Newsletter: Early testing failures, lasting effects

A medical professional carries a car tag used to identify symptoms at a drive-through coronavirus testing place in March.
A medical professional carries a car tag used to identify symptoms at a drive-through coronavirus testing place at St. Jude Heritage Medical Group in Yorba Linda in March.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, July 13, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

Tuesday is the release day for a much-hyped (and much-litigated) tell-all book by President Trump’s niece. The Times obtained an early copy of her 240-page book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” if you need a quick rundown of the revelations inside.

Wednesday is tax day, or at least pandemic tax day. In late March, the Treasury Department extended the usual April 15 deadline to July 15.

Also Wednesday: NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock launches nationally, because what the world needs now is another streaming service.

On Friday and Saturday, Europe’s leaders will gather for the first time since the start of pandemic lockdowns in Brussels for a special EU summit on coronavirus recovery plans.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

The death toll from the coronavirus in California soared above 7,000 this weekend as the infection rate continued to worsen. The rate at which coronavirus test results are coming back positive in California over the previous seven days has hit 7.97%. That’s the highest number since April — a continuing sign that the coronavirus is spreading throughout the state. Hospitalizations have also spiked, and in the last week so have deaths.


Outside California, cases also continued to surge in numerous other states. On Sunday, officials in Florida reported the largest single-day increase in positive COVID-19 test results in any one state since the beginning of the pandemic. The skyrocketing number of Florida cases surpassed the previous single-day state case record. But there was one small glimmer of hope amid so much grim pandemic news. Over the weekend, New York City — which had been the national epicenter of the outbreak in the spring — recorded its first day since the pandemic began with no coronavirus-related deaths. Los Angeles Times

The inside story of how California failed mass coronavirus testing. Testing people for the coronavirus was the first huge challenge for health officials during the pandemic. California found itself unprepared, overwhelmed and constantly lagging, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found. Those early failures left California far behind in the fight against the coronavirus, and it has struggled to keep up — even as cases surge today and tests remain in short supply. Los Angeles Times


Applications for the city’s emergency renters relief program open at 8 a.m. Monday. The application process for the program — which allocates $103 million to provide a rent subsidy for low-income tenants in the city of L.A. who are unable to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic — will be open for five days. Los Angeles Daily News

An LAPD officer accused of falsifying gang records faced earlier credibility questions but stayed on his elite unit. The officer is one of more than 20 members of the vaunted LAPD Metropolitan Division under investigation amid suspicions that officers falsified field interview cards from traffic stops and entered incorrect information in an effort to boost stop statistics. Los Angeles Times

A coronavirus outbreak has hit Los Angeles Apparel with more than 300 infections and four employee deaths. When the coronavirus began rapidly spreading in the spring, Dov Charney’s Los Angeles Apparel was one of many fashion brands that altered operations to make reusable masks. Los Angeles Times

A Black woman sat on the grass outside an L.A. church. The cold welcome she recorded speaks volumes. Los Angeles Times

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They worked in the U.S. on visas. But coronavirus and Trump’s new order split these Indian families apart. Los Angeles Times

Poorva Dixit and her family pose for a photo in San Francisco
Poorva Dixit and her family pose for a photo in San Francisco, where she and her husband worked before being separated by the president’s executive order on visas.
(Poorva Dixit)


Dr. Anthony Fauci has been sidelined by the White House as he steps up blunt talk on the pandemic. The country’s top infectious diseases expert has seen some of his planned TV appearances scuttled and has been largely kept out of the Oval Office for more than a month even as coronavirus infections surge in large swaths of the country. Washington Post


Hospital staffing is an emerging concern in Kern’s COVID-19 effort. For a 12-hour period last weekend, ambulance traffic had to be diverted away from two hospital facilities after they reached a point where they couldn’t take any more patients because of staffing. Bakersfield Californian


The San Gabriel Mission — a symbol of faith, history and oppression — was badly damaged by a fire. The 249-year-old mission is sacred ground for the Catholic faithful but also a symbol of a system that enslaved and terrorized indigenous peoples. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Los Angeles Times

Hedge fund Chatham Asset Management plans to buy newspaper publisher McClatchy out of bankruptcy. McClatchy, one of the largest newspaper companies in the U.S., owns 30 papers, including the Sacramento, Modesto and Fresno Bees, the Merced Sun-Star and the San Luis Obispo Tribune here in California. Associated Press

A viral video that captured a white couple defacing a Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez has thrust this close-knit East Bay town into the center of the anti-racism movement. San Francisco Chronicle

The search for Naya Rivera continues as teams double-check cabins around Lake Piru. Authorities are continuing to look for the body of the “Glee” actress, who is believed to have drowned Wednesday afternoon while boating with her young son on Lake Piru in Ventura County. Los Angeles Times

Many Napa Valley wineries are scrambling for workers as grape harvest season approaches. Visa freezes and pandemic-related travel impacts have disrupted a significant portion of the harvest intern workforce for Napa Valley’s wineries. Napa Valley Register

A poem to start your week: “Our Valley” by Philip Levine.

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Los Angeles: sunny, 85. San Diego: sunny, 76. San Francisco: sunny, 64. San Jose: sunny, 82. Fresno: sunny, 105. Sacramento: sunny, 94. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Filmmaker Cameron Crowe (July 13, 1957), actor-comedian Cheech Marin (July 13, 1946), Huffington Post co-founder and onetime gubernatorial candidate Arianna Huffington (July 15, 1950), musician Linda Ronstadt (July 15, 1946), Rep. Barbara Lee (July 16, 1946) and Rep. T.J. Cox (July 18, 1963).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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.