Essential California: Life in the red tier

Members wait in a gym check in line wearing masks
Members wait to be checked in at a 24 Hour Fitness gym in San Francisco.
(Josh Edelson / For The Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, March 8, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead.

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer seen kneeling for about nine minutes on George Floyd’s neck before he died last spring, could start on Monday. As my colleague Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports from Minnesota, the court proceedings are due to begin Monday but could be delayed after an appellate court ruling Friday on the murder charges brought against Chauvin, who faces up to four decades in prison.

[Read more: “Minneapolis on edge as the first officer charged in killing of George Floyd goes on trial” in the Los Angeles Times]

Gov. Gavin Newsom delivers his State of the State address at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The governor will deliver the virtual address from L.A. County.


Also Tuesday: L.A.’s own Dr. Jerry Abraham will offer U.S. senators a ground-level perspective on vaccine distribution in Los Angeles when he testifies during a committee hearing examining the country’s COVID-19 response. Abraham directs the vaccine site at Kedren Community Health Center in South Los Angeles.

First Lady Jill Biden is expected to be in California on Wednesday, with a visit to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

Thursday is March 11, the anniversary of the day everything changed in 2020. Here’s the newsletter that you woke up to that Wednesday, and here’s what we sent out the following day — after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, the NBA suspended its season and Tom Hanks announced that he had COVID-19.

The 63rd Grammy Awards are on Sunday. Here’s who’s performing.

Also Sunday: Daylight Saving Time begins.

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

Life in the red tier: Foreign as it might sound to those of us in Los Angeles (which remains in the state’s most-restrictive purple tier), people in other parts of the state are dining indoors and working out inside gyms. Eighteen counties — including Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, El Dorado, Napa, Lassen and Modoc — have progressed out of the purple tier. Our photographers traveled the state to capture what that looks like. Los Angeles Times


The Senate passed a $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief package Saturday, scaling back unemployment benefits approved by the House and narrowing the number of Americans eligible to receive $1,400 payments, in an effort to mollify centrist Democrats and get a bill to President Biden as early as next week. The measure next moves back to the House, which is expected to approve the Senate changes this week and send the bill to the president before March 14, when some current unemployment benefits are set to expire. Los Angeles Times

[See also: “Who gets a $1,400 check, and other ways the COVID-19 relief bill may affect your pocketbook” in the Los Angeles Times]

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a bombshell interview. The couple, who are expecting their second child this summer, spoke about how a lack of support from the royal family — particularly for Meghan as a woman of color in an overwhelmingly white institution — combined with the relentless attacks of the British tabloid press brought about their decision to step away from their royal roles and forge a new path in California. Meghan said while she was pregnant with their son Archie, the palace raised “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he’s born” and refused to help when she wanted to seek treatment during a mental health crisis. Los Angeles Times

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A 20-year-old climate activist picked up trash every single day in Eaton Canyon for a year and a half. After the 589th day, he tweeted “I AM DONE!!! I DID IT!!!” and said the popular hiking trail was now “free of municipal waste.” LAist

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Two San Diego pastors are lost to the coronavirus, and the grief extends across the border. Pastors Taurino and Silvia Rivera had four biological sons, and through their ministry at Fe Esperanza Y Amor church, they left behind many more who considered them parents. San Diego Union-Tribune


Many Californians have just three days of paid sick leave. What if they get COVID-19? The expiration of federal and state sick leave laws on Jan. 1 has left millions of Californians facing down the pandemic with just three days of paid time off. Los Angeles Times

Counties are increasingly pushing back against the state’s new vaccination program run by Blue Shield of California. Los Angeles County officials are the latest to ask for the ability to opt out amid a bipartisan chorus of concern. Los Angeles Times


Many Northern California Catholic schools, including high schools, have opened campuses five days a week, with few virus outbreaks. Science and discipline have helped. Los Angeles Times

What caused last year’s destructive Creek fire? The Fresno Bee editorial board says the Forest Service’s silence is “dereliction of duty.” Fresno Bee


These migrant dead haunt California, like an Edgar Allan Poe horror story.” Columnist Gustavo Arellano writes that monuments to the dead stand all over California, but next to none exist for Latino migrants. Los Angeles Times

A man tapes a sign to homemade crosses next to a rural road with trucks and police cars behind him
Hugo Chavez, an activist with the Coalition for Human Immigration Rights, places crosses at the scene in Holtville, Calif., where an SUV carrying 25 people collided with a semi-truck, killing 13.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Kamala Harris’ Berkeley childhood home may gain historic landmark status. As a child, Harris lived in the top story of the pale-yellow, two-story duplex in Berkeley. San Francisco Chronicle

A poem to start your week: “Nostos” by Louise Glück. A Poem a Day

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Los Angeles: partly sunny, 63. San Diego: partly sunny, 63. San Francisco: maybe a little rain, 55. San Jose: partly sunny, 61. Fresno: partly sunny, 64. Sacramento: sunny, 57.


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

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (March 8, 1941), musician Bad Bunny (March 10, 1994), chef Nobu Matsuhisa (March 10, 1949), actor-activist Janet Mock (March 10, 1983), L.A. Dist. Atty. George Gascón (March 12, 1954), record producer and artist Quincy Jones (March 14, 1933) and NBA star Steph Curry (March 14, 1988).

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.