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Today’s Headlines: On the verge of a ‘new normal’

Disneyland on a rainy day.
Visitors take photos at Disneyland in March 2020, shortly before the park closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It could reopen in a limited capacity in April.
(Associated Press)

The “new normal” that lies just ahead for Southern California will be anything but business as usual — yet it’s a start.

TOP STORIES

On the Verge of a ‘New Normal’

Southern California is set to take big steps toward something more closely resembling pre-pandemic life as some economic restrictions that have been in place for months are close to being lifted. Some major changes are possible within days.

This newest normal will still be a considerably different world — one marked by continued strict capacity limits for businesses, required masks and social distancing, and reduced or modified operations at public sites of all stripes, including schools, restaurant dining rooms, gyms and theme parks such as Disneyland.

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With coronavirus cases down dramatically after the fall-and-winter surge, Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties are now on the verge of exiting California’s purple tier, the most proscriptive of the state’s four color-coded reopening categories.

Meanwhile, a tentative agreement between the teachers union and the L.A. Unified School District brought schools a critical step closer to a return to campus beginning in late mid-April.

With the return of high school sports in Southern California, The Times is launching Prep Rally, a newsletter written by the dean of Southland prep coverage, Eric Sondheimer. Sign up for it here.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— For people suffering from what’s become known as “long COVID,” fuzziness and other long-term symptoms can linger long after their infection. Filing for disability and obtaining benefits is similarly murky.

— Cases of the coronavirus among Los Angeles police personnel have dropped precipitously as vaccinations continue to ramp up, according to figures provided by LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

Pasadena officials canceled a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for senior citizens, grocery store employees and other essential workers after hundreds of people who were not eligible for the shots signed up for appointments.

— California is making it easier for people to get the COVID-19 vaccine by volunteering at COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Volunteers need to complete a shift of four hours or more to be eligible.

‘A Fight for California’s Future’

Assuring Californians that their deliverance from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic is within sight, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday made an aggressive effort to rekindle faith in his ability to lead a state tattered by unprecedented lockdowns, economic devastation and enough political animus to nourish an effort to recall him from office.

Newsom emphasized his administration’s work to respond to the challenges that “made the unthinkable commonplace” over the last year and pledged to address the deep-rooted inequities further exposed by the pandemic as California emerges from the outbreak.

The Democratic governor delivered his annual State of the State address from Dodger Stadium, a mass COVID-19 vaccination site that served as a carefully staged backdrop for a speech laced with springtime optimism. Newsom noted that the capacity of the empty ballpark nearly matches the number of lives lost in California, symbolizing the toll of the pandemic.

‘Liberal Wish List’? Sure!

Republicans call the massive COVID-19 relief package making its way through Congress a “liberal wish list.” Increasingly, Democratic lawmakers and the Biden administration have chosen to own that.

Though the debate over who receives $1,400 direct payments has been in the headlines, the bill affects health insurance premiums, child care and pensions in ways that would amount to major pieces of legislation on their own.

Republicans hope the size and sprawling nature of the measure will, over time, boomerang on Democrats. The GOP has been nearly unanimous in criticizing it as too costly and likely to cause inflation.

But Democrats have been encouraged by surveys that have consistently shown strong support for the legislation. A poll released Tuesday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 70% of Americans are in favor of the package, with 28% opposed.

More Politics

— A Trump-era immigration rule denying green cards to immigrants who use public benefits like food stamps was dealt likely fatal blows after the Biden administration dropped legal challenges, including before the Supreme Court.

— The publication of private, intimate pictures of former Rep. Katie Hill that drove her to resign from her seat representing northern L.A. County will be contested in court this week in an argument that pits the 1st Amendment against California’s revenge-porn law.

— Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has formally approved an extension of the National Guard deployment at the U.S. Capitol for about two more months as possible threats of violence remain, the Pentagon said.

A Survivor’s Story

“2 Die, 3 Lost but Girl, 9, Survives Capsizing of Pleasure Boat in Sea,” read a Los Angeles Times headline in May 1986.

The girl was Desireé Rodriguez, who had been kept afloat by her orange life jacket and the bow of her family’s capsized boat, as she watched helplessly as one family member after another died in the waters between Catalina and San Pedro.

