Your No-Panic Guide To LA Life, And The New (And Changing) Coronavirus Rules

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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UPDATED: May 27, 2020

Life in L.A. has been fundamentally changed. And it keeps changing. After months of shut downs, lost work, and stay-at-home orders, things are reopening in fits and starts.

We're currently in "Phase 2" of Gov. Gavin Newsom's plan, which rests on six key metrics, with stages and phases. L.A. County has a recovery plan too. That one's structured in steps and batches. And L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti also has a plan. His is built around five pillars. If that sounds confusing, that's because it is.

We asked Garcetti how Angelenos should evaluate risk as more of L.A. opens. He said people have to make their own assessments about the risks they want to take, adding:

"I think it's okay to take a step forward, but don't dash forward."

The guide below is everything we know so far about the coronavirus in L.A. We've been publishing this resource since January, and it reflects reporting from every corner of our newsroom and beyond. It's also a reflection of the 2,600 questions you've asked and we answered. Keep asking.

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WHAT'S INSIDE THE GUIDE

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Timeline | Reopening L.A. | Officials and Orders | About the Virus | COVID-19 and MIS-C Symptoms, Testing, Treatment | Masks and Sanitizers | Food Help and Food Safety | Daily Life | Is Nature Closed? | Enforcement | Rent, Loans, Unemployment | Other Kinds of Help | Hospitals | Schools | City and County Operations | Homelessness | More Q&A | Ask A Question |

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THE TIMELINE

On January 30, a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern" was declared by the World Health Organization over an outbreak of a new, deadly, novel coronavirus which began in Wuhan City, China.

On February 11, WHO announced "COVID-19" as the name of he disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is an abbreviation of "coronavirus disease 2019."

On March 4, L.A. County declared a local and public emergency, and Gov. Gavin Newsom made the call to declare an emergency for the state of California the same day.

On March 11, WHO made it official: COVID-19 is a pandemic.

On March 19, California, the nation's most populous state, ordered its nearly 40 million residents to stay home and practice social distancing (with some exceptions).

On March 26, the United States surpassed China as the country with highest total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world.

On April 11, the U.S. became the nation with the most confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

As of May 27, the U.S. still has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, and our local numbers were still rising.

The global total is now more than 351,000 deaths and over 5,600,000 confirmed cases. The local total is now more than 2,140 deaths and over 47,800 confirmed cases.

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WHAT'S REOPENING IN L.A.


A FEW KEY DETAILS BEFORE YOU HEAD OUT


Stay-at-home orders for L.A. County will extend into the summer. Restrictions will be "gradually relaxed" along the way. There is no specific end date. Here is the revised Health Officer Order from May 26.

Face coverings are still mandatory in L.A. County. You are required to wear one when you're out of your home and interacting with people you don't live with — even outdoors, and even in nature. If no one is around, keep a face covering in your pocket in case other humans appear. For the runners out there, put one on when passing. The idea with cloth masks is to stop the virus from getting out, not in.


REOPENING DATES / WHAT'S ALLOWED IN L.A.


May 8: Some retail shops in L.A. County were allowed to reopen, with restrictions.

May 9: Some hiking trails and golf courses in L.A. County were allowed to reopen, with restrictions.

May 13: More retail shops and manufacturing businesses in L.A. County were allowed to reopen, with restrictions.

May 13: The beaches in L.A. County were allowed to reopen, with restrictions.

May 13: Tennis courts, archery ranges, equestrian centers, community gardens and other select recreational facilities in L.A. County were allowed to reopen, with restrictions.

May 16: Angeles National Forest trails reopened, with restrictions.

May 16: Descanso Gardens reopened, with restrictions.

May 19: Pet grooming/training/retail/mobile businesses and services in L.A. County were allowed to reopen, with restrictions.

May 19: Car washes in L.A. County were allowed to resume operations, with restrictions.

May 22: Beach bike paths and parking lots in L.A. County were allowed to reopen, with restrictions.

May 22: Graduation car parades and curbside pickup at indoor malls were allowed in L.A. County.

May 26: Runyon Canyon was allowed to reopen as a one-way hiking loop, with restrictions.

May 27: In-store shopping, houses of worship, flea markets, drive-in theaters, and pools at multi-unit residences are allowed to reopen in L.A. County, with restrictions.

May 31: City recreation zones along the L.A. River (ie: parks and walking paths) will be allowed to reopen, with restrictions.

Ongoing: Joshua Tree National Park, some California state parks, various campgrounds, and other natural spaces are reopened, with restrictions.


THE SPECIFICS


On May 8, some L.A. County businesses were allowed to reopen for curbside pick-up only. The official requirements for reopening were released by the county. L.A. city also released guidance about the changes business owners have to make to "prepare and effectively manage the safety of employees and customers." Face coverings and physical distancing were required.

Stores approved to reopen during this wave included:

  • Florists
  • Toy stores
  • Music stores
  • Bookstores
  • Clothing stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Car dealerships
  • Some individual cities, like Long Beach, listed additional shops and activities

L.A.'s city and county hiking trails and golf courses reopened to the public on May 9. Runyon Canyon remained closed. Griffith Observatory remained closed. Golf courses were reservation only, one person per golf cart, and foam fillers were added to every hole so players wouldn't have to touch the flag. Masks and distance were still in effect there too

L.A. County beaches and City of L.A. beaches reopened on May 13 for "active" use. No biking, sitting, sunning, gathering, piers, boardwalks, or parking. Masks and distancing required. Yes, even at the beach.

Select recreational facilities were also allowed to reopen, with limitations, under the revised Health Order, including:

  • Tennis courts (reopening protocols)
  • Pickleball courts (reopening protocols)
  • Shooting ranges
  • Archery ranges
  • Golf courses
  • Equestrian centers
  • Model airplane areas
  • Community gardens
  • Bike parks

Additional businesses were greenlit in the May 13 update as well, provided they also complied with health department protocols. This batch of shops includes retailers that allow doorside pickup (but not ones in indoor shopping centers or malls), and manufacturing/logistic businesses that supply lower risk retail businesses.

The public was still not allowed in retail businesses.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said on May 18 that California counties were allowed to move deeper into the second stage of reopening, but to move at their own pace. He acknowledged that L.A. County is a hotspot and would likely take longer. He said statewide announcements (which may not immediately apply to us) are expected soon for:

  • In-store retail (not just curbside pickup)
  • Getting a haircut
  • Churches (within weeks, not months)
  • Sporting events without spectators in the first week of June
  • Other parts of the economy

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on May 19 that pet grooming and training retail businesses and mobile services were allowed to operate, effective immediately. Customers will be able to drop off and pick up their pets outside the store (or home if a mobile service). Car washes were also allowed to resume operations.

Some beach bike paths and parking lots run by L.A. County — and some run by the City of L.A — reopened on May 22. Parking lots at Cabrillo and Venice beaches, Dockweiler State Beach, Will Rogers State Beach, Zuma Beach, and Surfrider Beach were included.

Graduation car parades and curbside pickup at indoor malls were also given the green light.

All businesses must follow the county's retail protocols for safe operations. People must follow the face mask and distancing protocols. And vehicle parades have their own exhaustive set of rules.

Restaurants have also received guidance from the state about how to reopen dining rooms when their time comes. It includes options for front-of-house and back-of-house changes that authorities can choose from. Many of the rules will be set at the county and local level.

Some L.A. County officials have targeted July 4 for a full or staged reopening of retail, restaurants, and malls. However, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the county has yet to qualify to move further into the second stage of reopening businesses, as defined by the state.

There are a variety of metrics counties need to hit to move forward, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. These include:

  • No more than a 5% increase in hospitalizations over seven days
  • And EITHER less than 25 coronavirus positives per 100,000 residents
  • OR less than 8% positive tests

The state said on May 20 that it was close to releasing guidelines for resuming film, television and commercial production. The expected release date was later pushed as Newsom said the state was working more formally with the film industry.

We asked Garcetti at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend how Angelenos should evaluate risk as things reopen.

He said: "We've never been fully closed," and we should get comfortable living in a "gray area" between being open and closed for a while. People will need to make their own individual assessments of the risks they want to take by going out, he added.

"I think it's okay to take a step forward, but don't dash forward. Don't go crazy and stay out all weekend."

On Memorial Day, the California Department of Public Health announced that churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship had permission to reopen statewide. In-store retail was also approved to reopen, with restrictions.

But the changes were subject to approval by each county's public health department. And we were not there yet. The changes did not immediately apply to L.A. County.

A few days later, Newsom announced that some counties with approved "variances" could skip ahead and reopen barbershops and hair salons instead of waiting for a statewide greenlight. Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside counties had been approved for those variances. But not L.A.

L.A. County started looking into variances on a city-by-city basis, which Newsom said he was open to considering, given L.A.'s size. However, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, which was divided on the city-by-city idea, voted to apply to the state for a variance that would be countywide.

On May 26, L.A.'s Health Officer Order was amended again, and the county moved toward "sweeping new standards for swift and safe reopening," that aligned with state regulations.

All retail stores in Los Angeles that show they have adopted the county's safety protocols were given permission to begin in-person shopping at 50% capacity on May 27. That included shops at indoor and outdoor retail centers. That did not include personal services like barbershops and hair and nail salons.

For businesses that want to reopen, there's a kit to download with the official process.

Houses of worship were also permitted under the new rules to reopen, but could not exceed 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever was smaller. Flea markets, swap meets and drive-in movie theaters could also resume operations. Pools, hot tubs and saunas in a multi-unit residence (or part of a homeowners association) were also allowed to open.

Physical distancing and cloth face coverings were required.

Also on May 26, Runyon Canyon, which initially remained closed, was allowed to reopen. "Counters are in place to help manage overcrowding and the trail will only be open for hiking as a one-way loop," according to a tweet from the City of L.A.

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WHAT DOES THE CDC SAY ABOUT REOPENING?

On May 14, the CDC released its revised reopening guidelines for U.S. institutions.

The White House task force dismissed earlier drafts from the nation's health protection agency for being too "prescriptive," and for not aligning with White House messaging.

Here are some of the CDC's decision-making tools for: workplaces, schools, restaurants and bars, camps, child care programs, mass transit systems, and cleaning and disinfecting.

There are additional "mitigation strategies" for: first responders, law enforcement, homeless populations, retirement communities, tribal communities, correctional and detention facilities, shared housing, community events, faith-based organizations, and more.

