Governor warns of further stay-at-home orders; Manson follower’s parole is blocked

Winston Gieseke
 
| USA TODAY

I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, with the latest California news to jump-start your week.

In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.

Governor warns of stay-at-home order if statewide COVID-19 trends continue

Now that Thanksgiving travel has come and gone — but with Christmas travel looming — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday warned of prolonged stay-at-home orders for counties with the most widespread coronavirus transmission if the state continues to see a surge of new cases.

Unless there is a drastic change, public health officials are projecting that 78% of the state’s hospital beds could be occupied by Christmas Eve. Also concerning is California’s rise in ICU patients. Currently, 75% of the state’s ICU beds are occupied and could meet full capacity by mid-December if trends continue.

Residents who didn’t follow state guidelines about traveling or warnings about multi-household get-togethers are likely to face stricter coronavirus measures Monday as health officials braced for a surge of cases due to gatherings over the long weekend.

For example, Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, has banned high school, college and professional sports and also decreed a quarantine for those who travel more than 150 miles outside the county as the outbreak there “is like a high-speed train,” according to health officer Dr. Sara Cody.

Experts pleaded with Americans to stay home over Thanksgiving and not gather with anyone who doesn’t live with them. Nevertheless, nearly 1.2 million people passed through U.S. airports Sunday, while others took to the highways to be with family and friends.

Health officials are urging people to remain vigilant until a vaccine becomes widely available, which is not expected to happen for at least a few months.

L.A. County issues new stay-at-home order

Meanwhile in Los Angeles County, abc7.com reports that county public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer also issued new stay-at-home restrictions that took effect Monday.  

“If this doesn’t work and two to three weeks from now we find ourselves in a worse place than we are, we’re going to have to go back and look at what else do we have as options,” Ferrer said.

As of Monday, playgrounds and cardrooms will close again, essential retail businesses are limited to 35% capacity, with non-essential retail limited to 20%. Gyms that operate outdoors can stay open at 50% capacity.

The new order lasts at least until Dec. 20.

As a result of the new order, a small group of protesters showed up at Ferrer’s home Sunday, reported abc7.com. The demonstration lasted about an hour, and most of the demonstrators were not wearing masks.

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Pasadena, a holdout in L.A. County, considers banning outdoor dining

Elsewhere in L.A. County, people descended from far and wide on Old Town Pasadena on Sunday for outdoor dining, as it remains the only city in the county still permitting it.

“We came to Pasadena because I read on Google that they have their own health department, so that’s why we decided to try it out,” visitor Ana Valladares told abc7.com. “It was open today.”

All of that is subject to change as the city continues to monitor its new coronavirus infections, especially after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Last week, inspectors from Pasadena’s health department visited more than 60 restaurants; about half had minor violations. As of Friday evening, at least five were still non-compliant and were shut down.

On Monday, Pasadena also remained the only city in Los Angeles County with playgrounds open.

Newsom nixes parole for Manson follower

In other Newsom news, the governor has blocked the parole release of former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, who is serving a life sentence for her role in the murders of Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969. Van Houten was 19 at the time of the crimes.

In July, a California review board recommended parole for Van Houten, now 71, who has spent nearly five decades in prison, but Newsom reversed the decision for the second time; his predecessor, Jerry Brown, also twice blocked her release.

Here’s an interesting fact: Van Houten’s initial conviction was overturned in 1976, and she was granted a retrial. Jury two was declared a mistrial, and two years later, she was convicted of two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy and sentenced to seven years to life in prison.

However, in between trials two and three, Van Houten — who Newsom said in his decision “poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison” — was released on a $200,000 bond, which was pulled together by family friends. During her six months out of prison, reported Los Angeles Magazine, she quietly worked as a legal secretary and even managed to attend the Academy Awards, where, legend has it, she went unrecognized by everyone except director John Waters.

Van Houten’s attorney says he will appeal Newsom’s decision.

San Francisco could become largest U.S. city to ban smoking in apartment buildings

In Northern California, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on a measure that would protect residents from secondhand smoke, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. If passed, the city could become the largest in the United States to ban smoking cannabis and tobacco in apartment and condo buildings that contain three units or more, including privately owned apartment buildings and low-income buildings known as Single Room Occupancy hotels.

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While smoking is already against the law in common areas like stairwells, many landlords have gone a step further by banning it indoors entirely. If the measure passes, repeat offenders could be fined up to $1,000 a day.

An exception to the ordinance, which was written by Supervisor Norman Yee, would be those with medical cannabis cards.

Cannabis activists are not a fan of the measure, which they say will infringe on the right to use a legal substance unless a person has enough money to own a single-family home. Smoking cannabis in public places is already illegal under state law, but it is not often enforced in San Francisco.

“My motivation is just to give people clean air to breathe, that’s all,” said Yee, who will leave office in January.

Organization helps California kids get necessary healtscreenings

The California Health Report, which covers health throughout the state, has published an article by former In California writer Arlene Martinez about the efforts of early childhood advocates to expand developmental screenings throughout the state.

A developmental screening and referral program called “Help Me Grow” was formed in the late 1990s to help children get the testing they need during their critical early years. The organization, which came to California in 2005 and is now present in approximately 30 of the state’s 58 counties, works to ensure that kids get developmental screenings recommended by health experts at the ages of 9 months, 18 months and 24 or 30 months in order to diagnose and early treat health issues like autism and cerebral palsy.

These tests are usually performed in a doctor’s office; not every child has the health care they need to qualify them for such screenings.

According to the article, “Help Me Grow helps fill gaps in the developmental screening system by conducting screenings itself when necessary and connecting parents and children in need to resources and programs that can provide therapy and other services.”

“We’re not identifying kids early,” said Dr. Marti Baum, a pediatrician with Help Me Grow in the Inland Empire. Because of that, “they’re not getting services, and that means they’re already behind before they get started.”

That’s all, folks. Have a happy rest of your Monday; In California will be back in your inbox Tuesday with the latest headlines.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: abc7.com, Los Angeles Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle.


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