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Now There's A Coronavirus Outbreak At The Women's Prison In Corona

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

Another state prison is experiencing a coronavirus outbreak: This time it’s the California Institution for Women in Corona.

After a few inmates were confirmed sick last week, the prison worked with local public health officials to ramp up testing. On May 8 and May 12, a total of 400 inmates were tested, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

"We are seeing an increase in positive cases," although most inmates are asymptomatic, the department said in a statement.

The entire prison is now quarantined "until further notice," it said, adding that the facility will severely limit movement internally and suspend all activities where it can't achieve physical distancing.

A previously unoccupied housing unit will be used to isolate those inmates who tested positive but are asymptomatic. Those with symptoms will be treated at the prison's treatment center or at an outside facility "as needed," the department said.

The prison will pursue “additional mass testing” of inmates, while also offering testing to all staff, it added.

So far, in California's state prison system only the men's prison in Chino and the state prison in L.A. County have had significant numbers of coronavirus cases.

MORE ON DETENTION FACILITIES

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UPDATE:

7:03 p.m.: An earlier version of this article said the prison was working with officials from San Bernardino County. The prison is in Riverside County.

LA Sheriff Now Says He Hasn't Decided Fate Of Altadena And Marina Del Rey Stations

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Sheriff Alex Villanueva. (L.A. County Sheriff's Department)

Nothing gets the attention of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors more than a sheriff who says he plans to close patrol stations. Supervisors know a lot of their most vocal residents will complain – residents who likely vote.

So it was no surprise this week when the board voted to tell Sheriff Alex Villanueva to axe plans to close stations in Altadena and Marina Del Rey. But because the sheriff is elected, the board can't dictate how he spends his budget. Villanueva pointed that out Wednesday.

“It was all bluff and posturing,” the sheriff told reporters.

At issue is the board’s plan to give Villanueva $400 million less than he requested for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Supervisors say they’re concerned about the sheriff’s deficit spending the last year and a projected $1 billion drop in tax revenue because of the coronavirus.

But after dramatically announcing last week his plans to close the stations — two of 23 operated by the department — Villanueva said Wednesday he hasn’t actually made a final decision. And the sheriff said if he does move forward, administrative functions would stop, but local patrols would continue.

“The deputies will remain at their stations,” Villanueva said.

All the back-and-forth left Altadena resident Rene Amy’s head spinning. “I think that I can’t trust anything that anybody says,” Amy told us. He was one of 200 Altadena residents signed up to comment at a virtual town hall on the issue Wednesday night sponsored by the Civilian Oversight Commission.

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Garcetti: Stay-Home Order Has No End Date, But More Openings And Relief Coming

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti clarified tonight that the city's stay-at-home order has no fixed end date but that restrictions will continue to be lifted gradually in the coming weeks and months.

He also announced expanded child care for emergency frontline workers and new programs to make it easier for people to get out and about while maintaining safe physical distancing. You can watch the full address above.

IS WE IS OR IS WE AIN'T SHUT DOWN?

The current order had been set to expire on May 15 and earlier communication from the county and city suggested that it was being extended through July. In fact, the order is now in place until further notice.

But in what some might interpret as "let's have our cake and eat it too" messaging, Garcetti said he did not expect the shutdown to last until July.

"So no, we won't be shut down for three more months. That's not what I heard. That's not what I expect. It's not what I hope," he said.

(This came hours after L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer apologized for comments made Tuesday that she conceded had been “confusing.”)


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Instead, the city will continue to gradually lift the restrictions in place under its "Safer L.A." order. Already today, it was announced that retail businesses that qualify can reopen for curbside pickup and delivery. And Garcetti boasted about the now-open beaches "that fill our souls, that remind us of what's so beautiful here in Los Angeles, and give us hope." Just remember: no sunbathing — stay active and keep moving by swimming, running, or generally moving about.

Tomorrow, Garcetti said, you will also be able to visit tennis and pickleball courts (yes, we had to look it up too), archery ranges, equestrian centers, model airplane areas and community gardens.

But, of course, you should now have your mask with you at all times whenever you leave your home, Garcetti said, and it is still "safer at home." You can walk around without your mask, and exercise, and take some fresh air, but only if you don't come close to or pass anyone on the street who's not part of your household. When that happens, cover your face. The mandate extends to everyone but children or those with a health condition that could make it difficult or harmful for them to wear a mask.

All of this depends on the public health indicators continuing to improve. If deaths start to jump up again, all bets may be off.

"This is really tough work, and I want to remind you this is about saving the lives of people we know. It pisses me off when I hear people saying, 'Oh those are just old people,' because you know that so many of the people that are dying are our parents and our grandparents and our neighbors."

Takeaway: We will be living with some form of restrictions indefinitely, but as long as the numbers don't tick up again, you'll be able to start recreating more.

CICLAVIA EVERY DAY?

With all those pedestrians now being encouraged to get active outdoors, another of the mayor's announcements could help.

Garcetti said the city and neighborhood councils have a plan in the works to close streets to vehicular traffic, giving pedestrians more space to roam without bumping into each other.

As soon as tomorrow, the city could share an online form where people can nominate streets for pedestrian-only access, so stay tuned.

CHILD CARE FOR EMERGENCY WORKERS

Low-wage hospital support staff such as janitors had already been included in free child care services from the city and county. Tonight, Garcetti said he was extending those services to emergency workers, too.

The county has 18 rec centers offering child care services, including supervision, academic assistance and recreational activities for children 6-14 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

For more info, visit coronavirus.lacity.org/childcare.

BREAKING NEWS: GARCETTI GOT A HAIRCUT

Our reporter Emily Guerin asked the tough question, to which the mayor replied:

"I did get a haircut. It was from my wife. And I ordered on Amazon some electric shears. I've only had one cut. As I joked a few weeks ago, I'm told it's not that straight in the back, but I think she did a pretty good job on the sides and the front."

In all seriousness, though, Garcetti said visiting hair and nail salons is still considered "one of the more dangerous and risky activities, even done with appointments only."

The mayor said his advice was to avoid these services until we get through Phase 2.

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Antibody Testing Isn't What You Think: Where, Why and Whether To Get One

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Medical student volunteers from Keck School of Medicine of USC administer antibody tests to randomly selected participants as a part of the USC-L.A. County COVID-19 Study. (Photo by: Kit Karzen) Kit Karzen

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.

Testing, testing, testing. That’s the key ingredient in getting our society back to some sort of normal. As the state opens more facilities to test for COVID-19, testing for virus antibodies is also popping up in unlikely places.

Given how tough this winter's flu season has been, it's natural for many of us to wonder if we were exposed to COVID-19 and if an antibody test can tell us if we're immune. But UC San Francisco epidemiologist George Rutherford says:

"That's categorically incorrect...It can tell you you've been infected, but not that you're immune." And it will NOT tell you if you currently have COVID-19.

There are a lot of tests out there, too, and many are expensive. So buyer beware. Rutherford, a professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, explains that the mad rush to get antibody tests to the public has made it hard for the FDA to vet them all. He told us:

"Ninety test systems came on the market in one week. It was the wild west."

You can hear more of his conversation with A Martínez, who hosts our newsroom's local news show, Take Two, which airs on 89.3 KPCC:

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A $17K No-Interest Loan Goes To Deli That's Like The 'Cheers' Of Its Community

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(Screenshot from San Carlo Deli's website)

A San Fernando Valley delicatessen struggling during the pandemic got a $17,000 financial boost today.

San Carlo Italian Deli and Bakery in Chatsworth received a no-interest loan in that amount through the Small Business Angel Fund. That fund is a collaboration between the non-profit The Change Reaction and Los Angeles City Councilman John Lee, who represents the 12th District.

So far, that fund has raised $1 million.

Lee told us:

"We were all kind of disappointed with the first rollout of the PPP program when the majority of the money went to publicly traded companies. And so we thought: Let's start our own program."

Lee says San Carlo's was one of the first businesses to apply for a loan, which will help with back rent. He called the business "one of the staples of our community. It's kind of like the equivalent of our Cheers."

The deli has an interesting history. The Roberto family has operated the business since 1975, according to the deli's website. The original location was destroyed during the civil unrest in 1992 and relocated to the Chatsworth location.

The fund that benefitted San Carlo's also helps businesses negotiate with landlords. Lee says loans amounts and re-payment schedules depend on the needs of each business. The first round of loans are earmarked for essential businesses.

MORE ON LOAN PROGRAMS

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Even Advocates For Nursing Home Residents Can't Visit Nursing Homes Right Now

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A sign outside of the Kingsley Manor Retirement Community notes that visitors are not allowed unless medically necessary. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

As health authorities struggle to contain COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes, even official patient advocates can't visit homes in person.

Los Angeles County's Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, a publicly funded entity that investigates complaints about the treatment of residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, is barred from doing site visits under federal guidelines (there’s an exception for end-of-life care.)

"I think this is a time, more than ever, our residents need us," said Molly Davies, who administers L.A. County’s program, which has five offices throughout the county and oversees 2,000 facilities.

Davies said they are still conducting investigations — over the phone. "We can do a lot from the office but we can't do everything," she said.

Nursing home ombudsman programs across the country are under the same constraints.

The ombudsman's office covers a wide range of services, including investigating complaints of abuse and handling medical and legal problems. Often, they are the first agency to hear from residents and loved ones and can act as an intermediary between them and the facility.

The California Department of Public Health, which licenses and regulates nursing homes, has also suspended its routine inspections. But they are entering nursing homes across the state to help with infection control.

As of today, 800 deaths among L.A. County nursing home residents and staff have been attributed to COVID-19, nearly half of all virus-related deaths in the county.

An aggressive response against the coronavirus may protect residents from getting infected but Davies said she has concerns over isolated residents' mental health and safety.

A 24/7 statewide ombudsman crisis line is available to receive complaints from residents in long-term care facilities: 1-800-231-4024.

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Democrat Christy Smith Concedes In CA-25 Special Election As Republican Mike Garcia Claims Victory

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Republican Mike Garcia and Democrat Christy Smith met in an online forum held by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce in April. (Santa Clarita Valley Chamber Of Commerce)

The race to fill the remainder of ex-Rep. Katie Hill's term in California's 25th District, includng Palmdale, Santa Clarita and Simi Valley, is over.

Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith conceded to Republican former Navy pilot Mike Garcia this afternoon. Smith said she will go back to work in Sacramento and turn her attention to November, when the two will face off for a full term.

"[T]his is only one step in this process, and I look forward to having a vigorous debate about the issues in the upcoming November 2020 election, Smith added.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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Additional 'Lower Risk' Businesses Can Reopen In LA County; Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Top 34K

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A framing art gallery is closed in Venice Beach on April 1, 2020. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

Public health officials have issued a new order to allow more types of low-risk businesses to reopen.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer says retailers that allow doorside pickup can open, with the exception of those in indoor shopping centers and malls. Manufacturing and logistic businesses that supply these lower risk retail businesses can also get back to work.

Ferrer noted that the amended order does not allow customers to enter stores, and businesses need to take several steps to ensure they are following public health protocols designed to limit the spread of COVID-19. She said:

"We ask that you remember — both the public and the retailers — that this is just to offer curbside, doorside, or other outdoor or outside pickup or delivery. The public is not allowed to go into the retail businesses... before a retail business or a manufacturer or a warehouse opens, they are required to prepare, implement, and post their compliance with our directives to demonstrate that they're adhering to distancing and infection control practices that protect both employees and customers."

The amended order comes a day after Ferrer acknowledged to county leaders that the county's stay-at-home orders will remain in effect — in some form — for at least the next three months.

Ferrer did apologize for any confusion caused by her previous remarks and reiterated that while the main "Safer at Home" order is still in place, health officials will continue to update it and hope to ease restricitons as the recovery process continues.

"I had no intention of messaging that we weren't changing our order to reflect our recovery journey — since we are," she said.

BY THE NUMBERS

Public health officials reported 1,264 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 34,428 cases countywide. In total, 984 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 593 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

Ferrer reported 47 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 1,659 people.

Of the 47 people who've died in the past 24 hours, 33 were over 65 and, of those victims, 30 had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. Nine victims were between 41 and 65 and eight of them had underlying health conditions. One victim was between 18 and 40, and had underlying health conditions.

So far, 92% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. She also noted that the county has seen nearly 1,300 deaths in the past 30 days.

Ferrer had this message for L.A. County residents with underlying health conditions:

"I want to emphasize that if you have an underlying health condition — chronic lung disease, asthma, serious heart condition, HIV or another condition that affects your immune system — it is really important that you continue to do your best to stay home as much as possible to avoid coming into close contact with others who are not in your household. And if you begin to have symptoms that you contact your provider immediately."

The death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County, particularly at nursing homes, continues to climb. Ferrer reported that 835 residents at those facilities have died. That number represents 50% of all deaths countywide.

Here are some other key figures being reported today:

  • Just over 200,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and had their results reported to L.A. county health officials. Of those tests, 11% have been positive. Ferrer noted that the number of reported tests decreased from over the weekend due to a reporting error.
  • There are currently 1,763 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those individuals, 25% are in the ICU, with 17% on ventilators. Ferrer said officials continue to see "slight decreases in the number of people that are hospitalized."
  • In total, 5,596 people who've tested positive for coronavirus in L.A. County have "at some point" been hospitalized, Ferrer said, which represents about 16% of all positive cases.
  • The county health department is currently investigating 394 institutional facilities where there's 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 said there are 8,548 confirmed cases in those facilities — 5,520 residents and 3,028 staff members.
  • Ferrer said 257 cases have been confirmed among L.A. County residents struggling with homelessness — 140 of whom were sheltered. Health officials are currently investigating 27 shelter sites with confirmed cases.
  • There have now been 457 confirmed cases "at some point in time" in county jail facilities, Ferrer reported. In total, 351 inmates and 106 staff members have tested positive.

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MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

Real Estate Developer Pleads Guilty On RICO Charge, In Latest City Hall Corruption Investigation Twist

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City Hall from Grand Park on Tuesday March 24. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

A Granada Hills real estate developer will plead guilty in connection with a scheme to bribe public officials — including an unnamed member of the Los Angeles City Council — to smooth the passage of real estate projects.

George Chiang, 41, agreed to plead guilty, according to documents filed in federal court today. The public officials involved in the scheme netted cash, consulting fees, concert and game tickets, and political donations as part of the scheme. The court papers detail how the city councilmember accepted bribes from a Chinese real estate business, for which Chiang consulted.

Chiang became a "close political ally" of a city councilmember on the powerful Planning and Land Use Management Commitee, a release from the Department of Justice said. He also worked closely with a longtime city employee who became Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.

No date has been set for Chiang to enter his guilty plea. When he does, he will face up to 20 years in federal prison.

Chiang is the third person to plead guilty to a felony charge as part of a wide-ranging F.B.I. investigation into corruption at Los Angeles city hall. Former Councilmember Mitch Englander pled guilty to obstruction of justice in March.

In 2018, the FBI raided the home and office of Councilmember Jose Huizar, who then sat on the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, as part of the corruption probe. Huizar has not been charged with a crime, and continues to represent the 14th District.

DO DEEPER

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Print This Adorable Worksheet We Mailed To LA Kids

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It’s a toy! It’s a game! It’s a vital resource during a pandemic! (Stefanie Ritoper/LAist)

These are not typical times, so we did something we don’t typically do — we sent mail to a bunch of children.

Kids need activities and parents need critical information (and five minutes of quiet), so we teamed up with graphic designer Rosten Woo to create something that could serve all of those purposes.

The motivation behind the mailing is simple: Not everyone in Los Angeles has easy or consistent access to the internet.

A quarter of all households with school-aged kids in L.A. County do not have access to personal computers and fixed broadband internet.

We were able to target ZIP codes where just 40% to 50% of households have access, with the help of Hernan Galperin and USC's Connected Communities and Inclusive Growth project.

The result is a resource guide that more than 12,600 families can use as a roadmap for financial help, food assistance and other types of aid. It's also an activity sheet for kids.

Print a copy for yourself:

This project is one way we're rethinking our education coverage to serve parents, caregivers and educators where they are.

See our post on Medium for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of KPCC/LAist's engagement team and how we're bridging the gap between journalists and the communities we serve.

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Hollywood Bowl Cancels Summer Season, Furloughs 25% Of Staff

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The Hollywood Bowl. (Courtesy of the L.A. Philharmonic)

The Los Angeles Philharmonic announced today it is cancelling its 2020 season at the Hollywood Bowl and Ford Theatre.

The decision, which the top executive said left them "broken hearted," marks the first time in the venue's history that a season has been cancelled. Concerts and other programs normally start in June and run through September.

As with the decision made earlier this year to cancel the remaining concerts for Disney Hall, L.A. Phil officials said it was made "in an effort to protect artists, audiences and staff from the spread of COVID-19."

"We are all broken hearted by the effects of this crisis and share the disappointment of all those who look forward to the Bowl and Ford seasons every year," CEO Chad Smith said in a statement. "As we deal with this public health emergency, our task now, which we share with all of Los Angeles, is to go forward with strength and resilience, knowing we will get through this with one another’s help."

The cancellation will result in an estimated $80 million revenue loss. In anticipation of that, the association is furloughing approximately 25% of its full-time, non-union staff and laying off all seasonal Hollywood Bowl employees. Orchestra members will also be furloughed. Prior to this decision, the L.A. Phil had already laid-off all part-time staff and cut existing salaries by 35%.

Smith looked ahead to the future while acknowledging the immediate losses:

"The cancellation of our summer programs and the resulting impact on our musicians and staff is devastating... The L.A. Phil has been here for more than 100 years, and the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford for almost as long. We are doing what is necessary to ensure that we are all here for the next century."

Hollywood Bowl ticketholders will have the option of donating the value of their tickets to support the L.A. Phil's educational programs, including their youth orchestra. Ticketholders also have the option of receiving a full refund via the website.

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Newsom: 10 Counties Now Approved To Move Further Into Phase 2 Reopening

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Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered his daily update on California's response to the coronavirus pandemic and talked about wildfire preparedness ahead of Thursday's release of the May budget revision. You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference above.

COUNTIES MOVING MURTHER INTO PHASE 2 OF REOPENING

As of now, 10 of California's 58 counties have been approved to move further into Phase 2 of reopening, Newsom said. These counties are now able to add dine-in options and more personal services:

  • Amador
  • Butte
  • El Dorado
  • Lassen
  • Nevada
  • Placer
  • Plumas
  • Shasta
  • Sierra
  • Tuolumne
  • Yuba-Sutter

Newsom discouraged people from traveling for non-essential purposes, including traveling to counties that have loosened restrictions. He did say that this directive is less significant in areas where multiple counties are moving into reopening together.

MAY BUDGET REVISION — CUTS COMING

The governor noted that he will introduce the May budget revision to the state Legislature tomorrow. The state's budget will be released at noon. Certain parts of the Cal Fire and Office of Emergency Services budgets had to be pulled back, Newsom said, but he declined to give specifics.

"The federal government must do more to support these states," Newsom said. "We need the federal government."

He believes cuts to police, fire and first responders can be avoided with federal government intervention, particularly at the county level.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS — ICU NUMBERS SLIGHTLY DECLINING

There were 87 coronavirus-related deaths in California yesterday, with 1,759 new positives. A total of 32,222 tests were conducted Tuesday.

ICU numbers were down 0.3%. Newsom noted those numbers are moving from stability to a slight decline.

$86 MILLION CAL FIRE BUDGET INCREASE

Ahead of this year's fire season, Newsom spoke from a local fire department in El Dorado County about emergency preparedness and how to deal with fires amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The governor's office will be recommending an $85.7 million increase in Cal Fire's budget, Newsom said. The goal is to improve surge capacity and hire personnel — roughly 600 people — before the peak of this year's fire season.

"You've got to walk and chew gum at the same time," Newsom said. "We're focused on coronavirus mitigation, trying to do our best to suppress the spread. At the same time, we've got to suppress and mitigate these fires."

In the past week, California saw 246 wildfires, Newsom said. In 2020, the state has seen about a 60% increase in the total number of wildfires. Last year, between January and May 10, there were 675 wildfires. This year, there were 1,135 fires in that timespan.

This has been a below average year for precipitation, Newsom said, with a lower snowpack.

Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter spoke about wildfire response, prevention and preparedness. He offered recommendations for residents on hardening their homes and helping neighbors, particularly the elderly, prepare. Porter urged people to visit ReadyForWildfire.org. He said he expects tens of thousands of wildfires this year.

MORE WILDFIRE PREPAREDNESS

The Public Utilities Commission is building a team of 106 people who will create a Wildfire Safety Division within the commission, before becoming an independent entity, Newsom said. It will be part of the budget revise announcement planned for Thursday.

PG&E has significantly increased its safety protocols as it works to come out of bankruptcy, Newsom said.

The Office of Emergency Services budget will be up $127 million in this year's budget, Newsom said, monitoring not just wildfires but other disasters such as earthquakes. Among other changes, there will be an additional $38.2 million for disaster relief in the May revise budget.

MORE UPDATES

Newsom said that while Tesla has chosen to reopen its car manufacturing factory against Alameda County orders, because that kind of activity is now allowed under the state orders, enforcement is in the hands of the county. However, Newsom added, it appears the county and Tesla have managed to work out their disagreement.

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LA Expands Curbside Pickup As More Businesses Reopen

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New signs on some L.A. city parking meters turn normal parking spaces into temporary food pick-up zones. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

In early April, the city of Los Angeles launched a program to install temporary food pickup parking zones outside restaurants. This week, that program is expanding to include certain retail businesses.

The city’s Department of Transportation will begin posting new signage along curbs in an effort to streamline pickup protocols as more businesses reopen and try to rebound from the COVID-19 recession.

"LADOT is committed to supporting Los Angeles residents and businesses however we can during the current pandemic," LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds said in a press release. "With hundreds of restaurants taking us up on our offer for free Food Pick-up Zones, it was only natural to extend this program to retailers so we can help stores stay in business and keep customers safe."

(Courtesy LADOT)

Retail businesses within the city can apply for up to two spots and signs, which notify drivers of a 10-minute limit to park and pick up their orders at nearby stores. If approved, signs will be installed free of charge within three business days, according to city officials.

The application form for retailers is available here on LADOT’s website. The signs are available for the following types of businesses that qualify:

  • Toy stores
  • Bookstores
  • Clothing stores
  • Florists
  • Music stores
  • Sporting goods stores

City officials note in the application form that the signs "are temporary and only valid until the emergency is over as declared by the Mayor."

To date, LADOT has installed more than 440 food pickup signs at 317 locations, with more signs on the way, according to department spokesperson Colin Sweeney.

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No Tuition Breaks For Cal State Students Even As University Stays Online For Fall

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California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White announced on Oct. 22, 2019 that he will retire in 2020. (California State University)

Students in the 23-campus California State University system will not pay less in the fall semester even though their classes will remain online, Chancellor Timothy White said today on KPCC's AirTalk.

"Our tuition and mandatory fees will remain," White said in response to a listener call. "We are keeping our employees. Our cost drivers aren't going down. In fact, they're actually going up with respect to the cost of delivery, with the added technology we need to purchase, the added training we need to do."

Some Cal State students have already gone to court over money they've paid as the university has moved learning online.

