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LA Mayor Shuts Down Beach Parking And Closes Sports Facilities

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People, some wearing face masks, walk in Griffith Park on Sunday. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

After a weekend where it was clear a lot of people were still in close proximity in many outdoor areas, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti essentially said tonight: Enough is enough.

    Before Garcetti's announcement:

    Social distancing calls for people to stay at least six feet apart (see above photo). Under statewide "Safer at Home" orders, authorities had asked all Californians to do their part not to leave their home, except to work in essential jobs or seek essential services.

    Garcetti had encouraged people to walk dogs and take hikes, but apparently didn't anticipate the volume of people who would still gather in public recreational spaces.

    We will have more on this story tomorrow.

    SOME STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT COVID-19

    We're all living through this extraordinary and frightening pandemic. The vast majority of our newsroom has been working from home (here's some advice on that) since March 11 to bring you calm, helpful reporting. We are answering your questions and taking more.

    We're here to help. And if you can help support that effort financially, we'd be grateful.

    Watch: Latest Updates From LA Mayor On Coronavirus

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    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gives his latest update on the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave his daily update on the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic. You can watch the replay of his briefing above.


    SOME STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT COVID-19

    We're all living through this extraordinary and frightening pandemic. The vast majority of our newsroom has been working from home (here's some advice on that) since March 11 to bring you calm, helpful reporting. We are answering your questions and taking more.

    We're here to help. And if you can help support that effort financially, we'd be grateful.


    Correction: An earlier version of this story mistook the source of today's briefing. LAist apologizes for the error.

    Hospital Administrator In San Bernardino County: 'Things Are Bad'

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    Protective face masks are being used to ward off the coronavirus. (Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Images)

    As President Trump was giving his press conference Sunday, announcing plans to provide federal funds to New York, Illinois and California to help slow the spread of coronavirus, we checked in with Dr. Sara Khan, chief of staff at San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland.

    Here’s what she had to say via text.

    “Things are bad. We’re at 17 cases in San Bernardino County today — I think we were at five the day we last spoke [Friday 3/20]. All hospitals are facing a DIRE shortage of PPEs! (Personal Protective Equipment). We’re re-using our masks. People need to stop hoarding masks and gloves and sanitizers. If we cannot protect our health care workers on the frontline, then we’ve already lost!

    Dr. Khan, who’s been at San Antonio Regional since 2008, went on to say:

    “The CDC has recommended we use bandanas if we run out... imagine that. And know that if it comes to that, we still won’t abandon our patients! I’m reaching out to anyone wanting to donate PPEs to try and increase our numbers. I know my counterparts are doing the same. People need to take this seriously."

    She reiterated the message from the medical community that only the most vulnerable should come to emergency rooms, and should first consult with their primary care doctors.

    “We do not have the capability to run rapid tests in ER. The only reason to come to the hospital is if you have symptoms, are of an advanced age or have preexisting conditions as per the CDC recommendation. Asymptomatic people who think they may have been exposed need to contact their primary care physicians and self quarantine!"

    In reference to an earlier conversation in which she'd expressed concern about people not taking social distancing seriously enough, she said:

    "Self-quarantine does not include going to the grocery store!"

    And Dr. Khan again warned anyone without serious symptoms who's considering a visit to the ER needs to think twice:

    “The turnaround time for testing is 3 to 4 days. If you come to the hospital you will be quarantined for this period of time and we cannot allow your family to visit! Help us help you!”

    No, Crowded Beaches And Trails Do Not Equal ‘Social Distancing’

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    People walk on the beach 20 minutes after Gov. Newson ordered people to stay home last week. Some local beaches and trails reportedly remained busy through the weekend despite the orders. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

    The sun was out this weekend, and so were the people — in spite of broad stay-at-home orders from state and local governments.

    The city of Malibu says it had reports of crowded beaches and hiking trails.

