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

Covina-Valley School Superintendent Resigns Amid Misconduct Allegations

Updated
Published
The board of the Covina-Valley Unified School District has accepted the resignation of Superintendent Richard Sheehan, shown in a now-closed Change-org petition. (Screenshot from change.org)

The Covina-Valley Unified Board of Education agreed in a special meeting Tuesday evening to accept the resignation of Superintendent Richard Sheehan, who is under investigation by the Glendora Police Department for alleged misconduct with three current and former students.

Sheehan’s resignation is effective June 30, according to a readout provided to LAist after the board returned from closed session. As part of the agreement, he will remain on paid administrative leave until then, will be paid any “unused and accrued vacation,” and will also receive “an additional lump sum of $46,464.96.”

The board readout also said that Sheehan “executed a release of claims against the District” and mentioned other “non-monetary terms,” which were not described.

The vote was unanimous.

Sheehan had been superintendent for almost five years. The Covina Unified Education Association, the district's teachers union, said in a Facebook post that Sheehan had been in touch with union leaders and described his resignation as a retirement.

In a written statement, the district board’s president, Sonia Frasquillo, said “the Board of Education is committed to making as seamless a leadership transition as possible for our students, staff, families, and the entire Covina-Valley community.”

For now, acting superintendent Elizabeth Eminhizer will continue to lead the district, Frasquillo said.

RELATED:

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

More Farmer John Employees Are Testing Positive For Coronavirus

Updated
Published
The mural at Farmer John's meatpacking facility in Vernon. (Maya Sugarman/KPCC)

153 workers have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Farmer John meatpacking plant, 13 more than were first reported by LAist just five days ago.

Workers said for weeks they stood shoulder-to-shoulder, clad in rubber boots and long coats, processing thousands of pigs per shift, as they normally did.

But without any sort of additional distancing or protections, they feared it was only a matter of time until people began getting sick.

READ THE FULL STORY:

Things Angelenos Can Do In Person Again: Shopping, Drive-In Movies And More

Updated
Published

All retail stores in Los Angeles that show they have adopted county safety protocols can begin reopening to in-person shopping as soon as tomorrow, Mayor Eric Garcetti said tonight.

In a separate statement, the county clarified that retail stores, both indoor and outdoor, may open for business at 50% capacity.

This lifting of restrictions, however, does not extend to personal services such as barbershops and hair and nail salons — or to in-person dining.

Garcetti said the county has applied for a variance from the state to allow in-person dining, albeit with limited capacity, similar to what has been seen in other counties. He said he expects a response sometime this week.

In the meantime, retail businesses are not required to reopen, but if they want to do so, they can download a business kit to learn about the official process for reopening. That kit can be downloaded from coronavirus.lacity.org/business.

Garcetti also noted that houses of worship are also permitted under the new rules to reopen, but they can't exceed 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller.

Runyon Canyon, the popular hiking and jogging spot, has also reopened as a one-way loop.

Separately, the county said that other openings include:

  • Flea markets, swap meets and drive-in movie theaters
  • Pools, hot tubs and saunas that are in a multi-unit residence or part of a homeowners association

Garcetti said the city and county are taking these additional steps toward reopening because they have met the requirements that they laid out a few weeks ago. The key metrics Garcetti said the city and county have met include:

  • Hospitalizations: California mandated that you cannot move forward until you have a seven-day average change of less than 5%.
  • Positive Cases: The state says a locality can only reopen when the percentage of tests that return positive is under 8%. Garcetti said L.A. is under 5%.
  • Testing: To reopen, L.A. would need to have a capacity of 1.5 tests for every 1,000 residents. With 10 million people in the county, that means 15,000 tests a day, and right now the county can do 20,000 tests a day, Garcetti said.
  • Contact Tracing: L.A. would need to be able to contact anyone who tests positive and within 24 hours call everyone that person has come in contact with to ensure they quarantine themselves. Garcetti said L.A. is sufficiently staffed and training more to handle any potential surge.
  • Hospital Surge Capacity: The state requires county and regional hospitals to accommodate a minimum surge of 35%.
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities Prepared: All 135 facilities with seniors now provide testing with or without county assistance.
  • Other: The city and county have met various other metrics, including having adequate personal protective equipment and ensuring that 15% of the unsheltered homeless population must be in shelters.
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:


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

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


Terms of Use and Privacy Policy


Support our free, independent journalism today. Donate now.

New Inspector General Will Focus On LA County Nursing Homes

Updated
Published
Signage outside of the Kingsley Manor Retirement Community note that visitors are not allowed unless medically necessary. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Los Angeles County will soon have an inspector general to oversee nursing homes.

