people and countries with better access to vaccines. The certificates are still being developed, and how they might be used could vary widely. To ensure fairness, experts say they should be free and available on paper, not just on apps for smartphones.
Unhoused Americans who have been left off priority lists for coronavirus vaccinations — or bumped aside as states shifted eligibility to older age groups — are finally getting their shots as vaccine supplies increase.
According to the Associated Press, while the federal government has only incomplete data on infections among homeless people, it’s clear that crowded and sometimes unsanitary conditions at shelters increase the danger of COVID-19 infections. Those with underlying health conditions can also be more susceptible to severe illness.
COVID-19 outbreaks have been documented at homeless shelters in Boston, San Francisco and Seattle. Advocates say homeless people are at a greater risk of being infected and have a greater risk of being hospitalized and dying than the average person — meaning they should have been prioritized earlier.
However, with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine paused, it’s possible that this could affect supply. Sacramento’s Loaves & Fishes homeless shelter had started a weekly vaccination clinic on April 6 at the Delany Center Parking lot. Shots were being administered to people experiencing homelessness and those who are not.
However, with the J&J’s vaccine pause, Loaves & Fishes had to cancel their weekly vaccination drive until further notice.
Wednesday, April 14
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said that he fully expects all schools to reopen in the fall, a goal that is a long time coming, but is still contingent on several factors.
While California’s COVID-19 case rates continue to decrease and the number of people vaccinated increases, there’s still the looming threat of more dangerous variants. Additionally, California’s teachers unions and school districts will need to negotiate conditions on which campuses can reopen.
Still, Newsom was optimistic when making the announcement at a school playground in Sonoma County.
“We can do this. I understand the hesitancy. I understand the stress. I understand the anxiety,” Newsom said of educators. “But that does not compare to the stress and anxiety we'll have when we look back and dream of regretting that we could’ve, would’ve, should’ve prioritized our children at a critical moment in their young lives.”
Newsom has been previously criticized for being slow to reopen schools and for not requiring more in-person instruction hours before districts qualify for state financial incentives. Parents groups and lawmakers have said that Newsom instead caved to the California Teachers Association, which represents over 300,000 educators across the state.
The labor union has long requested that teachers be vaccinated before returning to campus full time.
So far, the governor said that more than 9,000 of the state’s schools have reopened for in-person learning or have announced a date to do so.
Newsom stopped short of saying that he’d mandate campuses open in the fall.
Museums in San Joaquin County are reopening their doors to visitors now that the county has moved into the red tier.
Lodi’s World of Wonders Science Museum is taking online advance tickets for admission from Thursday through Monday.
Science Museum President Sally Snyde says some exhibits require downsizing such as City Blocks where children build cities.
“We have to cut back on the amount of blocks that we have out there, so we have to clean them and then put them back in," Snyde said. "We have a Lego station. We’re taking the Legos and sanitizing those and we’ve limited the size of the amount of the Legos and the blocks that are out there because of the time it takes to sanitize them.”
Snyde says the museum saw over 70,000 visitors in 2019, but capacity now is limited to 25% or about 100 people at a time.
Meanwhile, the Children’s Museum in Stockton will welcome families on Friday. The Haggin Museum opened briefly in October and then shut down, and now will reopen on Thursday.
An expert advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided Wednesday it needed more time to consider whether to recommend to resume administering the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson.
The committee's emergency meeting took place less than 36 hours after the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration called for a voluntary pause after receiving reports of serious side effects seen in six women who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The advisory committee will reconsider a recommendation within the next 10 days. It declined to vote on a question of whether vaccinations might continue, perhaps with limits on who would receive it, effectively leaving the current pause in vaccinations in place.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak faces criticism from political opponents who claim he is trying to take credit for reopening the state.
According to the Associated Press, reopenings were previously promised to be delegated to counties. On Tuesday, Sisolak said that he was confident that all counties will be able to reopen at 100% capacity by June 1.
He framed the announcement as good news and a result of successful policies. But the decisions he referred to will ultimately fall to county officials as reopening decisions will shift to them starting May 1. Some officials questioned the timing of Sisolak’s announcement and called it politically motivated.
A look at which U.S. states are leading at vaccinating against the coronavirus and which states are struggling is beginning to resemble America’s electoral map, according to the Associated Press.
Vaccination numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the states that tend to vote Democratic at the top of the list, in terms of the percentage of the adult population that’s received at least one shot. California is 12th on the list behind New Hampshire, New Mexico and Republican-leaning South Dakota.
At the bottom are five Republican-leaning states, including Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll in late March found that Republicans were three times as likely as Democrats to say they will probably or definitely not get vaccinated.
Hours before a vaccination clinic was set to begin yesterday at Luther Burbank High School in South Sacramento, federal health officials called for a pause on the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.
The stoppage comes after six women reported getting blood clots weeks after receiving the single-dose shot. One of them died. The FDA and the CDC are looking into this possible rare side effect.
