THE LATEST

Help us rise to the challenge of covering the coronavirus crisis. Our journalism is free for all to access. But we rely on your support. Donate today to power our journalists.


Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):




THE L.A. REPORT IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY LLOYD PEST CONTROL

No Group in LA Harder-Hit By Coronavirus Than Pacific Islanders

Updated
Published
Pastor Pausa Thompson has volunteered his church hall in Compton for testing and quarantining. (Courtesy Mel Ponder)

Pacific Islanders have been on the periphery of the coronavirus conversation. But new data from the state and Los Angeles County show that Pacific Islanders are dying at a rate higher than every other group in L.A.

Cultural, socioeconomic and health factors are at play, say community leaders who are mobilizing to help the sick and stop the spread.

The pandemic is taking taken a huge toll on a community that is close-knit and communal.

"We are very, very connected," said Thompson, head pastor at Dominguez Samoan Congregational Christian Church. "I can trace the connections even to where their villages are back home."

READ THE FULL STORY HERE:

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Garcetti To Class of 2020: 'This Is Not The Spring You Hoped For, But It's The Spring You Have'

Updated
Published
Mayor Eric Garcetti demonstrates the type of cloth mask he's recommending people wear whenever they leave their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Screenshot from L.A. City

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the launch of a page on the city's website where members of the class of 2020 can voice their concerns about graduating from high school and potentially starting college in the Fall.

He encouraged students to visit coronavirus.lacity.org/collegeconnect, explaining that once their form is submitted, a counselor from their accepted college, high school, or nonprofit education partner will respond to offer help and guidance.

The mayor proceeded to use today's briefing to speak directly to the class of 2020:

"I know that for many of the students that have been admitted at four year colleges and universities, that tomorrow is College Signing Day. This is the deadline for students to submit their Intent To Enroll forms. And while some colleges have extended that deadline to June 1, many have not. You face an agonizing dilemma right now, whether to accept and follow your dreams for tomorrow, or to put those dreams on hold to help your families today. For many, this would have been a tough call, anyway. But COVID-19 makes it even more excruciating."

Garcetti added that the city is seeing indicators that disproportionate numbers of students of color, students living in poverty and students who are immigrants, have started to decline offers of enrollment from the universities and college they were accepted to for the fall.

"This is not the spring that you hoped for. This is not the spring that you deserved. But this is the spring that you have," he said, addressing the many the high school students across Los Angeles, who are now missing big events like prom and graduation ceremonies due to the virus.

President of the Campaign for College Opportunity, Michele Siqueiros, took the stand, adding that she is the parent of an LAUSD high school senior who is heartbroken that their graduation has been postponed.

Siqueiros encouraged graduates not to turn down the chance to attend college in the fall, despite the current situation.

"The value of a college education has never been higher," she said. "Over their lifetime, a college graduate earns more than $1 million more than their peers who only graduated from high school," adding that college graduates, as a whole, experience lower rates of unemployment and poverty, as well as higher access to health care, business opportunities and home ownership.

She went on to give more encouragement:

"Bottom line, college is worth it. While this pandemic may be postponing graduations, proms, senior activities, moments with your friends and family, it cannot postpone your dreams. The mayor and I know firsthand that pursuing your dreams, even in the face of adversity, will pay off.

And that's why if you were admitted into your dream college, and you can say yes, we urge you to say yes. This crisis will end, the pandemic will run its course. And we want to see you on your way to walking across the college graduation stage."

Siqueiros also said that she and her organization are working to convince more colleges to extend the acceptance deadline to June 1.

