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WATCH: Monday's Top Headlines In 5 Minutes

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Happy Tuesday. I’m Adriene Hill, the managing editor here. Many of us have been home for a couple of weeks at this point. I hope you all are staying healthy and safe and in touch with family and friends. As Take Two reminded us today we need to be practicing “physical distancing” while we keep our social connections strong.

Each day we’re partnering with PBS SoCal on a daily reporter round-up--to review the headlines of the day and try to understand how COVID-19 is shaping life for each of us.

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

State Education Leader Says Public Schools 'Unlikely' To Reopen Before Summer Break

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A padlock holds a gate closed at L.A. Academy Middle School in the South Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Kyle Stokes/LAist)

California public school students should not expect to return to their brick-and-mortar classrooms before summer break, the state’s top elected education official said Tuesday.

In a letter — which you can read on the news site EdSource — state superintendent Tony Thurmond urged local school district leaders to prepare to beef up their online course offerings through the end of the academic year:

Due to the current safety concerns and needs for ongoing social distancing it currently appears that our students will not be able to return to school campuses before the end of the school year. This is in no way to suggest that school is over for the year, but rather we should put all efforts into strengthening our delivery of education through distance learning.

We acknowledge that students only being able to be served through distance learning creates hardships for some students, families, and educators. However, we are urging a safety first approach out of an abundance of caution.

Thurmond’s letter is a recommendation to the state’s 58 county school superintendents, not a directive. Ultimately the decision on whether to keep campuses closed will be up to individual school districts.

So far, L.A. County has only recommended that schools remain closed through early May.

But Gov. Gavin Newsom has also previously advised Californians to get into the mindset that campuses won’t re-open at all this school year — and many educators are beginning to operate from that assumption as well.

The shift to distance learning hasn’t been easy. Earlier this week, the L.A. Unified School District reported that roughly 15,000 high schoolers failed to check-in online during the first two weeks of the district’s shutdown. LAUSD has been rushing to get laptops and internet hotspots to all students as soon as possible.

MORE ON THIS STORY:

LA County Pivots, Moving To Allow Restaurants To Sell Like Grocery Pop-Ups

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Since the coronavirus quarantine forced most businesses to close, restaurants have gotten crafty. Some shifted to takeout and delivery. Others reinvented themselves as mini-markets, leveraging their connections with food vendors to sell fresh produce, dry goods and meal kits to customers.

  • Guerrilla Tacos in downtown Los Angeles is now offering large, pre-made meals that include 10 pounds of meat, 30 eggs and a roll of toilet paper.
  • All Day Baby in Silver Lake is selling smoked and raw meats, baked goods, eggs, wine and other items from a takeout window.
  • Sunset Strip bistro Tesse is selling locally sourced produce as well as beans, spices, soups and more.
  • An array of Long Beach eateries are selling breads, veggies and meal kits to make at home.
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tesse Restaurant (@tesserestaurant) on

You get the drift.

As creative as this strategy is, Los Angeles County officials weren't thrilled about it and earlier this week, and they put the kibosh on it.

On Monday, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer publicly said:

"I appreciate all of the innovation, but grocery stores are licensed, and anybody who wants to be a grocery store does need to get licensed."

Under California law, you need different permits to sell prepared vs. unprepared foods.

Today, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion, proposed by supervisor Janice Hahn, that directs the Department of Public Health to create a set of guidelines that would allow the restaurants under certain situations to keep selling unprepared foods like eggs, meat, milk, beans, rice and the like.

No word on how long it will take for officials to draw up the new guidelines. In the meantime, the restaurants-turned-markets remain in limbo.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS AND FOOD:

LA Mayor Says When It Comes To Reporting Business Violations 'Snitches Get Rewards'

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tonight addressed the issue of non-essential businesses that remain open despite emergency orders, issuing a stern warning to construction sites operating in the city of Los Angeles.

Garcetti's message: If you violate health and safety rules in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 you will suffer immediate consequences.

"We will not be shy about shutting down construction sites that do not comply. So comply. Continue the critical work that you are doing. But in the meantime, make sure you are keeping your people, and all of us safe."

Garcetti says city inspectors will be on site every day to ensure compliance. And he urged anyone who sees violations to call the city immediately.

Rules include - social distancing, hand washing rules, disinfecting protocols, and no sharing of desks, phones and tools.

He said his so-called "business ambassadors" had already been deployed to 540 businesses to ask them comply with the emergency order and shut their doors. He said the LAPD has visited 144 of those locations to confirm that they were abiding by those rules, and "we will keep following up, and we will bring forward misdemeanor filings to the city attorney, if necessary."

Garcetti urged anyone observing violations to message via coronavirus.la city.org/businessviolation. He added:

"You know the old expression about snitches. Well, in this case, snitches get rewards. We want to thank you for turning folks in and making sure we are all safe. Look, I know that this is tough. I know that life feels fundamentally changed. And trust me, I have no joy in, and the rest of our city government and county government has no joy in stopping, our way of life temporarily."

How COVID-19 Is Putting More Pressure On LA’s Mental Health Care System

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Rebecca Plevin/ KPCC

People with mental illnesses who live in board and care homes are accustomed to venturing out for therapy sessions and group activities. But because of social distancing rules, many adult day programs have stopped providing those services.

“Now that the adult day centers are closed, the residents are there 24 hours a day,” said Barbara Wilson, a social worker who advocates for board and care homes.

The freezing of adult day programs is putting extra strain on people who run board and care homes, like Elizabeth Bijou, who operates a facility with six male adults.

“With that piece missing, they feel it, is all I can say. Everybody’s getting cabin fever times 10,” Bijou said.

Bijou said it’s a struggle to keep her residents calm, with the stress-inducing COVID-19 news everywhere they look.

Lydia Missaelides, former Executive Director of the California Association for Adult Day Services, said she worries about the effects of isolation on people’s mental health, on their depression and anxiety. Some adult day centers have started offering check-ins and group sessions over the phone. But Missaelides said the in-person day programs are a lifeline for so many people.

These new pressures come as dozens of board and care homes have shuttered in the past few years due to funding issues that existed well before the pandemic.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE:

GET SOME TIPS:

Some resources from our friends at CalMatters:

ASK FOR HELP

Diary From The COVID-19 Frontlines: 'A Steady Drumbeat' Of Cases

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Set up for a field hospital at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

This is the first installment of "Diary From The COVID-19 Frontlines," an ongoing series of dispatches from health care workers.

In a story last week, we spoke with Dr. Larry Stock, an ER physician at Antelope Valley Hospital, about how his department is preparing for the expected surge in COVID-19 patients.

He told us a field hospital was being set up at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds to help treat COVID patients during the second half of their hospitalization, and how the entire hospital is being transformed into one big ICU for COVID patients:

We checked in with him again this week. He says there’s been fewer people coming into the ER over the last several days, but told us “the cases we are seeing are a steady drumbeat of COVID cases, some moderate and mild, and some severe that require ICU care.”

“We’re in real preparation phase to button up as many things as we can before the surge begins in Los Angeles.”

Here he is in a video dispatch he sent from his car, after a recent shift.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Tracking COVID-19: Worldwide Cases Now Top 855K; More Than 3,000 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 Wednesday, April 1.

Jump to: CALIFORNIA | WORLDWIDE | SOCAL COUNTIES | ANALYSIS

WHERE WE STAND

The U.S. is now reporting more than 188,000 of the 857,487 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide as of 4:49 p.m. Tuesday.

An uptick in California cases came as the U.S., Italy, and now Spain are now all reporting more confirmed COVID-19 cases than China, where the outbreak began late last year, but has since greatly slowed.

As of Tuesday afternoon, L.A. County is reporting 3,019 cases with about one in five patients requiring hospitalization. The county reported 548 new confirmed cases Tuesday. That includes 10 new 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 4:49 p.m. Tuesday, here are the total confirmed cases for the 10 countries currently facing the worst outbreaks:

Country Confirmed Cases Deaths Recovered Last Update
US 181,172 3,873 7,024 3/31 4:49 PM
Italy 105,792 12,428 15,729 3/31 2:59 PM
Spain 95,923 8,464 19,259 3/31 2:59 PM
China 82,278 3,309 76,206 3/31 6:54 AM
Germany 71,690 775 16,100 3/31 2:59 PM
France 52,827 3,532 9,513 3/31 2:59 PM
Iran 44,605 2,898 14,656 3/31 2:59 PM
United Kingdom 25,481 1,793 179 3/31 2:59 PM
Switzerland 16,605 433 1,823 3/31 2:59 PM
Turkey 13,531 214 243 3/31 2:59 PM


