California and other states are taking action to counter a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases, as two vaccine candidates appear promising.
A ‘Dark Winter’ and a Shot at Hope
Coronavirus infections are rising at an alarming rate around the U.S., and President-elect Joe Biden is warning of a “dark winter” ahead. On Monday, California broke a single-day record for new COVID-19 cases: more than 13,280.
The rapid increase in California prompted officials to pull what they characterized as an emergency brake, announcing a dramatic rollback of reopening in much of the state. Once the changes go into effect today, 94% of Californians — roughly 37 million people — will live in counties that are in the strictest tier of the state’s reopening road map. Many businesses in those counties will have to suspend or severely limit their indoor operations.
The move comes as California and the rest of the nation head into what officials predict will be a particularly dangerous time for the pandemic, when cooler temperatures push people indoors and holidays tempt residents to gather with other households. Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an advisory recommending that residents avoid unnecessary travel — including for Thanksgiving — and urging those who do head out of the state to self-quarantine for 14 days when they return.
But Newsom himself showed how hard it can be to resist temptation: He apologized for visiting a Napa Valley restaurant with people from other households, saying his behavior contradicted the spirit of the safety guidelines and precautions he has asked Californians to adhere to during the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, legislators from California and other states are gathering for an annual conference this week in Maui despite travel warnings.
Meanwhile, a second COVID-19 vaccine is showing promise: Moderna announced that preliminary data indicate its vaccine is 95% effective. Last week Pfizer, in collaboration with its German partner BioNTech, said its vaccine was 90% effective in preventing symptoms of the disease. Here’s what you need to know about the vaccines.
More Top Coronavirus Headlines
— Governors and mayors across the U.S. are ratcheting up COVID-19 restrictions amid the record-shattering resurgence of the virus.
— New COVID-19 rules will limit indoor dining, gyms and churches in Orange County, Ventura County and beyond.
— Some in L.A. are getting COVID-19 tests so they can party and socialize. Officials call this a disaster.
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Biden Calls for Action
Biden won’t take office until Jan. 20, but he is already calling for action as the United Stated faces economic and health crises that just keep getting worse. On Monday, he called for action from two political forces beyond his control: Congress, which is deadlocked over economic relief, and President Trump, who refuses to concede the election and share information about the pandemic and national security.
“More people may die if we don’t coordinate,” Biden bluntly warned.
He welcomed news of progress in developing a second vaccine but emphasized how logistically challenging it will be to distribute — an endeavor further complicated by the Trump administration’s resistance to coordinating with Biden officials, who will be tasked with carrying it out. “The vaccine is important,” Biden said, “but it’s of little importance if you are not vaccinated.”
Biden also called on Congress to pass long-stalled legislation to provide economic relief and public health funding during its lame-duck session. But he offered no path to breaking the deadlock that pits House Democrats, who passed a scaled-down $2.2-trillion package as a compromise seven weeks ago, against Senate Republicans, who say that’s still far too expensive.
— Trump’s campaign is withdrawing a central part of its lawsuit seeking to stop certification of the election results in Pennsylvania — one of several suits that have been withdrawn or walked back across the country.
— “My advice to President Trump is, if you want, at this late stage in the game, to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it’s time for you to do the same thing,” former President Barack Obama said in a “60 Minutes” interview. Obama’s new memoir, “A Promised Land,” is a lament over the fragility of hope.
‘A Staggering Number’
The Boy Scouts of America will face more than 92,700 claims of sexual abuse in a landmark bankruptcy that could reshape one of the nation’s oldest and largest youth organizations, lawyers in the case said.
The number of claims and the total payouts to settle them will easily eclipse those in the sex abuse scandal that engulfed the U.S. Catholic Church more than a decade ago, plaintiffs’ lawyers say.
The 110-year-old Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February as it faced a wave of new sex-abuse lawsuits after several states, including California, New York and New Jersey, expanded legal options for childhood victims to sue.
In a statement, the organization called the massive response from abuse survivors “gut-wrenching.”
A Stunning Loss
Towering trees had grown on a Sierra Nevada ridge top for well over 500 years. They had lived through many wildfires and droughts. But they could not survive the Castle fire, which swept into the Alder Creek Grove in the early hours of Sept. 13.
