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State Cuts Bail, Allows Remote Court Hearings To Fight COVID-19

Updated
Published
California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. (Courtesy California Courts)

The governing body for California’s courts approved a sweeping set of rule changes on Monday to help the legal system minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The California Judicial Council approved 11 changes that are mostly aimed at reducing human contact at courthouses and keeping more people out of jail -- addressing safety risks for plaintiffs, defendants, attorneys and court staff. They include:

  • Setting bail at zero dollars for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, so defendants whose trials may be delayed won’t have to sit in jail.

  • Extending the time frame for restraining orders and the statute of limitations for filing civil cases or bringing them to court.

  • Prioritizing the most urgent juvenile cases.

  • Allowing most appearances for preliminary hearings in criminal cases to be held remotely, through an attorney or via teleconference.

The Judicial Council also temporarily suspended all evictions and mortgage foreclosures in the state, except where "necessary to protect public health and safety."

The move on evictions may seem redundant, because a number of counties and cities (including Los Angeles) had already taken local action -- and Governor Newsom issued an eviction moratorium as part of a coronavirus executive order. But tenants remained vulnerable: as recently as last week, some sheriff’s departments in the state were going ahead with evictions in cases not directly related to COVID-19.

“All of us are endeavoring to balance justice against this overwhelming contagion in order to minimize illness and death,” said State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who leads the Judicial Council.

“To say there is no playbook is a gross understatement of the situation,” she added.

Most of these changes will go into effect in the next week or so -- and they’ll remain active until two to three months after Newsom lifts the coronavirus state of emergency.

Long-term, the new temporary rules could prompt a reassessment of how courts operate under normal circumstances, said Katie Tinto, law professor and director of the Criminal Justice Clinic at UC Irvine School of Law.

“It may shed light on how to have our court system work more efficiently even in non-crisis times,” Tinto said.

Appearing in person for multiple hearings can be burdensome on defendants who have to weigh skipping work against missing a court date. Expanding the types of hearings where people can appear remotely, or through their lawyers, could address that hardship.

“We have poor people who miss work every day in order to appear,” Tinto said.

Cantil-Sakauye said there’s no precedent for keeping the legal system running during a pandemic. She emphasized the rule changes are temporary, saying, “we are trying to balance access to justice with a safe court environment.”

One more note:

The report prepared for the Judicial Council that laid out the procedural changes hinted at a major headache on the horizon: the huge backlog of low level felony, misdemeanor and civil cases waiting to be processed once courts are up and running at full capacity again.

READ THE FULL CALIFORNIA JUDICIAL COUNCIL REPORT:

SoCal Newspaper Chain Furloughs Dozens Of Workers — And Broader Layoffs Could Be Coming

Updated
Published
This Dec. 27, 2012 file photo shows the newsroom of the Orange County Register in Santa Ana. Jae C. Hong/AP

Citing plummeting advertising revenue as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the Southern California News Group (SCNG), which operates 11 local newspapers in the region, has furloughed roughly 50 employees across its newsrooms and laid off several others, according to sources familiar with the decision.

The furloughed workers include the organization’s sports and features staff, according to four current SCNG employees, who spoke with me on the condition that their names not be used. At least three of the people laid off were from the editorial team, and freelancers have also been cut, the sources said.

Additional furloughs and job losses took place in the company's other departments, including about 20 layoffs in advertising, according to one source.

The announcement was made by SCNG executive editor Frank Pine last Thursday on an all-staff conference call. According to employees who were on that call, Pine told his staff that while the company’s digital subscriptions have surged in recent weeks, it wasn't enough to cover the cost to operate the regional newsroom amid falling ad sales.

The dozens of reporters, editors and designers are required to take a total of ten unpaid days off in April, starting this week. Pine told staff they could not rule out additional cuts to the company’s newsrooms, which could be enacted in May, sources said.

Pine also said the furloughed employees would get to keep their health insurance and are eligible for unemployment, sources said.

The features and sports desks faced the furloughs, Pine reportedly told staff, because those beats experienced the greatest advertising losses and because so many of the events they'd typically cover have been canceled or postponed.

The news group’s 11 newspapers are a primary source for local news for many Southern California communities and include the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, San Bernardino Sun and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside. The news group is part of Digital First Media, which is owned by hedge fund Alden Global Capital.

One SCNG employee summed up the situation this way:

“Everyone is livid. Some of our entertainment staff feel discarded. They did as much work, if not more, than the rest of the newsroom over the last month. They had to cover the total collapse of the entertainment industry — event cancellations, theme parks closing, casinos shuttering, all of that stuff. And then management turns around and does this to them. It sucks.”

SCNG president and publisher Ron Hasse wrote an open letter to readers Sunday, thanking them for continuing to support local journalism.

