California Coronavirus Updates: State Health Department Restricts Size, Length of Private Gatherings

Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.

Latest Updates

State health department restricts size, length of private gatherings

Federal health administrators say Nevada needs to rescind a statewide ban on some rapid coronavirus tests

Pre-K and kindergarten schools in 20 states seeing large enrollment drops

Nevada loosens criteria for testing, positivity rates to reopen

11% of Bay Area residents stay home all day due to the pandemic

Friday, October 9

6:52 p.m.: State health department restricts size, length of private gatherings

Ahead of the holiday season, the California Department of Public Health released strict new rules about private gatherings, limiting them to take place outdoors and instructing attendees to wear masks and maintain physical distance from each other. 

The new guidance was released Friday evening. It replaces a public health order from September stating that gatherings were not permitted “unless otherwise specified.” 

Under the guidelines, private gatherings should also be no more than two hours long and be limited to members of three separate households.

Attendees should wear masks unless eating or drinking and frequently wash their hands with soap and water. People who are sick are ordered to stay home, while those who are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to avoid gatherings. 

It also encourages the gathering host to collect names and contact information of all attendees “in case contact tracing is needed later.”

CDPH noted some counties may have stricter in-person gathering rules and encouraged residents to check with their local health department. 

As of Friday, California had reported 838,606 total coronavirus cases and 16,428 deaths. The average rate of positive cases is 2.5% over a seven-day period.

2:00 p.m.: Federal health administrators say Nevada needs to rescind a statewide ban on some rapid coronavirus tests

Federal health administrators are telling Nevada officials that they have to rescind a statewide directive issued several days ago telling nursing homes to stop using two types of rapid coronavirus tests, according to the AP.

Nevada health officials were advising nursing homes to stop using those rapid tests because of the likelihood of false-positive results. The head of the federal Department of Health and Human Services of COVID-19 diagnostic testing said that the state is prohibited by law from imposing the ban it ordered on Oct. 2.

DHHS’s head said there is “no perfect test” for the virus, and said that the value of identifying 40% of true positives is a lifesaving matter for nursing homes.

1:33 p.m.: Pre-K and kindergarten schools in 20 states seeing large enrollment drops

In some school districts across 20 states enrollment has dropped for kindergarten at an average of 16%, according to NPR.

While comprehensive national data isn’t available yet, NPR and member stations reporting along with other reporters across the country found that the enrollment drop affects nearly every group: urban and rural, large and small, rich and poor.

Because of the far-reaching complications of enrollment dropping, public schools are facing funding shortages next year. Generally, public schools are given funding by states on a per-pupil basis. There are two “count days” in which schools must submit an official enrollment count to the state for next year’s funding plans. The first week of October is usually the first count day in many states.

This type of system often favors schools in better- and well-off communities. These districts typically get more funding, and it leaves less well-funded districts more dependent on state aid.

Children who aren’t attending public school may be instead attending private school or child care centers that offer learning environments; however, both of these may be threatened as well.

There are some reports that some private schools have seen an increase in enrollment, especially those that offer in-person learning in a school district that’s offering only virtual or hybrid learning. Some researchers say keeping children out of pre-k and kindergarten can exacerbate inequalities for children whose families cannot afford to send them to private school.

1:26 p.m.: Nevada loosens criteria for testing, positivity rates to reopen

Nevada’s coronavirus task force voted Thursday to relax criteria for testing and positivity rates that counties must achieve to avoid being flagged as an “elevated risk.”

State officials acknowledged progress in containing COVID-19 in the state has reversed course in recent weeks. They stressed the importance of balancing the need to gradually reopen businesses to avert economic disaster while further preventing the virus’s spread.

The loosening of the criteria comes a week after lifting the 50-person cap on gatherings. Brothel owners from Storey and Nye County demanded that the state allow them to reopen.

9:20 a.m.: 11% of Bay Area residents stay home all day due to the pandemic

Statewide, the rate of COVID-19 transmission has been creeping up. Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that this increase could be putting at risk the recent decline of fresh cases throughout California.

