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THE L.A. REPORT IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY LLOYD PEST CONTROL

LA Trial Courts To Close For 3 Days

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Los Angeles County has the nation's largest trial court system and starting tomorrow it's shutting down to the public due to the coronavirus.

The emergency order, which came down from Los Angeles Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile, calls for the closure to last three court days. The Superior Court was already scaling back, but this is a full stop, beginning Tuesday. The trial courts are scheduled to reopen Friday for "essential or emergency matters."

Federal court judges for the Central District of California may continue to hold hearings, at their discretion. But entry to federal courthouses is limited, new juries won't be called and functions like naturalization ceremonies have been canceled.

MORE ON L.A. GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

L.A.’s Department of Public Works is still operating street sweeping. Trash collection is also continuing.

Homeless encampment cleanups will go forward as scheduled, according to department spokesperson Elena Stern, and the city and county are deploying hand washing stations for the unhoused.

The next L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting is canceled, and Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced that most county buildings will be closed.

Los Angeles City Hall is closed to the public and while the Council is holding its regular Tuesday meeting, they’re asking people to submit comments online instead of in-person. Some council members plan to attend via teleconference or Skype.

Long Beach has already moved to teleconferencing for public meetings.

“It’s very important that social distancing and social isolation becomes the new norm for the time being,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. He said city committees or commissions that need to meet will do so over the phone or online through April.

Long Beach Mayor Says Bars And Nightclubs Must Close At Midnight Tonight

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Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia at a news conference today as city officials gave an update on COVID-19 issues Thomas R. Cordova for The Long Beach Post

UPDATE: Late tonight, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced the shut down of bars and nightclubs by health department order. Also ordered shut: Gyms, fitness studios and movie theaters.

Garcia said:

"This has been one of the hardest decisions to make, and I understand it’s devastating for workers and small business owners. We are in a health emergency and we must take decisive action."

On a call with restaurant owners and other businesses following a press conference earlier today, city officials said restaurants should plan to close their dining areas by midnight Monday. They will be able to keep spaces open for take-out, delivery and pick-up orders only.

“Restaurants are a critical piece of food delivery in our city; we can’t get through this without you serving food,” Mayor Robert Garcia said on the call.

At the earlier press conference, Garcia said the city is also pausing parking tickets and street sweeping ticketing for one week: “We don’t want folks to wake up and be faced with misinformation as it relates to not moving their cars,” he said.

However, he emphasized street sweeping is “an important function as it relates to public health,” he said. “It is important that we have the ability to move debris.”

Garcia said the city is evaluating whether to take even more stringent action such as the directive in six Bay Area counties for all residents to shelter in place Monday.

“They’re obviously in a much more advanced place as far as cases than we are, but that doesn’t mean that we should not expect an ‘everything on the table’ approach moving forward,” Garcia said.

READ THE FULL STORY ON THE LONG BEACH POST:

Our friends at the Long Beach Post are sharing their content with other newsroom. Read more coverage here:

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Your No-Panic Guide To Coronavirus In LA So Far
Here's Your Quick, To The Point, Coronavirus Prep List
Have A Question? We Will Answer It

Snow Shuts Down Grapevine

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Published

That rain you're probably hearing here in L.A. means snow in the Grapevine, earlier than expected. It's come down there heavy enough to shut down the I-5.

The forecast calls for rain through about 8 p.m. tonight. And tomorrow expect to see even more rain, rain again on Wednesday and Thursday. In case you wondered, yes, authorities are on watch for burn areas.

But by Friday, we should see sunny skies and highs in the mid-60s. Could be a good time to get out there — especially for the many, many people working from home — and take a solitary walk in the park and get out there.

LAUSD Cancels Plans For Centers To Help With Childcare During Coronavirus Closure

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A sign outside of Gage Middle School in Bell announces that all LAUSD schools will be closed beginning March 16. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Los Angeles Unified School District officials have cancelled plans to open 40 "Family Resource Centers," where the school system had hoped to offer childcare and meals to needy students during the district's two-week shutdown.

On Monday evening, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said public health authorities couldn't guarantee the centers would be safe — either for children or for staff — as the coronavirus spreads.