“The demand for our local news coverage, and people’s appreciation for it, have never been greater,” Hasse says in the letter. “Our journalists provide essential newsgathering services that must continue to operate today and every day because people need to stay informed in order to keep our communities functioning, connected and strong. We are doing our jobs, and we are counting on you to help us press on.”

The letter does not mention the staff furloughs and layoffs.

Neither Hasse nor Pine have responded to requests for comment. It’s unclear what changes local readers will see in their newspapers in the coming weeks.

SCNG is far from the only news company reeling from the economic effects of coronavirus. Newspaper chain Gannet also announced pay cuts and employee furloughs last week. And earlier today the Bay Area News Group, another Digital First Media newspaper network, also announced a series of furloughs and layoffs, according to several of its reporters.

Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that the roughly 50 employees placed on unpaid leave worked in the company's newsrooms. Additional furloughs and cuts were made to other SCNG departments.

How One Grassroots Org Is Helping Chinatown Seniors

Updated
Published
A volunteer delivered a supply bag under social distancing guidelines. Sophat Phea/CCED Organizer

Sissy Trinh is the executive director of the Southeast Asian Community Alliance, where she has worked for 18 years. When the "Safer at Home" orders went into effect, she immediately worried about the community's seniors, a cohort that tends to shop on an as-needed basis, often on foot, in the few dozen square blocks in and around Chinatown or Lincoln Heights.

So she and SEACA's board members set aside about $10,000 of their budget for pandemic relief. Normally, she said, that money would go towards events or campaigns.

"We're not a social service agency that's going to get reimbursed by the government," Trinh said. "It’s a financial risk. But the community's needs are greater than our long term stability."

As of today, the group has delivered 490 packages of supplies — everything from soap to rice.

READ MORE:


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.

LA Will Now Let More People Apply For Coronavirus Testing

Updated
Published

Public health officials have been saying for months that testing is vital to tracking and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. But mishaps and supply shortages limited testing to the highest risk patients — those over 65 and those with underlying medical conditions.

But testing capacity in Los Angeles may be finally catching up. In his nightly address on the city's response to the pandemic, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that anyone in the city or county can now apply for a test to see if they have the coronavirus.

That doesn't mean an applicant will be approved, but it does mean the restrictions have been loosened and that you won't be automatically disqualified just because you're not considered high risk, according to Garcetti.

You can apply for a test at coronavirus.la city.org.

The mayor said the city and county will be on track to complete a total of 36,000 tests by the end of the week between government and health care provider testing.

But he also urged people to continue staying at home as the city and county head into what could be a grim few weeks.

Earlier, L.A. County public health officials warned that this could be a "critical week," and that we could see a big increase in confirmed cases and deaths before cases peak and we see a "flattening of the curve" in mid-April. Garcetti warned it could be longer, estimating that cases will peak more likely in late April or the beginning of May "if we keep with physical distancing — if we don't keep with physical distancing, everybody's bets are off."

Garcetti said Angelenos are mostly complying with the Safer at Home order but could still do better. A company that tracks how much people are moving around in different regions last week gave L.A. County a C grade, after people flocked to beaches and parks in defiance of the state and local orders. This weekend, L.A.'s grade came back up — barely. It's now a B-, Garcetti said.

Here are a few other takeaways from tonight's address:

  • The L.A. Fire Department has had 13 positive cases — 12 sworn personnel and 1 civilian
  • LAFD is using a new tele-medicine program for some emergency calls. That means 911 dispatch can transfer callers to a doctor rather than sending first responders, and the doctor can help assess the patient via FaceTime
  • LAPD has had 47 personnel test positive so far, and 250 have been quarantined as a precaution after possibly coming into close contact with someone who was sick
  • 722 non-essential businesses have been visited by LAPD for failing to comply with closure orders — 92% of them ultimately complied
  • 37 businesses have been referred for prosecution
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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Order A Hot Pot — Get The Stove, Pot And Ladles For Free

Updated
Published
A takeout hot pot from Uniboil, a hot pot restaurant in Monterey Park. Fiona Ng/LAist

This is the first dispatch in a series focusing on how restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley are coping with the coronavirus.


Alan Pun spent this past Saturday delivering food orders to 11 families in the city of Eastvale in Riverside County — a more than 30-mile drive from Uniboil, the Monterey Park hot pot restaurant he co-owns.

"The customer called me last week asking if I would deliver to his home," Pun tells me over the phone in Cantonese. "I told him I would do it if he rounds up more orders in the area."

The guy came through. He even provided Pun with detailed driving instructions so he could make all the deliveries with maximum efficiency.

