California has recorded a nearly 30% increase in coronavirus cases over the last week

Student registered nurse Camille Endicio prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination syringes in Los Angeles.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, May 3. I’m Justin Ray.

The rise in COVID-19 cases shows that the pandemic hasn’t ended.

California has recorded a nearly 30% increase in coronavirus cases over the last week. The rise coincides with the state’s removal of COVID restrictions. It is unclear how much higher the cases will rise, and whether the state government will reimpose restrictions.

“California has been recording about 5,600 coronavirus cases a day over the last week, its highest case rate since early March. California’s latest per capita case rate — 100 cases a week for every 100,000 residents — is just enough to meet the threshold for a high rate of coronavirus transmission,” The Times reported on Monday.

According to The Times’ COVID tracker, San Mateo County has California’s highest coronavirus case rate in the state. It is currently seeing 222 cases a week for every 100,000 residents. San Francisco is second, with a rate of 220, however that may be due to their high testing rate.


Coronavirus-positive hospitalizations have risen 7% in the last week. They remain among the lowest levels of the pandemic, however, the state’s COVID Assessment Tool suggests hospitalizations will go up by an additional 65% by Memorial Day. Its forecast also shows that the number of COVID-19 patients needing intensive care may double by then.

L.A. County’s coronavirus case rate is 127 per every 100,000 residents. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has said that L.A. County is prepared to reinstitute a universal mask order in indoor public settings should conditions worsen so much that the CDC designates L.A. County as having a high COVID-19 Community Level, which means the CDC once again recommends the practice.

Other COVID headlines:

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

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California officials spoke out against a purported draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that seemed to signal that the nation’s highest court is poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade — a move that would allow states to outlaw abortion. The draft opinion circulated among Supreme Court justices suggests that earlier this year a majority of them had thrown support behind overturning Roe vs. Wade, Politico reported. Late last year, California clinics and their supporters in the state Legislature laid out their plans to make the Golden State a “sanctuary” for those seeking reproductive care, should the high court overturn the 1973 decision. On Monday night, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced they will ask voters in November to place permanent protections for the procedure in the California Constitution. Los Angeles Times



Can you be a NIMBY and a Christian? Ex-Motown singer struggles with a new homeless shelter. “The Bible was always Larry S. Buford’s guiding light, but it put the one-time Motown singer-songwriter in a dilemma, when he found himself defending his South Los Angeles neighborhood from encroaching development,” Doug Smith writes. Los Angeles Times

Former Motown singer-songwriter Larry Buford in the living room of his home.
Former Motown singer-songwriter Larry Buford stands in the living room of his home on April 19.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

In less than a month, residents in large portions of Southern California will be under unprecedented water restrictions due to a worsening drought that has severely limited water supplies. How much water do we need to conserve and how do officials expect us to get there? Here’s everything you need to know. Los Angeles Times

Scott Moses waters flowers in his front yard in South Pasadena.
Scott Moses waters flowers in his front yard in South Pasadena on April 30.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

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Nine months after adoption, L.A.’s anti-camping law is a patchwork of compliance. Back in July, the City Council adopted a law that allowed council members to declare certain areas as off limits to homeless camps. In locations around L.A., permanent metal signs have been posted to notify unhoused people that they have to leave by a certain date. But tents and makeshift shelters remain at many of the sites even weeks or months past the deadlines. Los Angeles Times

A homeless man is shown in the background near a sign for a new ordinance in Los Angeles.
Signs in downtown Los Angeles warn of the camping ban.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is once again set to take place. The Noceti Group, which also hosts the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival, announced on social media that it would help bring back the event that annually draws hundreds of thousands of garlic zealots. In April, a festival board director announced that the event was canceled indefinitely due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the city’s insurance requirements. ABC 10


Bias, far-right sympathies among California law enforcement going unchecked, audit finds. A state audit of five law enforcement agencies in California found bias among officers toward people of color, immigrants, women and LGBTQ people. It also found traces of support for far-right extremist organizations such as the Proud Boys and Three Percenters. Los Angeles Times

A Sydney man admitted to police that he killed a Los Angeles-born mathematician by pushing the 27-year-old off a cliff. Scott White, 51, will be sentenced Tuesday for the 1988 death of Scott Johnson. He faces life in prison. Los Angeles Times

Kathy Boudin, who served more than two decades behind bars for her role in a fatal 1981 armored truck robbery, has died at age 78. Boudin, who is the mother of San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin, died of cancer Sunday surrounded by family, including her life partner, David Gilbert, who was released from prison last year for his own role in the infamous Brink’s armored truck robbery. Associated Press

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Learn about the wildlife biologist who first discovered mountain lion P-22 in LA’s Griffith Park. Miguel Ordeñana was looking at photos from a motion-activated camera in the park when he first saw him. “Ordeñana had no idea that P-22 would impact his life the way he has, challenging his understanding of urban nature and science education. Ordeñana’s influence in traditional wildlife biology research would expand, and he would become an important advocate for a more inclusive community science,” Ruxandra Guidi writes. High Country News


Questions remain after a man and a child died when a truck plunged into the Pacific Ocean at Pescadero State Beach. Ipolito “Poli” Anaya, 39, died late last week when the pickup barreled off a 30-foot cliff into the ocean. The child has not yet been identified by authorities. A third person may have also been in the vehicle at the time at the crash, and the highway patrol has been working with the U.S. Coast Guard to search the area for that person. Press Democrat

Mariachi classes connect CSUN students to Mexican culture. I’m a bit late to this story, but still I wanted to share it with you all: The music department at Cal State Northridge has been offering students classes to learn how to play mariachi music through introductory courses for undergraduate and graduate students. But the classes also have a deeper purpose: connecting students to their cultural heritage. Daily Sundial

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Los Angeles: Overcast 72 San Diego: Overcast 64 San Francisco: Sunny 66 San Jose: Sunny 80 Fresno: Sunny 83 Sacramento: Sunny 85


Today’s California memory is from Helga Buehner:

When we moved from New York to California in 1972 we drove down 101 towards San Diego. We were in the right lane. Suddenly the freeway split and the 5 was on our left. My husband crossed the painted V in the last minute. Lo and behold we had a motorcycle police officer behind us. He was extremely friendly and polite and asked questions about us. My husband was sure no ticket would be given. But, with a charming smile and wishing us a safe trip, he handed a ticket to my husband. In spite of the ticket, we felt welcome to California.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)


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