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Morning Brief: Christmas COVID, Flash Floods And The Wisdom Tree

An angel is displayed on the counter as a person in green scrubs and a mask works in the background.
The scene at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley last Christmas.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images )
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Dec. 24.

Before we jump into the news, I wanted to share some warm wishes with you for this holiday season, from our entire staff here at LAist. We are so thankful for your partnership and trust when you read our local reporting each day, and we’re deeply grateful that we get to spend our time helping make a better L.A. together.

We hope your holidays are happy, healthy, and bright.

And now, back to the news…

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It’s Christmas Eve, and for those celebrating (and those on vacation or gathering but not celebrating), COVID is on everyone’s mind.

In L.A., there’s good reason for that. Cases doubled overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, leaping from an average of approximately 3,000 cases per day to over 6,000. Yesterday, 8,633 new cases were reported.

Things are much better than they were this time last year, when our region was posting an average of approximately 15,500 new cases daily. But L.A. County’s Public Health Director, Barbara Ferrer, said Wednesday that we could be headed towards numbers like that once again.

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Cases remain highest by far among people who aren’t vaccinated, but health experts and public officials are repeatedly reminding the public that vaccinated folks can still contract the virus; they are just very unlikely to get severely ill or die.

There’s been no public order to shutter businesses in the face of this latest surge, but some spots in L.A. are doing so anyway. Bars and restaurants from Venice to downtown to Burbank are limiting their capacity or closing temporarily. Some are doing so out of an abundance of caution; others because employees have tested positive.

A few local favorites that have announced such measures are Zebulon, Precinct and Gjelina. 

Meanwhile, the Rose Parade and its accompanying events are scheduled to go on, despite staggering rises in infection rates. We’ll keep you updated if that changes.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Heavy rain could lead to flash floods throughout Orange County over the next several days.
  • A local nonprofit is adding COVID testing sites throughout L.A. County. 
  • Here’s what to do if your vaccine is scheduled at a place like a theme park or airport that usually charges a LOT for parking.
  • One Latino small business district in Huntington Park is struggling this Christmas, after 21 months of pandemic challenges.
  • American novelist, journalist and essayist Joan Didion has died, at the age of 87.

Before You Go ... This Week's Outdoor Pick: The Wisdom Tree Hike

The Wisdom Tree (Photo by Mike Hume via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The Wisdom Tree Hike in Griffith Park, named for the solitary tree atop Burbank Peak, offers sweeping views of L.A. on a clear day — a great way to spend the day with visiting friends or relatives. There are several ways to reach The Wisdom Tree, but the shortest route is a steep, 1.6-mile, out-and-back hike.

If you’re not up for a hike, you could also: Attend L.A. County’s Holiday Celebration from the comfort of your home. Watch It’s A Wonderful Life on the big screen. Attend a magical cirque. Catch the last weeks of “Love Actually Live,” the Yoshitomo Nara exhibition and The Obama Portraits Tour. And more.

With COVID-19 variants still out there, it's best to check ahead of time to make sure of event updates and vaccine/testing requirements.

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