Essential California Week in Review: Mask mandates come off again

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, Feb. 12.

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

California will ease mask requirements. The state plans to lift its mandate for vaccinated people in indoor public places next week. Following the announcement, officials in most of the San Francisco Bay Area said they will lift local rules next week, but Los Angeles County officials are proceeding at a slower pace.

State lawmakers approve new COVID-19 sick pay. The legislation, passed Monday and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday, provides most workers with up to two weeks of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave, a move policymakers hope will slow the spread of the coronavirus across the state.

Single-payer healthcare effort is dead, but not gone. For decades, Democrats at the state Capitol have tried and failed to transition single-payer from a widely shared ideology to a policy. Then politics get in the way.

Oscar nominations are here. Hollywood soldiered on with one of its most hallowed traditions Tuesday morning, unveiling nominations for the 94th Academy Awards. Voters found plenty worth celebrating from the last year, especially on streaming services.

— Here’s the full list of nominees; see how they match up with our predictions.
— After two years of a pandemic, is it any wonder that family dominates the Oscar nods?
— There were surprises and there were snubs, including Lady Gaga and Alana Haim.

‘We no longer have a fire season. We have a fire year.’ Driven by unseasonable heat and gusty Santa Ana winds, two Southern California fires Thursday brought acrid smoke, evacuation orders and flaming fronts — harbingers of a difficult fire year for the parched region.

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Horrific allegations of racism prompt California lawsuit against Tesla. Black workers were subject to daily racist slurs at Tesla’s California plant, California’s civil rights agency said in a lawsuit filed against the company Thursday.

Football sent Inglewood home prices and rents skyrocketing. Inglewood was one of the most affordable places to buy a home in Los Angeles County. But after the Rams relocated there, some longtime Black and Latino residents have been priced out.

A tale of two Koreatowns. On the surface, Koreatown’s 6th Street appears to be thriving, with trendy restaurants, bars and big brands from South Korea. But at more traditional Korean restaurants, sharp revenue drops are the norm as older customers stay home.

Trevor Bauer will not face criminal charges. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced Tuesday it would not charge the Dodgers pitcher after reviewing a Pasadena police investigation into allegations of sexual assault. However, the decision doesn’t mean he is cleared to rejoin the team.

Your last-minute Super Bowl guide. We have the details on how to watch, gambling odds and more. Plus: here is the best guacamole you can buy, the best dips to make and a halftime show playlist.

ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

The cottage industry helping workers avoid vaccine mandates. Through public records requests, The Times amassed documents from four public employers that show just how complicated it can be to review vaccine exemption requests. They also shed light on the form letters, conservative legal groups and fee-based organizations that help people justify decisions to refuse vaccination.

How Jose Huizar’s lavish Las Vegas jaunts tripped alarms for the FBI. Dealers at the Palazzo kept close watch on billionaire developer Wei Huang and Huizar when they arrived in a room for high rollers. What they discovered triggered an FBI investigation that brought to light a sprawling corruption scandal at Los Angeles City Hall.

Is Texas the new Silicon Valley? For years, California has suffered a net outmigration of people to Texas. But the losses in population tended to be at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, and the state has grown steadily richer. What worries some economists and other analysts is that this favorable pattern may be starting to change as tech companies announce big moves.

Sign up for our L.A. on the Record newsletter to get the lowdown on L.A. politics in this pivotal election year.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Laura Blasey. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to

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