Topanga New Times, July 17, 2020

Welcome to the sixth issue of the Topanga New Times. We are excited to have new writers and four more pages of content in this issue, with features on camping during the coronavirus crisis, Topanga Renaissance man Chris Kelly, an exciting new Topanga-grown children’s show, and much more! We welcome our readers’ thoughts and ideas as we grow and evolve. E-mail us at hello@topanganewtimes.com

Los Angeles Unified School District campuses, including Topanga Elementary, will not reopen for classes on Aug. 18, despite pressure from the Trump Administration. LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced the decision on July 13, and described the move as “unavoidable.” Distance learning is expected to continue until the coronavirus threat decreases.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the news and cast a shadow over almost every aspect of life, as the number of COVID-19 cases grows at an alarming rate and California’s governor reverses course on reopening the state. 

The spike in cases has made it more difficult to get tested and is putting pressure on hospitals and frontline workers. While Los Angeles County hospitals are currently keeping up with demand for ICU beds, neighboring counties, including Ventura, are experiencing shortages. Cloth face coverings and social distancing requirements remain mandatory. 

While we struggle to adapt to this strange new normal, Topanga’s small businesses continue to work hard to safely keep the community supplied with the things we need during the pandemic. They need our support more than ever to stay in business. Restaurants across the state have once again been ordered to stop indoor food service, but takeout remains a lifeline for customers and restaurant owners.

Scammers are now finding ways to use pandemic fears to extort money. Public Health contact tracers, whose job is to find and notify individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19, will never ask for a Social Security number or bank account information, but scammers will. Medicare scams and bogus COVID-19 testing and treatment offers, including scammers purporting to be from the CDC, are also trending. The Federal Trade Commission has so far received 91,808 COVID-19-related reports, with 6,254 just in California. Learn more at www.ftc.gov.

The dog days of summer arrived early this year, with triple-digit heat in some parts of the Santa Monica Mountains. The heat, combined with coronavirus closures, is generating big crowds at beaches and trails. It’s a good idea to go early and leave before the hottest part of the day. The Los Angeles County Fire Department is reminding everyone to drink lots of water; wear light-colored, lightweight clothes; avoid midday activities; never leave children or animals in a parked car; and provide shade and water for pets and livestock.  

Hoping for a sign or a portent? Look at the western sky just after sunset for a glimpse of the newly discovered comet NEOWISE—named for the NASA space telescope that first detected it. Topanga stargazers are in luck: our dark skies are an aid to viewing the comet, which looks like a pale, fuzzy star to the naked eye. Binoculars or a camera are needed to fully reveal its long tail. This cosmic visitor is expected to reach its closest approach to Earth on July 22, before its orbit carries it back towards the outer solar system.