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COVID-19 Crisis Fund For Immigrants Draws Overwhelming Response

A street vendor sells inflatable toys and cotton candy outside the California Science Center at Exposition Park in Los Angeles on March 24, 2019. (Agustin Paullier/AFP via Getty Images)

So many people wanted to apply for a COVID-19 relief fund set up for immigrants in California that phone lines were jammed and a state website handling applications crashed on Monday, the first day of the launch.

Last month, Gov. Newsom announced Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants, which offers $500 for individuals and up to $1,000 dollars for a household. The fund is intended for workers without legal immigration status, who don't have access to unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs, and who can't obtain federal stimulus relief.


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LA County Officials Target July 4 For Reopening (And Caution It's Not a Sure Thing)

A couple meets last week for the first time since stay at home orders went into effect. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger says she wants to target the Fourth of July for a full or staged reopening of retail, restaurants, and malls in the county.

Barger gave that directive to the Los Angeles County Economic Resiliency Task Force outlining a plan to get businesses open again under public health guidelines.

In a statement, she said the county's task force agreed prolonged businesses closures could cause permanent job and wage losses, and prevent many smaller businesses from reopening.

The county has had a "stay at home" order in place for nearly two months to slow the spread of coronavirus. The L.A. Economic Development Corporation says 75% of the jobs lost during that time are workers earning $50,000 a year or less — mostly in restaurants or retail.

Barbara Ferrer, the county's director of public health, cautioned that while officials are aiming for July 4, it's not a sure thing:

"We have to do a lot of things right so that we can actually get to that date of July 4th. And I think that's certainly a goal we can reach, but we all are going to need to do our part, and we're still going to need to pay a lot of attention to what the data's telling us."

L.A. County has yet to meet a crucial state benchmark to move faster into the second stage of reopening. Counties recording an 8% positive rate for people taking COVID-19 tests for more than a week can move faster in the recovery process. Los Angeles County recently moved its positivity rate to 9%.

This afternoon, public health officials reported 76 new deaths, for a total more than 1,900. There were also another 1,183 new confirmed cases, bringing the total number of cases in the county to nearly 40,000.


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LA Mayor Announces Pet Groomers And Car Washes Can Reopen

A Reopened pet grooming shop in Rome, on May 11, 2020, following two months of closure due to the coronavirus crisis. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered an update on the city's response to coronavirus from a skilled nursing facility in Reseda today.

The facebook feed, which usually airs his live address, was frequently interrupted today; during the Q&A portion, it actually cut out and switched to an opera performance...

The video of the speech seems to have been removed from facebook. But here are the updates that we were able to discern, despite the technical difficulties:


The mayor announced today that all pet grooming and training businesses can reopen, starting now. Customers will be able to drop off their pets outside without physically entering the space.

Car washes can also reopen today. Previously only self-service or automated car wash facilities were allowed to stay open.


The mayor said that of the 12 L.A. city firefighters who were transported to County/USC Medical Center on Sunday after a dangerous explosion downtown, one had surgery today and four others are still hospitalized.

LAFD also responded to a large fire at 4 a.m. today at a fabric warehouse, also downtown. Fortunatey, Garcetti said, there were no injuries.


Today, the mayor said, we saw the second highest number of deaths in a 24-hour period. "So anyone who thinks we are out of the woods, we are not," he added.

The good news is we still have plenty of hospital beds.

The mayor also announced that an additional downtown hotel will become part of Project Room Key, which is providing emergency hotel rooms to people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. The new hotel will add 250 rooms.

In L.A. County, he said, we now have a total of 3,500 rooms designated for these services. He acknowledged the L.A. Times reporting which found that only half of the hotel rooms that are part of this program in the state of California have been filled, but said L.A. County is "at a very high occupancy," although he did not offer any specific numbers.

Today, he added, the county has the capacity to test 21,000 people a day. Nearly 10% of the city's population has now been tested -- about 400,000 people.

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We Have Some Questions About The New Plans For Taix

The classic Taix exterior. (Photo courtesy of Taix).

Via an application filed with the Los Angeles Department of City Planning, Urbanize LA this week revealed what might take Taix's place — a six-story development with 13,000 square feet of retail space, 170 apartments (24 of which will be restricted affordable units) and a 220-car basement garage.

The proposed development is comprised of two separate structures linked by pedestrian bridges. Taix will occupy a 6,000-square-foot space on the ground floor of one of them, alongside several other restaurants and retail establishments.

It's a massive change from the current French Revival-style structure which has been home to Taix since 1962.

And we have some thoughts.


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LA County Coronavirus Positivity Rate Still Too High To Reopen Faster


Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force delivered its daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, including details on the county's goal of reopening by July 4, antibody tests, and more. Read highlights below or watch the full video above.


"I think it's always helpful for all of us to have a target date in mind — we've been saying that from the beginning," L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. "It's much more reassuring to hear that we're going to aim for that July 4th date."

Ferrer said that L.A. County has yet to qualify to move further into the second stage of reopening businesses, as defined by the state. The state threshold for a testing positivity rate is 8% for more than a week; the county has just recently gotten down to a 9% rate, Ferrer said.