The new role, approved unanimously by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, is meant to address what many see as a failure to react quickly to COVID-19, which has taken a heavy toll on nursing home staff and residents.


READ OUR SPECIAL REPORT: LA's Nursing Homes Serving Black And Brown Patients Are Hardest Hit By Coronavirus. What's Going On?


Congregate living facilities account for more than half of the county’s COVID-19 deaths.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who coauthored the motion, said the inspector general would conduct “an extensive review of the county’s capacity to regulate these facilities, recommend structural and operational changes, and outline a plan for ensuring adequate and sustainable oversight.”

The inspector general has to be selected by July 1, and should begin working on a report on how to improve the county’s monitoring and oversight.

COUNTY'S RESPONSE TO NURSING HOME OUTBREAKS

The county has required nursing homes to test all their residents and staff for the coronavirus, regardless of symptoms, since mid-April.

But during a discussion at the board meeting, Supervisor Katherine Barger, who coauthored the inspector general motion, was critical of the public health department’s efforts to test.

“I’m not convinced that we are in these facilities doing appropriate testing because I’ve talked to a few who have said that there’s been little outreach and they are not clear on how to go about getting the testing done at the rate that at least this board expected it to be done,” she said.

Barger also said the inspector general should report directly to the board or to the county CEO, rather than county public health authorities "given how egregious some of the stories have been and the need to be independent."

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer defended her department's work toward universal testing at nursing homes while acknowledging there had been some missteps.

“It’s been very challenging,” she said.

Ferrer told board members that nursing home deaths from COVID-19 have decreased because of infection control efforts like requiring masks to be worn by both nursing home staff and residents.

“The last week in April we averaged 174 deaths among people living in skilled nursing facilities. And this last week that ended on May 23, we had 60 deaths in skilled nursing facilities,” she said.

KEY OVERSIGHT MISSING DURING THE PANDEMIC

L.A. already has a nursing home ombudsman, but that person has been unable to visit homes during the pandemic.

Families of nursing home residents also haven’t been able to visit their loved ones for months due to COVID-19 restrictions. Many have complained about the lack of information being provided to them by nursing home administrators.

To address this, the motion passed Tuesday also calls for a new dashboard on the county’s website with information about each nursing home’s total COVID-19 cases, testing frequency, number of deaths broken out by residents and staff members, and the status of the home's outbreak mitigation plan.

READ MORE OF OUR REPORTING ON NURSING HOMES:

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

'Criminal Minds' Producers Allegedly Hid Harassment

Updated
Published
An image from an episode of CBS' "Criminal Minds." The show's producers have been sued for allegedly covering up sexual harassment by its longtime cinematographer. CBS

The series "Criminal Minds" was a long-running show about FBI agents tracking down fictional perpetrators. But a state agency alleges that the CBS show for years employed and protected a wrongdoer in its own ranks, a cinematographer accused of multiple instances of sexual groping.

California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a civil rights lawsuit last week against CBS Studios, "Criminal Minds" production companies ABC and the Walt Disney Co., four of the show's executive producers, and cinematographer Gregory St. Johns.

The complaint, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, paints a picture not only of "rampant, frequent, and...open" harassment by St. Johns, but also a pattern of retaliation against people who complained about his behavior.

READ MORE

'Criminal Minds' Allegedly Had A Wrongdoer On Its Crew

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

Dodger Stadium Becomes LA's Largest Coronavirus Test Site

Updated
Published
Entrance to drive-thru coronavirus testing prior to opening today at Dodger Stadium. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Dodger Stadium is once again welcoming scores of people to its parking lot — but instead of Dodger Dogs, they'll be getting cotton swabs.

As of 10 a.m. today, the ballpark is now the latest — and largest — drive-thru coronavirus testing site in Los Angeles, joining 10 others currently in operation in the city, and among 36 in the county.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says the site has the capacity to test as many as 6,000 people a day, every day:

"Look, I know we'd rather be here in a different context — we'd rather be here rooting on the boys in blue — but we'll get back to that soon enough."

Garcetti says about 450,000 people have been tested at drive-thru sites in L.A. since the first one was launched two months ago.

Testing at the Dodger Stadium site is free for all L.A. County residents, but an appointment must be made ahead of time. It didn't take long for one familiar site, long lines of cars attempting to get into the Dodger parking lots. Here's what our friends at KNX saw:

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

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

Gov. Newsom: Barbershops, Hair Salons Can Reopen — But Not In LA County

Updated
Published

Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to coronavirus, including allowing for the reopening of barbershops and hair salons in much of the state. You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference above.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

Newsom noted that the U.S. is close to hitting 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths — California is approaching 100,000 people testing positive for coronavirus, with close to 3,800 deaths.