Students filed a class-action lawsuit against the Cal State and University of California systems, seeking refunds of mandatory fees such as health center fees. Their lawsuit alleges students are not benefitting from those services because the campuses have been shut down.

White said on AirTalk that health service centers are still open and other services continue to be available online, and that students will continue to receive a quality education:

"Classes are not canceled. It'll just be different in some ways but not all ways."

There will still be some in-person classes for courses that require hands-on experience, such as life sciences, physical sciences, agriculture, engineering, architecture and nursing. White said in those cases, class sizes will be reduced and other measures will be taken to keep students and faculty safe.

"Instead of having 15 to 20 students in one of those [nursing] sessions in the fall, it's going to be five," White said.

White also said students on athletic scholarships will not see their education disrupted although sports activities have been shut down. Listen to the full interview with Larry Mantle below:

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Pasadena Reopens Rose Bowl Loop Hiking Trails

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An exterior view of the Rose Bowl before the game between the New Mexico State Aggies and the UCLA Bruins on September 21, 2013 in Pasadena. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

After a six-week closure, the loop around Pasadena’s Rose Bowl opened again today to walkers, joggers and cyclists.

The 5-kilometer loop has been closed to reduce exposure to COVID-19. But on Monday, city council voted to reopen the expansive recreational area.

Lisa Derderian with the city of Pasadena says you’ll need to follow social distancing rules and wear face coverings.

"Not necessarily masks, because our concern too is the health aspect. People are wearing masks, they’re exerting themselves — they’re not used to doing that. They could have potential medical issues as a result of that, which we’re seeing in other areas, too."

The Rose Bowl loop is open from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Parking is available in Lot I and holds about 1,400 cars.

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With Votes Still Being Tallied, Republican Mike Garcia Poised To Claw Back Katie Hill's House Seat

Updated
Published
GOP congressional candidate Mike Garcia speaks at a CA-25 forum at the Republican Values Center Feb. 8, 2020. (Libby Denkmann/LAist)

After polls closed Tuesday night, Republican Mike Garcia jumped out to a strong lead with early mail-in ballots in the 25th District special election to complete the rest of ex-Rep. Katie Hill's term in Congress.

As of this morning, Garcia was up 12 points on Democrat Christy Smith.

"I won't give a victory speech tonight," Garcia said on a conference call with supporters and members of the media. But he added, "it is looking extremely good."

Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith said in a statement it's too early to call the race. Her party has a registration advantage in the north L.A. and eastern Ventura County district, which Hill won by nine points.

READ THE FULL STORY:

Coronavirus Is Taking A Mental Toll On Frontline Workers, Experts Say

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Published
Paramedics wearing face masks work behind an ambulance at the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park on March 19, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Mental health experts are warning of the stresses faced by first responders and health care workers as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Not only are they worried about the people they treat and assist, but about becoming exposed to the virus and bringing it home to their families. Experts say this prolonged stress will have a lasting impact on these essential frontline workers.

"There's probably going to be people who develop psychological disorders, like depression and anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder," said Dr. Joshua Morganstein, who chairs an American Psychiatric Association committee focused on disaster and trauma.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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LAUSD's Mental Health Hotline: Who's Calling? About What?

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Published
Patrick McCauley, a mental health consultant for the L.A. Unified School District, answers calls to LAUSD's mental health hotline in his garage. (Courtesy of Patrick McCauley)

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

In April, we told you about the Los Angeles Unified School District's new mental health hotline, created to help students and families "manage fear, anxiety and other challenges related to COVID-19.”

Now, we have insight into who's calling — and about what.

According to call data provided by the district, the mental health hotline received 581 calls in April.

  • 19 callers were students
  • 350 were parents
  • 303 calls were for "basic resources" (think food, devices, diapers)
  • 241 were for general mental health concerns, including "anxiety, stress, sadness, or anger"
  • 36 were situations where there was concern someone might harm themselves or others

The numbers speak to just how difficult it can be for school psychologists, counselors, social workers, and psychiatrists to connect with vulnerable students while campuses are closed.