"I cannot ask anyone to work at one of the centers, or open them to children, unless we can be assured of their safety," Beutner wrote in a letter.

LAUSD leaders have previously acknowledged the plans for the Family Resource Centers came with some risk. When Beutner announced the plans last week, he had said all visitors would have their temperature checked to ensure anyone with possible COVID-19 symptoms wouldn't be admitted.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has urged schools to make efforts to continue to provide social services to students. His executive order says schools must make efforts to "arrange for supervision for students during ordinary school hours … to the extent practicable."

So LAUSD is making a new plan.

Instead, the district plans to open 60 "Grab and Go Food Centers" starting on Wednesday. On weekdays from 7 to 10 a.m., each student will be able to take home two meals daily from these sites.

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Cooking For Thousands of Coronavirus Shut-ins

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Firefighters getting breakfast during the Tick Fire. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Not every homebound person over 65 or other coronavirus shut-ins have someone to shop for them, and many cannot afford to have groceries or prepared meals delivered.

One possibility to fill the gap: companies that feed firefighters during disasters.

Firefighter field kitchens are built to set up quickly in remote areas. They serve thousands of meals three times a day, and have supply chains in place to keep going for weeks. All they need is enough space to park a mobile kitchen hauled in by a semi-truck.

“Anywhere where we can put our semis, we can set up,” said Bryan Scofield.

His company, Scofield Catering and Management Inc., of Ventura, routinely dishes up hefty meals for hard working firefighters who need upwards of 6,000 calories a day.

Scofield's company’s mobile kitchens have also been called on to provide normal-sized meals for disaster evacuees.

He's president of the National Mobile Shower and Catering Association, whose member companies are now in talks with local governments to help feed seniors, schoolkids and other coronavirus shut-ins in California and beyond. Scofield declined to say which agencies had contacted the association or its members.

Those companies are all qualified to receive U.S. Forest Service food service contracts. And collectively, they can produce one million meals a day. But they don’t deliver, so nonprofits or governments would have to fill that gap, possibly with two deliveries a day.

“Your breakfast is going to be more like a continental breakfast and then a sack lunch,” Scofield said. Most likely, they would provide a combined breakfast and lunch in one delivery, and a hot or heatable dinner in the afternoon.

Los Angeles city and county officials have said that seniors who are getting daily meals from local senior centers will be able to continue to get them on a grab-and-go basis.

But the need to provide meals for seniors and others could grow.

Scofield cautions that Southern California agencies might soon be competing with other parts of the country for mass feeding services, so he says the sooner they move to secure a contract, the better.

Once President Trump declared a national emergency, that freed up federal money that counties and cities can use, Scofield said.

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Garcetti Announces 2-Week Moratorium On Some Parking Tickets

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There have been a whole lot of restrictions announced in the past few days that mean a lot of people are stuck at home, unable to work, afraid they might not be able to pull in a paycheck and pay their rent.

The goal is important: slow the spread of COVID-19.

To help residents cope with this new normal (at least for now) Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced what is sure to be a very popular moratorium on parking tickets issued in residential street-sweeping zones. This move adds to a previous order blocking tenant evictions because of difficulties related to COVID-19.

The announcement was part of a raft of measures meant to soften the blow on residents worried both about the health impact and the financial impact of this ongoing outbreak.

Effective immediately and lasting for the next two weeks, the city will:

  • Stop giving tickets during street sweeping in residential areas
  • Stop giving tickets to parents and caregivers picking up meals around closed schools
  • Stop ticketing and towing for abandoned vehicles and oversized and overnight parking

In addition, the city will freeze all parking fine increases for the next 60 days and extend the deadline for payments to June 1. Garcetti said:

"People are feeling the financial pinch, and the small things we can do to help families we will enact."

Don't let this be a call to park wherever you want, whenever you want, though. The city hasn't stopped all ticketing activities.

Garcetti said they will still enforce some parking rules in order to prioritize public health and safety, including for:

  • Street sweeping around homeless encampments
  • Emergency access — keeping colored curbs clear
  • Repaving and slurry operations
  • Metered parking spaces (this is to encourage turnover to help businesses deal with increased pick-up and delivery needs)

He also said there will be an extended grace period for people making deliveries, and for those dropping off or picking up groceries or other goods.

