California Coronavirus Updates: California Legislature Greenlights Tax Cut For Small Businesses Due To COVID-19

Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.

Tuesday, April 27

9:53 a.m.: CDC says Americans can go outside without masks

U.S. health officials say fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks outdoors anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers, according to the Associated Press.

Unvaccinated people can drop face coverings in some cases, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the updated guidance on Tuesday.

Previously, the CDC advised that people should wear masks outdoors if they are within 6 feet of each other. The change comes as more than half of U.S. adults have gotten at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and more than a third have been fully vaccinated.

Monday, April 26

11:06 a.m.: Placer County rent and utility assistance open until this Friday

Placer County is urging renters to apply for emergency rental assistance by April 30 at

Income eligible households who cannot pay for rent and utilities because of COVID-19, have had a loss income, and make less than 80% of the median income for the county, may be immediately eligible for critical financial assistance.

“This program is essential for Placer County residents who are struggling to pay rent or utilities because of COVID-19,” said Placer County Health and Human Services Deputy Director Amanda Sharp. “Rent Help Placer is giving families in our community peace of mind knowing they can remain in their homes.”

The program has already received nearly 1,000 applications, with an average of $11,000 being distributed per renter. However, funds are still available for income-eligible renters looking for help paying past due rents and utilities. Those eligible may receive financial assistance for unpaid rent or utilities dating back to March 2020.

Additional assistance for current or future rent may also be available. Reapplication is required for households if further assistance is needed. Eligible utilities will have payments made to the providers directly.

Landlords are encouraged to promote the program and assist tenants in the application process. The program will also provide payments directly to landlords.

Including a certain income requirement, applicants who have also been unemployed for 90 or more days or who are at or below 50% of the Placer County median income (now $31,750 – $59,800 for a household between one and eight people) will be given priority. Applicants will not be asked about their citizenship.

Interested parties should check their eligibility and review required application items at RentHelpPlacer or call 211 in the county or (833) 342-5211. Once the application has been processed, both landlord and renter will be notified about its status and next steps.

10:23 a.m.: California Department of Public Health gives green light to resume Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The California Department of Public Health will lift the temporary Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine pause.

“After a thorough review of very rare adverse events following the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the Western States Scientist Safety Review Workgroup supports the recommendation of the FDA and CDC to lift the pause on the vaccine,” state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said. “Clinics in California may begin administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine immediately as long as they provide appropriate educational materials to inform patients of the vaccine’s low risk of associated health effects and other available vaccine options.”

Pan also said that more than half of Californians 16 and older have gotten one of the three available vaccines.

“The one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also an important tool in our fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, especially as more aggressive variants of the virus spread throughout the country,” she said.

For residents who are interested in the rare side effects of the J&J vaccine, CDPH recommends they contact their healthcare provider.

9:38 a.m.: While COVID-19 treatments have drastically improved, many still hope for an easy pill

One year ago, no treatments had proved safe and effective for COVID-19, but that’s not the case today.

According to the Associated Press, drugs that supply virus-blocking antibodies are keeping newly infected people out of the hospital. Other medicines are helping the sickest patients survive.

Vaccines are starting to curb the pandemic, but with about 60,000 new cases each day in the U.S. and more worldwide, doctors say more and better treatments are needed.

At the top of their wish list is a pill or other easy-to-use treatment that can keep people with early symptoms from becoming seriously ill.

Friday, April 23

5:04 p.m.: Sacramento providers say return of Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help hard-to-reach groups

Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say providers can again administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. California health officials haven’t made an announcement yet. 

Use of the one-dose vaccine was temporarily paused after 15 people who received it developed a blood clotting disorder. Now the vaccine can be used, but in guidance to providers, officials are including a warning about the risk of very rare blood clots.

In Sacramento, providers say they were planning to use Johnson & Johnson to vaccinate people who might struggle to make it to two appointments, such as unhoused people and those with limited access to transportation. 

La Familia Counseling Center said they had to cancel an event this month where they’d planned to give out more than 1,000 doses to farmworkers. Loaves and Fishes temporarily halted a weekly vaccine clinic for unhoused people after the pause was announced.

Dr. Beatrice Tetteh, a pediatrician in South Sacramento who’s been involved in vaccination clinics in the Meadowview neighborhood, said the one-dose option is best for immunizing many people at once.

“It’s a challenge to do anything more than once,” she said. “The freedom to be able to say ‘after this one dose you’re done,’ it really helps make sure that you can vaccinate a large number of people in one big event and then you’re already finished.”

But she says she expects she’ll need to answer questions from patients who were voicing hesitation about the vaccine even before the pause.

“It’s going to be a big thing about trust,” Tetteh said. I think in the beginning, many people were wary … because they said ‘I don’t know about this Johnson & Johson one, it’s too new.’”

Before the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was temporarily halted, it made up about 4% of California’s weekly allotment. State health officials still need to give an advisory on the vaccine.

Sacramento County says it had to cancel 800 appointments and direct those people to sign up for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine appointments at a later date.

10:11 a.m.: California goes from worst to least in COVID-19 infections

California has gone from worst to first in the rate of coronavirus infections in the United States, according to the Associated Press.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows the state surpassed Hawaii on Thursday with the lowest average number of COVID-19 cases per capita in the past two weeks. Just a few months ago, California was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. Los Angeles hospitals were drowning in patients and ambulances were idling outside with people struggling to breathe, waiting for beds to open.

The death count was staggering — so many that morgues filed and refrigerated trucks were brought in to handle the overflow.

At its peak, there were 40,000 cases and well over 500 deaths per day. The state is now averaging about 2,300 cases and 68 deaths a day.

Michigan now has the highest infection rate in the country. One in every 223 people tested positive in the past week, compared to one in every 2,416 in California.

Thursday, April 22

6:25 p.m.: Sacramentans are getting vaccinated, but county remains in the red tier

Despite what could have been considered setbacks amid a statewide vaccine eligibility expansion, more than half of all Sacramento County residents are now at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19. Only people 16 years or older can receive the vaccine.

In recent weeks, federal health officials halted the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and two planned mass vaccination sites in South Sacramento — one of the hardest hit areas of the county — have seen slow progress.

But with some scrambling and a joint effort from the county and its partners, Rachel Allen, Sacramento’s immunization coordinator, said they made sure “everybody had what they needed.”

“So I think we’re OK,” Allen said. “It would be great to bring Johnson & Johnson back on the table and to move forward again, but I think we’re doing OK with what we’ve got.”

County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said that she expects to hear an update on Johnson & Johnson vaccine usage on Friday.

Meanwhile, Sacramento County is still struggling to get out of the red tier of the state’s reopening plan.

As of April 22, more than 87% of California is in the less-strict orange tier, but Sacramento County is still far from reaching that goal. 

Last month, Dr. Kasirye said Sacramento was on track to move out of the red tier by the end of April. But the COVID-19 case rate has remained stagnant and isn’t close to reaching the threshold needed to progress.

To make that move, Sacramento would need a case rate of 5.9 new cases per 100,000 residents. Currently, the county is sitting at 9.5 new cases per 100,000 residents.

“There’s a plateau and we’ve been in that plateau for quite a while,” Dr. Kasirye said. “As I’ve mentioned, it’s not due to any major outbreak, it’s just due to community spread.”

While there are no outbreaks of the virus Sacramento, Dr. Kasirye said the county is seeing an increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 variants.

Since COVID-19 vaccines haven’t been around that long, it’s not yet known exactly how long their protection lasts.

According to the Associated Press, experts are still studying vaccinated people to determine if and when boosters might be needed. So far, evidence indicates shots by Pfizer and Moderna last at least six months and likely longer.

Another reason we might need follow-up shots is if the vaccines lose their effectiveness against variants. Booster shots could contain vaccines for multiple mutations. While current COVID-19 vaccines will likely last for about a year, they probably won’t offer lifelong protection, like the measles shot.

So far, the vaccines appear protective against the notable variants that have emerged, though it is somewhat less protective on the variant first detected in South Africa.

The need for them will also depend on the success of the global vaccination push and tamping down transmission of the virus and emerging variants.

Wednesday, April 21

6:29 p.m.: A strike of teachers aides and food service workers has been called off 

Parents of more than 40,000 students in the Sacramento City Unified School District may be relieved to hear that a strike of teachers aides and food service workers has been called off this week. 