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 of 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, worldwide the Johns Hopkins tracker is reporting:

  • 45,313 deaths
  • 182,869 recoveries

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 4:19 p.m. Tuesday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

  • 8,254 confirmed cases
  • 174 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

Speaking at a media briefing Tuesday afternoon, L.A. County's Public Health director Barbara Ferrer so far, 54 people testing positive for COVID-19 have died countywide. While the vast majority — 87% — have had underlying health conditions, COVID-19 has also killed some people who appeared to be generally healthy, Ferrer said.

Among those whose deaths were newly reported, four were younger than 65 and one was younger than 41. The health care worker who died was older than 60.

Ferrer said the local mortality rate has held at 1.8%. She said that's higher than the national average but on par with larger jurisdictions.

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.

As of Tuesday, 594 people have been hospitalized, or about 20% of all positive cases. Of those who've died, 87% had underlying health conditions.

Current as of Tuesday

LA COUNTY

  • 3,019 cases
  • 54 deaths

* [Includes numbers released by Long Beach after the county's Sunday update. See more from L.A. County]

ORANGE COUNTY

  • 502 cases
  • 7 deaths

* More from Orange County

RIVERSIDE COUNTY

  • 371 cases
  • 13 deaths

* More from Riverside County

VENTURA COUNTY

  • 149 cases*
  • 4 deaths*

* More from Ventura County

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY

  • 125 cases
  • 4 deaths

* 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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'If It's Not Us, Then Who?' Why One Dentist Became A COVID-19 Worker

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Dental teams could help out with coronavirus response. (Courtesy of L.A. County)

When John Blake heard Gov. Gavin Newsom's urgent call for people with health backgrounds to help address the surge in COVID-19 patients, he was quick to sign up.

Before joining the California Health Corps, Blake was busy running a 50-person staff as the executive director of the nonprofit Children’s Dental Health Clinic in Long Beach.

But with dental providers being urged to limit routine services like dental cleanings, in part to free up personal protective gear for frontline health workers, Blake’s practice has dropped significantly.

“Just like about all the dentists, we’re closed, only open to emergencies,” he said.

“We’re triaging people over the phone and doing teleconferencing to see what the truly urgent dental emergencies are, those we’ll bring in.”

Newsom hasn’t been shy about the need for more health care professionals as the pandemic continues. This week, he asked medical and nursing students, recent retirees, and part-time health professions to temporarily work for the state.

As a practicing dentist with an active license, Blake was struck by the populations that are being encouraged to apply.

“If they are going to start diving into the student population and certainly the retired population, then I have to think there is some worry out there, so why shouldn’t we jump in?” he said.

WHAT IS THE CALIFORNIA HEALTH CORPS?

The idea is to get people with health care backgrounds vetted and into the field in preparation for a flood of coronavirus patients. The governor’s order says the state can suspend certain certification or licensing requirements during the emergency.

So far, California has more than 6,000 known coronavirus cases but the number is thought to be far higher due to minimal testing.

According to the state Health Corps website, those who sign up will be given a salary and malpractice insurance coverage. The new workers like Blake could be doing a variety of tasks, from testing to taking the vitals of recovering patients in overflow locations like convention centers and field hospitals. Work locations will vary, depending on regional needs.

Newsom didn’t specify the cost of the program but said some of it would be paid for by the federal government.

HOW LONG WILL THE CORPS BE WORKING?

No one knows exactly when the coronavirus will peak in California, meaning health workers like Blake could be assisting the effort for weeks. As long as he has the appropriate personal protective gear, like an N95 mask, Blake feels comfortable helping as long as he can.

“Yeah, I know I’m putting myself in harm’s way, but the other side of it is, if not us that have health care training, then who?” Blake said.

He sees dental teams, including assistants and hygienists, as an untapped group that could help out.

“I’m hoping there’s a bunch more [dental teams] that will sign up and can hopefully help out and let the medical professionals on the front line in the ICUs do what they do best,” Blake said.

