Coronavirus state tracker: Hospitalizations down 17% in last 14 days in California on August 24

According to the California COVID-19 dashboard there are 5,618 patients hospitalized in California on Monday, Aug. 24. This is a decrease of 1,152 patients (17%) over the last 14 days.

The state is reporting that 31% of its ICU beds are available, 65% of its ventilators are available and ICUs occupancy has declined by 17.6% in the last 14 days.

The state had conducted 1,654,133 tests in the last 14 days with a 6.5% test positivity rate. There have been more than 10.65 million tests in the state since March.

Orange County and San Diego County were dropped from the state’s monitoring list as of Sunday. They are the only two counties in Southern California to attain that status.

All data on the state tracker is preliminary and subject to change.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins University, the World Health Organization, the California Department of Public Health, The Associated Press, reporting counties and news sources

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Earthquake felt strongly in the San Fernando Valley

A magnitude-4.2 earthquake struck 1.2 miles north of Pacoima at 4:29 a.m. Thursday, July 30, according to the US Geological Survey.

The jolt, which appeared to last about 10 seconds, violently shook the San Fernando Valley.

The quake was initially registered as a magnitude 4.3 quake but downgraded about 10 minutes later by the U.S.G.S.

People in the San Fernando Valley, La Crescenta, Downtown Los Angeles, the Miracle Mile area, Hollywood and Pasadena reported feeling the quake.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

A magnitude-3.3 aftershock hit at 4:38 a.m.

City News Service contributed to this report.

More to come.

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Coronavirus: Here are some case trends in the U.S., California and its counties

Experts are looking at trends and averages to know when it’s safe to open up the nation, state and counties. There are some good trends and some not so good trends to consider.

California and U.S.

Data from Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center shows that California’s three-day moving average of new cases is steadily increasing. You can follow the trends of every state and country on the Coronavirus Resource Center website.

California’s test positivity rate for a 14-day period ending Friday was 4.4% (out of 53,473 tests). You can find the daily trend for the state and county here at the California Department of Public Health’s dashboard.

Here’s a list of criteria the state has for reopening. You can see how all the counties are doing at this link to the California Department of Health’s data table.

Trends by county

Here’s a look at some of the hardest-hit counties, how they are measuring up to the state’s reopening criteria and each one’s seven-day case rates.

You can follow Southern California county totals at this SCNG website.

Maps show daily count of coronavirus cases, deaths in Southern California by county

You can follow Bay Area county totals at this BANG website.

The national picture:

Sources: County health departments, John’s Hopkins University, COVID-19 Tracking Project, California Department of Health, Our World in Data

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Here are disinfectants for use against the coronavirus

Thanks to COVID-19, we’ve never had to wash our hands more and spring cleaning is even more important.

It’s not easy being clean

The COVID-19 virus is about 10,000 times smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. How long it can linger on surfaces is not certain.

A new analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus can remain viable in the air for up to 3 hours, on copper for up to 4 hours, on cardboard up to 24 hours and on plastic and stainless steel up to 72 hours.

A report by Johns Hopkins University found coronavirus molecules remain very stable in external cold, or artificial as air conditioners in houses and cars.

The virus also needs moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness. Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.

UV light on any object that may contain it breaks down the virus protein.

The virus cannot go through healthy skin.

Meaning of clean

Clean or disinfected? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gets technical about the difference.

Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs.

Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

The coronavirus is a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own. The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.

The CDC urges people to wash their hands regularly with soap for 20 seconds.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Hard surfaces

The CDC recommends wearing disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

Hard surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. The EPA lists more than 350 disinfectants to help fight the virus.

Prepare a bleach solution by mixing: 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens are expected to be effective against COVID-19.

Do not mix list

Bleach and vinegarBleach and ammoniaBleach and rubbing alcoholHydrogen peroxide and vinegar

Soft (porous) surfaces

For carpeted floor, rugs and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces.

After cleaning, launder items and if possible, use the warmest appropriate water setting then dry items completely.

The virus is not a living organism like bacteria; antibodies cannot kill what is not alive.

Do not shake used or unused clothing, sheets or cloth. While the virus is glued to a porous surface, it is very inert and disintegrates only between 3 hours on fabric.

If someone is sick

Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas.

In the bedroom/bathroom dedicated for an ill person, consider reducing cleaning frequency to as-needed.

As much as possible, an ill person should stay in a specific room.

