Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):
Your Moment Of Zen: How 72-Year-Old Arnold Schwarzenegger Is Coping In Isolation
Here's how one famous senior citizen is keeping it all in perspective.
After a day of non-stop closure news, from the state, county and city, Arnold Schwarnenegger leaned back with a vegan meal and some thoughts. He seemed take in stride the news that people in his age group are being advised by our current governor not to go out anymore.
As our former governor tells his furry friends:
"We stay home."
Do you have questions? We sure do.
But we also welcomed the chance to be entertained for one minute and 40 seconds.
Stay at home as much as possible. Listen to the experts, ignore the morons (foreheads). We will get through this together. pic.twitter.com/FRg41QehuB— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) March 16, 2020
Garcetti Orders Eviction Moratorium and More Closures As LA County Shuts Down Offices
- In addition to preventing residential evictions, he's asking the city attorney "if we can legally prevent commercial evictions” to help businesses.
- Bars and nightclubs will close. So will movie theaters, arcades, gyms and fitness centers.
- There’ll be a prohibition on eating-in at restaurants but delivery, takeout and drive-through options are allowed.
- Groceries, pharmacies and food banks are exempt from closures.
- The mayor is urging churches and places of worship to close
“We need to do all we can to protect the public and our employees in the midst of this expanding public health crisis. Our departments will continue to provide essential services to our residents, but it is prudent to limit public access to our facilities at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and urge the public to follow the guidance of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.”
Here are some details:
- County hospitals and clinics will remain open
- Essential services from first responders will continue
- Many departments will continue to operate with modified services to minimize in-person contacts.
- Los Angeles County libraries and museums are closed
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:
- Your No-Panic Guide To Coronavirus In LA So Far (LAist)
- Here's Your Quick, To The Point, Coronavirus Prep List (LAist)
- Have A Question? We Will Answer It (LAist)
READ GARCETTI'S FULL ORDER:
Some Seniors Aren't Thrilled With Call To 'Self-Isolate'
One part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s new executive order to slow the spread of the coronavirus calls on people who are 65 and older to stay home. It takes 5.3 million Californians out of public spaces in an effort to curb the pandemic and to protect seniors, who have a higher death rate if infected.
One senior is not impressed with the governor's stay-home order.
"I think they got their panties in a bunch," said Tom Blum, who was walking around the path outside Pasadena's Rose Bowl shortly after the governor's announcement Sunday.
Blum is 82, and retired from running marathons. But he played basketball a few hours earlier and was taking a brisk walk when he spoke with us. He says he knows plenty of active seniors who won't want to stay indoors.
"I think he's making a judgment based on age," Blum said of the governor.
Newsom’s announcement calling for home isolation echoes an earlier recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control. At this point, Newsom is calling it “guidance” — and asking for voluntary compliance.
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:
- Newsom: Californians 65+ Should Self Isolate; Bars, Night Clubs, Wineries, Brew Pubs Should Shut Down
Your No-Panic Guide To Coronavirus In LA So Far
- Your No-Panic Guide: Sanitizer, Toilet Paper, Medicine — When Will Everything Be Back In Stock?
- Here's Your Quick, To The Point, Coronavirus Prep List
- Have A Question? We Will Answer It
16 New Coronavirus Cases In LA County, Bringing Our Total To 69
L.A. County now has 69 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection after 16 new cases were reported Sunday, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
Of the new cases, five people have been hospitalized. In terms of how the new cases were exposed:
- Three were exposed during recent travel;
- Two were health care workers exposed in a health care setting;
- Four had close contact with a confirmed case;
- One is the case reported by the Long Beach Health Department late Saturday;
- One case has an unidentified source of exposure.
- Five cases are awaiting further investigation.
Of the total 69 cases in L.A. County, 10 are considered to be from "communmity transmission," meaning the source of infection is unknown.
One of the cases is an employee of the Los Angeles Police Department, the LAPD said in a release Sunday. "A uniformed supervisor assigned to our Pacific Division exhibited flu-like symptoms around March 5th. He went home and sought medical treatment including being tested for COVD-19. Those results returned positive today," the department wrote, adding that the supervisor is expected to make a full recovery. No other employees from the Pacific Division has experienced symptoms, according to the LAPD.
Do not call 911 to ask for COVID-19 testing, and do not go to an emergency room unless you are seriously ill and require emergency care, the public health department says. If you have a respiratory illness and want to know whether to be tested, the department advises you to call your health care provider or 2-1-1 to find a clinic near you.
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:
New Mud And Debris Flow Forecast For Burn Areas
Newsom: Californians 65+ Should Self Isolate; Bars, Night Clubs, Wineries, Brew Pubs Should Shut Down
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, releasing new and far stricter guidelines, today called for all seniors and people with underlying conditions to be isolated at home as a precaution against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Newsom said those guidelines affect 5.3 million Californians.
He also advised all wineries, bars and brewpubs to close until further notice, calling them a "nonessential function" of the state.
The new guidelines include:
- Advising all people 65 or older to self-isolate at home
- Directing all bars, brew pubs, night clubs, and wineries to shut down
- Restaurants should be at no more than 50% occupancy and ensure social distancing among their patrons
Why keep restaurants open when bars are being told to close? Newsom said they didn't think that closing all restaurants was necessary at this point, and he added that there is a real concern over food access, particularly when implementing social isolation and distancing practices. Not everyone has a kitchen or can prepare their own food, and some people with mobility issues may find it even harder to get to the grocery store. By definition, restaurants provide expanded points of access to food, Newsom said.
"We recognize that social isolation for millions of Californians is anxiety-inducing," Newsom said, "but we recognize what all of the science bears out, and what we recognize around the rest of the world: that we need to meet this moment head on and lean in."
Newsom was asked about how the state would roll out and enforce these guidelines. He responded that officials had a lot of experience dealing with emergencies such as fires and earthquakes, which he said made logistics in California a "well-oiled machine." He conceded the state operation had never before been tested with this type of an emergency.
Newsom said state officials are also deep into negotiations to allow for major medical centers to operate in facilities currently not in use.
Newsom said they have been studying what did, and did not, work in countries including China, South Korea, Singapore, Italy, Spain and Canada. He said he had the capacity to take additional steps through executive orders, if needed. He called the moves today:
"A very pragmatic response to meet this moment without creating other unintended consequences."
California has so far seen a total of 335 positive tests for coronavirus, and six people have now died because of COVID-19. Newsom said the guidelines he laid out were intended to protect the state's most vulnerable populations, including those 65 years and older, those with chronic or underlying medical conditions, and the homeless.
Here are some more key takeaways from today's update:
MOBILE TESTS VIA GOOGLE
Clearing up some confusion over an expected partnership with Google, Newsom said the state is rolling out two pilot mobile test sites in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County, respectively. The test sites are a partnership with Verily, a health sciences subsidiary of Alphabet, which is Google's parent company.
The sites are expected to go live in the next 24 to 48 hours in conjunction with a web screening portal. The portal will ask you a few questions and give you a score, along with some advice on whether testing is called for in your situation. From there you will be able to make an appointment at one of the test clinics.
Newsom stressed the mobile test sites are not meant to replace a phone call to your doctor or a trip to urgent care if you have a real need. They are designed for people who have developed mild symptoms or who are part of a vulnerable population, such as seniors, who may be concerned about their status. If your symptoms are serious, call your doctor's office or 911 and explain your situation so they can prepare for your arrival.
Newsom said he hopes the mobile test site model will be something that can expand to other counties and possibly other states.
STATEWIDE TESTING CAPACITY
California has conducted 8,316 tests so far between its 19 labs, hospitals from Stanford to the University of California system to City of Hope, and the private lab Quest in San Juan Capistrano. Quest is operating only one lab in California right now and conducting about 1,200 tests per day. They hope to ramp up capacity to 5,500 a day in the next week as they bring on two additional labs.
Turnaround time on Quest notifications has been about 2-3 days, Newsom said.
Newsom also said the state is in deep negotiations with hospitals that were not in operation but could be brought online again. He said an announcement on which hospitals and when could be announced in the next few days.
The state currently has a capacity of 74,000 beds across 416 hospitals, along with a surge capacity of just shy of 9,000 beds, Newsom said. In terms of intensive care, the state has 11,500 ICU beds, which includes children's hospitals.
These new hospitals are "sizable assets" that will increase capacity by a minimum of 750 beds in "world-class settings," Newsom said.In terms of equipment, the state's hospitals combined have 7,587 ventilators. The state is also procuring new ventilators and has an additional cache of roughly 900 ventilators through other partners that can be put into use.
The state is actively procuring motels and hotels to covert into temporary shelters, Newsom said. As a small example, he cited an additional 450 trailers that have been identified and that will be dispersed to critical points across the state.
He also said efforts are being made within existing shelters to ensure proper social distancing practices are being followed.
The state has an estimated 108,000 people living unsheltered, and Newsom said the state needs to meet this moment aggressively to protect those who are most vulnerable on our streets. He said 13 different task force teams are working around the clock on the issue.
Newsom said 51% of the state's school districts have closed, including 24 of the 25 largest districts. That means as many as 85% of the students in California's schools are no longer going to school, he said.
The state is currently vetting and validating all kinds of private and public sector solutions for continuing education remotely.
On Tuesday, the state plans to release detailed guidelines to help both those schools that have closed and those that remain open, Newsom said.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a statement shortly after Newsom's address. "Everything we do right now will determine the outcome of this crisis, and we can save lives if we stay calm, care for one another, and take forceful steps to protect our communities," the mayor said. "That's why we must follow the guidelines laid out by Gov. Newsom, build on them for local needs, and put the health and safety of the most vulnerable above all else."
Mayor Garcetti To LA: Bars Should Close, Eviction Moratorium Coming
BREAKING NEWS TONIGHT: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a moratorium on evictions and wide bans on businesses and entertainment facilities tonight just minutes after L.A. County officials announced they were shutting down all offices to the public starting tomorrow.
Read more details about what the orders mean for you:
Updates on the response to the coronavirus outbreak at the local, state, and federal levels are coming fast. To help keep pace, we're checking in with government leaders on a regular basis. Here's the latest information from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, from an interview today.
[Note: After talking to us, Garcetti told CNN bars would be shutting today in the city.]
HOW DO PEOPLE PAY RENT?
With a lot of people in Southern California suddenly out of work and worried about making rent or paying their mortgage, leaders at all levels are taking steps to provide assistance.
At the local level, Garcetti said the city's planning to implement an eviction moratorium so that nobody gets kicked out of their home if they can't make rent because of the impact from coronavirus.
He also pointed to last week's announcement of a moratorium on utility cutoffs, so no one will go without water or power. He said he was pleased to see that the gas company joined the moratorium yesterday.
Garcetti also stressed the need to continue supporting local businesses. Individuals can help by safely shopping or picking up food from local businesses. The city aims to help with locally funded bridge loans, which he said could roll out toward the beginning of this week.
But Garcetti said he's also a strong advocate of federal support, because "we have pennies compared to the dollars of federal government."
He said the federal government can and should be assisting with sick leave and family leave, making sure unemployment checks move more quickly, and providing additional funding for SNAP, the program formerly known as food stamps.
And at the state level, Garcetti said, the governor has done a good job ensuring unemployment payments are processed quickly and looking for ways to potentially put off tax payments for small businesses.
WHAT ARE HOSPITALS DOING TO PREPARE?
Health care is normally a county responsibility, but in this case Garcetti said he is working closely with Supervisor Kathryn Barger to plan ahead.
