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EDD investigating possible widespread unemployment fraud
San Diego State University cancels in-person classes
Thursday, September 3
California lawmakers are looking into possible fraud at the Employment Development Department, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some Californians have been concerned about fraud after receiving letters from the EDD addressed to strangers.
The letters are addressed to unrelated people and often come with debit cards loaded with cash. California residents aren’t the only ones receiving letters from EDD; some former residents in states like Florida and Connecticut have also been receiving letters for claims they didn’t file.
The EDD declined to comment on the number of fraudulent cases being investigated. These concerns come as Californians across the state have been left without crucial joblessness benefits after frustrating experiences with the EDD.
Over 200 courses, including some lab classes, have been suspended for a month and will move to a virtual format. On-campus housing will remain open.
California State University, Chico also moved classes online this week.
Wednesday, September 2
As of Sept. 2, at least 304 Sacramento County residents have died of complications from COVID-19 since the pandemic began earlier this year.
More than half of these people, 176, were residents of the city of Sacramento. There have been 18,413 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sacramento County.
For more information on the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths in every California county, see our COVID-19 tracker.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is getting heat over a solo hair salon visit in San Francisco at a time when California businesses are limited by concern over coronavirus. But she says she was complying with the rules as presented to her by the salon.
Footage aired by Fox News Channel shows Pelosi, her mask around her neck rather than on her face, walking through the establishment. A stylist follows her wearing a mask.
The salon owner said she rents chairs to stylists, and one let her know that Pelosi wanted a wash and a blow dry. Outdoor haircuts are allowed, but indoor salons have not reopened.
Since April, California has provided temporary housing for 22,000 people in a program created to get the state’s unhoused population in rooms amid the pandemic. But the focus needs to shift, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a press conference Wednesday.
“That was an emergency response,” Newsom said. “Now we need a permanent response, and I’ve long believed that homelessness is solved by permanent, supportive housing.”
Newsom says “Roomkey” is now merging into “Homekey,” a partnership with state and local governments to spend $600 million to buy hotels, motels and apartment buildings statewide by the end of this calendar year.
Cities, counties, local housing agencies and tribal authorities have until September 29 to apply for the funding. Only $50 million of the “Homekey” money comes from the state’s General Fund. The extra $550 million comes from federal coronavirus relief funds which must be spent by the end of the year.
Watch Gov. Newsom’s full press conference here.
After five months of being closed to the public, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is facing a projected loss of $45 million this year, according to Yahoo News.
Furloughs and layoffs have affected 220 of their 580 employees. Since the nonprofit has over 500 employees, the aquarium did not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, a forgivable coronavirus loan through the federal government.
The aquarium has had to scale back their conservation work, like reducing plastic pollution and climate change, due to its scaled back budget.
A grand reopening was planned for July 9, but it was cancelled a few days before because Monterey County had just been placed on the state’s COVID-19 watchlist.
There have now been more than 700,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, the highest number of total cases for any state in the U.S. California also reported 3,745 deaths connected to COVID-19 in August, an increase of 18% over July.
Despite this, adjusted for population, California’s case count is smaller than 20 other states, including Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Southern states, according to federal data.
While deaths have been increasing, hospitalizations peaked in late July, hitting 3,940 this week. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently launched a new tiered plan to open up the California economy. Hair salons and barbershops are allowed to open again for indoor services, as are malls and other retail at 25% capacity.
Yolo County residents can get a free COVID-19 test at Madison Town Hall in Madison on Wednesday, Sept. 2 from 4-7 p.m.
The free testing site is for Yolo County residents only, and people must show a document with their name and address — such as mail, a bill or a driver’s license — to be served.
The site is first come, first served and all ages are welcome. Registration is recommended, not required, to get tested, but registering does not guarantee a test or a time slot.
Tuesday, September 1
California has inked a $15 million deal with a software company to develop a new COVID-19 tracking system.
The announcement Tuesday came about a month after the state said its current system had undercounted confirmed cases. The problem had serious implications, since the state uses those numbers to make decisions about reopening businesses and schools.
Officials say the deal with Minnesota-based OptumInsight Inc. will allow the state to better track the spread of the virus. California has more confirmed cases than any other state. But recent trends show those numbers dropping, and the percentage of positive tests is also declining.
