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Hurting SoCal Airports Get More Than $350 Million In Government Aid

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A Korean Air plane lands at LAX. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Southern California airports have seen traffic plummet by more than 90 percent due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

As part of the federal aid package known as the CARES Act, hundreds of millions of dollars will now be directed to help them.

Overall $10 billion is being assigned to help airports nationwide that have lost money during the pandemic.

Local airports normally rely on revenue from aircraft landing fees, leases from airport tenants, concession fees and parking. The massive reduction in passengers means that income has fallen drastically.

The CARES Act cash infusion will help airports cover debt service, payroll and other expenses.

LAX will get the most – more than $300 million.

John Wayne Airport in Orange County will get nearly $45 million.

Long Beach, Burbank and Ontario airports will each get between $18 to $22 million.

Santa Monica City Council plans to close its small airport in 2028. So it has been rejecting grants that might impose a requirement to keep operating. The city is still evaluating whether to accept $69,000 in CARES Act money.

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New LA Unemployment Data Shows Staggering Job Losses

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Ye Olde Taco House in downtown Los Angeles has temporarily closed. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

New state unemployment numbers out Friday capture the point when staggering job losses started to take hold in L.A. due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the latest report from California’s Economic Development Department, L.A. County’s unemployment rate jumped from 4.3% in February to 6.3% in March.

But the official stats don’t paint a full picture of local job losses, because they come from mid-March, before many businesses had fully shut down.

Researchers at USC are also surveying workers to get a more up-to-date measurement of unemployment. In their newest results, only about 45% of L.A. residents still had a job.

L.A. employment levels were down 16% since mid-March, compared to 10% nationwide.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Mayor Garcetti Says City To Provide Over 2,400 Hotel Rooms And 300 Trailers For At-Risk Homeless Angelenos

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti began his daily update by mourning 40 new deaths today in L.A., bringing the total lives lost in the city to 495, a 9% increase since yesterday. The mortality rate in L.A. County now stands at 4.3%. That's 43 times higher than the mortality rate of the seasonal flu (.1%), though as newer tests come online to get a better assessment of milder and asymptomatic cases, that rate is widely expected to change.

Garcetti strongly urged Angelenos to continue to stay at home this weekend.

"COVID-19 doesn't care how nice the weather is," he said.

THE NUMBERS

  • L.A. now has 1,551 general emergency hospital beds available, and 1,119 available ventilators
  • The city now has 30 testing sites, compared to 19 last week
  • About 67,000 Angelenos have been tested, with a capacity to test 12,000 people a day. The mayor urged everyone with symptoms to get a free test.
  • Only about 45% of Angelenos currently still have their jobs, according to the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social research. In March that number was 61%.

JOBS/HOUSING

  • An L.A. jobs site is currently being updated daily, with available positions in critical businesses like grocery stores and food delivery companies. Visit lajobsportal.org for more info.
  • The city is extending all housing department deadlines that are related to finding affordable and supportive housing.
  • The mayor emphasized the city's response to helping the homeless population locally. L.A. is providing porta-potties, hand-washing stations and testing for the homeless, he said.
  • The city will also be deploying on-the-street medical teams to provide rapid response to the homeless population. Those teams will help unhoused people find hotel rooms and/or shelters, he said.
  • Tonight the city is launching its first trailer program, which will be used to house homeless Angelenos who are high-risk and asymptomatic (over 65 and/or have chronic medical conditions). The trailers were given to the city by the state. The goal is to provide 300 trailers city-wide.
  • 2,400 hotel and motel rooms are now available for these asymptomatic, high-risk Angelenos. However, our reporting found that most of these rooms are still empty.
  • For those who are already sick, the city is currently negotiating with over 24 additional hotels. FEMA is reimbursing the city for many of those rooms.
  • The mayor urged hotel and motel owners to reach out to join the effort here.

MORE UPDATES

  • The city is opening a medical relief center at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It will now serve patients and free up hospital beds. The center has an initial 175 beds for patients who do not have COVID-19. "We pray for these beds to go unused," the mayor said.
  • Dr. Lydia Lam of L.A. County and USC Hospital will be the chief medical officer of the relief center at the convention center.
  • Over 454,176 applications were submitted for "Angeleno Cards," no-fee debit cards that will provide direct financial assistance to "the hardest hit families in our city," Garcetti said.

