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Chag Pesach kasher vesame'ach

Good evening folks! Just a few words before the sun sets and Passover begins for Noonerific readers who observe.

  • STANFORD TEST: I have talked a few times about the Stanford serological test for antibodies to COVID-19, meaning that the individual being tested has had the virus either symptomatically or asymptomatically, and in theory is immune to an immediate reoccurrence of the existing strain of the virus. The test is now in the field and being used for health care workers to determine who is the safest to work in the environments in which COVID-19+ or potential COVID-19 patients are being treated.
  • LOS ANGELES: In the early afternoon today, the Los Angeles County reported 29 new COVID-19 deaths, which is the highest daily report of fatalities from the county. The county also reported a large jump in positive cases, although this is amidst a significant broadening of testing so the newsworthiness is questionable. We're at a point when hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and results of the serology tests like the Stanford one discussed above are far more important data points.
  • SCHOOLS: The Education Trust - West is out with a poll of parents on their perception of equity issues with the distance education being provided as most of the state's schools have suspended in-person instruction.
    • In the immediate aftermath of school closures, California parents give positive ratings to schools for their handling of coronavirus and the transition to remote learning overall.
    • Parents are navigating a new reality and generally support their local schools, even as parents' needs in many cases diverge from what their schools are currently providing, as described below:
      • There are large gaps between what parents want and what is currently available in the early weeks of school closures ' with access to their child's teacher rated as what parents would find most helpful, even ahead of technology resources.
      • In addition, there are clear gaps that parents feel prevent their children from successfully participating in alternatives to instruction while schools remain closed.
      • This is a stressful time for parents, who have real fears about how their families will cope during this period.
    As I wrote today, there's also a growing concern that while there appear to be growing concerns about child care if the "stay at home" orders are lifted while schools are still closed.
  • VOTE-BY MAIL: In his second press conference taking aim at voting by mail, President Trump today cited a Judicial Watch settlement with California in which the state agreed to strike 1 million "voters" from the rolls. The issue relates to inactive voters on the rolls in Los Angeles County who were alleged to have moved, died, or become ineligible to cast a ballot, reported Susan Crabtree for Real Clear Politics last June. She reported:

    In addition, California's top election official has put all 58 of its counties on notice that they must also purge inactive voters from their rosters. The updated California National Voter Registration Act Manual, published in March 2019, lays out the federal maintenance requirements for county voter rolls.

    To drive that message home, the California Secretary of State's office delivered a training presentation to election officials in every county regarding the federal list-maintenance requirements.

    There were an estimated 5 million inactive registrations in the state as of November 2016, the latest figures available, according to a Judicial Watch analysis of data published by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

    While today's briefing transcript isn't available yet, President Trump said at yesterday's briefing:

    "Now, mail ballots ' they cheat. Okay? People cheat. Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country, because they're cheaters. They go and collect them. They're fraudulent in many cases. You got to vote. And they should have voter ID, by the way. If you want to really do it right, you have voter ID.

    Anthony Man reports for the Orlando Sentinel:

    Eight days before the March 17 primary, a Trump representative picked up vote-by-mail ballots at the Palm Beach County Elections Office, said Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link. The same person returned the ballots to the elections office the day before the primary.

    That doesn't represent any special treatment for Palm Beach County's most famous residents. A voter can designate someone to pick up a ballot starting the week before an election day in Florida. One person may pick up two ballots for non-relatives.

    I don't write this to take aim at the President, but rather to put Nooner readers on notice that somebody is distributing talking points that will likely be used to challenge close races after the November 3 election.
  • APRIL REVENUES: One of the geekiest things insiders who care about the state budget each year do is follow the daily "take" of state personal income tax (PIT) revenues, in good and bad years. It used to be a spreadsheet shared by the Legislative Analyst's Office via email on request, but in recent years, both the LAO and State Controller's Office have posted their versions using different methodologies, which all shake out in the end. It's sort of moot this year since the PIT deadline has been extended to July 15 in alignment with the Internal Revenue Service. For what it's worth, you can participate in the daily meaningless fun when you run out of crossword puzzles.

    On a similar note, the Legislative Analyst's Office last week took a look at personal income tax withholding, noting "Withholding has declined significantly during the last two weeks. These declines have been on par with those seen during the same weeks in 2009, the trough of the Great Recession." This LAO page will be key to watch in absence of the regular pattern of April personal income tax revenues as Governor Newsom's team and the Legislature try to wrap their arms around where tax revenues currently are and where they are heading. The LAO is also tracking weekly initial claims for unemployment on that page.

Anyway, that scratches off a few items on my notepad and we'll start anew tomorrow. As always, let me know if you have any questions or have corrections.

Good health to you and your loved ones,
Scott