Even as movement picks up across the country, residents along both coasts are still doing it less often. (Photo: David Oliver)
Cellphone data suggests coastal residents moved around less than folks in other areas of the country. And privacy advocates question why addresses of positive COVID-19 patients are being shared with emergency responders. Plus: Our Central California newsroom talks about its work since everything changed.
It’s Arlene with news to close out another week. We did it, friends, we did it.
But first, a Sonoma County winery gears up to be the first to reopen. You just can’t drink wine on-site yet.
A quick note: I’ll be out on unpaid furlough next week, part of a cost-savings measure taken in response to coronavirus-accelerated advertising declines. Please consider subscribing to your local media outlet to ensure our vital work continues.
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On U.S. coasts, folks stayed closer to home
The West and East coasts are staying home more often than the rest of the nation, data analyzed by USA TODAY shows. (Photo: USA TODAY)
USA TODAY has been tracking and analyzing anonymized cellphone data from more than 16 million devices to see how residents have responded to stay-at-home orders and, more recently, how often they’ve been venturing out.
Turns out, coastal residents are less likely to have returned to life on the go.
As of early this week, all 10 states with the lowest rates of leaving home were on the West and East Coasts. The combined area of states from Texas to Delaware left home at higher rates before any states issued stay-at-home orders, and it has been more mobile as restrictions are lifted.
Across the country though, movement is returning: American mobility is almost halfway back to where it was in February.
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A new use for golf courses; Elon is told no; multi-county coalition forges ahead
Olivas Links is one of two public golf courses in Ventura. (Photo: ARLENE MARTINEZ/THE STAR)
The case for turning underutilized, expensive-to-maintain golf courses into flourishing public parks. Cemeteries could work too.
Elon Musk learns the word no. The state rejects his company SpaceX’s request for $655,500, in part because of his hardball tactics to reopen his Tesla manufacturing facility (that effort worked).
Forgot the Western States Pact. A group of Golden State counties instead are banding together in an effort to more quickly and safely reopen the economy.
First responders have addresses of positive COVID-19 cases. Privacy advocates worry
A Ventura County Fire Department medic engine. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT)
Public health officials in Ventura County are releasing the addresses of patients who have tested positive with the coronavirus to firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement personnel.
They say releasing the information ensures first responders will, in the case of an emergency call, allow them to respond with the proper protective equipment.
“It is limited to what they would need to prevent the further spread of the disease,” says Steve Carroll, the county’s emergency medical services administrator.
Some privacy rights advocates, however, worry about unintended consequences of releasing personal information, fearing it could discourage some people from getting tested.
What else we’re talking about
Homeless people and their tents line a Skid Row street in downtown Los Angeles in May. (Photo: Jeff Lewis, AP)
Homeless encampments can’t be under or along Los Angeles freeways, a judge ruled Friday. The camps must be cleared and individuals housed in socially distanced shelters, the order states.
One of the country’s biggest battery storage projects in the country is coming to Ventura County. Once completed, it will store enough energy to power 80,000 homes and businesses for four hours.
J.C. Penney files for bankruptcy and announces some permanent store closings. It’s deeply in debt.
One of the smaller members of my household can’t wait to go back to a hotel. Here’s how her experience (and all of ours) will be different when that time comes.
It’s up to local journalists to tell the stories in your backyard, and in the Coachella Valley even as ad revenue shrivels up, they’re working on overdrive to do just that.
And speaking of…
The 90-day month
Over the last few weeks, I’ve reached out to California reporters across the USA TODAY Network to find out how their work has changed with the arrival of the coronavirus.
Reporters are essential workers under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home orders and we’ve been here every step of the way. I asked Kyra Haas, a reporter at the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register, to talk more about her newsroom’s work. Read her dispatch and follow her on Twitter here (she’s kind of hilarious):
Honestly, May feels like the third month of March.
Our team has settled (as much as one can) into our new routine of covering the pandemic, mostly from home, sometimes out and about with a facemask or a safe distance from others.
Through it all, we’ve hustled to get fair, accurate information to our readers, following this ever-changing situation.
Loraine Franks visits with her father Jerry Hogan on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 through a window at Lindsay Gardens. The Vietnam veteran was admitted to the nursing home last Tuesday. One day later the facility confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak. A week later he tested positive for the virus. (Photo: Ron Holman)
Our reporter Joshua Yeager has documented a series of outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities, telling stories of the people behind the dramatic numbers. He’s also given play-by-play updates on the county’s and cities’ conversations and plans for reopening.
Our reporter Sheyanne Romero has juggled responsibilities at multiple sites while still covering breaking stories about outbreaks at food manufacturing facilities and covering a rally for reopening California.
Kaweah Delta nurses collect nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at outdoor drive-up collection stations on Floral Street in Visalia, Calif. Appointments are required. (Photo: Ron Holman)
Early on, reporter James Ward took a deep dive into the archives to show how the Spanish Flu pandemic hit our communities a century ago. He’s now keeping families entertained with a shelter-in-place theater series while tackling hard news like one nursing home’s history of state fines and the impact of the pandemic on the local tourism industry and hospitals.
With seasons canceled, our sports reporter, Vongi Yang, has taken the time to look back at all-time bests and winningest coaches across high school sports. He’s also jumped onboard the COVID-19 reporting train, sharing one Visalia nurse’s experience testing positive for the disease.
I’ve stayed busy, too, keeping up with school districts’ distance learning challenges and the struggles of small local businesses.
Isaac Montoya, left, and Veronica Meza fill dinner orders to go at Chapala Grill on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (Photo: Ron Holman)
Veteran photographer Ron Holman has shot everything from Costco’s long lines and restaurants’ curbside pickup to family visits through nursing home windows and COVID-19 testing at the local hospital.
So many mental health experts have suggested “taking a break from the news” during this wild time. That’s hard to do when you’re the ones reporting it. But through the uncertainty, our team has pulled together to keep telling important stories and supporting each other.
That’ll do it for me for this week. Until we meet again, stay safe (and informed, which helps if you subscribe to your local media outlet!).
In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, LAist, Riverside Press-Enterprise.
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