L.A. County Sees A Healthy Decline In COVID Hospitalizations

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Los Angeles County has dropped below 1,000 for the first time in two months — underscoring the region’s slow but steady progress in turning the tide of the latest coronavirus surge.

On Tuesday, 991 coronavirus-positive patients were receiving hospital care countywide. That’s down about 40% from the start of September, state data show.

In mid-August — the height of the current Delta-variant-fueled wave — nearly 1,800 people countywide were hospitalized with COVID-19 on some days.

The region has also seen a significant decline in the number of people ill enough to require intensive care. As of Tuesday, 305 patients were in intensive care units throughout the county, a 31% drop since the beginning of the month.

California’s most populous county both reflects and dictates the pandemic’s statewide trajectory. Statewide, 5,986 coronavirus-positive patients were hospitalized Tuesday, a 28% drop since the start of the month. …

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

California’s New Worker Protection Law Targets Amazon’s Retail Warehouses

California has become the first state to implement a law that addresses working conditions for warehouse workers, like those for Amazon and other major companies.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 701, which takes effect in the new year, into law on Wednesday. The law aims to address the impact of quotas on worker injuries and health.

It establishes new standards for companies to make clear to warehouse staff what their production quotas are. The legislation ensures workers cannot be fired or retaliated against for failing to meet an unsafe quota.

“We cannot allow corporations to put profit over people. The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” Newsom said in a statement. …

Click here to read the full article from NPR.

Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest Unscathed By Wildfire

The ancient massive trees of Sequoia National Park’s famed Giant Forest were unscathed Tuesday even though a wildfire has been burning near them on the western side of California’s Sierra Nevada for nearly two weeks.

“As of right now we don’t have any damage to any of our trees,” said fire information officer Mark Garrett.

The KNP Complex, two lightning-sparked fires that merged, has spread over more than 39 square miles (101 square kilometers), feeding on other types of trees that also live on the high-elevation slopes of the mountain range.

Giant Forest is home to about 2,000 sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree, which is considered the world’s largest by volume and is a must-see for visitors to the national park.

The fire recently entered the perimeter of Giant Forest near a cluster of huge trees called the Four Guardsmen but their bases had been wrapped in fire-resistant material and crews had raked and cleared vegetation that could help spread the fire, Garrett said. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.

California Water Agencies Resolve Colorado River Dispute

Two major California water agencies have settled a lawsuit that once threatened to derail a multi-state agreement to protect a river that serves millions of people in the U.S. West amid gripping drought.

The Imperial Irrigation District, the largest single recipient of Colorado River water, sued the Metropolitan Water District twice in the past two years. The agencies announced Monday they have reached a settlement that resolves both lawsuits.

Under the agreement, Imperial can store water in Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada border under Metropolitan’s account. Imperial will contribute water under a regional drought contingency plan if California is called on to help stave off further water cuts.

Imperial spokesman Antonio Ortega said the agency is hopeful that its partners in California and across the Colorado River basin recognize the opportunities to work together. The river serves 40 million people in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico. …

Click here to read the full story from the Associated Press.

‘Smoldering Resentment’ In Red California

On election day, Denise Pickens had a surprising feeling: hope.

Surely, she figured, Gov. Gavin Newsom would be booted out of office. Or at least get a good scare.

There was such fervor here in rural Lassen County — where a whopping 84% of voters supported the recall, the highest percentage in the state — that it was hard not to believe it could happen.

Then, Newsom’s landslide victory landed like a kick in the shin with a steel-toed boot.

“I went to bed really wanting to put a ‘for sale’ sign in front of my house,” said Pickens, 50, as she sipped a chai tea latte outside Artisan Coffee in Janesville, population 1,400.

Once again, the votes of vast, rural Northern California, which overwhelmingly supported the recall, were drowned out by urban liberals, Pickens said.

As for the California Republican Party, which had its best shot in over a decade of governing the state?

