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How LA Small Businesses Are Trying To Right The Federal Coronavirus Loan Program

Steve Grandjean struggled to apply for a loan with US Bank; he sent us this screenshot.

As the federal government rolls out a second round of federal coronavirus stimulus loans, a Los Angeles-based law firm is suing four major banks over their handling of the initial loans intended to help small businesses.

The suit accuses Wells Fargo, Bank of America, US Bank and JP Morgan Chase of prioritizing large loans and bigger companies, instead of processing Paycheck Protection Program loan applications on a first-come, first-served basis.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit say they don't anticipate receiving a big payout, but instead are hoping the lawsuit will influence how banks allocate the next rounds of funding.

"For me, it was more about hopefully dissuading the banks from doing this again," said Sabrina Damast, who owns an immigration law firm in L.A. and unsuccessfully applied for a PPP loan.


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LA Expands Free Coronavirus Testing To Taxi, Public Transit And Rideshare Drivers


Drivers for taxis, public transit and rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft can now get tested for the new coronavirus free of charge even if they show no symptoms, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said tonight.

The mayor's announcement further expands the list of those who can receive the free testing. Limited capacity at first meant only emergency responders, health care workers and those with clear symptoms could be tested. The city and county have gradually added more critical frontline workers to the list in an effort to help protect those who do not have the luxury of staying at home during the pandemic.

Critical workers who can be tested even without symptoms now include:

  • First responders
  • Critical government personnel
  • Health care professionals
  • Grocery workers
  • Commercial, rideshare, and public transit drivers

In a follow-up question from a reporter, Garcetti said that the list also includes members of the media.

Garcetti also further clarified his announcement on KPCC's AirTalk earlier that the city could begin opening with "baby steps" in as soon as two weeks. Opening the economy will happen in phases, he said, and possibly in fits and starts, with new restrictions if the number of cases start to rise again.

"This won't be done on May 15. It won't be then that you don't have to worry about your health, you can stop wearing face coverings or masks, where you can just go and hug as many people as you want. You can't do that. So you know this debate nationally about those places that are quote-unquote 'closed' and those that are quote-unquote 'open.' It's actually a spectrum in which some people might have stronger closures right now, but the places that are opening are taking baby steps."

Among the things Garcetti said he could see returning sooner rather than later were activities like construction and elective surgeries. He repeated his opinion that large-scale gatherings like concerts at the Coliseum will not happen this year, but he said sporting events without an audience and many other things would be on the table.

Garcetti said he will continue watching how other cities around the country and the world handle reopening, and he'll continue looking to the county health department for guidance on when to reopen. But informally, he said he'll look at three criteria for deciding what to open first:

  • How great is the need? "The need maybe psychological, that we need to get out and have a place to recreate. The need may be that people are suffering economically."
  • How great is the risk? "Something may be low need and high risk — that's going to probably wait some time."
  • How safe can you make it? "Even with high risk, are there things we can do to make sure that there isn't spread? For instance restaurants are generally higher risk areas — contain spaces where people stay for longer than 10 minutes and where that infection can spread — but what safety measures will we do to allow restaurants to begin to open in the future? What safety measures will we have in our parks, so that people can be in Griffith Park but not have contagious zones at places where you start hikes — parking lots, or even on trails."


Garcetti also announced an expansion of the senior meal emergency response program with help from the federal government. The program provides meals for residents who make less than 600% of the federal poverty level and who are over 65 or who are 60-64 with a pre-existing medical condition.

The program will also help to employ restaurant and other hospitality workers who've been out of work because of the pandemic, and taxi drivers will help with deliveries.

For information, and to sign up, you can call 213-263-5226 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting tomorrow, or visit

Federal funding will cover 75% of the cost of the program's expansion, Garcetti said, with 19% coming from the state and the remaining 6% being picked up by the city through public money or donations.

The county is looking at a similar program for seniors who live outside of the city, Garcetti said.


