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Newsom Says He's Scaling Back His Health Care Plans. Here Are The Arguments Against
In January, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled ambitious proposals to help him achieve his goal of getting every Californian health care coverage. But then the novel coronavirus swept in, decimating those ambitions.
The state has already begun draining its $21 billion rainy-day fund to help with the coronavirus response, and Newsom now says he has no choice but to scale back his initial $222 billion state budget proposal.
But Democratic lawmakers, local health officials, advocates, and lobbyists say this is no time to abandon a health care overhaul, and that proposals to expand coverage and access are even more pressing because of COVID-19.
Among the arguments and demands on the governor:
- Advocates and lobbyists want Newsom to stick with the existing proposals, such as protecting people from getting hit with surprise medical bills. They also want him to expand coverage even more and increase state subsidies for insurance.
- Doctor groups are asking the governor to provide relief for health care providers who have lost income due to declines in patient revenue.
- Organized labor is asking him to assist businesses so they don't cut health employee health benefits.
- County behavioral health directors argue the state must fund more mental health and substance use disorder treatment because the need is greater today, especially for students who can't attend school and for those who have lost homes and work.
- Some Democratic lawmakers argue that the workers providing us with products and services and the food we eat may not have insurance, and that represents a risk to all of us. Sen. Maria Elena Durazo of L.A. argues for expanding Medicaid coverage to unauthorized immigrants over 65. And Sen. Richard Pan of Sacramento notes that "every person who can't get health care and gets sick could potentially spread the disease to more people."
- But other Democratic lawmakers acknowledge they must reimagine their health care agenda, including state Assembly member Phil Ting of San Francisco, who says "we're going to have to be very disciplined."
Although Newsom has sought to quell the spending push by health advocates, he said Saturday that health care remains a top priority and he's "committed" to adopting reforms within California's budgetary constraints — even if it might not happen this year.
Mayor Garcetti: Face Masks Required At Midnight; Shelter Animals Finding Homes Is 'Off The Charts' Numbers
Mayor Eric Garcetti tonight announced new rapid testing for those in assisted living facilities, talked about the mandatory face mask requirements going into effect at midnight, and provided other updates on the city's response to the COVID-19. You can watch the video above and read the highlights of his daily brieing below.
CORONAVIRUS TESTING & WHEN WE CAN LIFT RESTRICTIONS
The mayor said that the city hopes to, in the next few days, have a better idea of the timing for lifting some coronavirus restrictions, based on what they're seeing around the world.
More than 4,000 people were tested for coronavirus in L.A. County today, which is a new record, Garcetti said. Some 30,000 people have been tested so far, with the aim to test 60,000 by the end of next week.
Garcetti said that the city cannot regulate the prices being charged by private companies for tests, but added that he hopes that the national government will either:
- Make tests free for everyone
- Or, at least, free for those whose employers won't pay for them.
Following statistics showing a higher rate of death from coronavirus among the African American community, Garcetti said they have doubled the testing capacity at Crenshaw Christian Center in South L.A..
THE LATEST L.A. CITY CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
- 227 new positive coronavirus cases in the city
- 3,587 total cases — a 7% increase from Wednesday
- 25 new deaths — the third highest daily toll so far
- 223 total deaths — a 13% increase since yesterday.
FACE MASKS REQUIRED STARTING AT MIDNIGHT
Face coverings become mandatory at midnight tonight, with Garcetti saying that both shoppers and workers will have to wear face coverings at any open:
In addition, face coverings are required for both drivers and riders in rideshares and taxis, and for delivery service and construction workers.
Garcetti outlined these new rules hours after workers at 30 fast food restaurants across California walked off the job to demand safety and health protections from their employers. The mayor reminded employers that his new city ordinance requires protections for workers, including face coverings.
HIGH ANIMAL ADOPTIONS & FOSTERING
The city is consolidating its animal service care centers, Garcetti said. Starting Monday, the West Valley and North Central centers will be closed, with the animals there moved to one of the city's other four locations. The reason this is possible, Garcetti said, is that last month, 307 animals were placed in foster care, 919 were put in homes, and 752 were placed with rescue partners — numbers Garcetti described as "off the chart." He said that they encourage people to adopt, though he noted that there is a long line of people who want to foster.
INCREASE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CALLS
The LAPD has reported an increase in domestic violence calls, and approximately 90 victims have been turned away from domestic violence shelters since the pandemic began, Garcetti said. People are typically housed there for 30-45 days, but people aren't able to move through there into different living situations. Rihanna's foundation and Twitter's Jack Dorsey are co-funding a $4.2 million grant to provide shelter, meals, and counseling for 90 domestic violence victims per week for 10 weeks, Garcetti said, expressing his thanks.
