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Today’s Headlines: One day in America’s pandemic

Fire Capt. Daniel Soto, center, supervises as firefighters treat a man struck by a car Nov. 22 in Houston.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

As the COVID-19 pandemic surges in the United States, we documented a day in the life of frontline workers.

TOP STORIES

One Day in America’s Pandemic

A pastor in Florida. A nurse in North Dakota. A fire captain in Houston. Even with years of experience dealing with death, they find it difficult to fathom the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

The number of new cases reported in the U.S. topped 200,000 for the first time Friday. Since January, when the first infections were reported in the U.S., the nation’s total number of cases has surpassed 13 million, and more than 265,000 people have died.

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Meanwhile, California has more people hospitalized with COVID-19 than at any other time since the pandemic began, an ominous sign that comes as officials warn of further virus spread after the long holiday weekend.

But for people like the Rev. Albert Mann, nurse Nikole Hoggarth and Fire Capt. Daniel Soto, there isn’t much time to think about the numbers while working on the frontlines. The Times set out to document one day in their lives — and one day of pain and loss in the pandemic.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— In Los Angeles County, a wave of new restrictions on personal gatherings and capacity levels at stores takes effect today. But there are concerns that the surge will get worse before it gets better due to Thanksgiving celebrations and Black Friday shopping

— Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the U.S. may see “surge upon a surge”, and he does not expect current recommendations around social distancing to be relaxed before Christmas. But with a vaccine on the way, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

New York City will reopen its school system to in-person learning, and increase the number of days a week many children attend class, even as the coronavirus pandemic intensifies in the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

— A short guide to quarantining after holiday travel.

Moderna said it would ask U.S. and European regulators today to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm that the shots offer strong protection.

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

So Much Losing in Court

President Trump, even while repeating his groundless claim that “we won the race,” appears to have acknowledged his dwindling chances of success in his legal battle to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election won by President-elect Joe Biden.

In a 45-minute call to Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Trump said, “It’s hard to get into the Supreme Court,” and accused federal law enforcement agencies run by his own appointees of failing to come to his aid — or even being complicit in what he continued to describe, without foundation, as “massive fraud.”

Trump’s campaign has suffered dozens of losses in court, including a rebuff from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and results of a partial recount in Wisconsin added slightly to Biden’s margin of victory.

Clearing the Benches?

For the last four years, some federal judges postponed retirement plans rather than give Trump the opportunity to name more conservatives to the nation’s powerful appeals courts.

When Biden assumes office, many of those judges are expected to step aside to allow the new Democratic president to appoint their successors, especially if Democrats regain the U.S. Senate.

The stakes are considerable, especially in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which decides federal law for nine Western states. Trump’s 10 appointments to the court, more than a third of its active judges, have moved the 9th Circuit to the right. Biden could tilt it back again if his appointments win confirmation. But that may be a big “if.”

More Politics

Congressional Democrats are recalibrating their ambitions as they face the reality that Republicans will be more powerful in Washington next year than they had expected.

— Biden suffered hairline fractures in his foot while playing with one of his dogs, but doctors found “no obvious fracture” while examining him Sunday, according to his doctor. He’ll probably wear a walking boot for several weeks.

— Biden will have an all-female senior communications team at his White House, led by campaign communications director Kate Bedingfield.

A ‘Managed Retreat’ From the Sea

With the realities of climate change looming ever closer, California transportation officials are now moving a key stretch of Highway 1 in Sonoma County more than 350 feet inland.

The project at Gleason Beach is one of the first major efforts by the state to relocate critical infrastructure far enough from the coast to make room for the next 100 years of sea level rise.

It marks a change in approach, after officials tried for decades to save the road from the ocean — pouring millions of tax dollars into a vicious cycle of sudden collapses and emergency repairs. It also offers a glimpse into the future for other communities now clashing over the costs and compromises of living by the sea.

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— The Chinese government is expected to announce it has eliminated extreme poverty. But what is the reality on the ground like?

— Convincing millions of skeptical Black people to get vaccinated for COVID-19 won’t be as simple as many elected and public health officials would hope. Columnist Erika D. Smith explains why.

Parler has become the go-to social media platform for right-wing and extremist commentators. Columnist Carolina A. Miranda looks at its MAGA-red echo chamber design.