Garcetti said the city has now moved its Emergency Operations Center to Level 1, which means that the mayor can now deputize city workers and reassign them where needed, though he has not yet said whether or in what ways he might do so.

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Gym Shutdown Means No Showers For Homeless

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An RV in Los Angeles. (Matt Tinoco/LAist)

Shuttering libraries and gyms makes sense to minimize the transmission of COVID-19.

But thousands of homeless Angelenos rely on them for basic services, notably showers and internet access.

Officially, about 16,500 people live in vehicles in Los Angeles County. However, experts concede the actual number is likely several times higher.

Angelo Mike is one of those people. He’s lived in his Toyota Camry for more than 16 months. He's had a hard time finding work, something that’s now gotten even harder with the pandemic.

“I haven’t been able to work from my laptop because the library’s closed. Normally I apply for jobs there.”

Applying for jobs and looking for other openings was typically the first and last thing he would do while on a library’s wi-fi. Since all the libraries closed on Friday, he’s been using his phone, which he can charge with his car.

But finding a place to shower is much harder. Until Sunday, he washed up daily at a Planet Fitness gym in the North San Fernando Valley.

On Monday it was closed. So he took what he called a “bird bath,” washing down with a one-and-a-half liter water bottle. First he wets, then shampoos with body wash, followed by a rinse.

“Then, [I] dry myself off with the towel, and I have a second towel laid down on the driver's seat of my car so I can sit on that without getting it all moldy and musty from the water.”

He says many are in this position, judging by the number of people who used to show up early to shower at the gym.

Though local governments are placing hand-washing stations at homeless camps, the question of where to shower remains unanswered.

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California Community College Governors Approve Emergency Powers For System Chancellor

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East Los Angeles College is among the state's 115 community colleges. (Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/LAist)

The California Community College Board of Governors unanimously voted on Monday to give Chancellor Eloy Oakley emergency powers to keep classes open at the 115-college system during the coronavirus epidemic.

The resolution’s supporting comments said last week’s decision by community colleges to move classes online generated questions “concerning the appropriate process for approving such transitions.” The resolution notes that existing emergency powers address keeping the public safe or financially protecting college districts during emergencies, but they don't address how to keep education going if campuses are shut.

The resolution gives Oakley the power to issue executive orders, and sidestep the board of governors’ own regulations and rules adopted by the local boards of trustees that oversee California’s community colleges.

The move is one example of extraordinary steps public administrators are taking to ensure public institutions continue to provide services during the coronavirus crisis.

“It is not good governance to give unlimited power for a significant period of time,” said Community College Association President Eric Kaljumagi in a question submitted via the online meeting. "I am concerned that student, staff, and faculty positions will be unknown when important decisions are made.”

The California Community Colleges system enrolls about 2 million students at 115 colleges. It’s the largest higher education system in California and the nation.

The emergency powers were granted for as long as California is under an emergency declaration, or six months, whichever comes first. The Board of Governors may still call for an emergency meeting in response to any actions taken by the chancellor.

Read the full resolution here:

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How LA Businesses Are Deciding Whether To Stay Open Or Close Down

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Many stores were empty in Los Angeles on March 16, 2020, the day after state and local officials required many establishments to shut down to help slow the spread of coronavirus. (Emily Guerin/KPCC)

Stay open, or close down?

Bars, movie theaters and gyms are closing their doors to help slow the spread of coronavirus. But how are other small business owners making this decision?

I visited every store on a two-block stretch of Lincoln Boulevard near Rose Ave. in Venice. I avoided stores that have already been instructed to stay open (restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies) or shut down (gyms, bars, movie theaters).

WHY LINCOLN AND ROSE?

It seemed like a good cross-section of Los Angeles. Here, homeless people sleep in RVs in front of upscale stores that specialize in alkaline water, and a payday loan store shares a corner with Whole Foods.

WHO'S OPEN AND WHY?

