Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):
Medical Expert: Gov. Newsom's 6-Part Plan To Reopen California Is Great, With One Caveat
Earlier today Gov. Gavin Newsom talked about how we, as a state, might be able to end the stay-at-home order we've been living under for four weeks now and return to some version of normal life.
He mentioned a couple of goals we'd have to achieve in order to make that happen, including a way to closely track potential cases and the implementation of strict guidelines to insure that schools, restaurants and other business could reopen while mainting proper social distancing. The transition, Newsom said, will not be quick or easy, and it will not be a return to the way things were before. But he remained cautiously optimistic. "This is one place where science, where public health — not politics — must be the guide," he said.
Jeremy Green, a professor of medicine and the history of medicine at John Hopkins University, approved of the plan, saying it was very well laid-out.
"I think [the Governor's speech] really helped all the listeners think through all of the work it would really take to begin to ease the lockdown and get back towards something more like a normal life," he said.
He did question, though, how the state would handle a return to normalcy without a vaccine.
"The question for me really is: What do we do in the absence of this vaccine or therapeutic entities emerging? ... How do we enter a state that is in between lockdown and liberty? ... How do we reimagine public spaces like workplaces and schools in a way that can restart activity while maintaining new forms of additional safety? This is really the challenge of imagining an open space that is not as open as we're used to."
Green also suggested that when thinking of "vulnerable" populations, we should broaden our definition to include not just the elderly, the incarcerated or the uninsured, but also those in the middle class who might have "fallen through the cracks."
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Trump Says He Will Halt WHO Funding, Pending Review
President Trump says he will halt U.S. funding of the World Health Organization while his administration reviews the organization's handling of the coronavirus crisis. He said today at a briefing in the White House Rose Garden:
"Today I am instructing my administration to halt funding of the World Health Organization while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization's role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus."
"As the organization's leading sponsor, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability," he said. "One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from the WHO was its disastrous decision to oppose travel restrictions from China and other nations."
It's unclear whether the president has the authority to unilaterally halt funding for an international institution such as the WHO. Congressional Democrats have argued he doesn't.
But The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the White House budget office has concluded Trump has several options to withhold the funds without congressional approval, including ordering agencies to reroute the money to other related purposes.
SHARP CRITICISM OF THE MOVE
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, criticized Trump's decision, saying "withholding funding for WHO in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century makes as much sense as cutting off ammunition to an ally as the enemy closes in."
Leahy criticized Trump for "not wanting to take responsibility as the deaths continue to mount," and added that while the "WHO should have been stricter with China and called for travel restrictions earlier ... it is performing essential functions and needs our strong support."
The president has been sharply critical of the WHO. In a press conference a week ago, Trump said the WHO was slow to respond to the crisis, and repeatedly said the organization has been "China-centric."
"They could have called it months earlier," he said then. "They would have known and they should have known and they probably did not. So we'll be looking into that very carefully."
The WHO has opposed travel bans, primarily due to their resulting economic fallout.
U.S. IS BIGGEST FUNDER
The U.S. pays significantly more than the assessed contributions in additional voluntary contributions. That 22% assessed contribution has been stable for years, but the voluntary contributions have fluctuated depending on global health crises and U.S. political priorities.
The WHO also receives funding from nonprofit organizations, foundations, companies, universities and governmental alliances. After the U.S., the next three largest WHO funders in 2018-2019 were the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gavi vaccine alliance, and the United Kingdom.
After Trump threatened last week to pull funding, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged world leaders not to politicize the pandemic, saying it would only result in "many more body bags."
"The focus of all political parties should be to save their people," Tedros said.
"No need to use COVID to score political points," he said. "You have many other ways to prove yourself."
This article originally appeared on NPR.org.
LAist had been making the daily briefings available with this 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 stopped streaming them this week after a contentious news conference that began with what was widely viewed as a campaign-style ad for Trump
Smaller Local Cities Fear They Could Lose Out On Federal Coronavirus Relief
Leaders of small and mid-sized cities, including Southern California cities, are worried they could be left out of federal bailouts for local governments in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here's why: The $2.3 trillion federal stimulus package passed by Congress last month, the CARES Act, includes $150 billion for direct help to state and local municipalities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. But to apply to the Treasury Department for aid, cities have to be one of 36 metros nationwide with populations over 500,000.
Los Angeles is big enough to fit that bill, but Southern California cities like Anaheim, Santa Ana, Bakersfield and Riverside are not. Their leaders have to appeal to Sacramento for a piece of the state pie.
