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LA Times Announces Closure of 3 Community Papers

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The old LA Times location in downtown Los Angeles. The paper moved to El Segundo when the newspaper was purchased by Patrick Soon-Shiong. (David McNew/Getty Images)

The coronavirus outbreak has torn another hole in local news coverage.

Three local newspapers that have served residents of Burbank, Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge for many decades are closing, and their journalists being laid off, amid a wave of cuts in news operations nationwide.

The Los Angeles Times on Thursday advised editors, reporters and photographers of the Burbank Leader, the Glendale News-Press and the La Cañada Valley Sun that they would lose their jobs and the papers would close effective May 16. Ten union journalists and four non-union positions are being eliminated. One of the reporters will transfer to the Times.

The papers were part of the Times Community News, North business unit of the Los Angeles Times. The Times itself is making cuts after a short period of rapid growth and reinvestment under Patrick Soon Shiong, its owner since 2018.

The Times already imposed cuts brought on by a drop in ad revenue during the COVID-19 outbreak. Non-union employees received pay cuts, furloughs and canceled retirement fund matching payments, said Anthony Pesce, president of the Media Guild of the West, which represents nearly 500 Times journalists.

The union would be bargaining with Times’ management over the layoffs from the community papers and other potential cost-cutting measures, Pesce said.

Southern California News Group, which operates 11 local newspapers including the Los Angeles Daily News, San Bernardino Sun and the Orange County Register, recently also imposed deep cost-cutting measures, including putting some 50 employees on week-long furloughs.

The Burbank and Glendale papers began in 1905 and were purchased by the Times in 1993. Their final editions will be out on Saturday. The La Cañada paper began in 1946 and was bought by the Times in 2005, and its last edition will be published April 23.

TRACKING LOCAL JOURNALISM CUTS:

The Federal Small Business Loan Program Is Out Of Money. Millions Haven't Even Applied.

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A framing art gallery is closed in Venice Beach during the COVID-19 pandemic on April 1, 2020. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

The email from the Small Business Administration appeared in my inbox yesterday at 5:40 p.m.: the Paycheck Protection Program was out of money.

The fund, which at $349 billion had seemed enormous at first, was, like so many coronavirus relief measures, not nearly enough.

“The SBA has processed more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days," the email read. "By law, the SBA will not be able to issue new loan approvals once the programs experience a lapse in appropriations."

PPP loans can be forgiven if they are used to keep employees on the payroll. They were enormously popular with small business owners whose livelihoods were upended by the coronavirus outbreak and restrictions put in place to contain its spread.

According to an internal SBA PowerPoint shared with LAist, more than 54,000 small businesses in California were approved for loans in the first 13 days.

But because interest in the program overwhelmed banks, many small business owners hadn't yet been approved for a PPP loan, or hadn't even been able to apply.

"I am crushed. I did everything right," wrote Heather Jeffcoat, who owns Fusion Wellness and Physical Therapy.

Her bank, Citibank, didn't even begin accepting applications until a week after the PPP launched. The day it did, she applied within the first 90 minutes, but was still waiting to find out if she was approved.

"I have been sobbing since finding out this news," she wrote. "I will very soon have to make the decision of breaking all my leases and closing my doors if [stay at home] restrictions are not eased."

Meanwhile, Congress is deadlocked over whether to dump more money into the fund immediately, or add additional guidance on how the money should be allocated.

GO DEEPER:

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Inmates With Sleep Apnea Asked To Disable Their Breathing Machines

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(Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

COVID-19 has wrought all sorts of changes in the way society operates -- here's one more: California's state prisons are asking inmates with sleep apnea to stop using CPAP machines that help them breathe.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is worried that the machines can spray droplets into the air, potentially endangering large numbers of inmates in prison dorms. It stresses that the program is voluntary, and that it won't disable CPAP's that are deemed "medically critical."

A loose fitting mask on a CPAP can raise the risk of spreading COVID-19 if the user has the virus, said Dr. Richard Castriotta, an internationally-known sleep expert at Keck Medicine of USC.

But the increased odds of a heart attack or stroke for someone who stops using the machine is a greater risk, he told us, adding that 70% of people who have a stroke have sleep apnea.

We spoke with inmates in Chino with sleep apnea who said they were told they could lose prison jobs or be transferred if they didn't agree to have their CPAPs disabled. A prison spokesman didn't answer our question about whether that's going on. He did say no inmates will be punished if they refuse to stop using the device.

