California Coronavirus Updates: Children Are Being Held Out Of Kindergarten At Higher Rates Due To The Pandemic

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Latest Updates

Children are being held out of kindergarten at higher rates due to the pandemic

After disagreement with supervisors, former Placer health officer takes position with Yolo County

No Mask Nevada demonstrators protest outside the governor’s private home

Nevada is working to figure out how to best use new test data in pandemic



Thursday, September 24

10:39 a.m.: Children are being held out of kindergarten at higher rates due to the pandemic

Young children who had their preschool cut short in the springtime are being held out of kindergarten enrollment at a higher than average rate as many school districts begin the year online, according to the Associated Press.

This is raising concerns that the pandemic could have an outsized impact on the country’s youngest students. A University of Oregon survey found that this month, 17% of parents were delaying sending their children to kindergarten– a stark contrast to the typical yearly rate of 4%.

School districts in Los Angeles and Nashville, Tennessee, are among those reporting drops in enrollment.

Wednesday, September 23

6:28 p.m.: After disagreement with supervisors, former Placer health officer takes position with Yolo County

Dr. Aimee Sisson, who resigned as  public health officer and public health director for Placer County this month, will start as the health officer for Yolo County on Oct. 26.

Yolo County announced Wednesday that the county board of supervisors had approved Sisson for the position. Yolo’s former health officer retired in June.

Sisson left her post in Placer County after the board of supervisors there terminated their local public health emergency around COVID-19. Supervisors cited economic concerns, and wrote in a statement that, “the circumstances that led to proclaiming the original emergency no longer exist.”

Yolo County’s emergency order is still in place. 

“I am leaving Placer County because it became clear that I could no longer be effective in my role,” Sisson said in a prepared statement about the move. “An important role of the health officer is to serve as an adviser to the Board of Supervisors. When a Board of Supervisors no longer seeks the advice of its health officer in making public health decisions, that health officer is ineffective.”

Several public health officers have resigned or retired during the pandemic, with experts saying burnout and conflict with government officials are major factors.

In Yolo County, Sisson will serve only as public health officer — in Placer County she was also the public health director. She wrote in her statement that no longer wearing “two hats” will allow her to “focus on health officer duties.”

She says the demographics of Yolo County create unique challenges that she’s ready to face, such as the prevalence of older adults, the large number of farmworkers and the presence of a large university. 

“The County has responded well to these challenges and I have no doubt that we will continue to do so together,” she said. 

Public health officers will likely continue to face public pressure to reopen as counties move to less restrictive orders under the state’s new tiered system.

2:45 p.m.: No Mask Nevada demonstrators protest outside the governor’s private home

Monday, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s private home in Las Vegas to protest the state’s mask mandate, according to the Associated Press.

The political action committee No Mask Nevada planned the  protest after Sisolak implemented the order, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The group ballooned to nearly 100 demonstrators after starting with a smaller gathering of about 50 people.

A member of the governor’s medical team, Brian Labus, says that surgical and cloth masks effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19.

9:56 a.m.: Nevada is working to figure out how to best use new test data in pandemic

Nevada has relied heavily on molecular tests to gauge the spread of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. As the federal government deploys 150 million antigen tests, the state is weighing how to best report data from different kinds of tests, according to The Associated Press.

Nevada is one of the more than 20 states that don’t report complete data on antigen tests to the public. Decisions over how to interpret the less reliable but faster tests could affect decisions about Nevada’s future pandemic directives, capacity limits on public places, business closures and the face-covering mandate.

Tuesday, September 22

5:55 p.m.: California reopens nail salons as infections hit lowest rate

California nail salons Tuesday joined barbershops and hair salons in being able to operate indoors with modifications no matter what COVID-19 tier their county is in. 

“Understanding the number of steps they can take to make a lower risk environment for both staff and customers with some new addition to that sector guidance and how to set up operations in a way that is lower risk,” state Health and Human Services Director Mark Ghaly said.

But Ghaly cautioned that California’s reopening must remain slow and stringent and residents cannot let their guard down as flu season arrives and cases rise in Europe and other parts of the U.S. 

Frustrated business owners, including operators of Disneyland, are pushing for a broader and swifter reopening plan. The state has had more than 15,000 deaths and 780,000 confirmed cases, the most cases in the country.

2:17 p.m.: Some Northern California counties move into a lower risk tier

Some Northern California counties have moved into a lower COVID-19 risk tier in the state’s color-coded system, according to data released by the California Department of Public Health.

El Dorado, Lassen, and Nevada counties all moved from tier two, representing a substantial risk level, to tier three, lowering the risk level to moderate.

In tier three, these counties can slowly open up more businesses like bars, distilleries, and indoor playgrounds with modifications. Solano County has moved to tier two from tier one, while other counties like Butte, Glenn and Sacramento are still in tier one with widespread risk.

1:48 p.m.: NFL coaches and teams fined for lack of mask usage

The NFL has fined several coaches $100,000 and their teams $250,000 each after they ignored a warning that they had to cover their noses and mouths throughout games.

The guidance on face coverings came in a strongly-worded memo from Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent, encouraging coaches and teams to heed the warning lest they put the fledgling season at risk during the coronavirus outbreak.

While players have been taking daily COVID-19 tests, and the teams are going to great lengths to make sure they play this season, coaches have been defying the face-covering mandates.

10:40 a.m.: US Men’s soccer team cancels October games due to pandemic

The U.S. men’s soccer team’s October matches are canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The team will be limited to a maximum of three games in 2020, the fewest since 1987.

The U.S. Soccer Federation is attempting to schedule a pair of friendly matches instead for Europe in November. The team has only played one match this year against Costa Rica on February 1, in Carson, California. The score was 1-0, with the U.S. men’s team winning.