TESTING UPDATES:

After yesterday's announcement that testing is now available for all Angelenos, even those who are asymptomatic, the mayor clarified some points and provided some numbers:

  • Priority will still be given to high-risk individuals at all testing sites. "We'll never let the opening up of new tests take away the priority of those who need it the most. But as long as we have more tests available, we should never let any go unused each day," the mayor said.
  • There are now 34 testing centers open in L.A.
  • As of today, over 150,000 Angelenos have been tested. Opening up testing to everyone has allowed the city to double the numbers of those tested.
  • Although testing does fill up some days, the mayor said "our testing lab has hundreds of thousands of tests that are available." Those who don't get an appointment time should continue to access available testing slots.
  • To quell confusion about the city versus county guidelines about testing, Garcetti said he is not worried about supply. "We have over 300,000 tests stockpiled right now," he said. He added that the city has the potential to test 50,000 people a day. He is hoping this is most helpful for people who want to return to work when the stay-at-home order is potentially lifted (or ammended) on May 15. He says that the city and county testing policies are complimentary.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Coronavirus Hitting Younger, Less Educated Workers Hardest

Updated
Published
(Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

California's unemployment rate may now be at a whopping 20%. That's the estimate of a new study from the California Policy Lab that analyzed about a month's worth of unemployment claims during the pandemic.

Younger and less educated workers have been disproportionately affected. That's in part because a lot of them work retail and food industry jobs, many of which have been lost because of the outbreak. One out of every three people working in hotels or food services applied for benefits.

The health care industry has not been immune. It saw the third highest number of claims in recent weeks.

In the three-week period from March 22 to April 11, California saw 2.6 million unemployment claims.

The highest three-week total during the Great Recession was fewer than 300,000.

READ OUR FULL REPORT:

Study Estimates 1 In 5 Californians Have Applied For Unemployment

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Bad News For California’s Snowpack

Updated
Published
Sean de Guzman (left) and Andy Reising (right) do the final snow survey of the season at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on April 30, 2020. (Kelly M. Grow/California Department of Water Resources)

Employees with the California Department of Water Resources just conducted their final snowpack survey of the season up at Philips Station near Tahoe and the numbers aren't great, coming in at just 3% of average for this time of year.

California gets about 30% of its water from the melting snowpack.

How's the bigger picture for the entirety of the Sierra Nevada Mountains?

Sitting at 37% of normal.

It's still much better than it was in May, 2015 when we were in the throes of a terrible drought, and the snowpack hit its lowest level in 500 years.

This year could've been worse than it is.

February — usually one of our wettest months — saw record setting dryness, before we were sort of rescued by precipitation in March and April. Northern California missed out on much of the soaking.

Meanwhile, severe and extreme drought conditions are spreading throughout the state as we're repeatedly hit by above average heat.

The good news? We've got a good amount of water stored in our reservoirs because of the last few winters.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

We Don't Want To Vanish. LAist Needs Your Help

Updated
Published
(Photo by Regine Tholen on Unsplash)

We have a situation. At a time when Los Angeles needs more — not less — journalism, local newsrooms are being devastated by layoffs and furloughs.

We are still here... for now. But we are threatened by the same forces that have decimated other media outlets. LAist and KPCC are bracing for a 25% drop in revenue.

If you can help us close the gap, now is the time to do it. Support our vital, local, nonprofit journalism with a donation. LAist could disappear without your support.

If you'd like more convincing (or if you want to know why our coronavirus guide has been read nearly 400,000 times), here you go.

MORE ON WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP

LA County Updates List Of Official Coronavirus Symptoms; Confirmed Cases Top 23K

Updated
Published
A woman stops to view a public art installation aimed at turning boarded up shopfronts into works of art in Los Angeles on April 28, 2020. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles County officials reported 733 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 23,182 cases countywide. Of those cases, 629 were reported in Long Beach and 393 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 55 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 1,111.

Health officials also updated the official symptom list for coronavirus. That list is now as follows (newly listed symptoms in bold):

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

County health officials advised anyone experiencing these symptoms to schedule an appointment to be tested.

TWO SETS OF TESTING CRITERIA

Yesterday, city of Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced that L.A. would “become the first major city in America to offer wide-scale testing to all of our residents, with or without symptoms.”

But the city of L.A.’s new testing criteria is wide open — as in anyone and everyone — in contrast to the county of L.A., which is “not currently providing testing for low-risk, asymptomatic individuals,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, who oversees the county's Department of Health Services. She explained:

“... given the reality that testing supply chain and capacity is still limited across the country, Los Angeles County must focus on access for testing for those with symptoms and for those who belong to certain vulnerable, or at-risk populations. The county's guidelines are consistent with the state's guidance, which was revised most recently today to expand to [certain] populations that are asymptomatic.”