READ OUR FULL REPORT:

Fighting Coronavirus, State Prisons Seek To Disable Inmate's Sleep Apnea Machine

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Mayor Garcetti Says Over 60,000 Angelenos Have Been Tested For COVID-19

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Speaking from a drive-through testing site in Crenshaw, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti acknowleged the increasing COVID-19 death count in L.A. and said the city is making efforts to expand testing for African Americans, who have been disproportionaly hit by the virus.

"As I mentioned last week, the coming weeks would be the worst weeks we face," he said. "And that certainly is bearing out."

The mayor noted that today L.A. experienced the highest number of deaths in a single day — 55 — the third day in a row that we've seen record deaths. But he said that doesn't mean the curve isn't flattening. It might just be "bending."

He said the city has not run out of hospital beds – L.A.'s general emergency hospitals currently have 1,558 available beds and over 1,000 available ventilators.

TESTING UPDATES

The mayor pointed out that the city has come a long way with increasing the availability of testing in multiple locations. On March 20, the city opened one drive-thru testing location in Elysian Park. On March 23, they opened four more sites.

Crenshaw Christian, where Garcetti spoke from the parking lot, has tested nearly 10,000 people to date, the mayor said.

The city now has the capacity to test 11,000 people per day, he said.

"By the end of today we will have tested approximately 61,000 Angelenos," he said. "In just one week we've doubled the number of people tested, and one week from today we will have tested 90,000 people."

He added that the Los Angeles Fire Department's Rapid Response Team has now tested over 600 residents in senior living centers, as well as the staff of those centers.

The mayor also acknowledged the racial inequality we're seeing in testing data, noting that although African Americans make up only 9% of the county's population, the latest data shows they account for 15% of deaths from the virus.

That's why the city has doubled the size of the Crenshaw testing site in South L.A., in addition to adding new testing sites at the Forum in Inglewood and at Charles Drew University in Willowbrook, near Watts.

Garcetti urged everyone who is experiencing symptoms to get tested immediately. Test signups can be found here.

MORE INFO ABOUT THE VIRUS

Garcetti introduced Professor Cynthia Davis, who developed the first mobile HIV testing in Los Angeles in 1991. Davis echoed public health experts, saying that we should be using universal precautions, meaning we treat everyone as if they were infected, in order to slow the spread of the virus.

Davis highlighted that COVID-19 is airborne, unlike other viruses.

"It took approximately 40 years to get to 1.1 million cases of people infected with HIV in the U.S.," she said. "With COVID-19, it has taken two to three months to reach 500,000-plus cases."

Davis also said we must be prepared in case there is a second or third wave of the virus in the fall.

SEAN PENN MADE A GUEST APPEARANCE

Sean Penn (yes, that Sean Penn) runs the nonprofit group CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), which Garcetti says has provided almost 70 staff members to run four of L.A.'s testing sites.

He made a special guest appearance at the press conference to praise the city's response to the virus, including the mayor and the L.A. Fire Department, adding that his organization is funded by donations.

LAFD Updates

LAFD has launched a new telemedicine program, which is commonly used by doctors but rare for fire departments. At emergency dispatch centers, doctors, nurse practicioners and physician's assistants are screening COVID-19 patients and other 911 callers via smartphone.

The program has been in development for two years but was accelerated when coronavirus started to make up a large percentage of emergency calls in L.A.

L.A. Fire Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said today is the eighth day of the telemedicine program. Both the chief and the mayor said that this program will ease crowding in emergency rooms and allow patients who have preexisting conditions to get medical help without the risk of entering a hospital.

AIR TRAVEL

"After 9/11, we saw the biggest drop in plane flights in our airport's history," Garcetti said. "About 55% of our plane travel dropped off, and it took 10 years to come back. Right now, 95% of our plane travel has stopped."

The mayor pointed out that LAX, the fourth busiest airport in the world, has taken big financial hits during this period. The airport will be receiving $320 million from the CARES Act and $29 billion in federal funds.

A condition of that federal funding, though, is that airlines are required to retain almost all of their employees through Sept. 30. The city is also working to help airlines with rent reduction or referral through June 30.

THE CENSUS

Garcetti urged Angelenos to fill out the census, saying that only about 40% of households in the city have responded. He called that rate "embarrassingly low."

He urged undocumented residents to participate.

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White House Unveils Path To Reopen U.S.

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Surrounded by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, President Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said today the nation has suffered greatly, but he believes the peak of the pandemic has passed and the time has come to prepare to get back to business. Trump said:

"To preserve the health of our citizens we must also preserve the health and functioning of our economy."