HOW TO HELP:

  • If you have a medical background and want to help, you can sign up at healthcorps.ca.gov.
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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How Closing Farmers Markets Impacts Small Farmers

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Sandra Newman of Forbidden Fruit Orchards in Lompoc, Santa Barbara county. (Photo: Lori Eanes)

Last night, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that farmers markets across the city of L.A. were too crowded and too dangerous. So he temporarily closed them until they can come up with plans for social distancing.

While it might be inconvenient for shoppers, it's smaller farms that are likely the hardest hit.

Sandra Newman of Forbidden Fruit Orchards in Lompoc (Santa Barbara County), said that nearly all of her sales come from the markets, and the money she makes over the next few months, is crucial for keeping her business afloat the rest of the year.

That's because in the coming weeks, she and a group of laborers will be harvesting a big flush of blueberries. They'll have about a week to go from bush to shopper before their goods are too old to sell.

“If you’re farming small, it’s definitely because you have passion. It’s definitely not for the money," she said. "I’ve invested just about everything my accountant told me I could invest in it.”

Farming isn't cheap. She's got employees to pay and tractors to fill with diesel.

If need be, she thinks she could go the wholesale route — but she estimates her already small profits would be halved.

Luckily for her, she’s got good enough relationships with her customers that many are seeking her out to buy direct. Though it's not enough to completely replace her income from farmers markets.

“For a couple of months we’re all going to be fine,” she said. “People still need to eat.”

“If they’re thinking this is a year and a half, well, everybody is toast," she said.

The good news for her is that farmers market’s outside of L.A., like the ones in Santa Monica, are still open.

Trump: COVID-19 Is 'A Matter Of Life And Death, Frankly'

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President Donald Trump (2nd R), flanked by US Vice President Mike Pence, speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House, March 23, 2020. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Americans should brace for 100,000 or more people to die in the coming months in the coronavirus pandemic, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said Tuesday.

"As sobering a number as that is, we should be prepared for it," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top immunologist helping steer White House policy on the disaster. "No one is denying the fact that we are going through a very, very difficult time right now."

Fauci and another member of the task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, renewed their pleas for Americans to keep observing social distancing rules and other precautions to try to reduce the rate of infections and deaths.

Birx said, however, that she is "reassured" by looking at what Los Angeles has accomplished with social distancing in terms of how other cities might be able to respond as well.

When asked about how the pandemic might affect people experiencing homelessness in California specifically, Trump used the opportunity to praise Gov. Gavin Newsom and take a swipe at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"I know that [the concern about COVID-19 and the homeless] bothers Gavin," he said. "I don't know if it bothers Nancy Pelosi, but she's got it, in her district, at a very high level."

Task force members used Tuesday's briefing to detail the metrics that informed their predictions. Birx showed reporters at the White House a chart that showed what she called a "blue mountain" of deaths hitting a peak of around 2.2 million — a projection of what could have taken place without any countermeasures.

Social distancing and other protocols cause that estimated curve to be shallower, which is why they're so essential, Birx said. She and Fauci said the models they've cited still were subject to change based on the ongoing response.

But she also warned that in the face of the "stark reality" of the coronavirus – and to keep that curve from going back up – Americans must continue to isolate and take the other precautionary measures.


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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LA County Reports 10 COVID-19 Deaths, Highest Daily Toll To Date

Updated
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L.A. County health officials said today that 10 more people here have died because of COVID-19, the highest daily toll they have reported so far. In addition, they said that a person whose death was reported yesterday is now thought to be the first local health care worker to succumb to the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

The new numbers were reported by public health director Barbara Ferrer during the daily update from the county's coronavirus task force. She said:

"As our numbers grow, so do the numbers of people that actually present themselves as being in good health. And as I've acknowledged every day, this is a hard part of our day at the department, because these aren't just numbers. These are real people, and they're being mourned today by their families and their friends."

So far, 54 people testing positive for COVID-19 have died countywide. While the vast majority — 87% — have had underlying health conditions, COVID-19 has also killed some people who appeared to be generally healthy, Ferrer said.

Among those whose deaths were newly reported, four were younger than 65 and one was younger than 41. The health care worker who died was older than 60.