In the past, state and local health departments viewed the CDC "as the central federal agency responsible for communicating to the public" during a crisis, Politico reports. "But since March, the White House has shifted much of that work to its coronavirus task force."

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HOW DID WE GET HERE AND WHERE ARE WE NOW? —ACCORDING TO LOCAL OFFICIALS

A local public health emergency was declared by county officials on March 4.

The first possible community spread case — meaning the source of infection was unknown — was announced on March 9.

L.A. County announced the first death from COVID-19 on March 11.

Confirmed cases and deaths are being tracked on the public health department's website.

On March 15, L.A. County officials said they were closing all offices to the public, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a moratorium on evictions, and an executive order banning dine-in restaurants and entertainment facilities went into effect at midnight.

L.A. County followed with a similar list of actions, closures, and restrictions the following day, including strongly discouraging gatherings of more than 50 people.

The "Safer at Home" emergency order was issued by L.A. County and city leaders on March 19. It included the following directives:

  • Residents should remain at home.
  • Do not gather in enclosed spaces with more than 10 people.
  • Close all non-critical businesses (that can't operate remotely) until further notice.

"I want to be clear about this," said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti during the announcement, "that the only time you should leave your home is for essential activities and needs — to get food, care for a relative or a friend or child, get necessary health care," and the like.

Jobs that are critical to safety, health, and the security of city, as well as an "economy of recovery," are exempt. Examples Garcetti cited:

  • Emergency personnel
  • First responders
  • Government employees
  • Medical personnel
  • Vital infrastructure workers
  • Health care providers
  • Transportation services
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants (but for take-out or delivery only)
  • News outlets
  • Hardware stores
  • Gas stations
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Plumbers, electricians
  • Dry cleaners and laundromats

But social distancing must be enforced in all of these cases.

You are allowed to go outside, take a walk, and enjoy an open space. But some outdoor areas are off-limits because of crowding. And even in outside, you are required to stay 6 feet away from people.

On March 25, Garcetti said the stay-at-home order would likely be in place until May.

On the same day, public health officials issued an Emergency Quarantine Order and an Emergency Isolation Order. Here's when to home-quarantine, and when to self-isolate.

(Screenshot via Megan Erwin/KPCC/LAist)

On March 27, Garcetti tonight used what may have been his strongest language yet to urge people to heed his stay-at-home orders.

"These aren't suggestions, I remind you, these are orders. We are in the midst of a pandemic," Garcetti said.

The city punctuated that message with a piercing emergency alert sent moments after his nightly address reminding people to keep staying at home, and to only go out for essential activities. L.A. County sent an alert as well.

Official guidance on general mask-wearing arrived on April 1. Garcetti made the recommendation that all residents wear face coverings whenever they're out of the house and interacting with people.

About a week later, that was changed to a requirement. Shoppers and store employees must wear face masks starting April 10.

L.A. County echoed with a face covering ordinance a few days later, bringing some uniformity to the patchwork of mask rules across the 88 cities. You now have to wear a mask when shopping anywhere in L.A. County.

County health officials have also extended the stay-at-home order to May 15. They laid out new data that shows current social distancing practices are working — but we need to do better.

We are bending the curve, but if we stop physical distancing, the projection is that "virtually all residents in Los Angeles County would have been exposed or infected with COVID-19" by mid-summer, said the director of L.A. County's Department of Health Services.

Testing was still only being recommended for people who were symptomatic.

Garcetti said he doesn't see large gatherings like concerts happening again this year, but relative normalcy may come sooner. Similar to Gov. Gavin Newsom's six strategies, the mayor laid out five key marks for the city to hit in order to lift the stay-at-home order:

  • Widespread virus and blood testing
  • Real-time disease surveillance to detect outbreaks faster
  • Rapid, aggressive response to potential outbreaks
  • Increase hospital capacity
  • Ongoing research and development

On April 17, Garcetti said testing capacity has increased and urged everyone with symptoms to get a free test.

Based on the current modeling, mid-May is the projection to begin rolling back the current restrictions, said Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health at a briefing on April 21. But, she said, there is no "magic day."

Ferrer said on April 22 that CDC staff members would be helping the health department improve infection control practices at skilled nursing facilities, and that approximately 40% of all deaths countywide have been at institutional facilities.

On April 23, COVID-19 became the leading cause of death in L.A. County, surpassing coronary heart disease, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the flu.

On April 27, Ferrer said that county residents living in areas with high rates of poverty are dying at a rate about three times that of communities with low poverty rates.

"This data is deeply disturbing and it speaks to the need for immediate action... this would mean increased testing, better access and connection to health care and support services, and more accurate culturally appropriate information about COVID-19, and we're joining with our partners in the community to make sure this happens."

On the same day, Mayor Garcetti said L.A. might be baby stepping toward normalcy in the next two to six weeks. There are plenty of caveats. There's also this: because what we've done is working, most of us could still get the coronavirus. "If we open up the wrong way," he said, 95% of us could get COVID-19 by August 1, citing a USC study.

Garcetti added "it's not really about a date, or how few cases you have — it's about the infrastructure you have to handle opening up."

A day later he announced a major testing change: all L.A. city residents, even those without symptoms, could get tested for COVID-19, for free.

On May 4, Garcetti called the reopening situation "fluid," and said he thought by May 15 the city would be ready to take some steps forward. Ferrer said the city would be releasing recovery plan guidelines. This was in response to the Governor's expected order which may allow some businesses to re-open beginning May 8.

On May 5, Garcetti's position was more concrete: "I'm sorry, we're not going to be moving on those things this Friday (May 8)." He did, however, give permission to the Flower District downtown to prepare to reopen in time for Mother's Day, under strict monitoring by the public health department.

The mayor said that moving forward he would follow the county's guidelines on retail businesses. Curbside retail, he said, is something that might be allowed next week, or more likely, the following week.

The timeline from L.A. County officials the following day was different.

Certain businesses and recreational spaces in Los Angeles County would be allowed to start reopening on May 8. According to County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Shops that reopened would be for curbside pickup only. And all of the actual shopping still had to be done online or over the phone.

Barger said that easing restrictions aligned with the state, and the decision to open some stores and not others was "less about what products are sold, and more about the ability to maintain social distancing."

On May 6, Garcetti announced a revised timeline that better aligned with the county and state plans. He said L.A.'s stay-at-home order would be amended to allow some low-risk businesses and areas to reopen on May 8 and 9.

On May 7, as L.A. braced to enter the second of its five-stage plan for reopening, officials urged residents to continue staying home as much as possible, and to continue adhering to public health guidance about social distancing and masks.

On May 8, some L.A. County businesses were allowed to reopen for curbside pick-up. City and county hiking trails and golf courses reopened to the public on May 9. L.A. beaches reopened on May 13 for "active" use, and select recreational facilities were also allowed to reopen under the revised Health Order. Some additional businesses were greenlit too. [see: REOPENING L.A. for details]

Garcetti announced on May 15 the launch of the city's "Slow Streets" program, which will temporarily restrict traffic to give pedestrians more room to safely walk, skate and ride bikes.

He also extended the relaxed parking rules until June 1.

As L.A. reopened, officials still urged people to stay at home as much as possible.

About one million people ignored that request the second weekend of lifted restrictions. About 40,000 of those people out and about in L.A. might have been infected with COVID-19, according to Ferrer (which means this many people could have possibly gotten it in the process).

Ferrer said on May 18 that the death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County continues to climb. She said about the residents and staff who tested positive for COVID-19: the vast majority did not display symptoms.

On May 19, some L.A. County officials on the Economic Resilience Task Force have targeted July 4 for a full or staged reopening of retail, restaurants, and malls.

However, Ferrer said, L.A. County has yet to qualify to move further into the second stage of reopening businesses, as defined by the state. The state threshold for a testing positivity rate is 8% for more than a week; the county has just recently gotten down to a 9% rate. Ferrer said:

"I think reopening has proven to be a lot harder than we may have envisioned, and as we are all making major adjustments to our businesses and our day-to-day lives that we thought we'd never need to make. Many of us may be experiencing fear, frustration, anxiety, and depression."

When asked about the task force's goal of reopening by July 4, L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said any decisions made will be driven by public health and data.

Garcetti announced on May 19 that some pet-related retail and mobile businesses and car washes were allowed to operate, effective immediately, provided they follow the county's retail protocols for safe operations.

Beach bike paths and some parking lots run by L.A. County, and some run by the City of L.A, were allowed to reopen on May 22. Graduation car parades and curbside pickup at indoor malls were also given the green light — all with many layers of protocols.

And circling back to the July 4 comment made by County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Garcetti on May 22 said what she meant was it would be nice to open by July 4, "but nobody said the county is planning to quote-unquote open up all the doors to everything on July 4."

He also announced that city recreation zones along the L.A. River (ie: parks and walking paths) would be allowed to reopen at the end of May.

We asked Garcetti how Angelenos should evaluate risk as things reopen. He said that "we've never been fully closed," and we should get comfortable living in a "gray area" between being open and closed for a while. People will need to make their own individual assessments of the risks they want to take by going out, he added.

"I think it's okay to take a step forward, but don't dash forward. Don't go crazy and stay out all weekend."

Meanwhile, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to apply to the state for a "variance" to skip ahead with reopening under Phase 3 of the governor's plan.
On May 26, L.A.'s Health Officer Order was amended again, and the county moved toward "sweeping new standards for swift and safe reopening," that aligned with state regulations.

All retail stores in Los Angeles that show they have adopted the county's safety protocols were given permission to begin in-person shopping at 50% capacity on May 27. That included shops at indoor and outdoor retail centers. That did not include personal services like barbershops and hair and nail salons.

For businesses that want to reopen, there's a kit to download with the official process.

Houses of worship were also permitted under the new rules to reopen, but could not exceed 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever was smaller. Flea markets, swap meets and drive-in movie theaters could also resume operations. Pools, hot tubs and saunas in a multi-unit residence (or part of a homeowners association) were also allowed to open.

Physical distancing and cloth face coverings are required.

