Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):
LA County COVID-19 Cases Trigger 3-Week Stay-At-Home Order
Los Angeles County set a new coronavirus record Monday. Public health officials report 6,124 new COVID-19 cases — the county's largest number since the start of the pandemic.
About 1,500 of those cases are from delayed results from the weekend, but that staggering total now puts the county over the five-day average of 4,500 to trigger a new stay-at-home order.
County public health director Barbara Ferrer will discuss the order at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.
While it is planned to be less restrictive than the one last spring, according to Ferrer, it comes as outdoor restaurant dining shuts down for three weeks starting Wednesday.
"And while we may resent the safety measures, and many of them have a tremendous impact on families and the economy, they have been shown to prevent significant suffering and death," Ferrer said.
Thanksgiving Movies Turkeyed By COVID Surge
When you think back to some of Thanksgiving’s family-friendly blockbusters, the list is easy:
- Toy Story 2
Each animated movie grossed more than $200 million in domestic release, while Frozen took in nearly $1.3 billion worldwide. But there’s no need to worry about a release from this year’s holiday entering the box-office record books: The math just doesn’t work.
With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing, more than 700 North American theaters closed over the past weekend. That’s right: Seven. Hundred. And the most recent No. 1 film at the multiplex, Freaky, only grossed a little more than $1 million. Those are the kind of returns typically generated by a box office bomb.
And the news is getting worse for theater owners.
Most of the studios are taking their big animated films elsewhere. The next Pixar movie, Soul, has abandoned its November theatrical premiere. It now will debut on the Disney Plus streaming site.
If you’re really willing to gamble with your health -- and everyone else's -- there is one new family film hitting theaters this week: A new Croods sequel. But if you want to keep everyone safe, stay at home.
Trump’s Immigration Policies Hit Home For This Angeleno. So Who Gets To Be American Now?
I was born in L.A. but my mom is from Ecuador. She came here on a tourist visa, which she “absent-mindedly” let expire. I was just a toddler when, as she puts it, “two polite men in black suits” came to her front door and told her she had 30 days to leave or they’d deport her.
She waited right up until the deadline before boarding a plane back to Guayaquil, but it took her much longer than she thought it would to make it back. It was long enough that I did not recognize her when she finally returned, and I screamed in terror because a stranger could not stop crying and hugging me.
Now, same topic, different outcome: one of the uncles who looked after me while she was gone -- and who played catch with me growing up -- was officially deported in 2011.
He had a green card, and he was a legal resident, but he also was a habitual petty shoplifter. He didn’t need to steal stuff like the bag of shrimp that turned out to be the last straw that got him sent to Terminal Island while he fought deportation.
Listen, I know he did something stupid and has no one but himself to blame, but I have some trouble squaring the idea that he’s someone who committed such a “serious crime” that he had to be removed from the U.S. during the Obama administration.
And cut me some slack on this. He’s my uncle, so that’s my heart talking.
So needless to say, the subject of immigration has particular resonance with me, but it’s not just my story. Nearly one in four California residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent, according to the American Immigration Council. In Los Angeles County, one-third of the residents are foreign-born.
Under the Trump administration, the U.S. immigration system has been remade. In addition to all the rhetoric demonizing those crossing the border illegally, and the president’s calls to build a wall, the White House has been building what could be called an “invisible wall” to suppress legal immigration.
So in a special edition of Take Two, the show I host, we asked: Who gets to call the United States their home? And what’ll happen when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take office in January?
EXPLORE WHAT WE FOUND:
- LISTEN: Can Trump's 'Invisible Wall' Of Immigration Policies Be Dismantled?
- How Will A Biden Administration Tackle Immigration After Four Years Of Trump?
California Averages More Than 11,000 New Cases A Day As Gov. Newsom Begins His Own Quarantine
Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to coronavirus. You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference above.
Three of Newsom's children were recently exposed to a California Highway Patrol officer who has tested COVID-19 positive, so Newsom and his wife are also quarantining. He delivered his press conference Monday from his home.
The governor said that he would continue to update the public on his own COVID-19 tests. Newsom and his wife both tested negative Sunday. He coughed during the press conference, but said it was due to tea, not anything else. He noted that they also have one live-in helper from overseas, and that she had also tested negative.
Newsom and California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly stressed that gathering on Thanksgiving is risky. Hospitals are already feeling the impacts of the surge in cases, according to Ghaly.
Ghaly encouraged people to celebrate with their own household, or to drop off meals for those who are high-risk. If you do gather, Ghaly has suggested staying close to home, citing the state's travel advisory.
