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WATCH: Today's Top Headlines In 5 Minutes

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Our newsroom is partnering with PBS SoCal and KCET to deliver a brief 5 minute (or so) daily update during the coronavirus pandemic. Each afternoon we’ll discuss the news you need to know. We chat about the ways COVID-19 is reshaping Southern California... and life for each of us.

Today PBS SoCal Chief Creative Officer Juan Devis and Adriene Hill, our managing editor, talk with:

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Open By Easter? Gov. Newsom Says More Like 8 To 12 Weeks

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Gov. Gavin Newsom tonight laid out a long course ahead for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, which is still on the rise in California. The state has been under "Safer at Home" orders since last Thursday.

Here are some takeaways:

ON REOPENING THE STATE

  • Speaking a few hours after President Donald Trump appeared to waffle on his desire to be "open by Easter," Newsom called that timeline "sooner than any of the experts that I talked to would believe is possible."
  • "The next six to eight weeks will be pivotal," he said, going on to add "soberly we look out over the course the next eight to 12 weeks, and I think we could continue to do what we've done. We do that, hopefully, then we'll be in a very different place than we are today."

PRISONS

  • Newsom said he'd issued an order changing how prisoner intake is handled in the state, in response to concerns about COVID-19 transmission.
  • He also changed protocol on parole hearings to shift from in-person to video conferences.

COVID-19 AND YOUNGER PEOPLE

  • Newsom gave some details about the death of a person in L.A. County who was described earlier only as being under 18. [Note: L.A. County officials now say this death will need further investigation by federal health officials. In a statement they called it a "complex case" that may have "an alternative explanation."

"We had the tragic loss of a young life, a teenager in Lancaster, California, which underscores the enormity of the challenge in front of us this health crisis, and how it can impact. anybody and everybody."

  • He stressed that young people "can and will" be affected by COVID-19, with 50% of those testing positive so far being between 18 to 49 years old.

TESTS AND VENTILATORS

  • Newsom said tomorrow they will release new numbers showing "a significant jump" in the number of tests conducted in the state, but said challenges remain in turnaround time.
  • He praised Elon Musk for making good on his promise to deliver 1,000 ventilators and said another 1,010 ventilators had come from the private sector.
  • They're also working to refurbish another 514 ventilators.
  • He said the federal government had provided no ventilators to the state directly from the National Stockpile. Los Angeles County, he said, did receive 170, the total from that source for the whole state.
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Garcetti To Non-Complying Businesses: 'We Will Shut You Down'

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With the city receiving daily reports of non-essential businesses continuing to operate despite orders to remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he will step up enforcement action.

The mayor's "Safer at Home" order requires non-essential businesses such as grooming services, bars and nightclubs that don't serve food, and the like to close until further notice. Only critical businesses supporting infrastructure and public health and safety, such as hospitals and medical facilities, health care workers and emergency responders, internet and telecommunications companies, grocery stores and restaurants (but takeout and delivery only) and the like can remain open. (Here's more information on what kinds of businesses are deemed "essential.")

"This behavior is irresponsible and selfish," Garcetti said, speaking via remote live stream for his daily briefing on the pandemic. "It may serve a few people for a moment, but it will put all of us at risk for a long time."

Garcetti said enforcement actions will start with verbal warnings and requests for voluntary compliance. If a business still fails to cooperate, the city will shut off the business's water and power:

"You know who you are, you need to stop it. This is your chance to step up and to shut it down, because if you don't, we will shut you down."

Garcetti said assured residents that the city will not take the same approach — shutting off water and power — for residences.

Here's how the mayor described the escalating measures, according to Garcetti:

  • The city is asking businesses to comply and encouraging local residents to call 311 to report non-essential businesses that are refusing.
  • The city is launching a "Safer at Home Business Ambassadors Program" with city workers and volunteers from the mayor's Crisis Response Team. Together with LAPD officers, these team members will visit non-essential businesses that are refusing to comply for the purpose of "obtaining voluntary compliance." This team will share information on repeat offenders with the LAPD, which could ultimately result in citations.
  • Neighborhood prosecutors with the City Attorney's office, who help enforce public health and safety measures and cover every police station in the city, will also being contacting businesses to warn them of violations before escalating to stronger enforcement.
  • Repeat offenders can ultimately face misdemeanor charges, and the city will, if it needs to, shut off a business's water and power.

