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The Nooner for Wednesday, December 9, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
Well, hello there. First, thank you for all the kind messages about The Nooner content and those checking to make sure that all is well at Nooner Global HQ while writing about pretty grim news. I'm doing fine mentally, getting out for long walks through a very quiet downtown and playing the daily puzzle game of what to do with the weekly farmers market haul. Last night was an Instant Pot leek and potato soup, PT Ranch chicken breast cooked sous vide, roasted veggies (beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, daikon, garlic, and turnips), and braised greens. Most of the veggies were from Riverdog Farm.
As I write this graf, I'm having my cooler weather writing go to scramble of eggs, bacon, and kale -- all from Riverdog in Guinda (Capay Valley). Today, I have a whole duck from PT Ranch in Ione (Amador County) to tackle.
Today's walk will include a stop at Allspicery on 11th Street to pick up my order of vanilla almond black tea, sweet dream herbal "tea" that is part of my nighttime routine, and garlic powder. It'll be an exciting afternoon out on the town but I'll see the Capitol holiday tree and wreaths adorning the west face of the Capitol and will look to see if the menorah is out yet for Hanukkah, which begins tomorrow night.
I'll also again see the new huge digital advertising boards around Golden 1 Center, which are being seen by nobody. Well, that is except for 75 Assembly members and very limited staff that were there on Monday for the organizational session.
Anyway, as much as some people think I'm sitting at my desk from 4:30am to 10:00pm, that's not the case. Please pass that along to my mom.
GOVERNOR'S OFFICE: Politico's Carla Marinucci reported late yesterday that Ann O'Leary, Governor Newsom's chief of staff, will be leaving the administration and is on the short list for jobs in the Biden Administration.
In the last 120 days, other departures include Governor Newsom's legislative secretary and communications director.
NO JUICE FOR YOU: This week in PSPS (public safety power shutoff):
DOORDASH: This morning, ride-hailing service DoorDash announced a "Main Street Strong Pledge" to in the company's words:
Like Lyft, the company is clearly trying to reshape its image among those unhappy with the tactics used to pass Proposition 22, which exempted transportation network companies from the provisions of AB 5 (Gonzalez) that codified Dynamex with exceptions and limiting who could be considered an independent contractor. While Prop. 22 passed with 58.6% of the vote, AB 5 supporters are already looking at other ways they can prod the companies (e.g. Uber/UberEats, Lyft, Postmates, Instacart, DoorDash) to alter their business models. Lyft has even extended an olive branch to organized labor.
As for individual employees, which has been the primary concern of lawmakers, DoorDash provides:
At the end of the third quarter, the company had $1.1 billion cash on hand.
The individual assistance in the second paragraph sounds like performance funding during the pandemic before vaccines are widely available. Call it a "rewards program" or whatever. It sure sounds like combat pay.
I can't imagine that will smooth things over with a single proponent of AB 5.
Meanwhile, many like me will order food at least once this week from a local restaurant through one of these services.
COVID-19: Yesterday, 219 deaths were reported in the state, bringing the total to 20,273. Below is the state's chart. The highest recent point was 219 on July 31. While the state's dailies lag the LAT's survey of health departments by a day, it appears that yesterday tied the deadliest day of the pandemic in California yesterday. All charts below are from the state's dashboard as of this morning.
Of course, as I have written several times, deaths are a lagging indicator. The state had the largest number of positive tests yesterday at 35,400 with positivity exceeding 10% (8.7% 14-day average, which is 2.7% higher than the average 14 days ago). Of course, while cases can be simply a measurement of breadth of testing, positivity is a measurement of community spread.
Then we have the indicators that draw the most concerning, those that signify severity of disease. With capacity in a critical mode, no COVID patient is being admitted to the hospital for the sniffles. However, we know that the curve in cases predicts the curve in demand for hospitalizations. The hospitalizations curve foretells ICU hospitalizations, and that curve leads to the gravest result.
I display these not to be dramatic. However, I still see on social media allegations that the ICU capacity percentages below are a big governmental fiction in cahoots with the hospitals to shut down businesses. As you know, I've been hit hard financially by this and have family in affected businesses. I'm not happy either.
To allege that Governor Gavin Newsom wants to shut down the economy as part of a big government conspiracy is asinine. If anything, he's risking his political future with the orders (see Marinucci article at the top about what could become a legitimate recall threat). We can debate whether playgrounds should or shouldn't be closed in Stay At Home regions and whether or not San Luis Obispo should be in the Southern California region, but at the end of the day, the numbers are the numbers.
There is indeed a lot of economic pain out there. But, the more important thing to recognize is the pain of 219 California families grieving relatives who died yesterday. It is the pain of the families of 11,511 Californians with a relative in the hospital including 2,526 in intensive care as of Monday. And it is the worry of the 35,400 Californians who tested positive yesterday who likely had a sleepless night as they wonder if they will become one who appears on the other, more serious (and gravest), charts.
Staying at home sucks. However, in the world of delivery of holiday gifts, food, takeout, and increased food banks, it's a hell of a lot better than being isolated in an intensive care unit. Trust me, I've been there as both staff and patient.
