Pauline Bartolone

When Sacramento State University classes went online because of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, 19 year-old Nicole Oneto moved back in with her parents about an hour south of Fresno, Calif.

"I was brought back into this bubble again," says Oneto about feeling isolated in her rural hometown of Woodlake. She lives on 10 acres and doesn't share some of the worldviews of her neighbors.

During normal times, the concrete alleyway behind the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in downtown Sacramento, Calif., goes mostly unnoticed.

Cars and delivery trucks pass through, crows fly over at dusk and homeless people sleep there at night.

But since July, when California banned indoor religious services in many counties in order to stop the spread of COVID-19, this alley has been a place of worship.

The leftover prescription drugs you have around your house are at the center of a battle between small government and big pharmaceutical companies.

The immediate aim is to have the pharmaceutical companies take care of disposing of extra drugs. But Alameda County in northern California wants to make manufacturers think about the life cycles of their products — from their creation to what happens when they're no longer needed.

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PAULINE BARTOLONE, BYLINE: I'm Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento.

As states work to comply with the federal health care law, many are designing their insurance exchanges, where people will be able to shop for coverage.

But just the word "exchange" sounds to many like off-putting government-speak, and some states are eager to come up with a more appealing name for these new marketplaces.

Peter Lee directs California's Health Benefit Exchange. It's up for a new name, and Lee says they want it to sound fresh, dynamic and innovative.

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PAULINE BARTOLONE, BYLINE: I'm Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento.