Essential California Week in Review: A pandemic flares


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, June 27.

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

Coronavirus cases rise. Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in California and the U.S. hit record-high levels this week, and as of Thursday, the state had seen a 32% increase in hospitalizations of patients with the disease over the past 14 days. Over the last few weeks, California has seen itself go from coronavirus success story to cautionary tale. San Bernardino County officials said local hospitals were beginning to reach “surge capacity.”

Rethinking reopening. Amid the surge in new cases, San Francisco paused its reopening Friday, and state officials recommended that Imperial County, which has become overwhelmed by cases, reimpose a strict stay-at-home order. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state had paused issuing new guidelines to let counties speed up reopening and ease restrictions.

A councilman falls. Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar was arrested Tuesday and charged with racketeering, becoming the most prominent figure charged in a federal probe into corruption at City Hall. He is accused of running a pay-to-play scheme in which real estate developers, including those behind a proposed Arts District high-rise, were shaken down for cash bribes and campaign donations.


A demand for answers. More than a week after a deputy shot and killed 18-year-old Andres Guardado in Gardena, setting off heated demonstrations and demands for an independent investigation, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has yet to fully explain how the shooting occurred and has not interviewed the two patrol deputies involved. But details are emerging about the deputies, including earlier allegations faced by the officer who fatally shot Guardado.

Monuments tumble. Across California, the massive antiracism protests that have followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota have led to the removal of public symbols of slavery and oppression. This month, statues have been toppled, mascots have been changed and a coastal town’s Confederate-linked name has been reconsidered.

Racism in business. Why are Black and Latino people still kept out of the tech industry? A Times survey of tech workers elicited numerous stories of discrimination, from daily microaggressions to feeling targeted by superiors. In the film and TV world, Black writers can get hired but find few paths forward. And Black-owned businesses face a system set up against them.

The Times’ painful reckoning. Two years after the Los Angeles Times reverted to local ownership, one of the country’s largest metropolitan daily newspapers is facing a difficult internal reckoning over glaring deficiencies and missteps regarding race and representation in its pages and on its staff.

A new state budget. Lawmakers sent Newsom a $202.1-billion state budget Friday, a spending plan crafted to erase a historic deficit triggered by the coronavirus crisis that relies heavily on cash reserves and a multiyear payment plan to meet funding obligations to public schools. The budget reflects a pact legislative leaders struck with Newsom, who is expected to sign the bills into law as soon as Monday.

Zero-emission mandate. The California Air Resources Board has approved the nation’s toughest clean-air mandate on trucks, effectively ordering makers of medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks to start selling zero-emission versions in 2024, with 100,000 sold in California by 2030 and 300,000 by 2035.


The game’s afoot. Major League Baseball players agreed to report to training camps at their home stadiums by July 1 in preparation for a pandemic-shortened regular season of 60 games. But less than a week before the Dodgers plan to reconvene, an unspecified number of team employees has tested positive for COVID-19.

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This week’s most clicked stories in Essential California

1. This Echo Park cafe is using greenhouses for socially distant outdoor dining. Eater Los Angeles

2. “Say Thank You Say I’m Sorry,” a poem from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown. New York Times

3. The 15 best places in L.A. to find shade on hot summer days. Los Angeles Times

4. San Jose police seek woman who coughed on baby in social distancing dispute. San Francisco Chronicle


5. “The scariest days of my life”: For a Black journalist, covering civil rights protests has been harrowing. L.A. Taco

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

How the virus won: A chilling visual analysis of how the pandemic spun out of control in the United States. New York Times

How do clowns survive the pandemic? Joke through masks, perform on camera — and disinfect those balloon animals. L.A. Times

How L.A.’s richest neighborhood tried to stop a Black Lives Matter protest. In Bel Air, the negative response backfired on those who didn’t want a protest at all. Curbed LA

Poem of the week: “Looking Out the Window Poem” by Denis Johnson. 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 Laura Blasey for all her help on the Saturday edition.)