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Today’s Headlines: L.A. hospitals’ serious condition

Nurse Joan Pung dons her isolation gowns on Christmas Day at Providence St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton.
Nurse Joan Pung dons her isolation gowns on Christmas Day inside the intensive care unit at Providence St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Officials say hospitals in Los Angeles County are running out of space, and things could get worse with a Christmas-fueled surge.

TOP STORIES

L.A. Hospitals’ Serious Condition

The crisis at Los Angeles County hospitals because of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit new levels as patients continue to stream in, and the medical system is bracing for a new wave of coronavirus spread arising from Christmas travel and gatherings.

Hospitals are so inundated that some have resorted to placing patients in conference rooms and gift shops. Many facilities are simply running out of space.

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Virtually all hospitals in L.A. County are being forced to divert ambulances with certain types of patients elsewhere during most hours. On Sunday, 94% of L.A. County hospitals that take in patients stemming from 911 calls were diverting some ambulances away.

“All hospitals are experiencing this strain, but it’s especially more pronounced and more serious for some of the smaller hospitals,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, the L.A. County health services director. “Many hospitals have reached a crisis point and are having to make many tough decisions about patient care.”

L.A. County’s cumulative COVID-19 death toll is expected to climb past 10,000 this week.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Experts say patient data, including names, addresses and birth dates, will be vital to tracking the safety and effectiveness of the new vaccines. But some fear plans to collect those data will deter some of those most vulnerable to the coronavirus, including essential workers who are in the country illegally, from lining up for vaccination.

— Everyone who traveled out of L.A. County is required to quarantine for 10 days upon return, the county Department of Public Health has announced.

— AstraZeneca, whose COVID-19 vaccine candidate is expected to be authorized this week for use in Britain, says its researchers believe the shot will be effective against the new coronavirus strain driving a rapid surge in infections.

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

Trump’s Diminishing Influence in D.C.

President Trump is poised to end his term with back-to-back embarrassments: caving to sign a coronavirus relief compromise he’d called “a disgrace” and facing the likelihood that Congress will override his veto of an annual military operations bill.

In a bipartisan vote Monday evening, the House took the first step in overriding the president’s veto of the defense bill, which had passed overwhelmingly in both chambers this month. The vote, which required a two-thirds margin, was 322 to 87. The Senate could vote as soon as today to follow suit.

Shortly before the override vote, the Democratic-led House gave Trump one thing he said he wanted — approval for a $2,000 payment to assist millions of Americans during the pandemic. But it’s unclear whether the GOP-controlled Senate will even consider the bill, given Republican opposition there.

Even as Trump’s influence in Congress is on the wane, his administration appears to be recalcitrant in the presidential transition. President-elect Joe Biden said the Trump administration has refused to cooperate with his advisors, especially in providing national security information.

Seven Deadly Days in 2020

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a rancorous presidential election and social upheaval over police abuses of Black people, Los Angeles endured another crisis in 2020 as killings and other serious violence rose sharply. Homicides rose by 20% in the county, to their highest level in a decade.

One week in particular stands out: From June 29 to July 5, 29 people were killed across L.A. County. It was the deadliest week on record since 2008.

In an attempt to understand the year’s violence, The Times examined several of the lives that were lost that week and what they showed about the forces driving the bloodshed.

YEAR IN REVIEW

— Quite soon, 2020 will be history. Will we learn from it? Columnist Mary McNamara explores.

— No sports league was more essential to the social justice movement in 2020 than the WNBA, columnist LZ Granderson writes.

— The Times’ entertainment team reflects on the TV series that helped us escape 2020 (if only barely), from “The Real Housewives” to “I May Destroy You.”

Portraits of the year’s pivotal artists, icons and breakout stars.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On Dec. 28, 1990, Gilbert W. Lindsay died at age 90.

His passing marked the loss of a giant figure in L.A. politics. Lindsay was the city’s first Black councilman. In an obituary, The Times wrote that he helped usher in a new era for downtown L.A. as a major metropolitan center while maintaining his signature feisty attitude.