World Cup qualifying was rescheduled to start in June 2021, but CONCACAF said it will be postponed again.

10:25 a.m.: Nevada won’t revoke $8.9 million in COVID-19 relief from Douglas County

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says he doesn’t plan to take back $8.9 million in coronavirus relief dollars that the state allocated to Douglas County, despite local officials previously agreeing to allow President Donald Trump to host a campaign rally earlier this month, according to the Associated Press.

Nevada provided those relief funds on the condition that the county enforces statewide directives, including limiting public gatherings to 50 people. Douglas County officials said they weighed First Amendment concerns with state directives before deciding to allow the rally, which jeopardized the funds.

Sisolak said he ultimately chose not to rescind the funds and not punish residents for their officials’ decisions.

Monday, September 21

5:34 p.m.: Campus outbreak threatens San Diego’s reopening plan

A coronavirus outbreak at a college has pushed one of California’s largest counties to the brink of more business shutdowns. 

It’s a dizzying and discouraging turn of events for San Diego County and its 3.3 million residents. Less than a month ago, San Diego was the only county in Southern California to advance to a second tier in the state’s four-tiered reopening template for counties. But more than 800 cases at San Diego State University changed the outlook. 

On Tuesday, the state will update the state’s reopening situation and it’s expected San Diego will fall back to the most restrictive tier. Among other things, that means restaurants couldn’t offer indoor dining.

5:28 p.m.: Trump campaign lawsuit challenging Nevada vote-by-mail-law dismissed

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit from President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign challenging Nevada’s new vote-by-mail law. 

Trump’s campaign filed lawsuits in several states over voting rules and had asked the judge to block a new Nevada law that calls for mail-in ballots to automatically be sent to all active voters, a change prompted by the coronavirus. The campaign has argued the law is unconstitutional. 

The judge says the Trump campaign made allegations that were policy disagreements but did not show any constitutional harms.

1:38 p.m.: Nevada COVID-19 cases near 76,000

Nevada state health officials reported 385 new positive COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths, according to the Associated Press. This news increases the statewide totals to 75,804 cases and 1,531 deaths since the pandemic began.

The state’s Department of Health Services officials say that nearly 64,000 cases have been in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. The AP analyzed data from John Hopkins University that showed the seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases and deaths in Nevada have been declining over the past two weeks.

The infection number is thought to be much higher because many people have not been tested and others may be asymptomatic carriers.

9:19 a.m.: US Movie theaters continue to struggle during pandemic

Despite three quarters of the country’s movie theaters reopening, Americans aren’t interested in movie night, even with newly released films, according to the Associated Press.

Big studio releases like Warner Bros.’ “Tenet”, Disney’s “The New Mutants”, and Sony’s “The Broken Hearts Gallery” have all continued to limp along. Disney’s “Mulan” plunged 72% in its second weekend in China due to audiences mostly rejecting the live-action remake.

8:34 a.m.: California unemployment claims paused for two weeks

California will not be processing new unemployment claims for the next two weeks as the state works out a plan to tackle the backlog of nearly 600,000 claims and prevent fraud, according to the Associated Press.

The pause was announced on Saturday. Backlogged unemployment claims have not been processed for more than 21 days due to outdated technology converging with the state’s unprecedented wave of new claims. Statewide, more than 2 million people are out of work.

Sunday, September 20

10:55 a.m.: California coronavirus death toll passes 15,000 mark

California’s death count from the coronavirus has surpassed 15,000 even as the state saw widespread improvement in infection levels.

A tally by Johns Hopkins University put California’s death toll at 15,026 on Sunday, the fourth highest in the country.

New York has suffered by far the most deaths — 33,081 — followed New Jersey, which has about half as many. Texas is third.

California has had the most confirmed virus cases in the country with about 775,000 but key indicators have fallen dramatically since a spike that started after Memorial Day weekend prompted statewide shutdowns of businesses.

Saturday, September 19

2:00 p.m.: State unemployment rate fell to 11.4% in August

California’s unemployment rate fell to 11.4% in August. The Employment Development Department says the state added 102,000 jobs last month. Most of those were government positions, including temporary positions for the U.S. Census.

California lost more than 2.6 million jobs in March and April because of the coronavirus. The state has regained nearly a third of those jobs. But experts warn other indicators show the state’s economy has stalled with no quick recovery in sight. 

Restaurants and other hospitality businesses have been the hardest hit. The industry lost another 14,600 jobs in August with coronavirus restrictions still in place across much of the state.

1:56 p.m.: Northern Nevada schools see COVID cases climbing

Northern Nevada schools reopened last month, with some students on campus and others online. Since then, COVID-19 cases have been climbing among students and staff. 

So far, 27 students and 17 staff members in Washoe County School District have tested positive.

Superintendent Kristen McNeill says many of those cases are no longer active.

But district staff are working with public health officials to provide contact tracing in the schools where cases have appeared.

“We’re in contact with them on a daily basis,” McNeil said. “They have diverted resources to pediatric contact tracing and then we actually have employed two employee health nurses to help on the staff side.”

McNeill says it doesn’t appear community transmission is happening on campuses. About a third of district students are enrolled in full-time distance learning.

Friday, September 18

5:27 p.m.: Sacramento region unemployment improving but remains high 

Unemployment in the Sacramento area is still high compared to last year at this time, before the pandemic. 

Numbers out Friday show the jobless rate was 9.4 % in August, up about 5.5 percentage points from August of last year. But that 9.4% is down from July’s rate of 11.6%. 

