Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Searching for progress

RonAnn Myers of Hawthorne gets a pedicure from Hue Thi Nguyen and manicure from Tina Nguyen at Posh Nails in Manhattan Beach.
RonAnn Myers of Hawthorne receives a pedicure from Hue Thi Nguyen, left, and a manicure from Tina Nguyen (no relation), right, Wednesday in front of Posh Nails in Manhattan Beach.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Saturday, Aug. 1.

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

More macabre milestones. As of Wednesday, all California counties now have coronavirus cases, as Modoc County confirmed its first two. On Thursday, the state surpassed 9,000 deaths. And on Friday, it surpassed 500,000 confirmed cases and confirmed its first juvenile fatality from COVID-19, as health experts searched for signs of progress.

Unemployment frustrations boil over. With 1 million unemployment claims still unpaid, Gov. Gavin Newsom promised Wednesday to fix the issues with the system, streamline the process and eliminate the process by the end of September. But lawmakers and jobless Californians say that’s not soon enough. California is also considering creating its own $600 weekly unemployment benefit as Washington remains at an impasse on renewing the federal one.

Central Valley surge. Saying that Latinos in the Central Valley are being disproportionately harmed by the spread of COVID-19, Newsom planned to send “strike teams” to eight counties and asked the Legislature to approve $52 million to improve testing, tracing and isolation protocols there.

Outdoors, but not without risk. Newsom has ordered the reclosure of churches in much of the state amid a worrying resurgence of new coronavirus cases, pushing congregations into public spaces. But even outdoors, health officials say, services are posing a risk to their communities.

School reopening controversy. Parents, schools and teachers are divided over how to proceed this fall. In L.A. County, uncertainty over how online teaching will work has put teachers and district officials at odds. But in Orange County, the board of education is pushing hard to fully reopen, with plans to sue the governor.

Problems for police reform. The LAPD plans to expand its community policing program and has appointed a Black woman deputy chief. Still, problems persist: Prosecutors have begun to review hundreds of criminal cases involving three officers charged earlier this month with falsifying evidence. And on Friday, the department faced new scrutiny as an officer’s body-camera footage showed a protester with his hands up being shot in the head with a tactical round.


A dream deferred. The Trump administration will deny new DACA applications for so-called “Dreamer” immigrants and cut renewals to one year from two years. The move has dire consequences for Californians like Beatriz Basurto, who struggled with resenting her U.S.-born siblings after missing her chance to apply the first time.

City Hall corruption probe widens. Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, who was arrested and charged with racketeering last month, now faces additional charges, including bribery and money laundering. And what will come of the real estate development at the center of it all? It’s not clear.

Wigs and dad jokes. Months into quarantine, Latino dads are using TikTok to connect with their children. And they’re finding devoted fans.

New business plan. The swanky Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, a famed hangout for celebrities and host to bashes for the rich and beautiful, will be converted into a members-only hotel over the next year.

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1. They defied health rules for a storybook San Francisco wedding. The virus didn’t spare them. San Francisco Chronicle

2. These are a few of my favorite dogs. Ukiah Daily Journal

3. Vehicle access shut to Yankee Jim’s swimming hole in Placer County due to overcrowding. Santa Rosa Press-Democrat

4. “Watchmen” leads 2020 Emmy nominations; “Mrs. Maisel” and “Ozark” also score big. Los Angeles Times

5. The Los Angeles River as you’ve never seen it — in augmented reality. Los Angeles Times


ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Meet Theo, a homeless 7-year-old in Berkeley. All he wants is his own room and a kitchen where he can bake chocolate cake. He dreams of it while he sleeps in tents in parks and under the freeway. San Francisco Chronicle

Read Barack Obama’s eulogy for John Lewis. The former president’s speech was both a stirring portrait of a life and a call to action. The Atlantic

How to cheat the bestseller list. Buying your way into the book charts is more widespread than one might think. The Critic

They made a home under L.A.’s freeways. But soon they could be forced to move. A judge ordered officials to provide space in shelters or alternative housing for homeless residents living near freeways. But where will they go? Los Angeles Times

Poem of the week: “All My Friends Are Finding New Beliefs” by Christian Wiman. 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 Laura Blasey for all her help on the Saturday edition.)