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Take A Tour Of The First Day Of Voting At Dodger Stadium

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Voters who cast their ballots at Dodger Stadium get a special "I Voted" sticker. Libby Denkmann for LAist

It’s the weekend before Election Day and voters have a lot of options: You can mail-in your ballot or drop it off at a secure ballot box. Or you can do what more than 250,000 Angelenos have already done: go in-person to a vote center.

Some locations have been open all week, but the majority of Los Angeles County vote centers opened Friday morning.

Tiffany Cabrera chose one of the best-known spots to cast her ballot: Dodger Stadium. She joined other fans expressing a mix of civic duty and team loyalty.

“It was an awesome experience,” Cabrera said. “As important as this election is for all of us, coming to one of the most monumental places [in the city] made me feel very proud to be an Angeleno and do my part.”

The entrance for the vote center is Gate A on Vin Scully Ave. off of Sunset Blvd. Follow the blue line winding through empty parking lots all the way up to Lot P. The vote center is located on the Top Deck concourse — right next to the souvenir shop that’s selling championship gear and memorabilia.

After voting, fans can take in the view of the field, get a special Dodger Stadium “I Voted” sticker, and take selfies.

When the Dodgers won the World Series, the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder doubled the number of ballot machines at the stadium — 70 stations are now available, and there was no wait time on Friday afternoon.

With four days of voting to go, the early in-person vote in L.A. County has already exceeded turnout for the entire early voting period in the primary, the Registrar's office said.

Dodger Stadium is just one of close to 800 L.A. County vote centers open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Monday. Hours expand to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Election Day.

2.1 Million Votes Have Already Been Cast in L.A. County

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Voters cast their ballots at the Vote center inside Staples Center. Chava Sanchez/LAist

More than 2.1 ballots have already been cast in Los Angeles County. With four days to go until Nov. 3, that would put turnout at 36.6% — a number that will only rise in the coming days.

While early voting numbers have shaterred records around the country, Californians will have to wait weeks before learning just how many people turned out in 2020.

READ MORE: How Many SoCal Voters Will Turn Out In 2020?

LAUSD, UTLA Strike Deal On Some Services For Students With Disabilities

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Educators at Plainview Elementary School in Tujunga provide one-on-one tutoring in person. (Screenshot fro Oct. 26, 2020 LAUSD video)

Students with disabilities in the Los Angeles Unified School District will be able to get some in-person services for students under an agreement with the union representing its educators and service providers.

Key to the plan: it will rely on teachers and therapists who voluntarily agree to provide occupational therapy, speech therapy, and adaptive physical education and other services for students with individualized education plans or other special needs -– in other words, they cannot be forced by the district to participate.

Those who do volunteer will provide one-on-one services, and both provider and student will have to be tested for COVID-19 and cleared before sessions can begin, according to the agreement.

Some other aspects of the agreement (which you can read in full below) include:

  • The option to provide the services or therapies outside
  • A blocked-off 20 minute window between students to allow for cleaning
  • “Specialized face coverings” provided by the district when needed – like transparent face coverings when working on speech skills

Back in September, UTLA elementary vice president Gloria Martinez said the union did not believe the district and county were ready to welcome back students with special needs without putting them at risk, but since then, she said, they’ve learned more about the district’s plans for PPE and air filtration.

“What we came up with yesterday, which has been a process over the last couple of weeks, is a reflection of both parties wanting to deliver services for our students who need them the most, who are vulnerable,” Martinez said.

The agreement resembles similar deals made between the district and the union earlier this month to provide one-on-one tutoring and assessments in-person.

Last week, the parent group Speak UP released a survey detailing the struggles students with disabilities are facing during distance learning, including attempts at self-harm and signs of regression.

“We are pleased that UTLA is finally allowing its members to voluntarily help kids with disabilities who have been regressing in large numbers without in-person services,” Speak UP Founder and CEO Katie Braude said in a statement. “However, there is nothing voluntary about federally mandated IEPs. The district must provide these services to all kids in a way that meets their individual needs.”

When addressing the Los Angeles City Council at a meeting earlier this week, Superintendent Austin Beutner acknowledged the challenge of serving these vulnerable students while most campuses are largely closed under state and county health orders.

“There are certain students, students with differences and disabilities, for instance, where it is just not practical to serve a student in isolation,” Beutner said.

More than 1,000 schools in LA County have informed Public Health that they are offering some type of “in-person supports and services” for more than 35,000 students who struggle the most with distance learning, like students learning English and students with special needs and Individualized Education Programs.

Most of the schools offering these in-person “specialized services” and assessments are public schools – specifically district schools.

The county recently raised the maximum number of students who can participate in person from 10% of the enrollment to 25%.

According to an update from L.A. Public Health director Barbara Ferrer, officials have done around 700 site visits to ensure compliance with county protocols at schools that have reopened in a limited capacity “and, with only two exceptions, there are no outbreaks.”

You can read the signed agreement between LAUSD and UTLA below:

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READ MORE OF OUR COVERAGE OF THE REOPENING OF SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS:

WATCH: California Doubles COVID-19 Test Capacity With New High-Speed Lab

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom is providing the latest update on the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic (you can the press conference above), including the announcement of a new $25 million lab that officials say will double the state's capacity to test for COVID-19 and speed results to patients in less than two days.

The new lab in Valencia will be able to process up to 150,000 test kits daily. It will focus on the most commonly used polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test, which isolates genetic material from a swab sample. It’s regarded as the gold standard of testing.