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Long Beach Mayor Cites Robust Testing, Says 'Weeks, Not Months' For Changes

The view from the Long Beach coast this weekend. (Apu Gomes /AFP via Getty Images)

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said today his city is “weeks, not months, away from some meaningful changes” to the city’s stay-at-home orders, which are currently in place through at least May 15.

But that more optimistic outlook hinges on another announcement made at Monday's press briefing: New testing centers for COVID-19 will open at Long Beach City College’s East Long Beach campus and a yet-undisclosed location in North Long Beach by the end of the week, bringing the city’s daily testing capacity to roughly 1,000 per day.

Long Beach “has one of the most robust testing systems in the state of California, certainly for a city of our size,” Garcia said.


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LA Sheriff's Department Plans To Clean Thousands Of Used N95 Masks

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Local governments trying to find face masks for health care workers and first responders have been bedeviled by shortages, counterfeits and rising costs. Today Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his department has come up with a partial solution: a decontamination center that can clean as many as 30,000 used N95 masks a day.

Villanueva said the masks could be cleaned and re-used as many as 20 times by county medical staff, sheriff’s deputies and county fire personnel on the front lines of fighting COVID-19.

Staff at the county’s four public hospitals and 27 clinics use 10,000 masks a day, according to Director of Health Services Dr. Christina Ghaly. The Sheriff’s Department, which operates the jails, uses another 10,000 a day.

The cleaning center is expected to save the county millions of dollars -- N95 masks currently can cost as much as $14 – nearly five times their normal cost. It will only cost about 3 cents to clean each mask, according to sheriff’s officials.

The department will utilize a machine the size of a dishwasher on loan from UCLA. Officials will use a process known as hydrogen peroxide vaporization.

Because the process involves dangerous chemicals and must adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, the sheriff's Scientific Services Bureau will oversee the operation.

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Remembering Ian Whitcomb, Who Always Had a Ukelele

A vintage album cover. Courtesy of John Rabe

We're remembering Ian Whitcomb, who died April 19 of complications from a stroke he suffered in 2012.

Whitcomb, who reached No. 8 on the charts in 1965 with the song, "You Turn Me On," played the tunes he loved on "The Ian Whitcomb Show" on KPCC in the 1990s, when it was an eclectic music station. (The show was previously on KROQ and KCRW.)

He never did become a pop star, but he did go on to have a varied career that included writing a number of books on music. In 2012, he told me in an interview:

"I always had a ukulele. I used to take the ukulele on the bus, on these tours. Then, one day, a group called The Turtles, who were on tour with me, said, 'Ian, those songs that you sing are really funny, why don't you record them?' So I did, I went in and recorded 'Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go,' and I've been recording that kind of song ever since, and so my career has gone backwards."


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'Deeply Disturbing' Data: Poorer LA Communities Have Much Higher Coronavirus Death Rate

A patient drops their COVID 19 testing kit into a bin before leaving. Courtesy of the County of Los Angeles

Los Angeles County officials reported 900 new cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 20,417 cases countywide. Of those cases, 576 were reported in Long Beach and 325 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer also reported 29 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. Of those victims, 25 were over the age of 65, and 18 of those people had underlying health conditions.

The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 942.

Ferrer noted that 92% of those who have died had underlying health conditions and urged county residents with conditions including asthma and cancer to "do your very best to stay home, or avoid close contact with all others as much as possible and, at the very first sign of illness, contact your health care provider."

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 865 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 14% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 18% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 37% Latino or Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 28% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 1% Hawaiian native or Pacific Islander
  • 1% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity

The county also broke down the death rate by ethnicity, measured per 100,000 residents. As of Monday, those death rates are:

  • African Americans: 13.2 per 100K
  • Latinos and Latinas: 9.8 per 100K
  • Asian: 7.9 per 100K
  • White: 5.7 per 100K

Ferrer also noted that county residents living in areas with high rates of poverty are dying at a rate about three times that of communities with low poverty rates. She said:

"This data is deeply disturbing and it speaks to the need for immediate action in communities with disproportionately high rates of death. And this would mean increased testing, better access and connection to health care and support services, and more accurate culturally appropriate information about COVID-19, and we're joining with our partners in the community to make sure this happens."

