Monthly Archives: March 2021

California Passes New York in Covid Related Deaths

California has officially passed New York as the state with the most deaths related to Coronavirus.

As of March 18, the number of deaths currently sits at 56,952 and continues to rise every day.

That being said, the statistics are beginning to show a move in a positive direction. As of February 17, the reported coronavirus cases were down 43%. According to the LA Times, confirmed cases in hospitals have also decreased by 40.3 percent from two weeks ago.

According to 24/7 Wall Street, there is still an average of 3,298 COVID cases confirmed per week in California, as of the week of March 16, and this means that businesses continue to remain at limited capacity, restaurants remain limited to outdoor seating. Hospital beds remain regularly occupied by coronavirus patients.

However, as the vaccine is slowly distributed to the public, the key for California remains limiting the spread of the virus. There is no official timetable for when every person will be eligible for the vaccine currently.

Sabrina, a quality assurance employee for a large produce distributor in California, was eligible for the vaccine because her job involves agriculture. “They basically told everyone in the office it was optional to get the vaccine, but most employees did receive the vaccine now. It’s going to be a lot less stressful knowing we can feel a little more comfortable in the office together,” says Sabrina.

Jared, an EMT in the bay area, received a vaccine very soon after it became available to first medical employees. “It’s just a huge relief. After worrying about a lot of things during the pandemic, it feels good knowing I can still work and go visit my parents with a lower risk of exposing them to anything.”

According to California state health director Dr. Mark Ghaly, “starting March 15, people between ages 16-64 who are severely disabled, and those with health conditions that put them at high risk can get in line for shots.”

Joe Biden has ordered 200 million COVID-19 vaccines to boost the number of shots available for Americans.

To help slow the spread of germs, the Center for Disease Control has recently endorsed double masking to ensure a tight fit on the mask and to allow fewer respiratory droplets out.

As double masking is thought to lower the risk of exposure, there is no mandate on wearing two masks. The California department of public health’s guidance remains that Californians must wear face coverings in public spaces, especially indoors and in areas where physical distancing is not possible.

Another facet that could lead to potentially more cases of coronavirus is in-person learning at schools. As many schools remain online, some schools have taken specific measures to return for the fall semester of 2021.

UC Berkeley began a lockdown on campus on Feb 1 as over 400 people contracted coronavirus. With about 2000 students living on campus, students were required to remain in their rooms at all times. Students were only permitted to leave for seeking medical attention, going to the bathroom, and picking up food.

Violation of these lockdown rules by any student could have resulted in suspension.

The campus quarantine was proved effective as cases dropped, and the school lifted the lockdown on February 15th.

It is essential to stay informed on when vaccine distribution is available to you. You can keep track of this information at

Tiger Woods Hospitalized after Car Crash

Los Angeles – Superstar golfer Eldrick Tont Woods suffered significant injuries to his legs and was in a traumatic state after a single car collision.

Woods was hospitalized Tuesday, Feb 23 at Harbor UCLA medical center and was later diagnosed with “comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones,” according to chief medical officer Anish Mahajan. Mahajan later released details that Woods’ leg was fractured into more than two pieces and Woods’ injuries were stabilized with screws, pins, and rods.

CNN writer Terrence Moore stated Woods’ vehicle was discerned to have “crossed the median, went across two lanes of road, then hit a tree and landed on the driver’s side in the brush.”

Woods later released a statement that he had “no recollection” of the crash.

Body cam footage, surveillance, dash cam footage, and other recording of the accident were left unreleased to the public, according to CNN.

According to a press release by CNN’s Jill Matrin, Woods “the procedure was successful, and he is now recovering and in good spirits.

In a time when the sports world lost NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant, Woods’ survival was mainly left to chance and the fastidious work of the medical team at UCLA trauma center. Hank Aaron, MLB legend, hall of famer, and civil rights icon died at 86 on January 22, 2021.

Woods retains a record-tying 82 PGA tour victories, but understandably will not participate soon.

Woods is, and will always be, a icon for African-American pride and his revolutionary excellence in a non-contact sport. Based on a press release by CNN’s Terrence Moore, “He likely didn’t mean it this way, but it all started for me  when he wore his red Nike shirt — as if to place racism in his sport on high alert.”

According to the same source, Woods “smoked his White competitors by 12 strokes to win the first of his five Masters tournaments at the same Augusta National Golf Club that didn’t allow Blacks to join its ranks until barely seven years before that.”

Woods grew up in a relatively ‘white’ world, and to say he was a leader for reform in this country was, by far, an understatement. He is appropriately known for creating the ‘Tiger Effect,’ a positive indoctrination of his effect on not only the Black community but for the sports world, explained by CNN.

