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Newsletter: Rethinking the reopening

Patrons drink at an outside patio Sunday at the Down & Out sports bar in downtown L.A.
Patrons drink Sunday at the Down & Out sports bar in downtown L.A. Businesses like the Down & Out that serve food in addition to alcohol can remain open under stricter dine-in restaurant rules.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Amid a surge in coronavirus cases, some authorities are having to backtrack on reopening rules.

TOP STORIES

Rethinking the Reopening

The latest COVID-19 numbers tell a sobering story: more than 500,000 confirmed deaths, more than a quarter of them in the U.S., and 10 million confirmed cases worldwide. Big states such as Texas, Arizona and Florida are reporting thousands of new cases a day — and retightening some of their restrictions — while rural states are also seeing infection surges. What’s more, experts say the figures significantly undercount the true toll of the pandemic because of limited testing and missed mild cases.

The rapid pace of coronavirus spread in some parts of California has prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to order seven counties, including Los Angeles, to immediately close any bars and nightspots that are open. He also recommended that eight other counties take action on their own to close those businesses.

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The order shuts down any bar, brewery or pub that sells alcoholic drinks without serving food at the same time. Those that sell food will either be subject to the stricter dine-in rules or asked to focus on takeout or patio service.

But the alarm over rising case numbers extends across California, where statewide cases neared 215,000 on Sunday. Hospitalizations and infection rates are also rising, and officials cite several likely factors, including reopenings, private social gatherings and the recent protests over George Floyd’s killing while in Minneapolis police custody.

Some officials are cracking down on scofflaw businesses, while others are preparing to help overwhelmed hospitals.

In L.A. County, public health officials on Sunday reported 2,542 more cases of COVID-19 and 20 related deaths — the county’s second-highest daily total of new cases since the pandemic began. Those officials have warned that the county is entering a “critical moment.”

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More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— This spring, records show, state inspectors sent to assess the ability of nursing homes to contain the coronavirus found no deficiencies at facilities that were in the midst of deadly outbreaks or about to endure one.

— Researchers say newly infected cells in the human body sprout multi-pronged tentacles studded with viral particles. They also believe they have identified several drugs that could disrupt the viral takeover of cells and slow the process by which COVID-19 takes hold.

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AIDS activists are feeling a sense of déjà-vu as they watch the coronavirus policy battle unfold.

Lucy Jones, known as the voice of calm when an earthquake strikes, has a simple message for this crisis: “Don’t share your air.”

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

What Did the President Know?

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Confronted with a damaging report that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American and allied troops in Afghanistan — and that the White House has done nothing in response — President Trump first claimed on Twitter that he was never briefed about the finding by U.S. intelligence. Hours later, he tweeted that he was “just” told that intelligence officials didn’t report the information to him because they didn’t find it credible.

In the meantime, Democrats, including Trump’s presumptive presidential rival, Joe Biden, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sharply criticized Trump’s seeming indifference to the explosive report in Friday’s New York Times. On Sunday, Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming joined in the criticism, saying that if the information was genuine, the White House needed to explain why Trump was not told, and why the administration has done nothing.

In a separate incident, Trump tweeted approvingly of a video showing one of his supporters chanting “white power,” a racist slogan associated with white supremacists. The tweet was later deleted, and the White House said the president had not heard “the one statement” on the video.

Checking Their Privilege

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The killing of George Floyd has led white Americans to call out racism against Black Americans more vigorously than at any moment in recent memory. And it’s prompting many white people to think more deeply about the color of their own skin.

Why now? Chicago-based sociology professor Jacqueline Battalora believes that after three wearying months of social isolation and economic upheaval brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Floyd’s killing was yet another blow to the illusions of safety, security and equality that many white people harbor about America.

“The police are fair; institutions are fair — white people have been so happy to believe those things,” said Battalora, a former police officer and author of “Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today.” “What this signals is that a good chunk of white people now have some recognition that something’s not right.”

More About Race in America

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— U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, the chief district judge for the Central District of California, has stepped down from that post, citing racially insensitive comments regarding the court’s top clerk, a Black woman.

— A coalition of community activists gathered at a street memorial in Gardena for Andres Guardado, who was fatally shot June 18 by an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy, and called on Sheriff Alex Villanueva to release the autopsy report of the 18-year-old.

