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Remembering Harriet Glickman, Who Helped Persuade Charles Schulz To Integrate 'Peanuts'

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Ken Kelly, Harriet Glickman, and Franklin, the first black 'Peanuts' character, photographed in 2015. John Rabe / LAist

Harriet Glickman died Friday morning at her home in Sherman Oaks. She was 93.

She was a retired school teacher and mother of three. Her son Paul Glickman is a senior editor here and veteran of our newsroom and, through him, we got to know a little bit about his mother.

Harriet has a very interesting place in history. In 1968, she wrote to “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz asking him to do something remarkable at the time: integrate his famous comic strip.

Schulz told her that he wanted to, but was concerned about how it would come across. His initial letter to her said of himself and other artists:

"We all would like very much to be able to do this, but each of us is afraid that it would look like we were patronizing our Negro friends. I don't know what the solution is."

When Harriet shared the letter with a friend, Ken Kelly, who was African American, he told Schulz: Just make the character a regular kid.

(John Rabe / LAist)

And Franklin was born.

A copy of the 1968 comic strip with a note to Harriet from the Schulz museum.

In 2015, Harriet and Ken Kelly, who by then was retired from his job as a JPL microwave communications engineer, were invited to the Clinton Presidential Center to talk about their efforts. Harriet spoke to KPCC's John Rabe about that experience:

"When I was at the museum, somebody said, ‘It took courage.’ I said, ’No it didn’t, it didn’t take courage for me to sit in Sherman Oaks in my comfortable home with my three children and type a letter.'

Courage was little Ruby Bridges, the little girl who integrated a school in the south who had to come with the National Guard with people spitting at her and yelling at her and throwing things at her and the parents who drew their children out. That was courage."

Our hearts are with Paul and his family.

LA Sends Emergency Alert On Coronavirus; 1 Positive Case Among Homeless

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tonight used what may have been his strongest language yet to urge people to heed his stay-at-home orders. And then the city punctuated that message with an exclamation point: a piercing emergency alert sent just moments after his nightly address.

"These aren't suggestions, I remind you, these are orders. We are in the midst of a pandemic," Garcetti said.

Los Angeles sent an emergency alert on Friday, Mar. 27, 2020 to remind people that the "Safer at Home" order was still in place as the coronavirus pandemic continues. (Screenshot via Megan Erwin/KPCC/LAist)

The emergency alert urged people to continue staying home this weekend. It reminded everyone to only go out for essential activities. [Garcetti pointed residents to a list at coronavirus.lacity.org.]

Those stern reminders come after many people flocked to beaches and parks last weekend, despite pleas to keep at least six feet of distance from each other to slow the spread of this new coronavirus. City and county agencies then spent much of the week shutting down public areas to limit the chance that large crowds of people can further spread the virus.

Tonight, Garcetti also announced the first known case of COVID-19 in a homeless person in L.A. The homeless individual who tested positive is now isolated, and the city is doing contact tracing to find out where the person has been, Garcetti said.

Concern has been high about the spread of the highly contagious virus among the region's massive homeless population, which has sizeable number of people considered to be at high risk from COVID-19.

Here are some of the other updates Garcetti shared tonight:

  • LA's total inventory of hospital beds is 23,000, of which only about 1,500 are free for patients
  • About 900 ventilators are available across the county
  • The city has completed more than 5,000 tests, double where we were on Tuesday, and Garcetti said he expects the number to triple by the end of next week
  • As the city ramps up testing, UPS is partnering with L.A. to pick up and deliver thousands of tests a day for free
  • As of today, all public trials and trailheads in the city are closed, and at Griffith Park the Vermont Avenue and Ferndale Drive entrances are closed
  • The city council is voting to require all retail food stores to dedicate one hour in the morning exclusively to seniors and the disabled
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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Mis Ángeles: Long Hours, Scary Times For Warehouse Workers

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(Illustration by Chava Sanchez)

Jack is a father, a husband, a friend, and among the thousands of warehouse workers that are putting in long hours at great risk to their health so that we are safer from COVID-19. They maintain the supply lines for hospitals, grocery stores and other essential businesses. The war might be existential but the front line in real.

"I'm trying to do everything I can to make sure we're all safe, but I can't," Jack said.

