Today’s Headlines: How big is the reopening risk?

Crowds at a pier
People visit the Santa Monica Pier on Monday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. and Orange counties have been cleared for more reopenings, even as concerns about a fourth COVID-19 wave grow.


How Big Is the Reopening Risk?

This week, top federal health authorities in Washington issued grave warnings that COVID-19 cases are on the rise, and that a national spring surge could be emerging with the coming Easter holiday.


Yet California officials this week also announced that two of the state’s most populous counties — Orange and Los Angeles — have been cleared to more significantly reopen businesses and other public spaces, bringing hope of a greater economic recovery.

California has seen no signs of the increases that have raised alarms elsewhere in the country — yet. But it was hard not to miss the seeming contradiction of the two messages.

So what’s going on? Concerns are growing that California may see the situation worsen, while some experts are worried but cautiously optimistic for the state.

Hey, Big Spender

Decades ago, Joe Biden voted for the tax cuts that allowed President Reagan to declare an end to big government — and later he supported a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and talked of the need to reduce the long-term costs of Social Security and Medicare.

But as president, Biden has charted a far different course, responding to a changed economic environment and a big change in voters’ attitudes. This month, he signed into law a $1.9-trillion spending plan that includes historic expansions of the federal social safety net to address problems worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, he plans to outline just over $2 trillion in spending on roads, bridges, transit, elder care, housing, and upgrades in the nation’s drinking water and electric power systems — the first tranche of a long-term “Build Back Better” plan for investing in the nation’s infrastructure and support for families that could cost more than $3 trillion over the next decade.

More Politics

— A majority of likely California voters would keep Gov. Gavin Newsom in office if a recall election were held today, according to a new poll conducted as vaccinations in the state increase and the Democratic governor ramps up his campaign to fight the effort to remove him.

— Biden announced his first slate of judicial nominees, moving quickly to put a diverse cast on the federal judiciary and placing a 50-year-old federal judge in position to potentially become the first Black woman nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.

— The Biden administration issued an annual global report that promises to renew focus on women’s issues and reproductive rights. It also lays out sharp criticism of the Trump administration for placing religious freedom above other rights.

— Biden announced steps to protect Asian Americans from discrimination and violent attacks, including establishing a Justice Department initiative to address a rising number of hate crimes.

For more news and analysis, sign up for our Essential Politics newsletter, sent to your inbox three days a week.

An Emotional Toll

This month’s Atlanta-area shootings that killed eight people, including six Asian women, amplified the longtime mental health crisis in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities after a year of anti-Asian violence and grief over COVID-19 deaths.

Experts and advocates say these events also helped expose other shortcomings in the healthcare system particular to Asian Americans, including a lack of Asian mental health providers, ongoing language barriers and ignorance of Asian culture, histories and the decades of violence they’ve faced in America.

After the shootings, Linda Yoon, a Korean American psychotherapist, saw her L.A.-area practice flooded with calls and emails from would-be clients — most of them Asian people from around the U.S. with requests for an Asian therapist who could help them cope.

Hot in Fresno

Over the last four years, no large U.S. city has seen greater increases in rent than Fresno.

California’s fifth-biggest city is an agricultural powerhouse, but it also makes regular appearances on lists of America’s worst places to live. The median household income is $58,000 — nearly 30% below the state average.

Yet since 2017, average rent for homes in Fresno is up nearly 39% to $1,289 a month, according to real estate firm Apartment List. That includes a 12% increase during the pandemic, the opposite of what has occurred in L.A., San Jose and San Francisco, where rents have plummeted.

While Fresno’s costs have soared, they’re still low enough to provide a respite for people moving from pricier locales. But they have become a burden to the region’s tens of thousands of low-income families.


On this date in 1992, the USS Missouri was decommissioned for the second and final time in Long Beach.

The Mighty Mo, as the battleship was known, was commissioned in 1944 and participated in the World War II battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, as well as serving as the site where Japan signed terms of surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, ending that war.

During the Korean War, the Missouri shelled North Korean positions from 1950 to 1953. Two years later, the ship was decommissioned, only to be retrofitted and recommissioned in 1986. After rejoining the fleet, the Missouri was based in Long Beach and took part in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

After being decommissioned a second time, the ship was moved in 1998 to Pearl Harbor and opened as a museum.

An overhead shot of the battleship USS Missouri
Jan. 19, 1988: The battleship USS Missouri returns to Long Beach harbor after duty in the Persian Gulf.
(Joe Kennedy / Los Angeles Times)


— Despite a growing number of lawsuits over the LAPD’s use of force, officers are again being criticized for their response to protests in Echo Park last week.

— The state bar has filed discipline charges against attorney Tom Girardi, formally accusing him of misappropriating millions in client funds, dishonesty and other acts of moral turpitude in his law practice.

— The California Lottery mishandled a promotion that gave 30,000 Scratchers tickets, worth more than $138,000, to “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which handed most of them out as gifts to audience members, the state controller said.

— A member of MS-13 was charged this week with assaulting a transgender woman in MacArthur Park, the latest in a string of attacks allegedly committed by the gang against members of the LGBTQ community in the area, prosecutors said.

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— Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a prominent conservative in Congress and a close ally of former President Trump, said he was being investigated by the Justice Department over a former relationship, but denied any criminal wrongdoing.

G. Gordon Liddy, the tough-guy Watergate operative who went to prison rather than testify and later turned his Nixon-era infamy into a successful television and talk show career, has died at age 90.

— Violence in eastern Myanmar that drove thousands of members of the Karen ethnic minority to seek shelter in Thailand deepened on Tuesday with new air attacks by the military.

— The leaders of all three branches of Brazil’s armed forces jointly resigned after President Jair Bolsonaro — who has often praised the country’s former military dictatorship — replaced the defense minister, triggering fears of a military shake-up to serve his political interests.

— In South Korea, more than two-thirds of the population lives in apartment buildings and the pandemic has meant noise. Some are finding vengeance is best served with a jackhammer or death metal.


— To watch Chadwick Boseman in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is to see an artist fully committing to life. Here’s how those who worked with him on the film remember his final performance.

— With limited-edition Satan Shoes and his new song “Montero,” Lil Nas X tapped into an age-old pop-music tradition: the satanic panic.

Ariana Grande is the newest pop star to take a seat on NBC’s singing competition “The Voice.” She’ll take Nick Jonas’ seat next season.

Kayleigh McEnany, who served 10 months as press secretary for the Trump White House, has landed a co-host seat on the Fox News daytime program “Outnumbered.”


— Need rent relief? In the city of Los Angeles, tenants can now apply for help from a $235-million fund.

Univision Communications is making an ambitious push into streaming with PrendeTV, an advertising-supported Spanish-language service with more than three dozen live television channels and a deep library of on-demand programs.


UCLA held off top-seeded Michigan 51-49 in the East Regional final to advance to the Final Four in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Bruins will face top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday in a national semifinal after the Bulldogs routed USC.

NFL owners have approved expanding the regular season to 17 games and trimming its preseason games to three. The change marks the first alteration in season structure since 1978.

— What’s motivating the Dodgers this year is the prospect of celebrating a World Series title in front of fans. Those fans got some good news from California as L.A. and Orange counties move into the orange tier: The Dodgers and Angels can sell more tickets.

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— Today is Cesar Chavez Day in California. It pays homage to another American hero with a complex legacy. Should he be canceled? No, writes columnist Gustavo Arellano.

— How should the U.S. handle a COVID-19 vaccine surplus? Give it away, like the country did during World War II, and reap economic and diplomatic benefits, historian Michael Falcone writes in an op-ed.


— You might think working from home is much more environmentally friendly than commuting to an office. The reality is more complicated. (Bloomberg)

— Inside the Koch-backed effort to block the largest election-reform bill in half a century. (The New Yorker)


The Oscars this year will be held not in the Dolby Theatre, their home since 2002, but at Union Station in downtown L.A. for a more intimate — and socially distanced — supper-club-style event. But why must they be held, columnist Carolina Miranda asks, at a train station, where commuters’ lives will be disrupted? Instead, she recommends the Music Center, which is only seven blocks away and has a lot to offer, including “an only-in-L.A. combination of architectural and show biz history.”

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