California Coronavirus Updates: Exodus Out Of Bay Space Growing Sacramento Housing Costs

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

Latest Updates

Exodus out of Bay Area increasing Sacramento housing prices

California prosecutors say unemployment benefits fraud scheme may be biggest in state history

Orange County county hopes mail-in test kits help curb virus

Reno mayor ‘begging’ people to forgo Thanksgiving gatherings

Four more California counties move to most restrictive tier


Wednesday, November 25

10:47 a.m.: Exodus out of Bay Area increasing Sacramento housing prices

The pandemic is driving people out of the Bay Area and into Sacramento, raising housing prices, according to data from real estate experts.

Ebony Lewis is one of thousands of the Bay Area residents relocating to the valley during the pandemic because of space and affordability. When the pandemic hit, she decided to reassess her living situation and found it may have been too tight.

“When I was living in Oakland Hills, I had a roommate. It was close quarters. I needed my own space,” Lewis said.

The Sacramento housing market was tight before COVID-19, but now the market is described as “incredibly hot” according to housing sales website Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather.

“A lot of it is driven by migration out of the Bay Area into more inland areas in the Sacramento area,” Fairweather said.

Even though Sacramento home prices are up 14%, houses are selling 14 days faster compared to last year, and they’re going for more than a seller’s list price. Before the pandemic, buyers like Lewis — a young professional working for the Kaiser Permanente group — would have faced a long commute to the Bay Area; but now there’s no commute.

“All of us are working remotely. We don’t know if we’ll go back into the office,” Lewis said. “If and when we do go back into the office, it will not be as often as it used to be.”

Lewis said her initial impressions of Sacramento are positive, but hopes to get to know her new city once life returns to something like normal.

10:11 a.m.: California prosecutors say unemployment benefits fraud scheme may be biggest in state history

While convicted murderer Scott Peterson is on death row at San Quentin State Prison, he was still among the millions of Californians who received unemployment benefits this year, according to prosecutors who uncovered a massive fraud scheme in California prisons and jails.

Prosecutors said that up to a billion dollars in unemployment benefits were given to people who are incarcerated, which aren’t eligible to receive these benefits in the first place. Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said it’s likely that this may be the largest taxpayer fraud scheme in state history.

“Quite frankly, the inmates are mocking us,” Schubert said. “Even small jails are reporting losses — within that small jail — of over $10 million.”

At a news conference, prosecutors said the scam spread like wildfire through the corrections systems when people housed in these systems figured out how to get fraudulent payments.

Schubert said California’s Employment Development Department wasn’t cross-matching its claimants’ list with the name rolls from prisons and jails. This means that more than 20,000 claims were paid to people within the prison system alone — totaling more than $140 million.

State Assemblyperson David Chiu has been critical of EDD’s handling of claims paid out during the pandemic, saying it’s outrageous.

“Cross-referencing a list shouldn’t be that hard,” Chiu said. “Thirty-five other states cross-reference jail and prison data when determining unemployment eligibility. California does not. This is just another example of the massive failure of this department.”

In an emailed statement, EDD’s Deputy Director Loree Levy said that the agency is working to cross-check its claims.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statement calling the fraud completely unacceptable. He’s instructed state agencies to coordinate with each other and support ongoing investigations.

Tuesday, November 24

5:11 p.m.: Orange County county hopes mail-in test kits help curb virus

Orange County will provide up to half a million mail-in test kits to residents before the end of the year in the hopes that more testing can help beat back the coronavirus. 

The county on Monday began offering the free test kits to residents of its two largest cities, Anaheim and Santa Ana. Health officials hope to make the kits available to all of the county’s 3 million residents by next month in what could be a massive boost in testing. 

The push comes as California is grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases. It also comes as counties are growing weary of the limits on businesses.

5:09 p.m.: Reno mayor ‘begging’ people to forgo Thanksgiving gatherings

An emotional Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve says she’s “begging” residents to forgo family Thanksgiving gatherings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

Schieve spoke to reporters during a video conference Tuesday just minutes after she received word that a good friend had died from COVID-19. 

Her plea to cancel traditional holiday plans came as Nevada reported a record-high 2,853 new confirmed cases on Tuesday. It’s the third new record in two weeks. 

Meanwhile, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman characterized Gov. Steve Sisolak’s stricter statewide virus rules that went into effect Tuesday as “crushing” for her tourism-dependent city. State Department of Business and Industry Director Terry Reynolds said Monday that the new rules are the best way to avoid future shutdowns. 

4:10 p.m.: Four more California counties move to most restrictive tier

Two days before Thanksgiving and four more California counties have moved into the most-restrictive purple tier on the state’s COVID map. 

Of the state’s 58 counties, 45 are now operating under restrictions that close non-essential indoor businesses.

In announcing the changes Tuesday, State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly talked about how California is in the midst of a surge. He again focused on family gatherings during Thanksgiving. He says he’s changed the way his family is celebrating the holiday.

“I, like many of you, are disappointed about how this Thanksgiving will look different from years past,” Ghaly said. “I think it’s necessary to modify or pause our usual traditions to really stop the surge this year. And we’re re-emphasizing that the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with members of your household or virtually.”