This Sunday, the mayor will give his annual State of the City address.

"I want you to draw on the power that you have to not feel powerless or lonely at home, but to feel powerful as part of this city of angels," he said, before taking questions.

This post is being updated live so feel free to re-fresh or come back for the latest.

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Use Telemedicine For Your Kids - But Take Them In for Their Shots

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(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

L.A. County Health Services has switched many kids’ checkups to telemedicine, but there are some services that can’t be provided over the phone, like the vaccines that start when babies are 2 months old.

“Kids receive a series of vaccines and boosters during that period that are believed to be the most essential to preventing infectious disease outbreaks in the future,” said Dr. Shannon Thyne, the head of pediatric services for the county.

Thyne worries that delays in vaccines now could lead to an outbreak of an illness like pertussis in the future.

Pediatricians are wearing masks for all visits to county clinics, and they’re offered to families too. Sick patients are routed through different entrances.

“We're trying to provide an environment that allows people to feel like they can safely come to the hospital when they need to,” Thyne said.

READ OUR FULL REPORT:

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Column: Where The People Going Hungry Are Finding Help

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On the Saturday before Easter, 300 people lined up in downtown Downey for food bank help. (Courtesy of Downey First Christian Church)

The weekly food bank at the Downey First Christian Church is one of few places that have been consistent sources for undocumented and mixed-status families in Southeast L.A. who have been left out of federal stimulus programs.

One advocate for immigrants told our columnist Erick Galindo:

“Our folks are also going without. They are going with reduced hours, with reduced salary. The soup kitchens and food banks that are helping keep folks from going hungry are a very important resource.”

READ HIS COLUMN

MORE FROM ERICK GALINDO:

Over A Third Of LA County Coronavirus Deaths Are 'Primarily' Residents At Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Sites

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A sign at the entrance to a COVID-19 test site at Carbon Health in Echo Park. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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Los Angeles County officials are reporting 567 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 11,391 cases countywide.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 40 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 495, bringing the coronavirus mortality rate up to 4.3%, she said.

More than a third of those deaths (36% as of today) have been "primarily residents who were residing in skilled nursing homes and assisted living facilities," Ferrer said, adding that health officials remain "extraordinarily worried" about the outbreaks in institutional facilities, which include nursing homes, treatment centers and jails.

She explained the challenge facing nursing homes this way:

"... we have many more skilled nursing facilities that have seen a significant number of cases within those facilities, and the people who are residents in those facilities are... often already in fragile medical condition, and a disease like COVID-19 both spreads more easily in a congregate living situation, and also can have devastating impacts on people with underlying health conditions..."

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 425 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 16% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 18% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 34% Latino or Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 29% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 3% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity

Supervisor Kathryn Barger also announced the county has launched a partnership with Airbnb "to provide free housing to up to 1,000 frontline workers fighting the spread of COVID-19." More information on that program can be found here.

Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • More than 74,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and had the results reported to county health officials. Of those tests, 14% have been positive.
  • There are currently 1,624 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 33% are in the ICU, with 20% on ventilators.
  • In total 3,014 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.
  • Ferrer reported the total number of positive cases among health care workers on the frontlines has risen to 1,441. Of the people infected, 38% are the nurses and 6% are doctors.
  • The county health department is currently investigating 228 institutional facilities where there's at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. The county reports that 1,215 residents at those facilities and 968 staff members have tested positive, for a total of 2,183 cases confirmed cases. Ferrer said 177 residents at those facilities have died.
  • There are now 77 confirmed cases in county jail facilities. Seventeen inmates and 60 staff members have tested positive, though two of those inmates have reportedly recovered, Ferrer noted.
  • There are 67 confirmed cases in state and federal prisons56 inmates and 11 staff.
  • Ferrer said there has been "a small increase" in the number of confirmed cases among individuals experiencing homelessness, though she did not provide the exact number (the number reported Thursday was 33). "The majority of the people who are confirmed as positive among people experiencing homelessness were unsheltered," Ferrer noted, "but there were 10 people who were sheltered, and they're now appropriately isolated and their close contacts are quarantined."