Custodians, bus drivers and other workers affiliated with the labor union SEIU were planning to strike on Thursday and Friday. The teachers union, Sacramento City Teachers Association,  said it had been planning to strike in sympathy. 

But SEIU called off the strike on Tuesday because union demands had been met, including stipends and allowing their kids to come to work with them.

According to the district, the deal included a $1,000 prorated stipend for union members who have worked on-site since last year, and other stipends for professional development and additional work responsibilities related to the pandemic. 

Nancy Knowdell is a parent of two students in the school district who are going back to school in-person this month. 

“We had so many issues throughout this entire process,” said Knowdell, saying that she was disappointed and frustrated by the dispute. She says she understands there was a lot of money involved in the labor negotiations, but she felt workers should have received what they wanted to work “without a whole lot of discussion.”

She says she’s now relieved that “everybody came to the table and worked it out,” but she hopes labor agreements don’t get in the way of students returning next school year. 

“Please have this worked out well before the summer ends for the fall. Our kids have had enough confusion and have been short-changed enough,” she said. 

Middle and high school students in Sacramento City schools are returning to school in person on Thursday, April 22 — as planned — for the first time since last year. 

5:45 p.m.: Sleep Train Arena to hold drive-thru vaccination targeted at Latino community

The Sleep Train Arena parking lot will hold a drive-thru vaccination event targeting the Latino community in Sacramento this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Councilmember Eric Guerra’s office is hosting the event in partnership with the Consulate General of Mexico in Sacramento, UC Davis Health, Elica Health Centers, the Latino Economic Council of Sacramento and La Familia Counseling Center.

“The data shows that Latinos are the most vulnerable to die from COVID-19, and we must be intentional about and proactive in getting vaccines in the arms of people that have been the most impacted,” Guerra said. “This is why our focus in language and culture should be expanded to reach more people.” 

UC Davis and Elica Health volunteers will be administering 500 vaccines on-site. Translators will be available to provide interpretation on vaccination questions. 

Vaccinations will be available by appointment only. Those who wish to be vaccinated may register here or by calling 916-329-3502.  

10:59 a.m.: FDA inspection found issues at factory making Johnson & Johnson vaccines

U.S. regulators say the Baltimore factory contracted to make Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine was dirty, didn’t follow proper manufacturing procedures and had poorly trained staff, according to the Associated Press.

The problems resulted in the contamination of a batch of material that was going to be put into the shots. Nothing made at the factory for J&J has been distributed, the FDA noted. The nearly 8 million doses of J&J vaccine given in the U.S. came from Europe.

The Food and Drug Administration released a 13-page report detailing the findings from its recent inspection of the now-idle Emergent Biosciences factory.

Agency inspectors said the contaminated batch was used to make COVID-19 vaccines for another Emergent client, AstraZeneca. The batch, reportedly enough to make about 15 million J&J vaccine doses, had to be thrown out.

Other problems cited in the report were peeling paint, black and brown residue on floors and walls in the factory, inadequate cleaning and employees not following procedures to prevent contamination.

J&J and Emergent say they’re working to fix the reported problems.

Tuesday, April 20

5:30 p.m.: Restaurants, delivery apps in an uneasy relationship as customers continue with delivery orders

Diners got used to delivery during the pandemic, and the habit may stick long after dining rooms reopen.

But, according to the Associated Press, restaurants and delivery companies remain uneasy partners, haggling over fees and struggling to make the service mutually profitable. Companies like DoorDash and UberEats may have helped many restaurants stay in business during lockdowns —  it also came with a heavy price.

The delivery app giants could charge commission fees of 30% or more per order, hurting restaurants’ already meager profits. Some restaurants fed up with the fees have since started their own delivery program or have dropped off the platforms altogether. Delivery companies are trying to keep them in the fold with lower-priced services and relief funds, but they’re not making much money either.

Small business owners have had to get creative. Chocolate maker Jeffrey Gardner says he believes he loses money on the one or two delivery orders he gets a day at Masatta Chocolate in Torrance, California, but he’s happy for the exposure. He’s even worked for DoorDash and UberEats to make extra cash and meet other local restaurant owners to hopefully stock his chocolates. 

But many restaurant owners say they can’t make the math work. The Restaurant Empowerment Project was founded late last year by Oakland-based entrepreneur Sheng Xie. The hope is to give independent restaurants the same negotiating power over delivery commissions like McDonald’s or Starbucks. About 700 restaurants have already signed on.

“Food delivery is here to stay,” they said. “But a lot of restaurants are very scared right now. They fear going back to normal, paying 30% or more and having no choice but to use these apps.”

5:25 p.m.: Nevada teen suffers seizures, brain clots after J&J vaccine

A spokesperson with the family of an 18-year-old woman in Nevada who suffered seizures after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine said the girl has received three brain surgeries related to blood clots. 

According to the Associated Press, spokesman Bret Johnson said Emma Burkey began feeling sick about a week after receiving the one-dose vaccine early this month.

She was one of six women in the U.S. who experienced a severe clotting effect. Her parents, Russ and Kathy, have visited her at the hospital daily and said she’s slowly improving.

10:01 a.m.: Asian American families are weighing pros and cons of sending their children back into classrooms

Asian American families are wrestling with reasons on why they should or shouldn’t be sending their children back to classrooms as all grade levels across the country are widely reopening.

According to the Associated Press, some Asian American parents say they’re content to keep their children at home attending classes online amid rising anti-Asian harassment and rising COVID-19 cases.

Asian American students have the highest rates of remote learning nationally, with just 15% of fourth-graders attending classes in-person as of February when compared with more than half of white fourth-graders.

In the Sacramento City Unified School District, 33% of Asian American students chose in-person classes when students returned this month.

Elk Grove Unified School District has recently started a hybrid schooling model with some in-classroom days and some remote-class days. The hybrid model was a no-brainer for a local mother: her two elementary-school-aged children would be staying home.

“I’m hesitant because of all this rise in anti-Asian violence,” parent Winnie Tam Hung said. “I experienced a lot of racial bullying as a kid; given this current climate, I’m very hesitant about being out in public with my children and sending my children back to school.”

9:52 a.m.: Billions were spent on fighting the coronavirus, and 1 in 6 Americans lost their local health leader, so what’s next?

Congress has poured tens of billions of dollars into public health since last year, when the coronavirus pandemic was declared, according to the Associated Press.

While health officials who have juggled bare-bone budgets for years are grateful for the money, many worry that it’ll soon dry up, just as it did after previous crises like the Sept. 11 attacks and the SARS and Ebola outbreaks.

Some health officials are saying they need funds that they can “depend on year after year.” Amid political pressure, exhaustion and more, 1 in 6 Americans lost their local health department leader. Sacramento County’s former top health official resigned in Dec. 2020.

A yearlong analysis by the AP and KHN found at least 248 leaders of state and local health departments resigned, retired or were fired between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Experts say it’s the largest exodus of public health leaders in American history.

Monday, April 19

7:01 p.m.: State employees’ pay will likely be restored this summer 

State employees took a 10% pay cut last year due to a budget deficit. Now, the union representing 100,000 of those workers says their pay will likely be restored this summer. 

As the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom craft the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the picture is very different than it was a year ago.

Instead of a gaping deficit, the state is flush with cash from a healthy economic recovery among wealthier taxpayers, and money from the federal American Rescue Plan.

The president of the state’s largest public employees union says it was written into an agreement that the pay cuts would be restored if the state doesn’t have to dip into its rainy day fund this year — which, with that much cash on hand, it shouldn’t need to.

Workers would also get a 2% raise which was deferred due to the pandemic.

The governor will issue a revised budget proposal next month.

6:56 p.m.: Chico State to require COVID-19 vaccination for student athletes and students living in campus housing

California State University, Chico will require a COVID-19 vaccination for student athletes and students living in campus housing.

Chico State spokesperson Michael Guzzi says the university is the first campus in the CSU system to impose such a mandate. Guzzi says the college’s attorney believes they’re legally on firm ground.

“Groups like housing and athletics, where you’re making a choice to participate in those, then we can mandate it,” he said “As a requirement of getting your education, they’re still looking into us being able to do that.” 

