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The Nooner for Tuesday, June 9, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
Happy Taco Tuesday! I'm prepared today as I cooked pork for carnitas in the Instant Pot yesterday, but will likely make lettuce wrap tacos instead of using tortillas. I've been doing too much COVID +19 and need to work on the COVID -19 to get in Speedo shape for the summer ahead. Too much comfort ice cream. Okay, sorry about that image.
You'll note that I'm making several district ratings changes. Nothing happened overnight, it's just that I'm shifting a bit more of my time from COVID-19, protests, and policy to elections. It's always a balancing act with the hours in the day!
I'm also shifting my time in recognition of ongoing subscribers and those who responded to my pleas Friday and yesterday to help keep The Nooner alive. Thank you for stepping up! This month's revenue gap from low display and classified advertising because of the shutdown has been cut by more than half through new subscriptions and donations. Closer! I'm committed to working even harder on the election side.
On to the gnus... I know yesterday was hella long, so I'll try to rein it in today.
GENERIC CONGRESSIONAL BALLOT: On this date in the 2018 midterm, the Real Clear Politics average had Democrats +7.6. Today it is +7.8.
Some of you have caught the interesting finding in the PPIC poll that had California independent likely voters on the generic congressional ballot breaking 5% for Republicans, while Democrats have a 25-point lead overall. In October 2018, independent likely voters preferred Democratic candidates by +8.
I've talked to PPIC folks about this and they noticed it as well. Given the overall number, it likely is an anomaly with the subset of self-identified independent voters. For example, some NPP voters could be identifying themselves as Democrats considering the topline. PPIC doesn't use the voter file but rather asks respondents about their partisan registration.
PG&E: The Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee meets at 1pm today to consider SB 350 (Hill), which would allow the state to bid for PG&E's assets should the utility to meet the state's June 30 deadline for exiting bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, PG&E is planning to move its headquarters from San Francisco to Oakland after more than 100 years in the city, report J.D. Morris and Roland Li in the Chron.
THE REOPENING: In the Bee, Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) and Assembly member Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) wonder whether we are reopening California too fast by responding to political pressure rather than public health experts.
We need to reopen the economy, but we also need to exercise intelligence and safeguard public health as we navigate through this pandemic. Let us not create larger, more deadly problems for ourselves.
Meanwhile, amid arguments that increased cases are just due to increased testing and identifying asymptomatic individuals, the Chron reports that hospitalizations are up. "Across California, 3,184 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday — a rise from 3,138 from Saturday and the highest number since May 13. Roughly one-third of coronavirus patients are in the intensive care unit."
THE ARRIVAL: The LAT's Melissa Healy reports on a new study of how COVID-19 arrived in the Bay Area, and it's not as simple as a single source.
An international team of scientists combined old-fashioned epidemiology with newfangled genetic sleuthing to determine that the Bay Area’s outbreak was spawned by a mix of foreign and domestic arrivals. The findings were published Monday in the journal Science.
In nine Bay Area counties where the coronavirus set down roots early, visitors arriving directly from China were only one of several sources of spread within the community. Strains of the virus that had come by way of Europe were also widely evident. And a cluster of cases that put down roots in Santa Clara County sent out tendrils to neighboring San Mateo County and the more distant Solano County.
But no single source of infection appears to have played a larger role in seeding the region’s coronavirus outbreak than the Grand Princess cruise ship, which sailed from San Francisco to Mexico and Hawaii twice in February and March.
The new study suggests that at least one passenger on the first of those two sailings — a person whose infection originated in Washington state — left behind enough virus to seed the infections of most of the dozens of people who became sick during the second sailing. Those passengers, in turn, carried the virus into San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Solano and San Joaquin counties, among other places elsewhere in the state and country, including Minnesota.
Note that this is the Grand Princess' sailing immediately prior to the one that eventually was held off the coast for several days before docking in Oakland to await disembarkment.