“It's very serious," said Dr. Rusty Oshita with Urgent Care Now, who worked with the county and Sacramento City Unified School District to set up the clinic. "So we certainly applaud the FDA for putting a pause in this and keeping our community safe. What it did require, though, is quite a bit of mobility.”
Oshita says the county scrambled to switch out 4,500 Johnson & Johnson doses with 3,000 Pfizer shots, which was more than enough to get through the day. All residents who received shots at the clinic were scheduled for their second doses.
Nevada County's Center for the Arts is gearing up to present live music performances again now that COVID-19 cases are down and more people are getting vaccinated. But Amber Jo Manuel, the center's executive director, says the shows won't be at the center's newly renovated venue in downtown Grass Valley.
"I don't think we're going to just flip a switch and go back to normal, so we are planning an outdoor summer concert series at the Nevada County Fairgrounds and that will be on Saturdays in June and July," Manuel said on CapRadio's Insight.
Manuel said donations from the public have kept the arts organization afloat during the pandemic.
"We also were very fortunate to receive some support from Nevada County, some CARES Act funding and also from the National Endowment of the Arts, so that has really kept us going," she said.
She said the center has maintained a skeletal administrative staff and continued to promote the work of local artists by broadcasting profiles on social media platforms.
10:13 a.m.: Nevada announces reopening plan
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced yesterday the state is accelerating its plans to return to normal by the summer as vaccinations continue to rise.
"Every county in the state of Nevada will be able to fully reopen at 100% capacity by June 1," Sisolak said.
Full control over local mitigation measures will still be handed over to counties beginning in May. That’s when Sisolak plans to remove the statewide social distancing requirement, too.
Control over safety measures in schools will be handed over to local authorities at the same time. But a statewide mask mandate will remain in effect. Sisolak says aside from vaccines, masks are still the best way to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
There’s no timeline for when Nevadans might be able to put away their face coverings.
Tuesday, April 13
If you got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, don’t panic.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. health officials recommended pausing vaccinations with J&J’s shot to look into reports of six patients with unusual blood clots out of nearly 7 million doses. Health officials say to be vigilant but to remember that reports of blood clots have been exceedingly rare.
Symptoms to watch for include severe headache, backache, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling, tiny red spots on the skin or bruising. Typically these would appear between one to three weeks after the shot.
But experts still say not to worry about common COVID-19 vaccine side effects, like arm pain and flu-like symptoms.
Nevada suspended the use of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines Tuesday while federal authorities investigate reports of people in other states experiencing severe reactions, including blood clots.
According to the Associated Press, the state’s COVID-19 Task Force cited a CDC and FDA recommendation to pause using the single-dose vaccine out of an abundance of caution. The Southern Nevada Health District also said it stopped administering the vaccine in the Las Vegas area.
Washoe County’s health district in Reno followed suit, as did the mobile clinics serving various rural areas statewide. Federal authorities are investigating six cases of women experiencing unusual clots several days after vaccination.
11:13 a.m.: California pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccinations
California state officials have directed counties and other providers to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while federal agencies look into a possible but rare blood clotting side effect.
According to the Associated Press, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said the pause would neither affect plans to start inoculating all eligible adults on Thursday nor will it affect the state’s broad reopening plans set for mid-June.
Newsom and other high-profile California officials publicly received shots of the J&J vaccines in an attempt to demonstrate its safety. California was already expecting fewer J&J doses because of production issues.
Four historically Black medical schools are getting $6 million to expand coronavirus vaccination efforts in minority communities, according to the Associated Press.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropy announced the gifts on Tuesday to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine in Los Angeles, Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., Meharry Medical College in Nashville and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
Each of the schools will use the money to buy additional mobile vaccination units. Vaccination rates lag in many Black communities, but fears that Black people would refuse the vaccine out of distrust have eased. Instead, the real issue seems to be that people may have trouble accessing the vaccine.
While most Americans have weathered the pandemic financially, about 38 million say they are worse off now than before the outbreak began in the U.S., according to the Associated Press.
Overall, 55% of Americans said their financial circumstances are about the same now as a year ago, and 30% say their finances have improved, according to a new poll from Impact Genome and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
However, 15% of respondents said they are worse off, and the problem is more pronounced for people already living at lower income levels. About 29% of those living below the federal poverty level say their personal finances worsened in the past year.
Monday, April 12
The Sacramento City Unified School District is partnering up with Dr. Rusty Oshita at Urgent Care Now to provide a popup vaccine clinic for South Sacramento residents on April 13 at Luther Burbank High School.
Luther Burbank High School
3500 Florin Road
Sacramento, CA 95823
They will be administering 4,000 of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Everyone 18 years and older living in any of these zip codes are eligible: 95815, 95824, 95838, 95660, 95823, 95832 95639, 95820, 95828, 95841, 95842, 95821, 95825, 95822, 95817, 95673, 95610, 95615 95827, 95833, 95814, 95811, 95621 95834, 95670, 95626 or 95608.
To check eligibility, sign up online as soon as possible. If you cannot make it to the clinic or spaces have been filled, this partnership will continue to offer opportunities for vaccination.
Those interested in volunteering at the site can register here.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that at least 55 Nevadans in prison have died after contracting COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.
