California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, April 22.

Autopsy reveals a Covid death in the Bay Area on Feb. 6.
Health officials brace for follow-up waves of infections.
And tree-sitters press logging fight amid pandemic.



Dr. Sara Cody said community transmission likely dated back much earlier than previously thought.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The coronavirus was in the Bay Area long before anyone realized.

According to autopsy results released Tuesday, two people infected with the virus died in Santa Clara County on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17, making them the first documented Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. The cases had no history of travel, suggesting community transmission, said Dr. Sara Cody, the Santa Clara County public health officer. "Those deaths probably represent many, many more infections," she said. "And so there had to be chains of transmission that go back much earlier." S.F. Chronicle | Mercury News


A pair of studies in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas that suggested infections were much more widespread than previously thought were followed by a "peer review" uproar on Twitter. Skeptics cited problems with the math, the use of Facebook for recruiting subjects, and widespread concerns about the accuracy of blood antibody tests. Here's a good overview of the controversy. WIRED


A medical worker administered a coronavirus test in Bolinas on Monday.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

"California is leading the way."

Access to testing is improving dramatically across California. That's been attributed less to a surge of testing capability than a decline in those seeking tests as fewer people get sick. Now California has become the first state to abandon narrow testing recommendations. It's urging local authorities to test people in high-risk settings, such as homeless shelters and prisons, even if they don't have symptoms. L.A. Times | A.P.


Slowing deaths statewide, major outbreaks at nursing homes in San Francisco and Huntington Beach, and 56 cases at a homeless shelter in downtown Los Angeles. Here are the latest coronavirus totals, according to tallies by the S.F. Chronicle and N.Y. Times:

Confirmed cases:
805,772 in U.S.
35,826 in California
6,727 in Bay Area
25,576 in Southern California

40,316 in U.S.
1,317 in California

Cumulative infections and deaths in California:

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


"If we all pull back, we could see a second wave that makes this pale in comparison."

With communities across the state increasingly softening stay-at-home restrictions, Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested that he would not tolerate any action that tramples on his statewide order. "I imagine there'll be some examples of people just getting ahead of that collaborative spirit," he said. "And we may have to dial a little bit of that back." L.A. Times

Other developments in the reopening debate:

"One size does not fit all." Seven Stanislaus County mayors urged Newsom to allow the county to open at its own pace. Modesto Bee
Orange County rejected calls to close its beaches ahead of an expected heat wave. O.C. Register
About 70 people gathered in Crescent City in the latest anti-lockdown protest. Another is set for Thursday in Victorville. Wild Rivers Outpost | Daily Press

A homeless man slept outside the LAC+USC Medical Center on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Public health officials are warning that the worst may be yet to come. Dr. Sara Cody: "Covid-19 is something we're going to be managing for a very long time, months and likely years. We anticipate this won't be the only surge, we'll have other surges that will likely come if we let up too much." Mercury News

CDC director: "There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through." Washington Post


Todd S. Purdum, a veteran journalist who once served as Los Angeles bureau chief for the N.Y. Times, argued that California was ascendant thanks to its decisive tackling of the pandemic. "Newsom's approach is also the clearest sign yet that California's exceptionalism — its longtime self-image as the place that imagines how the future will look and work, for aerospace and computing and entertainment — may well be the new American exceptionalism." The Atlantic


Here's a gorgeous photo shared on Monday by Yosemite National Park that shows a lone coyote relaxing in an empty parking lot as the valley's highest waterfall cascades nearby. The park has been free of (human) visitors for more than a month. @YosemiteNPS/Twitter

Coyotes, falcons, deer, and other wildlife have been reclaiming territory in Southern California as people stay at home. But experts insist they've been there all along. L.A. Times


A violinist performed in Los Angeles, where masks have been mandatory since last week.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Other odds and ends:

More communities are adding mandatory mask rules. Most Bay Area residents must now wear face coverings or face penalties. Humboldt County said they would be required starting Friday. Curbed San Francisco | Lost Coast Outpost
Following Oakland's lead, San Francisco said it would introduce its own slow streets, restricting vehicle traffic from sections of 12 streets. Streetsblog | SFist
Netflix, based in Los Gatos, had the best quarter in its history, adding 16 million subscribers as much of the world shelters in place. recode



Smoke swirled over Southern California on Dec. 11, 2017.

NASA Worldview

California once again had a terrible showing in the American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report. According to EPA data from 2016 to 2018, the five metropolitan areas with the highest concentrations of ozone were all in California: Los Angeles, Visalia, Bakersfield, Fresno, and Sacramento. For particulate matter, California also ruled: Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia, Los Angeles, and San Francisco topped the list. Wildfires had a lot to do with it. Gizmodo


A 22-year-old UCLA student who gave the name Walter sat in a tree outside Trinidad last week.

Carolyn Cole/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Northern California's timber wars of the 1990s never fully receded. A reporter and photographer checked in on the eco-activists taking turns sitting in the upper reaches of a giant redwood 30 miles north of Eureka. The authorities have been leaving them alone. Given the pandemic, a timber official said, "going in to arrest someone for trespassing is probably not a high priority." L.A. Times


Jack Nicholson at home in Los Angeles in 1969.

Arthur Schatz/LIFE magazine

Jack Nicholson was born on this day in 1937. Before he ever morphed into an axe-wielding novelist or a noir private eye mixed up in California's water wars, Nicholson was just a young guy with a few supporting roles under his belt. It was then, in 1969, that LIFE magazine sent a photographer to snap some photos of the promising actor at his home on Mulholland Drive. He seems to never stop grinning. LIFE magazine


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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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