California Coronavirus Updates: Georgia Tech Releases A COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tool For In-person Gatherings – Capital Public Radio News

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

Latest Updates

California issues coronavirus travel advisory

UC Davis Health can now perform rapid result test for COVID-19, flu

California reaches 1 million confirmed infections

Fresno mayor-elect tests positive for COVID-19

Friday, November 13

12:21 p.m.: Georgia Tech releases a COVID-19 risk assessment tool for in-person gatherings

The Georgia Institute of Technology has recently released an interactive map that details county by county risk of an in-person gathering by party size.

The map breaks down infection risk by county, party size, and the “ascertainment bias” in the U.S. The ascertainment bias assumes that there are five or 10 times more cases than being reported. Toggling between these options can show the likelihood of being in a room with somebody who may be infected.

In Sacramento County, a gathering of 10 people with an ascertainment bias of 10 shows that there is a 15% chance somebody at the gathering would likely have the coronavirus. Counties surrounding Sacramento show similar risk levels ranging from 7% in El Dorado County to 16% in Sutter County.

According to this map, the highest risk county in California with the same scenario is Mono County, with a 75% chance of somebody with the infection attending a 10-person event.

Some of the country’s riskier parts under the same set-up include Jones County, Iowa at greater than 99%, and Dewey County, South Dakota, and Walsh, North Dakota are both at a 99% likelihood of a room with 10 people having at least one currently infected person.

When in-person gatherings get as high as 25 people, the risk in Sacramento jumps to 33%, reaching 56% for gatherings with 50 people.

9:00 a.m.: California issues coronavirus travel advisory

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he and the governors of Oregon and Washington have issued travel advisories urging people entering their states or returning from travel outside those states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

A statement from Newsom’s office Friday says the advisories urge against non-essential out-of-state travel, ask people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country and encourage residents to stay local. Here is the official advisory from the state Department of Public Health.

“Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians,” Newsom wrote. “Travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, and we must all collectively increase our efforts at this time to keep the virus at bay and save lives.”

Newsom notes that California just surpassed the sobering threshold of 1 million COVID-19 cases with no sign of the virus spread slowing. This week was the first that no counties moved up in the state’s tiered reopening system, with 11 counties moving backwards.

Thursday, November 12

6:15 p.m.: UC Davis Health can now perform rapid result test for COVID-19, flu

UC Davis Health is now giving some patients a 20-minute test that can determine whether they have COVID-19, the flu or both. 

Point-of-care tests can produce results immediately after a screening. Right now, they’re mostly available in hospital settings. Doctors at UC Davis Health started using them last week in the emergency room and in some clinics, but only for patients showing symptoms. COVID-19 and the flu can present similarly.

“There is nothing else right now that is as fast and accurate as this test,” said Lydia Pleotis Howell, medical director of the UC Davis Health clinical laboratories and chair of the department of pathology and laboratory medicine, in a press release. 

UC Davis already had the tools to perform this type of test, but they had to get FDA approval to be able to use it for coronavirus. They have 50 instruments to do the screening, but expect a shortage of reagents, or chemical solutions, to limit capacity. 

Doctors or nurses can perform this test, and the samples are processed in the emergency department.

3:31 p.m.: California reaches 1 million confirmed infections

California has reached an unwelcome coronavirus milestone: 1 million confirmed infections.

The nation’s most populous state is the second to pass that mark after Texas reached it earlier this week. The U.S. now has more than 10 million confirmed cases.

California’s early stay-at-home order successfully curtailed the spread, but each time restrictions have relaxed, cases have risen. With cases increasing quickly in the state and nationwide, health officials warn people to limit travel during the holidays and rethink their annual gatherings.

3:10 p.m.: Fresno mayor-elect tests positive for COVID-19

Fresno’s mayor-elect Jerry Dyer has tested positive for COVID-19 after attending an election-night dinner with a few elected officials, according to the Associated Press.

Dyer, who served as the city’s longtime police chief, told the Fresno Bee he went into quarantine after receiving the test results on Tuesday. He said he experienced mild symptoms after attending a dinner on Nov. 3 with Fresno’s current mayor, a city councilman, and a county supervisor who tested positive for COVID-19 late last week.

The supervisor’s diagnosis led the county to close the offices of the County Board of Supervisors while health officials contact trace anyone who came in contact with him.