“We did see a decline in the number of unemployed from July to August,” said Cara Welch with the state Employment Development Department. “We are gaining some of the jobs back that were lost during the month of April when the unemployment rate drastically increased. So we are seeing a rebound of some of those jobs.”

Including sectors like government, which gained 7,000 jobs; professional and business services, which saw a month-over increase of 2,500 positions; and health and education services, which gained 1,200 jobs.

2:58 p.m.: Schools may be impacted if counties see virus restrictions

California schools that haven’t resumed in-person instruction will not be allowed to do so if the counties where they are located are moved to a more restrictive tier due to rising virus cases. 

The state says K-12 schools can reopen in a county once it has been moved out of the most restrictive purple tier — which signals widespread virus transmission — for two weeks. 

A recent rise in coronavirus cases tied to San Diego State University could push San Diego County to the most restrictive tier when the state’s color-coded system for business reopenings is updated next week. Some districts there had set campus return dates in the coming weeks.

10:40 a.m.: Newsom signs law requiring employers to alert employees of possible COVID-19 exposure

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Thursday that will require employers to alert their employees if they’ve been potentially exposed to COVID-19 while at work, according to The Sacramento Bee.

AB 685 requires employers to provide a written notice to employees and subcontractors instructing them to self-isolate after potential exposure from a co-worker that either tested positive for COVID-19 or has been instructed to self-isolate.

The notice must be delivered within one business day after finding out about a potential infection.

10:32 a.m.: Bay Area church fined $112K for holding indoor services

The pastor of a San Francisco Bay Area church that racked $112,000 in fines for defying the local public health order by holding indoor services has begun holding services in the church parking lot.

KGO-TV reports Pastor Jack Trieber of the 3,000-seat North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara said he will hold services outdoors until health officials give the green light to indoor services. County officials told the television station there were no plans to forgive the fines and that the county’s enforcement action was over because the church was complying.

Thursday, September 17

6:07 p.m.: Newsom signs laws to protect workers from virus

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed two bills into law that are aimed at protecting workers from the coronavirus. 

One of them makes people who have the coronavirus eligible for workers compensation benefits. Another requires companies to warn their employees if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus. 

Business groups opposed both laws, calling them vague and unworkable. Newsom said Thursday that the laws prioritize the state’s workforce. He signed them during a Zoom call with supporters. 

The workers compensation law takes effect immediately. The notification law takes effect on Jan. 1.

4:59 p.m.: Sacramento County could look to ease Restrictions in mid-October, health officer says

Every county in California is in the process of trying to reopen as the threat of COVID-19 lingers. But the new state way of getting to a place of reopening is a four-tiered approach marked by colors. 

Purple indicates the most risk and yellow the least. Each tier represents a level of how open businesses can be.

Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye says the county could be leaving the purple tier around the middle of October. The county is reporting 9 cases per 100,000 residents each day, and must improve that to seven before the state will change its status.

“At the rate that we’ve been going, we feel that we can make that within the next couple of weeks. And our positivity rate is at 5.7%,” Kasirye said. “And so we have hit the mark to be able to move into tier two.”

About 16 counties are in the second tier, 10 in the third and only two counties have minimal risk: Alpine and Mono counties.

9:44 a.m.: Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak asks White House about President Trump’s weekend rallies in the state

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak asked in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence why President Donald Trump’s campaign went against federal guidelines on public gatherings by holding two rallies in the state last weekend.

Previously Sisolak has used a moderate tone with the White House and its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. This letter reflected a departure from that.

Sisolak also said Wednesday that state officials would review Nevada’s 50-person cap on public gatherings and 50% capacity limit on businesses, including casinos.

On Wednesday, the state reported 208 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 12 deaths, bringing the state’s total number of deaths up to 1,494.

9:36 a.m.: California’s coronavirus caseload is trending downwards

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced yesterday that California’s coronavirus caseload is down another 15% this week. The state’s test positivity rate is the lowest it’s been since May at 3.6%, while hospital and ICU rates are down 22%.

The governor warns that this good news doesn’t warrant a more relaxed attitude with mask-wearing or physical distancing, because the case numbers could go up again. 

However, the state is continuing to allow some significant reopenings, including some in sports. Newsom said that Pac-12 football could start up again, with restrictions.

Wednesday, September 16

5:10 p.m.: California says college virus cases part of community spread

California officials say the state won’t consider removing college students’ virus cases from a county’s data because they are part of a community and can contribute to the spread of the illness. 

The issue arose as San Diego County has seen more than 700 cases among college students and others that have helped drive up infections. The county’s chief administrative officer has said she would ask the state to exclude San Diego State University cases from its count, but Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’s not considering that. 

While California has seen virus infections slow in recent weeks, San Diego County has recorded a recent increase, which could lead to additional restrictions.

3:38 p.m.: Pac-12 football plans remain in holding pattern

Any plans for the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten in returning to football are on hold due to health policies in two states within the conference. 

The Big Ten changed course and said it will begin an eight-game football schedule on Oct. 23. The Pac-12 has also reconsidered starting its football season this fall, but does not have approval from state and local health officials in California and Oregon to start contact practices. 

On Wednesday California Gov. Gavin Newsom said state regulations do not prevent college football from starting.

“There’s nothing in our guidelines that prevent these games from occurring,” Newsom said. “There’s nothing in the guidelines saying the Pac-12 cannot move forward.” 

The Pac-12 has announced a partnership that would give the conference’s schools the capacity to perform daily, rapid COVID-19 tests on athletes.

10:02 a.m.: Federal government outlines free COVID-19 vaccine plans

The U.S. government is drafting a plan on how to make the future COVID-19 vaccines free to all Americans.