Trump told the governors they'd be able to re-open before May 1 if they wish — but he said he wouldn't lean on them about what to decide.

"Every state is very different," he said.

READ THE FULL STORY

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Study Warns: Expect '50-Year Floods' Annually By 2050

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Malibu's Carbon Beach, also known locally as "Billionaire Beach," will see significant sea level rise over time because of the effects of climate change. (James Bernal for LAist)

Researchers forecasting what flooding will look like as climate change continues to warm the Earth reached this dire conclusion:

Our society has yet to fully comprehend the imminence of the projected regime shifts in coastal hazards and the consequences thereof.

That new study in Nature Scientific Reports spredicts that dangerously high water levels we now expect to see only once every 50 years will instead take place:

  • Annually by 2050
  • Daily by 2100

READ OUR FULL REPORT ON THIS STUDY

MORE ON CLIMATE CHANGE:

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LA County Reports Highest Daily Death Toll So Far From Coronavirus

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PPE hangs near the entrance to a COVID-19 testing site in Echo Park. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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Los Angeles County officials are reporting 399 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 10,854 cases countywide. That includes 379 cases in the city of Long Beach and 184 cases in Pasadena (both cities operate their own health departments).

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 55 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. She noted:

This is the highest daily total we've reported after reporting high totals both yesterday and the day before — and it really reflects the devastating power of COVID-19.

The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 455, bringing the COVID-19 mortality rate up to 4.2%, Ferrer said.

Of those victims, 88% had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said, which underscores "the need for all of us to work together so that we make it possible for those who have underlying health issues to remain safe in their homes.”

Ferrer said 43 of the 55 deaths were people over the age of 65 and 39 of those individuals had underlying health conditions. Nine people who died were between the ages of 41 and 65, and all had underlying health conditions.

Here are some other key figures reported today:

  • More than 70,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and had the results reported to county health officials. Of those tests, 11% have been positive.
  • There are currently 1,587 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 32% are in the ICU, with 22% on ventilators.
  • In total 2,847 people who've tested positive for coronavirus in L.A. County have "at some point" been hospitalized, Ferrer said, which represents 26% of all positive cases.
  • The county reported that 158 of those who've died were residents at institutional facilities, which include rehab centers, convalescent hospitals and nursing homes. Those victims represent more than a third (35%) of all deaths countywide, Ferrer noted.
  • The county health department is currently investigating 209 institutional facilities where there's at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. The county reports that 1,050 residents at those facilities and 913 staff members have tested positive, for a total of 1,963 cases confirmed cases.
  • There are now 71 confirmed cases in county jail facilities. Fifteen inmates and 56 staff members have tested positive, though two of those inmates have reportedly recovered, Ferrer noted.
  • There are 50 confirmed cases in the state prisons — 39 inmates and 11 staff.

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 390 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 16% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 17% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 33% 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

Ferrer closed her portion of the media briefing by saying our collective efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus are working. She also gave the slightest glimmer of hope:

"Every day, we're getting closer to being able to see a time when more people are going to be able to go back to work, and there'll be more places that will be open. We're never going to be able to go back to exactly the way it was before COVID-19, but we are moving towards being on the other side of this pandemic."

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:
live

WATCH: Join Us For Our Latest No-Panic Guide Live: Caring For Kids 0-5 Years Old

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Isolated at home with kids age 5 or younger? Need some helpful advice?

Join our early childhood education reporter Mariana Dale and parenting expert Reena B. Patel for a conversation about caring for young children during the pandemic.

The event starts at 2:30 p.m. today.

Send us your questions in advance via email at events@kpcc.org or Twitter.

MORE ON CHILDCARE RIGHT NOW:

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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California Announces 2 Weeks Paid Coronavirus Sick Leave For Grocery Employees, Farmworkers, Others

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In his daily coronavirus press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced supplemental sick leave for workers in various areas of food service, along with other updates. You can read highlights below or watch the press conference above.

SICK LEAVE FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS

The governor signed a statewide executive order allowing for two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave for essential workers in food service who have contracted or been exposed to coronavirus, or been ordered to isolate or enter quarantine, Newsom said. This will apply to people like grocery store employees, fast-food employees, and farmworkers, according to Newsom. This is to protect those workers and the public, helping ease the pressure on workers who need money and might otherwise go to to work sick, according to Newsom.

The governor thanked grocery workers who've continued to work during the coronavirus crisis.