Officials who are on the ground directing coronavirus response at the city level say that’s not good enough.
L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who’s president of the National League of Cities (NLC), said Tuesday during a conference call with mayors and members of city councils all over the country, “This is our message: we need direct funding for cities of all sizes.”
“It’s reprehensible and inexcusable that every other city that’s below 500,000 in population [is] currently not given direct funding,” Buscaino said.
Economic activity makes up a large chunk of city funding. In L.A.’s case that includes sales taxes, hotel fees, even parking tickets. Thousands of cities around the country are now turning to program cuts, furloughs and layoffs to deal with plunging revenue since coronavirus and social distancing brought local economies to a screeching halt.
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Tax Advice On Getting Your Stimulus Check: Don't Rush And Don't Lie
We talked to Eva Rosenberg (aka the Tax Mama) about who can expect their stimulus money soon, and who might run into some hangups. Among her pieces of advice:
"Don't rush. And seriously, if you've got questions, come to taxmamma dot com. We're answering questions for free. And don't lie! A lot of people are coming to me and asking me about illegal things they want to do. Don't do that. You know it's going to cost you later on, in the long run."
Rosenberg talked to A Martínez for our newroom's local show Take Two, which airs on 89.3 KPCC.
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Whenever LA Restaurants Reopen, They'll Be Half-Full
There's no target date yet for when restaurants in Los Angeles (and throughout California) might reopen but whenever they do, dining out will be a very different experience than it was before the coronavirus pandemic.
Restaurants that are still hanging on will likely be required to minimize the number of customers who can sit down to eat, which might mean rearranging or redesigning dining rooms. Servers and other workers may have to wear masks and gloves. Establishments might be required to check patrons' temperatures at the door.
Dr. Sonia Angell, the director of the state's Department of Public Health said:
"It's about going forward in ways that are healthy for all of us but it won't look the same. Restaurants will be likely to reopen but perhaps they'll have fewer tables, creating greater opportunity for physical distancing."
She was speaking at a briefing held today by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who discussed his potential timeline for loosening the statewide emergency order.
Newsom didn't give a specific date but said that if three things happen over the next two weeks:
- If hospitalization and ICU numbers decline
- If contact tracing infrastructure is ready
- And if personal protective equipment is available
Then, he will be able to provide a timeline in the first week of May.
Newsom also emphasized that whenever restaurants and other businesses begin reopening, the new normal will be anything but.
"You may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, maybe a face mask. Dinner where the menu is disposable, where half of the tables in that restaurant no longer appear, where your temperature is checked before you walk in to the establishment. These are likely scenarios as we begin to process the next phase and next iteration," Newsom said.
Face coverings will also likely become common in public, so it won't just be your waiter sporting one — you'll probably be wearing one, too.
Gun Stores Lose Fight To Reopen In LA — Again
Gun rights activists and gun stores have tried to fight orders to close during the coronavirus pandemic, but for a second time they've lost.
Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel denied a request by Turner's Operations for a temporary restraining order against the mayor’s executive order, which deemed gun stores "non-essential businesses," according to Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. Before that, federal court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. denied a similar request.
The city has also filed prosecutions against 10 more businesses that have refused to close despite the mayor's order and repeated warnings, Feuer said during L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's nightly update. That's in addition to four prosecutions that were filed previously. Feuer said there are more to come.
Los Angeles police have so far referred 79 businesses to the city attorney's office for misdemeanor consideration, but officials said the majority of businesses that receive warnings ultimately comply.
Feuer said the city has also been cracking down on reports of price gouging, which he defined as having a seller charge at least 10% more than what an item would have cost the day before an emergency.
As examples, Feuer said Amazon reported the identities of third-party sellers for the following:
- A package of 10 protective masks that sold for $39.99 before the emergency and $269.99 after the emergency was declared
- Hand sanitizer, which in bulk sold for $129 before the emergency, and after was sold for $249
Feuer said his office was also going after false and misleading claims about coronavirus, including sales of unapproved at-home test kits.
And city inspectors have visited more than 12,000 construction sites, issuing correction notices to 61 that were not in compliance with city orders, though none have been required to shut down so far.
Some other announcements from Garcetti tonight:
- Testing is now open to anyone with symptoms on the same day or next day — previously priority was given to older patients or those with underlying conditions, but capacity has increased enough to handle the volume
- Loosened parking restrictions will now last through May 15 — that means no tickets for street sweeping, expired licenses and the like. You can find more info on the rules here.
