When Will Nursing Homes Reopen To Visitors? State Officials Won’t Say

Mar 2, 2021
Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters

Before the pandemic, Nancy Klein would spend up to seven hours a day at a nursing home in Riverside County, caring for her 53-year-old son, who was left unable to speak and move his limbs after a massive brain hemorrhage. She would suction his tracheotomy tube and massage his neck, arms and legs. 

But Klein has watched her son deteriorate in the past year. He was hospitalized with pneumonia in May as pandemic rules largely locked down most of California’s nursing homes.

Who Has The Power To Reopen California Classrooms?

Feb 28, 2021
Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters

Increasingly exasperated that most public schools remain closed even as coronavirus cases plummet nearly a year into the pandemic, California parents are taking to the streets. They’re protesting in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. They’re trying to recall school board members in San Francisco and San Ramon. They’re mounting billboards along freeways in Sonoma County and Sacramento demanding that the government #OpenSchoolsNow.

The campaign to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has seized on the frustrations. Republicans hoping to replace him are staging campaign events outside shuttered schools and highlighting that California lags the rest of the nation when it comes to getting kids back in the classroom. Newsom’s political future may hinge, in part, on how much longer millions of children remain stuck on Zoom.

Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters

Do the Californians who have been vaccinated to ward off COVID-19 reflect the state’s racial and ethnic diversity? It’s too soon to tell. County data provided by state officials is incomplete.

Yet the existing data does give us a snapshot of who has been vaccinated first: White people have received the largest percentage of doses in nearly all counties. Included are those — such as Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Fresno, Madera, Monterey, San Joaquin and Kern counties — with large Latino populations.

Teacher Vaccines In California Determined By Location, Luck

Feb 9, 2021
Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters

How soon teachers can expect to get vaccinated depends largely on where they live and could determine whether the bulk of California’s students return to campuses this spring — or next fall.

Teacher vaccinations have emerged as a central point of contention in California’s charged debate over reopening schools as unions representing teachers and school employees have listed vaccine access as one of their demands before returning to campuses.

In Race To Vaccinate, Could California See Another Surge?

Feb 7, 2021
Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters

During some of the darkest days in the pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom offered some optimism: the winter surge of COVID-19 would be it. Liquid gold — the first batch of vaccines — was just days away. 

“This is the final surge,” Newsom said on Dec. 3, urging people to stay home and save lives. 

How EDD And Bank Of America Make Millions On California Unemployment

Feb 7, 2021
Andrew Nixon / CapRadio

She didn’t know it at the time, but last September was when everything started to unravel for Julie Hansen. It was late in the month when the furloughed Disneyland candy maker noticed a string of suspicious charges totaling $12,222.23 on her state-issued Bank of America unemployment debit card. First, the money was credited back to her account. Then it disappeared again, setting in motion a chain of events that left her and her son homeless.

Behind the scenes, California’s Employment Development Department and longtime debit card contractor Bank of America were scrambling to rein in rampant fraud. They froze some 350,000 unemployment accounts around the time Hansen’s card was cut off. 

Despite Months To Prep, Why California Lags On COVID Vaccination

Feb 2, 2021
Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

No one ever said that distributing a vaccine to tens of millions of Californians spread out across 58 counties in the middle of a pandemic would be easy. 

But Gov. Gavin Newsom came pretty close last October.

At a press conference on the 19th, the governor assured the public that California has “long been in the vaccination business.”

‘Too Little, Too Late’: California Small Businesses Chase COVID-19 Relief

Jan 31, 2021
Anne Wernikoff / CalMatters

Since the coronavirus swept into Silicon Valley last spring, Denise Russell’s race to save her San Jose salon has stretched into a marathon. It started with a $103,020 Paycheck Protection Program loan. Then came a federal small business Economic Injury Disaster Loan for $159,000. Now, she’s applying for a $15,000 state grant and another PPP loan — all while fighting the state for delayed unemployment payments.

“They make it so complicated,” said Russell, whose Special FX Salon & Day Spa was closed for seven months in 2020. “They’re constantly changing the rules. I mean, it’s a nightmare.”

California Extends Eviction Moratorium Through June

Jan 29, 2021
Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

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An eviction moratorium extension and $2.6 billion in rental relief overwhelmingly passed both chambers of California’s legislature today amid questions from legislators over the efficacy of the state’s rollout plan and the equity of the money’s distribution among small, rural areas. 

The state’s eviction moratorium will be extended until June 30 if signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who supported the legislation during last-minute negotiations among legislative leaders, tenant associations and the powerful California Apartment Association.

California Public Schools Suffer Record Enrollment Drop

Jan 26, 2021

California’s K-12 public-school enrollment has precipitously declined during the pandemic, dropping by a record 155,000 students, according to new state projections. 

That drop-off is about five times greater than California’s annual rate of enrollment decline in recent years. The state, which boasts the largest student enrollment in the country, has seen a steady decline of between 20,000 and 30,000 students in its public schools in the two years prior partly due to declining birth rates, and the state had predicted a similar rate of decline to continue.