In the Bay Area, the reproduction number of the virus, which is how many people one infected person spreads the virus to, has gone up to a nearly 1-1 ratio last month, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Health officials are also concerned that there may be an uptick of 89% in coronavirus hospitalization cases from last month’s Labor Day celebrations. To many San Francisco residents, their best option is to continue to shelter in place and stay home.

New data collected by SafeGraph found that an average of roughly 11% of people in the area stay home all day, according to the company’s anonymous cell phone location data

Some residents have found themselves underwhelmed by the national coronavirus response and said there had been a lack of clear direction.

Even a vaccine might not get some to leave their homes as the pandemic has become politicized.

Thursday, October 8

6:15 p.m.: 1 million Californians still waiting for unemployment benefits

California’s Employment Development Department is in the hot seat again. 

EDD halted new unemployment filings for two weeks last month in order to revamp its application system. But there’s still a backlog of over 1 million jobless Californians waiting for benefits. Democratic Assemblyman David Chiu says navigating the system is especially hard for immigrant communities.

“Individuals who don’t speak English at home face insurmountable barriers. Your agency is at risk of violating our state language access law,” Chiu said. “And from what I can tell, there hasn’t been any progress in addressing the needs of individuals for whom English is not their first language.”

Department Director Sharon Hilliard says improving language access is an essential goal for EDD, but acknowledges it’s not a “quick fix.”

9:18 a.m.: San Joaquin County increasing coronavirus outreach to minority communities to meet state requirement

California counties are required to increase their coronavirus aid outreach to minority communities before advancing to a next, less restrictive tier for COVID-19, according to the new state rules that went into effect this week.

Sacramento, San Joaquin and Yolo are among the counties that must meet the new requirements before moving tiers. All three have asked to advance to the orange tier to open up more businesses.

With the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services, Tiffany Heyer said that counties must also lower their testing positivity rates and cases per 100,000.

“To help us get into that new tier, we really need to get additional people tested,” Heyer said. “The free testing sites don’t require you having any symptoms. You still have to go through the screening process, but they’re not requiring any symptoms to get tested.”

Heyer said that many of the free testing sites had been located in underserved communities.

San Francisco and many of the foothill counties have already moved into the orange tier.

Wednesday, October 7

2:42 p.m.: Shasta County moves back into red tier after COVID-19 outbreak at evangelical college

Shasta County will face greater restrictions as it grapples with a surge in COVID-19 cases, many of which are tied to an evangelical college, according to the Associated Press.

Over 120 students and staff have tested positive for the virus in the past two weeks at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Shasta County officials say that the outbreak was large enough to contribute to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases across the county, and moved them back into the “red tier.” The county will have to revert to new regulations on restaurants, bars, theaters and businesses.

The county recorded more than 500 new coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, pushing its total case number since March to 1,158. The Bethel School did not immediately return calls for comment.

10:50 a.m.: Some Nevada health districts say they’ve been shut out of governor’s decisions on pandemic

Health officials in Nevada’s two largest counties say that the governor has shut them out of the pandemic decision-making process, according to the Associated Press.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal also reports that officials from the Southern Nevada Health District and the Washoe County Health District sent out a joint letter with a list of complaints to Gov. Steve Sisolak. Those health officials said that excluding them in the state’s policy discussions or development of COVID-19 plans has complicated their local responses to the pandemic.

The letter also mentions that local authorities have had to quickly shift their plans and resources in response to the governor’s last-minute changes.

Tuesday, October 6

6:20 p.m.: Lawsuit challenges Newsom’s pandemic executive orders

A lawsuit challenging Governor Gavin Newsom’s use of executive orders during the coronavirus pandemic has a court date Wednesday.

Two Republican state lawmakers argue Newsom is abusing his power during the pandemic. Their lawsuit focuses on an executive order which expanded mail-in-voting to every registered voter. The state’s Justice Department is defending Newsom and argues that since the executive order was replaced by legislation, the case is moot. 

One of the plaintiffs, GOP Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, has become a vocal critic of Newsom and his strict coronavirus shutdowns.