Ferrer noted that stay-at-home orders remain in place and encouraged residents to keep following the directives, including wearing face coverings for essential trips.

"COVID-19 — as you note from all the numbers I reporthas spread across our entire community," she said. "We need to continue to do all we can do to slow the spread and prevent as many infections as possible while we plan for our recovery."

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

More Calls For Release Of Youth Detainees in LA County

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A juvenile detention officer barks orders to dozens of teens in the early morning hours at Camp Afflerbaugh in this 2013 file photo. Grant Slater/KPCC file photo

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A coalition of youth justice advocates on Friday called on Los Angeles County probation chiefs to immediately release eligible, low-risk juvenile detainees in the county’s juvenile halls and camps to protect them from the spread of COVID-19.

During a Friday morning press conference, Kim McGill, an organizer with Youth Justice Coalition, said:

"Both the attorney general and the governor have issued orders that both probation chiefs and sheriffs have increased powers under the COVID-19 pandemic to release people."

California law gives the state’s probation officers and sheriffs greater authority during emergencies to release or move to a safer place of confinement any juvenile detainee or adult inmates without need of a court order.

In making their demands, juvenile justice advocates cited conditions inside the juvenile facilities that LAist first reported on April 3. Among the main concerns is that social distancing recommended for slowing the virus spread is not happening inside the youth facilities, where youngsters live, eat and sleep in close quarters.

A group of attorneys and child advocates filed a petition with the California Supreme Court on April 14 seeking the immediate release of eligible, low-risk detainees. You can read about it here.

The Best Non-Cheesy Self-Help Books To Read During Quarantine

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The cover of the book, "How to be Fine," by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer (Courtesy Harper Collins)

Sick of jigsaw puzzles and video conferencing? This weekend, I have some advice: work on becoming a better you.

For tips, I turned to my friends Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer, hosts of the podcast, “By the Book,” and authors of the new book, “How to be Fine.”

“I love being thankful,” said Meinzer, referencing the many books that recommend focusing on gratitude. “I know some of us aren't feeling especially fortunate, but there are still things to be thankful for and it reminds us that, as hard as life feels right now, there are so many people we have to be grateful for.”

Greenberg suggested a dive deep into comedienne Phyllis Diller’s 1966 book, “Phyllis Diller Housekeeping Hints.”

“My favorite advice is how to hide a dirty sink – keep it full of dirty dishes!” laughed Greenberg. “It's just full of fun tips where it's like, oh right, maybe I don't need to take myself that seriously. [It's helpful to] have a fun, jokey spirit when it comes to housework, because it can feel like the center of the universe right now.”

Personally, I’ve wanted to learn how to better stay connected with my friends and family (even before these stay-at-home orders). Greenberg pulled some advice for me from the e-book, “Pantsdrunk: (Kalsarikanni) The Finnish Path to Relaxation.”

“I was a few apple cider rosés in my own pantsdrunk experience, and I came up with a way to stay connected with friends,” she said, “If I want to tell someone I love them, but I'm not feeling creative or articulate, I'll find a stupid or very silly or maybe a sentimental GIF and just text it to them.”

Meinzer said a similar strategy came out of the book, “Bored and Brilliant,” by Manoush Zomorodi.

“Just write one sentence to people,” she said. “You don't have to worry about the greeting, the conclusion or the ‘how are you’s.’”

The conversation might not be deep, but it can take the pressure off of trying to think of something meaningful to say, in favor of simply staying connected.

Ultimately with any self-help book, though, trust your gut on whether the advice works best for you.

"Approximately two-thirds of self-help authors are men, and two-thirds of the readers are women," said Meinzer, "so not everybody is writing with somebody like you in mind."

Listen to the full interview below.

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WATCH: Join Us To Unwind Live With Drew Carey

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Need a short break from…everything?

Join us for our first "Unwind Live" virtual event today at 2:30 p.m. Our public radio pal Rico Gagliano is checking in with comedian Drew Carey to see how he’s coping and what activities are keeping him busy.

And then Wednesday, April 22 we have “Invisibilia” cofounder and NPR science reporter Lulu Miller and Erica Williams Simon, the former head of Creator’s Lab at Snapchat, talking live about writing, a shared love of public media, and what they’re doing while safe at home.

