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First, we have a brief update on the pandemic:
New cases lag as an indication of the virus’s spread, and state officials noted that testing had expanded. On Tuesday, the state reported that 118,321 tests were conducted.
Still, the milestone was disheartening for Californians hoping that the surging case numbers might slow as many counties reinstated restrictions and the state ordered businesses to close.
Now, here’s an update from Berkeley, by my colleague Kellen Browning:
The Berkeley City Council on Wednesday morning moved forward with a first-in-the-nation plan to prohibit the city’s police officers from conducting traffic stops and instead train unarmed public works officials to pull over drivers.
In a 8-0-1 virtual vote that occurred shortly before 3 a.m., after hours of public comment, the Council directed the city manager to begin studying how to enact a pilot program that would create a department of transportation with civic officials who would stop drivers for violations like failing to pause at a stop sign.
[Read more about the proposal.]
Researchers have found widespread racial bias nationwide in whom police officers pull over, and proponents of Berkeley’s plan say removing armed cops from the mix would de-escalate situations that have too often turned fatal for Black drivers.
“Berkeley took a brave action last night to begin the process of de-policing traffic enforcement and ending pretext stops,” said Councilman Rigel Robinson, who proposed the legislation. “The heaviest work is ahead of us still, but we’ve begun a journey that every city in America needs to make.”
Cities across the country are rethinking the roles of law enforcement agencies, but Berkeley appears to be the first to seek a change to police officers’ traffic enforcement duties. The Council, which previously cut the city’s Police Department budget by $9.2 million, also recommended other police reforms Tuesday night.
A Berkeley Police Department spokesman previously declined to comment on the traffic proposal. But Sgt. Emily Murphy, the president of the Berkeley Police Association, raised concerns with local television station KTVU on Tuesday about unarmed public works officials facing a drunken or armed driver.
[Read more about calls to defund the police in California.]
Here’s what else to know
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Geoffrey S. Berman, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was abruptly fired last month by President Trump, will teach a course at Stanford. [The New York Times]
Workers who have been laid off reflect on paying the bills, filling their days — and the prospect of re-entering a profoundly different job market. [California Sunday]
Vallejo police officials confirmed that they destroyed a key piece of evidence in the high-profile death of Sean Monterrosa, the 22-year-old whom officers shot through a windshield after responding to reports of people taking merchandise from a Walgreens. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
Two behemoths in the Western water world, the Imperial Irrigation District and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, are locking horns in court. [The Desert Sun]
In a major show of force, hackers took over the Twitter accounts of some of the world’s most famous people, including Elon Musk, Kanye West, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Joe Biden, in a Bitcoin scam. [The New York Times]
More than 1,000 companies have halted their Facebook advertising in protest over the social network’s handling of hate speech. But Hollywood has been noticeably silent. [The New York Times]
Hundreds of hyperpartisan sites are masquerading as local news, including in California communities. Here’s a map. [Nieman Lab]
The Rose Parade is the latest iconic California event to fall victim to the pandemic: For the first time in 75 years, it’s been canceled. Like the cancellation of Coachella, it’s also a huge economic loss, not just for Pasadena, but for the region. [Pasadena Star-News]
If you missed it, roller skating is back. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 15, 2020
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.
What’s the best material for a mask?
- Scientists around the country have tried to identify everyday materials that do a good job of filtering microscopic particles. In recent tests, HEPA furnace filters scored high, as did vacuum cleaner bags, fabric similar to flannel pajamas and those of 600-count pillowcases. Other materials tested included layered coffee filters and scarves and bandannas. These scored lower, but still captured a small percentage of particles.
Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?
- A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.
I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?
- The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.
What is pandemic paid leave?
- The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?
- Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.
How does blood type influence coronavirus?
- A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.
How can I protect myself while flying?
- If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
What should I do if I feel sick?
- If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
Today’s piece, about a mother and daughter, Carolina Tovar and Leticia Ramirez, was written by Ashley Njoroge:
Carolina Tovar, 86, and her daughter Leticia Ramirez, 54, lived minutes apart from each other in Rowland Heights, a community in the San Gabriel Valley. Everyone in the family knew Ms. Ramirez was her mother’s go-to: She drove her to dialysis treatments, shopping and any place else she needed to go. They were together so often that Ms. Ramirez’s seven brothers and sisters liked to joke that the two were best friends.
But the mother and daughter were miles apart at different hospitals when they died of Covid-19 on April 3.
Ms. Ramirez became ill first, in late March, followed soon after by her mother. Ms. Tovar instructed her family not to put her on a ventilator if her condition worsened. Her husband, Antonio, had died last January, months before their 70th anniversary. “Just let me go,” she said to one of her children. “The love of my life is gone. My kids are fine.”
On a FaceTime call with her family, she blew kisses and blessed each one of them. They watched as she drew her last breath, with her youngest daughter, Gina, at her bedside.
A few hours later in another hospital in Los Angeles County, Ms. Ramirez would also die of Covid-19. Ms. Ramirez, who worked as a receptionist at a real estate firm, leaves behind a husband and three children.
The double loss for the exceptionally close family has been overwhelming, all the more so because the family had expected Ms. Ramirez to recover. “We’re very numb, heartbroken, sad, lost, everything,” Edward Tovar, one of Ms. Tovar’s 21 grandchildren, said.
“We’re going to miss them,” Carol Padilla, Ms. Ramirez’s niece, added. “We’re going to continue keeping the family together no matter what.”
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.