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South LA Hospitality Workers Get Free Farm Boxes

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Fresh vegetables are displayed at a Friday Farmer's Market in Monterey Park, California on September 29, 2017. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 1,000 low-income families in South L.A. are getting free farm boxes stocked with produce and eggs. It's the result of a new partnership between Los Angeles County and several local non-profits including SEE-LA, an organization that works to build sustainable food systems.

The recipients of these farm boxes are members of Unite Here Local 11, a union representing hotel, restaurant and other hospitality workers, many of whom have been laid off or furloughed in recent weeks.

SEE-LA is donating the boxes to the 1,100 families every Wednesday, starting today and continuing for the next four weeks.

The boxes contain a dozen eggs and a week's worth of seasonal produce provided by regional farmers. That typically includes five to seven kinds of vegetables, 10 pounds of oranges and berries. The boxes also contain information about public nutrition benefits and incentive programs.

With more than 2 million Californians filing for unemployment last week, the pandemic is taking an unprecedent financial toll on many residents, particularly those who were struggling before coronavirus. According to early data, most Americans who have received their stimulus checks are spending them on groceries and fast food. For people who live in areas without many places where they can buy fresh produce, even that is a challenge.

Prior to the outbreak, farmers markets often filled that void. L.A. farmer's markets have been required to accept CalFresh/EBT as a form of payment since 2013, providing low-income Angelenos with much-needed access to vegetables and fruit.

A couple weeks ago, officials cracked down on farmers markets after photos of shoppers crowding the one in Santa Monica went viral. Some farmers markets have since closed while others have limited capacity and begun enforcing strict social distancing guidelines.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas hopes the farm box program is a double-win — helping farmers who would normally sell their produce at public markets while feeding Angelenos who are struggling to put food on their tables.

"This partnership is meant to ease the burdens of families across South Los Angeles, providing them with healthy food options that they can cook at home," he said in a press release. "In turn, local farmers have the chance to distribute their produce and keep their businesses afloat."

SEE-LA normally operates three nonprofit farmers markets in South L.A. — at the MLK Outpatient Center, the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and the Central Ave Market. The organization has partnered with five of the farms they usually work with to fill the boxes.

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Self-Employed Will Have To Wait Two More Weeks To File For Unemployment

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A framing art gallery is closed in Venice Beach, California during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus on April 01, 2020.

Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that 2.7 million Californians have now filed for unemployment benefits over the last four weeks. Many have been out of work for a month or more due to the coronavirus.

But some, including the self-employed, are still waiting for their chance to file.

Gig workers, freelancers and self-employed people were made eligible for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program under the federal coronavirus aid package. But California’s unemployment office has not yet created an online portal for many of those workers to apply for benefits.

Labor Secretary Julie Su said in a Facebook Live video on Tuesday that the department still needs two weeks to get the system online. But once it’s ready, she said applicants will start to get payments within 24 to 48 hours.

“We know that what you need is the money in your pocket,” Su said. “What we wanted to do was be able to set up a process by which you would apply and get the money really quickly. And we are going to be able to do that.”

For those who’ve been frustrated about not being able to reach the unemployment office to get their questions answered, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that call center hours are being expanded. Phones will now be answered between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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Here Are Garcetti's 5 Pillars For Reopening LA's Economy

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti laid out five key strategies the city will follow in order to lift the stay-at-home order and get the local economy running again.

Garcetti announced the strategies tonight as part of his regular updates on local efforts to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and they closely align with six similar strategies announced by California Gov. Newsom yesterday.

1. Widespread virus and blood testing: So far public health officials have relied on what's called a virology test. That's the uncomfortable nasal or mouth swabs we've heard about (or experienced). These tests can confirm whether someone is actually infectious with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, whether or not they have symptoms, Garcetti said. These tests are vital for tracking sick people in real time in order to trace contacts or instate quarantines and isolation. A second type of tests are called serology or blood tests. These tests rely on blood drawn from a finger prick or a syringe to detect the presence of antibodies. Someone who has antibodies for the coronavirus has likely already been sick and may be immune. Broader blood testing can help public health officials understand the full scope and spread of the disease, including those who were asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms. This form of testing is still in the works, however, and the county has partnered with the University of Southern California and Lieberman Research Worldwide to study it. Garcetti said they hope to have results soon.

