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LAPD Reacts To String Of COVID-19 Cases

Updated
Published
The Los Angeles Police Department's Metropolitan Detention Center is located in downtown LA. (Andrew Cullen for LAist)

Nine Los Angeles Police Department employees have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday, the department reported this afternoon.

According to a department statement, 8 are sworn officers and one is a civilian. "All of these individuals are now quarantined at home and recovering," the statement reads.

"The Department has strict protocols for any employee who experiences symptoms of the virus. They are instructed to go home and their workspaces are sanitized."

LAPD officials told KPCC/LAist that the department will soon shift to longer hours and change up some protocol in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A department spokesperson said LAPD is gearing up to go to a "mobilized" state, which means officers will work 12 hour shifts with 12 hours off.

Craig Lally, president of the police officer’s union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, is a 40-year veteran of the force who said he’s mobilized before during earthquakes and the 1992 L.A. riots. He said the long shifts can be grueling.

“You can barely keep your eyes open because sometimes, that 12 hour watch turns into like a 15 or 20 hour watch,” Lally said.

The LAPD has secured hundreds of COVID 19 kits, and has a protocol in place to test officers who are exhibiting symptoms of the illness. The department said in its statement Monday that it would "make every effort" to test employees who are exhibiting symptoms.

The L.A. Times reported that an officer who tested positive for COVID 19 last weekend worked for two days before being sent home. A department spokesperson told KPCC/LAist that employees and officers are expected to self-report to supervisors if they feel unwell.

Officers are also being allowed to wear breathable, cotton uniforms they can wash themselves at home, in place of their regular wool uniforms which require dry cleaning.

And some officers working administrative assignments or who fit into “at-risk” groups more vulnerable to the virus are working from home.

But a female LAPD officer who did not want to be identified told KPCC/LAist that given the nature of police work, that’s not a long-term solution.

Hardcore Hikers Are Fighting Each Other Over Quitting The Pacific Crest Trail

Updated
Published
PCT

You’d think that long-distance backpackers would be jumping at the chance for their favorite kind of social distancing. But it’s not that simple for Pacific Crest Trail hikers.

Some small towns that hikers rely on for re-supplies, like Mammoth Lakes, are asking outsiders to stay away. Hikers already on the trail now (many northbound hikers start in March or April) say they feel unwelcome, and are having a hard time getting supplies or hitchhiking.

As a result, many hikers are canceling their trips. But some are committed to going anyway. And some are already out on the trail. In PCT forums on Facebook, there is already a lot of shaming by people on both sides.

READ THE FULL STORY

Thousands Of New COVID-19 Tests Coming To LA

Updated
Published
A test kit for COVID-19 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, MA on March 18, 2020. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles officials announced on Monday a significant increase in the county’s ability to test for COVID-19.

L.A. City Councilman David Ryu said the county has secured an initial 20,000 new tests from South Korea-based company Seegene Technologies, Inc., as well as the promise of 100,000 tests a week for the LA area.

“In addition to the testing already contracted by the city and the county, [we have] secured 20,000 new tests for the coronavirus, with the ability to locally run and process 5,000 tests per day by this Friday,” Ryu said.

Dr. Clayton Kazan, medical director with the L.A. County Fire Department, is heading up testing coordination for the county.

He said they’ll prioritize who gets the test, at first.

“Phase one will be ensuring access to first responders and health care providers,” Kazan said.

Eventually, the plan is to have widespread public access to testing, according to Kazan.

Government officials continue to call attention to a shortage of nasal swabs and other testing equipment.

L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez wants Southern California factories to help. She’s urging companies to convert production lines to make both testing and personal protective equipment as soon as possible.

“We are urging production lines to start making the critical materials we desperately need to increase testing for the coronavirus,” Martinez said. “We should not wait for the president to use his Defense Production Act. We are Los Angeles. L.A. County has the 26th largest economy in the world.”

L.A. County has had 536 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and eight fatalities.


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.

LA OKs Alcohol Delivery, Expands Eviction Moratorium

Updated
Published

In a bid to help restaurants and bars survive while their customers are barred from enjoying dine-in service, Mayor Eric Garcetti said today any alcoholic beverages can now be delivered as long as the business also offers food.

