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LA Recommends Masks For Everyone, Orders Utility Cutoff For 8 Businesses That Refused To Close

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Mayor Eric Garcetti demonstrates the type of cloth mask he's recommending people wear whenever they leave their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Screenshot from L.A. City

Los Angeles is now recommending that all residents wear masks whenever they're in public and interacting with others.

Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement in his nightly update on the city's response to COVID-19, getting ahead of expected guidance forthcoming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I think there's going to be some forthcoming advice in the coming days from our state and local officials, but they've been waiting on the CDC. I finally said today, 'I don't want to wait any longer.'"

Garcetti was careful to insist that this is not an excuse to ignore social distancing guidelines. People are still advised to stay at home for all but the most essential activities.

He also spelled out two categories of people, with different types of mask for each.

  • Surgical masks: These are medical grade, like the N95 masks you've likely been hearing about, and they are reserved for medical professionals.
  • Homemade cloth masks: These are bandanas, scarves, hand-sewn masks and the like and should be worn by everyone else, including workers providing other essential services, such as those in food retail and vital infrastructure jobs.

MISDEMEANORS

Eight non-essential businesses have now been referred to the city attorney for prosecution because they failed to heed the initial closure order and all subsequent warnings. Garcetti said he's ordering the Department of Water and Power to cut their utilities, but he declined to name the businesses when pressed by reporters.

MASKS

In explaining why he wasn't waiting for the CDC's official guidance on masks, Garcetti said "anything that can even be 1% effective, 10% effective, 50% effective, is something we should do."

He shared a metaphor to explain how even a cloth mask can prevent small particles from spreading on droplets from the nose and mouth:

"Imagine that a micron, this virus, is the size of a football player, and the masks have holes the size of a door. Maybe that football player can get through a door, but imagine four or five football players trying to rush the door at the same time. This can be effective in keeping them from going through."

Garcetti also said he looked to other countries where it's traditional to wear one when sick.

"I know it will look surreal," he said. "We don't have that kind of cultural — kind of tradition — of wearing masks. We associate that with other parts of the world, but those parts of the world started to do that because of some of the health scares that they have been through in the past."

He said wearing a mask can be a good reminder for others and an encouragement to practice safe distancing.

To help ensure there are enough masks to go around, Garcetti said the city has partnered with industry to produce both surgical and non-surgical masks to support medical professionals and the general public alike.

So far 400 garment and apparel manufacturers locally have signed up to make cloth face coverings, and 147 have already met city requirements. The city now has the capacity to produce 2 million cloth face coverings per week. These are facial coverings for non-medical workers.

Essential businesses that need the masks can sign up for help at coronavirus.lacity.org/laprotects.

Meanwhile, the city's LA Protects program is partnering with architecture, design and manufacturing firms to help 3-D print personal protective equipment for health care workers. And it's helping get 30,000 liters of hand sanitizer produced for grocery store workers.

MARKETS

Just two nights ago Garcetti said the city was suspending all farmers markets until they could show they had sufficient plans to enforce safe social distancing.

The city received numerous applications within 24 hours, and as of today, Garcetti said, the Bureau of Street Services has approved plans for 24 farmers markets to immediately reopen. He said some of them were even operational today.

You can find a list of open markets at streets.lacity.org/covid.

WATCH GARCETTI'S FULL ADDRESS:

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LA, Orange Counties: K-12 Campuses Should Remain Closed For Rest Of This School Year

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Signage outside Corona Avenue Elementary School (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

The top education officials in both Los Angeles and Orange counties urged school districts to keep their campuses "physically closed" for the remainder of this academic year.

The moves follow guidance from state schools superintendent Tony Thurmond, who also called on schools statewide to cancel in-person instruction for the rest of the school year.

It's up to each of district to decide whether to follow the formal recommendations of their respective county superintendents.

"While not ideal," L.A. County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo wrote in a statement, "the distance learning environment is our new reality."

"Deciding now to keep campuses closed for the remainder of the school year allows our education community to focus on accelerating learning in a remote environment and finding new ways to engage and connect with students."

Many L.A. County school districts had already planned on keeping campuses closed into at least early May.

Orange County superintendent Al Mijares issued a similar statement, urging schools to "channel their efforts toward adopting robust and effective distance learning models."

More than 1.4 million children attend schools in L.A. County. Orange County schools serve around 500,000 kids.

