San Francisco Extends Order To Stay At Home

San Francisco indefinitely extended its coronavirus stay-at-home and travel quarantine orders Thursday and warned residents not to gather for New Year’s with people outside their immediate households.

The city has canceled its annual fireworks celebration at the Embarcadero, and police will be assigned to places that normally attract crowds on New Year’s Eve.

Health orders have established a 10 p.m. curfew, and police said warnings and, if warranted, citations would be issued.

San Francisco police also have become aware of social media posts about private New Year’s Eve gatherings and will work with the San Francisco city attorney’s office and public health officials to try to stop them, said city police spokesman Robert Rueca. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

This California City Will Let the Neighbors Sue You for Vaping on Your Own Balcony

Come 2021 the residents of Concord, California, have something exciting to look forward to: not being allowed to vape on their own balconies.

On January 1, the small Bay Area city’s ban on smoking in multi-unit properties takes effect. Once it does, anyone living on a property with two or more units — which would include apartment buildings, duplexes, mobile home parks, and residential care facilities — won’t be allowed to smoke or vape inside their residence.

Stepping out onto the porch isn’t an option either, as the new policy prohibits smoking in “exclusive-use unenclosed areas” like decks and balconies.

Because state law bans smoking cannabis wherever smoking tobacco is prohibited, the city’s new policy means you can’t toke up in your own home either. Californians are also barred from consuming cannabis in public, leaving the apartment-dwelling stoners of Concord with few options but to buy a house or move.

The justification for this new ban rests on the supposed danger that secondhand smoking (and vaping) poses to non-consenting neighbors who might be exposed to noxious cigarette smoke or fruity-smelling vape clouds. …

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Lockdowns likely to be extended as California hospitals fill

California is expected Tuesday to extend strict stay-at-home orders in areas where intensive care units are running out of beds, after Gov. Gavin Newsom warned residents to brace for the effect of a surge upon surge upon surge of coronavirus cases from holiday travel.

Newsom said that even with admissions to hospitals plateauing in some places, the state was destined to move into a “new phase” that it’s been preparing for as it sets up hospital beds in arenas, schools and tents, though it is struggling to staff them.

Intensive care units in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have no capacity remaining, according to state figures, and Newsom said it was “self-evident” his latest stay-home order would be extended in places where hospital ICUs have less than 15% capacity. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press

Beverly Hills foils ‘discreet’ dinner plans at La Scala

Beverly Hills officials last week moved to thwart plans for a “speakeasy”-style New Year’s Eve dinner amid the coronavirus surge at one of the city’s venerable restaurants, reminding the management about Los Angeles County’s dining ban.

The officials were responding to an invitation sent to some area residents from La Scala, the fine-dining Italian restaurant on North Cañon Drive in Beverly Hills, that appeared to signal plans for a secret dinner that would violate restrictions imposed by public health experts. The invitations were put inside the restaurant’s takeout bags.

“Welcome back to the 20’s Prohibition,” read the message, in a formal cursive script. “We are currently taking reservations for New Year’s Eve dinner. Inside.”

The message continued, “Please keep this discreet, but tell all your friends.”

Keith Sterling, a spokesman for the city of Beverly Hills, told The Times by email that city officials contacted La Scala on Christmas Eve about the event to remind its management about the county’s order. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Holidays are creating a ‘viral wildfire’

Los Angeles County health officials are warning of a possible surge in COVID-19 cases following family gatherings and out-of-town trips during the holidays, despite pandemic guidelines that asked the public to stay home.

Under one scenario, experts predict there could be a boost in new coronavirus cases by mid-January, a surge in hospitalizations by late January and early February, and another burst of deaths by early to mid-February.

The quick succession of holidays in the fall and winter months typically allows people to celebrate and spend time with loved ones in a brief period.

But that leaves little time for coronavirus cases to start falling before they spike again, creating surges on top of surges. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Alex Padilla Selected to Fill Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate Seat

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla was appointed to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ seat in the U.S. Senate, making him the first Mexican-American Senator in history.

Gov. Newsom announced Padilla’s selection Tuesday – later posting a candid video call of himself asking Padilla to fill the Senate seat.

