We heard from 600 California state workers in a coronavirus survey. Here are their concerns

Six hundred people responded to a survey The Sacramento Bee posted online two weeks ago asking California state workers how their departments and their unions are doing during the coronavirus.

The results show how deeply the virus is affecting employees tasked with carrying out much of the state’s response to a deadly pandemic. Some workers are stressed out and scared, frustrated and disappointed. Others are proud of department leaders who responded quickly and took their concerns seriously.

Whether they are processing unemployment insurance claims or working double shifts in state prisons and hospitals, workers want clear and regular communication, recognition and understanding from their bosses, and they want to be safe, according to the survey responses.

Workers who gave their departments a 10 out of 10 tended to say their departments were doing well in those areas, while those who rated their departments a 1 out of 10 often mentioned

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California lawmakers ask Newsom to act immediately on unemployment claims

Joe Marquez, a former sheet metal worker from La Habra, looks for jobs at the One-Stop center in East Los Angeles. <span class="copyright">(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)</span>
Joe Marquez, a former sheet metal worker from La Habra, looks for jobs at the One-Stop center in East Los Angeles. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

More than half the members of the California Legislature called on Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday to immediately begin paying unemployment benefits to many of the more than 1 million jobless workers whose claims have been stalled in the system as the state works to clear a months-long backlog.

In a letter to the governor, a bipartisan group of 61 lawmakers issued a series of requests for immediate action at the state Employment Development Department, including calls for the agency to ensure service representatives do not hang up on callers whom they can’t help, and implement an automatic call-back system to quickly respond to those who cannot reach a live operator. The lawmakers also called for the agency to expedite its approval of unemployment

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U.S. Cases Rise 1.1%; California Second-Worst Day: Virus Update

(Bloomberg) — California had its second-deadliest day for virus fatalities and Florida’s case count topped 500,000. Houston hospitalizations fell to a five-week low. New York City is setting up checkpoints at key entry points to make sure travelers from 35 states or territories with high transmission rates fill out forms to enforce state quarantine rules.

Joe Biden will accept the Democratic Party’s nomination from Delaware rather than risk traveling to Milwaukee. Chicago public schools, the country’s third largest school district, will have remote learning when classes resume next month as cases spike.

Johnson & Johnson will supply 100 million doses of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine to the U.S. The U.K. agreed to invest $18 million in a Scottish vaccine-manufacturing plant, while Moderna Inc. said it has received $400 million of deposits for its potential Covid-19 shot. The global death toll from Covid-19 surpassed 700,000.

Global Tracker: Global cases top 18.6 … Read More

California donors spend $38 million trying to tilt Senate races around the country

Top row from left: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and challenger Jaime Harrison; Republican Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. Bottom row from left: McConnell's Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath; Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, who is battling Sen. Martha McSally. <span class="copyright">(Associated Press)</span>
Top row from left: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and challenger Jaime Harrison; Republican Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. Bottom row from left: McConnell’s Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath; Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly, who is battling Sen. Martha McSally. (Associated Press)

Californians have spent $38 million and counting trying to tilt Senate contests across the nation, making the state one of the top sources of campaign contributions in races that will decide which party controls the body next year, according to campaign finance disclosures. That’s despite the state not having a Senate race on its ballot in November.

There are 35 Senate races being decided later this year, and California is among the top five donor states for at least one candidate in every contest, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. In many cases, candidates raised more from California than in their home state.


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More of you are helping us reimagine California after the pandemic. Keep the suggestions coming

Southbound lanes of the 110 Freeway heading into downtown Los Angeles are empty in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. <span class="copyright">(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)</span>
Southbound lanes of the 110 Freeway heading into downtown Los Angeles are empty in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Last week, we published an update of the Opinion section’s “Reimagine California” project — in which we are asking readers to help guide our thinking on what California ought to look like after the COVID-19 pandemic — noting that more than 3,700 of you have sent us responses. We asked for more readers participation in the project; a few dozen of you obliged.