INCREASED GARBAGE PICK-UP
As people stay at home, many have seen greater amounts of garbage piling up in those homes. Garcetti announced that the city will temporarily be providing additional garbage and recycling pick-ups from the city's 750,000 single-family homes, as well as apartments serviced by the city's sanitation department. If you have extra garbage, you can meet the sanitation trucks, refill your black and blue bins, and the workers will take that as well for no additional charge.
RESOURCES FOR HOMELESS AND THE ELDERLY
The city has ordered 35,000 masks that they can distribute to homeless people, Garcetti said. The 300-plus sanitation stations for the homeless are moving from being restocked weekly to being checked daily.
Garcetti announced that they are deploying a rapid mobile testing team to assisted living facilities. Those facilities can request testing at coronavirus.lacity.org/assistedliving. More than 100 employees and seniors were tested Wednesday at the Motion Picture & Television Fund nursing home, following news of COVID-related deaths there, with another 60 tested Thursday.
CELEBRATING HEALTH CARE WORKERS
To celebrate health care workers, Garcetti asked city residents to open up a door or window at 8 p.m. and applaud health care workers. The city will be lighting up buildings blue in their honor, including L.A. City Hall, the L.A. Convention Center, LAX, L.A. Live, the Coliseum, the Music Center, Staples Center, and Banc of California Stadium.
MORE CORONAVIRUS UPDATES
With Easter this weekend and Passover ongoing, Garcetti said that while people shouldn't gather, he encouraged people to connect with services online.
Last Thursday, the city began distributing $1.2 million in grocery gift cards — in four days, they were all distributed, with 10,000 families helped, Garcetti said.
Garcetti encouraged people to access county resources if they need help accessing food, including food delivery from CalFresh.
California Child Care Providers Can Prioritize Essential Workers
California is expanding its subsidized child care program to include more children of essential workers who can't work remotely.
The California Department of Education issued new guidance outlining how providers should prioritize the enrollment of new families through June 30.
Here is the order of priority:
- Children from “at-risk” populations, including survivors of domestic violence.
- Families of essential workers who don't exceed the current income eligibility level. Families qualify for subsidized care if they make at or below 85% of the state’s median yearly income, which for a family of three is $69,620.
- Families with children with disabilities on individualized education programs and/or individual family support plans with early learning and care.
- Families of essential workers who make more than the current income eligibility level.
One limit is that there is currently no additional funding for subsidized care that was already in short supply.
“The CDE is working with the Administration to identify additional funding to support increased subsidized access to Emergency Childcare,” the guidance reads.
Los Angeles County and several child care organizations have collaborated to create a hotline, 888-92CHILD (922-4453), and a website where essential workers can get information about services near them.
“There was this new sense of urgency, ensuring our first responders, our health care workers and others who don’t have the luxury of working from home right now, that we all make sure we come together to support them in meeting their child care needs,” said L.A. County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo.
The county is also working with several organizations to secure supplies like diapers and funding for essential worker parents who pay for child care privately.
- Governor Approves Child Care Aid For Essential Workers
- Everyone Should Wear A Face Mask, Except Kids Under 2 (It's A Suffocation Risk)
- 'Essential' Child Care Workers Struggle To Balance Family Needs, Safety
At Risk For Coronavirus? He'll Shop For You For Free
This week is a critical one in the battle against the novel coronavirus, with public health officials urging all of us to not only stay home, but to avoid going to the grocery store if possible.
For those of us who need to stock up, heeding that advice means finding someone to shop for you.
And while a growing number of shopping businesses are popping up in communities throughout Southern California, Nigel Chisholm of Ojai has been doing it for free.
Since mid-March, Chisholm, 58, has been offering to grocery shop for Ojai residents most at risk of contracting COVID-19.
The local wine bar owner said when the pandemic shut his and nearly all other businesses in town, he began searching for a way to help vulnerable people.
On a drive to Los Angeles an idea popped into his head: Why not offer free grocery shopping and deliveries to local people who -- because of health challenges or age – can’t or shouldn’t shop for themselves?
Chisholm’s venture has been a godsend for Debbie and John Perry, both of whom are over 65.
“You give him a list before 10 a.m. and then he shops between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” Debbie Perry said. “And then he delivers it with gloves and mask on and it’s just been great.”
Chisholm even takes the time to teach his new clients how to use online payment apps. That way, he said, he can collect the grocery money without the need for a cash exchange that could spread the virus.
Health experts say the growing number of grocery shopping services like Chisholm’s are an important tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Telehealth Helps First Responders Weed Out Non-Emergency Coronavirus Calls
The Los Angeles County Fire Department is using telehealth to reduce non-emergency hospital trips during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new service allows paramedics to video call a nurse practitioner or doctor to triage and treat non-urgent cases, rather than sending them by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. Fire Battalion Chief Roland Sprewell said his department is getting lots of calls from residents worried they have the coronavirus.
“Understandably a lot of people are frightened right now and may think that something that’s a simple cold is worthy of being transported to an emergency room,” Sprewell said.
The remote health care provider can even call in prescriptions for a patient, he added.
“To date, the program has diverted many patients who otherwise would have gone to an emergency department, keeping those beds available for those who really need them,” Sprewell said.
LONG-TERM CHANGES TO EMERGENCY RESPONSE
Funding for the program, which was launched in late March, came from the county's Quality and Productivity Commission. Sprewell said the program was already in the works, but when the coronavirus hit the focus changed.
“I think it's going to revolutionize what we do here, as pre-hospital care providers,” he said. “It’s going to leave a lot of those hospital beds in the emergency room for those who are truly suffering the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and allow other patients the ability to be seen elsewhere.”
Similar mobile integrated health programs, known as MIH, have been launched in other states to help separate and treat non-virus-related calls and direct resources to patients who may be infected. They also help reduce the chances of spreading the virus to first responders.
- Diary from the COVID Frontlines: 'The Edge Of The Pandemic'
- Doctors Fear For Their Health As The Coronavirus Surge Looms
- Have A Question? We Will Answer It
LA County Cases Surpass 7,900; 25 More Deaths
As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to hit Los Angeles County, pulic health officials shared that there have been 25 additional deaths and 425 additional people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the area.
In the last 48 hours, the county has reported 1,045 new cases, bringing the total so far to 7,955. Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. County Public Health director, stated that her office has confirmed 20 new cases among the homeless and the death of a staff member at a homeless shelter.
Here the additional latest numbers:
- 223 total deaths
- 2.8% increase of the mortality death
- The total number of confirmed cases in institutional settings has risen to 716
- In institutional settings, 343 people with COVID-19 are residents and 373 are staff
- 51 residents who live in institutional settings have died
- 155 institutional settings reported cases:
- 47 cases in jail facilities (six inmates and 41 staff)
- 11 cases in state prisons (8 inmates and 3 staff)
- 2 in juvenile facilities (both staff)
- As of April 8, over 38,300 people have been tested in L.A.County
- 287 people have tested positive in Long Beach, and 94 people have tested positive in Pasadena
Ferrer stated that the country does not declare an outbreak in an institutional setting unless it consists of 3 or more cases, but as we continue on she said we will have outbreak situations at almost all such settings.
Data on the race and ethnicity of those who are hospitalized and dying is not complete, but officials are working on a report with that information which will be issued every week.
Ferrer stressed as well that as long as the stay at home order is in place and people wait for their test results, you should not wait for a confirmation that you’re positive to begin self isolation. From the time you’re tested, as you await results, isolate yourself completely from everyone, including in your household, because it takes 14 days for the virus to incubate.
LAUSD, Teachers Agree To Distance Learning Ground Rules — Schedules, Grades, Video
This year, no students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will receive a lower overall grade than they had in March.
That guideline is part of a labor deal announced today between LAUSD and its teachers union. The agreement formalizes how the district will operate so long as the coronavirus forces campuses to remain closed — which very well could be for the rest of this school year. (For now, LAUSD campuses remain scheduled to be closed through May 1.)
United Teachers Los Angeles shared full terms of the deal. Here’s some of what jumps out:
- Teachers will provide instruction for, on average, 240 minutes — that’s four hours — per day. Planning time, training and faculty meetings will count toward these minutes. “We know that the vast majority of our members are doing way more than the average,” UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl said in a briefing on Facebook Live (see video above). But he added that the agreement acknowledges many teachers need time to care for their own children, elderly parents or sick family members: “Life happens.”
- Teachers should set regular schedules and stick to them. The idea is to “avoid scheduling conflicts.” The deal also codifies LAUSD’s earlier call for teachers to hold three regular “office hour” sessions per week.
- Students' grades can still go up, but they can’t go down. Elementary students will not receive lower final grades than they had on March 13; secondary students, no lower than they had on March 31. (Other districts are adopting similar hold-harmless grading policies following guidance from the California Department of Education.)
- Live video instruction = not mandatory. “Many of our members are already using live video,” Caputo-Pearl said on Facebook Live — but ensuring that live videoconferencing with students didn’t become mandatory was a huge issue for the union. Many union members are concerned about privacy and hackers on videoconference platforms.
- Special education. UTLA and LAUSD agreed to ensure that legally-protected learning plans for students with special needs “are implemented to the maximum extent possible [or feasible].” The deal also acknowledges the need for “flexibility” in how these services are delivered. (Many parents of kids with special needs say services have simply stopped.)
The agreement also covers issues of pay — including for substitute teachers — and evaluations.
LAUSD officials issued a joint statement with the union saying, “Our shared goal is to help students continue to learn and support students and families most in need.”
Diary From The Coronavirus Frontlines: ‘It’s Getting Pretty Scary And Pretty Overwhelming’
“Diary From The Coronavirus Frontlines” is an ongoing series of dispatches from health care workers.
