Essential California Week in Review: How reopening looks

Huntington Beach
Thousands of beachgoers enjoy a warm, sunny day in Huntington Beach amid state stay-at-home and social distancing orders.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, May 2.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

A reopening plan. Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced the clearest plan yet of how California might lift restrictions in four stages. Some businesses could reopen within weeks.


What does life after a pandemic look like, anyway? It’s a question without clear answers, and California’s businesses and industries are trying to chart a path forward.

Hand sanitizer legends. Legend has it that a Latina nurse in Bakersfield invented hand sanitizer, the liquid gold of the coronavirus era. And legend has it mostly wrong. But that hasn’t stopped people from embracing the story as positive folklore.

Promising treatment. Government researchers say a drug developed by a California company to treat Ebola could aid the fight against the coronavirus. Early results in a clinical trial found remdesivir helped patients with advanced cases recover faster.

Cautious messaging. But despite the enthusiasm, California officials still have a lot to do before they can meet the technological benchmarks that Newsom set to reopen the economy and lift restrictions on daily life. And they know lockdown fatigue is a growing problem.

Pressure to reopen. Some local officials are taking reopening into their own hands. Six San Francisco Bay Area counties will allow all construction projects, real estate transactions and certain outdoor businesses to resume operations. Rural Modoc County was letting all businesses, schools and churches to reopen.

The beach beckons. Newsom directed the temporary “hard close” of state and local beaches in Orange County after thousands of Californians flocked to the shoreline there last weekend in defiance of a statewide stay-at-home order.

Backlash. For some, it was a step too far. To surfers and cooped-up people who just want to dip their toes in the sand after six weeks of stay-at-home orders, the closure touched a nerve in a state where a day at the beach is akin to a birthright.

Students sue. The University of California and California State University systems are being sued by students demanding refunds of some mandatory fees as campuses shutter classrooms and move to online learning.


Coronavirus behind bars. Most of the inmates at the federal prison at Terminal Island in San Pedro have tested positive for the coronavirus in what has become the nation’s worst outbreak in a federal penitentiary.

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1. Here’s when stay-at-home orders are expiring in each of California’s 58 counties. Los Angeles Times

2. Films that were set for SXSW will appear exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. Los Angeles Times


3. A seaside Irish village adopts Matt Damon. New York Times

4. “The Window” by Raymond Carver. The Writer’s Almanac

5. Three Cane Corso dogs were saved after roaming Angeles National Forest for weeks. Los Angeles Times

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

The COVID-19 pandemic is unleashing a wave of labor unrest across California and the nation. As workers flex their muscles, ratcheting up demands on employers, will they usher in a new era of collective bargaining? Los Angeles Times


“How Anthony Fauci became America’s doctor.” This in-depth profile of the country’s leading expert on infectious disease came out a few weeks ago, but it’s deeply fascinating reading for anyone who missed it the first time around. New Yorker

They came to make art in isolation; the pandemic forced them to stay. How canceled residencies across the U.S. endanger an artistic ecosystem. Los Angeles Times

Why the coronavirus is so confusing: If you aren’t reading science writer Ed Yong’s work at The Atlantic right now, you should be. He’s consistently delivering some of the most thoughtful and cogent work on the topic that I’ve seen anywhere. Here’s his “guide to making sense of a problem that is now too big for any one person to fully comprehend.” The Atlantic

Poem of the week: “Waiting for the Barbarians” by C.P. Cavafy. Poetry Foundation


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Laura Blasey for all her help on the Saturday edition.)