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California has nearly 60,000 coronavirus tests on backlog | Local coronavirus updates

Lags in getting results can be as long as 12 days and delays treatment and isolation of the sick and leaves an incomplete picture of how widespread the outbreak is.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Here are the latest updates on coronavirus and how local governments are responding to the illness, with a focus on California for Thursday, April 2.

What's Closed: Schools | Events

CALIFORNIA STATUS UPDATE

The California Department of Public Health reports:

  • Confirmed cases: 9,191 (As of April 1, 2020).
  • 203 deaths 
  • 22 state and county labs processing tests for COVID-19. As of April 1, approximately 92,500 tests have been conducted.
  • Click here for complete information on coronavirus, unemployment, and more from the state of California.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS 

  • The annual American Graffiti Festival & Car Show in Modesto has become the latest California event to get canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event's promoters announced. The festival, which has hosted by the North Modesto Kiwanis Club every year for the last 21, was scheduled for June 12-14. Organizers said there is a chance that the festival comes back in the fall but only if the pandemic subsides. Car owners who already submitted entry fees for the 2020 show will be issued refunds.
  • Testing issues cloud scope of California's virus outbreak: California is ramping up testing for coronavirus even as a backlog of nearly 60,000 pending tests grows. Lags in getting results can be as long as 12 days and delays treatment and isolation of the sick and leaves an incomplete picture of how widespread the outbreak is in the state. The state has reported that results of nearly two-thirds of the 90,000 tests administered are still pending. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the backlog is part of a broader national problem. The state had more than 10,000 cases of coronavirus and at least 238 deaths reported Thursday.
  • Electric usage up 15% to 20% in recent weeks, CPUC says: “As Californians are practicing safe procedures and following the public health guidelines and Governor Newsom’s Executive Order by sheltering at home, it is likely that residential electric and natural gas usage will greatly increase, leading to higher utility bills,” said CPUC President Marybel Batjer. “Residential electric usage has increased 15% to 20% in recent weeks compared to the same period last year. The CPUC is taking action to ensure that this does not become an added hardship for people who have lost their jobs or are otherwise suffering economically due to COVID-19.” To mitigate rising energy bill costs, the CPUC is looking to accelerate use of California Climate Credit and the CARE Rate Discount in April, May, and June, and change how residential bills are calculated for the duration for the coronavirus crisis.
  • North Lake Tahoe: No visitors for right now: Officials in North Lake Tahoe are asking people to reschedule their travel to the area until after the pandemic ends. Placer County will be enforcing short-term rental restrictions to comply with the governor's stay at home order. “Although it is difficult to ask those who support our tourism-driven economy not to visit now, their selfless decision to stay home and revisit their travel plans when travel is deemed safe is critical to the health and future of our mountain community,” said Jeffrey Hentz, CEO of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “The reality is that continuing to receive an influx of people to the region -- whether they’re coming for a day-trip or an extended stay -- puts tremendous strain on our limited community resources and healthcare system during these challenging times.”
  • California counties recommending face coverings: Officials in Calaveras County and Placer County are now recommending face coverings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. This includes coverings like bandannas, scarves, or a homemade cloth cover. “While we recognize the potential for face coverings to help reduce the spread of germs, we want to stress that people should be staying home first and foremost. And when you must go out for essential needs like groceries or medication, you still need to stay at least six feet away from others,” said Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson. “We do not want people to get a false sense of security from wearing a face covering and gather in close proximity, which is not allowed. Physical distancing remains our primary tool in battling this pandemic.”
  • California delays sales tax payments for small businesses: California's governor says the state will let businesses keep up to $50,000 in sales taxes over the next year. The move means businesses with $5 million in sales or less will get up to a year to give the state up to $50,000 in sales taxes they collect from customers. It's essentially an interest-free loan aimed at keeping small businesses afloat during the COVID-19 outbreak. The proposal will have a significant impact on the state's more than $200 billion state budget. Most of the state's revenue comes from sales and income taxes. State officials have already delayed the income tax deadline by three months to July 15.
  • State trailers arrive for at-risk persons: The first round of state-issued trailers to help at-risk persons self-quarantine have arrived at Cal Expo.These two dozen trailers were part of a $150 million plan to protect the homeless and other vulnerable populations from the coronavirus. Sacramento is expecting a total of 63 trailers altogether.
  • Coronavirus in Sacramento County update: Official with Sacramento County have confirmed 341 coronavirus cases in the county. There have been nine deaths so far.
  • 1.9 million seeking unemployment benefits: Gov. Newsom said 1.9 million are seeking unemployment benefits in California. The number started skyrocketing on March 12. Over the past seven days, the state has been averaging 111,000 claims.
  • Newsom calls for 1 year reprieve on fines for sales tax: Gov. Gavin Newsom called for a 1 year reprieve for small businesses, where they would not have to pay fines or penalties attached to sales tax. It builds upon an order he issued earlier this week that extended sales tax payments. Businesses would also be able to take out of 50,000 loan and not have to pay the state sales tax for 12 months through the bridge loan.
  • Schools in the University of California and the California State University systems are updating their admissions policies to account for “extraordinary challenges” high school seniors are dealing with during the coronavirus pandemic. In a joint press release sent out Wednesday, both UC and CSU said they are committed to hold harmless students entering universities, although each is taking its own approach in what measures they are implementing to accommodate incoming students. Tap here to learn more about the UC response to coronavirus or tap here to learn more about the CSU response to coronavirus.
  • Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs has teamed up with Chef Alice Waters and The Edible Schoolyard Project to deliver thousands of pounds of locally grown food to area food banks. “Stockton is home to some of the world’s richest agricultural regions, and we are using our local food resources to help Stocktonians during this coronavirus crisis,” said Tubbs. According to a press release about the partnership, “Each week, local farmers will deliver over 1,000 pounds of food, including fresh vegetables, fruits and chicken to support families in need during this coronavirus crisis.”
  • In anticipation of extended closures due to coronavirus, 24hr Fitness branches across the country billing members. In a press release sent our Thursday morning, the fitness chain said, in part, “Based on current public health projections, it appears our clubs may need to be closed for an extended period of time. As such, we will suspend all membership billings, including billings for any additional services and fees, effective April 16, if we are unable to reopen clubs by that time in your area.
  • California schools unlikely to reopen this academic year: California school districts should plan on teaching from afar for the rest of the academic year. That's according to new guidance from the state superintendent of public instruction and Gov. Gavin Newsom. It's not a mandate, but it gives districts the cover to do what many already felt was necessary. California has more than 6 million students across 10,000 schools. Google says it will provide internet access to 100,000 rural households and Chromebooks for 4,000 students in need to assist with online learning. Newsom says the state is still working to ensure all students can be connected. In addition, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond also announced $100 million will be distributed to local educational agencies through the state. “These funds will allow district administrators to ensure that sites are properly cleaned and sanitized, keep school staff safe, provide nutritious meals, and focus on implementing a distance learning infrastructure that is equitable and accessible to all students,” said Thurmond.

