L.A. STORIES -Essential California 5.18.2021: Keep on masking up

Essential California


Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, May 18. I’m Melissa Gomez, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Folks, you can plan to keep your face mask on hand for another month.

Amid debate over whether California would follow the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on allowing fully vaccinated people to go mask-free in most indoor settings, state health officials announced face mask guidelines will stay in place until June 15. Stores in California that relaxed their guidelines after the CDC’s announcement should follow the state’s lead, officials said.

The date, which also coincides with the state economy fully reopening, gives businesses and workers time to prepare for the new guideline, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary. The delayed start date also gives residents more time to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, 51% of Californians have received one dose of the vaccine.

“It’s in no way saying that the science or the direction by the CDC is wrong or there’s a challenge to it,” Ghaly said Monday. “It’s really just giving ourselves across the state some additional time to have it implemented with a high degree of integrity, with a continued focus on protecting the public.”

The announcement from federal health officials last week relaxing recommendations on mask wearing arrived as yet another sign that the U.S. was headed in the right direction in the fight against the coronavirus.

But it prompted criticism and praise. There are plenty of people who are ready to return to life during the Before Times, when we didn’t have to carry around masks or stash them in our cars so we wouldn’t be caught bare-faced on a run to the supermarket.

Still, people remain cautious. Some people said they felt that they were not ready to leave behind masks, despite being fully vaccinated. Others wondered: Was it too soon? Federal guidance recommends unvaccinated or partly vaccinated people still wear masks in nearly all indoor and outdoor settings when they can’t maintain six feet of distance from others. Would they defy those guidelines and go mask-free as well?

Some of the pushback on the CDC’s recommendation came from health experts, who said it was much better to play it safe. “This pandemic is not over,” said Deborah Burger, president of the National Nurses United, the largest union representing registered nurses in the country.

Another health expert said they would continue to wear a face mask until the rate of those vaccinated increased.

Los Angeles County officials plan to adhere to the state’s June 15 guidance on masks guidelines as well. The county has seen conditions improve as vaccines become more easily available, as appointments are no longer required.

“I think, barring something fundamentally different happening here in L.A. County that would really bring about cause for great concern, you can see us embracing the June 15 reopening plan,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

An arson suspect has been arrested in connection with the Palisades fire after another man was falsely accused. An app used to report local events was used to falsely identify an individual as a suspect and advertised a $30,000 reward for information. The company later acknowledged the mistake. Los Angeles Times

In his own words, Kevin Mayne talks his career at ESPN and why he’s leaving 27 years later. When Mayne announced his departure, he received so many calls and texts, he thought his phone was going to melt. The days that followed were “like nothing I’ve before experienced.” Los Angeles Times

Twenty-three people were rescued off a suspected smuggling boat near Point Loma, just weeks after three people were killed after another smuggling boat crashed in the same area. Officials say the 23 people had traveled from Mexico and Guatemala, as more people seeking to cross the U.S. border turn to the sea. San Diego Union-Tribune

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.



Kasey Phillips, owner of Crystal Room Studio in Los Angeles, had to rethink his business model when his new recording studio opened in the midst of the pandemic. Working with nonprofit Pacific Coast Regional Corporation and Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, Phillips received a small business loan to help him take his rental studio online, providing digital recording options for clients worldwide. Wells Fargo is donating roughly $420 million to help small businesses like Phillips’ stay open. To date, the effort is protecting an estimated 66,000 jobs, the majority of which are jobs at diverse-owned businesses.

End of advertisement



(Wally Skalij; Amy Cantrell/Los Angeles Times; Handout)


“Real Housewife” Erika Girardi and the hunt for the missing millions. After Tom Giradi’s downfall, new evidence has surfaced about his wife’s role in his financial affairs. Los Angeles Times

The Broad museum’s reopening includes a commitment to diversity. The museum, which opens to the public May 26, plans to redouble efforts to diversify its collection and staff, according to the founding director. LAist

Support our journalism

Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times.


California’s new attorney general intends to prioritize criminal justice reform and fight anti-Asian racism that has escalated during the pandemic. Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American to hold the position, said he plans to create a racial justice bureau that will tackle systemic racism, including biased policing and exploring reparations for slavery. Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court will be hearing a case that challenges Roe vs. Wade. The appeal, from Mississippi, is the court’s first major case on abortion rights since Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has said she is personally opposed to abortion, joined the court. Los Angeles Times

.Ads by: Memento Maxima Digital Marketing
@[email protected]



Los Angeles police have opened an investigation into rapper T.I. and his wife after a woman came forward and alleged she was sexually assaulted and drugged by the couple. The Harrises have denied allegations brought forward by other women who have made similar accusations. The Daily Beast

A California man returns home after being stuck in Mexico for two years. Jose Palomar, a DACA recipient, who admitted to using marijuana during an interview to apply for legal status, was denied entry, setting off a difficult period for him and his family, who remained in the U.S. Orange County Register


The Los Angeles Unified School District is rolling out an ambitious plan to vaccinate 12- to -15-year-olds before the end of the school year. The plan includes making the vaccine available at school-based and mobile clinics at practical locations that the community already trusts. Los Angeles Times

The “double mutant” variant of COVID-19 first identified in India may not be the central cause behind the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. Scientists studying India’s outbreak say the government’s decision to reopen its economy and abandon safety protocols before they were able to vaccinate a significant part of the population contributed to the worst outbreak any country has seen. Los Angeles Times


In San Francisco, a new mental health team aims to reduce over-reliance on police in responding to homeless people in distress. The effort follows a model that other cities, like Los Angeles, have implemented to respond compassionately to some of the city’s most vulnerable populations. San Francisco Chronicle


Architecture, done humanely and intelligently, is possible in Los Angeles. An architecture competition offers an opportunity to reimagine housing, the L.A. way. Los Angeles Times

The funicular railways in Los Angeles you may not have heard of. You’ve probably seen, and maybe have even ridden, Angels Flight, but L.A. has a rich history of incline railways, some that were built, and some that weren’t. Los Angeles Times

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.


Los Angeles: sunny, 64. San Diego: partly sunny, 66. San Francisco: windy, 55. San Jose: sunny, 72 . Fresno: sunny, 88. Sacramento: sunny, 82.


Today’s California memory comes from Linda Gaudio Binkley:

In 1959, when I was 12, I arrived in San Diego on a propeller airplane from my hometown called “The City of Trees.” Arrival at Lindbergh Field, with not a tree in sight, just the shimmering blue sea, was at once breathtaking and strange. I was quick to adapt to this multicultural world. New to Spanish and Mexican food, I endured laughter at my classic mispronunciation of La Jolla with and English J and L. Best memories with these new laughing friends include piling into my brother’s convertible and spending Friday evening eating French fries and onion rings at Oscar’s Drive-in in National City. The friendly servers roller-skated between cars. Days of sunshine, moon-glow, music and camaraderie.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to [email protected].

.Ads by: Memento Maxima Digital Marketing
@[email protected]


Thank you for reading the Los Angeles Times
Essential California newsletter.
Invite your friends, relatives, coworkers to sign up here.
Not a subscriber? Get unlimited digital access to latimes.com. Subscribe here.

Copyright © 2021, Los Angeles Times
2300 E. Imperial Highway, El Segundo, California, 90245
1-800-LA-TIMES | latimes.com


.Ads by: Memento Maxima Digital Marketing
@[email protected]


It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePrint this page