In California: Golden State coronavirus case rate now the lowest in the contiguous U.S.
Welcome to Wednesday! I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, bringing you some of today’s top headlines.
But first, a fun fact about this great state of ours (per california.com): Did you know that in the Southern California town of Blythe — which sits near the Arizona border — one is technically only permitted to wear cowboy boots if one owns at least two cows? It’s a good thing I’m in Palm Springs because I own two pairs of cowboy boots but do not have enough room for four cows.
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Let’s kick things off with some good news:
Coronavirus case rate in California now the lowest in the contiguous U.S.
The Los Angeles Times reports that California’s coronavirus case rate is now the lowest in the continental United States, “an achievement that reflects months of hard-won progress against the pandemic in the aftermath of the state’s devastating fall-and-winter surge.”
The number of new cases in the past seven days — 40.3 per 100,000 people — is considerably lower than the nationwide rate of 135.3.
“The work we’re doing together and the work you’re all doing is having an impact, and we’re all so hopeful that we can sustain this trend,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a briefing Wednesday.
The only state to beat the Golden one with the lowest number of new cases was Hawaii, with 39.1 new cases per 100,000 people, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, Michigan has by far the highest seven-day case rate in the nation, at 483 per 100,000 people. This is closely followed by New Jersey at 269.7, Delaware at 264.1, Pennsylvania at 248.5 and Minnesota at 238.4.
Over the past seven days, California has reported an average of 2,320 new cases per day compared to last winter when the state’s average peaked at more than 40,000 new cases per day.
Newsom declares drought emergency in Mendocino, Sonoma
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday declared a drought emergency for parched water systems along the Russian River watershed that serve hundreds of thousands of people in the Northern California counties of Mendocino and Sonoma.
Rachel Becker, writing for CalMatters, reports that the emergency declaration will allow state agencies to consider relaxing some of its requirements for reservoir releases, allowing more water to be stored in reservoirs serving the two counties.
Most of California is suffering severe drought conditions due to low rainfall and snowpack, but, according to state water officials, regions outside of Mendocino and Sonoma haven’t yet been hit hard enough to declare a statewide emergency.
California’s last drought began in 2012 and spanned five years.
“We’ve barely been out of those drought conditions and here we are, entering back into those drought conditions,” said Newsom, while standing on the edge of Lake Mendocino, a rain-fed reservoir.
The governor said he’s preparing the state by calling for a range of actions, such as improved monitoring of groundwater pumping and reporting of dry wells.
Kristin Smart update: Documents detail former burial place
The body of Kristin Smart, a Stockton college student who has been missing for nearly 25 years, was once buried in the backyard of the home owned by the murder suspect’s father, according to documents filed in court by prosecutors.
A prosecutor says Smart’s body, which has never been found, was recently moved from the home of Ruben Flores, according to a document filed Monday and posted on social media by a reporter for the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
Flores, 80, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of accessory after the murder for hiding Smart’s body after his son allegedly killed her. Paul Flores, 44, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.
The document, which The Tribune said it got from the courthouse, stated that investigators at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department had biological evidence to indicate that Smart was once buried under Ruben Flores’ deck behind his home in Arroyo Grande.
Nikki Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the court, said the documents were not meant to be made public.
Chauvin jury brings CNN and Fox together
“You know it’s no brainer when nearly everyone on CNN and Fox agrees.” Jessica Weston, a columnist for the Ridgecrest Daily Independent, has written an interesting article on Tuesday’s Derek Chauvin verdict; the former police officer was convicted of all charges in the death of George Floyd. Read the article here.
Danville officer charged with voluntary manslaughter in 2018 fatal shooting
Last month in this very newsletter, we reported that the town of Danville in Northern California’s East Bay had for the second year in a row been named the Golden State’s safest city by the website SafeWise.
Today, abc7news.com is reporting that a Danville police officer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault in the deadly shooting of an unarmed man three years ago.
According to the report, Contra Costa County’s district attorney has filed felony criminal charges against Andrew Hall, at the time a local sheriff’s deputy, for killing 33-year-old Laudemer Arboleda of Newark.
The sheriff’s office reportedly has a video showing Hall firing nine shots at Arboleda as he drove past. Arboleda later died from his injuries.
If convicted, Hall — who is currently on administrative leave while facing a civil lawsuit for the shooting death of 32-year-old Tyrell Wilson last month — could be incarcerated for up to 22 years and prohibited from being a peace officer again.
Wildlife experts: Leave ‘abandoned’ baby deer and rabbits alone
California wildlife experts are warning people not to approach some baby animals, even if they appear to be abandoned.
The reason for this is that some animal mothers — among them deer, rabbits and hares — temporarily hide their young for hours in tall grass while they graze. This often protects the babies from predators.
Well-meaning humans often mistake these offspring as abandoned and transport them from the area — which could eventually lead to them being euthanized, say California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists.
In addition to endangering the animal’s life, CDFW spokesman Peter Tira says that unless one is licensed to do so, removing wild animals from their habitat is also against the law.
For more information, or to report an injured, sick or possibly orphaned animal, visit wildlife.ca.gov.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: abc7.com, Los Angeles Times. We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with the latest headlines.
As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.