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Newsletter: A summer under coronavirus’ cloud

Beachgoers in May in Huntington Beach.
Beachgoers hit the sand last month in Huntington Beach.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

How can Californians stay safe when summertime calls during the coronavirus pandemic? Regional officials are varying their approaches.

TOP STORIES

A Summer Under Coronavirus’ Cloud

Face coverings. “Social bubbles.” Or just saying no to socializing.

Those are among the approaches health officials are taking as the California tradition of summer fun — barbecues, garden parties, group trips to the beaches and the mountains — is colliding with efforts to prevent new surges of coronavirus cases.

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Confirmed coronavirus cases have continued to climb as California allowed many businesses to reopen. And on Monday Gov. Gavin Newsom said COVID-19 hospitalizations are also beginning to rise again statewide — up 16% over the last two weeks — a troubling shift that raises new questions about whether the reopening might need to be slowed.

In some counties, officials tied the increased hospitalizations to the resurgence of social gatherings as well as some people’s unwillingness to wear masks in public. Now, they’re grappling with how to keep the coronavirus at bay while also addressing the pent-up needs of many people to socialize during the summer months.

Just as some parts of California are struggling with COVID-19 more than others, the guidelines vary by region.

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In San Francisco, small, limited social gatherings can be held outdoors and last no longer than two hours, with people wearing face coverings at almost all times. The Bay Area’s second most-populous county, Alameda County, offers a framework where people from more than one household can meet in what’s called a “social bubble.”

But other counties are firm that it’s too early for socializing. “I’m really sorry — I know how desperate people are to be able to get back to events … but this is not a time for parties or gatherings at your house,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said earlier this month.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Unable to forge an agreement between owners and players on compensation, Major League Baseball‘s commissioner has exercised his authority to impose a pandemic-shortened regular season — expected to be 60 games — without fans in stadiums. But there are some sensitive, unresolved questions.

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Project Roomkey, an ambitious L.A. County plan to lease hotel and motel rooms for 15,000 medically vulnerable homeless people, is falling far short of its goal. It may never provide rooms for more than a third of the intended population.

— Ferrer said she has received verbal attacks, including death threats. Many other local health officials have reported being targeted as well.

— Former California governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson have joined Newsom in a video aimed at promoting the use of face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

— A change of plans, not of heart: Angelenos say “I do” in weddings scaled back by the coronavirus.

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For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

California’s Budget Gets a Reprieve

Newsom has agreed to largely abandon the far-reaching spending reductions he said were necessary without new federal coronavirus relief funds. Instead, he’s struck a deal with leaders of the California Legislature for a state budget that relies on a mix of cuts, along with a more optimistic economic outlook, to protect social services programs and public schools. Formal approval of the final budget isn’t expected until later this week.

Lawmakers flatly rejected Newsom’s cuts to schools and a wide array of social services, insisting the state should extend the deadline for new federal money until the end of September before finding an additional $14 billion in budget savings. The governor’s original plan would have cut spending on 89 state programs; about $8 billion of the cuts would have come from funding for K-12 schools and community colleges.

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The final agreement, outlined for The Times by legislative sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to discuss it publicly, relies on a hybrid of two approaches to reduce spending by $12 billion.

NASCAR’s Reckoning

A day after a noose was discovered in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace, the rest of NASCAR showed its support of the Cup Series’ only Black full-time driver. With Wallace steering and Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney pushing the No. 43 car, the rest of the drivers and crew members followed to the front of pit road before the start of Monday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

But, columnist LZ Granderson writes, NASCAR’s commitment to being anti-racist “remains a work in progress.”

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“Bubba Wallace’s fight is with the Confederate flag and what it represents. Not the sanitized version in which the bearer neglects to mention slavery and secession. For all of NASCAR’s admirable efforts, that flag may no longer flap inside speedway’s walls but is not out of sight, as evidenced this weekend by the convoy of flag-bearing vehicles just outside, by the plane flying Dixie overhead Sunday, with the message ‘Defund NASCAR.’ ”

More About Race in America

— As the Los Angeles Unified School District‘s Board of Education debates the future of its 471-member police department today, two distinct interpretations are emerging from similar data on police involvement at schools: one points toward eliminating officers on campus; the other toward keeping them in place.

— Some L.A. County activists are also turning their attention to defunding police on the sprawling transit system, where violent crime is relatively low.

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— L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has been criticized by an array of groups over his handling of the recent protests of police brutality, with pushback unseen during his seven years leading the city.

— Anticipating protests against police violence and “possible civil unrest,” the city manager of Santa Ana enacted a curfew Monday night, barring everyone but law enforcement, news reporters and first responders from the city’s streets and public spaces between 10 p.m. Monday and 5 a.m. Tuesday.

The Facts on Absentee Ballots

Trump has once again escalated his unsubstantiated attacks on mail-in voting, claiming with no evidence that expanding the practice would lead to foreign governments printing counterfeit ballots and cause the “election disaster of our times.”

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Election officials are pushing back on the president’s assertions. “We are not aware of any evidence supporting the claims made by President Trump,” the National Assn. of Secretaries of State said in a statement. “As always, we are open to learning more about the administration’s concerns.”

