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Newsletter: Will L.A. see another stay-at-home order?

Drivers enter the Warner Center COVID-19 testing location in Woodland Hills
Drivers enter the Warner Center COVID-19 testing location in Woodland Hills on Monday.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

If the coronavirus situation doesn’t improve, L.A. may become the biggest U.S. city with a second lockdown.

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Will L.A. See Another Stay-At-Home Order?

Los Angeles was one of the first major cities in the nation to impose a stay-at-home order when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Soon, L.A. may have the dubious distinction of being the biggest U.S. city to receive a second stay-at-home order, amid a surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations that so far shows few signs of slowing.

For two weeks, Mayor Eric Garcetti has warned that the city is close to returning to some type of stay-at-home order if the conditions don’t improve.

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Even a less strict version of what the city saw in spring would be a devastating blow, perhaps leaving businesses at a breaking point. Many cheered when state and local officials began reopening the economy in May and June, hoping social distancing, masks and workplace safety rules would keep COVID-19 in check. It hasn’t worked out that way.

Officials are hoping to see cases begin to flatten in the coming week, accounting for new restrictions implemented just before the Fourth of July holiday and beyond. But no one is sure if that will materialize.

Garcetti and other leaders have suggested changes in behavior can still save the day. “It’s not just about what’s open and what’s closed, much of this is also about our actions,” Garcetti said. “You could close plenty more, but if young people were still congregating outside of their household in large numbers, we would still see spread.”

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Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. County public health director, said that there are three main reasons for why people are getting infected: gatherings, workplaces and people not taking the disease seriously.

Back to the Briefings

President Trump said his daily coronavirus briefings could return as early as today after weeks of him appearing desperate to talk about anything else. The briefings had come to an abrupt end three months ago amid the backlash over his suggestion that injections of disinfectant could be used to kill the virus.

As more than 140,000 people have died, Republicans have been pushing for the administration to take a more visible role in battling the pandemic. They fear that the crisis will continue unabated — and lead to a Democratic sweep in the November election. Several have differed from the president in consistently urging people to wear masks and respect restrictions on public gatherings.

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But their calls have focused on letting his administration’s experts take center stage. Instead, Trump appears ready to be in the spotlight again. “I’ll do it at 5 o’clock like we were doing,” he said. “We had a good slot. A lot of people were watching.”

As Trump’s poll numbers have slumped because of his handling of the crisis, though, his campaign is running ads in some heavily affected states that say nothing about the coronavirus pandemic that has upended life for all Americans.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot.

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— Divisions between the White House and Senate Republicans and differences with Democrats are posing challenges for a new federal aid package, with emergency relief about to expire.

— California Gov. Gavin Newsom is allowing haircuts and salon services to resume outdoors.

— The surge of the coronavirus in Los Angeles County continues to be fueled by younger people. Officials said 52% of cases to date in the county have been people under 41.

— There are a lot of myths being circulated that suggest that masks are not needed or are somehow harmful. Here, an expert separates fact from fiction.

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

Being Careful With the Labels

When Trader Joe’s founder died earlier this year, he was hailed as a marketing whiz. But today that empire has come under attack for its branding of ethnic foods with names such as Trader Ming’s, Arabian Joe’s, Trader Jose’s, Trader Giotto’s and Trader Joe San.

“The Trader Joe’s branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents ‘Joe’ as the default ‘normal’ and the other characters falling outside of it,” said an online petition posted by 17-year-old Briones Bedell.

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In a statement, Trader Joe’s — which was sold in 1979 to German supermarket chain Aldi — acknowledged that its approach to product naming, “rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness ... may now have the opposite effect.” A spokeswoman said the company is changing the packaging and expects to complete the process “very soon.”

Bulgaria’s Uncertain Future

Of all the world’s regions that are losing population, Eastern Europe has been hit hardest. Since communism’s end in the 1990s, the number of inhabitants in Bulgaria has decreased by more than a fifth, from nearly 9 million to about 7 million. That is roughly equivalent to the percentage of loss seen in Syria over the past decade — the difference being that Syria was at war.

Large portions of the countryside have been hollowed out. Young, educated people in particular are finding opportunities elsewhere, and while nationalist, anti-immigrant sentiments run more strongly in neighboring countries, they’ve also gained a foothold in Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest member.

