Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):
Not Everyone With COVID-19 Wants To Talk To Contact Tracers
Some people are embarrassed. Others fear for their jobs. Some just don’t trust the government.
That’s according to L.A. County health officials, who said today that just 65% of people who have COVID-19 are willing to be interviewed by county healthcare workers for the purpose of contact tracing.
Barbara Ferrer, the director of the county’s public health department, said that while contact tracing has worked well in other countries, here in Los Angeles the high case numbers make it hard to keep up. She said at today's news conference:
"South Korea never saw more than 1,000 positive cases in one day. We routinely see two to three times that volume, every single day and have for the last month."
Ferrer also noted a key difference between the U.S. and other countries: we don't guarantee income for people who need to isolate or quarantine. In countries that have that guarantee, that makes it much more likely that sick people will stay home -- and that people will be willing to talk to contact tracers.
To boost participation, the county began offering a $20 gift card this week to people who complete the contact tracing survey.
The Best Online And IRL Events This Week: Aug. 3 - 6
Coronavirus is wreaking havoc on schools, stores, businesses and events. With in-person concerts, talks, comedy shows, food festivals and other gatherings cancelled, we have turned our events column into a "nonevents" column. It will remain this way as long as social distancing and stay-at-home orders are in effect.
During this difficult time, please consider contributing to your local arts organizations or to individual artists and performers.
Go forest bathing at The Arboretum. Find out how xenophobia smells. Listen to two BFFs talk about Big Friendship. Watch a documentary on young activists as they attempt to change gun control laws. Gather the kids for an online cooking class with chef Jet Tila.
Monday, Aug. 3; 4 p.m.
Watch the documentary that follows young activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and their families as they turn the tragic 2018 mass shooting at their school into stricter gun control laws. Directed by Emmy-winning filmmaker Cheryl Horner McDonough, the film will be streamed live on The Young Turks YouTube channel and TYT.com.
FREE; MORE INFO
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In "Smells Like Xenophobia: An Olfactive History of Otherness," academic Nuri McBride (@deathandscent) discusses centuries of allusions to olfactive disgust in the rhetoric of hate. This lecture examines the history of scent as a tool for creating "in-group" space and otherness, and as a reoccurring device in the rhetoric of prejudice. Monday, August 3rd, online. Content warning: We aim with this class to examine and, above all, challenge historic patterns of communication relating scent to racist and xenophobic narratives. As such, this session will explore some very hard topics; some of the historic images and texts in the presentation were originally created to be hurtful, even hateful to targeted communities. We are presenting this class in the belief that with knowledge, discussion, and action, society can improve. - Image credit: A man expressing jealousy or hate. Etching by B. Picard, 1713, after C. Le Brun.; Rats stowing away in large boxes, carrying the plague to new places. Drawing by A.L. Tarter, 194-. Credits: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
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Monday, Aug. 3; 9 - 10:30 a.m.
Smells Like Xenophobia: An Olfactive History of Otherness
The Institute for Art and Olfaction has been holding a number of online workshops during the pandemic. On Monday, drop in for a history and culture lesson that explores "centuries of allusions to olfactive disgust in the rhetoric of hate." This Zoom class covers tough subject material and uses some disturbing images.
COST: $15; MORE INFO
Monday, Aug. 3; 7:30 p.m. PDT
breakfast lunch dinner
The Echo Theater Company holds an online reading of this three-course play written by Kira Obolensky. Watch the ebbs and flows of a middle-class Midwestern family over a 21-year span. Taking place mostly in a modest urban kitchen, the family strives to nourish and be nourished, both physically and emotionally. Samantha Cavestani, Brian Henderson, Megan Ketch and Carol Locatell star. Abigail Deser directs.
COST: FREE; MORE INFO
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Paul F. Tompkins and I are doing another comedy show! August 3 online with @dynastytypewriter!! We are gonna make it a monthly thing, so come watch and comment and have fun for a little while with us! Tix are $5 or $10 (your choice) and the video will be available to watch for 7 days after if you can't watch live. Link for tix in bio or go to dynastytypewriter.com! See you then! 🤸🏼♀️
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Monday, Aug. 3; 5 - 6 p.m.
Lapkus and Tompkins VS The Cloud Goblin (Live-stream)
Comedians Lauren Lapkus and Paul F. Tompkins perform an online, two-person improv set. The livestream link will be sent in an Eventbrite confirmation email.
COST: $5 - $10; MORE INFO
Monday, Aug. 3; 8 a.m. - 11:59 p.m.