MORE ON THIS STORY:

This story has been updated to include the statement from Orange County officials.

Remembering Fountains Of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, Who Has Died Of COVID-19 Complications

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Adam Schlesinger poses for a photo at the ASCAP/Tribeca Music Lounge at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival on May 4, 2007 in New York City. (Scott Gries/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Adam Schlesinger, known for being part of Fountains of Wayne and writing music for everything from That Thing You Do to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, has died from coronavirus complications.

His death was confirmed by our friends at NPR through his lawyer, Josh Grier.

Schlesinger, 52, had been previously reported Tuesday as being "very sick and heavily sedated," according to Variety.

The band broke onto the pop charts with "Stacy's Mom," but was known by fans for smart, sardonic power-pop. Their strength as pop craftsmen landed them a gig composing the songs for the Beatles-esque Wonders in Tom Hanks' tribute to '60s pop, That Thing You Do.

His work brought him widespread acclaim, including Grammy and Emmy wins as well as Oscar and Tony nominations. He wrote songs for all our favorite things — among his award-winning songs was "Antidepressants Are So Not A Big Deal" from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. He continued to write for stage and screen, including working on a musical with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Rachel Bloom based on CBS sitcom The Nanny.

There's been an outpouring of support for him from his friends, fellow musicians, and fans since the news of his illness broke Tuesday.

View this post on Instagram

She’s here. She’s home. Having a baby in the NICU during a pandemic while a dear friend was in the hospital 3,000 miles away made this by far the most emotionally intense week of mine and Gregor’s lives. As the lovely doctors and nurses helped my daughter get some fluid out of her lungs, we watched the maternity ward around us change hourly to prepare for the upcoming COVID storm. The whole family is now home safe and I am just so grateful to all of our medical workers. From those in our NICUs to those directly helping COVID patients like Adam, they are sacrificing so much to fight on the front lines of this war. Thank you thank you thank you. Brb, gonna go get to know the person who came out of my vagina.

A post shared by Rachel Bloom (@racheldoesstuff) on

Listen to Schlesinger with Fountains of Wayne in an NPR Tiny Desk Concert here:

You can also read a 2009 interview Schlesinger did with LAist. He shared with us the story of getting the gig to write "That Thing You Do":

"That was just a lucky break. I had a deal with a music publishing company at the time. The people there had heard about the film. They said, "This is something you should take a crack at. It's kind of up your alley." So I wrote that song and did a demo with some friends. Miraculously they picked it out of the pile and decided that it was the song they wanted to use."

This story was updated with confirmation of the death by NPR.

Letters From LA Landlords In The Era Of Covid-19

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Do you rent? Most households in Los Angeles County do.

Do you rent? Most households in Los Angeles County do. And so on the first of the month, we decided to check in with renters on what they've been hearing from their landlords.

Many landlords have sent out letters in recent days — announcing everything from delayed maintenance to cleaning recommendations to a raffle for tenants who pay rent on time. One common theme: the rent is still due, even if you can't pay it all today.

READ MORE:

Your Letters From LA Landlords — Coronavirus And Rent

Man Charged With Intentionally Derailing Train Near Hospital Ship At LA's Port

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A woman hangs a flag near the US Navy Hospital ship Mercy after it docked in L.A. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

A train engineer has admitted that he intentionally derailed a locomotive off the end of its tracks at the Port of Los Angeles, crashing through multiple barricades near the Navy hospital ship Mercy on Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro, faces a federal charge of train wrecking, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.

A CHP officer allegedly witnessed the crash and arrested Moreno when he tried to flee the scene. That officer, according to court filings, saw:

“[T]he train smash into a concrete barrier at the end of the track, smash into a steel barrier, smash into a chain-link fence, slide through a parking lot, slide across another lot filled with gravel, and smash into a second chain-link fence.”

Why would a train operator intentionally crash an engine?

The U.S. Attorney’s office said in a press release that Moreno admitted in two separate interviews he had steered the train off its tracks because he was suspicious of the Navy hospital ship and thought it was part of a government takeover or had some other nefarious purpose.

Moreno allegedly told the CHP officer at the scene yesterday afternoon:

"You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don't know what's going on here. Now they will. At night, they turn off the lights and don't let anyone in. I'm going to expose this to the world. When was the last time you went to Dodgers' stadium? We might not be able to go again."