The newspaper compared records from coroners around the state with data provided by the Department of Corrections in March. It found that the state Department of Health and Human Services tallied 53 incarcerated people along with three department employees who had died. The department is also reviewing the prison system's other two reported cases.
Prison officials didn't identify the names of the deceased inmates who died after testing positive for the coronavirus, citing medical confidentiality. The Review-Journal identified 39 people by name, all of whom were men.
Inyo and Merced are the only two California counties left in the state’s most restrictive tier for reopening — the daunting purple — meaning no open bars or indoor dining along with strict limitations on live events and retail.
California’s 56 other counties have moved into less restrictive tiers like red, orange or yellow. However, Merced County supervisors are concerned that data lags are holding them back, while Inyo County, with 18,000 residents, says the system isn’t designed for less populous counties like theirs.
Last week, Inyo County’s COVID-19 case rate hovered just above the 10 cases per 100,000 residents needed to advance to the red tier. This week, its rate dropped to 2.3 cases, but counties need two weeks of low metrics before advancing.
The county could move into the red tier on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Merced County’s adjusted case rate as of Tuesday was 11.7 cases per 100,000 people, meaning it’s likely they’ll be stuck in the purple tier for at least two more weeks.
For at least the next two months, limits on restaurants, shopping, and events will continue to be determined by the state’s color-coded reopening blueprint.
It's been more than a year since the coronavirus pandemic ushered in stay-at-home orders in California, shuttering some businesses and moving some work and schools online.
For musicians and artists who make their living from music, the pandemic's effects were felt worldwide. The live events industry lost $30 billion due to the pandemic. In the Sacramento Metropolitan Area alone, 15,810 creatives in all fields lost their jobs between April and July 2020, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.
Job losses weren't the only issue. $674 million was lost in sales in Sacramento creative industries. Other cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego lost a combined total of 330,000 creative jobs, leading to roughly $34.4 billion in lost revenue throughout the state.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, California state records show that more than 9,000 nursing home residents have died from the virus — about 16% of the state’s total deaths.
As COVID-19 transformed many nursing homes into death traps, health care experts believe the current death numbers are an undercount. Now, state regulators are scrambling to figure out how to protect some of California’s most vulnerable residents.
For example, at the Country Villa Sheraton nursing home in Los Angeles, 24 residents died due to COVID-19 last year. Other centers like Country Villa Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles and Country Villa Plaza in Santa Ana lost 13 residents each.
The devastation is by no means unique. Across the country, other facilities have also suffered crushing casualties from the pandemic.
Issues with licensing for nursing home operators in the state could prove to be a challenge, though.
According to CalMatters, records show that Los Angeles businessman Shlomo Rechnitz and his various businesses own about 81 nursing homes through a web of companies — including the previous three facilities — but isn’t licensed by the state to actually run them. Instead, public health officials have left his state license applications as “pending” for years.
“I’m just a little speechless when it comes to this ownership nightmare in California and how it’s gotten to this point,” said Molly Davies, the Los Angeles County long-term care ombudsman, whose office advocates for residents of nursing homes and other adult care facilities.
This leaves elder care advocates and some state leaders asking what the state public health department’s role is in ensuring timely compliance with licensing requirements. The Department of Public Health did not make anyone available to answer questions about or comment on the licensing process.
Sunday, April 11
Blue Shield has announced that it has the capacity to vaccinate six million people per week, at 2,400 sites.
The insurance provider’s representatives only recently revealed more information about their $15 million contract with the state for taking over vaccine roll-out. In this system, Blue Shield pays providers for their performance based on how quickly and equitably they administer the vaccines.
Friday, April 9
5:55 p.m.: Yosemite to open limited summer reservations
Better plan in advance if you plan a trip to Yosemite National Park this summer.
Starting May 21, you will need advanced reservations through Sept. 30. Last summer at the height of the pandemic, Yosemite required advance reservations to limit the number of visitors to the park to avoid overcrowding and provide social distancing.
COVID-19 is still a concern but Yosemite is now in the orange tier in the state's reopening system. Park Ranger Jamie Richards says that will allow for more visitors and almost 6,000 vehicles per day.
“We have increased the number of passes that will be available," Richards said. "The most restrictive tier that we looked at was what we did last summer and we went up from there. And we will be increasing passes as conditions improve.”
Richards says people can sign up online at recreation.gov beginning April 21.
She adds that the park has expanded the number of campsites and also increased lodging facilities.
U.S. health authorities recently announced that the COVID-19 mutation first identified in the United Kingdom last winter is now the predominant strain in the U.S., according to NPR.
The strain has been found in at least 130 other countries as well, but on a reassuring note, officials said there’s strong evidence that the three U.S.-approved vaccines offer good protection against this variant, especially against severe disease.
However, this strain is just one of three “variants of concern” at large in the country and globally. One of the other variants, first identified in South Africa and dominant there, has now been found across southern Africa. The third variant was first identified in Brazil and has traveled all the way to Japan. This mutation is behind Brazil’s current surge in cases and has been identified across the Americas.
