California Sun

Good morning. It's Wednesday, May 27.

L.A. County gives green light to stores and churches.
Experts sound alarm on potential for a fall surge of cases.
And recalling California's "lost tribe" of Hawaiians.



A woman opened a souvenir shop in Venice Beach on Sunday.

David McNew/Getty Images

Retail stores and houses of worship can now reopen in Los Angeles County, the epicenter of California's coronavirus outbreak. The announcement on Tuesday came as a surprise after remarks by officials just days ago that predicted easing up by July 4. But with stores now reopened across most of California, pressure mounted to put Los Angeles County on a level playing field. "There's a lot of people suffering, and we can do this safely," Mayor Eric Garcetti said. A.P. | L.A. Times


Also now reopening in 47 of 58 California counties: Barbershops and beauty salons. Gov. Gavin Newsom cited steady hospitalizations and a robust supply of protective equipment in justifying the move into stage 3 of the state's reopening plan. "We're making progress. We're moving forward," he said. Notably maintaining their bans: Los Angeles County and nearly all of the Bay Area. Mercury News | Politico


This is all making Dr. Sara Cody very uneasy. In remarks to Santa Clara County supervisors, the public health officer who led the nation's first regional shelter-in-place order said Newsom's reopening moves were outpacing the coronavirus's 14-day incubation period. "So the state modifications are being made without a real understanding of the consequences of what the last move has been." S.F. Chronicle | Politico

UC Berkeley infectious disease professor: "I predict October is going to be our darkest month."


A scene in Susanville, county seat of Lassen County, which went for months without a positive Covid test.

Alameda County takes the mantle as the hardest-hit Bay Area county, Lassen County records its first four cases, and the number of infections linked to a Mendocino County church grows to nine. Here are the latest California coronavirus totals, as tracked by the S.F. Chronicle:

Confirmed cases:
+3,289 since a day ago
+15,971 since a week ago

+57 since a day ago
+417 since a week ago

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


Over the weekend, Orange County's top health official, Nichole Quick, issued an order requiring residents to wear masks when going out to shop or work. On Tuesday, Sheriff Don Barnes said he won't enforce it. "We are not the mask police," he said. He won't enforce church restrictions either, he said. As for Quick, she's under police protection after getting threats. O.C. Register | Voice of OC


Women walked by a closed Vista Theatre in Los Angeles on last week.

David Livingston/Getty Images

The N.Y. Times put a sobering review of California's economic collapse on its Page 1. Among the stats: California's estimated unemployment rate is now north of 20 percent, far higher than the 14.7 percent national rate. In L.A., it's 24 percent, roughly equal to the peak unemployment of the Great Depression. "I'd say this will be the most serious economic dislocation that America has faced," former Gov. Jerry Brown said. N.Y. Times


Other odds and ends:

San Francisco became the latest city to approve a program that lets restaurants take over sidewalks and parking spaces. SFist |
Sonoma and Napa wineries have begun reopening, in limited form. One is offering meals on its patio, for example. Another lets you bring a picnic basket onto the lawn. Mercury News | S.F. Chronicle
The CDC is recommending disposable plates and utensils at restaurants. That's angered green groups in California, a pioneer of eliminating plastic products. Politico



"We don’t do sweeps," Mayor London Breed recently told the New Yorker.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Revealed via a public records request, a trove of texts by Mayor London Breed of San Francisco shows her frequently asking the city's police chief and others to "clear" homeless encampments, something she has repeatedly denied doing. "Man sleeping on bench on Hayes st near gough. Can someone come ASAP. I'm in the area having lunch" reads one message to Police Chief Bill Scott. "Copy. We are sending a team," he replied. Mission Local | S.F. Examiner


On Tuesday, President Trump zeroed in on California with tweets that baselessly claimed voting by mail would amount to a "rigged election." And for the first time, Twitter flagged his tweets with fact-check information. The action came after years of criticism that the social network allows the president to push misinformation unchecked. N.Y. Times | Washington Post

Trump's response: "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"


The Fred 62 diner in Los Feliz.

Ludwig Favre

The French photographer Ludwig Favre captures a California that shimmers with sunshine and shades of pastel. Here's a gorgeous photo series, titled "Once Upon a Time in California," that includes both the state's cliches and beauty. Behance

Follow Favre on Instagram.


Here's video of a dog named Bamboo expertly skateboarding to the beach in Del Mar. Bamboo's human, a San Diego software engineer named Mike Bolaris, used to take the pup with him on morning skateboard rides. Eventually, he got Bamboo a board of his own. Now, he's internet famous with accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


Today I learned


A portrait of Kaiana, high chief of Maui. His 16-year-old grandson Ioana Keaala was among a small group of Hawaiians who worked for John Sutter in Mexican California.

The descendants of Hawaiian laborers in 19th-century Mexican California are now federally recognized as Miwok Indians and run a casino on a reservation near Placerville.

The story begins in 1839, when the Swiss pioneer John Sutter recruited 10 Hawaiians to travel with him to California, where he established an agricultural colony near Sacramento.

Over time, the Hawaiians formed alliances with American Indians as both groups faced racist abuse from a common antagonist: white settlers. Some of the Hawaiians married indigenous women. In 1862, a newspaper reporter encountered a small fishing village they established along the Sacramento River and noted that the Native American women spoke fluent Hawaiian.

Mele Keaala, known as Mary Kelly, circa 1887. Kelly was the daughter of Ioana Keaala, a Hawaiian immigrant to Mexican California.

About 50 years later, federal agents identified 34 individuals of native and Hawaiian ancestry in the area, dubbed them the Sacramento-Verona Band of Homeless Indians, and set aside 160 acres on their behalf near Placerville as part of an effort to "civilize" California's tribal peoples.

It sat unused until the 1970s, when descendants of the group banded together and adopted the name Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. They moved onto the land and built homes, a church, and a community center. But when talk of a casino began, county officials challenged the plan in court by citing the group's blended ancestry. They aren't really Miwok, opponents said. They're Hawaiian.

The case was dismissed on statute of limitation grounds, and in 2008 the Red Hawk Casino opened to the public. The occasion was celebrated with a mixture of Native American dances and Hawaiian songs.

Honolulu Civil Beat this week published a fascinating account of the Hawaiian diaspora in California. The title: "Tracing California's 'Lost Tribe' of Hawaiians."


Thanks for reading!

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

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