2:16 p.m.: 709,000 people still seeking unemployment benefits

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits in the United States fell last week to 709,000, the fourth straight drop, and a sign that the job market is slowly healing, according to the Associated Press.

The figures coincide with a sharp resurgence in confirmed viral infections to above 120,000 cases a day, an all-time high. In 49 states, cases are rising, and deaths are increasing in 39.

More than 240,000 virus-related deaths have been counted across the nation, and 10.3 million confirmed infections.

Wednesday, November 11

5:04 p.m.: Thanksgiving could be one of the most dangerous days of the pandemic, Sacramento health director says

Sacramento County businesses are preparing to re-enter the most restrictive COVID-19 tier, temporarily pausing indoor dining, worship services, movies, gym workouts and museum openings. 

County Public Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson says the return to the purple tier comes as we near Thanksgiving, which he considers the most dangerous day of the pandemic.

“We really encourage people for just this year not to gather except for your immediate family because we’re gonna be in a much greater state of normalcy very soon and by next Thanksgiving and Christmas things will be much, much better,” Beilenson said.

Beilenson’s optimism is tied to a potential vaccine being developed by Pfizer. The drug company says it’s 90% effective and that, pending FDA approval, could be in wide distribution by the middle of next year.

10:21 a.m.: Nurses call for better staffing as winter spike expected

As coronavirus infections continue to rise nationally and in California, health care workers are sounding the alarm about the ability for hospitals to handle a surge.

Members of the California Nurses Association held rallies at hospitals across the state this week. They’re calling for better staffing as winter, the holidays and an expected spike in cases approach.

At UC Davis Health in Sacramento, nurse Melissa Johnson-Camacho says workers are being denied time-off requests through the end of the year … unless they become sick.

“Nurses are really — they’re afraid, and they’re burnt out,” Johnson-Camacho said. “It’s just a really bad combination. And I think management needs to really practice what they preach.”

She held up a sign reading “see me as a person.” It’s a mantra she says the hospital uses to promote compassion for patients and their families.

A spokesperson for UC Davis Health said in a statement that most of its nurses have scheduling flexibility and special COVID-19 sick leave. The hospital also says its nurses’ overtime hours are down this year over last.

9:12 a.m.: Reno officials warn COVID-19 cases increasing in Northern Nevada

COVID-19 cases are trending upward in Northern Nevada, as cold weather and the holidays threaten to bring people together indoors. 

Officials with the city of Reno and medical experts are warning the pandemic has gotten significantly worse since September. They said the region is seeing all-time highs in active case numbers and applications for COVID-19 tests.

Mayor Hillary Schieve urged residents to practice strict self-isolation, because community transmission is widespread.

“We can do our part to help minimize these risks,” Schieve said. “So why aren’t we doing it? We’ve got to be doing it. I don’t know what more I can do other than, this is a cry for absolute help in our community.

Schieve is considering a city-wide mask mandate on top of the state order that’s already in effect.

That could bring stiffer enforcement of safety measures and penalties for businesses that refuse to follow them.

Tuesday, November 10

3:50 p.m.: Confirmed COVID-19 case at Yolo County Elections Offices

An unidentified staffer working at the Yolo County Elections Office tested positive for COVID-19 this Monday.

According to a press release from the county, the staffer had minimal interactions with poll workers, but worked with other elections staff and contacted some election observers. The release also said that the coronavirus-positive patient had limited exposure to the county’s Voter Assistance Centers or any county’s residents and voters. A contact tracing team has been called in to notify any of those that may have been in close contact with the staffer.

In the release, Yolo County elections officials also stressed that the office has been following social distancing and disinfecting protocols. All staff and visitors are required to wear a face covering.

Since the positive COVID-19 case, the county’s election office has taken a few mitigation steps, including limiting election staff to the office, communicating with Yolo County Public Health, sending possibly exposed staffers home to self-quarantine and allowing some employees to work from home.

Elections staff are still on track to meet the Dec. 3 election certification. Over 99,000 total ballots were cast in Yolo County, and over 90,000 of them were mail-in ballots.

2:51 p.m.: Nevada flags a majority of counties as high risk as COVID-19 cases surge

Nevada officials reported 960 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one additional death, according to the Associated Press.

