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Today’s Headlines: Holding out hope in Florida

Paper portraits adorn a fence, with a row of colorful bouquets and candles on the ground
A makeshift memorial bears photos of those missing in the oceanfront condo building collapse in Surfside, Fla.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Holding out hope in Florida

In Surfside, Fla., just north of Miami Beach, families of those missing after the collapse of a 12-story condominium building visited the site, holding out hope that someone could still be found alive, as rescuers kept searching a 30-foot mountain of concrete and metal.

On Sunday, the death toll rose by four people — to a total of nine confirmed dead. More than 150 additional people were still missing, and no one has been rescued since Thursday, hours after the collapse. Some relatives of the missing have been frustrated with the pace of rescue efforts, but officials said they are working as hard as possible to find survivors while being careful to stabilize and shore up debris as they go.

The people inside the beachfront condo complex Champlain Towers South reflected Miami’s status as an international 21st century metropolis, one that draws a unique mix of wealthy South American immigrants and tourists, Orthodox Jews and sun-chasing retirees from the Northeast.

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The cause of the collapse has yet to be determined. Surfside officials released a 2018 report late Friday in which an engineer flagged a “major error” at the building, where lack of drainage on the pool deck had caused “major structural damage” to a concrete slab below that deck.

Diverse yet divided cities

Even as Los Angeles and other American cities have become more racially diverse over the last few decades, segregation and the inequities that go along with it have changed little, according to new research from UC Berkeley.

The L.A. metropolitan area has seen only slight improvements, the study found, and remains the sixth-most segregated of 221 metro areas. Some other regions of California ranked in the study did even worse. New York, Chicago and Milwaukee were found to be the most segregated metropolitan regions, while the Midwest and mid-Atlantic were the most segregated areas of the country, followed by the West Coast.

The study also found that key outcomes for residents in segregated communities — including income, home values and life expectancy — remain worse than those in more integrated areas.

A new threat to the unvaccinated

New data show the Delta coronavirus variant is now the third-most common in California, underscoring the danger of the highly contagious strain to people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19. The variant makes up 14.5% of California coronavirus cases analyzed so far in June, up from 4.7% in May, according to data released by the state Department of Public Health.

Experts say the Delta variant poses a greater chance of infection for unvaccinated people if they are exposed. The variant, first identified in India, may be twice as transmissible as the conventional coronavirus strains. It has been responsible for the rise in cases recently in India, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

But vaccinated people are well protected against infection and illness from the Delta variant.

More top coronavirus headlines

South Africa is imposing a sweeping set of new restrictions as the country faces a third wave of infection, probably driven by the Delta variant, that threatens to outpace the previous two.

— Thrown off stride in its COVID-19 vaccination goal, the Biden administration is sending A-list officials across the country, devising ads for niche markets and enlisting community organizers to persuade unvaccinated people to get a shot.

— In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration is struggling to do the same. Public health experts say it’s been hampered by inconsistent and hastily developed public messaging and an outreach campaign that relies too heavily on private advertising firms and companies such as Google and Blue Shield of California.

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

So many deaths, but why?

At the Airtel Plaza Hotel outside Van Nuys Airport, hundreds have been housed through Project Roomkey, a California-wide government program launched in spring 2020 to provide rooms to homeless people most vulnerable to hospitalization or death from COVID-19.

Since then, at least eight people have died while living at the sprawling hotel and conference center, according to data provided by the L.A. County coroner and the L.A. Homeless Services Authority. It’s not the only Project Roomkey hotel where people have died.

It’s a reflection, in some ways, of the vulnerability of the homeless people who went there, and the maladies and addictions that can be exacerbated by living on the streets. But the death toll also raises questions about whether providers could better protect people as they move from the streets into hotel rooms and other shelter.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

Frank Carson was Stanislaus County’s most controversial defense attorney, a wizard with juries and a courtroom brawler. After he was charged with murder, it resulted in one of the longest criminal trials in California history. Plus: Hear the podcast of this story of power, politics and the law.

— This man tried to commemorate the erased history of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Chinese authorities detained him, then erased the record of that too.

