Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):
The Truth About Antibody Tests
We’re asking public health officials and experts to answer your questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep in mind that this information does not constitute professional medical advice. For questions regarding your own health, always consult a physician.
There’s been a recent surge in interest among our readers for information about available tests that will feasibly determine whether or not they've built up antibodies against the coronavirus. Why all the attention? Well, in the last week and a half, 90 different tests have come on the market and a USC study suggested somewhere between 220,000 and 440,000 Angelenos have already been infected with COVID-19.
But while these tests “hold promise for a variety of things,” says Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, they’re “not a panacea by any stretch of the imagination.”
“For people like me, they're great for epidemiologic studies to understand where the virus has been, but they're not particularly good for a diagnosis, because it takes something like at least 11, 12 maybe as many as 18 days for them to turn positive after infection.”
For answers to more of you antibody test questions, listen to the full interview with Dr. Rutherford on Take Two.
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Immigrant Advocates Say Trump Is Using Coronavirus To Further Restrict Immigration
President Trump said Tuesday that he plans to sign an executive order temporarily suspending the issuance of green cards for people seeking legal residency.
Trump tweeted Monday night that he would “temporarily suspend immigration,” citing a need to protect American workers in light of the coronavirus crisis. However, he said in a White House briefing Tuesday afternoon that the forthcoming order would not affect people entering on a temporary basis, such as guest workers.
Trump said the order would be in effect for 60 days but could be extended and that “any extension or modification will be evaluated by economic conditions at the time.”
Local immigrant advocates said they believe Trump is using the COVID-19 crisis as cover for further restricting immigration to the U.S.
“What’s happening with this pandemic is that this administration has been able to exploit this public health crisis to be able to really curtail the rights of immigrants," said Farida Chehata, managing attorney for immigrant rights with the Orange County office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
READ THE FULL STORY:
Dire Forecast: New Report Estimates Coronavirus Will Push Unemployment Over 31% In SoCal
Note: If you have a question about dealing with unemployment during the pandemic, we're hosting a livestreamed Q&A on Thursday, April 23 at 2:30 p.m. with a guest from the California Employment Development Department. Send us your questions and get more details about the event here.
A new report from an L.A. County nonprofit estimates the economic slowdown and safety measures caused by the coronavirus pandemic will devastate the workforce in Southern California, causing 2,816,700 jobs to disappear by May and pushing unemployment past 31%.
For comparison, Los Angeles County unemployment peaked at 12.6% during the height of the recession, in 2010-11.
The worst fallout will be felt by "personal care and service" workers — like hair stylists and nail artists — where the virus is expected to cause the loss of 70% of jobs.
The job categories with the most total losses will be food prep and serving, sales, and administrative support workers.
The report notes:
...the immediate economic effects of COVID-19 have not been equally distributed. Higher-income workers in professional services, management, and computer and mathematical occupations have thus far managed to shift to a remote workplace...In stark contrast, lower income workers in personal care, retail, and food preparation occupations do not have the option to complete their duties without interacting with the public...Those willing and able to retain their jobs in these occupations do so with the health risk associated of being exposed to the public.
The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), a nonprofit that collaborates with public and private stakeholders in the county to guide economic development, published the report this evening.
“Please note, these are preliminary estimates of what the job loss related to COVID-19 could look like in May under current conditions,” said LAEDC’s Lawren Markle.
“Estimates are based on proximity of work required for occupations and the identification of “high risk” industries to create probabilities that are then applied to occupational data to create these figures,” she explained.
The estimates could change drastically depending on policy response from lawmakers or changing timelines for restarting economic activity, the report notes.
The report forecasts widespread pain throughout the region:
You can dig into the full report here:
LA's Mayor Asks Why Our State (The Largest) Got The Fewest Small Business Loans, Urges People Care Of Their Mental Health
Mayor Eric Garcetti opened today's briefing by encouraging Angelenos not to get discouraged by the new COVID-19 confirmed case count (15,140 total). The spike, he said, is due to a backlog of 734 cases that were just cleared.
"I know some of you follow these numbers as religiously as me and might be worried about the last two days in which we've seen our first four digit increases," he noted, "but I want to reassure you that this is about testing capacity expanding."
The mayor encouraged everyone, even those experiencing mild symptoms, to get tested, saying that the county is now offering next-day appointments and has the capacity to test approximately 12,000 people per day.
MORE UPDATES FOR L.A. COUNTY:
- A total of 663 total deaths
- 34 testing locations
- By the end of today county officials will have tested approximately 87,000 people. "To put this in perspective, 9,600 tests were reportedly conducted in all of California yesterday," Garcetti added.