Some of the areas Garcetti said they're looking into:
- Testing: Garcetti said they agree there are still shortcomings here. The good news, he said, is that 75% of the tests coming back from county labs are negative. But we need more tests and a better protocol, Garcetti said. The tests that do exist are being taken to those most vulnerable. But there are almost certainly people who have been exposed who are not being tested. To help address that issue, Garcetti said the city and county are beginning to look beyond the federal government and reaching out directly to the private sector for additional testing, since Southern California has a wealth of biomedical experts and companies.
- Hospital staff: We'll have trouble dealing with this crisis if health care professionals can't go to work, so Garcetti said they're looking into ways to tend to the childcare needs of hospital staff and making sure they have the equipment they need. Hospitals currently have a mask supply for about 20 days — good, not great, Garcetti said. In addition, hospitals have "almost to a tee" put off elective surgeries so they can focus on people who have contracted COVID-19.
- Space and equipment: Another important area of focus is ensuring there are enough respirators, beds and equipment for everyone. Today the situation is OK, and more equipment is on the way. However, there could be as many as 15 million people nationally who need hospital beds over a period of time. That's a huge demand on hospitals, so the city has offered some other spaces, like the convention center, and the county's working at Dockweiler Beach, to help with initial screenings.
DOES THE CITY NEED BACKUP?
With a lot of staff and emergency responders working overtime, we asked if it was time to call in support from agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers.
Garcetti was dubious, pointing out that the Army Corps of Engineers was itself likely stretched thin. Instead, he said the governor could potentially call on the National Guard to help supplement and screen people if there are staff shortages. And he said the city has reached out to the local building trade, citing a strong local construction force who could help stand up tents, equipment, and the like.
Garcetti also said there's a lot that can be done to mobilize additional resources here locally. Under a state of emergency, the mayor is deputized by the city charter to enlist any city employees and even residents and assign them to help, he said. City workers who won't be working their traditional jobs — like senior centers, libraries, school nurses — could be converted to a floating pool of labor that can be deployed to the health care response. Though it's an option, Garcetti said we're not at a place of mass enlistment.
HOW CAN WE HELP EACH OTHER?
Garcetti stressed that this is an emergency unlike what Southern Californians are used to, where first responders take the lead in responding to earthquakes or fires. Instead:
"We're all first responders this time," Garcetti said. "Literally what we do in the next couple of weeks — of listening to that social distancing, of saying no to that trip, of that gathering, of just putting things off — means the difference between whether this is weeks or months."
Take that seriously, Garcetti said. He went on a hike at Griffith Park this morning, making sure to keep plenty of distance between himself and others. But later he saw people outside a church shaking hands.
Make those tough decisions for the next couple weeks not to engage in that, and you can be a life saver, he said.
"And for everybody who thinks, 'Hey, it's not going to hit me' or 'I'm healthy enough to get through this' — it's not just about you. It's about your loved one. It's about your parents and your grandparents. It's about senior neighbors that you have. It's about those we know who are being treated for cancer, or underlying conditions. You will save their lives by what you do right now."
Finally, Garcetti said that by the end of the day or early tomorrow, the city will have places set up to receive donations to help families in need and health care workers so that they can continue showing up to work.
He also said there will be efforts to do real-time research to assess what's going on, and more equipment purchases will be made.
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:
Should We Be Worried That All Returning LAX Passengers Aren't Getting COVID-19 Screening?
We've been hearing from passengers arriving at Los Angeles International Airport that they are not being screened for the coronavirus. LAX is one of 13 airports that Homeland Security has designated to screen travelers from restricted countries.
We asked LA Mayor Eric Garcetti this morning if he was confident that airport officials were following screening recommendations. He told us:
"There have absolutely been, I believe, holes in some of the screening nationally around our airports. There's a certain point that we control after it gets through the federal screening, and in that area I'm very confident of what we're doing."
Garcetti cited sanitation stations and making sure staff are "cleaning religiously."
But he called the screenings by federal officals "a very uneven approach."
"We've worked very well — and I know how thinly stretched some of our federal partners are, from CBP, Coast Guard and others and our port and airport — but we are doing everything we can to make sure that there is not a single plane that gets through without that level of screening."
