Newsletter: Today’s Headlines: Biden and Trump, down to the wire

Joe Biden raises his right arm to gesture while speaking at a lectern
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at a drive-in rally at the Florida state fairgrounds on Thursday in Tampa.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

In the presidential campaign’s final days, Joe Biden and President Trump are ramping up.


Biden and Trump, Down to the Wire

Election day is Tuesday, and already 80 million votes have been cast. A poll has found fears of election violence are widespread. And many voters on both sides of the aisle just want the campaign, and the constant partisan bickering that has infiltrated all aspects of life, to end.

But the presidential candidates are battling down to the wire — and millions of mail-in ballots have yet to be returned in key battleground states. On Thursday, President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden unleashed a frenzy of last-minute campaigning in Florida, a must-win state for Trump, whose packed rallies have become their own political liability amid surging coronavirus cases.


Trump and Biden headed to the rapidly growing Tampa region, where their get-out-the-vote events showcased sharply contrasting approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus on Florida comes as polls give Biden a slight edge in the state, which holds 29 electoral votes the Trump campaign desperately needs for a viable path to victory.

In the final days, Trump has stepped up the frequency of his travel, yet Biden continues to lead in the main battleground states, despite his limited travel and deliberately sparse crowds.

One of those states — Pennsylvania — is where Trump won in 2016 in a narrow upset that helped put him in the White House despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. Many pointed to the “quiet” Trump voters who turned out. This time around, polls show Biden holding a small but steady lead in Pennsylvania, owing to his strong support in the cities and suburbs. But in rural areas, where Trump tends to dominate, there are also Biden backers preferring to keep it quiet.

And in another — Wisconsin — hostility toward Trump is intensifying as COVID-19 ravages small towns.

More About the Election

— How did politics get so awful? Science says there’s a reason: A “poisonous cocktail” of beliefs called political sectarianism that turns opponents into mortal enemies regardless of the issue.

— The government tried to get celebrities to tout Trump’s COVID response. It didn’t go well.

How to vote in California: Our complete guide to making sure your ballot counts.

‘Normality’ May Be a Ways Off

With the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rapidly growing, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, says it may be 2022 before a coronavirus-weary world begins to feel a greater sense of normality.

If the U.S. can get a substantial proportion of residents vaccinated by around mid-2021, “I think it will be easily by the end of 2021 — and perhaps even into the next year — before we start having some semblance of normality,” Fauci said in candid comments during an online discussion hosted by an Australian university this week.

As a result, it may not be possible to achieve some longed-for hallmarks of normality without risking a super-spreading event, one in which a large number of people are infected, Fauci told the University of Melbourne. It might be late 2021 or early 2022 before restaurants are able to return to full capacity and professional sports venues are able to allow spectators.

Our sense of what’s normal may also change, Fauci said. He said he believed wearing masks would continue to be common, as it has been in many parts of Asia for decades preceding the COVID-19 pandemic.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— There are new alarming signs that the coronavirus is spreading again in Los Angeles County, with officials announcing the highest one-day increase in cases not connected to a reporting backlog since August.

— Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is urging anyone who congregated to celebrate the Lakers or Dodgers championship wins to get tested for the coronavirus.

China has injected hundreds of thousands of people with COVID-19 vaccines. Why are some patients being asked to keep it a secret?

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

Not in the Happiest Place

When California’s theme parks closed in March, employees of Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other parks were left in limbo, displaced from jobs through no fault of their own, with no idea when — or if — they will be called back.

Walt Disney Co. plans to lay off 28,000 people across its theme parks, products and experience divisions, with about 10,000 of those layoffs hitting the Disneyland Resort parks, hotels and stores in Anaheim, according to company sources. Notifications for those layoffs are expected to reach workers via email by Sunday. Universal Studios Hollywood has already reduced its workforce by as many as 7,000 employees through furloughs, layoffs and cuts to work shifts.

The lucky ones have landed new gigs. Many others continue to collect unemployment checks, holding out hope that they will soon be called back to work alongside co-workers they consider family. But the state has tied the reopening of the theme parks to getting a handle on the pandemic, making a reopening date difficult to predict.

Meanwhile, many theme park staffers are trying to cope with depression and anxiety.

How Disaster Was Averted

Had this week’s Silverado fire began anywhere else, and at any other time, firefighters said it could have been the latest disaster in California’s busiest fire year on record — a time when firefighting resources have been stretched perilously thin.

But this latest fire started on the outskirts of master-planned Orange County, where the roads are smooth and wide, communities were built under the state’s most recent fire code and the largest regional firefighting force in the world was at the ready and just a phone call away.

Despite 45-mph gusts launching embers into the suburban sprawl, where cars sat bumper to bumper trying to flee the oncoming flames, not a single home was lost or seriously damaged. In the end, thanks to a semi-formal agreement among the region’s biggest fire departments and the first use of the world’s biggest, fastest water-dropping helicopter at night, crews were able to stand their ground.