Garcetti said the city and county are taking these additional steps toward reopening because they have met the requirements that they laid out a few weeks ago. The key metrics Garcetti said the city and county have met include:

  • Hospitalizations: California mandated that you cannot move forward until you have a seven-day average change of less than 5%
  • Positive Cases: The state says a locality can only reopen when the percentage of tests that return positive is under 8%. Garcetti said L.A. is under 5%.
  • Testing: To reopen, L.A. would need to have a capacity of 1.5 tests for every 1,000 residents. With 10 million people in the county, that means 15,000 tests a day, and right now the county can do 20,000 tests a day, Garcetti said.
  • Contact Tracing: L.A. would need to be able to contact anyone who tests positive and within 24 hours call everyone that person has come in contact with to ensure they quarantine themselves. Garcetti said L.A. is sufficiently staffed and training more to handle any potential surge.
  • Hospital Surge Capacity: The state requires county and regional hospitals to accommodate a minimum surge of 35%
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities Prepared: All 135 facilities with seniors now provide testing with or without county assistance.
  • Other: The city and county have met various other metrics, including having adequate personal protective equipment and ensuring that 15% of the unsheltered homeless population must be in shelters.

Also on May 26, Runyon Canyon, which initially remained closed, was allowed to reopen. "Counters are in place to help manage overcrowding and the trail will only be open for hiking as a one-way loop," according to a tweet from the City of L.A.

Here are current local totals of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Here is an L.A. County breakdown by area.

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HOW DID WE GET HERE & WHERE ARE WE NOW? —ACCORDING TO THE STATE

On March 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for far stricter guidelines in the state. He asked all seniors and people with underlying conditions to isolate at home, restaurants to operate at diminished capacity, and wineries, bars, and brewpubs to close.

In a March 18 letter to President Trump, Newsom projected that more than half of the population of California will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period. He asked for $1 billion in federal funding and requested the hospital ship USNS Mercy be sent to Los Angeles.

On March 19, about an hour after the L.A. County orders were announced, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all residents of California to stay home or otherwise remain at their place of residence in order to slow the spread of the virus. There are exceptions for people who maintain critical infrastructure in 16 key sectors, including:

  • Chemical
  • Commercial Facilities
  • Communications
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Dams
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Emergency Services
  • Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Government Facilities
  • Health Care and Public Health
  • Information Technology
  • Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste
  • Transportation
  • Water and Wastewater Systems

On April 13, Newsom announced what he described as a shared framework with Oregon and Washington about how to economically reopen California. More details came April 14 with a plan that includes six key metrics for loosening the stay-at-home orders. They include:

  1. More testing, tracking, isolating/quarantining, and supporting people who are positive/exposed.
  2. Protecting the most vulnerable from infection and spread.
  3. Hospitals and health systems being able to handle surges.
  4. The ability to develop therapeutic drugs to meet the demand.
  5. The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to allow for physical distancing.
  6. The ability to determine when/if to reinstitute measures like stay-at-home orders.

The governor's tasked 80 leaders to help plan for the state's economic recovery, with an advisory council that includes all four of the state's living governors. He said the task force — which will divide up into sub-groups covering entertainment, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, regional issues, etc. — will work on actionable ideas in real time, not some future report.

Newsom said on April 21 that local officials can lift some stay-at-home restrictions, as long as they don't conflict with state orders. His comments, made a daily press briefing, were in response to a question about Riverside County opening up golf courses and Port Hueneme opening beaches.

The governor reviewed testing numbers on April 22, saying the 465,000 tests administered so far in California were not enough to modify stay-at-home orders.

On April 27, Newsom said he hoped the state was weeks, not months, away from making significant changes to the stay-at-home orders — but that those decisions will be driven by data, and require people to abide by physical distancing orders.

As an example of what not to do, he brought up the photos of people crowding the beaches in Orange and Ventura counties. He gave special attention to Newport Beach's weekend crowding situation.

Newsom has phases on phases to go with his six key metrics. On April 28, he laid out a "resilience roadmap" with four steps towards a full reopen. He also said that despite distributing millions of masks, the state is not even close to where it need to be with personal protective equipment yet.

Newsom said on April 29 that the state was possibly "a week or two away from significant modifications on our stay-at-home order," as long as coronavirus numbers remained stable.

Two days later the governor said the state is now "days, not weeks" away.

On May 4, Newsom said parts of the state would start moving into Phase 2 of reopening on May 8, and that guidlines would be forthcoming. This phase includes changes like retail beginning to reopen for pickup. Here's more on the six key metrics on the "State Reopening Roadmap Report Card."

Social/physical distancing is even more important in Phase 2, he said on May 5.

Announcements about counties moving further into Phase 2 were expected May 12, with detailed guidelines for dining, offices, and malls.

Ten counties got that green light for May 13. L.A. was not one of them.

The state said on May 20 that it was close to releasing guidelines for resuming film, television and commercial production. The expected release date was then pushed about a week as Newsom said the state was working more formally with the film industry and labor.

There are a variety of metrics counties need to hit to move forward, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. These include:

  • No more than a 5% increase in hospitalizations over seven days
  • And EITHER less than 25 coronavirus positives per 100,000 residents
  • OR less than 8% positive tests

Newsom said on May 22 that the state was days away from putting out guidelines for reopening churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship.

On Memorial Day, the California Department of Public Health announced that churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship had permission to reopen statewide. In-store retail was also approved to reopen, with restrictions.

Changes were subject to approval by each county's public health department, and L.A. County was not approved.

On May 26, Newsom announced that counties with approved "variances" could skip ahead and reopen barbershops and hair salons instead of waiting for a statewide greenlight. That did not include L.A.

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HOW DID WE GET HERE AND WHERE ARE WE NOW? —ACCORDING TO THE WHITE HOUSE

Note: President Trump usually opens coronavirus news briefings with his own remarks. His comments in a number of past briefings have later been contradicted by information provided by other officials. He has also repeatedly used stigmatizing language to describe COVID-19. Following the president's remarks, health experts and other adminstration leaders provide additional updates.

Voluntary, nationwide guidelines were announced on March 16, initially set to last for 15 days.

President Trump and the White House coronavirus task force asked Americans to close schools, avoid groups of more than 10 people, homeschool kids where possible, avoid discretionary travel, and refrain from visiting bars, restaurants, and food courts.

On March 18, the border between the U.S. and Canada was closed for "non-essential" travel. On March 20 came an announcement closing the U.S. and Mexico border to non-essential travel.

Meanwhile, a Level 4, "Do Not Travel" global health advisory was issued by the U.S. State Department advising all citizens to "avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19."

At a March 23 briefing, Trump said the REAL ID deadline will be postponed and that surgical and N95 masks would be distributed by FEMA. An executive order was also announced by Attorney General William Barr making certain items illegal to hoard.

On March 27, Trump announced at a briefing that he invoked the Defense Production Act, "to compel General Motors to accept, perform and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators." He put it differently on Twitter that day.

The task force said on March 31 that Americans should brace for 100,000 or more people to die in the coming months in the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx renewed pleas to observe precautions. Birx said she's "reassured" by what L.A. has accomplished with social distancing in terms of how other cities might be able to respond as well.

On April 3, Trump said hospitals treating uninsured coronavirus patients would be reimbursed by the administration with funds from the economic relief package. The president also announced new CDC recommendations that people wear non-medical cloth face coverings when out in public.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said eligible taxpayers could receive stimulus payments within two weeks (others said some checks could take months).

On April 9, the federal government released new guidelines about when people in critical infrastructure roles can go back to work if they've been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of the coronavirus. The CDC recommendations include taking temperatures before work, wearing face masks at all times, and practicing social distancing as much as duties allow.

On April 16 came a three-phased approach to normalization, albeit without time requirements. The strategy is contingent upon states having data about case levels, the capacity to treat all patients and test healthcare workers, and the ability to trace the contacts of those infected. States can decide on a county-by-county approach, according to an 18-page document obtained by NPR.

Each phase would require a 14-day period of a "downward trajectory" of cases to advance to the next one. Here's an overview —

Phase One:

  • states or regions would have social distancing guidelines similar to those in place now
  • a prohibition on gatherings of more than 10
  • maximized physical distance
  • working from home when possible
  • the closures of schools and bars etc.
  • strict physical distancing protocols would be ordered for places like restaurants, theaters, sporting venues, churches and gyms.
  • vulnerable people would be urged to stay home.

Phase Two:

  • states and regions that show no signs of a rebound could expand gatherings to 50 people.
  • resume non-essential travel.
  • working from home would still be encouraged.
  • schools could reopen and bars could operate with "diminished standing-room occupancy."
  • vulnerable people still would be urged to stay home.

Phase Three:

  • states and regions could expand guidance so that vulnerable individuals could go out in public.
  • visits to hospitals and nursing homes could resume.

NPR has the full guidelines documents.

On April 20, Trump announced via Twitter his intention to "temporarily suspend immigration."

"In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!"

He gave more details during an April 21 news briefing, and said the measure was needed to protect the jobs of U.S. workers. He also said secondary orders were under consideration.

On April 22, Trump signed an executive order to temporarily ban some green carder seekers from coming to the U.S. It goes into effect on April 24 and will last for two months, further extending the wait for green card seekers, some of whom first applied decades ago.

But the move is far less wide-ranging than Trump had indicated in his tweet.

His order exempts green card applicants who are the minor children and spouses of U.S. citizens. It also has a carve-out for health care workers, including nurses and doctors and people doing work that is "essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak."

There were mixed messages out of Washington on May 22.

The U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, warning him that the city's long-term stay-at home orders may be "arbitrary and heavy handed." Meanwhile, Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the White House's main medical advisors included Los Angeles as one of the regions where the spread of coronavirus remains a concern.

Garcetti responded to the DOJ letter in a coronavirus briefing: "We are not guided by politics in this, we are guided by science."

L.A.'s latest stay-at-home order was originally supposed to be lifted May 15. It's still in place, but city and county officials have relaxed some provisions to allow beaches and hiking trails to reopen, and businesses to reopen for curbside pickup.

Birx said she would ask the CDC to investigate the problem areas "to really understand where are these new cases coming from, and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future."

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WHAT IS SARS-CoV-2?
A CDC illustration. (Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM)

SARS-CoV-2 is in the family of coronavirus pathogens that usually cause short-lived illnesses.

They get their name because of how they look, which is spiny around the edges, like a crown. And some coronaviruses are scarier than others. Scientists are still trying to figure out how dangerous this new (or "novel") coronavirus is.

"Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms may include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and headache. But they can vary in severity. Thousands of people have died, but "other patients have had milder illness and been discharged," the CDC said.

On February 11, the World Health Organization announced "COVID-19" as the name of he disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is an abbreviation of "coronavirus disease 2019."