I spoke with an ER doctor at a downtown Los Angeles hospital, right after he stayed an extra three-and-a-half hours beyond his shift on Tuesday.
He stayed because the COVID-19 patients who came into his ER were really, really sick.
“It wasn’t the volume of the cases, it was the acuity,” said the doctor, who requested anonymity so he could speak frankly without fear of repercussions at work.
Overall, he said the volume of patients in his ER is down by about half, as people continue to stay home. But a higher ratio of patients are being hospitalized.
“The admission rate is just skyrocketing, and the amount that need to be admitted to a higher level of care, having more ventilatory support, is increasing by the day,” he said.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the doctor said his hospital would admit about 13% of patients who came into the ER. But now, he said, the admission rate has gone up closer to 20% or 30%.
While there’s a delay in getting test results for coronavirus, the doctor said he can now recognize a COVID-19 case when he sees one.
“The cases are extremely similar. The X-rays are extremely similar, the overall presentations, the vital signs, the laboratory, the diagnostic testing is extremely similar -- it’s almost like following a recipe,” he said. “It’s pretty eerie.”
The ICU at the doctor’s hospital is filling up, and he said more wings are being converted to accommodate patients.
“It’s getting pretty scary and pretty overwhelming. And for the clinicians, it is mentally, emotionally, physically draining. I am just absolutely exhausted,” he said. “And this is the beginning.”
He hoped that people continue their social distancing.
“This is like a Hail Mary,” he said. “People are getting sicker in higher volumes, and it’s up to us to be responsible.”
- Diary from the COVID Frontlines: 'The Edge Of The Pandemic'
- Doctors Fear For Their Health As The Coronavirus Surge Looms
- Have A Question? We Will Answer It
High School Students Are Delivering Groceries To LA Seniors For Free
A group of enterprising Los Angeles high school students are now delivering groceries to seniors and other people at high risk of coronavirus complications. They're doing it through Zoomers to Boomers, a free delivery service created by a Santa Barbara high school student.
The service has branched out and is now serving L.A.'s Hancock Park and Koreatown neighborhoods.
11th grade Marlborough School student Mira Kwon was feeling helpless and wanted to mobilize her Gen Z peers. So she launched the Los Angeles branch.
"I came up with this idea when I wanted to help my grandmother. I dropped off groceries in her house and I saw her other neighbors, who are also the same age as her, and I felt really bad because I wanted to help them as well, and they didn't have someone like me to be able to drop off food," Kwon says.
She reached out to Zoomers to Boomers and brought the service to her area. Now, she hopes to branch out to greater Los Angeles.
To minimize contact, deliveries are left outside each client's home. No delivery fees or tips are required.
This isn't the only such service started by teens and young adults. Los Angeles sisters Leeat and Kayla Newman started a group called Shopping Helpers LA, which pairs a college-aged volunteer with a senior or someone who is immunocompromised to shop for and deliver their groceries.
"We decided, why not step up?" Kayla told CBS2. "It doesn’t have to be a big organization that does it. We can just start, two sisters at our house, making calls, spreading the word."
Shopping Helpers LA now has more than 300 volunteers who handle more than 100 requests per day, according to CBS2.
WATCH: Our 'No Panic Guide Live' Continues With Q&A On Rent And Evictions
Evictions are a critical issue during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite a moratorium on evictions from Gov. Gavin Newsom, renters are still worried about paying rent. For their part, landlords are wondering how to navigate a rapidly changing environment.
How is California dealing with this new reality? Join our investigative reporter Aaron Mendelson, who has been covering renter's rights and what life is like for people living at the bottom of the housing ladder and attorney Javier Beltran of Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.
They will also be answering your questions during our live Q&A.
Watch right here, at the top of the page.
Watch on Facebook Live (You don’t need a Facebook account to watch)
CHECK OUT MORE OF AARON'S REPORTING:
- Deceit, Disrepair and Death Inside a Southern California Rental Empire
- Chronically Ill And Facing Eviction During A Pandemic
- LAist Reader Pledges To Pay Rent Of Mother Facing Eviction
- Read The Letters SoCal Landlords Are Sending As Rent Comes Due In This Pandemic
- Landlord Demands ‘100%’ Of Stimulus Money For Back Rent; Later Says It’s Misunderstanding
See Some Of The 1,400 Anti-Asian Reports In The Coronavirus 'Hate Tracker'
- Being cut off by a motorist in a crosswalk at LAX with your family and accused of carrying the novel coronavirus.
- Getting a cup of coffee chucked at you while walking down the street in Mid-City and called "chink."
- Tailed by a driver for a block in Larchmont who's shouting COVID-19 conspiracies at you.
These are just some of the 1,400 reports that the Stop AAPI Hate online tracker has gathered since launching nationally several weeks ago. About a third of the reports came from California.
Not only are Asian Americans dealing with a dangerous pandemic like everybody else, some are also dealing with verbal and physical attacks, shunning and online harassment.
