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Pasadena Issues Its Own Limited Stay-At-Home Order Amid Rise In COVID-19 Cases

File: Pasadena’s All Saints Episcopal Church and other local faith groups at a vigil for George Floyd earlier this year. The city has issued a temporary, limited stay-at-home order. (Aaron Schrank/LAist)

The city of Pasadena has issued a limited, temporary stay-at-home order, mostly in line with L.A. County's.

The new order, published to the city website, takes effect at midnight tonight and extends through Dec. 20:

"Pasadena is not the place to come for social gatherings, whether at a home of a friend or relative, a fraternity picnic, or a group meal at an outdoor dining establishment — no gatherings are allowed."

Pasadena, like Long Beach, has its own health department distinct from the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

In addition to forbidding all public and private gatherings of people from more than one household, the order includes the following restrictions:

  • All businesses must require patrons to wear a mask and maintain six feet of physical distancing
  • For businesses already permitted to operate indoors: nonessential retail and personal care services are limited to 25% occupancy, while essential retail businesses have no specific occupancy target, but must reduce indoor capacity enough so customers can maintain distancing
  • For businesses already permitted to operate outdoors: fitness centers "should take active steps to reduce occupancy," and swimming pools may open only for regulated lap swimming with one person per lane

The restriction on gatherings does not apply to outdoor religious services or protests "that are conducted in accordance with public health protocols." (Protests are protected by the First Amendment.) And some businesses can continue to operate, including:

  • drive-in movies, events and car parades
  • schools, childcare facilities and day camps

In addition to restaurant take out, drive-thru and delivery, outdoor dining is still allowed in Pasadena, but people from different households cannot sit within six feet of each other.

"Compliance by restaurants and customers is required if outdoor dining is to remain viable," the city warned in its statement.


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LA's Health Department Must Show Evidence — In Court — To Support Its Outdoor Dining Ban

An empty plate. (Richard Bell/Unsplash)

A judge today told Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health it must provide evidence about COVID-19 transmission that would justify its ban on outdoor dining at restaurants.

Superior Court Judge James Chalfant, however, refused to issue an order that would immediately lift the ban. He said he first wanted to review scientific research, reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

The county's health department imposed the ban on Nov. 25 to combat the rising number of coronavirus cases. The County Board of Supervisors debated the order last week but ultimately voted 3-2 to keep it intact.

The California Restaurant Association and attorney Mark Geragos, who also owns downtown L.A. power lunch spot Engine Co. No. 28, have challenged the ban.

In a statement on Twitter, CRA president Jot Condie said:

"As we've repeatedly said, their order was arbitrary and targeted restaurants unfairly, without supporting evidence. This ruling doesn’t mean that outdoor dining can immediately resume in LA County, particularly since the county has since issued a stay-at-home order. However, it's our expectation that if the county is unable to produce evidence justifying this decision, then outdoor dining should be allowed to resume as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted."

The three-week outdoor dining ban has been contentious from the start and several cities are so upset about it, they're threatening to start their own health departments.

At a hearing scheduled for next Tuesday, Dec. 8, the county must present scientific evidence justifying its ban on in-person dining.

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LA County Ready To Send COVID-19 Test Kits To Homes Of Disabled, Elderly

A COVID-19 test site at Carbon Health in Echopark. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

L.A. County will begin mailing COVID-19 test kits to people who have mobility issues, be they disabled or elderly.

With the current daily average of new cases at more than 5,300, public health officials are doing whatever they can to keep those who are sick from mixing with and infecting others.

The pilot program will run through mid-January, said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the County Department of Health Services:

"Individuals will be able to have test specimen collection kits mailed to their home where they can self swab and then mail the sample back to the lab."

Those who want a test mailed to them should be able to sign up on the county’s website by Friday, Ghaly said. Orange County started a similar program last month.

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It’s Extreme Fire Weather Time. Are You Prepped and Ready to Leave?

The Thomas Fire advances toward Santa Barbara seaside communities on December 10, 2017 (David Mcnew/AFP via Getty Images)

Especially intense winds are creating aparticularly dangerous situation” that starts today, peaks Thursday and runs through Saturday, according to the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

With estimated wind gusts of up to 65 miles per hour, humidity in the single digits, and critically dry vegetation that have yet to get much needed precipitation, the stage is set for a large, fast-moving fire.

Things are looking bad when it comes to wind-driven wildfire risk. We’ve now entered the peak of Santa Ana wind season – which will run through January – but until we get substantial moisture we’ll remain vulnerable.

The red flag conditions are similar to those that brought on the Thomas Fire back in early December 2017, and burned all of the way into January, becoming one of California's largest wildfires on record.

If you live in an area prone to burning you should be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.

We’ve put together a brief guide of what you should do in advance of the high winds tonight.


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LA's Own Olympic Legend Rafer Johnson, Immortalized In Downtown Mural, Dead At 86

Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson listens to the National Anthem before pushing the ignition switch to light the L.A. Memorial Coliseum's Olympic cauldron on September 17, 2017. (David Mcnew/AFP via Getty Images)

Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, who helped bring the 1984 Summer Games to Los Angeles, has died at age 86.

Johnson was among the world's greatest athletes, winning the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1960 Games in Rome. He was the first Black athlete to be Team USA's flag bearer. And he lit the Olympic Flame at the L.A. Coliseum to open the '84 Games.

But Johnson's legacy goes beyond his involvement in the Olympics. In 1968, Johnson helped apprehend assassin Sirhan Sirhan, who had shot Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy at L.A.'s Ambassador Hotel.

And he was a powerhouse figure of the Special Olympics. L.A. muralist Kent Twitchell explained Johnson's involvement in a 2015 piece on KPCC:

"JFK's sister created the Special Olympics in '68. It was so inspirational to Rafer that he created Special Olympics California '69 and has been the number one spokesman and inspiration and power behind it ever since, and now it's grown into a huge international event. One of the really great, true, authentic legends of American sports that has just continued to do so much good."

You can see Twitchell's mural of Johnson and Special Olympian Loretta Claiborne at 1147 South Hope St. in downtown L.A.


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Ferrer Urges LA County Residents To Stay Safe Amid 'Horrifying Surge' Of COVID-19 Cases


Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force is delivering an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch live above and check for updates below.

Los Angeles County officials reported 5,987 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 414,185 cases to date countywide. That follows a record-high 7,593 new cases announced yesterday.

In total, 16,786 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 3,746 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 40 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 7,740.

Ferrer used North Dakota and Iowa as examples of states where minimal safety measures are having devastating results. Those states have case rates of 10,000 cases and 7,000 cases per 100,000 residents, respectively. California's case rate is about 3,000 per 100,000 residents, Ferrer said, adding that "safety measures work in slowing the spread."

But she didn't downplay the "terrifying increases" happening locally, and again implored county residents to avoid group gatherings, wear face coverings and honor the new stay-at-home orders.

"We do have a choice to make, each one of us. Do we want to be part of the solution to this horrifying surge? Or do we want to be the problem? Because where you fall in this effort now has a life or death consequence — possibly for people you know and love, but certainly for people across the county, who are loved by others."

Ferrer shared more of the "continued alarming numbers" health officials are tracking as cases, hospitalizations and deaths surge.

  • In the first three weeks of November, the average daily cases jumped from 1,223 to 3,976. But over the past week and a half, Ferrer said that average skyrocketed to over 5,300 cases per day.
  • The test positivity rate is now at 12%, "more than a doubling of where we were a couple of weeks ago," Ferrer said.
  • The average daily number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 increased 94% in the past two weeks.
  • From Nov. 9-28, average daily deaths increased 92%. That death rate climbed again this week to more than 30 per day on average, Ferrer said.
  • Despite efforts over the summer to address the disporportionate case rates among people of color in L.A. County, those race and ethnicity gaps have again widened, Ferrer said.
  • The seven-day cumulative rate among Latina/Latino residents is 270 new cases per hundred thousand people. "This is over twice the rate of white residents," Ferrer said.
  • Ferrer noted that the death rate "among people in communities with high rates of poverty is around three times that of people living in areas where there are more resources."
(Courtesy L.A. County)


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LA Drive-Ins Will Screen Sundance Film Fest Movies

The Egyptian Theater in Park City, Utah. Darby Maloney/LAist/KPCC

Always wanted to go to the Sundance Film Festival but never had the chance? Well, now it’s coming to you. Today the festival announced that its 2021 event will be almost completely virtual with “Satellite Screens” at drive-ins and independent theaters across the country.

For those of us in L.A. that means screenings at the Rose Bowl and Mission Tiki Drive-Ins.

Each year, the festival is a go-to event for the film industry. It has kickstarted the careers of acclaimed directors including Steven Soderbergh, Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay. It’s where “Get Out”, “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Farewell” made their premieres and documentaries that debut at Sundance regularly end up in the Oscar race.

Organizers of the nation’s top showcase for movies made outside the studio system said that rather than cancel the annual January festival (as happened to similar film gatherings in Telluride and Cannes), Sundance will proceed with a reduced slate of 70 narrative and non-fiction films- Those will be announced in the coming weeks.

All of the movies will be available to American audiences, with certain titles accessible overseas. Filmmakers will participate in conversations about their work after the screenings.

The festival also will stage virtual screenings of 50 short films and four television episodes, and has programmed 14 live, augmented and virtual reality works on the Sundance digital platform.

“Even under these impossible circumstances artists are still finding paths to make bold and vital work in whatever ways they can,” Tabitha Jackson, the festival’s new director, said in a statement. “So Sundance, as a festival of discovery, will bring that work to its first audiences in whatever ways we can.”

For more information on how to get tickets or passes check here in the coming weeks.

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Unheard LA: Join Our Storytellers Live As They Unpack The Meaning Of 'Home'


Unheard LA is KPCC/LAist’s live storytelling series that features authentic first-person experiences. As we take a break from the stage, we've created a series of new virtual experiences that revisit some stories from past shows as starting points for deeper listening and insightful conversations. Tonight at 6:30, we’ll feature stories related to the theme of “home.” Storytellers Alex Alpharaoh, Joe Limer and Cara Lopez Lee will join host Bruce Lemon, Jr. and Race In LA’s Dana Amihere to unpack all of the significance of home.

Pay-what-you-want tickets available here. And you can watch live here starting at 6:30.

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The Trump Administration Just Made The US Citizenship Test Harder To Pass

A Colombian immigrant studies ahead of her citizenship exam at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Queens office on May 30, 2013 in the Long Island City neighborhood in NYC. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

As of Tuesday, Dec. 1, the test for U.S. citizenship will include more potential questions -- questions that will be a little more abstract, making them harder to answer.

Applicants will now be given a list of 128 potential questions in advance (before there were only 100). When they sit down for the test, a USCIS officer will ask them 20 questions from that list (they used to only ask 10). The whole process is verbal -- no multiple choice, no writing down your answers. You need to get 12 answers correct to pass.

Here's an example. The old test had this question:

The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

The answer to the above question is very straightforward. There's only one correct response: "We the People."

Now the question has been changed to this:

The U.S. Constitution starts with the words "We the People." What does "We the People" mean?

See the difference? Now we have a more open-ended question that could be answered in a variety of ways. It's basically an essay question in disguise. You could do a dissertation on this top.

Test-takers will have to give one of these answers to get it right: Self-government, Popular sovereignty, Consent of the governed, or People should govern themselves (Example of) social contract.

If the person taking the test answers slightly differently, it's up the USCIS officer to decide whether or not their answer meets the criteria for correctness.

Which version of the question do you think is easier?