Mississippi is on the verge of changing its state flag to erase a Confederate battle emblem.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— Trump’s storied grip on the white working class is weakening among women, threatening his reelection prospects and his party’s efforts to improve its standing with female voters.

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— If everything goes as expected, Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 74, will plead guilty today to 26 criminal charges stemming from 13 murders and 13 rapes. Here is an inside look at the Golden State Killer suspect’s behavior.

— Spied on. Fired. Publicly shamed. China’s crackdown on professors reminds many of the Mao era.

— L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar is being criticized for dragging the big-hatted baby Jesus known as Santo Niño de Atocha into his arrest on a racketeering charge.

— The Vatican is backing a 15-year-old computer whiz who died of leukemia to become the first patron saint of the internet.

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— How Milton Glaser’s “I ❤️ NY” logo taught us to talk in emoji.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1925, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake hit the city of Santa Barbara, killing 13 people and causing $8 million in damage.

An article in The Times, accompanied by dramatic photos, reported: “Recurrent shocks, following a severe temblor at 6:42 this morning that demolished or seriously damaged virtually all brick, concrete and stone structures in the city and caused the death of an undetermined number of persons — now known to exceed 17 [later revised down to 13] — forced Santa Barbara’s 30,000 residents to face a night on the city’s lawns, in the public parks and along the beach.”

June 29, 1925:  Earthquake damage on State Street looking north from De La Guerra Street in Santa Barbara.
June 29, 1925: Earthquake damage on State Street looking north from De La Guerra Street in Santa Barbara.
(Los Angeles Times)
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CALIFORNIA

— Tehama County sheriff’s officials have identified the suspect in a shooting at a Walmart distribution center in Red Bluff that killed one person and injured several others before the man was fatally shot by police.

Beverly Hills is facing criticism after officers arrested 28 people during a peaceful protest against police violence over the weekend.

— Orange County’s Democratic Party is calling on the county Board of Supervisors to drop John Wayne’s name, statue and other likenesses from its international airport.

— The dean of USC’s School of Dramatic Arts resigned last week after information emerged about a relationship he’d had with a student.

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NATION-WORLD

Red flag fire warnings are in effect for large portions of the western U.S., according to the National Weather Service.

— Authorities were investigating a fatal shooting Saturday night at a park in downtown Louisville, Ky., where demonstrators had gathered to protest the death of Breonna Taylor.

Israel may move to annex a big chunk of the West Bank soon, derailing hopes for a Palestinian state.

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— Public criticism of the militant Hezbollah group by the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon is being met with a strong backlash in Beirut.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Blind Melon’s lead singer Shannon Hoon recorded a video diary before he died in 1995. A new documentary lets him tell his story.

— The Rolling Stones have threatened Trump with legal action for using the band’s songs at his rallies despite cease-and-desist directives.

— Country music singers Chase Rice and Chris Janson played to packed concerts in Tennessee and Idaho, respectively, where many fans chose to ignore recommended safety measures against spreading and contracting the coronavirus.

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BUSINESS

— Following Twitter, Facebook will label politicians’ posts that break its rules, including those from Trump.

Writing a book probably won’t make you rich, but it could boost your career.

SPORTS

— As UCLA and USC outline their plans to have student-athletes return to campus for workouts amid the pandemic, parents are watching with concern.

— How boxing is trying to recover from a strong uppercut delivered by COVID-19.

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OPINION

— Biden could do worse than to choose U.S. Rep. Karen Bass of Los Angeles as his running mate, columnist George Skelton writes. “Everyone likes her. She’s comfortable to be around and is able to deal with Republicans. She doesn’t make enemies. She’s smart, energetic and successful at achieving goals.”

— As coronavirus surges, more stores are going cashless. But what about people without bank accounts, the vast majority of whom are Black and Latino? columnist Erika D. Smith explores.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Federal officials knew many COVID-19 antibody testing kits had flaws but allowed them to enter the U.S. market. (“60 Minutes”)

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— Black voices in softball have begun a culture shift in the sport. (The Undefeated)

ONLY IN L.A.

How do you re-create 1930s Los Angeles without it being a “highly stylized, cliched version of the ’30s”? That’s what the makers of HBO’s “Perry Mason” set out to do, through real-life locations rather than visual effects. Among the places where filming took place: a stretch of 6th Street in San Pedro whose collection of 1920s and ’30s facades required remarkably little dressing to make them look convincing — once the bike and fire lanes, parking signs and painted red curbs were removed.

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


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