Manjusha Kulkarni, head of the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council in Los Angeles told us:
"What it tells community members is that they're not part of the fabric of America, that they are seen as subhuman."
We talked with a couple of the people from L.A. who submitted their stories to the tracker, which was created by several California advocacy groups.
READ THE FULL STORY:
White House Briefing: Anthony Fauci Says U.S. Needs To 'Continue To Do' Social Distancing
President Trump said more oil producers are "getting close to a deal" to try to put a floor under prices as demand for energy plummets amid the global pandemic.
Trump said at his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday that he'd just finished a conference call with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Russia and that he hoped they'd agree on a cut or another solution that would stabilize the cost per barrel.
"It's down right now — so low there'll be layoffs all over the world, there'll be layoffs in this country and we don't want that to happen," Trump said. "There's so much production nobody even knows what to do with it."
Trump blamed animus between Saudi Arabia and Russia over production levels and said he expected some kind of statement soon from them following another cut announced by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
INCREASED PRECAUTIONS AHEAD OF BRIEFING
The White House tested reporters attending the daily briefing on Thursday for COVID-19 as a precaution after a member of the White House press corps experienced symptoms after leaving the building on Tuesday and was awaiting test results.
That member of the press corps, who was not identified, tested negative for the virus, the White House Correspondents' Association announced late on Thursday.
Reporters and photographers in the close confines of the West Wing have been taking precautions, leaving many seats in the normally packed briefing room empty. Some have worn face masks.
The White House medical office takes temperatures of anyone entering the building to try to reduce the risk, and people entering the grounds to meet with President Trump or Vice President Pence are now routinely tested for the virus.
Trump and Pence and their wives also have themselves taken at least one test and been cleared by White House physicians.
NEW CDC GUIDELINES
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended on Wednesday new guidelines for essential employees who may have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus, including having temperatures taken before work, wearing face masks at all times and practicing social distancing as much as their duties allow.
While the United States is enduring a "very bad week" in the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say that efforts to reduce the amount of time that people spend with those outside their immediate households — physical distancing — are working.
Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force and a national expert on infectious diseases, on Thursday said projections for the death toll appear lower than originally predicted, based on real-life data about the number of new cases.
"That is going in the right direction," he said. "That means that what we are doing is working. Therefore we need to continue to do it. I know I sound like a broken record. That's good. I want to sound like a broken record. Let's just keep doing it."
Public health officials say that physical distancing and other countermeasures may mean the United States could undershoot a peak death toll earlier forecast at more than 100,000. Instead the pandemic could result in around 60,000 people killed — if the countermeasures remain in effect, authorities say.
Trump has said he is eager for the country to return to a degree of normalcy "soon" and has said he will take recommendations from medical experts to determine exactly when to lift federal physical distancing guidelines that have kept schools closed and many people away from work.
"We're going to follow the data," Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday of potential plans to try to re-normalize.
Fauci was asked what public health metrics or other data might inform those decisions. He avoided getting into specifics but said that the United States is so large that no one approach likely would work for every city or region.
"I don't think there are going to be benchmarks that are going to be consistent form one to the other," he said.
New York City, for example, the nation's worst-hit area, likely will require a much more stringent approach than, Fauci suggested, Midwestern or mountain cities.
Fauci and other officials are beginning to assess now how to recommend a plan to permit Americans in some places to start to return to work, reopen their businesses and go back to school, potentially. It isn't clear when they might submit those recommendations or how soon they might be adopted.
RECOGNITION OF THE MENTAL HEALTH CONSEQUENCES
Trump and other White House officials sought to recognize that the damage caused by the coronavirus disaster goes beyond those killed or sickened in the pandemic.
"This is taking a tremendous toll, mentally, on a lot of people," Trump said.
Everyday life for millions of Americans has been ripped apart by public health countermeasures, especially the social distancing guidelines that have prompted so many people to stay home and avoid social contact.
That has had ripple effects for the economy — some 17 million people are out of work, further compounding the complications to life during the outbreak — and precipitated other consequences including a "horrifying surge" in domestic violence, according to one report.
Trump and other White House officials met with mental health treatment specialists on Thursday.
Administration officials sought to draw attention to the "$425 million for mental health and substance abuse services" included in the recent relief legislation as well as what Vice President Mike Pence called an "expansion of tele-Mental Health services, and increased capacity of the Disaster Distress Hotline."
Pence urged people to hold fast and keep heart because statistics indicate that the mitigation measures are having their intended effect and helping to slow the spread of the virus.
"It's working, America," he said.
This article originally appeared on NPR.org.
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.
WE LOVE TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS
Self-Employed Aren't Yet Counted In The Soaring Unemployment Numbers
"We've got people working around the clock, including on Easter, trying to get as many things as possible out there."
That's what we heard from Loree Levy, spokesperson for California's Economic Development Department, which handles unemployment claims.
