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Newsom Won’t Rule Out Future Stay-At-Home Order If Cases Surge

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Gov. Gavin Newsom (Jackie Fortier/LAist)

After plateauing for weeks, new coronavirus cases are increasing around the country, including in Southern California.

We talked with Gov. Gavin Newsom about how that might affect the 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 which rules they have to follow. The system currently rates nine counties as too risky to reopen, including Los Angeles.

If we get to South Dakota, North Dakota rates, that's a different conversation,” Newsom said.

“This is a very dynamic disease. And what you're seeing across the country right now is really alarming,” he said.

The governor opened a new COVID-19 testing lab last week that will double the state’s capacity in an effort to head off the “twindemic” of flu season overlapping with the coronavirus pandemic.

Read our exclusive interview with Newsom on testing in California here.

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Huge Early Voting Numbers Just Keep On Growing

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People vote on the new machines at LAC+USC Medical Center. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Nearly 2.9 million early ballots have been cast in Los Angeles County. In Orange County, the figure surpassed one million over the weekend. And nearly 600,000 early votes have arrived in Riverside County.

Those huge numbers are raising hopes that 2020 could be a high turnout election in Southern California — a region that often gets knocked for not-so-great levels of political participation. But the actual ballot counting takes time, and we won't have the full picture for weeks.

READ MORE:

At our Voter Game Plan you can find:

This Year's Dia De Los Muertos Altars Reflect Difficult Year For LA's Latino Community

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Ofelia Esparza's community altar at Grand Park in Los Angeles. Above, framed photographs of loved ones lost. (Beau Ryan)

Just like everything else this year, Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is different. One commemoration in East Los Angeles included a socially distanced car parade. Decked-out lowriders cruised down Whittier Boulevard in a caravan, past Evergreen Cemetery, all the way to Self Help Graphics & Art in Boyle Heights. The community art center had to cancel its annual celebration because of the pandemic, but artists are still showing the altars they built for the dead here in a virtual exhibition.

Consuelo Flores created one ofrenda with photos of Black and Latino victims of COVID-19. "They have the most fatalities, the most exposure and therefore they bring the exposure of the virus home to their families," she says. She points to one picture of a five-year-old girl. "Both of her parents worked at hospitals caring for victims of COVID, and they brought that home and she died," Flores says.

Flores calls her ofrenda "The Roots of our Resistance." From the ceiling, she hung upside-down tree branches to look like roots. Attached to them are yellow and red marigolds that resemble 3D models of the coronavirus. And pinned to the flowers are photos of first responders who died of the disease.

READ THE FULL STORY:

MORE ON LATINOS AND COVID-19:

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LAUSD Says More Middle And High School Students Are Getting D's and F's

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In a Nov. 2, 2020 update, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said more middle and high school students are receiving low to failing grades. (Screenshot of LAUSD video)

Struggles with distance learning are leading to more D and F grades among L.A. Unified middle and high school students, but they still won’t be able to get back to in-person classes through at least the end of this calendar year, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced in Monday’s update to the district community.

“How do you best address that? Find a path to reduce COVID so schools can reopen. That’s the answer,” Beutner said in an interview with KPCC/LAist. “It's not expecting a miracle to happen when teachers are working day and night to do the best they can with students.”

In his address, Beutner said the Los Angeles area is still well above the guidelines state authorities have set for schools to consider reopening” and with COVID-19 cases increasing in the county, LAUSD schools generally will have to remain closed through at least January, if not longer.

"As a practical matter, that means it will not be possible for schools to reopen this semester. Under state guidelines, and given the current level of virus, there is simply not enough time left in the calendar for the Los Angeles area to meet the state guidelines before the holidays."

In the meantime, Beutner said, LAUSD will expand in-person tutoring, assessments, and services for kids with special needs from one-on-one sessions to now include small groups of up to three students each, starting on November 9.

