November 21, 2020 8:54am


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Volunteers pack boxes of food outside Second Harvest Food Bank in Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in Irvine, Calif. The boxes will be distributed to families in need on Thanksgiving Day at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. As COVID spreads and unemployment rates rise, food distribution centers see an increase in need for the holidays. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Heading into Thanksgiving weekend, things have never looked gloomier for Southern California.

A state and local stay-at-home order goes into effect late tonight, but exempts film and TV production workers. Still, many of those people are still without employment, dating from the spring shutdowns, and the already struggling ancillary businesses that support them are about to be damaged even more by another round of restrictions.

The bad news is enhanced unemployment benefits and other programs established with the CARES Act in March are going to expire by the end of the year. A study released this week says 12 million people will lose their federal and state unemployment Dec. 26.

There have been discussions since before election day on a new stimulus bill, and while at times it appeared partisan gaps were being narrowed, it appears unlikely that anything will materialize without a major shift in positions. The latest conclave was held Thursday, but reports indicate it was more about funding to avert a federal government shutdown on Dec. 11

A poll released earlier this week by Two Good Yogurt conducted by market research company OnePoll claims 4 in 10 Americans report that they experienced food insecurity for the first time during the pandemic. About half of the 2,000 people polled claim they have struggled to afford food, with 37% skipping meals to provide for their children. Area food banks report their resources, never truly flush, are being strained as more layoffs prompted by the next shutdown loom.

That makes the optics on California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recent maskless dinner at the pricey French Laundry restaurant and the decision this week by more than half dozen California lawmakers to attend an annual policy conference at a luxury Hawaiian resort even worse.