Newsletter: 24 hours in the life of a pandemic

Rina Chavarria heads home from the Farmer John meat processing and packaging plant in Vernon.
At about 2:20 p.m. on Wednesday, Rina Chavarria heads home from her shift at the Farmer John meat processing and packaging plant in Vernon. The company has reported a high number of coronavirus infections among its employees.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Aug. 3, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

Tropical Storm Isaias is projected to make landfall in the Carolinas on Monday and then move across the U.S. mid-Atlantic region late Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs) could bring heavy rains as far north as New England.

Former Deputy Atty. Gen. Sally Yates will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as part of a Republican probe looking into oversight of the FBI’s Russia investigation, led by the committee’s chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham. Per the Hill, the hearing “comes as Senate Republicans ramp up their Obama-era investigations.”

Tired of being a regular person stuck in a house with nowhere to go and fraying ties to the outside world? Maybe you’d like to watch the same situation unfold on TV. On Wednesday night, CBS’s “Big Brother” will return to TV for a new and slightly pandemic-altered season. (Think regular coronavirus testing, pre-filming quarantines and lots of sanitizing.)


The U.S. government’s July employment report will be released Friday, offering another window into the current state of the pandemic-battered U.S. economy. Analysts have differing projections for what we’ll see Friday, but here’s how the New York Times summarizes the outlook: “Most economists expect the numbers to show another increase in payrolls for the third consecutive month (good!), but say that it will be modest — after all, several big states have paused and even reversed their reopenings as the number of virus cases increases (bad). Others think payrolls may have even declined.”

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

The Los Angeles Times sent reporters across L.A. to capture a single day in the life of the pandemic. The resulting dawn-through-darkness portrait shows the wrenching inequities in how the virus has affected the city and its denizens. Los Angeles Times

Coronavirus hospitalizations in Los Angeles and Orange counties have dropped over the past week, which may be evidence that actions taken to limit the virus’ spread are working, public health officials said Sunday. Los Angeles Times

California’s first major wildfire of the year grew to more than 20,000 acres over the weekend, destroying one home, forcing thousands more to be evacuated and sending up a plume of smoke so massive that it generated its own winds. The Apple fire in Riverside County had grown to 20,516 acres and was 5% contained as of 7 p.m. Sunday. Los Angeles Times


Three protesters were arrested Saturday near Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home, where demonstrators called on the city to cancel rents. Los Angeles Times


Questions have arisen about a private party that may have been thrown for Los Angeles County sheriff’s personnel Friday night at a Hollywood bar, even as the number of people sickened and killed by the coronavirus in the county continues to surge. The Sheriff’s Department has denied that the individuals who appeared in a video of the party filmed by an activist group were employees, or that it hosted the event. Los Angeles Times

Lady Hen Couture, a “mother hen” to L.A.’s drag scene, has died at 43. A fixture in Los Angeles clubs who stood 7-foot-2 in heels, she also co-hosted the LGBTQ talk show “Hey Qween!” New York Times

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The White House and Congress are still far from agreement on a new coronavirus relief bill: As millions of Americans drifted toward financial crisis, the two political parties remained deadlocked after weekend talks on another round of economic relief intended to ease the burden of job losses from the worsening coronavirus outbreak. Los Angeles Times

Trump will be renominated without media present, the GOP says. If the decision stands, it will mark the first party nominating convention in modern history to be closed to reporters. (Although the public components of the convention were called off last month, 336 delegates are still scheduled to gather in Charlotte, N.C., on Aug. 24 to formally vote to make Trump the GOP standard-bearer once more.) Los Angeles Times

California unemployment agency workers say internal problems are stalling the claims process. As California grapples with a deluge of requests for unemployment benefits during the pandemic, government workers tasked with processing claims say they are hampered by outdated technology, bureaucratic red tape and a shortage of trained staff. Los Angeles Times



A heatwave that has baked Southern California in recent days is expected to begin easing on Monday, with relief and a noticeable drop in temperatures by the middle of the week. Los Angeles Times

Eight U.S. servicemen are presumed dead after a training accident off the Southern California coast. The search and rescue operation for the servicemen who went missing last week after their landing craft sank in hundreds of feet of water off San Clemente Island during a training exercise has ended, officials announced early Sunday. Los Angeles Times


Manhattan Beach was once home to Black beachgoers, but the city ran them out. Now it faces a reckoning. Los Angeles Times

 Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach
A century ago, Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach was one of the most prominent Black-owned resorts by the sea.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Five great Bay Area picnic spots — and where to pick up food beforehand. East Bay Times

Even Chez Panisse is doing takeout sandwiches now. Alice Waters’ acclaimed Berkeley fine dining restaurant is now trading its signature four-course, $100-plus dinner menus for to-go sandwiches. SF Gate


Ruth Weiss, a poet known as the mother of the Beats, has died at 92. Until the arrival of Diane di Prima in the 1960s, Weiss was often the only woman on the North Beach circuit, and she was the first poet, man or woman, to read to the accompaniment of live jazz, according to a Beat poetry historian. San Francisco Chronicle

A dispatch from Crescent City: “In the age-old tale of man versus nature, Rick and Jessie Shepherd are trying to come out on top against a local herd of elk that annually invade Blueberry Hill Farms.” Del Norte Triplicate

A poem to start your week: “When Giving Is All We Have” by Alberto Ríos.

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Los Angeles: partly sunny, 84. San Diego: sunny, 75. San Francisco: windy, 69. San Jose: partly sunny, 82. Fresno: sunny, 102. Sacramento: sunny, 98. More weather is here.


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

Former royal and recently returned Californian Meghan Markle (Aug. 4, 1981), former President Barack Obama (Aug. 4, 1961), former L.A. Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti (Aug. 5, 1941) and Angels player Mike Trout (Aug. 7, 1991).

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.