    Angelenos also flocked to Santa Monica to escape their cabin fever. In response, the city has closed beach parking lots and advised people to avoid the beach and the beach bike path.

    “Today is not the day to go to the beach,” said Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole in a statement. “We urge our residents to avoid any public spaces where social distancing is a challenge.”

    The Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA) announced it would close all of its parks and trails, including the parks owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. MRCA manages more than 75,000 acres of parks and public space.


    SOME STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT COVID-19

    We're all living through this extraordinary and frightening pandemic. The vast majority of our newsroom has been working from home (here's some advice on that) since March 11 to bring you calm, helpful reporting. We are answering your questions and taking more.

    We're here to help. And if you can help support that effort financially, we'd be grateful.


    Will My Local Hospital Accept Homemade Masks?

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    Published
    Josie Huang/LAist

    Around Los Angeles, expert stitchers and sew shops are offering their extra fabric and their self-quarantine time to make masks for health care workers.

    But will local hospitals even accept non-medical-grade masks?

    The homemade versions are usually flat and made from cotton -- a far cry from the N95s that snugly fit around the nose and mouth to filter out particulates and droplets.

    We called around to local hospitals to find out.

    GO DEEPER:

    I Can Sew Homemade Masks. Will Hospitals Use Them Against Coronavirus?

    Federal Aid Coming To California, Trump Says

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    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

    Today, Governor Gavin Newsom requested that President Donald Trump declare a major disaster in the state of California.

    Within hours, President Donald Trump said the federal government had received California's request for disaster relief and would approve it "very quickly." Granting the state’s major disaster declaration will free up federal funding and support for the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Trump’s announcement came during a briefing from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

    The federal support announced by the task force includes:

    • Medical equipment and supplies to be delivered within the next 48 hours
    • FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will cover 100% of the cost of deploying National Guard troops "to carry out approved missions to stop the virus" while remaining under the governor's local control
    • 8 federal medical stations with 2,000 beds for California
    • U.S. Naval hospital ship Mercy will be deployed to Los Angeles to help take pressure off hospitals — the state’s need for beds is expected to be five times greater than the state of Washington. The Mercy will not be used to treat COVID-19 cases.

    Please note that some of President Trump's comments in past briefings have later been contradicted by information provided by other officials. He has also repeatedly used stigmatizing language to describe COVID-19.

    MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

    Map: COVID-19 Cases Worldwide Pass 330K, 1 New Death In LA County

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    Note on the data you see when clicking on a bubble: Confirmed cases include presumptive positive cases | Recovered cases outside China are estimates based on local media reports, and may be substantially lower than the true number | Active cases = total confirmed - total recovered - total deaths.


    This post is no longer being updated. Getting the latest information on Monday's map tracker post>>

    The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States jumped past those of Iran, Germany and Spain this weekend, making the U.S. the nation with the third highest total in the world at the moment. The number of confirmed cases here now stands at 35,206 late Sunday.

    The news comes as the number of confirmed cases in Los Angeles County surged to 409, in part a reflection of increased testing. Health officials said that over the last 48 hours there have been 132 new cases.

    The rising numbers, no question, are in part a reflection of wider testing, which remains limited in the U.S.

    As the numbers continue to go up, the L.A. County's Department of Public Health has shifted to "a mitigation strategy aimed at slowing disease transmission." It's recommending that providers test people with COVID-19 symptoms only when a positive result would change how a patient is treated or would "inform public health response."

    Health officials said the median age of those infected is currently 47.

    "I'm going to start trying to present this data so that everyone can understand that the risk is spread across everybody who lives here in L.A. County," Barbara Ferrer, the county health director, explained late last week. She stressed that younger people may have a better chance of recovery but are "one of the largest groups of people" testing positive for COVID-19.

    The local uptick comes as cases continue to grow in the U.S. and a number of other countries experiencing large-scale outbreaks. The map above 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.