Sequoia experts may never know how many of the world’s most massive trees died in the Castle fire, but judging by what they have seen so far, they say the number is certainly in the hundreds — and could easily top 1,000.
The problem is that the wildfires chewing through sequoia groves these days are not the kind that the long-lived giants evolved with, leaving them with charred trunks, scorched crowns and broken limbs.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
In the 1960s, passionate fans would flock to see their favorite bands arrive in Los Angeles. But the crowds would strain safety precautions and pose a significant challenge to the Los Angeles International Airport officials and police trying to control them.
After an intense experience with Beatles fans, police and airport officials were prepared when British rock group the Dave Clark Five arrived on Nov. 14, 1964. According to a Times story the next day, officials “decoyed” hundreds of teens who had arrived to see the group, tricking them into roaming the terminals. Meanwhile, the band slipped out quietly from “a far southeast outpost.”
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— The University of California system would pay $73 million under a proposed settlement reached in a class-action lawsuit filed by seven women who accused a former UCLA gynecologist of sexual abuse.
— California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has fined a Farmer John meatpacking plant in Vernon, as well its temporary staffing agency, for failing to take adequate measures to protect workers from the coronavirus.
— The union that represents more than 9,800 Los Angeles police officers has rejected a request from the city’s labor negotiators to meet and discuss the city’s financial crisis, dealing a fresh setback to Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council as they struggle to close a looming budget deficit.
— California remains a popular destination for foreign students, but international student enrollment at colleges and universities is down nationwide, a consequence of the pandemic.
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— Portland’s anarchists say they support racial justice. But Black activists want nothing to do with them, part of a political schism in a city that has been a significant face of the Black Lives Matter movement.
— Nevada, home to the “wedding capital of the world,” is now the first state in the country to officially protect same-sex marriage in its constitution.
— Born into occupation, young Afghans fear the Taliban will crush their freedoms when U.S. troops exit.
— Hurricane Iota made landfall on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, threatening catastrophic damage to the same part of Central America battered by Hurricane Eta less than two weeks ago.
— As Ethiopia descends into civil war, civilians by the thousands begin to stream out.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— David Lynch inspired a cross-country lawnmower race. Things got complicated, fast.
— It wasn’t easy for Cedric the Entertainer to be Cedric the Quarantined. But he’s learned to adapt and fight back.
— Michael J. Fox has a new memoir and, in it, a revelation: The actor says he is retiring from his career as his Parkinson’s disease progresses.
— A year and a half after an art-versus-commerce fight between multiplatinum artist Taylor Swift and music mogul Scooter Braun made headlines, Braun’s Ithaca Holdings has sold the master rights to Swift’s first six studio albums.
— Harry Styles’ Vogue cover left fans breathless. Now conservatives are fired up, too — over the dress he wore.
— Tesla Inc. will take a giant step toward blue-chip respectability: entering the Standard & Poor’s 500 index on Dec. 2. The action will greatly broaden the company’s investor base.
— Freight carriers, including container shippers and cargo airlines, say global demand is rising, as consumers spend more money online.
— The NCAA announced plans to hold the entire 2021 men’s college basketball tournament in one place. The league is in talks with Indianapolis to host.
— Dustin Johnson’s path to victory at the Masters began with buckets of golf balls and a South Carolina lake.
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— California voters didn’t approve eliminating money bail, but L.A. County voters picked a reform-minded district attorney — and the county should go its own way in eliminating money bail, The Times’ editorial board writes.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— Trump reportedly sought options for attacking Iran to stop its growing nuclear program but was dissuaded by advisors. (New York Times)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
In Santa Barbara, there’s a ranch for sale at $4.9 million. It sprawls across 150 acres, centering on an 1800s home with a pair of bedrooms and bathrooms. Other highlights include a two-bedroom guesthouse, swimming pool, warehouse and equestrian facilities such as horse stalls, pastures and a riding arena. But wait, there’s more! The seller is Ron Popeil, master of the infomercial who sold innumerable Veg-O-Matics, Beef Jerky Machines and Electric Pasta Makers.
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