Ghaly says those who do gather should take advantage of the sunny weather forecast statewide for Thanksgiving Day and have their meals outside. A recent surge in cases and hospitalizations led Gov. Gavin Newsom to put in place a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew last week.

Modoc County in the northeastern corner of the state is the only county that moved into a less-restrictive tier, from red to orange.

10:35 a.m.: Yolo County announces new free COVID-19 testing sites for residents

Yolo County announced on Monday a slate of new free COVID-19 testing sites throughout December.

There are testing sites offered nearly every day of the month, starting Dec. 1 at the Winters Community Center from 4 – 7 p.m. People interested in getting a free test must be Yolo County residents and bring proof of residence (ID card, driver’s license, utility bill, etc.). All ages are accepted, and Spanish translation will be available at almost all testing sites. Find a full list of testing sites and times here.

Registration is not required, but it’s recommended to get through the testing site faster. Registration also does not guarantee a testing spot.

Additionally, OptumServe, in their partnership with Yolo County, will also be offering a free daily testing site in a portable building next to the Juvenile Detention Facility in Woodland. This site is open to all Californians, regardless of documentation status, and is by appointment only. To schedule an appointment residents can call (888) 634-1123 or online.

10:30 a.m: Los Angeles County may go back into stay-at-home orders soon

Los Angeles County is on the brink of another stay-at-home order days before Thanksgiving, according to the Associated Press.

The coronavirus surge in the county surpassed a level set by public health officials to trigger the order. A swell of new cases on Monday pushed the largest U.S. county to an average of over 4,500 cases per day. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said no action would be taken until the county supervisors meet on Tuesday.

A stay-at-home order for Los Angeles would be the first such action since mid-March. That’s when Gov. Gavin Newsom followed the lead of several California counties and issued a statewide order that schools and most shops. On Saturday, a daily 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. statewide curfew took effect.

9:53 a.m.: Judge won’t lift San Diego County pandemic restrictions

A California judge has denied a request to temporarily restore indoor service at restaurants and gyms in San Diego County, according to the Associated Press.

On Monday, the judge said that there’s scientific evidence to support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s sweeping public health orders to restrict business activity during the coronavirus pandemic. Business owners in California’s second-most populous county sought to restore indoor operations at 25% capacity for restaurants and 10% for gyms.

Two San Diego restaurants and gyms have sued the state, asking that the four-tier pandemic reopening system be declared illegal. The judge scheduled another hearing next month.

Monday, November 23

6:30 p.m.: Sacramento health director apologizes for racial slur against Asian Americans

A week after Sacramento county’s top health director called Asian Americans a racial slur, he says he’s ready to work with the community to move forward.

Dr. Peter Beilenson says one of his immediate responses to calling Asian people yellow in a county board meeting was to make amends.

“I made three dozen calls, at least, to API community members to apologize so I’ve certainly done that, and we’ll hopefully be having some ongoing meetings in terms of discussions and listening sessions that will be more than just one time,” Beilenson said. 

In a letter addressed to Beilenson, Sacramento API leaders demanded the county address health disparities and hold regular meetings with the community. Advocates say the county’s COVID-19 response in the API community has been lacking, especially when it comes to translation services.

Correction: A previous version of this post misspelled Dr. Peter Beilenson. It has been corrected.

6:20 p.m.: Newsom says family quarantine a ‘very challenging and trying time’

Gov.  Gavin Newsom held his weekly coronavirus news conference from his home Monday. 

The governor is quarantining after his family had contact with a CHP officer who tested positive for COVID-19, and says he now knows how difficult it is to self-isolate for days at a time.

“It is a very challenging and trying time and it certainly [is] something that [has] now been brought home quite literally in terms of my own experience just over the course of the last couple days,” Newsom said.

Newsom says he was tested Sunday and it came back negative, but is following state guidance to quarantine for the next two weeks. The governor also again apologized for eating at a fancy Napa Valley restaurant with a group of people larger than the state recommends.

6:18 p.m.: US seafood industry tanking due to pandemic-related causes      

The coronavirus pandemic has hurt the U.S. seafood industry due to a precipitous fall in imports and exports, according to the Associated Press. 

Those are the findings of a group of scientists who sought to quantify the damage of the pandemic on America’s seafood business. The group also found that the industry suffered in part because of its reliance on restaurant sales. 

They found that consumer demand for seafood at restaurants dropped by more than 70% during the early months of the pandemic. The scientists published their findings recently in the scientific journal Fish and Fisheries.

11:14 a.m.: Millions of Americans are traveling during the holiday season

Despite multiple emphatic warnings from public health authorities to stay home for Thanksgiving, millions of Americans are crowding the nation’s airports ahead of the holiday, according to the Associated Press.

Many travelers are unwilling to miss out on seeing family and are convinced they can do it safely. According to the Transportation Security Administration, more than 3 million people were screened at U.S. airports on Friday and Saturday. That’s the busiest stretch of air travel since mid-March, around the time the pandemic started in the country.