Sierra Madre Playhouse offers an encore online presentation of a reading of David Henry Hwang's semi-autobiographical play. It will be available to registered viewers on YouTube beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday. Since the reading runs two hours with a brief intermission, guests must start to watch by 9:30 p.m. in order to see the entire event.
COST: FREE with RSVP, but donations accepted; MORE INFO
Wednesday, Aug. 5; 11 a.m. PDT
Rachael Ray's Yum-o-Cooking Camp
The Food Network star and her celebrity chef friends are running a free, online cooking camp for kids (and their families) through Aug. 14. On Wednesday, learn how to cook beef and broccoli stir fry with perfect jasmine rice from L.A.'s own Jet Tila. After registering for the class, participants will receive an additional email with Zoom link, recipe, ingredients and necessary utensils. Proceeds from donations will be split between the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Rachael Ray's Yum-o! scholarship for students to attend Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.
COST: FREE; MORE INFO
Wednesday, Aug. 5; 6 - 8 p.m. PDT
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia
The Arboretum brings back its wellness classes, with masks and physical distancing required to participate. On Wednesday, experience forest bathing, a Japanese-inspired practice of Shinrin Yoku. This form of nature therapy is said to boost immunity, reduce stress and improve cognitive functioning. Ben Page will guide participants through the walk and explain how best to interact with the land. Limited to 15 people.
COST: $35 - $45; MORE INFO
Thursday, Aug. 6; 5 p.m. PDT
Big Friendship: A Conversation
Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, bicoastal bffs and podcast cohosts (Call Your Girlfriend), discuss their book Big Friendship with writer Glory Edim, founder of the Well-Read Black Girl book club and network. They'll talk about platonic love and how social science proves the value of friendship. The event takes place via Zoom. A link will be sent after RSVP.
COST: Free - $31 (includes book); MORE INFO
Thursday, Aug. 6; 4 p.m. PDT
Out of the Blue: Stories of Surprise
The Moth's virtual Mainstage show features stories that are told (not read) about startling discoveries, bolts out of the blue and uncovered truths. Hosted by Jon Goode, the show will be streamed via Zoom.
COST: $15 per household; MORE INFO
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Through Sunday, Nov. 1
The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery's physical space in Barnsdall Park remains closed so this year's juried exhibition moves online. The interactive web format asks both artists and guests to engage with various activities. The exhibition, which brings together 44 artists whose works examine archival structures and materials, features work by Jamie Adams, Caroline Clerc, Natalie Delgadillo, Danny Jauregui, Dina Kelberman, Audrey Leshay, Maura Murnane, Lenard Smith, Allison Stewart and Rachel Zaretsky.
COST: FREE; MORE INFO
Lunchmeat VHS Six Pack
The indie printed magazine that celebrates the obscure and esoteric in cinema, particularly horror and exploitation films, teams with the Alamo Drafthouse to offer six films that celebrate old school VHS culture. Films included in the bundle are WNUF Halloween Special (2013), Split (1989), Invasion of the Scream Queens (1992), CreepTales (2004) and the documentaries At The Video Store (2019) and Adjust Your Tracking (2013). These films are available in an HD digital format.
COST: $13 for rent and $42 to buy; MORE INFO
Dine & Drink Deals
Who doesn't miss going out to eat or stopping by a bar for a drink? Here are a few options from restaurants and bars as we work our way back toward normal.
- The Oyster Gourmet at Grand Central Market celebrates National Oyster Day on Wednesday, Aug. 5, and guests who visit the oyster-shaped eatery receive 50% off all oysters and 50% off paired wines* for al fresco dining at the Market. You can also get your bivalves to go through the OYTOGO transportable oyster platter. The oysters are presented on ice to be enjoyed up to 4 hours after pick-up and complete with all the traditional accoutrements. Platters ($45-$120) must be ordered 24 hours in advance. (The 50% off deal does not apply to platters on National Oyster Day.)
- Gelato Festival in West Hollywood has teamed with SHERBINSKIS cannabis brand to launch the vegan gelato and sorbet desserts, Sunset Sherbert and Bacio Gelato 41 with zero THC/CBD. The treats are available in pints, cones and popsicles, running from $9 to $18 and are available at SHERBINSKIS namesake dispensary in Fairfax and at Gelato Festival.
- Terra, Eataly LA's outdoor rooftop restaurant, launches a cocktail collaboration series with beverage experts, bartenders and distilleries to showcase different cocktails each week. Ventura Spirits pops up every Thursday in August from 5 to 9 p.m. A portion of the proceeds go to the Restaurants Care relief fund.