2. Real-time disease surveillance. To detect new outbreaks faster, and hopefully prevent them, test results need to be tied to a surveillance network so that COVID-19 can be tracked in real time, Garcetti said.

3. Rapid, aggressive response. More workers will need to be trained to supplement the work of public health officials so that the city and county can more quickly respond to potential outbreaks discovered through testing and surveillance. These workers will be able to help isolate new cases, trace and communicate with contacts, and quarantine people who have been exposed and who are not yet immune.

4. Increase hospital capacity. "This pandemic has laid bare our hospital bed shortage. We shouldn't have to scramble like this here in Los Angeles, in California," Garcetti said. While state and local officials have taken steps to secure beds and generally kept pace with the increased demand, Garcetti said "we need a national push" to grow the capacity in intensive care units, emergency rooms and personal protective equipment "before the next wave hits."

5. Ongoing research and development. Close collaboration and standardized data collection across local, state, and federal agencies, universities and labs will be needed to effectively develop treatments "not based on theories, but on actual clinical trials," that can then be shared with doctors and nurses on the front lines, Garcetti said.

So when will things reopen? Garcetti said he doesn't see large gatherings like concerts happening this year, but things could return to relative normalcy sooner than that.

"We don't know for sure that we would need a vaccine to get back to normal," said Neeraj Sood, a professor and vice dean at USC's Price School of Public Policy who's leading the study on serology tests.

If the number of infections goes down, and the city can quickly and aggressively test those who are sick, it's possible that then "frees up other folks to have more freedom in terms of their movement," said Paul Simon, chief science officer of the county’s health department and another lead in the study.

Garcetti also said he thought it was possible that we could see a return to sports of all kinds, from high school to professional, but they might be played without a live audience and athletes would likely have to be tested.

Here are some other takeaways from tonight's address:

  • Garcetti and Simon said no known infections have been traced back to the L.A. Marathon. As Simon points out, "you can't prove a negative — we can only try to acknowledge a finding, and we've not been aware of any clusters or outbreaks associated with the marathon."
  • L.A. is expanding a program that delivers emergency meals for seniors, adding capacity for up to 7,000 more people. If you need a meal, you live in the city of L.A., and you're 60 or older, you can begin calling tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 213-263-5226.

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Bill Nye Wants To Help You Understand The Science Behind The Coronavirus

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Bill Nye hosting the National Park Foundation's 'View-A-Thon' at Mashable in 2016. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for National Park Foundation)

Bill Nye, your favorite Science Guy, wants to help you understand the coronavirus in a new podcast miniseries. As part of his regular podcast, “Science Rules! With Bill Nye,” he’s running a three-month series — two episodes a week — dedicated to exploring and fact-checking the latest in pandemic news.

Are masks effective? How long does the virus live on various surfaces? These are the questions Nye is trying to help listeners navigate with the help of experts, be it an epidemiologist, economist or fluid mechanics expert.

“The thing that we also get into in detail is the mathematics of it, which fascinates me —this business of the reproduction rate, which is an epidemiological term for how many people you can give it to if you're infected," Nye said on KPCC's AirTalk.

Nye’s programs on TV and through his podcast have always served to help make science more accessible to the general public. And when asked if there could potentially be a silver lining with the pandemic — the public taking science more seriously — Nye gave an emphatic yes: “Exactly, my friend. That is, you have hit the nail on the head.”

“The first thing is, people will take science seriously, [because] nobody, nobody — [a] raving, crazed, progressive who wants two chickens in every pot for free, or [a] raving conservative who thinks everybody should have his own fire department and build his own sewer lines — everybody on either side of that spectrum and everybody in the middle does not want to get sick or die from this virus. Everybody shares that.