"Our restaurants depend so often on those sales that have dried up — quite literally — that this will not only be something nice for the people of L.A., but good for those businesses to keep them alive," Garcetti said, "so that when this crisis is over, your favorite neighborhood watering hole and restaurant will still, we hope, be there."

Garcetti made the announcement at his daily briefing on the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to green-lighting booze deliveries, Garcetti also said he was closing a loophole that had been left open in the city's previous moratorium on evictions. Any Ellis Act evictions are now specifically prohibited. The Ellis Act ordinarily provides landlords who are planning to go out of business a way to legally evict tenants in rent-controlled units.

These briefings tend to be pretty wide-ranging. Here are a couple other takeaways:

  • Garcetti said the city is expanding its capacity to test its city leaders and frontline staff — so far it's tested 325 first responders, critical health care professionals, staff working with the homeless, and others
  • If you think you meet testing criteria for coronavirus — those with symptoms, those who are 65 years and older, or who have underlying conditions — you can now go to coronavirus.lacity.org
  • Garcetti's launching the "Angeleno Campaign" to raise $10 million as part of his Mayor's Fund to raise money for families in need — you can donate by texting "LA love" to 21000 or go online at mayorsfundla.org/angeleno

You can watch the full replay above.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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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'A Lot Of Doctors Are Scared' As Case Numbers Increase And Supplies Run Short

Updated
Published
Face masks, in short supply across the U.S., are passed out before testing patients for COVID-19 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

As testing remains limited, it’s hard even for doctors to know whether they’ve been exposed to the illness. Many ER doctors have been isolating themselves from loved ones. Mark Futernick, an ER physician told us:

“They just don’t want to take any chances at all. They’re renting motels, they’re living in the garage. They’re too afraid to see their families at all.”

And as state and federal leaders say protective equipment and funding are on the way, physicians in Southern California have been telling us they fear for what’s to come in the days and weeks ahead, as supplies run short and coronavirus case numbers rise.

READ THE FULL REPORT

Trump: Businesses Closed By Coronavirus Will Be Able To Reopen 'Much Sooner' Than 3-4 Months

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Published

President Donald Trump said at an afternoon press conference that the country is not built to be shut down. He noted that the administration was looking to figure out when businesses can be reopened. He said that businesses will be open "much sooner" than three to four months from now.

"At a certain point, we have to get open," Trump said. "If it were up to the doctors, they may say let's keep it shut down — let's shut down the entire world."

He reiterated a message he sent via a tweet Sunday night, saying that a decision on what to do next will come at the end of the 15-day period of precautions the White House recommended that began March 16.

Trump agreed with a comment from the surgeon general earlier in the day saying that the coronavirus's effects are going to get bad this week.

To help combat hoarding, Trump said that the federal government will be taking further steps to punish price-gouging, as well as taking action against coronavirus-related fraud.

The president signed an executive order earlier Monday to designate specific items illegal to hoard, Attorney General William Barr said.

The deadline by Homeland Security to have a REAL ID is being postponed, Trump said.

Coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said that she was tested for the virus over the weekend after feeling a low-grade fever, but tested negative.

FEMA is distributing 13.3 million surgical masks and 8 million N95 masks, according to Trump.

Trump talked about the potential of various drugs to help treat the coronavirus.

The president expressed his disapproval with coronavirus-related discrimination against Asian Americans.

Note: 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.

California Needs 1 Billion Gloves For Health Care Workers, Will Close State Parking Lots

Updated
Published
File: California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Screenshot of Newsom's March 21 news briefing

California Gov. Gavin Newsom provided an update on the state's response to COVID-19. Watch the live video above.