L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced she and fellow Supervisor Hilda Solis will introduce a motion at tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors meeting to initiate the first steps of economic recovery. The motion will “create a permanent, nonprofit” [county] fund to raise money for grants and provide economic security for job seekers and for small businesses,” she said.

The priority, Barger said, will be to reopen businesses closed and struggling amid the coronavirus crisis.

“My colleagues and I have heard heart-wrenching stories from people who are struggling to put food on the table and don't see any relief in sight,” Barger said. “We need to support and unify families, communities and businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.”

Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • More than 123,000 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 1,845 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 28% are in the ICU, with 15% on ventilators.
  • In total 4,403 people who've tested positive for coronavirus in L.A. County have "at some point" been hospitalized, Ferrer said, which represents 23% of all positive cases.
  • The death toll at the county’s institutional settings, particularly nursing homes, continues to climb. Ferrer reported that 423 residents at those facilities have died. That number represents 45% of all deaths countywide.
  • The number of confirmed cases among health care workers and first responders has grown to 1,968. Ferrer said the increase is because of increased testing and improved reporting. “The vast majority of cases are among health care workers from skilled nursing facilities and hospitals,” she added. In total, 11 health care workers have died from COVID-19 since January.
  • Ferrer said 118 cases have been confirmed among L.A. County residents who are homeless — 68 of whom were sheltered. Twelve homeless shelters are currently being investigated for possible cases.
  • The county health department is currently investigating 312 institutional facilities that have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. Those sites include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, shelters, treatment centers, supportive living and correctional facilities. Ferrer did not provide an update on the number of confirmed cases in those facilities, citing “data collection and reporting issues.”
  • There have now been 142 confirmed cases “at some point in time” in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. There have been 71 cases among inmates and 71 among staff.

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Gov. Newsom: 'We Can't See The Images Like We Saw' In Newport Beach Over The Weekend


In Gov. Gavin Newsom's daily update on California's response to coronavirus, he expressed concern about scenes from Southern California beaches over the weekend, while also saying the state is weeks from reopening. You can read highlights below or watch the video above.


The governor said we are weeks, not months, away from making significant changes to the stay-at-home orders — but that those decisions will be driven by data, and require people to abide by physical distancing orders. He later qualified that he hoped we were weeks away from changing the stay-at-home orders, but that it depended on people social distancing.


Newsom addressed photos from Orange and Ventura counties of people crowding beaches over the weekend, saying they were examples of what not to see.

"We can't see the images like we saw, particularly on Saturday in Newport Beach and elsewhere in the state of California," Newsom said.

There was appropriate social distancing on other beaches — he noted that the kind of images seen in Orange County weren't seen in Los Angeles County, among other areas. That also had to do with differences in local stay-at-home orders, Newsom said.

"The only thing that will set us back is our behavior," Newsom said. "That's the only thing that's going to slow down our ability to reopen this economy, our ability to adapt and modify this stay-at-home order."

He also noted how he'd heard that local officials were looking at adjusting their beach restrictions in response to this past weekend.

There was an increase in the amount that people were moving over the weekend, according to data the state is tracking. Most are still appropriately physically distancing, Newsom said, and moving in ways that are under the rules, but officials did see a significant increase in movement — including to the beaches.


Over the weekend, the state saw what Newsom said was a modest decline in the number of deaths in California since its peak last week — 45 Californians died of coronavirus over the past 24 hours. He noted that deaths are a lagging indicator. There were 1,300 new positive coronavirus tests. A total of 553,000 tests have been performed in California so far.


Nevada and Colorado have joined California, Oregon, and Washington in the Western states coalition working on how to modify their stay-at-home orders, Newsom said.

An additional 600 people were hired in the last couple days to help with unemployment claims, Newsom said. The state is also adding the ability to text unemployment questions, as well as adding a chatbot online. There were 15 million calls made to the call center last week, including 1 million minutes spent talking with a human being, the governor said. He added that the state is also dealing with an old IT system.