- Chef Dave Beran open Tidbits by Dialogue, a 30-seat, temporary wine bar and small plates restaurant located on the second floor patio of the Gallery Food Hall overlooking the 3rd Street Promenade. The menu changes often and will be driven by the farmers market. Tidbits is open Wednesday through Saturday starting at 4 p.m.
- Rustic Canyon has added "Snack Time," every Wednesday to Sunday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Their version of happy hour offers more casual fare as well as fancy snacks and cocktails in the restaurant's new parking lot patio.
Take A Walk From LA's 'Great Hiking Era' And Stroll Back In Time
Like many Angelenos, journalist Charles Fleming didn't always think of the City of Angels as a walker's paradise.
"I was a car guy and a motorcycle guy - not a walking guy, especially not when I was in L.A. - until I was sidelined by back problems and back surgeries," Fleming recalls. "The only thing that relieved the pain was light walking, so I started walking. As I got stronger and was walking farther, I decided to investigate the forgotten public staircases of my Silver Lake neighborhood. I got hooked, fell in love with a city that I'd known principally as a series of off-ramps."
Through his books Secret Stairs and Secret Walks, his L.A. Walks column in the Los Angeles Times and public tours, Fleming has introduced thousands of locals to some of the city's best spots to stroll. With COVID-19 quarantine restrictions limiting many of our social outlets, more Angelenos are exploring the city by foot.
"I know from direct personal experience that people have been induced to investigate walking and hiking by the 'stay at home' quarantine period because I have gotten so many letters from them saying that," Fleming says.
They're hardly the first. Angelenos have always loved a good trek, whether it's an urban stroll among manicured gardens or a strenuous hike with scenic views.
THE LAND OF HEALTH AND SUNSHINE
From the beginning of the American period in Los Angeles, city boosters sold Southern California to the rest of the world as an outdoor paradise, waiting to be discovered.
"To our careless critics in the eastern press, who assume that everything here was lost in what they call a collapsed boom... can a man in health or a man out of health ask for any better home?" the Los Angeles Times asked in 1889. "The fact remains that outdoor life is possible and enjoyable here for 300 days of every year."
Hiking would become an early expression of this SoCal spirit.
"As far back as the late 1800s, the mountains of Los Angeles were drawing walkers to trails above the communities of Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre -- many of them trails left by the Gabrielino and Tongva native people and later developed and expanded by [naturalist and author] John Muir," Fleming says.
"Hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of hikers used to travel up and down these trails every week-end," Arthur N. Carter wrote in a 1937 edition of Trails Magazine. "The procession of laughing and singing hikers would begin early Saturday afternoon and continue until dusk, or, on Sunday afternoon, the hikers came down, many of them foot-sore and subdued, and climbed onto the special Pacific Electric cars waiting to take them back to Los Angeles and adjacent towns."
These hordes of hikers were encouraged by an enthusiastic local press, which ran op-eds by doctors touting the health benefits of walking.
"Great is the joy of spending the entire time in the open air, among the trees and birds, where all is harmonious, at the seashore, the lake or mountain, where are found renewed vigor and health, after indulging in exercise of fishing, rowing, driving, riding, walking, hill or mountain climbing," the Los Angeles Times reported in 1904.
It was also an acceptable form of exercise for women and children. "Every woman who does not have active occupation should walk from three to five miles each day," a local doctor told the Los Angeles Times in 1893.
The "great outdoors," especially the areas owned and operated by the government, were technically open to everyone, regardless of race. People of color could use public trails, parks and boardwalks although they faced prejudice and were sometimes denied service by private vendors, according to historian Alison Rose Jefferson, author of Living the California Dream, African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era. "The civil rights laws said these places were open to all, but sometimes incidents of discrimination did happen," Jefferson tells LAist via email.
Some of L.A.'s early tastemakers and trendsetters were prodigious walkers and hikers.
"One of the leading citizens of the early Los Angeles metropolis was a prodigious walker," Fleming says. "Charles Lummis was working as a newspaperman in Cincinnati when, in 1884, he was offered a job by the Los Angeles Times. Lummis accepted and walked to work -- literally, covering more than 3,500 miles, on foot, over a four-month period. He was given the job of city editor when he arrived, and would later go on to work as city librarian and to found the Southwest Museum."
According to historian Mark Landis, the first popular trail of the Great Hiking Era was in Arroyo Seco Canyon. It was built in the 1880s by Commodore Perry Switzer who also built a rustic camp approximately 15 miles up trail. It came to be known as Switzer Camp or Switzer-land.