I found that the businesses most determined to stay open were... busy. And why were they busy? Because they were selling essentials, or what people perceive to be essentials, like cigarettes and marijuana.

As a tobacco store employee told me:

“If you have a pretty ravishing nicotine addiction and you can’t go out, a lot of people are going to stock up."

Meanwhile, stores selling non-essentials, like picture frames, were empty. Stores where social distancing is impossible, like massage parlors or barber shops, were also without customers.

Still, some said they'd stay open until the government shuts them down.

Barber Trevor Plough put it this way: “If we don’t cut, we don’t eat."

Read our full report.

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White House: No Gatherings Of More Than 10 People; Trump Says Outbreak Could Last Until August

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President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 16, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump and the White House coronavirus task force announced new voluntary guidelines to help reduce the spread of coronavirus over the next 15 days. These include avoiding gathering in groups larger than 10, schooling children at home when possible, avoiding discretionary travel, and avoiding eating at bars, restaurants, and food courts. The guidelines apply to people of all ages. Schools are also recommended to close.

President Trump said that the outbreak could last until July or August.

"We have an invisible enemy," Trump said.

He said that no national quarantine is planned, but that quarantine may be considered for certain local hotspots. Trump said that his administration and experts have talked about restricting domestic travel, but hope to avoid doing so.

Watch the press conference here:


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LA's Movie Theaters Are Being Shut Down, So Universal Will Release Its Movies On Demand

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People enter an AMC theater Saturday, March 14, in Los Angeles. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Everyone's home binging TV and movies instead of going out, with this weekend bringing the lowest box office totals in 20 years — sorry, Bloodshot.

For the last few folks who felt invincible and were still heading to theaters, that's no longer an option in the City of Los Angeles. Sunday night, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that movie theaters would be shut down effective at midnight that night. And even outside of L.A., Regal Cinemas announced they will be closing their theaters nationwide starting Tuesday.

There might not be many movies to go see in theaters, withonly one major studio release left on the April calendar: Trolls World Tour, which actually moved up its release date a week as the calendar cleared to April 10. And NBCUniversal followed up Monday by announcing they will release the film on demand at the same time as its theatrical release due to coronavirus, offering it for a suggested rentail retail of $19.99. They also plan to release films currently in theaters — The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma — on demand as well, as early as this Friday.

Multiple upcoming blockbusters have already moved their release dates due to concerns about moviegoers being affected by the coronavirus, both domestically and internationally — especially in the huge Chinese market. A Quiet Place Part II won't be opening this week as scheduled; Mulan was supposed to come a week later, and The New Mutants and Peter Rabbit 2 the week after that. All have been delayed.

While L.A. theaters are shutting down, similar announcements have not been made yet in many neighboring cities. So you may still be able to find somewhere showing movies, at least for now — there just won't be very many of them. And, oh yeah, you really shouldn't. Stay home and socially distance.

While you'er doing that, mark your calendars for when those delayed movies will be coming out:

  • F9 (Fast and Furious 9): April 2, 2021 (yes, the coronavirus means you need to wait an extra year to be with the franchise that celebrates family as you hunker down with your own)
  • No Time To Die (Bond 25): Nov. 25
  • Peter Rabbit 2: Aug. 7

Movies delayed indefinitely but to watch out for:

  • Antlers (we hadn't heard of it either, but it's a horror movie acquired by Disney in the Fox merger that was supposed to come out April 17)
  • A Quiet Place Part II
  • Mulan
  • The New Mutants (the fourth time this movie's release has been postponed, as it is apparently cursed)

Films that already had release dates further out, either announced or unannounced, could also face delays — the coronavirus has shut down film production on numerous movies, from the Batman to the next Mission: Impossible.

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94 Coronavirus Cases In LA County; Bars, Gyms, Dine-In Restaurants Directed To Close

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Los Angeles County and a number of cities, including Pasadena and Santa Monica, are taking even more extreme steps to distance residents from one another and protect against the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. L.A. County's new restrictions apply to all 88 cities within the county, as well as unincorporated parts of the county.

The list of businesses directed to close is long and includes:

  • bars
  • clubs
  • theaters
  • entertainment centers
  • fitness centers

Restaurants are barred from providing dine-in service and instead are limited to dine-in and takeout orders.

