Newsletter: Coronavirus cases surge again
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, June 25, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
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Some tired-of-being-cooped-up Californians may feel done with the coronavirus, but unfortunately it is far from done with us.
More than 6,600 infections were reported Tuesday, marking the state’s largest single-day count since the pandemic first reshaped our lives. Tuesday was the second consecutive day that the daily infection count shattered the previous record. COVID-19 hospitalizations are also beginning to rise to some parts of the state in another sign of potential trouble ahead.
[Read the story: “Alarming spike in coronavirus sparks fears California is ‘starting to lose this battle’” in the Los Angeles Times]
As my colleagues Ron Lin and Colleen Shalby report, it remains unclear how much worse conditions must get before officials move to slow the rapid reopening of the economy, despite this troubling spike in cases.
“We’re showing the first signs of starting to lose this battle against COVID-19 in our county,” Dr. Robert Levin, the Ventura County health officer, told the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. There are increased cases statewide as well. “It worries me. And it should worry you,” he said.
The outlook is no brighter in the rest of the country. While new cases have been declining steadily in early hot spots such as New York and New Jersey, California was joined by Arizona, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas in setting new single-day case records this week. The U.S. recorded it’s highest single-day number of cases on Wednesday, with more than 36,000 new infections reported by state health departments across the country. That number is larger than previous single-day case peak in late April.
“This virus is virulent,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a briefing Wednesday. According to the governor, California has seen a 29% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past 14 days and nearly a 20% increase in virus patients being treated in ICUs.
However, as my colleagues Phil Willon and Taryn Luna report from Sacramento, the governor again emphasized that California’s first-in-the-nation stay-at-home order significantly slowed spread of the coronavirus. The order, which Newsom enacted in mid-March, allowed the state hospital system to increase capacity to handle a potential surge in patients, and bought the state enough time to acquire the necessary personal protective gear, ventilators and other equipment, he said.
[Read the story: “Newsom asks Californians to ‘be more vigilant’ as state sees record-breaking coronavirus cases” in the Los Angeles Times]
“I think California is starting to see little bits of surges at the community level as they’re opening up,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in a Sacramento Press Club appearance Wednesday. “I think that from the administrative standpoint, that you have a good handle on what things to do.”
The country’s leading health expert spoke positively of Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. He urged Californians to uphold their social responsibility by wearing masks and maintaining a physical distance when gathering with others.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
The Los Angeles Times is facing a painful internal reckoning over glaring deficiencies and missteps regarding race and representation in its pages and its staff. On Wednesday, Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine heard from aggrieved newsroom staff members during a more than four-hour meeting examining the mistreatment of Black and brown editorial staff members past and present at the country’s largest metropolitan daily newspaper. He acknowledged that the 138-year-old paper had failed to capitalize on an unprecedented opportunity to better diversify its newsroom since its 2018 purchase by L.A. biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong and his wife Michele B. Chan. Los Angeles Times
California voters will be asked to restore affirmative action in November. California could allow college admissions and government contracting decisions with a focus on race and gender diversity under a measure placed on the November ballot Wednesday, a decision that would reverse strict limits imposed by voters in 1996. Los Angeles Times
Officials and activists agree that it’s time to “reimagine” the LAPD. But they continue to spar over how. Los Angeles Times
The quarantine TV ratings spike is over: While streaming use is still outpacing year-ago levels, a linear viewership rise in March and April has faded. The Hollywood Reporter
The 15 best places in L.A. to find shade on hot summer days: Much is bad in this world. But trees are not. So let these glorious shade canopies offer you a brief reprieve! Los Angeles Times
Getting a coronavirus test is becoming harder, frustrating anxious protesters: In the weeks since protests against police brutality began, L.A. County residents say they have struggled to secure testing appointments, even as officials report a troubling surge in people infected with COVID-19. Los Angeles Times
This Echo Park restaurant has gotten creative with physical distancing. The barely 2-month-old Lady Byrd Cafe has transformed its parking lot with individual greenhouses used as distanced dining pods. Eater LA
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IMMIGRATION AND THE BORDER
The U.S. is likely to be left out as the European Union reopens to visitors from selected countries. The headline in a leading German newspaper put it succinctly: “Cuba yes, USA no.” Los Angeles Times
(To be clear, no decision has been made yet. But for the holders of dark-blue American passports and even U.S. green cards, such a restriction would mark a humbling reversal — and to some, a symbol of Washington’s slipping prestige amid the pandemic.)
