Welcome to the 63rd issue of the California Coronavirus Weekly Recap newsletter. Before we get started with this week’s news, we want you to know that the application period for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans closes on May 31, 2021. Traditional lenders have already stopped accepting applications, but forgivable PPP loans are still available through community financial institutions which typically make loans to businesses run by women, minorities and other underserved communities. If you are still looking to apply for a PPP loan, please refer to the C.A.R. SBA Loan FAQs for Agents and Brokers for resources to help you find a community financial institution.”

In This Issue:

The Economy & Your Finances: California gains back nearly half of jobs lost during pandemicU.S. jobless claims fell to a pandemic low of 444,000 last week, down 34,000 from the week prior. And the Conference Board Leading Economic Index had its second consecutive solid gain in April, another sign the economy’s recovery from the pandemic is gathering momentum.

In California, new unemployment claims rose to 71,000 last week. Meanwhile, the number of claims in the California Employment Development Department (EDD) rose to over 1 million. The EDD backlog consists of two major components: claims that have taken more than 21 days for a resolution or payment and claims that are awaiting certification as the first step of the benefits process. Governor Newsom’s newest budget proposal allocates millions to reforming the EDD, which has struggled to handle the large number of claims it has needed to process during the pandemic.

While California’s unemployment numbers are still high, and the unemployment rate is holding at 8.3 percent, to date, the state has gained back nearly half the jobs lost during COVID-19. California added more than 100,000 jobs in April alone, accounting for 38 percent of all jobs added nationwide in April. The leisure and hospitality industry accounted for 66,820 of California’s new jobs, largely due to the reopening of full-service restaurants.

Sources: PBS, MarketWatch, The Mercury News, KTLA, The San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times


The Market & Industry: Demand outpaces inventory in California

The U.S. housing market is moving extremely fast, with 47 percent of all homes nationwide selling within one week in April. In California, although the pace of home sales remains elevated relative to last year (sales were up almost 50% from the same week in 2020), the state is still averaging just 1,200-1,600 sales per day as the buying season ramps up. Strong buyer demand continues to limit the uptick in supply, ultimately raising home prices and limiting buyers’ purchasing power.

Rents are increasing nationwide. In California, tech hubs like San Francisco, San Jose and Los Angeles, rents are still low year over year, but the declines are getting smaller. This means renters could be back to paying pre-pandemic rates by late this year.

After hovering below 3 percent for months, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to exactly 3 percent last week. At current rates, around 51 percent of all outstanding mortgage have at least a 50-basis point incentive to refinance.

Sources: Inman News, REALTOR® Magazine, C.A.R., HousingWire

Around the State: California on track for June 15 reopening

California continues to record the lowest case rates nationwide. Of the ten U.S. metropolitan areas with the lowest case rates, four are from California — Salinas, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles. As of 12 p.m., cases in California number 3,754,614 and 53.2 percent of Californians are at least partially vaccinated. The statewide average for ICU bed availability was 33.3 percent, and the state was averaging a 1 percent positivity rate for tests. 

Half of all Californians 18 and older are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Among residents 65 and older, who are at higher risk of severe illness if they contract the disease, 70.6 percent are fully vaccinated. The state has administered nearly 37.8 million vaccine doses and is averaging 255,843 shots a day.

This puts California on track for its target reopening date of June 15, when capacity and distancing restrictions will be lifted for most businesses. This means that among other changes, as of June 15, in California there will be:

  • No more physical distancing requirements for attendees/customers at businesses.
  • No more coronavirus-related capacity limitations.
  • No more restrictions at restaurants and open bars.
  • No more mask requirements for fully vaccinated people in most settings (as California conforms to the CDC’s masking recommendations).

Large-scale events will start moving forward, but organizers of indoor events with more than 5,000 people, such as a basketball game, will be required to verify that attendees are either fully vaccinated or have tested negative within 72 hours of the event’s start time.

Workplace regulators say they are aiming to ease workplace mask and social distancing restrictions for employees by the same date. Cal/OSHA members will be meeting on June 3 to decide on whether to temporarily retain revised restrictions.

Sources: The San Francisco Chronicle, The Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, California Blueprint for a Safer Economy, ABC 7 News, KTLA

Health Check-Up: Fauci says booster shots may not be necessary 

Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Friday that Americans will “not necessarily” need booster shots for further protection against COVID-19. Scientists are tracking the data on how long the vaccine’s efficacy lasts and whether new variants may be resistant. 

Moderna announced it plans to submit the results of trials it conducted with children ages 12 to 17 in the United States to the US Food and Drug Administration in early June along with a request for authorization to use the vaccine in adolescents

Now that children ages 12 to 17 are eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, The New York Times has pulled together a list of frequently asked questions for parents. Pfizer plans to seek emergency authorization in September for children between the ages of 2 and 11. Fauci anticipates this age group will be able to get vaccinated by the end of 2021 or the first quarter of 2022.

Some schools are dropping mask requirements, but new research from the CDC shows that COVID-19 spreads less in schools where teachers and staff members wear masks. Between November 16 and December 11, 2020, researchers found that infection rates were 37 percent lower in schools where teachers and staff members were required to wear masks.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, NPR