It certainly became a graveyard smash. But Bobby Pickett never thought the now-classic Halloween song “Monster Mash” would define his career. It was thrown together in about four hours in a dingy Hollywood studio with “an absolute minimum of production fuss” in 1962.

Audiences loved his “passable” Boris Karloff impression, and 25 years later, The Times covered the anniversary of the song’s release on Oct. 31, 1987. Pickett didn’t mind being a one-hit wonder — especially when 4 million copies of the song had been sold. And it would influence later voices in novelty music, including “Weird Al” Yankovic and syndicated radio host Dr. Demento.

Pickett died in 2007 at age 69.

1987 photo of Bobby Pickett in a white coat with a fake spider under sign that reads Chamber of Horrors
“Monster Mash” creator Bobby Pickett photographed inside the Hollywood Wax Museum in 1987. He often wore a lab coat stained with fake blood during his appearances.
(Robert Gabriel / Los Angeles Times)

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— It might be different from what you’re used to, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate Halloween and Día de Muertos, IRL or virtually.

— In the before time, “How are you?” was a simple pleasantry. How are we supposed to respond now?

— Splurge on sushi for your weekend takeout.


— Two Los Angeles County supervisors began exploring what it would take to remove county Sheriff Alex Villanueva, but experts say their options are limited.

— California’s Republican Party is fighting to hold onto a congressional seat in a large suburban swath north of L.A., an election that could hinge on Trump’s popularity in the area.

— Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that he personally asked his longtime advisor Rick Jacobs, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, to take a leave last week after learning of new allegations.

— California auditors investigating dozens of whistleblower complaints against state agencies have found more than $800,000 in inappropriate expenditures and millions of dollars more that the state will wastefully spend unless it takes corrective action.

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— The storm Zeta sped across the Southeast, leaving a trail of damage and more than 2.6 million homes and businesses without power in Atlanta and beyond after pounding New Orleans with winds and water that splintered homes and were blamed for at least six deaths.

— An attacker armed with a knife killed three people at a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice, French authorities said, prompting the prime minister to announce that France was raising its domestic security-alert status to the highest level.

— The company seeking to develop Pebble Mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay has long promised that the project would bring Alaska jobs, economic growth and tax revenue. But it expects a $1.5-billion subsidy from Alaskans.

— Heralded as one of the greatest success stories of the Endangered Species Act, the gray wolf will lose federal protections under a Trump administration decision. But conservationists say the action is premature.


Netflix said it is raising the prices of its U.S. standard and premium subscription plans, as the streamer continues to invest in content to differentiate itself from rivals.

— What does it take to pull off a pandemic-friendly, drive-in dance show? L.A. Dance Project explains how theirs came together as dance companies experiment.

— Three important paintings, by Andy Warhol, Brice Marden and Clyfford Still, were pulled from the auction block when the Baltimore Museum of Art reversed its plans — a decision made just hours before two works were to go on sale.

Annapurna Pictures, the company behind “Her,” “Vice” and “Sorry to Bother You,” is expanding its focus on video games with a new internal studio to develop and distribute them.


— For nine months, small-business owners have been making it up as they go without an end in sight. Here are four who made it work — and three who couldn’t.

— Several fair housing organizations accused Redfin of systematic racial discrimination in a lawsuit, saying the online real estate broker offers fewer services to homebuyers and sellers in minority communities.


— The 2021 Dodgers promise to look a lot like the 2020 World Series champions, with most of the team’s championship core seemingly cemented in place.

— Did Justin Turner put his fellow Dodgers at risk by celebrating their World Series championship after he tested positive for the coronavirus?

— The Galaxy fired coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto. With the team at the bottom of the MLS Western Conference standings with three games left in the season, they’ll take time with the next hire.

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— At a time when its legitimacy as an apolitical institution is being questioned, the Supreme Court has been dragged into partisan disputes about when and how ballots should be counted in an election upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Too often it has responded in ways that will make it harder for Americans to vote, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— When the truth has become stranger and more alarming than satire, it’s hard to find the new “Borat” movie funny, writes culture columnist Mary McNamara.


— In Chinese corporate documents obtained by Foreign Policy, Wilbur Ross is listed as serving on the board of a Chinese joint venture until January 2019. That was nearly two years into his term as Trump’s Commerce secretary. (Foreign Policy)

— Winter means more time indoors, and more time inside brings greater risk of spreading the virus. Here’s what that risk looks like. (El Pais)


Maybe you can’t celebrate this year, but you can go all out for Halloween 2021. Julien’s Auctions will be selling items from the collection of Elvira, the wisecracking horror hostess who rose to fame on L.A.'s TV airwaves in the early 1980s. Her trademark dress, original scripts, carved German desk and more are slated for the auction block next October, with the “Mistress of the Dark’s” approval.

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