Whatever brief respite from the unending parade of disheartening news we might’ve been hoping for this long weekend was cut short on Friday when Los Angeles County officials announced the most restrictive lockdown in the state, banning all gatherings, public and private.
That means that even before 10 p.m., when the state’s limited curfew goes into effect, residents of the county, far and away California’s most populous, aren’t allowed to gather with anyone outside their households, starting today. The new order will be in effect through Dec. 20.
[Track California’s coronavirus cases by county.]
It’s not quite as severe as the statewide stay-at-home order in March, nor was it much of a surprise.
Schools and day cares that have been allowed to reopen can stay open unless they have outbreaks. Religious services and protests can still take place, and stores can continue to operate at limited capacity.
But the fact that Los Angeles officials set what sounded like a high threshold for additional restrictions — an average of 4,500 new cases per day in the county over five days — and the virus quickly rolled past it, underscores the sense that we’re hurtling down a hill, even though officials have pulled the emergency brake.
[Read the full order from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.]
A week ago, California reported 17,694 new cases, well more than any other state had done before, according to The New York Times’s database.
Leaders have warned repeatedly that the holidays were on track to be dangerous.
But since we learned more about how the virus spreads, the tidal wave we’re now facing here in California felt somehow less inevitable. Businesses have adapted to operate outdoors and, in many cases across the state, have been doing so for months.
All of this has made this surge more puzzling and has contributed to greater pushback against the particulars of restrictions, especially in Los Angeles, where restaurateurs and some officials have said closing outdoor dining unfairly punishes businesses that have taken precautions.
[Read about the state’s reopening tiers.]
More broadly, the state’s curfew for counties in the most restrictive purple reopening tier has drawn criticism and some local law enforcement officials have said they won’t enforce it, as KQED reported — although that was also the case with past orders.
Nevertheless, as The Los Angeles Times explained, the prevalence of Covid-19 in communities means that activities that had been deemed safer, such as dining or shopping, are now more dangerous than ever.
According to a county model, about 1 in 145 Angelenos are currently infectious with Covid-19.
While Los Angeles, by sheer numbers, is a site of major concern, as hospitals continue to fill, other counties across the state are following suit in tightening restrictions.
San Francisco and San Mateo Counties have been moved into the purple tier, and Santa Clara County, which was already in the purple tier, added restrictions, including stricter capacity limits for stores and a temporary ban on contact sports, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
“Acting with collective urgency right now is essential.” Here’s the full story on Los Angeles County’s new restrictions. [The New York Times]
No more football, and a quarantine following travel within the state: Here’s more about Santa Clara County’s new rules. [The Mercury News]
If you missed it, meet Dr. Sara Cody, the county’s public health director, who led the rollout of the nation’s first shelter-in-place order. [The New York Times]
Here’s what teaching in a pandemic looks like in Baltimore, the site of one of the biggest school reopening experiments in the country. [The New York Times]
One challenge for remote teaching: how to assign grades. A surge in D’s and F’s in San Diego County schools is raising questions. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]
High school athletes rallied at the Capitol to get the state to let them play. [The Sacramento Bee]
More than 200 people who work at Golden Gate Fields, a racetrack that straddles the border between Berkeley and Albany, have tested positive for Covid-19. How did the virus spread so widely? [Berkeleyside]
For the “nature is healing” files: Sparrows in the Bay Area are singing in tones — including in a “more seductive trill” — that researchers haven’t heard in decades. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
Walks, porch lunches and quick meals in hospital break rooms: Here’s a look at Thanksgiving across the country, including in Los Angeles. [The New York Times]
If you missed it, here’s how Californians adapted their plans. [The New York Times]
Here’s what else you might have missed
Children are breathing air poisoned by wildfire smoke — and children in poorer communities in the Central Valley in particular are being harmed. [The New York Times]
The fossil fuel industry has contributed to environmental justice groups in hopes of showing it is an ally of communities of color, often disproportionately hurt by climate change. [The Los Angeles Times]
Amazon has gone on an unprecedented hiring spree, vacuuming up on average 1,400 new workers per day. [The New York Times]
Read more about how the explosion of warehouses in the Inland Empire is forcing disproportionate numbers of workers of color into difficult jobs and sending huge numbers of trucks through their communities. [The New York Times]
David Valadao has reclaimed the Central Valley congressional seat he lost by the narrowest margin in 2018. [The Fresno Bee]
See all California election results here. [The New York Times]
In Northern California’s Capay Valley, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation is reclaiming its ancestral land with agriculture, including an award-winning extra virgin olive oil, produced under the Séka Hills label. [Civil Eats]
Read more about how Indigenous Californians are reclaiming native foodways. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
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Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.