— He lost his quesadilla stand to the pandemic. Now he feeds needy people.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Natalie Wood was one of Hollywood’s great actresses, earning three Oscar nominations before the age of 25 and starring in “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Rebel Without a Cause” and “West Side Story,” among many other films.

On the morning of Nov. 29, 1981, Wood’s body was found after she and her husband, Robert Wagner; actor Christopher Walken; and others spent the night on a yacht. Officials at the time said the death of Wood, who could not swim, was an accident, but speculation over whether there was more to the story has endured.

In 1966, Wood spoke with The Times’ Kevin Thomas about fame in Hollywood as a child and adult actress, the fans and some of the drawbacks: “There’s a terrific lack of privacy, a terrific interest in what you’re doing. You’re considered fair game, and sometimes it’s not very pleasant.”

This year, Wood’s daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, told Times film critic Kenneth Turan that the shocking nature of her mother’s death at age 43 has overshadowed Wood’s career achievements and her joyfulness as a person. That led Gregson Wagner to produce a documentary about her mother’s life that premiered on HBO.

Natalie Wood in 1969
Natalie Wood in 1969 after finishing “Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice.”
(Los Angeles Times)

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

CALIFORNIA

— A committee in San Francisco has recommended 42 schools for a name change, saying their namesakes are tied to racism or oppression. But a backlash has developed, including from the mayor.

— Dozens of demonstrators converged outside the home of L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer to express their displeasure with the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions.

— Gov. Gavin Newson has reversed parole for Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, marking the fourth time a governor has blocked her release.

— Police are investigating the vandalization of six Buddhist temples in Little Saigon over the last month.

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NATION-WORLD

Iran is under intense pressure over how to respond to the brazen killing of one of its top nuclear scientists.

— To protect and advance LGBTQ rights, the Biden administration is planning a series of swift moves.

— Suspected members of the Islamic militant group Boko Haram killed at least 40 rice farmers and fishermen in Nigeria’s northern Borno state, officials said.

— A human rights group in Belarus said more than 300 people have been detained during protests against the country’s authoritarian president.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Co-director Hao Wu explains how he got an inside look at the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan for the documentary “76 Days,” even though he remained in the U.S.

— At 60, Hugh Grant is enjoying a career renaissance playing bad guys instead of romantic leads. He’s also taking care of five children under the age of 10.

— In Netflix’s “Selena: The Series,” Christian Serratos portrays the legendary singer. “There was that moment where I thought: ‘Do I want this pressure?’” she said.

David Prowse, the British weightlifter-turned-actor who played Darth Vader (but did not voice the character) in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, has died at 85.

BUSINESS

— Without an influx of new federal aid, tens of thousands of California’s 5 million small businesses face a bleak winter of government restrictions, dwindling customers and closures amid a slowing economic recovery. Many may not survive.

— Some shoppers woke early for Black Friday deals, but the crowds appeared smaller and the lines seemed shorter than in a typical year.

SPORTS

— The COVID-19 crisis is wreaking havoc in the NFL, creating a nightmare for the Denver Broncos at quarterback and leaving the San Francisco 49ers without a home field. And it could get worse.

— In danger of losing a second consecutive game because of a coronavirus outbreak, USC will play Washington State on Sunday at 6 p.m. Pacific time, instead of Friday, in the hope that several Trojans currently in quarantine would be cleared to return by then.

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OPINION

— The Mobile River Basin, one of America’s great wildernesses, is being destroyed in a silent massacre, journalist and filmmaker Ben Raines writes.

— The relationship between Latinos and “Latinx”? It’s complicated, writes Benjamin Francis-Fallon, author of “The Rise of the Latino Vote: A History.”

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— The Trump administration is rushing to approve dozens of eleventh-hour policy changes. Among them: The Justice Department is fast-tracking a rule that could reintroduce firing squads and electrocutions to federal executions. (ProPublica)

— The monolith found in the desert in Utah has disappeared, and there are plenty of theories around it. (The Guardian)

ONLY IN L.A.

Although the majority of Christmas trees are shipped to Los Angeles from the Pacific Northwest, there are tree farms in and around Los Angeles where you can choose and cut your own tree. With the coronavirus, in some instances, “cut your own tree” now means “choose the tree you like and we’ll cut it for you.” Whether you wield the saw or someone else does, here are some local farms where you can get in the holiday spirit.

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


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