Essential California: ‘Stay home as much as possible’

A sign for coronavirus testing at Los Angeles International Airport.
A sign for coronavirus testing at Los Angeles International Airport.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Nov. 18, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

“Stay home as much as possible.” That was Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s implored directive to the people of his city, issued first at a press conference Monday and again via tweet on Tuesday.

[Read the story: “L.A. told to stay at home as much as possible as COVID-19 brings ‘new level of danger’” in the Los Angeles Times]

As cases soar and the city expands its mobile testing programs, Angelenos are being urged to remain home for the next few weeks, except while “accessing essential services, food and outdoor exercise,” according to the mayor.


That same sense of urgency was echoed by L.A. County officials Tuesday, as they announced new limits on hours of operation for some businesses — and warned that more extreme measures could follow. L.A. County’s adjusted coronavirus case rate has nearly doubled over the past week, from 7.6 to 13.7 new cases per 100,000 residents.

[Read the story: “L.A. County cuts hours of some businesses, limits size of outdoor gatherings to battle COVID-19" in the Los Angeles Times]

Starting Friday, restaurants, breweries, wineries and nonessential retail establishments in L.A. County must close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

A curfew or second safer-at-home order could come next.

The county also outlined a course of additional actions to be taken if the situation worsens. The path forward will be based on two metrics: the five-day average of new cases and the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. As of Tuesday night, the county was reporting 2,884 cases as the five-day average and 1,126 hospitalized patients.

If the five-day average of cases reaches 4,000 or daily hospitalizations exceed 1,750, the county plans to shut down outdoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars. Those businesses will only be able to offer pickup and delivery.

Substantially more drastic action will be taken if the five-day average of cases in the county reaches 4,500 or daily hospitalizations exceed 2,000. If we cross that threshold, the county plans to implement another “safer at home” order that would allow only essential workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes for three weeks. A curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. would be mandated, with essential workers exempt.

The notion of a potential curfew was also floated by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, but no specific plans have been proposed on the state level.

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

What does California’s alarming COVID-19 surge mean for schools? What happens at individual districts and schools will vary from county to county as officials grapple with complicated rules, evolving and expensive safety procedures and infection rates in the communities they serve. Los Angeles Times

Orange County officials cry foul following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to move the region into the most restrictive reopening tier. Conservative county leaders have long been at odds with the Democratic governor over the restrictions imposed on businesses, public spaces and activities, but it now appears that clash will stretch into the holiday season as California enters what could be its most challenging chapter of the pandemic. Los Angeles Times

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L.A.'s Police Commission approves stricter rules for some LAPD searches: The new policy requires officers to more carefully document instances in which people give them permission to search them on the street. Los Angeles Times

Frieze L.A. postpones to July 2021 and moves off the Paramount backlot. The art fair will spread out to a variety of smaller venues and landmarks across the city, reducing crowd size in any given destination. Los Angeles Times

For decades, Debbie Reynolds begged Hollywood to help her preserve and exhibit her vast collection of Golden Age costumes. Now the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — after turning up its nose at the late actress’ collection five times — is finally giving it its due. New York Times

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy easily won reelection as House Minority leader. The Bakersfield Republican reportedly received a standing ovation after the vote. Associated Press

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
The reelection cements Kevin McCarthy’s role as a political survivor who brushed back naysayers and parlayed an alliance with President Trump to revive his path to possibly becoming House speaker.
(Associated Press)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reelection vote comes Wednesday. With no challenger in sight, Pelosi should breeze through the House leadership vote. It’s what she faces on the other side that could be the real challenge. Los Angeles Times

The CEOs of Twitter and Facebook faced an onslaught of criticism from Senate Republicans, who accused the tech giants of censoring conservative views and favoring Democrats. Los Angeles Times

The sisterhood of Sonoma County trailblazers: For four Black women leading government offices in Sonoma County, support comes in the form of shared experiences and “sisters Zoom” calls. Santa Rosa Press-Democrat

Ventura County declares racism a public health crisis. The resolution was the result of a months-long collaboration between county officials and community groups. Los Angeles Times


In a stunning reversal, the U.S. dropped drug trafficking charges against Mexico’s former defense chief. The decision flies in the face of long-standing U.S. mistrust of the Mexican justice system and deep skepticism about its ability to prosecute high-level corruption. Los Angeles Times


The next climate battle has just begun. Although the energy politics of the last dozen years were defined by coal — with President Obama working to accelerate its decline, and President Trump trying and failing to revive it — the fiercest battles of the Joe Biden era are likely to revolve around another fossil fuel, natural gas. Los Angeles Times

Klamath River deal revives plan for major dam demolition: An agreement announced Tuesday paves the way for the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, a project that promises to reopen hundreds of miles of waterway along the Oregon-California border to salmon that are critical to tribes but have dwindled to almost nothing in recent years. Associated Press


Do you have wildfire fuel around your rural home? This website will help you find livestock to graze it. Modesto Bee

Twelve Bay Area Christmas tree farms to visit this year, including cut-your-own tree options in Castro Valley and a side of wreath- and ornament-making activities in Pescadero. Mercury News

Behold, “Snowliage” in Yosemite: This is what happens when Technicolor fall foliage meets the first snowstorm of the year. SF Gate

A poem to start your Wednesday: “Morning Exercises” by Nina Cassian, translated from the Romanian by Andrea Deletant and Brenda Walker. The Gladdest Thing

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Los Angeles: sunny, 70. San Diego: sunny, 70. San Francisco: rain, 61. San Jose: decent chance of rain, 63. Fresno: rain, 66. Sacramento: rain, 63, . More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Joey Garcia:

After my family immigrated to the Bay Area from Belize, I developed scoliosis. It was 1966, the summer before third grade. Inspired by “Lilias, Yoga and You” on TV, my parents registered me for yoga classes. Inside the Weekes Park Community Center in Hayward, elders and hippies waited quietly, some dressed in leotards like Lilias. No other children were present. My mother shrieked as a bare-chested young American man entered wearing a turban and extremely short dhoti. “Avert your eyes!” she instructed. I didn’t. Twenty years later, I became a hatha yoga teacher, a useful skill during the pandemic.

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.