OUR NO-PANIC SERIES ARCHIVE:

MORE VIRTUAL EVENTS

Know Where Free Meals Are Being Distributed In LA? Tell Us

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Food bank distribution in Boyle Heights. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Know of an organization hosting a drive-thru pantry or other meal distribution event in L.A. soon?

We want to know about it — we're compiling a list of all the pop-up food distributions we know of around the county for people in need, and keeping it updated as frequently as we can. If you know of something we should add to the list, share it with us at tips@laist.com.

We also have a longer, more comprehensive list of where to find financial assistance, food and other help during the coronavirus emergency — you can find that here.

SEE MORE DETAILS HERE:

Gov. Newsom Announces California Economic Recovery Task Force With Former Governors, Businesspeople, More

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Tom Steyer, chairman of the new California economic recovery task force, appears during Gov. Gavin Newsom's Friday, April 17 coronavirus press conference. (Courtesy Gov. Gavin Newsom's office)

In Gov. Gavin Newsom's daily update on California's response to the coronavirus, he announced details about a new task force to help with the state's economic recovery (while noting that the state isn't yet ready to loosen restrictions). You can read highlights from the governor's press conference below or watch the video above.

LATEST CALIFORNIA CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

Since March 12, 3.1 million Californians have filed for unemployment insurance, Newsom said.

California had its highest daily death total due to coronavirus yet, with another 95 dead as of last night, according to Newsom. That brings the state's coronavirus deaths to 985. The number of coronavirus patients in ICUs went down 1.4% over the past day, but those hospitalized went up 1.2%.

The state is not yet ready to start loosening up on coronavirus restrictions and moving to the next phase he announced earlier this week, Newsom said. Updates on the criteria for when to reopen will come every Wednesday, he added.

The governor noted concerns about visitors from other states who are loosening their restrictions before California does, though all those visitors are under California's restrictions while in the state, Newsom said.

PLANS FOR CORONAVIRUS ECONOMIC RECOVERY

The governor said that he has tasked 80 leaders to help plan for the state's economic recovery, with an advisory council that includes all four of the state's living governors. That council includes both Republicans and Democrats from the state's Legislature, Newsom said, among other leaders.

"Some of the great social justice warriors reside here in the state of California," Newsom said.

This task force will be divided into sub-groups covering areas like entertainment, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and regional issues around the state, Newsom said. It will be supplemental to the state's economic council of advisors, as well as the Future of Work Commission.

The task force will be working on actionable ideas in real time, not some future report, according to Newsom. They are looking at actions that can be taken in the weeks ahead, not just the months ahead. Going forward, labor, business, environmental, and social justice concerns will be part of this task force.

The chair of the council is businessman and former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, who joined Newsom in person.

"Health and safety have to be paramount here in California, but everyone is also hurting economically," Steyer said.

Steyer said that he hoped the task force could help with some of the societal injustice revealed by the coronavirus pandemic. Several business leaders who are on the task force spoke at the press conference, including Disney Chairman Bob Iger. He said that they will be sharing what they've learned at Disney, as well as looking to learn from others.

The governor's chief of staff Ann O'Leary is serving as co-chair of the task force.

Newsom said that 15% of the jobs created since the Great Recession were created in California. With March's coronavirus impact, 120 months of job creation ended.

WHAT'S NEXT

California is aiming to be able to perform 25,000 coronavirus tests by the end of the month, with 95,000 as a goal in May as another benchmark, Newsom said.

Details on the state's coronavirus contact tracing plans will be announced next week, Newsom said.

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How To Get Financial Relief ASAP If You're A Gig Worker Or Small Business Owner

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The Small Business Administration has several programs for companies in need of coronavirus-related aid. Screenshot: Small Business Administration website

The federal government’s $349 billion lifeline for small businesses, the Paycheck Protection Program, may be out of money, but there is still hope for Californians in need of a boost.

“There's a wonderful Employee Retention Credit Plan available through the IRS,” financial planner Delia Fernandez told KPCC’s Take Two. Small businesses who’ve seen sales drop by more than 50% will get a tax credit up to $10,000 to help retain their employees.

For gig workers and others who usually don’t qualify for unemployment benefits, there will also be a new state plan debuting soon – the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, where recipients can get up to $767 each week.