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that state’s governor had overstepped her executive authority during the pandemic. Kiley is hoping for a similar outcome here in California.

If a superior court judge doesn’t rule in favor of either side Wednesday morning, the case will head to trial later this month.

2:25 p.m.: VP candidates to be separated by plexiglass at debate

Kamala Harris and Mike Pence will be separated by a transparent plexiglass barrier to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission at Wednesday’s vice presidential debate, according to the Associated Press.

The Democratic campaign requested the shield between the two candidates at their only vice presidential debate in Salt Lake City. The campaign aide was not authorized to discuss details publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

This debate comes soon after President Donald Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus, setting a heightened concern about the vice-presidential contenders’ meeting. The two will be seated more than 12 feet apart, according to someone familiar with the setup.

2:20 p.m.: California pastor present at Rose Garden event has COVID-19

Southern California Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship is joining a list that includes President Donald Trump and key White House contacts who contracted COVID-19 from a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden last month, according to the Associated Press.

The Riverside pastor said on Monday that he tested positive for the virus and is currently in quarantine, but that his symptoms are mild and expects to make a full recovery. A COVID-19 outbreak has sickened over a dozen Trump contacts after most attended the Sept. 26 Rose Garden ceremony formally announcing the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Monday, October 5

12:15 p.m.: California’s Filipino American nurses are dying at a higher rate

Filipino and Filipino American nurses make up just 4% of the nursing workforce, but represent 30% of the total COVID-19 related deaths for nurses, according to The Mercury News.

In California, while about 20% of the nurse workforce identifies as Filipino, they represent 11 out of the 16 deaths due to the coronavirus, nearly 70%. Over 39,000 nurses have contracted COVID-19.

In the state, Filipino Americans total about 12% of all healthcare workers and 11% of healthcare support jobs. The group is overrepresented in lower-paid jobs in the medical field, often exposing them to higher risk positions such as working in intensive care or emergency rooms.

Often healthcare supporting jobs like assistants in nursing homes are vulnerable essential jobs with high amounts of coronavirus patients and little protective equipment to go around.

11:00 a.m.: Every registered active Californian voter will get a mail-in ballot for the first time due to pandemic

This November’s election could test California’s commitment to voting by mail.

While Californians have been voting by mail for years, not every county has fully embraced it. Counties like Los Angeles haven’t fully adopted mail-in voting, while in March, over 75% of the ballots cast in the primary came from mail-in voting.

This year, every active registered voter will get a ballot in the mail at least 29 days before the election. State officials hope it will encourage more people to try mail-in voting to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

To get more information on mail-in voting and to preview your ballot, visit CapRadio’s Election 2020 Voter Guide.

Saturday, October 3

5:46 p.m.: California passes 16,000 deaths related to COVID-19

More than 16,000 Californians have now died due to COVID-19, according to figures from the state health department.

The California Department of Public Health reported 88 new deaths related to the disease Saturday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 16,074 as of Oct. 2. In total, the state has recorded 819,436 positive cases of COVID-19.

Latino patients have accounted for 48.5% of COVID-19 deaths in California despite making up 39% of the population. People 65 years or older are 73.5% of deaths, and men account for 57%.

Data compiled by the Los Angeles Times also showed the state crossed the figure Friday.

11:20: California wavers on theme park opening rules amid pressure

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has delayed releasing reopening guidance for theme parks amid criticism from industry leaders on the state’s initial plans and mounting pressure to let these businesses resume. 

State government spokesman Nathan Click told the Sacramento Bee that Newsom’s administration had planned to release the guidance on Friday. But following criticism of draft rules from amusement park leaders, state health officials said no announcement was immediately expected and that conversations with the industry were ongoing. 

California has faced growing pressure to reopen theme parks from the industry and local officials worried about the economic impact of the pandemic on their communities.

Friday, October 2

4:53 p.m.: Nevada to allow non-contact rec league sports to continue 

Nevadans will be able to compete in recreational league sports again starting Saturday, after months of being shut down due to COVID-19.