  • L.A. mayor calls for people to wear masks: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has recommended that the city's 4 million people wear masks when going outside amid the spreading coronavirus. Garcetti on Wednesday said people in the nation's second-largest city who are performing essential tasks such as food shopping should wear homemade, non-medical face coverings, or even bandannas, as people in other countries hard-hit by the COVID-19 virus have done. But Garcetti says residents shouldn't use medical-grade masks, which are needed for healthcare workers. He also says people should still stay home as much as possible.

  • The California DMV is extending the deadline to renew expiring driver licenses for seniors and drivers with a good record, a new initiative to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Seniors with an expiring driver license will receive a 120-day extension in the mail. Drivers with safe records whose last DMV visit was 15 years ago will not be required to renew in person for the next 60 days and will be able to renew online or by mail.

  • Save Mart, FoodMaxx and Lucky stores across California and Northern Nevada will begin to have special shopping hours for first responders during the coronavirus pandemic. Shopping hours will begin April 2, one hour before and one hour after store hours. Any law enforcement, fire and medical personnel must provide proof of credentials to access dedicated shopping.

  • Cases in Sacramento County: Officials confirmed the number of cases to be at 314 with nine deaths. Officials said the increase was expected, however, they say Sacramento County Public Health's discovery that 1/3 of the cases are linked to gatherings related to churches came as a surprise. “Social distancing works. We must keep our distance from others and not gather with any non-household members. Period. If we do not slow the spread of cases, a surge of sick people could have the potential to overwhelm our hospitals, doctors and equipment resources and could result in additional deaths,” said, Dr. Peter Beilenson, Director of the Department of Health Services.

  • Calfiornia coronavirus cases reach 8,200: A Southern California nursing home has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with more than 50 residents infected — a troubling development amid cautious optimism that cases in the state may peak more slowly than expected. San Bernardino County authorities say 51 residents and six staff members of a Yucaipa nursing home had COVID-19, and two residents have died. Tuesday's announcement came as California Gov. Gavin Newsom said extraordinary efforts to keep people home have bought time needed to prepare for an expected peak surge of cases, now likely to occur in May. On Wednesday, California had at least 8,200 cases and 180 deaths.

  • 3rd coronavirus case in Amador County: Officials in Amador County have confirmed another coronavirus case in the county, bringing the total up to three. Officials say the case was found in an elderly resident and was travel-related.
  • More than 15,000 Google Chromebooks will soon be distributed to students from transitional kindergarten (TK) up to the 6th grade in the Modesto City Schools system to aid in distance learning as school campuses remain closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Distribution of the computers will take place between April 1 and April 8. Modesto City Schools listed a complete schedule of distribution online, but said each school site will also contact families directly.

OUR MISSION: FACTS NOT FEAR

Coronavirus Background

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Currently, there is no vaccine; however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Stay home when you are sick.
  4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  6. Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

WHY HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE SO CONCERNED

Some people have compared the low overall death toll to the flu's high annual death toll in the United States as a reason not to be concerned about COVID-19, however, doctors and health officials are concerned for three main reasons:

  1. Some people have built up immunity to the flu, but few have immunity to COVID-19 version of coronavirus
  2. Both the flu and COVID-19 are spread by droplets, but COVID-19 might be spread in the air. Scientists are researching exactly how COVID-19 spreads.

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WATCH MORE: Governor Newsom holds coronavirus (COVID-19) briefing | Full press conference April 1, 2020