California Sun

Good morning. It's Thursday, May 21.

A hopeful analysis of California's coronavirus fight.
1,200 pastors pledge to break moratorium on gatherings.
And the Ojai dad behind a viral disinformation campaign.



Ronald Temko's recovery from Covid-19 was celebrated as he left UCSF Medical Center on Wednesday.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The L.A. Times delivered hopeful analysis of California's fight against the coronavirus. Among the bright spots:

The number of new cases fell last week compared to the week before, even as testing has increased.
Statewide hospitalizations are down more than 15 percent from their peak six weeks ago.

"What's really fantastic about this is that, for right now, our curve is not only flat, but it's actually decreasing in terms of number of hospitalizations," San Francisco's health director said. L.A. Times


Hours after Tulare County declared that it would reopen in defiance of California orders, a notice arrived from a state official threatening to withhold $47 million in relief funds from the federal CARES Act. County supervisors appeared unbowed. "We are reaching out to our local federal representatives," one said. Visalia Times-Delta | KFSN

Among the latest counties to win state approval to reopen more quickly: San Diego, Ventura, Kern, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Merced.


An empty church parking lot in Los Angeles on Easter Sunday.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

More than 1,200 California pastors pledged to resume in-person services on May 31, the Pentecost, despite a moratorium on religious gatherings. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, a lawyer representing a Lodi church said the religious leaders were declaring their churches to be as essential as any hardware or grocery store. "This letter was not sent for the purposes of asking for permission," he wrote. A.P. | Sacramento Bee


The worst day yet for coronavirus deaths in California, an outbreak of infections at Avenal State Prison, and a sharp drop in confirmed cases in Riverside County. Here are the latest coronavirus totals, according to tallies by the S.F. Chronicle and N.Y. Times:

Confirmed cases:
1,559,300 in U.S.
86,004 in California
11,426 in Bay Area
66,935 in Southern California

93,400 in U.S.
3,495 in California

Sources: California Department of Public Health; SF Chronicle

See trackers of cases in California, the U.S., and worldwide.


A few illuminating depictions of the Covid-19 crisis:

A new model that estimates the American lives lost by lockdown delays (including roughly 770 in L.A. alone). N.Y. Times
The trajectory of each state's positive tests as a percentage of total tests. (California = decreasing) ProPublica
How the Bay Area's death rate compares to other metro regions. (L.A. County's is nearly four times higher.) S.F. Chronicle

Mikki Willis attended a film premiere in Los Angeles in 2013.

Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Mikki Willis is an Ojai dad, former actor — and architect of perhaps the most damaging disinformation campaign of the coronavirus pandemic. His slickly produced — and exhaustively debunked — video "Plandemic" pushes allegations that a cabal of dark forces is leveraging the coronavirus crisis to boost the fortunes of figures like Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci. It's been viewed more than "The Office” reunion. L.A. Times | N.Y. Times


A sign outside of Bolinas encouraged visitors to stay away.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The New Yorker wrote a fascinating piece on how Bolinas managed to create one of the nation's most advanced Covid-19 testing systems. As the coronavirus raced around the globe, the town known for "chai, doulas, and hemp" began thinking about how they could protect themselves. "What ensued was a remarkable effort, blending grassroots coördination and startup ingenuity. By late April, Bolinas would be one of a handful of towns in the United States to offer coronavirus testing to all of its residents and workers." New Yorker


As part of a national trend, more California cities are adopting plans to allow outdoor dining as a way to accommodate socially distanced guests. "We want to do everything we can to help restaurants get open and stay open," Long Beach's mayor said. Among the latest to embrace street dining: San Diego, Encinitas, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Ventura, Bakersfield, San Jose, and Redding. L.A. Times

Also spilling onto the sidewalks: Alcohol service. Eater Los Angeles


Yosemite has been closed since March 20.

Other odds and ends:

Park officials are planning to reopen Yosemite as soon as early June, but with reservations required and crowds limited to roughly half of normal. Mercury News | Fresno Bee
South Lake Tahoe would normally be packed with visitors during Memorial Day weekend. But the city is warning tourists to stay away, and it's prepared to hand out $1,000 tickets. Sacramento Bee | SFist
California's top education official said he expects K-12 schools to open as usual in late August or September with a mix of distance and in-person instruction. The U.C. president delivered a similar forecast. A.P. | EdSource



The body of former pro wrestler Shad Gaspard was found along the shore near the Venice Pier early Wednesday, officials said. Gaspard, 39, went missing Sunday after he was swept out to sea by a rip current while swimming with his son, Aryeh, 10. A lifeguard who set out to rescue them was only able to reach the boy. "His last few words were 'just secure my son, rescue my son,'" a lifeguard chief said of Gaspard. NBC Los Angeles | N.Y. Times


San Diego's Balboa Park is one of America's prettiest urban parks, and its most recognizable symbol is California Tower. Rising above a canopy of century-old trees, the intricately detailed 1915 structure was designed to evoke Spanish Colonial cathedrals. Its carillon echoes across the park every quarter hour, a reassuring sound especially in uncertain times. Lockdown orders have closed the tower for now, but visitors are normally able to climb the winding stairs to the top, where the 360-degree views are said to be breathtaking. James Harland, a local photographer, shared the image above with the Sun. SD History Center


California culture


"Jamie Nelson & her 1968 Ford Mustang." Northridge, Los Angeles

In California, where the people are diverse and the thinking is free, car ownership is as much about individual expression as transportation. It was the bond between driver and machine that inspired the photographer Ryan Schude to embark on a project that focuses largely on the capital of car culture in and around Los Angeles.

For the series, titled "Them and Theirs," the colors and textures of a driver, vehicle, and location are choreographed in playful portraits. Many of the subjects are drawn from Schude's social circle, but others he approaches with the idea out of the blue. Convincing a stranger to pose with their car, it turns out, is easy pickings, Schude told the Sun. "They like it for a reason and they want to show it off."

Schude shared a few of his photos from the project, below. See many more at his website →

"Dave Dalley & his 1978 GMC Suburban." Sequoia National Park

"Forrest Kahlil Perrine & his 1983 Toyota Pickup." Downtown Los Angeles

"Katie Stratton & her 1961 Ford Falcon." Glendale

"Bruce Singh 1963 Chevy C-10." Cayucos


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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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