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Today’s Headlines: California’s new vaccination proof requirement

California will require state employees and all healthcare workers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or get tested weekly, tightening restrictions in an effort to slow rising coronavirus infections in the nation’s most populous state, mostly among the unvaccinated.

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

California’s new vaccination proof requirement

California state and healthcare employees will soon be required to show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, with those who remain uninoculated subject to a regular testing regimen, as part of a growing national effort to use such screenings in hopes of slowing a new coronavirus surge.

The action comes as institutions ranging from cities to some private businesses and the federal Veterans Administration move to check employee vaccination status in hopes of blunting the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant without returning to the restrictions seen earlier in the pandemic

The new guidance is not a vaccine mandate, the likes of which have been announced for municipal workers in some areas of the state, but effectively removes the “honor system” in which some workers were able to self-attest to their vaccination status.

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According to the California Department of Human Resources, when the additional requirements are in place, state employees who are unvaccinated, or decline to provide proof of vaccination, will be tested for coronavirus infection at least once a week.

“Unvaccinated employees will continue to be required to wear a mask indoors until they are vaccinated,” the department added in a statement. There are roughly 246,000 state employees, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

For state workers, the new policy will be effective starting Aug. 2, with testing “phased in over the next few weeks,” according to a statement from Newsom’s office. The effective date is Aug. 9 for workers in healthcare and in congregate settings such as jails, homeless shelters and senior living homes. Healthcare facilities will need to come into compliance by Aug. 23.

Meanwhile, New York City is also going to require city workers to be vaccinated or submit to regular testing.


More top coronavirus headlines

— A new study adds to the growing body of evidence that the pandemic’s true toll is far greater than official tallies show.

— Newsom compared choosing to remain unvaccinated to drunk driving and denounced high-profile conservatives including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, saying they spread misinformation about the vaccine.

— Public access expanded during the pandemic. Why do some cities want to take it away?

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

A government wildfire program expires soon

When a brush fire trapped more than 100 hikers and campers last year in the Sierra National Forest, California firefighters needed to know precisely where the blaze was — and they needed to know fast. They turned to a little-known program called FireGuard, which gave them access to video and images captured by a U.S. military drone. The aerial view of the fire’s exact location allowed for a faster evacuation, probably saving lives.

Since 2019, the nascent FireGuard program has relied on temporary permission from the Pentagon to review classified data collected from various government sources, including U.S. military satellites that search the skies for enemy missiles. But that access could end as soon as September, just as the Santa Ana winds begin and California’s wildfire season typically becomes more active.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who is leading the effort on Capitol Hill to save the program, said Pentagon officials are skeptical about extending — or making permanent — a program they view as outside the scope of their mission.

If FireGuard’s access is not renewed by the end of September, federal and state firefighters could find themselves locked out of a “vastly important” tool, as Phillip SeLegue, Cal Fire’s deputy chief of intel, described it.

California voters split on Newsom recall, poll finds

Californians who say they expect to vote in the September recall election are almost evenly divided over whether to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, evidence of how pivotal voter turnout will be in deciding the governor’s political fate, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

The findings dispel the notion that California’s solid Democratic voter majority will provide an impenetrable shield for Newsom and reveal a vulnerability created by a recall effort that has energized Republicans and been met with indifference by many Democrats and independent voters.

The poll found that 47% of likely California voters supported recalling the Democratic governor, compared with 50% who opposed removing Newsom from office — a difference just shy of the survey’s margin of error.

Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder, who last week won a court battle to appear on the Sept. 14 recall ballot, leads in the race to replace Newsom among the dozens of candidates in the running, while support for reality television star Caitlyn Jenner remains low, the survey found. Forty percent of likely voters remain undecided on a replacement candidate, providing ample opportunity for other gubernatorial hopefuls to rise in the ranks before the special election.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1931, the Los Angeles Times was delivered by air in the Sierra Nevada.

The publicity photo below was staged about a week before the first actual flight. A close-up look at the front page reveals it’s a copy of the July 12, 1931, Los Angeles Times.

The image accompanied a brief story in the July 27, 1931, Los Angeles Times that reported:

“Swooping down through a densely wooded section, Allen Russel, local pilot, made the first landing in the resort section of the high Sierras when he set his plane down at Pine Flat Meadows yesterday.

“Russel, who is attached to the Trojan Flying Club of the United Airport, dropped into camp with a bundle of Los Angeles Sunday Times, at 7:30 o’clock in the morning, the first newspapers to be delivered by plane in the Sierras.”

Los Angeles pilot Allen Russel, right, hands a copy of the Los Angeles Times to W.R. Rohrer, manager of Meyers Land Co.
July 1931: Los Angeles pilot Allen Russel, right, hands a copy of the Los Angeles Times to W.R. Rohrer, manager of Meyers Land Co.
(Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— A mass shooting in the San Joaquin Valley city of Wasco left five people dead Sunday afternoon, including the gunman and a deputy sheriff, authorities said.