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HOW IS THE CORONAVIRUS SPREAD?

This photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a microscopic view of a coronavirus. (CDC/Getty Images)

Coronaviruses generally jump from person to person on the droplets from coughs and sneezes.

The CDC's current best guess is that the incubation period for novel coronavirus — that's the time from exposure to when symptoms first start showing up — is somewhere between two and 14 days.

Health officials continue to stress the importance of good hand hygiene and washing technique.

We still don't know how easily this coronavirus can spread through the air.

L.A.'s public health director Barbara Ferrer said the virus is too big and heavy to linger in the air, while others are investigating the possibility of spread via "bioaerosols." The World Health Organization says it doesn't seem to linger or travel more than 3 feet, but at least one medical expert says it's way too soon to know that.

Another question is viral load, or the amount of the virus in your system. It's still unclear whether viral load can affect your chances of getting sick, and recent studies suggest that it could affect the severity of your illness, Ferrer said.

On May 15, public health officials announced that L.A. County had reduced the rate of COVID-19's spread from three people for every one person infected, to just one.

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HOW LONG DOES IT LIVE?

It depends on where it is.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is "stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces," according to a study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine.

  • detectable in aerosols for up to three hours
  • up to four hours on copper
  • up to 24 hours on cardboard
  • up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel

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IS THIS CORONAVIRUS LIKE SARS OR MERS?

MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) are two members of the coronavirus family that tend to make people sicker. "About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died," according to the CDC. And SARS was responsible for a global outbreak in 2002-2003 that killed 774 people.

"The novel coronavirus is more genetically related to SARS than MERS," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier.

But scientists don't know yet if novel coronavirus will act the same way as SARS or MERS; they're using information from both pathogens to guide their research.

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CAN MY PET CAT OR DOG GET THE CORONAVIRUS?

Maybe. It has happened.

A tiger in New York City with a respiratory illness (I know, nothing makes sense) was the first animal to test positive in the U.S. That was in early April.

On April 22, two pet cats in New York were confirmed to have COVID-19 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

The CDC's website said it has been aware of reports about pets, including cats and dogs, being infected. Most had close contact with an infected person.

There's an evolving FAQ with CDC guidance on protecting animals. Specific recommendations were laid out in the press release from the USDA:

  • Don't let pets interact with people or animals from outside of your home.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent mingling with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash and keep at least 6 feet away from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

If you're sick (either suspected or confirmed COVID-19), you should:

  • Avoid contact with your animal friend, and isolate.
  • That means no petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, or sharing food or bedding.
  • Have another member of your household care for your pet if possible.
  • If that's not possible, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after interactions.

Meanwhile, adoptions of shelter pets in L.A. have been "off the charts."

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WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THE CORONAVIRUS NOW?

You can track the global scope and spread of COVID-19 with this map and list from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Also, these U.S. numbers from the CDC are updated daily.

The map below also shows cumulative confirmed cases, deaths, and recoveries. It's updated in near real-time throughout the day. Zoom out to see more of the world.

The data is maintained by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which pulls from: World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China, local media reports, local health departments, and the DXY.

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WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 AND MIS-C?

Symptoms can include: low-grade fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell.

Severe symptoms can include: high fever, severe cough, shortness of breath, inability to wake or stay awake, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, bluish lips or face.

These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. However, some people infected with the virus have no symptoms at all.

There also may also be additional symptoms beyond what we've listed above.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and Harvard Health have additional details.

Meanwhile, across the country, doctors are reporting cases of children with a rare inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus.

The illness, initially known as Pediatric Inflammatory Multi-System Syndrome (PIMS) and renamed the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), is similar to a disorder known as Kawasaki Disease. Symptoms include high fever, rashes and inflammation that can affect organs, including the heart.

Doctors at Children's Hospital Los Angeles have treated patients who've exhibited symptoms consistent with this condition since April. Specialists say symptoms can range broadly, and there's been concern over coronary artery enlargement or aneurysms in kids.

The CDC says "different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. We do not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care."

If a child shows the following symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately:

Fever
Abdominal pain
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Neck pain
Rash
Bloodshot eyes
Feeling extra tired

If a child shows the following symptoms, seek immediate emergency care:

Trouble breathing
Pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
New confusion
Inability to wake or stay awake
Bluish lips or face
Severe abdominal pain

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WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK I MIGHT HAVE IT?

The orders from L.A.'s public health department set out timeframes, restrictions, and criteria for self-isolation and self-quarantine.

For people who have contracted COVID-19, the guidance from the CDC is to self-isolate for 10 days, plus 3 days without fevers and/or symptoms. The virus may shed for longer than initially thought, which means a person may be able to infect other people for a longer.

If you think you might have been exposed, or if have COVID-19 symptoms, isolate, and call your doctor for next steps (or dial 211 in L.A. County if you need to find a clinician).

If you experience severe symptoms, get immediate medical attention.

If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 at home, here are some things to keep in mind. These tips come from UCLA's Dr. Robert Kim-Farley with the Fielding School of Public Health (and a former staffer with the CDC):

  • Make sure they wear a mask
  • Make sure you wear a mask
  • Monitor for trouble breathing
  • Monitor for persistent chest pain or pressure
  • Call their healthcare provider if symptoms become more severe (especially if they're elderly or have pre-existing conditions).
  • Clean surfaces frequently
  • Try to keep the patient in one bedroom, and ideally one bathroom
  • Don't shake the laundry before washing (to avoid aerosolizing virus particles that may be on their clothes).
  • Restrict unnecessary visitors
  • Wash hands frequently

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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN QUARANTINE, ISOLATION, AND SOCIAL DISTANCING

L.A.'s public health department issued orders about when to home-quarantine and when to self-isolate.

The CDC requires people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to notify everyone they were in close contact with — including during the 48 hours before symptoms started — so those people can self-quarantine for up to 14 days. Close contact means less than 6 feet apart for 10 minutes or more.

People who have tested positive also need to self-isolate for 10 days, plus 3 days without fevers or symptoms, according to the CDC.

These categories of separation are all designed to stop or slow the spread of contagious diseases. Here's how they differ, according to the CDC and Harvard Health:

  • Quarantine: a separation for people who have a contagious disease, have symptoms consistent with a contagious disease, or were exposed to a contagious disease. A person's movements are restricted when they are quarantined

  • Isolation: a less restrictive separation that keeps people who are sick away from people who are not sick

  • Self-Isolation: a voluntary action to stay at home by people who are sick (or are likely to be sick) and are experiencing mild symptoms

  • Self-Quarantine: a voluntary action to stay at home by people who may have been exposed but are not experiencing symptoms

  • Social Distancing: keeping your distance from other people. The distance reduces the risk of breathing in droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or, in some cases, breathes. It can also mean cancelling events or gatherings (the term "physical distancing" means the same thing.)

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HOW CAN I GET TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS?

Drive-thru testing sites (and a few walk-in clinics) are open across L.A. County. The test is free, but you can't just show up. You have to register/apply first. There are a few ways to do that:

1) APPLY ONLINE if you live anywhere in L.A. County. You can get screened via the online portal.

COUNTY: Anyone in the county experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can apply for a test, but it doesn't necessarily mean everyone will get one. You'll be asked some questions on the eligibility form, and then you'll be asked for your contact information for next steps.

CITY: If you live in the city of L.A., you do not need to have symptoms to register for a test.

2) GET A DIRECTIVE from a health care provider. Call your doctor and they'll give you the next steps. If you don't have a health care provider, call 211 and they'll direct you to a nearby clinician. L.A. public health officials are asking people not to call 911 and not go to the emergency room unless you're experiencing severe symptoms and need immediate medical attention.

Initially, the tests were limited to people most at risk. Restrictions were relaxed a few times to allow for same-day or next-day testing for anyone with symptoms, and testing of certain front-line workers without symptoms.

There's a lengthy testing FAQ and testing information page put together jointly by the city and county.

On May 6, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state was launching a new site where people can enter their zip code to find testing locations and schedule a test. It includes mobile testing sites, although it doesn't include private hospitals.

Pharmacies were also given permission to test for coronavirus, under state guidelines released May 12. There are 6,492 pharmacies in the state where that could potentially happen.

But, testing or not, if you experience severe symptoms, get immediate medical help.

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DO I HAVE TO PAY TO GET THE CORONAVIRUS TEST?

No. California health officials are waiving all co-pays for COVID-19 testing. That applies to people on all insurance plans, and people who don't have health coverage.

You can also be tested for free regardless of your immigration status. And the federal government has said that getting tested or treated for coronavirus will not count toward the public charge test for getting a green card.

And if you don't have insurance, here are some options for getting it: Covered California and the entire individual health insurance market has extended the enrollment window to June 30; enrollment for Medi-Cal is open year round; and in L.A. County, there's the no-cost health care plan My Health LA.

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WHERE DO I GO FOR THE CORONAVIRUS TEST?

Drive-thru testing sites (and a few walk-in clinics) are open across L.A. County.

Here's a map of the locations.

But, again, you can't just show up.

You have to be approved first.

Get screened online to request a test, or try to get a directive from a health care provider.

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HOW DOES THE CORONAVIRUS TEST WORK?

At some testing sites, a health professional will administer a nasal swab.

At other places, you'll be given a testing kit for an oral swab that you can administer yourself.

Here's an instructional video from local officials, and here's a first hand account of the process.

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HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO GET MY CORONAVIRUS TEST RESULTS?

The turnaround is "about three days" for L.A. County-operated sites.

"There are certainly some cases in which it's taking longer than three days," Christina Ghaly, director of health services at Los Angeles County Health Agency, told us. "That number is an average."

Many of you asked us about this.

Some people were told their test results would be available in one or two days, and it wound up being five. Others said they were told five days, and they were still waiting.

The city/county guidance says results typically take "3-5 days."

When they're ready, you will be notified by email. Results can then be viewed online.

If you don't have an email address, you will get a call.

And here are some steps you can take if it's been more than five days and you're still waiting.

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WHAT'S THE ANTIBODY TEST?

It's a blood test to see if you've formed antibodies against the coronavirus, which is a way of telling whether you've ever had it, even if you never developed symptoms. Antibodies are proteins your body produces to fight infections.

This test hasn't gotten as much attention as the test to see if you actively have the coronavirus, but widespread testing for antibodies will be crucial to figuring out how much the virus has spread, how deadly it is, and when we might get back to something approximating normal life.