"The going was a little tough... with some 60 stream crossings, either on foot or, twice a week, on a pack-mule," historian Paul R. Spitzzeri writes of the trail. "The reward, however, was the ability to camp in a gorgeous spot, including a nearby waterfall, just a short distance from 'civilization.'"
Other popular rest spots would soon open along Southern California's mountain trails.
"Nearby, a prospector named Charley Chantry built tents and hired donkeys to ramblers, and Chantry Flats, named after Charley, still offers donkey rentals at Adams' Pack Station," Fleming says. "You can hike Charley Chantry's trail past the site of his original campsites today. In Sierra Madre, you can still visit Lizzie's Trail Inn, which for 100 years outfitted hikers making their way up the Mt. Wilson Trail. Lizzie isn't selling meals anymore but people are still climbing the trail."
Hiking Mount Wilson, the peak of the San Gabriel Mountains, would also become a popular trip. "Pilgrims pass by in... khaki shorts, skirts, following the lead of puttee legging... Some 'hike' upwards without casting a look behind," the Los Angeles Times reported in 1909. "A large square pasteboard tacked to a tree naively announced that a couple are making the ascent on their very wedding day. The boulders are daubed with such messages as 'Hello, Bill,' [and] 'Keep moving,' in big capitals and red paint."
The payoff was at Mount Wilson's peak according to Times columnist Lee Shippey:
"One stirring hiking trip includes a start up the Mount Wilson trail at about 11pm which brings the hikers to the peak at about sunrise - the night view is one never to be forgotten. Here and there through the darkness, 6,000 feet below, the little starry towns bloom out, with great cities lying in the background like seas of light."
PROMENADES AND PEACOCKS
Not everyone wanted to get that close to nature. For those who preferred more "civilized" roams, there were the wealthy and overwhelmingly white Victorian enclaves of Hollywood and Pasadena. The flowering grounds of painter Paul De Longpre's Hollywood estate, located at what is now Hollywood and Cahuenga boulevards, would become one of L.A.'s earliest walking meccas. Opened to the public in 1901, it was packed with day-trippers and tourists, who often found De Longpre strolling or painting in his garden.
In 1907, the Los Angeles Times reported on a group of Shriners who had come to visit the gardens:
"In and out of the brilliant gardens there wandered such companies of the red-fezzed nobles and their wives and sweethearts that every walk was packed and every bower filled... In the pretty summer houses at various points through the grounds, refreshments were served by young ladies who carried baskets of the choicest flowers for distribution as boutonnieres and gave them out with winning smiles that at once made a hit with the Shriners."
De Longpre died in the house in 1911 and the estate, along with its beautiful gardens, was demolished in the 1920s.
In 1909, beer baron Adolphus Busch and his wife, Lily, opened the gardens of their Pasadena estate to the public, giving birth to the original Busch Gardens.
Featuring a 14-acre, formally planted "upper garden" and a 16-acre, informal "lower garden," the Busch Estate, the ruins of which can still be seen today, attracted visitors from around the world.
"At times, it seemed that every walk in both gardens were crowded with sightseers. In addition to this, every seat was filled the greater part of the time. The day was delightful and almost everyone was out of doors," the Los Angeles Times reported in 1910.
The Great Hiking Era was also a time of expansion for L.A. County's public park system.
"I am drawn to water, so I love walking around Lake Hollywood or up to the lesser known Peanut Lake and around Echo Park's lake, MacArthur Park's lake and the former Eastlake, known now as Lincoln Park, and Hollenbeck Park," Fleming says. "These last four were constructed by the leaders of a new city that was determined to create safe, attractive spaces for people to enjoy the California sunshine they came to Los Angeles to find. More than a hundred years later, they're still doing that."
In the years before World War I, there was no better place to promenade and peacock than MacArthur Park (then known as Westlake Park), which was surrounded by what was, at the time, one of L.A.'s fanciest neighborhoods.
In 1896, the Los Angeles Times reported on a day filled with society swells:
"All day the walks were crowded... two well-dressed young men, with canes, gloves, stiff hats and all the gorgeous paraphernalia of the youth of the century, were wandering in majestic magnificence around the drive, when a puff of wind lifted the hats of both from their heads, gently depositing each under the wheels of a passing carriage... another man, who was escorting two ladies, and who was descanting fluently to them of the glories of the universe in general and Southern California in particular, was wandering near the edge of the boathouse platform, and calmly stepped over the edge into eight feet of water."