LATEST CALIFORNIA CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

There were 69 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 890, Newsom said. There were 1,191 patients in ICUs as of Wednesday, a 1.4% increase day-to-day. A total of 3,141 people were hospitalized, for a 0.9% day-to-day decrease.

WHAT'S NEXT

Newsom said that he'd just left a phone call with the president, vice president, Dr. Anthony Fauci, governors, and others about guidelines for lifting coronavirus restrictions that will soon be made public. He noted that there will be a phased reopening that varies by state based on local conditions. According to Newsom, President Donald Trump said on the call that the plan calls, in part, for more testing. A booklet with details on federal recommendations is being sent to the states, but Newsom said he has not yet received it.

The coronavirus assistance announced for undocumented workers Wednesday will not need to be paid back, Newsom said. He noted that, through its work with community organizations, the state will not be collecting personal information from workers who apply for that relief. He said local organizations will be tracking how that money is distributed.

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Nursing Homes Are Coronavirus Hot Spots. Pasadena And Long Beach Tighten Rules

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(Eitan Abramovich/AFP via Getty Images)

The Long Beach and Pasadena health departments are tightening restrictions on skilled nursing and assisted living facilities after a spate of COVID-19 deaths.

In Long Beach, nursing home residents account for 13 of the city’s 18 coronavirus-related deaths. In Pasadena, at least 14 people who either worked or lived at nursing homes have died.

Under the new rules, all nursing homes, even if they don’t have a confirmed case, must take their staffs’ temperatures twice daily and isolate residents. In addition, staff must wear face masks.

Due to close quarters and a population that’s especially susceptible to the virus, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have become hot spots for COVID-19 outbreaks.

Researchers are also finding that it can take 13 days for someone who is exposed to the coronavirus to develop symptoms, meaning health care workers could be spreading the virus even if they feel healthy.

TELL US IF YOU WORK IN OR HAVE A LOVED ONE IN A NURSING HOME:

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Why So Few Reports Of Child Abuse In LA?

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(Kevin Gent on Unsplash)

There's been a 40-60% decrease in the number of reports of suspected child abuse in L.A. County since the middle of March. At first glance that seems like good news. But it probably isn't.

It worries people like Bobby Cagle, director of the county's Department of Children and Family Services. Cagle told us:

"I've been doing this for in excess of 31 years and this is the first time we have seen a phenomenon like this where reports drop so significantly."

Since COVID-19 prompted the stay-at-home order, the people who typically report suspected abuse, like teachers, can't flag what they don't see since kids are out of school.

"These children are out of sight and that's really frightening,"said Wende Julien, CEO of CASA of LA.

READ OUR FULL STORY

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What Are LA's Eviction Rules During The Coronavirus Pandemic?

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A Los Angeles apartment building. (Photo: Sandy Gonzales via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

If you can't make rent, you're not alone. Nearly one third of all households renting apartments in the United States couldn't make rent on April 1, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It's a stressful time, especially if you're worried about losing your home. So, we've put together some basics to help keep your anxieties at bay.

Here's a short list of critical things to know if you're a California renter right now:

  1. During this emergency, you cannot be evicted from your home for not having paid rent.
  2. Evictions are on hold until 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, except those dealing with public health and safety
  3. If you cannot pay rent, you must notify your landlord in writing ASAP.
  4. Landlords can legally start eviction proceedings during this time, but the soonest a court might issue a summons would be 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency.
  5. Landlords cannot change the locks or remove your property from your unit.
  6. Only the local sheriff's department has the authority to legally lock you out.
  7. You are legally responsible to repay all rent missed during the pandemic after the emergency is over.
  8. Depending on where you live you may have a grace period of up to one year to pay it back.
  9. Do not sign anything from your landlord without first consulting an attorney.

GET MORE DETAILS IN OUR FULL STORY:

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Every Day Counts In The Effort To Keep California's Fresh Strawberries From Going To Waste

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Amparo Sanchez, 73, picks organic strawberries at Stehly Farms Organics in Valley Center in late March. (Ariana Drehsler/AFP via Getty Images)

The peak of California's strawberry season is about to hit in a major way. That means as many as 70 to 80 million pounds of berries will be coming off of plants every week.

But because coronavirus has decimated the markets that used to take them in, tens of millions of pounds of berries are about to go to waste. At a time when food waste feels particularly egregious, it's not completely clear what can be done.

Rick Tomlinson, president of the California Strawberry Commission told me:

"Everyone is working on this literally every minute of the day right now. We are down to weeks. That peak happens in May and in the next three weeks the crop is going to double. Every day counts here. Every single day."

