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Today’s Headlines: California coronavirus cases surge

A pedestrian walks past a sign in San Francisco on Saturday.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

The COVID-19 pandemic is worsening in California, and Los Angeles is suspending outdoor dining.

TOP STORIES

California Coronavirus Cases Surge

California’s average daily number of coronavirus cases has tripled in the last month to more than 11,500, a Times analysis has found, as pandemic conditions have deteriorated dramatically.

The coronavirus is now infecting more Californians daily than at any previous point in the COVID-19 pandemic, causing hospitals and exhausted healthcare workers to brace for a surge of patients and raising concerns about a new peak in coronavirus-related deaths by Christmas.

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California coronavirus case chart
(Los Angeles Times Graphics)

In Los Angeles County, officials said the average was more than 4,000 cases a day — more than double the number from just two weeks ago — prompting them to suspend outdoor dining at restaurants.

It’s another devastating blow to L.A.'s struggling restaurant industry, as few segments of the retail economy have been hit harder by the pandemic. The new rule takes effect at 10 p.m. Wednesday and restricts restaurants — along with breweries, wineries and bars — to takeout and delivery only for the first time since May. It will remain in place for at least three weeks.

Health officials have blamed a variety of factors, including holidays, sports championships, protest demonstrations, an increase in social gatherings and workplace outbreaks and an overall sense of fatigue when it comes to following the rules.

They are urging everyone to stay home as much as possible for the next two to three weeks to stem the rising tide of infections and avoid overwhelming the healthcare system.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his family are under quarantine after learning that three of his children were exposed to a California Highway Patrol officer who tested positive for the coronavirus, the governor’s office said.

— U.S. health officials have agreed to allow emergency use of a second antibody drug to help the immune system fight COVID-19. It’s the experimental medicine that President Trump was given when he was sickened last month.

— Oxford University and drugmaker AstraZeneca say late-stage trials of their COVID-19 vaccine show it to be up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.

— A couple of hundred protesters gathered Saturday night at Huntington Beach Pier in defiance of the state’s coronavirus curfew that went into effect at 10 p.m. Plus, here’s how law enforcement agencies will — or won’t — enforce it.

— Five California state prisons are rolling out video visitation programs as in-person visits remain suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Biden Moves Forward Despite Trump

President-elect Joe Biden is set to unveil his first Cabinet picks Tuesday, his chief of staff said. Already some names are being mentioned: Biden reportedly has turned to Antony Blinken, one of his most trusted and long-serving foreign policy advisors, as his choice for secretary of State.

But as Biden is building his administration-in-waiting, President Trump has continued with his longshot efforts to overturn the election result. Ahead of deadlines in the key battleground states of Michigan and Pennsylvania to certify their vote outcomes, a few prominent Republicans again have urged the president to abandon his chaotic crusade, now in its third week of near-daily setbacks in courtrooms and election offices across the country.

More than 30 of the Trump campaign’s lawsuits have been withdrawn or thrown out. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump ally interviewed on ABC’s “This Week,” called the sometimes bizarre behavior of the president’s legal team, headed by former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a “national embarrassment.”

Trump also has demonstrated his willingness to personally meddle in states’ voting certifications, which are a prelude to the convening of the electoral college next month to make the election result official.

As he fights to hold on, Trump has put many of his governing responsibilities on the back burner. On Saturday, Trump left the virtual G-20 summit to play golf as other leaders discussed by video a global response to the worsening pandemic.

More Politics

— When he takes the oath of office in January at the age of 78, Biden will be the oldest person to be president. Fighting off the “lame duck” label is already on his advisors’ to-do list.

— With Georgia’s Republican Party feuding since Biden won there, a question looms: Can the party unite to help two senators win runoffs that will decide whether the GOP or Democrats run the Senate?

— What do Iranian Americans expect from a Biden administration? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

‘A Pandemic of Crime’

Over the weekend, despite the 10 p.m. curfew aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, L.A.. passed another deadly threshold: 300 homicides this year, a number not seen in a decade.

Killings in L.A. are up 25% over last year and shootings are up more than 32%, mirroring increases in violence that are driving concern in big cities across the nation. Last week, a pregnant woman was gunned down. Children and elderly residents have been killed. Of all the year’s victims, nearly 20% have been homeless. Gangs are suspected in many cases.

“We have a pandemic of crime right now,” said Police Chief Michel Moore, who added he is scrambling to put more officers on the street while dealing with a $150-million budget cut enacted after protests against police misconduct. Still, reform advocates contend that it is social services and programs that will reduce violence, not additional police or police funding.

A Bridge Too Far?