Still, despite the considerable amount of people traveling, the number of travelers crowding at airports this weekend was down 57% from the same weekend last year. In 2019, 26 million passengers and crew passed through U.S. airport screening in the 11 days around Thanksgiving.

10:33 a.m.: Los Angeles County announces new county-specific COVID-19 restrictions

Los Angeles County officials have announced new coronavirus-related restrictions that will prohibit in-person dining for at least three weeks as cases rise throughout the holiday season, according to the Associated Press.

The new rules will take effect Wednesday at 10 p.m., meaning restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars will only be able to offer takeout, drive-thru and delivery services. Officials had warned that restrictions would be enacted if the county’s five-dau average of new cases was above 4,000. By Sunday, the five-day average was 4,097 cases.

Most of California, including Los Angeles County, has been under a nearly state-wide curfew since Saturday, running from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day.

10:20 a.m.: Nevada announces plans to tighten coronavirus restrictions

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced plans on Sunday to tighten the state’s restrictions on businesses as well as public and private gatherings ahead of the holidays to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new restrictions are scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday, and will reduce the capacity limits for restaurants, bars, gyms and casinos to 25% or 50 people, depending on which total is less. The restrictions will also apply to Thanksgiving and other private gatherings, with a total of no more than 10 people from, at most, two households gathering.

State officials reported 2,155 confirmed cases on Sunday, the fourth time in a week that the caseload number surpassed 2,000.

Sunday, November 22

10:44 p.m.: Gov. Newsom and family quarantine after exposure to COVID-19

Gov. Gavin Newsom and his family are under quarantine after three of the governor’s children were exposed to COVID-19.

According to Newsom’s office, the family learned late Friday the children were exposed to a California Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for the virus.

Jen and I had no direct interaction with the officer and wish them a speedy recovery.

Thankfully, the entire family tested negative today. However, consistent with local guidance, we will be quarantining for 14 days.

— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) November 23, 2020

The family waited until Sunday to get tested, and their results came back negative. Still, the governor said they will quarantine for two weeks in compliance with local health guidelines.

One of Newsom’s children was already under quarantine after a possible exposure to an infected classmate at the child’s private school, which has resumed in-person learning.

Newsom’s office says the family will continue to be tested regularly.

11:12 a.m.: Coronavirus cases surge in California ahead of Thanksgiving

Health officials say the number of coronavirus cases in California is surging to the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

The California Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 15,000 cases Saturday and another 14,000 cases on Sunday. They come even before the Thanksgiving holiday that has many health officials concerned.

A curfew took effect Saturday requiring people to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. affecting most Californians, and Los Angeles is on the verge of an even tougher lockdown.

Meanwhile, more than 200 people at a San Francisco Bay Area racetrack have tested positive.

—Associated Press

Saturday, November 21

12:36 p.m.: Newsom’s child quarantined for possible virus exposure

A spokesman says one of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s children may have been exposed to the coronavirus at school and is in quarantine.

Nathan Click says the child began a 14-day quarantine after the family was told a classmate at the private school in Sacramento had tested positive for COVID-19. He says the family is following state protocols, and the governor, his wife and four children have all tested negative for the virus.

Newsom said last month that his children had returned to their school, sparking criticism even as millions of public schoolchildren continue to study through distance learning.

—Associated Press

Friday, November 20

6:31 p.m.: North, South Sacramento businesses say curfew will have little impact

Businesses outside of Sacramento’s central core have been negatively impacted by previous pandemic orders because of their location. So will a new curfew affect them? 

While the state’s new restrictions might stop socialization at night, many businesses in north and south Sacramento already close before 10.

Corey DeRoo with the Florin Road Business Partnership says the only institutions that could potentially have their hours curtailed are those considered essential under state guidelines.

“Honestly not that many, I know that we have upwards of a hundred restaurants in our district alone, so with that many essential services, I don’t see it being that impacted,” she said.

Ross Hendrickx of the Del Paso Heights Community Association says this will change next to nothing. 

“Everybody knows local law enforcement won’t be enforcing it, so everybody’s going to go about their business as usual,” he said.

The Sacramento sheriff has already said his deputies will not cite or arrest anyone violating the order.

6:24 p.m.: State unemployment rate drops below 10%

California’s unemployment rate has dipped below 10% for the first time since March. 

A new report from the state Employment Development Department shows the state added 145,500 jobs in October, dropping the unemployment rate to 9.3%. 

California has now recovered about 44% of the more than 2.6 million jobs it lost in the spring. 

But those gains could be short-lived as a surge of cases has already prompted new restrictions, including a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for most of the state.

3:16 p.m.: America hits highest daily COVID-19 death toll since May

The coronavirus surge is taking an increasingly dire toll across the U.S. just as a vaccine appears close at hand, according to the Associated Press.

The country is now averaging over 1,300 COVID-19 deaths per day — the highest since the calamitous spring in and around New York City early on in the pandemic. Total confirmed infections have eclipsed more than 11.8 million nationally, after the biggest one-day gain on record, totaling 188,000 infections reported on Thursday.

The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 hit another all-time high at more than 80,000.

2:31 p.m: CDC warns Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is strongly recommending that people stay home for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, according to NPR.