Those of you who have been around this space for awhile remember that I was in Mexico City in February before well, you know. I was supposed to go back in September. Anyway, talking to people down there about the situation. The numbers are as grim as here yet the government hasn't/can't provide any economic assistance to individuals and businesses. Thus, everything is open again with no restrictions.
Here, there was the financial assistance earlier and legal steps such as rent forbearance and eviction limitations at both the federal and state levels.
Further assistance from Washington is not a financial issue with the super low borrowing rates but rather a political one that may or may not be coming together depending on the hour with the two sticking points being (or continuing to be) state and local government assistance vs. individual "stimulus" checks and employer liability for COVID exposure.
I'd love to be having a nice bowl of pho indoors for lunch and see familiar faces at a local restaurant. Instead, I'll be having a salad full of ingredients from farmers market here at Nooner HQ and walk around Southside Park.
--Update on 12/03 with Governor Newsom and HHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly:
--Update on 12/07:
--Dr. Ghaly update on 12/08:
--Regions: Here is the latest ICU capacity by region, which is from this state page.
*County has voluntarily adopted the state's Stay At Home Order
Cite: COVID19.CA.GOV: About COVID-19 restrictions (Under "Regional Stay Home Order")
--Available beds: Here is the picture of the Greater Sacramento Region and all five regions four the past four days are available on my spreadsheet here. Note that these data, which are collected by county health departments from the local hospitals are delayed by 24 hours through the chain of reporting. The "live" situation on the ground may differ, and the same would be true of the percentages of capacity displayed above.
For example, the numbers we have from the state dashboard show Fresno with 9 available beds, Madera with 1, and Kings with 0. However, at a point yesterday, all three had 0 available beds, according to the LA Times.
--Restaurants: I mentioned the tentative order yesterday by an LA County Superior Court judge in a case filed by the California Restaurant Association challenging Los Angeles County's ban on outdoor dining, which held that the county's order was arbitrary and not based on science. Late yesterday at the hearing, Judge Chalfant affirmed the tentative ruling, write Kate Irby and Victoria Colliver for Politico. They write:
"By failing to weigh the benefits of an outdoor dining restriction against its costs, the County acted arbitrarily and its decision lacks a rational relationship to a legitimate end," wrote Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant in a tentative ruling issued Tuesday to a legal challenge from the California Restaurant Association.
The tentative ruling to block the open-ended ban won't have immediate practical consequences for Los Angeles-area restaurants, as the county is now under a temporary stay-home order tied to the region's quickly diminishing ICU capacity. But it marks a symbolic and legal victory for those challenging the emergency powers flexed by state and local officials — and a rare setback for public health authorities facing a worsening crisis.
That's the important legal point. The order tested in the lawsuit was the Los Angeles County order and not the broader state order. The current message from Sacramento is not about the amount of virus spread but part of the goal of keeping people at home for non-essential activities. That's a completely different legal test for whether or not the ban on outdoor dining is arbitrary, as you always look at what the intent of a governmental restriction is and how such restriction is tailored.
--Churches: On a similar note regarding the differences of orders and how they are evaluated legally, I was listening to the progressive 5-4 podcast (Apple | Spotify | Stitcher) discussing Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, the case in which the Supreme Court held that the New York state order restricting church gatherings was arbitrary and in violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of Free Exercise. (Yes, this is the kind of stuff I listen to on long walks. Don't judge.)
The California importance here is that, as I wrote last Friday, SCOTUS sent Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom back to the Southern District of California for reconsideration in light of the SCOTUS decision in Diocese. This is where facts of the order matter.
In New York, churches were limited to a variable indoor occupancy of a number of persons regardless of building size (and thus legal regular occupancy) based on the regional prevalence of COVID-19. It was specifically for churches, while other entities such as concert halls were closed completely.
That's very different than the California orders. First, it was an indoor percentage occupancy limit rather than a hard count of persons. (The case was filed during the summer that evolved to were indoor limits on occupancy under yellow-red and outdoor-only under purple.) That's very different, and similar occupancy restrictions were placed on non-churches. Even under the latest schema under the Stay At Home, gatherings at places of worship and for political activities are allowed outdoors only with specified precautions. A lot more legal thinking has gone in to the California orders than went into New York's orders, but we've had more time than New York did under the nation's most serious crisis early in the pandemic.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, the county's largest Spanish-language Catholic Church down the street from me has had their large gatherings throughout the pandemic on the artificial turf fútbol field behind the church that is part of the school. Everyone is masked and distanced, with both single chairs and 2-4 chairs grouped together for families. Recently, they added tents (tops only) over the area to shield against potential rain. They are rolling with the punches. For me, it's good news because my steady fair of cheap street food is still available -- tacos w/ 8 meat choices, tamales, enchiladas, menudo, esquités, etc.
Back to the legal thinking. California's orders are completely different than those that were the fact basis in Diocese and likely will be upheld but, as is often the case in law, it depends on the facts presented to the court.
...cakeday and classifieds after the jump
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Adam Gottlieb, Stephanie Nied Tseu, and Michael Wilson!