Even graveyards like Evergreen Cemetery (which had always been open to people of all races and religions, both for burial and visitation) and Hollywood Forever (which had not) were laid out as walkable parks, meant to be enjoyed in multiple ways -- walking, carriage rides, picnicking, memorial events.
If a stroll among the dead wasn't your thing, there were the coastal boardwalks and piers. One of the most popular was the Long Beach Pike. Opened in 1902, its concrete walkway was 35 feet across and lit at night by twinkling Edison bulbs, hence its nickname, the "Walk of a Thousand Lights."
While all Southern Californians were technically allowed on the Pike, some of them faced racism and discrimination. In 1910 Charles Looff built a hippodrome on the Pike and banned Black patrons except at certain times. In an article for KCET, historian D.J. Waldie says Looff posted a sign that read:
"'Colored people and their friends are welcome after 9 o'clock Saturday nights.' When African-American visitors protested, Looff told the Los Angeles Times that "his amusement is run for ladies and children and he will not agree to any modification of his rules."
The Pike closed in 1979 but in its heyday, it was a place "where fully dressed vacationers could stroll, visiting the shops and other attractions on the land side of the walk, and stepping off the sand and water on the other side," according to historian Joan Mickelson. During the 1920s and 1930s, the number of Los Angeles parks, both public and private, boomed, feeding the popularity of walking and hiking as pastimes.
In 1927, the city-funded Exposition Park became a fashionable stroll when it was transformed into a resplendent rose garden with a central pond, pergolas and a fountain that changed color at night. Rachel Robinson, widow of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, recalled loving the garden as a child, the only place her mother would allow her walk alone.
A year later, Huntington Gardens, with its magnificent museum and formal gardens, opened in San Marino. Susan Turner-Lower, Vice President for Communications at the Huntington, says her research points to the gardens being open to people of all races (except for young children) from the start.
In the early 1930s, the weird and rustic Fern Dell opened in Griffith Park. According to the Los Angeles Times, a "walkway with rustic seats line the side of the ravine and occasionally cross the babbling stream on picturesque bridges built of stone and logs." The dell proved popular with photographers and tourists, who tramped in with buckets so they could drink the stream water, which they believed had been blessed with magical powers by Native Americans who once called the area home.
Although people of color were technically welcome to camp and hike in government-owned parks and nature reserves (such as Griffith Park and Catalina Island) and did so when they felt safe, they were often barred from beaches and swimming pools. So Black Southern Californians created their own resort centers. In Living the California Dream, Jefferson describes Val Verde, known as "the black Palm Springs," and Lake Elsinore, both of which boasted ample opportunities for swimming, camping and hiking in nature.
L.A.'s Great Hiking Era drew to a close in the late 1930s. World War II was on the horizon, and the rise of freeways and car culture made walking seem like a boring, old-fashioned pastime. But Southern California has never stopped delighting us with its walking paths, parks, hiking trails and outdoor wonders -- and maybe the coronavirus pandemic will inspire people to seek them out.
LAUSD, Teachers Agree To Distance Learning Plan For New School Year — Including Live Video
The Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers' union have reached a tentative agreement on what distance learning will look like when the fall semester begins on Aug. 18.
The roadmap for the start of the new year sets ground rules for teachers' work days and the amount of instructional time students can expect.
The agreement, which still must be ratified by the full United Teachers Los Angeles membership and the L.A. Unified school board, calls for the average student day to run from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Under the deal, most kids would receive at least 90 minutes of live instruction each day.
BREAKING: @LASchools and @UTLAnow announce a tentative agreement on a #distancelearning plan for this fall.— Kyle Stokes (@kystokes) August 3, 2020
After wide variation last spring, this deal imposes some consistency:
- Average student day: 9a-2:15p
- For most kids, at least 90 minutes of live instruction per day pic.twitter.com/bz0qszZIM2
The agreement also lays out plans for special education students and for child care options. Teachers will also be required to hold office hours to connect with parents and students.
If ratified, the agreement will stay in effect through Dec. 31, or until campuses reopen for in-person instruction.
READ THE FULL STORY:
'Closing The Bars Worked': LA County Officials See Positive Trends In Slowing Spread Of COVID-19
Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force is giving an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch live above.
After weeks of increased infections, hospitalizations and deaths, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday she is “cautiously optimistic” that the county is getting its act together and taking positive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Hospitalizations were still averaging 2,000 people per day last week, but Ferrer said those numbers are starting to come down.
