Coronavirus Today: An Emmys fit for a pandemic

Good evening. I’m Faith E. Pinho, and it’s Friday, Sept. 18. Here’s the latest on what’s happening with the coronavirus, plus ways to spend your weekend and a look at some of the week’s best stories.

The Emmys this Sunday will be Hollywood’s first major awards show of the COVID-19 era, and perhaps it’s a fitting one to start with since we’ve been stuck at home bingeing on television. The Times has compiled everything you need to know, including a complete list of nominees, a closer look at the shows you should catch up on and an ode to those that should have made it. Be sure to check out columnist Glenn Whipp’s predictions on who will win and this behind-the-scenes look at how the show’s history-making producer plans to pull it all together. The real winner deserves to be TV itself for “soldiering forward with prestige programming, total mindless junk and everything in between,” critic Lorraine Ali writes. Here’s how to tune in.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has gone back to recommending coronavirus testing for anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person, reversing its controversial guidance last month that said people who didn’t feel sick didn’t need to get tested. The CDC never explained the reason for that change, which some experts suggested had been made under pressure from the Trump administration, but said it was returning to its previous advice “due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.”

California could have new emergency statewide COVID-19 workplace safety rules in a matter of months, after a unanimous vote by the board that sets standards enforced by Cal/OSHA jump-started a fast-tracked process. Employers already must protect healthcare employees against the transmission of airborne diseases, but current laws don’t explicitly cover other essential workers who risk contracting the virus on the job. Whatever rules the board hashes out could affect a growing number of workers. But the state has regained only one out of three jobs it has lost since the pandemic began, and most are for temporary census workers.

University of California students should expect classes to remain mostly online beyond the fall. Officials have yet to make a final decision, but they are closely watching California’s transmission rates and what happens at its nine undergraduate campuses. UC Berkeley — which, along with UC Merced, has started its fall term already — reported 61 new coronavirus cases in the first three weeks of class. So far, the pandemic has cost the UC system $2.2 billion, the system’s chief financial officer says.

In San Francisco, restaurant-goers may be able to dine indoors by the end of the month. Although San Francisco County is in the red tier, the city has not let restaurants resume any indoor operations. Once it moves into the even-less-restrictive orange tier, officials say they’ll let restaurants reopen indoors as long as they don’t exceed 25% capacity, up to 100 people.

Finally, some good news for anybody traveling to New York, New Jersey or Connecticut: You’ll no longer be required to quarantine for two weeks when you arrive. If you’re heading to Hawaii, you can skip the quarantine if you’ve had a negative coronavirus test result in the past 72 hours. And if you’re looking forward to an eventual proper vacation, rejoice in this: The travel industry has figured out that it’ll be saved by people traveling not for work but for pleasure — and that means more customer-friendly prices and policies. In the meantime, although the pandemic has denied us the psychological benefits of getting excited about an upcoming trip, there are ways to re-create that kind of anticipation.

By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 2:53 p.m. PDT Friday:

More than 777,600 confirmed cases and more than 14,800 deaths.
(Los Angeles Times Graphics)

Track the latest numbers and how they break down in California with our graphics.

See the current status of California’s reopening, county by county, with our tracker.

A map of California showing the tiers to which counties have been assigned based on their local level of coronavirus risk.

The tiers to which California counties are assigned based on coronavirus risk level. These determine what can reopen.

What to read this weekend

Refrigerators stocked with free food have mushroomed during the pandemic, part of a growing movement of mutual aid as people try to help their neighbors survive the economic crisis. But where do you plug them in? One recent USC graduate is addressing this problem by developing what may be L.A.'s first community solar-powered fridge: “We’re essentially building an off-grid house that just happens to be very small and has a fridge inside of it,” she explained.

Speaking of mushrooms, the post-COVID office of the future looks like a hallucinogenic cluster of toadstools — at least, it might if one coworking company has its way. The pandemic hasn’t been kind to the once-hot idea of coworking spaces, where start-ups and independent workers pile into communal offices to share overhead, printers and ventilation systems. But Second Home’s L.A. location has an unusual design — 60 individual garden studios — that enabled it to stay open when other office buildings were forced to close.

An overhead view of the Second Home garden coworking studios shows a series of elliptical yellow roofs surrounded by plants
The garden studios at Second Home, a coworking space in Hollywood. Each is individually ventilated and exits onto a garden.
(Iwan Baan)

Movie theaters came back for “Tenet.” When will movies come back for theaters? Cinemas have reopened in much of the country, but luring patrons back remains a challenge — especially now that the box office disappointment of would-be blockbuster “Tenet” has led studios to delay the release of other big films. The lack of new movies is a big problem for already-struggling theaters, and industry analysts say the key is to get them open again in top markets like New York and L.A.

