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Mendocino County is in trouble due to the coronavirus pandemic. The CEO Carmel Angelo told the Board of Supervisors this morning there’s a budget gap already and that there’s not enough reserves to cover 2 months.

Angelo says there will be a hiring freeze and some fees will also be put on hold for now. She says FEMA is reportedly sending 75% of what the County has lost. CEO Angelo also says we have to also be prepared for the wildfire season and the potential for public safety power shutoffs which will also cost money.

A man accused of the warehouse fire at the so-called Ghost Ship in Oakland that killed 36 people is being let out of jail due to coronavirus. Derick Almena has been in jail since 2017 and has been released now after a court hearing over the phone. The Alameda County sheriff’s office reports Almena will be outfitted with an electronic monitoring device as he awaits his new trial.  He’s charged with involuntary manslaughter for the 36 people who died in the Dec. 2016 fire during an electronic music party at the Ghost Ship warehouse. Prosecutors say he was criminally negligent as the master tenant on the lease. His former right hand man, Max Harris was found not guilty.

Two giant gas trading companies are being sued by the state of California saying the two had a scam going to jack up prices at the pump from 2015 to late 2016. The Attorney General Xavier Becerra filing suit saying Vitol, Inc and SK Energy Americas took advantage of market volatility after a refinery explosion in 2015 in Torrance. Court papers say the two companies engaged in market trades that artificiality inflated the price of regular and premium gas as there was a disruption in the state gasoline supply after the explosion.

The state is the first in the country to borrow money from the Fed to be able to meet the demand of all of the unemployment claims. The Employment Development Department confirmed the state has so far borrowed $348 million from the federal government due to the Covid-19 pandemic. California has paid nearly 8 billion out in claims from March 15th to May 3rd.  The agency says the money from the Federal government loan pays the amount employers don’t contribute.

The Governor has announced the state needs to boost the amount of tests and with that contact tracing. So the state is looking to reassign 20,000 public employees to be  COVID-19 case investigators and contact tracers. Gov. Newsom previously spoke of the program saying the state would create, “an army” of 10,000 to track down more than 10 people to each person who contracts the virus. Right now there are less than 3,000 people working on this in just over twenty of the state’s 58 counties.

There are four people up for the job to be the next superintendent/president of Mendocino College. The search committee has whittled their list of applicants down after opening the search last November. All of the interviews recently finished up and now there will be forums with the candidates and interviews with the Board of Trustees. The forums will be held virtually due to coronavirus and are happening next Monday. They’ll be recorded and posted the following day on the college website.

City Hall and the Police Dept. have reopened in Clearlake. The two agencies lobbies are open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. The City says they’re providing essential services safely with new procedures in place. At City Hall, there will be a new plexiglass barrier at the public counter, floor markers for physical distancing, and regular sanitization of surfaces. The police department will only allow two people into the lobby at a time. And the City apologizes for any wait times and says they appreciate the public’s patience and understanding during the pandemic. The City Council and Planning Commission will continue with virtual meetings with time for public participation through Open Town Hall and email.

The Gov. has announced a program to help the state’s farmers. The $3.6 million program along with another philanthropy pledge of $15 million and a federal aid package of $19 billion for farmers and ranchers across the country. But the demand for farm fresh products has reportedly gone down by as much as 50% leading some California growers to destroy crops, milk and even livestock. The Sacramento Bee newspaper reports farmers say it’s not enough. The state’s program will help move fresh fruits and veggies from farms to food banks and to get more refrigeration systems to food banks with capacity problems.

The final numbers have been released for the March primary election. The results certified a month late due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On Friday the certified results were released showing almost 9,700,000 Californians voted, which was a record. It also showed 38% of eligible voters had cast ballots, the second- highest primary turnout percentage in nearly four decades. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won 36% of the vote, and former Vice President Joe Biden won just under 28%. 53% of voters gave a thumbs down to Prop. 13, that $15 billion school bond measure.

New information on the three people in Sonoma County who have died from coronavirus. The Press Democrat reports the Public Health Officer, Dr. Sundari Mase reported yesterday, the trio were all over 65 and had other health issues, so they were vulnerable to COVID-19. Dr. Mase said it fell in line with what they’ve studied across the globe and here in the US, that those over 65 are the most impacted by COVID-19. She didn’t say anything more due to privacy issues, but the County says the third person to die was an “elderly” man. The first was a man in his 60s with underlying medical conditions who got exposed on a cruise ship.

The Mendocino County Public Health Officer has released a draft of her next shelter in place order with some looser restrictions. The Gov. has said some businesses can reopen by the end of the week for curbside pickup. And apparently some rural counties would be allowed even looser restrictions to include restaurants and hotels if the areas meet benchmarks on testing and hospital capacity. Dr. Noemi Doohan will release the draft to the Board of Supervisors at their meeting this morning to allow most retailers, manufacturers, outdoor businesses, childcare facilities and offices where telework is not possible to reopen. Also most construction can resume. The Press Democrat reports Mendocino County’s Health Officer was in close touch with the Governor’s office on this.

There’s a planned town hall over the phone with State Sen. Mike McGuire for Mendocino and Lake County residents regarding local and state coronavirus response. The tele-townhall tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. McGuire says they’ll have the latest, most accurate information from medical professionals on the front lines on the virus response, the most recent shelter in place orders and the reopening of the state in a safe and strategic way. The superintendents of schools for both counties and a University of California physician focused on infectious diseases will also take part. The town hall will be limited to the first 1,000 participants.

To attend, dial 844-721-7241, enter code 6666128 and follow the prompts.
Email your questions and comments in advance and in real-time during the telephone town hall to Senator.McGuire@Senate.ca.gov.

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the a reminder it’s “Wildfire Preparedness Week”. Cal Fire reminding community members to be proactive with their own wildfire preparedness. We’ve had the most dangerous and fatal wildfires over the last five years. More than 3.7 million acres have been blackened and 34,000 structures destroyed. More than 145 people have died related to the fires. Lake Co News reports Cal Fire has finished up 35 high priority fuel reduction projects and treated 12,000 acres. There are plans to treat another 50,000 acres. Cal Fire working with the National Guard and other agencies for early detection of wildfires across the state to help respond faster to fires and monitor fire affected areas.

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