The caregiver can provide personal cleaning supplies for an ill person’s room and bathroom. These supplies include tissues, paper towels, cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants.

Bathrooms should be cleaned and disinfected after each use by an ill person. If this is not possible, the caregiver should wait as long as practical after use by an ill person to clean and disinfect the high-touch surfaces.

Household members should follow home care guidance when interacting with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 cases. More info: coronavirus.org

Wash hands regularly

Hand-washing study

These are some of the results of a 2013 study by Michigan State University’s School of Hospitality Business that was published in the Journal of Environment Health. When asked, 95% of people claimed to wash their hands after using public restrooms, but the observational study found the following:

The study also found that:

People are more likely to wash their hands in the morning than in the afternoon or evening.

More women than men wash their hands with soap.

Health care and hand-washing

In the history of hand-washing, it’s helped the most in hospitals.

In the 1850s, Florence Nightingale, considered the founder of modern nursing, insisted people wash their hands in war hospitals during the Crimean War. This resulted in greatly reduced infection rates among wounded soldiers.

In today’s hospitals, the most commonly used method to track hand hygiene compliance is direct observation, or someone watching health-care workers.

Germs in the house

The invisible enemy isn’t alone. Here’s a look at germs around the house compiled by British company SCS Cleaning. The information comes from the British National Health Service and the BBC.

According to Authority Dental, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide effectively reduces human coronaviruses on a toothbrush. You can mix hydrogen peroxide with water (1 teaspoon of HP, 1 cup of water) to dilute it. Soak a brush for 1 minute then rinse it under running water.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, SCS Cleaning, BBC, Michigan State University

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California’s economic power may surprise you

California’s economy is bullish. In fact, it’s huge on a global scale. But its parts, the county-by-county economies that make up the Golden State’s business muscle, are quite large, too. Fresh federal stats for 2018 give a glimpse of this heft: California is home to 14 of the nation’s 100 largest county economies, when measured by a key business output metric — gross domestic product.

California’s total output

$2.72 trillion

Output ranking

Here’s a comparative look at the output ranking of each county, its top growing sector, growth rank among 100 largest U.S. counties, and its equivalent to other countries.

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California’s minimum wage just went up and will continue to rise

California’s minimum wage is gradually going to become the highest in the nation and could affect nearly 5 million workers.

A 2018 study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center defines low-wage workers as those earning less than two-thirds of the median full-time wage in California.

About 32% of California’s workers, some 4.9 million, earned less than $14.35 an hour in 2017.

The chart below shows California’s minimum wage increases since 1964 and projections for the next several years.

Wages by state

California has one of the highest minimum wage rates ($12) in the nation.

Seattle has the highest minimum wage rate at $16 for large employers and $15 for small employers.

New York City’s minimum wage is $15 for all employers.

Worker profile

Figures may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.

 

Low wages, by industry

Those with the highest share of workers earning low wages, 2016

Agriculture, forestry and fishing: 71%

Restaurants and other food services: 66%

Grocery stores: 54%

Community, family and child care services: 51%

Administrative and business services: 49%

Where the low-wage workers are

 

 

Source: UC Berkeley Labor Center, California Department of Industrial Relations, U.S. Department of Labor

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Redemption Decade: How California’s population ‘exodus’ shrank

With the 2010s at their end, our “Redemption Decade” series explores how California’s economy rebounded from the destruction of the Great Recession. This is Part 4.

Despite all the economic turmoil, Californians remained surprising loyal. Yes, population growth has cooled but don’t blame some mass exodus to other states. The often-cited “net domestic outmigration” data — more moves out than relocations in — actually fell this decade. Here’s how my trusty spreadsheet sets the scene …

Then: In 2009, California’s population grew by 220,982, according to the state Department of Finance, despite net domestic outmigration of 249,652.

Now: In 2018, population grew by 214,625 as 159,421 more Californians departed to other states than came in.

The decade: Through 2018, the decade’s population growth has averaged 305,000 — down 16% from the 2000s. Moves to elsewhere in the U.S. averaged 81,000 vs. 111,000 in the previous decade and 145,000 in the 1990s.

The redemption

Let’s politely say a Californian who doesn’t like it here isn’t shy about departing. State data that dates to 1991 shows more exits than arrivals in 25 of the past 28 years — 1991, 1999 and 2000 are the outlier times when more moved here than left.