Joining other cities and county agencies that have shut down public trails and beach parking, Garcetti also said L.A. and Santa Monica are closing the Santa Monica stairs, a popular spot for workouts.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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Sheriff Releases Inmates. Some Go Home, Others May Go Homeless

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A screenshot of L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva at a press conference on COVID-19 in March 2020. L.A. Sheriff's Department

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said today that roughly 1,700 inmates have been released so far in reponse to concerns about the potential of COVID-19 to spread in the tight quarters of the jails. As of Tuesday afternoon, Villanueva said, there were zero positive COVID-19 cases within the jail system.

So where are the released inmates going?

In a virtual news conference, Villanueva estimated that about 30% of the county’s 15,000 inmates are homeless. It’s unclear how many of them are among those being released. Villanueva said:

“For the homeless crowd, we’re definitely going to try and find a place for them, but we’re not going to keep [them] in jail because they don’t have a home.”

He stressed that inmates being released are not considered a threat to the community. Villanueva also said that the Emergency Operations Center was working to provide beds throughout the county for releasees who needed them.

Switching topics, Villanueva also told the press that law enforcement agencies have been getting complaints about businesses not adhering to the county’s social distancing requirements. Who's not playing by the rules? He said:

“Chief among them” are “gun shops, night clubs, bars and strip clubs. So we have fanned out and we are making sure that all of these businesses are complying.”

But he added that so far, businesses have been cooperating, and his department hasn’t had to issue citations.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:
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Five Percent of LA Community College District Classes Won't Go Online

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Los Angeles City College is one of nine campuses in the Los Angeles Community College District. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/LAist

After a two-week suspension of all classes, the Los Angeles Community College District is scheduled to resume with online instruction on March 30.

But there are certain courses that can’t easily be transitioned to online instruction, like stage production and lighting. With no practical alternative, the district announced today that classes that require hands-on, in-person instruction, will be suspended at least through May 4.

Those courses represent about 5% of all of the courses offered on the district's nine campuses. The LACCD semester is scheduled to end on June 8.

“We will recover from this global health emergency,” district Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez said in a press release. “Don’t let this current situation take you off your path -- hang with us, as we are doing everything we can to position you for success.”

The district didn't say how many students are enrolled in those classes. Community college leaders are bracing themselves for some to drop out either because their classes won’t transfer to online instruction or because the students don't have the resources to shift to online learning.

Under an executive order announced last Friday by California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley, students who drop classes because of the coronavirus crisis will not be academically penalized for early withdrawal and will have more of their tuition and fees reimbursed.

Details on how to withdraw are included in the district's press release:

Former Huizar Staffer Sues, Alleges Councilman Wanted Cannabis Kickbacks

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Councilman Jose Huizar in 2014. (Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC)

A former staffer for Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar filed a lawsuit on Tuesday alleging wrongful termination, retaliation, and harassment along with corruption. The complaint names Huizar and the City of L.A. and asks for unspecified damages.

This comes nearly four months after Jesse Leon first filed a complaint against his former boss and Huizar’s chief of staff, Paul Habib.

Last year, Huizar told the L.A. Times the accusations were the result of Leon being confronted with his own unethical behavior -- Leon had tried to secure a license to sell cannabis in Los Angeles while serving as Huizar’s policy advisor on cannabis regulations, which the city attorney’s office concluded was a conflict of interest.

Leon says he was fired after sharing his concerns about corruption and pay-to-play schemes in Huizar’s office with the FBI.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit: Huizar was expecting political donations, kickbacks to his friends and even cash bribes in exchange for helping businesses secure cannabis licenses to operate in Council District 14.

Two other former staffers have filed retaliation complaints against Huizar.

JESSE LEON'S LAWSUIT

This is the latest development in an ongoing saga, so...

HERE'S SOME CONTEXT:

Joining Other Cities, Long Beach Closes Beach Parking Lots

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A view of downtown Long Beach where beach parking is now closed. (Ameer Basheer/ via Unsplash)

Our friends at the Long Beach Post are sharing their content with other newsrooms and they have some important details about today's order:

In an effort to follow the “Stay at Home” order and prevent large groups of people from gathering in public spaces, Long Beach has closed parking lots for parks and beaches.

Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier and El Dorado Nature Center will be closed in addition to all lots at city-owned parks and beaches through April 19.

The effort follows in the steps of Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties, who have all moved to close parking lots at parks and beaches.

Additionally, gatherings of any size will be prohibited citywide as part of the updated order. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement:

“We are taking this next step because there are too many people ignoring social distancing while visiting our trails and beaches. You can still ride your bicycle, walk your dog or go for a run, but we’re encouraging folks to avoid any type of gathering and to avoid groups of people. This is a health crisis and we must act now.”

