I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, bringing you what you need to know from today’s California headlines.
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 orders business shutdowns, considers statewide curfew
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday he is “sounding the alarm” due to “the fastest increase California has seen” in coronavirus cases. As a result, nearly three-quarters of the state’s counties must now operate under the state’s strictest pandemic restrictions, and health officials are considering a statewide curfew.
This will affect indoor dining, gyms and movie theaters, among other businesses; all must either remain closed or shut down in 41 of the state’s 58 counties. Newsom said he anticipates even more restrictions coming Friday.
In the last 10 days, new daily coronavirus cases have doubled across California; last week, it was announced that the state had reached 1 million total cases. The state has blamed the increases on people who have grown tired of dealing with the pandemic and ignored public health warnings to avoid socializing with friends and family members.
In addition, the following new rules were added Monday to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the state’s four-tiered, color-coded system for reopening:
- Counties will now move tiers after one week of increased COVID-19 cases, not two
- Counties can move back multiple tiers if they experience a significant increase
- Businesses must shut down within 24 hours, instead of 72, when counties move tiers
- The state will announce tier changes twice a week, instead of once per week
The governor’s action, which goes into effect Tuesday, will result in there being 41 counties in the most restrictive purple tier, 11 in the red tier, four in the orange tier and two in the least restrictive yellow tier.
Last week, Newsom was joined by the governors of Oregon and Washington in issuing travel advisories that urged people to avoid traveling outside the state or country and suggesting that those entering or returning self-quarantine in the hopes of slowing down the spread of the coronavirus.
If you are still determined to travel for Thanksgiving — which health officials are not recommending — the Los Angeles Times has some tips it says can minimize your COVID-19 risk.
Despite the difficulty of social distancing while navigating airports, train stations and rest stops, do your best to stay six feet apart from others and be sure to wear a mask.
Once you’re on the plane, Dr. George Rutherford, epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at UC San Francisco, suggests you sit by a window. “And you want to sit as far away from the toilets as much as possible, which would minimize how often you’re near passengers walking past you,” he said. He also recommends selecting an airline that isn’t selling the middle seats in rows.
After you’ve landed, if you take a taxi or rideshare, the CDC recommends only riding with masked drivers or passengers. Sit as far from the driver as possible, avoid touching surfaces and ask the driver to improve ventilation by opening windows or setting the air ventilation system on non-recirculation mode. If you’re taking public transportation, avoid touching surfaces, travel during non-peak hours and try to stay at least six feet away from others.
Health officials in L.A. County and the Bay Area are also recommending that people quarantine for 14 days upon returning from their travels.
Airbnb IPO could generate billions for the Bay Area
San Francisco-based Airbnb announced plans Monday to go public, despite concerns that the COVID pandemic had done serious — and some say, permanent — damage to its short-term rental business.
CEO Brian Chesky, who, along with co-founders Joe Gebbia and Nate Blecharczyk, owns almost half of the company’s Class B shares, said Airbnb had intended to go public earlier this year, but the filing was stymied by the pandemic.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the company raised $2 billion from investors in April. But the following month when traveling slowed down considerably, it laid off 1,900 employees.
As for how many shares Airbnb will offer and at what price is unclear, but analysts have recently estimated that the company may seek between $30 billion and $38 billion. The company says it currently has 7.4 million listings worldwide run by four million hosts.
Large IPOs can have a large impact on real estate, particularly near a company’s headquarters.
The stock offering could happen as soon as December and is expected to make the company’s founders and investors billions of dollars and turn a number of employees into millionaires.
State wins 2020 Government Innovation Award
California’s first responders locate callers faster and more accurately than those in other states, according to gcn.com, a publication that covers technology in the public sector. The site reported Monday that the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) had been named the winner of a 2020 Government Innovation Award for “transforming 911 for safer communities.”
Determining the location of a 911 call from a mobile phone isn’t always easy. Unlike landlines, which have a physical address connected to them, cellphones are tracked by towers which can only provide so much information — such as what neighborhood the caller is near.
Since California receives 81% of its 27 million emergency calls from mobile phones, dispatch operators requested that something be done to improve accuracy. Cal OES did some research and announced in 2019 that it had partnered with RapidDeploy to implement a cloud-powered, web-based mapping tool that uses data from Google and Apple to help determine a person’s location. The program also gives real-time location updates, which is helpful if the caller is on the go (as often happens in abduction cases), and allows dispatchers to text callers who get disconnected or who are unable to speak freely.
While it’s not known how many lives have been saved by the state’s new technology, officials say it’s definitely having an impact. A Kings County man whose car had crashed and was filling with water was saved because RapidDeploy was able to quickly determine his location within 5 meters.
Snow season begins for SoCal’s Mountain High
Here’s one for you skiing fans. Despite a number of coronavirus delays, Mountain High Resort, a winter vacation spot in the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County, opened Sunday for skiers and snowboarders, reports CBS Los Angeles.
Ski lift passes, which required advance purchase, were sold out Sunday. Due to the pandemic, the resort is limiting capacity to 1,000 people at a time. In addition, there are no rentals or lessons, and people are only allowed inside the lodge to use the restrooms and make purchases. And all guests are required to wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.
Mountain High had originally planned to kick off its ski season on Nov. 12, but when several employees tested positive for COVID-19, its opening day was delayed.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: CBS Los Angeles, gcn.com, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle.