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Today’s Headlines: California vaccinations rise as employers issue mandates

A nursing student administers a COVID-19 vaccine
Nursing student Joanna Aguilar gives a COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Isabel Cruz during a clinic at the Providence Wellness and Activity Center in Wilmington on July 27.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

California vaccinations rise as employers issue mandates

California has seen a substantial increase in the number of people getting vaccinated against COVID-19 over the last two weeks. This turnabout comes as a growing list of municipalities, businesses and venues are moving to require the shots for employees and, in some cases, even customers in hopes of slowing the latest surge.

The recent boost is a promising development following weeks of rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant — a tide, officials say, that can eventually be turned if significant numbers of unvaccinated people roll up their sleeves.

Amid this new spike in infections and illness, a growing number of both public and private sector employers are moving toward mandating that their workers be vaccinated.

On Tuesday, two Los Angeles County supervisors proposed a vaccine-verification requirement for more than 100,000 government workers. The proposition comes a day after health giant Kaiser Permanente announced it was making vaccines mandatory for all employees and physicians, as nearly a quarter of its 240,000 employees remain uninoculated.

More retailers and restaurants are also beginning to require customers to provide proof of their inoculation status. Whether because of a forthcoming mandate, fears over the Delta variant, or other reasons, California’s vaccination pace has increased of late, following months of decline.

Even in the face of Delta, experts maintain that the available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at staving off infection and preventing severe symptoms.

California has reported an average of about 9,200 new coronavirus cases per day over the last week, a level of infection not seen since the waning days of the state’s devastating fall-and-winter surge, Times data show.

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More top coronavirus headlines

New York City will soon require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for indoor activities, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday, making it the first big city in the U.S. to impose such restrictions.

— A 10th employee of the Los Angeles Police Department has died from complications of COVID-19 amid low vaccination rates and uneven mask use.

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

Biden calls on Cuomo to resign

President Biden urged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Tuesday after a five-month investigation by the state’s attorney general’s office concluded that he had sexually harassed several women in the workplace and beyond.

“I think he should resign,” Biden said to reporters following remarks about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic from the East Room of the White House.

The president had said months ago that when the allegations first surfaced, he would call on Cuomo to resign if an investigation substantiated them. Biden said he had not yet spoken with Cuomo and declined to address the details of the allegations or to endorse efforts by state lawmakers to impeach the governor.

“I’ve not read the report. I don’t know the detail of it,” Biden said. “All I know is the end result.”

Amid calls for him to step aside, Cuomo on Tuesday remained defiant, issuing an 85-page statement deflecting the accusations and asserting there was nothing nefarious about his brand of tactile behavior.

“I do it with everyone,” Cuomo said in a video he released in his defense, showing him embracing people and politicians of all stripes. “Black and white, young and old, straight and LGBTQ, powerful people, friends, strangers, people who I meet on the street.”

The attorney general’s report, which was conducted by two outside lawyers who interviewed 179 people, validated allegations by 11 women who accused Cuomo of sexually harassing them. The report found that Cuomo engaged in multiple instances of inappropriate touching and sexually suggestive comments.

More politics

— In a defeat for the party’s left wing, Democratic primary voters in Ohio on Tuesday picked an establishment-backed candidate over an ally of progressive hero Bernie Sanders to fill a vacant House seat.

— The leaders of the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom have sued to try to prevent Newsom from describing them as “Republicans and Trump supporters.”

— Deep-pocketed backers of criminal justice reform have poured money into the campaign of progressive California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta ahead of next year’s election, helping him build a significant lead in fundraising over a handful of challengers with more traditional law-and-order platforms.

Sign up early for our California Politics newsletter, coming in August, to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting, including full coverage of the recall election and the latest action in Sacramento.

Intense drought has Arizona drier than ever

Across the U.S. West, shifting climate patterns are wreaking havoc. An early start to fire season is scorching rural Oregon and parts of Northern California. Record temperatures have led to hundreds of deaths. Lake Mead, the massive Colorado River reservoir outside Las Vegas, is at its lowest point since its 1935 federal construction.

But in Arizona, the situation is particularly dire. Large swaths of the region are now in extreme distress and it’s farmers in the center of the state who are most worried as water shortages loom. Typically green farms have turned brown, skinny cattle are left with little grass to graze and saguaros lie dead. “For sale” signs advertise desperate owners looking to sell their land at a discount for solar power panels and housing developments.

“Arizona is pretty much an irrigated state and we’ve managed our water resources generally well,” said Stephanie Smallhouse, a fifth-generation cattle rancher on the far outskirts of Tucson who is the president of the Arizona Farm Bureau. “But it’s near impossible to manage yourself out of a drought.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1947, “Los Angeles’ new trackless trolleys got their baptism of fire” as a replacement for streetcars downtown, “snarling traffic somewhat on Sixth St. during peak periods but otherwise, according to Los Angeles Transit Line officials, carrying approximately double the normal passenger load without accidents.”