Governor Steve Sisolak announced Friday that youth and adult teams will be allowed to meet again — but the new policy comes with some restrictions.

“Not all sports will be allowed under this directive,” Sisolak said. “Only minimal-contact and non-contact sports will be allowed.”

Baseball, soccer and swimming all made the cut, but not full-contact sports like football, boxing and basketball, which pose a greater threat for transmission.

Leagues will have to provide screening and temperature checks for athletes and spectators. And after a game is done, Sisolak asked everyone in attendance to leave immediately to reduce the risk of new infections. 

Sisolak also appealed to non-players to demonstrate safe behavior at sporting events. 

“The coaches and the parents are role models. They are not passive spectators,” he said. “If they wear masks, it’ll encourage everybody to wear their masks and I’m confident they will.”

The new policy doesn’t apply to high school or college sports, which have their own COVID-19 safety regulations.

2:02 p.m.: People choosing to dine outside in smoky conditions continues

While parts of Northern California are reopening their indoor dining, outdoor dining is still an essential way to address the restrictions while salvaging an important portion of the local economy. However, with wildfire season in full swing, the poor air quality over the region has made outdoor dining a difficult decision.

Some residents have found that they continue to eat outside, even with ashy skies.

Melissa and Tyler Williams, owners of the Ten Ten Room and Tank House BBQ and Bar, said that diners should pick restaurants they trust and give them a little slack.

“I would advise people to get out there… I feel safe,” Tyler Williams said. “I feel comfortable here and lots of other places. Just be patient and nice. You can’t go out expecting what was.”

On a less smoky Tuesday evening at Slim and Husky’s pizza, a newly opened spot in Sacramento’s Oak Park, Sahara White enjoyed her time outdoors.

“When they first opened back up …” White said. “I think just the excitement of being able to go back out and dine out in any sort of fashion was uplifting for me”

While the pandemic has damaged many businesses, some restaurants have taken to the streets and sidewalks to continue serving customers and bring a sense of normalcy.

1:54 p.m.: Stockton residents who were financially impacted can apply for a new financial assistance program

Stockton residents who lost money in the pandemic due to loss of work, business shutdown or taking time off to care for a child may apply for a new financial support program offered by the city, even if they weren’t ever sick with COVID-19.

The city is offering the Essential Support Program through the CARES act for COVID-19 relief. Residents can apply on the city website if they have suffered losses and don’t exceed 100 of the area’s median income.

Connie Cochran with the city of Stockton said that anyone who has been a resident since Feb. 1 is eligible.

“If you’re struggling to pay for basic household needs, there’s help in this program, a thousand dollars for each eligible adult and it’s limited to 2-thousand dollars per household,” Cochoran said.

Cochran says people who applied for an earlier program for financial assistance with rent or mortgage payments are still eligible for this program as well.

1:27 p.m.: California Department of Public Health releases a COVID-19 equity blueprint

California health officials have added a requirement into the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan  that large counties must address inequity in communities such as low-income, Black, Latino, Pacific Islander and essential workers before they can loosen restrictions.

The organization has found that these groups have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, leading to a higher infection rate, more hospitalization and deaths.

The department found that there is a significant difference in test positivities between more and less advantaged neighborhoods in most counties. These differences also overlap with race and the possibility of being an essential employee.

Counties with a population greater than 106,000 must follow an equity metric to ensure that their most disadvantaged neighborhoods don’t lag behind. Counties with less than 106,000 residents must submit a plan that defines their disproportionately affected population and show plans to invest in at least interrupting disease transmission in these populations.

Some counties welcomed the news and said it would build on efforts underway. Supporters of a more rapid reopening criticized the measure.

Thursday, October 1

2:03 p.m.: Los Angeles, New York City rolling out ambitious and costly plans to test students, staff for coronavirus

The nation’s two largest school districts are rolling out expensive and determined plans to test staff and students for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

New York City launched its program to start testing 10% to 20% of staff and students as the last group of the district’s more than 1 million students return to in-person learning today.