Takeout meals are ready to be delivered at Uniboil, a hot pot restaurant in Monterey Park. It is offering delivery during the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy of Alan Pun/Uniboil)

Along with a business partner, Pun (pronounced "poon") co-founded Uniboil in 2015. As with many restaurateurs, he has done everything his business demanded of him, from marketing to stepping in as cashier on busy weekends. But until the COVID-19 pandemic — and the subsequent orders shutting down all non-essential businesses — he had never served as his own delivery driver.

While some restaurants have been able to adapt to the brave new world of takeout and delivery, that's not possible for many establishments, like hot pot joints. They involve groups of people sitting together at tables with embedded stoves, cooking meals in bubbling pots and sharing the same ladle to dispense soup into their bowls. If anything, hot pot restaurants are uniquely unsuited to social distancing and takeout dining. Pun knows this better than anybody.

"We knew that hot pot is a dine-in food. People don't typically order it as takeout," he says.

Takeout fixings from Uniboil, a hot pot restaurant in Monterey Park. It is offering delivery during the coronavirus pandemic. (Iris Ouyang for LAist)

On Sunday, March 15, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced restaurants in the city had to close their dining rooms. Pun shuttered Uniboil. But he couldn't stop worrying about the long-term options for his business — and the people working there — if he were to shut down completely.

"If we close down even temporarily, all of our workers would be gone. You wouldn't even be able to open up again when the pandemic is over," Pun says.

Almost as quickly as he'd closed, Pun changed his mind and reopened. Like many restaurateurs, he had to transform his business, top to bottom, in a matter of days. A week after after the city's takeout-only order went into effect, Uniboil reopened with a skeleton crew.

Before coronavirus, Uniboil had 15 full-time and part-time employees. It now scrapes by with four, including Pun.

A menu from Uniboil, a hot pot restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley.

The restaurant continues to serve a variety of personalized (aka single portion) hot pots featuring Asian soup bases such as Thai tom yum, Sichuan spicy and Hong Kong tomato soup but instead of presenting them to customers tableside, the restaurant offers four menu options that people can cook at home.

To spur sales, Pun has come up with few perks. Each takeout order is packed in a free, bright red, thermal insulated bag. ("It's a cheerful color," he says). The restaurant also throws in the stove, the pot, the ladles and the fuel — for free. For orders over $50, you also receive two free masks.

"I figured people are not leaving the house much these days, maybe you go out and run errands twice a week, and the two free masks could help those who need them. My intention is for everyone to be safe and healthy," Pun says.

The response has been positive, so positive that Pun ran out of stoves and bags this past weekend. Until he receives more of both, probably later this week, Uniboil is on hiatus until then. But the question remains: With everything he's giving away, is he making any money?

"No, I am losing money," Pun says with a laugh. "I can't even make rent this month. I reached out to the landlord, who isn't giving us a break on our rent."

He put in an application for the federal Disaster Loan Assistance program designed to help small businesses but hasn't yet heard back.

Pun has no idea how long he can keep Uniboil running.

"If I have to fold then I have to fold. What can I do? I won't be ok with it. I won't. But I am already luckier than so many other people, like the frontline health workers who have to battle the virus daily," Pun says.

Right now, he is, like many of us, taking things one day at a time and trying to keep the faith.

"I am just hoping that what I am doing is enough to sustain the four of us working together," Pun says. "You have to be optimistic, even during the worst of times."

Tracking COVID-19: US Deaths Top 10,000; More Than 6,000 Cases In LA County

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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.


Editor's note: For the most recent updates, check our latest tracker post for Tuesday, April 7.

Jump to: CALIFORNIA | WORLDWIDE | SOCAL COUNTIES | ANALYSIS

WHERE WE STAND

On Monday afternoon, L.A. County reported 420 new cases and 15 new deaths. There have now been more than 6,300 total confirmed cases here.

Meanwhile, the United States is among a number of countries experiencing large-scale epidemics. The map above shows cumulative confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries and is updated in near real-time throughout the day. Zoom out to see more of the world.

Below are the recent totals for the United States, followed by the 10 countries with the most reported cases of COVID-19. Italy, Spain, Germany, and now France are all reporting more confirmed cases than China, where the outbreak began late last year, but whose reported numbers have since greatly slowed.