“We have seen an explosion [in research] — a paper almost every day,” said Salim Abdool Karim, an infectious disease researcher who co-chairs the COVID-19 advisory committee for South Africa.
More California counties are opening up vaccines to younger adults about a week ahead of the state’s schedule, according to the Associated Press.
At the same time, California public health officials warned Thursday of decreases in supply because of a national reduction in the supply of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The state has received about 2.4 million doses this week, but it expects 2 million next week and 1.9 million the week after.
Fresno County opened up vaccinations to everyone 16 and up. Santa Clara County did as well, but appointments must be for April 15 or later. A mass vaccination site at California State University, Los Angeles announced it would take adults on a walk-up basis because of excess appointments, but had to start turning people away on Thursday.
The Hollywood Bowl will reopen for the 2021 season with a limited-capacity audience due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association announced Friday that Bowl concerts will resume in May with a capacity of about 4,000 people based on current public health guidance, according to the Associated Press. Capacity is expected to go up later in the summer as guidelines evolve.
The reopening will begin with four free concerts for healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers. The Philharmonic says its other outdoor venue, The Ford, will also open with a 15-week run beginning in late July.
Nye County, a rural area in southern Nevada, may step ahead of the rest of the state in a bid to lift mask mandates and business capacity limits, according to the Associated Press.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Nye County Commission will consider a plan on April 20 to make face coverings optional and let businesses return to 100% occupancy. The move would put the county ahead of Nevada’s other 16 counties while the state COVID-19 Response Task Force reviews plans to turn over pandemic mitigation control to local authorities starting May 1.
Several other rural counties have also chafed at mask rules and occupancy limits.
Thursday, April 8
Sacramento County health staff are gearing up to provide more vaccines in South Sacramento, a neighborhood disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Jamie White, a county health program manager, said there are plans underway to open mass vaccination clinics at Cosumnes River College and in the parking lot near the shopping center formerly called Florin Mall, both in the 95823 ZIP code. She says the county is still in talks over facilities agreements, and did not provide an estimate as to when those sites may be up and running.
All Californians over age 16 become eligible for vaccination appointments beginning April 15. Blue Shield, the insurance provider contracted with the state for the vaccination roll-out, is currently reporting a national decline in the number of vaccine doses available.
White says the frequency and capacity of the South Sacramento clinics will depend on how many doses are available to the county and how many providers can administer them.
The Stockton Arena opened up this week as the vaccine hub for the Central Valley, with the capacity to administer over 5,000 doses a day.
Kaiser Permanente has set up 36 stations inside the arena for vaccinating people who are 50 years and over. By April 15, eligibility throughout California will include anyone over 16.
About 35% of San Joaquin County residents over 18 have been vaccinated. San Joaquin County Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park is urging local residents not to delay in getting vaccinated.
“This mass vax hub is not only open to our residents but residents from other counties," Park said. "Please make sure you grab these appointments before people from other counties come in and take them all. That’s my fear."
The vaccine hub will be open seven days a week and vaccinations will be given at no charge. Appointments are necessary and people can sign up online at myturn.ca.gov.
The youngest kids enrolled in Sacramento City Unified schools have gone back today for in-person classes, but many families are still opting to keep their kids in distance learning for the rest of the year.
The school district's data shows that about 59% of kindergartners will learn in person this year. Eva Schwartz is the parent of a kindergartner going back to in-person learning. She said her son was getting bored and distracted with video conference learning.
"It's impossible to do online schooling for kindergarten because the majority of what you're learning in kindergarten is how to deal with other kids," Schwartz said. "You don't learn that online."
Some of the most significant differences in the choice to send kids back to school are along racial lines. While about 71% of white students will be sitting in classrooms again, only about 50% of Black and Latino students will do the same.
"Many Black and Brown parents often feel that schools are racially hostile toward their students, especially if their students are in racially mixed school settings," UCLA Professor of Education Tyrone Howard said. "So when Black and Brown [parents] feel like their children are already being subjected to racial microaggressions, exclusionary practices, disproportionate levels of school punishment, the thinking is, why would I send my students back if I don't have to?"
The Sac City data also showed that just a third of Asian American children will return to in-person classes, with 70% preferring to stay home and do remote learning. This is a statistic that stands in stark contract with students of other ethnicities and races.
Winnie Tam Hung is a parent of elementary students in Elk Grove Unified. She said she won't be sending either of her children back for in-person for several reasons.
"I'm hesitant because of all of this rise in anti-Asian violence," Hung said. "I experienced a lot of racial bullying as a kid … but given this current climate, I'm very hesitant about being out in public with my children and sending my children back to school."
Howard said school districts should reach out to families of color to find out how to make in-person school more comfortable for them.
The COVID-19 vaccines rolling out worldwide weren’t compared to each other in studies, so it’s hard to tell how they might differ in effectiveness.