To help kickstart that effort, L.A. County and USC teamed up to test for antibodies in 1,000 Angelenos.

County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis told us that people will be tested to determine if they've been infected, and if so, "what their antibodies look like." Davis said the data will help to make some "general estimates and predictions" about how far the virus has spread and how deadly it is.

At least one SoCal hospital is experimenting with transferring antibodies from a recovered patient. The hope is that the antibodies will attack the virus to help a sick person heal.

The county/USC study participants are all adults, and they were selected to create a random sample that reflects the county's demographic makeup. They'll got the "serology" test at six drive-thru sites on April 10 and 11, according to ABC7.

Those leading the study intend to repeat the tests every two weeks for three months.

Neerja Sood, a vice dean at USC involved in the project, told The Washington Post that the test kits were donated by a private individual who read his Wall Street Journal op-ed about the importance of randomized testing.

Preliminary findings were announced April 20. The data suggests many more people in L.A. County could potentially be infected than the official count. It also suggests the mortality rate for the county could be lower.

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IF I'M AN ASYMPTOMATIC CORONAVIRUS CARRIER, HOW LONG AM I CONTAGIOUS?

You could be contagious for up to 14 days, according to Dr. Shruti Gohil, University of California Irvine Medical Center.

However, Gohil said, since asymptomatic carriers may not know when Day 1 was, it's "encouraging to know ... their ability to spread the disease is far less than those who are actively symptomatic."

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IF I HAD CORONAVIRUS CAN I GET IT AGAIN?

Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, told us: "We don't have conclusive evidence on that."

She said that "in general you can be protected when you've had an infection, but not always. We're just going to have to wait for the researchers and the scientists to let us know what they're finding out about that."

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IS THERE A VACCINE? WHAT'S THE TREATMENT?

There is no vaccine yet. Scientists started working on a plan in January, before COVID-19 even had a name. A number of companies have been working on vaccine development, and clinical trials are underway. The timeline is unknown, but experts have been weighing in with estimates.

For treatment, at least one SoCal hospital is experimenting with transferring antibodies from a recovered patient. The hope is that the antibodies will attack the virus to help a sick person heal.

Cedars-Sinai is participating in a clinical trial of the drug remdesivir. A small trial of an experimental antiviral drug has shown encouraging results, the hospital announced on April 10. And on May 1, the FDA approved the drug for emergency treatment for COVID-19. Prior to that, the FDA's FAQs had advised "there are no FDA-approved drugs specifically for the treatment of COVID-19."

But the effectiveness of remdesivir is still being studied.

"This is not a cure-all," said Jonathan Grein, who is the director of epidemiology for Cedar-Sinai. "Specifically, not everyone with COVID-19 will need this drug or even benefit from this drug."

The president has promoted malaria drugs as a possible treatment. The AP reported that a nationwide study — not peer reviewed — of hydroxychloroquine use at U.S. veterans hospitals found no benefit and more deaths among those given the drug, versus standard care. (And, despite FDA warnings, President Trump said on May 18 that he'd been taking hydroxychloroquine with zinc to protect against symptoms, should he get the coronavirus.)

The CDC's guidance for for clinical management of the coronavirus includes, "infection prevention and control measures and supportive care, including supplementary oxygen and mechanical ventilatory support when indicated."

For children with the associated illness MIS-C, the CDC says doctors may order blood tests, chest x-rays, echocardiograms, and abdominal ultrasounds to look for inflammation or other signs of disease. They may also provide supportive care like medicine and fluids for symptoms, and medication to treat inflammation, noting:

"Most children who become ill with MIS-C will need to be treated in the hospital. Some will need to be treated in the pediatric intensive care unit (ICU)."

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IS IBUPROFEN SAFE TO TAKE FOR A COVID-19 FEVER?

(Twitter/@WHO)

There's currently no established link between ibuprofen and coronavirus complications, but there is a lot of conflicting information being circulated.

The World Health Organization officially weighed in on Twitter on March 18 with this guidance, in all its double negative glory:

Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of of ibuprofen.

The CDC has issued no coronavirus-related guidance regarding the use of anti-inflammatories as of March 20.

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SHOULD I BE WEARING A MASK IN DAILY LIFE?

Yes.

The first official guidance on general mask-wearing arrived on April 1.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti made the recommendation that all residents wear face coverings when out and about (but not to put masks on kids under 2-years-old. It's a suffocation risk).

This isn't an excuse to suddenly all go out, you need to stay at home. But when you have to go out, we are recommending that we use non medical grade masks.

He spelled out two categories of face coverings/masks, and who should wear what:

1. Surgical — These are medical grade masks (like the N95) and they're reserved for medical professionals. There's been a dangerous shortage.

2. Homemade — These are cloth face coverings and can be bandanas, scarves, hand-sewn masks, etc. They should be worn by everyone else, including essential services workers and those with vital infrastructure jobs.

About a week later, Garcetti changed the city's mask-wearking recommendation to a requirement: shoppers and store employees must wear them. This applied to grocery and drug stores, restaurants, hotels, taxis and rideshares, construction sites, and other non-medical, essential businesses. Employers were also required to provide face masks to their employees, or reimburse them for the purchase.

L.A.'s Public Health Department issued face-covering guidance, and it was written into the evolving county health order.

People leaving their homes must wear "a cloth face covering whenever there is or can be contact with others who are non-household members, in both public and private places."

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors passed a face covering ordinance, which added additional uniformity across the 88 cities.

And the L.A. County Sheriff's Departments did not dance around the message: wearing a face covering is law.

The CDC also officially messaged cloth masks for everyone, and recommended people in critical infrastructure roles wear a face mask at all times when they go back to work after being exposed to (a confirmed or suspected case of) the coronavirus.

Check your city's particular rules about wearing a mask in certain situations. Some cities, like Beverly Hills and Glendale, have issued additional guidance.

Where to get a face covering? Pay to make it fashun, or DIY and make it your own:

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WHICH DISINFECTANTS CAN I USE AGAINST SARS-CoV-2?

The EPA released a list of products that are "qualified" for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Some Clorox and Lysol products are on the list, but so are dozens and dozens of others.

Here's what the EPA says about killing the virus:

"Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product. Consumers using these disinfectants on an enveloped emerging virus should follow the directions for use on the product's master label, paying close attention to the contact time for the product on the treated surface (i.e., how long the disinfectant should remain on the surface)."

As far as keeping your hands virus-free, the CDC says handwashing for at least 20 seconds is still your best bet. If that's not possible, it recommends using an "alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol."

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IS IT SAFE TO TOUCH TAKEOUT & DELIVERY FOOD CONTAINERS?

"There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food," according to the CDC, but the virus can live on surfaces.

To reduce risk, go contactless when getting meals delivered.

In whatever app you're using (or on the phone), ask your driver to leave your food outside your door. You might have to leave the message as a note.

Once you've brought it in, put the food on your own plates, throw out the packaging and wash your hands for 20 seconds before eating.

And tip well.

If you're doing takeout in Los Angeles, look for new signage about special parking zones for to make pickup easier.

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WHERE CAN I FIND FREE FOOD / LOW-COST FOOD / FOOD ASSISTANCE?

There's a food bank locator.

And a locator for food pantries, soup kitchens, food shelves, and other food help.

Grab & Go meal sites are set up for students and families.

CalFresh EBT cards can now be used to buy food online at Amazon and Walmart. Apply online or call (877) 847-3663.

CalFresh P-EBT is an additional food benefit — up to $365 per child — to help qualifying families. Applications accepted from May 22 through June 30.

Emergency meals can be delivered to seniors 60+ who live in the city of L.A. Call (213) 263-5226 or go online and sign up.

And the state is reimbursing restaurants to deliver free meals to seniors. Apply online or call 211.

Some restaurants are operating as pop-up general stores and we have a neighborhood guide.

WIC is allowing online applications for its special supplemental nutrition program.

And the author who wrote the book on SNAP cooking has advice about how to eat on $4 a day.

Here's a number to call to find lower-cost fresh food.

And there are more food resources available across the county.

If you know of something we should add to this list, share it with us at tips@laist.com.

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ARE FARMERS MARKETS ALLOWED TO OPERATE?

Farmers markets were initially deemed "essential," and allowed to stay open.

But, like other outdoor spaces, there were crowds and questions about safety.

So, operations were suspended in the city of Los Angeles, and any market that wished to reopen was required to submit a social distancing plan for approval.

The city is keeping a list of L.A. markets that were given permission to reopen.

Santa Monica has also instituted changes to its farmers markets. Check for updates about market operations there on the Santa Monica city website and @SMFMS on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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WHAT'S THE SAFEST WAY TO SHOP AT THE GROCERY STORE
We made a guide with everything we know so far about COVID-19 and food (and what we don't know), including tips for minimizing risk at the grocery store:

1. Try to go at a less busy time. Generally, earlier is better, and weekdays seem to be less busy than weekends.

2. If you're a senior or in another high-risk group, take advantage of the "senior shopping hours" many stores have introduced.

3. Wear a mask.

4. Wear latex gloves if you have them, be careful about tearing, and avoid touching your face when they're on.

5. If you don't have gloves, use hand-sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. If you don't have either, use an plastic produce bag to touch certain items or produce.

6. Before you touch your cart, wipe it down with an antiseptic wipe.

7. While you're in the store, stay at least 6 feet away from other shoppers.

8. While you're in the store, touch as few things as possible.

Read our full food-related guide with sections on unpacking groceries, changing clothes, raw produce, and more.

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CAN I HELP FEED EXHAUSTED HEALTHCARE WORKERS?

Yes.

A number of restaurants, organizations, and people across Southern California have crowdfunding campaigns to support meal deliveries to hospitals.

Some restaurants are also offering discounts or free delivery to hospital staff.

We have a starter list.


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SHOULD I STILL TRAVEL?

No. You should not travel right now.

But also, you're not allowed to travel right now if you live in L.A.

Mayor Garcetti's "Safer at Home, Stay at Home" order went into effect on March 19 at 11:59 p.m. prohibiting all travel, with some exceptions.

There's a city order.

And a county order.

And Gov. Newsom's similar, statewide order is also in effect.

All the orders require that you stay in your place of residence.

You are allowed to leave if your job, or the thing you need to do, is categorized as "essential." For example: picking up food is OK; planned vacations are not.

This is what "essential" means, according to the city, county, and state orders.