More than 200 LAUSD schools have notified the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health of their intent to offer in-person services. They do not need special permission from the county to do so, and are allowed to welcome back up to 25% of a school’s enrollment this way.

It’s unclear, though, how schools will choose who among the many students who are struggling – students with disabilities, students learning English, students who are getting D and F grades, among others – will be offered an in-person opportunity.

“We know that decision is best made at the school level, between the teachers and principal, they're in the best place to know,” Beutner said. “And we'll leave that discretion at the school.”

A district spokesperson says so far, about 500 teachers and 200 paraprofessionals have provided tutoring one-on-one at 215 schools to “about 1,000 students.”

More highlights from Beutner’s video address and his separate interview with LAist:

ON REOPENING WAIVERS

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is granting a limited number of waivers specifically for reopening classes for grades TK-2.

But Beutner said 30 waivers a week countywide won’t be enough for his district, which has more than 400 elementary schools.

“If you just look across all of Los Angeles County, it would be the better part of the year before all schools could open under that waiver,” he told KPCC/LAist. “So that's not a practical solution for us.”

ON DECREASES IN ATTENDANCE AND INCREASE IN FAILING GRADES

In the video update, the superintendent showed slides that seem to indicate that schools in communities with lower household incomes have decreasing attendance among high school students and more middle school students receiving D and F grades.

In his Nov. 2, 2020 update to the Los Angeles Unified community, Superintendent Austin Beutner said the attendance figures "are below those typically seen when students are at schools."

He acknowledged that administrators, teachers, parents, students, are all working hard to try to make online learning work, but ultimately – he said – ”students need to be in a school where they can learn best.“

“I think that the reflex is to say, ‘Okay, what more can schools do?’ People in our schools are doing everything they possibly can. And if someone can show us anything else we can do, we can do that, too. But now, we need to take that same intensity of focus and bring it back to state and local authorities and say, ‘Okay, are we doing everything we can to reduce COVID in the community so we can get kids back to school?’”

Watch Beutner’s full update here:

READ MORE OF OUR ONGOING COVERAGE OF THE RETURN TO SCHOOLS:

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Morning Briefing: Election Day Is Almost Here

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

Good morning, L.A.

The city, state and country are gearing up for Election Day, with millions of voters having already cast their ballots in Southern California and many more, no doubt, to come.

Our newsroom will bring you ongoing coverage of local, statewide and national races today, tomorrow and over the next few weeks. Senior Politics Reporter Libby Denkmann reports on everything you need to know on the eve of Election Day, and Investigative Reporter Aaron Mendelson keeps an eye on voter turnout throughout the day.

Meanwhile, if you’re still looking for guidance on the many items on our local ballot – from all 12 Propositions to the LAUSD School Board race to the empty judges’ seats – check out our Voter Game Plan.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and don’t forget to vote.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, November 2

Aaron Mendelson follows the record-setting voter turnout.

Election, Groundhog Day, Vertigo. Nope, this isn't a catalog of your recent emotions. They're three of the movies screening this week, says Christine N. Ziemba.

Senior Politics Reporter Libby Denkmann will be following all the election news.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Coronavirus Updates: L.A. County officials confirmed 1,590 new cases and four virus-related deaths on Sunday. Those numbers bring the total in the region to 309,190 positive cases and 7,074 deaths.

Policing Law Enforcement: An L.A. Sheriff deputy’s body cam footage shows him fatally shooting 25-year-old Fred Williams III. The video is the first of its kind to be released, since deputies began wearing cameras.

Election 2020: The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office reports that nearly 51,500 votes were cast on Sunday, about two hours before voting centers closed. That means almost 400,000 Angelenos have voted in person, in addition to at least 2.5 million mail-in ballots that have been submitted.


Photo of the Day

A screen shot from a Sheriff deputy's body camera video, depicting the last moments of Fred Williams III’s life before the deputy fatally shoots him. This is the first body cam video to be released since Sheriff’s deputies began wearing them last month.