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Newsletter: California’s prison outbreak

The transfer of inmates from the California Institution for Men in Chino has been blamed for spreading coronavirus.
The decision to transfer hundreds of inmates from the California Institution for Men in Chino, shown, during a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility has been blamed for helping spread the virus to other prisons.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Amid a worsening coronavirus outbreak in California’s prisons, the system’s top medical officer has been ousted.

TOP STORIES

California’s Prison Outbreak

The coronavirus is spreading rapidly through California’s prisons, with more than 2,400 inmates currently infected. Statewide, at least 28 inmates have died of COVID-related illnesses.

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Now, the state correction system’s top medical officer has been replaced, as Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized an earlier decision to transfer hundreds of inmates from a Chino facility that had been battling an outbreak.

The leadership shake-up occurred as corrections officials reported three more deaths over the July 4 weekend among inmates at San Quentin State Prison, where more than one-third of inmates have tested positive. The death toll is now at six.

Most of the facility’s COVID-19 infections were reported in the last two weeks, more than a month after 121 inmates were transferred there in late May from the California Institution for Men in Chino, where more than 900 inmates have tested positive in the last three months. “They should not have been transferred,” Newsom said in his public address.

The governor described combating the outbreak at the state’s prison system as “a top priority for our administration.” He said he hoped San Quentin would be able to reduce its inmate count from more than 4,000 on March 1 to 3,082 in the next few weeks.

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“We don’t want to just send people out to park benches and homeless shelters,” Newsom said. “We have to make sure we responsibly move people out.”

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— California is bracing for an increase in deaths as infections soar, but how much the death toll will rise is the subject of some debate.

— Newsom said the surge in coronavirus cases hitting the state was due in part to younger people who might believe “they are invincible” but nonetheless are becoming sick from COVID-19.

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Los Angeles County officials on Monday reported an additional 1,584 COVID-19 cases and 48 related deaths, raising the county’s death toll to more than 3,500.

— These doctors brought a shuttered L.A. hospital back to life to fight coronavirus.

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

The PPP $$$

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Jelly Belly, Kanye West’s Yeezy apparel company and the SETI Institute, which searches for extraterrestrial life, are all California companies that received millions in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal coronavirus relief program for small businesses, according to data released by the Trump administration under pressure from Democrats.

The federal government doled out more than $68 billion to a vast and eclectic range of 580,000 California businesses in the last three months as part of the program, which offers businesses with 500 or fewer employees loans that can be forgiven if the employer meets certain criteria, including using the money to keep pre-pandemic employees on the payroll for at least eight weeks after receiving the loan. The largest recipient was the construction sector; L.A.'s entertainment industry also reached out.

A number of nonprofit organizations received loans exceeding $5 million: several Planned Parenthood health centers, the Huntington Library and Museum in San Marino and numerous religious organizations, such as the Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino. In the $350,000-to-$2-million loan range, the Ayn Rand Institute in Santa Ana received a loan, as did the Foundation for National Progress, which publishes the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones.

Tamping Down Election Chaos

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Looking to avoid chaos in the electoral college just months before the November vote, the Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that electors who formally select the president can be required by the state they represent to cast their ballot for the candidate who won their state’s popular vote.

In nearly every election, there are a handful of “faithless electors” who ignore their commitment and cast a vote different from their state’s voters. But these stray votes have been ignored and have never made a difference in the outcome.

Most states have laws or rules that require the electors to abide by their pledges and to follow the state’s wishes.

“Electors are not free agents,” Justice Elena Kagan said for the court in Chiafalo vs. Washington. “They are to vote for the candidate whom the state’s voters have chosen.” Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment “give states broad power over electors, and give electors themselves no rights,” she said.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Each summer, the Los Angeles Times Boys Club in Lincoln Heights sent dozens of children to camp. Boys ages ages 7 to 13 were taken by the bus load to the Deep Creek public camp in the Arrowhead area. On July 6, 1955, Albert Fathergill, 9, was photographed saying goodbye to his mother as he prepared to travel to camp.