Those in the 18-49 age range represent nearly 60% of all new cases, according to Newsom. They make up 7% of the deaths. Ghaly warned that those in that younger demographic can still spread the disease to those who are more vulnerable at these Thanksgiving gatherings.
No additional counties moved to a different tier of the state's reopening phases when the state looked at numbers on Friday.
A handful of counties are expected to move to a more restrictive tier on Tuesday, while "a county or two" may be able to move to a less restrictive tier, Ghaly said. He plans to make those announcements Tuesday at noon.
WHY ISSUE STAY-AT-HOME ORDER FOR AFTER 10 P.M.?
According to Ghaly, the decision was partially symoblic. He said that one reporter asked if COVID could tell time, and he said no — that doing the same things after 10 p.m. as at 10 a.m. are just as likely to spread COVID.
But nonessential gatherings are more likely to occur after 10 p.m., Ghaly noted.
"Non-essential coming together really does happen without the best productive tools. People take off their mask, they come a little closer than they should, they celebrate and do certain things that allow transmission to go pretty quickly," Ghaly said.
LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
There were 8,337 positive COVID-19 cases in the latest reporting period, based on more than 220,000 tests conducted. The seven-day average is 11,591 positive cases.
The state set a record for testing on Saturday: more than 265,000 tests. The seven-day average is 198,379 tests conducted.
The state's 14-day positivity rate is 5.5%, while its seven-day positivity rate is 5.8%; the U.S. as a whole is at 9.8% over the past week.
The 14-day positivity rate is up from 3.7% to 5.5% in the past two weeks.
COVID-19-positive hospitalizations are up 77% over the past two weeks. COVID-positive patients make up 7% of the state's health care system capacity. COVID-positive ICU admission are up 55% over the past two weeks. That makes up 17% of the state's critical care capacity.
CALIFORNIA'S PREP FOR DISTRIBUTING A VACCINE
The state is anticipating the FDA approving a vaccine in early December, but mass vaccination is still a ways off. Health care workers will be first in line, followed by other vulnerable populations, including essential workers and those over age 65. Newsom said broader distribution could happen from March to July, but the state will reassess that timeline in January.
Pfizer plans to directly distribute vaccine through its network, while Moderna is distributing through the company McKesson. The vaccine will ship directly to providers, according to Newsom.
The state is helping Pfizer with its distribution by supplementing their network by procuring:
- 16 ultra-low-temperature freezers
- 11 transport containers as a state back-up plan
- 61 smaller freezers for placement across the state
Moderna's vaccine doesn't require this special storage or transportation.
Newsom said that they've reviewed data from phase 1 and 2 of clinical trials, and have no concerns thus far.
Newsom cited the state's experience with mass vaccinations, ranging from the annual flu vaccine to experience with H1N1 and Hepatitis A.
There were approximately 19 million flu vaccine doses given in the last flu season, with the majority administered over a 3-4 month span. There are also tens of millions of other routine vaccinations administered on an annual basis.
According to Newsom, local health departments have a proven ability to provide surge capacity. He cited the fact that they doubled the routine administered doses during the H1N1 pandemic.
Newsom said that the CDC Vaccine Playbook was released on Sept. 16. California was one of five juridictions to take part in early vaccination planning with the CDC and the Department of Defense.
California put out its own vaccine plan on Oct. 16. The state is also helping the CDC with its own planning.
Coroner’s Inquest Into Deputy's Shooting Of Andres Guardado Is A Rarity In LA
Next Monday, L.A. County’s coroner will convene an official inquest into the controversial fatal shooting in June of Andres Guardado by a Sheriff’s deputy. It will be the first such proceeding since 1981.
The attorney for Deputy Miguel Vega says he shot Guardado when he reached for a gun while lying on the ground after a brief foot chase. Guardado’s family has disputed that he had a gun.
The official autopsy and an independent autopsy found Vega shot Guardado five times in the back.
Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas has appointed retired state Appellate Justice Candace Cooper to hear the case. Unlike in past inquests, there will be no jury.
Cooper alone will decide which witnesses and documents to subpoena, which questions to ask, and the final determination. The law is narrow; it only allows an inquest to determine the circumstances, manner and cause of death, and the findings cannot be used in any criminal or civil case.
READ OUR FULL STORY ON THE INQUEST:
A Cuban-American Immigrant Who Grew Up In LA May Be The Next DHS Secretary
President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas, who grew up in L.A., to lead the Department of Homeland Security. If confirmed, he would be the first Latino and first immigrant to steer the massive bureaucracy responsible for border security and enforcing immigration laws.
