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News

A.M. Brief: California Hits Lowest Positivity Rate in Months

September 22, 2020 by Brian Champlin
Photo via LA County

Statewide, COVID-19 numbers are heading in the right direction, but we’re still eyeballing fallout from Labor Day gatherings. Also this morning: the LAPD is definitely watching you, the Bobcat Fire has taken out 29 structures, and a restraining order aims to prohibit the LASD from using rubber bullets. Finally, a word on Sizzler (yes, Sizzler). First, some news stuff.

Morning News Rundown

California’s seven-day average positivity rate for COVID-19 fell below 3% last week for the first time in months, and hospitals are treating the lowest number of coronavirus patients since April. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly is expected to provide an update today as to where individual counties stand on reopening tiers. Locally, officials are cautiously optimistic, though there was a slight uptick in positivity measured in L.A. County last week and officials are still concerned about an overall increase in transmission due to activity over the Labor Day holiday. Because positive tests tend to lag transmission events by two to three weeks, we should have a fuller picture by the end of the month. [KTLA]

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It’s no big secret that the Los Angeles Police Department has the technology to run facial recognition searches by comparing surveillance footage to database mug shots. However, department officials have downplayed their use of this tech over the last few years. According to new reporting by the L.A. Times, hundreds of officers have had access to the software and it has been used close to 30,000 times since 2009. [Business Insider]

The Bobcat Fire has burned 29 structures (mostly homes) and stands at 106,000 acres total with 17% containment. On Monday, unpredictable winds helped reignite flames up the northwest slope of the Mt. Wilson drainage, threatening the observatory. Thankfully, firefighters have so far prevented the blaze from reaching the historic landmark. [ABC 7]

Plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department are pushing for a restraining order to limit the department’s use force during protests. The petitioners say rubber bullets, tear gas, and other “non-lethal” weapons violate federal protections granted by the Constitution. A new report released Monday shows that nationwide, at least 115 people suffered head injuries during summer protests after being shot by such weapons. [KTLA]

Lori Laughlin’s prison of choice (yes, she got to choose where she will serve a two-month sentence for her part in Operation Varsity Blues) sounds just a little like summer camp, at least if you focus on the slew of leisure activities available onsite. According to the Inmate Handbook for Victorville Satellite Prison Camp, available classes/activities include pilates, step aerobics, circuit training, crochet, cartoon drawing, calligraphy, guitar, saxophone, and about a dozen more options. Also, don’t forget about brunch on weekends, which happens at 10 a.m., right after they finish their morning count. [LA Mag]

The Buffet Extinction Event

Has COVID-19 been the death knell of the buffet restaurant? Back in May, Souplantation announced it was closing all locations permanently, and now comes word that Sizzler is filing for bankruptcy. It likely means the shuttering of many of the franchise’s locations, though they’re hoping to survive the pandemic in at least some way.

I swear I’ve only been to a Sizzler maybe once in the past decade, but there’s something about those little fried corn balls in the salad bar section that takes me right back to being 10 years old. Like many children who grew up in the ’80s and early ’90s, going to Sizzler was actually a big deal and a preferred destination anytime we had extended family in town. Did anyone else’s grandmother wrap up cubes of pineapple and cantaloupe in paper napkins and then stuff them in her purse for tomorrow’s breakfast? Just me? Cool.

In any case, I hope Sizzler survives and I get to eat there at least one more time. Not because I have some nostalgic hankering, but because that would signify that the pandemic is behind us and people are allowed to once again rub shoulder to shoulder while piling mounds of chicken wings and overcooked pasta onto plates that can barely fit the load. A boy can dream, can’t he?


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