California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Oct. 7.

No link between K-12 school reopenings and Covid-19 spread.
The most destructive fire to ever hit the Napa Valley region.
And an epic guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen in 1986.



For the first time, two counties have regressed in California's four-tier framework for reopening. Tehama and Shasta counties both moved back a step, meaning some businesses will have to close their doors or move outside. In Shasta County, health officials linked surging Covid-19 cases to a megachurch ministry that promotes faith healing. L.A. Times | Record Searchlight

A dozen counties have failed to meet California's new coronavirus equity requirement, which sets benchmarks for disadvantaged communities, spelling trouble for their reopening plans. Mercury News | S.F. Chronicle

See where your county stands. 👉


A student had his temperature taken before entering a learning center in Culver City last month.

Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

California has found no link between K-12 school reopenings and the spread of the coronavirus, the state's top public health official, Mark Ghaly, said on Tuesday. The state has been closely monitoring schools for any sign of rising infections as smaller counties resume in-person instruction. “And so far," Ghaly said, "we have not found one.” Sacramento Bee | A.P.


Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence face off in their only debate tonight at 6 p.m. Pacific time in Salt Lake City. Vice presidential debates have often been regarded as afterthoughts. This time, with an ailing president and an anxious public, the stakes have been heightened. A former prosecutor, Harris is a gifted cross-examiner. But she acknowledged jitters. “Let me just say something: He’s a good debater,” she said last month. “So I’m so concerned, like I can only disappoint.” N.Y. Times | USA Today


Andrea Ghez

Elena Zhukova/University of California

Caltech alumni are now two for two in this week's Nobel Prize announcements. On Monday, it was Charles Rice sharing the prize in physiology or medicine. On Tuesday, astrophysicist Andrea Ghez was jointly awarded the prize in physics. Ghez, who earned her Ph.D. at Caltech and now teaches at UCLA, conducted groundbreaking research on black holes. Another awardee, Reinhard Genzel, teaches at UC Berkeley. L.A. Times | A.P.


Northern California


Vallejo, home to one of the nation's most violent police forces, proclaimed a public safety emergency declaration on Tuesday, allowing staff to bypass normal channels to push through reforms. “Very brave step for all of us but it’s something that needed to be done,” the mayor said. The Bay Area city's police union called the move illegal and dangerous. A.P.


QAnon demonstrators protest child trafficking in Los Angeles on Aug. 22.

Kyle Grillot/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook said it was banning all QAnon accounts from its platform in the social media giant's most sweeping content policy decision to date. A QAnon expert said the move was significant, robbing the conspiracy theory — which claims the world is run by an anti-Trump cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles — of its most fertile recruiting ground. NBC News | Washington Post

Also on Tuesday, Facebook removed a post by President Trump claiming the coronavirus was less lethal than the flu. He posted the same message on Twitter, which left it up but appended a message noting that it was false. recode | SFist


“It looks like a lunar landscape here.”

The ongoing Glass fire is now recognized as the most destructive fire to ever hit the Napa Valley region, with buildings damaged or destroyed at 20 wineries. Smoke has also ruined entire grape crops yet to be harvested. This special report by Reuters includes a striking map showing where vineyards were overrun.


Judee Sill, circa 1970.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Judee Sill was born in Oakland on this day in 1944. She was a rising star at the center of California's folk-rock scene in the 1970s — among the few women who wrote and sang their own songs — before dying from a drug overdose at the age of 35. A Pitchfork critic once wrote: "She had a gift for making very complicated things sound simple, beautiful." The N.Y. Times published an obituary for Sill earlier this year as part of its "Overlooked" project.


Southern California


Eddie Van Halen on stage in 1984.

Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

Eddie Van Halen died on Tuesday at age 65. The cause was throat cancer. Van Halen was a young immigrant from the Netherlands who emerged from Pasadena with a talent for electric guitar pyrotechnics in the tradition of Jimi Hendrix. His namesake band became a staple of the Los Angeles music scene and embodied the good-time ethos of 1980s Southern California.

Twitter lit up with tributes from fans and fellow musicians, many of whom described Van Halen not just as a generational talent but as a good soul. "I hope you jam with Jimi tonight," wrote Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. "Break through to the other side my brother." Rolling Stone | L.A. Times

Here's Van Halen playing an epic guitar solo at the height of his powers in 1986. 👉 YouTube (~13 mins)


Roughly 2,100 Los Angeles County voters received mail-in ballots lacking any way to vote for U.S. president. The county clerk apologized, blaming a misprint that affected a "very small" number of voters. Trump pounced, citing the story in a tweet and declaring, "This will be the most corrupt Election in American History!" KABC | L.A. Times


Somebody installed a giant "Trump" sign in the style of the Hollywood sign on a hillside along the 405 Freeway. It was unclear who erected the display, but it was on private property. Even so, Caltrans sent a crew to lay the letters flat, saying they were a distraction to drivers. That drew a wave of accusations of bias on social media. CBSLA


"Shout out to the palm tree trimmers."

A brave arborist in San Bernardino County climbed a 100-foot palm tree to cut off fronds that posed a danger to humans and property. It took him on a wild ride. 👉 YouTube | KABC


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