"I think reopening has proven to be a lot harder than we may have envisioned, and as we are all making major adjustments to our businesses and our day-to-day lives that we thought we'd never need to make, many of us may be experiencing fear, frustration, anxiety, and depression," Ferrer said.

She noted concerns about safety for those returning to work, and encouraged people to talk to their employers or call the county's mental health hotline.

The county will have results later this week on antibody test results for the county, potentially as early as Wednesday, Ferrer said.

When asked about the County Economic Resilience Task Force's goal of reopening by July 4, L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said any decisions made will be driven by public health and data.


In the last day, 76 people have died from COVID-19 in L.A. County, Ferrer said, bringing the county's total to 1,913.

The age breakdown within those new deaths:

  • Over 65: 52, 48 of whom had underlying health conditions
  • 41-65: 19, 14 of whom had underlying health conditions
  • 18-40: 2, both of whom had underlying health conditions

There was 1 death reported by the city of Long Beach and 2 by the city of Pasadena, which aren't included in these figures.

Of those who have died, 92% had underlying health conditions. Ferrer encouraged those with underlying conditions to stay home, even as the county starts to reopen.

More than 358,000 test results have been reported to the county, with a 9% positivity rate.

At the height of the pandemic, positivity rates were between 13 and 15%, Ferrer said. There has been a steady decline over the last couple of weeks.

There were 1,183 new cases. Ferrer noted that numbers are often higher Tuesdays and Wednesday due to catching up on the count from the weekend. L.A. County's total cases are now 39,573, including 1,305 reported by Long Beach, and 702 reported by Pasadena, who have their own independent city health departments.

There have been 300 confirmed cases among the homeless in the county, half of which occurred among those in shelters. Those who were in shelters have been isolated. The majority of those positive in shelters were at the Union Rescue Mission, where everyone was tested.

There are 5,914 COVID-19 positive people who were at some point hospitalized during their illness, 15% of the positive cases. That includes 1,549 people currently hospitalized, 27% of whom are in the ICU, 19% on ventilators. There continue to be slight decreases in the number hospitalized, Ferrer said.

There are 10,097 confirmed cases in institutional settings, Ferrer said, including 6,596 residents and 3,501 staff. There have been 996 deaths among those living in institutional settings — that makes up 52% of the county's deaths, the vast majority of whom lived in skilled nursing facilities.

There have been 641 confirmed cases in county jails — 497 among the incarcerated, 144 among staff. Among the incarcerated, the sheriff's office reports: 266 positives among; 231 recovered, 346 in isolation, and 5,217 quarantined.

There are 176 cases in the state prison; 126 are among the incarcerated, 50 are among staff.

There are 695 cases in the federal prison facilities; 681 are among people incarcerated, 14 among staff. The vast majority of these cases are at Terminal Island.

There are 20 cases in juvenile facilities; 8 among the youth, 12 among staff.

Two deaths previously reported by the county were since found to be outside the county's jurisdiction, Ferrer said.

Supervisor Solis encouraged people with symptoms, who are in vulnerable groups, or who are essential workers to be tested.


Ferrer gave this breakdown for the 1,722 who have died in the county for whom race/ethnicity has been identified:

  • 39% Latino/Latinx
  • 29% White
  • 18% Asian
  • 12% African-American
  • 1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
  • 1% Other

Solis gave the latest information on COVID-19 cases and deaths by race/ethnicity this year in L.A. County (excluding Long Beach and Pasadena):

  • Hispanic/Latino: 13,242 cases, 690 deaths
  • White: 4,884 cases, 514 deaths
  • Asian: 2,554 cases, 313 deaths
  • Black: 1,664 cases, 218 deaths
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander: 261 cases, 15 deaths
  • American Indian/Alaska Native: 28 cases, 2 deaths
  • Other: 1,598 cases, 20 deaths
  • Under investigation: 13,335 cases, 18 deaths

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Covina-Valley Schools Chief Is Under Investigation For Misconduct Involving Students

Richard Sheehan, superintendent of the Covina-Valley Unified School District, is under investigation for misconduct involving students. (Photo from petition)

Covina-Valley Unified School District Superintendent Richard Sheehan is being investigated for "misconduct involving three potential victims," the Covina Police Department confirmed today.

According to a department statement:

"These three victims are former and current students of CVUSD. The investigations are in their very preliminary stages."

The statement did not describe the nature of the misconduct, or the ages of the alleged victims. An email sent to staff and parents Tuesday afternoon that was provided to LAist said Sheehan had been placed on paid admininstrative leave on Sunday after district officials were alerted late Saturday night to "a social media post containing serious allegations" against him.

The Covina police statement said the nearby Glendora Police Department is "handling this initial investigation." The email sent Tuesday afternoon said the district is "working closely" with the Glendora police. The Glendora Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

The Covina-Valley school board convened a special meeeting on Monday to discuss Sheehan's case. After a closed session, the board said it had decided "to postpone making any decision in respect to Dr. Sheehan's employment in light of the developing allegations and evidence that's been brought to our attention."

