How to Navigate Covid in California Right Now

Tips for thinking about gatherings and travel as coronavirus cases surge.,

Tips for thinking about gatherings and travel as coronavirus cases surge.

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Grand Central Market in Los Angeles shortly after masks were mandated for indoor public settings earlier this month.Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

California is undeniably in the midst of yet another Covid-19 surge.

The number of people testing positive for the coronavirus across the state each day has more than tripled since the beginning of the month, according to The New York Times’s tracker. To blame is Omicron, the extraordinarily contagious variant that will most likely keep spreading at a rapid clip.

But how exactly to react to these rising numbers is more complicated than it has been in the past. While more Californians are catching the coronavirus, the number being admitted to hospitals with Covid-19 has increased only slightly, if at all, over the past several weeks.

The vaccines remain highly effective at preventing severe illness, and Omicron seems less likely than previous variants to make people sick enough to need hospital care. (Read more from my colleagues about the research on the severity of Omicron infection.)

This doesn’t mean we can forget about the pandemic altogether: Omicron is so contagious that it could infect so many people that even a small percentage needing hospitalization could strain our hospital systems. And for those who remain unvaccinated, the virus can still be deadly.

But vaccinated (and ideally, boosted) people perhaps don’t need to isolate themselves as strictly as they may have last winter. There’s some wiggle room this time around, though how much depends on your circumstances and risk tolerance.

When considering what feels comfortable, check the transmission levels and vaccination rates in your county, which you can find here about halfway down the page. For example, while Los Angeles County is logging about 74 new cases per 100,000 residents a day, the more vaccinated Santa Clara County is logging about 20.

Take into account the vaccination status of you and anyone you’ll come into contact with, your health status and how comfortable you feel catching the virus and being able to infect others, even if your symptoms are mild.

There are no universal answers, but here’s some further guidance:

Is it safe to have a New Year’s Eve party?A Times reporter asked experts this thorny question.

How to travel responsibly during the holidays amid the surge.The seasonal travel rush seems unstoppable, but you can take steps to mitigate the risks.

Federal officials shorten Covid-19 isolation period. The C.D.C. on Monday reduced the period that certain infected Americans must sequester.

What we know about Omicron.All your variant questions answered.

The latest coronavirus case map of the U.S.Indiana, Delaware, Michigan, Washington, D.C. — see where else hospitalization rates are high.

What are the symptoms of Omicron?There are subtle differences between the latest coronavirus strain and previous ones.

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Frank Gehry, who designed Walt Disney Hall, the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has now designed a new home for its youth orchestra program, YOLA.Credit…Rozette Rago for The New York Times

If you read one story, make it this

Once a Burger King, it’s now a concert hall.

What the architect Frank Gehry’s latest project reveals about a changing Inglewood.

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Elizabeth Holmes, center, with her partner, Billy Evans, and mother, Noel Holmes, leaving federal court in San Jose on Thursday.Credit…Nic Coury/Associated Press

The rest of the news

Theranos trial: The jury weighing fraud charges against the former Silicon Valley executive Elizabeth Holmes started its second week of deliberations Monday.

Covid: A Los Angeles Times reporter writes that the virus infected nearly 30 of her family members and killed her grandmother, “the heart of our family.” Read her touching story.

Breast milk: Mothers are memorializing their breastfeeding experiences with stones made from the liquid.

The future of privacy: How your DNA test could send a relative to jail.

Redistricting: The California Citizens Redistricting Commission defended new district maps, The Associated Press reports.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Los Angeles shooting: Body camera and surveillance footage shows a man attacking holiday shoppers before police officers opened fire, killing him and a 14-year-old girl.

10 Freeway: More than half a century after the freeway’s construction, Santa Monica will offer affordable housing to the predominantly Black community it displaced, The Los Angeles Times reports.

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Homeownership rates: The significant increase over the past decade in the number of Fresno residents who own homes is the third highest in the country, The Fresno Bee reports.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Winter storm: Whiteout conditions rendered roads impassable on Monday, shutting down major highways in Northern California.

Sacramento fireworks: The city’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are canceled because of a surge in coronavirus cases, The Sacramento Bee reports.

What you get

For $3.5 million each, three homes in California.

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Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

What we’re drinking

Trendy orange wines.

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Credit…Google Maps

Where we’re traveling

Today’s travel tip comes from Anne Perrigo, who recommends the A.K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands:

“Mission style, still (I hope!) housing a very fancy grandfather clock with an elaborate moon dial. I pretty much grew up in the children’s section and the whole building was fascinating, then as now, guessing early 1900s or thereabouts.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

What we’re reading

Our favorite house stories of 2021.

Tell us

How are you marking the start of the 2022? Are you making any New Year’s resolutions?

Share with us at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

And before you go, some good news

In 1942 in a small town in Germany, a Jewish family asked their non-Jewish neighbors to store a set of cherished porcelain dishes for them.

The family, the Feiners, were being deported by Nazis, and believed that one day they would return to retrieve the dishes. But the father, mother and daughter all died in concentration camps.

The German family entrusted with the plates and serving bowls, rimmed with gold leaf and in near perfect condition, treated them like precious heirlooms. They watched over them for nearly 80 years — until last month.

In June this year, the family located a descendant of the Feiners who was living in Oakland.

And in November, she and some of her relatives flew to Germany to retrieve the plates they didn’t even know existed, and to meet the people who had kept them safe.

This incredible story from J. The Jewish News of Northern California is worth reading all the way through.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Carpenter’s fastener (5 letters).

Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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