Here are some of the key takeaways from his briefing:

  • $100 million in emergency grants are now being distributed out to cities and counties in California to secure hotels for housing the homeless.
  • California currently has 416 hospitals, and just shy of 75,000 licensed beds. We need to add an additional 50,000 beds. Here is the plan for that so far:
    • The hospital system alone will provide 30,000 of those beds
    • The state has identified another 3,000 beds. We need another 17,000.
  • The state is considering getting fourth-year medical students working in hospitals, and getting retirees back into the workforce.
  • California needs to procure 1 billion gloves, 595 million masks and 2 million shields for health care workers, to carry them through the next three months.
  • Six California companies want to repurpose their facilities to manufacture gowns. Some are considering 3D printing masks.
  • 1,000 ventilators provided by Elon Musk have arrived in L.A.
  • The state is shutting down all state parking lots, including nine in L.A.
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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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DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS

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Grammy Museum Will Stream Free Performances By Brandi Carlile, Billie Eilish And More

Updated
Published
Billie Eilish performs on stage at the Brit Awards 2020 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

After closing its doors to the public as a response to the coronavirus, the Grammy Museum is releasing digital versions of some of its most intimate performances with artists including Billie Eilish, Bob Newhart and Brandi Carlile.

When the museum is open, it hosts such shows live between 80 and 100 times a year as part of its public programs, said Michael Sticka, the museum’s president.

“We have artists in our Clive Davis theater, which seats less than 200 people,” he said.

The shows run about 45 to 50 minutes and are available for free online. The museum plans to make new performances available every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. They plan to continue doing so after the museum has re-opened.

Conversations and performances by Scarypoolparty, Bob Newhart and Yola are already available.

Sticka said that artists have been reaching out to help, wanting to know “if we can release their program, and they would like to share it socially as well.”

In addition to these shows, the museum is releasing music education programs every Sunday and Tuesday, and putting exhibits online every Friday.

“The community is typically very supportive of arts organizations by becoming members or becoming donors, or patrons,” said Sticka. “So I think at this point, in this juncture... it's critical that we give back to the community as much as possible.”

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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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DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS

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How To #Museumfromhome During The Pandemic

Updated
Published
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes hosted an online walkthrough of its newest exhibition, 'Carlos Almaraz: Evolution of Form,' which is available to watch. Echo Park (Falling Angels) by Carlos Almaraz, courtesy of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Want to take a digital look inside the Walt Disney Archives? Want to explore paintings bypaintings by the pioneering Chicano artist Carlos Alvarez? Want to visit a drive-through Art Kit Kiosk?

Even as the COVID-19 virus is wreaking havoc on cultural institutions, many have stepped up to expand their online offerings, from more robust exhibition tours to video chats with artists.

We found 22 Southern California museums that are helping us get our art fix while we #museumfromhome.

READ MORE:

LA City Council Meetings Canceled Over COVID-19 Safety Concerns

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Published
Nury Martinez represents the 6th District in the Los Angeles City Council. On Dec. 3rd, 2019 she was elected to succeed Herb Wesson as Los Angeles City Council President. (Libby Denkmann/LAist)

The Los Angeles City Council has a lot on its plate: trying to contain the health risks of an aggressive and deadly virus while mitigating the economic effects of a widespread shutdown on L.A.’s people and businesses.

But for now, that work will have to wait: Council President Nury Martinez is canceling council meetings while staff and members work out the logistics of holding them safely.

Calling the coronavirus threat “uncharted waters,” Martinez said in a letter, “We have a collective responsibility and obligation to the people of Los Angeles government operating while protecting the safety and welfare of its employees, the public and the media.”

Martinez added she would convene an emergency meeting to address any emergency items requiring council action “once all safety and logistical concerns have been met.”

Agenda items that were expected to be addressed tomorrow will be rescheduled.

In an email, spokesman Rick Coca said Martinez wants the meeting “rescheduled as soon as humanly possible given the important items we need to address to assist the residents and stakeholders of Los Angeles during this crisis.”

3 New Deaths In LA County; At Least 536 Sickened With Coronavirus

Updated
Published

Three more people have died because of the coronavirus pandemic and 128 new cases have been confirmed in L.A. County.

New numbers were shared by the county's public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer at an afternoon briefing with other city and county officials. You can watch a replay above.

Ferrer at first reported only two new deaths, but the city of Long Beach also reported its first death today and Ferrer later confirmed this was in addition to the two she initially mentioned. The woman who died was in her 50s and had underlying health conditions.

The new numbers bring the county's total fatalities due to coronavirus to eight and confirmed cases to 536. That includes 17 cases in Long Beach and three in Pasadena.

Ferrer said 80% of the cases have been people between 18-65, and 42% have been people between 18-40.

