Essential California: New rules and staggering case numbers

Stacked empty chairs in a tent with artificial grass
Empty spaces where outdoor dining had been set up before a renewed ban on the practice took effect last week in Los Angeles County.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Dec. 7, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

The state Legislature returns to work Monday for the beginning of a new two-year session.

Monday is also the 79th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, which launched the United States into World War II. Nearly eight decades after that deadly day, the pandemic is preventing many survivors — including this San Leandro Navy veteran — from attending an annual ceremony remembering those killed in the attack.

This will be a big week for tech IPOs, with DoorDash expected to announce the final price for its initial public offering Tuesday and commence trading on the New York Stock Exchange the following day. AirBnb is expected to announce its IPO price Wednesday and begin trading on the Nasdaq the next day. Both companies are based in San Francisco.

On Thursday, the FDA’s outside vaccine advisory committee will meet to review data on Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine and make its recommendation on approving it for emergency use.

Hanukkah begins on Thursday evening.


Also Thursday: Time’s Person of the Year will be revealed

Friday is the deadline for federal lawmakers to pass a government spending bill to prevent a government shutdown. House and Senate leaders have discussed attaching a short-term extension of some economic aid to that bill. But major issues remain, including how much money to provide and where to spend it.

[See also: “Hopes raised that Congress will agree on a COVID-19 stimulus plan, but obstacles remain” in the Los Angeles Times]

The MLS Cup, Major League Soccer’s annual championship game, will be held Saturday.

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

With nearly 20,000 dead and much of the state back under stay-at-home orders, California faces a treacherous new phase of the pandemic. The stay-at-home rules, which are less stringent than those imposed in the spring, went into effect in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley late Sunday. Implementation of the regional orders was triggered by ICU capacity falling below 15% in both of those regions earlier in the weekend. Facing their own rapidly filling hospitals, five Bay Area counties announced that they would preemptively impose the stay-at-home order rather than waiting for the region to pass the state’s threshold.

[See also: “What you need to know about California’s new stay-at-home order” in the Los Angeles Times]


The new order — which will further pummel the California economy and many small businesses — comes as the state’s coronavirus crisis spirals out of control with a speed that has exceeded health officials’ most dire projections. The order went into effect Sunday as Los Angeles County recorded a staggering new case record, surpassing 10,000 daily cases. Los Angeles Times

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to be the next Health and Human Services secretary, a historic choice that would make the former Los Angeles congressman the first Latino to hold the office, according to a source familiar with the decision. The news is a big deal for a number of reasons — including the fact that Gov. Gavin Newsom now has another high-profile vacancy to fill, along with Kamala Harris’ Senate seat. Los Angeles Times

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
A rising star in California politics, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra has become one of the most important defenders of the Affordable Care Act, leading the fight to preserve the landmark law.
(Associated Press)

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Los Angeles police clashed with protesters outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s official residence on Sunday, leading to one arrest and a skirmish with baton-wielding officers that several elected officials later denounced as police brutality and a violation of demonstrators’ free speech rights. Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s storied Magic Castle is shaken by allegations of sexual misconduct and racism: In interviews with The Times, 12 people accused management, performers and others of abuses. Los Angeles Times


L.A. began 2020 with a clean-air streak but ended with its worst smog in decades. Late spring and summer’s intense heat waves contributed to the worst ozone pollution readings and highest number of bad air days since the mid-1990s. Los Angeles Times

What Hollywood Boulevard looks like when COVID-19 drives the tourists away: Columnist Nita Lelyveld chronicles the changes on L.A.’s iconic tourist strip. Los Angeles Times

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Sen. Kamala Harris is on the cusp of power but has to tread carefully: Appear too ambitious or gain too much attention, and President-elect Joe Biden’s inner circle will start worrying about her political motives. Step off message and the vice president-elect could get frozen out. Los Angeles Times

“Get better soon Rudy, we will carry on!!!” President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has tested positive for the coronavirus. The president confirmed the news in an exclamatory tweet on Sunday afternoon. Associated Press


Orange County’s Bond fire was 50% contained Sunday, with some residents still under evacuation orders. Los Angeles Times



“The Fauci Effect.” Medical schools around the country — including those in the Sacramento area — have seen a big upswing in applications. Sacramento Bee

Orange County merchants and officials say the state stay-at-home order shouldn’t lump them in with L.A. Southern California’s regional order covers Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Los Angeles Times

Need to cancel your holiday rental or travel plans amid COVID-19? Here’s the latest on changes and refunds. Los Angeles Times

A poem to start your week: “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver. Library of Congress

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Los Angeles: cloudy, 75. San Diego: cloudy, 66. San Francisco: sunny, 66. San Jose: sunny, 70. Fresno: sunny, 64. Sacramento: sunny, 72. More weather is here.



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

Former Rep. Duncan Hunter (Dec. 7, 1976), singer Tom Waits (Dec. 7, 1949), former Dodger Yasiel Puig (Dec. 7, 1990), L.A. City Councilman Kevin de León (Dec. 10, 1966), Rep. Mark Takano (Dec. 10, 1960), the late activist Tom Hayden (Dec. 11, 1939), Rep. Anna Eshoo (Dec. 13, 1942), Dick Van Dyke (Dec. 13, 1925) and Taylor Swift (Dec. 13, 1989).

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.