There are no signs caseloads are easing in California and across the Southwest. And as schools furiously debate reopening and how, a rumor swirls about whether vaccines are required (I hate to give away the end, but they're not. More on that later). Plus: Is singing in church a constitutional right? A Sutter County pastor says yes, even in a time of coronavirus.
It's Arlene with news to take you into the weekend.
But first, National Geographic asked engineers, physicists, psychologists and fashion designers whether a mask could be made that's both stylish and effective. Here's what they learned.
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Let's start with some top headlines:
In the murky water of Lake Piru in Ventura County, the search resumed Friday for the body of "Glee" actress Naya Rivera, 33, who disappeared while on a boat trip with her 4-year-old son. Authorities say there was no evidence of foul play.
People ages 25 to 44 comprise nearly 40% of coronavirus cases in Ventura County. One of them, 40-year-old Francisco Rodriguez, spent 12 days in the hospital: "I had to fight for my life."
A former (Mission Viejo) Saddleback College football player and Marine caught a toddler thrown off a balcony by his mother as a raging fire consumed their apartment. The boy survived; his mother did not.
A constitutional right to sing: A church in Sacramento County will be praising the Lord via song, no matter what the state says, its pastor says.
A growing number of voices are calling for the San Francisco Bay Area's numerous and disjointed transit systems to join together for efficiency, cost savings and to improve access.
A Fresno restaurant owner who kept his indoor dining open despite state orders to close it down last week took as much as $5 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program loans.
Southwest and South become global epicenters of the virus
America’s coronavirus epidemic is less a single war than a series of local or regional battles that have shifted across the country. Over the last month, it's landed on California and the rest of the Southwest and the South.
The virus is surging particularly where the weather is hot, contrary to claims made by President Donald Trump the heat would lessen the impact.
Some of the biggest new health threats are in the nation's most populous states. Texas went from 1,700 newly reported cases per day to 7,500 in four weeks.
And California leaped from 2,900 to 7,700 new daily case reports and patients from overwhelmed hospitals in SoCal are now sending patients to be treated near San Francisco.
See what's happened over the last four months, as mapped by USA Today.
The debate over whether masks are "tools of oppression" continues to gain speed, along with rates of new coronavirus cases.
Florida, Texas and Arizona are getting plenty of criticism for how they're managing the coronavirus pandemic. Why isn't California, where trends are similar to those states, getting the same attention? Is it because Gov. Gavin Newsom is a Democrat? (Opinion)
Talking about my education
Latino students are underrepresented at seven of nine undergraduate UC campuses; Black students are underrepresented at all nine, a new study by the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute found. In the fall, California voters will decide whether to repeal a ban on using race, ethnicity and gender in consideration in the college admissions process.
A Tulare County school district announces Friday it's ready to welcome back students in person five days a week. An Oxnard district gears up to host students on average one day per week.
Fact-check: Schools will require a COVID-19 vaccine. No and there isn't one yet either so...
Amid deadly outbreaks, state prepares to release thousands of inmates
Up to 8,000 currently incarcerated people could be released by the end of August, the state's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Friday.
Activists have repeatedly called on the governor to address the outbreak at San Quentin prison, where more than 200 staff and more than 1,300 prisoners have active cases, and at least six inmates have died.
"Too many people are incarcerated for too long in facilities that spread poor health," Jay Jordan, Executive Director of Californians for Safety and Justice, said in a press release. "Supporting the health and safety of all Californians means releasing people unnecessarily incarcerated and transforming our justice system."
Since the start of the pandemic, the state has released about 10,000 people, according to the state's Department of Corrections. Many are being let out by having their sentences reduced by three to six months.
A heat advisory, why Indians is staying on as a nickname and Palm Springs, where did you go?
The heat is on in the desert, where an advisory warns temperatures could reach 120 degrees.
With the full support of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians who for generations have called the land home, the Palm Springs High Indians' nickname will remain.
Andy Samberg's latest movie, "Palm Springs" is good and all, but where's the Palm Springs? (Review)
I'll leave you this week with this little round-up of "Hamilton" parodies. Obviously Weird Al Yankovic is there. See you Monday.
In California brings you top news and analysis from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: Bloomberg News, Fresno Bee, CityLab, National Geographic
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: California, church rights, masks, Naya Rivera, vaccines: Friday news