The measures include strongly discouraging any gatherings of more than 50 people (an announcement that didn't go quite as far as President Donald Trump's call just minutes earlier to limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer).

The news came even as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in L.A. County nearly doubled over the weekend.

County health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said 41 cases have been reported in the last 48 hours, bringing the total to 94 countywide. Two of the people whose cases were announced today have been hospitalized.

Anticipating the financial and economic hardship this would place on residents, Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the county was also introducing measures to help residents weather this social storm, including:

  • work on eviction relief for those impacted, including potentially a temporary moratorium on evictions
  • assist small businesses in applying for loans through the U.S. Small Business Adminstration
  • work with utility and service providers to waive late fees and forgo service disconnections for tenants and businesses
  • consider working with banks to waive late fees, forgo notices of default, and delay other actions such as foreclosing on properties
  • examine other options including food through the Cal-Fresh program

Barger also said the county is working to set up telemedicine services and is encouraging residents to use remote health services in lieu of going to the doctor, when possible.

All county buildings are closed to the public, too, and the county is canceling non-essential meetings and events.

For a full list of county closures, check the county website here.


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LA County Sheriff Releases Some Jail Inmates, Advises Against Buying A Gun Right Now

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Several Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department employees have come into contact with people suffering from COVID-19, and they have gone into self isolation, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Monday at a press conference. However, none of those personnel have tested positive for the virus.

While dealing with the coronavirus, the department is reducing the jail population through early release to reduce the potential impact of the disease. Villanueva said that those in prison are a vulnerable population.

Over the past two weeks, the Sheriff's Department has reduced the jail population by about 617. The sheriff has ordered the release of people who had less than 30 days left on their sentences, and he's also directing local agencies to cite and release as many suspects as possible.

There are zero confirmed cases of the virus among the prison population at this time, out of 16,459 inmates. Nine inmates are in isolation housing, with 26 other inmates in quarantine.

You can watch the press conference here:

As law enforcement agencies cite and release more people, the average number of daily arrests has fallen from 300 countywide to 60 per day over this past weekend, Villanueva said.

In another move aimed at avoiding overcrowding, Villanueva said he has raised the aggregate bail amount required for booking. Previously, authorities could cite and release those with bail under $25,000. The sheriff said he has raised that minimum to $50,000.

The homeless population presents a large potential coronavirus threat due to sanitary conditions and resistance to seek medical aid, Villanueva said. The Sheriff's Department is currently reaching out to this community.

Villanueva recommended against buying a gun due to the coronavirus.

"Buying guns is a bad idea," Villanueva said. "Particularly, you have a lot of people now that are at home — normally, they're not. Cabin fever sets in, you've got a crowded environment, people at home — weapons are not a good mix."

Villanueva asked that people who have firearms at home make sure that they're locked properly.

There will be an increase in deputies at places like grocery stores and shopping centers, the sheriff. said.

While L.A. County buildings are being closed, all 23 Sheriff's Department stations will keep their lobbies open, he said. However, the public is asked to report less serious crimes by phone or online. If someone feels they have to come in person and they're experiencing symptoms such as a fever, Villanueva asked that they call first to give staff a heads up.

The sheriff said his department had to impose a quarantine within the jail system last year due to an outbreak of the mumps, which he said is potentially more infectious than COVID-19.

Villanueva said moving forward, his press briefings will be held using one press pool camera, rather than having reporters participate in person.

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Mayor Garcetti To LA: Please Stop Hoarding, Food Supply Chain Is OK

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Grocery supply chains are good, so please stop hoarding. That was the message from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and a cadre of grocery store representatives from across the industry.

To hoard food "has a consequence" for vulnerable people. "Supply chains are completely uninterrupted, and there's no shortage of food," Garcetti said today. "There's no reason to make a run on the supermarkets."

Garcetti said there is plenty of food, and toilet paper and paper towels will be replenished quickly: "Hoarding is hurting our most vulnerable Angelenos."

Hand sanitizer will take longer to resupply -- if you are sitting on a big supply, Garcetti said, please share with your neighbors.