The Los Angeles public school district has unveiled a similar testing program costing $150 million. They are using this testing to determine if and when it’ll be safe for brick-and-mortar teaching.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said that COVID-19 has been rising among school-aged children in the U.S. as many returned to classrooms.

1:43 p.m.: Manufacturers produce record number of flu shot doses

Health officials across the country are telling Americans to get a flu shot this month to avoid the twin epidemic of COVID-19 and the flu, according to the Associated Press.

Europe is also encouraging its residents to get their flu shots as well. Manufacturers have produced a record number of doses, with as many as 198 million doses expected in the U.S.

Not all the vaccines will be shipped at once, and there are sporadic reports of pharmacy and clinics being temporarily out of stock.

Vaccine makers say the shipments are still coming. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that while demand may be high at the moment, don’t get frustrated if a local doctor’s office or drugstore is out of stock, and keep trying.

9:55 a.m.: Yolo County offering free flu shots to residents

Yolo County is offering free flu vaccines starting on Oct. 6 through Oct. 27 to help “Fight the Flu” this fall.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference update on COVID-19 that Californians should get the flu shot to help “mitigate what some have referred to as the twindemic,” which is a potential second wave of COVID-19 transmissions that happen concurrently.

Newsom said this possible twindemic would be “putting stress, putting pressure on our hospital system at the same time, draining resources and impacting the quality of care all of you deserve.”

Yolo County residents interested in getting a flu shot can either go to any of the seven currently planned locations across the county without an appointment or schedule one by calling (530) 666-8552. They can also visit their county’s website to get updated information on locations and times.

9:33 a.m.: U.S. and others refuse to join international COVID-19 vaccine distribution

An ambitious international project to deliver a possible future coronavirus vaccine to the world’s most disadvantaged people is facing a potential shortage of money, cargo planes, refrigeration and vaccines, according to the Associated Press.

Even the recipients of the vaccines are becoming skeptical. One of the most substantial obstacles is that rich countries have locked up most of the world’s potential vaccine supply through all of 2021. Countries like the U.S. and others have refused to join the project, called Covax.

Harvard University Global Health Expert Alicia Yamin said she fears that the “window is closing” for Covax to be pulled off. She also said that developing countries “probably will not get vaccinated until 2022 or 2023.”

Wednesday, September 30

1:35 p.m.: California outdoor playgrounds can reopen

After months of being closed, outdoor playgrounds across California can now reopen, according to KPBS.

Many parents felt frustrated that bars and restaurants were opening, but outdoor playgrounds were still covered in tape and shut down, KPBS reported. For families looking to get back to the playground, there are a few new rules:

  • Playtime is limited to 30 minutes per family
  • Continue to keep a distance of 6 feet from other families and children
  • People over the age of 2 must wear face masks
  • No eating or drinking at the playground
  • Handwashing before and after playing is recommended

Individual jurisdictions will make the final decisions on when to open.

1:22 p.m.: Reachers piecing together reason behind COVID-19 severity differences between patients

Scientists are starting to unravel one of COVID-19’s scariest mysteries, according to the Associated Press.

Researchers have been questioning why only some people develop mild or no symptoms once infected, and others rapidly die. An international team of researchers found that in severe COVID-19 cases, the body goes rogue and attacks its own key immune defenses instead of targeting the virus.

This reaction happens to men more often than women. Separate research also suggests that children generally fare better than adults thanks to their still-robust “first responder” immune cells. As people age, these cells generally wane, which may cause severe COVID-19 illnesses in older adults.

10:06 a.m.: Thousands of Disney Theme Park employees are facing layoffs

The Walt Disney Co. plans to lay off 28,000 workers in both of their California and Florida theme parks. Due to pandemic restrictions, the company has been struggling with limits on park attendance, according to NPR.

Two-thirds of the planned layoffs are part-time workers, but the employees range from salaried to hourly positions. Disney closed their parks last spring as the pandemic gained steam and started spreading across the U.S.

While the Florida parks have reopened during the summer, the Anaheim, California parks have yet to reopen due to California’s COVID-19 tiered reopening plan.

