Essential California Week in Review: A new surge

Walk-ins wait for testing in LA County
Walk-ins wait for coronavirus testing Wednesday at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, July 11.

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

“Young invincibles.” The California coronavirus outlook worsened over the Fourth of July weekend, and more counties were added to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 watch list. On Monday, Newsom blamed younger people who might believe “they are invincible” but nonetheless are becoming sick from COVID-19.

Mask up, or else. It’s been several weeks since Newsom ordered Californians to wear face coverings while in public settings. But with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations spiking, some communities are now saying they will fine people who violate the rules.

Testing limitations return. As the demand for coronavirus testing exceeds the supply in Los Angeles County, officials are shifting their recommendations on who should get tested. They say the limited availability is caused not by too little funding or other resources but by too great a demand.

Will schools reopen? Despite making plans to reopen, Los Angeles County’s top public health official has said all public and private schools must prepare for students to continue learning entirely from home. Parents statewide are stressed and divided over the question, and teachers argue it’s not safe to reopen classrooms yet.

Tackling prison outbreaks. As many as 8,000 incarcerated people could be released early, more than half of them by the end of this month, in an effort to stop coronavirus outbreaks raging in California’s prisons, top Newsom advisors said Friday. On Monday, the system’s top medical officer was ousted amid criticism of transfers of people between prisons.

[See also: “How the San Quentin coronavirus outbreak exploded” in the Essential California newsletter]

Hate crimes are up. Incidents directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are exploding this year, according to advocates pushing for Newsom to boost funding for programs fighting bias and add a cultural representative to his new COVID-19 task force.

Protesters find a new tactic. Since the pandemic began, a growing number of L.A. public officials have seen their homes become the targets of protesters — some on foot, others in cars — calling for action on renters’ rights, protections for the homeless and other issues related to the pandemic’s economic fallout.

Autopsy results. Andres Guardado was shot five times in the back by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, the coroner’s official autopsy report found, drawing the same conclusions as an independent autopsy. The coroner’s office released the document despite a “security hold” by the Sheriff’s Department and amid growing demands for answers.


Connection through protests. A group of Latina women from Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights and East L.A. who have lost their sons to police violence have found solace and a sense of collective voice in each other. “We support one another like family,” one says.

Hanging probe ends. After two men were found hanging from trees in the Antelope Valley, deep distrust of the official police reports led to new investigations. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators have concluded again that Robert Fuller died by suicide and not foul play.

UC’s new president. Michael V. Drake, a national champion for access and equity who previously headed the Ohio State University and UC Irvine, was announced as the new president of the University of California, the first Black leader in the system’s 152-year history.

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This week’s most clicked stories in Essential California

1. “Dad’s been shot”: Harrowing story of a Danville family’s tragic off-roading trip. San Francisco Chronicle

2. COVID-19 and blood type: What’s the link? Los Angeles Times

3. “Why Log Truck Drivers Rise Earlier Than Students of Zen” by Gary Snyder. Ronnow Poetry

4. USC must “reckon with its history of white supremacy” in its namesake sites, some say. Los Angeles Times

5. California has five of the 20 most gentrified U.S. cities, topped by San Francisco-Oakland, study shows. Here’s the list. USA Today


ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

A trans Christian minister came out in a sermon. Now, she’s bracing for what comes next. Vox

An L.A. ice cream vendor adapts to life in a COVID-19 world. For the past 16 years, Mauro Rios Parra has sold fruit bars and ice cream on the streets of Pico-Union, one of L.A.’s densest neighborhoods with one of its highest death rates from COVID-19. My colleague Dorany Pineda tells Parra’s story beautifully in this piece. Los Angeles Times

Adopted at birth, Rebecca Trimble grew up thinking she was a U.S. citizen. But what she thought was a minor mix-up in her paperwork was something else entirely. Lacking legal status, she is now at risk of deportation to a country where she doesn’t speak the native language and “literally knows zero people.” New York Times

Poem of the week: “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day” by Delmore Schwartz. 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 Diya Chacko for all her help on the Saturday edition.)