“We are mindful that we’re going to have to be more proactive as a state in terms of our efforts in Washington, D.C.” That was Gov. Gavin Newsom’s delicately worded assessment of how California might fare differently under Kevin McCarthy — the Bakersfield Republican positioned to take over as speaker of the U.S. House of […]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, is surrounded by members of the media as she heads back to her office after speaking on the House floor at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 17, 2022. Photo by Andrew Harnik, AP Photo
“We are mindful that we’re going to have to be more proactive as a state in terms of our efforts in Washington, D.C.”
During a Thursday press conference in Napa Valley to highlight California’s firefighting investments and announce that peak fire season has ended in most parts of the state, Newsom said “no one has been more consequential in modern American history” as House speaker than Pelosi.
Newsom: “Don’t take people like Nancy Pelosi for granted. … The amount of things Nancy Pelosi’s done behind the scenes during the Trump years to stop cuts, draconian impacts on the people of the state of California, you won’t have enough tape, even if it’s digital, for me to illuminate and highlight just those few years.”
He added: “I don’t expect a lot of support coming from the Republican caucus, if past is prologue. We’re gonna have to be creative.”
Every measure — from case counts and transmission (per wastewater surveillance) to hospital admissions — is increasing, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s health and human services secretary, said in a Thursday call with reporters. California had a 6.3% test positivity rate as of this week, up from 4.3% just a month ago.
What the state experienced in the spring, summer and early fall was manageable, but that’s starting to shift, Ghaly said. “Unlike the past two years when we discussed a COVID and flu collision, this year we’re actually starting to see it,” he said.
In Los Angeles County, these indicators are concerning enough that health officials there are “strongly recommending” that people mask in indoor public spaces again. The county on Thursday reported a 26% increase in COVID-related hospital admissions since last week, and a 54% increase since Nov. 1.
Dr. Muntu Davis, Los Angeles County’s public health officer: “With multiple respiratory illnesses currently at high levels, we want to stay aware of any increase in COVID cases that can contribute to the strain in our health care system.”
Davis also noted a cluster of new COVID outbreaks in nursing homes. The virus ravaged nursing homes earlier in the pandemic, with seniors the hardest-hit age group. Davis said 50% of all nursing home residents in the county and 38% of staff have received the updated COVID booster.
Statewide, only about 13% of the eligible population is vaccinated with the bivalent booster. Experts warn that low uptake can contribute to pressure on the health care system.
Two controversial water projects clear big hurdles
The Carlsbad desalination plant is one of four desalination plants currently providing drinking water in California. Photo by Earnie Grafton, Reuters
Water is one of the most politically thorny topics in California in the best of times — but with the state coming off its driest three-year stretch on record and heading into a fourth straight year of drought, tensions are mounting. Two Thursday examples:
After a 13-hour debate that saw hundreds of people speak and multiple bouts of tears, state regulators approved a highly controversial desalination plant in the Monterey County city of Marina — even after citing its high costs, environmental risks and “the most significant environmental justice issues” the California Coastal Commission has faced in recent years, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports. Much of the debate hinged on the fairness of locating a for-profit company’s facility in Marina, which does not need the water and is home to designated disadvantaged neighborhoods. The expensive supply will flow to other communities, including the whiter, wealthy enclaves of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. The highly anticipated vote comes as California weighs how desalination — the process of turning seawater into drinking water — will fit into its increasingly dry future. The commission in May rejected a contentious desalination plant in Huntington Beach, but in October approved a smaller, less expensive facility in Dana Point.
Federal regulators signed off on what’s set to be the largest dam demolition project in U.S. history — the removal of four aging dams along the Klamath River spanning the California-Oregon border, which will be paid for in part by California taxpayers. The news marks a significant win for Native American tribes and environmental justice advocates, who say it will help restore revered salmon runs and natural habitats. “The Klamath salmon are coming home,” Joseph James, chairperson of the Yurok tribe, said in a statement. “The people have earned this victory and with it, we carry on our sacred duty to the fish that have sustained our people since the beginning of time.” Nevertheless, some local residents oppose the demolition, which they say could hurt property values and reduce power supply. “The citizens of California are losers in today’s hearing so the green movement could claim a symbolic win,” Republican U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who represents the affected region, told the Sacramento Bee.