Guzzi says there’s been some push-back from students and parents. 

“We’ve gotten some feedback that some are not happy with it and we understand that,” he said. “We know there are a lot of other options for them to go do housing in the local area. We feel bad that they’re unhappy with the decision, but we know we’re making the right choice.” 

University staff will not be required to be vaccinated. Students may seek exemptions on medical and religious grounds.

Chico State expects about 1,800 students to move into campus housing for the fall semester. They must be fully vaccinated by July 30.

3:10 p.m.: LA schools served more than 120 million meals during pandemic

The Los Angeles Unified School District says it provided more than 123 million meals to students and community members in a program that was organized quickly when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools.

According to the Associated Press, the nation’s second-largest school district serves a significant low-income population and is normally a major source of students’ nutrition. When the pandemic arrived, officials set up school-based “grab and go” food centers for anyone, no questions asked.

On Monday, the district said that more than 93 million meals went to children and almost 30 million went to adults. The district began a phased reopening of schools last week, and the emergency food centers shut down April 16.

11:11 a.m.: Sacramento arts venues say it’s impractical to open under new California reopening rules

Multiple Sacramento performing arts venues say they’re not going to open just because they’re allowed to under new California rules.

State guidelines for indoor live performances that recently took effect impose capacity limits and direct guests to wear masks and sit six feet apart when attending events. Audience members are being asked to refrain from yelling, booing and singing.

The Sofia, home of B Street theater, producing artistic director Buck Busfield said they’d open the curtains “when the public tells us they’re ready to come.”

“Because for us to open for three or four weeks and have the light to no attendance is just impractical,” he said. “We’re going to reopen once and do it correctly, and we want to reopen quickly with bigger houses rather than having all that expense and just having a few people there.”

The new state guidelines allow for live, indoor performances in counties in the red, orange and yellow tiers. However, there are still capacity restrictions, which vary depending on the size of the space, and whether the venue chooses to ask patrons for vaccination records or negative COVID-19 tests at the door.

9:41 a.m.: Biden administration setting aside $1.7 billion to track COVID-19 variants

The Biden administration says the U.S. is setting up a $1.7-billion national network to identify and track worrisome coronavirus mutations whose spread could trigger another pandemic wave.

According to the Associated Press, White House officials recently unveiled a strategy featuring three components: a major funding boost for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ramping up gene-mapping of coronavirus samples; the creation of six “centers of excellence” partnerships with universities to research gene-based pathogen surveillance, and building a data system to share and analyze disease threat information.

The effort relies on money approved by Congress as a part of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package.

Sunday, April 18

10:55 a.m.: Global COVID-19 deaths surpasses 3 million 

Deaths from COVID-19 globally have surpassed 3 million, according to the latest data from John Hopkins University. 

The United States leads in those deaths with more than 566,000 and Brazil with more than 368,000. Mexico, India and the United Kingdom follow them.

Read more here. 

Friday, April 16

12:31 p.m.: As live, indoor performances return to California, guests may be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test

As of Thursday, performance venues throughout California can welcome guests indoors for concerts and productions as long as they follow certain rules released by the state earlier this month.  

These events have been banned since early in the pandemic, and Gov. Gavin Newsom said last year they would be one of the last activities to return as shelter-in-place orders eased.

Live, indoor performances are still forbidden in the purple, or most restrictive tier, though no counties are currently in that tier. In other tiers, how many people can attend these events depends on the size of the venue. In some cases, venues can increase their capacity if they only invite in people with negative COVID-19 tests or proof of full vaccination. 

The new state rules are as follows:

Venues with a capacity of up to 1,500 people:

  • Red tier: capacity is limited to 10% or 100 people, and capacity increases to 25% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination. 
  • Orange tier: capacity is limited to 15% or 200 people, and capacity increases to 35% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination
  • Yellow tier: capacity is limited to 25% or 300 people, and capacity increases to 50% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination. 

Venues with a capacity of 1,501 and above: 

  • Red tier: testing or proof of vaccination is required, and capacity is limited to 20%.
  • Orange tier: capacity is limited to 10% or 2,000 people, and capacity increases to 35% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination. 
  • Yellow tier: capacity is limited to 10% or 2,000 people, and capacity increases to 50% if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination. 

There will be other major changes for patrons at concerts or theatrical productions. Seating must be assigned and tickets must be purchased in advance and checked digitally. People should be seated six feet apart, though closer seating is permitted in sections where all patrons are vaccinated. 

Face coverings are mandatory, and the state says venues should remove guests who don’t comply. Guests are asked not to yell, sing, boo or chant during performances to reduce risk of transmission.

Concessions are only allowed in pre-designated eating areas. Venues should ensure that audiences enter and exit the venue in a staggered way. 

And to avoid having security personnel checking purses and backpacks, the state is urging venues to have patrons bring their belongings in a clear plastic bag.

9:51 a.m.: Sacramento County may close motels that sheltered hundreds during COVID-19 pandemic

According to housing advocates, Sacramento County has plans to close three motels this spring that have sheltered hundreds of formerly homeless residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plans to close the relatively successful Project Roomkey motels are sparking concerns that many recipients who benefited from a stable housing situation will end up back on the street.

“It’s going to be tragic,” said Bob Erlenbusch, Sacramento Regional Coalition To End Homeless executive director. “We’re trying to get a handle on why the county is doing this.”

County spokesperson Janna Haynes said officials were not prepared to discuss the plans publically this week.

County director of homeless initiatives, Cindy Cavanaugh, wrote in an email obtained by CapRadio that a regional homeless response team is “presently working hard to secure stable exits for guests.”

She added that the capacity at the motels “is about 372 rooms” and that more details would be shared in the coming days.

It’s currently unknown why the county is deciding to close the motels now, despite funding not appearing to be an issue. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in December that the federal government had authorized reimbursements for the program throughout the pandemic.

9:36 a.m.: California health officials expect no significant impact due to Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

California is directing vaccine clinics to hold off on administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, following the federal government’s health recommendation after six women reported getting “a rare and severe blood clot.” One woman died, and a second is in critical condition.

California state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said the pause is “out of an abundance of caution” and will last “until we receive further direction from health and safety experts.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he expects the pause to have no significant impact on the state’s supply or plans to reopen by mid-June. Many county officials agreed, saying they have enough supply to keep vaccinating residents without major interruptions.

Only 4% of the state’s current vaccine supply is from Johnson & Johnson.

9:12 a.m.: Some California counties say vaccine supply and scheduling still a problem

All Californians age 16 and up became eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine yesterday — but it seems the expansion comes amid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause, forcing some county health departments to shuffle their plans.

Some providers have found themselves needing to cancel appointments because of the J&J vaccine pause, like Sacramento’s Loaves & Fishes. Also, some Californians have found that whether they can get an appointment largely depends on what county they live in. Many counties are all at different stages in their vaccination roll-outs, which is generally based on population size and vaccine supply.

You can find out more information on scheduling a vaccine appointment here.

As of Friday, the state says all but two of California’s 58 counties have signed onto the statewide vaccine distribution network operated by Blue Shield of California. The 400 providers and nearly 2,500 vaccination sites currently in the health insurance giant’s network will eventually be accessible through the state’s vaccine scheduling platform, MyTurn.

Many counties were hesitant about signing on, arguing that they could handle their community roll-out more efficiently.

“MyTurn makes it impossible for us to target high-risk groups because we don’t get to control who signs up,” said Dr. Bela Matya, head officer for Solano County. “That’s a problem.”

Thursday, April 15

4:01 p.m.: California expands vaccine eligibility, hits two milestones

Just days after federal health officials paused the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine over concerns about rare blood clots, Gov. Gavin Newsom officially announced California’s vaccine eligibility expansion to anyone 16 year or older.

The change in eligibility also comes as Newsom noted two other milestones in the state’s COVID-19 efforts: Every county has moved out of the state’s most-restrictive purple tier, and nearly half of all Californians eligible for vaccination have received at least one shot against the coronavirus.

Newsom said the Johnson & Johnson vaccination halt should not prevent anyone eligible from receiving their dose and should not hamper California’s work to completely reopen by June 15.

“While it is true that we had a temporary pause, a temporary setback with one of the approved vaccines, J&J represents just 4% of our weekly dose administration,” Newsom said.

Newsom added that the state is more than able to make up for the lack of Johnson & Johnson doses with its supply of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, which is expected to increase in the coming weeks.

Find information on how to sign up for vaccine appointments in California here.

9:50 a.m.: Unsheltered Americans are finally getting a chance at COVID-19 shot

Unhoused Americans who have been left off priority lists for coronavirus vaccinations — or bumped aside as states shifted eligibility to older age groups — are finally getting their shots as vaccine supplies increase.

According to the Associated Press, while the federal government has only incomplete data on infections among homeless people, it’s clear that crowded and sometimes unsanitary conditions at shelters increase the danger of COVID-19 infections. Those with underlying health conditions can also be more susceptible to severe illness.

COVID-19 outbreaks have been documented at homeless shelters in Boston, San Francisco and Seattle. Advocates say homeless people are at a greater risk of being infected and have a greater risk of being hospitalized and dying than the average person — meaning they should have been prioritized earlier.

However, with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine paused, it’s possible that this could affect supply. Sacramento’s Loaves & Fishes homeless shelter had started a weekly vaccination clinic on April 6 at the Delany Center Parking lot. Shots were being administered to people experiencing homelessness and those who are not.

However, with the J&J’s vaccine pause, Loaves & Fishes had to cancel their weekly vaccination drive until further notice.

Wednesday, April 14

5:43 p.m.: All California schools should be reopen in the fall, Gov. Newsom says

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said that he fully expects all schools to reopen in the fall, a goal that is a long time coming, but is still contingent on several factors. 

While California’s COVID-19 case rates continue to decrease and the number of people vaccinated increases, there’s still the looming threat of more dangerous variants. Additionally, California’s teachers unions and school districts will need to negotiate conditions on which campuses can reopen.

Still, Newsom was optimistic when making the announcement at a school playground in Sonoma County.

“We can do this. I understand the hesitancy. I understand the stress. I understand the anxiety,” Newsom said of educators. “But that does not compare to the stress and anxiety we’ll have when we look back and dream of regretting that we could’ve, would’ve, should’ve prioritized our children at a critical moment in their young lives.”

Newsom has been previously criticized for being slow to reopen schools and for not requiring more in-person instruction hours before districts qualify for state financial incentives. Parents groups and lawmakers have said that Newsom instead caved to the California Teachers Association, which represents over 300,000 educators across the state. 

The labor union has long requested that teachers be vaccinated before returning to campus full time.

So far, the governor said that more than 9,000 of the state’s schools have reopened for in-person learning or have announced a date to do so.

Newsom stopped short of saying that he’d mandate campuses open in the fall.

5:33 p.m.: Some San Joaquin County museums start to reopen

Museums in San Joaquin County are reopening their doors to visitors now that the county has moved into the red tier. 

Lodi’s World of Wonders Science Museum is taking online advance tickets for admission from Thursday through Monday. 

Science Museum President Sally Snyde says some exhibits require downsizing such as City Blocks where children build cities.

“We have to cut back on the amount of blocks that we have out there, so we have to clean them and then put them back in,” Snyde said. “We have a Lego station. We’re taking the Legos and sanitizing those and we’ve limited the size of the amount of the Legos and the blocks that are out there because of the time it takes to sanitize them.”

Snyde says the museum saw over 70,000 visitors in 2019, but capacity now is limited to 25% or about 100 people at a time. 

Meanwhile, the Children’s Museum in Stockton will welcome families on Friday. The Haggin Museum opened briefly in October and then shut down, and now will reopen on Thursday.

5:30 p.m.: US health officials continue Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

An expert advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided Wednesday it needed more time to consider whether to recommend to resume administering the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson.

The committee’s emergency meeting took place less than 36 hours after the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration called for a voluntary pause after receiving reports of serious side effects seen in six women who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The advisory committee will reconsider a recommendation within the next 10 days. It declined to vote on a question of whether vaccinations might continue, perhaps with limits on who would receive it, effectively leaving the current pause in vaccinations in place.

Read more from NPR here.

5:25 p.m.: Red states on electoral map are lagging in vaccinations

A look at which U.S. states are leading at vaccinating against the coronavirus and which states are struggling is beginning to resemble America’s electoral map, according to the Associated Press.

Vaccination numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the states that tend to vote Democratic at the top of the list, in terms of the percentage of the adult population that’s received at least one shot. California is 12th on the list behind New Hampshire, New Mexico and Republican-leaning South Dakota.

At the bottom are five Republican-leaning states, including Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll in late March found that Republicans were three times as likely as Democrats to say they will probably or definitely not get vaccinated.

10:58 a.m.: Sacramento County clinic scrambled to switch doses after Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause

Hours before a vaccination clinic was set to begin yesterday at Luther Burbank High School in South Sacramento, federal health officials called for a pause on the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine

The stoppage comes after six women reported getting blood clots weeks after receiving the single-dose shot. One of them died. The FDA and the CDC are looking into this possible rare side effect.

“It’s very serious,” said Dr. Rusty Oshita with Urgent Care Now, who worked with the county and Sacramento City Unified School District to set up the clinic. “So we certainly applaud the FDA for putting a pause in this and keeping our community safe. What it did require, though, is quite a bit of mobility.”

Oshita says the county scrambled to switch out 4,500 Johnson & Johnson doses with 3,000 Pfizer shots, which was more than enough to get through the day. All residents who received shots at the clinic were scheduled for their second doses.

10:32 a.m.: Live shows returning to Nevada County’s Center for the Arts

Nevada County’s Center for the Arts is gearing up to present live music performances again now that COVID-19 cases are down and more people are getting vaccinated. But Amber Jo Manuel, the center’s executive director, says the shows won’t be at the center’s newly renovated venue in downtown Grass Valley.

“I don’t think we’re going to just flip a switch and go back to normal, so we are planning an outdoor summer concert series at the Nevada County Fairgrounds and that will be on Saturdays in June and July,” Manuel said on CapRadio’s Insight.

Manuel said donations from the public have kept the arts organization afloat during the pandemic.

“We also were very fortunate to receive some support from Nevada County, some CARES Act funding and also from the National Endowment of the Arts, so that has really kept us going,” she said.

She said the center has maintained a skeletal administrative staff and continued to promote the work of local artists by broadcasting profiles on social media platforms.

10:13 a.m.: Nevada announces reopening plan

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced yesterday the state is accelerating its plans to return to normal by the summer as vaccinations continue to rise.

“Every county in the state of Nevada will be able to fully reopen at 100% capacity by June 1,” Sisolak said.

Full control over local mitigation measures will still be handed over to counties beginning in May. That’s when Sisolak plans to remove the statewide social distancing requirement, too. 

Control over safety measures in schools will be handed over to local authorities at the same time. But a statewide mask mandate will remain in effect. Sisolak says aside from vaccines, masks are still the best way to prevent further spread of COVID-19. 

There’s no timeline for when Nevadans might be able to put away their face coverings.

Tuesday, April 13

4:01 p.m.: I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, now what? Health officials say not to worry.

If you got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, don’t panic. 

According to the Associated Press, U.S. health officials recommended pausing vaccinations with J&J’s shot to look into reports of six patients with unusual blood clots out of nearly 7 million doses. Health officials say to be vigilant but to remember that reports of blood clots have been exceedingly rare. 

Symptoms to watch for include severe headache, backache, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling, tiny red spots on the skin or bruising. Typically these would appear between one to three weeks after the shot. 

But experts still say not to worry about common COVID-19 vaccine side effects, like arm pain and flu-like symptoms.

3:56 p.m.: Nevada to pause use of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

Nevada suspended the use of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccines Tuesday while federal authorities investigate reports of people in other states experiencing severe reactions, including blood clots. 

According to the Associated Press, the state’s COVID-19 Task Force cited a CDC and FDA recommendation to pause using the single-dose vaccine out of an abundance of caution. The Southern Nevada Health District also said it stopped administering the vaccine in the Las Vegas area. 

Washoe County’s health district in Reno followed suit, as did the mobile clinics serving various rural areas statewide. Federal authorities are investigating six cases of women experiencing unusual clots several days after vaccination.