With the holiday less than one week away, the agency is saying that any trips to see friends, families, or loved ones is simply inadvisable right now.

Instead, the CDC recommends that people spend Thanksgiving with the people who are active members of their households for at least the past two weeks. This suggestion does not include family or friends somebody has seen often. If so, then a mask would need to be worn even inside your own home.

If a person must travel, the CDC has advised that you protect yourself and others by wearing a mask, keeping six feet from others, and frequent handwashing. However, the agency stressed that celebrating virtually or with the people you live with this year is the safest option.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 250,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, currently the highest rate in the world. The virus hotspots appear to be in the middle of the country, particularly with records for new cases per capita being set from Montana to Nebraska.

The American Automobile Association has predicted that while fewer Americans will be traveling this holiday season, it still estimates nearly 50 million people will travel.

12:42 p.m.: Change is coming to Ski Resorts this winter due to pandemic

The ski season starts on Friday at Heavenly Mountain and Northstar California resorts in South Lake Tahoe, but COVID-19 will bring a few changes to this year’s season.

Masks will now be required for all skiers and snowboarders waiting in line outside, on the chair lifts, and indoors.

Only beginner and intermediate trails will be open initially, so advance reservations will have to be made for season pass holders. Spokesperson Russell Carlton with Heavenly Ski Resort said that since the resorts are located in purple tier counties, specific rules have to be followed.

“There will be no indoor dining at Heavenly and Northstar,” Carlton said. “But there will be outdoor grab and go options as well. Guests, really, you need to come prepared to hanging out outside for the majority of the day.”

Carlton said that he expects the resorts will book up on certain days, but as conditions improve, they will be able to accommodate more people. Skiers will also have access to Heavenly at the California Base Area and not the gondola.

12:38 p.m.: Rural Northern California counties unlikely to follow curfew, assemblyman says

On Thursday California announced starting Saturday it would impose a curfew for non-essential businesses and travel from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. While reaction to the curfew has been swift, Yuba City Republican State Assemblyman James Gallagher is skeptical.

“Shutting down businesses, telling people they can’t go out after 10 o’clock, as if the virus only shows up after 10 o’clock or something?” Gallagher said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Gallagher predicts many rural counties won’t enforce the new rules. He was behind a successful legal challenge to one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive orders on election administration, but Gallager said he likely wouldn’t be challenging the new curfew.

12:29 p.m.: Sacramento County sheriff says he won’t enforce curfew rules

The Sacramento County sheriff said his deputies will not be enforcing California’s new late-night curfew intended to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Sheriff Scott Jones issued a statement saying his office won’t ask deputies to enforce public health orders. The statement said that his department will “not be determining compliance with, or enforcing compliance of health or emergency orders.”

This would include a long list of activities such as:

  • Orders related to curfews
  • Staying at home
  • Thanksgiving or other holidays
  • Social gatherings, inside or outside
  • Maximum occupancy orders
  • Mask mandates

In response, Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna said that nobody expected deputies to be the virus police but worried the sheriff’s stance would “embolden others to thumb their nose at the need to wear a mask and stay socially distant” as Thanksgiving approaches.

Thursday, November 19

3:09 p.m.: New California curfew order will start this Saturday

California announced this Thursday a curfew order to slow down the state’s surging coronavirus outbreak ahead of the holidays, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.

The curfew announcement came after 40 counties moved into more restrictive COVID-19 reopening tiers as cases and hospitalizations surged. Newsom had hinted at a possible curfew, especially as the state reported a nearly 50% spike in infections during the first week in November.

The curfew will take effect at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 21, and remain in effect until 5 a.m. Dec. 21. All “non-essential work, movement, and gatherings” are to stop between 10 p.m. until 5 a.m.. The order covers counties in the most restrictive purple coronavirus tier.

94% of the state’s population will face curfews. Several other states and local governments have also recently implemented curfews, including Ohio and New York.

3:05 p.m.: Gov. Gavin Newsom still in hot water for French Laundry dinner party

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has apologized and taken responsibility for his decision to attend a friend’s outdoor birthday dinner earlier this month, according to the Associated Press.

New photos are raising questions about how truthful he’s been in describing the dinner.  The photos also reveal him in the company of multiple lobbyists. The images, obtained by Fox 11 in Los Angeles, threaten to further damage Newsom’s credibility at a time when coronavirus cases are rising, and he is urging people not to gather.

Newsom’s assertion that the dinner was outdoors seems to contradict the photos as it appears to show the table in a room enclosed on at least three sides.

2:12 p.m.: San Diego County health officials will issue letters, fines, public shaming to enforce coronavirus safety measures

California officials are struggling over whether to emphasize enforcement or persuasion as coronavirus infection rates soar, according to the Associated Press.

In San Diego County, health inspectors issue stern warning letters that threaten criminal prosecution and $1,000 fines. The county is also publishing its cease-and-desist letters on its website, bringing unwanted publicity as officials push companies to comply with tightening restrictions.

San Diego officials say posting the letters is an effort for more transparency and efficiency. But experts call it public shaming that could bring mixed results.

11:16 a.m.: A large portion of Californians will soon lose unemployment benefits

According to a new analysis from the California Policy Lab, nearly 750,000 Californians will soon lose their unemployment benefits.

The analysis calls this the “unemployment cliff,” and it’s just six weeks away. Two different programs are involved, one that covers workers who usually wouldn’t be eligible for unemployment insurance, and another which extends benefits.

Congress acted fast in the early days of the pandemic, passing the CARES Act in March when December seemed like more than enough time to tame the virus and begin rebuilding the economy, but the pandemic worsened.

UCLA economics professor and California Policy Lab faculty director  Dr. Till von Watcher co-authored the analysis and said that another huge number of Californians could lose their benefits in the spring.

“There’s a second cliff that’s occurring in May when a second extension program is set to expire,” von Watcher said, “[And] another 390,000 regular [unemployed insurance] claimants are projected to exhaust.”

He also said that the loss of this safety net for that large number of people in a few months will have dire implications for California’s economy — not just in terms of discretionary spending but also food and housing.

11:02 a.m.: Nevada COVID-19 cases skyrocket to highest peak

The number of coronavirus hospitalizations in Nevada spiked to its highest since the start of the pandemic, as an autumn surge continues to rewrite the state’s record book.

Officials reported on Wednesday that 1,246 confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients were hospitalized in the state — more than twice as many three weeks ago. Gov. Steve Sisolak said he was still gathering information and planned to decide whether to implement new restrictions.

In Reno, the Renown Regional Medical Center has set up two floors of supplemental hospital beds in a parking structure adjacent to the hospital to accommodate the additional surge.

10:29 a.m.: The holiday testing surge is causing bottlenecks, delays in results

More people are waiting for hours in long lines to get tested for the coronavirus as cases surge nationwide, according to the Associated Press.

Many families are attempting to gather for the holidays and are opting to get tested. Laboratories warn that chronic shortages of critical supplies will likely create more bottlenecks and delays in delivering timely results.

While the U.S. has already doubled its daily testing numbers since summer, it’s still not enough to keep up with the pace of the outbreak, which has swelled beyond 11 million cases and 250,000 deaths nationwide.

9:48 a.m.: No, social distancing won’t weaken your immune system

Health experts say you don’t need to worry about social distancing weakening your immune system, according to the Associated Press.

Our immune systems are hard at work even when we’re six feet apart from others and are stuck at home all day. A variety of germs keep our immune systems active when they’re indoors and outdoors. Childhood vaccinations and other built-up immunity are long-lived and won’t vanish because of short-term lifestyle changes.

Experts say anyone worried about their immune health during the pandemic should get the seasonal flu shot and practice good habits like stress management, healthy eating, regular exercise and sleep hygiene.

Wednesday, November 18

6:30 p.m.: Coronavirus impact on California budget not be as large as feared, analysts say

California’s state budget outlook is better than expected. Lawmakers dealt with an unprecedented deficit this year, but  they’ll have more to work with next year.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office projects the state will have a one-time windfall of around $26 billion next year. They say the money is coming from better-than-expected tax revenues from higher earners. They also say this year’s budget was a bit of an overcorrection to the projected $54 billion deficit.

So what could lawmakers do with this windfall? Their fiscal analysts recommend using half to replenish budget reserves and make up deferred payments to schools, and the rest for pandemic aid and economic recovery.

This is good news for state lawmakers. But the LAO report also warns that operating deficits will be a growing budget issue in the years ahead. 

2:57 p.m.: FDA approves first at-home COVID-19 test

U.S. regulators are allowing emergency use of the first rapid-response coronavirus test that can be done entirely at home, according to the Associated Press.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration announced the critical step in U.S. efforts to expand testing options for COVID-19. But the test will require a prescription, likely limiting its initial use.

The FDA granted emergency authorization to the 30-minute test kit from Lucira Health, a California manufacturer. Previously the FDA had only allowed the use of a handful of tests that allowed people to collect samples at home, which then had to be shipped to a lab to be processed.

2:54 p.m: Agricultural industry asks to make farmworkers priority for potential vaccines

California farm workers would be among the first people to receive a coronavirus vaccine if the agriculture industry has its way.

Robert Guenter is with the Washington D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association. On CapRadio’s “Insight” Wednesday, he said industry leaders have written a letter to President Donald Trump and have had discussions with President-elect Biden’s transition team, “with the thought process of including agriculture workers, agriculture industry as a high priority in the vaccines,.”

Along with farm workers, Guenter says people who work in food processing and distribution should also be among the first to get the vaccine.

“Early on in the COVID pandemic, agriculture, food was designated a high priority and as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure,” he said.

Health care workers will likely be the first-in-line to get a vaccine once it becomes available, followed by workers in essential sectors like law enforcement and adults with high-risk medical conditions.

2:04 p.m.: Nevada residents get new app to report service requests, COVID-19 violations

County officials in Nevada have launched a new reporting tool allowing residents to make requests for general services and bring attention to issues such as COVID-19 restriction violations, according to the Associated Press.

