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WATCH: Today's Top Headlines In 5 Minutes

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I'm Adriene Hill, managing editor here. Our newsroom is working together with PBS SoCal and KCET to get our reporting out to a wide audience. So, our excellent reporters are delivering nightly roundups of the top headlines to bring you the information you need as the COVID-19 pandemic reshapes life here in Southern California and beyond.

Today, PBS SoCal Chief Creative Officer Juan Devis and I talk with:

This Private LA Lab Will Use Robots To Ramp Up COVID-19 Testing

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Courtesy of the County of Los Angeles.

L.A. County has turned to private partners — including a lab that uses robots — to dramatically scale up testing for COVID-19.

Earlier this week, the county announced a partnership with Curative Inc. of San Dimas. The company devised a test for the new coronavirus, and it’s working with a San Dimas lab called KorvaLabs to process the specimens.

KorvaLabs should be able to process 5,000 thousands tests a day by the end of this week, and it’s hoping to increase that to 10,000 per day by next week, said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a UCLA epidemiologist and unpaid Curative advisor. That’s in part because the lab will use robots, he said.

But it takes humans to get everything set up, so right now it’s all hands on deck.

“I mean, they’re sleeping there in sleeping bags, taking shifts,” Klausner said, adding that, at 4,000 square feet, this will be one of the largest COVID-19 testing facilities in the state.

As of Wednesday, some 6,300 people had been tested in L.A. County, according to Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. She said:

“I want to remind all of us that … in these times that are less than ideal, we don’t have all the testing we wish we had."

Klausner believes public health departments just don’t have the staffing to pull off what private labs can do.

“You know, because of the disinvestment in public health, now we’re facing this crisis [and] we can’t respond,” Klausner said.

He hopes the system coming online in San Dimas can be replicated throughout California.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Garcetti: Stay-At-Home Will Last Until At Least May

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L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti gives his nightly update on the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020. (Screenshot from L.A. City)

Note: You can watch the mayor's full coronavirus update at the end of this story.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tonight repeated his warning that residents will likely need to stay home until at least May. He also said the city is looking into converting major venues, including sports facilities like Staples Center, into mass sick bays with beds for coronavirus patients.

Garcetti's comments came in one of his now-nightly updates on the city's response to the ongoing pandemic that are handled remotely via live stream. They ran counter to some of the public musings of President Donald Trump, who has said he thinks business could begin returning to normal as soon as Easter.

Earlier today, Garcetti told Business Insider that people would need to remain confined at home for at least two months, and he pushed back against "premature optimism."

He said his frequent mantra that when you think the time is right, you're already too late, will be mirrored when it's time to lift the stay-at-home orders.

"It will be the same on the back end. There will be some who say, 'Oh, look, the curve is flattening a little bit. Let's just open everything up.' And we're seeing in places that are relaxing even a little bit that it can spike right back up very quickly. We have to be disciplined."

In the meantime, the city is gearing up to handle a major increase in the demand for hospital beds and has begun negotiating with different venues, including sports facilities.

"Everything's on the table," Garcetti said, noting the city has looked into sports venues, the convention center, theaters and even studio soundstages.

WHAT ELSE WAS NEW?

Garcetti also expanded some of the relief measures for residents, adding to the relaxed street sweeping enforcement and a temporary stop on increasing city fines.

The new measures include:

  • No citations or towing for vehicles with expired registrations
  • No citations for driver's with expired licenses

That doesn't mean the city's letting up everywhere.

Parking enforcement will still happen in areas that are not exempted — specifically to protect businesses such as restaurants that now rely on pick-up and delivery, essential workers who need to get around quickly, maintenance and street repairs that need to happen, and emergency access to hospitals.

And Runyon Canyon is now closed, the latest park and trail closure in a growing list as the city cracks down on scofflaws ignoring the stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines.

HOW LA COULD BENEFIT FROM THE BAILOUT

Garcetti also laid out some of the potential benefits L.A. could see from a $1.8 trillion economic bailout expected to pass Congress any day (the vote was delayed tonight, per The New York Times). Here are some highlights:

  • More than $700 million for Metro to keep operations going and to pay staff
  • About $400 million could come to Los Angeles International Airport to cover lost revenue and to continue operations
  • $32 million or more could go to emergency solutions grants, homeless grants that the city can combine with $19 million from the state to make over $50 million to get more people off the streets
  • "Tens of millions of dollars" in community development block grants to help fund community partners helping seniors, the poorest residents, and the unemployed
  • Immediate relief for low-income, working- and middle-class Angelenos in the form of $1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for couples and $500 per child

Keep in mind all of this depends on a bill that hasn't even passed Congress, and even then it will have to be signed by the president.