- Metro will run a modified Sunday schedule seven days a week, mirroring a regular Sunday with some additional rapid express and local buses to increase capacity
- 56,000 people applied for Angeleno cards for cash assistance in the first day of sign-ups, flooding phone lines and causing a jam. The mayor said the city has tripled its phone services and that if they receive more applications than cards available, they will be divvied up by an impartial lottery, so even if you don't get through until the last minute, you have the same chance as someone who applied on the first day. To apply, you can visit hcidla.lacity.org or call 213-252-3040 until 4:30pm Thursday.
Advocates To CA Supreme Court: Release More Juvenile Detainees
As jails and other detention facilities have been releasing some inmates and ICE detainees to protect them from COVID-19, critics and youth advocates say L.A. County has been slower to take similar measures with juvenile detainees.
That's why two juvenile law advocacy organizations — the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy at Loyola Law School and the Independent Juvenile Defender Program at the Los Angeles County Bar Association — filed a petition with the California Supreme Court this afternoon. They're seeking:
• Immediate release of certain low-risk youth detainees in L.A. County Juvenile halls and camps.
• Release of those with medical conditions that could put them at high risk of the disease.
• Expedited review and release of all other eligible detainees aged 12 to 23
• That the court order the suspension of new admissions into, and transfers between, juvenile halls and camps.
- Advocates Push CA's Top Court To Release More Juvenile Detainees
- '10 To A Room, A Few Feet Apart': Advocates Say L.A. County's Incarcerated Youth Are At High Risk
Santa Monica Facility For Mentally Ill Has Confirmed Coronavirus Case
A board and care home for people living with a mental illness in Santa Monica called The Manor has at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, according to L.A. County.
Keeping board and care homes safe from the new coronavirus poses some specific challenges.
For one thing, many of the thousands of board and care homes in L.A. County have a dozen or more beds, so physical distancing can be difficult.
And watching after people with a mental illness during the outbreak can be especially challenging.
“They might be having difficulty or trouble understanding the situation that we’re in and also -- in some cases -- following the rules,” said Dr. Curley Bonds, Chief Medical Officer for the L.A. County Department of Mental Health.
“Following the rules” could be things like staying at home as much as possible or frequently washing hands.
Bonds said the non-medical staff who run board and care homes are now being asked to wear masks and gloves, which he said can be “frightening” to clients who aren’t accustomed to seeing staff wear medical garb. What’s more, board and care homes don’t typically have personal protective equipment stocked, so facilities are scrambling to find these materials.
Bonds said so far, the home in Santa Monica is the only board and care with a confirmed COVID-19 case that he’s aware of. But he said he does have concerns moving forward.
“Any congregate living space has the risk of rapid transmission,” he said.
The Power Of La Luz Del Mundo’s 'Apostle' — Even Behind Bars
Naason Joaquin Garcia has been running the religious group known as La Luz Del Mundo from an L.A. jail cell for the past 10 months.
Last week, a California court of appeal dismissed child sex abuse charges against Garcia — claims Garcia denies. The appellate panel did NOT rule on his guilt or innocence, but tossed out the case on procedural grounds.
Prosecutors say they can and will continue to pursue the case. But followers like Nicholas Ynda, a pastor at the downtown L.A. temple, remain steadfast in supporting their apostle.
“It does bring notoriety to the church, of course, and it is possible that God could use that for the growth of the Church. If you look in the scripture, men of God have been talked about poorly, and God turns that around for good things often.”
La Luz del Mundo claims to be the largest non-Catholic religious group in Mexico. We have more on the church, Garcia and his deep ties to Los Angeles.
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Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Top 10K In LA County. 40 New Deaths 'Tragically...Highest For Any Single Day'
Los Angeles County has confirmed 909 new cases of coronavirus in the last 48 hours, bringing the total to 10,047 confirmed countywide. That includes 350 cases in the city of Long Beach and 164 cases in Pasadena (both those cities operate their own health departments).
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 40 new deaths Tuesday. She said:
“This is tragically the highest number of deaths that I've had to report for any single day."
The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 360 and notches the COVID-19 mortality rate up to 3.6%.
Ferrer said 25 of the people who died were over the age of 65 and 17 of those individuals had underlying health conditions. Nine people who died were between the ages of 41 and 65, and five of those victims had underlying health conditions.
Here are some other key figures reported today:
- In total, 1,433 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 33% are in the ICU, with 20% on ventilators.
