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US Census Bureau Won’t Commit To Finishing Data Processing This Year

A screenshot from an explainer video on the U.S. Census website.

It’s been a week since the 2020 Census officially stopped collecting responses. The final deadline for the count was moved up to Oct. 16 after the U.S. Supreme Court gave the Trump Administration permission to truncate the decennial count half a month sooner than had been planned.

Now, the government is processing the millions of responses it received. The law says the U.S. Census Bureau must have this data crunched and delivered to the president by December 31, 2020.

Over the course of a court battle between the U.S. Census Bureau and several plaintiffs -- which include the city and county of Los Angeles -- federal officials have emphasized the importance of meeting that date.

But on a press call today, senior Census Bureau officials walked back their commitment to that deadline.

“We did not say we were going to be able to meet the December 31st deadline,” Associate Director Al Fontenot said. “That provides us with the flexibility if we encounter unexpected challenges.”

At this point, data processing is expected to take two and a half months -- significantly less than the five months the Bureau had allotted prior to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The city and county of Los Angeles have pushed in court to extend the timeline for processing into next year.

Fontenot acknowledged that compressing the time for going over the numbers comes with some risks.

“It assumes a reasonably smooth sequence of processing events will occur,” Fontenot said. “If they are not reasonably smooth, they will require us to take additional time.”

Senior officials explained Wednesday that some workarounds were used to reach the "99.9%" completion rate that the Census Bureau has touted since last week.

However his year, according to numbers released by the bureau, more than a third of non-responsive U.S. households were counted using shortcuts -- compared to about a quarter of non-responsive households in 2010.

These accepted shortcuts include asking a neighbor to respond for a non-responsive hourshold, or estimating how many people live in a home through government records, like tax filings or post office data.

The Census Bureau has not released census results for individual tracts, so it’s unclear if some L.A. neighborhoods were counted by proxy more than others.

Los Angeles County is considered among the hardest-to-count regions in the United States.


What's at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census? Billions of dollars in federal funding for services like health care, public education, even disaster planning. Political representation in Sacramento and D.C. A census undercount could cut critical resources in L.A. County, home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation.

LA County Sheriffs Solve 25-Year-Old Murder Case Using DNA

Gladys Arellano (Courtesy L.A. County Sheriff's Dept.)

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff's detectives announced the arrest of 42-year-old Jose Luis Garcia for the sexual assault and murder of 17-year-old Gladys Arellano, a case that's been cold for 25 years.

On Jan. 30, 1996, the body of an unidentified woman was found 30 feet off the main road at the bottom of a ravine, in the Topanga Canyon area of Malibu. The body was partially clothed, leading investigators to suspect sexual assault.

In the days following, the body was identified as Gladys Arellano, who was last seen two days earlier at her home in Boyle Heights. She was reported missing by her family.

An autopsy later determined that Arellano had been sexually assaulted, beaten and strangled to death.

"At the time of the initial investigation, serology was collected from Gladys' body," one of the detectives said at a press conference Wednesday, "and subsequently a DNA profile was uploaded to state and federal DNA databases as an 'unknown offender.'"

Homicide investigators weren't able to get much further and for over two decades, the case remained unsolved.

But when Luis Garcia, the accused killer, was arrested in November 2019 by Los Angeles Police for domestic assault, his DNA sample matched the DNA taken from Arellano's body in 1996.

The case was ultimately solved by Detective Joe Purcell of the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau Unsolved Case Unit, which is made up of 12 retired homicide investigators who work part-time solving murder cases using new technologies and anonymous tips.

Purcell obtained a search warrant to get an oral swab from Garcia, which they used to confirm the DNA match.