El Dorado County could move from the state’s “substantial” coronavirus risk category to the lower “moderate” one in the week of Sept. 21.
To move down, the county needs to stay below four new cases per day on average and keep a test positivity rate below 5% over the next 14 days, according to El Dorado County Public Health.
In assigning El Dorado County to the substantial tier, the second-most serious in the new system, the state used the county’s data from the week of August 5-11. Counties have to remain in their assigned tier for three weeks before moving to a less restrictive one. Then, the county can move as long as the number of cases and the test positivity rate meet the less restrictive tier’s requirement in the two most recent weeks.
“El Dorado County’s numbers in the two criteria the State is currently using to determine reopening have been trending relatively lower over the last two weeks,” El Dorado County Public Health Officer Dr. Nancy Williams said in a news release. “The best and easiest way to help ensure we move to the Orange tier in the week of September 21st is for residents and visitors to continue to follow the State’s mandates for face coverings, avoid gatherings with and remain at least six feet from others outside your household and wash your hands.”
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has announced plans to extend the state’s eviction moratorium another 45 days.
This move will provide relief to an estimated 250,000 renters facing the prospect of losing their housing due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Sisolak made the decision yesterday, one day before the previous moratorium was set to expire. Fears of a widespread eviction crisis in the state have been compounded by delays in state assistance and programs, like unemployment insurance.
Nevada’s moratorium is now set to expire Oct. 16.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed AB 3088, a bill extending a halt to evictions for unpaid rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lawmakers passed the bill Monday. The state’s eviction moratorium was set to expire Sept. 2 if lawmakers didn’t take action.
AB 3088 pauses evictions through January 31 as a result of unpaid rent during the first six months of the pandemic. Renters would have to fill out documents certifying that they were impacted by COVID-19 to be eligible for protections, and would also have to pay at least 25% of their rent starting in September.
For more updates on Monday night’s end of the California legislative session, head here.
Monday, August 31
Following a new ‘tier system’ announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last week, Sacramento County health officials have put out an order detailing what activities are allowed indoors and outdoors.
Despite Newsom’s announcement, businesses allowed to operate under the new system couldn’t reopen until the county formally allowed it with this new order. Under the new guidelines, which replace the last order published July 14, the following businesses are permitted to operate outdoors:
These businesses are allowed to open for indoor operations:
- Critical infrastructure
- Hair salons and barbershops
- All retail (25% maximum capacity)
- Shopping centers (Malls, destination centers, swap meets, excluding food courts and common areas) maximum 25% capacity
- Professional sports (without live audiences)
These businesses are allowed to open for outdoor operations:
- Personal care services (nail salons, body waxing, estheticians)
- Museums, zoos, aquariums
- Places of worship
- Movie theaters
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Family Entertainment Centers (e.g. bowling alleys, miniature golf, batting cages and arcades)
- Cardrooms, satellite wagering
- Bars, pubs, brewpubs and breweries may operate outdoors, only if they offer sit-down, outdoor meals
The new state reopening strategy organizes counties by tiers, which are determined by the number of new positive cases per week and the positivity rate. With a daily case count of 12 per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 8.1%, Sacramento County is listed at the highest risk level tier in the state. This means that the virus is widespread in the community.
These guidelines do not change the county’s August 28 order to keep schools closed. Schools can reopen for in-person school when they’ve been in Tier 2 for two weeks. A county must remain in its current tier for 21 days, and then meet criteria for the next tier for two weeks, before moving to a less restrictive tier.
California State University, Chico canceled the limited number of in-person classes it was offering. They will be virtual-only for the duration of the fall semester after nearly 30 people tested positive for the coronavirus days after the fall semester started.
University President Gayle Hutchinson says students also need to vacate campus housing by the weekend. Hutchinson says she is asking students to leave campus housing because nearly all on-campus residences have at least one positive case and there are concerns the numbers will increase.
A study shows California’s stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus outbreak seems to have saved some wildlife, as decreased traffic resulted in fewer collisions with mountain lions, deer and other large animals.
A study by the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis found traffic declined by about 75% after the emergency order went into effect in March. The number of animals struck and killed by vehicles also fell, including a 58% decrease in fatal crashes involving mountain lions between the 10 weeks before and 10 weeks after the order.
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