WORLDWIDE

CASES

DEATHS

RECOVERED

LAST UPDATE

GLOBAL:

1,331,023

73,916

275,851

4/6 12:56 PM

US 356,942 10,524 18,999 4/6 12:49 PM
Spain 135,032 13,169 40,437 4/6 12:49 PM
Italy 132,547 16,523 22,837 4/6 12:49 PM
Germany 101,806 1,680 28,700 4/6 12:49 PM
France 98,957 8,926 17,421 4/6 12:49 PM
China 82,665 3,335 77,310 4/6 2:37 AM
Iran 60,500 3,739 24,236 4/6 12:49 PM
United Kingdom 52,274 5,383 284 4/6 12:49 PM
Turkey 30,217 649 1,326 4/6 12:49 PM
Switzerland 21,657 765 8,056 4/6 12:49 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:

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 about 10:40 a.m. Monday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

  • 15,238 confirmed cases
  • 351 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

In a news release sent Sunday afternoon, L.A. County Public Health officials cautioned that:

"Emerging evidence suggests that there may be a significant number of people infected with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic and capable of spreading the virus to others."

So far, L.A. County is reporting 147 deaths. As of Sunday, 1,366 people have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.

NOTE: We are expecting another big jump in testing capabilities this week. L.A. County officials have warned that with more tests we will have higher numbers of positive cases. At the start of the pandemic here, fewer than 50 people a day were being tested. Now it's closer to 7,000 with a goal of getting to 10,000 daily tests this week.

Current as of most recent updates Sunday

LA COUNTY

  • 6,360 cases
  • 147 deaths

* [Includes numbers released by Pasadena and Long Beach. See more from L.A. County]

ORANGE COUNTY

  • 834 cases
  • 14 deaths

* More from Orange County

RIVERSIDE COUNTY

  • 799 cases
  • 19 deaths

* More from Riverside County

VENTURA COUNTY

  • 221 cases
  • 6 deaths

* More from Ventura County

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY

  • 373 cases
  • 13 deaths

* More from San Bernardino County

FLATTEN THE CURVE

As new cases continue to be confirmed, Californians are continuing to be under "safer at home" and "social distancing" orders. State and county officials have ordered the vast majority of Californians to strictly limit interactions with other people, wash hands frequently, and stay 6 feet away from others.

Remember, the goal of social distancing is to "flatten the curve" of COVID-19's spread.

HOW CALIFORNIA COMPARES

The more we can slow the rate of infection, the less overwhelmed the hospital system will be.

Here's a look at how L.A. County fares in 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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Academy Museum Releases Details On Its Exhibitions — And It Still Plans To Open This December

Updated
Published
Do The Right Thing and go to a museum (eventually). (Academy Museum Foundation/Image by wHY architecture)

The Academy Museum still plans to debut this December, throwing open its doors to anyone interested in the highlights of cinema history. In a hard hat tour earlier this year, the physical facility appeared mostly complete. The last major step left is completing the exhibition galleries.

The Museum has finally given us a glance of what we'll see when we get to step inside those galleries.

You'll see a gallery devoted to The Wizard of Oz (including Dorothy's ruby slippers), another one focused on science fiction and fantasy that includes C-3PO, R2-D2, E.T., and more. The museum will even spoil the end of Citizen Kane for you with the Rosebud sled. (Oops, was I not supposed to say that? Sorry.)

Regardless of whether the museum actually manages to open Dec. 14, you can see photos from our behind-the-scenes hard hat tour from two months ago (remember when we could go outside and tour things?) or read more about the exhibitions and check out renderings from the firm that designed the museum.

GO DEEPER:

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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LA Zoo Takes New Precautions After A Tiger At The Bronx Zoo Catches COVID-19

Updated
Published
Los Angeles Zoo staff is working to keep its animals safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Los Angeles Zoo is instituting additional safety measures for its cats after learning a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19.

In a Sunday news release, L.A. Zoo officials said the new measures include using personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves, as well as practicing social distancing with the animals. They added, "The L.A. Zoo already practices these safety measures with our primate, binturong and mustelid species."

However, the zoo isn't currently testing any of its animals for COVID-19 since none have displayed symptoms of the virus, according to the release. This doesn’t rule out testing in the future but the decision to do that would be made in collaboration with public and animal health officials, officials said.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is not recommending regular testing of animals.

The tiger at the Bronx Zoo is believed to be the first animal in the U.S. to contract COVID-19. Public health officials believe a zoo employee spread the virus to the cat.

READ MORE:


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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.


Trump Moves Between Grim Warnings And Upbeat Exuberance

Updated
Published

President Trump said "we certainly want to try" to lift restrictions on life in the U.S. by April 30 but he made no definitive commitment at a news conference on Monday at the White House.

Trump sought to walk a tightrope between grim warnings about a new spike in fatalities forecast for the coming weeks and upbeat exuberance about how well he said the response is going.

"Tremendous progress has been made in a very short period," Trump said.

He read off another list of statistics about medical equipment and supplies and said the materiel was being marshaled in the places it's needed ahead of more growth in cases.

With over 347,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States and more than 10,000 deaths, the Trump administration has tried to brace the public for a dire ordeal.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Fox News Sunday that the week will be "the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives."

