I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, bringing you the latest headlines on this cool Monday.
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.
Vaccines reach California!
The first COVID-19 vaccine in California was given to an ICU nurse named Helen Cordoba on Monday. Gov. Gavin Newsom was among the elected officials on hand at the Kaiser Permanente facility in Hollywood to watch Cordova’s inoculation. Moments later, he tweeted, “History made.” A handful of other Kaiser workers were also vaccinated as cameras rolled.
‘We’re not out of the woods’
But even with this new “light at the end of the tunnel,” as Newsom has called the vaccine, it’s going to take more than these initial doses to end the pandemic.
California officials have said they’re prioritizing health care workers with direct exposure to patients at acute care, psychiatric and correctional facility hospitals; workers at skilled nursing facilities; paramedics; and workers at dialysis centers.
The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots, given 21 to 28 days apart. It’s been found to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.
Kaiser emergency room nurse Kim Taylor, who also received a dose, stressed the safety of the vaccine, and said that while the vaccine is offering hope, “the best way you can support us nurses right now is to continue wearing a mask, maintain physical distance, stay home for the holidays and wash your hands.”
“We can’t win this fight alone,”‘ she added. “We need your help to keep our numbers down.”
Speaking of numbers …
Coronavirus cases up 53.8% in California
New coronavirus cases leaped in California in the week ending Saturday, rising 53.8% over the previous 7-day period as 211,235 cases were reported. The previous week, the number of new cases totaled 137,317.
A USA Today Network analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University puts California at No. 16 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis. The worst weekly outbreaks were in Lassen, Imperial and Amador counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Los Angeles County, with 73,464 cases; San Bernardino County, with 20,353 cases; and Riverside County, with 20,074. Los Angeles is the nation’s most populous county, with more than 10 million people. Riverside has about 2.5 million people, while San Bernardino has about 2.2 million.
Meanwhile, new cases fell week over week in nine counties, with the steepest declines in Monterey, Solano and Siskiyou counties.
Coronavirus took the lives of 1,088 Californians in the latest week. In the previous week, that number was 754.
Door-to-door COVID testing begins in Northern California
If people are unable to get to a coronavirus testing site, let’s bring the test to them. That was someone’s idea in Santa Clara County, where a door-to-door coronavirus testing pilot program was launched in a largely Latino community that has been hit hard by the virus.
According to a report from KCRA3, volunteers began handing out self-testing kits last week in East San Jose, where more than half of the population is Latino. Throughout the country, communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
While the article doesn’t say what test is being given out, at-home kits typically require the subject to collect a nasal swab sample and ship it back to a lab, where it is tested in as little as a day.
Could Gov. Gavin Newsom face recall?
It has been a tough year for California Gov. Gavin Newsom. And that restaurant incident — the one that had Newsom dining mask-free with friends at an opulent restaurant while telling state residents to spurn social gatherings and stay home — is not sitting well with some people.
As a result, there is an active effort to recall the governor. Organizers say they have collected more than half the nearly 1.5 million petition signatures needed to place the recall on the ballot, and they have until mid-March to hit the required threshold.
Randy Economy, a senior adviser to the recall effort, said there was a surge of several hundred thousand petition signatures after Newsom’s restaurant debacle last month. “It has resonated. It’s about the arrogance of power,” he said.
Recall attempts are not uncommon in California, but they rarely make it to the ballot. If this recall qualifies, Newsom would be forced to fend off rivals in the midst of a pandemic that has cost the state millions of jobs, cored government budgets and upended life for nearly 40 million residents.
State sues Amazon to force it to cooperate with COVID-19 investigation
California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Monday the state is taking Amazon to court to force the online retail giant to cooperate with its months-long investigation into the company’s coronavirus protections for employees, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Becerra alleges the company has not adequately responded to requests for information and said his office had asked a Sacramento County Superior Court judge to order Amazon to respond to a series of investigative subpoenas.
“Amazon has made billions during this pandemic relying on the labor of essential workers. Their workers get the job done while putting themselves at risk,” Becerra said Monday in a statement. “It’s critical to know if these workers are receiving the protections on the job that they are entitled to under the law.”
A representative from Amazon challenged Becerra’s stance. “We’re puzzled by the Attorney General’s sudden rush to court because we’ve been working cooperatively for months and their claims of noncompliance with their demands don’t line up with the facts,” the company said in a statement. The company said it has spent billions of dollars providing personal protective equipment and onsite testing to ensure the safety of its employees.
O.C. supervisor joins protest to reopen businesses
About 200 people armed with signs — among them Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner — appeared at a rally in Newport Beach on Sunday to protest the state’s shutdown order over Southern California.
“We wouldn’t be here if the governor was actually following the science,” Wagner said from a large flatbed truck. “Science says we can open safely. We don’t have enough money to shut everything down.”
As Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” played from speakers, restaurant and bar patrons — many who were not wearing masks — cheered the protesters on from businesses defying the governor’s order to close.
That’s it for this Monday. We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with more headlines.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: KCRA3, Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register
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@example.com.