The 4th of July events still happening in SoCal this year


FROM THE LA TIMES: NOTE-Many 4th of July events are now being canceled, or are expected to be canceled, due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases: Check websites, and social media before you head out so you’re not disappointed. And don’t forget your mask.

For fans of fireworks shows, this Fourth of July will feel like a rather subdued affair. Many traditional events in Southern California have been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. Below, THE LA TIMES has compiled a list events that are still on as well as virtual events you can safely enjoy from home.

Outdoor Fourth of July events

Note that the Santa Clarita 2020 Spirit of America Fireworks Spectacular and the Rancho Cucamonga Community Fireworks Show, which had earlier been billed as some of the few outdoor fireworks shows in the area this year, have been canceled.

Avalon’s 4th of July Celebration. If you can make it out to Catalina Island, the city of Avalon is hosting a celebration on July 4. The day begins at 10 a.m. and activities are planned until 9 p.m.

A Front Yard 4th of July in Huntington Beach. This year’s parade will tour neighborhoods throughout Huntington Beach. The city also is hosting a home-decorating contest.

Drive-In Movie at the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl will screen drive-in-style movies on weekends this summer starting July 2. Tickets are per vehicle, and parking spots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. A full list of films and times is available on the website.

Fourth of July Extravaganza at Vitello’s. Alfresco dining in the Vitello’s parking lot in Studio City, 7 p.m. on July 4.

Virtual Fourth of July events

Grand Park + the Music Center 4th of July Block Party. Performances and more on Grand Park’s streaming platforms. July 4th (time TBA).

Fontana’s 4th of July Virtual Celebration. The city has taken the most memorable snippets of previous Fontana fireworks shows and compiled them into one show. The virtual watch party begins at 5 p.m. on local TV channels, the city website, YouTube or Facebook. The city also is hosting a recipe contest.

2020 RunnerMania Virtual Running Festival. The virtual festival has a 5K race, a half marathon and a 24-hour ultra marathon, which involves completing as many miles as possible over 24 hours. Participants competing in the 5K and the half marathon are expected to complete their distance over the weekend starting July 3 and ending July 5. (This relies on the honor system: You self-report your mileage and time.) Registration required.

Monterey Park Virtual Celebration. Decorate your home for Fourth of July and submit pictures. Photos will be included on the city website and shared on social media.

Feels Like Summer by DJ Illanoise. An immersive audiovisual livestream with a theme of “summer in Los Angeles” by DJ Illanoise, an L.A.-based DJ and podcast producer. Organizers said they are streaming all day on July 4. Tickets are $10. Net proceeds benefit Los Angeles food banks.

This New Credit Score Could Help More Home Buyers Receive Mortgages

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FROM REALTOR.COM:  With the U.S. mired in a recession and unemployment at its highest level since the Great Depression, many lenders have turned off the credit spigot for all but the most qualified borrowers. So despite record-low mortgage interest rates, many would-be home buyers have been left frustrated.

A new credit index released by Fair Isaac Corp. this week could change that, potentially making it easier for borrowers to score a loan. The company also produces the widely used FICO credit score.

The FICO Resilience Index is intended to help lenders assess the ability of a borrower to withstand an economic downturn—even those with lower credit scores. It was designed to encourage lenders to continue making loans without raising minimum credit score requirements and other criteria. Lenders can use the score produced by the Resilience Index in addition to the regular FICO score.

“Our hope is that it will allow lenders to continue to be able to make prudent loans,” says Joanne Gaskin, vice president of scores and analytics at FICO. “Lenders are going to feel more comfortable continuing to approve borrowers rather than denying” them.

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During the last recession, millions of consumers with lower credit scores still met their financial obligations, according to the company.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” says Senior Economist George Ratiu. “Just one number, the traditional FICO score, shouldn’t be the sole metric in determining a borrower’s ability to repay a loan.”

Lenders are a bit skittish given the economic climate. Credit scores do not reflect whether homeowners are receiving mortgage forbearance because of pandemic-induced hardship.

“For a lot of lenders in the current environment, the FICO score is not a clear indicator of a consumer’s current financial health,” says Ratiu.

The new FICO score could relieve some of their concerns. It will place less weight on missed payments and more emphasis on lower account balances and credit utilization, says Gaskin. It does not factor in how much money someone has stashed in their savings account.

“It makes sense that these are consumers who have a cushion going into an economic downturn,” says Gaskin.

But the new scores may not benefit everyone equally—which could be especially hard on people of color, says Stephen Ross, an economics professor at the University of Connecticut. He is also co-author of “The Color of Credit: Mortgage Discrimination, Research Methodology, and Fair-Lending Enforcement.”

“It will certainly change who gets loans in a recession,” says Ross. “We know minority borrowers tend to have bigger income losses and more periods of unemployment during economic downturns.”


What Home Buyers and Sellers Can Expect in 2020, as Pandemic Revises Forecast

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FROM REALTOR.COM: There are so many ways in which 2020 is not turning out the way most Americans expected. In terms of real estate, we were hurtling toward a busy spring season. All the economic indicators looked strong, boosting buyers to battle it out for a limited supply of homes. But then the coronavirus pandemic swept across the nation, upending those expectations and forcing us to reassess the year ahead.

Home sales have fallen and real estate listings dissipated as the COVID-19 pandemic made many buyers and sellers think twice about buying, selling, and potentially even moving with a deadly and highly contagious virus on the loose. But home sales will rebound in the late summer and fall, driven by millennials eager to own a home of their own, according to a revised forecast for 2020 by®’s economists.

Markets in smaller, more affordable cities and surrounding suburbs could be particularly brisk as folks reevaluate the appeal of big-city life during a pandemic. But also predicts the housing market will experience a second round of pain in the form of another downturn toward the end of the year.

“COVID-19 has really dramatically changed the way the housing market is going to perform this year,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “We started off with the potential for the best year in more than a decade for sales. But we’re going to see ups and downs as the market grapples with an unsteady economy. This will affect buyers and sellers across the board.”

Sales of existing homes are expected to drop about 15% in 2020 compared with the previous year. is anticipating 4.5 million sales this year, compared with 5.34 million last year. The company’s economic team had originally forecast, late last year, that 5.25 million sales would take place in 2020.

While many cash-strapped buyers have eagerly anticipated prices falling, triggering a real estate bonanza similar to the Great Recession, that’s not likely to happen this time around. That’s because the number of homes on the market has fallen, by about 45% in April, and so has demand from buyers. There’s no glut of for-sale homes driving prices down.

“Sellers don’t like to reduce their prices. So they decide not to sell,” says Hale. Instead, they just pull their homes off the market.

The median price for an existing home is expected to hold steady, rising by just 1.1% in 2020 over the previous year.

“Were it not for COVID-19, we probably would’ve seen prices rise in the 2% to 4% range,” says Hale. That’s because even before the pandemic, available housing fell well short of demand, pushing prices up.

Buyers shouldn’t despair. Record-low mortgage interest rates will offset some of the slightly higher prices. Rates are expected to be around 3.2% this year, down from nearly 4% last year. And they could even fall into the 2% range later in 2020, amid further financial uncertainty.

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The problem is, buyers may have a harder time snagging those low mortgage rates. Lenders are requiring higher credit scores and down payments, in some cases, as the nation grapples with unemployment rates that are likely in the 20%-plus range.

Another downside for buyers is that home construction is expected to slow, exacerbating the housing shortage. Housing starts, or the number of homes on which construction has begun, are expected to drop by 11% this year. Before the pandemic stalled construction sites in certain states, had expected starts to jump by 10% in 2020.

Where buyers go shopping could also shift in the wake of the coronavirus. Those cooped up in small apartments in pricey cities may seek out smaller cities and suburbs where they can get more square footage and a backyard for less money. And with unemployment as bad as it’s been since the Great Depression, buyers may also seek out these areas for their lower prices.

“The experience of being at home for a long period of time has everyone rethinking their priorities,” says Hale. “People are recognizing space is more important, so they’re looking for more affordable areas where they can have more space at the same price.”


