Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, May 4, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:
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The U.S. Senate will return to work in Washington D.C. on Monday, even as the city reports record numbers of new coronavirus cases and the two parties are mired in a stalemate over the next bill to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even the lawmakers’ return is a partisan issue, as congressional reporters Jennifer Haberkorn and Sarah D. Wire explain in their story: “Bringing lawmakers back has been a clarion call for Republicans eager to reopen the economy and send the message that if healthcare workers and grocery clerks can do their jobs, so can their members of Congress. So the Republican-controlled Senate is returning, while the Democratic-led House — on its doctor’s advice — is not.”
Also Monday: The winners of the 2020 Pulitzer Prizes will be announced.
Need something lovely to look forward to? The final supermoon of 2020 will be visible on Thursday night.
Sunday is Mother’s Day.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
Pressure to reopen parts of California continued to build over the weekend, with more rural counties vowing to ease stay-at-home restrictions and protesters marching against the closure of Orange County beaches, a move intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times
Surfers ignored barriers and protesters confronted police on Orange County beaches. Gov. Gavin Newsom had called for a “hard close” of all state and local beaches in Orange County last Thursday. Los Angeles Times
Newsom’s closure of O.C. beaches also spurred a lawsuit from the city of Huntington Beach. Over the weekend, Newport Beach’s City Council also voted to file a court brief in support of the lawsuit. Los Angeles Times
Some businesses deemed nonessential are reopening in defiance of orders from local and state authorities. Los Angeles Times
L.A. County coronavirus cases now top 25,000, with more than 1,200 deaths. Los Angeles Times
Homeless activists have stepped up their calls for Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Board of Supervisors to use their emergency powers to seize hotels and motels that are all but empty because of fears over the novel coronavirus. With about 60,000 homeless residents, Los Angeles County is falling behind on its previously stated goal of moving them into 15,000 hotel rooms. With only about 2,200 rooms leased as of late last week, it could take until October to secure that goal. Los Angeles Times
East L.A. student walkout leader Bobby Lee Verdugo has died at 69. The Lincoln Heights native helped organize the 1968 student walkouts and later mentored thousands of Latino students. Los Angeles Times
How the reigning king and queen of L.A. lounge acts have been keeping the beat during quarantine. Marty and Elayne have been performing at the temporarily shuttered Dresden Room for almost 40 years. Los Angeleno
“No one needs Botox in a pandemic.” Last week, Beverly Hills rescinded a moratorium on elective surgery, clearing the way for some cosmetic surgeons to reopen — and not everyone is happy about it. New York Times
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Millions skipped California’s 2020 primary. Will coronavirus change who votes in November? Los Angeles Times
Elite private schools, including Brentwood School in West L.A., drew criticism Friday from President Trump, who said through a spokesman that those with “significant endowments” should consider returning money they have received from a federal coronavirus aid program. Trump’s comments followed earlier statements by Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who stepped up his previous criticism of private schools that have taken loans from the $660-billion Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to help small businesses. At least two of Mnuchin’s children are students at Brentwood. Los Angeles Times
CRIME AND COURTS
A Los Angeles police officer has been booked on suspicion of attempted murder after allegedly shooting another off-duty officer early Sunday morning while camping in Apple Valley in San Bernardino County. Los Angeles Times
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Sacramento has the lowest coronavirus infection rate of any large U.S. metro area, according to a Sacramento Bee analysis. Sacramento Bee
They’ve been championed as heroes of the crisis, but healthcare workers have been hit especially hard by the severe economic fallout wrought by the pandemic. In California, thousands of nurses, doctors and other medical staff have been laid off or furloughed or have taken a pay cut since mid-March. Los Angeles Times
Drought makes an early start to fire season likely in Northern California: The National Interagency Fire Center is predicting above-normal potential for large wildfires by midsummer. Los Angeles Times
In rural Northern California, the pandemic crushes newspapers that delivered news and warmth during winter cold. Los Angeles Times
A continuing influx of tourists in Sausalito has generated a flurry of complaints from locals. Marin Independent Journal
How a San Joaquin County farm is preparing for U-pick cherry season during a pandemic: “The trees are spaced 12 feet tree to tree in the row and the rows are spaced 17 feet,” he explained, so cherry picking is naturally conducive to social distancing. All picking buckets will be sanitized and lined with a new bag after each use, employees will wear face masks and hand-washing stations will be provided for both employees and customers, among other safety measures. Stockton Record
Families and schools honor graduating seniors with front lawn signs in Bakersfield. Bakersfield Californian
NOT EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE
Craving real movie theater popcorn in the Central Valley? A downtown Modesto nonprofit theater has been selling popcorn and movie snacks to go, and now another local theater is getting in the popcorn-to-go game. Modesto Bee
Bird-watching takes flight amid the coronavirus outbreak as Americans head back outdoors. Los Angeles Times
Are you tired of hate-watching other people make banana bread on Instagram? Maybe it’s your turn now. The renowned pastry chef and chocolatier behind Valerie Confections in Echo Park has shared her recipe for “the best” chocolate chip banana bread recipe. Los Angeles Times
A poem to start your Monday: “Foundations” by Leopold Staff, translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz. All Poetry
Los Angeles: sunny, 80. San Diego: sunny, 75. San Francisco: sunny, 66. San Jose: sunny, 75. Fresno: sunny, 85. Sacramento: sunny, 84. More weather is here.
This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:
Former royal baby and recent Californian Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (May 6, 2019), baseball great Willie Mays (May 6, 1931), director Amy Heckerling (May 7, 1952), veteran politician Bill Lockyer (May 8, 1941), filmmaker James L. Brooks (May 9, 1940) and musician Donovan (May 10, 1946).
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)