- This is the second day of pop-up testing on Skid Row and three mobile teams are now working in senior care facilities
LOCAL ECONOMY UPDATES
- Tomorrow, the City council will create legislation that will create a worker retention ordinance for hospitality workers, including janitors, food service and airport workers, that will allow them to return to their jobs. "I will sign that as soon as it comes to my desk," he said. Details were not specified.
- Garcetti expressed frustration that as the largest state in the country, California received "the fewest number of [small business] loans in the nation." That accounts for 13% of our national workforce, he said, adding that he supports our senators for increasing aid to small businesses from Washington.
- Garcetti also voiced concern for folks in immigrant communities who have been left behind by recent loans and stimulus checks. "We need to make sure nobody is left behind when it comes to immigration," he said. "Immigrants are not a threat to America. COVID-19 is. Let me be very loud and clear." That last point is a direct reference to President Trump's tweet about the need to shut down all immigration to protect American jobs.
- Parents should visit the county's resource page for financial assistance, free internet services, educational programs and food benefits.
- Tonight, Garcetti will air a discussion on public health in L.A. designed for kids. Tune in via the mayor's Facebook page and on KCET at 6:30 p.m.
MENTAL HEALTH TIPS
Garcetti introduced Michelle Cauley, a local therapist and clinical social worker, to present some tips on coping.
- A lot of us are experiencing anticipatory anxiety right now because we're uncertain about the future, for example wondering about plans for the summer or thinking about graduation or prom (for high schoolers)
- Some tips on how to recognize depression in children: signs of sadless, hopelessness, irritability, low energy, increased boredom, poor concentration
- Tips on how to recognize anxiety in adults: panic attacks that feel like cardiac arrest, headaches, tension, upset stomach, fatigue, insomnia, extreme and unrealistic worry about events
- Cauley urged anyone experiencing these symptoms to talk about it, write about their feelings, and reach out to a mental health professoinal if they are able to
- She also recommends mindfullness meditation, journaling positive affirmations, and expressing gratitude
- The County's Department of Mental Health has a 24-hour help line at 800-854-7771
- LAUSD also has a help line, open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. That number is 213-241-3840
- Anyone can text the Crisis Text Line at 7417
"I know that the isolation is real. But whatever you're feeling know that you're not alone," Garcetti said. "We're all feeling this together. And when I say that we will get through this together."
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Joe Exotic And Coronavirus Give Netflix A Boost
It’s no secret that we’re spending a lot more time streaming entertainment these days.
The average American is now watching about 8 hours of streaming content every day, double from before the pandemic. And one beneficiary of that surge is Netflix.
The company released its first quarter results today. And, like the animals in “Tiger King,” Netflix made a killing.
LA Tops Worst Air Pollution In US
When it comes to the worst air in the nation, L.A.'s still at the top of the list according to the American Lung Association's latest "State of the Air" report.
When it comes to ozone pollution, we're still No. 1. But Los Angeles is behind cities like Bakersfield and Fresno as far as particle pollution is concerned.
There's been an increase in air quality since mass stay-at-home orders started, though the reasons behind that are complicated and likely not long lasting.
READ OUR FULL STORY
Cal State Fullerton Says Fall Semester Will Start Online
California State University, Fullerton announced this week that it is planning to begin the fall 2020 semester online, making it one of the first colleges to disclose contingency plans for prolonged coronavirus disruptions.
"Our plan is to enter [the fall] virtually," said Pamella Oliver, the schools provost, at a virtual town hall. "Of course that could change depending on the situation, depending on what happens with COVID-19. But at this point that's what we're thinking."
The public institution in Southern California also said it hopes to resume in-person learning when it's safe to do so.
Oliver, who made the announcement Monday, said she asked faculty to start planning for fall virtual classes now, citing the pain felt this spring when the university was forced to transition to online classes.
"Having to jump quickly, without having in-depth plans added to the difficulty."
Colleges and universities moved spring classes online, and many also closed campuses in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Schools are now grappling with how long the disruptions will last, and what the fall semester will look like, but many have been hesitant to announce their fall plans publicly.
College enrollment was already on a downward trend before the pandemic, making it a competitive field for college recruiters — every student they sign up counts. The big question is: Will students still enroll if college is all online? And will colleges that were already in dire financial straits survive the outbreak?
- (BuzzFeed News)
- The University of California Just Made It (Temporarily) Easier For Students to Enroll
- UC System Significantly Eases Admissions Requirements For Fall
Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Top 15K in LA County; Death Toll Exceeds 660
Los Angeles County officials reported 1,400 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, but noted that 880 of those cases had been backlogged from previous days. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to at least 15,140 countywide.