- More than 63,000 people have now been tested countywide, Ferrer said, adding that 10,000 new tests were reported yesterday alone. Overall, 11% of all tests have been positive.
- The county reported that 109 deaths so far have come from institutional facilities, which include rehab centers, convalescent hospitals and nursing homes. That number represents nearly a third of deaths countywide, Ferrer noted.
- The county health department is currently investigating 199 institutional facilities where there's at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. Thirteen of those investigations were launched yesterday. The county reports that 850 residents at those facilities and 746 staff members have tested positive, for a total of 1,596 confirmed cases.
- There are 26 confirmed cases among people experiencing homelessness.
- There are now 64 confirmed cases in county jail facilities. Eleven inmates and 53 staff members have tested positive.
- There are 29 confirmed cases in the state prisons — 19 inmates and 10 staff — and four cases in juvenile facilities, all among staff.
Ferrer also said the county is working to provide more accurate daily numbers after finding some errors in yesterday's reports. She said they are working on a "much more informative grid about what's happening at the institutions that includes both information on staff and residents, both for those who are testing positive and those who are persons under investigation."
Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 292 of the victims. According to the latest available information:
- 16% African American [9% of county residents]
- 17% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
- 34% Latino or Latina [48.6% of county residents]
- 32% White [26.1% of county residents]
- 2% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity
Ferrer said that, despite chatter at the national level about moving to reopen the country, "we're not yet on the other side of this pandemic."
"For L.A. residents, this means we need to keep doing what we're doing," Ferrer said, noting the importance of continuing to stay home, practice social distancing and wearing face coverings while out in public.
"These tools are essential now, and they will remain essential as part of our toolkit until we have therapeutic medicines and the vaccine," she said.
Rent Assistance Effort, Rent Freeze, Eviction Protections Move Forward At Supes Meeting
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved measures to create a rental assistance program and expand eviction protections at a virtual meeting Tuesday morning.
The legislation also bars late fees and rent hikes in parts of the county and prohibits evictions based on unauthorized occupants or pets.
The board also approved several new tenant protection measures on Tuesday. Several strengthen the protections for renters in mobile home parks, including a moratorium on evictions of renters who can’t pay for the space rent for their mobile homes.
California Reveals 6 Parameters For Lifting Stay-At-Home Orders, Reopening Economy
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a roadmap this afternoon for the state's plan to lift stay-at-home orders, as part of his daily update on California's response to coronavirus.
"This can't be a permanent state. And I want you to know, it's not," Newsom said. "We recognize the consequences of these stay-at-home orders have a profound impact on the economy."
WHEN WILL THE STATE REOPEN?
If hospital and ICU numbers flatten and start to decline over a period of a few weeks, and if the required infrastructure to help with contact tracing is built, it could be possible to lift stay-at-home orders, Newsom said.
Newsom wouldn't give a specific date just yet, but said that if the hospitalization and ICU numbers decline over the next two weeks, contact tracing infrastructure is ready, and personal protective equipment is available, he will be able to provide a timeline in the first week of May.
Being able to do that relies on everyone holding the line on current stay-at-home orders and practicing physical distancing to bend the curve, Newsom said. He emphasized that it was important to avoid "pulling the plug" on stay-at-home orders and reopening too early.
6 METRICS FOR LOOSENING STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS
The state's framework for the next phase requires the ability to do six things, Newsom and California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell said. Angell laid out "key questions" for each of the indicators the state is looking at.
Newsom noted that decisions around lifting stay-at-home orders will be guided by local leaders, but the state will provide baseline guidance.
1. Capacity to expand testing, to address the tracing and tracking of individuals, including isolating and quarantining people, as well as supporting those who are positive or exposed. The effort will use technology and require more infrastructure, Newsom said.
- How prepared is our state to test everyone who is symptomatic?
- Do we have the ability to identify contacts of those who are positive to reduce further transmission?
There is no specific target number of tests they're looking at, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said, but they hope to be able to do tens of thousands of tests per day, and not just for those who are the sickest. Ghaly said the plan is: test, track, trace, isolate, and quarantine.
2. Protecting the most vulnerable from infection and spread, primarily senior citizens, as well as the homeless.
- Are older Californians and the medically vulnerable living in their own homes supported so they can continue appropriate physical distancing?
- Have we developed a plan to quickly identify and contain outbreaks in facilities housing older Californians, those living with disabilities, those currently incarcerated, and those with co-morbidities?
3. The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges. Excess capacity has been achieved at hospitals by postponing elective surgeries and other health care needs, Angell said, but we need to look at how to get back to providing that health care.