10:38 a.m.: Some historically Black medical schools receive funds to expand COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Four historically Black medical schools are getting $6 million to expand coronavirus vaccination efforts in minority communities, according to the Associated Press.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropy announced the gifts on Tuesday to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine in Los Angeles, Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., Meharry Medical College in Nashville and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.

Each of the schools will use the money to buy additional mobile vaccination units. Vaccination rates lag in many Black communities, but fears that Black people would refuse the vaccine out of distrust have eased. Instead, the real issue seems to be that people may have trouble accessing the vaccine.

Monday, April 12

4:04 p.m.: COVID-19 vaccination pop-up clinic at Luther Burbank High School on April 13

The Sacramento City Unified School District is partnering up with Dr. Rusty Oshita at Urgent Care Now to provide a popup vaccine clinic for South Sacramento residents on April 13 at Luther Burbank High School.

Clinic Address

Luther Burbank High School

3500 Florin Road

Sacramento, CA 95823

They will be administering 4,000 of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Everyone 18 years and older living in any of these zip codes are eligible: 95815, 95824, 95838, 95660, 95823, 95832 95639, 95820, 95828, 95841, 95842, 95821, 95825, 95822, 95817, 95673, 95610, 95615 95827, 95833, 95814, 95811, 95621 95834, 95670, 95626 or 95608.

To check eligibility, sign up online as soon as possible. If you cannot make it to the clinic or spaces have been filled, this partnership will continue to offer opportunities for vaccination.

Those interested in volunteering at the site can register here.

1:55 p.m.: Over 50 people in Nevada prisons have died from COVID-19

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that at least 55 Nevadans in prison have died after contracting COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.

The newspaper compared records from coroners around the state with data provided by the Department of Corrections in March. It found that the state Department of Health and Human Services tallied 53 incarcerated people along with three department employees who had died. The department is also reviewing the prison system’s other two reported cases.

Prison officials didn’t identify the names of the deceased inmates who died after testing positive for the coronavirus, citing medical confidentiality. The Review-Journal identified 39 people by name, all of whom were men.

11:53 a.m.: Only two California counties left in the purple tier

Inyo and Merced are the only two California counties left in the state’s most restrictive tier for reopening — the daunting purple — meaning no open bars or indoor dining along with strict limitations on live events and retail.

California’s 56 other counties have moved into less restrictive tiers like red, orange or yellow. However, Merced County supervisors are concerned that data lags are holding them back, while Inyo County, with 18,000 residents, says the system isn’t designed for less populous counties like theirs.

Last week, Inyo County’s COVID-19 case rate hovered just above the 10 cases per 100,000 residents needed to advance to the red tier. This week, its rate dropped to 2.3 cases, but counties need two weeks of low metrics before advancing.

The county could move into the red tier on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Merced County’s adjusted case rate as of Tuesday was 11.7 cases per 100,000 people, meaning it’s likely they’ll be stuck in the purple tier for at least two more weeks.

For at least the next two months, limits on restaurants, shopping, and events will continue to be determined by the state’s color-coded reopening blueprint.

11:46 a.m.: The pandemic’s effect on music, arts in the Sacramento region

It’s been more than a year since the coronavirus pandemic ushered in stay-at-home orders in California, shuttering some businesses and moving some work and schools online.

For musicians and artists who make their living from music, the pandemic’s effects were felt worldwide. The live events industry lost $30 billion due to the pandemic. In the Sacramento Metropolitan Area alone, 15,810 creatives in all fields lost their jobs between April and July 2020, according to a report from the Brookings Institution.

Job losses weren’t the only issue. $674 million was lost in sales in Sacramento creative industries. Other cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego lost a combined total of 330,000 creative jobs, leading to roughly $34.4 billion in lost revenue throughout the state.

11:15 a.m.: Covert neglect: Thousands of California nursing home residents die due to COVID-19

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, California state records show that more than 9,000 nursing home residents have died from the virus — about 16% of the state’s total deaths.

As COVID-19 transformed many nursing homes into death traps, health care experts believe the current death numbers are an undercount. Now, state regulators are scrambling to figure out how to protect some of California’s most vulnerable residents.

For example, at the Country Villa Sheraton nursing home in Los Angeles, 24 residents died due to COVID-19 last year. Other centers like Country Villa Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles and Country Villa Plaza in Santa Ana lost 13 residents each.

The devastation is by no means unique. Across the country, other facilities have also suffered crushing casualties from the pandemic.

Issues with licensing for nursing home operators in the state could prove to be a challenge, though.

According to CalMatters, records show that Los Angeles businessman Shlomo Rechnitz and his various businesses own about 81 nursing homes through a web of companies — including the previous three facilities — but isn’t licensed by the state to actually run them. Instead, public health officials have left his state license applications as “pending” for years.

“I’m just a little speechless when it comes to this ownership nightmare in California and how it’s gotten to this point,” said Molly Davies, the Los Angeles County long-term care ombudsman, whose office advocates for residents of nursing homes and other adult care facilities.

This leaves elder care advocates and some state leaders asking what the state public health department’s role is in ensuring timely compliance with licensing requirements. The Department of Public Health did not make anyone available to answer questions about or comment on the licensing process.

Sunday, April 11

9:45 a.m.: Blue Shield announces it has the capacity to vaccinate six million people per week

Blue Shield has announced that it has the capacity to vaccinate six million people per week, at 2,400 sites.

The insurance provider’s representatives only recently revealed more information about their $15 million contract with the state for taking over vaccine roll-out. In this system, Blue Shield pays providers for their performance based on how quickly and equitably they administer the vaccines.

Read more here. 

Friday, April 9

5:55 p.m.: Yosemite to open limited summer reservations

Better plan in advance if you plan a trip to Yosemite National Park this summer.

Starting May 21, you will need advanced reservations through Sept. 30. Last summer at the height of the pandemic, Yosemite required advance reservations to limit the number of visitors to the park to avoid overcrowding and provide social distancing. 

COVID-19 is still a concern but Yosemite is now in the orange tier in the state’s reopening system. Park Ranger Jamie Richards says that will allow for more visitors and almost 6,000 vehicles per day.

“We have increased the number of passes that will be available,” Richards said. “The most restrictive tier that we looked at was what we did last summer and we went up from there. And we will be increasing passes as conditions improve.”

Richards says people can sign up online at beginning April 21. 

She adds that the park has expanded the number of campsites and also increased lodging facilities.

2:28 p.m.: Do the vaccines protect against COVID-19 variants? Scientists think so but are still figuring it out.

U.S. health authorities recently announced that the COVID-19 mutation first identified in the United Kingdom last winter is now the predominant strain in the U.S., according to NPR.

The strain has been found in at least 130 other countries as well, but on a reassuring note, officials said there’s strong evidence that the three U.S.-approved vaccines offer good protection against this variant, especially against severe disease. 

However, this strain is just one of three “variants of concern” at large in the country and globally. One of the other variants, first identified in South Africa and dominant there, has now been found across southern Africa. The third variant was first identified in Brazil and has traveled all the way to Japan. This mutation is behind Brazil’s current surge in cases and has been identified across the Americas.

“We have seen an explosion [in research] — a paper almost every day,” said Salim Abdool Karim, an infectious disease researcher who co-chairs the COVID-19 advisory committee for South Africa.

11:25 a.m.: More counties open up vaccine eligibility to residents 16 and older

More California counties are opening up vaccines to younger adults about a week ahead of the state’s schedule, according to the Associated Press.

At the same time, California public health officials warned Thursday of decreases in supply because of a national reduction in the supply of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The state has received about 2.4 million doses this week, but it expects 2 million next week and 1.9 million the week after.

Fresno County opened up vaccinations to everyone 16 and up. Santa Clara County did as well, but appointments must be for April 15 or later. A mass vaccination site at California State University, Los Angeles announced it would take adults on a walk-up basis because of excess appointments, but had to start turning people away on Thursday.

11:11 a.m.: Rural county in Nevada eschews masks, capacity limits ahead of state recommendations

Nye County, a rural area in southern Nevada, may step ahead of the rest of the state in a bid to lift mask mandates and business capacity limits, according to the Associated Press.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the Nye County Commission will consider a plan on April 20 to make face coverings optional and let businesses return to 100% occupancy. The move would put the county ahead of Nevada’s other 16 counties while the state COVID-19 Response Task Force reviews plans to turn over pandemic mitigation control to local authorities starting May 1.

