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San Clemente City Council Divided Over Beach Closures
Orange County officials ordered by the state to close their beaches are not happy with the decision, but San Clemente’s city council is divided on how to respond.
All four council members present for a Friday night emergency meeting disagreed with the governor singling out Orange County in his closure order, but not everyone wanted to take up a fight with Sacramento.
Councilmember Gene James had harsh words, calling Newsom a despot.
"I’m sick of looking at the fences at the Pier Bowl," he said. "I’m sick of looking at the fences at North Beach. I’m sick of this shutdown that’s ruining the economy of our city."
Councilmember Kathleen Ward suggested the council’s time would be better spent on expanding COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
"That’s what we need to be talking about, not how mad we are about what the governor did, because I think we’re working on the proper channels to get our beaches reopened," she said in response to the outrage from some of her colleagues.
San Clemente has submitted a proposal for active beach use to the state for consideration. Newport Beach voted Saturday to affirm lawsuits against the state’s order. San Clemente has not.
LA County Confirms 38 New Deaths From Coronavirus
The L.A. County Department of Public Health today confirmed 38 new deaths and 691 new cases of COVID-19.
That brings the total number of cases in L.A County to 24,894, with a total of 1,209 fatalities.
Barbara Ferrer, director of the department, said as the county looks toward relaxing some of the safer-at-home provisions on May 15, they will "do everything possible to continue to slow the spread and save lives."
The department is still urging anyone who tests positive for the virus to self-isolate for 10 days and an additional 72 hours after symptoms subside, as per the new guidelines from the CDC.
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Huntington Beach Police Are Not Issuing Citations, Say Visitors Are Cooperating With Orders To Stay Off The Beach Today
A day after losing a legal fight to stop the closure of Orange County beaches, Huntington Beach deployed extra patrols to its shoreline to ensure people were staying off the sand.
Although local TV newscasts showed dozens of surfers still hitting the waves Saturday morning, Huntington Beach police spokeswoman Angela Bennett said police officers, with assists from the city's Marine Safety Division, were not having issues getting beachgoers to leave when asked.
"We are encouraging people to comply with the orders, which we've found most people are very, very willing to do," Bennett said.
Governor Gavin Newsom had ordered the closure of Orange County beaches starting Friday to stop the congregation of large crowds seen during last weekend's heat wave.
Huntington Beach and Dana Point tried to stop the beach shutdowns, but a judge denied their requests on Friday. An attorney for Huntington Beach said the city would fight for an injunction at a hearing on May 11.
Saturday was the first day Huntington Beach began enforcing the order and asking people to leave. Bennett said that's partly because of the legal battle the city had been waging with the governor. Also, police had their hands full monitoring 2,500 to 3,000 protesters on Friday, she said.
Bennett said the protest was peaceful and no arrests were made.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the department has been more interested in educating people than citing them for violating orders to stay off the beach, Bennett said. "We're trying to find that balance between people's rights as well as the public health."
A CNN drone captured images of the beach at 12:45 p.m. today, showing lots of empty sand.
The Newport Beach City Council met Saturday morning and voted to affirm its support for litigation filed by Huntington Beach, Dana Point and business owners trying to reopen Orange County beaches.
Most Of The CA Nursing Homes With Coronavirus Outbreaks Already Had Prior Health Violations
The coronavirus outbreak at the Rehabilitation Center of Santa Monica has been worse than most, with 12 employees and 24 patients infected, including nine fatalities, according to the Los Angeles County health department.
The center is one of 198 nursing homes in California where at least one patient has contracted coronavirus, according to pubic health records.
But this isn't the nursing home's first time dealing with health and staffing issues. A Kaiser Health News analysis found that the Santa Monica facility had lower-than-average staffing levels and a record of not always following basic staffing and infection control rules, long before coronavirus hit the U.S.
Many other California nursing homes with outbreaks also had major health violations in their past; including nurses or aides not washing their hands or wearing protective clothing around potentially contagious patients.
Kaiser Health News found that California nursing homes with coronavirus cases averaged 2.8 stars on Medicare's five-star overall quality rating, while other nursing homes averaged 3.5 stars.
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Freelancers Are Still Struggling With California's Unemployment System
Any trip to an L.A. coffee shop (in ye olden times, i.e., two months ago) is a quick reveal that this city is full of freelancers – screenwriters, producers, actors, journalists, hair and makeup stylists, photographers and pretty much everyone who works on film sets ... the list goes on.
That's why so many freelancers and self-employed Angelenos were relieved when California finally launched an unemployment program for people who file their taxes with 1099s, rather than W2s (for payroll workers).
But now that people are getting through the not-very-smooth application process, they've noticed a catch: If you're a freelancer who gets some, even a little, income from a W2, you won't get paid the full share of unemployment that would normally correspond to your income.
That's what happened to Elizabeth Windust, a freelance makeup artist.
Windust earns the vast majority of her income as a 1099 independent contractor. Based on that income alone, she would have likely qualified for the maximum of $450 per week in benefits, plus the extra $600 per week now going to all unemployment recipients through the end of July.
However, because a handful of her makeup jobs paid her as a W2 employee, she is now ineligible for the new program to help self-employed workers. Her benefits are instead calculated using only her W2 income.
"That's a tiny fraction of my total income," she said. Her weekly unemployment insurance award came out to $177 per week, rather than $450.
According to recent data, only 45 percent of people in L.A. are currently employed.
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Thousands Of Protestors Crowded Huntington Beach On Friday
More than a thousand protestors crowded downtown Huntington Beach on Friday to rally against state-ordered beach closures and California's stay-at-home policies.
On Thursday California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered local officials to shut down all beaches in Orange County to contain the spread of the coronavirus, triggering protests and threats of lawsuits from officials in Huntington Beach and Dana Point.
Both cities wanted an immediate, temporary restraining order against the closures. But state Superior Court Judge Nathan Scott allowed the order to stand.
Friday was quite a scene. So many demonstrators crowded together, that police on horseback had to block people from standing on the beach side of the street. It was loud, with lots of passing motorists limited to a single traffic lane, revving their engines and honking their horns.
Only about half the people present were wearing face masks, and most showed little concern for keeping physical distance from others.
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MORE ON THE ORANGE COUNTY BEACH BATTLE:
Morning Briefing: Impossible Choices For Some College Students
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Adam Sanchez was near the end of his freshman year at Cal State LA when he heard that students were being asked to move out because of coronavirus concerns. Speaking to Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, Sanchez said he wasn’t sure how he would get his classwork done outside the dorms, “because at home, I don't have access to the internet.”
Sanchez represents a cohort of students who are being left behind as colleges have shut down. Unlike unhoused students, they have a place to live but can’t realistically study there. And without a quiet spot to go – libraries, cafes and other public spaces are, of course, closed as well – they’re left with few options.
California might be close to making changes to its stay-at-home order, but for Sanchez, it’s already too little, too late – he felt his best option was dropping out of college to join the army.
"With the way Cal State LA has been doing everything, it's just ruined my whole perspective on college," he told Guzman-Lopez.
The repercussions of the pandemic have already stretched far and wide, altering the course of so many people’s lives. If you’re one of those people, we’d love to hear your story. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow morning.
The Past 24 Hours In LA
L.A., California, The World: There are now at least 24,262 coronavirus cases and 1,174 deaths in L.A. County. There are at least 51,775 cases and 2,111 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are over 3.3 million cases and more than 238,000 deaths (this number is lower than what was being reported earlier in the week).
Re-opening California: Gov. Newsom said that the state is "days, not weeks" away from announcing significant changes to stay-at-home restrictions. Meanwhile, there's a lot of confusion around eviction moratoriums, some of which are being lifted today. Huntington Beach and Dana Point called for a restraining order against Gov. Newsom's call to shut down OC beaches, but a judge upheld the closures – for now.
Higher Education: Some students with no place else to live have been told by Cal State campuses to leave their dorms. Now those students face the even tougher challenge of keeping up with their studies. One student says he's giving up on college altogether.
DIY: A couple of DWP upholstery shop employees have shifted their work to sewing fire-resistant face covers. L.A. County is providing thousands of coronavirus self-testing kits to residents, but public health officials are leery about whether or not this easier method is reliable.
May Day Celebrations: On this May Day, Zoom calls, Facebook calls and car caravans were held to honor "essential" workers, like grocery store employees and those who deliver food.
L.A. Food Scene: A woman in Lynwood who lost her job turned a charitable gift into a neighborhood menudo micro-business. MacArthur Park's street vendors say they're willing to risk not only their health, but their freedom, to make ends meet.
Your Moment Of Zen
The pier in Manhattan Beach during this week's red tide, which is caused by a massive bloom of microscopic algae that can produce a blue light.
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