Essential California: COVID-19 hospitalizations soar

A COVID-19 patient in a hospital bed
A patient being treated in the COVID-19 Positive Unit at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles on July 13.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Nov. 30, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

President Trump’s census fight will be back before the Supreme Court on Monday, when oral arguments are heard in Trump vs. New York. The Trump administration wants to exclude noncitizens from the population count used for determining how many House seats each state gets. Noncitizens have been included in the count since the first census was conducted more than 200 years ago.

Monday is also Cyber Monday, a term made up by marketers to encourage consumers to buy things online on the Monday after Thanksgiving. It’s also a great time to gift your friends and family with Los Angeles Times subscriptions for the holidays.

Tuesday is Giving Tuesday, which is like Cyber Monday, but for charitable giving. If you’re looking for other ways to give back, our editorial board has some suggestions that go beyond the obvious monetary donations — including social enterprise nonprofits to purchase gifts from and ways to volunteer your time.

Tuesday is also the first day of December, at which point there will be a mere 31 days (or 744 hours) left to survive of 2020. You’ve got this.


Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The agency was created under the leadership of a Californian: then-President Nixon.

The latest employment numbers will be released by the federal government on Friday, offering a snapshot of the toll the pandemic continues to take on the national economy.

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

California has set a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, with more people hospitalized with the disease than at any other time since the pandemic began. The numbers are particularly troubling for two reasons: First of all, hospitalization rates tend to reflect cases that were identified two to three weeks earlier — meaning the number of hospitalized Californians will almost certainly continue to increase for the next two to three weeks, given the recent case numbers. Officials have also warned of more virus spread after the long holiday weekend, meaning we could see an even greater surge in new cases ahead.

All of this intensifies concerns about hospitals filling up in the coming weeks, which has been predicted as coronavirus cases surge to unprecedented levels across the state and, particularly, in Los Angeles County. Officials say that if conditions continue to deteriorate, it may be necessary to issue rules that are stricter than those going into effect Monday and that recall the stay-at-home orders imposed in the spring. Los Angeles Times

[See also: “L.A.’s rising COVID-19 deaths point to a horrific December. Can the trend be reversed?” in the Los Angeles Times]

COVID-19 continues to roil California prisons and jails as officials face new criticism. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reports more than 3,600 active cases of the virus, with six facilities across the state having outbreaks with over 100 cases among inmates. Los Angeles Times

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L.A. County’s new restrictions on public and private gatherings are going into effect Monday. Here’s what you need to know. Los Angeles Times

Who has it harder than homeless people when the pandemic closes indoor spaces? The people living on our streets used to be able to go inside public libraries and coffee shops to use bathrooms, to charge cellphones and hop on Wi-Fi, to find some respite from the harshness of living outside. Los Angeles Times

Hollywood’s crisis is different this time. In the 110-year history of the American film industry, never has so much upheaval arrived so quickly and on so many fronts. New York Times

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President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, led by campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield. Associated Press

A new California law seeks to give Native American tribes more standing to recover sacred objects from museums. Assemblyman James Ramos (D-Highland), the first member of a California tribe elected to the state Assembly, introduced the measure. San Francisco Chronicle


What happens next for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals? For the last four years, some federal judges postponed retirement plans rather than give President Trump the opportunity to name more conservatives to the nation’s powerful appeals courts. Many of those judges are expected to step aside when Biden assumes office. But the outlook for an exodus depends on the Georgia Senate races. Los Angeles Times


Along the crumbling Sonoma Coast, an ambitious project paves the way for “managed retreat.” With the realities of climate change pounding at the shoreline, transportation officials are moving a stretch of highway more than 350 feet inland — one of the first major efforts by the state to relocate critical infrastructure far enough from the coast to make room for the next 100 years of sea level rise. Los Angeles Times

At Gleason Beach, remnants of homes and piles of broken seawalls clutter the coastline next to Highway 1.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)


The NFL’s coronavirus crisis engulfs 49ers and other teams: With more stringent restrictions announced in Santa Clara County, the San Francisco 49ers can no longer host their home games scheduled for Dec. 7 and 13 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Los Angeles Times

Life, death and the pandemic greet California’s struggling Main Streets. Oases of calm predictability against the often choppy swells of an urban sea, California’s Main Streets are also replete with the kind of mom-and-pop shops that have been particularly hard hit. Los Angeles Times

Netflix plans to shoot a movie about one of Stockton’s hometown heroes: NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez grew up harvesting crops with his farmworker parents and was rejected from astronaut training 11 times before ultimately making his way the program — and eventually to space. Cap Radio

The rich kids who want to tear down capitalism. Democratic socialist-minded millennial heirs are trying to live their values by getting rid of their money. New York Times

A poem to start your Monday morning: “Hotel” by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated from French by Ron Padgett. Duke Department of English

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Los Angeles: sunny, 79. San Diego: sunny, 73. San Francisco: sunny, 59. San Jose: sunny, 63. Fresno: sunny, 64. Sacramento: sunny, 63. More weather is here.


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

Cookbook author and TV personality Chrissy Teigen (Nov. 30, 1985), Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (Dec. 2, 1977), singer Britney Spears (Dec. 2, 1981), former NBA player Jason Collins and Golden State Warriors assistant coach Jarron Collins (Dec. 2, 1978), Rep. Grace Napolitano (Dec. 4, 1936), Jay-Z (Dec. 4, 1969), author Joan Didion (Dec. 5, 1934) and comedian Margaret Cho (Dec. 5, 1968).

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.