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Morning Brief: SoCal’s COVID-19 Reality

A tent is placed last week outside the Dignity Health-St. Mary Medical Center to triage an influx of Long Beach patients. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)
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Good morning, L.A.

As we head into Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s, things are not looking good in Southern California.

L.A. reported another 145 COVID-19-related deaths, breaking yet another record for the highest single-day death toll since the pandemic began.

In Orange County, crews are working to build a mobile field hospital with an additional 50 beds to cope with the unprecedented surge. Ventura County topped 300 hospitalizations for the first time, joining L.A. with an ICU capacity of 0% for coronavirus patients.

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And San Bernardino County has the highest rate of new infections per 100,000 residents in the state, with an average of 1,816 over the past seven days.

Meanwhile — as if to illustrate exactly how and why this virus continues to spread so uncontrollably — dozens of people joined actor Kirk Cameron for a crowded, maskless gathering to sing Christmas carols at the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks. It was the second singalong hosted by the actor.

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

What You Need To Know Today

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Coronavirus Updates: L.A. County’s COVID-19 testing sites will be modifying their schedules for the holidays. California's nearing a grim milestone: 2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. Long Beach's health department has activated its mass fatality plan, as morgues in the city approach their capacity.

Earthquakes: The city of L.A.’s ShakeAlertLA was a bridge to the statewide earthquake early warning system, which takes over for the city app at the end of 2020.

California Politics: Newly-appointed California Senator Alex Padilla traces his success back to his roots in L.A.’s Mexican immigrant community.

Bayside High: The new Saved By The Bell on NBC streaming service Peacock is actually very good, tackling current issues while still staying true to its premise.

L.A. History: From the 1910s to the 1960s, Bay Street Beach was a recreational center for people of color.

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And Lastly… Some Of L.A.’s Best Vegan Tamales

Fresh tamales (Tim Sackton/Flickr Creative Commons)

For eons, tamales came standard issue — stuffed with pork, poultry or, occasionally, pineapple. Now, we're blessed with vegan and plant-based tamales in endless varieties, both savory and sweet. (It's part of a larger trend featuring vegan ceviche, vegan tacos and other vegan versions of Mexican dishes.)

The masa is moist and fluffy (Dora Stone recommends using olive oil, refined coconut oil or pumpkin puree instead of lard) and the fillings typically involve jackfruit, nopales or a blend of seasonal fruits and vegetables. The results are hearty tamales without any animal products.

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Whether you want a couple for yourself or you need to feed a holiday table of hungry relatives, here's where to find a few of the best vegan tamales in Los Angeles.

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