There were 19 COVID-19 deaths in the state yesterday, with more than 2,000 new positives.

Of those who've tested positive, 19.5% were over the age of 65, while 79.2% of the deaths were seniors, Newsom said. He said the elderly and those with compromised immune systems have "very, very high risk," and asked everyone to remember these groups as the state starts to open up.

SOME PARTS OF L.A. COUNTY OPENING SOONER

The governor said he's open to some parts of L.A. County opening sooner than others, given its size, and that the state was working with the county to make that possible.

Newsom pointed out that Los Angeles County, which has more than 10 million residents, has a "budget that's as large as many, many states in our union."

He also acknowledged that within the county there are "geographic disparities and the spread of this virus being disparate among different regions within county."

BARBERSHOPS AND HAIR SALONS REOPENING IN SOME COUNTIES

Forty-seven counties have filed action plans with the state, allowing them to move further into reopening than the state as a whole, including some aspects of Phase Three of the state's reopening plans. Those counties will be allowed to reopen barbershops and hair salons starting today, with face coverings and other sanitation requirements.

However, L.A. County has not yet reached that point. Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside counties have —here's the list of all the counties with variances.

GETTING RID OF GOV. NEWSOM'S MULLET

Newsom said state officials worked with lawmakers to determine health guidance that would allow for nail salons and other personal care services to open back up. The guidelines for barbershops and hair salons are on the state's website.

Newsom noted that his own collection of three barbers didn't follow those guidelines — those barbers are his 6-, 8-, and 10-year-old.

"They had at me. It was a family effort to remove what was described by my wife as, forgive me, 'a mullet,'" Newsom said.

NO DETAILS YET ON FILM INDUSTRY GUIDELINES

Newsom said the state is working more formally with the film industry, as well as labor, which has led to delaying the release of guidelines for the film industry to later this week or next weekend.

The industry and labor asked for more time as they work through some issues, Newsom said. The governor noted the national implications of their plans as well, hoping to go together with other states around the country.

PHASE THREE COMING SOON; PHASE FOUR, NOT SO MUCH

Concerts, large festivals, conventions, and sports with fans aren't coming back yet, Newsom said. More of the responsibility for whether an area can move forward will be given to county health departments as the state moves forward, according to the governor.

NO VOTER FRAUD IN MAIL-IN VOTING

The governor cited three studies that found minimal amounts of voter fraud in mail-in ballots, defending the state's plans to expand mail-in voting to protect public health.

REOPENING CALIFORNIA

Over the weekend, in-store retail was allowed to open up statewide, as well as allowing houses of worship to have in-person services, with modifications. Those options have yet to open in areas such as L.A. County. And those places of worship can only reopen with either 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever number is smaller.

The governor talked about Californians starting to mix with people they haven't been mixing with during the coronavirus outbreak thus far. He stressed the importance of social distancing and wearing face coverings, and noted that we are not yet out of the first wave of infections.

Newsom said over the Memorial Day weekend some did not practice social distancing in the way he would have liked to have seen in public places.

More guidelines on reopening summer camps will be released Wednesday, as well as more details on opening child care and schools.

OTHER CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

The state's coronavirus positivity rate is staying steady, Newsom said. Over the past week, 4.2%; 4.1% over the past two weeks.

Hospitalizations and ICU numbers went up slightly over the past 24 hours, Newsom said, but over a 14-day average, hospitalizations are slightly declining, down 6.7%. ICU numbers are staying steady and not going down, but capacity has been significantly increased.

The state has distributed 41.2 million procedure masks over the past two weeks, Newsom said. There are 11,000 ventilators available, and the state has more that can be made available.

He said over the weekend, more than 178,000 people were tested: 67,000 on Saturday, 61,000 on Sunday, and a little more than 50,000 on Monday.

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

LA County Approves Slow Streets Program For Unincorporated Communities

Updated
Published
L.A. County's Slow Streets program will be similar to initiatives launched in cities including Los Angeles and Pasadena. (Courtesy Joslyn Treece)

Los Angeles County leaders today approved a plan to create a “Slow Streets” program for unincorporated communities — similar to the initiatives launched in several local cities, including L.A. and Pasadena.