Biden announced the pick today along with selections for several foreign policy and national security posts, including Secretary of State, United Nations ambassador, and more.
“Ali” Mayorkas grew up in Beverly Hills after his family fled Cuba for the U.S. when he was an infant. He graduated from Loyola Law School and made a name for himself in the 1990s as an Assistant U.S. Attorney working fraud cases. A 2000 Los Angeles Magazine profile recounts his successful prosecution of “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss for money laundering.
Mayorkas rose to become U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, overseeing the federal government’s prosecution of drug cartels and white supremacists. He started the first Civil Rights Section in the office’s history aimed at investigating and prosecuting police misconduct and hate crimes.
“Ali's interest in vindicating the constitutional rights of those impacted by government action will serve him well and provide an important counterweight to what has been going on these past four years at DHS,” former federal prosecutor Michael Gennaco said in an email. Gennaco headed up the Civil Rights Section under Mayorkas.
In 2012, as head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama Administration, Mayorkas helped develop and implement the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program that temporarily suspended deportation proceedings and granted work authorization to immigrants brought to the United States as kids.
He later served as Deputy DHS Secretary under Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson.
LAUSD To Hand Out 1.5 Million Holiday Meals On Wednesday
To help families get through the long Thanksgiving weekend, the Los Angeles Unified School District will be handing out five days' worth of meals – for a total of 15 meals per family member – this Wednesday, at the district’s 63 grab-and-go centers.
That adds up to 1.5 million meals according to Superintendent Austin Beutner’s weekly video update. It will be the greatest number of meals distributed by the district in one day since schools closed their campuses in March.
Beutner called the scale of the food relief “like something out of the Guinness Book of World Records.”
Here is a map of the grab-and-go centers where the district distributes free meals from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays:
Heads up: while the grab-and-go meal centers are normally open on weekdays, they will be closed on Thanksgiving itself and on Friday, too, according to the district.
In an interview with the superintendent as part of the weekly update, LAUSD Director of Food Services Manish Singh said the Wednesday meals will include sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans.
“It’s actually a Thanksgiving meal that families can actually sit down and actually enjoy with each other,” Singh said.
WATCH: Superintendent Austin Beutner's Update to the School Community— Los Angeles Unified (@LASchools) November 23, 2020
VEA: Mensaje del superintendente Austin Beutner a la comunidad escolar. Haga clic en el botón [CC] en el video si desea activar los subtítulos en español.https://t.co/c0gD89xPsA pic.twitter.com/AZI8bvIPIJ
How will the district pull off what Beutner calls a “herculean” food relief effort? Well, the LAUSD has become a food distribution machine, translating its normal food operations to distribute almost 80 million meals to hungry kids and adults since the pandemic first closed LAUSD school campuses in March. In April, we introduced you to district employees whose work makes the food distribution possible.
As for paying for the almost 80 million free meals the district has been giving out: There are some reimbursements the district gets through school lunch programs, but that doesn’t cover it all.
Time and time again, the superintendent has appealed to city and county officials to help LAUSD provide these meals to students in need, as well as hungry community members. According to updates from the district, LAUSD has also accepted $29 million in donations to its “LA Students Most In Need” Fund.
UPDATE, Nov. 24, 9:40 a.m.: This story was updated to reflect the total number of meals each person or family member would receive.
READ MORE OF OUR COVERAGE OF MEALS AND SCHOOLS:
- How LAUSD Handed Out 13 Million Free Meals In 6 Weeks
- Meet Some Of The People Who Make LAUSD's Food Relief Efforts Possible
- Why Grab-And-Go Meals Around SoCal Could Change This School Year
- Where To Get Financial Assistance, Food And More During The Coronavirus Crisis
International Student Enrollment Is Flat. That's A Big Financial Problem For Colleges
California's universities have attracted tens of thousands of international students every year -- but enrollment has been slowing and it's even shrunk at some campuses. And now COVID-19 is making matters worse.
Enrollment had surged for a decade -- and because international students usually pay the full costs of tuition, fees, and room and board, it was a godsend to colleges and universities struggling financially after the 2008 recession.
Now, a new report by the government-funded research organization OpenDoors shows a nearly 2% drop in international student enrollment in United States higher education last year. Some Southern California colleges and universities are seeing this and much higher decreases.
The coronavirus pandemic is certainly one of the culprits. But international student enrollment had already been declining before the pandemic. Some blame the Trump Administration's xenophobic rhetoric and tightening of visa policies for figuratively yanking the welcome mat out from under these students.