According to the Associated Press, experts say the vaccines are alike in what matters most: preventing hospitalizations and deaths. Although the studies conducted before the vaccines were rolled out found varying effectiveness levels, it’s an imprecise comparison since effectiveness can’t be analyzed apples-to-apples.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine studies were conducted when COVID-19 cases were just mild, moderate, or severe. In contrast, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine didn’t count mild illnesses, and studies were done once mutated versions of the virus were a bigger concern.
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 744,000, signaling that many employers are still cutting jobs even as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.
On Thursday, the Labor Department said that applications increased by 16,000 from 728,000 a week earlier, even as consumers gain confidence and the government distributes aid throughout the economy.,
While jobless claims have declined sharply since the virus slammed into the economy in March of last year, the claims still remain high by historical standards. Before the pandemic erupted and overturned the economy, weekly applications typically remained below 220,000 a week.
Wednesday, April 7
A group of California state lawmakers are accusing trucking companies of misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors during the pandemic.
Labor union leaders and a trio of Latina Democrats say the misclassification means that drivers who carry cargo from ports haven’t been able to get paid sick time or unemployment. Sen. Maria Elena Durazo said that in some cases, companies even make workers pay unemployment insurance taxes — something which employers should pay.
“In addition to the systematic wage theft, the pandemic has unveiled how misclassification has left a largely immigrant workforce without a safety net,” Durazo said.
She and two other lawmakers are running separate bills to crack down on the trucking companies by increasing transparency over disputes and withholding clean transportation grants, rebates and incentives.
A lobbyist with the California Trucking Association said in a statement that the bills will only hurt California’s climate goals and worsen supply chain bottlenecks.
3:34 p.m.: Mobile clinics going to Pahrump, Carson City
Health officials are taking mobile coronavirus vaccination units this week to the Nye County community of Pahrump and a northern Nevada tribal site in Carson City, according to the Associated Press.
In Las Vegas, a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site was opened Wednesday at Allegiant Stadium. The Southern Nevada Health District reported Tuesday it had more vaccination slots available than people booking appointments at its biggest shot sites, even though everyone 16 and older in the state is eligible to receive the vaccine.
On Tuesday, officials said that roughly 21% of the state population have been vaccinated.
The Sam & Bonnie Pannell Community Center in South Sacramento is entering its fifth week of community vaccination, with plans to provide 3,400 inoculations to eligible residents on April 9.
In collaboration with Sacramento County Public Health, the city of Sacramento, Councilmember Mai Vang, plus many groups, the clinic has focused on equitable vaccine distribution.
"Since day one, we have been focused on ensuring that Sacramento recovers equitably from the COVID-19 pandemic," Vang said. "This starts with ensuring that vaccine access, resources and education are delivered in languages spoken by our community, by people trusted by our community — and that they're provided right here in south Sacramento, where they're needed the most."
Residents who have priority for the April 9 vaccinations include: 95815, 95824, 95838, 95660, 95823, 95832, 95639, 95820, 95828, 95841, 95842 & 95821.
Please share! @SacCountyCA just confirmed that those living in the following zip codes in @TheCityofSac who are ages 16+ are eligible to be registered for the Pfizer vaccine (Moderna & Johnson and Johnson may only be administered to those 18+) pic.twitter.com/6ro5jHaTIc— Councilmember Mai Vang (@CMMaiVang) April 6, 2021
Residents who qualify can contact the city of Sacramento Vaccine Text Hotline by texting "vaccine" to (916) 476-2225 to check eligibility and get put on a list for volunteers to schedule a vaccine appointment for Friday, April 9 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine can also be made by calling any of these community partners:
- Sacramento NAACP - (916) 750-5625
- South Sac Christian Center - (916) 681-6791
- Genesis Church - (916) 399-4936
- Rose Family Creative Empowerment Center - (916) 376-7916
- Antioch Progressive Church - (916) 385-8498
- La Familia Counseling Center (speaks Spanish, Arabic, and Hmong) - (916) 990-1311
- Tetteh Pediatric Health (speaks Spanish and Hmong) - (916) 224-8244
- Hmong Innovating Politics (speaks Hmong) - (916) 546-5254
- Hmong Youth & Parents United (speaks Hmong) - (916) 761-1840
- CPALSs (speaks Vietnamese) - (916) 891-9999
California is turning to a more straightforward, statewide approach as it prepares to lift most pandemic restrictions on businesses and workplaces by June 15, according to the Associated Press.
Gov. Gavin Newsom had previously adopted a system that put each of the 58 counties into one of four color-coded tiers based on a slew of metrics on case rates and hospitalizations, leading to each county often being open at different restriction levels.
Now, that’s all going out the window as long as most Californians can access the vaccine and hospitalization rates remain low by the start of the summer. The news comes as California expects to have administered more than 30 million vaccine doses by the end of April and as case rates are low.
The government recently reported that more than half a million Americans have already taken advantage of the Biden administration’s special health insurance sign-up window that’s tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And according to the Associated Press, the government anticipates even more people will gain coverage in the coming months. Why? That’s because millions of people just became eligible for pumped-up taxpayer subsidies toward their premiums under President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief legislation.