And everybody, I think, no matter how rabid a science denier you may be, you see the value of science in this case. You see the value of conventional medicine and the understanding and frankly, the mathematics, of public health. And so that's the first thing about this that has potential to be really good.”

Another silver lining he sees:

“The second thing is, we are going to see the benefits of not burning fossil fuels at the aggressive rate that we've been burning them. The last couple centuries, we are going to see the value of clean air and less traffic and fewer health problems associated with dirty air and dirty water — kind of by accident. And so maybe this will be the time at last when humankind decides to go renewable.”

Nye also talked about the latest projects from the Planetary Society and answered a six-year-old’s question about how lava erupts from a volcano. You can hear the full interview below.

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Film Festivals Are Cancelled. Now What?

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Filmmakers Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham at the Sundance premiere of their documentary "Crip Camp," later picked up by Netflix. (George Pimentel/Getty Images)

Hollywood’s biggest names won’t be boarding their private jets and flying to the French Riviera. The Cannes Film Festival has been postponed yet again, and may not even happen this year.

But an empty red carpet signals other problems.

Film festivals are also film markets, where sales agents try to find distributors for independently financed features. With the Cannes, Tribeca and South by Southwest festivals all canceled, it’s going to be hard for new movies to land deals and get to audiences.

So Hollywood sales agents are scrambling to find new ways to market their films and bring them to audiences hungry for new content.

READ OUR FULL STORY

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Trump Says The U.S. Is Past Its Peak On New Coronavirus Cases

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President Trump on Wednesday said that recent data suggest that the United States has made it through the worst of new coronavirus cases, as he seeks to reopen the pandemic-beaten national economy.

"The data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak of new cases. Hopefully that will continue, and we will continue to make great progress," Trump said at the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House Rose Garden.

Trump said that more than 3 million tests for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, had been completed.

He also said he would announce his path to reopening some states ahead of May 1. "These developments have put us in a strong position to finalize guidelines for states reopening," he said.

Trump's optimistic remarks come on the heels of a contentious week between the president and state governors, following an erroneous declaration earlier this week that he had ability to unilaterally decide when states would ease coronavirus restrictions.

"When somebody's the president of the United States, the authority is total," Trump said in a widely discredited speech on Monday. By Tuesday, he had reversed, saying he would guide the governors but allow them to decide when and how to re-open.

Wednesday's briefing comes after an Easter weekend of COVID-19 fatalities that launched the U.S. death toll to the highest in the world. Still, experts say that efforts to contain the virus seem to be having a positive effect, crediting social distancing measures for helping to slow the disease's spread.

The coronavirus epidemic has devastated the national economy, with some 17 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits in recent weeks.

Trump has said he wants to reopen the nation's economy as soon as possible and has announced a group of industry leaders dedicated to reigniting the country's business prospects.

This article originally appeared on NPR.org.

COVID-19 Map: 472 New Coronavirus Cases In LA County; Over 2 Million Worldwide

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Note on the data you see when clicking on a bubble: Confirmed cases include presumptive positive cases | Recovered cases outside China are estimates based on local media reports, and may be substantially lower than the true number | Active cases = total confirmed - total recovered - total deaths.


Editor's note: For the most recent updates, check our latest tracker post for Thursday, April 16.

Jump to: CALIFORNIA | WORLDWIDE | SOCAL COUNTIES | ANALYSIS

WHERE WE STAND

On Wednesday, L.A. County reported 472 new coronavirus cases and 42 new deaths, the highest in a single day so far. This brings the total number of deaths in the county to 402, as the fatality rate rises to 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:

IN CALIFORNIA

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 11:25 a.m. Wednesday, the newspaper is reporting California has:

  • 26,658 confirmed cases
  • 860 deaths

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If you hit a paywall on the L.A. Times full tracker, please consider subscribing. They have a $1 for eight weeks special.


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AT A GLANCE

On Wednesday, 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 reported Wednesday about 330 of 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. Public health officials cautioned on Tuesday to expect 1,000 daily cases in L.A. County as testing continues to expand.