    As of late Sunday, here are the total confirmed cases for the 10 countries currently facing the worst outbreaks:

    1. 81,439 China
    2. 59,138 Italy
    3. 35,206 United States
    4. 28,768 Spain
    5. 24,873 Germany
    6. 21,638 Iran
    7. 16,243 France
    8. 8,961 South Korea
    9. 7,474 Switzerland
    10. 5,745 United Kingdom

    These numbers are changing rapidly and experts have warned that confirmed cases are far under the actual total of infected individuals. For more detail check the full tracker, which includes death tolls and projections of cases on the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering site. Engineers there are collecting data from:

    Our friends on the L.A. Times data desk are tracking cases in California by surveying "numbers released by the dozens of local health agencies across the state." As of 10 p.m. Sunday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

    • 1,802 confirmed cases
    • 35 deaths

    [Note: If you hit a paywall on the full tracker, please consider subscribing. They have a $1 for eight weeks special. We don't have a paywall but we do count on member support to run our newsroom.]

    In Los Angeles County, public health officials announced one new death Sunday and and 71 new cases, bringing the totals for the county to:

    • 409 confirmed cases
    • 5 deaths

    County health officials said the most recent death was a Culver City resident who was older than 65 and had underlying health conditions. Both people whose deaths were announced Saturday were also older than 65 with underlying health conditions.

    The latest L.A. County number also clarified earlier reports, saying that upon investigation 12 cases previously reported in the county were found to be non-L.A. County residents. In all, 84 of the confirmed cases have required hospitalization.

    On Thursday, state and county officials ordered the vast majority of Californians to stay home and practice social distancing — limiting interactions with other people, washing hands frequently, and staying six feet away from others.

    Remember, the goal of social distancing is to "flatten the curve" of COVID-19's spread.

    Source: CDC, Drew Harris (Connie Hanzhang Jin/NPR)

    The more we can slow the rate of infection, the less overwhelmed the hospital system will be.

    Here's a look at nine scenarios over six, nine, and 12 months from our friends at ProPublica:

    (Courtesy of ProPublica)

    And here's the impact on California hospitals:

    (Courtesy of ProPublica)

    This version of the story originally published at noon.


    SOME STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT COVID-19

    We're all living through this extraordinary and frightening pandemic. The vast majority of our newsroom has been working from home (here's some advice on that) since March 11 to bring you calm, helpful reporting. We are answering your questions and taking more.

    We're here to help. And if you can help support that effort financially, we'd be grateful.


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    COVID-19 Prep: USC Trains Surgical Residents In ICU Nursing Skills

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    Ngo Le, a student medical assistant at International Community Health Services in Seattle, cleans a door handle. Karen Ducey/Getty Images

    As the number of COVID-19 cases rises, there's a growing concern about how hospitals will deal with a potential wave of patients needing critical care. That includes backfilling medical staff.

    USC's Keck School of Medicine is equipping surgical residents to step in. On Friday, it trained
    more than 50 of them in essential nursing skills for intensive care.

    Dr. Kenji Inaba, who leads the school's surgical residency program, said while the residents are already trained in surgical procedures, they weren't ready to step into the shoes of a critical care nurse.

    "None of them, when we tapped into them to find out, could hang an IV bag or adjust a ventilator," he said. "So our ICU director put together a curriculum — IV medications, intravenous access, how to hang these lines, how to get the vents going."

    USC is considering providing the training to medical students as well.

    How To Avoid These Common Coronavirus Scams

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    A close up of a real test kit for Covid-19 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

    Con artists are looking to take advantage of our growing anxiety.

    Nick Hanna, the US Attorney for the Central District of California (which includes L.A.), says the Department of Justice has seen a spike in COVID-19 fraud across the country. He warns people to be wary of:

    • fake test kits
    • quack cures
    • bogus charities

    Hanna said his agency is making COVID-19 fraud cases a priority.