Garcetti also encouraged younger residents to be kind and help older people get out of the store quickly.

"Please be generous with our seniors. If you see them, put them to the front of the line," he said.

His parting note: "Stay calm, continue and remember Los Angeles -- we'll get through this. And there's plenty of food."

Garcetti spoke from a remote press conference livestreamed from a Ralphs distribution center in Paramount. Here's more from the representatives across Southern California's grocery retail industry.

Bryan Kaltenbach, president of Food 4 Less:

Kaltnebach thanked Angelenos who shop at Food 4 Less and Ralphs, sayind "you're incredibly patient, you're very, very compassionate to our associates trying to serve you, and a big thank you for what you're doing to help us get through this."

He also thanked the company's associates for "all their hard work and dedication to the communities we serve."

Some of the things he said they're doing:

"In the middle of the night, they are stocking a lot of groceries. They're trying to replenish the stores, get inventory levels up on the critical items you're looking for. And we're also doing a lot of cleaning. It's obviously critical that our stores are really clean and that you have a safe place to shop. During the day, we maintain really high standards by ensuring that we constantly clean high-use areas, such as pin pads, checkstand belts, counters, restrooms, and ensure that we have sanitizing wipes for all the shopping carts that you use every day in our stores."

The cleaning and sanitizing efforts were echoed by the other grocery store representatives, as well.

Oscar Gonzalez, co-president and COO of Northgate Gonzalez Market:

"There is no food shortage. The issue most of us retailers have been dealing with is this overbuying. Our distribution centers, our suppliers have been impacted. So the faster we can get to normalcy in tertms of buying behaviors, then we will be very good."

He said their stores are committed to staying open and serving the community.

Melissa Hill, director of community affairs and government affairs at Albertsons:

"We are so very proud of all of our frontline associates both in the store and behind the scenes, with our warehouse workers, our truck drivers, our manufacturing plants that are here in the area, helping to serve our stores and ultimately serve our customers. We are doing everything we can to keep the stores open and in stock, so we really appreciate the customers' patience while they allow us to get this done."

Rob McDougall, president and CEO of Gelson's Markets:

"I just want to reassure our customers that althou we are a little bit behind on stocking some shelves, it's not a supply problem, it's really a people problem, in getting that product to the shelves."

He took the opportunity to publicly thank all Gelson's employees, who are working overtime to help fulfill customer needs. He asked people to acknowledge that when they visit the stores.

"Give us a little big of grace as we work through this issue in this time. It's unprecedented."

He said he looked forward to "smooth sailing soon."

Kendra Doyel, vice president of merchandising for Ralphs:

"We really are putting people first at Ralphs and Food 4 Less" to take care of associates who have been diagnosed and ensure them that if they have a mandatory quarantine or are exhibiting symptoms, they should stay home and will get paid leave.

She said both Ralphs and Food 4 Less are hiring to keep up for demand. She pointed anyone interested to the following websites:

And finally, she said, to associates in warehouses, stores, and offices: "You inspire me every single minute of every single day, in how you're taking care of our communities, you're taking care of each other, and the grace that our customers are exhibiting as we all come together as Californians."

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CDC Recommends Against Gatherings Of 50 Or More

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

In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now advising against gatherings of 50 people or more for the next eight weeks.

In a guidance announcement issued on Sunday, the agency said it was warning against large events and mass gatherings that include "conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies."

The agency called on organizers, whether they are individuals or organizations, to cancel or postpone such events. However, it said the guidance did not apply to the daily operations of organizations such as schools, institutes of higher learning or businesses.

"This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus," according to the guidance announcement. "This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials."

Olaf From 'Frozen' Will Read To Your Kids -- Virtually

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Your public library is closed, but you don't have to miss out on storytime. (Mariana Dale/LAist )

In the words of Frozen 2 -- cuddle close, scooch in, it’s storytime.

Well, virtual storytime (Los Angeles public libraries are closed through the end of the month).

Over the weekend, several notable names announced they would livestream themselves reading their favorite children’s books to families hunkered down inside.