The Board of Supervisors approved a motion at their board meeting directing the county’s public health and the public works departments to work together to:

  • develop guidelines for rolling out a program with “simple design solutions” — like signs
  • select five to 10 roadways in unincorporated communities “that make viable Slow Streets candidates”
  • develop a simple, low-cost — or possibly free — permit so community-based organizations can apply to bring the program to more neighborhoods

The motion from Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn underscores the lack of access in many unincorporated communities to parks, open space and even sidewalks wide enough to allow social distancing:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the inequities that exist in these underserved communities readily apparent, and there is an opportunity to leverage the data collected through the County’s 2020 Vision Zero Action Plan and 2016 Parks Needs Assessment in order to create a program that allows neighborhoods to minimize traffic on local roads and create safe environments for residents conducting essential activities.”

Solin and Hahn also cited the notable increase in speeding on local roadways, as some drivers feel enboldened by lighter traffic volumes.

The departments are to report back in two weeks with their plan.

READ MORE ABOUT LOCAL STREET SAFETY ISSUES:

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

Support For Transgender Troops Is High In The Military, Study Finds

Updated
Published
Marine judge advocate Emma Shinn (left) takes her oath of office in 2019. (Courtesy of Emma Shinn)

Emma Shinn joined the Marines in 1994. Ten years later, she was an infantry platoon sergeant in Iraq. Today, she's a Marine judge advocate at Camp Pendleton.

Shinn transitioned in 2016, the same year President Obama allowed transgender people to serve openly in the military.

Even though President Trump reversed the rule the next year, Shinn can remain a Marine because she enlisted before the policy change.

And she's heartened by a recent UCLA study that finds two-thirds of cisgender active duty military personnel support transgender service members.

READ OUR FULL STORY:

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

Morning Briefing: Is Going To Church Worth The Risk?

Updated
Published
Saint Monica's Catholic Church in Santa Monica (Theodore Wood via Flickr Creative Commons)

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

How is it already almost the end of May? So much has happened, 2019 feels like five years ago. I don't know about you, but by the end of each day my brain is 99% broken.

It's hard to keep up with all the changes, even for those of us who read news for a living. Thankfully, we have a guide for that, which I find myself referring to often. Human beings are super adaptable creatures, but as normal life starts to resume, some of us will be slower than others to embrace the uncertainty.

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that as more things reopen, officials are still urging people to stay at home as much as possible. So, the message is: stay at home unless you urgently need to go out for essential items. But, also, if you urgently want to go to the beach or the park or trails for non-essential activities (or to church, which may or may not be essential), that's cool with us.

If you sit down on the sand, though, we will publicly shame you (and the shamers are watching).

We asked Garcetti how Angelenos should evaluate risk this past weekend and he basically said: you do you. If you want to take a risk, do it. If not, turn off social media because FOMO is back in business.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today

– Gina Pollack


Coming Up Today, May 26

Emily Elena Dugdale writes about a new study that found broad support for transgender troops among active-duty personnel.


The Past 24 Hours In LA

Memorial Day Report Card: Across the county, the vast majority of people wore masks and observed social distancing over the Memorial Day weekend, with one big exception: Eaton Canyon. So many people flooded the popular trail, some jumping over fences, that officials had to shut it down. Hermosa Beach's reopening of the Strand went more smoothly.

A Long, Hot Summer: We're bracing ourselves for another heat wave this week. But cooling off in a pool might not be the best option right now...unless you're lucky enough to have one in your backyard. Even though the virus doesn't spread in water, it does spread through people in water.

Mental Health With A Side Of Rice: For a lot of Asian immigrants, especially seniors, it can be hard to cook with foreign food, even when times are tough. A few organizations banded together to help bring them some more familiar items, like ramen and rice. Also, over a thousand social workers, psychiatrists and counselors volunteered to give pro-bono mental health relief to frontline medical workers.

Down, Up, Down: Violent crime is down, but car thefts are up. Home sales have tanked. And state prisons will continue to accept new inmates, even after over 700 men and women tested postive at facilities in Corona and Chino.

Let's Get Spiritual: Forest Lawn made their Memorial Day celebration virtual and you can still watch it if you need a patriotic pick-me-up. Churches and other places of worship got the green light from the state of California to reopen, pending county approval. State health officials suggest increasing ventilation and skipping group hymns. Retailers across the state can also resume in-store shopping. But don't run to the mall: stores will need permission from the county, too.


Your Moment Of Zen

A bunch of musicians in Echo Park played taps from their balconies in honor of Memorial Day. Associate Editor Lisa Brenner's husband contributed some trumpet tunes.

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.