Newsletter: Essential, unprotected and Latino

Rafael Saavedra and his daughter Gianna, 5. A framed picture of his oldest daughter, Gizzelle, hangs beside them.
Truck driver Rafael Saavedra with his daughter Gianna, 5, next to a framed picture of his oldest daughter Gizzelle, 16, in Alhambra on Tuesday. “My worst fear is infecting my daughters” with the coronavirus, says Saavedra, an essential worker who has kept working during the pandemic.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Experts say the failure to protect Latino essential workers has contributed to California’s increase in coronavirus infections.


Essential, Unprotected and Latino

As California sees a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, a group that has been especially hard hit are Latinos, who make up nearly 39% of the state’s population but 55% of its COVID-19 cases. According to recent L.A. County Department of Public Health reports, Latino residents are more than twice as likely as white residents to contract the virus. In San Francisco, of the thousands tested in the Mission District in a study, 95% of people who tested positive were Latinos.

A Los Angeles Times analysis of statewide data found that for every 100,000 Latino residents, 767 have tested positive. The Black community has also been hit particularly hard: for every 100,000 Black residents, 396 have tested positive. By comparison, 261 of every 100,000 white residents have confirmed infections.

Experts say the biggest outbreaks have been in Southern California and the Central Valley. In those regions, the economies are particularly reliant on Latino workers, and a number of Latino residents tend to live in densely packed communities where COVID-19 can easily spread through extended families.

That has led to growing calls for California to do more to protect essential workers. Officials say employers need to make workplaces safer, and testing and access to healthcare and other services should be ramped up for Latino and other nonwhite communities that are seeing major outbreaks.

In Los Angeles County, which set a single-day record for COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations, outbreaks are dramatically up at workplaces and offices, a category that includes warehouses, manufacturing plants, mail services, distribution services, waste management and retail.


More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Two months ago, California looked like a coronavirus success story. Here’s how the state descended into disaster and a second closing.

— California officials adopted new guidelines outlining who should be prioritized for COVID-19 testing as cases surge and counties report delayed lab results.

— Coronavirus testing for half a million LAUSD students each week, as Supt. Austin Beutner deems necessary for reopening campuses, would be unprecedented and strain already limited resources.

— Clinical trial results indicate an experimental COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Moderna Inc. is on the right track.

Masks offer much more protection against the coronavirus than many may think.

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

Republicans Versus Trump

Republican Voters Against Trump. The Lincoln Project. The Right Side PAC. The 43 Alumni for Biden super PAC. These are among the groups of GOP voters aligning themselves against President Trump, with the goal of moving a small segment of Trump voters who soured on the president into Joe Biden’s column on Nov. 3.

Indeed, no president in modern history has faced such organized opposition to his reelection by members of his own party.

“Trump is a singular danger as far as I’m concerned,” said Tim Miller, a senior advisor to Republican Voters Against Trump who previously worked for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and the Republican National Committee. “Joe Biden can win this election by just improving on Hillary [Clinton]’s performance among traditional Republican voters who sat it out, voted third party or held their nose and voted for Trump.”

A Problematic Gang Database

As a scandal over false and inaccurate gang identifications by Los Angeles police officers widens, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra has stopped law enforcement agencies around the state from using department records included in a troubled statewide database.

The state’s top cop announced he had “revoked access to CalGang records generated by the Los Angeles Police Department” and suggested the state Legislature should consider more reforms to the secretive database, which contains names and personal information of about 80,000 people, mostly Black and brown men, whom law enforcement suspects of being involved in or associated with gangs.

But police reform advocates said Becerra’s action does not go far enough toward fixing what they contend is an unfair roster, plagued by past problems and open to wider abuses.


On this day in 1976, three gunmen kidnapped two dozen children and their driver from a Chowchilla, Calif., school bus. The kidnappers held them hostage inside a truck trailer at a Livermore quarry, demanding a ransom for their release. A 2011 Times story described it as “the largest kidnapping for ransom in U.S. history and one of California’s strangest crimes.” It was one of the last days of summer school and driver Ed Ray said he slowed down to see if the occupants of a white van stopped in the road needed help.