(Courtesy of LA County)
(LA County)

As of the latest updates Wednesday:

LA COUNTY

  • 11,054 cases
  • 432 deaths

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

ORANGE COUNTY

  • 1,376 cases
  • 22 deaths

* More from Orange County

VENTURA COUNTY

  • 365 cases
  • 13 deaths

* More from Ventura County

RIVERSIDE COUNTY

  • 2,105 cases
  • 54 deaths

* More from Riverside County

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY

  • 977 cases
  • 31 deaths

* More from San Bernardino County

FLATTEN THE CURVE

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

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

HOW CALIFORNIA 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.

Support Groups For Black College Students Bridging Safety Net Gap

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Santa Monica College's Black Collegians member Nagmi Sharif leads an Instagram meditation session. (Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/LAist)

African American students are among the most vulnerable on community college campuses. The COVID-19 crisis is only making that worse.

Now, groups like Black Collegians at Santa Monica College and its umbrella organization, Umoja Community, are becoming an even greater lifeline for black students faced with tough choices about staying in school.

"It's going to sound kind of crazy, but I feel like [the crisis] is making us tighter," said LiDell Montague, Black Collegians' director of publicity, who's studying film editing at Santa Monica College.

"People may not have a job, people may not have that income that may come in, or food may be a little bit scarce, but I feel like we're uniting more as a team."

Frank Harris III, a professor of postsecondary education at San Diego State University, said that kind of close engagement is vital to keeping struggling students from dropping out.

"A student who doesn't have a community, who's not already connected in some way, could literally be kind of lost in the abyss right now, with no one to turn to, not sure where to go," he said.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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California Announces $125 Million For Undocumented Workers In Coronavirus Assistance

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In his daily update on California's response to coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced details on unemployment insurance, along with disaster assistance for undocumented workers who aren't eligible. You can watch the video above and read the highlights below.

DISASTER ASSISTANCE FOR UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS

California will be offering $75 million in direct disaster assistance for undocumented workers, Newsom announced, with an additional $50 million in philanthropy bringing the total assistance to $125 million. That comes in the form of $500 per worker, up to $1,000 per household, Newsom said, noting that 10% of the state's workforce is undocumented and don't benefit from the stimulus or unemployment programs.

About 150,000 workers will receive that benefit, according to the governor's office, and people can apply for that support starting next month. There is also no income-based testing, Newsom said, so those people will not have to give that personal information in order to receive the assistance. The grants being used to provide this assistance will be distributed through community-based organizations, Newsom said.

Immigrant advocates like Alexandra Suh, executive director of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, welcomed the state program and other attempts such as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s "Angeleno card" to help workers regardless of immigration status.

Suh said the financial aid program from the state would help line cupboards, but was not enough to cover the biggest expense for these workers: housing.

“We were in a deep, deep human rights housing crisis and homelessness crisis before the pandemic,” said Suh, who hopes state and local officials will also consider rent and mortgage forgiveness. “This situation has the potential to exacerbate it and make it even worse.”

LATEST CALIFORNIA CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

Over the last day, 63 Californians have died due to coronavirus, Newsom said, bringing the state's total deaths to 821. That daily total is down from 71 recorded the previous day. A total of 24,424 Californians have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of people hospitalized went up 1.5%, while those in ICUs went down 0.2% from the day before to 1,175. The number of people being investigated for coronavirus has also been trending down, according to Newsom.

As of Tuesday night, 12,200 additional tests were conducted in the previous 24 hours, Newsom said. The goal was to get to 10,000 tests per day by April 14, then to 25,000 tests a day by the end of the month, with exponential growth from there into May and June, Newsom said.

CALIFORNIA "SHORTCHANGED" IN SMALL BUSINESS LOANS

While Newsom declined when asked to comment on the amount received by California in comparison to Texas, Newsom did respond about the coronavirus small business loans received by the state.

"California has been shortchanged," Newsom said, adding that they're trying to figure out why that is.