“I just want to thank everyone who is in self-isolation right now, I know it’s hard not to be out there socializing with everybody, trust me I want to be out there too,” said Josh Gad, the voice of Frozen’s Olaf, before cracking open Shel Silverstein’s "The Giving Tree."

“I have a lot of feels for this book and I’m going to try to get through without tearing up,” Gad said. “I can’t promise that that’s going to happen, which is why I stopped reading it to my kids a long time ago.”

“Kids listen to your parents. Parents, listen to your doctors. Doctors, listen to your officials, most of them,” Gad said as he signed off. “Everybody be healthy, be safe. Watch a lot of TV.”

Authors Oliver Jeffers and Mac Barnett will also be holding daily readings of books at 11 a.m. and noon Pacific Time every day on Instagram.

Can't participate at those hours? The Los Angeles Public Library has compiled a playlist of previously recorded storytimes on YouTube that you access anytime.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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

Map: What The Spread Of Coronavirus Looks Like So Far

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This map shows cumulative confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries and is updated in near real-time throughout the day. Zoom out to see more of the world.

The data is maintained by Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering which pulls from:

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Coronavirus Has Some Local Governments Canceling, Teleconferencing Meetings

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Los Angeles City Hall. (Matt Tinoco/LAist)

Social distancing precautions to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus are forcing local governments to change how they hold public meetings.

Last Thursday, Governor Newsom issued an executive order suspending part of the state’s open meetings law, called the Brown Act.

Newsom said local city councils and county boards may meet over the telephone or online, and the locations where officials and government staff are teleconferencing in from don’t have to be open to the public. (Telephonic meetings are normally allowed under California’s sunshine laws, but the locations where city officials dial in usually must be publicly announced -- and accessible.)

Most parts of the Brown Act still apply: Regular meeting agendas still must be posted 72 hours in advance and there has to be a physical location open to the public where people can watch the meeting.

HOW ARE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GOVERNMENTS MEETING?

  • The Los Angeles City Council has canceled all committee meetings and is only meeting with the full council once a week -- on Tuesdays -- for now.
  • L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said boards, commissions and the city council will allow remote public comment so people can either call or "use a Facetime-like app to be able to give testimony without coming in-person."
  • Tuesday’s L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting is canceled. Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Sunday that many county buildings will be closed.
  • The City of Long Beach has announced it will hold public meetings by teleconference and is encouraging public comment. “It’s very important that social distancing becomes the norm for the time being,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. City Hall will remain open with a skeleton crew, but most employees will work from home. The council and any committees or commissions that need to meet will do so “by teleconference, at least through April,” Garcia said.
  • Anaheim spokesperson Lauren Gold said the city is “looking into all options for now,” but will hold meetings as usual this week. Anaheim is encouraging residents who need services like requesting police reports, applying for parking permits, or making inquiries about trash service to access those services online instead of in person.

(Watch for updates to this story)

What To Expect At LA Schools This Morning

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An LAUSD bus passed in front of The Broad in downtown Los Angeles. Jonathan Gonzalez / UnSplash

Here's what we know about plans for Los Angeles Unified schools on the first morning of a scheduled two-week closure of the nation's second-largest school district:

  • Principals will be on campus this morning to redirect families unaware of the closure.
  • Staff represented by the teacher's union “will not be penalized for taking time off for child care purposes."
  • Any teachers or non-school-based administrators will not be expected to report to work if they are over 60, pregnant, or have health conditions that increase their risk of a more serious COVID-19 case, or are ill.

The guidance is included in a memo sent over the weekend to staff. It also includes directions for a range other other positions in the massive district from custodians to food service workers and financial managers.

READ THE REST OF THE GUIDANCE:

Coronavirus Poses Threat To LA County Renters Already Living On The Edge

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Some local officials are calling for a temporary freeze on evictions during the coronavirus outbreak. (David Wagner / LAist)

For most people living in L.A., the biggest threat of the coronavirus is not falling critically ill. It’s the financial hit to those already struggling under Southern California’s high cost of living.

Housing costs were already a burden on local residents, even when the overall economy was in relatively good shape. More than half of households in Los Angeles are putting more than 30% of their income toward their rent or mortgage alone. Experts say that’s unaffordable.