Lindsay was originally a city janitor and worked his way up. He was appointed to represent the 9th District, stretching from downtown to South Central L.A., in 1963 and remained for decades, winning reelection after reelection, even as his health declined. He famously proclaimed himself “Emperor of the Great 9th.” In September 1990, months after winning his 1989 reelection campaign, he suffered a debilitating stroke from which he never recovered.

Los Angeles City Councilman Gilbert Lindsay on April 3, 1966, in South Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— Los Angeles’ first significant storm of the season brought intense lightning, rolling thunder, hail and road hazards, but no significant mudslides or debris flows in recent burn areas.

— The California Supreme Court ruled that inmates who have been convicted of nonviolent sex crimes may be eligible for early parole consideration as part of a ballot measure voters approved.

— Actor Lori Loughlin was released from federal prison after spending two months behind bars for paying half a million dollars in bribes to get her two daughters into college.

— A bust honoring Breonna Taylor was smashed in Oakland over the weekend in what officials are calling an act of hatred.

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NATION-WORLD

— Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo is arguably the most Trumpy of President Trump’s Cabinet secretaries. Where does he go from here?

— A judge has rejected a $28.5-million proposed bail package for Ghislaine Maxwell, saying her incarceration is necessary to ensure she faces trial on charges she recruited girls for Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse.

— A Chinese court sentenced a former lawyer who reported on the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak to four years in prison on charges of “picking fights and provoking trouble.”

— Ethiopia’s Tigray region remains almost completely sealed off from the world more than 50 days since fighting began, but stories of atrocities are beginning to emerge.

— One of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent women’s rights activists was sentenced to nearly six years in prison. The ruling may become a point of contention as Biden, who has vowed to review the U.S.-Saudi relationship, is sworn in.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Director Ava DuVernay and outgoing Warner Bros. Television head Peter Roth have joined forces to make crews in Hollywood more diverse.

— The entertainment industry is still seeking its return to normalcy. For four independent production companies, adapting has meant hiring compliance officers, embracing animation and organizing staff into smaller crews.

Hilaria Baldwin, a New York wellness personality and yoga studio owner who’s married to actor Alec Baldwin, has come under fire on social media for misrepresenting her heritage and nationality over several years.

— Mexican ballad singer and composer Armando Manzanero has died at age 85 after being hospitalized.

BUSINESS

— Another round of pandemic stimulus checks is coming. So how much will you get and when?

Philip Esformes was convicted last year in what federal prosecutors termed “the largest healthcare fraud scheme ever charged by the Department of Justice.” Now, thanks to Trump, he’s a free man, as columnist Michael Hiltzik writes.

SPORTS

— Some states restricted youth sports; some didn’t. For the high school football players hoping to make it big, dreams were made or broken in 2020.

— Sparks star Chiney Ogwumike didn’t need basketball to make the most of 2020. Sidelined by injuries from the bubbled season, she became a prominent social-justice advocate and the first Black woman to co-host a national ESPN radio show.

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OPINION

— Despite her health history, it wasn’t easy for Canadian doctor Jillian Horton to decide to avoid the pandemic’s front line. But COVID-19 helped her draw the line — too seldom appreciated in medicine — between heroism and martyrdom.

— It’s surreal to read news of ICU capacity hitting zero and plans for an underground “Prohibition"-style dinner at the same time, writes columnist Frank Shyong.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— For decades, a unique and deeply ingrained system of norms and union contracts has governed police discipline. It started somewhere. (New York Times)

— Not many people talk about how difficult breastfeeding is. That’s hurting moms. (The Lily)

ONLY IN L.A.

UCLA student Shay Rose built a mammoth following on TikTok and Instagram with handmade whimsical costumes that re-create looks such as those of Disney princesses and Lady Gaga. This year, as the pandemic worsened, she wondered what it would be like to have her own social distancing bubble. So she created one — a pink tulle dress with a 6-foot radius.

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


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