About 5% of the total loans, 8.4% of the total dollars, have come to California, Newsom said. Meanwhile, he added, 1 in 7 Americans lives in California and the state makes up 11-12% of the nation's economy. Those numbers could change, Newsom said, noting that $100 billion of that money has yet to be distributed.

Newsom said that the needs of the Western United States need to be considered.

"Those phone lines open up for banks and establishments on the East Coast first, and with time, three hours rolls around, those things are capped," Newsom said.

EXTENDED UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE HOURS, STAFF

There have been 2.7 million Californians who have filed for unemployment insurance over the last four weeks, Newsom said. He announced that he'd issued an executive order to extend the EDD's call center to being open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days per week, to help process the record number of calls related to unemployment, as they're still trying to keep up with the demand.

There are 600 additional state employees being redeployed by Monday to help with calls, with 1,340 people redirected to helping with those calls, Newsom said. While state employees were offered time off on Easter, 500 state employees refused to do so, processing around 200,000 unemployment distributions on that day, according to Newsom.

UNEMPLOYMENT FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED

Applications for the federal government's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program in California will open April 28, California Labor Secretary Julie Su said. The program provides unemployment assistance for the self-employed, independent contractors, employees whose work history doesn't qualify them for unemployment insurance, and those who've exhausted their unemployment insurance, Su said. The state is currently setting up the federal program for California, Newsom said, allowing the state to turn around checks in 24-48 hours.

"I think one of the most significant things we could do in the Unied States of America is reimagine our unemployment system," Newsom said.

The first payments will be out by April 30, Su said. Those payments are retroactive up to the first week of February for those who can show their employment was affected by COVID-19. The additional $600 per week from the federal government will apply to PUA payments starting March 29. The state will also process unemployment claims within three weeks, which is the same as it was before the pandemic, Newsom said.

MORE CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

Newsom said that California has a modest "work-share" program, but that he'd signed an executive order as part of expanding that.

When asked about whether gun stores are essential businesses, Newsom said that the state is continuing to defer to local sheriff's departments on the issue.

WHAT'S NEXT

Details on the state's plans for economic development to "jumpstart the economy" will be announced later this week, Newsom said. Newsom's chief economic and business advisor Lenny Mendonca resigned last week, and Newsom said that he didn't want to get into why Mendonca had to step aside at this time, but said that he continues to be a "rabid fan" on Mendonca.

Newsom also promised more updates on the six areas in the state's framework to reopen the state next week as part of weekly updates on that reopening.

Josie Huang contributed to this report.

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LA County Reports 42 New Coronavirus Deaths Today, 472 New Cases

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Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force has confirmed an additional 42 deaths today and 472 new cases, bringing the total number countywide to 10,496. The mortality rate for COVID-19 in L.A. County remains at 3.8%.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer called it "sad news," adding that today topped yesterday as the highest number of deaths reported for any single day.

"To all of you who have lost families and friends to COVID-19, you're in our thoughts and our prayers every day," Ferrer said. "I'm very sorry for your loss and I wish you all peace."

Ferrer noted that as of today, 60,000 people in the county have been tested for COVID-19 and 11% of those tests were positive. She added that the Public Health Department is continuing to open new testing facilities – 3 of them opened today.

"This will increase our testing capacity for symptomatic people who live anywhere in the county," she said.

THE NUMBERS

  • 24 people who passed away were over the age of 65 and 13 of the them had underlying health conditions
  • 11 people who died were between the ages of 41 and 65 and 7 of them had underlying health conditions
  • 1 person between the ages of 18 and 40 died. They also had underlying health conditions.
  • The county does not have information on 6 of the cases, as 3 of them were in the City of Long Beach and the other 3 were in Pasadena

RACIAL AND ETHNIC BREAKDOWN OF CONFIRMED DEATHS

For the 330 deaths where race and ethnicity have been identified, here is the latest confirmed breakdown:

  • 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% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity

OTHER KEY FIGURES REPORTED TODAY

  • 363 cases reported in Long Beach
  • 179 cases reported in Pasadena
  • 26% of all people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are currently experiencing homelessness
  • 1501 people are currently hospitalized with the virus. Of those, 31% are in the ICU and 19% on on ventilators.
  • The total confirmed number in institutional settings (like nursing homes, assisted living facilities, shelters, treatment centers, supportive living etc.) is 1764. That includes both staff and residents.
  • 133 residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have passed away. Those individuals account for 33% of total deaths in L.A. County.
  • 70 confirmed cases in county jails (15 inmates and 55 staff)
  • 34 confirmed cases in state prisons (23 inmates and 11 staff)
  • 32 confirmed cases among L.A. County Sheriff's Department staff (432 staff are quarantined, 250 have returned to work)
  • 16 confirmed cases among L.A. County Fire Department

Ferrer said that the County has assigned Department of Public Health staff to "increase support" to nursing homes and assisted living facilties and provide the employees of those facilities with personal protection equipment.

She added that she expects cases in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, jails and prisons to increase over the next few weeks. She thanked the healthcare workers and staff of these facilities for doing everything they can to slow the spread.

"These are settings where the job is particularly difficult, as many of the residents may have underlying health conditions," she said.

NOTES ON RE-OPENING THE ECONOMY

The Department of Public Health is working on widespread contact-tracing to identify and isolate anyone who has come into contact with infected individuals and immeditaly quarantine them.

Ferrer echoed what Governor Newsom said yesterday, pointing out that when businesses do re-open, the public will still be expected to practice social distancing measures. There will be limits, for example, on how many people can enter retail stores, museums and cultural sites when they re-open. Trails and bike-paths might need to be one-way when they re-open so that people can maintain a safe distance from one another. Temperatures may be taken to allow entry to some of these spaces.

"Our goal is to get as many people back to work as possible," Ferrer said. "But we also need to make sure that we do this in a way that protects all of the employees, employers and customers."

ANTIBODY TEST UPDATES

Ferrer said that last weekend, a random sample of 1000 adults were tested for COVID-19 using an antibody test, which determine whether or not someone has already been exposed to and/or infected with the virus.

This will be especially important for people who may be asymtopmatic.

Once these tests are available to the general public and approved by the F.D.A., the public health department will have a more accurate count of the number of people in L.A. County that have been infected.

Ferrer said that the county will continue these sample tests every three weeks, at least through the summer and possibly longer. She added that they are also planning to do more target studies of antibody tests on higher-risk groups, like healthcare workers and nursing home residents.

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2 Dead, Including A Child, After Being Struck By Metro Train In Monrovia

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Courtesy Los Angeles Metro

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Two people, one a small child, were killed today when they were struck by a Metro train while trying to cross the tracks in Monrovia.

The collision happened just after 8:45 a.m. this morning at the street-level crossing at California Avenue and Duarte Road, according to Ramon Montenegro, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Transit Services Bureau.

The fatal collision is now under investigation.

The Metro L Line (formerly the Gold Line) train had just left the Monrovia Station and was traveling east toward Azusa with 10 people aboard, Montenegro said. The Metro system has remained in service during the pandemic to serve essential workers who need public transit to get to their jobs.

Monrovia city firefighters responded and declared the two victims dead at 9 a.m., Montenegro said, describing them only as “a small child” and “an adult or an older juvenile.”

No other injuries were reported.

The sheriff’s bureau is assisting in the investigation, Montenegro added, which is being led by the Monrovia Police Department with more help from Arcadia police and L.A. Metro.

Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo said it appears the safety devices at the crossing were working properly at the time of the collision, but that will be determined as part of the investigation.

Service between the Monrovia and Duarte stations is delayed and has been replaced with buses.

LA Controller Forecasts A $231M Hit To The City's Bottom Line With Steeper Declines Coming

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L.A. City Hall (Chava Sanchez / LAist)

How hard is the coronavirus pandemic hitting city government?

Without a major infusion of cash from the federal government, things look fiscally bleak here in Los Angeles.

L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin released a revised revenue estimate today that forecasts a $231 million hole in the 2019-20 budget and an even bigger gap next year. The city’s 2020-21 budget could have a revenue shortfall “between $194 million and $598 million, depending on the length of the current shutdown and the speed at which the economy begins to recover," Galperin said.