More than two million Californians have lost work in the wake of coronavirus-related business closures, according to new unemployment data released Thursday by the Department of Labor.
We take a closer look at those not yet counted in those statistics: The self-employed.
Frustrated freelancers are still waiting for a new filing process to come online, while state officials say they’re doing their best to keep up with an unprecedented surge in applications.
What We Know About Getting A Coronavirus Test In LA
Access to testing has been one of the biggest frustrations of the coronavirus pandemic — during those critical early weeks, testing was in short supply, leaving many without answers as to whether their illness was indeed COVID-19.
As the weeks have gone by, local officials have secured tens of thousands more tests and opened up additional locations around the region for people to go get tested. That's made testing gradually more accessible for people with symptoms.
Now, if you're in the county of L.A., you can apply online to get approved for a test — and you don't have to be in a high-risk group in order to get an appointment.
Things are changing day by day, so we made a guide that we'll keep updated on how to get tested for the coronavirus in L.A. You can read it below.
READ THE FULL STORY:
Gov. Newsom Defends Lending Ventilators To Other States; Californians With Coronavirus In ICUs Down 1.9%
Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered his daily update on California's response to coronavirus. You can watch the video above and/or read updates below.
LOANING OUT VENTILATORS
A month ago the state had 7,587 ventilators identified in the state's resources, Newsom said. Now that number is up to 11,747, he said.
He called lending ventilators to other states "the right thing to do" and the "responsible thing to do."
I think some people have expressed some concern about California’s willingness to extend a hand to New Jersey, New York, Illinois, DC, to Maryland, to Nevada, and to other states ... We thought it was the right thing to do. But I also want you to know it was the responsible thing to do, as American citizens, from a moral and an ethical imperative to save lives.
Currently, 31.89% of California's ventilators are being used within the hospital system, not including other ventilators in the state's storage facilities and ventilators that have been sent out in recent months.
He contrasted this use with that of personal protective equipment like most masks, which can't be reused — the other states have committed to returning those ventilators when they are no longer needed in their states.
It's possible to support other states because California has been both bending and stretching out its curve, Newsom said.
CALIFORNIANS IN ICU DOWN
According to Newsom:
- 18,309 Californians have so far have tested positive for coronavirus
- 492 have died — 50 of those deaths in the last 24 hours
- 1,132 people with coronavirus are in ICUs
- 2,825 people are in in hospitals
While the number hospitalized has risen 4.1%, the ICU number is a 1.9% drop, Newsom said — the first drop in the number of those in ICUs since the crisis began, though Newsom noted that it's just one data point.
HELP FOR HEALTH CARE AND NURSING HOME WORKERS
Vouchers and stipends are being extended to nursing home caretakers, Newsom said, with rooms at 150 hotels. This will allow them to stay closer to their patients and to avoid exposing their families, Newsom said, and reimbursements will be 100% for some low-wage workers. You can see the list of participating hotels at CalTravelStore.com. FEMA is helping to fund this program.
United Airlines, Southwest, Alaska, and Delta have offered free round-trip travel around the world for those participating in California's health care worker surge, Newsom said. So far, 86,516 people have signed up to be considered online.
MORE CORONAVIRUS UPDATES
The state still has a backlog of 13,900 tests, but the state was at 59,500 at its peak, Newsom said. There has been progress when it comes to antibody tests, which will help make determinations when it comes to community spread and immunity, Newsom said.
Discussions with both state and national legislators about relief for both renters and property owners are ongoing, Newsom said.
Newsom said that, despite concerns, the state's fishing season is not being canceled, but delayed. The reason is that some fishing areas were concerned they didn't have the hospital infrastructure to deal with an influx of people coming to fish during this pandemic.
The governor also encouraged people in abusive situations (or who know someone in an abusive situation) to reach out using the state's resources at COVID19.ca.gov. Other resources for help are also available on the website.
Long Beach School District Names Replacement For Outgoing Superintendent
Long Beach Unified School Board members have selected Jill Baker — an educator with a 28-year history in L.A. County’s second-largest school district — as the school system’s next superintendent.
Baker will replace Chris Steinhauser when he retires from LBUSD on August 1, according to a release from the district.
Steinhauser led Long Beach Unified for 18 years, a tenure of rare length for urban school superintendents these days.
Currently the district’s deputy superintendent, Baker “had widely been considered the frontrunner, as LBUSD has a history of hiring internally,” The Long Beach Post reported.
After joining LBUSD as a teacher in 1992, Baker has been a central office administrator in various roles for the last 14 years. She’s also a graduate of the Broad Urban Superintendent’s Academy.
Baker delivered a video message on Wednesday. Watch it above.
Facing Coronavirus, Courts Balancing Justice And Safety In Move To Video Hearings
How do you balance the demands of justice with the need to protect defendants, lawyers and judges from COVID-19?
Courts in the greater L.A. area and across the state have turned to an imperfect alternative: remote video proceedings.
