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That Extra $600 In Weekly Unemployment Benefits Is Going Away. What's Next In California?

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Signs alert customers on Tuesday that the Apple Store in Santa Monica — and Apple stores nationwide — remain closed amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Federal legislation passed early in the coronavirus pandemic included an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits. But now those payments are going away, and losing them would have massive ripple effects.

Those federal payments have now pumped more than $26 billion into California's unemployment system. So far Congress hasn't come up with a plan to extend them.

What does that mean for Californians? A dramatic drop in unemployment payments.

Without that federal money, Californians would receive a median weekly payment of just $339 in state unemployment insurance, according to a recent analysis from researchers with the California Policy Lab.

UCLA economist Till von Wachter, one of the researchers, said that without the federal $600 boost:

"About half of Californians would have weekly benefits that put them below the federal poverty line."

State lawmakers are very concerned.

READ THE FULL STORY

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OC Board Of Education Will File Lawsuit In Hopes Of Reopening School Campuses

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Orange County Board of Education trustees Ken Williams, Mari Barke, Lisa Sparks, and Tim Shaw discussed challenging the state's school reopening guidance at a meeting on July 28, 2020. (Screenshot via Zoom)

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The Orange County Board of Education voted 4-0 at its meeting on Tuesday night to file a lawsuit challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directive to keep campuses closed in counties where the coronavirus is still spreading.

Before the board went into closed session to discuss the lawsuit, the majority of people making public comments -– which were delivered both in-person and electronically -– asked them not to pursue it.

But, ultimately, the board voted 4-0 in favor of the litigation, with one trustee, Beckie Gomez, not present for the discussion and vote on the issue.

As a result, the board will seek a court order “that sets aside the state's order preventing public schools from holding in-person classes and the resumption of services on campus.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued new rules that could force K-12 school campuses across much of California — including all of the greater Los Angeles region — to remain closed until COVID-19 metrics improve. Schools must offer "distance learning only" until the county has been off California's coronavirus monitoring list for at least 14 days, the state rules say.

In a statement read publicly after the vote, the O.C. Board of Education said, “While some families have the technology, equipment and ability to begin the school year with an entirely virtual distance learning model, many families will suffer greatly and experience many unknown unintended consequences if the schools remain closed.” The law firm Tyler & Bursch will represent the board pro bono.

You can listen to the public portions of the board meeting in the official recording below:

This same Orange County boardroom was the backdrop of fierce debate earlier this month over how schools should reopen when these trustees voted 4-1 in support of a white paper that recommended reopening schools in the fall without strict face covering or physical distancing requirements. Those recommendations contradict the Orange County Department of Education’s own guidance.

In Los Angeles County, Matthew Brach – a member of the Palos Verdes Unified School District Board of Education who is also a parent – is one of several plaintiffs in another lawsuit that is also challenging Newsom’s directive and the California Department of Public Health guidance.

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LA Mayor Urges 'Extreme Caution' (Men Especially) To Fight COVID-19 Spread

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Mayor Eric Garcetti today said that Los Angeles remains in a "very fragile" position, but city officials are not planning on any additional closures of businesses or activiites — for now.

The mayor cited guidance from UCLA infectious disease expert, Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, who he says suggested that we may see cases begin to go down in the coming weeks, "but only if we continue to do our part" to wear masks and social distance.

Garcetti said L.A. County's transmission rate is down to 0.92, which is slightly less than last week when it was 0.94. "This represents that what you're doing is having an impact," he said.

He did acknolwedge the highest death count since the start of the pandemic happened within the last 24 hours — 91 deaths in the county — but attributed that to a reporting backlog. Of those deaths, 30 were in the city of L.A.

The mayor also pointed out an interesting data point — men in L.A. County are much more likely to test positive for COVID-19 (2/3 of confirmed cases are men and 1/3 are women).

His takeaway?

"So men, mask up. Men, take responsibility and socially distance, and men, make sure you are washing your hands and your surfaces."

He urged all Angelenos to continue to take "extreme caution."

MORE ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • A new "Travel Safely Ambassador" program is coming to LAX. Starting Monday, these ambassadors will provide fact sheets to travelers and provide masks, which are required. The program will start with Terminal 1, but the ultimate goal is to have them at every terminal.
  • Another hotel in the San Fernando Valley has been added to the Project Roomkey program.
  • The mayor implored Congress to extend the stimulus benefits and avoid partisan politics. He specifically urged the Senate to pass the Heroes Act, which has already passed in the House.

Note: Garcetti's Facebook feed had some major glitches today and conked out entirely before the Q&A, playing piano hold music for about 15 minutes until the page stopped working entirely.

As one commenter aptly put it, "Things were going great until the live broadcast itself suddenly contracted COVID-19 and died."

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LA County Sets More Records As Coronavirus Deaths, Cases Continue Surging

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Los Angeles County has once again set grim coronavirus records: Health officials today reported more than 4,800 new cases and 91 deaths.

Both are the highest single-day totals yet, surpassing records set just two weeks ago.

Speaking at one of her regular briefings (you can watch a replay above), county public health director Barbara Ferrer said more than 2,000 of those new cases are from a backlog in the state's electronic lab reporting system.

Despite those reporting issues, Ferrer said the average number of cases is climbing:

"We're really about a thousand cases a day higher than we were when we started looking at this a month ago. So we still have an increase, we won't know for another week or two whether or not we're going to start seeing a decline in that number."