"This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localized. It's going to be happening all over the country," Adams said.

Trump bristles at reports of shortages, problems

The president rejected reports on Monday that shortages persist of personal protective equipment and COVID-19 tests.

He responded to a report by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services by suggesting that it was politically motivated, demanding to know when principal deputy IG Christi Grimm was appointed. She assumed her post in January after a career with the agency.

The president also complained when he was asked about some initial difficulties associated with implementing a small business relief loan program.

"It's such a positive event and you ask it in such a negative way," Trump said.

The president insisted that he and his administration get credit for what he called a successful response and he attacked reporters in the audience for not being sufficiently complimentary.

Hospital ships expand into COVID-19 cases

The U.S. Navy hospital ships USNS Comfort, in New York City, and USNS Mercy, in Los Angeles, are beginning to accept coronavirus cases, Trump confirmed on Monday.

Initially the two vessels, which have about 1,000 beds, were envisioned as surge capacity for non-pandemic cases that could free up space ashore for COVID-19 sufferers. Demand has reached the point where the ships need to begin taking aboard pandemic cases too.

A fourth coronavirus relief bill

Trump said he wasn't sure yet whether he and Congress might need to negotiate a fourth coronavirus relief bill following the earlier passage of the $2 trillion legislation aimed at helping the economy.

The president said he is willing to listen, however, and if more relief is needed he would sign up.

Trump said he would have two priorities in a potential new bill: what he called "real infrastructure" — "I'm not looking for the carbon footprint, the 'Green New Deal" — but "real infrastructure," he said.

And "more money for our citizens," Trump said, because this has been "trauma."

The scale of another bill should be "in the vicinity of $2 trillion," he said.

'Light at the end of the tunnel'

In a last-minute news conference with the coronavirus task force on Sunday evening, President Trump tried to offer a message of hope.

"We're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel," Trump said. "And hopefully, in the not-too-distant future, we'll be very proud of the job we all did. We can never be happy when so many people are dying, but we're going to be very proud of the job we did to keep the death down to an absolute minimum — the least it could have happened with this terrible, terrible virus."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top immunologist and a member of the task force, acknowledged that the administration's messaging may seem contradictory — to both warn Americans about the grim week ahead while also offering optimism — but said it isn't.

"If we start seeing now a flattening or stabilization of cases, what you're hearing about potential light at the end of the tunnel doesn't take away from the fact that tomorrow or the next day is going to look really bad," Fauci explained. "So we've got to make sure we realize we're always talking about a two-and-a-half-week lag."


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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Rain Will Likely Hit LA Through Thursday

Updated
Published
Rain falls on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California, Jan. 14, 2019. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

A fresh swath of rain across Southern California has already triggered some debris flows and prompted rescues from creeks and storm drains.

This late-season storm, which is expected to last through Thursday, is bringing heavy rainfall and cold temperatures, with highs in the upper 50s to low 60s.

Flood advisories are in effect for Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Rainfall rates of a quarter-inch to a half-inch per hour could cause urban flooding and potentially minor mud flows near burn areas, according to the National Weather Service.

Record-breaking rainfall Monday poured down in downtown Los Angeles. The old record for this day was 0.58 inches which occurred in 1958, but as of noon today rainfall was at 1.10 inches.

There’s already been one debris flow in the Hollywood Hills. About 40 to 50 feet of hillside below Lechner Place slid down into the backyard of a home. There were no injuries and no damage to the home itself, but the Los Angeles Fire Department is encouraging those at home to prepare for the wet weather in at risk areas.

Three left lanes of WB I-210 just west of Arroyo Blvd. in Pasadena were closed after a major accident this morning but opened back up as of 12:55 pm.

In Ventura County, firefighters rescued four people trapped by a fast-moving Santa Paula Creek by hoisting them out via a helicopter. The creek rose and picked up speed as Monday's storm dumped more than an inch of rain in the area, causing the individuals to become trapped on a bit of dry land near where the creek feeds into the Santa Clara River.

In the mountains, there’s a chance of snow at 6,000 feet and gusts of wind will reach 40 mph. There is also a possibility of snow this week on I-5 in the Tejon Pass.

There is also a slight chance of thunderstorms through Tuesday evening throughout the L.A. area.

The storm is expected to move out on Friday and Saturday as we head back to sunny skies with highs in the low 70s by Sunday.

LA County Residents Should Consider Skipping Grocery Shopping This Week; 'Critical Week' Starts As 15 New Deaths Reported

Updated
Published

This week could be critical to determining whether the local spread of COVID-19 finally begins to level off or instead starts "skyrocketing," according to Los Angeles County public health officials.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, who oversees the county's Department of Health Services, called it "a critical week in helping to understand what the curve and the trajectory of this pandemic will be."