At the same time, top government health officials are being asked to answer on any political interference in government scientific information. The Associated Press reports that there may be an accompanying “playbook” for different localities and states.

Federal health agencies and the Defense Department have a rough timeline for the vaccine program to start gradually in January 2021 or later this year, if available. According to an AP poll conducted earlier this year, only about half of Americans said they would get a shot.

Tuesday, September 15

5:45 p.m.: Fresno judge orders school to stop in-person classes

A Fresno County judge has ordered classrooms closed at a private school that has defied state and local health orders aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. 

The ruling Tuesday marked a legal victory for Fresno County health officials, who had unsuccessfully ordered Immanuel Schools last month to stop in-person instruction. The K-12 Christian school, with about 600 students, reopened its campus on Aug. 13. 

It argued that parents should decide if their children attend school and claimed students had achieved herd immunity. The judge said the school operating poses “irreparable harm” to the community during the pandemic.

12:59 p.m.: California fitness centers sue state over virus closures

California fitness centers have filed a lawsuit alleging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus unfairly target the industry and are demanding they be allowed to reopen. 

Scott Street, a lawyer for the California Fitness Alliance, said Tuesday that the suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It accuses state and Los Angeles County officials of requiring gyms to close without providing evidence that they contribute to virus outbreaks and at a time when staying healthy is critical to residents. 

A message seeking comment was sent to the California Department of Public Health.

9:21 a.m.: California’s test positivity rate at its lowest since April

Over the past week, California’s COVID-19 test positivity rate was 3.5%, the lowest it’s been since data reporting started in March, according to the Los Angeles Times. August’s positivity rate was nearly twice as high.

Some health officials believe that the lower rate could be attributed to fewer people getting tested during the wildfires, and a possible yet-to-be-seen transmission surge after Labor Day weekend.

“We are, in fact, somewhat challenged about getting good data because we’ve had both extreme heat and we’ve had the fires that have created unhealthy air conditions,” said the Director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health Barbara Ferrer. “What that’s led to, unfortunately, is a lot less testing.”

8:56 a.m.: Nevada health officials expect uptick in new coronavirus cases after presidential rally last weekend

After last weekend’s Nevada rally for President Donald Trump, health officials say they expect to see growth in their state’s coronavirus cases, according to the Associated Press.

Trump’s rallies in Minden and Henderson both violated the state’s 50-person cap on events. Thousands of mostly mask-less supporters attended both, with the Henderson rally being held indoors. This is the first rally Trump has held indoors since his one in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June. Health officials say that a surge of cases soon after was “likely contributed” by the rally.

As of Monday, Nevada had reported 73,814 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and 1,456 deaths.

Monday, September 14

3:40 p.m.: Sacramento County no longer counting inmates in Folsom COVID-19 case count

Starting this week, inmates at Folsom State Prison who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be counted into the city of Folsom’s COVID-19 case count, according to Sacramento County Public Health.

Instead, inmates who have tested positive will be counted as cases in the unincorporated area of the county.

This change led to a drop in the number of cumulative cases reported in Folsom since the start of the pandemic on Monday, and an increase in the number of cumulative cases reported in the county’s unincorporated areas. Because of this change, Folsom went from having 727 cumulative cases reported as of September 11 to having 355 cumulative cases as of September 14.

Folsom State Prison reported an outbreak of COVID-19 in August, which was the largest outbreak in the state’s prison system at the time with 224 inmates actively infected.

9:21 a.m.: CDC study shows adults with COVID-19 were twice as likely to have dined out

Adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were about twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant within the two-week period before getting sick than those who tested negative, a new study from the CDC shows.

NPR reported that the study found that people who tested positive and those who tested negative had gone to shops, hair salons, in-home group gatherings, and the gym at around the same rate. However, those who tested positive reported having dined out at a restaurant in the two weeks before getting sick at a higher rate than those who tested negative.

The study doesn’t differentiate between outdoor or indoor dining.

“Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use,” CDC researchers wrote.

8:59 a.m.: President Trump held indoor rally this weekend in Nevada, against state regulations

President Donald Trump held an indoor rally this weekend in a Nevada warehouse in defiance of state and federal health regulations and guidelines, according to the Associated Press.

This is his first indoor rally since a rally in June in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was blamed for a surge of COVID-19 infections.

At Sunday’s indoor rally, the president told his nearly mask-less packed crowd that the nation was “making the last turn” in defeating the virus. The president made no early mention at the rally that the pandemic was still claiming 1,000 lives a day and has killed nearly 200,000 Americans.

Sunday, September 13

11:00 a.m.: California now has nearly 755,000 COVID-19 cases

According to the California Department of Public Health, California has 754,923 confirmed cases to date.

On Saturday, there were 4,625 newly recorded confirmed cases. 

There have been 14,329 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

Saturday, September 11

11:00 a.m.: Giants postpone two games after positive test

Friday night’s game between the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres was postponed minutes before the scheduled first pitch after someone in the Giants organization tested positive for COVID-19. 

Saturday night’s game also was called off at Petco Park. 

This was the first postponement for both teams due to COVID-19. There have been 45 games in the majors postponed this season because of coronavirus concerns.

Friday, September 11

5 p.m.: Sacramento County passes 20,000 COVID-19 cases

Sacramento County has now recorded more than 20,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 350 deaths.

The county remains in the most-restrictive tier of the state’s new COVID-19 reopening plan. In the past week Sacramento has recorded 9.3 cases per 100,000 residents. It would need to improve to less than 7 for at least three weeks in order to move to a new tier.

While the majority of people who have died have been older than 80, residents in their 20’s are more likely to contract the virus. One out of every five people infected with the virus in Sacramento County have been between 20-29 years old.

