Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: New plans for a new wave

The Hollywood Bowl has been transformed into a drive-through food distribution center
The Hollywood Bowl has been transformed into a drive-through food distribution center after the concert season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Aug. 29.

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

Revisiting L.A. history. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the National Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War, when 20,000 people marched through East Los Angeles. The event devolved into conflict between demonstrators and sheriff’s deputies, with hundreds arrested and journalist Ruben Salazar killed by a tear-gas projectile. The Times revisited Salazar’s work and the legacy of the day.

A new reopening blueprint. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday unveiled a plan to rekindle the pandemic-battered economy — a four-tier system in which counties must show consistent success in stemming transmission of the coronavirus before allowing businesses greater flexibility to reopen. It suggests a far more cautious approach than he took in the spring, when quickly easing restrictions led to such a surge that he ordered another statewide shutdown.

Cases drop, but not testing efforts. Even as coronavirus cases in hot spots like L.A. declined, state officials announced efforts to expand testing to as many as a quarter-million a day with a contract with an East Coast medical diagnostics company. And although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened its testing and travel guidance, state officials are sticking with stricter guidelines.

A third wave? As experts worry about a potential “twindemic” of COVID-19 and the flu, they say young people and essential workers may be the drivers if and when a third wave arrives. Colleges are reporting dozens of new cases; at USC, officials are tracking an “alarming increase.”


New unemployment benefits. Millions of Californians who are out of work during the pandemic will soon receive a $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit retroactive to Aug. 1, state officials said Thursday.

More rent protections? Tenants who can’t pay rent because of the pandemic would be protected from eviction through January provided they pay 25% of their rent under a deal lawmakers reached Friday. It’s a compromise with landlord groups but still must clear the high hurdle of two-thirds votes in both chambers by Monday night.

Fighting the fires. Favorable weather conditions gave fire crews a boost this week. But despite progress, the fires had burned nearly 2,000 structures by Wednesday. Authorities also discovered flaws in emergency alert systems across the state that left people uninformed or with outdated information.

Police reform stalls. Three months after the police killing of George Floyd ignited national outrage and filled California streets with protesters, the Legislature is in the final hours of a session that is poised to deliver a much more modest law enforcement reform agenda than many expected.

New reports of violence. Last year, a white Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter allegedly struck and tightened a towel around the head of a Black detainee who was handcuffed on an ambulance gurney, causing the man to yell, “I can’t breathe,” according to internal city records reviewed by The Times.

A crackdown on flavored tobacco. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Friday that outlaws the retail sale of flavored tobacco products in California after condemning the tobacco industry for targeting young people. The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, includes electronic cigarettes and other products with flavors including menthol, apple, cotton candy and gummy bears.

California onstage. Speakers at the Republican National Convention turned the state into a dystopian punchline, portraying it as a dangerous wasteland ruled by liberal politicians oblivious to public safety. California is fighting back and reached a milestone Friday in its feud with President Trump, filing its 100th lawsuit against the administration.

Sentence overturned. The California Supreme Court unanimously overturned the death penalty for Scott Peterson, who was convicted of killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn son in 2002, saying the judge wrongly discharged potential jurors who expressed opposition to the death penalty. The court left in place the guilty verdict.

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1. Readers really enjoyed all the archival stories in Wednesday’s newsletter on the history between Gov. Gavin Newsom, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Sen. Kamala Harris. Revisit the edition here: Los Angeles Times

2. Doggy style: Homes of the pampered pooches of Palm Springs — in pictures. The Guardian

3. “Back Yard” by Carl Sandburg.

4. O.C.’s bishop, a $12-million problem and a secret fight stretching to the Vatican. Los Angeles Times

5. “More conservative than you might think”: Nearly a third of California Latinos support Trump. Sacramento Bee

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Through doll play, an L.A. therapist reminds Black girls of their innocence. The seeds for the doll group were planted in spring 2019, when Renee Curry had just begun giving one-on-one therapy to girls in need of extra support at Crete Academy. Los Angeles Times


Fact checking is the core of nonfiction writing. Why do so many book publishers refuse to do it? Esquire

“Long-haulers” are redefining COVID-19. Without understanding the lingering illness that some patients experience, we can’t understand the pandemic. The Atlantic

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.)