With a large volume of confirmed cases in L.A. County now — more than 6,000 — and estimates that many more people are likely asymptomatic but infectious, this week (and maybe next) will be of special concern, L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer said.

"Our numbers could start skyrocketing, and that's one thing we don't want to see happen," she said.

Ferrer, speaking at the county coronavirus task force's daily briefing, urged residents to stay indoors, saying "this would be the week to skip shopping altogether" if you already have enough supplies in your home.

"It really is time for those people who may not have taken this seriously before to understand the seriousness of what's going on in our communities — the seriousness of living through a pandemic."

The latest numbers include 15 new deaths and 420 new cases, marking a rise in the mortality rate to 2.3%. That's the ratio of fatalities to the number of confirmed positive cases of coronavirus — it had been hovering just below 2%. While no one knows yet just how deadly COVID-19 really is — that will take more time, more data, more research — Ferrer said the large number of local cases and the apparent ease with which it can spread is a cause for concern.

Here are the latest numbers:

  • 147 deaths in L.A. County so far
  • 12 of the people whose deaths were newly reported were over 65 — five had no apparent underlying health conditions
  • 3 more people who died were between 41 and 65, only one of them with underlying conditions
  • 6,360 total confirmed cases, with 1,083 just in the last 48 hours
  • 12 cases among the county's homeless population, including one person who may have been in a shelter while potentially infectious
  • 1,366 people at some point have been hospitalized, or 21% of positive cases
  • About 900 people currently hospitalized, 6% of them in Intensive Care Units
  • 54% of those in the ICU have underlying health conditions, and 45% are 65 or older
  • 512 confirmed cases in institutional settings, including skilled nursing, assisted living, and correctional facilities
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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Newsom: California Is Lending 500 Ventilators To States In Need

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California Gov. Newsom announced on Monday that 500 ventilators from California's cache would be sent to the national stockpile to be distributed immediately to states in need, including New York, where the coronavirus outbreak has been most severe.

Newsom delivered his daily briefing on the coronavirus outbreak from the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, one of several sites in the state that he said have been procured to hold additional medical beds. You can watch the full briefing below.

Here are some main takeaways from his briefing:

VENTILATORS

California hospitals today have an inventory of 11,036 ventilators, a jump from their original estimate of 7,587 ventilators. That increase is due to old ventilators being refurbished and made available for use, as well as the acquisition of new ventilators.

These numbers gave the state the confidence to be able to loan out 500 ventilators to the national stockpile, Newsom said. As part of the national stockpile, ventilators can be redeployed as needed based on changing conditions in states around the nation, he added.

Asked what would happen if California needs those 500 ventilators back, Newsom said, "If we need them back in a few weeks, we'll get them back. They're conditioned on changing conditions in the state."

Another 1,000 ventilators have been refurbished and are being made available to hospitals again soon, Newsom said. And another 1,000 ventilators are currently being refurbished.

EMERGENCY BEDS

California has locked in a number of sites that will hold a total of 4,613 emergency hospital beds, Newsom said, but the state is still looking to procure a total of 20,000 beds across the state to help hospitals manage a coming influx of patients. The Sleep Train Arena, where the Sacramento Kings have played, has the capacity to hold 400 beds and can start accepting patients as early as April 20, he said.

Other sites the state has procured include:

  • St. Vincent Hospital in Los Angeles (operational on Monday, April 13): 266 beds
  • Seton Medical Center in Daly City: 220 beds
  • USNS Mercy, the hospital ship docked at the Port of L.A.: 550 beds
  • Fairview Developmental Center: 520 beds
  • Porterville Developmental Center: 246 beds
  • Fairfield Hotel in San Carlos: 120 beds

Additionally, the governor said that medical stations that are being supported by the federal government have a capacity to hold another 2,000 beds. Five of those stations have been confirmed and are being set up with supplies, Newsom said, and the government is working on setting up an additional three.

The state has also identified an additional 5,005 beds and is working on locking them down, he added.

Broader context: Under Phase One of California's preparation plan for the coronavirus outbreak, which covers prep through the month of April, Newsom said the goal was to make 50,000 more beds available than what is currently offered by the hospital system.

Across the state, there are some 75,000 beds in 416 hospitals — hospitals have already been asked to prepare for a 40% increase in beds, so that accounts for 30,000 of those beds. (Newsom also mentioned that hospitals have estimated they would be able to provide a few thousand more beds than the original 40% surge goal.) The state would take care of procuring the additional 20,000 with help from local officials.