“The City is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, and our revenue outlook is much darker than it was even a month ago. While these struggles are not unique to Los Angeles, our City is in a better position than most municipalities because of the diversity of our revenue streams and healthy Reserve Fund balance.”

His office also released these charts showing the forecast:


The full report is available on the controller’s website.


During his Tuesday evening briefing, Mayor Eric Garcetti said his team is writing a proposed budget "as we speak." It’s due to be presented to the city council no later than Monday, April 20. The budget needs to be passed by the council by June 1.

"There's no question though, that we are going to have cuts,” Garcetti added, before making a plea to Congress and the White House for more bailout money for local governments in the next round of COVID-19 relief spending.

MORE ON REVENUE WOES:

This developing story will be updated.

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Community Health Clinics Are Struggling Financially Since the Coronavirus Hit LA

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A woman waits outside of Community Hospital of Huntington Park on April 2, 2020. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Community health clinics provide health care to Southern California’s most vulnerable populations. But the pandemic is threatening their ability to stay afloat.

One in six Californians depend on community health clinics for basic care. And many clinics depend on government reimbursement through Medi-Cal to pay the bills.

But since the pandemic started, clinics have seen a huge drop in patient visits, and simultaneously, an increase in expenses.

Many are worried about how much longer they can keep their doors open.

READ MORE:

Community Health Clinics Are On The Frontlines, But The Pandemic Is Threatening To Wipe Them Out Financially

Instead of Federal Business Loans, LA's Street Vendors Get A GoFundMe

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Dolores Moctezuma, a local street vendor, in line to receive a cash card from Inclusive Action for the City. Chava Sanchez/LAist

The man you buy fruit from on your corner? The lady slinging your favorite tacos down the street? They're likely not eligible for loans from the federal government's coronavirus stimulus package, despite being some of L.A.'s most beloved small businesses.

That's because many of L.A.'s nearly 50,000 street vendors lack the proper documentation to apply for federal loans, operate mostly with cash, or are undocumented immigrants, according to Rudy Espinoza, director of the non-profit Inclusive Action for the City.

So others, including Espinoza's group, are stepping in to help.

READ MORE:

LA's Most Iconic Small Businesses Can't Get Federal Small Business Loans

Medi-Cal Providers Prepare For Surge In Enrollees Driven By Coronavirus Unemployment

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The state is also preparing for a potential avalanche of Medi-Cal enrollees. Tom Magliery/Flickr CC

As unemployment balloons, health insurers are working to manage an expected surge of new applicants to Medi-Cal, the state’s public health insurance program that provides coverage to low-income people.

John Baackes, CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan — the largest publicly operated health plan in the U.S. — estimates that 1.5 million to 3 million people will sign up for Medi-Cal before the end of the month.

“We’re looking at over a 10% to over a 20% increase in enrollment,” he said.

That's on top of nearly 13 million Californians already enrolled in Medi-Cal.

In response, L.A. Care Health Plan is adding more doctors to its network as quickly as possible. Baackes said they will rely heavily on telehealth to keep administrative costs down. He expects the new enrollees will only be temporarily on Medi-Cal.

“We assume these people will be a bulge in our enrollment, that over time as the recovery from the recession occurs, these people will go back to employment and get their health insurance through employment,” he said. “But they could be with us for a year or two.”

DOCTORS IN FINANCIAL STRAITS

Many primary care physicians and other health care providers may have halted or sharply reduced their practice due to coronavirus restrictions. L.A. Care Health Plan is considering providing advance payments or loans to providers but is waiting to see what the next federal relief package looks like, assuming there is one.

The California Department of Health Care Services, which runs Medi-Cal, is also trying to expedite applications for senior citizens and other populations considered vulnerable to COVID-19.

In March, the state of California put a 90-day hold on reviews of Medi-Cal renewals to make sure that individuals who are already enrolled can continue with their coverage. The move also freed up state workers to process the anticipated new enrollments that will come during this period.