Ghaly added that the city and county are using the same web portal to handle testing appointments. She said people “who are eligible only according to the city's guidelines would be routed into the city-operated test appointment sites … the electronic portal is able to distinguish between the two.”

ADDRESSING HUNGER IN LA COUNTY

One big concern for county leaders: food security. L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said:

“There are residents going hungry right now, due to the economic hardship caused by COVID-19. That's why I encourage you to apply for CalFresh. [The program] provides nutrition assistance and funding for food, meals… please visit getcalfresh.org, or call 866-613-3777 to submit a CalFresh application. Our Department of Public Social Services has extended its service center hours just to help you.”

Solis also issued a reminder that the countywide ban on evictions “for non-payment of rent for residential and commercial tenants [and] people living on rented spaces at mobile home parks” remains in effect through May.

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 1,020 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 13% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 19% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 38% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 28% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 1% Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander
  • 1% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity

Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • Nearly 146,000 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 1,962 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 29% are in the ICU, with 19% on ventilators.
  • In total 4,813 people who've tested positive for coronavirus in L.A. County have "at some point" been hospitalized, Ferrer said, which represents 22% of all positive cases.
  • The death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County, particularly nursing homes, continues to climb. Ferrer reported that 525 residents at those facilities have died. That number represents 47% of all deaths countywide.
  • Ferrer reported there are now 5,296 confirmed cases across the county’s institutional settings. Of those, 3,296 are among residents and 2,000 staff members have tested positive, she said.
  • Ferrer said 172 cases have been confirmed among L.A. County residents struggling with homelessness — 99 of whom were sheltered. Health officials are currently investigating 15 shelter sites with confirmed cases.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

California Launches Statewide Child Care Website

Updated
Published
A screenshot of Pasadena child care availability as of April 30, 2020 on mychildcare.ca.gov.

California parents looking for child care can now try their luck on a new website, MyChildCare.ca.gov.

“Child care is essential,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his daily briefing Thursday. “These are essential workers out there that need child care. We need to provide that support.”

Demand is high. The California Department of Social Services reported as of April 23, 66% of L.A. County's licensed preschools and child care centers had closed. But the majority of home-based providers remain open, and the website is designed to connect parents with them and the licensed centers that are still operating.

People can search the site using their location and then see a provider’s location, availability and inspection record. The state directed child care resource and referral agencies to upload information about provider’s availability starting April 24.

The information isn’t complete for every provider though. A quick search for child care options in Pasadena brought up 977 results, but many of them said “availability unknown.”

Essential worker parents who want a list of providers that fits their specific needs can get a free referral from one of eight child care organizations in Los Angeles County by going to this website or calling 888-922-4453 (888-92CHILD).

State legislation passed in 2018 outlined the creation of the website.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Gov. Newsom Closes Orange County Beaches

Updated
Published

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced in his daily coronavirus update he was closing Orange County's beaches. He also said this was the third day in a row that the number of coronavirus deaths has increased. Read highlights below or watch his press conference above.

CLOSING ORANGE COUNTY BEACHES

While many weekend beachgoers practiced social distancing, some beaches had problems, Newsom said.

The governor announced that the state would be closing state and local beaches in Orange County, a less drastic measure than earlier reports, based on a memo to the state's police chiefs, that said Newsom was considering closing all California beaches.

When asked about that memo, Newsom said that while the state asked police chiefs and other groups for input, the plan wasn't to close all state beaches.

"We're going to do a hard close in that part of the state, just in the Orange County area," Newsom said, adding that the state is working with the county.

He thanked areas where beachgoing was handled well, including the city of Los Angeles and L.A. County. He also thanked Orange County for their work on guidelines for reopening its businesses, saying that those guidelines were interesting and thoughtful.

The governor said that outdoor activity is encouraged, as long as you aren't congregating or lingering. "We don't want beaches with tens of thousands of people mixing," Newsom said. He encouraged people to check out the state's guidance on what outdoor recreational activities are allowed, noting that the state's COVID-19 website has been updated with more details.