"This virus can, in fact, infect people across the board, and all people need to be vigilant and practice every directive that's been issued at the state, county, and local level," Ferrer said.

About 10% of those tested have tested positive, and about 17% of that group, or 90 people, have been hospitalized, Ferrer said.

Ferrer reiterated that the city's order was updated over the weekend to be more in line with the state's and now prohibits all gatherings and events. She said it also clarifies that even grooming services such as hair and nail salons fall under the business closure order.

"You cannot be in spaces in places where you are not able to socially distance, and that means you need to keep apart from each other at least by 6 feet. We need your help. Social distancing isn't a 'Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't.' For this to be successful, we all need to practice social distancing all of the time, particularly when we're in any public spaces."

Some firefighters have also been exposed to the virus and are now being isolated at home, according to L.A. Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby. However, Osby would not provide numbers and it was unclear whether the self-quarantining was precautionary or whether those emergency responders were ill. He did say they were "resting comfortably" at home.

During the briefing, L.A. city councilman David Ryu also announced that under a new agreement with South Korean manufacturer Seegene, the county has acquired 20,000 new coronavirus testing kits, with the ability to locally run and process 5,000 tests per day starting Friday. The tests will be free to the public. Health care workers and first responders will be prioritized for testing first.

More Public Transit Agencies Begin Rear-Door Boarding, Cut Service And Waive Fares

Updated
Published
The 217 Metro bus lets off a single passenger in front of the Hollywood/Vine Station in Hollywood. Metro buses continue to operate during the stay-at-home orders, but the agency is urging its system only be used by "essential workers, and those who need t

Public transit in greater Los Angeles is still moving — though dramatically fewer people are being moved and service on a growing number of systems is being cut.

Roughly 50-60% of L.A. Metro’s daily riders have stopped riding, CEO Phillip Washington said in a press briefing last week. The county agency’s trains are taking the biggest hit. Average weekday boarding has fallen about 66% as of last Wednesday, spokesman Rick Jager told LAist. Bus ridership is down roughly 53% with that same metric and time period.

And with so many businesses closed and so many county residents staying home (and not shopping like they used to) Washington said Metro will take a “massive hit” in lost sales tax revenue, which is a major source of its funding.

As a result, bus and rail service is being cut. Riders should check Metro's service advisory webpage and rider alerts Twitter feed for possible changes.

Metro has also moved to rear-door boarding for all its buses (riders who need wheelchair ramp access can still use the front door) and is requiring drivers to keep the transparent barrier up front closed as a layer of protection. Metro’s custodial staff is now disinfecting touch points at all rail stations — along with all Orange Line and Harbor Transitway stations — three times per day, Jager said.

Agency leaders have been in talks with both the state and federal governments about receiving emergency funds to keep its trains and buses moving for the people who depend on it.

Here’s the latest on other municipal transit agencies throughout L.A. County:

  • All city of Los Angeles transit services — managed by LADOT — remain operational. That includes DASH and Commuter Express buses, along with senior and on-demand shuttle services (but not Blue LA electric car-sharing). But as of today, March 23, LADOT has issued some “modifications” to DASH service in downtown Los Angeles (aka fewer buses running and service ending earlier than normal). The full modified schedule can be found here. LADOT also announced it was waiving fares on all its bus routes, which also started today. As of mid-March, ridership on the agency's buses have seen a "significant week-over-week decline," spokesman Colin Sweeney told LAist this week, "ranging from 3% on some lines to 30% on others." To maintain social distancing and protect both bus drivers and passengers, riders are being asked to board using the rear doors only — unless they need wheelchair ramp access at the front door.
  • Foothill Transit officials said its ridership has fallen by more than half as the COVID-19 crisis continues. The agency started reducing its service Monday and stopped running roughly a dozen of its bus lines. The full list can be viewed here. Bus boarding is now rear-door only — except for riders who need to use the front door ramp — and the agency is not collecting fares right now "in order to maintain proper social distancing."
  • The Antelope Valley Transit Authority has cut maximum occupancy on its buses by 50%. On Monday, it moved to a “reduced Saturday Schedule” Monday through Sunday.
  • Big Blue Bus, operated by the city of Santa Monica, has halted service on a few of its lines to "ensure continuity of operations and match ridership demand." The agency has also moved to rear-door boarding and is not enforcing fare collection.
  • Culver CityBus is waiving fares for riders. The agency is also asking riders to board using the rear door to limit contact with bus drivers, though front door boarding is still happening for riders with mobility needs. Certain bus lines are running on Saturday service timelines through the week.
  • Both Pasadena Transit's buses and its on-demand shuttle service for seniors and people with disabilities remain in service and the city has waived fares.
  • Bus services in the cities of Glendale and Burbank are also operating as normal. “We are closely monitoring the current situation and are vigorously cleaning buses, stations, and facilities on a frequent basis, and will continue to review and update cleaning protocols as needed,” Glendale spokeswoman Eliza Papzian told LAist last week.
  • Santa Clarita Transit continues to operate on its normal schedule, according to the latest update on its website. The city has increased cleaning on common touch points.
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Dining Bonds — Like War Bonds But For Restaurants