THE FARMWORKERS: In the LAT, Melissa Gomez looks at the impact of COVID-19 on farmworkers in California's "Salad Bowl" in the Salinas Valley.
Social distancing is challenging, if not impossible, in homes like [farmworker Odilia] Leon’s and for many other farmworkers in Salinas, the city where John Steinbeck was born. As of Monday afternoon, COVID-19 had infected a reported 751 people in Monterey County, and many of the cases are concentrated on the east side of Salinas, where Leon lives. It is an area that suffers from a lack of affordable housing, with families crammed into homes and renting out whatever space they can, sharing bathrooms, living rooms and kitchens.
Officials in the Salinas Valley, known as the “salad bowl of the world,” and leaders in the agriculture industry are acutely aware of just how quickly the virus can spread among farmworkers, both at home and at job sites. In Monterey County, agriculture workers make up more than a third of confirmed COVID-19 cases, and Latinos make up nearly 80% of them.
Karen Smith, spokesperson for the Monterey County Health Department, said she does not know if housing is a direct factor, but “if you’ve got people close together with a virus that’s a respiratory virus, you’re bound to see more.”
LAW AND DISORDER: In the Bee, Rosalio Ahumada reports that the Judicial Council may be ready to end the COVID-19 responses that changed courthouse procedures, including a suspension of money bail.
Some district attorneys and police chiefs were lobbying the state's court leadership to end the suspension of money bail as they rearrested individuals out pending trial on other offenses. This comes in advance of the November referendum on SB 10 (Hertzberg), the 2018 measure to replace money bail with pre-trial risk assessment.
It's also likely to confuse the argument over the referendum. The Judicial Council's COVID-19 order was aimed at minimizing virus transmission by limiting jail populations of individuals awaiting trial. It did not involve the pre-trial risk assessment included in SB 10, but expect the big financiers that provide the cash to the storefront "bail bondsmen" to use examples during the pandemic in their campaign.
Additionally, the end of the COVID-19 Judicial Council orders also could mean that courts will return to processing eviction and foreclosure processes.
MASKS: After a lengthy drama involving a canceled $500 million contract with a three-day old company run my GOP operatives and then a nearly $1 billion contract that Chinese company BYD captured but then struggled to get federal safety approval, the Newsom Administration announced yesterday that BYD had finally received federal approval and can deliver the 115 million N95 masks to California. The company has already delivered 110 million in surgical masks, that don't require federal certification.
BACK-TO-WORK BONUS? In the Bee, David Lightman reports that while it's unlikely that the $600/week COVID-19 federal supplement to unemployment, the White House and Republican lawmakers are considering a back-to-work bonus that would pay returning workers $450-$600/week for a few weeks.
Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, maintains that the extra $600 a week “makes it nearly impossible for local businesses to hire.”
The Democratic-run House wants the current $600 a week benefit to continue. Last month it passed legislation extending the $600 payment through January. The White House and Republican leaders are unenthusiastic.
What has [Republicans'] attention are back-to-work bonus plans. One authored by Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, would provide $450 a week for up to six weeks to people who return to work before July 31. He would also consider including his proposal in compromise legislation affecting people who find work after that date.
A proposal championed by Brady, a Texas Republican, would pay them $600 a week for two weeks once they returned to work before July 31.
The White House has been warm to the bonus idea. “We may go with something like that,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told CNBC.
I don't disagree with that the $600 million supplement makes returning to work less appealing for some, but I also know that many reopening businesses, particularly restaurants, are not bringing back employees even when given the green light to reopen.
Some, including the popular South southern spot on 11th near T, is sticking with take-out only as the restaurant is not big enough to both accommodate physical spacing and take-out and offering only physically spaced in-house dining is not economically feasible given the restaurant's size. I know of lots of restaurants like this around the state.
There are also restaurants that rely heavily on buffets, such as Darna on Kay Street. In addition to the loss of the majority of state employee business because they are teleworking, buffets aren't allowed.