Several other rural counties have also chafed at mask rules and occupancy limits.

Thursday, April 8

5:19 p.m.: Locations picked for South Sacramento mass vaccination sites, but no estimate when they’ll open 

Sacramento County health staff are gearing up to provide more vaccines in South Sacramento, a neighborhood disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Jamie White, a county health program manager, said there are plans underway to open mass vaccination clinics at Cosumnes River College and in the parking lot near the shopping center formerly called Florin Mall, both in the 95823 ZIP code. She says the county is still in talks over facilities agreements, and did not provide an estimate as to when those sites may be up and running.

All Californians over age 16 become eligible for vaccination appointments beginning April 15. Blue Shield, the insurance provider contracted with the state for the vaccination roll-out, is currently reporting a national decline in the number of vaccine doses available. 

White says the frequency and capacity of the South Sacramento clinics will depend on how many doses are available to the county and how many providers can administer them.

4:24 p.m.: Stockton Arena opens as mass vaccination site

The Stockton Arena opened up this week as the vaccine hub for the Central Valley, with the capacity to administer over 5,000 doses a day.

Kaiser Permanente has set up 36 stations inside the arena for vaccinating people who are 50 years and over. By April 15, eligibility throughout California will include anyone over 16. 

About 35% of San Joaquin County residents over 18 have been vaccinated. San Joaquin County Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park is urging local residents not to delay in getting vaccinated. 

“This mass vax hub is not only open to our residents but residents from other counties,” Park said. “Please make sure you grab these appointments before people from other counties come in and take them all. That’s my fear.”

The vaccine hub will be open seven days a week and vaccinations will be given at no charge. Appointments are necessary and people can sign up online at

11:21 a.m.: As some Sacramento Unified School District students restart some in-person learning, racial divides remain stark

The youngest kids enrolled in Sacramento City Unified schools have gone back today for in-person classes, but many families are still opting to keep their kids in distance learning for the rest of the year.

The school district’s data shows that about 59% of kindergartners will learn in person this year. Eva Schwartz is the parent of a kindergartner going back to in-person learning. She said her son was getting bored and distracted with video conference learning.

“It’s impossible to do online schooling for kindergarten because the majority of what you’re learning in kindergarten is how to deal with other kids,” Schwartz said. “You don’t learn that online.”

Some of the most significant differences in the choice to send kids back to school are along racial lines. While about 71% of white students will be sitting in classrooms again, only about 50% of Black and Latino students will do the same.

“Many Black and Brown parents often feel that schools are racially hostile toward their students, especially if their students are in racially mixed school settings,” UCLA Professor of Education Tyrone Howard said. “So when Black and Brown [parents] feel like their children are already being subjected to racial microaggressions, exclusionary practices, disproportionate levels of school punishment, the thinking is, why would I send my students back if I don’t have to?”

The Sac City data also showed that just a third of Asian American children will return to in-person classes, with 70% preferring to stay home and do remote learning. This is a statistic that stands in stark contract with students of other ethnicities and races.

Winnie Tam Hung is a parent of elementary students in Elk Grove Unified. She said she won’t be sending either of her children back for in-person for several reasons.

“I’m hesitant because of all of this rise in anti-Asian violence,” Hung said. “I experienced a lot of racial bullying as a kid … but given this current climate, I’m very hesitant about being out in public with my children and sending my children back to school.”

Howard said school districts should reach out to families of color to find out how to make in-person school more comfortable for them.

10:54 a.m.: Are some COVID-19 vaccines more effective than others? Scientists are unsure since they are difficult to compare.

The COVID-19 vaccines rolling out worldwide weren’t compared to each other in studies, so it’s hard to tell how they might differ in effectiveness.

According to the Associated Press, experts say the vaccines are alike in what matters most: preventing hospitalizations and deaths. Although the studies conducted before the vaccines were rolled out found varying effectiveness levels, it’s an imprecise comparison since effectiveness can’t be analyzed apples-to-apples.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccine studies were conducted when COVID-19 cases were just mild, moderate, or severe. In contrast, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine didn’t count mild illnesses, and studies were done once mutated versions of the virus were a bigger concern.

10:24 a.m.: US unemployment claims jumped to over 740,000 as virus still forces layoffs

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to 744,000, signaling that many employers are still cutting jobs even as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.

On Thursday, the Labor Department said that applications increased by 16,000 from 728,000 a week earlier, even as consumers gain confidence and the government distributes aid throughout the economy.,

While jobless claims have declined sharply since the virus slammed into the economy in March of last year, the claims still remain high by historical standards. Before the pandemic erupted and overturned the economy, weekly applications typically remained below 220,000 a week.

Wednesday, April 7

3:41 p.m.: California lawmakers say trucking companies misclassifying drivers during pandemic

A group of California state lawmakers are accusing trucking companies of misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors during the pandemic.

Labor union leaders and a trio of Latina Democrats say the misclassification means that drivers who carry cargo from ports haven’t been able to get paid sick time or unemployment. Sen. Maria Elena Durazo said that in some cases, companies even make workers pay unemployment insurance taxes — something which employers should pay.

“In addition to the systematic wage theft, the pandemic has unveiled how misclassification has left a largely immigrant workforce without a safety net,” Durazo said.

She and two other lawmakers are running separate bills to crack down on the trucking companies by increasing transparency over disputes and withholding clean transportation grants, rebates and incentives.

A lobbyist with the California Trucking Association said in a statement that the bills will only hurt California’s climate goals and worsen supply chain bottlenecks.

10:52 a.m.: South Sacramento clinic plans to vaccinate 3,400 people on April 9

The Sam & Bonnie Pannell Community Center in South Sacramento is entering its fifth week of community vaccination, with plans to provide 3,400 inoculations to eligible residents on April 9.

In collaboration with Sacramento County Public Health, the city of Sacramento, Councilmember Mai Vang, plus many groups, the clinic has focused on equitable vaccine distribution.

“Since day one, we have been focused on ensuring that Sacramento recovers equitably from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Vang said. “This starts with ensuring that vaccine access, resources and education are delivered in languages spoken by our community, by people trusted by our community — and that they’re provided right here in south Sacramento, where they’re needed the most.”

Residents who have priority for the April 9 vaccinations include: 95815, 95824, 95838, 95660, 95823, 95832, 95639, 95820, 95828, 95841, 95842 & 95821.

Residents who qualify can contact the city of Sacramento Vaccine Text Hotline by texting “vaccine” to (916) 476-2225 to check eligibility and get put on a list for volunteers to schedule a vaccine appointment for Friday, April 9 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine can also be made by calling any of these community partners: 

  • Sacramento NAACP – (916) 750-5625 
  • South Sac Christian Center – (916) 681-6791 
  • Genesis Church – (916) 399-4936 
  • Rose Family Creative Empowerment Center – (916) 376-7916 
  • Antioch Progressive Church – (916) 385-8498 
  • La Familia Counseling Center (speaks Spanish, Arabic, and Hmong) – (916) 990-1311 
  • Tetteh Pediatric Health (speaks Spanish and Hmong) – (916) 224-8244 
  • Hmong Innovating Politics (speaks Hmong) – (916) 546-5254 
  • Hmong Youth & Parents United (speaks Hmong) – (916) 761-1840 
  • CPALSs (speaks Vietnamese) – (916) 891-9999

10:10 a.m.: Once reopened, California will simplify coronavirus restrictions

California is turning to a more straightforward, statewide approach as it prepares to lift most pandemic restrictions on businesses and workplaces by June 15, according to the Associated Press.

Gov. Gavin Newsom had previously adopted a system that put each of the 58 counties into one of four color-coded tiers based on a slew of metrics on case rates and hospitalizations, leading to each county often being open at different restriction levels.

Now, that’s all going out the window as long as most Californians can access the vaccine and hospitalization rates remain low by the start of the summer. The news comes as California expects to have administered more than 30 million vaccine doses by the end of April and as case rates are low.

9:55 a.m.: More than 500,000 Americans have signed up for health insurance coverage in expanded window

The government recently reported that more than half a million Americans have already taken advantage of the Biden administration’s special health insurance sign-up window that’s tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And according to the Associated Press, the government anticipates even more people will gain coverage in the coming months. Why? That’s because millions of people just became eligible for pumped-up taxpayer subsidies toward their premiums under President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief legislation.