“Can you imagine what mom would be thinking now, as I ask you if you want to be the next senator of the United States, of the great state of California?” Newsom said in the video, referring to Padilla’s mother who died in 2018.

Padilla broke into tears, asking Newsom, “Are you serious?” before accepting the position and saying he would “make California proud by getting it done in the U.S. Senate.”

Padilla will serve the remaining two years of Vice President Harris’ term, beating out candidates such as Reps. Karen Bass, Barbara Lee and Katie Porter.

“Through his tenacity, integrity, smarts and grit, California is gaining a tested fighter in their corner who will be a fierce ally in D.C., lifting up our state’s values and making sure we secure the critical resources to emerge stronger from this pandemic,” Newsom said. “He will be a Senator for all Californians.”

In a press release, Newsom highlighted Padilla’s past efforts in passing legislation for climate change, gun safety and expanding college access to English language learners.

“I’m going to the Senate to get our economy back on track and our people back to work,” Padilla said in a written statement. “I’m going to the Senate so we can finally make real progress on our long-challenges… from climate change to immigration reform to common-sense gun safety.”

Before becoming California Secretary of State in 2015, Padilla served in the L.A. City Council and State Senate. Newsom will now be tasked with filling Padilla’s Secretary of State position.

This article was originally published by LA Weekly.

State gets its first Latino U.S. senator: Alex Padilla

Alex Padilla, a Los Angeles Democrat who once developed software for satellites but later rose through local and state political office to become California secretary of state, was chosen Tuesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom to serve in the U.S. Senate — an appointment that tears down a barrier for Latinos that has stood as long as California’s statehood.

Padilla, a longtime Newsom ally, will become the first Latino to represent California in the Senate, succeeding another history-making politician, Sen. Kamala Harris. Harris, who was the second Black woman and first South Asian to serve in the Senate, in November became the first woman elected vice president of the United States.

“Through his tenacity, integrity, smarts and grit, California is gaining a tested fighter in their corner who will be a fierce ally in D.C., lifting up our state’s values and making sure we secure the critical resources to emerge stronger from this pandemic. He will be a senator for all Californians,” Newsom said in a statement released Tuesday morning. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

California opens field hospitals to cope with crush of coronavirus cases

With intensive care capacity buckling under an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, California has opened four field hospitals where dozens of patients are being treated and the state is bringing in hundreds of additional health care providers.

The majority of the state — all of Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley — continued to be at, or far past, intensive care capacity as of Monday as COVID-19 hospitalizations hit new peaks. Statewide, intensive care availability was 2.5%.

And the pressure on hospitals won’t be abating soon. California reported a record-smashing 62,529 new cases on Monday, a grim reminder that the surge is still swelling and a harbinger of further increases in patients needing intensive care in the coming weeks. …

Click here to read the new article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Defund the police? Oakland’s budget shortfall could force cuts

For months, Oakland leaders have considered cutting the city’s $290 million police budget in half, a goal set to meet the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement and turn a department haunted by past misconduct into a national model.

Now, as city officials struggle to fill a widening budget hole, a memo by the interim police chief provides the first glimpse of what a more modest cut might look like.

It could mean that activists get some of their demands met, such as relieving police of their duty to provide security when city workers clear homeless encampments. But it could also mean freezing youth mentorships, ending foot patrols of the bustling Uptown district, and paring back a celebrated program to curb gun violence. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Gov. Newsom’s Pandemic Response Fuels Talk of Recall Vote

Among the many catchphrases coined by Gov. Gavin Newsom during his livestreamed briefings about California’s COVID-19 emergency is his promise to point out “trend lines before they become headlines” — a reminder that warning signs often appear long before things reach a crisis point.

It’s an observation that could also apply to Newsom’s political fortunes. As he slogs through an unparalleled crisis, the 53-year-old Democrat finds himself staring at the most unexpected of trend lines: the very real chance of a special statewide election in 2021 in which voters could remove him from office.

Only once has a California governor faced a recall: the 2003 election that cut short the tenure of Gov. Gray Davis. By most measures, the current circumstances make for an ill-fitting comparison — whereas Davis had narrowly won reelection the year before and was widely unpopular, Newsom won the governorship in 2018 by the largest margin in modern history and has maintained a strong job approval rating. …

Click here to read the full article from the LA Times.