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Newsom Family Quarantines Amid California’s Covid Surge

Good morning.

On Monday, sometime in the middle of his virtual news briefing, Gov. Gavin Newsom coughed.

He kept speaking and coughed again. He paused and smiled, apparently anticipating the question.

“That’s tea that got in my throat,” he said. “Nothing more.”

Early in the morning, the governor’s office said that Mr. Newsom, along with his family, had gone into quarantine after three of his children had come into contact with a state highway patrol officer who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

The incident brought home — “literally,” Mr. Newsom said, his head framed by old books as he spoke from an office in his house — the realities of a coronavirus surge that has reached every corner of this vast state.

Although everyone in Mr. Newsom’s household — including his partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom; their four children; and someone the governor described as a live-in housekeeper or caregiver from “overseas” — tested negative for the virus on Sunday, he said they will all quarantine for two weeks, per state and local guidance.

[See coronavirus cases by California county.]

The Newsoms learned of the exposure on Friday evening, the governor’s office said. The whole family waited until Sunday to be tested in order to reduce the likelihood of a false negative result (it can take time for the virus to build up to detectable levels after infection). The governor and his partner did not come into direct contact with the officer.

One of the Newsom children was already in quarantine after a classmate tested positive, Politico reported on Friday. The governor has come under fire for sending his children back to their private school classrooms while many public schools in the state remained closed. (And if you somehow forgot, he also went to the French Laundry with too many people — a misstep .)

With infections and hospitalizations each rising at an alarming rate in the state, officials announced a curfew late last week for counties in the state’s purple reopening tier — in other words, the curfew affects almost all of the state’s nearly 40 million residents.

According to a New York Times database, the state has reported an average of 12,694 new cases a day over the last week, a sharp increase from a month ago. That’s more than the state’s earlier peak of just over 10,000 new cases a day in late July.

[Read more about the curfew.]

Officials have implored Californians to take precautions and to reconsider traveling even within the state.

Some local officials have also taken more aggressive steps to stem the tide and are warning that more lockdowns could be possible.

Leaders in San Francisco said that the county, which has fared better than any of the state’s other big cities, could be moved from the second most restrictive red tier back into the purple tier this week, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

In Los Angeles County, where indoor dining has been shuttered for months and virus cases are still surging, health officials took the additional step on Sunday of closing down outdoor dining “to reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposure.” That order takes effect on Wednesday, just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

But as Eater Los Angeles reported, those measures have drawn pushback, including from Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who said that closing restaurants whose owners have worked hard and invested heavily in operating safely punishes the wrong people and won’t stop the spread.

Mr. Newsom on Monday also delivered some encouraging news: The state could begin vaccinating some of the state’s 2.4 million health care workers as early as next month, and broader plans to distribute vaccines were underway.

[If you missed it, here’s more about the state’s vaccine rollout.]

Read more:

  • Hospital staffers are bracing for more strain across the state following the holidays: “Everybody’s just petrified.” [The Los Angeles Times]

  • Small gatherings can certainly spread the virus. But data doesn’t actually show that they’re responsible for the surge across the country. [The New York Times]

  • A San Diego Superior Court judge declined to order officials to lift restrictions on indoor dining and gyms, saying that “the impact on public health of dismantling a portion of the state’s COVID-19 response designed to reduce community spread outweighs the economic harm.” [The San Diego Union-Tribune]

  • Starting Wednesday, travelers arriving in Los Angeles at Los Angeles International Airport, Van Nuys Airport and Union Station from out of state will have to fill out an online form acknowledging the state’s recommended 14-day quarantine. [CBS Los Angeles]

(This article is part of the California Today newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox.)


  • In a signal that corporate America is moving on from President Trump, General Motors said it would no longer support the administration’s efforts to roll back California’s emissions standards. [The New York Times]

If you missed it, in late September, Mr. Newsom said the state planned to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars in 15 years, adding urgency to the state’s climate plans. [The New York Times]

  • President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. nominated Alejandro N. Mayorkas to be the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the Homeland Security Department. Mr. Mayorkas is a former top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Loyola Law School. [The New York Times]

  • California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, said she would give up the top Democratic spot on the Judiciary Committee next year, bowing to pressure by progressives. [The New York Times]

  • In a first for San Francisco, Chesa Boudin, the district attorney, announced that a former police officer was charged with manslaughter after he fatally shot an unarmed carjacking suspect in 2017. [The New York Times]

  • Apple’s head of security has been accused of working with the Santa Clara County undersheriff to exchange iPads for faster concealed-carry weapons permits. It’s part of a wider-reaching corruption scandal engulfing the office of Sheriff Laurie Smith. [The Mercury News]

  • Because of Facebook’s algorithm, certain accounts have acted as misinformation “superspreaders,” seeding false election theories. [The New York Times]

  • Twenty years ago last month, a show featuring a now-iconic Burbank set standing in for a quirky Connecticut town debuted on the CW. Here’s a look at why “Gilmore Girls” has endured. [The New York Times]


One of many strange things about this pandemic is the way that it has slowed down time.

Fortunately, there are always more books to read. My colleagues on The Times Book Review put together this list of the 10 best ones that came out this year. (One of them is “Uncanny Valley,” a Silicon Valley memoir that doubles as a “quietly damning exposé” of the Bay Area tech scene.)


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.




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