Today’s Column One feature tells the story of what happened to young Desireé in the ocean and how she came to reunite with her rescuers decades later.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

This photo of silent screen star Douglas Fairbanks with U.S. Navy sailor Eddie O’Hara appeared in The Times on March 10, 1918, with three other photos, under the headline “Doug shows how to capture Hun.”

On the back of the print, a handwritten note reported that the actor, an avid boxing and wrestling fan, was demonstrating some of the some of the moves “handed down to him by Kid McCoy, Jack Dempsey and Leach Cross” — fighters of the era, and Dempsey then the world heavyweight champion.

Two men grapple
March 9, 1918: Douglas Fairbanks, left, with sailor Eddie O’Hara during photo shoot demonstrating wrestling moves.
(Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— The FBI has arrested two brothers from Southern California in the Capitol riot case. Their arrest started with a tip from Finland.

— A winter storm that doused the Bay Area is moving into Southern California, bringing rain and the potential for hail to much of the L.A. area and snow to the mountains.

Rancho Mirage has landed the country’s first 3-D-printed housing community.

UC Davis’ plan to combat the spread of the coronavirus: giving students $75 gift cards if they stay put for spring break.

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NATION-WORLD

— The long process of jury selection for a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death began with three jurors picked and six others in the pool dismissed, including some who said they would not be able to set aside their views on what happened.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law legislation banning nearly all abortions in the state.

— More Americans now qualify for yearly scans to detect lung cancer, according to new guidelines that may help more Black smokers and women get screened.

— In its first comment since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, Buckingham Palace said the British royal family was “saddened” to learn of the couple’s struggles and the issues they raised, especially with respect to racism, were “concerning” and would be taken very seriously.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— More than two weeks after a Times investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., and days after the group pledged “transformational change,” the HFPA leadership announced it was retaining a strategic diversity advisor and an outside law firm to “guard against any exclusionary practices,” audit bylaws and membership requirements, and review and monitor its policies.

— For the first time, two women have been nominated for the top Directors Guild of America award — Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman.”

— With “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” Superman is back in the movies. But he’s always been better on TV, according to television critic Robert Lloyd.

— The Disney+ streaming service has surpassed 100 million subscribers in the 16 months since it launched — a heartening development for a company that has weathered extraordinary challenges because of the pandemic.

BUSINESS

— Clearview AI has amassed a facial-recognition database of more than 3 billion photos — the country’s biggest, even bigger than the FBI’s — by scraping sites like Facebook and Twitter. A new lawsuit charges it’s violating people’s privacy and chilling free speech.

— For years, Elon Musk has been telling the public that fully self-driving Tesla cars are just around the corner. But the company has been telling regulators a very different story, emails reveal.

SPORTS

— Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma’s brother Andre Smith hopes to get his shot at hoop dreams — playing virtual games in the NBA 2K League, that is.

— Baseball’s hottest rivalry will heat up some more when the Dodgers face the San Diego Padres at Petco Park next month. But if you’re a Dodgers fan, don’t expect to be able to buy tickets.

— At every stop during his 14-year MLB career, catcher Kurt Suzuki has brought what his new Angels teammates recognize immediately: boundless enthusiasm.

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OPINION

— The COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will save lives. But public health officials must address the false narrative that it’s a lesser vaccine, columnist Erika D. Smith writes.

— California’s monarch butterflies could disappear due to habitat loss, unless we act now to protect them, The Times’ editorial board writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— The pandemic’s toll on the emotional health of teenagers has been profound. (ProPublica)

— Two species of sea slugs can pop off their heads and regrow their entire bodies. (Scientific American)

ONLY IN L.A.

Chatsworth. San Pedro. Brentwood. They’re all part of the city of Los Angeles, even though their residents may not identify as such. “The city is so big,” writes columnist Patt Morrison, “its edges so raggedy, and it grew like a puzzle, filling in bits here and chunks there, that it defies a single sense of community.” The result is “hundreds of distinct neighborhood identities, cobbled together from the names of venerable developments, or natural features, or community characteristics, or wishful thinking” — or in some cases from the remnants of independent cities. Here are the stories of 10 neighborhoods that used to be cities — from a utopian colony in the foothills to a circus owner who incorporated as a city to foil regulators.

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


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