William Gude’s son was slain in South L.A. He still says cops aren’t the answer to crime, columnist Erika D. Smith writes.

— Columnist Steve Lopez introduces us to Pilar Diaz Bombino, who became a U.S. citizen one day and graduated near the top of her high school class the next.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1979, L.A. residents were wearing masks — because of smog. Los Angeles Times staff photographer Boris Yaro photographed Sera Segal-Alsberg on Crescent Heights Boulevard in West Hollywood. Segal-Alsberg, an artist-instructor, was en route to teach a class at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

In late June of that year, Los Angeles suffered several days of second-stage ozone alerts. A June 30, 1979, Los Angeles Times article reported:

“Emergency smog plans requiring 2,750 companies to form employee carpools and cut emissions 20% were called into action.”

A car driver wears a mask
June 29, 1979: Sera Segal-Alsberg wears a mask designed to filter out airborne particles during a smog alert.
(Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox is revealing his plan to reduce homelessness, but it’s light on details of how to accomplish his goals.

Long Beach police arrested three suspects in connection with a shooting that wounded three people, including a 13-year-old boy, near the Pike Outlets on Saturday night.

— Forecasters say the heat wave blistering Southern California’s inland valleys and mountains will continue today, followed by potential showers and thunderstorms later in the week.

— The first Orgullo Fest brought a pride celebration to Boyle Heights.

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NATION-WORLD

— A bipartisan deal to invest nearly $1 trillion in the nation’s infrastructure appeared to be back on track after a stark walk-back by President Biden on his earlier insistence that the bill be coupled with an even larger Democratic-backed measure to earn his signature.

— The U.S. military, under the direction of Biden, conducted airstrikes against what it said were “facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups” near the border between Iraq and Syria.

— A heat wave hitting the Pacific Northwest pushed daytime temperatures into the triple digits, disrupted Olympic qualifying events and broke all-time temperature records in places unaccustomed to such extreme heat.

Armenia’s national elections commission denied a claim by major opposition groups that the parliamentary election results that gave an overwhelming victory to the acting prime minister’s party were invalid.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— The movie “F9" took in an estimated $70 million in its first weekend, the biggest opening for a film since the pandemic began. Here’s how it reunited the “Tokyo Drift” crew — and what that could mean for the future of the “Fast & Furious” franchise.

— At the BET Awards, Lil Nas X locked lips in a passionate kiss that many saw as a major moment and Cardi B announced she’s pregnant.

— In another sign of live entertainment’s rebirth, Bruce Springsteen returned to Broadway over the weekend.

John Langley, creator of the long-running TV series “Cops,” died during a road race in Mexico, a family spokeswoman said. He was 78.

BUSINESS

— Last year there were more new Black-owned businesses proportionate to the total population than at any time in the last quarter-century, according to the Kauffman Foundation’s annual study. A lot had to do with the pandemic.

Space junk orbiting Earth has become an increasingly acute problem. That’s why Millennium Space Systems in El Segundo is testing a technology that would help drag spacecraft lower into the atmosphere so they can burn up.

SPORTS

Simone Biles will lead the U.S. gymnastics team’s quest for gold at the Tokyo Olympics. “It’s been a really long journey from 2016 to now,” she said.

Clayton Kershaw dominated in the Dodgers’ series-clinching win over the Cubs.

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Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— The recall election was a bad idea, but now that it’s on, it needs to be fairly run, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Yikes! Is Sheriff Alex Villanueva actually making sense about homelessness in Venice Beach? Columnist Robin Abcarian says his latest move may pay off.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Former Atty. Gen. William Barr gives his side of the story of his breakup with Trump. (The Atlantic)

— Why is it so dry in California? Experts explain the factors behind another drought. (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

ONLY IN L.A.

The real estate market is hot, and even sellers of high-end homes are trying to take advantage. In Malibu, there are 19 properties with a price tag above $30 million. Among them is a 180-acre retreat complete with a 12,000-square-foot hacienda and 10,000-vine vineyard owned by George Rosenthal, the entrepreneur who founded the real estate company Raleigh Enterprises. It just hit the market for $38 million. But you can take a peek for free here.

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


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