That’s when the three kidnappers struck. Ray and the children were taken to the quarry, where they were buried in the trailer for 16 hours before escaping. The kidnappers were identified and captured within a few weeks: Fred Woods, son of Frederick Woods III, who owned the quarry as well as a 100-acre Portola Valley estate, and Richard and James Schoenfeld, sons of a wealthy Menlo Park podiatrist. All three were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. The Schoenfelds were later paroled.

Chowchilla kidnapping
Alameda County Sheriff Tom Houchins briefs the news media at the Livermore quarry where the Chowchilla children were buried. They escaped through the shaft, lower right.
(Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)

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— The Ventura County medical examiner has determined the cause of death of “Glee” star Naya Rivera, whose body was found Monday in Lake Piru, was an accidental drowning.

— Activists have called for the ouster of Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore as part of a larger movement to defund the Los Angeles Police Department and enact sweeping reforms. But at City Hall and in other corridors of power in L.A. politics, Moore continues to enjoy wide public backing.

— The Navy said its crews have made significant progress fighting fires aboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard in San Diego. Rear Adm. Philip Sobeck said it’s too early to tell how much damage the fire has done to the ship and whether the ship will survive.

— How to best see Comet NEOWISE before it fades into space.

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Joe Biden unveiled a proposal for rebuilding the economy that focuses heavily on restoring American leadership in the fight against global warming, directing government recovery efforts toward expanding clean energy.

— British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein, pleaded not guilty to charges she recruited girls and women for the financier to sexually abuse more than two decades ago.

— A federal judge has rejected a proposed $18.9-million settlement between Harvey Weinstein and nine women who say he sexually assaulted or abused them, saying the tentative deal isn’t fair to other women.

— Former U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions lost the Republican nomination for what had once been his Senate seat in Alabama to former college football Coach Tommy Tuberville, likely ending a long political career with a bitter defeat egged on by Trump.

— The Supreme Court said that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been admitted to the hospital for treatment of a possible infection and will stay there for a few days after a medical procedure.

— Congress is on the verge of passing a bill that would provide billions of dollars to invest in public lands in California and nationwide, both to purchase property and to tackle a maintenance backlog at existing public lands after years of budget cuts.


Grant Imahara, electrical engineer and TV host of Discovery’s “MythBusters,” has died after reportedly suffering a brain aneurysm. He was 49.

— In the latest sign of how profoundly the coronavirus outbreak has upended Hollywood, organizers of the Telluride Film Festival say this year’s edition of the event, which had been scheduled to take place over Labor Day weekend, has been canceled.

— Music executives convinced singer Sara Bareilles to shelve a song 15 years ago. Now, it’s the inspiration behind Apple TV+’s “Little Voice.”

Tyra Banks is in and Tom Bergeron is out as “Dancing With the Stars” host.


— Netflix changed media forever. Can Miami-based VIX bring the revolution to Latino audiences?

— Virgil Village brunch spot Sqirl, owned by Jessica Koslow, is facing allegations that the restaurant operated under unsafe and unsanitary working conditions for years, including incorrectly stored jam that led to mold growth.


— The leaders from Southern California’s 11 professional sports teams have decided to form the Alliance, a five-year partnership with one another and two local initiatives — the Play Equity Fund and Accelerate Change Together. The purpose of the Alliance is for the teams to merge their resources in an effort to aid underserved Black and Latino children through sports.

— L.A. County’s COVID-19 quarantine rule could put the Dodgers at a disadvantage. And though the stands will be empty, you can buy a cutout of your face to occupy a seat.

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— There was no good reason for the federal government to rush the execution of Daniel Lewis Lee, The Times’ editorial board writes. No good reason, that is, other than politics.

— It’s time to retire “The Star-Spangled Banner.” We’ve got a better option for a modern national anthem: Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” writes Jody Rosen.


— It’s no secret the wealthiest Americans are experiencing the pandemic differently. An anonymous Wall Street billionaire shares just how differently. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

— Is it a cake or a pickle? It’s both, and it’s also part of a wave of viral videos. (New York Times)


Around 1877, Carleton Watkins set out from San Francisco with a mule-drawn wagon filled with a glass-plate camera and processing equipment to photograph the 21 Franciscan missions of Alta California that were built a century before, when the state was a province of New Spain. He ended up documenting 17; among them, Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, which suffered damage in a fire over the weekend. Art critic Christopher Knight delves into the history.

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