Arenas aren't reopening. That's thousands of employees statewide. While movie theaters are being okayed soon in many counties, I can't see people rushing to DOCO to catch the latest flick, partially because there are no movies.
It is a fiction that reopening is akin to a light switch. Business owners are very cautious and in many cases fear reopening only to be ordered to close again with a second wave. The unemployment rate will not drop quickly. There will be some big report's like Friday's (+2.5m jobs, with 1.6m in food services and drinking places), but remember that the effective unemployment rate was 16.3% after the BLS reporting issue is taken into account.
There is middle ground between Republicans advocating a back-to-work bonus and Democrats arguing for an extension of the $600/week supplement. Pay $300/week for a few weeks to return to work and maintain the $600/week supplement for those remaining unemployed. The goal is to ensure that unemployment is not more lucrative than going back to work, but that can be balanced out. To the extent people go back to work with the bonus, that's cost savings, but you're not letting those who can't go back to work fall through the cracks.
CAROTID RESTRAINTS: The Los Angeles Police Department says it is implementing a moratorium on the use of carotid restraints, while the L.A. Sheriff's Department says it will limit its use, report Matthew Ormseth and Alene Tchekmedyian in the Times.
DEFUND THE POLICE. THEN WHAT? Joel Fox asks what the plan is to replace the police proposed to be defunded.
Possible pushback must be considered when weighing defunding and police department dismantling.
This doesn’t mean that reform is unnecessary and important to alter the negative aspects of policing. We have clearly come to a tipping point in American history on policing and now is the time for positive action. But, rushing to make drastic changes in the heat of crisis is likely to produce unintended and unwanted consequences.
SCHOOL DAZE: For CalMatters, Ricardo Cano takes a look at what K-12 schools might look like this fall as they adapt to new public health guidelines.
Most recommendations in the state’s guidance are already being considered by various school districts, but education officials are questioning their practicality — and whether schools have the necessary staff to operate socially distant schools.
Pamela Kahn, president of the California School Nurses Organization, said guidance by state public health officials on students wearing face coverings at all times and undergoing temperature screenings is “absolutely not feasible.”
About half of the state’s school districts do not have any school nurses, she said, and in Orange County where Kahn works, staffing ratios range from one nurse for 1,100 students, to one for 10,000.
“We simply don’t have the staffing to do this, and I don’t see it’s realistic,” Kahn said, noting that her group was not involved in crafting the state guidance. “Can you imagine 2,000 kids coming in the morning having to stand there while someone takes their temperature and gives them a questionnaire?”
In the article Cano lists expected changes at schools in instruction, transportation, screening, protection, recess, lunch, and sanitation.
...more after the jump.
THE OC: City News Service reports that the Orange County health officer has resigned over her order requiring residents to wear masks in public.
Orange County’s chief health officer, Dr. Nichole Quick, resigned Monday night.
She has faced push back from some members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and criticism from residents for her order last month to require face coverings for the public as the county allowed some businesses to reopen.
Quick was receiving heightened security due to threats stemming from her the mask order. She was not made available for comment Monday night.
ALISO CANYON: In the Times Sammy Roth writes that, following calls by Governor Newsom during the 2018 campaign to shut down the site of the largest gas leak in state history in north Los Angeles County, Southern California Gas Company is actually using it more.
The environmental group Food and Water Watch, which wants to see Aliso closed, analyzed publicly available data and found that SoCalGas withdrew 20 billion cubic feet of gas from the storage field this winter, primarily to heat homes in the Los Angeles area. That’s up from 14 billion cubic feet in the winter of 2018-19, and just 1 billion cubic feet the winter before that.
The more the gas company uses the storage field, the higher the risk of additional leaks, said Najmedin Meshkati, a USC engineering professor who co-authored a 2017 study examining the causes of the methane blowout.
cakeday and classifieds after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Katherine Daigle, Rebecca Lee, and Taylor Woolfork!