The FixIt app in Clark County allows residents in Las Vegas and surrounding suburbs to report issues based on their location by submitting pictures and written descriptions of their concerns. The app does not only focus on the coronavirus but also allows residents to report issues such as potholes, graffiti, street lights, trash, short-term rentals, and also COVID-19 violations. Residents can also track the progress of their reports.

County staff will be able to view and manage requests. It’s unclear how quickly requests are expected to be resolved or how many staff members are dedicated to staying on top of reports.

10:46 a.m.: Yuba City businesses flout new state COVID-19 restrictions

California has imposed new coronavirus restrictions on businesses in most of the state’s counties after a surge of new cases, according to the Associated Press.

The new rules require retailers to limit customer capacity to 25% during the busy holiday shopping season. They also require restaurants to halt indoor dining.

But on Tuesday in Yuba City, there was little evidence that the rules have changed anything. Many restaurants were open with customers eating inside. Some of the diners said they would follow the rules by wearing masks and keeping their distance from others, but they were unwilling to stop visiting struggling local businesses.

10:41 a.m.: Top state medical association officials attended same dinner party as Newsom

Two top officials at the California Medical Association attended a birthday party alongside Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month as the state was seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases, according to the Associated Press.

CMA spokesperson Anthony York said the group’s CEO Dustin Corcoran and Senior Vice-President Janus Norman were at the Nov. 6 dinner.

It was held at the upscale French Laundry restaurant in wine country to celebrate the 50th birthday of Newsom’s friend and lobbyist Jason Kinney. Newsom has apologized for attending and said he made a bad mistake.

California guidelines urge people to gather in groups of three separate households or less.

9:59 a.m.: Los Angeles County prepares for a mandatory curfew, new business restrictions

Los Angeles County has seen daily confirmed cases more than double in the last two weeks to nearly 2,900. On Tuesday, the county ordered nonessential retail businesses to limit indoor capacity to 25% and restaurants to 50% capacity outdoors.

All those businesses must close at 10 p.m. The changes will take effect on Friday, Nov. 20. If daily cases rise to 4,500 or hospitalizations top 2,000, the county will impose a three-week lockdown that will restrict people to their homes for all but essential trips.

The nighttime curfew would run from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Tuesday, November 17

6:00 p.m.: California childcare providers say they may close without state support

California’s childcare providers are sounding the alarm that they need more state support,  and they may not be able to weather the pandemic without it.

Charlotte Neal runs a daycare in Sacramento. She says parents start dropping their kids off as early as 3 a.m.

“These are essential workers who don’t have the option of staying home with their kids,” Neal said. “They need childcare, or they can’t work.”

Neal says childcare providers haven’t had an easy go during the pandemic. More than 5,000 day care centers have closed this year, due in part to increased costs for things like cleaning supplies and wi-fi for distance learning, according to their labor union, a partnership with SEIU.

“Without us, California would grind to a halt, and that’s what’s going to happen if the state doesn’t wake up and deal right now with this crisis in our childcare system,” Neal said.

Neal and other childcare providers are asking the state to reimburse some of their additional bills. They say if more daycares close, there’ll be a child care shortage when California’s economy starts to recover.

2:19 p.m.: Dr. Fauci recommends ‘uniform wearing of masks’

Dr. Anthony Fauci has recommended that Americans adhere to a “uniform wearing of masks” to help curb the surge of coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to the Associated Press.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert told CNN on Tuesday that “we need to intensify public health strategies,” which includes mask-wearing, hand washing, and avoiding crowds and gathering places.

On Friday, the U.S. hit a record daily high of more than 184,000 COVID-19 cases, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Pharmaceutical company Moderna announced on Monday that early data suggests its vaccine candidate provides strong protection against the virus. Last week, their competitor, Pfizer, announced that their vaccine was similarly effective.

“From a scientific and potential public health standpoint, this is an extraordinarily important advance,” Fauci told Rachel Martin on Morning Edition Tuesday.

All vaccine candidates must go through independent data and safety monitoring before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves it for use.

Fauci said it’s important for people “to be motivated to hang in there a bit longer and double down on public health measures” in the meantime.

“I just can’t understand why there’s pushback against that. They’re not that difficult to do. And they save lives,” Fauci said.

The U.S. leads the world in both coronavirus cases and deaths, totaling 11.2 million cases and 247,000 deaths, respectively.

11:38 a.m.: Las Vegas schools will continue with remote learning for now

Surging COVID-19 cases in metro Las Vegas have prompted the Clark County School District to reconsider their partial in-person learning plans, according to the Associated Press.

The school district has decided to postpone any resumption of partial in-class learning and will continue with remote learning through at least the end of the calendar year. District Superintendent Jesus Jara announced Monday that teachers and staff would continue to work at home through Dec. 18, when the first semester ends.

Jara said a reopening plan will be presented to the district board in early January. Since mid-March, the district has used remote learning, but officials have been discussing how to reopen safely for in-person learning since last summer.

11:28 a.m.: COVID-19 vaccines still need human volunteers before release

While two COVID-19 vaccines are nearing completion, scientists said it’s critical to recruit enough volunteers to finish the studies, according to the Associated Press.

