Welcome to the weekend! I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, where the sun is always shining and the pool towels are oh, so fluffy. Here are some of the latest headlines from this amazing state of ours.
In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.
Newsom attends dinner party, regrets decision
After the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday that California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife attended a dinner party on Nov. 6, Newsom is admitting that he should have set a better example for the state, which just exceeded 1 million coronavirus cases.
The outdoor dinner for 12, which took place at The French Laundry in Yountville in Napa County, was a 50th birthday celebration for Newsom’s longtime friend and political adviser Jason Kinney.
Newsom, who has pleaded with California residents to avoid social gatherings that mix households, said in a statement Friday that “while our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner.”
According to state guidelines, it’s strongly advised to limit gatherings, defined as “social situations that bring together people from different households at the same time in a single space or place,” to no more than three households. However, it’s not clear if this rule applies to restaurants, which follow different requirements.
While the California Republican Party tweeted that the governor “seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth,” Molly Weedn, a representative for Kinney, said all party guests followed safety protocols. Nathan Click, a spokesman for the governor, meanwhile, added that the couple paid for their own meals.
State urges residents to avoid non-essential travel
While we’re on the subject of advisory warnings, it’s not just multi-household dinner parties that Californians are being asked to avoid — non-essential travel is also considered unwise by state guidelines.
Governors of California, Oregon and Washington issued travel advisories Friday imploring people to avoid traveling outside the state or country and suggesting that those entering or returning self-quarantine in the hopes of slowing down the spread of the coronavirus.
“California just surpassed a sobering threshold — 1 million COVID-19 cases — with no signs of the virus slowing down,” Newsom wrote in a statement. “Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians.”
Considering we’re less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving, you’re likely wondering whether or not holiday travel is considered essential. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee had this to say on social media: “We have to rethink spending time with people from outside our households right now, including Thanksgiving and the December holidays. This is temporary. We will get back to normal. But right now, it is just too dangerous to gather.”
While California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said officials were not yet considering a statewide stay-at-home order as of Friday, he noted that “this is a quick and rapidly evolving situation, and we will do whatever it takes to make sure that we appropriately protect the public health of California.”
Trump breaks California record for most Republican votes
On the election front, The Mercury News is reporting that President Donald Trump has received more than 5.5 million votes in California, beating a record for Republicans previously set by Ronald Reagan.
Though ballots were still being counted Friday morning, the outgoing president had received at least 5,536,973 votes. By comparison, George W. Bush received 5,509,826 votes in 2004 and Reagan earned 5,467,009 two decades before.
Around 17.5 million Californians voted in 2020, a record turnout.
California teams who faced COVID-19 cancelations will face each other
In college football news, if you were looking forward to watching the California Golden Bears play the Arizona State Sun Devils Saturday night, I’m afraid you’re going to disappointed. On Friday, it was announced that the Cal-ASU game had been canceled. Ditto for a game scheduled between the UCLA Bruins and the Utah Utes.
Both were canceled due to “positive cases of COVID-19 and related contact tracing for Arizona State and Utah,” according to ESPN.
Instead, in a true lemons-into-lemonade move, both California teams will play each other Sunday at the Rose Bowl. This is certainly good news for the Golden Bears, who are one of four teams who have yet to play a Pac-12 football game this season.
“The scheduling of this game is consistent with the Conference’s commitment to provide opportunities for student-athletes through maximum scheduling flexibility while still prioritizing health and safety,” the Pac-12 Conference said in a statement.
Has the pandemic made San Francisco more affordable?
The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the world in various ways. But for some home-seekers in San Francisco, one not-so-terrible circumstance of the pandemic has been the lowering of rents.
Long considered to be one of the nation’s most expensive places to live, the Golden Gate City has seen its share of unemployment since coronavirus hit, which has forced many people to leave the city, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The article reports that a survey of landlords taken by the San Francisco Apartment Association in September and October found that “more than 20% of tenants have broken their leases since the start of the pandemic. While some of those leases were taken over by roommates and some of the units re-leased, association members are reporting a 15 percent vacancy rate, up from under 3% before the pandemic exploded in March.”
As a result, lofts once listed for $5,000 per month can now be rented for $3,200 or $3,500.
One couple, Christopher Beale and Reagan Rockzsfforde, who were paying $3,800 for a 650-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in Oakland’s Uptown area pre-COVID-19 were able to upgrade this month to a 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit in San Francisco for $3,243.
Unfortunately, this is not good news for landlords.
That’s all for this week. I wish you and yours a wonderful weekend. Stay safe!
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: ESPN, San Francisco Chronicle