Your suggestions include, on one end, the granular, ground-level changes readers want to see — everything from increasing controlled burns in wilfire-prone areas to using germ-resistant grocery bags — and on the other, reforming entire segments of society such as healthcare and education. Sprinkled among those were calls for racial justice and, yes, partisan digs.

Similar to the 3,700 responses

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Infection growth slows in California, but deaths surge

California overall is not experiencing the same alarming surge in COVID-19 infections as it did in late June and early July, but record-breaking death tolls reported this week underscore the continued seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.

California set a new record Wednesday when it reported its highest COVID-19 death toll in a single day with 197 dead. On Thursday, the state reported another 194 deaths, the second highest single-day coronavirus death toll thus far.

Deaths have dramatically increased from the flat-line levels in May and June: As of Thursday, an average of 112 people died from the virus in California every day over the last two weeks. Two weeks ago, about 84 people died every day on average over a two-week period.

Some of those deaths, however, may have occurred several days or weeks ago because of the verification process used by local health officials.

In the last week, California

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You still have to get your kids vaccinated even if their California school goes online

Most California kids will kick off the 2020-2021 academic year with distance learning due to the coronavirus, but the state’s strict vaccination laws still require students be up-to-date on their shots before starting class.

The California Legislature in recent years has passed some of the tightest vaccine mandates in the country to increase the immunization rates in schools. In 2015, lawmakers approved Senate Bill 277 to exclude personal beliefs from the list of reasons parents can skip vaccinating their children.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed follow-up measure Senate Bill 276 to increase oversight of doctors who issue five or more medical exemptions in a single year after clusters of unvaccinated children in certain schools were tied to a handful of physicians.

Before students are granted admission, schools are required to review incoming childcare, transitional kindergarten, kindergarten and 7th grade vaccine records.

Despite the pandemic forcing California kids behind a

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Thousands of you told us you want California to change. We want to hear from even more of you

The 110 Freeway leads south toward downtown Los Angeles. <span class="copyright">(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)</span>
The 110 Freeway leads south toward downtown Los Angeles. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It was almost three months ago, but it might as well have been another epoch: In early May, the L.A. Times Opinion section asked readers to envision life in California after the pandemic and share with us their thoughts on what the COVID-19 health and economic crisis reveals about us as a society, and what transformations may be necessary to heal the trauma.

And respond our readers did — more than 3,700 of you. With such a large volume of responses, the topics covered were diverse, but there were some areas of broad agreement among our readers — namely, that government should expand its role in healthcare and the economy to prevent a crisis such as COVID-19 from causing so much shock. Traffic, housing and the environment were also on the top of readers’ minds;

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Gov. Newsom orders most California schools to stay closed until coronavirus spread lessens

Gov. Gavin Newsom handed down strict guidelines that will require most California schools to keep their buildings closed to start the year to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

Those that do reopen during the coronavirus outbreak must require masks for older childrena as well as makes and consistent testing for staff.

“Learning in the state of California is simply non negotiable,” Newsom said during a Friday press conference. “Schools must, and I underscore must, provide meaningful instruction during this pandemic, whether they are physically open or not.”

He said Californians who want schools and businesses open could aid that effort by wearing masks to control the spread of the disease.

“If that’s your top priority… model the behavior than can actually extinguish this virus,” he said.

The California Department of Public Health built a five-point framework for schools to follow that Newsom said would allow students to learn during the

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California unemployment falls, but virus surge likely to reverse job gains

California added 558,200 jobs from mid-May to mid-June and state unemployment fell from 16.4% to 14.9% — but don’t start celebrating yet. The numbers don’t account for the resurgence of COVID-19 cases throughout the U.S. and in California in the last half of June or the retreat in plans to reopen the economy. The numbers were released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which slightly revised the earlier jobless figure from 16.3% to 16.4%.

Leisure and hospitality added the most jobs, at 292,500, benefiting from statewide reopenings of bars and dine-in restaurants, according to the California Employment Development Department. As of mid-June, that sector had regained more than a third of job losses from March and April. Construction jobs had the highest percentage gain, clawing back 68% of jobs lost during the pandemic. Government suffered the largest decline in jobs, at 36,300.

But the dial-back is bound

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