Weekly News Roundup for Friday, October 16th, 2020

A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week, including a coronavirus update, election news and the latest from Sacramento.

White House Rejects, then Approves, Emergency Aid to California

Earlier this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected a Major Disaster Declaration request from the State of California for funds to help with the damage caused by six massive wildfires. California appealed the decision. Today, after a direct appeal from Governor Gavin Newsom, President Trump reversed the earlier decision and approved the request.

The approved federal funds totaling hundreds of millions of dollars will help pay for the emergency response, clean-up and recovery from six of the biggest wildfires to afflict the state in 2020. These include the August Complex Fire, the largest single wildfire in California’s recorded history.

(Sources: Los Angeles Times; The Washington Post)

Stanford Economists Win Nobel Prize

On Monday, Stanford University economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson received the news that they had won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Milgrom and Wilson are neighbors as well as colleagues, and in a delightful scene captured on Milgrom’s home security camera, Wilson came knocking on his door to share the news in the middle of the night. The economics professors won the prize for their work on improving the efficiency of auctions.

Last week two faculty members of UC Berkeley were awarded Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Physics. Congratulations to them all!

(Sources: AP; Stanford.edu)

California Recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day

On Monday, October 12, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring it “Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the State of California. He issued the same proclamation in 2019 on the Monday holiday previously recognized as Columbus Day.

The proclamation reads, in part: “Today we celebrate the Indigenous peoples who call California home and who have survived and thrived in the face of unimaginable challenges to shape California’s past, present and future… In the spirit of reconciliation and reexamination, I encourage all Californians today to take time to celebrate Indigenous peoples rather than the forces that tried, and failed, to eradicate them. Let us reflect on how their resistance and persistence has shaped California for the better.”

You can read the full text here.

Murder in Death Valley National Park

A fatal shooting occurred in Death Valley National Park on the morning of Sunday, October 11, 2020. Authorities arrested suspect Zachary Salyer, age 34, of Amargosa Valley, Nevada after he called the Nye County Sheriff’s Office. Salyer confessed that he shot the victim on a dry lake bed in a remote part of the national park. The victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. Salyer was arrested and charged with first degree murder. He is being held in Inyo County Jail on $1 million bail.

California GOP Admits to Placing Unauthorized Ballot Boxes Across California

The California Republican Party has admitted it placed unofficial ballot drop boxes in locations across the state. The boxes were misrepresented as “official” but do not comply with the CA Elections Code. The Fresno County chapter of the party promoted the boxes on social media, and the state GOP defended them on Twitter, as did the National Republican Congressional Committee.

On Monday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent cease and desist letters to the California Republican Party and other groups ordering them to remove the unofficial ballot boxes. “There is nothing more precious or fundamental in a real democracy than the vote,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Anyone who tampers with the vote is tampering with free and fair elections. We will do all that’s necessary under law to protect Californians’ right to vote.”

Voters should report any unauthorized ballot drop boxes to their county elections office or to the Secretary of State’s office at 1-800-345-VOTE or votesure@sos.ca.gov.

Voters can look-up official ballot drop boxes, drop-off locations, and early voting sites at caearlyvoting.sos.ca.gov.

Covid-19 Update

As of today, California has 861,476 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 3,075 newly recorded cases on Thursday. The seven-day positivity rate is 2.6% (up from last week’s 2.5%) and the 14-day positivity rate is 2.5% (down from 2.6% last week). California has recorded 16,830 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The California Department of Public Health released guidance for safer Halloween and Día de los Muertos celebrations. The department recommends choosing safer alternatives to activities that mix households, and strongly discourages trick or treating. Click here to read the guidelines in full.

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