Essential California: More coronavirus outbreaks hit L.A. job sites

Coronavirus patients are housed in a makeshift ER unit in a tent at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Jan. 5, and I’m your guest host, Sarah Parvini. I’m filling in for Julia Wick (really, who doesn’t need a break after 2020?), and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County is a major hot spot in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Someone dies of COVID-19 every 10 minutes in L.A. County. On Sunday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said a person is infected with the coronavirus every six seconds. As my colleagues report, the threat has grown even more dire among those who were already at the greatest risk: people who live in crowded housing and those who work in essential businesses, like retail establishments.

Seven Costco warehouses saw clusters of confirmed cases. A Culver City location reported that 71 people tested positive for the virus; others in Van Nuys, Monterey Park and Woodland Hills also reported cases. It’s a similar story at the eight Home Depot and 10 Target locations across the county with active outbreaks. McDonald’s, In-N-Out, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods locations have been hit, too.

The entertainment industry has also been beset, with L.A. County public health officials urging filmmakers to consider pausing work for a few weeks during what they called a “catastrophic surge in COVID cases.”

Actors union SAG-AFTRA and groups representing film and TV producers and advertisers reached an agreement Sunday night to recommend a temporary hold on in-person production in Southern California, per the union.


[Read the story: “From Costco and Target to TV sitcom sets, L.A. workplaces hit with coronavirus outbreaks” in the Los Angeles Times]

The news comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged new funding and efforts aimed at ramping up the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a press conference Monday afternoon, Newsom said 35% of the vaccine doses that have arrived in California have been administered so far — a rate he acknowledged is “not good enough.”

California has received nearly 1.3 million vaccine doses, but only a little more than 454,000 people have received the shots, according to figures Newsom presented.

An additional 611,500 vaccine doses will be shipped here soon. The budget proposal the governor plans to submit to the state Legislature later this week will include about $300 million to support vaccination efforts, he said, in the form of bankrolling backend information technology and logistics needs, as well as a public education campaign.

[Read the story: “California’s vaccine rollout has been too slow, Newsom says, with only 35% of doses administered” in the Los Angeles Times]


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

New workplace laws: Sweeping new laws ramping up this year will force California businesses to offer employees more help to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, including measures on disclosure of workplace infections, healthcare, wage replacement and job-protected leave to care for sick family members. Los Angeles Times

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“They’re coming in younger and coming in sicker”: One hospital’s war with coronavirus. One of the largest hospitals in San Bernardino County, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, ran out of space in its intensive care unit two weeks ago amid the onslaught of COVID-19 cases across Southern California. Medical staff worry that the worst is yet to come. Los Angeles Times

Medical equipment in an intensive care unit at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, Calif.
An ICU at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, Calif.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Ambulance crews are told not to transport patients who have little chance of survival. The situation in L.A. County hospitals is so critical that ambulance crews have been advised to cut back on their use of oxygen and to not bring to hospitals patients who have virtually no chance of survival. At the same time, hospitals are trying to quickly discharge patients who would normally be allowed to stay for continued observation in an attempt to make room for the sickest patients. Los Angeles Times


Despite layoff threat, LAPD officers reject plan to raise $10 million for union war chest. The “Protecting Our Profession” assessment would have collected $22 per paycheck from each officer over a nearly two-year period, with proceeds going toward supporting the union’s political allies, campaigning against public safety cuts and fighting new legislation. The move presents a setback to a union attempting to push against calls to defund the police. Los Angeles Times

Former Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens dies after a lengthy cancer battle. Orange County’s first female sheriff, Hutchens died Monday. She was 66. Orange County Register


“The U.S. isn’t an option anymore”: Why California’s immigrants are heading back to Mexico. Hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump administration’s stringent immigration policies, undocumented people and immigrants working low-wage jobs across California are weighing whether it’s worth staying here. The Guardian


Republican congressional wins in California won’t avert the party’s “death spiral,” analysts say. The California GOP scored a big victory in November, winning back four of seven congressional seats Democrats had flipped two years before. But it’s unlikely that the wins signal a major change in the state’s political dynamic. Los Angeles Times

“We have to do better”: California Democrats say the COVID pandemic highlighted their failures. State lawmakers return to Sacramento Jan 11, and some California Democrats say nine months of pandemic have led to an epiphany: Their party may control the Capitol, but widespread financial pain and inequality persists among their constituents. How do they plan to address the issues of housing and healthcare they’ve noted? Fresno Bee

State Capitol’s first Muslim chaplain: On Jan. 11, Sacramento Imam Mohammad “Yasir” Khan will become the first appointed Muslim chaplain in state legislative history to lead the opening invocation for the California Assembly. Capitol Weekly


President Trump awards the Medal of Freedom to GOP Rep. Devin Nunes. “A White House statement announcing that Nunes would get the medal — the nation’s highest civilian honor — mostly credits the congressman for his efforts defending the President.” CNN


A San Jose hospital worker dies from COVID-19 outbreak possibly tied to an inflatable costume. An employee working the Christmas shift at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center has died after getting COVID-19. The worker was one of at least 43 who tested positive for the virus in an outbreak possibly linked to a staffer who wore an inflatable holiday costume to boost morale. Los Angeles Times


Five caldos in the ’hood to get you through cold weather in L.A. A guide to where to find the hottest, tastiest bowls of warmth in and around East L.A. L.A. Taco

The disappearing history of the Bay Area’s themed Fry’s Electronics stores. Get sentimental about Fry’s. Every store has a theme and elaborate decorations to go along with it. SF Gate

“Long-overdue” shakeout of U.S. malls heats up as foot traffic plummets. The pandemic hasn’t been good for California’s shopping malls, a part of American culture that has been battling for survival as many are redeveloped into offices or refashioned for other uses. Look no further than the Laguna Hills Mall or Westside Pavilion in West L.A. as proof. San Bernardino Sun

Sandra Scully, wife of legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, died of complications from ALS at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, the Dodgers announced. Scully had been battling the disease for several years. She was 76. Los Angeles Times


YouTube has gone from Hollywood pariah to partner. Meet the executive who led the change. The growing ties between Hollywood and YouTube have strengthened during the pandemic, as studios have increasingly relied on YouTube to lure younger audiences to new streaming platforms. Los Angeles Times

[Sign up for the Wide Shot, a new free entertainment business newsletter from Los Angeles Times reporter Ryan Faughnder that will explore what’s going on in Hollywood and what it means for the future.]


Los Angeles: mostly sunny, 69. San Diego: sunny, 65. San Francisco: partly cloudy, 56. San Jose: partly cloudy, 58. Fresno: partly cloudy, 58. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 54. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Carol Davenport:

As a child of the San Gabriel Valley, I found there was no greater rite of passage than to be allowed to “sleep over” somewhere on Colorado Boulevard on Dec. 31 in order to stake a primo spot for the New Year’s Rose Parade. Sadly, this year’s event was virtual, with no silver-clad clomping horses, no Midwestern bands and no eye-popping fresh-flower floats so extravagant they risk breaking down maneuvering the Orange Grove/Colorado turn. And while we thin-blooded Californians found a night in the 40s pretty rough even in our alpine-weight sleeping bags, plenty of truly frigid Easterners would gaze upon the reliably crystal-blue Pasadena skies, parade princesses in bare-shouldered gowns and majorettes in little more than swimsuits, and resolve to make their way to where, as Randy Newman sings, “the sun is shining all the time ... looks like another perfect day.” Next year, roses for real.

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.