With the number of uninsured Americans rising during the pandemic due to layoffs, Biden reopened the law’s health insurance markets as a backstop. Since then, the virus aid package also essentially delivered a health insurance price cut by making taxpayer subsidies more generous while allowing more people to qualify for financial assistance.

Tuesday, April 6

6:10 p.m.: San Joaquin County moves out of purple tier

San Joaquin County has moved out of the purple tier for COVID-19 restrictions and into the less restrictive red tier. 

El Dorado County is also moving into a less restrictive tier from red to orange. 

“California is making great progress in administering COVID-19 vaccine doses,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency. “We must continue to do our best to vaccinate Californians as safely and quickly as possible. Our vaccine equity focus remains the right thing to do and ensures we are having the greatest impact in reducing transmission, protecting our health care delivery system and saving lives.”

Under the red tier, restaurants and movie theaters will be able to reopen indoors at 25% capacity, while gyms can reopen indoors at 10% capacity. Museums may also resume indoor operations at 25% capacity. In the orange tier, that rises to 50% capacity for restaurants and movie theaters and 25% for gyms. Bars can also reopen outdoors with modifications in the orange tier.

On Tuesday California announced it had administered 4 million vaccine doses in hard-hit areas, measured by the state’s Healthy Places Index. That triggered a loosening of the tier thresholds, allowing some counties to move into less-restrictive tiers faster.

The purple tier threshold will remain at greater than 10 cases per 100,000 residents. The red  tier will narrow to 6-10 cases per 100,000, and the orange tier range will shift to 2-5.9 cases per 100,0000.  The yellow tier will move to 2 cases per 100,000.

5:56 p.m.: Gov. Newsom announces plan to fully reopen California economy 

Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday announced a plan to fully reopen California’s economy if current coronavirus trends continue. 

California has administered more than 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, and supply is still ramping up. Newsom says as long as that continues, and if hospitalizations remain low, the state’s color tier system for business restrictions can end.

“We’ll be moving past the dimmer switch, we’ll be getting rid of the blueprint as  you know it today,” he said. “That’s on June 15 if we continue the good work.”

Masks and other health measures will still be required in public.

Last week, the state indicated that some businesses could begin requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to get in.

Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco, says even with COVID-19 variants, this is good news.

“Most of the signals are positive and I think there’s a very good chance we’ll be in an excellent place and it will be appropriate to return not quite to normal, but to normal-ish,” he said. 

Wachter says the vaccines have been remarkably effective at staving off the virus. His only advice for people looking to return to their favorite activities this summer is: “Get vaccinated.” 

Every Californian over the age of 16 becomes vaccine eligible April 15.

3:42 p.m.: As restrictions lift, many businesses still want masks

Although nearly a fifth of U.S. states don’t require people to wear masks to protect themselves and others against COVID-19, many businesses are still requiring their employees and customers to be masked on their premises.

Business owners ranging from manufacturers to retailers to massage therapists want to protect their staff and their customers, and according to the Associated Press, the law is on their side.

Because businesses are private properties, owners can set the rules. Employers are also obligated under federal law and some state laws to provide a safe workplace for their employees, and that may include requiring everyone on their property to wear a mask.

California is planning to fully reopen without restrictions by June 15 if COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low, though Gov. Gavin Nesom said the state has no plans to relax its mask mandate.

3:27 p.m.: Nevada senator encourages people to use state health insurance exchange thanks to federal subsidies

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada is encouraging people to shop on the state’s health insurance exchange to determine if they can get cheaper coverage thanks to the new federal coronavirus relief law.

According to the Associated Press, the senator said that the relief law increases subsidies for 60,000 Nevada residents already receiving them to help pay for their health insurance on the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange. She says the new law also makes 40,000 others eligible for subsidies.

Anyone receiving unemployment benefits is eligible for free monthly premiums and can receive help with paying copays and deductibles. As of Monday, the state has allowed anyone 16 and older to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine.

10:12 a.m.: People incarcerated in prisons across the US still lack vaccine access

Vaccinating most Americans is plenty tough — and it’s worse if you’re in prison.

According to data collected by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press, people inside prisons are not free to seek out vaccines and, on the whole, lack access almost entirely. Fewer than 20% of people in state and federal prisons have been vaccinated. In some states, prisoners and advocates have resorted to lawsuits to get access to vaccines.

About 3 in 10 people in the prison system have tested positive, and 2,500 have died. Prisons across the country are often overcrowded, with limited access to health care and protective gear. Populations inside are also more likely to have preexisting medical conditions.

In some facilities, even basic supplies like soap and toilet paper have been scarce. Mask-wearing is inconsistently enforced among both residents and guards. Prison residents often spend time in communal spaces, and open floor plans do little to contain the virus. Entire dormitories have reported being sick with COVID-19 symptoms.

Some prisoners hesitate to report feeling sick out of fear they’ll be placed in solitary confinement without proper care. Others report waiting days for medical care, sometimes being turned away or provided only aspirin.

Monday, April 5

5:25 p.m.: COVID-19 cases increasing in much of the country

Many areas of the United States are starting to see an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, according to an NPR analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

The increases vary throughout the country. The Midwest has seen a 58% increase in new cases over the past 14 days, while the number of cases in the Northeast has climbed by 30%. Cases in the West rose by 5% and the South showed a slight decline.

In California, new cases have stayed steady over the past two weeks at around 2,700 per day. But that comes after weeks of declining case numbers following this winter’s surge, where more than 40,000 new COVID-19 cases were identified in the state each day. Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 continue to decline.

5:19 p.m.: Crocker Art Museum reopens

The Crocker Art Museum is reopening Thursday now that Sacramento County is in the less restrictive red tier in California’s COVID-19 reopening system. 

The museum first closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic. It reopened briefly in mid-October for an exhibition of Wayne Thiebaud paintings before abruptly closing in November because of new pandemic shutdown orders. 

Crocker Art Museum Mort and Marcy Friedman Director and CEO Lial Jones said on CapRadio’s Insight Monday that now is the right time to reopen.

“We’re following CDC and state guidelines and Sacramento County has now entered the red tier so we’re allowed to open to 25% capacity and we’re happy to do so,” Jones said.

Beginning this week, the Crocker will be open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Advance ticket reservations are required and all visitors must wear face coverings. The museum will have four new showings, including an exhibition featuring the landscapes, shoreline and towns of the Netherlands. Jones said the Thiebaud exhibit will be back next year.

11:20 a.m.: Nevada expects big wave of vaccine sign ups as eligibility widens

Health officials in Nevada expect a big first wave of people signing up for coronavirus vaccination appointments when age-based eligibility expands Monday to everyone 16 and older. 

In Las Vegas, University Medical Center started accepting online signups Friday for appointments next week at its vaccination center at Encore Las Vegas, according to the Associated Press. The Southern Nevada Health District said sign ups start Saturday for appointments at sites including the Cashman Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

State vaccination chief Candice McDaniel said slots may go fast, but people should keep trying. In Reno, the Washoe County Health District reported that appointments were already full.

11:19 a.m.: California volunteers work to connect farmworkers with vaccinations

Volunteers in California are working to ensure that the thousands of farmworkers who toil in the fields every day receive coronavirus vaccinations. 

According to the Associated Press, farmworkers are particularly vulnerable because they live in crowded housing and travel to farms in packed vehicles. Many cross the border from Mexico daily and are offered vaccinations as soon as they enter the United States. 

California was the first state to make farmworkers eligible for vaccinations and is working to bring doses to workers. Officials say most farmworkers are eager to get the vaccine but may not be able to sign up online. 

Saturday, April 3

12:28 p.m.: The CDC updates its travel guidance for fully vaccinated people

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its website to say that “people who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States.”

However, the CDC continues to discourage nonessential travel.

Those who are fully vaccinated—which means two weeks after they received their last dose—will no longer need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it. They also do not need to self-quarantine upon return.

Less than a month ago, the CDC  first released updated guidance about gatherings for fully vaccinated people.

Read more here.

Friday, April 2

4:18 p.m.: Testing rates, vaccine equity keep San Joaquin County in purple tier

As most California counties move into less restrictive tiers under the state’s reopening system, San Joaquin County is one of just three remaining in the most severe purple category.