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 46 new deaths from COVID-19. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 663. Of those victims, 89% had underlying health conditions, Ferrer noted.
More than a third of the people who’ve died (38% as of today) had been living in institutional facilities, which include nursing homes, treatment centers and jails. “The majority of [victims] resided in our skilled nursing facilities,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths. According to the latest available information for 582 cases:
- 16% African American [9% of county residents]
- 18% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
- 36% Latino or Latina [48.6% of county residents]
- 28% White [26.1% of county residents]
- 3% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity
County health officials "continue to see disproportionality in the mortality rates for both African Americans and Asians," Ferrer said, adding that her department is working with regional and state offices "to better understand how we can make sure that everybody has the access to testing, healthcare services, and resources for support that are needed to make sure that they can have the best possible outcomes during this pandemic."
Here are some other key figures being reported today in L.A. County:
- More than 89,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and reported results to county health officials. Of those tests, 14% have been positive.
- There are currently 1,739 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 31% are in the ICU, with 18% on ventilators.
- In total 3,639 people who've tested positive for coronavirus in L.A. County have "at some point" been hospitalized, Ferrer said, which represents 25% of all positive cases.
- The county health department is currently investigating 269 institutional facilities where there's at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. The county reports that 1,692 residents at those facilities and 1,221 staff members have tested positive, for a total of 2,913 confirmed cases. Ferrer said 255 residents at those facilities have died.
- There are now 87 confirmed cases in county jail facilities; 30 inmates and 57 staff members have tested positive.
- 11 staff members at juvenile detention facilities have tested positive.
- There are currently 111 confirmed cases in state and federal prisons — 96 inmates and 15 staff.
Ferrer did not provide the exact number of confirmed cases among individuals experiencing homelessness, but she did provide an update regarding the Union Rescue Mission, where health workers have been responding to an outbreak of COVID-19.
She said 200 tests were conducted at the Skid Row homeless shelter, resulting in 43 positive cases.
Of the positive cases, 37% were symptomatic and 63% were asymptomatic, meaning people tested positive but have no symptoms. All 43 people are being isolated, according to Ferrer. Union Rescue Mission officials have agreed to quarantine everyone at the site, and the shelter is not taking in any new residents right now.
Ferrer also noted that the weather is getting warmer and expressed county residents' shared desire to begin the road to recovery. Based on the current modeling, mid-May is the projection to begin rolling back the current restrictions, but there is no "magic day," she said. Ferrer explained that:
"... in order for us to be able to safely relax our safer-at-home order, we need to make sure that we do this in a way that doesn't result in a surge of hospitalizations and deaths — and that we're able to care for people who are sick and need health care services."
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
California Gov. Newsom: Local Areas Can Lift Restrictions If They Don't Conflict With State Orders
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new "Californians For All" volunteer initiative and delivered other updates in his daily coronavirus press briefing, including talking about local areas who are already lifting some restrictions.
Read the highlights below or watch video of the news conference above.
LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
There was a 7.4% increase yesterday in the total number of positive cases and a 5% increase in the number of deaths, Newsom said — there were 60 new deaths due to the virus. He said that there has been "pretty good news" in the ICUs, but that the numbers there were still up "slightly" at 3.8%. Newsom noted that the number has been bouncing around with small increases and declines, but that it appears to be stabilizing. There was also a 3.3% increase in the total number of hospitalizations.
Newsom noted that hospitalizations are happening throughout the state, not just Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties.
"If you're living in a community where you think 'Well, we're immune, we're OK, we've got this — we're not L.A., we're not some of these other counties in the state of California,' I hope you'll disabuse yourself of that," Newsom said. "Some of the most challenging parts of the state remain in some of our rural parts of our state, particularly as it relates to skilled nursing facilities, adult and senior homes."
LOCAL AREAS WANTING TO LIFT RESTRICTIONS
The state is receiving calls from local areas like Ventura County, San Luis Obispo and Placerville about how they can start making adjustments to stay-at-home restrictions, Newsom said, adding that different areas have different timelines. Newsom said:
"I caution those, including local elected officials, that practicing physical distancing has worked to keep those numbers relatively modest in terms of growth — but if we pull back too quickly, those numbers will go through the roof."
Local areas have the option to lift restrictions as long as those jurisdictions don't conflict with the state's stay-at-home orders, Newsom said, responding to a question about Riverside County opening up golf courses and Port Hueneme opening beaches.