“Ineffective, as usual,” said Pickens, a longtime Republican. …

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

Failed Recall Widens Rifts In GOP

California Republicans thought they found a unifying rallying cry in the recall attempt against Gov. Gavin Newsom. Instead, the campaign exposed — and even worsened — some of the long-standing clashes between the establishment and grass-roots base, while leaving unsettled the question of how the party can stop its losing streak in the state.

The GOP can take comfort in knowing it made Newsom sweat far more than any Democrat has in the last decade of statewide races, at least until the polls closed and the governor easily prevailed.

The lopsided outcome underscores how the party’s daunting climb back to political relevance is made all the more difficult by the recall effort’s missed opportunities and internecine squabbles.

The state party failed to coalesce around a candidate to replace Newsom or muster the money to counter the governor’s sizable war chest. The candidate long seen by Republican leaders as a potential savior — Kevin Faulconer, the moderate former mayor of San Diego — failed to gain traction with voters. Larry Elder captivated the conservative base, but moderates and hard-liners alike worry about his ability to expand his support if he runs for governor next year. …

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

Larry Elder Emerges As Face Of GOP In California

Although the effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom failed, the lightning two-month campaign appears to have had at least one clear beneficiary: Larry Elder.

The conservative talk radio host jumped to the front of the pack of 46 recall challengers soon after he entered the race on July 12, enhancing his brand as a media provocateur and potentially paving the way for a future run for office.

His showing Tuesday, when he led the challengers by a wide margin, could establish him as the putative leader of the state’s Republican Party.

Some of his most ardent followers have said they hope Elder will run next year, to challenge Newsom for a second time. …

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

5 Takeaways After Newsom Survives Recall Attempt

California Gov. Gavin Newsom ably fended off a recall attempt from Republicans on Tuesday, changing the stakes of the contest from a referendum on his own performance and into a partisan fight over Trumpism and the coronavirus.

Five takeaways from Newsom’s victory:

COVID PRECAUTIONS CAN HELP DEMOCRATS

Republicans intended the recall to be a referendum on Democrats’ rule of California, and the homelessness, crime, high housing costs and energy problems that accompanied it. But in a bit of political maneuvering — and with the help of the spreading delta variant — Newsom turned it into a referendum on Republicans’ opposition to precautions against the coronavirus.

The Republicans running to replace Newsom opposed mask and vaccine mandates, and the California governor was happy to highlight that. Newsom aired an ad calling the recall “a matter of life and death” and accusing the top Republican candidate, talk radio host Larry Elder, of “peddling deadly conspiracy theories.” …

Click here to read the full article from AP News.

Where Californians Are Moving. Texas? Idaho?

If there’s one thing the candidates vying to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom can agree on, it’s that too many Californians are fleeing the state.

While kicking off her campaign, Caitlyn Jenner shared that a fellow private plane owner was “packing up his hangar” for Arizona because he couldn’t stand to see any more homeless people. Kevin Paffrath, a YouTube star running as a Democrat, began his candidacy announcement by listing reasons for trading in “broken” California for Florida’s greener pastures.

In a recent debate, the Republican candidate Kevin Faulconer said that if you named a state, any state, Californians were headed there.

Sure, there’s some truth to what’s been called the “California exodus”: More Californians are relocating to other states than are moving here from elsewhere in the country. But that’s by no means a new trend — it’s been that way for more than 30 years. …

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

COVID in Schools: California To Clarify Independent Study Law

Students who are sidelined by the delta variant of COVID-19 might be able to take classes via independent study during quarantine, state officials confirmed.

In addition, school districts will not lose state funding over student absences in quarantine, as they would under normal circumstances, the state said Friday.

“The districts will get reimbursed,” Alex Stack, a spokesperson for Gov. Gavin Newsom, said Friday.

Stack’s comments come as state lawmakers seek to introduce amendments to clarify Assembly Bill 130, passed over the summer. The bill mandates that every school offer a semester-long or year-long online independent study option in case parents want to keep their children home for virus safety reasons. …

Click here to read the full article from the Mercury News.