Welcome to the current coronavirus capital of California. No, not Sacramento where Governor Newsom does his popular daily talk show with his finely coiffed slicked-back hair while the rest of us have gone at least eight weeks without so much as a trim, but beautiful downtown Yuba County—a place that does what it wants, when it wants.
If you are a regular viewer of 'Lunchtime with Gavin', otherwise known as the governor's daily Covid-19 news conference, you know that things are looking up. As early as tomorrow, Newsom could announce the opening of more businesses, including restaurants allowing dine-in patrons for the first time since the outbreak began in the United States in January. Retail is opening, and offices are expected to soon follow, but for Yuba County, and its partner to the west, Sutter County, that's simply not good enough.
The two counties, which not only represent Marysville and Yuba City, but also Linda, Olivehurst, Wheatland, East Nicolas, Sutter, Live Oak, Robins, Meridian, and Tierra Buena, share one public health department, responsible for about 165-thousand people. According to data from Yuba County's website, there have been 55 cases of Covid-19 resulting in three deaths. Only eight people have been hospitalized, and no more than three at one time. Armed with that knowledge, local businesses were told by local leaders that they can go ahead and re-open if they want to, despite what Govy Gavy says.
Meanwhile, if you get in your car and take a tranquil little drive about 40 miles east (as I do every day, you end up in a place called Nevada County—a land of rolling hills, old gold mines, and where Governor Gavin's every little wish is taken by local officials as a command. Everything has gone rather well there lately, with health officials reporting 41 Covid-19 cases, just one death, and no cases in more than two weeks.
Newsom spent part of his youth near Nevada County, and has said that a trip to Grass Valley was his family's idea of “going to town.” He's visited twice since becoming governor—once to attend an annual League of Cities conference which was held there, and earlier this year he toured area homeless facilities, and held a news conference, with statewide media in attendance. Whether that has anything to do with it or not, Nevada County has followed all of Newsom's coronavirus directives to the letter, and is now petitioning to open businesses, with the governor's blessing, because all of his goals and directives have been met.
It's an unusual contrast. Yuba County and its western neighbor Sutter, declaring they can do what they want, and eastern neighbor Nevada, bowing three times toward Sacramento every morning. All of this, by the way, with current conditions improving, seemingly unnecessary. Newsom's response to Yuba-Sutter has been a threating letter from the California Department of Emergency Services saying disobeying directives could cost them disaster relief money if coronavirus makes a return. A couple of Yuba City hair salon owners reportedly got letters threatening to revoke their state license if they re-open. Most remain closed.
In Nevada County, we (KNCO radio) are reporting that some restaurants have already been given the go-ahead to open for dine-in tomorrow (Tuesday). The county's Environmental Health Director (let's call her Glenda, the good witch of the Foothills) has tapped her magic wand on store owners' shoulders, and told them everything is going to be alright. Nevada County Supervisors, and other officials, held a news conference on Friday, announcing they are petitioning the governor to open early, giddy that they would be the first the county in the state to do so (El Dorado County is doing the same thing).
Neighboring counties taking opposite approaches. And much like reading this column, it's likely a waste of time. Yuba and Sutter counties (and Modoc County in the northeastern corner of the state) are making news by defying the governor's wishes. Nevada County may get an atta-boy on Newsom's talk show tomorrow for kissing his [ring] one extra time. In this current climate, though, and whether by Governor Newsom's hand or not, businesses are opening anyway, and we can all be happy about that.
Baseball back soon?: Another sign that things are improving. Major League Baseball will be presenting a plan to its players this week, to begin a roughly 80-game regular season sometime around July 4. Spring training would resume in June. Regular season games would be played in major league parks without fans, and teams would only play division foes plus interleague opponents from their corresponding division (NL West vs AL West) to minimize travel. Playoffs would be expanded to 14 teams instead of ten. One potential torpedo to the plan, though, is owners are proposing to pay the players based on revenue generated from games (no fans, no hot dog sales, but TV ratings) rather than pro-rated salaries. Another interesting codicil has the designated hitter used in the National League. What the (heck) that has to do with coronavirus was not explained.
Gold Sox season canceled (?): If you look on the Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox website, you'll see that Opening Night is next week, May 21. There is nothing to indicate that their college wood-bat summer season will not be played, even though the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League, in which they play, does have a cancellation notice on their website. I know I don't update my home page every week, but you would think a little detail like no season would be a reason to contact your webmaster.
Mother's Day magic: Saturday was the tenth anniversary of Dallas Braden's perfect game for the Oakland A's against Tampa Bay. MLB Network re-aired the broadcast yesterday as part of a Mother's Day marathon. Braden, who pitched a game for the Gold Sox in the team's inaugural collegiate year, had his grandmother in attendance that day, a woman who raised him after his own mother had passed away from cancer. I watched that game in its entirety when it happened, and it was a great moment to witness again ten years later, even though I knew the result.