MORE THAN 14,000 COVID-19 CASES IN CALIFORNIA

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers Newsom gave for California on Monday:

  • Total cases: 14,336 (an increase of 6.7% from Sunday)
  • Hospitalizations: 2,509 (a 4.6% increase from Sunday)
  • 1,085 people in ICUs (a 4.3% increase from Sunday)
  • 343 deaths

MORE THAN 81,000 MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS HAVE SIGNED UP FOR THE HEALTH CORPS

California has received 81,879 applications for the state's Health Corps, the state initiative to expand the emergency medical workforce for the pandemic. That trounces the state government's original expectation of 37,000 applications, Newsom said.

NO INDICATION YET THAT THE VIRUS IS SEASONAL

"We've heard people speculate about the seasonality of this virus, but it's too early based upon the information that we have to make any determinations around that speculation," Newsom said. He added that while California was "hopeful" that it would be seasonal — and thus, die down in the warm summer months — "by no stretch of the imagination does that change our modeling."

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In Spring Break Update, LAUSD Superintendent Says ‘Normal Is Not Returning Anytime Soon’

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LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner addressed the district community in a message streamed on Monday, April 6, 2020. (Screenshot of LAUSD website)

In a Monday address to the school community, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner dedicated most of his remarks to the ongoing challenge of distance learning.

“Equity shouldn’t have to mean abandoning all students equally – it can mean giving all of them the same tools and access to realize their talents,” he said.

The district is dedicating $100 million to helping close the digital divide, Beutner said, including distributing devices. The first wave prioritized high school students, and Beutner said devices and internet hotspots “should reach all elementary schools by May as devices arrive from supply lines around the world.”

As a reminder: LAUSD has said campuses will be closed until at least May 1, though Los Angeles County Superintendent Debra Duardo recommended last week that the county’s 80 school districts -- which includes LAUSD -- keep their campuses physically closed through the end of this school year.

In his Monday remarks, Beutner did not specify whether LAUSD campuses will follow that recommendation, but he did say “it’s clear that normal is not returning anytime soon.” He said the district will address “what the rest of the 2019-20 school year will look like, including things like graduation and financial aid assistance for college, as well as plans for the summer,” when it returns from spring break next week.

In the meantime, the district is focused on providing students “with the best possible learning in this environment,” though there are challenges. Beutner said tracking attendance online is hard, and “it’s more difficult to measure engagement and progress remotely. Merely logging in does not tell us anything more than the student turned on their computer.”

He also said Schoology, one of the online platforms the district uses, will need the intervention of “a major tech company” to support the rapidly increased number of users.

Beutner said serving English-language learners and students with special needs through distance learning is another area of concern.

“This will be our greatest challenge as the technologies and teaching practices are not as well-established in these areas and there may be some students for whom there is no good substitute for face-to-face contact.”

Beutner also provided updates on district efforts to support students during the school closures, including a mental health hotline (“We are working to use video to connect the counselors with patients and expect to begin using that shortly.”) and ongoing grab-and-go meal distribution (“About two-thirds of the meals are going to children and one-third to adults, no questions asked.”).

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Kimmel, Colbert, Fallon Team Up With Lady Gaga And More For A Huge COVID-19 Fundraiser

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It'll be like this, but at home, on Zoom. (Lady Gaga during the Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show at NRG Stadium on Feb. 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.) (Kevin C. Cox/Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Finally, a chance to use being stuck at home and watching an excessive amount of TV for a good cause. The three major TV networks, along with numerous streaming outlets, are broadcasting a COVID-19 fundraiser to support health care workers and local charities. One World: Together At Home is set to air Saturday, April 18.

The special, put together by the World Health Organization and Global Citizen, will be hosted by late-night hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Fallon. The lineup is being curated by Lady Gaga, packed with special guests.

"We want to highlight the gravity of this historical, unprecedented, and cultural movement," Lady Gaga said at the WHO's Monday press conference.

Seriously, the only way they're fitting this many guests into one place is because they're not in one place, with everyone broadcasting from their own (probably huge) homes. The guests include Alanis Morissette, Andrea Bocelli, Billie Eilish, Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, Coldplay's Chris Martin, David Beckham, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Elton John, Idris and Sabrina Elba, John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Kerry Washington, Lizzo, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, AND MORE.

One World promises to celebrate health care workers through music, entertainment, and showing the impact of their work. The show will be broadcast on ABC, NBC, ViacomCBS networks, and iHeartMedia.

And no need to fear, cord-cutters — it will also stream on numerous online platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple, Facebook, Instagram, TuneIn, Twitch, Twitter, Yahoo, YouTube, and others. Even TIDAL. You get even more online than on TV, as the online special will feature additional special guests, with performances from around the world and additional health care worker stories.