Updated
Published
A guest poses for a photo with a wax replica of Uncle Sam at a brand new interactive experience where Independence Day is celebrated every day at Madame Tussauds on July 18, 2016 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Madame Tussauds

When the going gets tough, the tough start thinking of creative solutions.

Hit hard by the coronavirus shut downs, restaurants are doing a bunch of things to try to save themselves. One of them is Dining Bonds.

Inspired by the war bonds the U.S. government sold during both World Wars, these are essentially gift certificates you can cash in for more money at a later date.

Approximately two dozen Southern California restaurants are currently participating.

Will the initiative help strugglign restaurants and bars? We'll see.

READ MORE:

Hand Sanitizer Is The New Vodka

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Published
Vodka bottle image: Blinking Owl Distillery. Hand sanitizer photo: Martin Sanchez/Unsplash

Robin Christenson, co-founder of Blinking Owl Distillery, would rather be overseeing the production of orange-flavored vodka and Carraway-tinged aquavit. But a couple weeks ago, she saw the Purell shortage and started looking into how her Santa Ana distillery could make hand-sanitizer. She's not the only one.

A few weeks ago, Morgan McLachlan, the head distiller at AMASS, wanted hand sanitizer and couldn't find any.

"I thought, 'I'm a distiller. I'm already formulating things with alcohol. I'll just make my own.' And then I thought, 'I'll make some for my friends and family.' Then it turned into, 'I'll make some for the office.' Then, from there, we just started to see there was a real need," McLachlan says.

Several Southern California distilleries have shifted from producing alcohol to producing hand-sanitizer. How do they do it? It all starts with vodka.

READ MORE:

Some Bars Are Bringing Happy Hour To You

Updated
Published
People walk by a closed restaurant at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles, California on March 15, 2020. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

LA's hospitality industry and #COVID19 is a recipe for disaster. The grim truth is that many restaurants and bars won't survive the coronavirus pandemic. But the hospitality industry is organizing and working hard to save itself, and they're still hoping you'll patronize their businesses.

Here are just a couple examples of how bars are staying open despite their inability to serve customers in person.

At the micro level, industry professionals are bringing the bar experience into your home. New Yorkers Jackie Summers, the creator of Sorel Liqueur, and his pal, Daniella Veras, are hosting virtual happy hours. Some of these are sponsored by liquor brands with the tips benefitting that session's featured bartender. Accompanying the bartender or sommelier, you might see a doctor taking questions about COVID-19 or a fitness instructor offering tips for home workouts.

In its #atipforatip initiative, L.A.-based beverage consulting firm Cocktail Academy is featuring a cocktail recipe per post on its Instagram feed. Like what you see? Click the link to tip the bartender who created that drink.

And after this post first published, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced they were relaxing rules to allow the delivery of alcoholic beverages as long as the establishment also serves food.

READ MORE:

LA City Offers COVID-19 Testing, Starting With Highest Risk Individuals

Updated
Published
A sign posted up in a restroom reminding people to wash their hands. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced that the city of Los Angeles will offer testing for the new coronavirus, beginning with those who are most at risk.