All residents must remain at home, with the following exceptions as long as social distancing of six feet or more is maintained:

  • Travel to and from essential businesses.
  • Travel to work at, or provide service to, a healthcare operation or essential infrastructure.
  • Engage in essential activities such as going to the grocery store or a medical appointment.
  • Exercise, jogging and other outdoor activities.

As previously announced, sports facilities at City-owned parks and beaches remain closed.

Residents living in parking impacted neighborhoods who have obtained special permits will still be allowed to park their vehicles at City-owned beach lots as a free alternative through April 30. Vehicles parking in a beach lot without a permit are subject to enforcement. Applications are still being accepted for free permits at the following beach parking lots:

  • Granada, 5100 E. Ocean Blvd.
  • Junipero, 2100 E. Ocean Blvd.
  • Belmont, 3998 E. Allin St.

White House COVID-19 Briefing: Trump Waffles On 'Easter' Timeline

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Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks as President Donald Trump looks on during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump at today's news briefing appeared to double down on his hope to get the country "opened up" by Easter, and then quickly walked that statement back.

During his remarks that began the briefing, Trump said:

"Ultimately, the goal is to ease the guidelines and open things up to very large sections of our country... I said earlier today that I hope we could do this by Easter. I think that would be a great thing for our country, and we are all working very hard to make that a reality."

His "earlier today" reference was to his appearance Tuesday on a Fox News TV special. His proposed Easter timeline greatly alarmed health experts.

However, when pressed by a reporter during the question and answer period about whether the doctors in the White House's COVID-19 task force agreed with that timeline, Trump said: "We're going to look at it. We'll only do it if it's good."

When the same reporter asked who suggested the Easter timeline, he replied, "I just thought it was a beautiful time."

The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. has continued to sharply climb in recent days and now number more that 53,000, the third most in the world. The numbers in Southern California have also been rising, with 11 deaths and more than 660 cases in L.A. County as of today.

Much of the White House coronavirus task force briefing focused on the New York metro area, which has been extremely hard hit with the virus in the past few days. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that the rate of infection there is "doubling every three days" and, at least so far, they had failed to "flatten the curve" of COVID-19's spread.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House task force, noted that many people are leaving New York, and asked that anyone who has been there recently self-quarantine for 14 days.

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, said that federal lawmakers are considering a coronavirus relief package that would total $6 trillion.


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


MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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The November Election May Be Held At Your Mailbox Thanks To Coronavirus

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Touchscreen voting at the vote center on Pixie Ave in Lakewood on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Megan Garvey/LAist)

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, election experts are calling for states to expand voters’ access to absentee ballots, letting them vote at their mailboxes instead of in-person polling places where they could run the risk of becoming infected.

But that presents other challenges: Research shows that minorities and younger voters see their ballots rejected at a much higher rate than white voters when using voting by maill. Those voters are also less likely to successfully get their ballots “cured” -- fixed and accepted -- after a signature mismatch is flagged.

The UCLA Voting Rights Project has released a new report this week outlining how states can expand vote-by-mail and keep voters safe.

READ THE FULL STORY:

3 New Deaths In LA County; Total Confirmed Cases Now Tops 660

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Three more people ill with the new coronavirus have died in Los Angeles County, and one of them was a Lancaster resident who was younger than 18.

Barbara Ferrer, who heads L.A. County's Public Health Department, said those three cases are in addition to one new death reported in Long Beach yesterday. That brings the total coronavirus-related deaths to 11 in L.A. County.

One of the people who died was elderly and had underlying health conditions, but the death of a minor was a grim reminder that COVID-19, though it has tended to be more severe in older patients, can infect anyone, Ferrer said:

"These are difficult numbers to report, because behind these numbers are families and friends who are experiencing terrible loss. We, the entire L.A. County community, keep you in our thoughts and our prayers."

The total number of confirmed cases in the county is now 662, Ferrer said. Of those, 128 are being newly reported today, and in the past 48 hours there have been 256 new confirmed cases. The new cases include 21 reported by Long Beach and six reported by Pasadena.

The new numbers came during the daily briefing on the county's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Here's more from that briefing:

STATUS OF TESTING

As of March 23, more than 5,700 people have been tested for COVID-19, Ferrer said. The rate of positive results among those tested has hovered around 10% since local testing began, Ferrer said.

Testing capacity is still very limited, and health officials said the county must continue to prioritize who is tested. For now, testing is "primarily for people who are symptomatic and for whom a clinical provider has determined that testing is appropriate," Ferrer said.

ISOLATION IS LEGALLY REQUIRED

We're all under orders to practice social distancing — which means limiting our movements to essential trips like getting food or medicine, staying six feet or more apart from others and washing your hands frequently. For anyone who is sick or is believed to have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 more extreme measures should be taken: self-isolation and quarantine. Taking those additional steps are important public health tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Ferrer put it plainly: If you test positive for COVID-19, you are legally required to self-isolate. That means stay at home. That means don't go to work. That means do everything you can to avoid getting others sick.

