Newsletter: State of uncertainty

President Trump rides past supporters gathered outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
In this image from video, President Trump rides past supporters gathered outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Trump was admitted to the hospital after contracting COVID-19.
(Phillip Crowther / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Oct. 5, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

After the week we’ve just had, it seems preposterous to suggest that anyone might know what shape the next seven days will take. But it is Monday, so here’s your quick look at the as-currently-scheduled week ahead:

The Supreme Court opens a new term on Monday, with healthcare, religion and gay rights on the docket. Supreme Court reporter David G. Savage offers a preview of the cases the court is set to hear over the next few weeks, and the unusual amount of uncertainty the eight justices are facing.

On Tuesday, the Lakers will face off against the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. The Heat won Game 3 to cut into the Lakers’ series lead and make it 2-1.

The debate between Republican Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris will be held Wednesday in Utah.

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced Friday.

Also Friday: Game 5 of the NBA Finals will be played, if needed. Game 6 will be played Sunday, if needed.

Sunday is World Mental Health Day. If you’re having a hard time, you are far from alone: The pandemic has had deleterious effects on mental health across our nation. Here are a few links that may be useful:

And now, here’s the latest on the president’s condition, followed by what’s happening across California:


President Trump, hospitalized with COVID-19, received supplemental oxygen on Saturday — a previously undisclosed episode — and is being treated with a powerful steroid amid indications that his lungs may have suffered damage, the White House physician said Sunday.

[See also: “Q&A: Your questions about Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis answered” in the Los Angeles Times]

As questions continued about the severity of his illness and its progression continued, Trump staged a motorcade drive-by late Sunday afternoon outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and could be seen through the window of his massive black SUV, masked and waving to supporters who gathered outside. The trip drew sharp criticism from medical experts who said he had endangered the Secret Service agents in the car. Los Angeles Times

[See also: “Tracing the path of COVID-19 to — and from — President Trump” in the Los Angeles Times]

More than 4 million acres have burned across California this year — more than double the state’s previous record. The fires this year have burned an area larger than Connecticut and have killed 31 people, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Los Angeles Times

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L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti shifted his support to George Gascón in the contentious L.A. County district attorney’s race. Garcetti was among a number of Southern California politicians who threw their support behind incumbent Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey’s bid for a third term early last year, before Gascón entered the race. Los Angeles Times

Incumbent L.A. Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and challenger George Gascón.
(Los Angeles Times)

Air/Light, a new Southern California literary journal, launches Monday out of USC. Air/Light is edited by David Ulin — a former Times book critic who, among many other accomplishments, edited the best L.A. literary anthology in print. Air/Light Magazine

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Where does the presidential race go from here? My colleague Mark Z. Barabak considers the possibilities. Los Angeles Times

Check your mailbox: 21 million California ballots are on their way to voters. For the first time in California history, a ballot will make its way in the mail this week to every registered voter in the state, a decision made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that will reshape the election experience as well as the strategies of campaigns and candidates. Los Angeles Times


Firefighters battling the Glass fire in Napa and Sonoma counties breathed a small sigh of relief Sunday as winds died down in the North Bay. But they feared hot and dry conditions would complicate the fight. San Francisco Chronicle



A COVID-safe interactive outdoor theater explores California’s fire season and life in 2020. “Fire Season” looks at how our relationships are shaped by our rapidly changing environment — and how we often try to ignore it. Los Angeles Times

The “Proud Boys” hashtag has been taken over by gay love. After the president referenced the far-right hate group in last week’s debate, social media users started flooding the hashtag with photos of gay men celebrating their lives and their love. BuzzFeed

“Buy from your independent bookstore now — or you may never be able to again.” An op-ed from the CEO of the American Booksellers Assn. Los Angeles Times

The best live animal feeds from around the world, including quite a few California-based streams. New York Times

A poem to start your week: “We Lived Happily During the War” by Ilya Kaminsky.

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Los Angeles: sunny, 93. San Diego: sunny, 87. San Francisco: sunny, 71. San Jose: sunny, 84. Fresno: partly sunny, 93. Sacramento: sunny, 91. More weather is here.


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

Author Earl Ofari Hutchinson (Oct. 8, 1945), Netflix co-founder and chief executive Reed Hastings (Oct. 8, 1960), singer Jackson Browne (Oct. 9, 1948), Gov. Gavin Newsom (Oct. 10, 1967) and rapper Cardi B (Oct. 11, 1992).

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.