READ MORE ABOUT THOSE PLANS:

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COVID-19 Map: Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Top 11K 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.


On Friday, L.A. County reported 567 new coronavirus cases and 40 new deaths. This brings the total number of deaths in the county to 495, as the fatality rate rises to 4.3%.

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.

EXPLORE ALL THE DATA:


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.

Morning Briefing: Looking Ahead To The Big Money Questions

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The immediate shock of the coronavirus pandemic is slowly fading, making way for another looming concern; the long-term economic effects, and what can be done to mitigate them.

L.A. city officials expect a gaping hole in revenues for this fiscal year and even more pain next year. Experts predict millions of Californians will need Medi-Cal at the same time that the crisis threatens to bankrupt local community clinics. The feds are giving out loans to small businesses, but many proprietors can’t access them or aren’t included – like L.A.’s beloved street vendors. Meanwhile, individual impact checks are supposed to be on their way, but it might be now, or it might be months from now.

There’s no easy way through this financial reality, and many Angelenos are simultaneously grieving profound loss. But L.A. has proved so far that we can come together and help one another – and that’s a decent place to start.


Coming Up Today, April 16

Reports of child abuse are way down since the COVID-19 lockdown. Robert Garrova explains why that's troubling to experts.

The USNS Mercy has only treated a few dozen patients, and a number of its crew have caught COVID, reports Emily Elena Dugdale. She also covers the state corrections department's confiscation of CPAP machines from prisoners who have sleep apnea, out of fear they could spread COVID.

Christine N. Ziemba has 13 virtual events for the weekend, including KCRW's annual pie contest, local music at Couch LA and Giant Robot’s latest art show.

As farm workers risk their lives picking strawberries, Jacob Margolis reports that tens of millions of pounds of popular berry could end up in the trash in the coming weeks.

Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.


A Message From Our Executive Editor

Our reporters and editors are working tirelessly seven days a week to provide you and your community with up-to-the-minute news on the coronavirus crisis here in Southern California.

Millions of readers have sought out LAist in recent weeks for our top-notch coverage but very few — so few it's statistically irrelevant — have donated to support us. It's true that you can still read our content even if you never give, but our non-profit model works because people like you believe in our mission and step up with financial support.

Thank you for giving what you can to keep our non-profit reporting powered by our community.

Megan Garvey


The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now almost 10,500 cases of coronavirus in L.A. County. There are more than 26,600 cases in California, and over 2 million worldwide. Barbara Ferrer, director of L.A. County's Public Health Department, spoke to us about the local effort to slow the coronavirus’ spread.

Health Care: As unemployment balloons, some experts estimate that 1.5 million to 3 million Californians will sign up for Medi-Cal before the end of the month, even as the pandemic threatens to bankrupt California's vast system of community health clinics.

Higher Education: Programs that support black college students are strengthening their efforts to ensure that the fallout from COVID-19 won’t affect their members disproportionately.

Money In The Time Of...: Many of L.A.'s street vendors are left out of federal coronavirus stimulus funds. A revenue estimate forecasts a $231 million hole in L.A.’s 2019-20 budget and an even bigger gap next year. California, along with some philanthropists, will be offering $125 million in direct disaster assistance for undocumented workers. If you just realized it's April 15, don't panic — the IRS has automatically extended the deadline to July 15 for federal income tax filers.

COVID In The Courtroom: Two juvenile law advocacy organizations have asked for unprecedented action by the California Supreme Court, including the immediate release of some youth detainees, an expedited review and release of others, the suspension of new admissions into juvenile facilities and a stop to transfers between facilities.

Cannes Can’t: With The Cannes Film Festival postponed indefinitely and the prospects for other fall festivals uncertain, Hollywood sales agents are scrambling to find new ways to auction their films.


In Non-COVID-19 News

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.


Join KPCC+LAist, Live

Are you isolated at home with kids age 5 and younger? Need some helpful advice on, well, just surviving? Join KPCC/LAist early childhood education reporter Mariana Dale and parenting expert Reena B. Patel for a live conversation about raising young children during a pandemic.

You can sign up for an event reminder (we'll send you a reminder 30 minutes before the event starts), watch on Facebook Live, watch on Livestream or watch on LAist.com.

Send us your questions in advance via email at events@kpcc.org or Twitter.


Your Moment Of Zen

A strawberry field in Carlsbad photographed in 2018 back when Chinese tariffs were the biggest threat to the crop.

(Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.