California Sun

Good morning. It's Tuesday, May 4.

California appears to avoid Covid-19 surge hitting Northwest.
Heartwarming celebration as San Francisco's library reopens.
And one of America's great destinations for train watching.



Christopher Hutchinson, 33, balanced on a slack line in Santa Monica on April 7.

Jae C. Hong/A.P.

Zero Covid-19 deaths in L.A. County on Sunday and Monday.

Three new infections in three days in San Luis Obispo County.

A single hospitalization in Napa County.

While Oregon and Washington grapple with surging coronavirus cases, public health officials have grown increasingly optimistic that California remains in recovery mode. The case positivity rate, hovering now at 1%, "has fallen like a rock," said Dr. George Rutherford, a UCSF epidemiologist. L.A. Times

An exception: Humboldt County. A health official blamed an uptick in cases on the same coronavirus variant troubling the Northwest. S.F. Chronicle


Students completed classwork at Millikan High School on Monday in Long Beach.

Dania Maxwell/L.A. Times via Getty Images

“I just feel like there’s no point.”

In San Francisco and Los Angeles, tens of thousands of middle- and high-school students have returned to classrooms in which they sit at desks and learn remotely while an adult supervises them. While rare nationally, the “Zoom in a Room” format has been embraced in the cities even as California's coronavirus case rate has plunged lower than any other state. In many cases, adolescents are opting to stay home. Wall Street Journal


California parents owe $18.4 billion in overdue child support payments. But a large portion of that sum — $6.8 billion — is owed not to children, but to the government, which charges interest on past-due payments. No other state takes a higher percentage of payments. Critics say California is drowning low-income parents in debt at the expense of the children it’s supposed to be looking out for. CalMatters

A CalMatters reporter drew a striking comparison with how politicians who fail to pay fines are treated. @LaurelRosenhall


The "recall circus" metaphor could be coming to life.

John Cox, a businessman from Rancho Santa Fe who is running for governor, told reporters that he planned to bring a special guest on his campaign tour: "a 1,000 pound live bear." The Republican, who also ran for governor in 2018 and lost by double digits, plans to stop at Napa Valley's French Laundry restaurant, where Gov. Gavin Newsom dined with friends during the state's lockdown. He changed his social media handles to @BeastJohnCox. San Joaquin Valley Sun | KTXL


Northern California


Tim Sweeney, chief executive officer of Epic Games, left, exited court in Oakland on Monday.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Last summer, Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, told gamers on iPhones that they would get a discount if they completed purchases outside of Apple's payment system. Apple responded by ousting Fortnite from its app. That set up a court battle that kicked off Monday in an Oakland courtroom and could have far-reaching implications for the iPhone maker’s business model and U.S. antitrust law. Tim Cook, the Apple chief, is scheduled to testify. N.Y. Times | A.P.


In 1996, Tien Pham came to San Jose at age 13 as a refugee from Vietnam. He got involved with street gangs and was accused of stabbing someone during a fight. At age 17, he got 28 years in prison. His family waited at the gates on the day in August that he was to be released, but Pham never emerged. Transferred into ICE custody, he was flown in March to Vietnam, a country now unfamiliar to him. “America is my home," he said from Ho Chi Minh City. "My family, my loved ones, my friends, they are all there." The Guardian


Students walked to their prom on the school football field in Santa Rosa on Saturday.

Kent Porter/Press Democrat

Santa Rosa High School held its prom on its football field Saturday. Teenagers dressed in colorful gowns, smart suits, and face masks danced to music piped in through headphones to avoid disturbing the neighborhood, making the best of a ritual of American youth in a time of pandemic. The photographer Kent Porter got some nice pictures. Press Democrat


“The library is like my best friend.”

The main branch of the San Francisco Public Library opened its doors to the public for first time in more than a year. As people spilled through into the lobby, they pumped their fists and a cheer arose. The reporter Peter Hartlaub caught the heartwarming moment on video. @peterhartlaub

The S.F. Chronicle: "The S.F. Library reopened. Here's wisdom and hope from the first man in line."


Feather River Canyon is one of America's great destinations for train watching. Carved along a narrow gorge in the Northern Sierra in 1909, the rail line navigates a gantlet of obstacles, weaving above and below bridges, performing a full 360-degree loop, and passing through the magnificent Keddie Wye, in which two elevated tracks merge in a tunnel. While the Feather River Route hasn't seen regular passenger travel since 1970, motorists can see several freight trains rumble the tracks daily along a scenic byway that shares the canyon.

Here's a fantastic "drone chase" of a train along Feather Canyon. 👉 YouTube (8:45 mins)


Southern California


The Biden administration approved a massive solar energy project in the Southern California desert. The $550 million Crimson Solar Project will be sited on 3 square miles of public lands just west of Blythe, with the potential to supply enough power for 87,500 homes, the Interior Department said. Some conservationists have said the project will disturb too much pristine desert. Reuters | A.P.


The basketball courts at Venice Beach have been closed for a year.

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At Venice Beach, park officials are still refusing to remove locks from the basketball hoops that keep people from playing. Local players say it's maddening. At one point, someone tried to remove the locks, only to be detained and fined. "Every sport, every restaurant, even the Staples Center is open," a Venice basketball league founder said. "It's ridiculous.” KCRW


Prince Harry spoke at a charity concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood on Sunday.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/A.P.

Prince Harry got the rock-star treatment Sunday night at a star-studded benefit concert in Southern California: “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World.” He and Meghan, denizens of Montecito, have been reinventing themselves as typical American mega-celebrities, the Washington Post wrote — the kind who dabble in content, philanthropy, technology, and a tasteful dash of politics. "They weren't just interviewed by Oprah. They want to be Oprah."


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.