9:55 a.m.: The general public can sign up to be COVID-19 vaccine studies volunteers

Over 3,000 individual international studies are being conducted on COVID-19. People who are interested in volunteering to take medication or vaccinations for science can sign up at clinicaltrials.gov, according to the Associated Press.

Currently, older adults, people with severe illnesses and pregnant women are typically excluded from volunteering. Many mid-stage studies need a few hundred people as a baseline to collect more safety data. From there, final-stage studies commence, and scientists will need tens of thousands of volunteers that reflect a diverse population before medication or vaccination can get on the track to approval.

Several drug studies are running in California, including in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, and Fullerton.

Tuesday, September 29

2:49 p.m.: Airline workers facing layoffs due to lack of pandemic aid package

About 40,000 workers in the airline industry are facing layoffs on Thursday unless Congress comes up with another aid package, according to the Associated Press.

Many employees are worried about how they’ll pay for basics like food, mortgages, health insurance or rent. The original $25 billion aid package given to airliners at the start of the coronavirus pandemic prevented them from laying off workers, but that clause expires on Thursday.

Some airline workers are holding out hope that another agreement can still be reached. While Congress has been considering another round of airline aid for weeks, it’s been mixed into the debate over a more extensive national relief package.

1:54 p.m.: COVID-19 cases rising amongst children as schools reopen across the country

After preying heavily on older adults in the spring, the coronavirus is infecting a rising number of American children and teens, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities say that this trend appears to be driven by school reopenings and the resumption of playdates, sports and other activities.

An American Academy of Pediatrics report released Tuesday shows children of all ages now make up 10% of all U.S. cases, up from 2% of cases in April. Another new government report says cases in school-aged children began rising in September.

1:41 p.m.: Pop-up testing site in Elk Grove on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1

The California National Guard will be operating a community-based COVID-19 pop-up testing site at the Valley-Hi Library in Elk Grove starting Wednesday.

The clinic will be open September 30 and October 1, with testing beginning at 8 a.m.

All tests will be done on a first-come-first-served basis until the daily capacity of 100 tests is reached. No appointments are necessary, and there are no prerequisites for testing, such as having symptoms. People interested in getting tested need to be 18 years or older, have a valid ID, and contact information for test results.

Results will be provided to residents within 3-5 business days after testing. The Sacramento County Public Health lab will be doing all of the coronavirus processing.

Future pop-up sites are planned, and locations will be assessed weekly. Location announcements will be posted on the Sacramento County testing page the day before the pop-up. Residents in the surrounding communities will also be notified via Next Door, Sacramento County social media, and community partners.

9:29 a.m.: The pandemic has promoted a ‘resiliency fund’ for Oakland’s Black-owned businesses

The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce has raised $1 million to create a “resiliency fund” to help support Black-owned businesses stay afloat during the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.

This is one of several funds across the U.S., and it’s a nod to the disproportionate impact the virus has had on African American families and the difficulty Black businesses have in getting bank loans. The grants continue a tradition of Black people helping each other in times of need, says the chamber’s CEO, Cathy Adams.

Other community organizers in Portland, Oregon, have raised more than $1.7 million to help Black residents with rent, groceries and bills.

9:14 a.m.: California showing signs of a potential new surge of coronavirus cases

Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Monday that the state is showing some signs of a potential new uptick in COVID-19 cases, according to the Associated Press.

Newsom said this could prompt another shutdown of businesses and further delay school openings. While the number of positive cases in California has improved over the last few weeks, the governor is concerned about the “reproduction number” or “R number” in several highly-populated areas.

When the reproduction number is greater than one, that means the virus is spreading. The “R number” is very close to one in the San Francisco Bay area and parts of Southern California. Still, Newsom’s administration plans to lift more virus restrictions in some counties on Tuesday.

Monday, September 28

5:39 p.m.: Stockton awarded $4.3 million state grant to house homeless residents

The city of Stockton along with a number of partners secured a $4.3 million grant from the state to provide a home for those with disabilities, mental and health challenges, and those who are among the hardest to house.

