California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, Dec. 4.

The strictest stay-at-home order since the spring.
An Orange County assemblyman is accused of rape.
And Warner Bros. shocks the entertainment industry.



People dined outdoors in Pasadena on Wednesday.

Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The strictest stay-at-home order since the spring is coming soon and it will last three weeks.

With coronavirus cases soaring, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the new directive divides the state into five regions. The restrictions kick in when a region's ICU availability drops below 15%, which could include four regions — all but the San Francisco Bay area — within a day or two. "The bottom line is, if we don't act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed," Newsom said. A.P. | L.A. Times | CalMatters

Among the changes:

Hair salons, movie theaters, museums, and other establishments will have to close.
Retailers and grocery stores must operate at 20% capacity.
Restaurants may only serve takeout.

The full order 👉

Map: see your region and its ICU capacity. 👉 Mercury News


Shopping malls — open. Tanning salons — open. Libraries — open. Children's playgrounds — closed.

Restrictions imposed in Los Angeles County this week angered parents who want to know why playgrounds were singled out for closure while so many other activities are still allowed. Laura Mannino, mother of a 5-year-old son, summed up the frustration: “Let my kid swing on a f— swing.” L.A. Times


Monterey County farmworkers rested in a company dormitory in April.

Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Other coronavirus developments:

A study found a 13% Covid positivity rate among Salinas Valley farmworkers. The California general population rate: 3%. Desert Sun
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with a Pasadena church, ordering a lower federal court to reexamine California's restrictions on indoor church services. N.Y. Times | A.P.
Federal officials warned that pandemic aid represented a jackpot waiting to be looted. But California failed to follow key advice: to cross-check Social Security numbers with prison inmate records. Sacramento Bee
The N.Y. Times created a fantastic tool that depicts your place in line to get a coronavirus vaccine based on your health, age, and where you live. Mine: behind 268.7 million people nationwide.



Assemblyman Bill Brough, a Republican from Dana Point, has been trailed by accusations of sexual misconduct for a decade.

Rich Pedroncelli/A.P.

A former legislative aide filed a criminal complaint accusing an Orange County assemblyman, Bill Brough, of raping her following a 2015 dinner meeting in Sacramento. Patricia Todd is at least the sixth woman to accuse Brough of sexual assault or harassment in the last decade. She said didn't speak up until now for fear of retaliation from Brough: He told her he carried a concealed weapon. O.C. Register | Sacramento Bee


A high-profile Democratic strategist and former advisor to Gov. Newsom was arrested in October on two felony domestic violence charges, officials said. Nathan Ballard's wife told investigators that he pushed her into a glass door, then tried to suffocate their 4-year-old daughter with a pillow. Ballard said he would be exonerated. Politico | L.A. Times


Many people greeted the arrival of Atascadero's mysterious monolith on Wednesday as an amusing distraction. Now the story has turned bizarre. In the middle of the night, a group of men live-streamed themselves tearing down the silver pillar while chanting "Christ is king.” The men made explicitly racist remarks and claimed to have traveled from Orange County “on direct orders of QAnon and President Trump himself." Vice | The Tribune


Northern California


Coho salmon are native to the West Coast.

Chris Wilson for The Washington Post via Getty Images

For decades, investigators have puzzled over mysterious die-offs of coho salmon in the streams and rivers where they return from the Pacific Ocean. Now they think they've identified the killer: a toxin derived from car tires that washes off the roads whenever it rains. The investigation involved an epic process of elimination involving more than 2,000 chemicals. L.A. Times | CNN


A sand mining operation has blighted a stretch of the Monterey Bay shoreline for decades, infuriating locals and environmental groups. Now, after a public campaign, the last coastal sand mine in the United States has officially ceased operations for good. It was ordinary people who forced the issue, one activist said. "They were the unsung heroes.” Monterey County Weekly


Southern California


In a move that shocked the entertainment industry, Warner Bros. announced that it would release its entire 2021 slate — 17 movies — to HBO Max the same day that they hit theaters. The action was described as a grim comment on the future of movie theaters that may force other studios to follow suit. "It will be almost impossible to go back," wrote the N.Y. Times's Brooks Barnes. N.Y. Times | Hollywood Reporter


A portrait of Diego Stolz was displayed during a press conference last year in Riverside.

Gina Ferazzi/L.A. Times via Getty Images

Last year, Diego Stolz, 13, told an assistant principal at his Riverside County middle school that he was being targeted by bullies. Days later, Stolz's antagonists pounced, delivering a blow that killed him. Sued by the family, the school district is now offering an extraordinary defense claim: Stolz had himself partly to blame for failing to avoid the attack. Press-Enterprise


Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has authorized his deputies to conceal their names while policing protests. The change came after several deputies were filmed with duct tape over their name tags. Civil liberties groups criticized the move. “There’s no way that we can effectively monitor law enforcement if you can’t even get the name of a deputy that you’re interacting with in public,” a law professor said. L.A. Times


In case you missed it


California's first diverging diamond crosses Highway 120 in Manteca.

Five items that got big views over the past week:

Manteca recently debuted the first diverging diamond interchange in California. Driving it is simple; understanding it less so. Here's a good video showing one in action. 👉 Wikimedia
Oakland, one of America's most culturally diverse cities, is a roiling cauldron of creative energy. The videographer Andy To created a fantastic visual ode to the city using just his iPhone. YouTube (~5 mins)
Jennifer George, who lives in the Southern California exurb of Vista, installed a water fountain in her backyard that became a community for a menagerie of wildlife. Here's a great highlight reel. 👉 Reddit
A Rohnert Park couple converted their sunroom into a habitat for three sloths — Chewy, Sid and Willow. They call it "Sonoma Sloth House," and you can visit for $500. Press Democrat
The owners of a Fresno gas station and market have been making the homeless people who pass through their store TikTok famous. Here's a heartwarming video of Mary, who was brought to tears by gifts from her online fans. 👉 @akramadinas

On this week's California Sun Podcast:

Host Jeff Schechtman chats with Daniel Lurie, the founder of Tipping Point Community, and Sam Cobbs, its CEO, on the organization's efforts to fight poverty in the Bay Area.

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.