With the number of uninsured Americans rising during the pandemic due to layoffs, Biden reopened the law’s health insurance markets as a backstop. Since then, the virus aid package also essentially delivered a health insurance price cut by making taxpayer subsidies more generous while allowing more people to qualify for financial assistance.
Tuesday, April 6
6:10 p.m.: San Joaquin County moves out of purple tier
San Joaquin County has moved out of the purple tier for COVID-19 restrictions and into the less restrictive red tier.
El Dorado County is also moving into a less restrictive tier from red to orange.
“California is making great progress in administering COVID-19 vaccine doses,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency. “We must continue to do our best to vaccinate Californians as safely and quickly as possible. Our vaccine equity focus remains the right thing to do and ensures we are having the greatest impact in reducing transmission, protecting our health care delivery system and saving lives.”
Under the red tier, restaurants and movie theaters will be able to reopen indoors at 25% capacity, while gyms can reopen indoors at 10% capacity. Museums may also resume indoor operations at 25% capacity. In the orange tier, that rises to 50% capacity for restaurants and movie theaters and 25% for gyms. Bars can also reopen outdoors with modifications in the orange tier.
On Tuesday California announced it had administered 4 million vaccine doses in hard-hit areas, measured by the state's Healthy Places Index. That triggered a loosening of the tier thresholds, allowing some counties to move into less-restrictive tiers faster.
The purple tier threshold will remain at greater than 10 cases per 100,000 residents. The red tier will narrow to 6-10 cases per 100,000, and the orange tier range will shift to 2-5.9 cases per 100,0000. The yellow tier will move to 2 cases per 100,000.
Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday announced a plan to fully reopen California’s economy if current coronavirus trends continue.
California has administered more than 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, and supply is still ramping up. Newsom says as long as that continues, and if hospitalizations remain low, the state’s color tier system for business restrictions can end.
“We’ll be moving past the dimmer switch, we’ll be getting rid of the blueprint as you know it today,” he said. “That’s on June 15 if we continue the good work.”
Masks and other health measures will still be required in public.
Last week, the state indicated that some businesses could begin requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to get in.
Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco, says even with COVID-19 variants, this is good news.
“Most of the signals are positive and I think there’s a very good chance we’ll be in an excellent place and it will be appropriate to return not quite to normal, but to normal-ish,” he said.
Wachter says the vaccines have been remarkably effective at staving off the virus. His only advice for people looking to return to their favorite activities this summer is: “Get vaccinated.”
Every Californian over the age of 16 becomes vaccine eligible April 15.
Although nearly a fifth of U.S. states don’t require people to wear masks to protect themselves and others against COVID-19, many businesses are still requiring their employees and customers to be masked on their premises.
Business owners ranging from manufacturers to retailers to massage therapists want to protect their staff and their customers, and according to the Associated Press, the law is on their side.
Because businesses are private properties, owners can set the rules. Employers are also obligated under federal law and some state laws to provide a safe workplace for their employees, and that may include requiring everyone on their property to wear a mask.
California is planning to fully reopen without restrictions by June 15 if COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low, though Gov. Gavin Nesom said the state has no plans to relax its mask mandate.
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada is encouraging people to shop on the state's health insurance exchange to determine if they can get cheaper coverage thanks to the new federal coronavirus relief law.
According to the Associated Press, the senator said that the relief law increases subsidies for 60,000 Nevada residents already receiving them to help pay for their health insurance on the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange. She says the new law also makes 40,000 others eligible for subsidies.
Anyone receiving unemployment benefits is eligible for free monthly premiums and can receive help with paying copays and deductibles. As of Monday, the state has allowed anyone 16 and older to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Starting on April 6, anyone aged 16 years or older will now be eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at UC Davis Health.
The university is participating in California's new centralized vaccination system, MyTurn, to assist with scheduling. Those interested can sign up for an appointment with their MyUCDavisHealth login, or they can schedule an appointment here. People who are not UC Davis Health patients can also schedule an appointment here.
COVID-19 vaccines are at no cost to the patient, but appointments must be scheduled before receiving a shot. The university is not accepting walk-ins, and appointments will be based on vaccine supply. As more vaccines become available, more appointments will open in the future.
Vaccinating most Americans is plenty tough — and it’s worse if you’re in prison.
According to data collected by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press, people inside prisons are not free to seek out vaccines and, on the whole, lack access almost entirely. Fewer than 20% of people in state and federal prisons have been vaccinated. In some states, prisoners and advocates have resorted to lawsuits to get access to vaccines.
About 3 in 10 people in the prison system have tested positive, and 2,500 have died. Prisons across the country are often overcrowded, with limited access to health care and protective gear. Populations inside are also more likely to have preexisting medical conditions.
In some facilities, even basic supplies like soap and toilet paper have been scarce. Mask-wearing is inconsistently enforced among both residents and guards. Prison residents often spend time in communal spaces, and open floor plans do little to contain the virus. Entire dormitories have reported being sick with COVID-19 symptoms.
Some prisoners hesitate to report feeling sick out of fear they’ll be placed in solitary confinement without proper care. Others report waiting days for medical care, sometimes being turned away or provided only aspirin.