“It opens on April 28, and the money is supposed to go out by April 30,” said Fernandez.

And talks are underway by lawmakers to find more funding for that federal Paycheck Protection Program so that more businesses can apply.

“I'm very hopeful they see the need, and I'm hoping that they'll take action soon,” she said.

Hear the full interview below.


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A Spike In Domestic Violence Calls To LA’s Hotline And Shelters

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(Stock photo by Sydney Sims via Unsplash)

It appears to be a depressing consequence of having so many people trapped at home by COVID-19: calls to L.A. County’s domestic violence hotline in March were up nearly 70% over the same month last year.

Some shelters are reporting more calls, too.

The East Los Angeles Women’s Center is seeing an increase in people seeking help, said Executive Director Barbara Kappos, who adds that a greater percentage than usual of those calling are seeking shelter or alternative housing.

“We had, for instance, last night a young woman with her child sleeping in her car fleeing from an abusive situation,” Kappos said. She said this is happening at a time when most shelters are full.

That’s the case at the Haven Hills domestic violence shelter in Canoga Park. “Just last week, there were 32 clients that we had to turn away,” said Executive Director Iliana Tavera. By comparison, Tavera said her shelter only had to turn away 10 women in the entire month of February.

READ OUR FULL REPORT:

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Comic-Con Cancels 2020 Pop Culture Convention, Scraps Plans To Reschedule Anaheim Show

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Crowds like this one from a 2010 Comic-Con Hall H panel didn't seen like a greeeeeeat idea at the moment. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Fans of movies, TV and comic books were still holding out hopes that somehow, maybe, the giant San Diego Comic-Con would still happen, given that it wasn't scheduled until July. But for an event that draws more than 130,000 people a year — including many Angelenos — it started to seem more and more like it wasn't in the cards.

Now it's been officially canceled. The event started 50 years ago in 1970, but what would have been its 50th anniversary was canceled Friday. There had already been concerns from the film studios about sending their talent to the packed convention this summer — though with production shut down, there's less for them to be promoting to those fans, anyway.

Here's Comic-Con International in a statement:

"Recognizing that countless attendees save and plan for its conventions each year, and how many exhibitors and stakeholders rely upon its events for a major portion of their livelihood, [organizers] had hoped to delay this decision in anticipation that COVID-19 concerns might lessen by summer. Continuous monitoring of health advisories and recent statements by the Governor of California have made it clear that it would not be safe to move forward with plans for this year."

Fans who managed to get the always instant sell-out tickets will get relief for at least some of their anxieties — they'll have the option to transfer those badges to next year's convention, or to request a refund.

Bad news for WonderCon, too. The Anaheim show, which is run by the same nonprofit, had its April convention that was scheduled for Easter weekend delayed thanks to coronavirus. Organizers had said they were hoping to reschedule, but now it won't be returning to the Anaheim Convention Center until March of 2021.

This summer was also supposed to be the grand opening of a permanent Comic-Con Museum in San Diego, but that is also being pushed back due to the pandemic.

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Diary From The Coronavirus Frontlines: 'I Always Worry About Going Out, Getting Sick'

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A member of the USC Street Medicine Team checks Mico Fuller's vitals on Skid Row. (Alyssa Jeong Perry/LAist)

Today, I spoke with community health worker Joseph Becerra, who's part of USC's Keck School of Medicine Street Medicine Team, while he was finishing his morning shift on the streets.

Becerra helps the team's doctors, physician assistants, and nurses locate patients who live on the streets, because many of them don't have a phone and frequently change locations. It's something he feels passionate about because he lived on the streets himself.

"My heart is for this, because I understand what it is to not have or to be looked down on."

He also connects patients with social services and with clothing, food, ID cards and even housing. It was always difficult work, but since the pandemic has swept through L.A. County, it's now frustratingly so.

Becerra said when he calls an agency, "either it's busy, a voicemail, or you're waiting on the phone for an hour, two hours."

Many of his patients need follow-up care with a doctor, so his job is to make sure they get to their appointments. Now that's changed as well.

"A lot of the appointments are being canceled, because a lot of the doctors ain't in themselves."

And since many patients don't have internet or a phone, the option of doing an appointment through those channels isn't really an option.