READ MORE FROM ERICK GALINDO:

LA County Pushing Edison To Stop Power Outages

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Edison workers replace cables to harden the grid (Kyle Grillot/LAist)

Los Angeles County is pressing Southern California Edison to stop cutting off power to homes and businesses to accomplish power system upgrades while people are staying at home helping slow the spread of the coronavirus.

At a time like this, entire families are home from work and school, relying on TV and the Internet. And many of them have refrigerators and freezers stocked with food to avoid going shopping or out to eat. So it’s a bad time for a power outage.

Last week, Southern California Edison promised to stop cutting power to homes for some routine maintenance jobs. But the company insists it has to move forward with upgrades to make its power lines and other equipment less likely to start fires.

Edison says that 461 of its 1,265 power system upgrade projects are for this reason.

The company already faces high liability costs for fires that its aging power poles and wires sparked in the Thomas Fire in Santa Paula and lawsuits brought in the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles County.

The County Counsel filed a complaint with the state Public Utilities Commission to get the outages to stop, but the commission declined to take action. So county and Edison representatives are continuing to negotiate the duration and conditions of outages.

Edison spokeswoman Caroline Choi said the company had added extra personnel and rented generators to help shorten the duration of outages. Some crews were doing the work without de-energizing power lines, which is more dangerous than working on disconnected lines. But the company has certain deadlines under its PUC-approved plan that it must meet to harden the power grid so it does not cause fires.

One LA Neighborhood Is Coming Together During Coronavirus 

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Angelenos are wrapping up another week staying at home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. But for medical staff, they are on the frontlines for the unforeseeable future.

So some L.A. residents who live on Silverlake Boulevard in L.A. are finding a way to come together to thank the workers.

FROM A DISTANCE

Every night at 8 p.m., the neighbors who are normally stuck in their homes all day come to their windows or porches to cheer in unison. The hope is that the cheer reaches many of the hospital workers who are coming off the daytime shift and the ones going onto the nighttime shift.

One neighbor, Cass Bugge, doesn’t know who started the cheering but it’s been going on for several days, and she decided to join in.

She says it feels like a really nice thing to do as a community in this really crazy and scary time.

“It’s a beacon of understanding that we are all aware of what’s happening together and who is putting their lives most at risk for us all.”

Trump Invokes Defense Production Act To Compel GM To Make Ventilators

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At a White House coronavirus task force briefing this afternoon. U.S. President Donald Trump announced he has invoked the Defense Production Act, "to compel General Motors to accept, perform and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators." Or, as he put it on Twitter earlier today:

Trump also announced that he is appointing Peter Navarro to be the policy coordinator for the Defense Production Act. Navarro currently serves as the White House's Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy.

When asked by a reporter whether current social distancing guidelines will go on for "months," Trump replied, "I hope not. I hope it's going to be sooner. I hope it disappears faster than that."


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.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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Map: US Tops 104K Confirmed COVID-19 Cases. California Deaths Pass 100

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


This post is no longer being updated. Get the latest numbers here>>

Jump to: CALIFORNIA | WORLDWIDE | SOCAL COUNTIES | ANALYSIS

WHERE WE STAND

The U.S. yesterday overtook China for the highest total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, and by late morning had surged to just over 104,661. In all, more than 597,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide. Italy has now surpassed China for the second highest totals.

In L.A. County, confirmed cases have more than tripled in the past six days, which health officials attribute in part to wide testing. The county is now reporting more than 1,460 cases and which 22% of patients have required hospitalization.

And the local mortality rate continues to tick up. Earlier in the week, it was 1%, then 1.6% yesterday and is now 1.8%. That rate is higher than the nationwide average and significantly higher than what we experience with annual flu cases. Keep in mind, it partially reflects the who is being tested at this point.

The county reported 257 new confirmed cases today. That includes five new COVID-19 related deaths.

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 8:45 p.m. Friday, here are the total confirmed cases for the 10 countries currently facing the worst outbreaks:

  1. 104,661 United States
  2. 86,498 Italy
  3. 81,946 China
  4. 65,719 Spain
  5. 50,871 Germany
  6. 33,411 France
  7. 32,332 Iran
  8. 14,751 United Kingdom
  9. 12,928 Switzerland
  10. 9,478 Korea, South

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 9:48 a.m. Friday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

  • 4,905 confirmed cases
  • 102 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.