Of cases where the race and ethnicity of the victim are known, 33% are hispanic or latino, compared to 23% for the county population as a whole.

4:21 p.m.: Nevada panel says Reno bars can reopen, Las Vegas must remain closed

A Nevada state coronavirus oversight panel says bars have to remain closed in Las Vegas, but can reopen in Pahrump and will be allowed to open next week in the Reno area. 

The COVID-19 task force cited a falling number of virus cases in Nye County for the Pahrump decision. Re-openings in Washoe County will begin next Thursday, subject to approval of enforcement measures for face coverings and a 50% capacity. 

About 30 local bar owners formed the Washoe County Bar/Taproom Coalition and agreed to comprehensive operating standards. The task force says Washoe County’s positivity rate is below 10% and trending downward.

9:01 a.m.: Newsom signs emergency bill to grant more workers COVID-19 sick leave

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed emergency legislation requiring paid sick time for more workers in the state exposed to COVID-19.

As an urgency measure, it goes into law immediately, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. Full-time workers in companies with 500 or more employees will be guaranteed two weeks of paid sick pay if they’re exposed.

The governor’s office says this bill fills in the gaps between a previously signed executive order and federal paid sick leave policy. Groups affected by this new law include employers with over 500 employees, food sector workers, and both public and private first responders and health care workers not previously covered by their employer under federal law.

The new bill also creates a pilot family leave medication program for small businesses and prohibits employees from pursuing civil action against a company until they complete mediation with the State Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Thursday, September 10

6:52 p.m.: California may begin wider screening with quick virus tests

California’s typical turnaround time for coronavirus tests has dropped to less than two days. 

State health officials said Thursday that level allows for effective isolation and quarantine of those who are infected to limit the spread. 

Health officials said two-thirds of the test results are now available within one day, and nearly 90% within two days. That’s down from as many as seven business days last month. 

Improvements in capacity and turnaround will allow the state to soon begin what is commonly called surveillance testing.

5:03 p.m.: California State University to keep classes online next term

California State University says classes at its 23 campuses will stay primarily online when the next term begins in January due to expected increases in coronavirus cases later this year. 

Chancellor Timothy White informed faculty, staff and 480,000 undergraduate students of the decision Thursday. White says the decision was based on factors like the need to publicize course offerings and enroll students for the next term as well as forecasts that infections will spike this winter. 

He also cited “an insufficient testing and contact-tracing infrastructure” as reasons for continuing the next term virtually.

1:35 p.m.: Butte County temporarily allows indoor dining due to wildfires, air quality

Due to the impacts of wildfires in the area, Butte County is temporarily allowing restaurants to resume indoor dining services.

Restaurants that open indoors can only operate at 25% capacity and must place tables 6 feet apart. Servers and customers must also wear face coverings.

Once the air quality has improved, restaurants will be required to go back to only operating outdoors, per state COVID-19 guidelines.

Around 20,000 people were asked to evacuate Tuesday night into Wednesday when the Bear Fire, part of the North Complex, grew by 97,000 acres in a single day. Three people have died in the fires.

7:49 a.m.: Case reporting issues, differing regulations could impact hopes for fall Pac-12 football season

The hope that a fall football season might happen for the Pac-12 may be premature, despite the conference’s recent announcement of their ability to rapidly test athletes, according to the Associated Press.

Due to a patchwork of local regulations, navigating the coronavirus has been uneven among the league’s athletic programs. There are also internal disagreements about whether student athletes’ test results should be made public.

Other football conferences are facing similar unanswered questions as the football season gets closer to resuming.

Wednesday, September 9

5:42 p.m.: Trump Nevada rallies could be canceled for violating gathering rules

President Donald Trump’s plans to hold weekend rallies in Reno and Las Vegas are in jeopardy after local officials warned they would violate Nevada’s ban on gatherings of more than 50 people because of the coronavirus. 

Trump’s Nevada campaign co-chair Adam Laxalt said in a Twitter post today that both events to be held at airport hangars Saturday in Reno and Sunday in Las Vegas had been canceled. 

The Nevada Independent reported that Reno airport officials warned a company that planned to host the rally at a private hangar that it would be in violation of both the state’s virus restrictions and the lease of the hangar.

8:01 a.m.: Newsom calls out organizers of Sunday’s large religious rally

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is criticizing the organizers of a state-permitted religious rally at the Capitol building in downtown Sacramento this past Sunday.

A California Highway Patrol spokesperson said the event was permitted for up to 1,000 participants, but the agency estimates up to 3,000 people attended.

Video shows most attendees packed together and not wearing masks. Public health guidelines require mask wearing when social distancing is not possible — even outdoors.

“It does not help to have thousands and thousands of people not practicing physical distancing or social distancing, not wearing masks, in fact, quite the contrary,” Newsom said in a news conference Tuesday. “Quite literally, someone could lose their lives. And I know that’s not the intent of anyone who organizes these events, but it may be the outcome.”

Newsom says he is looking into the incident, and CHP says it will review its permitting guidelines.

Tuesday, September 8

5:30 p.m.: Placer, Amador counties allowed to ease restrictions 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has relaxed coronavirus restrictions in five more counties. 

As of Tuesday, Amador, Orange, Placer, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties each moved to a less restrictive classification in the state’s new tiered system. The announcement means the state has now eased restrictions for more than 8 million people living in three of the state’s most populous counties — San Diego, Orange and Santa Clara. 

Hospitalizations are down 24% over the past two weeks. But the Newsom administration is taking it slow by requiring counties to meet benchmarks for two consecutive weeks before they can be upgraded. 