- Do we have adequate bed capacity, staff and supplies such as ventilators and masks?
- Can our health care system adequately address COVID-19 and other critical health care needs?
4. The ability to develop therapeutic drugs to meet the demand. This includes both Californian and national labs advancing research on the way to a vaccine. Newsom said that the hope is that a vaccine will be developed within the next year.
- Have we built a coalition of private, public, and academic partners to accelerate the development of therapeutics?
- Have we identified potential therapeutics that have shown promise?
5. The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to allow for physical distancing. Newsom called this aspect "redrawing floor plans," allowing people to stay six feet apart while inside these places. Even once orders are lifted, Newsom said to expect more teleworking and distance learning.
- Have we worked with businesses to support physical distancing practices and introduced guidelines to provide health checks when employees or the general public enter the premises?
- Do we have supplies and equipment to keep the workforce and customers safe?
6. The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary. Newsom said that we may need to go back and forth between stricter and looser interventions in the effort to fight coronavirus, with "more vigorous controls" coming back. This would be implemented as a response to data and health concerns.
- Are we tracking the right data to provide us with an early warning system?
- Do we have the ability to quickly communicate the need to reinstate these measures?
There have been teams assembled in each of the six categories within the framework that's been laid out, Newsom said, and discussions about these categories will be held with the public on a weekly basis.
THE FUTURE OF GATHERING IN PUBLIC, INCLUDING LARGE-SCALE EVENTS
"The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity, and we get to a vaccine," Newsom said.
Large-scale events that bring in hundreds or thousands of people are "not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations," Newsom said. However, he added, things like therapeutics, testing at scale and vaccine options could change radically during this time. "But when you suggest June, July August — it is unlikely."
Things will likely look different when stay-at-home orders are lifted, Angell said, as it will be a transitional phase:
- Restaurants will likely reopen with fewer tables to allow for greater physical distancing. Newsom said that your waiter may be wearing a face mask and gloves, your menu may be disposable, half the tables may be gone, and your temperature will likely be checked on your way in.
- Face coverings will likely be common in public — Angell noted that some areas have stricter face covering orders already.
- New opportunities will likely arise to support mitigation — this includes efforts to improve contact tracing, as well as isolating people as needed, Angell said.
The workforce for contact tracing in California includes the state's Check In initiative, which will be powered by AmeriCorps and Cal Volunteers, as well as reprioritizing existing state staff to work on those efforts, Newsom said. The state is currently vetting various apps, such as the effort announced by Apple and Google, to determine which will be the best for its needs.
This all comes alongside a record number of deaths over the last day —71 deaths, bringing the state's total to 758, according to Newsom. There has been a modest increase in hospitalizations — 3.6% — though there has also been an increase in testing, Newsom said. There was a small decline in those in ICU beds — 0.1%, with 1,177 people in ICUs. The number of people being investigated for coronavirus is also decreasing, Newsom said.
STARTING SCHOOL THIS FALL
Looking ahead to school this fall, Newsom said that the state is looking at the possibility of staggering the arrival of students. Students could be staggered into morning and afternoon cohorts, according to the governor, but this plan will require working things out with teachers unions and others.
Newsom is also looking at reducing physical contact, reducing gatherings at meals, and figuring out how kids can safely get dressed for P.E. Administrators are also considering how to hold gatherings like assemblies and recess safely when school resumes.
There will also be a need for massive sanitization and deep cleaning in schools, Newsom said. The team working on this will continue to be built out more robustly.
ENTERING PHASE 4: SUPPRESSION
Adjusting the state's response to coronavirus isn't like an on-off switch – it's more like a dimmer on a light, Newsom said.
Newsom warned that while there is light at the end of the tunnel, suppression could also be the most difficult and challenging phase of re-opening. He emphasized the need to rely on science to make decisions, as well as the fact that conditions are changing every day.
We are currently in the third phase of strategies for dealing with coronavirus, Newsom said. Here's how he laid them out:
- Phase 1: Containment. This includes bringing people back on flights from mainland China, including Wuhan, where the virus hit the hardest.
- Phase 2: Mitigation. As a response to the first cases of community spread of coronavirus, the state began to close down schools and institute a stay-at-home effort, alongside other efforts to practice physical distancing.
- Phase 3: Surging. This is the phase that Newsom said we are currently in. This includes surging resources for the hospital system and alternative care to meet potential demand, including more hospital rooms, health care workers, and protective gear.
