Tesla’s Musk will likely get away with disregarding shutdown orders. Are the right people getting coronavirus tests? Seven counties are allowed to reopen their restaurants.
Good morning, California. It’s Wednesday May 13th.
State, county reluctantly strict enforcement of orders
Well, it doesn’t look like Elon Musk will face arrest – or any kind of retaliation – for reopening his Tesla factory in Fremont against Alameda County‘s orders, which begs the question of how useful those orders are really are.
The showdown is particularly delicate for Governor Gavin Newsom. By supporting the county, he risks alienating Musk, a prominent billionaire whose company has brought 10,000 manufacturing jobs to a state that otherwise lacks them – and which already threatened to move Tesla to Nevada or Texas. Conversely, he risks portraying California as a state hostile to business. But in endorsing Musk, he risks implying that the housing arrangements need not be taken seriously.
President Donald Trump has already taken sides. “California should let Tesla and Elon Musk open the factory NOW” he tweeted on Tuesday.
Newsom tried to go a center line on Monday.
- Newsom: “Regarding Tesla … I am in awe of their technology, their innovative spirit, their leadership, and I have great expectations that we – at the county level – can solve the problem with this particular county and company.”
It’s not Newsom that Musk is frustrated with – it’s Alameda County, which has stricter orders than the state and has not yet allowed manufacturers to reopen, even though California did so on Friday.
After Tesla sued the county over the weekend, Musk announced Monday that it was reopening the Fremont factory. “If someone is arrested, I ask that it is only me” he tweeted.
But Fremont police said Tuesday they were not planning any arrests or subpoenas. And the extent of the county’s response was to send Tesla a letter early Tuesday asking it to stop production.
- Fremont Alderman Vinnie Bacon: “We’re the enforcement agency, but they’re negotiating right now, so we’re basically hoping these negotiations go well. So we don’t intervene at this point. “
Newsom also appears reluctant to strictly enforce orders: “We will continue to work as collaboratively (sic) as possible” with companies that reopen too early, he said on Monday.
To update: Late Tuesday evening said the Alameda County Health Department Tesla could potentially reopen and resume full production as early as next week if several additional security updates are added to its site-specific plan. However, it is unclear whether Tesla wants to stop production in the meantime.
Meanwhile, state regulators want emergency powers to close bars and restaurants that reopen without authorization for dine-in service. And 60 Los Angeles companies are charged with criminal offenses for reopening prematurely.
The bottom line: From 10 p.m. on Tuesday night California had 71,046 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,882 deaths before the virus, according to a Los Angeles Times tracker. (These numbers are different from those from the state Department of Health, which are updated less frequently.)
Likewise: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline to keep track of the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospital admissions by county.
Other stories to know
1. Seven counties have approved the reopening of dining restaurants
Newsom announced Tuesday that it is now ready to reopen more businesses with changes across the country, including open-air museums (yeah, I’m not really sure what that is either), car washes, and pet hairdressers.
In districts that get a permit, strip and outlet malls can also reopen for roadside pickup, and restaurants can open their doors – as long as tables are 6 feet apart and a variety of other changes are made. Guests will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entering and are encouraged to wear face covering when not eating or drinking. Restaurants must provide one-way menus and cannot pre-order tables with napkins, cutlery and crockery. Spice bottles and salt and pepper shakers are also prohibited. Tablecloths and napkins are removed in sealed bags after each use. And if possible, windows are kept open to increase ventilation.
So far, Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, and Shasta counties have been allowed to reopen restaurants.
2. CA is rapidly expanding coronavirus testing. But who is being tested?
Although California currently runs an average of about 35,000 coronavirus tests per day in public with the aim of nearly doubling that daily rate, some experts say the state doesn’t have the right testing priorities, report Barbara Feder Ostrov and Ana Ibarra of CalMatters.
- Dr. Merhdad Ayati, Geriatrician, Stanford University School of Medicine: “It is the wrong population that they are focusing on. When you look at mortality rates around the world, we need to conduct massive tests on the population who are residents and workers in skilled care facilities. “
In fact, about 40% of COVID-19 deaths in California have been residents or nursing home workers. And while several states have promised coronavirus tests for every nursing home resident and worker, California is two weeks away from doing so, Newsom said Tuesday.
3. CA lawmakers come up with unprecedented proposals to deal with missed rental and mortgage payments
As missed rent and mortgage payments pile up across California, the state’s Democratic lawmakers tabled two proposals Tuesday that represent unprecedented government interventions in the state’s housing and consumer debt markets, CalMatters’ Matt Levin reports.
- A plan by Senate Leader Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, would Allow qualifying tenants 10 years to repay missed payments and compensate landlords with tax credits that could be sold to pay mortgages and other bills.
- Another plan by Monique Limon, a Santa Barbara Democrat, would Allow homeowners to postpone mortgage payments for almost a year. Those with auto loans, payday loans, and other debts can also postpone payments with no immediate penalties.
Landlord and tenant groups welcomed the suggestions with lukewarm enthusiasm and waited for further details. Meanwhile, the California Credit Union League called Limons’ bill a “financial disaster” for its members.
4. CA holds first two special elections amid a pandemic: one swap seat in Congress and one in the state Senate
California held its first two major elections on Tuesday amid the pandemic, though we won’t know the final number until Friday, in part because the elections were held almost entirely by mail. Much national attention is focused on whether Republicans can win back a seat in Congress that the Democrats took in 2018.
Here are the preliminary results:
- In CD25:
- Mike Garcia (R): 56%
- Christy Smith (D): 44%
- In SD28:
- Melissa Melendez (R): 55.9%
- Elizabeth Romero (D): 44.1%
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: A pot of special state school aid was supposed to close the “performance gap”, but was often diverted for other purposes. A new law is supposed to fill a loophole.
Loss of lifelong learning: The cut in funding for California public schools due to COVID-19 will cause irreparable harm to our children and our state. Student learning losses are likely to persist throughout their lives, write Austin Beutner, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District and Cindy Marten, superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District.
Positive potential of contact tracing: Rather than creating more barriers to data sharing, California should embrace the appropriate use of data to provide residents with insights and better outcomes while ensuring no one is harmed, argues Gary Mangiofico, executive professor of organizational theory and management at Pepperdine Graziadio Business school.
California’s river systems destroyed for profit: California’s water policy is literally killing the Trinity River as well as the lower Klamath River in neighboring Humboldt County, argues Richard Cole, a Lewiston resident.
Other things worth your time
California State University’s system plans to his fall semester almost exclusively online. // EdSource
Los Angeles County officials say some local orders are staying at home could last until July. // The Los Angeles Times
Most Californians still feel uncomfortable at the idea of eating out soon, surveys show. // The Mercury News
According to Twitter, most of its employees can work from home forever. Raise questions about the future of work in California. // The Mercury News
Federal judge blocks Trump administration plan to pump more supplies through the San Joaquin River Delta. // The Sacramento Bee
President of the University of California sets plan to cease using SAT. before for approvals. // The Associated Press
See you tomorrow.
Tips, insights or feedback? Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow me on Twitter: @emily_hoeven
Subscribe to the CalMatters newsletter here.
Follow CalMatters on Facebook and Twitter.