L.A. County has the highest poverty rate in the state — and many don’t have enough savings to get through a rough patch. According to Census data, about a third of Californians would not be able to cover basic expenses for three months if they lost their income.

That’s why some local officials are calling for a temporary freeze on evictions. Late yesterday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti issues a moratorium on evictions of residential tenants "if the tenant is able to show an inability to pay rent due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic."

He said renters will have up to six months to repay back rent after the order expires. It is currently set to expire on March 31 but Garcetti said it could be extended prior to that date.

Garcetti also said he was asking he city attorney to explore if there was a way to offer relief to commercial tenants as well.

in addition, SoCalGas has said for now, they won’t disconnect utilities for households struggling to pay their bills.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Morning Briefing: A Never-Ending Cascade Of Closures + A Spirit Of Collaboration… And Rain

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(Chava Sanchez / LAist)

We will be honest with you. There has been so much news, we probably couldn't even count how many updates we've made to this post and LAist.com over the weekend. But we know you're counting on us to deliver the news you need. So let's do this.

Schools, daycares, offices, city recreation centers and beloved landmarks all have shut down to stop the spread of coronavirus. Late Sunday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced sweeping closures that affect much of public life just minutes after L.A. County said all their offices are closed to the public starting this morning.

All this is throwing all of our ay-to-day lives out of whack. And yet, a spirit of collaboration is taking over the city.

"It's going to be a bit of an inconvenience,” one LAUSD parent told us, “but at the same time, health comes first."

Here's what else we're...

Covering Today:

  • Rain is expected to continue all through the week, with a possible respite on Thursday.
  • Myra Vasquez is reimagining the gelatina, combining traditional Mexican ingredients with modern trends and techniques. Cynthia Rebolledo reports.
  • Events are pretty much all getting cancelled. Here are some other ways to stay busy, says Christine N. Ziemba.
  • Stuck at home? Lisa Brenner offers up a classic board game suggestion — the start of our "stay sane" series of games to play in the comfort of your own self-isolating home.

Coronavirus Special Section:

What We Know:

  • Gov. Newsom laid out new and far stricter guidelines to curb the pandemic, calling for all seniors and people with underlying conditions to be isolated at home. He also advised all wineries, bars and brewpubs to close until further notice, and for restaurants to stay at no more than 50 percent capacity.
  • L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told us he was 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. And Sunday night he did it.
  • We’ve been hearing from some international passengers arriving at LAX who were concerned that they were not screened for the coronavirus. Garcetti said he was “very confident” in the areas that local officials were handling with screening, but that federal officials had "a very uneven approach.”
  • L.A. County now has a total of 69 coronavirus cases. Eight were confirmed Friday, 11 were confirmed Saturday and another 16 were confirmed Sunday. One of the cases is an LAPD employee.
  • The expert consensus is: Homeless people are particularly vulnerable to the virus. Here’s what local authorities are doing (and not doing) to protect them.
  • Meanwhile, the Census Bureau is delaying some of its early outreach efforts because of the pandemic. (Reminder: You can complete the census online!)
  • The Governator has a wicked sense of humor -- or maybe is just a little odd. In any case, his take on being a 72-year-old man stuck at home made us laugh.

What We’re Following:

  • Libby Denkmann examines the question: How do you govern at a time when local governing bodies are postponing meeting, or going remote?
  • Senior centers are closing, reports Alyssa Jeong Perry, and the closures will be tough for visitors who count on them for socializing – especially non-English speakers.
  • And Jacob Margolis will continue to check on the supply of goods in our stores and also lean on his reporting for our podcast The Big One: Your Survival Guide to examine why so many people lined up to buy guns in recent days.

In Case You Missed It:

We're excited to introduce the first installation of Mis Ángeles, a new column by Erick Galindo, our former immigration reporter. Erick covers the stories of those living on L.A.'s margins, who don't have quite as much time to obsess over coronavirus.

"Look around, gordito," a day laborer at Home Depot told him. "Something terrible always happens to us.

Also:

Help Us Cover Your Community:

  • Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything >>
  • Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know >>

The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft.