Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Nov. 21.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

New pandemic crackdowns. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a curfew starting Saturday throughout most of California to combat a surge in new coronavirus cases, days after the state rolled back reopenings. The new rules will apply to those living in counties in the most restrictive “purple” tier of the state’s reopening roadmap.

The third wave is the hardest. Experts say this wave of infections is particularly troubling because “we never got back down” to a low baseline number of cases, and now we’re fatigued and entering a season spent mostly indoors. In Los Angeles, officials say they’re still uncertain about what exactly is driving the new cases.

Schools take a step back — again. The rise in cases has prompted major reopening rollbacks that will stall efforts to reopen campuses throughout Southern California and most of the state — and affect the education of millions of students. San Bernardino schools were among the first to decide to stay online for the rest of the school year.

Desperate to hold on. President Trump is escalating his attempts to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory, pushing for officials to ignore voters’ verdicts in some states. He is all but certain to fail, but experts say it’s an extraordinary assault on American democracy.

A different kind of holiday season. Desperately seeking to find a seemingly responsible way to hold dinner parties, some people are getting tested in order to gather. But experts say it’s a flawed approach that gives a false sense of safety. Meanwhile, those hoping to have smaller holiday gatherings are up against high demand for small turkeys.

Apologies and outrage. State lawmakers faced intense criticism for not following their own pandemic guidance. Newsom was caught attending a birthday dinner at a high-end restaurant, and state lawmakers attended a conference in Hawaii. Newsom later apologized.

Who will get the first vaccines? California and other states are racing to decide as two promising candidates enter the final stages of development. But even once officials know where to start, getting the public vaccinated will be the biggest health operation ever in cities like L.A. — and questions remain about whether the city can pull it off.

A rollercoaster ahead. Analysts said California’s state budget faces a dramatic boom-and-bust period over the next four years that could begin with a $26-billion tax windfall and later plunge to a projected deficit of $17.5 billion by the middle of 2025.

These rules hurt Black and Latino renters. Across the country, “crime-free housing” policies have expanded the power of the police to decide who can and can’t live in more than a thousand cities. A Times investigation found they disproportionately affected Black and Latino residents.

UC’s sex-abuse settlement. The University of California system would pay $73 million under a proposed settlement reached Monday in a class-action lawsuit filed by seven women who accused a former UCLA gynecologist of sexual abuse.

1. Photos show Gov. Newsom at French restaurant allegedly not following COVID-19 protocols. Fox 11 Los Angeles

2. When snow meets fall: Beautiful photos capture “snowliage” in Yosemite. SF Gate

3. Which California counties are reopening? Los Angeles Times

4. Satire: Gavin Newsom slammed for eating at the French Laundry when Atelier Crenn clearly has the superior take on contemporary cuisine. The Onion

5. In the waning days of Trump’s presidency, White House press pool reports are getting snarkier. Washington Post

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

“My dad’s store is his life.” A lovely and wrenching essay from Francesca Mari about her father’s fading San Francisco audio-video store, and the travails of being a small business owner in America. The Atlantic

The story behind Los Angeles’ Self-Realization Fellowship: Paramahansa Yogananda purchased the long abandoned Mount Washington Hotel in 1925 and immediately set about transforming its grounds into a lush and expansive oasis. Los Angeles Times

“We are being issued a directive without a rationale.” The strange and terrible saga of San Francisco principals being ordered back to empty schools. Mission Local

How the pandemic made gossip essential again: “High- or lowbrow, all gossip-based content has a similar effect: It makes us feel like we’re part of a community, especially as our real-life social networks feel more and more distant.” Mel Magazine

Poem of the week: “Wings” by Miroslav Holub, translated from Czech by George Theiner. Modern Poetry in Translation

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. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Laura Blasey for all her help on the Saturday edition.)

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