The state’s population continues to grow, albeit slowly, due to migration from foreign lands as well as more births than deaths.

But the relocation gap spurs noteworthy emotion. Some critics try to tie the trend to politics, suggesting folks moving elsewhere may be fed up with the state’s progressive agenda, which may have altered California life for the worse.

And while the legislature has been controlled by Democrats for virtually all of the past half-century, in 16 of the past 28 years the governor’s been a Republican. And guess what: Net outflows were nearly three times higher in those “red” years compared with years with a “blue” governor.

So with politics just a poor talking point, my trusty spreadsheet ranked the past 28 years by size of net outflow, then split them into halves — big and little — and weighed the population flows against other economic data. Certain surprising trends emerged.

When California has decidedly more outs than in, it’s a big outflow: an average 216,220 departures over arrivals in the 14 worst years vs. just 14,215 in the 14 best years.

The high cost of living also is a factor. Look at the California Association of Realtors’ homebuying “affordability” index, as one benchmark of how pricey California life is.

This index, gauging how many Californians might financially survive buying the median-priced home, showed 30% of households could comfortably purchase in the worst outflow years. It was 37% when outflows were lowest.

If departure swings are indeed about money, it’s also true for opportunity. For example, California bosses added an average 99,000 in the worst outflow years, less than half the 232,000 hires made when outflow was small.

Poor job prospects in California mean you’re thinking about leaving. But outflows are also about competition for workers. When the grass is greener elsewhere — green, as in paychecks — folks move.

In the years when California has been most likely to lose residents to other states since 1990, the Golden State created just 7% of all new U.S. jobs. When outflow was smallest, California had 16% of all American employment hiring.

So why did the gap between Californians leaving and out-of-staters arriving shrink this decade? Remember the 1990s economy was largely a dud. And the 2000s decade ended with the Great Recession’s harsh thud.

That adds up to bosses statewide adding jobs at a 308,000-a-year pace in the 2010s. It’s a hiring spree triple the average employment growth of the previous two decades.

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Yes, you likely have read that a seemingly big number of Californians go elsewhere. U.S. Census stats show 700,000 in departures to other states in 2018 vs. 510,000 Americans moved in … thus the eye-catching-yet-shrinking “not domestic outmigration.”

Note that 7 million Americans switched states last year. And California is the nation’s most populous state. If you focus on the California exits as a share of its nearly 40 million residents, the departures represent a tiny 1.8% per-capita “loss rate.”

That’s the third-lowest loss rate among the states and well below the rest of the nation’s 2.4% average. And it’s no one-year blip: California has long had a nationally leading “retention rate.”

Conversely, and a decidedly against-common-wisdom trend, is California’s lowly “attractiveness” as a place to which other Americans relocate. Last year’s arrivals were only 1.3% of all residents — DEAD LAST among the states.

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Magnitude 4.5 quake jolts Bay Area

By Jason Green and George Kelly, Bay Area News Group

PLEASANT HILL – A magnitude 4.5 earthquake jolted the East Bay late Monday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, striking amid a small swarm of quakes in the area.

The USGS said the temblor hit just at 10:33 p.m. less than a mile south-southeast of Pleasant Hill at a depth of roughly 8½ miles. It was initially measured at 4.7 but downgraded to 4.5.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries.

The M4.5 quake at 10:33 pm was in the East Bay at 14 km depth. Because any quake can be a foreshock, there’s a slight increase in the chance of a bigger quake for the next few days, at the same location near the Calaveras fault

— Dr. Lucy Jones (@DrLucyJones) October 15, 2019

BART service was impacted by the quake, with trains running at reduced speeds for track inspections. Passengers were told to expect delays up to 20 minutes.

The earthquake came just days before the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta quake, a magnitude 6.9 that killed more than 60 people. It also served as a reminder that USGS scientists have predicted a 63 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger quake striking the Bay Area in the next 30 years.

Pleasant Hill, like much of the Bay Area, is seismically active. The Concord Fault lies a mile northeast of the city and the Calaveras and Hayward faults sit about 7.5 miles and 11 miles to the southwest, respectively.

Monday night’s shaker was preceded by several smaller quakes, including a magnitude 2.5 at 10:23 p.m., according to the USGS. Caltech reported more than a dozen smaller quakes in the Pleasant Hill and Pacheco areas in the hour after the magnitude 4.5.

In a tweet, USGS seismologist Lucy Jones warned that there was a chance that a larger quake could follow.

“Because any quake can be a foreshock,” she said, “there’s a slight increase in the chance of a bigger quake for the next few days, at the same location near the Calaveras Fault.”

Staff writer Lisa Krieger contributed to this report.

 

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Protecting whistleblowers is almost as old as America

The U.S. has had laws to protect whistleblowers since 1777. Today we look at a few cases in the government and private sector.

The term “whistleblowing” was not popular until the 1970s, but seven months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress passed the first whistleblower protection law.

The first to seek protection were 10 American sailors and Marines who had reported improper behavior by the Continental Navy Commodore Esek Hopkins. Hopkins’ brother was the governor of Rhode Island, who lobbied for his appointment to the position.

Hopkins‘ men sought protection for speaking out against their commander’s treatment of British prisoners, quick temper, misconduct and poor character. The group feared being branded as traitors by their commander and sought protection from Congress.

Hopkins was suspended and relieved of his command in 1778. He lashed out by filing a criminal libel suit in Rhode Island against the 10 petitioners, and two whistleblowers who lived in Rhode Island were arrested and jailed.

The two appealed to the Continental Congress, which responded by passing a law to protect the men — and future whistleblowers.

False Claims Act

During the Civil War, many unscrupulous contractors had defrauded the Union Army by selling it low-quality products such as uniforms that disintegrated in the rain. The government was short of inspectors, so it authorized the public to be whistleblowers.

After passage of the act in 1863, a whistleblower was entitled to half of the damages won by the government.

Parts of the False Claims Act are still in use, and in 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice obtained nearly $3 billion in settlements and judgments in cases involving fraud.

More recent measures

Two of the most recent federal laws established to protect those who call out perceived corruption are:Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989. Enacted to protect federal employees from retaliation who disclose government waste, fraud or abuse of power.

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. It extended protection to federal employees in the intelligence community and others with security clearance.

According to the law firm Hagen Berman, which handles whistleblower cases, the most common types are:

  1. Health care fraud
  2. Defense contractor fraud
  3. Tax fraud
  4. Securities fraud
  5. Procurement fraud

Recent trends

The Aug. 12 anonymous whistleblower complaint regarding a telephone call with President Donald Trump and a foreign official was filed with the inspector general of the intelligence community, who found a “credible concern” with the complaint.

Regardless of the politics involved, whistleblower claims in the private sector and the government appear to be on the rise.

Whistleblower complaints handled by the U.S. Department of Labor from 2012-2018 increased 74%.

Big awards for whistleblowers

In the private sector, many whistleblowers have received awards for helping the Securities and Exchange Commission with cases of fraud. The SEC has ordered wrongdoers in enforcement matters involving whistleblower information to pay more than $975 million in sanctions from 2000-2017. These are the biggest awards from 2000-2017, in millions.

In 2017, California, New York, Texas, Florida and New Jersey yielded the highest number of whistleblower tips.

  • California, 500
  • New York, 438
  • Texas, 250
  • Florida, 229
  • New Jersey, 175

Most common whistleblower tips to the SEC

Since August 2011, the SEC has received more than 22,000 whistleblower tips including 4,400 in 2017.

Whistleblower award recipients

Messenger protection

A 2015 study titled “Whistleblower Protection Laws in G20 Countries” examined protections in the public and private sector. The U.S. had the best score.

The chart shows select countries’ scoring. The best score is 28 and the worst is 84.

The study rated countries in 14 categories that included oversight, confidentiality and remedies.

Anti-whistleblower laws

Ag-gag laws are anti-whistleblower laws that apply within the agriculture industry. Ag-gag laws currently exist in seven states, penalizing whistleblowers who investigate the day-to-day activities of industrial farms, including the recording, possession or distribution of photos, video and/or audio at a farm. In 2013, the California legislature voted against an Ag-gag bill sponsored by the California Cattlemen’s Association.

These are different whistleblowers than those that call out fraud, as some seek employment from agricultural businesses in order to spy for animal rights groups.

The origin of the whistle

Nobody knows how long the whistle has been around, but the first pea whistles used by police were in London.

In 1883, Joseph Hudson created the first London police whistle to replace the hand rattle. Whistles were mostly thought of as toys until enclosing a pellet inside the policeman’s whistle created the unique warbling sound. The police whistle could be heard over a mile away and was adopted as the official whistle of the London bobby.

