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Morning Brief: Bearing Witness

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Good morning, L.A.

Even as ICUs in Southern California remain completely full and coronavirus cases continue to overwhelm the medical system, L.A. County’s health department has agreed to let places of worship conduct services either outdoors or indoors.

In a statement released over the weekend, officials said that religious services could continue, “with mandatory physical distancing and face coverings over both the nose and mouth that must be worn at all times while on site.”

The announcement is a response to a decision by the Supreme Court, which held that barring or restricting religious services — even during a deadly pandemic — was in violation of the First Amendment. The decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed against the state of California by the Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church.

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In their decision, the Supreme Court justices wrote: "The Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten … the restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty."

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

What You Need To Know Today

Coronavirus Numbers: L.A. County’s Department of Public Health confirmed 13,315 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, and 58 new deaths attributed to the disease. Health officials said that “L.A. County is experiencing the fastest acceleration of new cases than at any other time during the pandemic.”

A System Overwhelmed: As calls from COVID-19 patients flood L.A. County’s medical system, the area’s ambulances and emergency rooms are being stretched to capacity. Some ambulance drivers report waiting up to six hours to unload patients at hospitals, and their standard response time to 9-1-1 calls has grown from nine to 12 minutes.

Final Goodbyes: L.A.'s civil rights community is mourning the loss of attorney Rose Ochi, who died earlier this month. She was the first Asian American woman to become an Assistant Attorney General.

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