'CALIFORNIANS FOR ALL' VOLUNTEER INITIATIVE
Newsom announced "Californians For All," an effort (and a website) to organize volunteers to help others during both the coronavirus outbreak and during future times in need of volunteer help, according to the governor.
You can say when signing up how you want to volunteer in your community, the state's Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday said. Opportunities include food banks, delivering meals, tutoring, helping at shelter facilities, making masks and more. The service includes weekly emails to help you connect with volunteer opportunities.
Opportunities for those who want to stay home but still contribute can sign up to be a 2-1-1 operator or to check up on neighbors. All Californians who are healthy are being asked to volunteer, Fryday said.
WHAT'S NEXT: 'ROADMAP TO RECOVERY'
More proscriptive guidelines will be announced Wednesday for easing stay-at-home orders in phases, Newsom said.
That is part of what will be weekly updates on the six areas on the state's "roadmap to recovery."
Tomorrow there will be a deep dive covering testing, tracking, tracing, isolation and quarantine. Newsom said the news conference will include a discussion on the distribution of tests and the different kinds of tests.
The state is currently aiming at doing 25,000 tests per day by the end of the month. That said, Newsom acknowledged, the question of how many tests are actually needed is dynamic and opinions vary.
Some experts say that the state needs to test 1% of its population a week, others 1% a day, while others are saying it's about testing and continuing to re-test, Newsom said.
Newsom signed a new contract today to get more testing sites up and running by the end of the week, including prioritizing homeless shelters and additional prioritizing of senior centers and diverse communities, he said. Additional details will be part of Wednesday's press conference.
Only 17 of California's 58 counties received federal relief in the federal CARES Act, Newsom said, with a large portion of the funding going to six cities with populations more than 500,000. The hope is for forthcoming assistance to also go to smaller cities, according to Newsom.
- Your No-Panic Guide To All The Changing Rules In LA
- Where To Get Financial Assistance, Food And Other Help
- Tracking The Spread Of COVID-19
- Have A Question? We Will Answer It
Here's a look at overall coronavirus cases in the state, courtesy of the JSK Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University and the Big Local News group, in partnership with the Google News Initiative.
A Diary Of LA In The Time Of Coronavirus
March 11, 2020.
That was the day "nonessential" staff at KPCC and LAist started working from home. I remember because it's my wedding anniversary.
My wife was out of town, and I aimed to call her before she beat me to it, but the coronavirus pandemic had already sent the news into a spin cycle and it was all I could do to keep up with the relentless pace of new information. It wasn't until I read a "happy anniversary" message from our mutual friend that I realized how absolutely I had blown it.
All of the days since seem to have blurred into one long Montuefritaturday. I'd tell you more — about piping audio from a church's live stream through the phone so that my 98-year-old grandmother can feel less isolated, about trying to help my wife troubleshoot video conferencing issues so that she can teach dance remotely, about arguments with family members over how seriously we should adhere to the stay-at-home orders — but each of those are journal entries for another day, and anyway my story isn't the point.
This story is much bigger, and it's affecting each of us in different ways. This is the story of Los Angeles in a time of social distancing, in a time of economic devastation, in a time of illness. We want your help to chronicle this historic time. We want your help to keep a diary of L.A. in the time of coronavirus.
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L.A. County Courts Move To Remote Video Hearings
After facing criticism from county attorneys and judicial advocacy groups, L.A. County will implement remote video hearings in courtrooms across the region.
The county says 32 courtrooms in 17 courthouses in each of the court’s 12 judicial districts will use the new technology.
Now, people charged with a felony or misdemeanor will have the option to be arraigned remotely using a conferencing service called WebEx.
“The court plays an integral and vital role in slowing the spread of this deadly virus,” said Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile. “Using this WebEx technology and with the cooperation and support of our justice partners, the court is doing our part to ensure access to justice, while making our courthouses as safe as possible.”
L.A. County is the largest trial court system in the country, with 38 courthouses and more than 5,000 employees.
In March, the unions representing the county's deputy district attorneys and public defenders teamed up to sound the alarm over a lack of sanitation supplies and social distancing measures in the county's courthouses.
Nikhil Ramnaney, the president of the public defender's union, said he’s happy with the fact that attorneys will have a safer, more reliable way to do arraignments.
But he cautioned against making video arraignments a normal part of the justice system.
“The studies are very clear that video arraignments are detrimental and lead to worse outcomes for clients,” Ramnaney said.
The remote hearing effort also partners with 32 booking locations, 13 L.A County Sheriff’s Department substations, and 19 police departments.
The courts say video pilots are underway for other type of litigation.