Earlier this week, when the local mortality rate was at 1%, Ferrer told us:

"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 Friday

LA COUNTY

  • 1,482 cases
  • 26 deaths*

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

Below is current as of Thursday updates:

ORANGE COUNTY

  • 321 cases
  • 3 death

* More from Orange County

RIVERSIDE COUNTY

  • 151 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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Newsom Says California Is Testing 10K A Day. Hospital Ship Now In LA Is Part Of Expanded Capacity

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Rear Admiral John Gimbleton, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom tour the USNS Mercy hospital ship at the Port of Los Angeles. (Via Gov. Newsom's office on Twitter)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom welcomed the Navy hospital ship Mercy at the Port of Los Angeles on Friday, shortly after announcing a statewide moratorium on evictions for renters, effective through May 31.

The event took place even as reports of positive COVID-19 cases continued to accelerate in volume. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who joined the governor at the event, reiterated his warning that L.A. is on track to be where New York City is when it comes to treating coronavirus patients within 5 to 11 days.

Other key takeaways:

  • Newsom said 88,400 coronavirus tests have taken place in California so far
  • More than 10,000 tests are now being conducted per day.
  • Results may arrive 6-8 days later.
  • Newsom said, the state is working on lowering the amount of time it takes to process those results.

HOSPITALS AND STAFFING

The arrival of Mercy in L.A. immediately adds one-third more hospital beds to the current capacity in the city. Garcetti said once the ship is at its full capacity, it will add two-thirds more hospital beds to the city. The goal of sending the Mercy to the port here is to decompress the hospital system and to make room for a surge of coronavirus patients in the city's hospitals.

Here's where it stands statewide:

Newsom has said we need 50,000 additional hospital beds to handle the crisis. Plans call for 30,000 of those to come through the existing system while 20,000 are being procured by the state, including beds on the Mercy.

The state also is looking to tap more potential staff to deal with the expected surge in COVID-19 patients. Among options being considered: third- and fourth-year medical students. More than 2,000 trained medical professionals have offered their expertise in L.A. through an online portal, Garcetti said.

CLOSURES

Garcetti said that they are working to get businesses that aren't supposed to be open to voluntarily close, but that they are ready to enforce closures as needed. Newsom said that the National Guard will be helping at the state level to encourage compliance with state park closures, equipped with flyers rather than giving citations.

How a Federal Stimulus Could Help LA's Small Businesses During the Pandemic

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A sign in front of Broguiere's dairy announces that the business is closed until further notice. screengrab from KCAL Los Angeles

If you own or work for one of California’s nearly four million small businesses, we know you're hurting right now. But help is on the way in the form of a massive $2 trillion stimulus package, which Congress approved today.

The stimulus contains $349 billion in loans to small businesses and nonprofits with less than 500 employees. People who are self-employed or gig workers also qualify. These loans can be forgiven if business owners use the money to keep employees on the payroll, rehire laid-off employees, or pay their rent, mortgage, utilities or any other business-related debts.

READ MORE

Newsom Orders Statewide Moratorium On Evictions

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a March 21 news briefing.

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an order halting evictions through May 31 for renters affected by COVID-19. The statewide action is effective immediately.

The governor's order says, "Minimizing evictions during this period is critical to reducing the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable populations by allowing all residents to stay home."

Renters will be expected to write their landlords within a week of their rent being due, if they can't make a payment. Tenants will also be required to pay their full rent in "a timely manner" and can still face eviction in the future over non-payment of rent, once the moratorium is lifted.

Newsom's order prohibits law enforcement and the court system from moving forward on evictions.

The move could clear up widespread confusion about eviction moratoriums in California, where a patchwork of measures have been adopted by municipalities. A previous order by Newsom allowed local governments to create eviction moritoriums, but the order did not itself impose them.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Play The Groundhog Day Game With Us

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null Illustration by Chava Sanchez

Whatever you're experiencing these days, it's a doozy. So we came up with a game that's really just a question.

Which day in Groundhog Day are you stuck in right now?

Think of it as a guided mindfulness exercise. Bill Murray's already done the emotional heavy-lifting, so we might as well use the templates in this time of crisis.

You have somewhere between 38- to- 12,403 days to choose from as you determine where you fall on the Phil Connors arc.

We anxiously await your insights.

Play along and tell us the day you're having.