For years, The Times supported summer camp programs.

Albert Fathergill
July 6, 1955: Albert Fathergill, 9, leans from the bus to kiss his mother, Ethel Fathergill, as 19 members of the Times Boys Club leave for summer camp. This photo appeared the next day in the Los Angeles Times.
(Bruce H. Cox / Los Angeles Times)

Want more of the Los Angeles Times archives? We’re on Instagram.

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CALIFORNIA

— Among the growing ranks of protesters who have pushed back against the tactics used by the LAPD and other area law enforcement agencies are women who say they were targeted by male officers and groped, sexually harassed or inappropriately searched.

— Judge Cormac J. Carney, the top federal judge in Southern California, stepped down after making a pair of insensitive comments to a Black clerk. But when the news broke, Kiry K. Gray said she was the one who faced backlash.

— The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has launched an internal affairs investigation after a deputy was accused of sharing what was described as a “vulgar image” — one the local NAACP branch says was an altered picture of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.

Beaches in Los Angeles and Ventura counties have reopened after officials closed them ahead of the July 4 weekend in an effort to contain the spread of the growing coronavirus outbreak.

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NATION-WORLD

University of Mississippi students voted to move a Civil War statue. Now they hold placards that say “ABANDON THE PLANS!” as the school makes plans for the statue to become part of a Confederate shrine.

— The white woman who was captured on video in May calling the police after a Black man asked her to leash her dog in New York’s Central Park has been charged with filing a false report.

Japan’s disaster management agency said the death toll from recent flooding has risen to 50, and at least a dozen others are still missing.

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Europe is facing two big questions: How much of the summer travel season can be salvaged, and will efforts to rescue it undermine the push to keep the pandemic under control?

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— From Tessa Thompson to Michael B. Jordan, Black Hollywood artists have been increasingly active in supporting Black Lives Matter across Los Angeles: “It’s really important to remember that all of these folks are people that come from neighborhoods.”

Charlie Kaufman became famous as a screenwriter for films like “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Now he’s branching out into novels.

Disney and ESPN are going into business with Colin Kaepernick and his production company Ra Vision Media on scripted and unscripted projects dealing with race and social injustice.

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— Beverly Hills-based Genius Brands International bought the rights to a group of Stan Lee comic book characters to build a new world in kids’ entertainment.

BUSINESS

Uber bought food delivery service Postmates in a $2.65-billion all-stock deal, a month after unsuccessfully trying to buy GrubHub.

— The U.S. Supreme Court broadened the federal ban on robocalls to mobile phones, eliminating an exception that had existed for government-debt collection while leaving the rest of the law intact.

SPORTS

The Angels were one of at least four teams that experienced coronavirus testing delays on the first weekend of training camp, issues that spurred two teams to cancel Monday’s workouts on the day Major League Baseball was scheduled to release its pandemic-shortened, 60-game, regular-season schedule.

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Dwight Howard confirmed his plans to join his Lakers teammates in Orlando, Fla., saying during an appearance on CNN that he planned to donate his salary for the rest of the season to a charity called Breathe Again.

Tokyo’s newly reelected governor vowed to work with national officials to contain the coronavirus pandemic in time for next summer’s Olympic Games after a poll suggested Japanese residents are doubtful.

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OPINION

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar offers his thoughts on how to sustain momentum for the anti-racism movement.

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— How Trump makes the founders, “our heritage” and even Lincoln into cudgels in the culture wars.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— In Siberia, a climate-change-driven heat wave has caused a rash of fires on land normally too frozen to burn. (National Geographic)

— There’s no such thing as a free summer lunch. The tangy ribs and creamy pasta salad at your backyard barbecue came at a heavy human cost, worsened by the pandemic. (BuzzFeed News)

ONLY IN L.A.

It was featured on “American Idol.” Contestants on the sixth season of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” stayed there. And you, too, can call it home, no reality show required — just $49,850 a month. A mansion in the Beverly Hills Post Office area is up for rent. The swanky pad spans 12,000 square feet, with eight bedrooms and five bathrooms.

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