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Today’s Headlines: California orders a statewide mask requirement

An arriving traveler takes a free COVID-19 Rapid Test
A traveler takes a rapid coronavirus test at Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX on Dec. 3.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, it’s Tuesday, Dec. 14, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

A new statewide mask order for California

The state has ordered that, starting Wednesday, masks be worn in indoor public spaces. The move comes as coronavirus case rates in California have risen by almost 50% in the last 2½ weeks, and COVID-19 hospitalizations are up by nearly 15%. County health officials across the state say they suspect they may be seeing the start of a winter jump in coronavirus cases.

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The order will affect roughly half the state’s population, including San Diego and Orange counties, the Inland Empire, the Central Valley and rural Northern California. The statewide indoor-mask mandate will last a month, expiring Jan. 15.

More top coronavirus headlines

  • Here is what you need to know about California’s statewide mask mandate for indoor public spaces.
  • The Omicron variant has Americans worried about infection on the rise, but a poll finds that fewer say they are regularly wearing masks or isolating compared with the beginning of the year.
  • One year ago, the biggest vaccination drive in American history began with a flush of excitement that many hoped would mark the end of the crisis. That hasn’t happened.
  • Pfizer said that its experimental COVID-19 pill appears to be effective against the Omicron variant.
  • The first large-scale analysis of vaccine effectiveness in South Africa appears to support early indications that Omicron is more easily transmissible and that the Pfizer shot isn’t as effective in protecting against infection, though it still offers protection against hospitalization.

Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

New laws in Central America are upending Biden’s fight against corruption

A government crackdown on journalists is part of a recent effort in Nicaragua and across Central America aimed at nongovernmental organizations that receive funding from international sources to help in missions that include battling corruption, alleviating poverty and otherwise improving the civic life in their countries.

Experts say the foreign agent laws of Central America undermine the Biden administration’s strategy to work with local groups to reduce the underlying causes of migration. The crackdown, they warn, can harm the stability of communities and scare off foreign investment. Administration officials acknowledge the setback and agree it could ultimately lead to an increase in migration to the southern U.S. border.

More politics

  • The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection voted to recommend contempt charges against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as lawmakers demand his testimony about then-President Trump’s actions before and during the attack.
  • Dr. Oz is officially ending his show to focus on his Pennsylvania Senate run.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times’ state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

In case you’re interested: The Globe nominations were announced

Monday morning’s announcement of the 79th Golden Globe nominations came as the organization that hands out the awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., remains under a cloud. The usual glitzy, star-studded telecast presenting the awards has been scrapped for 2022 after a Times investigation in February revealed the association had no Black members and detailed allegations of financial and ethical lapses within the group.

In the hours after the nominations were unveiled, the reaction from Hollywood was near-universal silence. On social media as well, aside from scattered enthusiasm from fans of some nominees, there was little of the usual frenzied reaction to the Globe nominations, with many probably unaware that they were even taking place.

Southern California is spared major fires as rain ends an unprecedented season

Fire officials are breathing easier as a Pacific storm system is poised to lower the curtain on Southern California’s wildfire season, weeks after a series of October storms did the same for the rest of the state.

Experts had warned this fire season had the potential to be severe. Although Northern California saw multiple huge fires, including the 960,000-acre Dixie fire, the state’s second-largest on record, Southern California did not. The reason for that partly had to do with the drought, said one expert.

Inside the hunt for a killer who shadowed a homeless camp

Even in Los Angeles County, where hundreds of people are murdered each year, the three killings in a homeless encampment along the banks of Compton Creek stood out. But little was known about their killer, other than that he too was homeless.

Now, through court records and interviews, a portrait comes into focus of a man submerged in a solitary, paranoid existence, who saw people either as “predators” or “prey.” Tracy Walker does not dispute his crimes. He pleaded guilty to the three murders and recently was sentenced to 110 years in state prison.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY

A plane takes off from the Long Beach Airport under heavy clouds
We may see downpours and aggressive winds as “the most significant storm of the season” is expected to blow into Southern California early Tuesday, weather officials said. One to 3 inches of rain are forecast for the valley and coastal areas of the county while the mountains may see 3 to 6 inches of precipitation.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

Entering the sacred realm of the bees with honey bee therapy. Lots of backyard beekeepers say their hobby is meditative. But for Los Angeles-based Marvin Jordana and the small but growing number of beekeepers who see their work as a spiritual practice, communing with bees also encounters ancient wisdom.