Moderna and competitor Pfizer recently announced preliminary results showing their vaccines appear to be strongly effective. Still, more vaccine types will be needed to meet global demand due to how different vaccine types may work better in different people. This can only be confirmed after more testing.

“We still need volunteers,” stressed National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, urging Americans to sign up.

Most vaccines in late-stage testing worldwide target the “spike” protein on the coronavirus surface, but many scientists are using a variety of technologies, some new, and some are sticking with older vaccine development approaches.

Monday, November 16

6:34 p.m.: Food insecurity increases during the pandemic

Around 50 million American households are struggling with food insecurity, and many are above the poverty line and thus ineligible for benefits that help low income families.

The number of homes experiencing food insecurity — at least one person not having enough to eat for a year — has jumped from 37 million two years ago to 50 million now.  Blake Young is with the Sacramento Food Bank. He says California’s numbers are in line with the nation’s — and it’s all tied to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately for Sacramento, it’s higher than the state and national average, Young told CapRadio’s Insight. “We had a crisis on our hands prior to the pandemic.  And you overlay a pandemic, it’s just been — and with the uncertainty — it’s been really challenging for people.”

You can hear the entire interview on Monday’s Insight program here.

3:12 p.m.: California facing fastest surge of COVID-19 cases since start of the pandemic

During a live-streamed press conference on Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned that health officials are “sounding the alarm” over the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.

The state on Tuesday moved forty counties back to more restrictive reopening tiers and tightened the rules on mask-wearing in public. Newsom also announced some changes to the state’s tiered reopening system.

Under the new system, counties will move back levels within one week instead of two, and some counties may move back multiple tiers. Counties will also have to make changes through the affected industries more swiftly instead of the previous 72-hour waiting period.

“The spread of COVID-19, if left unchecked, could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes,” Newsom said in a news release. “That’s why we are pulling an emergency break in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. Now is the time to do all we can government at all levels and Californians across the state to flatten the curve again as we have done before.”

Newsom said the state is currently facing a 4.6% 14-day average and a 5% 7-day average test positive rate during the live-streamed press conference, which he said is better than the 9.8% national 7-day average but still worrisome.

Out of the 40 counties sliding back to more restrictive tiers, 28 of those will be going back into the most restrictive purple tier, signaling widespread COVID-19 transmission. That means 94% of Californians will be facing these new restrictions by Tuesday, if not already in the purple tier.

Some Northern California counties like Humbolt, Napa and San Francisco will be moving back two tier levels.

3:04 p.m.: Meatpacking plant fined by Cal/OSHA for COVID-19 safety violations

Cal/OSHA has fined a Smithfield Foods of Virginia-owned meatpacking plant in Southern California due to COVID-19 safety violations, according to the Associated Press.

The huge Los Angeles Farmer John meatpacking plant flouted safety violations and exposed more than 300 workers to COVID-19 infections, including three who were hospitalized. The plan was fined more than $58,000.

Smithfield Foods of Virginia said it has done to great lengths to protect its employees from the virus and will appeal. The United Food and Commercial Workers union said its complaints prompted the investigation after failing to get a satisfactory response from Farmer John.

The company is well known for its hot dogs, sausages, bacon and other pork products.

2:24 p.m.: David Copperfield suspending Las Vegas show after crew member tests positive for COVID-19

Illusionist David Copperfield is suspending his Las Vegas stage show after a crew member tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday that the legendary magician had “no idea yet” when his production at the MGM Grand will resume.

According to the newspaper, an internal email from MGM Resorts International officials on Friday said that one of his illusion techs had been exposed to the virus. Copperfield confirmed the backstage crew member’s diagnosis on Sunday.

In a statement, Copperfield said his entire crew would be tested again. His stage show was one of several residency productions across MGM Resorts that reopened Nov. 6.

11:30 a.m.: Holiday travel is expected to plummet due to pandemic

While Thanksgiving is a major travel holiday, there are predictions that fewer people will be hitting the road, flying, or taking the train especially since health officials are urging people to stay home.

The American Automobile Association expects airlines to be hard hit despite the steep price cuts in holiday plane fares — the lowest they have been in two years. Only 2.5 million people are expected to fly to their destinations, the lowest one-year drop on record.

AAA spokesperson Doug Shupe said that he expects there to be a 10- to 13-percent overall drop.

“That’s the largest year-over-year decline since the 2008 recession when Thanksgiving travel dropped 26%,” said Shupe.

Bus, train, or cruise travel is predicted to drop 76% to just 350,000 travelers.

Shupe stressed that even though travel will be down, the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving will still see the highest road traffic, and drivers can still expect delays at popular bottlenecks.

He also warned drivers to make sure their cars are ready for a road trip because AAA expects to rescue more than 400,000 vehicles stuck on the roadside this holiday.

10:50 a.m.: Folsom Mayor tests positive for COVID-19

City of Folsom Mayor Sarah Aquino tested positive for COVID-19 and announced the news with residents on Nov. 14 through the city’s official Facebook page.

Aquino said that she was exposed to the virus by somebody in her office. After an expedited test and positive result, she decided to self-quarantine in her bedroom and described her symptoms as similar to “a mild case of the flu.”