California Coastal Commission chair/Chula Vista city councilman Steve Padilla issued a statement in support of the beach closure.

"What this shows is that the threat of coronavirus spreading remains very real and that Governor Newsom is as serious as ever about keeping Californians safe," Padilla said in the statement. "I had COVID-19, was hospitalized for three weeks and in ICU on a ventilator for 11 days fighting for my life. So take it from me, we need to listen to the Governor and stay home until it's safe."

He added, "The Coastal Commission's entire mission is ensuring access to the coast and I recognize that many Southern Californians will be very disappointed with the decision. However, the governor's action will serve to protect the health, safety and lives of all Californians. Our coast is a precious resource for all of us but today we should remember what's most precious — life itself and the health of our communities."

Newsom also pointed out that although there is hope that COVID-19 may be seasonal, even sunny places are having issues. As an example, he cited Singapore, which has seen a surge in coronavirus infections and now has the highest number of reported cases in Southeast Asia.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

There were another 95 deaths in the last 24 hours, Newsom said — close to last week's high. California saw a 5.2% increase in new positives, although Newsom noted that it may be because the state is now testing more people. He said California is meeting its goal of being able to conduct 25,000 tests per day by the end of the month.

NEW CHILD-CARE INTERNET PORTAL

The governor announced a new child-care website meant to respond to the current situation. The coronavirus epidemic has impacted 63% of the state's child-care facilities, Newsom said. You can type in your zip code and see local child-care facilities, along with more information about each one.

The site was inspired by union child care website Carina, Newsom said, but this new website is accessible to everyone. There have been 432 pop-up child-care centers set up across the state, state Social Services Department director Kim Johnson said.

MORE UPDATES

Newsom said that California is working with various sectors of industry to decide when businesses can reopen. That includes expanding the definition of "essential workers."

The governor's office is close to finishing his work on the May budget revision, Newsom said, adding that it will be made public on Thursday, May 14.

The governor also said there have been discussions around the liability of nursing homes but he currently has no announcements about that issue.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

The Fight Over Opening Orange County's Beaches Rages On

Updated
Published
People gather on Corona del Mar State Beach on April 25, 2020 in Newport Beach. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

California's beaches have become contentious places. Over the past couple of weekends, Orange and Ventura counties reopened their beaches, attracting tens of thousands of people.

In Newport Beach, a major draw for sun-seekers, officials were so concerned by this past weekend's crowds, they considered shutting down beaches on weekends. Instead, the Newport Beach City Council voted on Tuesday to keep the beaches open while deploying extra police officers and city staffers to ensure social distancing and mask-wearing.

That decision has essentially been overruled.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday issued an order closing Orange County's beaches, starting Friday. He didn't close all California beaches, an option Newsom had reportedly been considering.

"I believe that this is a profound mistake," Orange County supervisor Donald Wagner said. "I think it is an overreach and I think it's going to undermine the very exemplary voluntary compliance we've seen here in Orange County."

On KPCC's AirTalk Thursday morning, Wagner told host Larry Mantle some of the recent pictures of Newport's beaches were shot with telephoto lenses and conveyed a misleading sense of how full the beaches actually were.

People gather north of the Newport Beach Pier on April 25, 2020 in Newport Beach. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

"Consider this, the numbers we heard were approximately 40,000 people on our beaches over this past weekend. Spread that over the miles of beaches and spread that over the eight, 10 hours of prime beach weather and you find there is an awful lot of room in general on our beaches," Wagner said.

Wagner represents Orange County's third district, which includes Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Anaheim Hills and some unincorporated canyon areas. He's also the former mayor of Irvine.

'A GREAT BIG MIDDLE FINGER' TO ESSENTIAL WORKERS?

Southern California residents who called in to AirTalk were split on whether beaches should open.

Some AirTalk listeners said they agreed with Wagner and wanted to keep beaches open.

People gather on the beach south of the Newport Beach Pier on April 25, 2020 in Newport Beach. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Others were concerned about reopening beaches because they say they aren't seeing enough people wearing masks or practicing physical distancing.

