Today’s Headlines: L.A. County lifts its outdoor mask mandate

People walk through Santa Anita Park.
People walk through Santa Anita Park. Los Angeles County relaxed its outdoor masking rules Wednesday as the number of hospitalized coronavirus-positive patients continues to fall.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón, Laura Blasey and Amy Hubbard

Hello, it’s Wednesday, Feb. 16. The city will honor the Super Bowl champion Rams today with a parade through the Exposition Park area. But it’s hard to predict how successful this street celebration will be since L.A. tends to have an uneven track record when it comes to parades.

We deliver televised processions like no one else, such as the highly staged and meticulously planned Hollywood Christmas Parade and the Rose Parade in Pasadena. Yet, we tend to flop on the more spontaneous ones.


Some of that stems from L.A.’s atomized structure and its historically weak public realm, writes The Times’ Carolina A. Miranda. Will today’s parade be different? Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Now on to the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


L.A. County lifts its outdoor mask mandate

As the number of hospitalized coronavirus-positive patients continues to fall, Los Angeles County relaxed its outdoor masking rules just after midnight. The revised guidance allows people to go without face coverings outdoors at K-12 (including transitional kindergarten) schools and child-care facilities, and will apply to exterior areas of “mega” events, such as those at the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, SoFi Stadium and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

County health officials had said they would drop outdoor masking requirements once coronavirus-positive hospitalizations dropped below 2,500 for seven consecutive days. The county dipped below that threshold last Wednesday, and the hospital census has continued to tumble since.

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine is ‘very much a possibility’

President Biden said Tuesday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was “still very much a possibility,” even as he was encouraged by signals from Vladimir Putin that Moscow would return to the negotiating table. Speaking from the East Room of the White House, the president expressed cautious optimism after claims by Russia that some of its troops were moving back from positions along its border with Ukraine.

“That would be good, but we have not yet verified that yet,” Biden said, noting the more than 150,000 Russian troops encircling Ukraine. Those troops, Biden said, remained “very much in the threatening position.”

More politics

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom has nominated California appellate court judge Patricia Guerrero to serve as an associate justice on the California Supreme Court. If approved, Guerrero would be the first Latina on the Golden State’s highest court.
  • The Senate narrowly confirmed Dr. Robert Califf, President Biden’s pick to lead the Food and Drug Administration, pushing past a thicket of political controversies.
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) gets the lowest approval rating of her career in the latest Los Angeles Times/Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies poll. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also fail to get strong approval in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.
  • Some community leaders want the L.A. City Council to appoint former Council President Herb Wesson to temporarily replace suspended Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas.
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The U.S. could see a century’s worth of sea rise in just 30 years

America’s coastline will see sea levels rise in the next 30 years by as much as they did in the entire 20th century, with major Eastern cities hit regularly with costly floods even on sunny days, a government report warns.

By 2050, seas lapping against the U.S. shore will be 10 to 12 inches higher, with parts of Louisiana and Texas projected to see waters a foot and a half higher, according to a 111-page report issued Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and six other federal agencies.

The projected increase is especially alarming given that in the 20th century, seas along the Atlantic Coast rose at the fastest clip in 2,000 years.

Can L.A. save its taxi industry? It’s trying to with new apps and more permits

Competing against venture capital-funded apps, taxi companies shrank or went out of business and drivers left in droves. As the small industry grappled to find new technology, it also blamed regulators for besetting it with rules the new companies evaded.

The Los Angeles City Council is throwing the taxi industry a lifeline after approving an ordinance that overhauls the city-regulated franchise system and gives approved ride-hailing applications access to traffic and other city data intended to make dispatching riders more efficient.

The overhaul also allowed for cosmetic changes: Taxis will no longer have to be painted bright yellow or other colors and won’t be required to be plastered with signage. Instead, the vehicles will bear a decal. The city also will no longer cap the number of authorized cabs receiving a 10-year permit to operate.

U.S. seeks former Honduran president on drug charges

For years, the president of Honduras was one of Washington’s top allies in the region, but evidence was mounting that he was also a drug trafficker. U.S. prosecutors identified President Juan Orlando Hernández as a co-conspirator in a drug trafficking case against his brother and by last fall were ready to indict him. But the Biden administration pushed back.

White House officials were reluctant to go after a sitting head of state — especially one whose government had received hundreds of millions of dollars and crucial support from Americans. They urged prosecutors to wait at least until Jan. 27, when Hernández left office and a new president was sworn in.

It all came to a dramatic head late Monday when U.S. officials formally requested his extradition on drug trafficking and weapons charges.

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A woman wearing a mask stands inside a takeout restaurant and hands cash through a small window.
Tam’s regulars are proud of its Super Bowl moment. For Compton locals, the beloved burger chain and other city landmarks were the stars of Sunday’s halftime show. Above, Antoinette Moore visits Tam’s Burgers #21 on Rosecrans Avenue.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)


San Francisco police used rape victims’ DNA to try to ‘incriminate’ them, the D.A. says. Dist. Atty. Chesa Boudin said Monday that police used a database with DNA collected from victims of rape and sexual assault to connect some of them to crimes, a practice he called “legally and ethically wrong.”

