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In California: Edison mulls shutoffs in SoCal, and L.A. COVID numbers are ‘alarming’

Winston Gieseke

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? I certainly am. Winston Gieseke here, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, and I can almost smell the turkey in the oven. But first, here are some of today’s headlines in this great state of ours. We’ll be taking a hiatus tomorrow — back Friday!

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.

Edison considers power shutoffs in SoCal as Thanksgiving winds forecast

Southern California Edison (SCE) has warned tens thousands of customers in  Southern California that it’s considering power shutoffs this week as fire weather returns to the region on Thanksgiving.

The National Weather Service says gusty, dry northeastern Santa Ana winds will kick up on Thursday and persist into Sunday. As a result, about 1.5% of the utility’s more than 5 million customers are being considered for power shutoffs on Thursday or Friday, according to SCE.

Outages would take place “as required to reduce the risk of wildfires and as needed to protect communities from that wildfire danger,” said public information officer Jeff Monford. “We understand these [public safety power shutoffs] are disruptive to our customers and communities, especially during the Thanksgiving holiday, and we are making every effort to reduce the number and length of our shutoff,” he said.

In October, strong Santa Ana winds fanned two wildfires that sent people fleeing suburbs southeast of Los Angeles, and last week, powerful winds associated with a winterlike front pushed flames that chased residents from the small Eastern Sierra community of Walker in Mono County and from a section of Reno, Nevada.

To find your if your area is under consideration for a power shutoff, visit

L.A. County faces ‘most alarming’ COVID metrics

There’s a saying in journalistic circles that one should never bury the lede. So, I’m going to be blunt and upfront: The coronavirus situation in Los Angeles County is bad.

County officials say they are facing the most harrowing numbers they’ve seen to date as COVID continues to spread through the state.

Daily infections in L.A. county have quadrupled in a matter of weeks, according to the Los Angeles Times, and daily deaths have tripled in what Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, has called “the most alarming metrics we’ve ever seen.”

“The risk at this point is that overwhelming the healthcare system is now a very real possibility,” she said Tuesday.

Coronavirus-based hospitalizations have more than doubled in just three weeks, from about 800 on Halloween to 1,700 on Monday. And approximately 7,500 L.A. County residents have succumbed to the coronavirus, more than double the flu-related deaths from last year’s cold and flu season.

Which is why …

California urges people to say ‘no’ to family Thanksgiving

This week, California’s health secretary implored people to halt Thanksgiving gatherings as a way to avoid spreading the coronavirus. “It’s not too late,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, in regards to canceling or limiting celebrations of the holiday.

“Statewide, I don’t believe we’ve ever seen as many hospital admissions increase like we did just in the past 24 hours,” Ghaly said.

The Los Angeles Times reports that 1 in 145 L.A. County residents can infect others with the coronavirus. That means that one out of every 145 people in the county is currently infectious, which is a huge jump from two months ago, when the rate was estimated at 1 in 880 Angelenos.

But it could be worse. In Colorado, it’s been reported that 1 in 41 people are currently infectious, while in Chicago it’s estimated that as many as 1 in 15 could be.

Buzz: Salesforce could buy Slack for $17 billion-plus

Salesforce, the San Francisco-based company that deals in marketing, sales, commerce, service and IT, is in talks to purchase messaging company Slack for more than $17 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports.

If the deal goes through, it would be the largest acquisition ever for Salesforce, which is San Francisco’s largest private employer with more than 9,000 local employees and approximately 49,000 total. (Slack had 2,431 total employees at the end of July.)

According to the article, “Slack’s workplace messaging software has over 12 million active daily users and over 119,000 paid customers. It allows colleagues and friends to post messages in groups or privately, call each other and share documents. Salesforce, which is best known for its software that manages sales, marketing and other aspects of a business’ customer relationships, has a product called Chatter which has not drawn as much notice.”

On Wednesday, Slack’s shares rose more than 37%, giving the company a market capitalization of $23.2 billion at the close of trading. Salesforce shares, meanwhile, were down about 5.3%.

‘Toy Story’ turns 25 this week

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the classic Pixar animated film “Toy Story,” and to mark the occasion, the San Francisco Chronicle has published an interesting article about its making and the evolution of Sheriff Woody (the character voiced by Tom Hanks). Who knew he started off with a more snarky and even sinister vibe?

Campaign aims to inform farmworkers about labor rights

A campaign is underway to inform farmworkers about their right to sick leave under state law.

“If you or someone close to you tests positive for COVID-19, you should be able to focus on your health and not worry about your paycheck,” blared a voice in English and Spanish from a truck as it pulled up to a field in the eastern Coachella Valley. “California and federal laws give you the right to paid time off, so you can stay home.”

The effort is part of a new, statewide campaign called Sembrando Prevención, or Harvesting Prevention, aimed at educating farmworkers about health, safety and labor rights amid the coronavirus pandemic, and connecting them with available resources.

“This is very personal,” said Luz Gallegos, director of TODEC Legal Center, a nonprofit organization supporting immigrants in the Inland Empire. “All of us within the organization, including myself, have lost loved ones, so this is why it’s so important to continue protecting our workers.”

As reported last week, farmworkers have been hard-hit by COVID-19. An estimated 15,700 workers had tested positive statewide as of mid-September. And while agricultural laborers, as essential workers, could be at the front of the line for a vaccine, that help could be weeks or months away.

Missing pug found in NorCal after six years

And lastly, in squishy, heartwarming news, a pug dog that went missing six years ago has been found safe in Northern California, the New York Post reports.

Chato the pug was located near Highway 99 in Davis, west of Sacramento. His former guardian (I’ve never been a fan of the term “pet owner”), Sandra Campos, said she never gave up hope that he would be found. “He was part of the family. He was part of me,” she said.

To make this story even more special, a good Samaritan has volunteered to drive Chato from the Front Street Animal Shelter in Sacramento to Campos’ home in New Mexico, a 17-hour journey. 

“I don’t have anything under my Christmas tree,” Campos told ABC10. “All I want is my dog under the tree.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Stay safe and informed. We will be back in your inbox Friday. 

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: New York Post, Wall Street Journal

Source : USA TODAY | World News

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