Monday, April 5
Many areas of the United States are starting to see an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, according to an NPR analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
The increases vary throughout the country. The Midwest has seen a 58% increase in new cases over the past 14 days, while the number of cases in the Northeast has climbed by 30%. Cases in the West rose by 5% and the South showed a slight decline.
In California, new cases have stayed steady over the past two weeks at around 2,700 per day. But that comes after weeks of declining case numbers following this winter's surge, where more than 40,000 new COVID-19 cases were identified in the state each day. Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 continue to decline.
5:19 p.m.: Crocker Art Museum reopens
The Crocker Art Museum is reopening Thursday now that Sacramento County is in the less restrictive red tier in California's COVID-19 reopening system.
The museum first closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic. It reopened briefly in mid-October for an exhibition of Wayne Thiebaud paintings before abruptly closing in November because of new pandemic shutdown orders.
Crocker Art Museum Mort and Marcy Friedman Director and CEO Lial Jones said on CapRadio's Insight Monday that now is the right time to reopen.
"We're following CDC and state guidelines and Sacramento County has now entered the red tier so we're allowed to open to 25% capacity and we're happy to do so," Jones said.
Beginning this week, the Crocker will be open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Advance ticket reservations are required and all visitors must wear face coverings. The museum will have four new showings, including an exhibition featuring the landscapes, shoreline and towns of the Netherlands. Jones said the Thiebaud exhibit will be back next year.
Health officials in Nevada expect a big first wave of people signing up for coronavirus vaccination appointments when age-based eligibility expands Monday to everyone 16 and older.
In Las Vegas, University Medical Center started accepting online signups Friday for appointments next week at its vaccination center at Encore Las Vegas, according to the Associated Press. The Southern Nevada Health District said sign ups start Saturday for appointments at sites including the Cashman Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center.
State vaccination chief Candice McDaniel said slots may go fast, but people should keep trying. In Reno, the Washoe County Health District reported that appointments were already full.
Volunteers in California are working to ensure that the thousands of farmworkers who toil in the fields every day receive coronavirus vaccinations.
According to the Associated Press, farmworkers are particularly vulnerable because they live in crowded housing and travel to farms in packed vehicles. Many cross the border from Mexico daily and are offered vaccinations as soon as they enter the United States.
California was the first state to make farmworkers eligible for vaccinations and is working to bring doses to workers. Officials say most farmworkers are eager to get the vaccine but may not be able to sign up online.
Saturday, April 3
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its website to say that "people who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States."
However, the CDC continues to discourage nonessential travel.
Those who are fully vaccinated—which means two weeks after they received their last dose—will no longer need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it. They also do not need to self-quarantine upon return.
Less than a month ago, the CDC first released updated guidance about gatherings for fully vaccinated people.
Read more here.
Friday, April 2
As most California counties move into less restrictive tiers under the state’s reopening system, San Joaquin County is one of just three remaining in the most severe purple category.
Ginger Manss is chief nursing officer for Community Medical Centers, a network of health clinics serving low-income and uninsured patients in the Central Valley. She says there are two things holding San Joaquin County back.
“One is our testing rates — our positivity rates are just over where they need to be in order to move to the next tier,” she said. “The second one is our health equity, getting our vaccines to the people most in need.”
Health officials say people haven’t been seeking tests as often since the vaccine roll-out began.
When people aren’t getting tested after travel or potential exposures, they may be unknowingly spreading the virus to others.
County representatives say this is happening more in a handful of low-income ZIP codes. The county health department says they’ve added testing and vaccination sites in 10 of these areas where they’re seeing high case numbers. They hope this will slow the spread, and help them meet the state’s new vaccine distribution rules.
They’re hoping to change tiers later this month. In the meantime, they’re asking everyone to continue wearing masks and avoiding indoor gatherings.
A day after being inoculated with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Gavin Newsom was in San Diego Friday urging people eligible for COVID shots to get them.
"These vaccines are safe,” he said. “I took the vaccine 24 hours ago, honestly slept like a baby, feel great, no impacts whatsoever and I can't honestly ... I was trying to figure out, was it my left arm or my right arm? ... I can't even feel where the vaccine was administered."
With Easter two days away, Newsom also asked the public to stay vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID.
"Let's not run the 90-yard dash, let's not put down our guard, let's not drop these masks, let's continue to be mindful as we move into this very important holiday weekend," he said.
Meanwhile, the state public health department Thursday lifted a travel recommendation for Californians to stick close to home.
Latinos make up less than 40% of California's population but account for more than half of the state's COVID-19 cases.
Large immigrant and agricultural communities in counties like Merced have found their residents hit especially hard. Now, California is hoping that allocating 40% of doses to underserved communities can make an impact.
But to reach the people most in need, local clinics and residents are left to do much of the legwork. At Castle Family Health in Merced, workers are sending out organized social media campaigns to the community to answer their questions about the vaccine and correct misinformation. The health center has also been organizing large vaccination pop-ups in the county for teachers and other essential workers, along with outreach to local farms.