The city's homeless population often relies on going to the ER for medical needs. But many emergency rooms are now keeping beds open for COVID-19 patients, reducing access for non-coronavirus patients whose cases are not urgent. Without that care, medical complications on the streets are rising. This puts even more demand on the street team, but also greater risk.

"I always worry about going out, getting sick and just bringing it back to my family. But then you know, it's my job. I feel pretty blessed to have a job."

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More Community College Students Are Reporting Stress And Anxiety

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East Los Angeles College is part of the nine campus Los Angeles Community College District. (Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/LAist)

Crisis Text Line, a third-party service that partners with the California community college system to support and advise students in crisis, says messages sent to its counselors increased 12% from February to March.

That could be just the beginning of an expected surge in requests from struggling community college students for mental health support.

College officials say growing numbers of students are stressed out by the shift to online learning and the accompanying lack of face-to-face support. Soaring job losses are also taking their toll on the state's community college students, who tend to have lower incomes and need full-time work to pay for their education.

Larry Resendez, dean of student services at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar, told us:

"There are hundreds, if not more, that clearly are dealing with a lot of high levels of stress, and anxiety, and maybe depression."

California community college students who are in crisis can text the word COURAGE to 741741 to reach one of the company's trained volunteers, who respond with coping techniques or contacts for mental health resources.

READ THE FULL STORY

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Serving Students With Special Needs During Coronavirus: ‘No Easy Solutions’

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10-year-olds Sawyer Whitely (left) and Michael Mendoza, both of whom receive special education services for autism, pose for a photograph at their school in Virginia. (Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images)

In California, more than 795,000 children qualify for special education services in school because of an identified disability. In many ways, these are the state’s most vulnerable learners.

But the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the ability of many public schools to fully deliver on fundamental guarantees made to these students, whose disabilities range from dyslexia to hearing loss to autism.

One month after schools first closed their campuses, many parents report basic special education services still aren't happening. Services that have resumed look very different from what anyone originally planned. Even some experts say tracking students’ progress will be extraordinarily difficult.

Here’s how one LAUSD speech and language therapy teacher, who asked not to be identified by name, put it:

There are no easy solutions here. I don't know how I am going to overcome the structural challenges of providing virtual support to that student. I don't think LAUSD does either. I don't think anybody truly does.

I wrote a story breaking down four of the biggest issues facing special education during the coronavirus crisis. There aren’t many definitive answers, but I wanted to outline a few of the questions.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Survey Finds Fewer CA ER Docs Worried About Protective Gear, ICU Beds

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(Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

Frontline doctors in California are increasingly optimistic about their ability to treat COVID-19 patients safely since the first survey two weeks ago.

The California Health Care Foundation and Truth on Call conducted the statewide tracking poll of 150 ER and other critical care doctors.

Worries about the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), ICU beds, ventilators and staff seem to be decreasing, said Kristof Stremikis, director of the foundation’s market analysis and insight team.

“Last time we asked a couple weeks ago, exactly two-thirds of physicians implied they were worried about running out of PPE, whereas this week only 31% did, so it fell by more than half," he said.

There is still room for improvement. A quarter of safety net doctors surveyed said neither they nor their patients have access to COVID-19 testing.

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Can I Get Coronavirus From Tap Water?

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(Antoine Arraou/Getty Images)

We've gotten — and answered — nearly 1,500 questions since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Here's one we've heard a lot: Can I get it from tap water?

The answer is simple: For the most part, our water is safe.

Although the coronavirus can live in drinking water and sewage, it’s not likely to come into contact with you; our systems for moving water around, treating it, and disposing of it all work very well.

Our major public water providers say coronavirus is not present in the drinking water supply coming to your home or work. Those include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which supplies the city of L.A., and Metropolitan Water District, which supplies imported water to much of Southern California.

READ OUR FULL ANSWER

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Morning Briefing: What The Strawberry Harvest Has To Teach Us

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Jacob Margolis met Maria, an undocumented farm worker, while reporting on the effects of the coronavirus on California’s strawberry industry. An employee in the fields for nearly 20 years, Maria is among many laborers whose jobs may be at risk; farms that cultivate the sweet fruit – which grows quickly, must be harvested right away and has a short shelf life – could wind up without enough buyers this season.

