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Today’s Headlines: L.A. County sees coronavirus hospitalizations grow

A man gets a dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Marco Figueroa, 42, gets a dose of the Pfizer vaccine from nurse Jonica Portillo at the Pico Union Project in Los Angeles.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

L.A. County sees new surge in coronavirus hospitalizations

Los Angeles County health officials reported 2,089 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, with hospitalizations rising as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread.

There are 716 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 452 on July 16, officials said. The county also reported four new deaths, bringing the total to 24,628 fatalities since the pandemic began early last year.

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On Saturday, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned that the Delta variant was “one of the most aggressive and infectious respiratory diseases known and currently makes up over 80% of sequenced cases in L.A. County.”

Although cases remain at a lower point than they were during any of the previous surges, the rate of increase between July 3 and 16 was 135%. Ferrer said vaccinations were still the best safeguard against serious illness requiring hospitalization.

“With unvaccinated individuals comprising over 90% of those currently hospitalized, the ability of the three vaccines to protect us from serious illness caused by the Delta variant is well established,” Ferrer said. “If you are eligible but have not yet been vaccinated, please consider getting vaccinated now.”

Despite the recent jump in hospitalizations, L.A. remains in far better shape than during the fall and winter surge, when an average of about 15,000 new cases were being reported every day and more than 8,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at times.

Many health experts are confident that California will never see numbers on that scale again, given that more than half of Californians are fully vaccinated.

More top coronavirus headlines

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring coronavirus cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the Delta variant.

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— Several states scaled back their reporting of COVID-19 statistics this month just as cases across the country started to skyrocket, depriving the public of real-time information on outbreaks, cases, hospitalizations and deaths in their communities.

— Chaos and confusion over travel rules and steps to contain outbreaks are contributing to another cruel summer for Europe’s tourism industry.

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

LAFD chief under fire

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In May, as the Los Angeles Fire Department was battling the Palisades blaze, Chief Ralph Terrazas received a report that his top administrative commander appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on duty at the agency’s headquarters, where he was overseeing its operations center, The Times has learned.

LAFD rules require agency officials to deal promptly with employees suspected of being under the influence, but records and interviews show that the complaint about Chief Deputy Fred Mathis’ condition was not filed for three days, a delay the department has not explained.

The complaint says that Mathis admitted he had been drinking. Terrazas did not respond to a Times question asking if Mathis was ordered to submit a urine sample for testing, as required under LAFD rules.

In the meantime, a retroactive entry was logged into the city’s timekeeping system days later to show that Mathis was out sick the same day a colleague reported that the chief deputy was intoxicated on the job at the department’s downtown office at City Hall East.

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The incident — and the secrecy shrouding how it was handled — has provoked sharp criticism within the agency and revived long-standing accusations of racial bias.

Two department officers representing Black and Latino firefighters said Terrazas’ handling of the Mathis matter violated LAFD policy. They said Terrazas gave Mathis, who is white and one of two chief deputies in the department, special treatment that is not granted to nonwhite employees accused of similar misconduct.

Antioch apologizes to Chinese American community

In the basement of Reign Salon in Antioch, a brick wall is a reminder of a dark past. More than a century ago, Chinese people built tunnels under the city because they were forbidden by law from going outside after sundown. Then, white residents burned Chinatown to the ground.

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Today, few traces of the old Chinatown remain — some tunnel entrances such as the one in Reign, wood pilings in the San Joaquin River that were the foundations of houses.

Many people strolling in the Bay Area city’s quaint downtown, or getting their hair cut at Reign, are unaware that a Chinatown once stood there. Antioch officials aim to change that, starting with a dramatic gesture.

First, the City Council apologized to all early Chinese immigrants and their descendants. The council will also create a Chinatown Historic District and fund murals and museum exhibits commemorating the city’s Asian history.

Antioch is one of many California cities, including Los Angeles and Santa Ana, where white residents lynched Chinese people or burned down their neighborhoods in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Amid the racial reckoning after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Antioch is the first city to issue a formal apology.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— The rise of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns about perpetuating unequal access to care, partly due to the “digital divide.” Who was left behind?

— Anatomy of a monster: How the Dixie fire became California’s biggest of the year

— While the Olympics are being carried out before empty seats, elsewhere in Tokyo, enthusiastic fans are enjoying live sporting events like pro wrestling.

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— “Crazy Rich Asians” made Henry Golding a star. Now he’s showing Hollywood everything he can do.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On Aug. 26, 1949, the Los Angeles Times sponsored a National Football League preseason game at the Memorial Coliseum featuring the Los Angeles Rams against Washington. In the lead-up to the game, Kenny Washington, who had played alongside baseball great Jackie Robinson on the 1939 UCLA football team and later was part of the Rams’ backfield before his retirement in 1948, helped sell tickets.