Will COVID-19-Related Budget Cuts Create Roadblocks For LA’s Street Safety Program?
Vision Zero identifies streets and intersections where pedestrians are seriously injured and killed at high rates — then makes safety improvements like high-visibility crosswalks, speed bumps and protected bike lanes.
But officials from the mayor’s office say the program will be cut 5% in the next fiscal year, to $48 million, thanks to COVID-19.
Despite Vision Zero's goals, traffic fatalities — particularly pedestrians killed by drivers — have risen since the program started. Critics say that’s because there wasn’t enough funding to begin with.
READ THE FULL STORY:
Morning Briefing: Bridging LA Students' Digital Divide
Yesterday, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced painful cuts for L.A. city workers, public programs and departments. The plans are likely a harbinger of more to come, but there’s some good news among the coronavirus crisis’ initial economic fallout: as schools switch to remote learning, California is bridging the vast digital divide between students of varying means — a problem that existed long before the pandemic.
“Most teachers have stories — even from before the pandemic — about students camping out in the parking lots of Starbucks or McDonald's or public libraries, trying to access the Wi-Fi to complete and submit assignments on their phones.”
To address the problem, California officials announced that 70,000 students will get free laptops and tablets, and Google will roll out 100,000 free hotspots. That comes on the heels of LAUSD’s purchasing enough laptops to send home with every child.
“There are many valid concerns that have driven LAUSD away from this idea in the past,” says Stokes, “but now that the district has the laptops, that will help narrow the digital divide for at least as long as these newly-purchased computers last.”
Here’s hoping the effort continues into the future.
Coming Up Today, April 21
Everyone suddenly wants to grow a coronavirus victory garden. Hadley Meares looks at how Angelenos did that during WWII.
Emily Elena Dugdale reports on the L.A. County Superior Court’s announcement that it will go to video arraignments in 32 courtrooms across 17 courthouses.
NOTE: An earlier version of this briefing incorrectly said the video arraignments were rolling out to all courtrooms.
Alyssa Jeong Perry reports on the impact of coronavirus on immigrants, from reduced remittances to planning for sending remains home.
Carla Javier will have takeaways from our conversations with top LAUSD officials on our newsroom’s public affairs show AirTalk, which airs on 89.3 KPCC, about how distance learning is going so far.
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The Past 24 Hours In LA
L.A., California, The World: There are just under 14,000 coronavirus cases in L.A. County. There are almost 32,000 cases in California, and over 2.4 million worldwide. A new study indicates that COVID-19 is much more widespread in L.A. than previously thought, but also less deadly.
L.A.’s Fiscal Emergency: Mayor Eric Garcetti has released his proposed budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which reflects the economic ravaging brought about by COVID-19. Garcetti declared a state of fiscal emergency and plans to furlough all civilian employees for 26 days and drastically reduce some programs and departments. Vision Zero, the street safety initiative, will be cut 5%. Budget cuts will also affect L.A. cultural activities like the L.A. Zoo, the El Pueblo de Los Angeles historical monument and Barnsdall Art Park.
Testing And Quarantines: A study that tested 863 adults for antibodies to COVID-19 suggests it's infected more people in L.A. County than official numbers show. Nearly one out of every eight inmates in L.A. County jails is quarantined, and the first inmate at a state prison has died of COVID-19 complications. Sean Penn’s nonprofit organization is working to increase coronavirus testing in and around L.A.
The Dramatic Digital Divide: L.A. County’s digital divide has become stark as schools have moved to remote learning. To bridge the gap, approximately 70,000 California students will receive free laptops and tablets, and Google will roll out 100,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots.
A Business Is A Business, No Matter How… Large?: Only 3% of California’s 3.7 million small businesses received help from the Paycheck Protection Program. Meanwhile, Shake Shack, the New York-based burger chain, received $10 million of aid from the program.
Money In The Time Of…: LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner pleaded with state and federal lawmakers for help picking up the unpaid bills, but Sacramento is grappling with a budget crisis of its own. L.A. leaders are identifying holes in the safety net for immigrants without legal status, and creating relief funds. The city’s spending on homelessness will remain steady, despite the city's financial distress. The Walt Disney Co. has expanded its job cuts to nearly half its workforce.
Roll Me Up And Smoke Me (During Quarantine): Since stay-at-home orders were issued, you may have been feeling an undeniable urge to homestead. In case you want to DIY some of your vices as well on this hallowed 4/20, we've got you – why not grow your own weed? Plus, here’s your 4/20 virtual event guide.
Your Moment Of Zen
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