The location is a former 39-unit motel. Project Homekey will provide a permanent housing solution with the purchase and renovation of the Town Center Studios on North Wilson Way.  

Mayor Michael Tubbs says it’s all part of the strategic plan.

“We don’t have enough places for people not be homeless and this grant through Project Homekey is a large step in that direction,” he said. 

Continuum of Care Chairman John Mendelson says more projects like this one are still needed.

“Developing at least 200 more units of this type of housing with permanent supports for this population by the year 2025,” he said.

3:15 p.m.: Nevada coronavirus case count increased with 373 new positive patients, three additional deaths

Nevada state health officials confirmed 373 new cases  over the weekend that  along with three additional deaths, bringing the statewide totals to 78,728 cases, and 1,585 known deaths since the pandemic began, according to the Associated Press.

A day earlier on Saturday, the state’s Department of Health services reported 602 new cases, the highest count since August 29, along with nine additional deaths.

Out of the nearly 79,000 Nevada cases, a majority have been in Clark County.

Since studies suggest that people can be asymptomatically infected, and many people have not yet been tested, the total number of infections is thought to be far higher.

Mild to moderate coronavirus symptoms such as fever and cough, generally clear up in two to three weeks, but in older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe illnesses like pneumonia and death.

2:32 p.m.: Sacramento County is hiring residents of diverse neighborhoods to talk to business owners about COVID-19 practices

Over 23 “business navigators” across Sacramento  County are being sent to restaurants, shops, and more to talk about distancing, masking and sanitizing, CapRadio’s Sammy Caiola reports.

The neighbor-to-neighbor approach is the first step. County health officers and other officials may show up if that doesn’t work.

“And in every single instance after we’ve talked with them and followed up, usually with an unannounced visit, they’re usually following the guidelines,” County Health Officer Dr. Peter Beilenson said. “We’re finding [that] the education is making a big difference.”

Community members say it took months of phone calls and speaking out at board meetings to get the county to invest in these diverse neighborhoods, leaving many other businesses to shutter their doors.

8:39 a.m.: Folsom Prison reports first COVID-19-related death

Folsom State Prison has reported its first inmate death related to COVID-19 as the virus rapidly spreads through the facility.

According to state data on COVID-19 in correctional facilities, the prison has reported 537 new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days, including 491 inmates still in custody. The Sacramento Bee first reported the death of an inmate this weekend.

Overall, at least 1,245 inmates at Folsom State Prison have tested positive since the start of the pandemic, more than half of the 2,403 people currently incarcerated at the prison. 

Sunday, September 27

10:25 a.m.: Cal State Long Beach announces quarantine after 5 students test positive

California State University, Long Beach announced Saturday it would place all students who live on campus in quarantine after five students tested positive for COVID-19.

The university is also stopping in-person instruction for two weeks to allow for contact tracing and testing staff members who may have come in contact with the students. Facilities will also be cleaned and disinfected.

In a statement, CSULB President Jane Close Conoley said that university officials found out late Friday that some students had “congregated socially off campus earlier this month.” 

Colleges around the country have faced COVID-19 outbreaks as students return to classes. This week San Diego State reported 20 new cases, bringing its total to 933.

Saturday, September 26

2:33 p.m.: Sacramento Bee leaving downtown headquarters

The Sacramento Bee is leaving its downtown headquarters at 21st and Q Streets. 

The paper made the announcement itself online and in Friday’s print edition. The building has housed the Bee’s offices, newsroom and printing press since May of 1952. 

The departure will be gradual over the next year, with printing outsourced to vendors in Northern California.  At least 200 production employees will lose their jobs when that happens.

The Bee says most of its reporters work from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and that will continue.  When it is safe to do so, the paper reports, a new newsroom in a smaller, less expensive physical building will begin operations.

Friday, September 25

5:14 p.m.: Central Valley prison to close to reduce number of people incarcerated

California next year will close a Central Valley prison holding about 1,500 male inmates.  

The decision announced Friday is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest step to reduce the state’s incarceration footprint partly in response to the coronavirus and massive related budget cuts. 