Moreno believed the wreck would bring media attention, so that “people could see for themselves,” and to “wake people up,” he said, according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint.

“Moreno stated that he thought that the U.S.N.S. Mercy was suspicious and did not believe ‘the ship is what they say it’s for,” the affidavit said.

No one was injured in the crash, and the Navy medical ship was not damaged — but the train came to rest close to three vehicles with people inside, and it leaked a “substantial” amount of oil that had to be cleaned up by fire department and hazmat teams.

Video recorded inside the train show Moreno holding a lighted flare inside the cab, according to Los Angeles Port Police.

Moreno is set to make his first appearance in federal court this afternoon.

The Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy arrived on Friday morning to support Los Angeles’ pandemic response. It is accepting non-coronavirus patients to ease the burden on local hospitals so they can focus on testing and treating COVID-19 cases.

At his evening press briefing, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was asked if the derailment will affect the Mercy ship's medical mission.

"That shouldn't in any way change the operations," Garcetti said. "We still have vehicle access, and we can get people in and out of there. And they have been accepting patients."

Garcetti added VA patients were among the first transferred to the floating Navy hospital.

Census Response Rates Are Already Looking Segregated

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Happy Census Day! Wherever you are living TODAY is what you mark on your census questionnaire. (Unless you're a student displaced from off-campus housing due to Coronavirus.)

The 2020 Census has been available for more than two weeks now, and we’re starting to see where people are filling it out—and where people are being missed. The Census Bureau updates a national map of response rates daily, including data from individual census tracts, so you can see how your neighborhood is responding.

READ MORE:

Happy Census Day! Here's How LA is Responding So Far

150,000 Diapers Donated For Low-Income Families

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Dr. Bahareh Gordon (left) and Dr. Tatiana Gellein and with donations at Olive View-UCLA’s Pediatric Clinic. (Courtesy Shannon Thyne)

Toilet paper and disinfectant wipes aren’t the only things hard to come by these days. Just ask any parent who’s struggling to find diapers and formula.

But good news — there are six health clinics in L.A. County that can now provide assistance to vulnerable families. Baby2Baby, a nonprofit organization that serves children living in poverty, has donated more than 150,000 diapers and 3,500 cans of formula to the clinics to distribute to low-income families with newborns.

“They just don’t have access to the basic necessities,” said Dr. Shannon Thyne, director of pediatrics at the L.A. County Department of Health Services.

Thyne said patients talked about empty store shelves and difficulty accessing their local WIC offices – either for fear of taking public transportation to get there or waiting in-person for service. (WIC is allowing online applications for its services such as special supplemental nutrition program.)

While the clinic has cut down on in-person visits in favor of telemedicine, families are still coming in for vaccines and newborn check-ups.

The diapers and formula are available to existing patients and the general public. Find a clinic near you on the map below and call for more information.

Trump Announces Deployment Of Military Resources To Double Down On War On Drugs

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In a scheduled briefing typically reserved for updating the public on the federal response to the current global pandemic, President Donald Trump instead announced that his administration is doubling down on the war on drugs, and sending military resources to increase surveillance, disruption and seizure of drug shipments into the U.S.

Representatives from the Trump administration said that "cartels" are planning to exploit the coronavirus pandemic by shipping more drugs across our borders.

They did not specify how or when this information was obtained or provide any other details about the alleged plans.

In response to a reporter's question about why these resources are suddenly available, Trump said that America is not currently seeing an increase in drugs coming in from other countries.

"It's not that it's increased, it's where, we've probably got it down a little bit," he said. "But it's still a tremendous number of families are being ruined, lives are being ruined."

In response to a question about reports that China has underrepresented its total number of coroanvirus cases and deaths, Trump said he is "not in a position to confirm any of the numbers that are coming out of China."

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Rent Comes Due For L.A. Tenants Struggling In A Pandemic

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An apartment for rent in Central Los Angeles. (Matt Tinoco/LAist)

Rent is now coming due for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, and many Los Angeles tenants won’t be able to pay.

About a third of L.A. renters were already spending half their income or more on housing alone — and that was before many lost their income in the wake of coronavirus-related business closures.

Some L.A. landlords are trying to work out a payment plan with their tenants. But others are saying rent is due in full — despite state and local ordinances that aim to give renters some relief.