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The New LA Etiquette Of Social Distancing And Your Latest COVID-19 Updates

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With the global health crisis comes a new set of behavioral questions. Chief among them: What do you do if you see someone not practicing social distancing?

The question came up on our coronavirus Facebook group and on our newsroom's public affairs show, AirTalk with Larry Mantle. As it turns out, opinions are as varied as the circumstances in which one might need to ask the question. Some folks said to just let your neighbors be; others suggested a stern talking-to.

But what’s at issue isn’t just the potential awkwardness of the moment. In a pre-COVID-19 world, American society treasured its individualistic, everyone-for-themselves ethos. Now, we’re being asked to stay home, in part, to protect the most vulnerable among us. Does that mean that our expectations for holding others accountable have changed, too? Do we carry more responsibility for one another's actions than we did before?

Let us know what you think in our Facebook group or on Twitter. Meanwhile, here’s today’s news:


Coming Up Today, April 15

Caroline Champlin interviews U.S. Representative Jimmy Gomez, the co-chair of Congress’ Oversight Committee, about the Trump administration's request for census-related deadline extensions.

For decades, the Black Collegians Club at Santa Monica College has provided in-person support to African American students on campus. Now, reports Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, COVID-19 is threatening those gains.

Libby Denkmann reports that a hoped-for Democratic win in the race to replace Katie Hill in CA-25 is looking like less of a sure thing.

Medi-Cal expects a huge increase in the number of people signing up come May 1. Jackie Fortiér has the story of how one major Medi-Cal provider in L.A. is preparing for the onslaught. She also explores what public health and disease experts think of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan for opening up the economy.

Stephanie O’Neill provides more reporting on the ongoing legal fight by advocates for juvenile detainees in L.A. County to release more kids — "as many as possible, as fast as possible" — from detention and protect them from the spread of COVID-19.


The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: L.A. County now has 10,047 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including seven crew members aboard the USNS Mercy and one resident at a Santa Monica board and care home for people with mental illness. There are over 24,000 cases in California, and more than 2 million worldwide.

New Day, New Rules: Effective immediately, face coverings are required in any grocery store or pharmacy in L.A. County, and stores can turn non-compliant customers away. But what do you do if you see someone breaking the rules?

Angelenos’ Bank Accounts: The Walt Disney Co. has furloughed 30,000 employees. County officials approved measures to protect L.A. renters. Stimulus checks will start hitting bank accounts soon, and we asked Eva Rosenberg (aka the Tax Mama) who can expect their Coronabucks soon, and who might run into some hangups.

California Dreamin’: If California meets certain official requirements over the next two weeks, Newsom will provide a timeline for lifting the stay-at-home order in early May. To help high school seniors who are a few credits short of a diploma, LAUSD is partnering with local community colleges.

COVID In The Courtroom: Gun stores have tried to fight orders to close, but lost twice. Two juvenile law advocacy organizations filed a petition requesting more juvenile detainees be released. Three Southern California churches that want to keep holding in-person services have sued Newsom and other officials, and a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Southern California claims that conditions at a San Bernardino ICE facility make social distancing impossible.

L.A. Restaurants: There's no target date yet for when restaurants in Los Angeles might reopen, but whenever they do, dining out will be a very different experience.

Beyond Streaming: For many people, there's never been more free time than during the pandemic. So what exactly are we doing with our daily schedules now that they've gone the way of handshakes and hugs?


In Non-COVID-19 News

Naason Joaquin Garcia, facing prison for rape, lewd acts upon a child and more, isn't simply the leader of the religious group La Luz del Mundo. The organization's millions of followers believe Garcia to be God's only living apostle in what they call the one true Christian Church — just like his father and grandfather before him. We examine why observers say the charges he faces may actually be strengthening his church.


Your Moment Of Zen

A coronavirus-themed burger is pictured at the Pizza Home restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam. LAist Food Editor Elina Shatkin got a moment of levity from the pic and shared it with the rest of the newsroom.

(Manan Vatsyayana/AFP via Getty Images)

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