The state has distributed 43.7 million N95 masks so far, as well as 4 million procedural masks, Newsom said. The state secured another 3.1 million procedural masks over the weekend, he said. The governor reiterated that the federal government will be sending 260 million swabs to California this week.


More details will be provided Tuesday on another of the indicators for deciding when to modify the state's stay-at-home orders: the ability of businesses, schools, and child care facilities to allow for physical distancing.

Beyond the work already being done by California's coronavirus economic task force, Newsom said he would be hosting virtual roundtables based around different business sectors, starting Tuesday. This includes different types of retail, different types of hospitality businesses, etc. The roundtables will include discussions about what retail will look like one, two, and three years in the future, Newsom said.

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Garcetti: LA Could Start Reopening With 'Baby Steps' In 2-6 Weeks

File: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti shows a Memorandum with COVID-19 city department guidelines on Thursday, March 12. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)

Los Angeles could begin tiptoeing toward normalcy as soon as two weeks from now, Mayor Eric Garcetti said today. Of course, there are plenty of caveats.

It's been more than a month since Garcetti first issued his "Safer at Home" order to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. "Nonessential" businesses were closed or shifted to remote work, and residents were required to stay home unless working "essential" jobs or seeking "essential" services.

On April 27, speaking with Larry Mantle on KPCC's public affairs show AirTalk, Garcetti repeated what we have heard from elected leaders and public health officials for weeks now: Reopening safely will require more testing and plenty of safeguards to prevent new outbreaks.

"My sense is probably in the next two to six weeks we'll see some baby steps forward," Garcetti said, adding that "it's not really about a date, or how few cases you have — it's about the infrastructure you have to handle opening up." He continued:

"So the good news is the bad news here. The good news is... what we've been doing has worked. It has saved thousands of lives. But the bad news is that means according to the USC prevalence study, we have about 96% of us that could still get this, and if we open up the wrong way, we could have, by August 1, 95% of us with COVID-19. And I don't have to tell you the tens of thousands of deaths that would cause."

What is the "right way" then?

"So it's really about scaling, testing, safeguarding Angelenos — and still continuing to stay at home, probably for the majority of things that we do, and for the majority of workers.

But seeing those numbers come down, testing those for two to three weeks, seeing if there's a spike. If not, take another step forward. So it has to be kind of a series of sequences.

But certainly the federal, state, county government — and we're trying to assist them — really need to focus on making sure we have the people to track and trace, and the testing to make sure we know what the prevalence is and the infectiousness at any given time."

Garcetti also discussed how the city budget will be "the most dynamic" he thinks the city's ever had, with reassessments every two to three weeks as the situation changes, and to account for potential federal aid.


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The 2020 Census Will Shift LA County's Congressional District Lines

The 2020 census could determine the future of the majority-Asian 27th District in the San Gabriel Valley (CalMatters)

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Redistricting analysts predict that based on the 2020 Census results, California could lose a seat in Congress for the first time in the state’s history.

It’ll be up to the Census Bureau to make that determination, but the California Citizens Redistricting Commission would get to choose which district to cut. Based on a study from Claremont McKenna College, they would likely pick one from within Los Angeles county—one of the slowest growing regions in the state.

But that decision doesn’t only come down to how many people live in each district—it also matters who lives there, because cutting up a constituency could change the voices that get represented in government.

Based on recent population estimates, the San Gabriel Valley is one region looking particularly vulnerable to redistricting. Here’s what’s at stake when those lines get redrawn.


This Lesser-Known California Program Can Save Jobs During A Pandemic

A worker checks the warehouse shelves at Pacoima-based Marketing Innovations International, April 24, 2020. (Courtesy: Nestor Escobar)

The coronavirus has put so many Californians out of work that about one out of every six workers in the state is seeking unemployment benefits. Economists say for many employers, there’s a better way.

California’s Work Sharing program lets companies save money by cutting their workers’ hours by as much as 60%. But the workers get to keep their jobs and benefits, and unemployment funding will help replace their lost wages.