Other local clinics rely on what they call "promotoras" — people with deep connections in the Latino community who can broker connections between residents and the health care system.
While state officials acknowledge the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Latinos and other communities of color, efforts towards vaccine equality over the past year have barely moved the needle.
The death rate for Latinos is 22% higher than the statewide average. While vaccines are allocated to neighborhoods and counties in need, supply still remains an issue.
The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a big part of the ramp-up and could help immunize transient populations, like migrant farmworkers.
Another Las Vegas casino operator says it will offer on-site coronavirus vaccinations to hospitality workers, according to the Associated Press.
Station Casinos said that it will host clinics starting on Tuesday at six of its properties in Las Vegas and suburban Henderson. American Medical Response will administer COVID-19 vaccines by appointment for workers and family members.
Station joins MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, the Cosmopolitan and Wynn Resorts with programs to inoculate employees on-site. Nevada state health officials reported 350 additional COVID-19 cases on Thursday, pushing the total number of state cases past 304,000 since March 2020. Including seven new deaths brings the death total to 5,256.
Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can enjoy again, according to the Associated Press.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on Friday to announce that fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting a COVID-19 test or going into quarantine. The agency previously cautioned against unnecessary travel, even for vaccinated people.
According to the CDC, nearly 100 million people in the U.S. — about 30% of the population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, a person is only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose.
Fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask and socially distance when traveling. For international travel, vaccinated people should still get a COVID-19 test before flying to the U.S. and be tested soon after returning. Travelers do not need to quarantine.
It should be noted that traveling could potentially introduce virus variants, and due to differences in vaccine coverage around the world, the CDC still urges caution on overseas travel.
Unvaccinated people are still advised to avoid any unnecessary travel.
Thursday, April 1
California has updated its coronavirus travel advisory to remove the recommendation that Californians not travel more than 120 miles from home.
The state still advises that postponing travel and staying home are the best ways to protect yourself and others from the virus.
The update to the travel advisory comes the same day the state opened vaccine eligibility to all those 50 and older.
The state has issued the following guidance for travelers:
- All travelers arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries should follow CDC travel guidance.
- All travelers should get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before travel.
- All travelers who test positive or develop symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate and follow public health recommendations.
To date, more than 18.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in California.
The state auditor released a report Thursday that found the California Department of Public Health’s pandemic spending has had mixed results.
The department has exceeded its testing expectations — doubling its target goal at the end of last year.
But it struggled in other areas. The state and its local counterparts have less than half the number of contact tracers it originally planned to hire.
And oversight of spending by local health departments has been lacking. The auditor found the state failed to collect progress reports from all counties and didn’t conduct proper evaluations of its data systems.
The Department of Public Health says it will revise its plan for hiring contact tracers and will work with counties to ensure they file necessary updates.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has received his dose of the one-shot Johnson-and-Johnson COVID vaccine. He got it Thursday, the same day people 50 and older in California became eligible for inoculations.
"Today's an important day obviously with the opportunity now for people my age that have been waiting," said Newsom, who is 53.
Afterward, Newsom urged Californians to remain vigilant in wearing masks and social distancing.
"The disease is not taking Easter weekend off. This disease is not taking spring break off. This disease remains as deadly as it's ever been," he said.
California has administered more than 18 million doses so far and 6.7 million people are fully vaccinated. The Democratic governor likely will face a recall election stemming partly from his handling of the pandemic.
Elk Grove Unified School District is welcoming back middle and high school students to in-person instruction on Thursday.
Students have the option of coming back to campus two days a week while wearing masks and sitting six feet apart. EGUSD Spokesperson Xanthi Soriano said some elementary school students have already been back in classrooms for the past couple of weeks and are following safety guidelines.
“On campus, we’re still maintaining six feet apart, starting or effective April 13, we will be changing that to reconfigure desks to three feet apart, with few exceptions,” Soriano said.
Soon older students will also be able to return for four days-a-week in-person instruction with desks spaced three feet apart, as per federal health guidelines.
“We’re going to see another wave of students being able to access the resources that we have at our schools,” Soriano said. “It will be just a great opportunity for them to have access to a routine and all of the school sites, including nutrition.”
While the district has had to deal with COVID-19 exposures since reopening, Soriano said the school is prepared to control transmission through quarantine and contact tracing.
AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin
Experts are still studying how good COVID-19 vaccines are at preventing people from spreading the virus, but they believe the risk is low, according to the Associated Press.
The current vaccines are highly effective at preventing people from getting seriously sick with the coronavirus but even vaccinated people could get asymptomatically infected and spread it to others.
Given the uncertainty, experts say fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks, social distance in public, and when visiting unvaccinated and high-risk friends and family.
The Biden administration is unveiling a coalition of community, religious and celebrity partners to promote COVID-19 shots as it seeks to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
According to the Associated Press, the Department of Health and Human Services' new "We Can Do This" campaign features television and social media ads.
The campaign relies on a community corps of public health, athletic, faith, and other groups to spread the word about the three approved coronavirus vaccines' safety and efficacy.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy met Thursday with more than 275 inaugural community corps members to kick off the effort.
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