- The next phase is moving from surge into suppression, Newsom said, which comes before herd immunity, and ends with the creation of a vaccine.
This next phase also includes disinfecting not just schools, but parks, playgrounds, benches, swings, sidewalks, streets, business common areas, offices, and more. One example Newsom provided of something that will need to change – pushing buttons in the elevator. He suggested providing antibacterial wipes.
Until people have built immunity, the state's actions have four goals, according to Angell:
- "Ensure our ability to care for the sick within our hospitals"
- "Prevent infection in people who are at high risk for severe disease"
- "Build the capacity to protect the health and well-being of the public"
- "Reduce social, emotional and economic disruptions"
Current stay-at-home efforts can't be sustained, Angell said, due to the impact on the economy, the impact on poverty, and the impact on health care. The state is working to improve the overall health and well-being of Californians, Angell said.
The governor said that Californians have bent the curve, which has led to coronavirus models changing.
Newsom said that officials recognize that there are major economic impacts of these orders, including household budgets, lost jobs, lost wages, and keeping businesses afloat.
The governor declined to comment on President Donald Trump's comments Monday about his authority over states on when to reopen the nation's economy.
7 USNS Mercy Crew Members Test Positive for COVID-19
Seven crew members onboard the USNS Mercy have tested positive for COVID-19 .
A U.S. Navy spokesperson said the crew members who tested positive are currently isolated off-ship. The people who had close contact with them also remain off-ship in quarantine.
"The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crew members and patients on board," the Navy said in a statement.
The 1,000-bed hospital ship came to L.A. to treat patients who don't have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, to ease the burden on the area’s hospitals.
Nearly a dozen hospitals have sent patients to the Mercy since its arrival in the Port of Los Angeles.
As of Tuesday, the Mercy has admitted 48 patients and discharged 30 since its arrival, treating them for gunshot wounds, heart failure and pneumonia, among other things.
The Navy said the COVID-19 outbreak among crew members has not affected the ship’s ability to receive patients.
Sal Mercogliano, a professor at Campbell University and a former merchant mariner, said hospital ships like the Mercy aren’t designed to treat viral diseases.
"The issue with doing that onboard a hospital ship is fairly significant because hospital ships are basically floating communities -- they produce their own water, they produce their own air, they produce everything they need onboard the vessel to be self-contained so they can operate far from land," he told Take Two's A Martinez last week.
ACLU Of SoCal Sues ICE
A lawsuit claims that conditions at the 1,940-bed Adelanto ICE Processing Center in San Bernardino County makes it impossible for people to remain 6 feet apart.
The suit, from the ACLU of Southern California and the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, asks a judge to order the release of enough detainees to allow proper physical distancing.
It's not the first time advocates have asked for a judge to intervene at ICE facilities.
Earlier this month, Federal Judge Terry J. Hatter ordered the release of six detainees with underlying medical conditions from Adelanto, and judges around the country have ordered similar releases. In Massachusetts last week, a federal judge has ordered the release of ICE detainees on a rolling basis.
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Churches Sue California And Local Counties Over Social Distancing Orders
Three Southern California churches that want to keep holding in-person services during the coronavirus outbreak sued Governor Gavin Newsom and other officials on Monday.
The suit, filed in the federal court for the Central District of California, also names state Attorney General Xavier Becerra and officials in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. It challenges stay-at-home orders issued in all three jurisdictions. None of those orders list houses of worship as critical infrastructure, where people are allowed to meet face to face.
“This isn’t about Easter egg hunts or entertaining children,” Harmeet Dhillon, the attorney representing the churches, told LAist last week, when she was threatening legal action. “This is about a core exercise of faith by people. I’m not a Christian, but this is the most important day for Christians around the world. To treat religion differently than a visit to Wal-Mart or a visit to the coffee shop, is impermissible constitutionally."
The suit names three churches: Church Unlimited in Indio, Shield of Faith Family Church in Fontana and Word of Life Ministries International in Riverside.
Few churches in California have refused to stop holding in-person services. On Easter Sunday, several churches held drive-in services.
You'll Have To Wear A Face Mask When Shopping Anywhere In LA County
You'll need to wear a face mask (or something that covers your nose and mouth) when you shop in any grocery store or pharmacy in Los Angeles County — and stores can refuse you service if you don't. The ordinance, which the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed this morning, goes into effect at midnight tonight (i.e. as soon as it becomes April 15).
The city of L.A. passed a similar order early last week and some cities, such as Pasadena, have followed suit. This directive brings some uniformity to the patchwork of face mask rules throughout the 88 cities in L.A. County.