RESOURCES FOR UNEMPLOYED

WATCH THE MAYOR'S CORONAVIRUS BRIEFING

Garcetti's update was cut mid-stream tonight, hence there are two parts below.

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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'Every Single Person Who Dies... That's A Loved One'

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Above is the scene today at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds where they are prepping for an influx in COVID-19 patients.

At an earlier news briefing, L.A. County's top health official said the death rate — 1% locally and about 1.5% nationally — has been higher than for the flu.

You can imagine if we have thousands and thousands and thousands of people infected, then 1% becomes a large number. And every single person who dies, that's a story. That's a loved one. That's a person who other people care about and they're gonna miss.

— L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer

READ MORE OF WHAT FERRER TOLD US:

Hotels For Homeless Could Become Permanent Solutions

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Homelessness on Skid Row, photographed on June 30, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (James Bernal for KPCC) James Bernal

State and county officials in California have been negotiating with hundreds of hotels in order to house homeless people during the COVID-19 outbreak. The state hopes the plan could eventually turn into a long-term solution to get more people off the streets.

"The opportunity to turn this into some permanent housing solutions and adding stock is something we're really trying to keep an eye on as we move forward,” said Ali Sutton, Gov. Gavin Newsom's deputy secretary of homelessness.

California is currently working to lease hotels and motels for homeless people during the crisis. If that works out, it could also mean purchasing the properties from owners, who may be under economic duress after the state emerges from its efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. The state may do the same with apartment buildings.

On Saturday, Newsom announced that over 2,400 hotel rooms had already been secured, with about 1,900 in San Diego County alone. Sutton says the number statewide is now closer to 4,000 rooms.

During the outbreak, priority will be given to those who test positive for coronavirus, who are showing symptoms, or who are elderly.

READ MORE:

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Trump: 'The Media Would Like To See Me Do Poorly'

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President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus (Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty Images)

During his daily briefing Wednesday, President Donald Trump appeared to become emotional while discussing the media.

Prior to the press conference, Trump sent a tweet suggesting that journalists are responsible for the push to enforce social distancing by temporarily closing businesses.

When asked about the tweet by a reporter, Trump said:

I think there are certain people that would like [the country] to do financially poorly, because they think that would be very good as far as defeating me at the polls. And I don't know if that's so, but I do think it's so, that a lot of that there are people in your profession that would like that to happen. I think it's very clear. I think it's very clear that there are people in your profession that write fake news. You do. She does... And it's lucky that you have this group here right now for this problem, or you wouldn't even have a country left.

The president's tone became aggressive as he delivered his answer, and he abruptly stopped speaking to the reporter to answer another question.

At the same briefing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he expected the historic $1 trillion relief deal reached in the Senate would pass tonight and be sent to the House on Thursday, where he also predicted it would pass. Flanked by President Trump, Vice President Pence and others, Mnuchin said:

"We couldn't be more pleased with the unprecedented response from the Senate to protect American workers and American business in this situation."

"Our expectation is this bill passes tonight and gets to the House tomorrow and they pass it," he added.


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.

Gov. Newsom: Major Banks Agree To 90-Day Mortgage Waivers — Except Bank Of America

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Four out of the five largest banks have agreed to a 90-day waiver for residential mortgage payments for those impacted by coronavirus, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a Wednesday press conference. He noted that one bank has declined at this time to do so: Bank of America, which would only agree to 30 days.

Newsom said that he hoped that Bank of America would reconsider and join Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Citibank, and JPMorgan Chase.

As of Wednesday morning, 2,535 Californians had tested positive for coronavirus, Newsom said. That's a 17 percent increase from the day before, with 53 dead at this point. There have been 66,800 coronavirus tests conducted in the state so far.

When asked about a potential statewide moratorium on evictions for renters, Newsom said that the state reserves the right to look at measures if action isn't taken on the local level. He said that the state is looking at the legal parameters around the issue and that they hope to have clarity on the next steps in the next day or two.

When asked about whether gun stores should be considered essential businesses, Newsom said he would defer to local sheriffs on the issue.

More than 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits this month, Newsom said.