Ferrer said the local mortality rate has held at 1.8%. She said that's higher than the national average but on par with larger jurisdictions.

She also said anyone who tests positive or suspects they may be positive should begin notifying anyone they've had contact with up to 48 hours before their symptoms appeared, cited mounting scientific evidence that asymptomatic individuals can transmit the virus.

NEW NUMBERS

  • 548 new cases in L.A. County, for a total of 890 in the last 48 hours
  • 3,011 total cases, including 115 in Long Beach and 25 in Pasadena
  • 20% of all positive cases have been hospitalized at some point, or 594 people, and the vast majority of those currently hospitalized (173 of 267) are 55 or older and older
  • About 25% of those hospitalized are in the ICU, including 6 people under the age of 35
  • 10 L.A. firefighters have tested positive — three are still in isolation and seven have recovered and returned to work
  • 7 people in the sheriff's department have tested positive, including 5 sworn and 2 civilian personnel
  • 49 sheriff's staffers are under medical quarantine and 102 are under self-quarantine

NEW TESTING CENTERS

In addition to these numbers, the county provided updates on new testing centers set to open soon:

  • High Desert Medical Group office on 15th Street West in Lancaster
  • Glendale Memorial Hospital
  • Northridge Hospital Medical Center campus
  • South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach
  • Antelope Valley Mall in Palmdale
  • Pomona Fairplex
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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California Promises Guidance On Wearing Masks In Daily Life, Newsom Gives Coronavirus Update

Updated
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom is scheduled announce an initiative to help older Californians stay connected while staying at home due to the novel coronavirus. He'll also be delivering additional updates as part of his daily press conference on California's response to COVID-19.

You can watch the live video above and follow this post for updates.

INCREASES IN CORONAVIRUS INFECTIONS

There are 6,932 people positive for coronavirus in California, Newsom said, with 150 deaths. There are 1,617 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 657 in the ICU. That's a 17% increase in positives, 13% increase in hospitalizations, and 10% increase in ICU patients since yesterday.

Power great local fact-checked coverage today.
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STATE GUIDANCE ON WEARING MASKS COMING

The state is considering guidance around whether people beyond the medical profession should wear some sort of mask or face covering, including in professions like grocery store workers, Newsom said. The science is incomplete in this area, according to Newsom, and there is a concern that people will think masks are a replacement for social distancing, which they aren't.

That guidance on masks should be expected within 24 hours, according to Newsom.

[UPDATE: Riverside County on Tuesday issued guidance to cover your face:

SCHOOLS REOPENING?

An announcement on whether schools will reopen this school year from the state superintendent is expected in the next one to two days, according to Newsom.

MORE VENTILATORS, BEDS

Virgin Orbit in Long Beach is prototyping less complex ventilators that can be used, with a prototype being delivered to the state operations center in the next 48 hours, according to Newsom. There have been 4,252 ventilators identified in the state so far, with a goal of having about 10,000 ventilators available. The state has requests out to acquire about another 5,000 ventilators.

There are 5,000 beds that have been identified in the UC and CSU university systems that could be used as part of a phase two ramp-up.

REACHING SENIORS

The state is working to connect seniors during this time of social distancing, Newsom said. A new hotline has been set up to help people get questions answered and find ways to support those people. The phone number is 833-544-2374. The state has also partnered with the 2-1-1 service to help connect people to services.

Newsom encouraged people to check in on not just people they know, but also strangers at this time.

HEALTH CARE WORKER SURGE

Newsom thanked those who had already signed up for the state's health care worker surge initiative, with 25,000 people with licenses who've signed up since the program launched on Monday.

CENSUS

The governor encouraged people to make sure to fill out their census to make sure the state gets its allocation of resources.

How Funerals and Graveside Rites Are Changing With Social Distancing

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The coffin of Luke Leo House Jr. before interment at the Inglewood Cemetery. (Emily Elena Dugdale/LAist)

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing life all over Southern California and placing new limits on how we observe our religious and cultural rituals of death.

The funeral industry has responded by asking families to cancel or postpone large memorial gatherings in their chapels, and cemeteries are severely limiting the number of people who may attend graveside ceremonies.