He said wait times last night at LAX were about 90 minutes, longer than usual but way less than other major airports around the nation.
Garcetti said that not everyone needed to be sreened under CDC protocol.
"LAX has no control over that process," he said. "We're keeping as close communication and I'm passing that on to federal authorities that we need to do more and we need to do better."
Airport officials announced this weekend that an LAX police officer has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Los Angeles World Airports said in a statement that county public health officials were informed and are "working to identify any other officers or employees who may have had prolonged or close contact with this individual," and that interviews are being conducted to determine who else may be at risk.
An airport spokesman would not provide information about the most recent date the police officer was on the job.
Meanwhile Emily Guerin, who covers the environment for us, arrived last night from South America. She reports there was more coronavirus screening at the airport in Lima, Peru -- where she had a layover -- than when she got back to Los Angeles.
"The Peruvian government required us to fill out a form on the airplane with our flight and seat number, contact information, and any respiratory symptoms," she said. "And when we got off the plane, four different employees in masks asked us where we had come from and where we were going."
Then, when she arrived at LAX, she said she was not asked to fill out any special forms. Airport employees divided passengers into lines, apparently based on what continent they had come from.
Josie Huang reported from the airport today. She heard from international passengers who had been screened and others who had not and said they wished they had been.
Newly-mandated health screenings for travelers coming from Europe greeted Angeleno Pam Jones on her way home from Spain on Sunday. Her forehead was scanned to check for fever and she was quizzed.
"They just wanted to know had we gone to China or some of these other places? And our address, I guess, to contact us," said Jones, a pharmaceutical representative.Jones says it took no more than 30 minutes to get through customs at LAX — a big contrast to the long lines reported Saturday at O’Hare in Chicago and Dallas-Fort Worth.
Edgar Ocampo, 70, was returning to his home in Santa Barbara from visiting family in the Philippines. He was not screened.
"This is a very deadly disease," he said. "You know, it knows no boundaries, does not discriminate nobody."
Ocampo said in the Phillipines shoppers are scanned for temperatures in grocery stores. Travelers coming from Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the South Pacific also expressed surprise they were not screened.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not provide comment by Sunday night.
I'm hearing from #LAX passengers getting off of int'l flights that they're not being screened for #coronavirus.-- Josie Huang (@josie_huang) March 15, 2020
Some are surprised, others irritated like 70 yo Edgar Ocampo of Santa Barbara who just got back from the Philippines.
He says this disease know no boundaries. pic.twitter.com/C8kA7Pb6r2
The scene at LAX was in sharp contrast to other airports. Illinois Gov. Jay Pritzker angrily tweeted at President Trump and Vice President Pence about his frustration about the crowded conditions at Chicago's O'Hare last night.
This is the scene at O’Hare airport. The traveler who took the photo said it’s a 6-hour wait for bags then on to customs for 2-4 more of waiting in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. Police are handing out water and disinfectant wipes. @fly2ohare #ord #coronavirus #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/UTx9E0nj1s— Brooke Geiger McDonald (@BrookeGMcDonald) March 15, 2020
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:
Coronavirus Continues To Drive Gas Prices Down
Gas prices are continuing to fall. The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular in L.A. County is now down to $3.43. In Orange County, it's $3.38 a gallon on average, and it's $3.34 in Riverside County.
Those prices are the lowest they've been in almost a year.
Analysts say worldwide demand for gas and oil is dropping due to the coronavirus.
Why You Should Be Taking COVID-19 Very Seriously
Our friend Charlie Ornstein, an editor for ProPublica, says this about the pandemic:
As a longtime health care reporter, I see the unfolding coronavirus pandemic as representing everything I've read about — from the early days of epidemiology to the staggering toll of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic — but had not covered in my lifetime....
Not one public health expert I trust — not one — has said this flu comparison is valid or that we're overdoing it. Every single one, from former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to Harvard professor Ashish Jha, has said we're not doing enough, that this is far more serious than it is being taken.