Newsom specifically thanked Los Angeles and Sacramento for identifying sites for trailers being sent by the state to house homeless residents at this time.


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.

Coronavirus Mortality Rate Is Looking Worse Than Influenza

Updated
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The mortality rate for coronavirus now sits at 1.5% nationwide and 1% in L.A. County, higher than what we experience with annual flu cases.

That sobering update came from Dr. Barbara Ferrer, who spoke at the county's daily coronavirus task force briefing (you can watch a replay above).

Three more people in L.A. County have died from complications arising from COVID-19, all of them older than 65 and with underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. That brings total deaths in the county due to coronavirus to 13. One case of a person younger than 18 reported yesterday has been removed from the total count pending an investigation from the CDC, she said.

"The family and the friends who are mourning these losses, you're very much in our thoughts and prayers, and we are so very sorry for your loss," Ferrer said.

Here are some L.A. County case numbers she shared:

  • 138 new confirmed cases (266 in the last 48 hours, a slight uptick from yesterday)
  • Total new cases include 28 in Long Beach and 7 in Pasadena
  • Total countywide is at least 799
  • 80% are people aged 18-65
  • 40% are younger people aged 18-40

1 IN 5 ARE BEING HOSPITALIZED

So far 160 people who tested positive for coronavirus have ended up hospitalized. That's 20% of all positive cases, Ferrer said. Put another way, one in every five people who test positive also end up hospitalized.

Right now 44 people are still hospitalized, and the majority — 77% — are in intensive care units. Here's Ferrer again:

"I'm noting these numbers to just make sure everyone understands that the people who are hospitalized are often very sick, and they need to use intensive services in our hospitals."

Not everyone sick enough to be hospitalized is older. Ferrer said four patients are in their 30s.

Ferrer also said 60% of the patients in the ICU are older than 60. That means 40% of the most severe cases currently in the county — nearly half — are people younger than 60.

To be fair, these numbers represent what the county is seeing in this moment in time. Ferrer is not necessarily saying the hospital numbers represent a longer trend. But they are alarming enough to make anyone think twice about the seriousness of COVID-19.

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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What Happened When LA Lifted Its Quarantine During The 1918 Flu Pandemic?

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Pasadena, approximately 1919: Patients rest in hospital beds while nurses wearing breathing masks tend to them. (Harold A. Parker/Huntington Digital Library)

December 3, 1918 was a celebratory day for Los Angeles. After seven long weeks, city officials had finally lifted the "influenza ban" that had shut down schools, churches and most stores.

How'd that work out?

L.A. soon saw an uptick in cases of the deadly "Spanish Flu," especially among school-age children, local writer and historian Hadley Meares explains.

By mid-December, officials once again had to cancel schools and reinstate some restrictions. To appease business leaders, they did not reinstate the ban on public gatherings and they allowed businesses to stay open unless employees had been diagnosed with the flu.

"For the rest of the epidemic, the City Council appropriated money as needed to give the health department enough quarantine inspectors to visit homes, manufacturing plants, stores, hotels, and apartment houses," notes the University of Michigan's Influenza Archive. "These temporary inspectors, many of whom were returning veterans, also ran errands for the sick and ministered to the needs of affected families."

As political leaders debate the human vs. the economic cost of our current coronavirus quarantine, it's important to understand our past. It's even better to learn from it.

READ MORE:

Largest Rescue Deal In U.S. History

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (C) leaves the offices of Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) last night. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

After days of intense negotiations and false starts, Senate leaders have struck a historic deal to inject the U.S. economy with about $2 trillion in aid in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan marks the largest rescue package in American history. The legislation covers an array of programs, including:

  • Direct payments to Americans
  • An aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance
  • Billions in aid to large and small businesses
  • A new wave of significant funding for the health care industry

MORE DETAILS:

  • The plan will rush financial assistance to Americans with direct checks to households in the middle class and in lower income levels, McConnell said. Previously, Republicans said this would amount to $1,200 to most American adults, among other payments.
  • An extended unemployment insurance program for laid-off workers that will allow for four months of "full pay," according to Schumer, rather than the usual three months for most. It will also raise the maximum unemployment insurance benefit by $600 per week. It will apply to traditional workers for small and large businesses as well as those who are self-employed and workers in the gig economy. This was a key Democratic initiative, which Schumer dubbed "unemployment insurance on steroids."
  • More than $150 billion for the health care system, including funding for hospitals, research, treatment and the Strategic National Stockpile to raise supplies of ventilators, masks and other equipment. Of that, $100 billion will go to hospitals and the health system and $1 billion to the Indian Health Service.
  • $150 billion to state and local governments to address spending shortages related to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • $350 billion for small businesses impacted by the pandemic in the form of loans; some of those loans could be forgiven.