READ MORE:


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11 More Deaths In LA County; Public Could Be Advised To Wear Masks Soon

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Another 11 people have died because of the coronavirus in Los Angeles County, and public health officials here caution that new guidance may be forthcoming soon that could call on the public to wear a mask whenever leaving home.

The new information came from Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director, who spoke at the daily briefing of the county's coronavirus task force.

Nine of the people who died were over 65, and seven of those nine had underlying health conditions. Of the other two people who died, one was aged 18-40 and the other was 41-65. Both had underlying health conditions.

That brings the total number of deaths locally to 65, including seven deaths in "institutional settings," as Ferrer put it. The majority of these institutional deaths occurred at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and an extended care facility.

NEW NUMBERS

  • 1.8% is the current mortality rate. That's deaths as a share of positive cases — keep in mind the number of people who are actually sick is likely much higher than those who have tested positive, because of testing limitations. The true number of infections would likely bring the mortality rate down.
  • 88% had underlying conditions among those who have died
  • 513 new cases in L.A. County, with more than 1,000 just in the last 48 hours
  • 3,518 total cases to date in L.A. County
  • 733 people have been hospitalized, or 21% of all positive cases
  • 20% of people currently hospitalized are in the ICU — 55% of people in ICU have underlying health conditions and 36% are 65 years or older
  • 4 people in ICU are younger than 35, and 3 of those have underlying health conditions
  • 207 confirmed cases in "institutional settings" — 148 residents and 96 staff
  • More than 21,000 people have been tested in L.A. County

TIME TO WEAR A MASK?

Ferrer said she expects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may soon start recommending that everyone wear a mask whenever going out. However, that does not mean everyone should rush out to buy specialized N95 masks. These should be reserved for health care workers who need them most, she said. Instead, the general public will most likely be asked to rely on homemade masks, bandanas and the like.

A fabric mask does not provide the same level of protection as a surgical mask, but it can prevent droplets from escaping and potentially infecting others, so it can help to reduce risk, Ferrer said.

Public health officials have until now avoided issuing a blanket recommendation to wear a mask. Part of the reason for the shift may have to do with the growing concern that asymptomatic individuals could be unknowingly transmitting the disease to others. Ferrer has said that more scientific studies are suggesting that people who have the virus and don't feel any symptoms can still be infectious.

As such, Ferrer said the county's new position is to notify — and ask anyone who's sick to notify — everyone the sick person came into contact with up to 48 hours before the onset of their symptoms. That means if you started feeling sick today, you would need to consider everyone you'd come in close contact with since Monday.

Ferrer said as soon as the CDC issues its guidance on masks, the county will follow with its own.

Correction: A previous version of this story gave an inaccurate count of the number of deaths in L.A. County. As of Wednesday, 65 people have died after contracting COVID-19, according to health officials. LAist regrets the error.

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Gov. Newsom: Face Coverings May Help (But Keep Social Distancing); 774 In ICUs With COVID-19

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In his daily coronavirus update, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the state is going to provide additional guidance on face masks today. He noted that face masks may help, but are not a replacement for social distancing.

You can watch the video of Newsom's press conference above — here are the highlights:

CALIFORNIA'S CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

There are now 774 Californians suffering from coronavirus in ICU beds, according to Newsom, with a total of 1,855 hospitalized in the state. The number of those in the ICU is up 16.4% from the day before. There are 8,155 Californians who have tested positive for coronavirus.

The impact of stay-at-home efforts in California, according to the state. (Screenshot via Gov. Gavin Newsom's Facebook page)

If we continue with current coronavirus mitigation practices, the state's hospitalization numbers follow the purple line in the above chart, according to Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Secretary of Health and Human Services. However, we are still on track to exceed our hospitals' Phase 1 surge capacity even with social distancing and other current efforts, Ghaly said.

The first phase or surge capacity will bring the state's total hospital beds up to 50,000 available, Ghaly said. Towards the end of May, the state will need an estimated 66,000 hospital beds, he said.

FACE COVERINGS

Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing, Newsom said. People should not go out and try to get N95 masks or surgical masks, Newsom added. Additional guidelines will be released today.

Wearing face masks may help to reduce the spread of the disease in asymptomatic carriers, according to Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health. She cautioned against a false sense of security and stressed the need to maintain social distancing, but said they may provide some added protection.

