Newsletter: The suburban surge

A woman on a scooter ignores the mandatory mask order in downtown Palm Springs in Riverside County.
A woman on a scooter ignores the mandatory mask order in downtown Palm Springs in Riverside County, which is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

In a reversal, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties are now seeing higher rates of coronavirus cases per capita than L.A.


The Suburban Surge

In the first months of the pandemic, suburban Southern California counties appeared to be spared from the devastating outbreaks that spread through Los Angeles County and made it the state epicenter of the coronavirus.

Now, the conditions have changed dramatically. Over the last week, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties are reporting worse coronavirus case rates per capita than L.A. County, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.

The shift is all the more dramatic because L.A. continues to see huge increases in coronavirus cases. On Thursday, it reported more than 4,000 new cases, shattering a one-day record. But the new surge in COVID-19 has been particularly painful for suburban counties that were eager to reopen their economies after months of stay-at-home orders and where political battles have raged about whether the government should require residents to wear masks in public settings.

Health experts are particularly concerned about the backlash about wearing masks, which has turned Californian against Californian and has been especially pronounced in Orange County. Earlier this week, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the data show masking works: “If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think that in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.”


Officials in California say the next two weeks are shaping up to be critical, as officials wait to see if the sweeping restrictions imposed in late June and July show any signs of slowing the rapid spread of coronavirus in communities across the state.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— L.A. County health officials have reported a sharp increase in the spread of the coronavirus at workplaces, as the region enters what officials have called an “alarming and dangerous phase” of the pandemic. Often the locations are not enforcing physical distancing among employees or implementing infection control procedures.

Hospital data related to the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. will now be collected by a private technology firm rather than the CDC. It’s a move the Trump administration says will speed up reporting but one that concerns some public health leaders.

— Western governments have accused hackers believed to be part of Russian intelligence of trying to steal valuable private information about a vaccine.

— For college students, taking a gap year might be the best way to avoid the coronavirus.

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

Can You Ignore the Supreme Court?

Legal experts and lawmakers say President Trump is venturing onto increasingly shaky legal ground as officials reject new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, sidestepping a Supreme Court ruling reinstating DACA.

The court ruled last month that the Trump administration hadn’t followed federal procedural law or justified terminating DACA in 2017, calling the rescission “arbitrary and capricious.” DACA grants protection from deportation to so-called Dreamers brought to the United States as children. The Obama-era program, which has bipartisan support, has given temporary relief to some 700,000 young immigrants, with nearly 200,000 DACA recipients in California.

The court did not decide on Trump’s executive authority to rescind DACA, and offered the administration a road map for how to try to end it for good. But the deadline to file for a rehearing came and went on Monday with nothing from the administration. At the same time, officials haven’t moved to restore the program.

A Heartthrob Prince and His Time at USC

L.A. has long enjoyed a reputation as a playground for the rich, but the handsome teenage prince who arrived nine years ago operated on a different level.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the son and, later, brother of Qatar’s emir, arrived with the stated goal of seeking a college education. He installed himself in the Beverly Wilshire, the hotel that “Pretty Woman” made famous, and embarked on a lifestyle that few undergraduates could imagine — luxury suites for Lakers games, lunch at the Ivy and regular excursions to gamble in Las Vegas.

He took the town with an entourage, a rotating collection of cousins and friends from back home, in a fleet of exotic sports cars, rubbing elbows with a flashy set that included Scott Disick of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” and announcing his exuberance in custom trucker hats emblazoned with his initials: KHK.

He eventually graduated from the University of Southern California and returned to the Middle East. But what happened in between?


On this date in 1955, Disneyland opened for invited guests — and it was a nightmare.

Rides broke down. Restaurants ran out of food and drink. Long lines formed at bathrooms. Women’s high-heeled shoes sank into the asphalt. All in front of a huge TV audience.

But as this 2015 Times article explains, Disneyland’s story started two decades earlier with what Walt Disney called “Daddy’s Day.”

Disneyland's invitation-only opening.
July 17, 1955: Disneyland’s invitation-only opening. From left: California Gov. Goodwin Knight, Walt Disney and Fred G. Gurley, president of the Santa Fe Railroad.
(Los Angeles Times)


— The future of shopping: No-touch browsing and Postmates delivery.

— These Black entrepreneurs stepped up to make sunscreen for darker skin.

Citrus trees may yet be saved from the incurable huanglongbing because of a UC Riverside researcher’s efforts.

— The best Italian sandwich in Pasadena, and the story of the 81-year-old behind it.


— In a historic shift, Latinos are now the largest group of prospective freshmen accepted into the University of California for fall 2020, part of the most diverse first-year UC class ever admitted, according to preliminary data.

— When C.L. Max Nikias was ousted as president of USC amid a sex abuse scandal involving a onetime campus gynecologist, the university’s trustees sent him off with a compensation package that exceeded $7.6 million, according to newly released tax filings.

— The state Supreme Court has decided to permanently lower the passing score for the bar exam and allow aspiring lawyers to take it remotely in October because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Navy officials say a fire that engulfed the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard for more than four days has been extinguished.

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Customs and Border Protection has fired four employees for their participation in secretive social media groups that have featured violent, sexist and racist posts against migrants and members of Congress.

— The Republican National Committee is sharply restricting attendance on three of the four nights of its convention in Jacksonville, Fla., next month, as coronavirus infections in Florida soar.

— The Vatican told bishops around the world that they should report cases of clergy sex crimes to police even when not legally bound to do so, in its latest effort to compel church leaders to protect minors from predator priests.

— With Europe’s summer vacation season kicking into high gear, scenes of drunken British and German tourists on Spain’s Mallorca island ignoring social distancing rules and reports of American visitors flouting quarantine measures in Ireland are raising fears of a resurgence of infections.


— Former First Lady Michelle Obama will launch a podcast later this month on Spotify examining the relationships that shape our lives.

Esther Povitsky has been one of the rising stars on the L.A. comedy scene for the last few years. Then COVID-19 halted comedy altogether.

— The L.A. Phil’s leaders have laid out a plan for how it will carry on amid the pandemic.

— Has “Back to the Future” aged well? Our critics take a closer look at a summer fave.


— Tenants are largely keeping up with their rent payments during the pandemic, but a wave of evictions could loom.

— As Twitter grapples with the worst security breach in its 14-year history, it must now reconstruct what happened.


— At age 60, three-time Paralympian Angela Madsen tried to row across the Pacific Ocean — alone.

Legalized sports gambling in California is still at least two years away, but the competition to capture the market has already begun.

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— The White House is waging a dangerous and inexplicable war on public health, The Times’ editorial board writes.

Jeff Sessions did the right thing in the Russia probe. It probably cost him his political career.


Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters. (Oregon Public Radio)

Zounds! The story behind minced oaths. (The Conversation)


Four friends who work in the food and agriculture industry got tired of seeing much of L.A.’s urban fruit go to waste. So they created an event called Fruit-Share, a countywide fruit and vegetable exchange. Anyone could donate, and anyone could pick up produce for free. More than 230 people with fruit to share, who live in areas ranging from Topanga Canyon to East Los Angeles, uploaded their addresses to a Google map, which was then sent out to the 1,100 people who had registered. Said one organizer: “It’s like trick-or-treating for adults!”

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