In 2018, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti put his personal stamp on the city’s response to homelessness by proposing to open a shelter in each of L.A.'s 15 council districts. Garcetti has largely made good on that plan, called A Bridge Home, with 20 up and running and five more nearing completion.

But a Times review shows that A Bridge Home, which has cost about $200 million, has had less success living up to its promise to move people on the streets into permanent housing and improve the communities around the shelters with enhanced policing and increased sanitation services.

Of nearly 1,500 people who were in the shelters and left through early November, only 15% moved on to permanent housing. Two-thirds either went back to the streets or left without saying where they were going.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

China has a new campaign to make Muslims devoted to the state rather than Islam.

— After the Bobcat fire, a century-old community called Big Santa Anita Canyon hopes to rebuild its storied past.

— Irony of ironies: What saved the small chain Burritos La Palma during a pandemic was going viral, columnist Gustavo Arellano writes.

Armenian Americans marvel at an elder’s generosity as they grieve over an ancestral home.

— Want to make a fortune in overtime? Apply today to the L.A. Fire Department, columnist Steve Lopez writes.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

For the 1976 holiday season, 28 Santa Claus candidates gathered for a two-hour class at the Sears Roebuck and Co. regional headquarters in Alhambra. Staff writer Nancy Yoshihara reported in the Nov. 25, 1976, Los Angeles Times:

“Little Susan Korostoff, 5, blinked in disbelief. Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer would have to take a second glance and even then, he would have been just as confused as Susan by the whole affair.

“There sat Santa Claus — not one, but 28 facsimiles of the the jolly fellow, stroking their white beards and patting their red-flocked stomachs as they sat side by side listening attentively and jotting down notes.”

A room full of Santa Clauses
Nov 24, 1976: Twenty-eight members of the Sears Roebuck Santa Claus school get some final tips before they begin a four-week stints as St. Nick.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times )

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

CALIFORNIA

— A photograph showing one of Garcetti’s closest advisors making a sexually provocative gesture, while the mayor stands nearby, raises new questions about his contention that he had no knowledge of inappropriate behavior by former Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Jacobs.

— The state attorney general has dropped a legal challenge seeking the names and contact information of every person who used one of the state Republican Party’s unofficial ballot drop boxes.

Alice Huffman, the longtime leader of California’s NAACP, will step down next month, a move that comes amid conflict-of-interest allegations after her public affairs company earned $1.7 million endorsing ballot measures this year.

— One year after a pledge died, San Diego State is struggling to control its fraternities.

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NATION-WORLD

— A federal judge has ruled against the head of the agency that runs Voice of America and other U.S.-funded news outlets after he was accused of trying to turn it into a propaganda vehicle to promote Trump’s agenda.

— As a candidate for president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador slammed Mexico’s armed forces and the “mafia of power” that he said controlled them. Now he’s embracing the same military leaders he had once bashed.

— Thousands of people marched in Taipei’s streets demanding the reversal of a decision to allow U.S. pork imports into Taiwan, alleging food safety issues.

— Smaller dance sequences, humbler locations: How Bollywood is adapting to COVID-19.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Animated shows for adult audiences are enjoying a renaissance and might fuel the next Golden Age of TV.

— In “Small Axe,” a film anthology produced by the BBC and Amazon Studios, director Steve McQueen brings untold history to the screen.

— America has what some would call an unsettling love affair with gangsters. The cast of “Fargo” on FX is no different.

Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at the American Music Awards. She said she’s busy re-recording her early music after her catalog was sold.

BUSINESS

— In San Pedro, a new waterfront is in the process of taking shape after the demolition of Ports ‘O Call in 2018.

— Hit by slower sales, Guitar Center, the largest U.S. retailer of music instruments and equipment, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

SPORTS

— USC quarterback Kedon Slovis’ performance against Utah won’t stop the persistent questions about what’s wrong with his arm and why his throws don’t consistently have the zip they did last season, columnist Helene Elliott writes.

— The Lakers have traded JaVale McGee and reached a deal with three-time All-Star center Marc Gasol.

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OPINION

— UC Berkeley professor Susan D. Hyde explains how Trump’s shameful post-election behavior emboldens rogue leaders abroad.

— About that page of pro-Trump letters ... here’s what our readers and Sewell Chan, editor of the editorial pages, have to say about it.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Trump’s campaign has distanced itself from attorney Sidney Powell, who has put forward extreme conspiracy theories about the election. (Bloomberg)

— How Berlin is reckoning with Germany’s colonial past. (Atlas Obscura)

ONLY IN L.A.

Will you be longing for an office holiday party this year? There’s already one underway at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, complete with cringe-worthy outfits, watered-down punch and someone in a Santa hat who may have had a little too much fun. The partygoers are all life-sized sculpted figures. And guess what? You’re invited.

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


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