Or you can read our crib sheet: Here's What You Can And Can't Do Under The Stay At Home Order.

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ARE ALL EVENTS CANCELED IN CALIFORNIA?

Basically, yes. That's why we struck through all this earlier guidance. In a move that really punctuates the point, there will be no Hollywood Bowl season for the first time in nearly 100 years (and the L.A. County Fair is also canceled for the first time since WWII).

But life finds a way.

Even if it's pixelated.

As such, we've replaced our recurring "What To Do In L.A."-type events posts, with weekly roundups of "What To Do Mostly From Your Home"-type posts.

Here's the most recent installment for virtual events and dine/drink deals: May 26-28.

Not all, but many (and counting).

Below is the official mandate from Gov. Gavin Newsom's office, and the recommendations from state health officials and Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, as of March 12 through the end of the month.

  • Events with 250 or more people should be canceled or postponed.

  • Smaller events should be canceled or postponed if the venue can't accommodate social distancing.

  • Avoid gatherings or places where you can't keep a 6-foot distance from other people.

  • Avoid gatherings or places where there will be 50 or more people.

  • Avoid gatherings or places where there will be 10 or more people if you are pregnant, immunocompromised or elderly.

L.A. County strongly discouraging gatherings of more than 50 people, during a press conference on March 16. Both the city and the county have enacted new closures and restrictions — some mandatory.

And remember, President Trump now says 10 is the maximum number of people you should spend time with in person.

The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 by "flattening the curve" and not overwhelming the medical infrastructure.

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IS NATURE CLOSED?

You are allowed to go outside, take a walk, and enjoy an open space under the "stay home" orders. But some outdoor areas became off-limits because of crowding.

Spaces are slowly reopening, with restrictions. But even in nature, you are still required to stay 6 feet away from people, and wear a mask if non-household members are around. If no one is around, keep a face covering in your pocket in case other humans do appear.

When "too many people" were packing beaches, trails and parks, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti closed sports and recreation at L.A.'s city parks and parking lots at city beaches. "That doesn't mean gather elsewhere," he tweeted. "This is serious. Stay home and save lives."

The county's Department of Parks and Recreations followed with an announcement that "trails and natural areas" would be closed until further notice.

Then the Santa Monica Stairs were closed. And Runyon Canyon was sealed off too.

L.A. County's next move was to fully shut down all public beaches, including bathrooms, piers, promenades, and bike paths; L.A. city shut down all trails, including Griffith Park.

After one crowded weekend, Garcetti closed the Silver Lake Meadow, too. And the Angeles National Forest shut down portions of the San Gabriel Mountains.

And yes, it was all still closed even on Easter.

But none of these restrictions deterred skaters from visiting Venice Beach. So now the skate park is filled with sand.

Guidance from California State Parks was to stay close to home, and "not the time for a road trip."

But not everyone took that message to heart.

When Newport Beach initally reopened it was visited by so many people — including many from out of the area — that the state shut down the beach (ALL the O.C. beaches) when local leaders did not.

Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and others were later approved to reopen in a limited capacity for "active recreation only."


REOPENING NATURE


Los Angeles' city and county hiking trails reopened to the public on May 9.

So did the golf courses, with restrictions.

"If you're 65 and older," however, the mayor said, "you cannot go out to those places if you have pre-existing conditions."

Masks and physical distancing are still required.

Runyon Canyon initially remained closed, but reopened on May 26. "Counters are in place to help manage overcrowding and the trail will only be open for hiking as a one-way loop," according to a tweet from the City of L.A.

Griffith Observatory remained closed.

Hikers and golfers were allowed to go solo, or with someone from their household.

Gatherings, even small ones, were still not permitted.

L.A. County's Parks & Rec director encouraged people to try less popular hikes to reduce crowding.

The beaches in L.A. County were allowed to reopen for "active recreation" on May 13 (the L.A. Times has a beach tracker tool), along with tennis courts, archery ranges, equestrian centers, community gardens and other select recreational facilities. Pasadena's Rose Bowl loop opened again to walkers, joggers and cyclists too.

A few days later some Angeles National Forest trails reopened, with restrictions and so did Descanso Gardens. L.A. County's beach bike paths followed. Various campgrounds have also reopened.

Some California state parks have also partially reopened, with restrictions. Camping, restrooms, visitor centers, and other facilities are still closed at all locations. Check online to see if where you want to go is open (and if there is parking). There are also new visitor guidelines, and a reminders to stay close to home and stay far apart.

And Joshua Tree National Park is partially reopened, with restrictions. Visitor centers and some campsites are still closed. Trails, roads, parking, some bathrooms, and some campsites are accessible. Some reservations are available online; others have to be made in person.

Here is the state's guidance on what outdoor recreational activities are allowed. And here's more on the coronavirus response from the L.A. County Department Of Parks And Recreation and the L.A. City Department of Recreation and Parks.

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ARE COOLING CENTERS OPEN DURING THE PANDEMIC?

Yes. L.A. County has released a list of cooling centers where you can escape the heat — and remain physically distanced.

These spaces will likely fill up faster than usual because of the distancing rules, and the county advises calling first to make sure seating is available.

You can also call 211 for L.A. County information; 311 in the city of L.A.

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IS PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION STILL OPERATIONAL?

Public transit is still running across L.A., but most agencies have reduced service.

L.A. Metro started making schedule changes in mid-March because of plummeting ridership. It then moved to rear-door boarding for all buses (with wheelchair ramp access still available at the front door), and required the transparent barrier up front be closed as a layer of protection. At rail stations, custodial staff started disinfecting touch points. Later, riders were required to wear a mask. Online service advisories and Twitter rider alerts will keep you up to date on schedule changes. Metro's also released a "four phase plan" to restore service that tracks into January.

Elsewhere in municipal transit:

  • LADOT, which has waived fares on its bus routes, is requesting that passengers wear a face covering while riding. Rear-door boarding is in effect. DASH buses have limited passengers per bus: 30-foot buses will carry no more than 10 riders at a time; 35-foot buses will cap passengers at 12. The DASH Observatory/Los Feliz route is now a Los Feliz-only line. The on-demand shuttle service LAnow has been suspended. The electric car-sharing service Blue LA, has also been suspended. Check for updates on schedules and service changes.
  • Foothill Transit is also not collecting fares right now and rear-door boarding is in effect. Service is reduced.
  • The Antelope Valley Transit Authority has cut maximum occupancy and a "reduced Saturday Schedule" is in effect Monday through Sunday. Several routes have been canceled.
  • Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica halted service on a few of its lines and moved to rear-door boarding. Weekday service on most bus routes has also changed "until further notice," the agency said. Check for updates on schedules and service changes.
  • Culver CityBus waived fares for riders and rear-door boarding is in effect. Certain bus lines are running Saturday service timelines during the week.
  • Both Pasadena Transit's buses and its on-demand shuttle service for seniors and people with disabilities remain in service, and the city has waived fares.
  • Bus services in the cities of Glendale were operating as normal.
  • Burbank reduced service on all its bus lines. They've also moved to free fares and rear-door boarding.
    Santa Clarita Transit has reduced service across its system. Cancellation and schedule updates are available online.

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CAN I STILL RIDE AN ELECTRIC SCOOTER OR BIKE?

Lime pulled its scooters off the streets and suspended service across California.

Bird, Lyft, and Jump said they've increased cleaning and disinfecting of their respective scooters and e-bikes. They're also encouraging riders to clean scooters and e-bike handles with disinfecting wipes before and after riding.

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SHOULD I GET A GUN?

We've researched this question in a number of contexts, most recently while working on The Big One podcast.

We know people are buying guns, but we also know that most people aren't trained to use them, much less in high stress situations. And that can have disastrous consequences (even for people who are trained).

With a gun in the home, you're more likely to do something unjustifiable than to use it properly in self-defense. And while you're here imagining what you might need to defend against, keep in mind that people don't typically react to disasters like they do in the movies.

"We tend to come together as humans and work together and help each other," sociologist Joseph Trainor told us previously. During an earthquake, for example, it's much more likely you'd be rescued from a fallen building by a fellow victim than by an emergency response team, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva's take: "Buying guns is a bad idea." And "particularly, now that you have a lot of people home," he said during a news conference on March 16. "Cabin fever sets in. You've got a crowded environment. ... Weapons are not a good mix."

There might also be anxiety, depression, existential dread, or suicidal thoughts to navigate as the pandemic evolves and a possible global recession plays out.

Here's more on the case for not panic-buying a gun.

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HOW IS "SAFER AT HOME" BEING ENFORCED?

All non-essential businesses have been ordered to close until further notice. Not all have complied.

"This behavior is irresponsible and selfish," Garcetti said during a news briefing on March 24. "It may serve a few people for a moment, but it will put all of us at risk for a long time."

His message to non-compliant businesses: "This is your chance to step up and to shut it down, because if you don't, we will shut you down."

He announced an enforcement plan with escalating measures:

  • The "Safer at Home" Business Ambassadors Program was established, made up of city workers and volunteers from the mayor's Crisis Response Team.
  • Non-essential, non-compliant businesses will be visited by program team members and asked to voluntarily comply.
  • If that doesn't happen, the LAPD and City Attorney will be notified.
  • The City Attorney will also contact businesses about violations before moving to stronger enforcement.
  • Stronger enforcement could mean citations, and repeat offenders could face misdemeanor charges.
  • The city could also shut off water and power to those businesses.

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HOW DO I REPORT A NON-COMPLIANT BUSINESS, GATHERING, OR OTHER VIOLATION?

To report non-essential businesses that have not closed, and/or order violations at exempt businesses and construction sites (like: social distancing, hand washing, disinfecting, sharing items, etc.):

To report gatherings and/or other public health violations:

But what's the etiquette if you see a shopper without a mask or a stranger doesn't move out of the way when you're walking around the neighborhood? Here are some highlights from a discussion on AirTalk with Larry Mantle on KPCC 89.3.

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WHAT IF I CAN'T PAY RENT (OR MY MORTGAGE) BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS?

Residential eviction in California was banned until May 31, 2020. And the majority of L.A. County households are renters.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on March 27 that prohibits enforcement by law enforcement and courts.

If you can't pay all or some of your rent because of COVID-19, declare it in writing no more than seven days after rent is due, and save any related documentation about illness, termination, etc. Once lifted, repayment is due "in a timely manner."

