Experts say the improving COVID-19 picture in California now is traceable in part to tough measures taken two months ago.
The Success of Stay-at-Home
Despite heated opposition and vows of resistance from some restaurant owners and elected officials, there is increasing evidence that California’s latest stay-at-home order, including a ban on outdoor dining, worked to turn around a deadly surge of the coronavirus.
After weeks of overwhelmed hospitals and record death tolls, the state’s declining coronavirus case and hospitalization numbers may have seemed sudden and surprising. But experts say they are the consequence of changes that Californians started to make two months ago.
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In early December, Californians began moving around their communities at a rate 40% lower than what is typical — the lowest level since May — due to a combination of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s orders as well as a natural reaction to alarming case numbers and rhetoric from officials, said Ali Mokdad, an epidemiologist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
California officials estimated that the state’s regional stay-at-home order — which prohibited nonessential travel, banned outdoor social gatherings, closed nail and hair salons, museums and outdoor dining, and was lifted last week — kept as many as 25,000 people from landing in the hospital with a severe case of COVID-19.
Scientists say that they can’t tease out which part of the order was most effective in turning the tide, but several leading public health experts interviewed by The Times said that the outdoor dining ban probably played a key role.
More Top Coronavirus Headlines
— After a group of protesters managed to disrupt operations at Dodger Stadium’s mass COVID-19 vaccination site, some Los Angeles officials expressed fury at the demonstrators while calling for increased security.
— Los Angeles County public health officials reported more signs that the outbreak may be leveling off, but it comes at a time when the state has begun relaxing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
— The sickest of COVID-19 patients appear to play a key role in incubating new variants of the coronavirus, some of which could change the trajectory of the pandemic.
For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.
Where the Relief Plan Stands
After President Biden encountered resistance from Republicans to his proposed $1.9-trillion coronavirus relief package, he signaled that he could push through the Democratic-backed plan whether or not any GOP lawmakers agree to it. Now, 10 Senate Republicans are putting forward a rival stimulus plan about one-third the size.
The GOP counterproposal calls for $160 billion for vaccine rollouts, testing, treatment and personal protective equipment, roughly matching the White House plan, but would more narrowly target those individuals receiving direct stimulus checks.
Though Biden and the Democrats are wary of delays, Biden is set to meet with the group of Republican senators today.
— Former President Trump announced that a criminal defense lawyer and a former county prosecutor who was criticized for his decision to not charge actor Bill Cosby in a sex crimes case will lead his impeachment defense team, after he had parted ways with an earlier set of attorneys.
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s fringe views were public for years. Now Republican Party is in a quandary over the new congresswoman.
— “We traffic in lies”: GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger launches a campaign to “take back our party.”
— Republican lawmakers in statehouses across the U.S are moving swiftly to attack some of the voting methods that fueled the highest turnout for a presidential election in 50 years. Placing limits on voting by mail is one of the more commonly sought goals.
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A Memorial at Last
Latasha Harlins was 15 years old when she was shot and killed by a Korean-born merchant who’d accused her of stealing a bottle of orange juice at a South-Central L.A. liquor store.
Thirty years later, a mural on the front of the Algin Sutton Recreation Center is the first public memorial to the young Black girl whose story has had a profound effect on the Black and Korean communities.
The mural and a recent documentary are long-delayed steps toward honoring not only Harlins but also countless other victims of racially charged violence, UCLA historian Brenda E. Stevenson said.
“It takes a long time to memorialize anyone Black,” Stevenson said. “It took us more than 50 years to move from Negro History Week to national acknowledgment of Black History Month, and that was for the entire race.”
OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
— Hashem Ahmad Alshilleh made sure the bodies of the Muslim dead faced Mecca. COVID-19 claimed his life.
— Sea lions are dying from a mysterious cancer. The culprits? Herpes and DDT.
— This is what happens when a Buddhist nun joins a death metal band in Taiwan.
— A happy update on a formerly homeless man who asked strangers to take care of his corgi.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Storms last week brought plenty of snow to the mountains in California, and another storm is moving in this week, though it will not bring as much precipitation.
Here’s a look at some snow photos from the Los Angeles Times archives.
— More California Democratic lawmakers and allies of Gov. Gavin Newsom are beginning to criticize him over the state’s COVID-19 response as he faces a recall campaign led by political opponents.
— Newsom has signed an emergency bill that will extend through June eviction protections for Californians suffering financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
— The Irvine Police Department arrested a 26-year-old YouTube star and four others and charged them with conspiracy to participate in illegal street races across Orange County.
— A scenic stretch of Highway 1 near Big Sur that collapsed because of a winter storm last week will cost millions of dollars to repair, and it is unclear how long it will take to fix the road.
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— In an early morning coup, Myanmar’s military seized control of the government, detaining State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders.
— Chants of “Putin is a thief!” and “Freedom!” echoed through streets and squares of Russia, as tens of thousands of protesters turned out across the country in a show of support for jailed anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny.
— The massive Russian hacking campaign that breached the U.S. court system’s electronic case files and those of scores of other federal agencies and private companies has brought changes and uncertainty to the legal system.
— In Israel, thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews thronged a pair of funerals for two prominent rabbis in Jerusalem, flouting the country’s ban on large public gatherings during the pandemic.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It,” at the Sundance Film Festival, is a compelling story on many levels. One of its producing partners says it “should be taught in schools across the globe.”
— Filmmaker Kate Tsang’s “Marvelous and the Black Hole,” also at Sundance, combines “weirdo” magic with the joy of Asian American family life.
— The success of “Shtisel” on Netflix has spurred Hollywood players including Apple TV+ and HBO Max to bring ever more Israeli shows stateside.
— The new “All Creatures Great and Small” on PBS Masterpiece is a critics’ darling, but not for this critic.
— Who invested in GameStop and why? For some, it was the desire to make a buck. For others, it was fear of missing out, anger at elites or idle curiosity about what is possible in a world where it’s increasingly hard to tell internet jokes from real life.
— CBS has hired a prominent New York law firm to investigate allegations of misconduct by two senior executives in the TV stations group.
— Sweetgreen and Shake Shack are going all in on drive-throughs. They’re not alone.
— Major League Baseball has proposed delaying the season by about a month and playing the World Series in November, said people familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly.
— After trading Jared Goff, the Rams are committed to moving into a new direction with Matthew Stafford, but they’ll need more than just a new quarterback to bolster their offense.
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— The Times’ editorial board offers its take on how UC Berkeley can make up for disrespect toward Native Americans.
— In Cicely Tyson, we lost another of our giants, a queen who inspired our best selves, columnist LZ Granderson writes.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— Trump’s campaign to subvert the election: How his lie unleashed a movement that would upend the peaceful transfer of power. (New York Times)
— The number of heat-related deaths in Arizona soared to a new high last year as people endured the hottest summer on record and the complications of the pandemic. (AZCentral)
ONLY IN CALIFORNIA
Vending machine options in Oakland International Airport these days include chips, headphones … and COVID-19 tests. For about $150, travelers can buy DIY saliva-sampling tests from kiosks in each terminal. Airport officials say Oakland International is the first airport in the U.S. to sell COVID-19 tests in vending machines.
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