In honor of Tiger Woods, golfers at the WGC-Workday Championship after the accident on Feb. 23, an element of the PGA tour, worn red to honor the career of the legendary Tiger Woods as his career hangs in the balance. Red shirts and black pants are the signature apparel worn by Woods in his seemingly classic playing days.

Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Thompson, and Cameron Champ were some of the many to represent Woods with his touted outfit.

Bryson DeChambeau, professional golfer and friend of Woods released a statement explaining, “A mentor, idol and role model to my career, there’s no one that could come out of this stronger. We’re glad you’re here. See you soon.”

Woods is, standard to belief, a living legend for Black America and regardless of his reputation tarnished by his decisions off the golf course, a role model for minorities as well as athletes around the world.

CNN writer Terrence Moore released a shocking statement, “He may never play competitive golf again. But he’s still ours.”

CA vs Texas Power Outages

In Aug. 2020, California received criticism for its handling of rolling power outages throughout the state. In Feb. 2021, Texas also went through its own power crisis.

California energy officials estimated the rolling energy blackouts in Aug. 2020 left as many as 2 million residents without power.

The main cause for this issue was a single 500-megawatt generator went offline during peak energy usage hours. According to the national weather service, the underlying issue was California reaching a record-breaking heat wave, with a dozen Bay Area cities tying or setting record high temperatures.

As Californians  continued to rely on air conditioning units to battle the heat wave, the strain on the state’s energy generators rose, leading to the generators to eventually fail. With several thousand residents left with no escape from the heat, California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent out a tweet begging people to reduce the use of unnecessary energy to help ease the tension of the already failing energy system.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz quoted this tweet with his own opinion of the situation, stating, “Biden/Harris/AOC want CA’s failed energy policy to be the standard nationwide. Hope you don’t like air conditioning!”

Just six months later, on Feb.10, 2021, Texas unexpectedly had its own energy crisis to deal with as about 4.5 million Texas residents were affected by power outages, according to 

The leading cause of these outages was an unexpected snowstorm that led to single-degree temperatures and covered Texas in snow.

California’s power grid is connected to one of the main grids that runs through the entire country, and the state can draw power from outside the state to assist the power crisis. Texas has refused to connect to one of these grids, relying on their individual energy production.

As temperatures in Texas plummeted, residents relied heavily on heating systems in their homes and consumed a high amount of electricity. According to the state’s power grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, cold temperatures froze natural gas supply lines and stopped wind turbines from spinning. This dropped the energy supply by 46,000 watts as energy consumption reached yearly peaks around 86,000 watts.

Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University in Houston, tweeted, “Every one of our sources of power supply underperformed”

Weather is a huge factor in the energy failure of both Texas and California, and these issues are not unheard of, however there are no unanimous national regulations regarding the standards of these power grids because the weather varies from state to state.

Power generators in Wisconsin for example, are designed to battle cold weather conditions with insulation and heated pipes. As Texas struggled from snowy temperatures a power grid like Wisconsin’s was built so, “that it can get down to 40 degrees below zero and even stays there for a few days.” says Madison Gas and Electric spokesman Steve Shultz.

As Texas continues to reject connecting to the national power grid, there remains a possibility these dangerous power outages will happen again if the weather reaches similar conditions.

GameStop, AMC, and the Stock Market

GameStop Stock and AMC stocks seemed to skyrocket after a Reddit post began, now apps like Robinhood have set limits on the number of shares available for purchase. Small independent stock buyers are calling this unfair and only beneficial to the one percent. 

Companies such as GameStop and AMC were at a low in the market early in 2020, once the pandemic hit their values dropped. Gamestop locations are to this day closing their doors permanently, and AMC in most areas have not reopened their doors. 

A subreddit began by a group of the name the WallStreetBets, here anyone could discuss any information on stocks and investments. Here traders have been known to take a gamble on stocks and “meme stocks” quickly caught their attention. (Many of these meme stocks were in correlation with failing companies) 

Add the addition of Elon Musk simply tweeting out “Doge” on Feb 3, and “ur welcome” knowing it would gain major value for the cryptocurrency Dogecoin. 

Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that has mainly been seen as a joke in comparison to its top competitor, Bitcoin, has had a value typically under one penny for most of 2020. 

When the value of Dogecoin reached one penny, purchases skyrocketed. Cryptocurrency is a currency, that when purchased, can rise or fall in value, and can be resold for US currency without the effects of government regulation. (Some countries have banned cryptocurrency) 

Gamestop stocks increased over 400% within the last month according to Robinhood. Musk also tweeted out “Gamestonk!!” on Jan 26 with a direct link to the WallStreetbets. Though AMC has dropped down, most likely due to Robinhood’s (an online brokerage app for buying/selling stocks and cryptocurrency) limits on share buying, there is still talk of it increasing again. 