READ THE BACKSTORY:

Map: Worldwide COVID-19 Cases At More Than 470K; Mortality Rate Is Higher Than Flu

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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, check our latest tracker post for Thursday, March 26.

Jump to: CALIFORNIA | WORLDWIDE | SOCAL COUNTIES | ANALYSIS

WHERE WE STAND

COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread in many countries, including the United States, with cases worldwide now topping 470,000. 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 69,194 as of 10:50 p.m. Wednesday.

In L.A. County today, Public Health director Barbara Ferrer had sobering news to report: The mortality rate for coronavirus now sits at 1.5% nationwide and 1% in L.A. County. That rate is higher than what we experience with annual flu cases.

The county has 266 new confirmed cases in the last 48 hours, bring the total so far to at least 799. That includes three new COVID-19 related deaths, all people older than 65 and with underlying health conditions.

A 17-year old from Lancaster whose death was announced yesterday by county health officials is no longer on that list, pending further investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Locally, 160 people who tested positive for coronavirus have ended up hospitalized. That's 20% of all positive cases.

IN CALIFORNIA

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Statewide, 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 !0:17 p.m. Wednesday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

  • 3,158 confirmed cases
  • 67 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.]

WORLDWIDE

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.

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

  1. 81,727 China
  2. 74,386 Italy
  3. 69,194 United States
  4. 49,515 Spain
  5. 37,323 Germany
  6. 27,017 Iran
  7. 25,600 France
  8. 10,897 Switzerland
  9. 9,640 Korea, South
  10. 9,241 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:

As the numbers continue to go up, state and local officials have shut down more beach parking lots. 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.

Health officials continue to stress 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 told us Wednesday:

"You can imagine if we have thousands and thousands and thousands of people infected, then 1% becomes a large number. And every single person who dies like that's a story, that's a loved one. That's a person who other people care about and they're gonna miss."

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AT A GLANCE

Current as of Wednesday evening

LA COUNTY

  • 812 cases
  • 13 deaths

* Note: this includes new cases released by Long Beach after the county's daily update. See more from L.A. County

ORANGE COUNTY

  • 187 cases
  • 1 death

* More from Orange County

RIVERSIDE COUNTY

  • 107 cases
  • 8 deaths

* More from Riverside County

VENTURA COUNTY

  • 50 cases
  • 1 death

* More from Ventura County

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY

  • 54 cases
  • 2 death

* More from San Bernardino County

FLATTEN THE CURVE

As new cases continue to be confirmed, Californians are nearly a week into "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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DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS

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Some Domestic Violence Shelters Are Full, But Hotlines Quiet, During Coronavirus

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State order to stay home may put domestic violence victims at risk. (Sydney Sims via Unsplash)

The state and Los Angeles County’s “Safer At Home” order is intended to protect residents from the coronavirus. But for domestic violence victims, home may not be safe.

Some L.A. domestic violence shelters say their shelters have been full, but their crisis hotlines are quiet, since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

TRAPPED VICTIMS?

Shelters are usually temporary for victims until they can be placed into more permanent housing — away from their abuser.

But the coronavirus crisis has slowed down the flow of housing so victims are staying longer at shelters. That means there may not be room for new victims seeking refuge.

At the same time, shelters say fewer people are calling their crisis hotlines — but they don't think that's because domestic violence has decreased.

Elizabeth Sahagun oversees YWCA Glendale’s domestic violence services and emergency shelters. She thinks the decrease in phone calls is because many victims are trapped at home with abusers since the order to stay home went into effect.

“So they are not able to run out for a minute to the store or go for a walk and be able to reach out to us or make a call,” Sahagun said.

MAKE A SAFETY PLAN

Sahagun and other shelters recommend making a safety plan during this public health crisis, which should include a friend or family member who can call for help on your behalf, if needed.

NEED HELP?

  • L.A. County's Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 978-3600
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233); (800) 787-3224 (TTY); www.thehotline.org
  • You can find LAPD's list of local DV shelters here.
  • You can find domestic violence legal services here.
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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I Don’t Have Insurance. Can I Still Get Tested For Coronavirus?