Jennifer, a caller from Irvine who said she works as a cashier at Whole Foods and is recovering from COVID-19, was concerned that opening the beaches would attact people from surrounding areas such as Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego.

She told Wagner, "You letting people come into this county and expose us, it's like giving essential workers a great big middle finger, and I'm ashamed of you. Do not be a weak leader leader. Stand up to business pressure."

"The pressure isn't coming from business," Wagner replied. "The pressure is coming from our citizens who are feeling that the beaches, the sunshine, the fresh air will, in fact, help them."

Wagner said officials have, until now, resisted the pressure to reopen "because the science wasn't there."

In fact, Wagner doesn't simply want Orange County's beaches to open. He wants to see all of California's beaches to open.

"If we believe opening beaches is a good thing in Orange County, I've got to believe it's a good thing statewide," Wagner said on AirTalk. "I would encourage others to take a look at the science like we did, and find ways to responsibly open their beaches, and that would help all of us."

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

California's Census Numbers Don't Look Too Good

Updated
Published
A sign encouraging residents to participate in the 2020 census hangs from the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland on April 28, 2020. (Anne Wernikoff/CalMatters)

Despite investing more than any other state, California's response rate is off more than 10% from the final 2010 count. Even with extensions, there’s a possibility for a record low turnout.

With the coronavirus pandemic, census deadlines continue to get pushed and dates have not been set for the resumption of group quarters and homeless counts, or outreach to rural areas.

And an undercount could have significant consequences for the state, sinking California's $187 million investment.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE:

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Some Spouses Of Immigrants Are Being Denied Pandemic Relief Checks In California

Updated
Published
President Trump's signature appears on letters announcing the recipient will receive an Economic Impact Payment of up to $1,200 per person, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. (Libby Denkmann for LAist)

Millions of American taxpayers are getting government stimulus checks of up to $1,200 per person.

But some U.S. citizens are being denied the money, because they’re married to immigrants who lack a Social Security number. A new lawsuit from the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund seeks to change that.

The group filed a federal suit this week challenging the Trump Administration’s policy of denying the benefit to citizens who file their taxes jointly as a married couple, with a spouse who uses an Individual Tax Identification Number, or ITIN.

The group argues that the current policy violates the constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and free speech.

READ THE FULL STORY:

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Californians Who’ve Run Out Of Unemployment Benefits Are Waiting For Extensions

Updated
Published
A staffer works to process claims at California's unemployment office, March 30, 2020. (California Employment Development Department)

California launched its new unemployment program for self-employed workers on Tuesday, giving many freelancers and independent contractors their first chance to apply for benefits.

But the online application system was off to a rocky start, with many users reporting that the state’s website repeatedly crashed.

Then there are those who’ve already run out of unemployment benefits for this year. They’re still locked out of the online system, and state officials don’t have a firm date for when they will be able to process extensions under new federal legislation.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE:

Why These LA Restaurants Are Suing Their Insurance Companies

Updated
Published
People walk past the closed Musso and Frank Grill earlier this month (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Let's say you own a small business, perhaps a restaurant. You pay into your insurance policy for years, maybe decades. Then, one day, local authorities order all the restaurants in your county to shut down, except for takeout and delivery. You follow the law and close your dining room, maybe you close your restaurant entirely.

"This is going to be hard," you think, "but at least I have insurance. I've got this covered."

You call up your insurance company and file a business interruption claim. Your insurer, however, sees things differently. They look at your policy and deny your claim.

What do you do? This is the dilemma countless Los Angeles restaurants are facing — and at least three of them have responded by filing lawsuits.

Bret Thompson is the chef and co-owner of Pez Cantina, a seafood-focused Mexican spot in Bunker Hill. He says the denial of his insurance claim felt "like a slap in the face."

Mark Echeverria, whose family owns and runs Musso & Frank, was also blindsided by his insurance company's denial:

"It feels like we just got thrown to the wayside. It's a contract and we expected to get paid on the claim."

Through a combo of their cash reserves and some PPP money, the old school Hollywood restaurant has managed to keep all 84 of its employees on its payroll.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

Insurance companies — as well as many insurance commissioners in the United States — are clear on their position. They say insurance policies were never meant to cover viruses, especially a once-in-a-century epidemic, and if insurance companies had to pay out for every coronavirus-related business interruption claim, the industry would collapse.