“What will happen if I lose my job?” she told Margolis. “The kids, the rest, the food. How am I going to pay the rent?”

Maria’s far from the only one who’s worried. KPCC+LAist contributor Betto Arcos has the story of Tomas Delgado, the owner of Candelas Guitar Shop, who fears he might have to close after over 70 years. Aaron Mendelson spoke to tenants who are as afraid to be at their homes as they are to be out and about. And just yesterday, the Los Angeles Times announced the closure of three community papers and the loss of 14 jobs.

These changes are happening faster than we can process them; we’ll be working to comprehend the lives we left behind and the lives we know now as a result of the coronavirus pandemic for years to come.

In the meantime, the best we can do is put one foot in front of the other as change keeps swirling around us -- something that Soren Bjorn, president of Driscoll's, has learned to do with his fast-growing, short-lived fruits.

"There's no stopping the crop,” Bjorn told Margolis. “You cannot hit pause. The berries are going to keep coming.”


Coming Up Today, April 17

Mike Roe reports on a father/daughter thriller graphic novel set in the world of L.A.'s 1980s country music club scene; specifically, North Hollywood's Palomino. Betto Arcos profiles the owner of Candelas Guitar Shop, the oldest music store in L.A., who is worried about his shop’s survival.

Aaron Mendelson asks how tenants in substandard housing are coping with the stay at home orders in L.A. – what is it like to stay at home when home isn’t safe? Plus, calls to L.A. County's domestic abuse hotline went up a whopping 68% in March compared with March 2019, reports Robert Garrova.

Alyssa Jeong Perry shadows a street team reaching out to unhoused Angelenos, and Matt Tinoco provides a status report on measures to protect the city’s homeless population from the coronavirus.

Maria, an undocumented farmworker in Oxnard, shares her concerns with Jacob Margolis for the pandemic’s effects on the strawberry crop and how she makes a living. The situation at food banks is not good at all, reports Elina Shatkin.

Shatkin also has a list and explanation of how restaurants have turned into markets, and Sharon McNary has everything you need to know about coronavirus in the public water system.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story of an L.A. community college expecting a surge in students needing help with their basic needs and mental health. Meanwhile, Kyle Stokes reports on the daunting challenges faced by the parents, teachers and school districts of students with disabilities.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now at least 10,854 cases of coronavirus in L.A. County. There are over 27,500 cases in California, and more than 2.15 million worldwide. L.A. officials are making efforts to expand COVID-19 testing for African Americans. 60,000 Angelenos have been tested so far. Meanwhile, the White House unveiled guidelines to plot a course out of the coronavirus disaster.

Concerns For The Most Vulnerable: Reports of suspected child abuse in L.A. County have plummeted in recent weeks, which has experts concerned: "these children are out of sight,” says one. The Long Beach and Pasadena health departments are tightening restrictions on skilled nursing and assisted living facilities after a spate of COVID-19 deaths. California's state prisons are making the controversial request that inmates with sleep apnea stop using CPAP machines that help them breathe out of alleged concern over the spread of COVID-19.

Rent And Paid Leave: If you didn’t pay rent this month, you are not getting kicked out, we also have gathered other important information for L.A. renters. Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 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.

Strawberry Fields: Tens of millions of pounds of strawberries produced by California farms could end up in the trash, and some farms could be facing financial peril.

Money In The Time Of… : The Los Angeles Times on Thursday announced the closure of three community papers: The Burbank Leader, the Glendale News-Press and the La Cañada Valley Sun. The federal small business loans program is out of money, and many proprietors never even got the chance to apply.


In Non-COVID-19 News

The Census Bureau proposed a new timeline for the 2020 count, but some lawmakers aren't feeling enthusiastic about it without knowing how the bureau plans to adapt in-person canvassing around the pandemic.

A new study in Nature Scientific Reports says that the possibility of extreme flooding along U.S. Coastlines is going to double every five years.


Your Moment Of Zen

A mass testing site as a moment of Zen might seem strange, but testing more widely is a key ingredient of saving lives and reopening the economy. That’s why we find this image of the facility that opened this week at the Forum in Inglewood reassuring. Who can get tested? L.A. County says: “ALL individuals who are symptomatic, or individuals who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing.”

(Courtesy the County of Los Angeles)


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