Here are five things to know about Mayor Eric Garcetti’s confirmation hearing. Garcetti will appear Tuesday morning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his hearing to become President Biden’s ambassador to India.

Medi-Cal plans to offer unconventional treatments to asthma patients starting in January. These “treatments” not traditionally considered healthcare will include removing mold, installing air purifiers and even replacing carpeting, blinds and mattresses.

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NATION-WORLD

No troops were disciplined in the U.S. strike that killed Afghan civilians, U.S. defense officials said. Amid a chaotic evacuation from the country, the Aug. 29 drone strike on a white Toyota Corolla sedan killed Zemerai Ahmadi and nine family members, including seven children. Ahmadi, 37, was a longtime employee of an American humanitarian organization.

An Indonesian girl’s sexual assault and murder sparked calls for change. Things only got worse. Yuyun’s death, once seen as a turning point in a patriarchal society, now stands as a disturbing symbol of how little progress has been made in the fight for gender equality.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

TV networks are mad at Nielsen. Can that company still count in the streaming age? Tensions rose to a new level after networks saw television viewing drop during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most Americans spent much of 2020 indoors.

Kim Kardashian West passes the “baby bar” exam. Who cares that it took four tries? Kardashian West is studying law without one big traditional step: attending law school. That means that she, like others who study in programs and schools that aren’t accredited by the State Bar of California, has to take two exams to earn her credentials.

BUSINESS

California has proposed big changes to rooftop solar incentives. State officials say the changes will help California achieve 100% clean energy that keeps the lights on, prevents electricity rates from spiraling out of control, and encourages people to drive electric cars.

SPORTS

The Rams overcame a depleted roster to defeat the first-place Cardinals. Matthew Stafford passed for three touchdowns, linebackers Ernest Jones and Leonard Floyd set up touchdowns with interceptions, and the Rams’ pass rush finally started to come together in a 30-23 victory.

Clippers defeat Suns in star-scarce Western Conference finals rematch. This was not quite the rematch envisioned when the NBA scheduled these teams’ first meeting since June’s Western Conference finals. Yet the Clippers won their fourth consecutive game, a 111-95 victory.

U.S. gymnastics and Olympics groups have reached a $380-million settlement with sex abuse victims. The victims number more than 500. More than 300 victims were abused by former national team doctor Larry Nassar, with the remaining victims abused by individuals affiliated with USA Gymnastics in some capacity.

USC coach Lincoln Riley is expected to land an elite recruiting class despite a quiet start. As it stands, USC’s class ranks a meager 103rd nationally — dead last in the Pac-12. But no one expects that to be the case Wednesday night.

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OPINION

Legalize street food. L.A.’s iconic sidewalk vendors are still being penalized. Street vending may be legal in California, but for the vendors selling sliced fruit, tacos and other food items, it’s nearly impossible to get a permit to operate without fear of penalty, particularly in Los Angeles County.

L.A. Unified shouldn’t be the loser in a game of vaccine-mandate chicken. There are legitimate reasons to delay the mandate. But retreating to the next school year would be a mistake, and a violation of public trust.

ONLY IN L.A.

The Los Angeles Review of Books was conceived more than a decade ago during a dark period for the print literary ecosystem. Despite being a scrappy upstart compared to namesakes in New York and London, LARB is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a sense of pride and even vindication.

With some 500,000 monthly pageviews, LARB has secured a place as one of the country’s leading cultural magazines. It serves as a West Coast counterweight to the East Coast-centric book world and punches above that weight, especially considering that all five major publishing houses are based in New York.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Monkey stealing food from a lunch basket
A monkey crouches on top of a table, using one paw to reach into an open lunchbox.
(Los Angeles Times)

In honor of today’s unofficial international Monkey Day, here’s a shot of a monkey caught looting a lunch basket in 1936. Apparently, the bandit was part of a horde of monkeys that terrorized residents at Lakeside Park, stealing anything they could get their hands on.

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today’s Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at headlines@latimes.com. — Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey


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