Ginger Manss is chief nursing officer for Community Medical Centers, a network of health clinics serving low-income and uninsured patients in the Central Valley. She says there are two things holding San Joaquin County back.

“One is our testing rates — our positivity rates are just over where they need to be in order to move to the next tier,” she said. “The second one is our health equity, getting our vaccines to the people most in need.”

Health officials say people haven’t been seeking tests as often since the vaccine roll-out began. 

When people aren’t getting tested after travel or potential exposures, they may be unknowingly spreading the virus to others.

County representatives say this is happening more in a handful of low-income ZIP codes. The county health department says they’ve added testing and vaccination sites in 10 of these areas where they’re seeing high case numbers.  They hope this will slow the spread, and help them meet the state’s new vaccine distribution rules.

They’re hoping to change tiers later this month. In the meantime, they’re asking everyone to continue wearing masks and avoiding indoor gatherings.

4:10 p.m.: Newsom urges vaccination, continued vigilance over Easter holiday

A day after being inoculated with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Gavin Newsom was in San Diego Friday urging people eligible for COVID shots to get them. 

“These vaccines are safe,” he said. “I took the vaccine 24 hours ago, honestly slept like a baby, feel great, no impacts whatsoever and I can’t honestly … I was trying to figure out, was it my left arm or my right arm? … I can’t even feel where the vaccine was administered.”

With Easter two days away, Newsom also asked the public to stay vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID.

“Let’s not run the 90-yard dash, let’s not put down our guard, let’s not drop these masks, let’s continue to be mindful as we move into this very important holiday weekend,” he said.

Meanwhile, the state public health department Thursday lifted a travel recommendation for Californians to stick close to home. 

10:11 a.m.: As California expands vaccine access, clinics, residents in underserved communities try to fill in the vaccination gap

Latinos make up less than 40% of California’s population but account for more than half of the state’s COVID-19 cases.

Large immigrant and agricultural communities in counties like Merced have found their residents hit especially hard. Now, California is hoping that allocating 40% of doses to underserved communities can make an impact.

But to reach the people most in need, local clinics and residents are left to do much of the legwork. At Castle Family Health in Merced, workers are sending out organized social media campaigns to the community to answer their questions about the vaccine and correct misinformation. The health center has also been organizing large vaccination pop-ups in the county for teachers and other essential workers, along with outreach to local farms.

Other local clinics rely on what they call “promotoras” — people with deep connections in the Latino community who can broker connections between residents and the health care system.

While state officials acknowledge the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Latinos and other communities of color, efforts towards vaccine equality over the past year have barely moved the needle.

The death rate for Latinos is 22% higher than the statewide average. While vaccines are allocated to neighborhoods and counties in need, supply still remains an issue.

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a big part of the ramp-up and could help immunize transient populations, like migrant farmworkers.

9:28 a.m.: More on-site casino vaccination centers open up for hospitality workers in Las Vegas

Another Las Vegas casino operator says it will offer on-site coronavirus vaccinations to hospitality workers, according to the Associated Press.

Station Casinos said that it will host clinics starting on Tuesday at six of its properties in Las Vegas and suburban Henderson. American Medical Response will administer COVID-19 vaccines by appointment for workers and family members.

Station joins MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, the Cosmopolitan and Wynn Resorts with programs to inoculate employees on-site. Nevada state health officials reported 350 additional COVID-19 cases on Thursday, pushing the total number of state cases past 304,000 since March 2020. Including seven new deaths brings the death total to 5,256.

9:09 a.m.: Fully vaccinated Americans can travel again, CDC says

Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can enjoy again, according to the Associated Press.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on Friday to announce that fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting a COVID-19 test or going into quarantine. The agency previously cautioned against unnecessary travel, even for vaccinated people.

According to the CDC, nearly 100 million people in the U.S. — about 30% of the population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, a person is only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose.

Fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask and socially distance when traveling. For international travel, vaccinated people should still get a COVID-19 test before flying to the U.S. and be tested soon after returning. Travelers do not need to quarantine.

It should be noted that traveling could potentially introduce virus variants, and due to differences in vaccine coverage around the world, the CDC still urges caution on overseas travel.

Unvaccinated people are still advised to avoid any unnecessary travel.

Thursday, April 1

5:20 p.m.: State advisory no longer tells residents to avoid traveling more than 120 miles from home

California has updated its coronavirus travel advisory to remove the recommendation that Californians not travel more than 120 miles from home.

The state still advises that postponing travel and staying home are the best ways to protect yourself and others from the virus. 

The update to the travel advisory comes the same day the state opened vaccine eligibility to all those 50 and older. 

The state has issued the following guidance for travelers:

  • All travelers arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries should follow CDC travel guidance.
  • All travelers should get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before travel.
  • All travelers who test positive or develop symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate and follow public health recommendations.

To date, more than 18.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in California.

5:08 p.m.: State audit credits public health department on testing, but contact tracing falls short

The state auditor released a report Thursday that found the California Department of Public Health’s pandemic spending has had mixed results. 

The department has exceeded its testing expectations — doubling its target goal at the end of last year.

But it struggled in other areas. The state and its local counterparts have less than half the number of contact tracers it originally planned to hire.

And oversight of spending by local health departments has been lacking. The auditor found the state failed to collect progress reports from all counties and didn’t conduct proper evaluations of its data systems.

The Department of Public Health says it will revise its plan for hiring contact tracers and will work with counties to ensure they file necessary updates.

4:56 p.m.: Gov. Newsom receives Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine

Gov. Gavin Newsom has received his dose of the one-shot Johnson-and-Johnson COVID vaccine. He got it Thursday, the same day people 50 and older in California became eligible for inoculations.

“Today’s an important day obviously with the opportunity now for people my age that have been waiting,” said Newsom, who is 53.

Afterward, Newsom urged Californians to remain vigilant in wearing masks and social distancing.

“The disease is not taking Easter weekend off. This disease is not taking spring break off. This disease remains as deadly as it’s ever been,” he said.

California has administered more than 18 million doses so far and 6.7 million people are fully vaccinated. The Democratic governor likely will face a recall election stemming partly from his handling of the pandemic.

10:45 a.m.: Elk Grove Unified School District reopening middle and high school for in-person learning

Elk Grove Unified School District is welcoming back middle and high school students to in-person instruction on Thursday.

Students have the option of coming back to campus two days a week while wearing masks and sitting six feet apart. EGUSD Spokesperson Xanthi Soriano said some elementary school students have already been back in classrooms for the past couple of weeks and are following safety guidelines.

“On campus, we’re still maintaining six feet apart, starting or effective April 13, we will be changing that to reconfigure desks to three feet apart, with few exceptions,” Soriano said.

Soon older students will also be able to return for four days-a-week in-person instruction with desks spaced three feet apart, as per federal health guidelines.

“We’re going to see another wave of students being able to access the resources that we have at our schools,” Soriano said. “It will be just a great opportunity for them to have access to a routine and all of the school sites, including nutrition.”

While the district has had to deal with COVID-19 exposures since reopening, Soriano said the school is prepared to control transmission through quarantine and contact tracing.

10:15 a.m.: Can I still spread COVID-19 even after I’m vaccinated? Yes, but the risk seems low.

AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin

Experts are still studying how good COVID-19 vaccines are at preventing people from spreading the virus, but they believe the risk is low, according to the Associated Press.

The current vaccines are highly effective at preventing people from getting seriously sick with the coronavirus but even vaccinated people could get asymptomatically infected and spread it to others.

Given the uncertainty, experts say fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks, social distance in public, and when visiting unvaccinated and high-risk friends and family.

10:09 a.m.: Biden launches community corps to boost COVID-19 vaccinations across US

The Biden administration is unveiling a coalition of community, religious and celebrity partners to promote COVID-19 shots as it seeks to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

According to the Associated Press, the Department of Health and Human Services’ new “We Can Do This” campaign features television and social media ads.

The campaign relies on a community corps of public health, athletic, faith, and other groups to spread the word about the three approved coronavirus vaccines’ safety and efficacy.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy met Thursday with more than 275 inaugural community corps members to kick off the effort.

Find older coronavirus updates on our previous blog page here.

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