The rest of the Facebook post describes how the Sacramento County Department of Health Services is partnering with UC Davis Health to provide free COVID-19 testing to county residents.

The mayor did not give out any further details about her condition.

10:24 a.m.: Nevada faces record number of cases, Gov. Sisolak says he feels no COVID-19 symptoms

Nevada hit a record number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row on Saturday. Gov. Steve Sisolak said that the state is at a “critical juncture” and implored residents to stay home and do what they can to protect themselves.

Since Sisolak has tested positive for COVID-19, he has told reporters on Friday that he was not feeling any symptoms and would enter into a quarantine.

9:27 a.m.: Sacramento County COVID-19 hospitalizations double in one week

The number of Sacramento County residents hospitalized with COVID-19 cases nearly doubled over the past week, according to the county health department dashboard.

From Nov. 5 to Nov. 12 the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped from 90 to 177 cases. ICU patients also doubled, from 20 cases to 41. Across the state hospitalizations have increased 51% in the past week, according to CalMatters.

The rise came in the same week Sacramento County was moved to the most restrictive tier in California’s COVID-19 reopening plan, requiring many businesses to suspend indoor activities.

Coronavirus cases are also rising nationally, with around 1 million new cases recorded in the past week.

Sunday, November 15

2:14 p.m.: San Diego restaurants, gyms sue for right to operate indoors

Four San Diego County restaurants and gyms have filed a lawsuit seeking an emergency injunction so they can continue their indoor operations.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of all restaurants and gyms come as 11 California counties are forced to impose stricter limits on businesses after coronavirus cases rose above thresholds established by the state.

Under the purple level of the state’s COVID-19 reopening system, restaurants, gyms, churches and bars will be limited to only outdoor operations.

The businesses assert that the state and county orders interfere with their rights and violate the California Constitution. They are asking a judge to allow them to operate indoors.

—Associated Press

Saturday, November 14

4:06 p.m.: California adds 2,521 new cases, 11 more deaths

California reported 2,521 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 1,018,373. 

There were also 11 deaths reported. In all, 18,225 Californians have died.

Over the last seven days, the state averaged 7,358 cases per day, with 4.4% of tests coming back positive, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The U.S. added more than 184,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, the fourth day in a row that the country has set a record for daily infections, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

Friday, November 13

4:54 p.m.: Gov. Newsom says he shouldn’t have attended restaurant gathering

Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing criticism for attending a posh dinner party at a restaurant last week despite urging Californians to stay home during the pandemic.

The San Francisco Chronicle first reported Newsom and his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom attended a birthday party for a friend and political adviser with at least 10 other people at The French Laundry, a renowned Napa Valley restaurant.

Newsom’s spokesman initially said everyone in attendance followed the restaurant’s health protocols and that the gathering did not violate COVID-19 rules.

That may technically be true, but the episode exposes gaps in the state’s pandemic guidance: Private gatherings of more than three different households are discouraged, but nothing prevents restaurants from seating larger groups together if they ask.

While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner,” the governor said in a statement.

4:10 p.m.: Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak tests positive for coronavirus

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday said he has tested positive for COVID-19. He is the fifth governor to test positive for the coronavirus this year. 

As part of a regular testing protocol, I underwent routine COVID-19 testing on Friday, November 13 in Carson City. A rapid test provided a positive result. I also received a diagnostic PCR test and those results are pending at this time.

— Governor Sisolak (@GovSisolak) November 14, 2020

Sisolak said he was not experiencing any symptoms and was swabbed for a rapid test on Friday morning as a matter of routine. After it yielded a positive result, he also underwent molecular testing and his sample is still being processed. He is the third person in his office to test positive for the virus since early October. 

Sisolak’s announcement comes on a day that Nevada reported 1,857 additional coronavirus cases, the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic.

2:59 p.m.: Nevada’s Clark County School District says employees will work remotely due to pandemic

The Clark County School District in Nevada has announced that most of its employees will work remotely after Gov. Steve Sisolak urged people to stay home and limit the spread of COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

The district is expected to transition to work from home starting on Thursday and continue through Nov. 30. The decision comes as the school board is considering a plan to bring students back to classrooms two days a week starting in January.

Sisolak urged residents to stay home as much as possible for the next two weeks and work from home, or the state might be at risk of a lockdown.

2:53 p.m.: Head of Nevada COVID-19 response team is calling out local officials for not doing enough

The head of Nevada’s COVID-19 response team, Caleb Cage, called out the state’s local elected officials, according to the Associated Press.

Cage said that these officials are undermining efforts to slow the coronavirus’s spread to avert more aggressive statewide mandates and potential business closures in the weeks ahead. On Thursday, he also raised concerns about the lack of restrictions enforcement at businesses in Elko County.

Cage also said that some local leaders have adopted a politically expedient but irresponsible strategy to criticize even the least intrusive efforts to protect Nevadans from a dramatic spike in cases underway statewide. He said that some officials have decided it’s easier to blame Gov. Steve Sisolak for any potential shutdowns.

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

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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