Hospitalizations and deaths are also trending down but it will take time to see if those trends hold.

There is some good news: County officials say the transmission rate of the virus has dropped below one — meaning that for each person infected, they pass it on to less than one other person.

If it stays that way, they predict that only 15% of county residents will become infected by December. But if the current transmission rate were to increase by just 50%, more than half of L.A. County residents could be infected by then.

CHILD CARE RELIEF

Thousands of essential workers and low-income families in Los Angeles County will be able to apply for vouchers to pay for child care, Ferrer said.

The County Board of Supervisors this week approved $15 million in federal CARES Act dollars to fund the vouchers. That's enough for three months of child care for 5,000 families. The Department of Public Health will be in charge of distributing the funding, along with the county.

SCHOOL WAIVERS AND YOUTH SPORTS

Gov. Gavin Newsom previously ordered school campuses in counties on the state watchlist to remain closed in the fall. That includes L.A. and surrounding counties.

However, he also gave local health officers the authority to grant individual district waivers to remain open.

Ferrer said L.A. County's online application for districts seeking a waiver should be ready to use by the end of the week.

The decision to grant one of these waivers will be based on ensuring schools can follow reopening protocols, Ferrer said. County health officials will also evaluate community transmission trends in each school district when making their decision.

Ferrer said the county is still waiting for guidance from the state on protocols for extended day programs for students and youth sports. However, the county will be posting draft protocols for those youth programs soon and should have guidelines for sports by the end of the week. Only training and conditioning will be allowed — no contact sports.

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The Push To Remove Police From Mental Health Crisis Calls 

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A sign at a protest on May 30 in Los Angeles reads "Care Not Cops." (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Across California -- and the nation -- the spotlight on police violence has energized long-standing efforts to stop using law enforcement to deal with people having a mental health crisis.

A bill in Sacramento would fund community-based alternatives, and in L.A., the City Council recently approved a plan to develop an unarmed model of response for non-violent calls.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Can LA Plant 90,000 Trees Before The End Of Next Year?

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Trees are an important part of mitigating rising temperatures (Tom Zimmerman via Unsplash)

Last year, Mayor Eric Garcetti laid out a goal in L.A.'s Green New Deal: that 90,000 new trees would be planted by 2021. It's an important step in the city's attempts to mitigate its scorching climate future.

But is there any chance the city will get there?

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Morning Briefing: How To Navigate The New LA

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Downtown Los Angeles from Vernon as the sun sets. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Never miss a morning briefing. Subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

In L.A. and across the country, we’re facing a protracted pandemic, a reckoning over racial inequity, and a smog of mixed signals about how to exist safely in a world that’s irrevocably changed. Thousands of readers have sent us questions and it’s clear that people need help navigating all the changes. With that in mind, we're rolling out a new series, “How To (New) L.A.

Based on our “How To L.A.” handbook of practical guides for living in Los Angeles, these stories guide Angelenos through the many new regulations for existing in this city. We’re committed to keeping them up-to-date, no small thing as they often change by the day. The guides cover topics from how to be your own famous L.A. chef without leaving your kitchen, to how to vote in the upcoming election under new social distancing guidelines, and how to explore and experience the city you love, without risking your or your family’s health.

We’re rolling out some of nearly a dozen of these stories today, and will continue to do so for the next week and into the foreseeable future. We’re here to help.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, July 29

As a human person in society, how should I evaluate possible hazards when engaging with the world right now? As part of our How To New L.A. series, Lisa Brenner weighs in on the not-very-reassuring answer from officials and leaders: use the world at your own risk. Plus: what can I do, where can I go, and what’s allowed when I get there?

Amid calls to defund the police, there is a strong push to re-think the response to mental health crisis calls. But what would that look like in Los Angeles? Robert Garrova examines programs in other cities, like Eugene, OR, to see what kind of training and funding would be needed for such an undertaking.

When Mayor Garcetti released L.A.'s Green New Deal last year, he made clear that trees need to play a key role in saving L.A. from increasingly hot temperatures, decreeing that 90,000 trees needed to be planted before the end of next year. Jacob Margolis checked in with City Forest Officer Rachel Malarich to see how that’s going.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Arts And Entertainment: Netflix nabs 160 Emmy nominations, the most ever, in a field of nominees John Horn calls "slightly more diverse” than previous years In Episode 6 of Hollywood, The Sequel, director Lesli Linka Glatter (Homeland) calls on her peers to make a firm commitment to hire outside their comfort zones, in order to maintain – and improve – racial and gender equity.

California vs. Trump: The state of California, along with the cities of L.A., Long Beach, Oakland and the LAUSD, are taking legal action against the Trump administration for trying to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the census numbers used to apportion seats in Congress.

Health: A report from California’s auditor says L.A. County needs to do more to make sure people with serious mental illness receive ongoing care. Some experts are tempering expectations that herd immunity might finally stop the spread of coronavirus.

L.A. Law: Sheriff Villanueva’s recent jab at Supervisor Hilda Solis, referring to her as ”La Malinche” for her attempts to rework the L.A. County budget, are the latest example of his loose-cannon behavior, especially on social media. The head of the LAPD's new Community Safety Partnership Bureau says she welcomes the concerns of activists who oppose the effort… even those who say the police should be defunded instead.


Photo Of The Day

Boxes of medical-grade PPE were given out for free to small medical practices in Southern California. The boxes were distributed at the Rose Bowl parking lot.

(Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.


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