Jan 27 AMC stock values were rising, due to subreddits, and the next day was predicted to blow up. Whether a gain or rise in value, traders were ready to buy. But traders quickly realized their orders weren’t submitting on Robinhood, the app was extremely overwhelmed. 

On Jan 28 a message was sent to its users through the app, “Our mission at Robinhood is to democratize finance for all … In light of recent volatility, we restricted transactions for certain securities to the position closing only. We also raised margin requirements for certain securities.” 

The initial message didn’t give direct information on why certain shares (Gamestop and AMC) were taken off and left it’s users in a vague state. The message did state how the app has helped small traders learn about the stock market, “In 2020, more than 3.3 million people read out articles through Robinhood Learn.” Robinhood claims they’re determined to continue their work in making sure everyone has the help “for their long-term financial futures.”

Chris Cuomo of CNN spoke with the CEO of Robinhood, Vlad Tenev, on why they would limit shares on an app that supposedly is to “take from the rich and give to the poor” as Cuomo put it “starve the little guy.” on Jan 29. 

Cuomo’s main criticism surrounded the idea that the limitations only seemed to be placed because it had begun hurting large investors, including one of Robinhood’s main investors. 

Cuomo asks why should people believe Robinhood did this for the right reasons, Tenev responded, “We have no choice, we have to comply with all financial requirements,” Cuomo points out the (SCC) hasn’t declared any of Robinhoods actions as necessary. 

Tenev reinstates that certain brokers have to follow guidelines and regulations and it was in no intention to put anyone down, just necessary precautions. 

Planet Money, a podcast hosted by Nick Fountain and Mary Childs spoke with Annie Masa, an investing reporter at Bloomberg News, on Feb 3. Masa broke down why there are delays whenever purchasing from a brokerage app, and what that means for companies like Robinhood.

Masa starts off by comparing how buying stocks have changed. People would have to call their broker over the phone and place an order for their stock, the broker then would call over to someone who works on the trading floor, New York Stock Exchange for example, who is also making negotiation with yet a third person on the floor who sells the stock, and eventually gets back to the ordinal broker. 

Buyers not only would have to pay for the stock purchase but the broker for the labor. When online brokerage apps became available this cut out having to make calls and prices dropped immensely, but Masa explains that there is still a middleman when you submit an order from Robinhood. 

Robinhood sends your order over to other firms like Citadel Securities, “the company’s in the business of matching people who want to buy stock with people who wants to sell stock,” host Childs summarizes how Robinhood gets paid by Citadel to do this process, and in return, Citadel makes a small profit when there’s a small difference between what buyers are offering and what sellers asking. 

Citadel securities pay Robinhood to make sure that there are smaller traders buying because if there are only big companies selling stocks, Citadel would actually lose money. They need the back and forth trade to make a profit themselves.

Brokerages have to post money (to a clearinghouse) for stock purchases in between the waiting period before you own the stock to guarantee trades, in case buyers decide they want to opt-out. So when hundreds of thousands of people were trying to buy GameStop and AMC, Robinhood would have had to post 3 billion dollars. 

This was a heavy demand for Robinhood, “An order of magnitude,” Tenev stated on social media, one which they did not have. So when the limitations took place on those certain stocks, this was in order to not have to put up the entire 3 billion Robinhood did not have. 

Fountain and Childs make it clear that there is no evidence of market manipulation, however, at this point internet stock traders were wildly upset as they believed they were “pumping up the stock” as Fountain put it. 

On Feb 4, Robinhood had reopened trading for Gamestop and AMC, but the criticism has left a sour taste in most small traders’ mouths, many have now considered other options. 

On Feb 3 Investorjunkie put out its list for its top alternatives to use instead of Robinhood:

  1. Ally Invest 
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. E* TRADE
  4. Public
  5. Charles Schwab 
  6. WeBull 

While many brokerage apps went through similar approaches like Robinhood, the damage had been done, and although thousands still use the apps, others are starting to gain much more attraction as thousands continue to join the stock market.

California’s State of State Address

Gov. Newsome and his wife before the address at the LA Dodger Stadium.

Hesitancy was not on the agenda as Gov. Newsom delivered his second State of the State address to California, alluding immediately to the COVID pandemic, more specifically its impact on Californian’s.

Newsom made this evident as he stood firmly, thanking health care and essential workers for their sacrifice and courage during these more than trying times.

He then signaled for a moment of acknowledgment for the 54,395 Californian’s we have now lossed, almost the number of empty seats in Dodger Stadium. Where Newsom gave the address alone on stage.

He was looking to rally his state as revenue losses from the pandemic shutdowns startled the economy and a recall election awaiting him in the summer.

“Too many Forever goodbyes with over 200 million in mourning”, Newsome said “Even as we grieve, dream of brighter days ahead… We won’t be defined by this moment, we will be defined by what we do because after all; we are Californian’s. We go first and we go boldly,”.

Newsome references the progessive leaps in legislation of gay, civil, and gun rights. He then went on to praise California for trusting science and data, amongst having the most robust vaccination system in the country.

“This is certainly a fight for California’s future… We will not crawl back, we will roar back… We will write the next chapter of California’s story,”.

The Governor prides the decision to admit stay at home orders first in the nation. But according to recent polls from Berkeley University, one of the most significant factors into Newsom’s recall is the mandated stay at home orders.

People saw as “threatening their liberties” and costly to California’s leading economy including Patrick Stevens, who signed the petition before Newsom gave his address.

Newsom laid out an expansive vision for California including massive funding for schools k-12 with some of the 15 billion surplus, homeless programs such as project roomkey; setting up over 45,000 homeless with rooms, as well as 10 million into an infrastructure plan affecting equity and affordability across the state.

He promised more funding for food banks, diapers, and farmers. Proposed free community college tuition for 2 years and the largest small business grant,2.5 billion$, and the Golden State stimulus of 600$ to every adult Californian.

Newsom says “listen to the experts and build blocks guided by evidence, leading the way out of the pandemic…lives were saved because of stay at home orders as Fauci said it was necessary… safely reopen, moving fast, being mindful not letting down our guard guided by equity principles.”

Remote learning and child education became the subject as Newsom said “It is only widening the gap…equitable vaccination, economic support, and kids back to school. We are designing our system around that.”

Not a simple task as he reminds the streaming audience, there are over 11,000 schools and 7,000 districts that lie among the 58 counties.

California Governor Gavin Newsom delivers his third State of the State Address from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

Without discouragement Newsom told the crowd “routine Covid testing to low income, PPE to all schools, and committing 6.6 million to learning loss. Starting with lower grades and working our way up from there”.

The widening gaps of income inequality are still a problem in California. Reminding Californians of why he started his political career,

Newsom says “Why I ran for Governor to fix these disparities like climate change…risk taking is in our DNA prosperity is sheer force of will. We are not naïve, we are staying mindful. California isn’t the world’s best by birth rights. We have to earn it everyday… faith over fear, optimism over pessimism, power truly is in our hands. This is our moment to create and extend the dream of prosperity, equity, and progress. This is our moment to create the California we all wanna live in to continue to lead the world into the future once more”.

Gavin Newsom Proposes New Plan for Reopening Schools

On Mar. 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced at a news conference California’s plan to reopen schools around the state. Legislative leaders joined Newsom to discuss the state’s multibillion-dollar plan to incentivize K-12 schools into reopening. The bill would give power to the state’s 58 counties to decide when to reopen schools. 

Under the bill, schools are not required to open. Instead, those that do will receive financial compensation. The package will allocate a total of $6.6 billion to entice and push public schools to reopen and bring students back into classrooms. At least $2 billion of the fund will be grants given to schools that temporarily open kindergarten through second grade by Apr. 1 and bring back at-risk students in all grades.

“Our plan is also geared toward providing schools the resources and incentives that they need to ensure that education can be all things for every child in California,” said Speaker Anthony Rendon at the event. 

The bill aims to safely phase in younger students who are most at risk and benefit the most from in-person learning. Those most at risk include foster and homeless youth and children of color disproportionately affected by the pandemic. A study done by Common Sense and Boston Consulting Group found that at least 15 to 16 million students live in households without internet access or the proper device for distance learning at home. 

Under the proposal, school districts must reopen Kindergarten through second grade classrooms by Apr. 1 to receive funding from the $2 billion in grants. 

However, those that open after Apr. 1 will receive smaller cash grants, and those that don’t open by May 15 would lose their share of the funding. The funds could pay for summer school activities and in-person services like tutoring. 

The plan would allow all districts to start slowly phasing in students, even those in the “purple-tier”- the most restrictive level of California’s COVID-19 tier system- as long as the daily rate of COVID-19 cases is less than 25 per 100,000 residents. 