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Democrats on Wednesday denied Republicans the votes needed to advance the Senate GOP’s policing reform bill, casting doubt on the future of the effort as thousands of people continue to protest over the death of George Floyd and police misconduct and excessive use of force. Democrats have derided the GOP bill, which focuses heavily on data collection and urging departments to change standards on when force is acceptable, as a watered-down version of their own proposal. Los Angeles Times
The GOP is pouring money into a Central Valley House race with the hopes of flipping the seat: “GOP leaders plan to put nearly $3 million into the effort to unseat Fresno Democratic Rep. TJ Cox in what promises to be one of the most visible political battles in the state, if not the country.” San Francisco Chronicle
Reformers want California police to stop using a gang database seen as racially biased. The database, known as CalGang, is used by law enforcement agencies across the state to store names and personal details of nearly 90,000 people suspected of being active gang members or possibly associating with them. Los Angeles Times
CRIME AND COURTS
Three men have been indicted on murder charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. Arbery was slain Feb. 23 when Gregory and Travis McMichael, a white father and son, armed themselves and pursued the 25-year-old Black man running in their neighborhood. Los Angeles Times
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Four suburban Southern California counties are primarily responsible for a dangerous rise in California’s coronavirus hospitalizations. The increases in Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties have contributed to an overall rise in hospitalizations recorded statewide. Los Angeles Times
A magnitude-5.8 earthquake struck California’s Owens Valley on Wednesday morning, sending several truck-sized boulders off a mountain and causing one to slam into a tree near the trailhead of Mt. Whitney, the state’s tallest mountain. Los Angeles Times
Disneyland’s reopening will be delayed beyond July 17, Walt Disney Co. announced Wednesday in a statement that did not specify an alternative date. The company alluded to multiple reasons as potentially fueling the delay. Los Angeles Times
Economists say California is unlikely to recover its pre-coronavirus prosperity over the next three years, even as the state slowly rebuilds from a catastrophic economic lockdown. Los Angeles Times
Bakersfield’s famed Noriega Hotel will reopen under new ownership at a new location, with the new owner pledging to keep the Basque legacy intact. “We’re going to try and keep it the same,” he said. “We love it.” Bakersfield Californian
Need to find a subletter in the Bay Area this summer? Good luck. San Francisco Chronicle
A portrait of pandemic pain from food bank lines in San Francisco: Reporters spoke with people at three food banks in the area, most of whom had never sought assistance before and never expected to find themselves lining up for food. Mission Local
How will MLB operate when they stage their 2020 season? Spring — or is it summer? — training is scheduled to start July 1, with the 60-game regular season starting later that month. Here are some rules, protocols and oddities. Los Angeles Times
A poem to start your Thursday: “Amuse-Bouche” by Max Ritvo. Poets.org
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Los Angeles: sunny, 78. San Diego: partly sunny, 69. San Francisco: sunny, 67. San Jose: sunny, 85. Fresno: sunny, 105. Sacramento: sunny, 100. More weather is here.
Today’s California memory comes from Sean Gallagher:
My Pop was a lifelong abalone diver. He plied his trade in the captivating Channel Islands. After I got back from the war, I worked with him for a while. One trip we were coming back from San Miguel with a boatload of abs when we ran into a squall. The skies darkened and the waves grew huge. We lost everything on the deck, including five days’ worth of abalone. It took us six hours to get home. The lights of Santa Barbara and the harbor never looked so beautiful as that night and meant we were finally at safe haven.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
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