Hello and happy new year! It’s Monday, Jan. 3, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:
Nearly 45,000 new coronavirus cases reported in L.A. County over the holiday weekend
Los Angeles County continued to ride a wave of coronavirus infections through the holiday weekend, recording 23,553 new cases on Saturday and 21,200 more on Sunday, far above last winter’s peak average of 16,000 cases a day. Officials say the latest wave is fueled by a few factors, including increased travel, large holiday gatherings and the Omicron variant.
Data show young adults are driving the surge in Southern California. Rates among the youngest adults — those 18 to 29 — are more than eight times higher than one month ago. And among adults in their 30s and 40s, cases are six times as high.
Yet, fewer patients have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in this fifth surge than the last two. Health officials have voiced optimism that symptoms in cases linked to Omicron are less severe than other variants. It’s also likely that disease severity is lower because so many people have been vaccinated.
More top coronavirus headlines
- Top federal health officials are looking to add a negative test along with its five-day isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus.
- Employees at all L.A. County public and private schools will have to wear medical grade masks at work and students and staff must wear masks outdoors in crowded spaces under tightened rules issued in anticipation of classes beginning Monday.
- President Biden cannot require teachers in the Head Start early-education program to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a Louisiana federal judge ruled Saturday.
- Scientists struggle to understand the competition between Omicron and Delta.
- Attorneys representing California inmates say violations of health orders by prison staff risk a repeat of the outbreaks that killed dozens in the first year of the pandemic.
Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.
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L.A. has a new plan for creating more housing. An AIDS nonprofit wants it thrown out
Six weeks ago, the Los Angeles City Council approved a new strategy to provide some measure of relief to local renters and home buyers by seeking to add nearly half a million new homes over the next eight years. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is now looking to torpedo the council’s action.
In a lawsuit filed last month, the nonprofit said the plan would allow officials to “upzone” much of the city — allowing developers to construct taller, denser buildings — without also requiring “a corresponding obligation to provide affordable housing.” That, in turn, would create “more painful displacement of persons, homelessness, and gentrification in the city,” the group said.
Even in a hot market, L.A. won’t allow rent increases for most tenants until 2023
As the U.S. nears the beginning of the third year combating COVID-19, tenants in L.A. are receiving a benefit few others have. Landlords are prohibited from raising the cost of more than 650,000 rent-stabilized units citywide, which represents nearly three-quarters of L.A.’s apartment stock.
As of now, no rent hikes will be allowed for most L.A. tenants until 2023. And possibly beyond. What tenants and their advocates celebrate is lamented by landlords, who say costs have risen sharply, including labor and materials for building repairs and city fees for trash pickup.
Should police arrest sex workers for standing around?
Sex workers are at the center of a heated fight in California over people criminalized for standing on street corners and what some contend are the subjective and discriminatory criteria for loitering with the intent to commit prostitution.
That debate has fed a larger clash about how to best help those forced into prostitution without stigmatizing and harming those who choose sex work. It’s an emotional dispute that pits sex workers against other sex workers and trafficking survivors. It has larger implications for how the future of this illicit industry will be handled in California, which is now in Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s hands to decide.
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A Times journalist’s diary inside the fall of Afghanistan
Los Angeles Times foreign correspondent and photographer Marcus Yam entered Afghanistan on the verge of the American withdrawal, and stayed for the next two months to document the Taliban’s swift takeover. Yam arrived in Kabul on Aug. 14. Within hours of arriving, he realized he would be telling the story of a nation’s swift fall.
It seems predictable in retrospect — the Taliban was tougher and more resolute than the American-backed Afghan forces. It controlled swaths of the country; it capitalized on fear. But it was still a startling reversal of fortune, writes Yam. The wisdom in early August was that it would take months for the Taliban to win. It took days.
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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND
After canceling last year, the 2022 Rose Parade made its comeback. After the coronavirus last year forced its first cancellation since World War II, the whimsical, flower-filled procession returned to Pasadena on Saturday.
Gun violence hits a 15-year high in L.A., taking lives and erasing hard-fought gains. Some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the far more deadly gang wars of the 1990s are being heavily affected once more. Areas where violence has historically been less common have also seen upticks.
Is wildfire arson getting worse in California? Climate change doesn’t help. Wildfire arson arrests have been climbing over the last few years. But bone-dry drought conditions and overgrown forests have also enabled even the smallest sparks to explode into an inferno.
A fatal shark attack in Morro Bay devastates a man’s family and alarms surfers. Tomas Butterfield died in what is believed to be the first fatal shark attack in San Luis Obispo County in 18 years. Sharks don’t often bite humans. When they do, it’s usually because they mistake them for their typical prey or feel threatened. As the climate changes, the sharks are expanding their territory.