The daily number of reported cases is beginning to taper off as well, after climbing above 3,000 new cases per day on average toward the middle of July.
“Simply put, closing the bars worked,” Ferrer said. “It also worked to limit indoor dining at restaurants and to move the operations of various businesses and institutions outdoors.”
Ferrer also acknowledged that many residents heeded the warnings from health officials and took steps to protect themselves and others by avoiding social gatherings, wearing face coverings, maintaining distance and washing their hands. She added:
“A few months ago, when we collectively and successfully flattened the curve and we reopened many of our key businesses and community sectors, a lot of us decided that that meant we could resume life as we knew it before the pandemic hit. We simply can't do this again. We still have a ways to go to reduce community transmission. Most importantly, so that we can get off of the state's monitoring list — and that's a major indicator of our progress.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Health officials are reporting 1,634 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 193,788 cases countywide. In total, 8,285 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 2,004 in Pasadena. (Those two cities operate their own health departments.)
Ferrer also reported 12 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. She noted the number is lower due to lags in reporting over the weekend. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 4,701.
Average daily deaths did climb through the month of July, Ferrer said.
"We began the month on July 1 with an average of 30 deaths per day, and unfortunately we ended the month, with an average of 34 deaths per day," she said. "We did anticipate a rise in deaths as hospitalizations increase the first three weeks of July, and death is a lagging indicator."
Here are some other key figures being reported today:
- More than 1.7 million people have been tested for COVID-19 and had their results reported to L.A. County health officials. Of those tests, 10% have been positive.
- There are currently 1,784 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 30% are in the ICU, with 18% on ventilators.
- Ferrer said 1,127 cases have been confirmed among homeless people in L.A. County.
- There have now been 3,412 confirmed cases “at some point in time” in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. In total, 3,044 inmates and 68 staff members have tested positive.
County officials also addressed reports that sheriff’s deputies allegedly gathered for a private party on Friday night inside Sassafras Saloon in Hollywood, disregarding public health guidance in the process.
Both the county health department and the Alcohol Beverage Commission are investigating the party, Ferrer said, adding that health inspectors responded to the scene the following day.
“The owners have said that they only opened for that private party, but there's a full investigation,” she said.
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she was very concerned and disappointed after viewing video reportedly taken at the party, “especially given the allegations that it was law enforcement, and law enforcement is supposed to be upholding the public health orders.”
José Huizar Pleads 'Not Guilty' Today In Federal Court
Suspended Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar has entered a plea of “not guilty” in a wide-ranging City Hall corruption case. He appeared by teleconference before U.S. magistrate judge Alicia Rosenberg. A trial date will be set at a hearing later this week.
Huizar is facing dozens of charges related to corrupt dealings at City Hall. He wore a dark suit and white shirt and glasses. He appeared to be wearing a white N95 medical-grade mask.
Huizar answered “yes” or “yes, your honor” to questions like — do you understand the charges? In the coutroom, the judge and staff all remained behind plexiglass. Attorneys appeared via videoconference, all precautions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Huizar was arrested June 23 on a racketeering charge. Federal prosecutors say he ran a “criminal enterprise” from his council seat, squeezing money out of development deals for downtown skyscrapers and big hotels.
A grand jury indictment released last week claims that Huizar accepted at least $1.5 million to usher development deals through the city’s powerful Planning and Land Use Management Committee.
There have been four guilty pleas in this case so far, including former councilman Mitch Englander, who faces up to five years in prison.
- Grand Jury Returns 34-Count Indictment Against Jose Huizar
- LA Councilman Jose Huizar Arrested By FBI, Accused Of Leading 'Criminal Enterprise' From City Hall
- Timeline: Follow The FBI's Sweeping LA City Hall Corruption Investigation Through The Years
This article was first published at 7 a.m. and has been updated with Huizar's plea.
Newsom: We're Seeing A Modest Decline In Coronavirus Positivity Rates
The number of Californians testing positive for coronavirus is going down even as the average number of people being tested is going up — and this is good news, Governor Gavin Newsom said at a noon press conference today.
Compared to a week ago, the COVID-19 positivity rate, the number of hospitalizations and the number of ICU admissions are all showing modest declines.
These are "encouraging signs, but one week does not make a kind of trend...We'll need to see another few weeks of this kind of data…to feel more confident about where we are as a state," Newsom said.
The total number of deaths from coronavirus has, however, increased over the last few weeks, according to Newsom, who cited the death of a young person in Fresno.