Ferrer also said you shouldn't wait for a positive test result if you have good reason to suspect you may be positive.

"It's really important that folks do not wait to be notified by someone from the public health department if you've already been told by a provider that you're either positive — your test results are positive — or that you are to presume that you're positive, before you begin to isolate yourself."

She said for now she's asking for people's help on compliance, but the county will soon be issuing "blanket orders that legally will cover all of us should we get that diagnosis."

NO CONFIRMED CASES IN JAILS OR AMONG HOMELESS YET

Ferrer said there are still no known positive cases among inmates or among those who are homeless, but she said that situation could change "at any minute and we would expect in both situations that we would start seeing people who are positive just like we're seeing lots more positive people in our communities."

Ferrer said she expects to begin sharing information on potential outbreaks in institutional settings starting tomorrow. This process has been slower, she said, because families, local residents and facility staff have to be notified first.

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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Trump: I'd Love For U.S. To Be 'Opened Up By Easter' Amid Pandemic Response

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US President Donald Trump (L) speaks with anchor Bill Hemmer during a Fox News virtual town hall meeting from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

President Trump hopes the United States can begin to get back to normal by the middle of next month, he said on a Fox News TV special on Tuesday.

"I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter," Trump told host Bill Hemmer in a show aired from the White House.

That's April 12, within the timeline of "weeks" that Trump said he hopes is appropriate for curtailing the social distancing, isolation and other measures that officials have outlined to slow the spread of the coronavirus — but which also have paralyzed the economy.

All the same, the rate of infections inside the U.S. has not stopped climbing — it's nearing 50,000 cases nationwide, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University — and Trump's April 12 target date is far sooner than other milestones set by officials in various places around the country.

The District of Columbia has closed its schools through April 24, for example; schools in Virginia won't reconvene at all for the rest of this academic year.

LA County Has Closed Hiking Trails Because Too Many People Are Gathering

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People practicing social distancing to protect themselves from the coronavirus take in a sunny day while hiking a popular trail in the Santa Monica mountain range in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Brian Melley/AP

To get some fresh air and exercise, you don't have to stay home, but you can't hike Los Angeles County's trails.

All trails managed by the county's Department of Parks and Recreations are closed until further notice.

The county's initial Safer at Home order allowed for outdoor activities, including hiking. Now authorities are asking that county residents stay in their neighborhoods for fresh air and exercise and avoid parks, trails and local beaches, where large crowds gathered over the weekend.

"There are many people —and everyone saw the pictures all weekend — who are congregating on our trails, and on the beaches," county health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said during a media briefing today. "This is not appropriate and we ask you when you're out and about, wherever you are, to practice the maximum amount of social distancing possible, even in our outdoor spaces."

Not all of the county's communication seems to have been updated to reflect this change — the Safer at Home order still notes that hiking is OK, for instance — so we're working to get some clarity on this.

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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Map: Worldwide COVID-19 Cases At 451K; LA County's Cases At 662

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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.


Editor's note: For the most recent updates, visit our tracker post for Wednesday, March 25.

As COVID-19 continue to rapidly spread in many countries, including the United States, cases worldwide now top 451,000. Since last weekend, the U.S. has had the third-highest total confirmed cases in the world. The number of confirmed cases here now stands at 60,115, as of 11:00a.m. Wednesday.

Confirmed cases in Los Angeles County have surged to 662, in part a reflection of increased testing. In the past 48 hours there have been 256 new confirmed cases locally.

Health officials also announced Tuesday that there have been three new deaths in the county, including the first death of a patient under 18. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the person was a teenager from Lancaster. But later in the day, county health officials released a statement saying that death remained under investigation and could have another explanation.

As the numbers continue to go up, state and local officials continue to shut down more beach parking lots. Already, many cities have moved to bar recreation and sports at parks and close hiking trails. These moves came after too many people crowded public spaces over the weekend despite dire warnings about the virus spreading rapidly.

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

The U.S. is among a number of 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.

New York has been a hotspot for U.S. cases. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that the rate of infection there is "doubling every three days" and, at least so far, they have failed to "flatten the curve."

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

  1. 81,661 China
  2. 74,386 Italy
  3. 60,115 United States
  4. 47,610 Spain
  5. 35,740 Germany
  6. 27,017 Iran
  7. 22,654 France
  8. 10,537 Switzerland
  9. 9,137 Korea, South
  10. 8,328 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 11:00a.m. Wednesday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

  • 2,662 confirmed cases
  • 58 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, as of Tuesday, to:

  • 662 confirmed cases
  • 11 deaths

County health officials have stressed that they are seeing most cases in people under the age of 65. L.A. County's Public Health director Barbara Ferrer has 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.

