California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, May 26.

Newsom gives go-ahead to church services with rules.
Republicans escalate fight against mail-in ballots.
And a heat wave prepares to sweep across California.



Over a summery Memorial Day weekend, stir-crazy Californians gathered at Shasta Lake, the Russian River, Ocean Beach, Venice Beach, and numerous other shores and parks across the state.

Along the American River in Sacramento, where the temperatures were scorching, so many people packed the shoreline that officials started turning people away. Few wore masks. ABC 10 | Sacramento Bee
At San Francisco's Ocean Beach, pictured above, a Chronicle photographer said the crowds made it impossible to socially distance. "I wore a mask and gloves and still felt unsafe," she wrote on Twitter.
In L.A. County, beach crowds were moderate, officials said. But a popular park, Eaton Canyon, was overrun by hikers who ignored social distancing guidelines. So it was shut down. LAist | KABC

On Friday, President Trump declared churches essential, as a federal court backed California's order to keep them shut. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that houses of worship could reopen under certain conditions. Among them, attendance should be limited to 100 people or 25 percent of building capacity, whichever is lower, and collection plates should not be passed around. Politico | A.P.

Hundreds of people gathered inside a Riverside County church for a service on Sunday — with nary a mask in sight. Press-Enterprise | City News Service


Visitors strolled through the tourist town of Solvang on Sunday.

George Rose/Getty Images

Also allowed to reopen statewide subject to county approval: in-store retail shopping. Given that box stores like Target and Walmart have been allowed to operate throughout the crisis, many officials had lobbied for the change as a matter of fairness to mom-and-pop stores. It doesn't, however, include personal services such as barbershops and nail salons. NBC Los Angeles | Sacramento Bee


Covid-19 outbreaks at nine meatpacking plants in Vernon, a huge jump in cases at Avenal State Prison, and a surge of infections in Santa Cruz tied to family gatherings. Here are the latest coronavirus totals, according to tallies by the S.F. Chronicle and N.Y. Times:

Confirmed cases:
1,670,000+ in U.S.
96,485 in California
12,554 in Bay Area
75,509 in Southern California

98,191 in U.S.
3,766 in California

Sources: California Department of Public Health; SF Chronicle

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


Drivers have smashed the old Cannonball Run record seven times in the last few months. The dangerous — and very illegal — sprint from Manhattan to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach has drawn a series of attempts with the country locked down and the roadways emptied of cars. The new record to beat, reports say: Under 26 hours, with average speeds up to 120 mph. That shaves an hour and a half from the old record. Driving | Telegraph


Cards from young well-wishers line a wall at a hospital in San Diego, which has triple the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases as Tijuana.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Other odds and ends:

The Trump administration has banned hundreds of thousands of people from crossing the southern border. But in Tijuana and other Mexican border cities, many officials worry about the disease coming in the other direction. A.P.
A 52-year-old woman was arrested and accused of posting handwritten notes at the homes of Asian Americans in the East Bay telling them they are not Americans and should leave the country, police said. | SFist
The N.Y. Times is famous for articles explaining how terrible Los Angeles is. The latest wonders whether the city's "sprawl-and-crawl culture," which New Yorkers have "mocked and reviled" for years, might confer a perverse advantage against the coronavirus. N.Y. Times



The battle over Newsom's directive to send mail-in ballots to every California voter escalated significantly as the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the California Republican Party filed suit to block the plan. The order, the lawsuit said, is a recipe for fraud, "less about protecting the health of Californians and more about protecting the electoral prospects of the governor's political party." L.A. Times | Politico

N.Y. Times explainer: All voter fraud is extremely rare. "Even so, experts say that the mail voting system is more vulnerable to fraud than voting in person."


A fire destroyed a fish processing and storage warehouse at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf early Saturday.

A massive fire Saturday at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco has devastated the city's crabbing and fishing industry. The blaze wiped out a warehouse the size of a football field, destroying seafood traps and other equipment valued at an estimated $9 million. The hit adds to the woes of an industry already reeling from plummeting sales. "I think we all kind of just felt like it couldn't get worse," a fisherman said. "But it got way worse." S.F. Chronicle | KQED

See dramatic drone footage of the fire aftermath. Nathan Wilde/YouTube


It's about to get seriously hot. Forecasters said a heat wave would push temperatures 10 to 25 degrees above normal across the state between Tuesday and Thursday, with temperatures hitting triple digits in California's interior. San Francisco and Los Angeles were looking at highs in the 80s. Coachella Valley: As high as 112. Weather Channel | Accuweather


Marc Ching participated in a congressional briefing in Washington in 2017.

Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

Marc Ching, the founder of a Sherman Oaks animal rescue group, has raised millions of dollars to save dogs and cats from Asian slaughterhouses. But according to an L.A. Times investigation, butchers have accused Ching of staging dog-killings for promotional videos. In one case, he's accused of paying a butcher in Indonesia to hang a dog and burn it to death. L.A. Times | N.Y. Post


California archive


A mass of humanity gathered on the Golden Gate Bridge on May 24, 1987.

Visions of America LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

It was on this week in 1987 that the Golden Gate Bridge was flattened.

The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the graceful span's opening in 1937. A celebration included closing the lanes to vehicle traffic so people could to take a leisurely stroll across. An expert estimated 80,000 would show up.

The real number was 10 times that, with roughly 300,000 souls crammed onto the span itself.

One writer said the bridge "swayed like an old wooden plank thrown across a ditch."

Doug Atkins/A.P.

Crowds entered from either end, reports said, creating shoulder-to-shoulder gridlock at the middle that pulled the bridges' cables alarmingly taut. A voice over a loud speaker repeated over and over, "Get off the bridge. Please, you must get off the bridge."

Winston Montgomery recalled the scene later in the San Francisco Examiner: "There were cheers as some people started to hurl bicycles over the railing. A stroller tumbled down and sank beneath the waves 220 feet below. 'Throw the baby, too,' people yelled, laughing." As the roadway dropped an estimated 11 feet, Montgomery discussed with his wife "the real possibility that we were about to participate in one of the 20th century's landmark disasters."

Chaos reigned on the bridge as it was overrun by revelers.

Doug Atkins/A.P.

But there was never any real cause for concern, officials said. Opened three decades after the Great Earthquake of 1906, the Golden Gate Bridge was built to safely flex 15 feet vertically and 27 feet from side to side.

Even so, bridge engineers were intrigued enough by the spectacle on May 24, 1987, to run some quick calculations. Their conclusion: It would have taken three levels of people stacked atop of each other to truly threaten the bridge. Call it a challenge for the centennial.


And finally, spotted on the internet: a remarkably accurate "Breakfast Club" meme on California city stereotypes. Title: "California Club."


Thanks for reading!

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

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