Th photo below appeared in the July 26, 1949, Los Angeles Times.

Former Los Angeles Ram Kenny Washington purchases ticket charity football game from Bill John, Rams business manager.
July 25, 1949: In a publicity photo for Times Charities, former Los Angeles Ram Kenny Washington purchases ticket for an upcoming charity football game from Bill John, Rams business manager.
(Los Angeles Times)
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CALIFORNIA

— The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies announced that they were suspending a daylong search for a crewman who went missing from a 100-foot commercial fishing boat off Sunset and Seal beaches.

Austin Beutner’s tenure as L.A. schools chief marked more by crisis than academic gains. First, a teachers’ strike, then the pandemic. Beutner led the district through history-making emergencies that commandeered his three years at the helm.

— A Masonic lodge in San Gabriel‘s historic Mission District soon will reopen as a food hall. Developers of Blossom Market Hall are hoping for another Grand Central Market.

— In El Monte, a close friendship shattered over a cannabis vote and surgery payment. A complaint alleges a city councilwoman did not report that her lobbyist friend helped pay for her breast augmentation surgery after she voted against allowing retail sales of cannabis in the city, a proposal that the friend had championed.

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NATION-WORLD

— Typhoon In-fa hit China’s east coast south of Shanghai after airline flights and trains were canceled and the public was ordered to stay indoors. The typhoon made landfall in Zhoushan in Zhejiang province, state TV reported, citing the national weather agency. It forecast rainfall of 10-14 inches.

Robert Parris Moses, a civil rights activist who endured beatings and jail while leading Black voter registration drives in the American South during the 1960s and later helped improve minority education in math, has died. He was 86.

Former President Trump, again upending American political norms, is moving to remake Congress and the Republican Party in his own image. Since leaving the White House, he has issued a spate of endorsements of House and Senate candidates for next year’s crucial midterm election, including an array of political outsiders, conspiracy theorists and others who — like Trump himself — break the traditional mold.

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— The U.S. Border Patrol‘s approach to missing migrants has evolved amid an increase in migration and deaths.

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday named a second Republican critic of Trump, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, to a special committee investigating the Capitol riot and pledged that the Democratic-majority panel would “get to the truth.” Kinzinger said he “humbly accepted” the appointment even as his party’s leadership was boycotting the inquiry.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— She won’t name names, but Billie Eilish says she suffered real trauma on her way to stardom. “It’s embarrassing,” she says. “I don’t want to tell anyone.”

— How “Space Jam: A New Legacylives up to its name with an inclusive cast of star athletes.

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Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson celebrated Disneyland as much as their new film based on the Jungle Cruise ride at the premiere.

M. Night Shyamalan’s “Old” easily won a slower weekend at the North American box office, while the G.I. Joe pic “Snake Eyes” lived up to its name.

BUSINESS

Disney will get a $580-million tax break from Florida while moving 2,000 employees from its Burbank and Glendale offices to Orlando.

— Filling out surveys, charging scooters, getting your car wrapped with ads: These side gigs don’t pay too well, but they’re pretty easy.

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SPORTS

— The Dodgers defeated the Rockies, 3-2, thanks to three solo homers and remain two games behind Giants in NL West.

— Judo coach Yosh Uchida continues to affect the lives of Olympians at 101. One of his pupils, Colton Brown, is competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

Get the latest news from Tokyo with our Olympics live blog and the Sports Report newsletter.

Free online games

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

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OPINION

— In a sit-down interview with columnist Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva unloaded on, well, just about everyone — but mostly this newspaper.

— L.A. shouldn’t remove portable toilets from homeless encampments. Without access to them, the unhoused have no choice but to carry out their most necessary and private of bodily functions on public streets and sidewalks, writes The Times’ editorial board.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

TikTok has created viral dances and instant stars, but it’s also helping small businesses cash in. Here’s how four of them successfully leveraged the unique algorithm. (Insider)

— How Liberia changed Olympic fashion — with a little help from a Brooklyn designer. (New York Times)

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— Jailhouse informants say that Philadelphia homicide detectives traded sex and drugs for testimony in murder cases — and that innocent men are serving life in prison as a result. (The Inquirer)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

While cleaning out her late grandfather’s garage one afternoon, artist Yvette Roman found random trinkets, mementos and toys he kept in storage over the years. One of those finds, a dusty marionette, became the inspiration behind her latest public artwork.

Today’s newsletter was curated by Daric L. Cottingham. Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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