3 Coronavirus Facts Americans Must Know Before Returning To Work, School


By Robert Pearl, M.D. for FORBES: 

We can’t un-bungle our nation’s COVID-19 response. Political leaders acted too slowly, health agencies committed unforced errors with testing kits and, amid the confusion, an information fog settled over the land. 
Americans remain afraid, perplexed and chronically misinformed (despite wall-to-wall coronavirus coverage across the leading cable-news programs and print publications).  
To counter the uncertainty, any plan to get us out of the coronavirus crisis must first acknowledge and broadly communicate three immutable, scientific facts.

Fact 1: Staying home saves lives but it doesn’t kill the virus

Weeks of social distancing and self-isolation in the United States have made us all safer. These precautions slowed the spread of COVID-19, thus helping to “flatten the curve.” Doing so buys hospitals and critical care centers enough time to staff up and stock diagnostic tests, protective gear and ventilators. 

However, it’s imperative that Americans understand these measures do not eliminate the virus. By staying home (and six feet apart from each other), we did not (and cannot) outlast our opponent.

Whenever we return to our jobs, schools and community gatherings—be it this spring, summer or fall—infections will rise. It’s not a prediction. It’s a biological fact. 

To avoid overwhelming critical care services, local reopening strategies must keep a multitude of safety precautions in place, especially those meant to protect the most vulnerable populations. The elderly—and those with chronic illnesses like heart and lung disease—remain at highest risk and therefore must continue to shelter in place. As such, local governments should provide them with food, housing and safe transport as needed. 

Fact 2: We’re in this for the long-haul 

There’s a bitter paradox brewing in the United States. The spread of COVID-19 has been, and still is, largely predictable based on objective and publicly available data. Yet most people—including Wall Street investorsgovernors and sports-starved fans—seem unable to comprehend the mathematical realities of a virus that spreads exponentially. 

As federal and state officials hammer out plans to reopen the economy, our nation must accept the unfortunate truth that every path forward is booby-trapped. 
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The coronavirus will persist until there is either (a) a safe vaccine (still 12 to 18 months away) or (b) until there is “herd immunity,” whereby two-thirds of the nation (about 200 million people) must become infected, recover and develop the appropriate antibodies. This, too, will take at least a year. 

A theoretical third option, which involves aggressively testing and quarantining all infected individuals, no longer applies. In the United States, that ship sailed in back February when the number of cases soared into the tens of thousands with no way of tracking carriers and their recent contacts. At this point, too many people are infected and too many of the infected show no symptoms, making it impossible to rid the virus through containment.

So, what options do we have? Trump recently announced he is “authorizing each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening, and a very powerful reopening, plan of their state.”

This is a dangerous tightrope to walk at the state level. Governors must ensure they don’t ease restrictions too quickly or too slowly.

Reports of increased mental health crises, domestic violence incidents and suicides demonstrate the urgency of getting people out of their houses and back to their normal lives. At the same time, the Spanish Flu of 1918 reminds us that the “second wave” of a virus can prove just as deadly as the first.  

Medical requirements for reopening the country must therefore include: 

  • Limiting exposure, likely for a year. Restaurants and shops should reopen only under three conditions: (1) community hospitals have additional capacity to handle an uptick in demand, (2) all local businesses agree to restrict indoor capacity based on the six-foot rule, and (3) all staff wear masks. 
  • Making tests free and convenient. Testing for COVID-19 requires the insertion a 6-inch long swab into the back of the nasal passage through one nostril and rotating the swab several times for 15 seconds. It’s a painful process, which is why Americans won’t consent to a reopening strategy that involves daily tests. Nevertheless, local governments need to make testing available at no cost to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. Those who are confirmed should immediately self-quarantine.
  • Helping health officials. In parallel to molecular testing for the disease, our nation must ramp up serological testing, which can identify those that were infected, have since recovered and developed antibodies—thus telling health officials how close we are to herd immunity.  

Fact 3: Our nation is ignoring the most important metric 

Every day, cable-news chyrons display the latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. These figures are eye-popping, but they tell us very little about the relative safety of reopening the country.

That’s why it’s important for all Americans to acquaint themselves with a different, more-informative metric. 

R0 (pronounced “R naught”) is a number that indicates the contagiousness of an infectious disease like COVID-19. Specifically, it tells us the average number of unvaccinated (or otherwise vulnerable) people who will contract a disease from one contagious individual. 

For example, measles has an R0 of 12 to 18, which means that one infected person will transmit the virus to as many as 18 unprotected people. The R0 for HIV is 4.0 and the seasonal flu is 1.2. 

Early data suggests the R0 of COVID-19 is between 2.5 and 3.0. However, the actual number depends not only on the biology of the disease but on the actions people take. 

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For example, when people observe social distancing and adhere to rigid shelter-in-place measures, the number drops. In the UK, where strict lockdown protocols and frequent testing are in place, the R0 is low (currently estimated to be 0.62). Conversely, the R0 value grows much higher in densely packed conditions including sports arenas, large conferences and events like Mardi Gras.

As explained here, the R0 value shows the potential transmissibility of the disease, and its careful monitoring constitutes both the safest and fastest way for the United States to implement a reopening strategy:

  • If R0 is less than 1.0, each infected person transmits the virus to less than one other individual. As a result, the disease incidence will decline and the virus will slowly die out.
  • If R0 equals 1.0, each infected person will transmit the virus to one other individual. As a result, the infection rate will remain constant (though the curve will be flat) and there won’t be a future spike (or second wave). 
  • If R0 is more than 1.0, each infected person will pass the virus onto more than one individual. As such, the number of infected people will rise and the number of individuals needing critical care can quickly surge.  

If we want Americans to better understand the relative safety and preparedness of local and regional “reopening” plans, we must base our decisions on this important number. 

Facts Save Lives

About 90% of the country has been on some form of lockdown order for several weeks now. People are losing patience. As our nation eagerly eyes the future, we must let science inform our decisions about reopening small businesses, allowing students to return to class and easing social restrictions.

If we move ahead too quickly, we risk losing lives unnecessarily. If we move too slowly, we also risk unnecessary deaths. We can’t allow politics or panic to push our nation too far in either direction. These three facts, based on science, should guide the way.


Photo by camilo jimenez on Unsplash
Photo by 
Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash



Nightly Applause Brings Angelenos to Their Windows and Balconies


FROM CURBED LA: Downtown LA’s normally busy streets have been eerily quiet over the last few months. Lately though, its buildings have come briefly to life.

That’s when residents open windows and step out onto apartment balconies to join in a round of applause for healthcare workers fighting to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It’s a ritual that’s spreading quickly through neighborhoods in and around Los Angeles—from Long Beach to Silver Lake.

Nightly cheering, clapping, and singing helped residents of Wuhan, China weather a long lockdown when the virus broke out there. The practice has been taken up in cities around the world, and formalized as a salute to frontline medical staff.

Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council president Patti Berman says members of the neighborhood council were inspired by cheering taking place in New York and worked to get a similar ritual started in the Downtown area.

“There are so many people working at their own peril right now,” she says. “The least we can do is say thank you.”

Through emails and social media posts, coordinated by outreach chair Marcus Lovingood, the neighborhood council last week began encouraging people to clap every night during the month of April. Berman says her apartment doesn’t have windows to the street, so she can’t participate in the applause, but she’s been encouraged by videos of cheers circulating on social media.

“It’s gotten pretty loud,” she says.

South Park resident Sara Eastwood has lived in her one-bedroom apartment for two years. She says the 8 p.m. applause has brought out neighbors she’s never noticed.

“It’s built more of a sense of community here,” she says. “A lot of people say that’s lacking in Downtown LA. It seems like a dense neighborhood at times, but it’s pretty quiet [in South Park] most of the time.”

For more than a week, the Wilshire Grand, its hotel rooms darkened, has been displaying its own tribute—an enormous digital display that reads “thank you medical workers.”

Eastwood says these tributes are nice, but that she wishes some of the positive energy could be directed toward ensuring better pay and benefits for non-medical workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

“This sort of misses the custodians, grocery workers, and lower paid workers who are essential right now,” she says.

Berman says the nightly cheering is a small gesture, but that it’s a clear and easy way for people to feel like they are supporting their community at a time when public officials are urging most people to simply stay at home. It can also be therapeutic.

“There’s nothing like opening the window and yelling,” she says.

Written by Elijah Chilland for CURBED LA

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