The previous three days, Nevada totaled 1,000 new cases or more. Tuesday’s cases bring the statewide totals to 110,982 cases and 1,852 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The virus’ autumn spike has not spared rural or urban communities in the state, causing the number of confirmed cases and rising positivity to flag 10 out of the 17 counties as “high risk” by health officials. These flagged counties are now required to submit mitigation plans to the state’s task force.

Despite the unrelenting surge, state health officials have not indicated that they plan to tighten statewide mandates that govern businesses, schools, or public gatherings.

1:30 p.m.: As California COVID-19 cases rise, Gov. Newsom urges more mask use, social distancing

Gov. Gavin Newsom urges Californians to continue social distancing and to wear masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. He’s concerned people will let their guard down after Pfizer’s announcement of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine and its efficacy rate.

“But [the vaccine] doesn’t mean it’s a substitute [for mask-wearing and social distancing], for you to say ‘Well, we can just go back to normal, let’s open everything back up, let’s all have everybody over for the holidays and let’s get Uncle Joe who I know has a heart condition, let’s get him back in with the grandkids because they haven’t seen each other in a year.’” Newsom said. “We’ve got to be careful.”

With coronavirus cases on the rise, Sacrmento and 10  other counties today slipped back in the state’s color-coded COVID-19 risk system.

10:12 a.m.: US approves first emergency antibody COVID-19 drug use

U.S. health officials have allowed emergency use of the first antibody-drug to help the immune system fight COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the experimental drug from Eli Lilly for people 12 and older with mild or moderate symptoms that don’t require hospitalization. While tests are continuing, the drug does not seem to help patients with a more serious or severe case of the virus.

This antibody-drug is similar to a treatment President Donald Trump received after contracting the virus last month. The government previously reached an agreement to buy and supply much of the early production of the drug.

10:09 a.m.: Free flu shots in Yolo County Tuesday

Yolo County is offering free flu shots to residents today from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The shots will be given out at Suntree Apartments, 2033 F Street in Davis.

Residents can reserve a spot by calling (530) 666-8552. The shots are open to people aged six months and older. The county said that masks and social distancing are required. While residents can reserve a spot, walk-ins are welcome.

On Sept. 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom got a flu shot during his weekly press conference and stressing that California residents should get flu shots to help “mitigate what some have referred to as the twindemic,” which is a potential wave of COVID-19 cases and flu cases happening concurrently.

At the time, Newsom also said that 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 has two more free pop-up free flu shot clinics later in the month at Shirley Rominger School and University Covenant Church. Residents can find out more information at yolocounty.org/2020flu

Monday, November 9

4:32 p.m.: California sees biggest jump in COVID-19 cases in months

At his weekly live-streamed news conference Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that California has seen a sobering increase in coronavirus cases, according to the Associated Press.

The increase may be partially linked to Halloween. Some Bay Area health officers have urged their residents to quarantine for two weeks if they venture outside the region. Newsom warned Monday that the coronavirus case numbers, positivity rate, hospitalizations, and intensive care cases have all reached their highest level in months.

The state updates counties’ status in the state’s four-tier, color-coded system each week. As a result, several counties are expected to move Tuesday into more restrictive tiers that change how businesses can operate.

4:27 p.m.: States plan to work with future Biden administration on COVID-19

The coronavirus’ spread is increasing across the country, and President-elect Joe Biden is calling for coordination with states, according to the Associated Press.

Officials and public health experts said that inter-state coordination hasn’t been strong enough so far. States are also calling for help with testing and contact tracing, as well as making sure there’s enough protective gear and shoring up budgets.

Democratic state officials are welcoming a science-based approach from the president-elect. While some Republican governors aren’t ready to agree on Biden’s presidential win, some are imposing more restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.

11:36 a.m.: Nevada church will head back to court over 50-person state cap on religious gatherings

Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, a church in rural Nevada, is headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court in a second attempt to overturn the state’s 50-person cap on attendance at religious gatherings, according to the Associated Press.

The high court denied the church’s request for an emergency injunction in July. A new petition filed Thursday asks the justices to consider the challenge of Nevada’s COVID-19 restrictions as a test case for others brought by churches across the country and arguing that their religious freedoms are being violated.

Next month, a federal appeals court has scheduled oral arguments on the church’s appeal of a U.S. judge’s ruling in Reno upholding the state policy.

10:53 a.m.: Nevada hits third consecutive day of 1,000 or more COVID-19 cases

On Sunday, health officials in Nevada reported 1,276 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death, according to the Associated Press.

This is the third consecutive day of at least 1,000 new reported coronavirus cases across the state. According to the Nevada State Department of Health and Human Services, the total number of cases recorded since the pandemic began is now 110,022, and the known death toll is 1,851.

Health officials reported 1,846 cases on Saturday, a record number for the second day in a row as the coronavirus outbreak intensified. Nevada also reported 1,562 new cases on Friday. The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested. Studies also suggest that people can be infected with the virus and spread it without feeling sick.

Sunday, November 8

3:20 p.m.: California records 3,593 new COVID cases, 10 deaths on Sunday

California recorded 3,593 new coronavirus cases and 10 new deaths on Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 973,210. Nearly 18,000 Californians have died.

Over the past week, the state has averaged 5,351 new cases and 43 new deaths per day, according to the Los Angeles Times.

While there’s been a recent rise in cases, the Times reports that the pace of increase is milder than the rest of the United States. 

The U.S. on Friday reported 126,480 new coronavirus cases, according to data released Saturday by the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. It was the third consecutive day that the U.S. set a daily record, bringing the total number of infections in the country to more than 9.7 million.

Friday, November 6

2:22 p.m.: Las Vegas Raiders fined, docked a sixth-round draft pick

The Las Vegas Raiders and coach Jon Gruden have been fined a total of $650,000 and docked a shot at a sixth-round draft pick for repeated violations of the NFL’s coronavirus protocols, according to the Associated Press.

A person familiar with the punishment said that the fine breaks down to $500,000 against the team and $150,000 against Gruden. The team was also stripped of its sixth-round draft pick because of how it handled Trent Brown’s positive coronavirus test last month.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because no announcement had been publically made. Yahoo first reported the punishments.

2:06 p.m.: US sees record-breaking week of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations

New COVID-19 cases skyrocketed this week in the U.S., breaking records for the second week in a row of staggering growth, according to NPR.

Hospitalization levels have snowballed so quickly that it’ll soon surpass the spring and summer peak rates.  On Wednesday, the country recorded more than 100,000 cases in a single day. Dr. Anthony Fauci has sounded the alarm to lawmakers, previously warning that the U.S. could reach this rate if coronavirus was not driven down before winter.

On Thursday, cases hit an even higher record of more than 121,000 reported cases in a day. Cases in the U.S. are up 55% from the past two weeks ago on average. Now, the country is averaging more than 94,000 cases a day, double the amount from a month ago.

Researchers say that it’s possible that the daily case count could double again, given the current trajectory of the U.S. outbreak. The increases cannot be explained by more testing being done, with researchers saying that these are “true increases” and not tied to the testing amount.

10:59 a.m.: Nevada trucking company fined for violating COVID-19 restrictions at Donald Trump Jr. political rally

State regulators have fined a Sparks, Nevada trucking firm more than $4,500 for violating coronavirus restrictions, according to the Associated Press.

The trucking company was a part of a Donald Trump Jr. political rally in October that drew more than 50 attendees. The Department of Business and Industry, Division of Industrial Relations, announced the OSHA enforcement action Thursday against JBP Corp. doing business as Peterbilt Truck Parts & Equipment.

The $4,554 fine cited the failure to submit a safety plan and obtain state approval for an event in excess of 50 people. Earlier this week, the state fined the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas $12,617 for COVID-19 violations.

10:04 a.m.: Yolo County health officer suggests limiting gatherings

Sacramento, Stanislaus, Placer and Yolo counties are on the verge of sliding back into the state’s most restrictive coronavirus reopening category of purple.

Yolo County Public Health Officer Dr. Amy Sisson said that if people insist on gathering for the upcoming holidays, then gatherings should be outside and kept to fewer than 16 people and not from more than three households.

“We are shifting to a more harm reduction messaging acknowledging that we need to meet people where they’re at,” Sisson said. “So our key message is — the safest thing to do is not gather, but we recognize that many people will choose to gather.”

Thursday, November 5

5:53 p.m.: Several Northern California Counties See COVID-19 Uptick

A rise in COVID-19 cases is causing some Northern California counties to move backward in the state’s tier system for reopening.

When the state announced the weekly tier assignments Wednesday, only Colusa County was approved to move forward through the system — from the red (substantial) tier to the lower orange (moderate tier). Two counties have to go back a step, with Shasta County moving to purple (widespread) and Plumas retreating to orange (moderate). 

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said this is the first week they’ve seen only one county move forward — signaling a potential backslide for others.

“Which I think is an important reminder that the baseline transmission rates of COVID across our state are indeed going up, that it’s not just in one or two counties but it’s widespread across the state,” Ghaly said. 

Other counties, including Sacramento and Yolo, could move down soon if case rates don’t improve.

“We are still in the red … this week, for the case rate we actually met the criteria for the purple tier,” Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said. “If we hit the threshold for two weeks in a row, then we are at risk of reverting back to the purple tier.”

Read more here.

2:09 p.m.: Shasta County moves to more restrictive tier as COVID-19 cases increase

State health officials announced Wednesday that Shasta County will slip back into California’s most restrictive purple tier due to widespread transmission of COVID-19 throughout the county, according to a press release from the county.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said it’s clear that the spread is uncontrolled in Shasta County after the county reported 104 new COVID-19 cases for Sunday and Monday.

“It allows us to say, yes, now is the time to put the brakes on a little bit,” Ghaly said. “Go back to purple, stabilize, work with the county to make sure they have enough testing and contacting tracing — that we understand transmission as we work to get back into a less restrictive tier in the future.”

Plumas County will also be moving back, but to the orange tier, while Colusa County’s improvement helps it move from the red tier to orange.

2:02 p.m.: San Franciscians that travel for the holidays may have to self-quarantine upon return

Health officials in San Francisco say that residents who travel outside of the area during the upcoming holiday season may be asked to quarantine when they return home, according to the Associated Press.

Their reasoning is to prevent a possible spike in local coronavirus cases. San Francisco officials also said on Wednesday that the quarantine would be a recommended two week period for any resident who interacts with individuals outside their households within 6 feet and without masks.

Five other Bay Area counties are also being considered to take part in the regional advisory. The proposal comes as California has seen coronavirus cases inch up recently, though the infection rate remains much lower than the country as a whole.

1:44 p.m.: Places hardest hit by COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmingly supported Trump

In places where the coronavirus pandemic is most rampant, President Donald Trump enjoyed enormous support at the polls, according to the Associated Press.

Their analysis revealed that in 376 counties with the highest number of new cases per capita, the overwhelming majority went for Trump, a rate above less severely hit areas.

Health officials across the country are taking note of the chasm in public sentiment and how to reframe their messages and updates, even as the nation grapples with record numbers of new cases.

Wednesday, November 4

1:32 p.m.: Yolo County COVID-19 cases rise, possibly pushing it to a more restrictive tier

Yolo County met the most restrictive COVID-19 reopening metrics for week ending Oct. 24, according to a press release from the county.

Yolo County is designated under the red, or substantial tier, one level below the most-restrictive purple tier. Officials say social gatherings are the main cause of COVID-19 cases across the county. They are urging residents to exercise personal responsibility and avoid large gatherings so the county can continue to reopen.

For a county to be pushed back into the most restrictive purple tier, it must meet those criteria for two consecutive weeks. If Yolo County continues to have an increase in cases, the county could move back into the purple tier as early as next week.

The county’s adjusted case rate rose to 7.2%, which pushes it just out of the red tier range of between 4-7%.

If the county continues to have a daily case rate of about 7% by Nov. 10, then the state will review the most recent 10 days of data, and the California Department of Public Health will have to decide whether to keep the county in the red tier or move it to the purple tier.

A return to the purple tier would mean that many local businesses would temporarily shut their indoor operations or reduce capacity.

Yolo County was initially placed in the purple tier on Aug. 31, but moved into the red tier on Sept. 29.

11:05 a.m.: Another Nevada governor’s staffer tests positive for COVID-19

An employee working in Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Carson City office tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press.

The office has sent staff members who came in close contact with the employee home to work remotely again for a second time in a month. The staff member, who last worked in the governor’s office on Thursday, received a rapid test over the weekend after developing virus symptoms.

The case’s origin remains under investigation, but health officials have already determined that Sisolak wasn’t in close contact with the coronavirus-positive staff member. The Democratic governor is tested routinely, and after the employee’s positive result was confirmed, Gov. Sisolak tested negative for the virus on Monday.

10:59 a.m.: COVID-19 infections reach record highs during election week

The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus is reaching record highs in several states as people gathered over the week to vote in-person, according to the Associated Press.

While daily infections are rising in all but three states, the largest surge is most pronounced in the Midwest and Southwest. Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Colorado, and New Mexico reported record hospitalizations this week.

Nebraska’s largest hospitals started limiting elective surgeries and looked to bring in nurses from other states. Officials in Iowa and Missouri warned that bed capacity could soon be overwhelmed. The resurgence has loomed over the presidential candidates and voters, fearful about both the virus and its economic toll.

Tuesday, November 3

11:44 a.m.: Real estate listings down nearly 50% in Sacramento region

There are far fewer houses on the market in the Sacramento region this year compared to last — down nearly 50% according to data from Sacramento appraiser Ryan Lundquist.

He says the market has profoundly low inventory and that means it could be harder for those looking to buy a house.

“We have about 2,000 fewer listings this year compared to last year at the same time,” Lundquist said. “And I think there’s no mistaking that we’ve had fewer sellers listing during the pandemic.”

Lundquist says lower listings are also partially a result of people not wanting to move during a pandemic as well as migration from the Bay Area. Plus, he says recent trends show people are staying in their homes longer, on average, than they were ten years ago.

Monday, November 2

6:07 p.m.: Judge limits Newsom’s powers during pandemic

A judge has preliminarily ordered California Gov. Gavin Newsom to stop issuing directives related to the coronavirus that might interfere with state law. 

Sutter County Superior Court Judge Sarah Heckman tentatively ruled Monday that one of the dozens of executive orders Newsom has issued overstepped his authority. She more broadly barred him from infringing on the state Legislature. It’s the second time a judge in the same county has reached the conclusion, which runs counter to other state and federal court decisions backing the governor’s emergency powers. 

Heckman’s decision will become final in 10 days. Newsom’s administration says it disagrees and is evaluating its next steps

10:18 a.m.: 79th COVID-19 related death recorded in a California State prison

Authorities say a person who is incarcerated at the Avenal State Prison died of complications from the coronavirus on Saturday, according to the Associated Press.

The person who was incarcerated died at a hospital, and the central California prison did not release their name. There have been 15,872 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state’s prison system.

Advocates say jails and prisons nationwide are prime locations for the virus to spread between staff and people who are incarcerated. Officials have released hundreds of people from their jail and prison populations across the country during the pandemic.

10:05 a.m.: More than 88% of all eligible California adults are registered to vote

More than 22 million people are registered to vote in California, which is about 88% of all eligible adults. All voters got a ballot in the mail this year as part of the state’s effort to encourage people to vote remotely to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Despite the mail-in ballots, in-person voting has started in most counties across the state. To curb the spread of COVID-19, the state Legislature allowed counties to offer fewer in-person polling places in exchange for opening them earlier, with some counties opening voting places last Friday.

Sunday, November 1

10:50 a.m.: California unemployment chief to retire amid claims backlog

The director of California’s unemployment benefits department said she will retire at the end of the year.  

The announcement Friday comes after the agency has been overwhelmed by more than 15 million claims during the coronavirus pandemic. The agency has a backlog of more than 900,000 people still waiting to receive benefits. Hilliard has said the backlog won’t be cleared until the end of January. 

California Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary Julie A. Sue praised Hilliard for helping reset the agency’s culture. Republican Assemblymember Jim Patterson urged the governor to appoint a replacement from outside the agency.

10:33 a.m.: Newsom says his kids ‘phasing back’ into classrooms

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says his children are among those resuming in-person classes after months of distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Newsom says he believes children learn best in the classroom and his administration will support districts with personal protective gear and testing resources so they can safely reopen. Newsom has four children in private school.

His administration has approved more than 1,200 requests for waivers to allow for in-person education for elementary school students in counties where coronavirus cases remain widespread. Schools in counties where cases have declined below state-mandated thresholds can broadly reopen.

Find older coronavirus updates on our previous blog page here.


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Author: HOCAdmin