HERE'S THE FULL POST:

Nothing Is Awesome Except For This Game We Made Up About Groundhog Day

LA County Closes All Public Beaches

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Signage alerts parents that a children's play area at Venice Beach has closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

All Los Angeles County public beaches — including bathrooms, piers, promenades, and bike paths — are being closed until at least Apr. 19 to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Supervisor Janice Hahn announced the order from public health officer Muntu Davis in a written statement just ahead of the county's daily coronavirus task force briefing.

“The crowds we saw at our beaches last weekend were unacceptable. In order to save lives, beaches in LA County will be temporarily closed. I understand that this is a huge sacrifice for everyone who enjoys going to our beaches. But we cannot risk another sunny weekend with crowds at the beach spreading this virus. This closure is temporary and we can always reopen these beaches when it is safe to do so.”


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.


We Miss You Too, Vin Scully

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If you were feeling a little that it wasn't Dodger baseball yesterday, you were in good company.

Vin Scully is here for us. He's a spry 92 and has some sage advice:

Spend the precious time at home with your family. Pray a little more, like most of us will do. And above all, smile, because when you smile that makes everybody else feel better.

READ MORE:

3 Assisted Living Facilities Have COVID-19 Outbreaks; LA County Cases Triple In 6 Days

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Los Angeles County today reported outbreaks in at least three assisted living facilities.

At the daily news briefing L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said three or more people have tested positive for COVID-19 at Kensington Assisted Living in Redondo Beach, Belmont Village in Hollywood, and Alameda Care Center in Burbank. Staff, residents and families have all been notified. Ferrer said:

"I want to note that there have been no deficiencies identified at these facilities, and that staff and managers are doing their very best to protect the health of their residents. It is unfortunate that this virus, knows no boundaries, and it can be imported and exported wherever there are people."

Ferrer said, in total, 35 positive cases have now been reported across 14 places she described as "institutional settings."

Ferrer also reported five new deaths. Here are the updated case numbers:

  • 5 new deaths: 4 men and 1 woman, all of them older than 60
  • Of the nine deaths reported yesterday, eight were also older than 60, and one person was in their 40s with underlying health conditions
  • 257 new cases, including 54 in Long Beach and 9 in Pasadena
  • 1,465 total confirmed cases
  • 22% of positive cases have required hospitalization
  • 1.8% mortality rate

Ferrer noted that the number of positive cases across the county has tripled in less than a week. That's in part due to improved access to testing, but "we also also have to assume that these numbers represent a very real fact that we have a lot more people infected in the county who are capable of infecting others."

Note that the mortality rate has fluctuated and will likely continued to do so as testing expands. Ferrer acknowledged that if you only test the seriously ill, you will see a higher mortality rate because you're not including those people who are actually infected and have only mild symptoms.

"So this doesn't really mean it's the truth, but because we're all in this space right now of not having enough testing capacity, it does give you a sense of why we're worried about the danger of having rapid increases in the number of cases. Because it is associated right now, with a significantly higher death rate than what we usually see for example for influenza."

At the same briefing, the county announced that it was closing all beaches — including bathrooms, bike paths, and promenades — until Apr. 19 to curb the spread of COVID-19.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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Former LA City Councilman Mitch Englander Agrees To Plead Guilty To One Count In Corruption Scandal

Updated
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Englander, his wife, attorney and reporters leaving the federal courthouse in downtown LA. earlier this month. (Libby Denkmann/ LAist)

Federal prosecutors said today that former L.A. City Councilman Mitch Englander has:

"Agreed to plead guilty to a federal criminal charge stemming from his obstruction of a public corruption investigation related to his acceptance of gifts – including cash, hotel rooms and expensive meals – from a businessman during trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs in 2017."

The agreement was filed in federal court this morning, according to the news release. Englander, federal officials said, agreed to plead guilty to one count of scheming to falsify material facts.

He had previously pleaded not guilty to seven counts of violating federal anti-corruption law.

The other counts will be dropped.

The indictment says the gifts were from an as-yet unnamed business person to get approvals for a real estate development.

Englander faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

READ THE PLEA AGREEMENT

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

We're Locked Inside, They're Making Street Art

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We feel you, anxious cat. (Courtesy Catalina Bolívar)

There are a few non-essential activities happening on L.A.'s streets at night. Artist Catalina Bolívar, who put the words into the mouth of the cat you see above, posted that piece Sunday night.

Other street artists have also been sharing their messages with Angelenos, drawing inspiration from the virus that dominates headlines, discussions and daily life. They do it for a variety of reasons. For some, it's a way to cope with their own anxieties. Others are taking advantage of empty streets. But they have concerns about the virus, too.

Bolívar said that while she wasn't worried for herself, she was concerned about her parents, who are in their 60s and 70s.

We're keeping an eye out for coronavirus street art throughout Los Angeles. Check out what we've found and send us images of what you're seeing.

GO DEEPER:

The DMV Has Closed Its Field Offices But Will Expand Virtual Services Next Week

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A Department of Motor Vehicles worker speaks with a man who did not have an appointment at an appointment desk in front of a DMV building in Los Angeles, with a cone used to implement social distancing, on March 23, 2020 Mario Tama/Getty Images

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has closed all its field offices, effective today, and all existing appointments at those offices have been canceled.

The DMV is creating a new virtual hub to handle essential services, which is slated to launch April 2 at virtual.dmv.ca.gov.

Customers will soon be able to complete transactions with DMV staff online that had previously required in-person office visits, including vehicle registration renewal and title transfers. Officials say more transaction options will be added gradually.

Services already available online — and through mail and public kiosks — will continue, officials said. You can visit the DMV's website for more information.

"Californians who do not have an urgent need to go to a DMV field office should delay their visit, including those interested in applying for a REAL ID," DMV officials said in a news release.

The Department of Homeland Security has delayed REAL ID enforcement by a year. The new deadline is Oct. 1, 2021.

What's The Soonest You Can Expect A Relief Check?

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The Internal Revenue Service building photographed on the 2019 filing deadline (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Let's get straight to it: When will your relief check be in the mail?

Kyle Pomerleau, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says:

"It really depends on what information the IRS has on you."

Why? That's because the infusion of cash will be distributed by the IRS. So Pomerleau says than means first in line will be anyone who has previously received tax refunds via direct deposit.

He estimates the earliest those payments will go out is 3 to 4 weeks after the package is approved. But keep in mind there are income limits on who qualifies.

GET MORE DETAILS:

What’s It Like Facing Eviction During A Pandemic?

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Presley Wilson and her four-year-old son, Raiden, outside of her mobile home in Pomona's California Trailer Grove. Courtesy of Presley Wilson
Wilson's three day notice to pay or quit.

Presley Wilson is a single mom who rents a travel trailer in Pomona. She got a three-day notice in mid-March and can’t reach the county office that usually helps her out with rent. She’s sick, and there’s not much business driving Lyft now anyway.

Even if Wilson pulls things together, Apr. 1 and another rent payment are right around the corner. And she thinks that many of her neighbors will struggle to pull together the money for rent.

She’s worried: The landlord and management company, which I reported on last month, has a well-oiled process for evicting tenants.

One million Californians have filed for unemployment this month, and as the economy grinds to a halt, fears are rising of a surge in evictions. Several officials have taken measures to halt evictions for renters, but the situation is complicated and changing fast.

READ THE FULL REPORT:

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Pandemic Exposes Huge 'Digital Divide' In LA Schools

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Los Angeles Unified supplied iPads to students to take new digital state tests. (Ben Brayfield for KPCC)

The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced millions of Southern California students home from school.

Still, Gov. Gavin Newsom has promised to keep funding public schools so long as they use options like distance learning or online education to continue students' education from home.

But earlier this week, leaders of the state's largest school district admitted that, so far, results from this sudden pivot to online or distance instruction have been mixed.

Why? "A great big digital divide," said Los Angles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner.

The divide has always been there, but the coronavirus shutdown has laid bare in a particularly stark way.

READ OUR FULL REPORT:

Judge Looking At Expanding Garcetti's Emergency Shelter Plan

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Homeless tents on Skid Row. (James Bernal for KPCC)

A federal judge is interested in expanding Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to use city recreation centers as shelters for the homeless -- by using public park space around the centers as de facto safe-camping zones for homeless people.

That’s according to Matthew Umhofer, an attorney for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that claims the city and county of Los Angeles have been negligent in handling the homelessness crisis.

Umhofer tells us that presiding Judge David Carter gave a powerpoint presentation in court on Thursday that showed off the new rec center shelters being made available to the homeless under the COVID-19 prevention plan Garcetti announced last week. The presentation also highlighted public space around the rec centers, including parks, he said.

The judge is considering using the rec centers as “epicenters of services” that would provide food, water and bathrooms not only for people in the shelters, but for others allowed to camp in the surrounding open space, Umhofer said.

The idea was first floated by lawyers representing anti-poverty advocacy groups that intervened in the case, LA CAN and the L.A. Catholic Worker.

“[Carter] was putting a lot of focus and energy around how soon we can get these kinds of adjacent public park-like spaces available for the homeless to shelter in there rather than in encampments on city streets,” Umhofer said. “The judge was very focused on trying to get to a point where we can make these spaces available, whether people bring their own tents, or whether people shelter in tents provided by the government.”

We reached out to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's office for comment. A spokesman responded: "There is always room for more creativity, but nothing is more urgent right now than focusing our resources on bringing people inside, and doing what we know can save lives.”

Several of the rec center shelters have opened, increasing the region’s shelter capacity by about 500 beds.

Olympic Training In The Age Of Social Distancing: Table Tennis, Anyone?

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Lily Zhang is a six-time national champion in table tennis. She was hoping to earn the U.S. its first ever medal in the sport this summer at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but its now been postponed until next year. (Courtesy of Lily Zhang)

The Olympics have officially been postponed until 2021. But while it’s still unclear what it will take for officials to put the games off another year, one thing is certain: athletes who’ve spent their lives preparing for these games still want to compete — whenever it happens.

Lily Zhang is one of them. A six-time national champion in table tennis, Zhang was hoping to earn the U.S. its first ever medal in the sport. She qualified for the Tokyo games last month, and had been training for the games overseas when she got the news about the U.S. travel ban on European countries.

"I bought a ticket home as soon as I heard about the travel ban. I think everyone’s in the same boat right now. No one can really find the right conditions to train. In that sense, I’m not too worried, because I feel like we’re all in the same situation."

But she’s got one thing in her favor: a standard table tennis table is 9 feet long, which is "good just for social distancing, you know."

Zhang joined Take Two’s A Martinez. You can hear more of their conversation here about whether it’s OK to play table tennis while socially distancing, and how she feels about President Trump using the term “Chinese virus.”

Morning Briefing: Mochi, Inmates And Carnicerias

Updated
Published

The more we know about coronavirus, the more we don’t know about… well, lots of things. Inmates at a California prison told Emily Elena Dugdale that social distancing pretty much can’t be done behind bars. Little Tokyo mochi shop owner Brian Kito spoke to Josie Huang about COVID-19 making him more nervous than the Great Recession. And while some people were mowing down their neighbors for toilet paper at L.A. Costcos, Latino supermarket chains, carnicerias and tienditas were low-key doing just fine with supplies, says Erick Galindo.

Nevertheless, Dodgers fans persisted.

Here’s what happened in the past 24 hours:

Your 5-minute briefing on yesterday:

Here’s what we’re covering today:

  • Instruction in Southern California public school classes has, quite suddenly, gone entirely virtual — so is any learning happening during this time? Kyle Stokes examines the challenges.
  • Aaron Mendelson sorts through the confusing situation with evictions in California.
  • Matt Tinoco brings the latest news from Judge David Carter, who is famous for compelling Orange County cities to shelter their homeless and is now overseeing a case against both the city and county of Los Angeles.
  • Erick Galindo talks with a warehouse worker on the front lines of providing essentials like toilet paper during the COVID-19 outbreak, and learns it's a grueling job.
  • Lisa Brenner deconstructs the movie Groundhog’s Day to figure out what day we’re all (re)living.

Here are some blessed, relaxing, non-COVID-19 reads:

  • The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote next Tuesday to remove Sheriff Alex Villanueva as head of the county's emergency operations center. Villanueva is calling it a “power grab.”
  • The history of lawn bowling stretches back at least 700 years – and Highland Park is a little-known hotspot.
  • Millard Sheets' murals include the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple (now Marciano Art Foundation) on the border of Hancock Park and Koreatown, as well as the "Angel's Flight" painting at LACMA… but his work is slowly disappearing from L.A.’s streets.

And now, your moment of Zen:

A cyclist takes a solo ride down Cesar Chavez Blvd. in Boyle Heights. (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.