That’s putting families in the uncomfortable position of persuading relatives to stay away or stay apart after a loved one dies.

At the Islamic Center of Los Angeles, only licensed mortuary workers may do the traditional bathing and wrapping of the dead, a task that previously could include family members. And the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva has been moved online in some households.

GO DEEPER:

Funerals Must Change In This Time Of Social Distancing And Coronavirus

Is California Ready For The Possibility Of Mass Coronavirus Casualties?

Best Coronavirus-Avoidance Practices for Grocery Shopping

LA County Supervisors Vote Out Villanueva As Head Of Emergency Operations

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A screenshot of Sheriff Alex Villanueva at a press conference on COVID-19 Monday, March 16, 2020. (L.A. County Sheriff's Department)

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion this morning to remove L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva as the head of the county's emergency operations center.

Villanueva, who called into the board meeting, has repeatedly called the decision a "power grab" being played out during an unprecedented global health pandemic.

He says the decision was “irresponsible,” and “a brazen attempt to consolidate power.”

“The pattern is very clear: When in trouble, you will build more bureaucracy,” he said.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said the plan has been in the works for more than a year. A task force convened after the 2018 Woolsey Fire recommended putting the county's emergency management office in charge during disasters.

The motion allows the county chief executive officer to direct disaster preparation and response.

"I would respectfully indicate to the sheriff that this is not about him," Kuehl said, indicating that the switch is in line with national emergency management best practices.

Villanueva maintains that he and his staff were unaware of the potential change.

Kuehl says two-thirds of California counties have shifted to a system where emergency operations are coordinated and controlled by an agency other than law enforcement.

"It has nothing to do with vendettas or anything like that," said Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

The vote was originally scheduled for two weeks ago, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Today's approval was just the latest flareup in the supervisors’ long-running feud with Villanueva. They’ve fought him on his decision to rehire several fired deputies, on his discipline policies and on transparency issues.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

This Is What Los Angeles Looks Like While Social Distancing

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A lone man walks past the shuttered gates of the Pantages theater in Hollywood. Performances of Hamilton at the Pantages have been temporarily cancelled. Chava Sanchez

Angelenos have been ordered to stay home, and Los Angeles looks and sounds drastically different because of it. Roaring traffic is replaced by near empty roads, and at busy tourist destinations people’s chatter has been replaced by actual crickets.

I ventured out to document the surreal sense of silence across the region. This video is what it looks and feels like when most of L.A. shuts down.

THERE'S ALSO A PHOTO ESSAY:

Risk Of Extreme Fall Wildfire Conditions Is Rising

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The Maria Fire on Nov. 1, 2019 (David McNew/Getty Images)

Wildfires are about as Californian as towering redwoods and golden poppies, but they've seemed particularly bad in recent years, especially in the fall.

It's not your imagination -- 2017 and 2018 were the worst years for wildfires in the state's recorded history, and the majority of the destructive conflagrations happened in autumn.

Over the past 40 years, extreme fire weather days, which lead to those huge fires, have become more common, particularly between September and November.

And they're likely to become even more of an issue through the end of the century. That's what a team of leading researchers say in the journal Environmental Research Letter.

In case it wasn't clear, climate change is a major driver of worsening conditions.

The number of extreme fire weather days could more than triple by the end of the century. Meaning, autumn wildfires could become even more of a late year staple.

Curbing emissions, better brush management and resisting the urge to build deeper into the wildland urban interface, could help us mitigate some of the impacts discussed in the report.

How Can LAUSD Students Borrow A Laptop For The Coronavirus Shutdown? We Have An Answer

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LAUSD has established a hotline for parents to secure laptops for their kids.

Los Angeles Unified school leaders have promised a laptop or tablet computer to every student in the district who needs one to continue learning during the coronavirus shutdown.

The district is spending $100 million to purchase new laptops and Verizon internet hotspots to ensure no student misses out on online lessons.

But since LAUSD made that pledge, the most frequent question I’ve heard — on Twitter, via email, or through my Hearken question box — is this: How do I actually obtain this device for my kid?

Last night, LAUSD administrators offered a short version of the answer. From my tweet:

Schools are receiving their devices in waves.