READ THE FULL STORY:
Travelers Attempting To Fly Face Social Distancing Challenges
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised against travel this holiday season. Nevertheless, some people are hopping on planes to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Companies are making efforts to encourage physical distancing, such as putting markers on the floor to demonstrate how to stay six feet apart, said Alison Sider, who reports on the airline industry for The Wall Street Journal.
“But I think one of the challenges is, you are going to have this human behavior, you’re going to have people clustering together,” she said. “It is an airport. You hear the announcement, and everyone jumps up to the gate.”
The Transportation Security Administration has also created new technology to support social distancing, including an option for self-scanning ID cards. At LAX, mobile ordering also allows for touchless food purchases.
The smaller Long Beach Airport is touting the safety of outdoor waiting and boarding areas.
According to the TSA, airline travel is less than half what it was a year ago, though more than two million people boarded planes in the U.S. on Friday and Saturday.
Newer, Faster Internet In The South Bay
The South Bay has a new fiber optic network designed to bring high speed internet to the region.
The project was instituted in part because businesses were leaving the area, said Christian Horvath, a member of the Redondo Beach City Council.
“They were citing a lack of broadband infrastructure to help meet their needs,” he said.
The network connects the South Bay with L.A. County’s intelligent traffic network.
“We can create signal synchronization on the major arterials throughout the South Bay,” Horvath said. “During rush hour time, we can improve the amount of traffic flow just by having all these signals connected.”
Horvath added that the network puts cities in a better position to offer Wi-Fi to residents, and could potentially interface with autonomous vehicles in the future.
Internet Brings Venice Boutique's Political Mural Attention, Some Unwanted
The owners of a Venice clothing boutique noticed that the number of people snapping photos of a politically themed mural on one of its walls seemed to have quadrupled on Saturday.
Little did they know that a tweet about their mural, which features top women Democrats such as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, had gone viral Saturday.
Ron Brawer of Nati boutique explains how he came to conceive the now-famous mural.
READ THE FULL STORY:
Morning Briefing: No More Outdoor Dining
Good morning, L.A.
After issuing a stern warning last week about the rising spread of coronavirus, L.A. County officials have made good on their plan to increase restrictions if COVID-19 cases kept rising.
On Sunday, the average number of cases over the previous five days was above 4,000. In response, outdoor dining will no longer be permitted as of Wednesday night. The move came after officials instituted a limited stay-at-home mandate, requiring that residents not leave the house (with a few exceptions) between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The new restrictions on outdoor dining will be in effect for at least three weeks. They apply to restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries.
“We hope individuals continue to support restaurants, breweries and wineries by ordering for take-out or delivery,” said Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s Director of Public Health. “We also fervently hope every L.A. County resident supports all our businesses by following the Public Health directives that we know work to slow spread.”
Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.
– Jessica P. Ogilvie
Coming Up Today, November 23
At the direction of the Board of Supervisors, L.A. County's coroner will soon begin an official inquest into the fatal deputy shooting of Andres Guardado – the first such inquest in more than 30 years. Frank Stoltze looks at what to expect.
Southern California college administrators say COVID is contributing to a drop in international student enrollment -- but it was already dropping amid anti-immigrant sentiment, reports Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.
The rhetoric around U.S. immigration policy has been heated during the four years of Trump's presidency. It hits close to home for A Martínez, host of our own Take Two, and for many other Angelenos as well.
As families seek ways to celebrate a safe Thanksgiving, one Burbank woman will drive to her kids' homes to deliver and pick up food. Josie Huang will have the story.
Julia Paskin will report on the challenges faced by passengers who choose to travel despite CDC recommendations against it.
Participate in a virtual dance party, pre-burn Turkey Day calories at a fun run, explore the glory of slime, and more. Christine N. Ziemba will have this week’s best online and IRL events.
Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.
The Past 48 Hours In LA
Restaurants Struggle To Stay Open: Orange County restaurants offering outdoor seating (they are still permitted to do so, as of Sunday evening) can apply for a new grant program that aims to help owners keep their operations open during the winter. In L.A. County, prior to Sunday’s announcement that outdoor dining would be prohibited, restaurants were already bracing themselves for the fallout of a 10 p.m. closing order.
Street Vendors Speak Out: We spoke to local street vendors about how the curfew might affect their business, which relies heavily on late-night foot traffic.
A Thousand Words: A mural in the Venice boutique Nati, featuring top female Democrats on a fictional shopping trip, has gone viral – and not in a good way.
Photo of the Day
People walk outdoors during the "Glow" light exhibition at the South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes Peninsula, a few hours before the start of the statewide curfew.
Help Us Cover Your Community
- Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
- Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.
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.