Once counties move into the red tier — daily case rates below 7 per 100,000 residents — schools that are eligible for grant funding must open all elementary grades, as well as at least one grade in middle and high school. As of Mar. 9, California has 34 counties in the purple tier and 20 counties in the red tier. 

Over 75,000 vaccines will be pushed aside from educators and school employees, Newsom said, and school staff will be prioritized in the distribution of vaccines as well as seniors and those most vulnerable. At least 15 million vaccines have already been administered in California. Schools will also require staff and students to wear masks while in school. 

On Mar. 3, the Newsom administration announced it would dedicate 40% of available COVID-19 vaccines to residents in the most disadvantaged areas across the state, as reported by the LA Times. 

Legislators have also acknowledged how challenging online learning is for students, from technological challenges to mental health issues. 

“This package of funding and supports for our schools recognizes that in-person education is essential to meet not only the learning needs but the mental health and social-emotional needs of our kids — especially the youngest and the most vulnerable,” said Gov. Newsom at a virtual signing ceremony of the bill.

Since the start of the pandemic last year, many schools have been shut down and forced to switch to remote learning. Almost a full year of online schooling across the nation has taken a toll on students, families, and the education system. It’s even more challenging for those who lack the technological resources to access an education. 

For younger students, in-person learning is fundamental to build social and emotional skills. The social environment of schools is critical in children’s development as they engage with others in an academic setting. For older students in high school and college, online learning has negatively impacted many students’ mental health. 

A report from Best Colleges found that 95% of college students have had “negative mental health symptoms as a result of COVID-19 related circumstances.” Out of the 702 college students surveyed, almost half struggle with isolation, anxiety, and a lack of focus. 

“College years are a pivotal time for young adults as they pursue their chosen academic field and have the opportunity to gain independence and learn more about themselves,” said Dr. Melissa Venable, Education Advisor for Best Colleges.

As schools plan to return to in-person instruction, Venable encourages schools to “do all they can to support students as they experience a range of mental health concerns.” 

The Safe Schools for All plan comes after ongoing concerns from parents and schools about reopening districts in a safe manner.

By slowly opening schools and phasing in students through safety precautions and measures, the state hopes to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, schools will continue to offer online learning for students and families who are still hesitant to send their children back to school.

A mural of George Floyd

The City of Berkeley Passes Sweeping Police Reforms

On Feb. 23, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to adopt sweeping police reforms aimed at reducing racial disparities in policing. “Low-level” offenses, such as failing to wear a seat belt or driving with expired license plate tags, will now be eliminated, and the city’s Police Department will now require written consent for police searches. 

A working group gathered by Mayor Jesse Arreguín, composed of academics, activists, city and police officials, formulated the 202 page reform proposal over the last year to address the racial discrepancies in policing documented in Berkeley and around the country. 

Under the proposal, the city will deprioritize traffic stops and low-level offenses that don’t impact public safety. Police will also be required to obtain written approval for all consent searches and commit fewer warrantless searches of people on probation and parole. 

In a series of tweets, Mayor Arreguín said these new reforms will “free up public safety resources enabling police focus on priorities like violent crime.”

The proposal will strengthen the Early Intervention System that is already in place, which helps identify officers who may be on a path of regular misconduct. This system assigns points to an officer based on their conduct. A certain number of points will trigger the system and prompt a review. The plan will also fire officers for racist posts made on social media. 

As part of the reform package, the city plans to create a new Specialized Care Unit to respond to mental health calls instead of police officers, and the creation of a Department of Transportation (BerkDOT) where trained civilians would handle traffic enforcement duties instead of officers. These initiatives are a part of the city’s upcoming work launched to Reimagine Public Safety.

This package comes after a report by the Center for Policing Equity found that Black people are 6.5 times more likely to be stopped by the Berkeley Police Department than white people while driving and 4.5 times more likely to be stopped while on foot. 

The proposal also comes after increasing demand for police reforms across the country, following the police killing of George Floyd last May, and the countless lives people of color have lost at the hands of police officers.

In an Op-ed piece about defunding the police, Arreguín acknowledges his responsibility as a mayor to ensure the safety of his citizens and to invoke change when demanded. 

“Like many progressive leaders, I feel the sense of urgency, and I hear the calls for systemic change. We must heed these calls and innovate for reform, and we must do so both thoughtfully and safely.”

The council’s vote drew criticism from the Berkeley Police Association, which said they were not consulted about the proposed reforms. The union even urged the City Council “to reject the proposed recommendations,” claiming the new policies will jeopardize public safety. 

“These so-called reforms will result in more and more paperwork, reducing police work that keeps our community safe and keeps officers connected with citizens,” said Sgt. Darren Kacelek, President of the Berkeley Police Association.