— What’s become the 15th-largest blaze in California history has doubled in size in less than a week, destroying homes in its wake. The massive Dixie fire burning in Butte and Plumas counties, north of Sacramento, had ballooned to nearly 200,000 acres Monday morning, according to an incident report.

— Extreme drought is tearing apart communities in a massive river basin that spans the Oregon-California state line.

— When the Seal Beach Police Department debuted a rainbow-wrapped pride patch for officer uniforms, it was a bold step in famously red Orange County. But some question whether the patches symbolize a cultural shift or performative activism.

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NATION-WORLD

— The final victim of the condo building collapse in Florida has been identified, a relative said, days after rescuers concluded the painstaking task of removing layer after layer of dangerous debris.

— The chair of former President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee pleaded not guilty Monday and said he was “100% innocent” of charges that he secretly lobbied the U.S. on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.

— President Biden said the U.S. military’s combat mission in Iraq will conclude by the end of the year, setting out a more precise timeline for American forces to formally step back in their fight against the Islamic State organization in Iraq.

Congress is moving to authorize financial aid to dozens of American officials for unpaid medical bills related to the treatment of Havana syndrome, so called because it was first reported in Cuba.

— Troops surrounded Tunisia’s parliament and blocked its speaker from entering after the president suspended the legislature and fired the prime minister. The actions follow nationwide protests over the country’s economic troubles and coronavirus crisis.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Britney Spears has at last petitioned the court to appoint a successor to the conservatorship of her estate, calling her father’s broad control of her career and fortune “traumatizing, insane and depressing” in new legal documents.

— After campaigning to succeed the late Alex Trebek for years, beloved “Reading Rainbow’ star LeVar Burton finally gets his turn to host “Jeopardy!

— The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. — the group that votes on the Golden Globe Awards — is preparing to vote on its proposed new bylaws. The group’s crisis PR consultant is warning members that the show’s future could hinge on the new rules passing.

— You might think you know Jennifer Coolidge. But HBO’s “The White Lotus” reminds us that Coolidge is an actress — not just a “comic actress” — with so much to offer.

Jackson Browne on cancel culture, his “shelf life” and how to survive rush hour in L.A.

BUSINESS

— The most important thing about a documentary deepfaking Anthony Bourdain’s voice isn’t that it happened, but that it happened and almost nobody noticed. It’s only a taste of what’s coming with the technology.

— Soon after Jeff Bezos returned from the edge of space, the billionaire-turned-astronaut emphasized the need to address climate change. Yet on Amazon.com, a very different message is being sold, boosted by the company’s own algorithms.

SPORTS

— Superstar gymnast Simone Biles was scratched from the team competition on Tuesday apparently after sustaining an injury to her right ankle. At 24, Biles has redefined what’s possible in gymnastics by performing complex skills few in the world can match. It’s made her not just an athlete to watch, but also one of the world’s most sought-after athlete-spokespersons.

Naomi Osaka was eliminated in a third-round stunner at the Tokyo Olympics.

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

— The Dodgers need pitching help, and Andrew Friedman, their president of baseball operations, says adding a starter is “the most front-of-mind thing” as the trade deadline approaches.

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OPINION

Salmon are facing extinction not just because of warm weather or climate change, but because of Trump-era policies that continue to be carried out right now by President Biden’s and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administrations, despite those Democrats’ professed rejection of Trump’s destructive approach to California’s water. Those decisions are still reversible, writes The Times’ editorial board.

— Ten years after the FBI was accused of spying on innocent Muslims, the Supreme Court will decide whether the case can go forward, but claims of revealing state secrets stand in the way. In a land of laws, where a transparent judicial system is supposed to guarantee access to justice, the state secrets privilege needs to be brought under control, writes Nicholas Goldberg.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

Prom, after a senior year interrupted. For prom queen Joviana Duhaney, the night almost felt normal. (Vox)

TikTok survived the Trump administration’s attempted ban. But that doesn’t mean the U.S. and Chinese governments are finished asking questions about the platform. (Wired)

— The Citizen app is quietly hiring New Yorkers to livestream crime scenes for $25 an hour. (New York Post)

ONLY IN L.A.

Little-known fact: There are no silk sunflowers available from bulk suppliers in North America right now, say the folks behind “Immersive Van Gogh.” Why? Tens of thousands of them adorn spaces inside “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibitions running in five cities across the U.S. and Canada. When it opens here on Saturday, the L.A. iteration will feature a sunflower-themed bar with a backdrop of yellow silk sunflowers, a favorite flower of Van Gogh’s to paint. The exhibition installed in the former Amoeba Music building on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood runs through January but may be extended. Adult general admission for the show, co-produced by Lighthouse Immersive and Impact Museums, starts at $39.

The Immersive Van Gogh exhibit, as it was being installed on July 13.
The Immersive Van Gogh exhibit, as it was being installed on July 13.
(Deborah Vankin/Los Angeles Times)

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


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