Essential California Week in Review: What a week

The wreckage of the farmhouse at Castello di Amorosa, decimated by the Glass fire in Napa County this week.
The farmhouse at Castello di Amorosa, decimated by the Glass fire in Napa County this week. The winery was one of many businesses that suffered losses in the Glass fire.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Congratulations on making it through the week, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Oct. 3.

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

What a week. President Trump was hospitalized with COVID-19 Friday, hours after announcing he had tested positive for the coronavirus — sending shock waves across a country reeling from a pandemic that has killed more than 208,000 Americans and leaving plenty of questions. What’s in store for his health? For the presidential campaign? Where might he have caught the virus, and who else might be infected?

An ugly debate. Earlier in the week, Americans were treated to a debate full of insults and accusations, with President Trump seeking to mobilize his base with conspiracy theories that veered into encouragement for a far-right hate group and pro-Trump “poll watchers” engaging in voter intimidation.

Wine country burns. Perhaps no part of California has felt more threatened by fire in recent years than the vast expanse of wine country and the Redwood Empire north of San Francisco. Here’s how Napa Valley became a fire epicenter as new flames destroy grapes and businesses.

An unhappy place. Disney said Tuesday that it would lay off 28,000 employees at its domestic theme parks division, which includes Disneyland. The company’s Executive Chairman Bob Iger resigned from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s COVID-19 economic task force in an abrupt and public confirmation of the company’s growing tensions with the state.


A long road ahead. Think California’s economy is bouncing back? Despite small gains, recovery will take more than two years, economists say. And some industries might never recover. Hollywood fears movie theaters “may not survive” the pandemic.

Reopening snags. With no Labor Day spike, L.A. County is moving forward with plans to reopen shopping malls, nail salons and playgrounds, plus wineries. But new California rules may slow down future plans: Large counties will not be permitted to reopen further unless they reduce coronavirus infections in the poorest and hardest-hit neighborhoods.

Unequal care. Thousands of patients in L.A. County’s public hospital system endure long and sometimes deadly delays to see medical specialists, a Times investigation has found. Our independent data analysis offers a unique view of non-urgent specialty treatment in one of the country’s largest public health systems.

New laws. Wednesday was the deadline for Newsom to sign bills approved by the Legislature. Here’s what’s coming:

Big race, big money. More than $12 million has been pumped into November’s contentious race for Los Angeles County district attorney, with donors lining up on opposing sides of a stark ideological divide between incumbent Jackie Lacey and challenger George Gascón. Mega-donors and police unions are writing the checks.

An arrest. Nearly three weeks after a gunman opened fire on two deputies in Compton, sheriff’s officials announced that they had a suspect in custody. Prosecutors filed attempted murder charges against Deonte Lee Murray, 36.

Doc is out. The Clippers are cutting ties with coach Doc Rivers after seven seasons and six postseason trips. The official release said the sides reached a “mutual decision,” but people with knowledge of the situation said Rivers was surprised.

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1. California wildfires map. Los Angeles Times

2. How the Great Highway became San Francisco’s most unexpected promenade. San Francisco Chronicle

3. A ranger station in Sequoia National Forest has been wrapped in foil like “a big baked potato” to shield it from a wildfire. Fresno Bee


4. “Yom Kippur Sonnet, with a Line from Lamentations” by Jacqueline Osherow. Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation

5. “My Father in English” by Richard Blanco. The New Yorker

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

In the ring, they were gods. Now the coronavirus is forcing lucha libre stars to sell street food. Los Angeles Times

“Why you should get an autopsy if it’s the last thing you do.” On the slow, troubling death of the autopsy. Elemental

Poem of the week: “A First on TV” by David Ignatow. Google Books

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.)