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city was expanding its eviction moratorium as well, which covers both commercial and residential units. Tenants will now have a full year to pay back any rent they can't afford to pay during the current pandemic.

L.A. County also has a countywide eviction moratorium in effect prohibiting residential and commercial evictions for nonpayment of rent, late fees, and related costs due to a loss of business or household income caused by COVID-19. Supervisors narrowly approved a motion to extend those protections for residential tenants (but not big businesses) until August 31, 2020.

Garcetti has also issued a new emergency order to temporary halt rent increases in rent-stabilized units, and motions to provide rent relief and freezes were introduced in L.A. City Council.

However, it may not be enough without rent forgiveness. Some experts and advocates say people won't be able to save the money needed for back rent, and that could lead to future evictions and homelessness.

L.A. County Board of Supervisors also voted to create a rental assistance program. This was a separate action from a rent relief program that's was making its way through L.A. City Council.

One of the funds has $2.1 million for "families that are already struggling to pay their rent, and are living paycheck to paycheck," said Council President Nury Martinez. It's expected to help several hundred families. A report from the city's housing department has the details and criteria.

On May 7, there were a number of housing annoucements:

  • The mayor signed a law prohibiting landlords from using coercion, intimidation or fraud to take their renter's stimulus checks.
  • Tenants can sue their landlord if they violate any of the city's renter protections.
  • City Council President Nury Martinez said that any renters who cannot pay their rent during this time, can submit their account to the city in writing within seven days, to avoid eviction. Renters will then have 12 months to pay that rent back.
  • The city council voted to freeze rents on all RSO units until a year after the emergency "is lifted." She said that covers about 75% of the rental market in L.A.

Meanwhile, for people who own a home: some banks have agreed to 90-day mortgage waivers, and Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered property tax relief for both residences and businesses. Homeowners now have until next year to pay the taxes on their personal properties without incurring the 10% late fee. For businesses, the deadline was extended — but only until May 31.

See a video of our renters' rights and eviction Q&A with an attorney from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Here's a short list of critical things to know if you're a California renter right now:

  1. During this emergency, you cannot be evicted from your home for not having paid rent.
  2. Evictions are on hold until 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, except those dealing with public health and safety
  3. If you cannot pay rent, you must notify your landlord in writing ASAP.
  4. Landlords can legally start eviction proceedings during this time, but the soonest a court might issue a summons would be 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency.
  5. Landlords cannot change the locks or remove your property from your unit.
  6. Only the local sheriff's department has the authority to legally lock you out.
  7. You are legally responsible to repay all rent missed during the pandemic after the emergency is over.
  8. Depending on where you live you may have a grace period of up to one year to pay it back.
  9. Do not sign anything from your landlord without first consulting an attorney.

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CAN I GET HELP FOR MY SMALL BUSINESS?

There are some options.

The City of Los Angeles's Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) announced low- to no-interest loans, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. The loans for qualifying businesses will be offered without interest for up to a year, or at 3-5% interest for up to five years.

The U.S. Small Business Administration was also offering low-interest disaster loans for small businesses in certain states, including California.

Another $349 billion in small business loans was included in the coronavirus stimulus package, but the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of money after 13 days. The SBA halted applications and started accepting them again on April 27, with second round funding for $320 billion.

If you need help figuring it all out, get in touch with L.A. CARES Corps. It's an L.A. county/city effort that was created to help small business owners apply for loans. Reach out online or call 833-238-4450 to speak with a loan counselor.

And here are some answers to commonly asked questions about getting government help.

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HOW DO I APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS?

An astonishing number of people have lost their jobs and filed for unemployment in this pandemic.

So many people, in fact, that it's now the worst unemployment since the Great Depression, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on May 14.

To apply for unemployment money, file a claim with EDD.

You can file because of cut hours, unpaid leave, termination, and other coronavirus-related reasons.

And with the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, there's expanded access for many people who didn't qualify for unemployment benefits before (like: gig workers, freelancers, and other self-employed people — but not if you have W-2s in the mix).

The program also includes some people who've exhausted their unemployment benefits. But as of May 21, those who've already run out of benefits were still waiting for the state to process their extensions. Some people have now gone months without benefits.

California's unemployment department has said it would begin automatically filing extensions on May 27 for those with exhausted claims, as long as they first started receiving benefits on or after June 2, 2019. But some may have to wait until June, or even July, before payments start to arrive.

Officials had a massive challenge trying to figure out how to process theses kinds of claims.

The PUA program opened on April 28, but applicants experienced widespread problems inputing their information, with the site reportedly crashing for many users on the first day of the program's rollout.

EDD has encouraged people to review their eligibility.

And, if you're not sure if you are an independent contractor/self-employed, you could file for regular unemployment and "we will determine your eligibility."

Below is a live event Q&A we held about applying for unemployment.

And here is the transcript from that event if you just can't even with a video right now.

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TELL ME ABOUT THE $2 TRILLION CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PACKAGE

It's the largest emergency relief package in U.S. history. It was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27.

Broadly, the plan includes:

  • Direct payments to Americans
  • An aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance
  • Billions in aid to large and small businesses
  • A new wave of significant funding for the healthcare industry

Some of the specifics:

Other things to know about those checks/direct deposits:

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WHERE CAN I GET FINANCIAL, MENTAL HEALTH, EMPLOYMENT AND OTHER KINDS OF HELP?

-LA County Child Protection Hotline: 1 (800) 540-4000
-Alliance for Children's Rights
-Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children (CASA of LA)
-Childhelp National Abuse Hotline: 1 (800) 422-4453

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WHAT'S THE NEW DEADLINE FOR TAXES?

You now have until July 15 to file your state and federal tax returns.

The IRS automatically extended the deadline.

No forms or fees required.

California has done the same.

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CAN MY JOB ASK ME TO STAY HOME AND NOT PAY ME?

If you've been asked to self-quarantine because you or a family member is sick, you should be entitled to use your sick time for at least part of it.

The federal Coronavirus Relief Act also requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide two weeks of paid, virus-related sick leave and family leave.

And in California, a statewide executive order adds two weeks of extra paid sick leave for essential food service workers (like grocery store employees, fast-food employees, and farmworkers) who have contracted or been exposed to the coronavirus — or been ordered to isolate or enter quarantine.

Another executive order extended workers comp benefits for people who've tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a physician. The order went into effect retroactively, starting March 19, and extends until July 6.

The California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has more answers related to workplace laws in the age of coronavirus.

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HOW LOCAL HOSPITALS ARE RESPONDING

Officials continue to urge people to stay at home, even when they're sick, unless they believe they need hospital-level care. Meanwhile,

On March 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California needed 1 billion gloves, 595 million masks, and two million shields for three months of protection for health care workers. A few days later has said we needed 50,000 additional hospital beds. The state also said it was looking to tap more potential medical staff to handle a possible surge in COVID-19 patients.

On April 8, it was announced that California will invest more than $1.4 billion into personal protective equipment (PPE) for both medical workers and frontline employees (including grocery store workers). The state has also secured contracts for 200 million masks from various providers.

But some health care workers are concerned for their safety and don't think enough is being done to protect them.

"Right now, there's a lack of supplies — specifically protective equipment, PPE's — so we're not feeling too safe because we still have to go home to our families," a health care worker at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center told us back in March.

AP reported on April 16 that 10 nurses were suspended from Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica after refusing to work with COVID-19 patients until N95 face masks were provided, according the National Nurses United. They were subsequently reinstated, AP reported, and the hospital said it would be supplying the masks to nurses working with infected patients.

Meanwhile, as the state continues to look for hand sanitizer, testing reagents, and other supplies to help in the fight against coronavirus, more than 2,300 individuals and companies filled out applications on the state's site for contributing supplies.

Here's a looks inside L.A.s new "COVID only" surge hospital.


Meanwhile, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has come up with a partial solution to the mask shortage: a decontamination center that can clean as many as 30,000 used N95s a day.
Staff at the county's four public hospitals and 27 clinics use 10,000 masks a day; LASD, which operates the jails, uses another 10,000 a day.

The process — involving dangerous chemicals and a dishwasher-sized machine on loan from UCLA — is called hydrogen peroxide vaporization, and it must adhere to CDC guidelines.

In mid-May, as L.A. transitioned into "Phase 2" of the recovery and slowly began to reopen, some hospitals started to resume scheduled surgeries.

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WILL HOSPITALS ACCEPT HOMEMADE MASKS?

It depends on the hospital.

There's a list of U.S. facilities accepting donations, created by students at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, that includes a number of SoCal hospitals. The list has specifics about quantity, patterns, delivery instructions, and more.

"Go ahead and do it," the chief medical officer at Keck Hospital of USC told us. "If we need to use it, we'll use it."

None of the hospital officials we spoke with said their personnel have started using homemade masks, but they worried that day will come.

Casual stitchers and sew shops around L.A. have been responding to the need.

Sew Helpful Brigade said they've distributed over 3,000 masks to workers at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Long Beach Medical Center, and UCLA. They needs 200 more volunteer sewers.

At Suay Sew Shop in Frogtown, the goal is to make and distribute 10,000 masks in a week — and then continue that pace.

A first-grade teacher we spoke to said that even if hospitals didn't want her homemade masks they could be used by pharmacy technicians, grocery employees, or delivery people.

The CDC has issued guidance on homemade masks, saying they can be used while treating patients as "a last resort," and ideally under a plastic face shield similar to what you'd see on a welder.

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I'M A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. HOW CAN I HELP?

L.A. Maryor Eric Garcetti announced an online portal.

If you're a medical professional and want to help with the response, fill out this form at with your training, skills, experience, and availability.

The state is also looking for health care staff to assist with the projected surge in coronavirus patients.

Gov. Gavin Newsom asked a wide variety of medical professionals to check on eligibility and register to help via a state portal.

The effort also includes health people who may have retired in the last five years or are currently working to get licensed or relicensed.

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THE SITUATION AT NURSING HOMES

State data released by the California Department of Public Health found that coronavirus cases were clustering in nursing homes. An analysis by California Healthline found that many of the hardest hit nursing facilities had problems in the past including low staffing levels and health violations for not following infection control rules.

L.A. health officials worked with CDC staff to improve infection control practices and paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMT's) were granted temporary permission to work in L.A. County nursing homes to help alleviate staffing shortfalls due to COVID-19 outbreaks. There have also been volunteer opportunities.

A health order was announced by L.A. County officials requiring all nursing home staff and residents to be tested for the virus, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.