Small businesses have a different point of view.

"This is not something anyone's ever going to admit to but insurance companies write their contracts so that you can argue either side of the issue," says lawyer Jim Baer. "Why? Because it's a very complicated, specialized area and the unwritten rule is he who yells the loudest gets paid."

READ THE FULL STORY HERE:
Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Gov. Newsom Expected To Close Beaches Statewide

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

UPDATE: Gov. Newsom Closes Only Orange County Beaches

Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce today that he intends to close all beaches and state parks, starting Friday.

According to the Associated Press, the move was outlined in a memo sent to California's police chiefs and comes in the wake of a weekend that saw large crowds of people at open beaches, especially in Orange and Ventura counties.

This week, Newsom called out Newport Beach in particular for the large crowds that flocked to its coastline over the weekend, seeking relief from the heat and bit of pre-pandemic normalcy.

"The only thing that will set us back is our behavior," the governor said on Monday. "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."

On Tuesday night, the Newport Beach City Council voted to keep city beaches open.

In his daily media briefing Wednesday, Newsom said his office is working with state parks, the Coastal Commission and other agencies to "figure out what our next steps are," promising more clarity on the issue soon.

Pablo Cabrerra and Ryan Fonseca contributed to this report.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Female Prison Inmates Feel They're Being Left Out Of The Coronavirus Discussion

Updated
Published
The California Institution for Women in Corona. (Courtesy Of The California Department Of Corrections And Rehabilitation)

April Harris and Lashauna Blanks are inmates at the California institution for Women in Corona, and they feel forgotten. There’s a lot more media attention on men’s prisons, where there have been larger outbreaks of the virus.

There’s only been one positive COVID-19 case in a women’s state prison, and it's at the Corona facility. In fact, Blanks was the prisoner's cellmate.

Despite that, and despite the fact that she washes the prison ambulance and other vehicles that transport sick inmates to the hospital, Blanks has not been tested for the virus.

Prisoners who’ve had close contact with positive cases can get tested, but only if they develop symptoms or there's a large outbreak in a prison, according to state policy.

“I feel like we could be sitting on a ticking time bomb right now with so many more people affected that we don't know,” said Harris.

READ OUR FULL REPORT:

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Digital Contact Tracing: Help Or Hype?

Updated
Published
(Stock photo by freestocks on Unsplash)

"Digital contact tracing" uses technology to figure out who else may have been exposed to someone with an infectious disease. Think of it as a next step to the investigative contact tracing that's been around for many, many years.

Google and Apple recently announced they are working on updates to their smartphone operating systems — Android and iOS — that would allow approved apps from government health agencies to use Bluetooth to track proximity between different users and their devices.

But there are pros and cons.

READ MORE ABOUT DIGITAL CONTACT TRACING

LISTEN TO THE FULL CONVERSATION:


MORE ON CORONAVIRUS

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Morning Briefing: The ‘Invisible Population Behind Bars’

Updated
Published

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

As L.A. County’s coronavirus numbers continue to go up, concern is mounting over the safety of the incarcerated population. At a low-security men’s federal prison in San Pedro, more than half of the inmates have tested positive for the virus, and two have died – the largest outbreak in any prison in the nation.

Meanwhile, only 24 female inmates have been tested in California’s two largest women’s prisons, and some who are being held there believe women’s facilities are being overlooked as COVID-19 in men’s prisons gets more attention from the press and public.

In an interview with Robert Garrova, the ACLU’s Peter J. Eliasberg said the current situation violates California’s responsibility to protect prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment.

“The state has an obligation, when it puts people in a jail or prison, to reasonably guarantee their health and safety, and that’s not happening,” Eliasberg told Garrova.

As inmates’ positive test results mount, though, many residents and officials are turning their focus to reopening. Long Beach and Santa Monica have begun discussions on how to do so. Gov. Gavin Newsom says California is a week or two away from loosening restrictions, and federal guidelines won’t extend beyond their April expiration.