READ HIS FULL REPORT:
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS
The 2020 Census And COVID-19: What's Next?
We already knew that:
- In-person canvassing in L.A. County had been paused by community groups
- Some members of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus are calling for the census to be extended three months to get a more accurate count
- L.A. County — even before this pandemic — was considered the hardest to count in the nation because we have high numbers of historically undercounted populations including: immigrants, young children, multi-generational households and non-family roommates.
Here's the latest from NPR's Hansi Lo Wang on the state of the 2020 Census:
NPR has learned that at least one U.S. Census Bureau employee — who was recently hired, spokesperson Michael Cook says, and has not interacted with the public on behalf of the bureau — has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been quarantined.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the bureau has decided to delay starting its early round of door-knocking by census workers in college towns to April 23. The bureau is also waiting until early April, instead of late March, to begin its outreach effort to send out representatives with computer tablets to help people submit their census responses online. That program, which is expected to cost at least $100 million, is designed to target people in high-traffic locations, from public transit hubs to grocery stores.
THE "SAFEST" WAY TO DO THE CENSUS IS ON YOUR OWN
If you prefer paper, all households that haven't responded by early April are expected to receive a physical questionnaire in the mail. Some households in areas with low Internet subscription rates, and communities with higher shares of residents over age 65, are set to receive paper forms by March 20.
Those would be "the safest" ways to do the census because they involve little to no person-to-person contact, says John Thompson, a former Census Bureau director who left the agency in 2017.
But the key is to turn in your household's legally required response as soon as possible, Thompson adds. Otherwise, your home address is likely to be added to the list of places for census workers to visit in person beginning May 13.
READ HIS FULL REPORT:
MORE ON THE CENSUS:
Coronavirus In LA: Your Cheat Sheet To Catch Up On Yesterday's News
We’re well into the weekend, but the coronavirus news cycle is still busier than a Trader Joe’s. If you’re trying (like us) to wrap your head around everything that’s happening, we’re here to help.
Take a break from stacking your canned food and toilet paper and catch up on everything that happened on Saturday.
- As of Saturday there are 53 confirmed COVID-19 cases in LA County -- 11 new ones. For now. Barbara Ferrer, who heads public health, cautions we will “continue to see a fairly rapid increase.”
- The federal government is working to contain the widening effects of the coronavirus on the nation's economy, public health and well-being. Here’s what’s in a relief bill making its way through Congress. We tell you what it could mean for you.
- We were watching the long lines and empty store shelves and wanted to ask la Mayor Eric Garcetti what to make of it all. His advice to the city: Don’t panic & focus on social distancing.
- The run on grocery stores is one predictable human behavior amid a nationwide panic. Running a scam to take advantage of that panic is another. Customs officials are warning the public to be wary after they seized some iffy COVID-19 “test kits” at LAX.
- The cancellation of general fun continues. L.A. officials ordered public pools, senior centers & most other park facilities closed — even the Griffith Observatory. No more pony or merry-go-round rides either, folks (at least through April 4).
- Buckle in. Parents are scrambling to figure out how they're going to manage having kids at home for weeks. Starting Monday LAUSD and other local schools shutting down to stop the spread of the coronavirus. We talked to parents and kids about their plans.
- Los Angeles libraries may have shut the doors to their facilities, but attention parents: they remain available virtually for those with access to the internet.
- LAUSD is massive — the 2nd largest district in the nation — but Long Beach Unified is also really big. The 3rd largest district in the state has sent its more than 70K students home for the next 5 weeks. Our friends at the Long Beach Post shared what's planned with us.
- Even before this pandemic hit, LA County was considered the hardest to count in the 2020 Census IN THE ENTIRE NATION. And it just got a lot harder. Fears that the count will be far from accurate are driving some in Congress to ask for an extension
- And perhaps the biggest question of all: When will everything be back in stock? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It’s not a simple answer but we talked to experts who gave us some details on what to expect.
We will have a lot more for you today. And if you appreciate what you're reading, please consider making a donation today to support our non-profit public media newsroom.