    Last week, federal authorities at LAX intercepted a package from the UK containing fake coronavirus home-testing kits. And this weekend, a man was arrested in the UK for manufacturing and possessing what authorities believe are fake test kits. It's not clear if these two cases are connected.

    In Macon County, Georgia, officials have warned residents about people people going door to door claiming they can perform authorized coronavirus tests.

    Hanna said one of the most serious scams he's aware of involves fake testing kits that direct people to drink toxic liquids.

    "We're also starting to see computer phishing schemes in which people are masquerading as the Centers for Disease Control [or the] World Health Organization and trying to obtain personal information," he said.

    Quartz reports that people in Japan and Italy have been tricked by phishing campaigns. They were targeted with fake email health alerts that planted malware or infected their computers with a banking trojan.

    And, nope, sorry, Starbucks isn't offering $100 coupons during the pandemic.

    So how can you avoid these coronavirus scams? The Better Business Bureau has a handy scam tracker.

    The group also has a lot of great tips to help you avoid various scams, whether it's face masks that never arrive or fake cures and phony prevention measures or dubious crowdfunding campaigns or government relief scams.

    When you see an offer for government help:

    • Be wary of unsolicited social media messages from people claiming to work for US government agencies. Government agencies rarely communicate via social media. Do a search and see if that agency exists. Find contact info for the agency, call them and see if that person actually works for the agency.
    • Don't pay "government agents" money. If anyone claiming to be from the government asks for up front money, it's almost certainly a scam.
    • Be wary of unsolicited emails, too. Look at the sender's email address. Does it match up with email addresses of people who actually work at that agency? You can search online to find most agencies' email naming conventions.
    • Don't trust social media offers from friends. Scammers can impersonate real people on social media. Before you shell out any dough, call your friend to make sure they actually sent you the message.

    If you spot a fraud, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling its hotline at 866-720-5721 or emailing disaster@leo.gov.

    Stay smart, stay safe.

    Morning Briefing: A Steep Learning Curve For ‘Stay At Home’

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    (Chava Sanchez / LAist)

    Angelenos of all stripes are scrambling to understand what, exactly, "stay at home" means. L.A.’s child welfare workers want to be sure they’re looking out for little ones who aren’t in school, traffic is backed up in Orange County even as it’s almost nonexistent in other parts of Southern California, and sewing groups are trying to lessen the face mask shortage.

    How are you holding up? Got any questions we can help with? Let us know. Meanwhile...

    Here’s what we’re covering today:

    • Unlike everywhere else, traffic was snarled around the Honda Center on Saturday morning as thousands of cars lined up to get food from Second Harvest Food Bank, reports Josie Huang.
    • Sewing groups and individual LA residents are sewing masks for health care workers to use in the face of a potential major shortage. Huang asks, Do hospitals want them?

    Here’s what happened in the past 24 hours:

    • The U.S. now has the third highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, behind only China and Italy. Two new deaths in L.A. County were announced by public health officials. Check out the map.
    • There seems to be some confusion about differences between state and local “stay at home” orders.
    • Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the rapid expansion of hospital beds and housing for the homeless, as well as hundreds of thousands more masks for health care workers.
    • In his daily briefing, President Trump said that if Newsom or other governors can order masks, gowns, or other supplies faster than the federal government, they should do so.
    • Here are answers to your questions about getting health insurance if you lose your job, missing a health insurance payment and more.
    • The Kroger Co. – which recently announced 10,000 open positions – will give one-time bonuses for all hourly employees.
    • L.A.’s child welfare department is trying to stay vigilant with families while kids are home from school, parents may be out of work and anxiety is up, and District Attorney Jackie Lacey is working with the Sheriff’s Department to reduce L.A.’s jail population during the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Here’s some more L.A. history for you to dig into:

    And now, your moment of Zen:

    Mary Hawley, who heads our underwriting department, snapped this shot looking north from Torrance Beach during her long, social-distance appropriate Saturday bike ride.

    (Mary Hawley / LAist)

    Help us cover your community:

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