LAUSD’s priority is getting laptops to high school students first. During a virtual town hall meeting, LAUSD’s Chief Academic Officer Alison Yoshimoto-Towery said that the central office finished distributing devices to its high schools on Monday.

Now it’s up to the schools to give them out over the next week. What that distribution looks like will vary.

For example, Michael Romero — the administrator for Local District South, a region of LAUSD stretching from Florence-Firestone to San Pedro — chimed in to say that all middle- and high schoolers in his area should receive a device by Wednesday.

By Friday, LD South elementary schools will have loaned out all of the devices they have already, Romero said. (It sounded as though the district will have to purchase more devices to ensure every student has one.)

And across the district, Yoshimoto-Towery added that elementary schools will mail more paper-and-pencil assignments to students over spring break.

P.S. — Long Beach Unified has also been distributing Chromebooks to its students over the past week, and encourages any students in that district who still need to borrow one to make appointments with their school.

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LA County Issues Guidance For Child Care Providers

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Individual activities are recommended for kids in child care as part of social distancing guidelines. (Deepa Fernandes/KPCC)

No more “circle time” – that’s one of the guidelines the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued for early care and education providers who continue to operate during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Child care is considered an essential service in California and providers have been encouraged to continue operating if they can comply with the following requirements:

  • Children are cared for in the same groups of 12 or less — no new kids can be added to an existing group, and mixing between different groups is prohibited
  • Larger facilities must keep groups in different rooms
  • Adult providers must stay with the same group of children

The guidelines also ask that providers try to practice social distancing by restricting visitors to facilities, spacing out children’s activities and focusing on individual activities like coloring and puzzles.

At the Child Development Center at Fairplex in Pomona, there’s now an empty seat in between every kid at lunch. Parents, many of whom are also essential workers, drop their children off at the lobby instead of walking back to their classrooms.

“At the end of the day, our number one goal is to make sure that we keep our children and our team members safe and provide an important service for our families to be able to be out there and be first responders and keep our community safe,” said executive director Holly Reynolds.

Here is the complete guide from the county:

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The Role Of Childcare In Keeping 'Essential' Workers Working

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ABC Little School in Los Angeles (Courtesy Stephanie Ortega)

At ABC Little School in Los Angeles, parents now drop off their children at the gates. Staff are advised to travel only between their homes and the school. And the center is closed on Fridays for deep cleaning.

Director Stephanie Ortega says it falls on her to implement policies to ensure the safety of her employees and the students, who range in age from 18 months to 6 years old. Ortega says:

"I have parents that are upset that I'm open, and I have parents that are in need of me being open."

We look at the decision facing providers in California about whether to stay open and how they are trying to balance the needs of families with the health and safety of workers and children.

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Community College Faculty: Gut Online College To Pay For Online Training. (You Read That Right.)

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Calbright College was established in 2018 as the state's first fully online community college.

Community college faculty are calling on the system’s leader to dismantle California’s beleagured new online community college to pay for the shift to remote learning at traditional campuses.

The faculty leaders say the $120 million in state funds used to run Calbright College, the state’s first fully online community college, would be better spent training faculty to shift to web-based instruction.

“It has very few students compared to the 2.1 million students in the community college system,” said Joanne Waddell, president of the faculty guild for the nine Los Angeles community colleges.

“It's not ready. It's not tooled up, it's not ready to go.”

By one count about 500 people are enrolled in Calbright classes.

California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley rejects Waddell’s idea outright. He said Calbright will help people hurt by the coronavirus crisis.

“They need every resource that we have available in the California community colleges to help them get the skills that they need to fill the jobs that are being created and will be created after we get out of this crisis,” he said.

Calbright was established in 2018 to offer certificate courses and job training that could help people advance in current jobs. The school started classes last October.

Its first president, Heather Hiles, resigned in January, less than a year into her four-year contract.

In February state legislators voted to audit Calbright’s finances and study whether it’s needed.

READ MORE:

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LAist Reader Pledges To Pay Rent Of Mother Facing Eviction

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Trailer Grove trailer park in Pomona. (Aaron Mendelson/LAist)

"It's pretty damn scary, especially when you have a kid," Presley Wilson told me in a story we published on Friday.

Wilson is a single mom with chronic health issues, and the COVID-19 outbreak means she can't work. But this week, things are looking better.

After seeing our story, an LAist reader contacted Wilson, offering to cut a check for her rent, utilities and late fees.

"The [story] about Presley just stuck out," reader Shawn Nee said on Monday, after he and Wilson spoke over the phone. "She has a son and I have a son who are both the same age, so that really struck a chord with me."

READ THE FULL STORY

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Remembering Nipsey Hussle: Listen To The Sounds Of His Memorial

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A giant cut out of Nipsey Hussle's head in a crowd along the procession route. ( Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Today marks one year since rapper and philanthropist Nipsey Hussle was killed outside his South L.A. clothing store, The Marathon.

Take a few minutes to listen to the sounds of his memorial in this moving audio piece our newsroom produced last year. As one woman told us:

"The world is just now finding out about him. But way already knew everything that he was doing."

Hussle's death at the age of 33 was a blow to the rap world and the city of Los Angeles, with mourners lining the streets to pay their respects during his memorial.

Since he was killed, rival gangs have had peace talks, murals around Los Angeles are dedicated to his memory. Hussle also won two posthumous Grammys in January.

His alleged killer, Eric Holder, Jr., has been charged with fatally shooting Hussle. Holder has been held in Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles awaiting trial. That trial had been scheduled to start by late spring but proceedings have been delayed since court is shutdown due to the coronavirus.

Hussle bought the strip mall where his store is located as part of a plan to redevelop the neighborhood where he grew up. But the store has been fenced off since his death.

Meanwhile, his production company, Marathon Films, and filmmaker Ava DuVernay are in discussions with Netflix to produce a documentary about the rapper.

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Morning Briefing: Farmer’s Markets And See’s Candies Take Hits

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Chalk drawing on a sidewalk during the coronavirus outbreak. (Megan Garvey/LAist)

Closures and changes from the coronavirus keep rolling in; it’s only Tuesday, and we’ve already heard about another month of social distancing (at least), much stricter regulations for L.A. farmer’s markets and See’s candies putting the brakes on some of their delicious products. Monday also marked a few firsts when it comes to new communities the virus has reached; the first inmate in an L.A. County jail, and the first LAUSD employee.

It seemed like a good time, then, to revisit this story from 2018, about a Pico-Union food bank that operates like a grocery store. World Harvest was opened by Glen Curado in 2007 after a vision came to him in a dream, and it's a good reminder that community generosity has always been there – it doesn't take a pandemic to bring it out.

Here's what customer Adeshawa Sanusi told Elina Shatkin about her visits:

"You get so much food that you don't have to come every month. I was able to give to neighbors who might not be able to make it, the elderly. I have a church that gives out to the homeless, so the first time we came, we gave a large shipment to them, and I still walked away with a lot of stuff to take home."

Here’s what happened in the past 24 hours:

Here’s what we’re covering today:

  • The first installment of Elly Yu’s new series, “What I Saw,” which brings behind-the-scenes stories from L.A.’s medical workers.
  • The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are starting to ripple through an already taxed mental health care system, reports Robert Garrova – including board and care facilities.
  • With social distancing rules prohibiting large gatherings, Sharon McNary explores how people are holding funerals, and how religious traditions are being adapted.
  • Elina Shatkin brings you L.A.s’ classic recipes for your quarantine cooking needs, what we do and don't know about the transmission of coronavirus via food and everything you should do to minimize your risk from grocery shopping.
  • Head Starts, preschools, and transitional kindergartens are closed and teachers are trying to translate their lessons to a variety of digital apps, reports Mariana Dale.
  • Some faculty members at community colleges say that the online Calbright College – already the subject of controversy – should be closed and money diverted to online efforts at regular campuses, reports Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.
  • A new study shows that extreme fire weather days in the fall could triple, reports Jacob Margolis, likely caused by climate change.
  • Jackie Fortiér has the story of a dentist from Long Beach who is heeding Gov. Gavin Newsom's call to join the Medical Corps to help handle the expected surge in coronavirus patients.

Here are some non-COVID-19 reads:

And now, your moment of Zen:

KPCC+LAist's executive editor Megan Garvey came across this drawing on her daily walk, and it made us all smile:

Chalk drawing on a sidewalk during the coronavirus outbreak. (Megan Garvey/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.