As of Tuesday, 33 of the state’s 58 counties are listed in the top tier of the state’s coronavirus tracking system.

5:15 p.m.: Improved turnaround time for COVID testing in Sacramento County

Sacramento County says it has substantially improved turnaround time for coronavirus testing. Dr. Olivia Kasirye is the county public health officer. She says testing hit a wall a few months ago.

“There were not enough appointments available, and also there was a very long turnaround time for results,” Kasirye said. “As long as 7 to 9 days in some situations.”

She said  a national shortage of supplies contributed to the breakdown. Now, the county aims to return results in 24 to 72 hours. 

Kasirye  said a recent partnership with biomedical company StemExpress has allowed the county to increase capacity at its ten testing sites. There are also plans to extend hours of operation in September.

7:54 a.m.: Mental health conditions on the rise during pandemic

As the pandemic enters its sixth month in the United States, mental health conditions are rising. A new bill on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk would dramatically expand what insurance companies have to cover.

“It’s a problem that existed before COVID, and COVID has made it worse, by exacerbating depression, anxiety…” said Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, who authored the bill. “We are seeing people who were in recovery from addiction who are now falling off the wagon relapsing.”

The state already requires health insurers to cover treatment for some mental health conditions, but critics say that many conditions are left out of coverage.

Insurance companies and business groups both oppose the expansion. The insurance companies claim that this bill would put too much extra strain on an already burdened healthcare system, especially in rural areas. Business groups, however, argue that the expansion would raise premiums for employers.

Monday, September 7

10:15 a.m.: Avoid large gatherings to prevent holiday COVID-19 spike, health officials advise

This Labor Day weekend, health officials across California are asking residents to avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing and hopefully avoid another holiday spike in COVID-19 cases like the state saw following Memorial Day and July Fourth.

“We are all tempted to get together with family and friends for cookouts and Labor Day celebrations, but caving into that temptation could turn deadly, especially for our parents, grandparents and friends who might be more susceptible to the virus,” Acting State Public Health Officer Dr. Erica Pan said.

Nevada officials, including Gov. Steve Sisolak, are also pleading with residents to avoid large gatherings over the holiday.

Sacramento County’s Department of Regional Parks released recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 this weekend for anyone choosing to visit the region’s parks:

Maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from individuals who are not part of the same household or living unit 
Frequently washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer that is recognized by the CDC as effective in combating COVID-19
Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or fabric or, if not possible, into the sleeve or elbow (but not into hands)
Avoiding all social interactions outside the household when sick with a fever or cough.
Saturday, September 5

According to the California Department of Public Health, the state now has a total of  727,239  positive cases.

There were 4,956 newly recorded confirmed cases of COVID-19 on September 4.

There have been a total of 13,643 deaths in the state.   

Friday, September 4

5:51 p.m.: Reno-Sparks residents get new COVID-19 resource

Officials in Reno-Sparks announced a new COVID-19 tracking tool that shows the risk of community spread on a daily basis with the hope that it will lower the risk of transmission by giving residents an easier to read summary of the pandemic. 

The Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter weighs five different statistics: requests for COVID-19 tests, the rate of new infections, test positivity rate, hospitalizations and hospital capacity.

Jeremy Smith, director of the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency, volunteered to create the risk meter by using his background in data analysis.

“What our model is trying to do is add it up,” he said. “Are all of these things up at the same time? And if they are then we should be thinking as a community about altering our behavior to bring them back down.”

The tool uses a color-coded system like the EPA’s AirNow website or Washoe County’s burn codes, which tell residents when they’re allowed to have wood fires. 

Sparks City Councilman Kristopher Dahir said the meter will be a “tool of hope,” by making COVID-19 updates more digestible than the more complex data dashboards offered by the state and Washoe County. 

“It gives us the ability to see what’s happening and not surprise us so much,” he said.

2:23 p.m.: Woodland Christian School approved for waiver to restart in-person instruction

Woodland Christian School in Yolo County has been granted a waiver to reopen in-person instruction for students. It’s the first elementary school in Yolo County to be approved for this waiver.

Schools in counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list had to apply for a waiver from local public health authorities in order to do in-person learning. Yolo County had been on the watch list since July 8. The waiver is only applicable for grades TK-6.

The watchlist has since been replaced by the state’s new tier system, which places Yolo County in the most-restrictive tier.

Woodland Christian School has made multiple changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including hiring extra staff, creating protocol for responding to staff or students who get COVID-19, implementing necessary health and safety measures and developing outdoor instruction space, according to the county.

Yolo County has also received six other waiver applications that are currently being considered.

8:48 a.m.: U.S. unemployment rate drops considerably in August

The U.S. unemployment rate fell considerably in August from 10.2% to 8.4%, the Associated Press reports.

Despite this fall, hiring slowed down in August as employers added the fewest jobs since the pandemic began. According to the Labor Department, employers added 1.4 million jobs in August, down from 1.7 million in July. Only about half of the 22 million jobs lost during the pandemic have been recovered.

8:41 a.m.: Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak urges state to stay safe over Labor Day weekend

With Labor Day this weekend, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak is pleading with residents to avoid large gatherings in celebration of the holiday.

During a Thursday afternoon news conference, the governor said that residents should forgo barbecues and parties with neighbors, friends, and people outside of their immediate family. Sisolak said these potential gatherings could drive the “single most expansive spread” of COVID-19.

Thursday, September 3

5:53 p.m.: Most new Butte County cases tied to younger people

Butte County is dealing with a large increase in COVID-19 cases. 

The County’s public health department reports the biggest rise in numbers among people ages 18-to-24 living near the Chico State campus. Of the 557 positive cases from August 24-31, around 78% were 18-to-24 year olds. 