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Still, investments have poured in from abroad, and the economy is growing robustly. Unemployment is at historic lows and wages have risen, since those who have remained in the country are more in demand. Thousands of Bulgarians are returning — but not nearly enough to offset the losses.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1923, the Triangle Oil Syndicate announced plans to invest in a new oil operation. Its leaders promised two new wells after they finished fundraising. To reach their goal, they threw a lavish party and treated their guests to lunch, orators and sightseeing buses.

But the wells were never built. A story in the July 21, 1923, Times revealed the truth: It was an apparent scam. According to The Times, “State Corporation Commissioner Daughterty” later ordered the seizure of the company’s books and records. Investigators found “no funds in the bank” and “an unexplained expenditure of about $100,000.”

Triangle Oil Syndicate party
Circa 1923 photo of the Triangle Oil Syndicate party. This photo was published in the July 21, 1923, Los Angeles Times accompanying a story about the Triangle Oil Syndicate company books being seized by state investigators.
(Los Angeles Times)
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CALIFORNIA

— The Orange County district attorney’s office said two of its former prosecutors committed malpractice by willfully ignoring the use of a veteran government informant to obtain a confession from mass killer Scott Dekraai, according to an internal review.

— For Latino organizers, getting traction on police brutality in their communities had been challenging until protests for Black lives energized the movement in L.A. Now activists aim to keep the momentum.

— A fake congregation. Tax schemes. A Poway rabbi has pleaded guilty to years of illegal schemes involving government programs, real estate and public and private grant programs.

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— With no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, Yosemite National Park appeared to be a safe haven from the outbreak. Then they tested the park’s raw sewage.

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NATION-WORLD

— The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is crafting plans to deploy about 150 federal agents to Chicago this week, the Chicago Tribune has learned, a move that would come amid growing controversy nationally about federal force being used in American cities.

— Janitors, fast-food workers, nursing home employees and gig-economy drivers, many of them Black and Latino, rallied across the nation in union-organized protests to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, which has emerged as a powerful global force for racial justice.

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— A European Union summit was supposed to reach an agreement on how to spend a budget and coronavirus recovery fund. Leaders say it’s been days of insults, walkouts and fist-banging.

Britain’s government has suspended its extradition treaty and blocked arms sales with Hong Kong after China imposed a tough new national security law.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Warner Bros. has again delayed the release of the Christopher Nolan film “Tenet.” It marks the latest setback for the global movie theater industry, which has been struggling to survive closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

— “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek was “ready to pack it in” during his battle with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. In his new memoir, he writes of surviving — and the burden of serving as a beacon of hope.

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— The jam-packed schedules of these art students were crafted around dreams to become professional dancers, painters and musicians. But as studios close and education moves online, their future is uncertain.

— Welcome to stan Twitter, where passions run deep, drama is high and actress Ana de Armas might block you.

BUSINESS

— A former Fox News employee and a guest allege in a federal lawsuit that they were subjected to a variety of sexually inappropriate behavior by ex-anchor Ed Henry and two of the channel’s biggest stars, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.

— The downtown L.A. skyscraper U.S. Bank Tower will be sold at a discount to the developer of One World Trade Center in New York as the pandemic drives down office leasing across the country and raises questions about the future appeal of high-rise office buildings.

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— Drivers for Target-owned delivery service Shipt say the company’s gradual shift to a new pay algorithm has slashed their earnings, sparking protests.

SPORTS

— The start of the high school sports season in California will be delayed until December or January, the California Interscholastic Federation has announced.

Major League Baseball created a rigorous coronavirus safety plan to allow teams to play: regular testing, tracing, quarantines. Putting that into practice is the hard part.

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OPINION

— Columnist Jonah Goldberg asks: Why is Trump so proud of passing a test that only those with dementia fail?

— Columnist Erika D. Smith charts the path of how two Santa Monica women came to stand up for Black lives.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Hundreds of young doctors from other countries have seen their visas put on hold indefinitely by the Trump administration, as hospitals seek more staff to treat COVID-19 patients. (ProPublica)

— The coronavirus put plenty of the usual summer activities on hold. No wonder kiddie pools are selling out: It’s “better than nothing.” (Washington Post)

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ONLY IN L.A.

Mark Redito is an L.A.-based electronic music producer who is also the proud parent to more than 40 houseplants. In his work, he’s found a way to incorporate his plant passion: He visually couples his earthy, soothing sounds with heavy plant imagery, including short snippets of him tenderly caring for plants and abstract videos of 3-D modeled flora. “In this age of quarantine and global uncertainty,” he says, “gardening acts as a personal mindfulness practice for me.”

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


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