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

WATCH: Today's Top Headlines In 5 Minutes

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I’m Adriene Hill, the (very tired) 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:

Online Tool Tracks Racist Incidents Toward Asian Americans During COVID-19 Crisis

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Robin Toma, executive director of the L.A. County of Commission on Human Relations, joins other county officials and community leaders to speak out against coronavirus-related racism. (Josie Huang/LAist)

An online tool tracking racist incidents toward Asian Americans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has received more than 670 reports in one week of collecting the information, about a third of them from California.

Two thirds of the accounts reported to STOP AAPI HATE involved verbal harassment, followed in number by shunning, like when someone moves seats when an Asian person sits down. About 13 percent of reported incidents were of physical assault or being spat upon.

One of the leaders of the Asian American organizations behind the STOP AAPI HATE said the expectation is that the number of reports will increase.

“With the spread of the contagion of the virus, we are also seeing the spread of the contagion of racism,” said Manju Kulkarni, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON). “Unfortunately, remarks made by the president largely have not been helpful and in fact, have put people in harm's way.”

President Trump has repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” reasoning that it was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Some of the insults reported to STOP AAPI HATE were anti-Chinese, but more than 60 percent of those targeted were Asians of other ethnicities. Three-quarters of those who made reports to the online forum were women.

The reporting tool was set up in a partnership between A3PCON, Chinese for Affirmative Action in San Francisco and the Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University.

Respondents can make reports in one of six languages: English, Chinese (simplified or traditional), Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and Korean. Kulkarni said soon reporting forms will be available in Tagalog, Khmer and some South Asian languages.

Is California Ready For The Possibility Of Mass Coronavirus Casualties?

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Grave marker at Pacific Crest Cemetery in Redondo Beach. (Susan Valot/KPCC)

California state and local governments have been coordinating with the funeral industry for years to handle the excess deaths that a pandemic might cause. But the plan has never been stress-tested by anything like the growing coronavirus outbreak.

California’s system of mutual aid is far more practiced in dealing with a handful or dozens of victims in a plane crash, fire or mass shooting, but it’s never been used to cope with hundreds or even thousands of deaths that might occur over weeks in every part of the state.

So far at least 21 people have died from COVID-19 in L.A. County alone, with at least 1,216 confirmed cases as of Thursday, and officials are expecting the number of cases and deaths to continue to climb in the coming days.

How would L.A. handle a dramatic increase in coronavirus-related deaths? When a catastrophe overwhelms the capacity of local funeral homes, the state can activate its Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. It would mobilize the broad category of licensed death care workers to safeguard and store the bodies, with federal funds picking up the cost.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE:

Do I Need To Change My Clothes When I Get Home From The Grocery Store?

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A woman wearing a face mask as a precaution against coronavirus walks past a restaurant in Monterey Park, California. (Frederic J. Brown/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.

A listener who only identified herself as Ruth wrote:

“When I go to the store do I need to change clothes once I get home? I may be obsessing, but I often feel the need to shower and change clothes even if no one has been sick near me.”

Here’s an explanation from Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, with UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, and a former staffer with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention:

“I think the best practice would be ... when you're coming home, making sure that you're washing your hands -- and again, that's for that 20 seconds, singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice, (that's) very important.”

By washing your hands thoroughly, you make sure that anything you may have touched is washed off and is no longer a threat. Dr. Kim-Farley assures us that clothing isn’t an issue:

“We don't feel fabrics are going to be a major source of transmission here. It really primarily is this droplet spread, coughing and having that breathed in. It's also surfaces — especially surfaces like metal or plastics — that the virus can maybe last ... up to two days on that type of a surface.”

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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Correction: Because of a transcription error, a previous version of this story misquoted one of Dr. Kim-Farley's answers. He said coronavirus can survive longer on "metals or plastics." Your plants are innocent; do not throw them away.

Mayor Garcetti: LA Coronavirus Impact On Track To Be Where NYC Is In 6 Days

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Eric Garcetti in his Wednesday, March 25 press conference. (via Eric Garcetti's Youtube channel)

The coronavirus problem in L.A. will get worse, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a Thursday press conference. If the current rate of increase continues, L.A. will be where New York is now in six days when it comes to cases per capita, Garcetti said. If it increases at the slower rate of the day before, that would happen in 12 days.

It is likely we will see scenes like those in the currently overwhelmed New York City medical system here in Los Angeles, according to Garcetti.

"It's the most haunting images any leader could see, and it's difficult for me to imagine that it won't happen here," Garcetti said. "That's one of the most difficult sentences I've ever said, but no matter how well we respond — and I thank people for stepping up early, and I hope that flattens the curve — there is no place in America that will not be overwhelmed in terms of the number of patients who need ICU and other hospital beds, and how many we have in this country. There is no place that won't be overwhelmed by needing more ventilators and not having enough."

Garcetti promised to share projections for the city from experts starting Friday. Thursday's update comes a day after Garcetti projected that L.A.'s stay-at-home order would last until at least May.

The city is planning what it would take to turn the L.A. Convention Center over to the county for use by local hospitals, and Garcetti noted that some hospitals want to set up a tent closer to their facilities for patients in case they get bad and need to be in the hospital.

The eviction moratorium for both residential and commercial tenants announced earlier this week may be extended beyond Apr. 19, Garcetti said, as needed. He encouraged tenants to pay if possible, while also asking landlords to have a heart.

Parks will remain open for walking and jogging starting Friday, Garcetti said, but all park amenities — like skate parks and tennis courts — will be closed to discourage people gathering.

Garcetti announced "L.A. Protects," a new program where the city is partnering with the local garment industry. The goal: produce 5 million masks over the next few weeks.

It's too soon to know the economic effects on city employees will be, Garcetti said, though he noted that no layoffs are planned.

Garcetti expressed his thanks to the president and the vice president for the U.S. Navy ship Mercy, heading to L.A. He said that the hospital ship will be the largest hospital in the city once it's here, though it won't be used for COVID-19 patients.

A new website to help people get free or low-cost Internet access during the coronavirus outbreak was announced, available at Coronavirus.LAcity.org/GetConnected.

Since the stay-at-home orders went into place, crime across the city is down, Garcetti said.

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.


With #OpeningDayAtHome, Dodger Fans Find Ways to Celebrate Baseball

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Sigh. No baseball for now. (Courtesy of LA Dodgers)

Today was supposed to be opening day -- but sadly, there’s no baseball for now because of COVID-19.

The Dodgers should have been playing their hated rival, the San Francisco Giants, at Dodger Stadium.

Instead, Dodger fans had to settle for a virtual game. The team streamed last year’s opening day game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Twitter.

The Dodgers also shared dispatches from players spending time indoors and from Spanish-language announcer Jaime Jarrín.

Forced to stay at home, some fans found their own ways to celebrate baseball.

“I told my family, ‘Hey let’s put Dodger shirts on, take your selfie and we’re sending it to each other,” said Elizabeth Escobedo, who’s part of a five-generation Dodger family.

While she’s missing Dodger dogs and garlic fries, Escobedo said she’s reminding herself that it’s temporary.

“You know, Dodger stadium is going to be back up and running and that parking lot is going to be filled with Dodger fans again,” she said.

Amid Coronavirus Fears, LA City Council To Hold Its First Zoom Meeting

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Los Angeles City Hall is seen in this photo taken Nov. 30, 2011 (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images). Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Los Angeles City Council will meet Friday using a teleconferencing app that’s become familiar to a lot of us working from home right now: Zoom.

Earlier this week, Council President Nury Martinez canceled both remaining regularly scheduled Tuesday meetings in March over technical challenges and safety issues in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Martinez plans to be at City Hall in council chambers for the meeting, along with key staff and personnel from the City Clerk’s and City Attorney’s offices, according to her spokesman Rick Coca.

The rest of the 15-member body will teleconference from their offices or homes.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, journalists and the public will not be allowed in the chambers, but can connect online or on the phone.

The council’s set to tackle several pieces of legislation with the goal of softening the pandemic’s blow on LA. workers and renters.

On the agenda:

  • Protections for tenants
  • Helping workers laid off because of COVID-19 get their jobs back
  • Added safeguards for grocery, drug store and food delivery workers
  • Requiring all employers in the city to offer two weeks of paid sick leave.

The City Clerk’s office also has a new online comment portal here.

UPDATED FRIDAY March 27

Council President Martinez's office sent instructions to dial in to the meeting:

Live Council meetings can also be heard via phone at (213) 621-City (Metro), (818) 904-9450 (Valley), (310) 471-CITY (Westside) and (310) 547-CITY (San Pedro Area).

FBI Arrests Local Man For Running Alleged COVID-19 Scam

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Keith Middlebrook in one of his YouTube videos. (YouTube)

The FBI has arrested a Southern California man who allegedly sought investors for a bogus cure for COVID-19.

Keith Lawrence Middlebrook, 53, was arrested after giving an undercover agent posing as an investor some of his pills, which he claims give him immunity to the virus.

Middlebrook, who had addresses in Westwood, Newport Beach and Murrieta, is charged with one count of attempted wire fraud, a felony. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

The complaint says Middlebrook claimed to have developed a "patent-pending cure" and a treatment that prevents coronavirus infection. Prosecutors say he also falsely claimed that Magic Johnson had joined the board of his company.

The government says videos Middlebrook posted to YouTube and Instagram have gotten at least two million views. Here is one of his YouTube videos:

The FBI wants to know if you think you're a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19. You've got options for how to report it:

Longtime Little Tokyo Shops Are Reinventing Themselves To Survive

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Shabu Shabu House has embraced take-out options since dining out was barred starting last week. Little Tokyo Service Center Small Business Assistance

Mochi maker Bill Kito says the family business Fugetsu-Do has survived 100-plus years in Little Tokyo, even making it through World War II, when his dad was incarcerated with other Japanese Americans at a camp in Wyoming.

But the kind of threat COVID-19 poses has got to make it "the worst," he says — because under the state's stay-at-home order, dine-in regulars can no longer stroll in off the street.

Across Little Tokyo's five city blocks, longtime small businesses like Fugetsu-Do are being forced to change decades-old ways of operation. They're cutting their menus for take-out orders, sprucing up their social media presence and creating deals to entice new customers.

READ MORE HERE

Map: US Has Most Confirmed COVID-19 Cases In The World With 85K; 1,229 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.


Editor's note: For the most recent updates, check our latest tracker post for Friday, March 27.

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 531,000. The U.S. now has the highest total number of confirmed cases in the world. The number of confirmed cases here stands at 85,505 as of 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

In L.A. County today, Public Health director Barbara Ferrer had sobering news to report: The mortality rate for coronavirus now sits at 1.6% in L.A. County. That rate is higher than the nationwide average and higher than what we experience with annual flu cases.

The county has 559 new confirmed cases in the last 48 hours, bringing the total so far to at least 1,229. That includes nine new COVID-19 related deaths, though health officials wouldn't give further details on those patients until families could be notified.

Locally, 21% of those who test positive have ended up hospitalized.

WORLDWIDE

The U.S. is among a number of countries experiencing large-scale outbreaks. The map at the top of this post 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 about 3 p.m.. Thursday, here are the total confirmed cases for the 10 countries currently facing the worst outbreaks:

  1. 85,505 United States
  2. 81,782 China
  3. 80,589 Italy
  4. 57,786 Spain
  5. 43,938 Germany
  6. 29,566 France
  7. 29,406 Iran
  8. 11,812 United Kingdom
  9. 11,811 Switzerland
  10. 9,241 South Korea

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:

IN CALIFORNIA

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 7:18 p.m. Thursday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

  • 4,044 confirmed cases
  • 83 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.]

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AT A GLANCE

Health officials here 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."

Current as of last updates Thursday:

LA COUNTY

  • 1,229 cases
  • 21 deaths

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

ORANGE COUNTY

  • 256 cases
  • 1 death

* More from Orange County

RIVERSIDE COUNTY

  • 107 cases
  • 8 deaths

* More from Riverside County

VENTURA COUNTY

  • 61 cases
  • 1 death

* More from Ventura County

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY

  • 55 cases
  • 3 death

* More from San Bernardino County

FLATTEN THE CURVE

As new cases continue to be confirmed, Californians are a week into "safer at home" and "social distancing" orders. Last 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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The Pandemic Has These Prisoners Worried They Won't Survive Their Sentences

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Taft Modified Community Correctional Facility. Screenshot of 23 ABC NEWS via YouTube

Chris is worried he'll die from COVID-19 before he can finish his prison sentence in four months.

"The last thing I want to do is get infected and die in prison," Chris said over the phone from the Taft Modified Community Correctional Facility, a minimum-security prison about an hour's drive southwest of Bakersfield.

We spoke with four inmates at Taft. They talked about how social distancing is impossible when you have to pack 70 or more men into dorms "the size of a convenience store," as A.J., who lives in the same dorm as Chris, put it.

As of Thursday, 10 state prison staffers and one inmate had tested positive for COVID-19, according to a live tracker maintained by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The department says it's handing out hospital-grade disinfectant and making extra soap available to inmates at Taft who request it. But the prisoners we spoke with hadn't heard about that offer.

GO DEEPER:

'I Don't Want to Feel Like A Sitting Duck.' COVID-19 Stokes Fear Inside A California Prison

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:
Your No-Panic Guide To Coronavirus In LA So Far
Your No-Panic Guide: Sanitizer, Toilet Paper, Medicine — When Will Everything Be Back In Stock?
Here's Your Quick, To The Point, Coronavirus Prep List
Have A Question? We Will Answer It

Trump: USNS Naval Hospital Ship Headed To New York City

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President Donald Trump and members of the White House coronavirus task force updated the nation on their handling of the virus today. Here were the takeaways:

  • As of today, FEMA has shipped over nine million N95 masks, 20 million face masks, 3.1 million face shields, nearly 6,000 ventilators, 2.6 million gowns and 14.6 million gloves to various health care providers across the country.
  • The USNS Comfort, a naval hospital ship, will leave Virginia to go to New York City on Saturday, which is earlier than expected.
  • Trump repeated his desire for Americans to "get back to work," however he made no mention of doing so by Easter, as he has in recent remarks.
  • Vice President Mike Pence announced that Abbott Laboratories submitted a request to the FDA today for approval of point of care tests, which would allow patients to go to their own doctors and receive a test result for COVID-19 within 15 minutes.
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Note: President Trump usually opens these news conferences 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.


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WATCH: How To Navigate (Un)Employment Issues During The Coronavirus Pandemic

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The Santee Alleys in Los Angeles's Fashion district are usually open every day of the year, but most shops have closed as stay at home policies are implemented. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Devastating new jobless numbers came out today showing 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment last week — the sharpest rise in U.S. history.

Are you among those affected by the massive shutdown to try to stem the spread of COVID-19? Have your hours been cut back? Have you been laid off because of the "stay-at-home" orders?

CalMatters reporters asked state leaders how Californians can file for unemployment, get paid sick leave and more during the pandemic. You can watch a replay above.

Scheduled Moderators:

CalMatters assistant editor Judy Lin and California Divide reporter Nigel Duara

Scheduled Participants:

  • Loree Levy, California Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the Employment Development Department
  • Lilia Garcia-Brower, California Labor Commissioner, about filing for unemployment and figuring out sick and family leave.

This event is part of CalMatters' “Getting Through Coronavirus, Explained” web series.

9 New Coronavirus Deaths In LA County As Testing Ramps Up

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Nine more people have died in Los Angeles County from complications related to COVID-19, an uptick that directly correlates to an increase in testing, according to public health officials.

That brings the total number of people who have died in L.A. County because of the coronavirus to 21, says county public health director Barbara Ferrer. That total has been corrected by dropping one juvenile case that is currently being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and another case where the individual was determined to be a resident of another county, Ferrer said.

Here are more of the county's updated numbers:

  • 421 new cases were reported today, for a total of 559 in the last 48 hours
  • The new cases include 41 in Long Beach and 9 in Pasadena
  • 1,216 total confirmed cases have now been reported in L.A. County
  • More than 9,400 people have been tested so far
  • About 4,000 of those test results came in just yesterday
  • That jump in testing largely explains the increase in positive cases
  • About 10% of people tested are positive

Ferrer said they are not sharing any details on the deaths reported today because they are still working to notify families.

With the new numbers, the mortality rate is now at 1.6%, higher than the national average, Ferrer said. However, keep in mind that this number will fluctuate as more testing can be completed.

Ferrer also pointed out that 21% of positive cases have required hospitalization, and she warned that the impact on medical facilities could be severe if we do not adhere to social distancing guidelines and try to shut down the disease's spread:

"If there are 1,000 people that are positive, and each one of those people infects two other people, if we don't curtail that spread within a few weeks, there could be over a million people that would be infected in L.A. County. And if 20% of those people who are infected need some kind of hospital care, you can see why we're urging everyone to help us slow the spread. That could be over 200,000 people that at some point would need to be hospitalized."

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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LA Supes Deny 'Power Grab' Before Vote To Remove Sheriff As Head of Emergency Operations

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Sheriff Alex Villanueva. (Kyle Grillot for LAist)

Sheriff Alex Villanueva calls it "a power grab." The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors says it's just about having a more efficient emergency operations system.

Next Tuesday the supervisors are set to vote to remove Villanueva as head of the county's emergency operations center.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl today told our colleagues at KPCC's AirTalk that the move has nothing to do with the COVID-19 crisis. She said it has been in the works for more than a year.

Kuehl said a county task force recommended late last year to make the change after what she described as a lack of communication among emergency services during the 2018 Woolsey fire. The change involves shifting a decades-old ordinance to put the Office of Emergency Management, rather than the sheriff, in charge of emergency operations during a crisis.

"It doesn't matter who the sheriff is, the sheriff is not the right person to coordinate it," Kuehl said, noting that "almost every other county in California" has done the same thing.

"I appreciate that Alex's feelings are hurt, but this is really not about him and not about anything he's done," she said.

Villanueva, who spoke to AirTalk right after Kuehl, insisted the supervisors are making a political move against him "because they want only appointed people in that unified command."

He accused the supervisors and the Department of Public Health of sidelining him during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board of supervisors "is trying to politicize" the emergency operations command, Villanueva claimed, so there will be "no opposing points of view" during a crisis.

This is the latest clash in a long-running conflict between the board and the sheriff. They have fought over his rehiring of fired deputies, his ending of internal discipline probes, his response to secret deputy cliques, his spending, his alleged lack of transparency, and more.

LA Metro Is Bracing For A Financial Shortfall In The Hundreds Of Millions

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TAP entry at the Pershing Square Metro Station in downtown Los Angeles on March 23, 2020. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

The coronavirus pandemic is (not surprisingly) pummeling ridership for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

As of March 24, average weekday ridership on Metro trains has fallen more than 80%, and nearly 70% of the system’s daily bus riders have stopped riding.

But losing the vast majority of riders is just one part of what L.A. Metro CEO Phillip Washington described to us as the “double-whammy” the agency is facing as it navigates this new “uncharted territory.”

Metro is projecting a loss in the hundreds of millions because of the second part — falling sales tax revenue.

Metro could lose between $650 and $750 million in sales tax revenue by the end of this fiscal year, Washington said. The ridership plunge is already costing tens of millions and counting, he added.

For more on that, and the action at the federal level to help, read our full story here:

LA Metro Is In 'Uncharted Territory' And Waiting For Federal Aid To Get Back On Track

No Screening For 'Rich People' At LAX? 'Maybe Just Kidding'

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LAX on March 18, 2020. (Frederic J. BrownAFP via Getty Images)

Our friends at ProPublica obtained hundreds of pages of correspondence between federal and state public health officials through a records request in Nevada. Their goal was to examine the period of time from January to early March, when health officials were trying to stay ahead of the coronavirus outbreak underway in China.

Their analysis of those records?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "fumbled its communication with public health officials and underestimated the threat of the coronavirus even as it gained a foothold in the United States."

At LAX, one of the airports where enhanced screening measures were supposed to be in place, ProPublica found the correspondence indicates the efforts were hampered by translation issues and confusion. Here's one exchange the nonprofit investigative newsroom found:

The screening protocol also wasn’t always clear. On Feb. 29, a CDC officer at LAX sent an email to her colleagues, saying: “In case this comes up again, we are not screening private flights. These would be flights that land at LAX but don’t arrive into the regular terminal … mainly for rich people.”

Just over two hours later, the officer emailed again. “And, maybe just kidding,” she wrote. Information from headquarters seemed to contradict what she had said about private flights, she said.

ProPublica said the CDC responded that "it scaled up the screening almost overnight, so it focused on vetting the largest segment possible of high-risk passengers coming from places like Wuhan, China. The agency trained staff and dealt as best it could with limited staffing and translation services," it said.

READ THE FULL REPORT:

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

You May Have To Wait To Get Your Teeth Cleaned, Because Coronavirus

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Dentists are allowed to operate during the coronavirus outbreak, but most routine services are canceled. Michael Browning on Unsplash

Need to get your teeth cleaned? You'll probably have to wait.

Dental providers are being urged to limit routine services like dental cleanings in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s part of an effort by government officials to free up personal protective gear like masks and gloves for frontline health care workers.

On March 18 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recommended that clinicians and hospitals delay non-essential dental, medical and surgical procedures to both conserve protective gear and keep the disease from spreading within health care offices.

Dental professionals are especially susceptible because they have to get close to their patients to provide care.

“We’re following the mandate of Governor Newsom of a stay at home, as well as participating to try to stop the spread of this really nasty COVID19,” said California Dental Association president Richard Nagy.

DENTISTS STILL CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL SERVICE

Dentistry is considered an essential service under Newsom’s order, so emergency dental procedures are still available. The CDA advised it’s 27,000 members to only see emergency dental patients.

“That’s someone with uncontrolled bleeding, trauma, uncontrollable pain and suffering that typically requires an extraction,” Nagy said.

He advised people to call their dentist if they are in pain.

"Your dentist can triage you over the phone,” he said. “We're trying to make sure that dental-related emergencies do not go to the emergency room. They are busy enough, and we can handle it in our offices."

DENTISTS FACE EMPLOYMENT, FINANCIAL WOES

As dental services are curtailed across California, dentists are worried about their small businesses and staff.

“We employ teams of health care workers like hygienists, assistants, and front desk people – they are out of work right now, because the offices are closed,” Nagy said.

Local, state and federal governments are ramping up help for employees and small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak, though it’s unclear if any specific accommodations will be made for dentistry.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

California’s Shelter-In-Place Order, Explained

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As President Donald Trump considers easing national restrictions by Easter, Californians are into their first week of an official shelter-in-place directive to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered Californians to stay home except for essential services, leading many to wonder: What’s essential?

That’s a long list. And some counties have tighter rules. This video explains what the shelter-in-place order means for Californians, why it could slow the spread of infection and what powers Newsom has to force Californians to stay home.

This story was first published by CalMatters.

Dark Days: A Hard Look At National Unemployment

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Source: Department of Labor unemployment insurance weekly claims report March 26, 2020. (Credit: Connie Hanzhang Jin/NPR)

More than 3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country, according to new numbers released today by the Department of Labor.

That total — 3.28 million —is well above the levels seen during the darkest days of the Great Recession, and forecasters warn that the worst isn't over yet.


NOTE: Gov. Gavin Newsom said in California alone more than 1 million residents have filed for unemployment benefits this month >>

And a reminder: Top health officials advise that the only way to slow the spread of COVID-19 — which has no vaccine and kills at a higher rate than the seasonal flu — is to self-isolate when sick and to strictly limit people from leaving their homes unless they're in an essential job or running an errand decined as essential.


The crisis has cut a giant swath through the energy, travel, transportation, hotel and restaurant sectors, with large and small companies suddenly forced to furlough employees.

HARD HIT INDUSTRIES

States that depend heavily on tourism, such as Nevada and Florida, as well as oil-and-gas towns like Midland, Texas, will be especially hard hit, but the damage will be felt almost everywhere, according to a Brookings Institution report.

The hotel industry alone as lost as many as 1 million jobs this month, the American Hotel and Lodging Association says.

"It is a huge shock and we are trying to cope with it and keep it under control," says James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Earlier this week, he said unemployment would hit 30%. But he tempered those remarks Wednesday, saying he expected the number to fall again quickly.

The job losses haven't been reflected in data released so far by the federal government, but the weekly report by the Labor Department on employment claims Thursday morning is expected to show an unprecedented surge in people seeking benefits.

MONSTER ESTIMATES

The Economic Policy Institute estimated 3.4 million people filed for first-time claims during the week ending March 21. That compares to an average of 225,000 a week during the past six months.

The projected number is nearly five times as many initial claims as were recorded during the peak of the Great Recession. In the week ended March 28, 2009, about 665,000 new claims were filed. That was second only to the week ended Oct. 2, 1982, when 695,000 first-time claims were filed. The Labor Department's records go back to 1967. The EPI report says:

"This will dwarf every other week in history."

The loss of that many jobs would push unemployment to 5.5% — a level it last reached in 2015 — but it's likely to climb even further. Goldman Sachs has predicted that the jobless rate could approach 13% during the next few months.

"If the number of new claims is as high as predicted and if it remains high in coming weeks, unemployment will skyrocket," according to a report from the Joint Economic Committee of Congress.

AN UNPRECENDENTED COLLAPSE

The collapse of the job market has been unprecedented in size and speed.

Adam Hill of Worcester, Mass., worked until recently as a graphic designer at a company that organizes trade shows.

"A couple of weeks before this happened, we had a [company] meeting where we heard about how we did the previous year, and revenue was up. Everyone was pretty excited for the next year," he says.

"Then all of a sudden, this show canceled, and then another one and then another one. And within two weeks, I think, 155 shows had canceled. No shows, no money," he says. "I guess I wasn't too surprised when we got laid off."

Hill says he expects to be called back to work when the economy recovers, but no one is sure when that will be.

In the meantime, Congress is set to approve a $2 trillion economic rescue package that broadly expands unemployment benefits, extending them to gig workers and freelancers. It would also include more generous benefits and extend eligibility for benefits by 13 weeks.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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What The Coronavirus Stimulus Package Could Mean For LA Gig Workers

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Ride-share drivers and other self-employed workers have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus-related slowdown. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Senate’s agreement on a coronavirus stimulus package includes a big boost in unemployment benefits — especially for self-employed workers, who previously couldn’t get those benefits at all.

The deal, which still needs to pass the House and get President Trump's signature, would increase weekly unemployment insurance payments by up to $600 per week. Currently, California’s payments top out at $450 per week.

In the past, only workers classified as employees were eligible for unemployment insurance. But under the new deal, self-employed workers and those in the gig economy — such as Postmates delivery workers and Uber drivers — could now receive payments.

L.A. driver Nicole Moore with Rideshare Drivers United said demand for rides has dried up — and drivers need help, fast.

“I'm talking to people that have no money in their bank account,” she said. “They have bills due on their cars, bills due on their homes, and they have a family that they’re supporting.”

AB5 MEETS CORONAVIRUS

Moore argues drivers already should have been eligible under AB5 — a state law pushing companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as employees. But so far, companies have resisted that move.

Regardless of how the benefits arrive, the need is widespread. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that more than 1 million Californians have already applied for unemployment over the past two weeks.

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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Morning Briefing: ‘We’ve All Got To Do Our Part’

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Local officials are starting to take a harder edge with our neighbors who are struggling to accept the severity of COVID-19. In an interview with KPCC’s All Things Considered host Nick Roman, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer got serious about what's happening.

“I try not to ever alarm people unnecessarily,” she said. “That's not never my intent. But I do want people to understand, this is a disease that causes some very serious illness and even causes death for some people. And, you know, more than ever, we've all got to do our part… Everybody either helps, or we continue to see dramatic increases in the numbers of cases.”

Here’s what happened in the past 24 hours:

  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti repeated his warning that residents will likely need to stay home until at least May, and Ferrer pleaded with Angelenos to "do their part.
  • There are currently at least 812 cases of COVID-19 in L.A. County, and more than 470,000 worldwide. The mortality rate sits at 1.5% nationwide and 1% in L.A. County, higher than what we experience with annual flu cases.
  • During his press briefing with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, President Donald Trump became emotional and claimed that the media wants him to do poorly. Prior to that, he announced that Senate leaders have struck a deal to inject the U.S. economy with about $2 trillion in aid in response to the coronavirus pandemic (that deal was later delayed).
  • A lesson from history: When L.A. lifted its seven-week shut-down during the Spanish Influenza of 1918, cases immediately spiked and a second shut-down commenced. Also, if you don’t have health insurance but think you might need a COVID-19 test, call a healthcare provider and get their input on what to do.
  • Four out of the five largest banks have agreed to a 90-day waiver for residential mortgage payments for those impacted by coronavirus, with the exception of Bank of America. (Gov. Gavin Newsom, in announcing the measures, twice called out Bank of America for only committing to 30 days.)
  • State and county officials in California have been negotiating with hundreds of hotels to house homeless people during the COVID-19 outbreak, and some hope the plan could turn into a long-term solution.
  • For domestic violence victims, staying at home may not be safe.

Here’s what we’re covering today:

  • While some Angelenos were turning Costco into the Wild West, many others are finding everything they need at carnicerias, liquor stores, tienditas and Latino supermarkets, reports Erick Galindo.
  • Mike Roe talks to street artists who are coping with the coronavirus through their work.
  • Jacob Margolis answers your questions about the supply chain in the time of COVID-19 in a Facebook Live Q&A at 3 p.m.
  • The new federal coronavirus bill will let self-employed and gig workers file for unemployment, reports David Wagner. How much will this help?
  • Emily Elena Dugdale delves into state prisoners’ concerns about contracting coronavirus.
  • Little Tokyo restaurants have historically depended on foot traffic, reports Josie Huang, and 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:

  • Ernest Raymond Beaumont-Gantt opened Don's Beachcomber in Hollywood in 1933. The tiny, cheerful hut-like establishment is believed to have launched L.A. tiki culture.
  • Cristela Alonzo, whose ABC sitcom Cristela left a big impression, talks to us about how to become a comedian in L.A.

And now, your moment of Zen:

Sunnier times: Space Shuttle Endeavour arrives in L.A. over the beach in Santa Monica on September 21, 2012.

(Jason Merritt/TERM/Getty Images)

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.