THE STATE'S SCHOOLS AND CORONAVIRUS

Newsom said he is pleased with the announcement that California schools are unlikely to go back to in-person learning this school year, due to the nature of what coronavirus modeling is showing for cases in the state.

Students who are on track for graduation should still be able to graduate, and new guidance will be released today, California State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond said. The state is working with universities to help students deal with not being able to take the SAT, with work being accepted in a pass/fail format without a negative effect on GPAs, according to State Superintendent Tony Thurmond.

A partnership with Google was announced to improve wifi and broadband access, Newsom said, with 100,000 hotspot points of access throughout the state to high-quality broadband, free for at least 3 months. He added that Google has also announced that they will be providing thousands of Chromebooks.

HEALTH CARE SUPPLIES AND WORKER SURGE

The federal government has sent several series of medical personal protective equipment deliveries to California, with the fourth just sent, Newsom said.

More than 34,000 people have applied as part of the state's health care worker surge since the program launched on Monday, Newsom 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.


You Can Now Watch The Dodgers On DirecTV (Spectrum And AT&T Struck A Deal)

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The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers in Game Seven to win the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on October 20, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Dodgers games are coming to more SoCal homes thanks to a deal between Spectrum Networks and AT&T.

Spectrum announced Wednesday it reached an agreement with AT&T to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodgers’ regional sports network, on its video platforms, including DirecTV, AT&T TV, U-Verse TV and AT&T Now. Customers in Southern California, Las Vegas and Hawaii will have access to all live game coverage in SportsNet LA once the MLB season is cleared to begin.

“As anxious as we all are for the ongoing pandemic to end and for the 2020 season to begin, we now have even more reason to be excited,” Stan Kasten, president & CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said in a statement. “I want to thank AT&T and Spectrum Networks for coming together on this agreement. We are eager to get this season started once it is deemed safe to do so everywhere.”

Starting today, SportsNet LA is appearing on DirecTV Channel 690, and U-Verse TV customers can now watch on channel 780 (SD) and 1780 (HD). The network is scheduled to air beginning Apr. 8 for AT&T and AT&T Now customers.

For the moment, baseball is on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but meanwhile you can watch the channel's original shows and studio programming. On Apr. 2, the network will air a full day of episodes highlighting the best games of the 2019 season.

“Our city has the best sports fans in the world, and they want to enjoy all of the excitement and tradition that Dodger games bring to Los Angeles," L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement, adding that the deal will "give more Angelenos the chance to cheer for our favorite team all the way to the World Series."

PRIMARY SOURCE:

LA's Talent Agencies Are On The Brink

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Christian Bale and Matt Damon, both WME clients, arrive at the premiere of Fox's "Ford V Ferrari" at the TCL Chinese Theatre last year. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The entertainment industry, like so much of the world, is closed. Movie theaters are padlocked, live performances canceled, and virtually every television series and movie has ceased filming.

The pandemic production stoppage has left tens of thousands without jobs. The union representing film and TV crews estimates about 120,000 of its members are unemployed. While the shutdown has a direct impact on all of the actors, writers, directors and technicians who no longer are working, it also has a profound effect on the people who help them find jobs: talent agents.

And one of Hollywood’s most prominent agencies could soon be in serious trouble.

Like show business managers and some lawyers, talent agents typically take a commission (often about 10%) of their clients’ income. When there are no new paychecks or deals, there’s obviously no new commissions — the lifeblood of an agency. And the coronavirus shutdown was preceded by a dispute with the Writers Guild of America, where screenwriters in 2019 fired their agents en masse.

In late March, the Paradigm Talent Agency, which employs about 700, said it was temporarily cutting about 14% of its staff. A week ago, the United Talent Agency, with about 1,200 employees, announced across-the-board salary cuts.

But few agencies could be as vulnerable to the production freeze as industry titan WME.

WME said on Wednesday that it will cut much of its staff compensation between 5 and 30 percent. Those making less than $65,000 would not be affected.

With clients as prominent as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Elisabeth Moss, Matt Damon and Octavia Spencer, WME (the result of a 2009 merger between the William Morris and Endeavor talent agencies) has spent the past decade rapidly expanding its roster of entertainers. But unlike other big agencies, WME has acquired the actual producers of live events--a diverse slate of businesses like professional bull riders, the Miss Universe pageant and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Those deals have left parent company Endeavor Group Holdings with a staggering $4.6 billion of long-term debt, according to security filings tied to a failed September attempt to take WME public, the first such attempt in Hollywood history. That offering was supposed to raise $600 million for WME, which, according to generally accepted accounting principles, lost about $134 million in the last quarter that it reported publicly.

In those same filings, the agency said any work stoppage “could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.”

WME, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, said last week it was laying off about 250 people, a small fraction of its 7,000-employee workforce. If the fall out from the pandemic continues on its current pace, those WME job losses may look tiny in the very near future.

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SoCal Distilleries Churn Out Hand Sanitizer

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Bottles of the alcohol that Santa Ana's Blinking Owl Distillery would normally produce next to the hand sanitizer it's currently producing during the coronavirus pandemic. Courtesy of Blinking Owl Distillery

A couple weeks ago, we told you about how several Southern California distilleries — including Portuguese Bend in Long Beach, AMASS in DTLA and Blinking Owl in Santa Ana — had revamped their operations and were gearing up to make hand sanitizer. Here's an update.

Blinking Owl is producing 2,000 gallons of hand sanitizer per week and starting next week, they'll increase that to 4,000 gallons per week.

Hand sanitizer being produced at Blinking Owl Distillery in Santa Ana. (Courtesy Blinking Owl Distillery)

The operation has already produced 1,000 16-oz. bottles. Some were donated to restaurants and small medical facilities while others were sold to the general public via the distillery's website. Yes, people snapped them up.

The distillery is also producing hand sanitizer in 1-gallon tubs and 55-gallon drums, for industrial use. Blinking Owl co-founder and CFO Robin Christenson tells us the company has been working around the clock to fulfill demand.

According to Christenson, several local hospitals, nursing facilities, public agencies and private businesses have already placed orders. They include the cities of Santa Ana, Anaheim and Carson, as well as UC Riverside, the Culver City Police Department, Memorial Hospital Fountain Valley, Amazon, Aldi and local Tesla dealerships.

Christenson says Blinking Owl has also donated some of its hand sanitizer to Cedars Sinai Marina Del Rey, CHOC Hospital, the Salvation Army and multiple small healthcare facilities.

READ MORE OF OUR CORONAVIRUS & FOOD COVERAGE:

UC System Significantly Eases Admissions Requirements For Fall

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UC schools including UCLA will relax admissions standards for the fall. (Andrew Cullen for LAist)

The University of California announced today that it will temporarily relax undergraduate admissions requirements for students seeking to enroll in the 10-campus system for fall 2020.

In a press release, the university noted that many schools have shifted to remote instruction in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and have replaced the letter grades usually required for admission to either “pass/fail” or “credit/no credit” grading. Also, standardized tests like the ACT or SAT have largely been cancelled as high schools have remain closed.

In response, the UC Board Regents has approved several changes to the admissions requirements.

  • Suspending the letter grade requirement for A-G courses completed in winter/spring/summer 2020 for all students, including UC’s most recently admitted freshmen. A-G courses include history/social science, English, math, science, languages other than English, visual and performing arts courses, and college-prep electives.
  • Suspending the standardized test requirement for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission.
  • Not rescinding student admissions offers because of missed transcript deadlines.
  • For transfer students, temporarily suspending the cap on the number of transferable units with “pass/no pass” grading applied toward the minimum 60 semester/90 quarter units required for junior standing.

University of California President Janet Napolitano said in a statement:

“The COVID-19 outbreak is a disaster of historic proportions disrupting every aspect of our lives, including education for high school students, among others. The University’s flexibility at this crucial time will ensure prospective students aiming for UC get a full and fair shot — no matter their current challenges.”

READ THE FULL STORY

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Can I Catch Coronavirus From Eating Food?

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A delicious red apple. (Yulia Khlebnikova/Unsplash)

"Will I get sick if I eat food with coronavirus on it?"

This is one of the questions I get asked the most. The short answer is: probably not. The USDA and the FDA say they haven't seen any evidence that COVID-19 has been transmitted through eating food.

Why? Here's the longer answer:

Let's use a theoretical example where some COVID-19 droplets land on a bunch of apples. Viruses, unlike bacteria, can't grow in your food. With the passage of time, the amount of coronavirus on the surface of the apple would decrease.

But let's say you buy one of these apples two minutes after it has been sneezed on and then take it home and decide not to wash it before you eat it. Even if you chomp down on this unwashed, "infected" apple, the coronavirus probably won't survive the acid in your stomach. So you would be unlikely to catch coronavirus from eating the apple.

However, you might catch coronavirus from touching the apple then touching your unwashed fingers to your mouth or nose.

It's a minor distinction but the upshot is this: You are unlikely to catch coronavirus from eating food but you might catch coronavirus from touching food then touching your face... SO WASH YOUR HANDS!

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Shuttered Small Businesses Say They Can't Pay Rent

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Most of L.A.'s small businesses have closed temporarily. How will they stay afloat? (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Small businesses have very little room for error. With an average of just 27 days of cash on hand, even a minor downturn in business can mean financial disaster.

And being closed for three weeks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus is much more than a minor downturn in business.

Jenette Goldstein, who owns a bra-fitting boutique with four locations in L.A. County, laughed when I asked what her sales have been like the past three weeks. She told me she has no idea how she will pay rent.

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UCLA Will Let Eligible Med School Students Graduate Early

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Published
Nursing students can help swell the ranks of those fighting COVID-19. (Jean-Francois Monier/AFP via Getty Images)

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said 25,000 health care professionals have offered their services during the COVID-19 crisis. Those nurses and doctors-in-training also want to step up.

Medical schools in the University of California system are trying to make it easy for fourth-years to join the workforce faster, said Dr. Clarence Braddock, vice dean for education at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine.

"The University of California has taken the position that (students) who had completed their requirements -- and who wish to -- could graduate early if their residency program needed them," Braddock said.

But Braddock said some hospitals may be so overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases that they can't on-board a new resident.

By comparison, nursing students may be easier to deploy because they can be used in many different kinds of settings.

Ron Norby, interim director of the nursing school at Cal State-Dominguez Hills, said that the 60 students in the family nurse practitioner program are able to, for example, screen patients for underlying conditions that could exacerbate COVID-19 infections.

"All of those (students) potentially could go into hospitals or into physican's offices or clinics," Norby said.

Norby said a few weeks ago, hospitals were canceling trainings for his students. Now those same hospitals are asking him how to bring them back.

Nursing students are on the list of health care professionals the governor is recruiting for his Health Corps initiative. So are medical residents. Medical students, however, are not.


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.


Tracking COVID-19: Worldwide Cases Now Top 883K; More Than 3,000 In LA County

Updated
Published

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.


Jump to: CALIFORNIA | WORLDWIDE | SOCAL COUNTIES | ANALYSIS

WHERE WE STAND

The U.S. is now reporting more than 190,000 of the over 833,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide as of 7:45 a.m. Wednesday.

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 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, here are the total confirmed cases for the 10 countries currently facing the worst outbreaks:

Country Confirmed Cases Deaths Recovered Last Update
United States 190,089 4,102 7,141 4/1 7:45 AM
Italy 105,792 12,428 15,729 4/1 7:45 AM
Spain 102,136 9,053 22,647 4/1 7:45 AM
China 82,361 3,316 76,405 4/1 7:00 AM
Germany 74,508 821 16,100 4/1 7:45 AM
France 52,836 3,532 9,522 4/1 7:45 AM
Iran 47,593 3,036 15,473 4/1 7:45 AM
United Kingdom 29,842 2,356 179 4/1 7:45 AM
Switzerland 17,137 461 2,967 4/1 7:45 AM
Belgium 13,964 828 2,132 4/1 7:45 AM


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 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, worldwide the Johns Hopkins tracker is reporting:

  • 44,216 deaths
  • 185,477 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 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

  • 8,588 confirmed cases
  • 183 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*
  • 5 deaths*

* More from Ventura County

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY

  • 183 cases
  • 6 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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DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS

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Do People Without Symptoms Need To Wear Masks When They Go Outside?

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Published
A person with a mask crosses an empty street in West Hollywood this week. (Valerie Macon /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.

Many of you have been writing in with questions about masks. With news about the virus potentially “lingering” in the air folks want to know: “Should people without symptoms be wearing them when they go out?”

"We are now recommending that Angelenos use homemade face coverings when they're in public, and interacting with others," Garcetti said at his daily COVID-19 briefing.

At the same time, he stressed that people should still stay home.

"This isn't an excuse to suddenly all go out, you need to stay at home," he said. "But when you have to go out, we are recommending that we use non-medical grade masks or facial coverings, and not take the ones that are reserved for our first responders."

Prior to the new guidance, we talked with Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, with UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, and a former staffer with the Centers For Disease Control.

“Really the masks are for someone who is ill. And they of course should be staying in self-isolation, not going out. But if they went out, for example, to have to seek medical care, that's the person that should be wearing a mask, so that when they cough, they don't infect others.

If you were actually caring for someone in your own home that had COVID-19, when you entered that room, they should be putting on their mask and you could be putting on a mask, but that's not for people that are just going outside and outdoors.”

In his nightly update, Garcetti said his decision was based on a new understanding that people are transmitting the disease before they begin to show symptoms. That means if you wait until you don't feel well to cover your face and self-isolate, it's already too late.

So what are the chances of acquiring the virus when you DO venture out? Dr. Kim-Farley addressed this when he answered Brad Worley’s question. Worley asks:

“If I [wear] gloves and [a] face mask and practice keeping my distance from people ... How much of a risk am I taking of catching the virus when I go outside?”

Kim-Farley said:

“I think the main thing is to recognize that really, what we're really trying to practice is a social distancing when you're going outside, physical distance, I prefer to use that term because we're still trying to socially bond but be physically apart.”

Important note: We're still expecting guidance on masks today from the state of California. Gov. Gavin Newsom again today stressed at his news briefing that face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing.

Riverside County officials had released new recommendations about masks on Tuesday:

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Diary From The COVID-19 Frontlines: ‘The Edge Of The Pandemic’ 

Updated
Published
A close up of a real test kit for Covid-19. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

“Diary From The Covid-19 Frontlines” is an ongoing series of dispatches from health care workers.

When Andrea Austin, an ER physician in downtown Los Angeles, started her shift on Sunday afternoon, things were different than usual.

“It started off really slow,” she told me by phone Monday. Usually, she said, there are about 40 to 50 patients being seen in the emergency department at any given time. But not this shift.

“When I came in, there were only six patients in the entire emergency department. But half of them were intubated, which is very odd, and was very alarming.”

Two were highly suspected COVID patients, and the other patient was awaiting test results, she said.

She told me she’d been hearing about the same scenario from ER doctors in New York: The ER’s were pretty empty with non-COVID patients, but COVID patients had started trickling in.

“I think we're definitely seeing the edge of this pandemic, starting to rear its head in Los Angeles,” she said.

On a positive note, she told me she thinks people are doing a good job about staying home, and only going out when necessary.

“I think it's impacting trauma volumes quite a bit that people are just less likely to fall off their bike or off their scooter because they're staying indoors more,” she said.

She said she was also encouraged about the supply of personal protective equipment, which seemed better than the week before.

As for what’s next? Austin told me she’s hoping that factors like social distancing, which started early in California compared to other states, will help stem the number of cases.

“But realistically from what I'm already seeing, like the number of respiratory complaints and how sick some of the patients were, I think we are going to see a greatly increased number of these patients.”

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Morning Briefing: Remembering Nipsey Hussle

Updated
Published

Yesterday marked one year since the death of L.A. rapper and philanthropist Nipsey Hussle, who was shot outside his South L.A. clothing store at the age of 33. On the day of his funeral, crowds poured out onto the street for miles to mourn him, images of which are at once a reminder of both the strange moment in which we currently find ourselves, and how vital voices like Hussle’s are — voices that bring the community together, speak honestly and radically about life in L.A., and preach hard work, diligence and love during difficult times.

Here’s what happened in the past 24 hours:

Here’s what we’re covering today:

  • About a third of California households have filled out the census, and L.A. County is only slightly behind. But if you look at individual census tracts, reports Caroline Champlin, participation is segregated.
  • Testing for coronavirus in L.A. has predominantly taken place in wealthy neighborhoods. Alyssa Jeong Perry explores what that tells us about access to testing and the spread of the virus.
  • UCLA and other UC medical schools say they will make it easier for fourth year students who have completed their requirements to graduate early in some cases, reports Josie Huang.
  • There have been several reported incidents of Asian children being bullied. Huang takes a closer look.

Here are some non-COVID-19 reads:

And now, your moment of Zen:

A stunning cotton candy sunset on a Tuesday evening, captured by our own investigative reporter Aaron Mendelson.

(Aaron Mendelson / LAist)

Help us cover your community:

  • Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
  • Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.

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

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