"We can't step back from protecting those who are essential service workers," says supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the 2nd District and authored the ordinance. "We need to be there for them like they are there for us. They are basically frontline responders and shouldn't have to put themselves at risk because of working conditions."
Ridley-Thomas confirmed that this new county ordinance would supersede rules imposed by individual cities. "To the extent that it involves health and safety, the county's Public Health Department has jurisdiction," he said.
Under these new rules, grocery stores, pharmacies and food delivery platforms (i.e. the apps you use to order food) must either provide workers with non-medical grade face coverings, gloves and hand sanitizer or give workers money to buy these items. Employees, in turn, must wear face coverings and gloves while at work.
Grocery stores and pharmacies must also install plexiglass barriers at any point-of-sale station staffed by an employee and allow employees to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes.
In addition, grocery stores and pharmacies must provide shopping times dedicated solely for customers age 60 and over. Some stores have already been offering senior shopping hours but the new ordinance makes it a county-wide requirement. (The L.A. City ordinance didn't include this mandate.)
The order requires food delivery platforms to offer "no-contact" delivery options to to its customers, something most apps already do.
It also says grocery stores and pharmacies must allow drivers for food delivery platforms access to their restrooms "for handwashing purposes," another requirement that wasn't in the L.A. City order.
Food delivery apps must also require workers "to wash or sanitize their hands prior to handling any food for delivery." It's not clear whether that means they have to wash or sanitize their hands before they start their shift or before every delivery. Drivers at most food delivery apps are contract workers who don't clock into a central office so it's unclear how food delivery apps could ensure driver compliance with this regulation.
The ordinance will expire either when California Gov. Gavin Newsom lifts the statewide emergency order or the Board of Supervisors lifts the local emergency order it issued. Both went into effect on March 4, 2020.
COVID-19 Map: 42 New Deaths In LA County, More Than 400 New Confirmed Cases
Note on the data you see when clicking on a bubble: Confirmed cases include presumptive positive cases | Recovered cases outside China are estimates based on local media reports, and may be substantially lower than the true number | Active cases = total confirmed - total recovered - total deaths.
Editor's note: For the most recent updates, check our latest tracker post for Wednesday, April 15.
WHERE WE STAND
On Tuesday, L.A. County reported 472 new coronavirus cases and 42 new deaths reported, bringing the total number of deaths in the county to 402. The fatality rate remains at 3.8%.
The U.S. 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, which over the weekend passed Italy for the most confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the world. Also included are the nine other countries with the most reported cases of COVID-19. Italy, Spain, Germany, France and the United Kingdom 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
On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a framework of six parameters he says it will take to reopen the state's economy.
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 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, the newspaper is reporting California has:
- 26,588 confirmed cases
- 855 deaths
If you hit a paywall on the L.A. Times full tracker, please consider subscribing. They have a $1 for eight weeks special.
On Sunday and Monday, L.A. County public health officials gave a demographic breakdown of the deaths so far. [We have added overall demographic estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau for comparison.]
Here's what they're reporting Wednesday about the residents who died:
- 15% - African American [9% of county residents]
- 17% - Asian [15.4% of county residents]
- 34% - Latino or Latina [48.6% of county residents]
- 31% - White [26.1% of county residents]
- 2% - Residents identifying with other races
At a press briefing last week, L.A. County public health officials said they decided to extend stay home until May 15 after studying different scenarios for the spread of COVID-19 in the nation's most populous county.
As of the latest updates Tuesday:
- 10,496 cases
- 402 deaths
- 1,376 cases
- 22 deaths
- 365 cases
- 13 deaths
- 1,961 cases
- 50 deaths
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY
- 977 cases
- 31 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 CASES COMPARE
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.
LAUSD High School Seniors Can Get Credits From Community Colleges
Photo: Los Angeles City College is one of nine campuses in the Los Angeles Community College District. (Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/LAist)
When L.A. Unified schools Superintendent Austin Beutner announced on Monday that campuses would remain closed through summer, he mentioned a partnership with community colleges to help out high school seniors who are a few credits of short of a diploma.
We reached out to Ryan Cornner, vice chancellor for educational programs and institutional effectiveness at the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District, to get a few details. Here's what he said:
- LACCD will, for the first time, be able to reach out directly to LAUSD students to promote its summer online classes. Previously, students who wanted to enroll had to initiate the process.
