T-minus less than 36 hours to Turkey Day. Smaller Thanksgiving gatherings mean modest-sized birds have been flying off supermarket shelves. Did you get yours yet? If not, better head to the store stat — or get out your recipe book for leftovers to deal with those 20 pounds of meat.
Gobbling up all the news you need to know heading toward the holiday, I'm Julie Makinen, California editor for the USA Today Network.
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.
A very purple thanksgiving
More than 5,800 Californians will be spending Thanksgiving in the hospital battling COVID-19, including nearly 1,400 in intensive care. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly told residents Tuesday it is not too late to cancel Thanksgiving plans — and he's doing the same, foregoing the usual festivities with his mother.
“Our strategy is some short-term pain,” Ghaly said. “I explained to my son that we will miss Grandma’s great Thanksgiving cooking this year in favor of having her at the table for another 10 years.”
The state reported 15,329 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, nearing the highest total of new daily cases. On average over the past week, 12,532 new cases have been reported in California each day. The state's positivity rate increased from 3.7% on Nov. 10 to 5.6% Tuesday.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has risen 81% over the past two weeks while the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care units has increased 57% over that same time period. At least 175 hospitals have asked the state for staffing waivers, which allows for a more flexible nurse-to-patient ratio as demand increases.
More counties are moving backward in the state's reopening framework. Colusa, Del Norte, Humboldt and Lassen counties moved Tuesday from the red to purple tier; Calaveras moved from the orange to the red tier; and Alpine and Mariposa counties moved from the yellow tier back to the orange tier.
As of Tuesday, 45 counties are in the purple tier, the strictest level which requires indoor dining, gyms and movie theaters, among other businesses, to shut down. Eight counties are in the red tier, five are in the orange tier and zero remain in the yellow tier.
If that doesn't blow your mind, how about this? Researchers at Cal Poly may be the first researchers to document the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on songbird behavior. Their research, published in the journal Science this year, found that sparrows sang differently — about 30% quieter — during the pandemic compared to previous decades. Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle.
In L.A., no relief for restaurants on outdoor dining
Los Angeles County supervisors were mulling a stay-at-home order on Tuesday as the holiday approached. Not that there's much to do outside your home.
An L.A. Superior Court judge declined Tuesday morning to block a ban on outdoor dining from going into effect in the county, rejecting an 11th-hour plea by the state’s leading restaurant group, the L.A. Times reported. Outdoor dining across L.A. County is set to shut down Wednesday night amid a continuing surge in new cases of the coronavirus. The California Restaurant Association filed a lawsuit challenging the ban by county health officials and, as a first step, sought an emergency order from a judge halting the new rules from taking effect. But that's not going to happen now. The supervisors also rebuffed eateries that had sought a reversal.
If you are traveling to L.A., expect to do some paperwork. Travelers coming through Los Angeles International and Van Nuys airports and Union Station beginning Wednesday will be required to sign a form acknowledging California's recommended 14-day self-quarantine in response to rising coronavirus rates, City News Service reported.
Alternative Thanksgiving plans?
Wondering what it would be like to hunt your own wild turkey for Thanksgiving? The Redding Record Searchlight profiled some folks who are doing just that.
Maybe you want to skip Thanksgiving and go straight to Margaritaville? If you're near Palm Springs, you're in luck because a new Margaritaville Resort has opened in the former Rat Pack haven known as the Riviera Hotel. Check out the photos.
Or perhaps you'd like to hit the slopes. Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, the neighboring ski resorts in North Lake Tahoe, opened for the winter season Tuesday morning — but only to skiers and riders with season passes, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Just don't plan on a campfire. Dry and moderate Santa Ana winds will begin gusting across San Diego County on Thursday afternoon, raising the wildfire risk at about the time people are sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner, the San Diego Union Tribune reports.
Get a jump start on Black Friday with these holiday gift guides
Food lovers’ holiday gift guide: The San Francisco Chronicle has 19 ways to show off your great taste — in sparkling wine, virtual cooking classes and other local gifts — and support Bay Area businesses.
L.A. Weekly has a guide focused on food and home goods. And the Hollywood Reporter takes a look at 45 presents that put the focus on comfort, calm, care and much more, with many items giving back to good causes. Can you say jam from Chrissy Teigen, skin care from Pharrell Williams and yes, wine by Kyle MacLachlan?
Unemployment benefits for prisoners? More shame for the EDD
A group of state and federal prosecutors have been investigating fraud in the pandemic relief system administered by the state Employment Development Department, and what they found was rather embarrassing. The L.A. Times reports:
San Quentin inmate Scott Peterson, convicted of killing his wife and unborn son, received California unemployment benefits in recent months.
So did convicted serial killer Cary Stayner, who murdered two women and two girls near Yosemite in 1999 and now is jailed, near Peterson, on death row.
Also allegedly approved for an unemployment debit card: Isauro Aguirre, sentenced to death in 2018 for the torture and death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.
The nine district attorneys and a federal prosecutor called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to intervene to such stop unemployment swindling in California jails and prisons.
The DAs called the situation “the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds in California history,” according to a letter obtained by The Times, describing fraud that involves identity theft of prisoners as well as alleged scams by individual inmates and organized gangs to game the state system. “It is a manifest problem that cannot be ignored, and the governor needs to take steps to address it,” said McGregor Scott, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California.
Speaking of coronavirus and prisons... because of the pandemic, California jails and prisons have been releasing thousands of inmates. Many law enforcement officials have qualms about that. Now, a study by Tulare County District Attorney staff found half of the inmates released from jail following an emergency COVID-19 order by the California Judicial Council have re-offended.
Beyoncé: Biggest Grammy winner of all time?
And, last but not least. Beyoncé is the one to beat at the 63rd Grammy Awards, snagging an eye-popping nine nominations. The Recording Academy unveiled this year's nominees Tuesday via live stream.
The singer is up for record of the year for "Black Parade" as well as "Savage," her collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion. "Black Parade" also got a nod in the song of the year category. And "Brown Skin Girl" is a contender for best music video.
Beyoncé, who now has a lifetime 79 nominations and 24 wins, is the most-nominated female artist in Grammy history. She's tied with Paul McCartney for the second most-nominated artist of all time, trailing only her husband, Jay-Z (who received three nominations this year), and Quincy Jones – both with 80 career nominations.
If she takes home four gilded gramophones at the 2021 awards show in January, she'll become the female artist with the most Grammy wins. Eight trophies and she'll make history as the performer with the most Grammy wins of all time.
The awards will be presented Jan. 31 in Los Angeles.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: L.A. Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, Hollywood Reporter.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California goes purple tier for Thanksgiving and gift guides