"The World Health Organization is committed to defeating the coronavirus pandemic with science and public health measures, and supporting the health workers who are on the frontlines of the response," WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release. "We may have to be apart physically for a while, but we can still come together virtually to enjoy great music."

The money raised from supporters and corporate partners will go to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO. In early fundraising over the last week, the special has already raised $35 million, according to Global Citizen. The fund supports and equips health care workers with masks, gowns, and all the other stuff there are shortages of right now. They also provide funding to local charities that provide food, shelter, and health care. According to the WHO and Global Citizen, the local groups have all been verified to ensure they are helping communities affected by the coronavirus.

The special airs Saturday, April 18 at 5 p.m. Pacific. It's a continuation of a Together At Home series the WHO and Global Citizen have also been running online with livestreams including performers like Chris Martin, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, and many more. Watch Legend's Together At Home performance below (with special appearances by Chrissy Teigen):


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Here's What We Know So Far About COVID-19's Impact On Air Quality

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The San Gabriel Mountains are seen from the Interstate 10 in East Los Angeles, Monday, March 30, 2020. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

You don't need us to tell you that Los Angeles' skies are cleaner and clearer right now as the COVID-19 pandemic has the majority of us staying in our homes and off the roads.

The current air quality is helping us breathe a little easier and see more of the horizon at the moment, but the science is still out on what exactly that means — even in the short term.

Still, the current crisis does offer researchers an opportunity to measure the L.A. Basin in a reduced-emissions setting.

In a basic sense, yes: less driving equals cleaner air. But, as a couple of those researchers told me recently, the chemistry playing out in our local airspace is more complex than that.

In some areas of Southern California, our reduced vehicle emissions — particularly during what we used to call the evening commute — actually led to higher-than-usual ozone levels.

Follow the link below to read my full story into what one researcher called the "interesting behavior" happening in our skies.

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Morning Briefing: You Need To Wear A Mask Because Of Your Mouth's Micro-Droplets

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Published

Driving around my neighborhood today, I — like many of you, no doubt — saw people walking, jogging and biking sans face mask, casually passing their neighbors on the sidewalk by a foot or less.

After raging to myself in my car for one satisfying and self-righteous moment, I acquiesced that lots of folks probably aren't aware that Angelenos have been asked to wear face masks at places that might make social distancing hard; so, fair enough. But others — including us — may be wondering what masks accomplish, exactly. Do disease-carrying particles float out from the sides anyway? Does cloth or paper provide an adequate barrier, or are COVID-19 molecules smaller than mask molecues, enabling their entrance to our mouths and noses regardless?

Take Two host A Martínez posed these questions and more to University of San Francisco data scientist Jeremy Howard, and his answers put things in stark, micro-droplet-sized relief. If you become sufficiently convinced, here's how to make your own mask out of a t-shirt.

Have a great Monday, and see you tomorrow morning.


HERE'S WHAT WE'RE COVERING TODAY

  • Ryan Fonseca has been talking to scientists about how clear our skies have been now that SoCal's infamously crowded roads are suddenly wide open. Is it a silver lining? Experts caution against that conclusion.
  • Many of us have struggled to get through to aging parents about how seriously they need to take this pandemic. Susanne Whatley asked a clinical psychologist for some much-needed advice, and later, she speaks with an L.A. tourism expert on how the coronavirus has impacted the city.
  • Mike Roe is taking a closer look at the galleries the Academy Museum will have when it opens in December (please, let's be back to normal by then.)
  • We're talking to a historian about the history of Navy hospital ships like the USNS Mercy that's docked at the Port of L.A. to treat non-coronavirus patients.

THE PAST 24 HOURS:

L.A., California, The World: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Sunday announced 663 new cases and 15 new deaths. There are now more than 5,940 total cases to date in L.A. County and 132 deaths. The U.S. is reporting more than 331,000 cases, and the worldwide count has surpassed 1.2 million.

California Kids: Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed an expanded executive order intended to keep essential workers working by providing childcare and after-school programs for their children. In L.A. County, it's now been been more than two weeks since foster kids have been unable to visit their biological family — those in-person meetings were suspended by the court to minimize the spread of COVID-19. And check out this virtual school assembly the LAPD put on for students.

Safety Measures: Riverside County this weekend took one of the state’s strictest measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 by banning all gatherings with non-household members and ordering all residents to wear face coverings outside. If you have any doubts about why you need to cover your face, listen to what this data scientist told us.

The Federal Response: President Trump doubled down Sunday on the suggestion that people should consider taking an anti-malaria drug that has not been proven to be an effective treatment for coronavirus.


YOUR (MUCH-NEEDED) MOMENT OF ZEN:

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was closed to the public on Palm Sunday. James Francis prayed outside the gates.

(Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

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

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