"This is a sober reminder of how deadly this disease is. I don't want to be an alarmist," Newsom said, acknowledging that although people in their teens are unlikely to die from COVID-19, it can happen.
Over the last 14 days, an average of 121 people in California lost their lives to coronavirus each day.
"We're likely to see those numbers remain stubbornly high over the course of the next number of days, potentially [the] next week or so," Newsom said.
The governor said 38 counties, which "represent the vast majority of the population" in California, remain on the state's monitoring list. This list helps determine how restrictive quarantine guidelines are in each area.
Newsom also took a moment to praise the business community. He said he understood the whiplash many business owners around the state have felt with reopening and re-closing orders.
Newsom said Alcoholic Beverage Control and Cal/OSHA had conducted tens of thousands of visits and "the vast majority of businesses are doing everything in their power [to comply with the new regulations] under these very difficult circumstances. And the vast majority that are not 100% in compliance come into compliance very, very quickly. Perfect rarely is on the menu, and people are doing their best under extraordinary circumstances."
When asked about the process for elementary schools to apply for a waiver so they can offer classroom instruction even if they're in a county on the state's monitoring list, Newsom said the details of this waiver process will be revealed this afternoon.
"We've been working very closely with many of those same officials that expressed concern… There were some modifications that were made last week based upon the input from many in the educational field, not just our health field."
BCD Tofu House Founder Hee Sook Lee Has Died
Hee Sook Lee, who founded the beloved, Los Angeles-based BCD Tofu House restaurant chain, known for its bubbling pots of soondubu and its willingness to stay open late, has passed away. The Koreatown Youth and Community Center announced her death last week in a post on its Facebook page. No date or cause of death was given, although it appears Lee died in early or mid-July.
Lee opened the first BCD Tofu House in 1996 on Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown. According to the company's website, she named the restaurant after the Bukchang Dong neighborhood in Seoul, South Korea, where her mother-in-law had once owned a restaurant. Lee decided to specialize in soon tofu, a spicy stew of soft tofu made with a variety of potential ingredients — vegetables, seafood, thinly sliced meats, egg — and served in a stone or porcelain pot.
BCD wasn't Koreatown's first or only soon tofu spot but it became one of the most prominent, helping spread the popularity and reach of Korean cuisine.
Over the last 24 years, Lee expanded her flagship restaurant into a chain with 14 locations — six in Los Angeles County, three in Orange County, three in the New York/New Jersey area and one in Texas.
Like many Koreatown restaurants, BCD Tofu House has been devastated by COVID-19 and is now operating only via delivery and takeout. But even in the midst of the pandemic, the restaurant's original Wilshire location worked with the Koreatown Youth and Community Center to bring Korean food to seniors who had been isolated by the quarantine and were living on limited-income.
"We are so grateful for the support from Ms. Lee and her BCD family," KYCC wrote in announcing Lee's death. Lee was also active in other charitable enterprises.
More than a restaurateur, Lee was described as an "entrepreneur and community leader" by Michelle Steel, an Orange County supervisor who wrote of Lee as a friend on Facebook: "Her brand and legacy will continue to live on and she will always be an inspiration to myself and many others."
‘Lizard In A Zoot Suit’ Adds A Sci-Fi Legend To Real Chicano History
The Zoot Suit Riots of 1943 occurred in L.A. when Navy servicemen beat up young people who were largely Latino. The purported reason was that those young people were wearing “zoot suits,” baggy ensembles seen as extravagant at a time when the nation was supposed to be preserving cloth for World War II. Throw in the widespread racism of the time, and the powder keg exploded into a week of attacks.
Writer/artist Marco Finnegan took those riots, and his family’s own history, as a starting point for his new graphic novel, Lizard In A Zoot Suit. He combined the riots with a true story from the 1930s: a geophysicist who convinced the L.A. city government to let him search for underground tunnels that allegedly belonged to a lost race of lizard people.
No secret civilizations were found, but Finnegan wondered what would have happened had the story been true... and how that could interact with two young women who were part of the zoot suit culture. You can read a preview of the graphic novel and interview with the creator in our full story.
READ THE FULL STORY:
Apple Fire Burns More Than 26K Acres, Containment At 5%
Officials say the Apple Fire has now scorched an estimated 26,450 acres in Riverside County and remains at 5% containment.
It broke out Friday in the Cherry Valley area, burning into the San Bernardino National Forest.
Lisa Cox, the forest's fire information officer, said she saw the pyrocumulus clouds over the weekend and knew it was bad. "My stomach just dropped."