After a second closed session during its regularly scheduled meeting, the school board voted unanimously to appoint Elizabeth Eminhizer as acting superintendent effective immediately.


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LA Might Curb Food App Delivery Fees. For Now

The DoorDash food delivery app seen on February 27, 2020, the day the company began the process of going public with a U.S. stock offering that could value the San Francisco-based company at more than $10 billion. (ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Can Los Angeles officials curb the fees that food delivery apps charge restaurants? It's about to try.

Tomorrow, the Los Angeles City Council will consider asking City Attorney Mike Feuer to prepare an ordinance temporarily banning "third-party food delivery services" such as Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub, DoorDash and Caviar from charging restaurants more than 15% of the cost of an online order.

One major caveat: If adopted, that order would only last as long as L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's public health emergency declaration remains in effect.


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LAUSD Board To Meet Publicly Today For The First Time Since Pandemic Began

File: L.A. Unified School Board members Jackie Goldberg (left) and Kelly Gonez attend a board meeting on June 11, 2019. (Kyle Stokes/KPCC)

While both the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and L.A. City Council have continued to hold remote meetings throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the L.A. Unified School Board hasn’t met in open session since March.

That streak is due to end today at 1 p.m., when the school board is set to meet. Here’s what they’re talking about:

Here’s a live stream where you can watch the meeting and the webpage where the meeting materials are posted. To address the board during the meeting, you’d have to go to LAUSD’s headquarters downtown, but you can also send a public comment via email.


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Morning Briefing: Capturing Those Unscripted Moments Of Pandemic Parenting

Rain droplets on a car window on a rainy day in May. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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Shammeer Dawson was trying to record a quick update for KPCC/LAist’s project documenting the lives of parents with kids under 5 when she was interrupted by one of her children.

“I see it,” she said. “I see you made the truck.”

The unscripted moment was perhaps the best possible summation of what it means to parent small children, especially right now: constant interruptions, coupled by constant attempts to make kids feel seen and heard, even when — or maybe, particularly when — you are trying to accomplish something else.

As the parent of one child, my hat is deeply, deeply off to Dawson, who has four little ones. There are no breaks from parenthood in the best of times; in the coronavirus times, it sometimes seems like there are fewer than none.

And yet, Dawson – whose children range in age from 3 to 8 – still sums up her day on this joyful and optimistic note:

"All they want to do is play and jump on my air mattress and eat all the food up that they can that's carbs, and I love it. I love that they're happy... and I'm going to push my daughter now on the bike. Hope everyone is blessed."

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, May 19

What are the best trails for social distancing? Casey from Modern Hiker gives Leo Duran and Gina Pollack some tips.

Covina-Valley schools superintendent Richard Sheehan is reportedly under investigation by the Glendora Police Department for “misconduct.Carla Javier has more on last night's meeting at which the district Board of Trustees was scheduled to vote on dismissing him.

Some California public colleges and universities have already announced that their courses will remain online for the fall semester, but a handful of private Southern California campuses say they’re making plans to resume in-person classes this fall. Adolfo Guzman-Lopez takes a deeper look at the planning process and what the risks might be.

People who rent their homes for TV/film shooting are losing revenue, reports John Horn, and wondering how things will work when production resumes.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are now 38,415 coronavirus cases and 1,839 deaths in L.A. County, plus at least 80,299 cases and 3,240 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are more than 4.7 million cases and over 317,000 deaths.

California Kids: Shammeer Dawson, a single mom of four children who lives in Hawthorne, checked in with us about parenting in the time of COVID. LAUSD’s superintendent said that proposed state budget cuts could be disastrous for public education. A handful of private Southern California campuses say they're working to resume in-person classes this fall.

Undocumented Workers: California's undocumented immigrants can apply for up to $1,000 per household in government aid under Gov. Gavin Newsom's coronavirus emergency assistance plan.

Keep Yourself Occupied: Zócalo talks with author William Sturkey, the Hammer Museum examines the Department of Justice's decision to drop charges against Michael Flynn, and more online events. An expert said that coronavirus test results should come back within three days.

Quarantine Hair: Some L.A.-area hairstylists who haven't been able to sign up for unemployment have resorted to stealth home visits and sneaky trips into the back door of shuttered salons. Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that haircuts and live sports could come back soon in some counties.

Fire In Downtown: There are a lot of unanswered questions about the fire and explosion at the Smoke Tokes location on Boyd Street in DTLA on Saturday night that sent 12 Los Angeles firefighters to the hospital.

At-Home Deaths: April 2020 had about 52% more deaths than the same month in 2019, 2018 and 2017. Why? That's not totally clear just yet.

No Lucky Numbers: Californians are spending a lot less money on lottery tickets, and that could hurt retailers who rely on sales for a lot of their revenue. It also could hurt students – lottery proceeds fund a small share of education funding in California.

Your Moment Of Zen

Digital Producer Gina Pollack caught this soothing image of the calm water at Huntington dog beach, which she calls "my dog's happy place."

Huntington dog beach on May 17, 2020. (Gina Pollack / LAist)

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