Updated
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Medical workers at Kaiser Permanente French Campus test a patient for the novel coronavirus at a drive-thru testing facility in San Francisco, California on March 12, 2020. (Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

We’re asking public health officials and experts to answer your questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep in mind that this information does not constitute professional medical advice. For questions regarding your own health, always consult a physician.

An anonymous audience member has been exhibiting symptoms similar to those commonly associated with COVID-19, and they wanted to know: “I don't have insurance at the moment since I don’t have a job yet. Can I get tested?”

Here’s an explanation from Annette Sy, chief nursing officer at Keck Medical Center. She’s working with the hospital’s command center to help prepare it for the COVID-19 outbreak:

“Their options are still to reach out to their care provider. To understand better if they need to be tested or not, is the first thing they should do. I would start first with your care provider. Call in… many care providers are doing telemedicine visits. They will screen you at that point to see what symptoms you’re having. Many patients with COVID-19 can be cared for at home. If you can speak to the doctor or the nurse over the phone, [then] maybe they can set up a telemedicine visit for you and start with that… Many physicians and facilities are not charging [for this service]. I can’t speak for everybody. But please just start off with your care provider.”

If you don’t have a health care provider, there is a limited pilot program operating in some areas around the state — the California community-based COVID-19 testing program. It’s a state-directed program in collaboration with Verily’s Project Baseline, and it aims to expand access to COVID-19 screening and testing for high-risk individuals. Currently it is operating only in Santa Clara, San Mateo, Sacramento and parts of Riverside County. More information here.

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

Get our daily newsletter for the latest on COVID-19 and other top local headlines.


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Morning Briefing: To Easter Or Not To Easter

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Just a few hours after President Donald Trump doubled down – then walked back – his seemingly random hope that Americans will be largely out of their homes and back to work by Easter ("I just thought it was a beautiful time,” he said, by way of explanation), California Gov. Gavin Newsom told Californians that Trump’s timeline would be "sooner than any of the experts that I talked to would believe is possible."

With that said, COVID-19 cases are increasing rapidly in L.A. County. We have 662 reported infections now, and officials are tightening social distancing orders and shutting more operations down.

Here’s what happened in the past 24 hours:

  • Three more Angelenos died from the coronavirus. There are now 662 reported COVID-19 cases in L.A., and at least 420,000 worldwide.
  • L.A. County officials closed hiking trails, and California’s chief justice suspended all jury trials in the state's superior courts for 60 days. Meanwhile, tests for the coronavirus are still in short supply, even for people showing symptoms of the illness.
  • Los Angeles Community College will suspend all classes that require hands-on, in-person instruction through May 4, and the city of Long Beach closed parking lots for municipal parks and beaches.
  • 1,700 inmates have been released from L.A. County jails, but it’s not clear how officials plan to help the homeless among them.
  • L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said that non-essential businesses who don’t comply with stay-at-home regulations will be given verbal warnings. If they still don’t comply, then their water and power will be shut off.
  • President Trump said that he would “love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” but then appeared to waffle back and forth later in the day.
  • Addressing Californians shortly after Trump's address, Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested that the president’s hoped-for timeline was all but impossible.
  • Given that social distancing appears to be our new normal for the foreseeable future, this year’s presidential election might be held by mail.

Here’s what we’re covering today:

  • Emily Elena Dugdale talks to state prisoners who are worried about contracting coronavirus, citing a lack of soap and other concerns.
  • Domestic violence shelters are full but emergency call lines are slow, reports Alyssa Jeong Perry. Shelter operators say that may be because people required to report violence aren't seeing abused people.
  • Libby Denkmann explains how voting by mail could change how we do elections in California.
  • Robert Garrova will look at community testing data we’re expecting from L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
  • Josie Huang visits Little Tokyo restaurants that have historically depended on foot traffic, and that are now scrambling to get online and create takeout menus.
  • Routine dental cleanings are on hold, reports Jackie Fortiér, so that personal protective gear like masks can be freed up for frontline healthcare workers.

Here are some blessed, relaxing, non-COVID-19 reads (from our recent archives):

And now, your moment of Zen:

One from the files of our terrific photojournalist Chava Sanchez, who has spent less idyllic days recently wearing a N-95 mask and maintaining a safe distance from the people and places he is photographing.

Yosemite National Park (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.

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