Officials say shuttering the 67-year-old Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy will save about $182 million annually. A series of new laws and ballot measures over nearly a decade significantly shrunk what once was the nation’s largest state prison population.

Newsom also approved the earlier releases of more than 10,000 inmates in response to the pandemic.

3:34 p.m.: Some California parents are turning to private schools for in-person learning

Elementary schools across the state have been applying for waivers to resume in-person teaching, but a picture of disparity is emerging, according to CalMatters.

At least 25% of California’s K-6 private-schools, totaling more than 500 schools, have had their waivers approved, versus only 1.6% of public schools, totaling around 120 schools. Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Rovert Levin says, “If we’re educating kids in private schools and not educating kids in public schools, then what’s going to come out of that is an education and class difference, ultimately.”

Reopening private schools has fewer obstacles than reopening public schools. Often, private institutions may not have teachers unions, or only have to get a buy-in from a smaller subset of their local community. As different counties move at different speeds through the coronavirus risk tier system, this could set off an imbalance in education, as some districts remain distance-learning.

10:48 a.m.: California International Marathon canceled due to pandemic

The Sacramento Running Association announced today that they are canceling this year’s California International Marathon because of COVID-19.

Despite working on setting up health and safety protocols for the event, the association felt that the experience would have been too much of a departure from previous years.

“We know there has been an anxious strain on our registrants as we worked through our options,” organizers wrote in a statement. ” As one of the last events on the calendar, we felt like it was our responsibility to continue to ride the waves of change as a potential beacon of hope in what has been a volatile 2020.”

Registrants who signed up back in April received a voucher code in their emails today that would allow them to sign up for free for any of the three races planned for 2021-2023.

9:10 a.m.: California state health officials say severe flu season could overwhelm hospitals

With flu season arriving, California health officials are worried about a twin pandemic with COVID-19, according to the Associated Press. This year’s flu season could overwhelm hospitals that are also dealing with coronavirus patients.

California Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly joined with the heads of the state’s hospitals and medical associations in urging people to get the flu shot now. Ghaly said that while the state has seen progress in the recent weeks with a drop in positive COVID-19 cases, officials expect an uptick as the economy slowly opens.

The openings make it critical for hospitals to keep bed space available. Officials said hospitals in the state are currently treating 3,500 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients, of which about 30% are in intensive care units.

Thursday, September 24

1:51 p.m.: California public health officials can now join state’s address protection program

California public health officials will now have the option to make their home addresses confidential. It’s part of an effort to protect these employees from hostile threats related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state’s “Safe At Home” program was previously reserved for sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, victims of stalking, human trafficking or elder abuse and reproductive health care workers. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an order to allow health officials to access the program.

Kat Deburgh with the Health Officers Association of California says this is a necessary step.

“Health officers enter this field to protect people, and this new era of vitriol and partisanship have really changed things.”

She says 10 public health officials have resigned since the beginning of the pandemic. One of them was the health officer for Orange County, who stepped down following protests outside her home.

11:07 a.m.: CDC releases safety guidelines for Halloween, Día de los Muertos and Thanksgiving

Trick-or-treating isn’t recommended this Halloween, according to new guidelines released by the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC has recently released information on activity risk levels of fall holidays, including Halloween, Día de los Muertos, and Thanksgiving. Some suggestions for lower-risk activities for Halloween include:

  • Doing Halloween scavenger hunts where children look for Halloween-themed decorations outside and from a distance around their neighborhood

  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with household members inside your home or in your backyard

Moderate risk activities include preparing Halloween goodie bags and placing them at the edge of a driveway or yard for neighborhood children to take them.

One of the highest risk activities is participating in traditional trick-or-treating and attending crowded indoor costume parties. The CDC recommends avoiding those to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The CDC also has a list of recommendations on how to safely celebrate religious holidays this fall like Yom Kippur, Navratri, and Diwali.

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.

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.

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

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

Saturday, September 19

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.

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.

Thursday, September 17

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

12:43 p.m.: California now has over 727,000 COVID-19 cases

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

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
  • Restaurants
  • Wineries
  • 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. 


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