With that focus shifting, some inmates worry they’ll be left behind – particularly the women.

“It’s this invisible population behind bars,” Romarilyn Ralston, who directs a program that matriculates formerly incarcerated people, told Emily Elena Dugdale. "Women are still considered second-class citizens, and when we become incarcerated, we’re forgotten.”

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, April 30

L.A.’s Asian Pacific Film Festival. Impro Theatre takes on Hemingway. Louie Pérez of Los Lobos drops in for a chat. Christine N. Ziemba reminds us to have fun, but stay home.

California's population of Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians is small, but state health data shows they are dying from COVID-19 at almost four times their population share in the state, reports Josie Huang.

DragCon is taking place via livestream this year. Leo Duran explores how that will change the dynamic of the event...and suggests some easy costumes to wear at home.

Aaron Mendelson examines data that shows a slight reduction in the gap between coronavirus deaths and population share among Latinos.

Some spouses of immigrants have filed suit over their inability to receive federal stimulus checks because their spouses don't have a social security number, reports Libby Denkmann.

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


The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now at least 22,485 coronavirus cases and 1,056 deaths in L.A. County. There are over 48,000 cases and 1,900 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are over 3.1 million cases and over 227,000 deaths.

COVID-19 Testing For All Angelenos: L.A. Mayor Garcetti announced that starting tonight, all L.A. County residents – even those without symptoms – can get tested for COVID-19 at no cost. The mayor said that makes L.A. "the first major city in America to offer wide-scale testing to all of our residents." But brace yourself for slow load times on the city website where you can register.

Prisons: More than half the inmates at the Terminal Island federal prison in San Pedro -- 570 -- have COVID-19. Inmates in California's women's prisons say they have the same concerns about safety and testing as inmates at men's prisons, but they feel they're not getting nearly as much attention.

L.A.’s Workforce: As local and state leaders rush to create new ways for essential workers to access child care, questions about how they'll deliver services remain unanswered. We talk to some of the 2,900 people working to provide hundreds of thousands of meals to LAUSD kids every weekday. A new ordinance will require places like hotels, airports and performance venues to give laid-off workers the opportunity to return to their jobs when those businesses reopen.

Curbing Domestic Violence: L.A.'s Violence Intervention Program has started offering food, toys and rental assistance to families dealing with domestic abuse in order to lessen economic stressors.

Re-Opening California: California might be a week or two away from modifying its stay-at-home orders. Long Beach officials are asking for the community's input on how to safely reopen. Gov. Newsom got a surprise at a news briefing when a reporter put an OC Supervisor on the phone, who defended keeping beaches open. Santa Monica leaders are organizing a task force to consider reopening businesses.

The Future Of Social Distancing: Riverside County will extend social distancing and face mask requirements until June 19, calling it the "new normal." California officials are thinking about what schools might look like when they reopen. Existing federal social distancing guidelines will not be extended further.

L.A.’s Food Scene: Hummus Labs in Pasadena opened its doors during the dine-in restaurant ban. Owner Joseph Badaro figures the only way for things to go is up.

Unwind, Chill, Relax: Going to the theatre may be out, but how about letting the theatre come to you? The Geffen Playhouse is now operating the Geffen Stayhouse, in which its actors do shows right from their homes. Plus, the meditation app Headspace is now free for L.A. County residents, thanks to a partnership with the County Mental Health Department.

Opposite Of Chill And Relax: In what has become a nasty referendum on how movies are released, Universal and theater owners are fighting over “Trolls: World Tour" and over the very viability of the multiplex. While other studios have yet to choose sides, exhibitors have fired an industry-wide warning shot at Hollywood moguls: abandon us now, and pay the price later. Also, our air quality has gone downhill.


Your Moment Of Zen

LAist Studios operations manager Taylor Coffman captured this image of the empty Santa Monica Pier at the end of March.

(Taylor Coffman / LAist)

Help Us Cover Your Community

  • Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
  • Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.

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


icon
DON'T MISS ANY L.A. CORONAVIRUS NEWS

Get our daily newsletters for the latest on COVID-19 and other top local headlines.


Terms of Use and Privacy Policy