Proponents say this lesser-known program is a great way to avoid painful layoffs during a recession. But employers have found the state’s analog application process to be stressful for their workers.

Frank Mullens, an executive with a Los Angeles company that applied for work sharing, said, “I’ve had employees come to me and say, ‘Okay, what do we do? It's been a couple weeks. You haven't heard anything. What am I supposed to do?’”


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Beutner: Coronavirus Testing, Tracing Needed Before LAUSD Can Re-Open

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner delivered his weekly briefing on April 27, 2020.

Los Angeles Unified School District campuses will not reopen until authorities set up a “robust system of testing and contact tracing," Superintendent Austin Beutner said today:

We closed school facilities on March 13th so our schools did not become a petri dish and cause the virus to spread in the communities we serve. That has worked. We do not want to reverse that in a hasty return to schools.

In his weekly video update, Beutner also kept up the pressure on federal, state and local government officials for more funding. In some cases, he said LAUSD is doing their job for them — and deserves to be reimbursed for it.

Here are a few highlights of Beutner’s speech:

  • No timetable for reopening: “Reopening schools will be a gradual process,” the superintendent said, “with a schedule and a school day that may be different.” But it’s too early to start talking about resuming normal operations, he said; first, “health authorities have to solve some very real issues.”
  • Budget impact: Last week, Beutner said LAUSD could be stuck with nearly $200 million in uncovered bills for emergency coronavirus response — unless federal, state or local governments stepped in to reimburse certain costs. This week, Beutner noted that L.A. County, the city and the state have all received federal funds “to support coronavirus related efforts like the food program” that LAUSD is running — and Beutner argued LAUSD is entitled to an “appropriate portion of these funds.”
  • Distance learning: In elementary schools, “71% of students now have devices,” Beutner said. The vast majority of LAUSD teachers have completed mandatory training in distance learning — and about half of teachers have signed up for additional training.

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LA County CEO Unveils New Budget, $594 Million Short Of Current Year's

The Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration houses several L.A. County offices. Photographed on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, Calif. Susanica Tam for KPCC

L.A. County CEO Sachi Hamai today unveiled a new recommended 2020-21 budget that was largely written before the coronavirus pandemic devastated revenues across local governments.

The proposal comes in $594.2 million under the current year budget, including a $445.6 million drop in general county funds. That decrease is mostly the result of completing "one-time funding" such as capital projects, not a direct response to COVID-19, according to a county spokesperson.

Nearly everything in next year's budget is subject to change as county leaders confront the fiscal effects of the virus: a $1 billion drop in revenues for the current fiscal year (ending June 30), and an expected "$1 billion-plus" plunge in 2020-21.

To balance the books for the remainder of this year, the CEO also announced the county will dip into one-time reserve funds and drastically slice into a projected cash balance. Before the pandemic, L.A. County had expected to end the year with a closing balance of $1.146 billion. That's been slashed to $196 million.

What about the impact to homelessness spending -- especially through Meaure H, which is primarily funded through a taxpayer-approved sales tax increase? The county is still factoring in an unpredictable economy, but the numbers it released today look grim:

"[T]he County’s sales tax dedicated to addressing the long-standing homelessness crisis, is estimated to have a $55.9 million shortfall in Fiscal Year 2020-21 and a $98.1 million shortfall in Fiscal Year 2021- 22. Although the County has made major strides to address the needs, the worsening economic factors caused by this pandemic and the projected loss of critical revenues, could greatly exacerbate the region’s homelessness problem."

"Due to the subsequent impact of COVID-19, the Measure H sales tax revenue forecast will be reevaluated in a subsequent budget phase," Hamai said in a letter to county supervisors.

There are a lot of unknowns, Hamai admits.

“We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst as we chart the course ahead,” she said in a press release. “As always, we will prioritize vital services to the public and our essential role as the safety net for our most vulnerable residents.”

The budget must be adopted by the end of June, ahead of the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.

Up for some light reading? The full recommended 2020-21 budget is just shy of 1,000 pages. Both volumes are also available on on the county's website.