The president’s latest string of criticism comes as states are weighing the pros and cons of expanding voting by mail — which five states use exclusively and all states allow to some extent — to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at polling places during the primary season and the November general election.

Atty. Gen. William Barr, who has said mail-in ballots “open the floodgates of potential fraud,” voted by mail in 2012 and 2019, according to the Washington Post. Trump has also voted absentee, including in Florida’s March presidential primary.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1980, The Who hadn’t played a show in Los Angeles in four years. To mark their return, the band planned a series of seven concerts — a total of 110,000 tickets. On June 20 and 21 that year, the band performed at the Forum in Inglewood before moving on to the Los Angeles Sports Arena for June 23-28. Eager fans scooped up the tickets quickly.

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Los Angeles Times pop music critic Robert Hilburn wrote that it was a triumphant return for the band in his June 23, 1980, review: “The Who, relegated in recent years to chasing the ghost of its own early greatness, caught up with that greatness Friday night at the Inglewood Forum with a masterful display of energy and commitment.”

The Who at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in 1980
The Who’s Roger Daltrey, left, Kenney Jones and Pete Townshend at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on June 24, 1980.
(George Rose / Los Angeles Times)

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CALIFORNIA

— Thousands of students in the Los Angeles Community College District withdrew after a semester lost to the coronavirus, with future troubles on the horizon for the schools and their remaining students.

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— Hollywood producer David Guillod surrendered to authorities in Santa Barbara County after a three-year investigation culminated in him being charged with the rape or sexual assault of four women. Guillod has denied the allegations.

Steve Bing, philanthropist, film producer and prominent Democratic political donor whose producing credits include “The Polar Express” and “Get Carter,” has died. Bing, 55, fell to his death from a high-rise building in Century City, according to a law enforcement source who was not authorized to comment. Foul play is not suspected.

— The Supreme Court has ruled against an Orange County couple accused of running a $27-million stock scheme and said the government can take back all of their ill-gotten gains.

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NATION-WORLD

Joe Biden is, by his own admission, a “gaffe machine.” But he is not as widely and viscerally disliked as the last Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and that’s complicating Trump’s reelection effort.

— Trump is set to expand a measure restricting visas to the U.S. to target many temporary foreign workers. Yet it comes with broad exemptions, such as for many agricultural, healthcare and food industry workers — even au pairs, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

— Until recently, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser was successful but little known outside the Beltway. Now she has soared to national attention with a new activism and willingness to challenge Trump, making her a hot commodity on television news, late-night comedy and a CNN town hall.

— In 2015, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived on the world stage with rock-star popularity and a promise to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Now Canada has lost out to Norway and Ireland, the country’s second consecutive defeat.

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Saudi Arabia said that because of the coronavirus, only “very limited numbers” of people will be allowed to perform the hajj, the annual pilgrimage that traditionally draws about 2 million Muslims from around the world.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

John Legend didn’t expect his newest album, “Bigger Love,” to land in the middle of the most incendiary moment for civil rights, police reform and reckonings around race in a generation — let alone during a deadly pandemic. “But if I were going to put anything out at this moment, it would be this.

— Director Joel Schumacher, whose varied work included such movies as “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “The Client,” “Batman Forever” and “Falling Down,” has died at age 80.

— Hollywood’s awards ceremonies continue their COVID-19 shuffle. Next year’s Golden Globe Awards are now scheduled for Feb. 28, the date originally slated for the Oscars.

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— The family of Tom Petty says a legal notice has been filed after his song “I Won’t Back Down” was played prominently at the Trump rally Saturday in Tulsa, Okla.: “Trump was in no way authorized to use this song.”

BUSINESS

L.A.'s apparel industry once made dresses, T-shirts and swimsuits. Now its employees make thousands of masks, relying on their equipment and existing supply chains to meet demand.

Los Angeles International Airport will begin testing thermal cameras to identify passengers with high body temperatures as a way of slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The three cameras will scan streams of passengers arriving at and departing from the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

SPORTS

— The Orlando Pride withdrew from the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup tournament after six players and four staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

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— It was a Father’s Day weekend hike, a chance for Max Tuerk to spend time on the trail with people he loved. Instead, it turned tragic.

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OPINION

— Chaseedaw Giles, a social media manager, writes about the trauma of seeing countless posts of Black people being attacked and killed.

— Trump’s Tulsa rally was a dud. Jeff Sessions’ tweet about it was cringe-inducing, writes columnist Jonah Goldberg.

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WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

Fiona Hill, an expert on Russia, hoped to guide the U.S.-Russia relationship in her time in the White House. Trump had other ideas. (The New Yorker)

— You know Karen: She’s mad, she’s entitled and she wants to speak to your manager. But could this stereotype just as easily be named “Debbie,” “Sharon” or even “David”? Here’s what the data say. (The Pudding)

ONLY IN L.A.

Miljenko “Mike” Gotovac was a bartender at Dan Tana’s in West Hollywood for more than 50 years, until the complications of COVID-19 took his life at 76. At the restaurant, he was a constant amid an ever-changing sea of actors, rock stars, barflies and dreamers. He gave the Eagles free drinks after their first show at the Troubadour; he saw a baby Drew Barrymore get her diapers changed on the bar. Yet his sons said he couldn’t tell a movie star from a customer off the street; it was one of the things that made him endearing.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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