While Butte County’s Public Health agency says it can’t confirm all the cases were college students, the increase coincides with the start of classes. Butte CountyPublic Health Director Dannette York said the county will remain in the state’s most restrictive coronavirus category unless everyone is taking precautions.

“If college-age individuals do not join the fight and follow those mitigation efforts, or non-pharmaceutical interventions, of social distancing and wearing face coverings, then our cases will continue to climb and we will stay in this most restrictive tier,” York said. 

Meanwhile, Chico State has revised reopening plans to move to fully online courses for the rest of the fall semester. It also required most students living in campus housing to move out of their dorm rooms and apartments.

4:18 p.m.: Oakland A’s pitcher Daniel Mengden tests positive for COVID-19

Athletics right-hander Daniel Mengden has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

He is asymptomatic but is quarantined at home in Houston, where he received the result. The A’s had a three-game series at Seattle postponed as well as last Sunday’s scheduled series finale at Houston, where the A’s learned of the single positive test. 

Oakland general manager David Forst says Mengden was placed on the 10-day injured list. The A’s have added new left-hander Mike Minor to the 40-man roster. He was acquired in a trade with the Texas Rangers.

3:05 p.m.: Nevada church continues court battle over pandemic restrictions

The Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley church in rural Nevada is again trying to persuade the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals that the state’s 50-person cap on religious gatherings is unconstitutional, the Associated Press reports.

The church filed new briefs with the court Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to suspend the restrictions in a 5-4 decision in July. They argue that parishioners’ religious freedoms are being violated, and that the cap on religious gatherings while allowing Nevada’s casinos to operate at 50% capacity puts profits ahead of the First Amendment.

9:01 a.m.: EDD investigating possible widespread unemployment fraud

California lawmakers are looking into possible fraud at the Employment Development Department, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some Californians have been concerned about fraud after receiving letters from the EDD addressed to strangers.

The letters are addressed to unrelated people and often come with debit cards loaded with cash. California residents aren’t the only ones receiving letters from EDD; some former residents in states like Florida and Connecticut have also been receiving letters for claims they didn’t file.

The EDD declined to comment on the number of fraudulent cases being investigated. These concerns come as Californians across the state have been left without crucial joblessness benefits after frustrating experiences with the EDD.

8:35 a.m.: San Diego State University cancels in-person classes

San Diego State University has halted in-person classes after county health officials found 64 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 among students at the university, according to the Associated Press. The case count includes students living both on and off-campus.

Over 200 courses, including some lab classes, have been suspended for a month and will move to a virtual format. On-campus housing will remain open.

California State University, Chico also moved classes online this week.

Wednesday, September 2

5:23 p.m.: More than 300 Sacramento County residents have died of COVID-19

As of Sept. 2, at least 304 Sacramento County residents have died of complications from COVID-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year. 

More than half of these people, 176, were residents of the city of Sacramento. There have been 18,413 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sacramento County.

For more information on the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths in every California county, see our COVID-19 tracker.

4:49 p.m.: Pelosi takes heat over visit to San Francisco hair salon

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is getting heat over a solo hair salon visit in San Francisco at a time when California businesses are limited by concern over coronavirus. But she says she was complying with the rules as presented to her by the salon. 

Footage aired by Fox News Channel shows Pelosi, her mask around her neck rather than on her face, walking through the establishment. A stylist follows her wearing a mask. 

The salon owner said she rents chairs to stylists, and one let her know that Pelosi wanted a wash and a blow dry. Outdoor haircuts are allowed, but indoor salons have not reopened.

1:58 p.m.: State shifting focus on project to house unhoused residents during pandemic

Since April, California has provided temporary housing for 22,000 people in a program created to get the state’s unhoused population in rooms amid the pandemic. But the focus needs to shift, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference Wednesday.

“That was an emergency response,” Newsom said. “Now we need a permanent response, and I’ve long believed that homelessness is solved by permanent, supportive housing.”

Newsom says “Roomkey” is now merging into “Homekey,” a partnership with state and local governments to spend $600 million to buy hotels, motels and apartment buildings statewide by the end of this calendar year. 

Cities, counties, local housing agencies and tribal authorities have until September 29 to apply for the funding. Only $50 million of the “Homekey” money comes from the state’s General Fund.  The extra $550 million comes from federal coronavirus relief funds which must be spent by the end of the year.

Watch Gov. Newsom’s full press conference here.

11:12 a.m.: Monterey Bay Aquarium faces financial challenges due to COVID-19 closure

After five months of being closed to the public, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is facing a projected loss of $45 million this year, according to Yahoo News. 

Furloughs and layoffs have affected 220 of their 580 employees. Since the nonprofit has over 500 employees, the aquarium did not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable coronavirus loan through the federal government. 

The aquarium has had to scale back their conservation work, like reducing plastic pollution and climate change, due to its scaled back budget. 

A grand reopening was planned for July 9, but it was cancelled a few days before because Monterey County had just been placed on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist.

9:56 a.m.: August was California’s deadliest month for COVID-19

August was the deadliest month for COVID-19 in California, according to the Los Angeles Times.

There have now been more than 700,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, the highest number of total cases for any state in the U.S. California also reported 3,745 deaths connected to COVID-19 in August, an increase of 18% over July.

Despite this, adjusted for population, California’s case count is smaller than 20 other states, including Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Southern states, according to federal data.

While deaths have been increasing, hospitalizations peaked in late July, hitting 3,940 this week. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently launched a new tiered plan to open up the California economy. Hair salons and barbershops are allowed to open again for indoor services, as are malls and other retail at 25% capacity.