According to Garcetti’s announcement, those individuals include:

  • Those with symptoms who are 65 and older
  • Those with symptoms who have underlying chronic health conditions
  • Those who are subject to a mandatory 14 day quarantine period due to a confirmed COVID-19 exposure (with more than 7 days of quarantine remaining)

For more information and to find out if you are eligible, visit the city’s information site.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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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DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS

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CDC Urges Cities To Stop Clearing Homeless Encampments, Saying It Could Increase COVID-19 Spread

Updated
Published
Homeless encampments on Skid Row, photographed on June 30, 2019 in Los Angeles. (James Bernal for LAist)

Last week, Los Angeles leaders approved increased protections for homeless Angelenos in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. But cleanups of homeless encampments, known as sweeps, weren't officially halted.

Now, the CDC has issued a simple guideline for how local governments should conduct those sweeps: don't — unless individual housing units can be provided.

“Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers,” CDC officials wrote. “This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”

Federal health experts had several other recommendations for individuals experiencing homelessness and outreach workers, including:

  • Encourage people in encampments to set up their sleeping quarters with at least a 12-feet-by-12-feet buffer per person.
  • Keep nearby restrooms in working order, open 24/7 and stocked with soap, toilet paper and paper towels.
  • If there are no nearby restrooms, provide access to portable toilets and handwashing stations for encampments of more than 10 people.

MORE ON HOMELESSNESS AND CORONAVIRUS:

California National Guard Will Help Food Banks In The Coachella Valley

Updated
Published
The food bank offers a mix of perishable and nonperishable foods to the community. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Members of the California National Guard will head to the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas Monday to help food banks who have lost volunteers due to state and local “stay at home” orders.

The guardsmen and guardswomen will work with FIND Food Bank, the regional food bank for the area, which has lost up to 70% of its volunteers.

“Lines are doubling,” said Debbie Espinosa, the president of FIND. “In Indio, it normally is about a 100-person site, and we had over 400 people arrive to receive food.”

Espinosa says there's plenty of food to go around, but there are not enough people to assemble and distribute it.

The state’s National Guard will send 25 men and women, who will put together bags of food and make deliveries to the area's distribution sites.

The FIND food bank typically feeds 90,000 people a month in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Officials there expect the need to be greater during the outbreak.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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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DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS

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Hollywood Burbank Airport Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19

Updated
Published
Terminal A at Hollywood Burbank Airport (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Hollywood Burbank Airport announced Monday that a ground support employee who works as a ramp agent handling luggage tested positive for coronavirus. The individual is “recovering at home and doing well,” according to a statement from the airport.

As of 8 a.m. Monday, airport representatives have not yet responded to our requests for more information about what’s being done to protect other employees.

On its website, the airport has further information about steps being taken to keep the virus at bay. Most of those include ramped up cleaning procedures and increased availability of cleaning supplies.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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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DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS

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LA Schools Shutdown Extended To May 1

Updated
Published
LA schools will remain closed until May 1. (Kyle Stokes/LAist)

The Los Angeles Unified School District will keep schools closed until at least May 1, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced in a tweet this morning.

Schools were shutdown on March 16. The district had initially announced that schools would stay closed for two weeks from that date.

"I wish I could tell you it will all be back to normal sometime soon but it does not look like that will be the case," Beutner said in his tweeted message.

Beutner said further details will be released at 11 a.m. The announcement will be streamed live on the district's website.


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3 Companies Hiring In LA Right Now

Updated
Published
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

With California telling non-essential businesses to close to fight the spread of the coronavirus, many workers are now out of a job.

But some employers are on a hiring spree. L.A. grocers, cleaning companies, nanny services and home gym equipment sellers say they’re staffing up to meet a surge in new demand.

However, this wave of hiring may not make much of a dent. One UCLA economist predicts the coronavirus will claim 50,000 jobs in L.A. County alone.

Our full story on who’s hiring in L.A. will be on LAist later today.

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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.

Map: COVID-19 Cases Top 380K Worldwide; 536 Confirmed 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. Get today's report >>

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 43,371 as of 9 p.m. Monday.

The news comes as the number of confirmed cases in Los Angeles County surged to 536, in part a reflection of increased testing. Health officials announced today that there have been 128 new cases and three new deaths.

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, state and local officials shut down beach parking lots, barred recreation and sports at parks and closed hiking trails as too many people crowded public spaces despite dire warnings about the virus spreading rapidly.

