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Newsom Nominates 1st Openly Gay Man To CA Supreme Court, Hopes For COVID-19 County Tier Updates By January

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Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to coronavirus and the state's wildfires, as well as announcing an appointment to the state supreme court. You can read highlights below or watch the full news conference above.


Newsom opened by announcing an appointment to the state's Supreme Court: Judge Martin Jenkins. He had a brief career in the NFL before leaving professional football to study law. He's been both a prosecutor and a federal judge. He was appointed to be Newsom's Judicial Appointments Secretary and Legal Affairs Secretary, coming out of retirement for the role in early 2019.

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Jenkins is the third Black man to serve on the state's Supreme Court, and the first state justice to be openly gay. Jenkins appeared alongside the governor and noted that his career has spanned those of the prior Black men who held seats on the state Supreme Court. He also said that his identity as a gay man has perhaps been the greatest challenge of his life.

Jenkins thanked Newsom for the nomination, talking about the challenges the governor has faced dealing with both wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. Jenkins also thanked the previous man who held this seat, Justice Ming Chen. He also thanked his parents, and his partner.

He said:

"I want these young people to know that living a life of authenticity is the greatest gift you can give yourself. And, if you do that, you too will find yourself in a position where people see you. They really see you and who you are, your authentic self."


Newsom noted that COVID-19 is increasing across the country, and that while California is stable now, that could change. It takes between 20 and 30 days to see upticks in hospitalizations, according to Newsom.

When asked about helping businesses that have shut down, as well as mass layoffs such as those from the Disney Parks division last week, Newsom responded that these economic effects are the best argument for federal stimulus.

There were 3,055 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, with a seven-day average of 3,074 new cases per day. The state has a 2.8% positivity rate over the past two weeks, and a 2.6% positivity rate over the past week — the lowest rate recorded in the state since April.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are down 13% over the past two weeks, while ICU admissions are down 15% in that period. The rate of decrease is slowing in both hospitalizations and ICU admissions, beginning to hit a plateau, according to Newsom.

When asked about his own COVID-19 testing status, Newsom declined to provide specifics as far as how often he is tested beyond noting that he was tested when attending several events in recent weeks. Newsom added that if he were to test positive, that information would be made public.


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There are currently 18 counties in the highest "purple" tier of the state's coronavirus reopening tiers, which determine what is allowed to be open, based on their COVID-19 numbers. There are 22 red counties, 15 orange counties, and 3 yellow counties. Which tier counties are in will be updated Tuesday, with Newsom saying that several counties are expected to proceed into the red, orange, and yellow tiers.

The tiers will hopefully be updated by the end of the calendar year, Newsom said.


Newsom said that every active, registered voter will receive a mail-in ballot for the first time in the state's history, starting Monday (though some have already received their ballots).

Asked if he would campaign for various candidates over this next month, Newsom said he was unsure. His reason? Newom said he's busy with governing, citing wildfires, COVID-19, the state budget, and more. Newsom said that he does think it's important to support causes that impact the lives of Californians.


There have been 8,687 structures destroyed and 31 deaths due to the state's wildfires so far, Newsom said. There have been better wind and other weather conditions, according to Newsom, helping to get these fires under control.

He provided updates on several of the largest wildfires affecting the state:

  • Bobcat Fire (L.A. County): 88% contained, 115,000 acres burned
  • Glass Fire: 30% contained, 65,000 acres burned
  • Zogg Fire: 76% contained, 56,000 acres burned
  • August Complex Fire: 54% contained, 1 million acres burned
  • North Complex Fire (Plumas, Lassen counties): 83% contained, 318,000 acres burned
  • Creek Fire (Fresno, Madera): 48% contained, 322,000 acres burned

Last week, Cal Fire officials released this startling visual putting this year's fires into context:

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