8:33 a.m.: Yolo County offers free COVID-19 testing to residents Wednesday evening

Yolo County residents can get a free COVID-19 test at Madison Town Hall in Madison on Wednesday, Sept. 2 from 4-7 p.m.

The free testing site is for Yolo County residents only, and people must show a document with their name and address — such as mail, a bill or a driver’s license — to be served.

The site is first come, first served and all ages are welcome. Registration is recommended, not required, to get tested, but registering does not guarantee a test or a time slot.

Tuesday, September 1

4:55 p.m.: State signs deal for new system after COVID data backlog

California has inked a $15 million deal with a software company to develop a new COVID-19 tracking system. 

The announcement Tuesday came about a month after the state said its current system had undercounted confirmed cases. The problem had serious implications, since the state uses those numbers to make decisions about reopening businesses and schools. 

Officials say the deal with Minnesota-based OptumInsight Inc. will allow the state to better track the spread of the virus. California has more confirmed cases than any other state. But recent trends show those numbers dropping, and the percentage of positive tests is also declining.

11:37 a.m.: El Dorado County could move to lower coronavirus tier this month

El Dorado County could move from the state’s “substantial” coronavirus risk category to the lower “moderate” one in the week of Sept. 21.

To move down, the county needs to stay below four new cases per day on average and keep a test positivity rate below 5% over the next 14 days, according to El Dorado County Public Health.

In assigning El Dorado County to the substantial tier, the second-most serious in the new system, the state used the county’s data from the week of August 5-11. Counties have to remain in their assigned tier for three weeks before moving to a less restrictive one. Then, the county can move as long as the number of cases and the test positivity rate meet the less restrictive tier’s requirement in the two most recent weeks.

“El Dorado County’s numbers in the two criteria the State is currently using to determine reopening have been trending relatively lower over the last two weeks,” El Dorado County Public Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams said in a news release. “The best and easiest way to help ensure we move to the Orange tier in the week of September 21st is for residents and visitors to continue to follow the State’s mandates for face coverings, avoid gatherings with and remain at least six feet from others outside your household and wash your hands.”

9:41 a.m.: Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak extends eviction moratorium

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has announced plans to extend the state’s eviction moratorium another 45 days.

This move will provide relief to an estimated 250,000 renters facing the prospect of losing their housing due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sisolak made the decision yesterday, one day before the previous moratorium was set to expire. Fears of a widespread eviction crisis in the state have been compounded by delays in state assistance and programs, like unemployment insurance.

Nevada’s moratorium is now set to expire Oct. 16.

8:41 a.m.: Lawmakers pass, Newsom signs eviction relief bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed AB 3088, a bill extending a halt to evictions for unpaid rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers passed the bill Monday. The state’s eviction moratorium was set to expire Sept. 2 if lawmakers didn’t take action.

AB 3088 pauses evictions through January 31 as a result of unpaid rent during the first six months of the pandemic. Renters would have to fill out documents certifying that they were impacted by COVID-19 to be eligible for protections, and would also have to pay at least 25% of their rent starting in September.

For more updates on Monday night’s end of the California legislative session, head here.

Monday, August 31

3:56 p.m.: New Sacramento County health order allows for more outdoor activities

Following a new ‘tier system’ announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week, Sacramento County health officials have put out an order detailing what activities are allowed indoors and outdoors.

Despite Newsom’s announcement, businesses allowed to operate under the new system couldn’t reopen until the county formally allowed it with this new order. Under the new guidelines, which replace the last order published July 14, the following businesses are permitted to operate outdoors:

These businesses are allowed to open for indoor operations:

Critical infrastructure
Hair salons and barbershops
All retail (25% maximum capacity)
Shopping centers (Malls, destination centers, swap meets, excluding food courts and common areas) maximum 25% capacity
Professional sports (without live audiences)

These businesses are allowed to open for outdoor operations:

Personal care services (nail salons, body waxing, estheticians)
Museums, zoos, aquariums
Places of worship
Movie theaters
Gyms and fitness centers
Family Entertainment Centers (e.g. bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades)
Cardrooms, satellite wagering
Bars, pubs, brewpubs and breweries may operate outdoors, only if they offer sit-down, outdoor meals

The new state reopening strategy organizes counties by tiers, which are determined by the number of new positive cases per week and the positivity rate. With a daily case count of 12 per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 8.1%, Sacramento County is listed at the highest risk level tier in the state. This means that the virus is widespread in the community. 

These guidelines do not change the county’s August 28 order to keep schools closed. Schools can reopen for in-person school when they’ve been in Tier 2 for two weeks. A county must remain in its current tier for 21 days, and then meet criteria for the next tier for two weeks, before moving to a less restrictive tier.

2:48 p.m.: CSU Chico cancels classes after 30 COVID-19 cases

California State University, Chico canceled the limited number of in-person classes it was offering. They will be virtual-only for the duration of the fall semester after nearly 30 people tested positive for the coronavirus days after the fall semester started.

University President Gayle Hutchinson says students also need to vacate campus housing by the weekend. Hutchinson says she is asking students to leave campus housing because nearly all on-campus residences have at least one positive case and there are concerns the numbers will increase. 

6:16 a.m.: Lower traffic during stay-at-home saved wildlife, study shows

A study shows California’s stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus outbreak seems to have saved some wildlife, as decreased traffic resulted in fewer collisions with mountain lions, deer and other large animals. 

A study by the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis found traffic declined by about 75%  after the emergency order went into effect in March. The number of animals struck and killed by vehicles also fell, including a 58% decrease in fatal crashes involving mountain lions between the 10 weeks before and 10 weeks after the order.


Find older coronavirus updates on our previous blog page here.

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