California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, May 13.

Los Angeles braces for three more months of staying home.
Rural county says it will ignore lockdown violators.
And Republicans appear poised to flip blue House district.



People got some fresh air in Los Angeles last week.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

"Do not freak out."

That was Mayor Eric Garcetti's advice to the stir-crazy citizens of Los Angeles after the county's top health official publicly acknowledged that stay-at-home orders would stay in place until August. As disheartening as that sounds, officials said, Angelenos can at least expect individual restrictions on stores and public places to be gradually relaxed in coming weeks. Social distancing directives, however, aren't going away any time soon. L.A. Times | CNN

Bay Area counties are nowhere near meeting criteria for reopening either. S.F. Chronicle


Seven Northern California counties were given the go-ahead to reopen businesses more quickly than the rest of the state. El Dorado, Butte, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Amador, and Shasta counties have so far been minimally harmed by the pandemic. "I think we'll see a lot of restaurants open today," an El Dorado official said. A.P. | Sacramento Bee

Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced that offices where telecommuting is impossible could reopen with appropriate precautions. Same goes for enclosed malls and strip malls. S.F. Chronicle | A.P.


Stanislaus County's board of supervisors declared Tuesday that the county would look the other way if businesses reopened in defiance of the statewide stay-at-home order. Large gatherings were still banned, they said, but everyone else could try their luck with state authorities. The county, with a population of roughly 550,000, has had 517 confirmed infections and 22 deaths. Modesto Bee


Fourteen residents of a Stanislaus County nursing home have died of Covid-19, officials said, in one of California's deadliest such outbreaks yet. In all, nearly 150 people have tested positive at the facility. S.F. Chronicle | KCRA

Also: Homeless deaths are spiking in Orange County, the first case in nearly two weeks surfaced in Shasta County, and 70 percent of inmates tested positive at a Central Coast prison.

The latest California coronavirus totals, as tabulated by the S.F. Chronicle:

Confirmed cases:
+1,671 since a day ago
+14,841 since a week ago

+98 since a day ago
+593 since a week ago

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


A restaurant advertised takeout service in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Newsom unveiled long-awaited guidelines for the reopening of restaurants. They're what you'd expect:

mandatory distancing of 6 feet or more
masks for workers who interact with patrons
the provision of disposable menus

They also included this recommendation: Screen all guests at the door for symptoms. Eater San Francisco |

Whether patrons will show up is another matter. A poll showed that only 35 percent of Californians would be comfortable eating out right now. Mercury News


First among major university systems, California State University announced that its 23 campuses will remain closed this fall, with the vast majority of instruction held entirely online. Chancellor Timothy White said more than 480,000 undergraduates at Cal States would normally gather "in close and vibrant proximity" on a daily basis: "That approach, sadly, just isn't in the cards now." EdSource | N.Y. Times

Online, in-person, or hybrid. See an updated list of universities' fall plans. Chronicle of Higher Education


The latest developments in the Elon Musk saga after he reopened his Tesla factory in defiance of Alameda County officials:

President Trump took Musk's side on Twitter, urging California to let him open his plant. "Thank you!" Musk replied. The Hill
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said he spoke with Musk about moving the factory. "He's genuinely interested in Texas," he said. Dallas Morning News | News Channel 6
Alameda County officials said the factory could reopen as early as next week with safety precautions in place. It was unclear whether Musk would wait. Mercury News | S.F. Chronicle

The flight path begins and ends in Fresno between 10 a.m. and noon.

Other odds and ends:

Twitter's CEO told employees they could work from home in perpetuity, even after the pandemic lockdown passes. Buzzfeed News
A Fresno City Council member was cited with misdemeanor battery after anti-lockdown activists showed up on his doorstep. Some shoving was caught on video. KSEE
Look up in Central and Northern California between 10 a.m. and noon today and you may see a National Guard flyover. It's a salute to coronavirus workers. SoCal will get a flyover Friday. KGPE



People voted in a special election in Lancaster on Tuesday.

David McNew/Getty Images

Republicans were on the verge of flipping a blue congressional district in California for the first time since 1998. Mike Garcia, a former Navy combat pilot, had a double-digit lead over Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith in a special election for the House seat north of Los Angeles left vacant by Katie Hill, who stepped down after admitting to an affair with a congressional staffer. A.P. | Politico


In February, President Trump announced with fanfare in Bakersfield that he had signed off on a federal plan to divert more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta for agricultural use to the south. On Monday, a federal court temporarily blocked the plan, which opponents say further endangers threatened species. Sacramento Bee | A.P.


California archive


Ritchie Valens in Los Angeles, Jan. 20, 1959.

Richard C. Miller/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Pacoima's own Ritchie Valens was born on this day in 1941.

His brief musical career ended only eight months after he walked into Hollywood's Del-Fi studios to record his first single "Come On, Let's Go," which Valens wrote. On Feb. 3, 1959, he died in a plane crash along with Buddy Holly and "The Big Bopper" J. P. Richardson. Valens was a kid, 17 years of age.

Even so, his legacy as the first Mexican-American rock star prepared the stage for generations of Latino recording artists to come. Today, Valens's memory echoes across the San Fernando Valley in murals, a section of freeway christened in his honor, and most recently the Pacoima post office. A federal resolution in December renamed it the Ritchie Valens Post Office Building.

● ●

Spotify has a live concert by Valens before an ecstatic audience at his old Pacoima Junior High School, performed two months before his death. (No Spotify account? Try here.)


California wonders


There's a creek at Shasta Lake made up of idyllic waterfalls, swimming holes, and vivid rust-colored boulders. People in the know hike about 20 minutes from the lakeshore up Little Backbone Creek to a pool with a special attraction: A natural waterslide, complete with affixed rope to help reach the top. A group of friends created a fun video of their outing a few years ago. YouTube

Below, views of Little Backbone Creek.


Thanks for reading!

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

The Sun is built by Marquee on Proof.

Consider becoming a member.

Please tell us how we can make the newsletter better. Email

California Sun masthead
The California Sun, PO Box 6868, Los Osos, CA 93412
Wake up to must-read news from around the Golden State delivered to your inbox each morning.