California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, May 20.

Federal lawyers tell California to allow church gatherings.
Tulare County moves to reopen fully in defiance of governor.
And visitors return to Joshua Tree and Redwood national parks.



Young members of the Church of God protested California's lockdown in Rancho Cucamonga on May 3.

Watchara Phomicinda/Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

The Justice Department accused California of discriminating against churches. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, the head of the agency's civil rights division noted that restaurants and other businesses are being allowed to reopen even as worshippers remain barred from gathering in person. "Simply put, there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights," he wrote. Politico | A.P.


Tulare County to Newsom: We'll reopen right now, thank you.

Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to allow Tulare County businesses and churches to reopen "effective immediately," in defiance of the state's stay-home order. The decision came a day after Newsom publicly singled out the county for continued restrictions. Tulare County has been among the inland regions hardest hit by Covid cases and deaths. Visalia Times-Delta | KFSN


Other reopening developments:

L.A. County announced a new target for opening more fully: July 4. "We have to do a lot of things right so we can actually get to that date," a health official said. L.A. Times | Los Angeles Magazine
Napa County became the first Bay Area county to get state permission to resume dine-in restaurants, malls, and schools. Sacramento County was given a similar green light. Napa Valley Register | CBS13
San Diego County moved to ask the state if it could jump to Stage 3 of Newsom's reopening plan: That means resuming activities at places like swimming pools, gyms, and nail salons. S.D. Union-Tribune | A.P.

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco, right, has publicly opposed California's lockdown.

Terry Pierson/Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

"Nobody has the right to dictate what risks I'm going to take when I leave my house."
— Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke

"I refuse to make criminals out of business owners."
— Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco

"I am the protector of constitutional rights in Humboldt County."
— Sheriff William Honsal

Over the duration of California's lockdown, a number of county sheriffs have openly declared their refusal to enforce it. An analysis found that at least 60 sheriffs nationwide have made similar declarations, the vast majority in states with Democratic governors. The Marshall Project


Bay Area deaths surge after a brief respite, Long Beach records its highest daily death toll by far, and slammed hospitals in Imperial County turn away Covid patients. Here are the latest California coronavirus totals, as tracked by the S.F. Chronicle:

Confirmed cases:
+1,967 since a day ago
+12,807 since a week ago

+122 since a day ago
+530 since a week ago

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


Julie Mariane, on the street for more than a year, was provided with a motel room in Venice Beach.

Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

In early April, California launched Project Roomkey, an ambitious effort to move homeless people into hotels. How's it going?

Of 15,000 rooms leased, nearly half are sitting empty.
Of 151,000 homeless people in the state, those now housed account for less than 5 percent.

"My sense is that they are trying to keep rooms open in case of an outbreak," one homeless advocate said. L.A. Times


Deaths from vehicle accidents account for about a third of organ donations in the U.S. So the decline of traffic deaths under California's lockdown orders has perversely been a cause of added anxiety for one group: Patients who face longer waits for desperately needed organs. "I don't want to be mean, but I was like, 'Oh, my God. Nobody's going to die.' I'm not going to get my transplant," one patient said. Kaiser Health News


A view of Joshua Tree National Park on Monday, a day after reopening.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Memorial Day is five days away. What's the latest on California's nine national parks?

At Joshua Tree, trails, parking lots, and family campsites quietly reopened on Sunday.
Redwood National Park has reopened trails, but kept campsites shut.
Pinnacles has severely limited access and Channel Islands never officially closed, but boat service was halted.
Lassen, Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Death Valley remain closed entirely.

Here's an updated list of where things stand across the entire park system. National Parks Traveler


Thousands of new cars were stored at the Port of Long Beach on May 3.

Robert Gauthier/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Other odds and ends:

Los Angeles Unified and five other school districts representing roughly a million students warned that budget cuts mean they will not be able to reopen on time this fall. EdSource | A.P.
Rental car companies have been using stadium parking lots to store thousands of unused rental cars. Seen from above they offer a dramatic illustration of the state's economic standstill. L.A. Times
Magic Johnson announced that his EquiTrust Life Insurance Co. would provide $100 million in loans to minority-owned businesses hurt by stay-at-home orders. CNN | CNBC



The University of California announced that it had divested fully from all fossil fuels, making it the largest educational institution to do so. In a statement, the system said it would pursue investments in clean energy projects, "rather than gambling on oil and gas." L.A. Times | A.P.


Joe Rogan is taking his podcast exclusively to Spotify, which is said to be shelling out a staggering $100 million in one of the largest such deals ever. Rogan, a Los Angeles comedian, has built a massive audience with irreverent interviews of comics, scientists, fighters, and political figures. recode | The Verge


California archive


The space shuttle Endeavour moved through Inglewood on Oct. 12, 2012.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

In 2012, the space shuttle Endeavour was transported through the streets of Los Angeles on the way to its final destination at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The meticulously choreographed 12-mile ride took three days and made for a surreal spectacle as the shuttle rolled by Randy's Donuts and barely squeezed between trees lining the road. Here's a great series of photos from the trip. The Atlantic


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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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