Cal Fire Captain Chris Bruno says the fire had a lot of potential to grow. Hot temperatures, low humidity and dry vegetation mean the area is "primed for the wildland fires."
"When a wildland fire is burning in a certain area, it'll preheat that area that it's about ready to consume, and then that increases the rate of spread on the incident," he said.
The blaze is now one of the largest so far this year for Southern California, according to Bruno.
Here's Kate Kramer, public information officer with the U.S. Forest Service:
“Because of where it’s burning and the kind of terrain it’s burning in — very steep slopes that are pretty difficult to get to — that’s what makes this fire kind of special and ... pretty dangerous."
Officals say the fire appears to be headed northeast and is expected to burn into less dense vegetation. Nearly 2,300 firefighters are deployed in the area.
Thousands of residents have been asked to evacuate their homes in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
So far, one home and two outbuildings have been confirmed destroyed.
- Acreage: 26,450
- Containment: 5%
- Damage: Assessment teams are being deployed
- Resources deployed:
- Hand Crews: 29
- Engines: 275
- Dozers: 24
- Helicopters: 9
- Fixed wing: 2
- Water Tenders: 48
- Total Personnel: 2,296
- San Bernardino County:
- Orders: Oak Glen
- Warnings: Forest Falls, Pioneertown, Rim Rock
- Riverside County: Enter your address in this interactive map to see if you're in an evacuation area.
At the following intersections:
- High & Cherry, High & Jonathan, High & Winsap, Orchard & Avenida San Timateo, Orchard & Avenida Miravilla, Orchard & Oak Glen, Cherry Valley Blvd. & Bellflower Ave., Sunset & Wilson, and Bluff & Mias Canyon
- San Gorgonio Wilderness, including Pacific Crest Hiking Trail between the forest boundary and Forest Road 1N01
- All USFS recreation areas in Forest Fall
READ MORE ABOUT THE FIRE
- The Apple Fire — And Coronavirus — Leaves Some Evacuees Scrambling For Shelter
- Get updates on the Apple fire incident information fact sheet
Morning Briefing: Zeroing In On Rent
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Saturday was August 1, the fifth due date for rent since stay-at-home orders were issued in March. To mark the occasion, protesters gathered outside Mayor Eric Garcetti’s home to demand that he cancel rent for Angenelos who are out of work because of the pandemic.
Speaking to Josie Huang, Nicole Donanian-Blandón, with the People's City Council and the L.A. Tenants Union, said activists are concerned not only about missed rent payments and evictions, but about predatory practices by local landlords.
“We have some tenants that still get harassed by their landlords, forcing them to sign contracts to hand over their stimulus checks … which is all illegal,” she said. “But a lot of these laws that have come out, they've been very confusing, so people don't really understand what their rights are.”
The effort also coincides with the end of federal unemployment benefits, which many Angelenos have been relying on to stay afloat.
Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.
Coming Up Today, August 3
City boosters sold Southern California as an outdoor paradise, waiting to be explored. That enthusiasm for the outdoors led to the "great hiking era," which ran from roughly the 1880s to the 1930s. Hadley Meares has the story.
The graphic novel Lizard In A Zoot Suit takes a metaphorical look at the 1940s Zoot Suit Riots, when members of the military beat up young Mexican Americans in a series of race-driven attacks. It adds the surreal aspect of a magical lizard character, turning the real world history into a fable, reports Mike Roe.
In today's episode of the LAist Studios podcast, California City, host Emily Guerin tells the story of Ken Donney, an attorney who came closer than anyone to stopping the fraudulent land sales in the desert outpost. Ken helped thousands of people get their money back in California City, but then 18 years later he committed a horrible crime.
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The Past 24 Hours In LA
Cancel Rent: Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Mayor Garcetti's home Saturday afternoon to call for the cancellation of rent during the pandemic.
Coronavirus Updates: L.A. County public health officials have confirmed 23 new deaths and 1,476 new cases of the coronavirus, with 68% of the deaths occurring in people under the age of 50.
Wildfire Season: The Apple Fire (formerly called the Cherry Fire) as of Sunday afternoon had burned more than 20,500 acres in Riverside County with no containment. The coronavirus is drastically – and dangerously – limiting the places where fire evacuees can find shelter.
And On The National Stage…: President Donald Trump repeated a false distinction between "absentee" and "mail-in" voting that threatens to sow confusion and undermine confidence in this fall's election results.
Photo Of The Day
The Los Angeles Lakers took a knee before the team's Saturday game against the Toronto Raptors.
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This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.