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Orange County GOP asks embattled Assemblyman Bill Brough to bow out of 2020 election

The Republican Party of Orange County on Monday night called for GOP Assemblyman Bill Brough to bow out of the 2020 race for California’s 73rd Assembly District and retire from office when his current term ends.

Brough, R-Dana Point, is facing allegations of sexual assault and an investigation by state ethics officials over his use of campaign funds. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in both cases, accusing the women who’ve filed harassment complaints against him of being motivated by politics.

But in executive session during the OCGOP’s monthly Central Committee Meeting, elected members overwhelmingly voted to approve a resolution opposing Brough’s re-election “based on the totality of the circumstances and allegations surrounding the Assemblyman.”

A source who was present in the closed door meeting tells the Register that only Brough and one or two other members voted against the resolution. When it passed, the source said Brough stormed out of the meeting.

The assemblyman, who’s serving his third representing AD-73, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday night’s vote.

It was during the OCGOP’s June meeting that Supervisor Lisa Bartlett first publicly accused Brough of sexually harassing her during an event eight years earlier when the pair were serving on the Dana Point City Council.

Three other women then also came forward to accuse Brough of making unwanted sexual advances in the past, though two of the women chose to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. But Brough outed those women in a mass email sent to OCGOP members Aug. 16. In the email, Brough again denied the women’s claims, insisting they were all retaliating against him for action he’s taken to try to control escalating costs for Orange County’s toll road projects.

“One thing I learned over the years is when you kick the beehive the bees come out,” he wrote.

In a joint statement released Monday night, Brough accusers Bartlett, Heather Baez and Jenniffer Rodriguez said they decided to speak out to defend themselves and correct the record.

“Bill Brough’s sexual misconduct and predatorial behavior has already caused each of us great pain and anxiety. As if that was not enough, now he is using his position of power to shame and intimidate us. Unfortunately for Bill, his actions have given us more resolve than ever to stand up against his bullying tactics and tell people the truth about his behavior.”

Baez, who’s been a staffer for state legislators and worked for local government agencies, said she filed a sexual harassment complaint against Brough with the state assembly in 2017. She said Brough has made “repeated and unwanted advances” for years, “including inviting me to drinks, dinners, an overnight hotel stay, and an extremely offensive and non-consensual physical contact.” Baez denies that her accusations are politically motivated, insisting she stayed quiet before because she didn’t want the incidents to interfere with her job.

Rodriguez refuted Brough’s claim in his mass email to OCGOP members that he only met her “once in 2015.”

During that meeting, Rodriguez alleges Brough said, “‘I have been watching you for a long time and wondering why you weren’t married.’ He even described a dress he had seen me wearing at a previous event. He then went on to tell me that he was ‘on the Elections Committee’ and could help me out if I went home with him.” When Rodriguez told Brough that she was disgusted by his proposition, she says “he sat there and smiled.” Rodriguez said she immediately called her boss to help get her out of the situation, then told various coworkers and elected officials about the incident.

Patricia Wenskunas, founder of the Irvine-based non-profit Crime Survivors, was guest speaker at Monday’s OCGOP Central Committee Meeting. She gave an impassioned defense of Brough’s accusers.

“It is long past time that he is held accountable for his actions and treatment of these women,” Wenskunas said in a statement. “He should resign immediately.”

The Central Committee stopped short of calling for Brough to resign, instead encouraging him not to seek reelection.

Assemblyman Steven Choi, R-Irvine, was one of the only people to speak in defense of Brough, according to a source who was present. Choi didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent to his chief of staff.

In August, the Register reported that Brough spent roughly $35,000 in campaign funds over the first six months of the year on travel, hotels, food, clothing and sports tickets. The state announced the next day that it was already investigating an ethics complaint that claims Brough spent roughly $200,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses over the past four years.

Brough issued a brief statement in response stating that he’d been cleared by past audits, though one state audit did lead to a written warning from ethics officials.

In the wake of those reports, the influential conservative group the Lincoln Club of Orange County last week rescinded its previous endorsement of Brough’s 2020 candidacy. And the grassroots group the Orange County Congress of Republicans announced it was endorsing GOP challenger Ed Sachs.

Brough is also facing competition from Republicans Laurie Davies and Melanie Eustice along with Democratic challenger Scott Rhinehart.

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