The sewer line in Carson that failed, forcing beach closures in two counties, was near replacement. Officials said the pipe had deteriorated because of a buildup of sulfuric acid, a natural byproduct of organic material breaking down within the closed systems. The pipe also may have been stressed by last week’s substantial rainfall.
President Biden offers condolences to the Chilean president after the LAPD shooting death of 14-year-old Valentina Orellana-Peralta. In a brief statement posted on the White House website, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had “offered his deep condolences to the people of Chile for the tragic death.”
Little India, already struggling before the pandemic, is at a crossroads. Merchants on Pioneer Boulevard in Artesia have adapted, modernizing their offerings and tapping the internet to build a following. The question facing Little India goes beyond how to reinvent itself. The undercurrent in many conversations is: Does it have a reason for existing?
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Jan. 6 committee prepares to go public as findings mount. The committee also faces the burden of persuading the American public that its conclusions are fact-based and credible.
Sudan’s prime minister announces his resignation. The Sunday resignation comes amid political deadlock and widespread pro-democracy protests after a military coup that derailed the country’s fragile transition to democratic rule.
Fire ravages South Africa’s historic Parliament complex. Officials said the fire started in the Old Assembly building, which was built in 1884 and originally housed the South African Parliament but is now used for offices.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
Emmett Till’s mother had a ‘prophecy’ after his death. A new TV show aims to fulfill it. Premiering Thursday and airing over three consecutive weeks, the six-episode series is one of the most powerful — and potentially risky — projects revolving around race ever developed by a broadcast network.
Betty White’s 100th birthday documentary is still coming to theaters — with a new title. The producers confirmed Friday that the film will be released as planned Jan. 17, which would have been the Emmy winner‘s centennial birthday. The beloved actor died at age 99 on New Year’s Eve.
Max Julien, star of “The Mack” and pioneer of the blaxploitation film genre, died Saturday. The actor, writer and producer’s death was confirmed New Year’s Day by his longtime friend David F. Walker, a comic book author and filmmaker. Walker did not specify the cause of death.
How will California’s workplace laws change in 2022? More protections are coming. One of the most far-reaching initiatives is gradually boosting California’s hourly minimum wage to $15 for employers with 26 or more employees and $14 for those with 25 or fewer.
Test drugs, get paid: Clinical trials can be surprisingly lucrative gigs. The drugs are believed to be safe when they’re tested on humans, but there are some risks. As a result, volunteers are often monitored 24/7 in a hospital-like setting. But the pay is often surprisingly generous.
After a lengthy pause, UCLA basketball will resume playing on Wednesday against Arizona State. The Bruins could play three games in seven days starting Wednesday as part of their efforts to reschedule games postponed by the team’s COVID-19 issues that have kept them off the court since Dec. 11.
The Rams stumble early before Odell Beckham Jr. rescues them in a win over the Ravens. On Sunday, they defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 20-19, at M&T Bank Stadium to improve to 12-4 and move a step closer to clinching the NFC West.
In the wake of a football hazing scandal, Mater Dei High School’s president steps down. Father Walter E. Jenkins, who started at Mater Dei in July, stepped down at the end of the winter break. Jenkins, a priest, will return to South Bend, Ind., to “take on a new assignment” with his religious order, the Congregation of Holy Cross.
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The VA vowed to house more than 500 homeless veterans by the holidays. How did it do? As of the last homeless count in L.A. County in 2020, there were 3,900 homeless veterans — although VA officials said last fall that they had housed 1,283 veterans from Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021.
Hey, California lawmakers. Less is more. California lawmakers kick off a new legislative year in Sacramento today, and with it will come a mountain of new bills. By this time next year, California could easily have 1,000 new laws on the books.
ONLY IN L.A.
When Dynelly del Valle’s career as a fashion buyer went in another direction, she moved into spatial design. Next, the Miami native says she gravitated toward biophilic design for the simple reason that plants make you feel good.
The same could be said of Pippi + Lola, the Long Beach plant studio she conceived as a temporary pop-up after her commercial work dried up. It’s now a permanent fixture, which reopens today from a holiday break.
Populated with wreaths, one-of-a-kind planters, horticulture books and, of course, plants, Pippi + Lola strives to highlight a diverse group of makers, including women and people of color.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
What will happen in the year ahead? It’s an age-old question on New Year’s Eve.
On Dec. 31, 1935, hundreds of people crowded a patio in downtown Los Angeles, as they celebrated the arrival of a new year. Some men raised their hats in celebration.
In the year that followed, President Franklin D. Roosevelt would be reelected to a second term and the 1936 Dust Bowl summer brought record heat to the U.S.
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