A new testing lab in Valencia will drop the cost of COVID-19 tests from $150 to $37 each and has the capacity to process up to 150,000 kits daily. (Jackie Fortiér/LAist)

The lab will be run by PerkinElmer, a Massachusetts-based diagnostics company that partnered with California to improve COVID-19 testing efficiency and capacity.

The unspecified contract with the company significantly drops the cost of each kit from $150 down to about $37 per test, according to a press release from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. COVID-19 tests are offered for free to Californians at sites throughout the state, but the state picks up the tab for uninsured residents.

The new facility will create 700 jobs, the governor’s office said. All hospitals will be eligible to use the lab, which will simultaneously allow for COVID-19 and flu testing.

The governor’s offices says the new lab will help handle an expected increase in tests as flu season approaches, since COVID-19 and the flu have similar symptoms.

Right now, the kits can only test for COVID-19. Pending FDA approval, the Valencia lab will also be able to process a new all-in-one test, developed by PerkinElmer. A single swab from a patient will allow technicians to test for three different variations of the flu virus, as well as COVID-19 and RSV, a common virus that causes cold-like symptoms.

LATEST CA CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

  • 4,014 confirmed positive cases this week
  • Positivity rate is 3% over the last 14 day period; 3.2% over the last 7 day period

After plateauing for weeks, new coronavirus cases have ticked up, especially in Southern California. Newsom’s gradual reopening system rates nine counties as too risky to reopen, including Los Angeles County.

California is still looking better than many other states. It has the 11th lowest positivity rate in the nation, according to a Johns Hopkins University COVID tracker.

After lessons learned during a surge of cases in July, Newsom’s administration rolled out an easy-to-understand, color-coded reopening structure that sorts counties into four tiers based on the severity of their local outbreak and restricts which businesses can be open and what rules they have to follow. But it’s come at a cost -- California has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our nonprofit public service journalism: Donate now.

'You Can Only Choose One’: A Biracial American On His Filipino-Russian Roots -- And Why He Won’t Check Just One Box

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Mark, 7, with his parents in a family photo dated August 1987. (Courtesy Mark Moya)

Years ago, Mark Moya received a phone call from someone taking a survey. The man on the phone asked, "Are you white, Black, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American?"

Moya, who is of Filipino and Russian descent, tried to convey that he is both Asian and white, only to be told: "You can only choose one."

The conversation didn't end well.

In his essay for Race in LA, Moya writes about growing up as the son of a Filipino immigrant father and Russian American mother, and identifying equally with both of his parents' cultures and races. He writes:

For as long as I’ve had an awareness of being and my relation to the world at large, which was quite early, I’ve believed it necessary to understand and connect with one's history and origins. Emphasizing one group while minimizing the other seemed dismissive, disrespectful, and inauthentic. The relationships are different: some things are more accessible and quotidian, while others occupy a less tangible realm. It’s a mix-and-match situation, but both are equally important.

Moya celebrates the rich immigrant history on both sides of his family and the legacy of his late father. He lost his dad earlier this year to COVID-19.

READ THE ESSAY:

Morning Briefing: Focus On Donuts, While You Can

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An assortment of colorful donuts from DK's Donuts in Santa Monica. (Elina Shatkin/LAist)

Good morning, L.A.

Between now and Tuesday (and likely for many weeks after), America will be flooded with election news, and only election news. As a brief escape before the storm, I’d like to share with you a story about donuts.

My colleague Elina Shatkin took a look at a new documentary telling the tale of Ted Ngoy, the man behind what was once Southern California’s most prolific fried dough franchises. After immigrating with his wife and children from Cambodia (the story of how he met his wife is documentary-worthy in and of itself), Ngoy worked his way up to become the owner of a Winchell’s, then opened his own shop.

Soon, Ngoy was using the donut trade as a way to help other Cambodians transition to life in California, making millions of dollars in the process – then losing it all. Filmmaker Alice Gu captures the entire saga in The Donut King.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, October 30

Mike Roe speaks with several Halloween haunts about how they addressed COVID-safety this year, and how they've been affected by the pandemic.

LAist contributor Mark Moya reflects on life as a biracial man in Southern California, the history of his Russian/Filipino family, and how he bonded with his Filipino immigrant dad as they faced COVID-19.

Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.


The Past 24 Hours In LA

Money Matters: The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is offering one-time $500 grants to low-income households that have lost work or had extra expenses due to COVID-19. In the wake of the pandemic, American Legion posts are coming up with new ways to generate revenue – like comedy nights. Long Beach is rolling out a program to provide free in-home child care to a limited number of families.

Wildfires: The Blue Ridge and Silverado Fires have burned a combined total of more than 25,000 acres in Orange and San Bernardino counties.

Identity And Education: Joseph Castro, the next chancellor of California State University system, specifically self-identifies as "Mexican American" over Hispanic or Latino/Latinx, because it embodies his heritage as a son of the San Joaquin Valley.

Spooky L.A.: These photos prove that not even 2020 could kill Halloween.

Election 2020: Election officials reported that 767,299 early voting ballots have been returned in Orange County as of Wednesday night – about 20% ahead of the same time period in 2016. In an ad paid for by Lyft, the company says "Prop. 22 will give [drivers] ... health care benefits" – but the truth is a little more complicated.

Here’s What To Do: Attend a talk with Dolores Huerta, hit up Joe Bob's Haunted Drive-In, check out the Echo Theatre's storytelling night, and more this Halloween weekend. Watch director Alice Gu’s The Donut King, which chronicles Ted Ngoy's thrill-of-victory/agony-of-defeat rollercoaster ride through the American Dream.


Photo of the Day

A family walks through a pumpkin-lined walkway in Burbank.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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