As new cases continue to be confirmed, Californians are now on our fifth day under "safer at home" and "social distancing" orders. On Thursday, state and county officials ordered the vast majority of Californians to strictly limit interactions with other people, wash hands frequently, and stay 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)

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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California Superior Court Jury Trials Suspended For 60 Days

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Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

California’s chief justice has suspended all jury trials in the state's superior courts for 60 days, saying courts are "ill-equipped" to protect the public from the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement released late Monday, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said:

"Even if court facilities could allow for sufficient social-distancing, the closure of schools means that many court employees, litigants, witnesses, and potential jurors cannot leave their homes to attend court proceedings because they must stay home to supervise their children. These restrictions have also made it nearly impossible for courts to assemble juries."

The order extends the time allowed to begin criminal and civil trial by 60 days and allows courts to implement "any proposed rules or rule amendment intended to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to take effect immediately."

Yesterday, presiding judge of Los Angeles Superior Court, Kevin C. Brazile, blocked public access to county courthouses except for attorneys, staff, defendants and "authorized persons," including news reporters.

His order also closes the Beverly Hills, Catalina and Spring Street courthouses to the public until further notice.

The clerk's office will still be available to accept filings and assist people by phone or electronically.

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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Officials Scrambling To Get Homeless People Off The Streets

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Tents lined on San Pedro Street, in Skid Row, Los Angeles. (Matt Tinoco/LAist)

In Los Angeles, public and private service providers are working on bringing homeless people inside as quickly as possible.

Last week L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said he plans to open 42 shelters using city recreation centers, to provide up to 6,000 new emergency shelter beds.

“There are already about 500 of those beds set up over the weekend, and many more to come online yet this week,” said Doug Guthrie, who directs the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, on a conference call Monday.

Guthrie said the biggest challenge for those shelters was staffing. He said the city anticipates that 24/7 operation of the shelters will need about 1,600 staff workers. They'll largely come from the ranks of non-essential city personnel sworn in as disaster service workers.

COUNTY-LEVEL PLANS

At the county level, Supervisor Kathryn Barger testified in a court hearing last Thursday that officials are readying 4,200 additional shelter beds on county property. “This is only the beginning of what we are doing,” she said.

Barger also said the county has secured 2,000 “isolation” beds that can be used to quarantine homeless residents who test positive for COVID-19. Lawyers for the county later clarified these spaces were hotel rooms.

At Thursday's court hearing, the Salvation Army also offered up 27 storefronts in Los Angeles and Orange County that could potentially be used as shelter spaces, as well as warehouse space in Bell, and its youth camp in Calabasas.

The plan to move people into shelters is not without its critics. Also at the court hearing was public interest attorney Carol Sobel. She underscored that moving particularly vulnerable into close quarters at shelters (which are basically just big rooms with cots) could make it easier for the virus to spread. “It’s just the opposite of what should be happening,” said Sobel.

For that matter, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore expressed a similar concern, saying in court “the sheltering system… will also have challenges in regards to social distancing. And I do not intend for LAPD to be the enforcers of social distancing. We're not carrying tape measures around nor do we expect to use them.”

GO DEEPER:

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Morning Briefing: Save L.A. Restaurants, Save… Your Future Dining Experiences

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A peaceful moment at Bea Flowers on La Brea (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The new normal might be staying home and Zooming instead of congregating IRL, but people are coming up with creative ways to adapt — and in some cases, to keep their businesses open at the same time. Bars are bringing happy hour to the drinking masses. The Grammy Museum is streaming free shows with artists like Billie Eilish and Brandi Carlile, and other local museums are offering virtual exhibits and tours.

All these digital offerings will come in even handier in the wake of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to close down state parking lots as a way to “help you help yourself” when it comes to social distancing.

Mil gracias, Governor.

Here’s what happened in the past 24 hours:

Here’s what we’re covering today:

Here are some very L.A. photo galleries:

  • Knott's Berry Farm is best known as a theme park, but this year marks the 100th of its humble beginning as an actual berry farm. We pulled together some rarely-seen photos from that time.
  • Hugh Holland spent three years documenting the birth of L.A.’s skateboarding culture in the 1970’s. These are some of his most iconic shots.

And now, your moment of Zen:

That's more like it. The Santa Monica Pier on Monday.

(Robyn Beck /AFP via Getty Images)

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