Samantha Moreno, the victim's niece and goddaughter, was at today's press conference and spoke for the family:

"Gladys was only 17 when she was murdered ... [S]he had such big dreams for her life ... [I]t was extremely painful for us to lose her and live through 24-and-a-half-years of not knowing who killed her. We are pleased to know that Jose Luis Garcia has been taken off the streets after 24-and-a-half years. We want nothing more than for him to pay for his brutal crime. We recognize that this will not bring Gladys back but we are relieved to know that there will be justice for Gladys Arellano."

Authorities say Garcia was arrested for the murder by U.S. Marshalls in Dallas, Texas last month. He was extradited to California last week and arraigned for Arellano's murder this past Monday and remains in custody on $1 million bail.

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The First 4 Los Angeles County Schools Approved For Reopening Waivers Are Private Schools

Public health officials on Wednesday provided an update on the number of schools applying for waivers and providing in-person support. (L.A. County screenshot)

While general school reopenings are still not possible so long as Los Angeles County is in the most restrictive of the state’s coronavirus tiers, more than 100 schools have applied for waivers of those rules to reopen their classrooms for transitional kindergarteners to second graders.

On Wednesday, county health officials named four schools that have had those applications approved so far: Holy Angels School in Arcadia, Kadima Day School in West Hills, Los Encinos School in Encino, and Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Ann in Los Angeles.

All four are classified as private schools in the California Department of Education directory.

Remember: when the Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health created the process for applying for these waivers late last month, they put some guardrails on the process, including:

  • A cap of no more than 30 waivers granted per week
  • A preference for schools with more low-income students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals
  • An even geographic distribution among the five supervisorial districts

The four approved schools are the first to be granted school reopening waivers in L.A. County. With the waivers, they can welcome staff and students in grades TK-2 back to campus for in-person instruction.

As of Wednesday, 110 schools have applied for waivers. The majority — 87 so far — are private schools. Eighteen are charter schools and five public district schools have also submitted applications.

Public Health declined to list the schools that have applied so far, only providing the names and applications of those approved.

The waivers are one of two ways schools can reopen while a general countywide reopening of schools is not permitted.

The other way is to provide “specialized services” to small groups of students with the highest need, like students with disabilities, students learning English, and homeless and foster youth.

According to the county health department, almost 1,000 schools have reopened for these specialized services. They show a different pattern than those that have applied for waivers: the majority — almost 70% — are public, district schools, while 18% are charter schools and 13% are private schools.

These reopenings don’t require previous approval or special permission from the county Public Health Department, but were limited to 10% or fewer of the students on campus at a time.

But now, as Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced in a Wednesday briefing, county health officials will raise that percentage to 25%.

“Throughout this process, the county monitored schools that reopened to inform our progress to advance further,” Barger said. “We will now increase to 25% capacity for high-need students, so more children and youth can have access to their teachers and the onsite support system that are so critical for their growth and for their education.”

In a report released on Wednesday by the parent advocacy group Speak UP, three quarters of parents of LAUSD and charter school students with special needs surveyed said distance learning has been inadequate.


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Survey: Students With Special Needs Are Struggling With Distance Learning, Parents Say

The parent advocacy group Speak UP surveyed more than 300 parents of students with special needS in LAUSD and charter schools. (Screenshot from Speak UP report)

Almost 75% of parents of students with special needs say their kids are showing signs of regression during distance learning – from meltdowns to attempts to hurt themselves – according to a survey from the advocacy group Speak UP.

Given that, almost 60% of the 313 respondents to the online survey said that if Los Angeles Unified found a way to offer one-on-one special services in-person, they would choose to send their child back to campus.

Among other findings in the Speak UP survey:

  • More than a third of parents reported that they have not received all of the support – things like speech therapy, occupational therapy, work with a behavioral aide, for example – promised in their child’s Individualized Education Program, or IEP.
  • Less than a quarter of parents said their children are able to “effectively learn and progress in their skills” while instruction and services are provided virtually.

The group did a similar survey in the spring, when campuses first closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Our recommendations are: communicate and collaborate with parents,” said Speak UP director of special education advocacy Lisa Mosko. “Stop shutting out parents. Ask them how it's going. And be more flexible and work with them.”