Razed and exposed by the pandemic, the American restaurant industry is due for a reckoning, critic Bill Addison writes. From its high-pressure workplaces to its reliance on low wages and tips, there’s plenty that needs to change, he argues. “If one can find any positivity in 2020, it’s this: The inherent flaws in the American restaurant industry model (and how the media covers it) have been decried so widely and loudly this year that it seems all but impossible for its players to go back to ‘business as normal.’”

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What to do this weekend

Get outside, or at least pretend. Go to Descanso Gardens to hear the forest sing, or get online to hear the birds while taking a virtual bird walk in the Angeles National Forest, Mary Forgione suggests in her newsletter The Wild. Even though the pandemic, the wildfires and the poor air quality have limited your adventures, there’s still plenty you can do in Southern California, Rachel Schnalzer writes in her Escapes newsletter.

Watch something great. Our weekend culture watch list includes a star-studded live reading of a classic ’80s comedy and two very different celebrations of Shakespeare. And in his Indie Focus newsletter, Mark Olsen delves into three new films and the biggest hits of the fall festivals.

Eat something great. If you’re cooking for Rosh Hashanah, our Food team has a feast’s worth of recipes, including three kinds of challah and three mouthwatering apple desserts. If you’re not observing the holiday and you’re feeling lazy, consult our ultimate L.A. take-out and delivery guide.

Go online. Here’s The Times’ guide to the internet for when you’re looking for information on self-care, feel like learning something new or interesting, or want to expand your entertainment horizons.


— For general safety, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (here’s a super-fun how-to video). Stop touching your face, and keep your phone clean. Practice social distancing, maintaining a six-foot radius of personal space in public. And wear a mask if you leave home. Here’s how to do it right.
— Watch for symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell. If you’re worried you might be infected, call your doctor or urgent care clinic before going there.
— Need a COVID-19 test? Here’s how to receive a free test if you’re in L.A. County. And here’s a map of testing sites across California.
— Here’s how to care for someone with COVID-19, from monitoring their symptoms to preventing the virus’ spread.
— If your job has been affected by the pandemic, here’s how to file for unemployment.
— Here are some free resources for restaurant workers and entertainment industry professionals having trouble making ends meet.
— Advice for helping kids navigate pandemic life includes being honest about uncertainties, acknowledging their feelings and sticking to a routine. Here’s guidance from the CDC.
— In need of mental health services? Here are resources for coping during the crisis from the CDC and the L.A. County Department of Mental Health. L.A. County residents can also call (800) 854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741.
— For domestic violence victims, the pandemic can pose a “worst-case scenario,” advocates say. If you or someone you know is experiencing such abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or L.A. County’s hotline at 1-800-978-3600. Here are more ways to get help.

The pandemic in pictures

The pro wrestler known as El Último Guerrero at the food truck he opened after the pandemic shut down lucha libre matches.
The pro wrestler better known to fans as El Ultimo Guerrero, center, opened De Otro Nivel food truck in late March to earn a living after the pandemic shut down lucha libre matches.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

The pandemic has brought even the gods of lucha libre down to earth — and into street food.

The Mexican wrestling star known to fans as El Último Guerrero is world-famous; he can’t walk down the street in Mexico City without being pestered for autographs. But since the coronavirus closed arenas, he and his wife Lluvia, also a pro wrestler, have been slinging burgers at a food truck. “Like everybody else, I had to do something to survive,” he explains.

There are other luchadores like them, including Olímpico (who runs a crepe stand), Rey Bucanero (with his ice cream and waffles joint) and Shocker (who now lives off his lucha-themed taco truck). For wrestlers looking for quick cash, street food makes sense, and with their legions of fans, they have a leg up when it comes to marketing.

Customer Rene Núñez drove an hour and a half to visit Último Guerrero’s truck. “I’m a super fan,” said Núñez, 32. He gazed at the wrestler, now seasoning beef patties: “This is seeing your idol in flesh and blood.”

Monserat Mejia brings her 3-year-old nephew Damian Robles to eat and meet El Último Guerrero at his food truck in Mexico City
Monserat Mejia, right, brings her 3-year-old nephew Damian Robles to eat and meet El Último Guerrero at his food truck in Mexico City.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Our reporters covering the coronavirus outbreak want to hear from you. Email us your questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them. You can find more answers in our Frequently Asked Questions roundup and in our reopening tracker.

For the most up-to-date coronavirus coverage from The Times over the weekend, visit our homepage and our Health section, sign up for our breaking news alerts, and follow us on Twitter and on Instagram.