Among the purported reactions printed in The Times: a policeman (“I think they’ll be a big improvement over the streetcars ...”) and a “drunk at Fifth and Main Sts.” (“Don’t tell me theresh no ‘U’ car anymore”).

New trackless trolleys were put to the test. Here’s one, eastbound at the corner of 6th Street and Broadway in downtown L.A.
Aug. 4, 1947: New trackless trolleys were put to the test. Here’s one, eastbound at the corner of 6th Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

Pete Schabarum, the famously combative, influential Los Angeles County supervisor whose successful state term-limits ballot drive more than two decades ago dramatically altered California government, has died of natural causes at 92.

— Community activist Jimmie Woods-Gray was elected president of the Board of Fire Commissioners at a Tuesday meeting that exposed existing tensions between the board and the union.

—An LAPD officer was tased by Ventura County sheriff’s deputies who were trying to arrest him on suspicion of committing battery on his adult son.

— In the last year, Los Angeles Rep. Karen Bass has been eyed as a possible contender for U.S. Senate and vice president. Now, another office is opening up. Might Bass want to run for L.A. mayor?

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NATION-WORLD

— The number of children traveling alone who were picked up at the Mexican border by U.S. immigration authorities probably hit an all-time high in July, a U.S. official said, citing preliminary government figures.

— A Belarusian activist who ran a group in Ukraine helping Belarusians fleeing persecution was found hanged in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Separately, Lithuania accused Belarus of sending large groups of migrants over the border in retaliation for sanctions it helped impose as the Belarusian government cracks down on dissidents.

Israel’s Supreme Court has floated compromises that would prevent the evictions of dozens of Palestinians in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where attempts by Jewish settlers to expel them from their homes helped spark an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants in May.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Matt Damon is doing damage control after an unsolicited confession regarding a homophobic slur ignited outrage on Twitter this week. In a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times, the Oscar-winning actor clarified that he has “never called anyone” an anti-gay term, despite previously admitting — unprovoked — to the Sunday Times that he stopped using “the f-slur for a homosexual” only months ago at his daughter’s behest.

— The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will require all participants attending in Utah to be fully vaccinated. In an announcement released on Tuesday, festival director Tabitha Jackson said, “We are providing this information now to ensure that all in-person participants feel comfortable attending, and can adjust their travel plans if needed.”

Lucille Ball was a TV icon, but she also hosted a daily radio program chatting with her famous friends. Starting Thursday, SiriusXM will air all 240 episodes of “Let’s Talk to Lucy,” the first time they have been publicly available since their original airing.

— After aiming for a franchise reset, “The Bachelor” alums Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will be returning as hosts for Season 18 of “The Bachelorette,” starring Michelle Young.

BUSINESS

— A federal official has recommended overturning the results of a union election at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, giving the retail union an opportunity to reverse its defeat, according to people familiar with the issue.

Blizzard President J. Allen Brack is leaving the company amid a cultural reckoning at the video game maker over a California lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination and harassment.

Boeing will face a high-stakes test as early as Wednesday when it launches its Starliner astronaut capsule on a second uncrewed mission to the International Space Station, almost two years after its first attempt went awry.

SPORTS

Simone Biles returned to win bronze on the balance beam. It wasn’t a routine packed with the ridiculously difficult moves she usually reeled off, but it was infinitely precious to Biles, writes columnist Helene Elliott.

The Lakers kept adding to their free-agent haul Tuesday, agreeing to deals with forward Carmelo Anthony and guard Malik Monk, according to multiple people who are not authorized to speak publicly.

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

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OPINION

— Will Andrew Cuomo resign amid the latest sexual harassment allegations? I doubt it, I haven’t seen him for 26 years, but he doesn’t appear to have changed much, writes Nicholas Goldberg.

— The semantic debates and the politicization around transgender rights often erase the individuals — the kids who aren’t trying to compete for the Olympics, who just want to have fun. Let transgender kids be kids, and let them play on the teams they choose, writes Jireh Deng.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— American shoppers are a nightmare. Customers were this awful long before the pandemic. (The Atlantic)

— They say “heavy is the head that wears the crown.” That’s certainly the case with Lil Nas X who’s being asked for more music, to capitulate to cis-heteronormative standards, to push further, and more. But he’s still in the process of finding Montero. (Out Magazine)

ONLY IN L.A.

Jasmine Nicole co-founded the Nice Plant with a mission to show young people of color the importance of self-care and mindfulness through plant care. When you order a plant (or four!) straight to your doorstep from the Nice Plant, the box it arrives in — printed with the phrase “Self Care in a Box” in eye-catching, black block letters — tells you everything you need to know about the fast-growing, Black-owned, Los Angeles-based plant shop.

 Jasmine Nicole, left, CEO of The Nice Plant, and Taylor Hartfield, head of marketing,
The Nice Plant Chief Executive Jasmine Nicole, left, and head of marketing Taylor Hartfield are committed to making self-care accessible to all through the practice of plant care.
(Mel Melcon / 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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