Volume 1:

Volume 2:

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Judge’s Order To Reduce Detainee Population At Adelanto Temporarily Halted

Adelanto U.S. Immigration and Enforcement Processing Center. (Chris Carlson/AP)

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary stay on a federal judge’s order that would have forced the government to begin releasing some detainees at the Adelanto Detention Center starting today.

Last week, a federal judge ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to reduce the population at the 1940-bed detention center to allow for social distancing. The center currently holds about 1,300 people.

According to the order, at least 100 detainees were supposed to be released by today, and at least another 150 detainees by April 30.

ICE was to reduce the population by either releasing people, deporting those with final deportation orders, or transferring people to other facilities.

The federal government appealed the judge’s decision to the 9th Circuit, and on Saturday, a panel of judges temporarily stayed the order.

The ACLU of Southern California sued ICE earlier this month saying conditions at the facility make it impossible for people to socially distance.

A spokesperson for ICE said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation, but added that the facility has not reported any positive cases of COVID-19.


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Newport Beach Might Not Want You At Their Beaches

People gather on the beach north of Newport Beach Pier on Saturday. Too many people. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

The Newport Beach City Council is considering shutting down their beaches on the weekend after too many people — including non-locals — showed up this past weekend.


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Some LA Community Health Clinics Have Gotten Financial Relief, For Now

A patient picks up a prescription at the QueensCare Health Center in East Los Angeles, July 2019. (Leslie Berestein Rojas/LAist)

Community health clinics provide care to some of the most vulnerable populations, among them low-wage workers and immigrants who are working essential jobs right now. One in six Californians depend on these clinics for their health care needs.

Last week, LAist reported that some clinics in L.A. have been facing financial struggles due to the coronavirus pandemic. The way the clinics make money is through their patient services, but since COVID-19 struck, their revenue has gone way down.

At the same time, their expenses went up as clinics had to cover things like buying more personal protective equipment for staff. Some clinics were contemplating staff cuts.

One clinic organization, QueensCare Health Centers, was seriously considering furloughs and layoffs. But this week, QueensCare just learned it has received a $3.5 million emergency loan through the federal Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program.

“We're going to be able to keep our staff on board,” said Barbara Hines, CEO of QueensCare. “And we do have in place plans to pay hazard pay to our providers.”

But not all clinics are in the clear yet. Louise McCarthy, president of Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, says some clinics aren’t eligible for PPP loans and have begun layoffs.


How Students’ Grades Are Changing During The Coronavirus

A teacher in Washington, D.C., holds virtual office hours at his apartment to help his sixth-grade students with assignments on April 7, 2020. (Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images)

What should we expect of students during the coronavirus pandemic? After all, campuses are closed and classes can only meet online.

The uncertainty has prompted many districts to relax their grading policies:

  • The Los Angeles Unified School District will not issue any “F’s” this semester — and no overall grade will drop lower from where it stood in March.
  • Long Beach Unified elementary students will not receive report cards at all this semester. Middle- and high school students will receive pass-fail grades.
  • Corona-Norco Unified students grades’ can only improve from their March level.
  • Santa Ana Unified will likely revisit its grading policies soon. While details are still in the works, Superintendent Jerry Almendarez told students in a video update: “We don't want you stressing out about your grades.”
  • On the other hand, San Bernardino City Unified has not changed its grading policies or practices, spokeswoman Linda Bardere said in an email.

What do students and teachers think of new, relaxed grading policies? We asked a high school teacher — and a Zoom classroom full of middle schoolers.

As one eighth grader put it, it's a dilemma:

Kids don’t have the chance to get their work done — and the workload is just a lot more in total than what it was when we went to school …

At the same time, I think it’s bad because … the kids who don’t even try are getting the credit.



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Newsom, Becerra Ordered To Respond to Lawsuit About Jail Numbers

Inmates do a deep cleaning in a cell pod to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the San Diego County Jail on April 24, 2020. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union claims the state is risking the lives of incarcerated Californians during the pandemic, and is suing Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Xavier Becerra to reduce populations at jails and juvenile halls.