On Sunday night, L.A. Mayor Garcetti admonished the city to stop going out, tweeting to his 325,000 followers: "This is serious. Stay home and save lives."

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 Monday, here are the total confirmed cases for the 10 countries currently facing the worst outbreaks:

  1. 81,545 China
  2. 63,927 Italy
  3. 46,371 United States
  4. 35,136 Spain
  5. 29,056 Germany
  6. 23,049 Iran
  7. 20,123 France
  8. 9,037 South Korea
  9. 8,795 Switzerland
  10. 6,726 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 9:15 p.m. Monday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

  • 2,220 confirmed cases
  • 42 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 three new deaths Monday, bringing the totals for the county to:

  • 536 confirmed cases
  • 8 deaths

That includes 17 cases in Long Beach, where city officials announced the first COVID-19 death, and three in Pasadena. Both city have their own health departments.

County health officials on Monday again stressed that they are seeing most cases in people under the age of 65. L.A. County's Public Health director Barbara Ferrer said 80% of the cases have been people between 18-65, and 42% have been people between 18-40.

She said:

"This virus can, in fact, infect people across the board, and all people need to be vigilant and practice every directive that's been issued at the state, county, and local level."

About 10% of those tested have tested positive, and about 17% of that group, or 90 people, have been hospitalized, Ferrer said.

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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Morning Briefing: Rising COVID-19 Cases, Crowded Beaches And Mask Makers

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Our amazing engagement team has personally answered hundreds of questions in the last week or so. Many of them are now part of our FAQs to help everyone. Our goal is to do our part to keep you safe and sane. We hope are holding up OK and feel determined to do your part to slow the spread of this pandemic. (Real talk: crowding beaches, farmers markets and hiking trails doesn’t qualify.) Got any questions we can help with? Let us know.

Meanwhile...

Here’s what we’re covering today:

  • Head to a store right now and odds are you'll have trouble finding beans. Which, honestly, kind of scares us, because it makes us think...hey maybe we're running out of beans altogether. Jacob Margolis has been digging into the bean supply chain to tell us where the hangup is.
  • With California telling non-essential businesses to close in order to fight the spread of the new coronavirus, many workers are now out of a job. But, as David Wagner will explain, some employers are on a hiring spree.

Here’s what happened in the past 24 hours:

  • Another person sick from the coronavirus died in Los Angeles County as the number of confirmed cases here surged to 409, in part a reflection of increased testing.
  • Hospital officials worry a shortage of personal protective equipment could mean their personnel may have to start using homemade masks. One hospital administrator in San Bernardino County said they were already re-using masks, saying “Things are bad.” Meanwhile, stitchers and sewers across L.A. such as Frogtown’s Suay Sew Shop are gearing up to help.
  • Another worry is staffing up to handle a surge in patients. USC's Keck School of Medicine is equipping surgical residents to step in, and on Friday it trained more than 50 of them in essential nursing skills for intensive care.
  • L.A. is closing beach parking lots and sports and recreation at city parks. Santa Monica is closing beach parking lots. Long Beachshut down sports facilities and group activities at parks. Local parkland officials are shutting trails after reports of crowding. Social distancing means 6 feet, people.
  • Federal aid is on the way after Gov. Gavin Newsom requested President Donald Trump declare a “major disaster” in the state of California.
  • As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, con artists are trying to take advantage of our coronavirus fears. Here’s what to look out for

In case you missed it:

  • Hand sanitizer is in short supply. Some local distilleries have stopped producing alcohol and are making hand sanitizer instead. They can do this because the liquor you pour in your martini and the stuff you rub on your hands have the same key ingredient: ethyl alcohol.
  • California has loosened restrictions so restaurants can sell takeout booze. But that doesn’t mean L.A. restaurants are going to jump on board. Why not? Because for many restaurants, the ability to sell carryout liquor is controlled by local government, not the state.
  • And you can catch up on the rest of Saturday’s news on our cheat sheet for that day: A Steep Learning Curve For ‘Stay At Home’

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

Your moment of Zen

At the iconic Wiltern, on a rainy Sunday the sign offers well wishes and a look to the future.

(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

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.