- Students who don't have enough credits for a high school diploma can "get both the credit for high school and graduate on time and also credits with us,” Cornner said.
- The online summer classes will be free. "We have online tutoring available for students. All of our student support services are available remotely,” Cornner said.
- Sign-ups are taking place now. Summer instruction begins May 18.
Cornner recommends that LAUSD seniors reach out to their high school counselors for advice on choosing community college classes.
- LAUSD Campuses Will Remain Closed Through The End Of The School Year, Summer Session
- The University of California Just Made It (Temporarily) Easier For Students To Enroll
- Community College Leaders Worry COVID-19 Crisis Will Push Students To Drop Out
Coronavirus And The Thousands Of Small Stories In LA
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Most days, the biggest news about the coronavirus is told in numbers: Confirmed cases, deaths, ventilators, recoveries. And those numbers are vital — every case and every intubation and every death is somebody’s loved one, family member and friend.
In the midst of those big stories, though, thousands of little ones are playing out each day. There are the small business entrepreneurs in the San Gabriel Valley who aren't applying for government loans because the forms aren’t offered in their native languages. There’s the owner of a boba shop who’d worked hard towards a big reopening in March — and stuck with it.
There's advice for little kids courtesy of Sesame Street, there’s a social media game from the Getty that’s gained a cult following, and then, there are the small, daily interactions — with a face mask on, how do you simply say “hi”?
Today, we have these stories and more.
Coming Up Today, April 14
Matt Tinoco lays out the basic information that renters need to know in the time of COVID-19.
Aaron Schrank profiles Naasón Joaquín García, the "Apostle" of La Luz del Mundo (Light of the World) church.
Getting access to financial help is sure to be extra difficult for L.A.'s many small business owners without legal immigration status, reports Emily Guerin.
A Santa Monica board and care facility for people with mental illness has a COVID-19 patient. Robert Garrova asks, how hard is it for these types of places to operate now?
Community health clinics provide basic medical care to one in six Californians. Alyssa Jeong Perry looks at how badly their finances have been hit by the pandemic, and how they will survive.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the details about a partnership between community colleges and LAUSD to get seniors the credits they need to earn a diploma.
Never miss an LAist story. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters.
The Past 24 Hours In LA
L.A., California, The World: L.A. County now has 9,420 cases of the coronavirus. There are nearly 25,000 cases in California, and 1.9 million worldwide. L.A. reported its lowest number of new daily cases since March 26. Gov. Gavin Newsom will soon lay out a shared framework with Oregon and Washington for reopening California's economy, and President Trump — in an eventful news briefing —attempted to present a united front to the nation with the leading immunologist on the White House coronavirus task force
The SGV: Bubble Republic, a boba shop in the city of San Gabriel, is attempting a grand reopening in the midst of COVID-19. Some business owners in the San Gabriel Valley don't feel comfortable applying for government rescue loans because the Small Business Administration's website is only in English and Spanish.
Working With What We Have: What L.A. needs now is a robust new vocabulary of hand gestures that say, "Hello, neighbor. I care." Hundreds of buildings across Southern California were drafted into service during WWII; we're doing much the same thing to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, how do you confront people who are breaking the rules on social distancing?
Art Goes Interactive: We asked the friendly faces over at Sesame Street to share their advice on physical distancing for our younger fans. A quirky social media post by the Getty Center asked people to use household items to recreate the museum's collection; tens of thousands have responded.
The Ongoing Repercussions: About a month into Southern California’s official stay-at-home phase of the global health crisis, we are getting a better picture of the impact on traffic. LAUSD will not reopen its campuses this school year. Disney reportedly is furloughing 30,000 people in Anaheim (Disneyland, California Adventure, three hotels, and Downtown Disney) as of this Sunday.
In Non-COVID-19 News
With curbside grocery pickup and even medical appointments now standard in the time of social distancing, why not voting?
With their new album, L.A. quartet Chicano Batman added an extra layer of experimentalism to their already established retro soul sound.
In response to a query from an LAist supporter, we spoke to an expert about best practices when it comes to polling large groups of people.
The Census Bureau is asking Congress for more time to turn in data from the 2020 Census.
KCRW’s Matt Holzman, a longtime voice in L.A. public radio, has died of cancer at the age of 56. We pay tribute to his contribution to Los Angeles.
Your Moment Of Kindness
When it comes to greeting people, Vergilio Leon says face masks have changed things. He finds it's difficult to convey his expressions, but when he greets someone he'll throw up his arm and loudly say hello.
Help Us Cover Your Community
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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.