Don’t count on big 4th of July plans

While parking lots remained closed at Huntington Beach State Park due to COVID-19, the beaches opened to the public for limited activities, May 8, 2020. Photos by Lisa Hornak for CalMatters.

Stricter orders, enforcement today

Big barbecues, parades and gatherings aren’t likely in the cards this Fourth of July.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced plans to tighten the state’s stay-at-home order before the holiday weekend, with specific details to come today. He’ll also reveal how the state is ramping up enforcement of his order requiring all Californians wear masks in public places.

  • Newsom: “One of the areas of biggest concern as it relates to the spread of COVID-19 in this state remains family gatherings. … And so we’re going to need to … [be] a little bit more aggressive as it relates to guidelines on Fourth of July.”
Beach-goers enjoy the sunset at Ocean Beach on Memorial Day in San Francisco on May 25, 2020. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Beachgoers enjoy the sunset at Ocean Beach on Memorial Day in San Francisco on May 25. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Several counties have already characterized Fourth of July as a “do-or-die” moment in the battle against coronavirus, with Los Angeles closing beaches and banning fireworks displays, the Bay Area canceling fireworks shows and parades and Sacramento public health officials warning residents to avoid gatherings and watch fireworks from their cars. 

  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: “I know how much we look forward to this time of year. But not this year. This year, we have to think about saving lives to protect what we have in this country … and to make sure our economy doesn’t take more steps backward.”

Meanwhile, Newsom said four more counties will likely land on the state’s coronavirus watch list. There were 19 counties on the list as of Monday.

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations, including intensive care admissions, shot up 51% over the two-week period ending June 28, CalMatters’ hospital tracker shows.

Newsom also said Tuesday the state has moved an estimated 14,200 homeless Californians into hotel and motel rooms amid the pandemic. He spoke in front of a motel in Pittsburg, Contra Costa County, and was at times drowned out by Black Lives Matter protesters calling for redistribution of police department funds to homelessness, mental health and health care programs.

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Tuesday night, California had 222,917 confirmed coronavirus cases and 5,980 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.

Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.


Other stories you should know

1. Newsom seeks to further expand paid family leave

Gov. Gavin Newsom with first partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and their youngest son, Dutch, during the annual Christmas tree lighting at the Capitol on December 15, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
Gov. Newsom with First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and their youngest son, Dutch, during the annual Christmas tree lighting at the Capitol on December 5, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

The budget agreement Newsom struck with lawmakers calls for passing a new law ensuring more workers can regain their jobs after taking paid family leave, marking the second year in a row the governor has used budget negotiations to push a “parents’ agenda” developed in conjunction with his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary, CalMatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports.

The proposed law would require companies with at least five employees to protect the jobs of workers who take family leave to bond with a baby or care for a sick family member. It’s opposed by many business groups, who say it will further burden employers already hamstrung by the pandemic. But for millions of workers paying into a system they could be fired for using, it’s a step in the right direction.

  • Newsom: “So often it’s the case that people are not attending to the needs of their family members, which is impacting society in a very deep way. There’s no substitute for caregiving, for outstanding parenting.”

2. Stark differences in unemployment between Los Angeles, Bay Area

A boarded up door with an open padlock in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco on May 18, 2020. Today, retail stores in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties were permitted to re-open for curbside pick-up. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
A boarded-up business in San Francisco on May 18. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Los Angeles County contains eight of the 10 California congressional districts with the highest unemployment rates, while the Bay Area boasts the five districts with the lowest unemployment rates, according to a new report from the California Center for Jobs and the Economy. The gap is largely due to the dominance of the tech sector in the Bay Area and of low-wage hospitality and service jobs in Los Angeles. In just another indication of how the pandemic has unequally ravaged communities, each of the six California congressional districts with the highest unemployment rates have Black and Latino populations of about 70% or more.

  • Aubrey Henry of the state Employment Development Department: “It all boils down to those sectors of the economy that have been hardest-hit by the pandemic — namely leisure and hospitality, retail trade, other services.”

3. Powerful union removes ad after anti-Semitism accusations

Illustration by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

California’s powerful state construction workers union on Tuesday apologized for and removed a Facebook ad featuring state Sen. Scott Wiener after Jewish state lawmakers said it evoked anti-Semitic tropes, CalMatters’ Matt Levin reports. The ad, designed by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, depicted the San Francisco Democrat clutching a handful of Monopoly money in front of a game board reading “NO on SB899.” The bill, sponsored by Wiener, would expedite low-income housing development on property owned by religious organizations — and is opposed by the union because it doesn’t require union workers and wages be attached to the projects.

  • State Sen. Ben Allen, a Santa Monica Democrat and chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus: “Everyone wants to be careful not to use that term (anti-Semitism) too lightly. But there’s not a question that (the ad) touched on anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes.”
  • The state construction workers’ union: “To any individual or community offended by our ads highlighting Scott Wiener’s anti-worker legislation, we are sincerely sorry as it was never our intention to offend in any way — and we have removed the ads in question.”

4. Pressure increases on state Supreme Court over voter-initiated taxes

Pressure is building on the state Supreme Court to resolve whether voter-initiated ballot measures to raise taxes need to be passed by a simple majority or two-thirds vote in order to take effect. On Tuesday, a California appellate court ruled that San Francisco did not break the law by allowing a 2018 ballot measure that increased business taxes for homeless services to pass with a simple majority of the vote. The court sided with the city’s argument that initiatives placed on the ballot by citizens only need a simple majority to pass, while those placed by lawmakers need two-thirds to pass. However, two other lawsuits are pending in appellate court.

San Francisco isn’t the only city grappling with how many votes are needed for a new tax to become law. The state Supreme Court’s eventual decision could unlock millions of dollars for cities across the state and lower the bar for citizen- and special interest-backed tax increases in the future. 


Other things worth your time

How a PG&E contractor with a sketchy past made millions off California’s deadliest fire. // ProPublica

California bill would shield health officer addresses as death threats rise. // Politico

San Quentin’s coronavirus outbreak continues to spread with over 1,000 prisoners infected and one inmate dying. // Los Angeles Times

Bars are still open and hopping in this Bay Area city. // San Francisco Chronicle

U.S. Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine is quickly becoming a power broker in the House of Representatives. // Orange County Register

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