California Sun

Good morning. It's Monday, May 4.

Two more counties plan to open in defiance of state directive.
Protesters take to the streets of cities across the state.
And shutdown leaves rural counties with no newspapers.



Gerry Gates opened his gallery in Alturas, Modoc County, for the first time in seven weeks on Friday.

Scott Sonner/A.P.

Two more Northern California counties planned to reopen for business on Monday in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-home directive. The moves by Yuba and Sutter counties represent a significant escalation after tiny Modoc County, with a population of roughly 9,000, became the first to open its doors on Friday. Together, Yuba and Sutter counties have 175,000 residents, with 50 coronavirus infections and three deaths. Sacramento Bee | Vox


Around the state, there were increasing reports of individual businesses and at least one city flouting orders to stay closed. Among them:

The city of Parlier in Fresno County gave hair salons the green light to open. The mayor said Parlier is a city of immigrants, some of whom are at risk of becoming homeless. KGPE
A San Clemente restaurant drew a tightly packed crowd of customers without masks. Deputies gave the owner a talking to. KTLA
Also reopened: A barbershop in Laguna Hills, a surf shop in Huntington Beach, and a diner in El Dorado County.

Protestors took to the streets of cities across California between Friday and Sunday as pressure mounted on Newsom to ease restrictions on businesses and beach access. Trump gear and American flags abounded. Masks less so. Here's a photo tour of rallies in Sacramento and Huntington Beach, which were among the most raucous. L.A. Times

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A squirrel enjoyed the quiet at an empty beach in front of the Huntington Beach Pier on Sunday.

Michael Heiman/Getty Images

After the ruckus died down, Huntington Beach was quiet on Saturday and Sunday, with most people abiding by a directive to clear the beach. LAist | A.P.


The organizers of a Friday protest in Sacramento are the founders of the Freedom Angels Foundation, a group known for opposing efforts to crack down on bogus vaccine exemptions. Many anti-lockdown protests across the country have included anti-vaxxers alongside MAGA activists, armed militia groups, and those merely demanding to open their businesses. "There is a tremendous amount of cross-pollinization of ideas as these factions get to know each other," a researcher said. N.Y. Times


Bay Area hospitalizations fell to the lowest number in a month, data showed that Sacramento has the lowest infection rate among large U.S. cities, and Long Beach had its worst week since the pandemic began. Here are the latest coronavirus totals, according to the S.F. Chronicle and N.Y. Times:

Confirmed cases:
1,165,300 in U.S.
54,877 in California
8,593 in Bay Area
41,325 in Southern California

67,700 in U.S.
2,213 in California

Cumulative infections and deaths in California:

Sources: California Department of Public Health; SF Chronicle

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


Emergency room doctor at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica: "People keep referring to us as the front line. We're not the front line. Every individual in our country is the front line. All the coronavirus wants to do is spread, and everyone needs to realize they have the power to stop it." L.A. Times


A testing site in Los Angeles's Boyle Heights last week.

Brian van der Brug/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Countries that have effectively controlled the spread of the coronavirus have done so thanks to widespread testing. Harvard researchers determined that we need to be conducting at least 152 tests per 100,000 people daily before we can safely reopen. How is California doing? As of late April: 52 tests per 100,000 people. Desert Sun

Testing is wildly uneven across the state. In Lake County, for example, supplies are so scarce that officials have been buying swabs on Amazon. Kaiser Health News


When Wendy McCaw, owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press, penned an editorial calling California's stay-home order a harbinger of Nazi oppression, the newspaper's editor added a disclaimer: Her views, it said, "do not necessarily reflect those of the SBNP staff." Now he's out of a job. Santa Barbara Independent

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The Plumas National office in Quincy, circa 1890.

The only newspapers in both Plumas and Lassen counties have stopped publishing as the pandemic ravages rural newspapers. L.A. Times


Other odds and ends:

A plan to feed seniors has failed to deliver. "It's the latest example of an ambitious statewide coronavirus plan that was announced before it was ready to launch." CalMatters
A man donned a KKK hood as he shopped at a San Diego County Vons over the weekend. Photos shared online drew widespread condemnation. Times of San Diego
A homeowner in San Luis Obispo put up a sign warning passersby that they were entering a jurisdiction of "silly walks." Silliness ensued, captured on surveillance camera. KSBY



A Los Angeles police officer was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after he was said to shoot a fellow officer while on a camping trip, the authorities said. The victim, shot in the chest, was airlifted to a hospital where he was in stable condition. The reason for the shooting was unclear. L.A. Times | A.P.


A hiker documenting plant life in Death Valley stumbled upon the wreckage of a mysterious plane crash. The SA-16 Albatross, it turned out, took part in a CIA training mission in 1952 when it ran into trouble. All six occupants parachuted to safety before the aircraft slammed into a slope overlooking Panamint Valley, where it's been ever since. The video is remarkable for the wholesomeness of its narrator, who seems to never be distracted from his enthusiasm for desert plants. YouTube

The 10-mile roundtrip hike to the plane wreck is strenuous, but the reward, as one hiker put it, is "surreal." Outdoor Project


California wonders


Sean Powell

The Sahara?

Nope, Imperial County. America's largest dune system, the stark sandscapes of Algodones Dunes are Southern California's answer to the extravagant rainforests of the North Coast. The setting is severe: No water, no facilities, no trails, no recognizable points of interest, and little life (even if you include the sand-pit monster filmed at the dunes for "Return of the Jedi"). Instead: towering piles of wind-sculpted sand, deep blue sky, and the exquisite sort of beauty that comes with simplicity.

Below, a few more pictures.

A highway slices through the desert.

The dunes seem to stretch endlessly in every direction.

A floating border fence known as the “Sand Dragon” rises and falls with the dunes.

David McNew/Getty Images

The dune system covers more than 200 square miles in California’s southeastern corner.


The vistas would be at home in a museum of abstract art.


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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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