Ask Your Questions About the Pandemic in California

To help us understand the events of the past few months and what the future might look like, we’re reviving our Your Lead series, where we’ll answer your questions about the effects of the pandemic on daily life for millions of Californians.

What do you want to know about how the pandemic is changing life in California?

We want your questions about everything — not just the economy, but also about health care, the environment, dating, traveling, commuting, how our culture is changing and more. We want to look at all the ways we are experiencing life during the pandemic.

Here’s your chance to shape our reporting as we write about life in 2020 and beyond. While we are based in California, we may share some of your questions with our colleagues across the country.

Using this form, tell us what you’re wondering about, what topics you want us to dig into and why you want to know. We’ll answer some of your questions in future newsletters and stories.

In our previous call for questions about inequality in California, you asked and we answered: Where does the state’s homeless population come from? What income counts as middle class? How does homelessness in California compare with other states? We will continue reporting out answers to your questions about inequality.

We look forward to hearing from you.

[Click here to open the form.]

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  • In a nearly empty courtroom on Tuesday, the chief executive of Pacific Gas & Electric stood in front of a judge and said the same three words more than 80 times: “Guilty, your honor.” [The New York Times]

Read more about how the utility repeatedly ignored fire risks in favor of profits. [The New York Times]

  • Law enforcement agencies in almost 100 cities across the country — including Beverly Hills, Walnut Creek, Fontana, Oakland, San Luis Obispo, Santa Ana, Santa Rosa and other California communities — tear-gassed protesters in recent weeks. It’s the most widespread domestic use of tear gas against demonstrators since the late 1960s. [The New York Times]

  • An Air Force sergeant with ties to the so-called boogaloo movement, which adheres to an extremist anti-government ideology, was charged with murder and attempted murder in the death of the federal security officer who was shot to death in Oakland. [The New York Times]

  • If you missed it, three large police unions in California started a campaign pledging to “root out” racist officers and calling for some of the broad reforms that have been proposed as less drastic than completely dismantling departments. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

Here’s what to know about calls to defund the police. [The New York Times]

  • The mayor of Healdsburg said she would step down amid criticism that she was dismissive of calls to address systemic racism and refused to support a review of the use-of-force policies for the city’s Police Department. [The Press Democrat]

  • So far, the number of Covid-19 cases tied to protests in Sacramento has been “way lower” than expected, an official said. [CapRadio]

  • Employees of Apple, Google and Microsoft raised millions of dollars for the Black Lives Matter Foundation. It’s not affiliated with Black Lives Matter, though. [BuzzFeed News]

  • Black entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are encouraged by the new attention to racism in the corporate world, but they’re also deeply skeptical that the constant subtle slights or the outright discrimination will recede. [Bloomberg]

  • Don’t like political advertising that includes lies on Facebook? Rather than get rid of the misinformation, the company has come up with a different tack: Opt out of seeing political ads altogether. [The New York Times]

  • Within 48 hours, an anonymous Instagram account exposing racist behavior by students at San Marcos High School had amassed 3,000 followers. It was shut down after virtual fights broke out and people started submitting fake images. But the account was one of a wave of such pages dedicated to calling students out. [The New York Times]

  • Movie theaters in New York and Los Angeles, the country’s two biggest box office markets, hope to reopen by July 10. [Hollywood Reporter]

  • What does Pride mean today? Writers reflect on a complicated moment, including Carmen Maria Machado on her first Pride parade in the Bay Area and Thomas Page McBee on a Pride celebration in the mountains outside L.A. a few months before he becomes “a veritable trans elder.” [The New York Times]

It’s been a while since we included a remembrance of someone lost in the coronavirus pandemic, but we’re continuing with the series. (If you’d like to share memories of a Californian who has died, please email us at [email protected].)

Today’s piece is about Wanda DeSelle and was written by Amy Mostafa:

When talk of retirement came up, Wanda DeSelle, 76, would always laugh it off.

“I’ll retire after you do,” Mrs. DeSelle would tell her boss of 40 years, Dr. Mohammad Ashraf, a cardiologist seven years her junior. “She’d say, ‘If you’ll work for another 20 years, then I’ll work for another 20 years,’” he recalled.

Mrs. DeSelle was the office manager at Dr. Ashraf’s six-person medical practice in Madera, a small city in the Central Valley northwest of Fresno. She worked full time with hardly a day off. Her husband died five years ago and she said she’d be bored at home anyway.

A sign in the reception area read, “Do you want to talk to the boss or the person who really knows something here?” Everyone in the office knew that person was Mrs. DeSelle. “She did everything,” Dr. Ashraf said.

In mid-March, Mrs. DeSelle left work early with a stomachache. Her condition declined rapidly and she went to the hospital, where she tested positive for Covid-19 and was eventually put on a ventilator. She died on April 3.

“Her laugh is the majority of my memories of her,” Brenda Alvarez, a medical assistant who worked with Mrs. DeSelle for two decades, said. “You could just see the sparkle in her eye when she would laugh and you knew that she was just happy.”

Mrs. DeSelle is survived by two children, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected]. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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