In CA: Biden chooses Harris, layoffs in media and new COVID-19 numbers

Maria Sestito, USA TODAY
·5 min read

Plus: A court ruling on AB 5, new COVID-19 #s, school reopenings, a meteor shower and dolphins on the coast

Is that a meteor shower or has Joe Biden just picked the first Black woman to ever be on a major party's presidential ticket?

Both! It's Tuesday, Aug. 11, and I'm Maria Sestito, senior issues reporter at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. And, in addition to the above, I am going to give you updates on coronavirus — my negative results came back this morning — plus wildfires, ride-sharing and schools ... of dolphins. (Actually it's a pod, not a school, but you get the gist).

In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.

Kamala Harris selected as Joe Biden’s running mate

Sen. Kamala Harris, who ended her run in December 2019, had some celebrity supporters as well.
Sen. Kamala Harris, who ended her run in December 2019, had some celebrity supporters as well.

News broke this afternoon that Kamala Harris has been selected as Joe Biden's running mate. For the last few weeks, California's junior senator was being pitted against Rep. Karen Bass — the other Black woman being considered — as media outlets speculated about which woman would become the democratic VP. Ultimately, Biden chose his former debate stage sparring mate.

Harris, who is also the first Asian American on a major party's presidential ticket, ended her own bid for the democratic nomination in December. She endorsed Biden in March.

In the Senate, the former California attorney general and San Francisco prosecutor has bolstered her reputation as a shrewd debater and questioner of administration officials such as Attorney General William Barr. During the Democratic debates, Harris challenged Biden over his remarks about working with segregationist senators. She described herself as part of the second class to integrate her California school as a child after mandatory school busing, which prompted Biden to apologize for his earlier comments.

School ... what’s that?

Speaking of getting to school, most California children won't be attending in-person classes this month, but some, including at Mount St. Mary's Academy in Grass Valley, are trying it out. The L.A. Times reports that students are having their temperatures checked, being supplied with hand sanitizer and being questioned about their potential "virus vectors."

The school, which has 160 students, hopes to be a model for others like it, said the superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.

For specific information on guidelines for school reopenings and waivers, check out this nifty article from Cal Matters.

Uber, Lyft drivers will now be considered employees, pending an appeal (of course)

Lyft and Uber drivers rally in support of AB 5 on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, in  Sacramento, Calif.
Lyft and Uber drivers rally in support of AB 5 on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif.

Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft plan to appeal a decision made San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan P. Schulman Monday that would require them to treat drivers as employees instead of independent contractors. The change would guarantee benefits like overtime, sick leave and expense reimbursement for workers who make up much of the gig economy, according to the Associated Press.

Though labor advocates praised the decision, the companies criticized it, saying it threatens to shut them down during a pandemic-induced economic downturn and as many people who have lost their jobs turn to the ride-hailing companies to make money.

More layoffs hit media and entertainment

July 27, 2020, marks the 80th anniversary of Bugs Bunny's official debut in his own cartoon. See his evolution from an unnamed rabbit in a Porky Pig Cartoon (1938) to the official mascot for Warner Bros.
July 27, 2020, marks the 80th anniversary of Bugs Bunny's official debut in his own cartoon. See his evolution from an unnamed rabbit in a Porky Pig Cartoon (1938) to the official mascot for Warner Bros.

At least 600 employees of WarnerMedia were laid off on Monday, according to the L.A. Times. Most of the cuts came from Warner Bros. studio in Burbank, known for “Wonder Woman,” “The Big Bang Theory” and the Harry Potter movie franchise.

KQED, the public radio station in San Francisco, announced Monday that it is laying off 20 staff members — 5.5% of its workforce. KQED's senior leadership blamed a sharp decline in corporate sponsorship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oh, the pandemic

Worldwide cases grew to 20 million this week. In California, that number is ... umm ... well, maybe we're not sure about it.

California had a data debacle the last two weeks as a backlog of tests built up. The backlog made it look like the state's number of cases were flattening out, but that doesn't seem to be the case now that, as of today, those cases are being counted. The total number of positive cases is at 574,411, according to the state's dashboard today.

State officials acknowledged the problem earlier this month, noting that nearly 300,000 records may have not appeared in its health system. California's top public health official, Dr. Sonia Angell, resigned on Sunday.

And this is California, so about those wildfires and earthquakes:

The Apple Fire, which has burned 33,234 acres in the area of Banning Canyon in Southern California, is now at 55% containment and all evacuation warnings have been lifted.

Warnings for earthquakes, on the other hand, are in the near future as California and Google have announced a new update for Android devices that will automatically alert users to seismic shifts near them.

Google's Android phones to help with earthquake alerts
Google's Android phones to help with earthquake alerts

"This announcement means that California’s world-class earthquake early warning system will be a standard function on every Android phone — giving millions precious seconds to drop, cover and hold on when the big one hits,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

It won't predict earthquakes — only my cat can do that ... or can he? The evidence is shaky.

Now forget about the ground and look up!

The Perseid meteor shower happens every year, but this year's show should be especially stunning.
The Perseid meteor shower happens every year, but this year's show should be especially stunning.

Tonight is supposed to be the best night in North America to watch the Perseid meteor shower, according to NASA.

And, as promised, the dolphins:

This photo provided by Capt. Dave's Whale Watching Safari shows some of 300 dolphins caught on camera Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, stampeding across the ocean near Dana Point, Calif. A minutes-long video captured by Capt. Dave's Whale Watching Safari shows dolphins leaping several feet into the air above the glistening waters. The Orange County Register reported that dolphins move fastest while porpoising out of the water since there is less resistance in air than in water. It is unknown why pods of dolphins stampede. (Capt. Dave's Whale Watching Safari via AP)
This photo provided by Capt. Dave's Whale Watching Safari shows some of 300 dolphins caught on camera Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, stampeding across the ocean near Dana Point, Calif. A minutes-long video captured by Capt. Dave's Whale Watching Safari shows dolphins leaping several feet into the air above the glistening waters. The Orange County Register reported that dolphins move fastest while porpoising out of the water since there is less resistance in air than in water. It is unknown why pods of dolphins stampede. (Capt. Dave's Whale Watching Safari via AP)

A pod of hundreds of dolphins was caught on camera “stampeding” across the ocean off Dana Point on Sunday, Aug. 9, wowing spectators out at sea, according to the Orange County Register.

The video was taken during a whale watching charter operated by Capt. Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Watching Safari. View the full video here on Capt. Dave's Instagram.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, California Health Report. Orange County Register.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden chooses Harris, dolphins, COVID-19, schools, Warner Bros., KQED