"Services that we're able to provide on the campus in the school mental health clinic are just so vital to so many students," explained Dr. Sheryl Kataoka, a child psychiatrist. "Even more now with coronavirus. Our services in school mental health are even more critical."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, the LAUSD mental health hotline – (213) 241-3840 – accepts calls from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., in both English and Spanish.

The Los Angeles Department of Mental Health also has a hotline which is staffed 24/7. That number is (800) 854-7771, or you can text “LA” to 741741.

READ THE FULL STORY:

MORE ON MENTAL HEALTH:

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Morning Briefing: LA Extends Stay-At-Home Order Till July

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Published
A man rides his bicycle past a mural reading "Stay Home / Life Is Beautiful" during the coronavirus pandemic on April 3, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

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

Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s public health director, made big news yesterday when she told the Board of Supervisors that the current stay-at-home order will extend until July.

It sounded grim, but in an interview with Nick Roman, who hosts our newsroom's "All Things Considered" afternoon show, Ferrer clarified her earlier statement. Between now and July, she said, the restrictions will be gradually lifted and changed.

The process will allow officials to keep “limitations on what opens [and] how it opens most safely for both workers and customers,” she said, adding that her comments were “never meant to suggest that the order, as it exists today, is in effect for the next three months.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, May 13

Josie Huang examines why the coronavirus infection rate is high for the Long Beach Asian community, which is predominantly Cambodian and lower-income.

Libby Denkmann follows the results of the special election in California's 25th district, where a competitive race to replace former Democratic representative Katie Hill is capturing national attention.

With school campuses closed to slow the spread of COVID-19, LAUSD has established a mental health hotline to help struggling students. But without face-to-face interaction with counselors or teachers, reports Carla Javier, effectively connecting with them has proven challenging.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

We're flattered, honored, and all the other good feelings right now, because we just won three regional Edward R. Murrow Awards.

L.A., California, The World: There are now 32,263 coronavirus cases and 1,570 deaths in L.A. County, and at least 69,346 cases and 2,779 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are more than 4.2 million cases and over 291,000 deaths. Los Angeles County's stay-at-home orders will continue, in some form, into the summer.

LAist Tracks The Local Economic Impact Of Coronavirus: In addition to taking lives, COVID-19 is devastating livelihoods. In a new special feature, LAist/KPCC’s data journalists retrace how we got here, examine how furloughs, layoffs, hiring freezes and pay cuts are hitting the workforce, and peer into government budgets to see how this pandemic is hitting the region’s economy.

Expanding Care And Testing: Hospitals are beginning to resume elective surgeries, and California pharmacies will be permitted to test for coronavirus. Scientists propose sampling raw sewage at wastewater treatment plants, as an early warning system of new coronavirus outbreaks. Local childhood immunization rates dropped more than 50% in April compared to the same time last year, and experts are encouraging parents to resume those vaccinations.

Money Matters: L.A. County officials will explore a pathway for renters and community groups to buy properties that are facing default.

California Schools: The 23-campus California State University system will conduct almost all of its classes online for the fall 2020 semester. California's community college system has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, alleging that a decision prohibiting undocumented students and others from receiving stimulus funds is arbitrary, unlawful, and unconstitutional.

Disturbing Conditions: A Congresswoman who toured the Terminal Island prison in San Pedro, where more than 700 people have tested positive for COVID-19, said what she saw and heard there was "disturbing." An L.A. judge has ruled against two juvenile justice advocacy organizations that were seeking the release of low-risk and medically fragile youth detainees. The LAPD released footage from body-worn cameras of an officer beating a seemingly compliant suspect in Boyle Heights.

L.A.’s Food Scene: When local restaurants reopen for dine-in seating, eating out will look totally different than it did in the Before Times.


Your Moment Of Zen

Digital Producer Gina Pollack captured this view from the Los Liones trail in Topanga Canyon. The views were amazing, she said, but parts of the trail were too narrow to keep the suggested 6-feet of social distance.

(Gina Pollack / LAist)

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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.


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