The California Judicial Council now allows courts to conduct most preliminary hearings in criminal cases remotely, through an attorney or via teleconference.
Riverside County claims it’s one of the first in the state to go entirely remote through a video conferencing system called CourtCall.
L.A. County - the largest court system in the country - has started piloting remote access in a few courtrooms at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center and the Pomona Courthouse South, a courts spokeswoman told us.
Many L.A. courtrooms are closed, but some remain open for arraignments and other hearings.
That has prompted prosecutors and defense attorneys to take the rare step of joining the same side -- they’ve criticized the county for keeping some courts open and for not having enough distancing or cleaning supplies.
One deputy DA told us she starts off her mornings at the Compton courthouse by wiping down her table, her chairs, and the door handles with her personal stash of Clorox wipes. Then she passes the wipes around the room.
“We’re all anxious,” she said. “I feel like we’re doing work that we shouldn't be doing.”
And Nikhil Ramnaney, the president of the public defender’s union, said distancing at an in-person hearing interferes with a defense lawyer’s obligations, since an attorney can’t privately advise a client from six feet away.
“That's not what the Constitution envisioned when it discusses a valid and ethical defense,” he said.
That's one reason why Riverside County's move to all-remote hearings pleased public defender Paulette Norman.
"It was so impossible to keep social distancing" in court, she said.
COVID-19 Map: LA County Death Rate Rises Again; Nearly 8,000 Coronavirus Cases In LA County
Note on the data you see when clicking on a bubble: Confirmed cases include presumptive positive cases | Recovered cases outside China are estimates based on local media reports, and may be substantially lower than the true number | Active cases = total confirmed - total recovered - total deaths.
Editor's note: For the most recent updates, check our latest tracker post for Friday, April 10.
WHERE WE STAND
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.
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:
- World Health Organization
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- European Center for Disease Prevention and Control
- National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China
- Local media reports, local health departments, and the DXY
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 3:40 p.m. Thursday, the newspaper is reporting California has:
- 19,691 confirmed cases
- 538 deaths
If you hit a paywall on the L.A. Times full tracker, please consider subscribing. They have a $1 for eight weeks special.
At a press briefing Wednesday, L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer said that 131 institutions in the county have at least one case. Those include assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, shelters, treatment centers, supportive living, and correctional facilities. As of Wednesday, there are 596 total cases in these settings, including 314 among residents and 282 among staff.
Ferrer stressed that for the cases reported in institutional settings, the majority are not outbreaks. The county declares an outbreak only when there are three or more confirmed cases. As soon as a case is confirmed, a team from the county contacts the facility and often visits to review with staff the protocols that are in place to prevent spread, Ferrer said.
She said some entire facilities have been placed on quarantine to prevent spread, but she hopes the county will not see outbreaks so bad that they would require evacuation, as was reported Wednesday in Riverside.
Current as of about 3:42 p.m. Thursday:
- 7,955 cases
- 223 deaths
- 1,079 cases
- 17 deaths
- 1,280 cases
- 33 deaths
- 274 cases
- 7 deaths
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY
- 641 cases
- 20 deaths
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
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.
What's Next In The Case Against The 'Apostle' Of La Luz Del Mundo
An appellate court this week dismissed the criminal case against the leader of the Mexico-based religious group known as La Luz Del Mundo, or the Light of the World Church. Why?
It came down to a procedural issue: The appeals court simply said that because a preliminary hearing was not held for Garcia within the right amount of time — and he was incarcerated while he waited —the case is dismissed.
This is a due process issue, concerning the defendant's constitutional right to a speedy trial. The law requires that a preliminary hearing be held within 10 court days of the arraignment (what went wrong for prosecutors is a bit complicated).
But the case is likely far from over and Naason Joaquin Garcia currently remains behind bars, as he has been since he was charged last summer with child sexual abuse and human trafficking and held without bail.
Garcia has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.
We take a closer look at how we came to this point and why this case is likely not even close to being over.
Staffing Meltdown At Riverside Nursing Home
After 83 patients at a Riverside County nursing home had to be evacuated Wednesday when much of the staff failed to show up for two days, the county's top public health official had stern words.
Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said:
"Nationwide, all of our health care workers are considered heroes and they rightly are. … But implicit in that heroism is that people stay at their posts. I am concerned that this could rise to the level of abandonment no matter how justified their reasoning might be," he said of the absent nursing home workers."
Kaiser said it would be up to the state licensing board to investigate the incident.
We take a deeper look at what led up to the emergency situation at Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, where at least 34 residents and 16 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.
Morning Briefing: What Do We Have To Lose?
Ronny Chieng first came on my radar when he starred in a sketch on The Daily Show about cryptocurrency, asking the question everyone wanted to know about the new money but was afraid to ask: "What is it?!"
