Over the past couple of weeks, amid the continuing roller coaster ride that is the vaccine distribution, not to mention some intense winter weather, California has also been taking some of its biggest strides toward reopening.
Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have fallen significantly, and state officials pointed to data suggesting those trends are likely to continue as they explained their abrupt announcement last week that the state was lifting its stringent regional stay-at-home orders.
[Track coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths across California.]
California’s average positivity rate over the last two weeks is 6.9 percent, after peaking at 14 percent on Jan. 8. Intensive care units, according to state models, are expected to have much more capacity by the beginning of March. Health care workers, nursing home residents and others who are at significant risk of getting seriously sick from Covid-19 are getting vaccinated, even if it’s not at the rate we want.
Still, state officials have warned repeatedly that we’re not out of the woods yet and they’ve urged Californians not to let their guard down on Super Bowl Sunday. There are also those virus variants, which are cause for concern.
Nevertheless, outdoor dining has resumed, there’s no longer a total ban on gathering, people can get haircuts indoors, and some schools have welcomed students back to classrooms.
So here are some scenes from what we can all hope will be the last reopening.
[If you missed it, here’s what to know about the process this time.]
Here’s what else to know today
Who’s been arrested in the Capitol riot? Here’s an interactive breakdown showing who’s been arrested and what they’ve been charged with. The authorities say they include a web developer from San Francisco with possible ties to the Proud Boys and an architectural designer from Arbuckle who voiced a clear affiliation with QAnon. [The New York Times]
The House voted to strip Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia congresswoman, of her committee assignments after she endorsed the execution of Democrats and spread dangerous and bigoted misinformation. It was an extraordinary step, with two top Californians — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Kevin McCarthy — on each side. [The New York Times]
The state’s employment agency and Bank of America made millions on unemployment debit card fees — while workers still missing money struggled to survive. [CalMatters]
Read more about the problems and delays plaguing the Employment Development Department. [The New York Times]
“They’re basically telling us ‘you’re fired.’” Amazon warehouses are quietly transitioning workers to a 10-hour graveyard shift, from 1:20 a.m. to 11:50 a.m., known as “the megacycle.” [Vice]
Amazon is also set to pay $61.7 million to Flex drivers to settle a Federal Trade Commission investigation into its withholding of driver tips. [The Los Angeles Times]
If you missed it, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and sometimes the world’s richest person, announced he would hand over the reins of the company to the chief executive of Amazon’s cloud computing division. [The New York Times]
Complications are plaguing the aftermath of Pacific Gas & Electric’s bankruptcy. Survivors of the fires that the utility caused are racing against time to be compensated. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
Distress over climate change is increasing. But so are formal and informal supports for that anxiety. [The New York Times]
Yosemite National Park finally reopened this week, after it closed in the wake of what conservationists said was the most devastating storm there in more than two decades. [The New York Times]
Hollywood is everywhere, everywhere is Hollywood
“Yes, she made mistakes. But the same could be said about any guy in Hollywood.” Read this obituary for Jamie Tarses, an ABC executive whose spectacular rise was brought down by corporate dysfunction, unvarnished sexism, weaponized gossip and self-sabotage. [The New York Times]
Facing a disciplinary hearing over his role in inciting an attack on the Capitol, former President Donald J. Trump resigned from the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in a grievance-filled letter. The union’s national executive director responded with two words: “Thank you.” [The New York Times]
Chadwick Boseman, who died in August, made SAG Awards history on Thursday when he became the first person ever to receive four nominations in a single year in the film categories. [The Los Angeles Times]
See all the SAG Award nominations, including major recognition for “Minari,” a story about a Korean-American immigrant family that moves from Los Angeles to rural Arkansas. [The New York Times]
Read a profile of Steven Yeun, the film’s star. [The New York Times Magazine]
“Of course fancy wine is about status. Fancy everything is about status.” The wine critic Esther Mobley says Twitter was asking all the wrong questions about Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s $13,000 bottle of wine. The only one that matters is: Which wine was it? [The San Francisco Chronicle]
And finally …
But this month also involves repeating the stories of many of the same, almost mythical figures who single-handedly faced danger and oppressive forces to succeed.
“This is the way we tell history in the American public sphere,” the Princeton professor and author Imani Perry wrote for The Times, as part of a series, “Black History, Continued.”
That approach, she wrote, can obscure the contributions of lesser known figures and movements, made up of lots of people, that build real change. Instead, Dr. Perry contends that it’s time to reconsider not just how we think about Black heroes, but also how we should celebrate heroism going forward.
She quoted Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, who told NPR in 2015: “We’re not following an individual, right? This is a leader-full movement.”
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, graduated from 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.