Rosalind Gold, Chief Public Policy Officer for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, an L.A.-based non-profit that works on immigration and naturalization issues, says her organization is concerend that the new questions will make passing the test more difficult, especially for non-native English speakers:

"One of our deep concerns about the new questions and answers is that many of the [them] are abstract or use complicated English language, which will make it difficult for applicants to prepare. And it will increase the possibility that applicants could be denied citizenship because they don't answer correctly."


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'Particularly Dangerous' Fire Weather Is Back. LA Firefighters Wait For the Worst

Los Angeles County firefighters work to extinguish flames during the Woolsey Fire in 2018. (Brian Feinzimer/Fein Image)

Conditions are ripe for raging wildfires, as strong Santa Ana winds batter our bone dry Southern California hills, which haven't seen substantial rain since last spring. In anticipation, the Los Angeles County Fire Department is sending out strike teams to problem areas so that they can respond quickly to any fire that starts.

What's it like preparing for the worst?


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Morning Briefing: Financial Relief For LA Eateries

Chairs up on tables at Grand Central Market, a scene that has quickly become a familiar sight. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Good morning, L.A.

Restaurants, bars, wineries and breweries have taken hit after hit from coronavirus-related restrictions. Some closed soon after the county-wide shutdown in March, and still more have struggled to stay afloat via take-out and outdoor dining.

When another temporary outdoor dining ban was announced last week, it felt like a fatal blow to those whose doors were still open. In response, the county has launched a grant program, offering $30,000 to restaurants that qualify. The catch, reports my colleague Elina Shatkin, is that not many will make the cut.

Eateries must be located in the county of L.A. but not the cities of L.A. or Pasadena, have fewer than 25 employees, and meet a number of other requirements. Businesses that were offering outdoor dining prior to the most recent ban will be given priority.

So, it’s far from a perfect fix, but it’s something. Oh, and L.A. County set another record yesterday with nearly 7,600 new coronavirus cases. Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, December 2

Ghost kitchens live and die by delivery. Without a location, are they building sustainable brands or just offering fancy catering? LAist contributor Ben Masirow examines the question.

When Red Flag warnings are announced, the Los Angeles County Fire Department responds in kind by sending out strike teams across the region to hunker down near problem areas to wait for a fast-moving wind-driven blaze. Jacob Margolis decided to find out what it’s like on the ground.

We solicited your awkward, silly and tough-to-ask questions about race as part of Racism 101. Now we’re sharing the answers from our project panelists. This time, one of our panelists answers the question, “Why do Americans focus on calling people by a color, ‘I'm Black,’ or ‘I'm white,’ like Crayolas?”

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LAist Studios: Servant of Pod With Nick Quah

It's been a year of protest, not just in America but around the world. It’s in this environment that Las Raras, a Spanish-language narrative podcast telling stories of freedom and liberation, launched its latest season, which focuses on Chile. In this week's episode, Nick talks with the duo behind the project, Catalina May and Martin Cruz, about the show's creation, why they focus on stories of outsiders, and the future of Spanish-language podcasts.

The Past 24 Hours In LA

California Kids: California leaders unveiled a much-anticipated master plan for early childhood education that will shape programs in the state for years to come.

Coronavirus Updates: Public health researchers believe restaurants are among the most common places to contract COVID-19, but contact tracing has been so lackluster that it’s been challenging to link disease clusters to in-person dining. Here’s a running list of California politicians who warned us about the dangers of eating at restaurants, but then did it themselves.

Fire At Sea: The captain of the Conception dive boat faces manslaughter charges for the deadly fire off the Santa Barbara coast that killed 34 people aboard last year.

Hollywood News: The Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page, who formerly used the name Ellen Page, today announced that he is transgender. A new, six-story mosaic made up of 39,000 stainless steel sequins was unveiled on Netflix’s Hollywood campus.

Photo of the Day

Empty patio tables separated by plastic dividers are adorned with American flags at Mel's Diner in West Hollywood.

(ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

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