Now, in the wake of his Netflix special, Chieng, who was born in Malaysia, is weighing in on other pressing issues of the day. Speaking to Take Two host A Martínez, Chieng took on the coronavirus pandemic and where misinformation about the virus leads
"It can bring out the worst in people," he said. "A lot of ignorant comments disguised as reason. It all sounds very reasonable and very fact-based, but then when you kind of dig into it a little bit it kind of breaks down and is a little bigoted."
The conversation veered to President Donald Trump's former insistence on calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus," which Chieng noted would hurt kids of Asian descent more than anyone: "They don't know what's going on. They literally woke up one morning and suddenly there's a new thing that they're being teased about."
But it was when Martínez, drawing on a bit from Chieng's special, asked what an Asian president could bring to America, that their chat really rounded the bases and slid into home. Using a phrase that Trump himself recently employed to promote the unproven use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, Chieng asked, "At this point, do you have anything to lose?"
COMING UP TODAY, APRIL 9
Robert Garrova examines how COVID-19 is affecting kids with developmental disabilities and their families.
A mammoth effort is underway in L.A. County to shelter thousands of homeless people using up to 15,000 hotel rooms. It goes far beyond what Governor Newsom proposed last week, reports Matt Tinoco
Libby Denkmann looks at campaigning in the age of coronavirus.
Courts are supposed to hold many hearings remotely now. Emily Elena Dugdale reports that Riverside County is out front.
Farmworkers in Central California often lack health insurance, reports Jacob Margolis, so they're turning to local health clinics to get care.
Our reporters answer readers' questions about Census 2020.
A total of 84 patients are being moved from a Riverside skilled nursing facility after employees of the facility did not show up to care for sick patients two days in a row. Jackie Fortiér has the story.
An appellate court dismissed charges against the head of the La Luz Del Mundo church this week after finding prosecutors took too long to hold a preliminary hearing while Naason Joaquin Garcia remained behind bars. But the criminal case may be far from over. Aaron Schrank has been covering this since Garcia was arrested in L.A. this past summer and charged with child sexual abuse and human trafficking. He looks at why and how an already complicated case just became more complicated.
THE PAST 24 HOURS IN L.A.
L.A., California, The World: In L.A. County's worst day yet, 29 more people have died of the disease caused by coronavirus and 620 more have tested positive, bringing the county's total to over 7,500. There are over 18,500 cases in California, and the worldwide number has surpassed 1.5 million.
Systemic Inequities: African Americans constitute 13% of the U.S. population, yet represent 33% of Americans who have become sick enough from COVID-19 to require hospitalization.
Park It Elsewhere: Because a lot of people make it a tradition to visit the park on Easter Sunday, the city and county are shutting parks down completely.
Today, In Face Masks: Sharon McNary provides a tutorial on converting a cotton T-shirt into a brand-new face covering. California will acquire more personal protective equipment, including 200 million face masks
The More You Know: Local outposts of the Small Business Development Center are answering questions about federal loans most days at 3:00 p.m. The first iteration of the USNS Mercy, which recently docked at the port of L.A., was used during World War I and during the Spanish Flu in 1918; here's some more history about the ship. Long-term exposure to high levels of air pollution increases the risk of death related to COVID-19
Trying To Help: Federal Judge David Carter chastised L.A.'s response to shield homeless people from COVID-19 even as county officials announced a mammoth effort to shelter the unhoused in up to 15,000 hotel rooms. Nursing facility and home health care aides providing support to the elderly worry they may unknowingly transmit COVID-19 on the job. Your next power or gas bill should have a credit of $26. People struggling with addiction search for ways to cope when they can't meet in-person for 12-step programs and therapy sessions.
California Kids: The CDC recommends against putting face masks on children under the age of two. LAUSD's shutdown has prevented kids with special needs from receiving one-on-one assistance and other special education services, and nearly 90% of all California parents are worried their children will fall behind academically while their school campuses are closed. Child care providers who are still operating must limit the number of children in their care to no more than 10, and screen everyone for illness.
'Singular Figure' In U.S.-Japan Relations: That's how Irene Hirano Inouye, who led the Japanese American National Museum for 20 years, is being remembered. She died Tuesday at the age of 71.
Comedians And Musicians: Comedian and The Daily Show correspondent Ronny Chieng explains why President Trump calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" is so dangerous.
And Randy Newman wrote us a song for the times:
Stay away from me / Baby, keep your distance, please / Stay away from me / Words of love in times like these.
A Glimmer Of Hope: Public health officials advising the White House were cautiously hopeful that the U.S. may undershoot the worst-case predictions for coronavirus deaths as long as we keep up physical distancing and safety precautions like face masks and hand-washing.
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN
Our senior producer for KPCC's AirTalk shot this rainbow on Las Tunas Boulevard in San Gabriel. Fiona Ng, who recently told us about take-out hot pots, reports that her favorite Hong Kong food joint is on the left.
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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram