Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Nov. 24, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Los Angeles County’s explosive surge in coronavirus cases continued Monday, as county public health director Barbara Ferrer announced another record-high number of daily cases.

Last week, county officials outlined a tiered course of action for implementing more drastic restrictions, with the path forward based on the county’s five-day average of new coronavirus cases and daily hospitalization numbers. The plan was laid out in two parts, with one threshold that would trigger a suspension of in-person dining, and a second higher threshold that would trigger a new stay-at-home order. In a devastating blow to Los Angeles’ struggling restaurant and hospitality industry, county officials announced Sunday they would suspend outdoor dining starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday after the five-day average of new cases surpassed their self-set threshold of 4,000.

Monday’s case tally pushed Los Angeles County’s five-day average further upward — surpassing its self-set threshold for issuing a new stay-at-home order — but no action has yet been taken.

[Read the story: “L.A. County closer to new stay-home order as COVID cases hit new high” in the Los Angeles Times]

As my colleagues report, when such an order will be handed down, or what precise form it will take, remains unclear. Although Ferrer did clarify that what comes next will be more limited than what we saw in the spring.

The County Board of Supervisors is set to meet Tuesday, and additional information is likely to follow that meeting.

Amid the continued surge, the county public health department and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti advised Angelenos to cancel Thanksgiving gatherings with people from other households — even if those gatherings would be held outside.

In a tweet, the public health department warned that given the surge in cases, “gathering with people you don’t live with, even outdoors, can increase the risk of getting or spreading #COVID19.”

“This pandemic at this moment is threatening to spiral out of control,” Garcetti said Monday evening. “We’re at the highest risk level that we have been. We’re seeing numbers that literally three weeks ago were half as much.” Garcetti warned that if the surge continues at this rate, “our hospitals won’t have any spare beds at Christmas time.”

And now, here’s what else is happening:

The Trump administration finally authorized the start of formal transition proceedings on Monday, as President-elect Joe Biden moved to make good on his vow to appoint a historically diverse Cabinet. Los Angeles Times

What else to know: Biden said he will name Californian Alejandro Mayorkas as his Homeland Security secretary, a move that could make the Cuban American and former federal prosecutor the first Latino and first immigrant to serve in the Cabinet post. Biden is expected to make formal announcements on several other Cabinet picks, including former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. If confirmed, both would be the first women to hold their respective posts.

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Critics say L.A. County’s suspension of outdoor dining will “further devastate” the local economy. Many restaurants have expressed concerns about whether they can survive the restrictions. Los Angeles Times

A coronavirus outbreak at a federal detention center in downtown Los Angeles has left more than 200 inmates infected and forced prison officials to cancel detainees’ court appearances as part of a lockdown of the facility. Los Angeles Times


Gov. Gavin Newsom and his family will spend Thanksgiving in quarantine after his children were exposed in two separate incidents to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, cases that the governor said Monday prompted an informal lockdown of his Fair Oaks estate over the weekend. Los Angeles Times

The French Laundry snafu has reignited a long-shot bid to recall Newsom. Conservative activists last week won a 120-day court extension to continue gathering recall signatures, and they’re hoping to capitalize on recent events. Politico

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she will not pursue leadership of the high-profile Senate Judiciary Committee or any other committee next year, taking a dramatic step back. Los Angeles Times

Sen. Dianne Feinstein wearing a mask

Sen. Feinstein, 87, is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and was in line to become its first female chairman if Democrats take control of the Senate.

(Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Inc)

California is still debating ethnic studies in public education. Can the state finally get it right? Los Angeles Times


In a first for San Francisco, Dist. Atty. Chesa Boudin has charged a police officer with homicide in a use-of-force case. Boudin filed manslaughter charges against the police officer who fatally shot 42-year-old Keita O’Neil during a 2017 chase. San Francisco Chronicle

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes fights to bar jurors from hearing claims that her “luxurious lifestyle” provided a motive for fraud. In a filing, Holmes’ legal team argued that the prosecution plans to present her as “a billionaire who took private flights and appeared on magazine covers” — an alleged tactic that the defense argues would appeal to “class prejudice.” Mercury News


General Motors flips to California’s side in the pollution fight against President Trump. GM is now backing California’s right to set its own clean-air standards, and urging other automakers to do the same. Associated Press


Dang Moua, an influential leader in Merced County’s Hmong community, has died at 71. The local businessman and community advocate was instrumental in helping many Hmong families assimilate to life locally and in the United States. Fresno Bee

A poem to start your Tuesday: “Rain” by Raymond Carver. The Writer’s Almanac

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Los Angeles: sunny, 70. San Diego: sunny, 66. San Francisco: sunny, 61. San Jose: sunny, 64. Fresno: sunny, 63. Sacramento: sunny, 63. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Kevin Patterson:

Growing up in the ’60s and early ’70s in Pomona was a “Wonder Years” experience. The neighborhood full of our many friends filling our time with outside activities including hide-and-seek, games of baseball pickle at the local church’s front lawn area, riding bikes with my brother around town and to the old Pomona Mall, stopping at Mel’s Burgers on Hold Boulevard for the best burger in town. Visiting the old Rod, Gun and Hobby store at the mall without even locking our bikes up outside — and they were still there when we were done shopping!

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, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.

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