Welcome back to your daily dose of California news! I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, hoping you had a relaxing holiday weekend. Here’s some of what’s been happening in our state.
In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.
Newsom: Stay-at-home order likely to be extended 3 weeks
California became the first state to record 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases, reaching the milestone Christmas Eve as many of its residents were under a strict stay-at-home order and hospitals were flooded with the largest crush of cases since the pandemic began.
As a result, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the stay-at-home order will likely be extended for another three weeks. The official word will come Tuesday from California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly.
The state-mandated shutdowns in several areas of the state were set to expire Dec. 28, according to the California Department of Public Health. If extended, the order will continue to prohibit residents from gathering; essential businesses must continue to operate at significantly lower capacity; bars, wineries, salons and restaurant dining will remain shut down and hotels can only be open for critical infrastructure support.
Newsom said the state must prepare for an inevitable “surge on top of a surge” as the holiday season continues.
California nursing homes await vaccines
On the vaccine front, more than 260,000 doses have been given to essential health care workers in California who are likely to work with COVID-19 patients. CVS and Walgreens, the two main pharmacies participating in the federal vaccine program, announced that they would be distributing vaccines to additional skilled nursing and long-term care facilities this week across the United States beginning Monday.
While both pharmacies are contracted to vaccinate staff as well as residents, exactly who at these facilities will be getting vaccinated first remains unclear as California has prioritized health care workers.
As of Friday, people ages 65 and older represent 10% of the coronavirus cases in California, but 74% of the deaths related to the virus. Nearly 67,000 health care workers in the state have had the virus and 249 have died. The California Department of Public Health has said it expects to have enough supplies to vaccinate most Californians by summer 2021.
Northern California hospitals postpone non-urgent surgeries
As a result of overcrowding in hospitals due to COVID-19 cases, Kaiser Permanente announced Christmas weekend that it will be postponing “elective and non-urgent surgeries and procedures” through Jan. 4 at its Northern California facilities.
Procedures not postponed at Kaiser include cancer cases, presumed cancer cases or other urgent surgeries and procedures, “as well as any situation in which postponing surgery would have a negative impact on the patient’s medical condition, including pain,” the organization said in a statement.
Other Bay Area hospitals have taken similar tacks, including Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose and John Muir Medical Center in Concord and Walnut Creek.
John Muir Medical Center said that “rescheduling all elective surgeries and procedures allows us greater flexibility with staffing resources to redeploy them to areas of our hospitals where they are needed most as we continue to see an increase in COVID-19 patients.”
A spokeswoman for Good Samaritan Hospital said she is not sure when the hospital will resume non-urgent procedures.
Powerful storm hits Southern California
“LA Rain” trended on Twitter for several hours after the City of Angels received its first significant storm of the winter season overnight Sunday. The storm, which was accompanied by lightning, thunder and hail, left as much as 12 inches of snow in high-elevation mountain areas and half an inch of rain in downtown L.A. before dawn Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Showers and isolated thunderstorms continued into late afternoon, bringing the region its first significant rainfall since April.
Storms of this kind in areas not accustomed to them bring certain hazards, including mudslides in areas recently affected by wildfires as debris can quickly flow in shallow, burned areas. The L.A. County Fire Department advised residents to steer clear of flooded areas, catch basins, canyons and other places vulnerable to floods.
Driving conditions were expected to clear by Tuesday; the forecast is sunny with a high of 64 degrees.
Bite-sized news bits
- Breonna Taylor sculpture vandalized in Oakland. A ceramic bust in Oakland honoring the 26-year-old Black woman shot and killed by Louisville police during a botched drug raid was vandalized in downtown Oakland over the weekend, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Erected in Latham Square only two weeks ago, the ceramic sculpture had sections of it smashed off Saturday, said its artist, Leo Carson. “I was sad and angry,” he said. “Really, it’s an attack on Breonna Taylor and Black Lives Matter, and it’s racist intimidation.” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf tweeted Monday that “Oakland will not tolerate acts of hatred” and shared the link of Carson’s GoFundMe page, which seeks donations to pay for the bust’s repairs. As of this writing, the campaign, which had a goal of $5,000, had raised nearly $10,000.
- Lincoln statue defaced at city hall. Across the Bay in San Francisco, a statue of Abraham Lincoln received an unexpected makeover when vandals smeared red paint on the Civil War president’s face. The move was part of an emerging reinterpretation of Lincoln’s legacy — and is not limited to statues. Jeremiah Jeffries, who is leading a committee wanting to rename the city’s Lincoln High School, doesn’t believe Lincoln cared about Black lives. “He was not the best of his time, and he is no hero or liberator of Black people,” he said. “He is a person white people want Black people to look up to as a hero and liberator.” The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the damage was superficial and city workers were able to clean it up Monday. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
- Aunt Becky released from prison after serving 2-month sentence in college bribery scheme. “Full House” star Lori Loughlin has been released from prison after serving her two-month sentence for paying half a million dollars in bribes to get her two daughters into USC as crew recruits even though neither played the sport. In addition to the prison term, the actress was fined $150,000, plus two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. Loughlin’s husband, Mossimo Giannulli, is currently serving a five-month prison sentence for the same and additional charges.
- California’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that inmates convicted of nonviolent sex crimes may be eligible for early parole consideration as part of a ballot measure that nearly two-thirds of voters approved in 2016, the Associated Press reported.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Los Angeles Times, The Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle
As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at [email protected].