In the city of L.A., a number of new testing protocols were put in place. At all skilled nursing facilities:

  • Notices must be hand-deliver to all residents and workers with the most recent date testing was offered, and the next date it will be offered.
  • Notices must be updated and circulated once a month, and at least two days prior to testing.
  • Notices must be publicly displayed at the main entrance of every facility.
  • Notices must be provided to anyone who asks — whether in the media, government or general public.

In Long Beach and Pasadena, health departments also have new rules for skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, including face masks for workers, and twice daily temperature checks (even if there's no confirmed case on-site).

Meanwhile, as health authorities struggled to contain outbreaks, even official patient advocates were not allowed to visit the homes in person.

L.A. County's Long Term Care Ombudsman Programa publicly funded entity that investigates complaints about the treatment of residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities — was barred from doing site visits under federal guidelines (there's an exception for end-of-life care.)

A collaboration between KPCC/LAist, The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Southern Illinoisan found there's one thing that distinguishes the nursing homes that have reported the highest number of deaths: their residents are mostly black and Latino.

Race and Latino origin turned out to be a major predictor of whether a nursing home has a COVID-19 outbreak, we found, even after accounting for a facility's location, federal quality ratings, size and infection rate in the surrounding community.

On May 26, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a new role: a county inspector general to oversee nursing homes.

The position is meant to address what many see as a failure to react quickly to COVID-19, which has taken a heavy toll on nursing home staff and residents.

Congregate living facilities account for more than half of the county's COVID-19 deaths.

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HOW SCHOOLS ARE RESPONDING

All 80 public school districts in L.A. County are closed, including the second largest K-12 district in the United States, and the third largest district in California.

On March 13, Los Angeles Unified School District canceled all in-person classes, sending half a million kids home — effective Monday, March 16 — with coursework moved online.

LAUSD teachers received an email from Superintendent Austin Beutner saying the district would be closed for two weeks "while we evaluate the appropriate path forward."

The closures followed an earlier LAUSD emergency declaration, and efforts by schools across the region to increase cleaning efforts.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said on March 17 it's "unlikely" that schools will reopen before summer break. State officials have promised to suspend K-12 standardized testing this year.

On March 23, Beutner announced a revised timeline for LAUSD: schools will stay closed until at least May 1.

On March 31, California's top elected education looked deeper into the calendar. In a letter — which you can read on the news site EdSource — state superintendent Tony Thurmond urged local school district leaders to prepare to beef up their online course offerings through the end of the academic year.

A labor deal announced April 9 between LAUSD and its teachers union formalized how the district will operate during the shutdown. United Teachers Los Angeles shared full terms of the deal. Some specifics:

  • Teachers will provide instruction for, on average, 240 minutes (or, four hours) per day.
  • Teachers should set regular schedules and stick to them. The idea is to "avoid scheduling conflicts."
  • Teachers will hold three regular "office hour" sessions per week.
  • Students' grades can still go up, but they can't go down.
  • Live video instruction is not mandatory.

The agreement also covers issues of pay — including for substitute teachers — and evaluations.

On April 13, LAUSD announced it will not be reopening campuses this school year, and that remote learning will remain in place for summer school.

Superintendent Austin Beutner said school facilities will not reopen "until state and local health authorities tell us how it is safe and appropriate to do so," and that campuses would be closed until authorities set up a "robust system of testing and contact tracing."

We closed school facilities on March 13th so our schools did not become a petri dish and cause the virus to spread in the communities we serve. That has worked. We do not want to reverse that in a hasty return to schools.

For seniors who are a few credits shy of a diploma, the L.A. Community College District can help get you graduate. There are free online summer classes which can earn students credits to graduate — (and you get to keep them as college credits too). High school counselors can help you figure out which school/classes to choose. Here's information about how to sign up. LACCD classes start May 18.

By the end of this school year, LAUSD will have spent approximately $200 million on its pandemic response: $78 million for meals, perhaps $50 million for expanded summer school, $31 million to train teachers for distance learning, $23 million to close the digital divide, and $9 million for safety equipment.

As for how the grading will work, many districts have relaxed their policies:

  • LAUSD will not issue any "F's" this semester — and no overall grade will drop lower from where it stood in March.

  • Long Beach Unified elementary students will not receive report cards at all this semester. Middle- and high school students will receive pass-fail grades.

  • Corona-Norco Unified students grades' can only improve from their March level.

  • Santa Ana Unified will likely revisit its grading policies soon. While details are still in the works, Superintendent Jerry Almendarez told students in a video update: "We don't want you stressing out about your grades."

  • On the other hand, San Bernardino City Unified has not changed its grading policies or practices, spokeswoman Linda Bardere said in an email.

On April 27, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he's "considering" asking California's K-12 schools to begin the 2020-21 school year much earlier than normal — perhaps even as soon as late July — over concerns about "learning loss."

On May 4, Beutner said LAUSD leaders have "made no decisions" about whether the fall semester — still scheduled to begin on August 18 — will involve students in classrooms, online or both. He said it's not clear what the public health conditions will allow.

To address fears that the longer students remain at home the farther they'll fall behind academically, LAUSD will offer summer classes — all online — to any student who wishes to participate.

Beutner on May 11 delared that LAUSD had hit a milestone with "just about every" LAUSD "connected."

"We've confirmed they have a device that works, we've confirmed they have either internet access of their own or we've provided it at no cost to the student, and they've engaged in learning — meaning they've logged onto Schoology or some other platform being used for their school lessons."

And most California colleges — both public and private — have decided to accept "pass-fail" grades from classes disrupted by the pandemic.

The nine campuses in the Los Angeles Community College District, as well as Santa Monica College, have already decided to extend online learning into the fall semester, with some possible exceptions.

The 23-campus California State University system said it will conduct almost all of its classes online for the fall 2020 semester. Tuition was not being reduced.

As of May 18, a few private SoCal colleges — Chapman University, Cal Lutheran University, and Pepperdine University — said they'll resume in-person classes this fall with safety measures in place.

On May 21, the University of California announced it will not require students to submit SAT and ACT standardized test scores for undergraduate admission at least until 2024.

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HOW DO I BORROW A SCHOOL COMPUTER OR IPAD FOR DISTANCE LEARNING?

LAUSD is spending $100 million on devices and hotspots so that no student misses out on online lessons. District leaders promised a laptop or tablet computer to every student who needs one to learn during the the shutdown.

Schools are contacting students to distribute the devices, but parents who want to make a request can contact the district's hotline: (213) 443-1300. The request will be routed to the proper school.

In another attempt to help students access online education, Google has committed to rolling out 100,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the state.

There are also some low-cost home internet deals to help bridge the digital divide. Here are a few options:

  • AT&T: The company's Access program offers internet service at $5-10 per month for low-income families. Through April 30, the company is offering two months of Access service for free. They've also expanded eligibility to all households enrolled in Head Start or receiving free or reduced-price meals at school. Families can apply here or call: 855-220-5211 (in English) or 855-220-5225 (in Spanish). For all other households, AT&T has paused disconnections and late fees through May 13, and is also "temporarily" waiving overage fees on home internet data.

  • Charter Spectrum: Teachers and families with school-aged children who aren't already Spectrum customers can sign up for two free months of internet service. After those 60 days, a spokesman says the company will offer a "discounted promotional price" for another 10 months. Customers can cancel at any time. Spectrum also offers low-cost service for certain qualifying low-income households. Families can sign up here or call 844-488-8395.

  • Starting on March 20, existing T-Mobile customers on smartphone plans will receive an additional 20 gigabytes of data to use their phones as hotspots for the next 60 days. The company is also expanding data allowances for schools using their wireless plans.

  • Also, L.A. County launched an internet/WiFi locator tool to help students get online. Go to the website to access the map, or call 211 to get the information.

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HOW DO I ACCESS SERVICES THAT MY CHILD USED TO GET AT SCHOOL?

Superintendent Austin Beutner said common special education services like physical, occupational, and speech therapies were being providing "via teleconferencing." Here is the district's FAQ on providing support. Legally-protected learning plans are to be "implemented to the maximum extent possible," according to a labor deal announced April 9.

Many families also depend on schools for meals — we've been compiling a list of places that will provide food while schools are closed.

And LAUSD also opened a hotline so "students and families can call for help to manage fear, anxiety and other challenges related to COVID-19." Counselors and mental health professionals will answer hotline calls in English and Spanish: (213) 241-3840.

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HOW PRESCHOOLS AND DAY CARE PROVIDERS ARE RESPONDING

Some preschools and day care centers are still open. The state did not order them to close, instead, that decision was left up to individual providers and municipalities.

L.A. County said it would allow it if kids are cared for in small groups that stay separated.

Guidelines were issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for early care and education providers who continue to operate. They include:

  • No more "circle time"
  • Caring for kids in groups of 12 or less — no new kids can be added to an existing group, and mixing between different groups is prohibited
  • Keeping groups in different rooms at larger facilities
  • Adult providers must stay with the same group of children
  • Practicing social distancing by restricting visitors to facilities
  • Spacing out children's activities and focusing on individual activities like coloring and puzzles

Updated guidance from the Department of Social Services reduced the number of children in groups to 10, and the number is even lower if infants are part of the group.

The new rules are in effect until June 30.

Also, by executive order, there is now state-funded child care for essential workers —health care professionals, emergency responders, law enforcement, and grocery employees. Here's the outline for how providers should prioritize enrollment of new families.

The order also allows care providers to take advantage of new provisions of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to make sure kids get nutritious meals at little or no cost.

And, in addition to the stimulus package, local resources, and loan options, there is financial relief specifically available for child care providers.

L.A. and state officials have also expanded child care options for hospital workers.

"Child care is foundational to getting people back to work," Gov. Gavin Newsom said. "If they cannot get the kind of quality child care that they deserve they are less likely to get back to work and jump start this economy."

However, in the rush to create new ways for essential workers to access child care, questions about how they'll deliver services remain unanswered.

As of April 23, 66% of L.A. County's licensed preschools and child care centers had closed, according to the state's department of social service.

The governor announced the launch of a new child-care website meant to respond to that situation.

Type in your zip code and find local child-care facilities, along with more information about each one.

Essential worker parents who want a list of providers that fits their specific needs can get a free referral at this website, or by calling (888) 922-4453.

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ARE PARKING TICKETS STILL BEING ISSUED?

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