You can read the full report below.

In an emailed statement, an LAUSD spokesperson wrote, “Our teachers and staff have made heroic efforts to ensure students with disabilities and their families are connected to their school community and receive support during the pandemic. There is no question that being in the classroom is the best option for all students, but especially for those with special needs. We are developing plans on how students – including those with special needs – can return to the classroom in the safest way possible.”

More than 140 LAUSD schools have notified the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health of their intention to provide some type of in-person “specialized services” on their campuses.

But the district and the union representing teachers, United Teachers Los Angeles, have yet to figure out when and how to offer services for students with special needs in person, though earlier this month, they did strike a deal over providing tutoring and assessments to students who struggled the most under distance learning.

Lynn Marie Mierzejewski teaches students with mild to moderate autism at Harmony Elementary. She misses working with her students in person, but she has emphysema and worries about going back too soon.

“We’re not doing this because we don’t want to work,” she said. “Since I’ve started teaching online, I’m working more than ever, but I don’t mind, because it’s for my students.”

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: This article was updated to include a statement from the L.A. Unified School District and additional reaction from Speak UP.


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More Pay And Better Masks: How To Limit Coronavirus Spread Between Nursing Homes

A banner outside of Brier Oak on Sunset announces that they are now hiring Certified Nurses Assistance. (Chava Sanchez/Laist)

About a hundred California nursing homes have ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks. A new study found that one of the reasons for the continued infections is staffers who work at multiple nursing homes.

“When you learn that over 20 of your workers are also spending time in other nursing homes, that should be a real red flag,” said Keith Chen, one of the UCLA researchers.

He’s hoping that key facilities in each state that he’s dubbed the ‘Kevin Bacon’ of nursing homes can act as an early warning system. If an outbreak occurs there, it would trigger more COVID-19 testing at other homes whose staff overlap.


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Morning Briefing: First Release Of L.A. Sheriff’s Department’s Body Cam Footage Is Promised

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva being sworn in. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

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Good morning, L.A.

In the first test of its newly-deployed body cameras, the L.A. Sheriff’s Department will release footage from the camera worn by the deputy who fatally shot Fred Williams III last Friday afternoon.

Williams, who was 25, was killed in Willowbrook. According to the department, he was at Mona Park when the deputies’ patrol car drove by. The department claims the deputies spotted Williams holding a gun and alleges he ran after seeing the deputies.

Following a chase into a nearby yard, the department says the deputy started shooting because Williams was "pointing his firearm at him." A family spokesman counters that Williams was trying to climb a wall to escape when he was shot.

Those shots struck Williams, ending his life. We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, October 21

Aaron Schrank will report on what it was like to watch the Dodgers play the first game of the World Series from the Dodger Stadium parking lot.

Nursing homes have been devastated by the coronavirus, and a new study finds that people who work at multiple nursing homes may help spread the disease. But limiting health workers’ jobs could hurt the workforce that the facilities rely on. Jackie Fortiér has the story.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Coronavirus Updates: Large theme parks such as Disneyland and Universal Studios won't be allowed to reopen until their counties have minimal spread of COVID-19. California will have a review process of any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA, regardless of which presidential candidate wins in November.

Deadly Conception Boat Fire: We may never know what sparked the flames that killed 34 people onboard the Conception dive boat last year, as federal investigators said today they couldn't find the exact cause of that deadly fire.

Election 2020: L.A. County officials will empty every ballot box daily, after a fire at a dropoff box in Baldwin Park.

Policing Law Enforcement: The L.A. Sheriff’s Department will release body cam video of a deputy's fatal shooting of Fred Williams III in Willowbrook.

Photo Of The Day

Tonya Swain points to her "I Voted" sticker while donning an "I Can't Breathe" face mask, after casting her vote in Norwalk.

(Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

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Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified where the ballot box fire took place. LAist regrets the error.


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