Nearly 500 people were arrested in a statewide human trafficking operation. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said 34 people suspected of trafficking or exploiting sex workers were arrested, along with 201 people who were allegedly caught trying to buy sex. He did not account for the remaining arrests.

LAPD defends and critics condemn the use of projectiles on unruly Super Bowl revelers. At least nine times over the course of several hours, officers fired the weapons as they chased unruly celebrators through the streets and broke up gatherings where people were setting off fireworks and vandalizing city buses.

Hail and rain hit parts of Southern California. Beaches closed because of lightning. Several areas including Pasadena and parts of the San Gabriel Valley and the South Bay were hit by the extreme weather on Tuesday, including enough hail in some areas to cover streets white. It was part of a storm system moving through after days of intense heat.

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Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre reached a settlement in Giuffre’s sex abuse lawsuit. Giuffre said she was sexually trafficked to the British royal by financier Jeffrey Epstein when she was 17, an allegation Andrew has denied. The deal described in a court filing Tuesday in New York avoids a trial that would have brought further embarrassment to the monarchy.

Sandy Hook families settled for $73 million with gun maker Remington. The families of nine of the victims and a survivor of the shooting sued in 2015, saying the company should never have sold such a dangerous weapon to the public. The case was watched closely by gun control advocates, gun rights supporters and manufacturers because of its potential to provide a roadmap for victims of other shootings to sue the makers of firearms.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau moves to stop blockades by opponents of vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions. The self-styled “Freedom Convoy” has largely paralyzed the Canadian capital and become a worldwide symbol of the backlash against pandemic constraints. Critics say the demonstrations disrupt commerce, ignore science and intimidate opponents.

Ethiopia lifts state of emergency early, citing an easing to war. The state of emergency was imposed in early November as Tigray regional forces fighting Ethiopian and allied forces moved closer to the capital, Addis Ababa. The Tigray fighters withdrew to their region in late December.


The family of Halyna Hutchins, the “Rust” cinematographer shot by Alec Baldwin, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit. The litigation is the latest in a wave of lawsuits against producers sparked by the shooting in New Mexico that sent shockwaves through Hollywood and renewed calls for stricter gun safety measures on film sets.

“The Cosby Show,” under scrutiny once more, raises issues that are “bigger than Cosby.” A docuseries on Black cultural pioneer Bill Cosby attempts to reckon with the disconnect between his outsize place in the culture and his now-tarnished reputation, and what that means for our understanding of the work he produced.

How to become a unit photographer. Also known as on-set photographers or still photographers, unit photographers often have a love for film, and they’re people who would enjoy working on a variety of different sets. It’s not uncommon for unit photographers to come from other types of photography. This is the latest in our Explaining Hollywood series.


Podcasts made by and for Latinos finally make inroads in the mainstream market. As Latin music’s popularity balloons well beyond the Hispanic community, podcasters see opportunities for additional growth.

What does the block on avocado imports mean for you? California produces the majority of U.S.-grown avocados, meeting about 10% of the nation’s consumption. The rest is imported, mainly from Mexico, and farmers fear a prolonged ban could squeeze the market in a way they aren’t prepared to handle.


Who will be on the Rams’ 2022 roster? A look at the contract status of the champs. Quarterback Matthew Stafford is entering the final year of his contract and star defensive lineman Aaron Donald is almost certainly in line for a reworked deal if he does not retire.

Kamila Valieva’s strong figure skating short program performance deserves an asterisk. The Russian figure skater earned the highest scores for her short program, but a positive drug test tarnishes the accomplishment, writes columnist Helene Elliott.

Four former Angels say they received oxycodone pills from Eric Kay. Three of the players — CJ Cron, Michael Morin and Cam Bedrosian — said Kay was their only source for oxycodone pills. The fourth, Matt Harvey, testified that he received pills from a friend in Rhode Island twice.

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Another case where former President Trump’s flagrant misconduct won’t end in charges. Serial violations of the Presidential Records Act demonstrate yet again that Trump believes laws just don’t apply to him.

As a Muslim filmmaker, I want to tell my own story. How my diverse community is seen has dictated what stories about us get told. It’s exasperating. From books to films, there are frames that box us in. We are often portrayed as either villains or victims.


Presidential visits trace L.A.’s evolution from small town to the source of big money. Americans are supposed to be thinking about presidents on Presidents Day. But how do presidents think of us — specifically, the Southern California us? Three words pretty much sum up the chiefest reasons for chief executives’ pilgrimages here: gold, glory and golf, columnist Patt Morrison writes.

Before World War II, presidents were welcomed to Los Angeles with massive parades and banquets. Now presidential drop-ins are no longer front-page news or occasions for parties. Today, it’s Southern California conferring the favors on the chief executives, not the other way around.


A man shakes the hand of a young boy as a woman and two men in uniform look on.
Feb. 16, 1973: Air Force Maj. Hayden J. Lockhart Jr. greets son Jamie, 7, as his wife, Jill, looks on during his arrival at Travis Air Force Base. Lockhart was captured in March 1965. Jamie was born in May 1965.
(Los Angeles Times)

Forty-nine years ago this month, North Vietnam began releasing U.S. prisoners of war. Operation Homecoming was launched after the Vietnam peace agreement was signed. From February through April 1973, about 600 American POWs returned home.

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