The state Supreme Court ruled that the state officials have until Tuesday to respond to the lawsuit.

A separate petition from the ACLU demands officials stop inmate transfers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The court did not act on that request.

“The most important thing that the state can do now is to ensure that more people are not put into those death traps,” said Jennifer Pasquarella, an attorney with the ACLU of Southern California.


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Morning Briefing: Looking Ahead To Week 7 Of Lockdown


Never miss a morning briefing, subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

This weekend brought a lot of extremes. To begin with, there was the heat wave — the first of the year for L.A., and the first to test our resolve during the pandemic.

Turns out, our resolve is slightly susceptible to sunlight; in response to the skyrocketing temperatures, lots of folks flocked to the beach, despite the fact that most are still technically closed.

There was also a very beautiful poppy bloom in Antelope Valley, which many a nature-lover took as a chance to get in their car and go literally anywhere. A lot of money was put towards COVID-19 research, and there was a doubling down on the arts, both as part of a public festival and as a way to honor those we’ve lost.

Anyway, we’re now entering week seven of lockdown in L.A. County. Obviously, lots of us are getting restless. But let me be the millionth person to give you encouragement to hold on. There’s so much to do from the comfort of your couch -- a butterfly social media takeover! Hollywood actors performing public school students’ scripts! Tom Hardy reading bedtime stories! -- we can all find something that gets us through another day.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you tomorrow morning.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, April 27

No LAUSD student will receive a failing grade this semester, reports Kyle Stokes, and no student will receive a grade lower than what they had when schools closed due to the coronavirus.

Butterflies. Bedtime stories from Tom Hardy. Living paintings. Scripts written by school kids and read by celebs. Hamilton at home. Christine N. Ziemba has this week’s best online events.

Alyssa Jeong Perry follows up on the financial struggles faced by community clinics during the COVID-19 crisis as fewer patients come in for routine care and they have to spend on protective equipment.

We can expect to see more lawsuits like those filed by three L.A. restaurants — including century-old Musso & Frank — for denying their coronavirus-related claims, reports Elina Shatkin.

Sharon McNary explores the various ways the coronavirus has affected public construction projects.

Josie Huang examines a lawsuit ordering California to dramatically reduce county jail and juvenile hall populations as COVID-19 outbreaks hit incarcerated communities disproportionately hard.

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The Past 48 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are at least 19,528 coronavirus cases and 913 deaths in L.A. County. There are nearly 43,500 cases and over 1,700 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are nearly 3 million cases and over 206,000 deaths. Local activists protested from inside their cars to demand rent and mortgage cancellations.

A Day At The Beach: As L.A. officials set up cooling centers throughout the county, the first heatwave of the year had people flocking to the coast, despite most L.A. beaches remaining closed. It was nothing like the scene in crowded Orange County, though, where beachgoers walked, biked, surfed, sun bathed, skateboarded, swam, played volleyball and more, even as officials asked non-residents to stay away.

Immigrant Children Will Be Released: More than 2,000 unaccompanied minors in the custody of Refugee Resettlement and 300 children being held at ICE detention centers will be released to family members.

The Arts: The third annual L.A. Voices Arts and Culture Fest happened on Sunday online instead of at Grand Park, and included a performance by Balún, a Salvadoran cooking demonstration and visual art from Ambar Navarro. Matt Mauser, who lost his wife Christina in the same helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, honored her in a livestreamed concert. May we suggest watching this year’s poppy bloom on a webcam rather than in person?

Confronting The Virus: A $4 million dollar donation will help researchers at USC’s Keck School of Medicine work to understand how COVID-19 works in the body. WHO has pushed back against the theory that antibodies equal immunity from the virus. Most public health departments in California don't have enough people to do proper contact tracing; Long Beach, for example, should have seven to nine times more investigators than it has now.

Your Moment Of Zen

Pacific Coast Highway was wide open and covered in fog for a restless drive on Sunday.

(Courtesy of Katherine Garrova)

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