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As COVID Cases Rise, ICU’s Could Fill Up in 2-4 Weeks In LA County

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View of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP via Getty Images)

Los Angeles County health officials say intensive care units could fill up in the next two to four weeks, as the spread of the coronavirus increases.

The health services department’s Dr. Christina Ghaly said Wednesday that data suggests the transmission rate of the coronavirus has slightly gone up since the relaxation of stay-at-home orders.

“If transmission has indeed increased, as the recent data suggests it has, the model predicts that we'll have a continued increase in hospital patient volume,” Ghaly said.

(L.A. County Department of Health Services)

Ghaly said the county’s modeling doesn’t make predictions based on estimates on how many people are outside of their homes, like at protests or at recently reopened businesses. Instead, it’s based on hospitalization and case data.

The Department of Health Services says it’s working with area hospitals to prepare for a surge, including reducing elective surgeries.

Dr. Stephanie Hall, chief medical officer at Keck Hospital of USC, says the hospital has plans that can be activated quickly, including converting units to serve COVID-19 patients.

“Our best approach is continuing the daily monitoring very carefully and being resilient to be able to switch into a mode, if we need to, that is more of a crisis mode versus ‘back to normal,” she said.

LA COUNTY TRENDS

Here's a look at longer-term trends in the county. To see more visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose L.A. or any other California county that interests you. These numbers are current as of Wednesday, June 10:

READ MORE:

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LA Police Union Official: 'Every Dollar You Take Away' Has Consequences

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Protesters march past LAPD officers during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody, in downtown Los Angeles on June 6, 2020. Kyle Grillot/AFP via Getty Images

In the two-and-a-half weeks since police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, the question of how to change policing has eclipsed almost every other topic of debate.

Some of the loudest voices opposing dramatic change are from police unions. Many argue that these groups often stand in the way of reform.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he wants to cut the police budget by as much as $150 million. In a recent speech, he referred to police as "killers." In response, union directors questioned the mayor's mental health.

"Police reform is about transparency and accountability, and police unions resist those important goals," Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center told NPR. "They fight to keep disciplinary records of cops secret."

Robert Harris, an official with the L.A.'s police union, the Police Protective League, says that's not true.

"I would disagree that rank-and-file union stand in the way of reform. I think that makes for a great clip. I don't think it's rooted in reality."

Harris also said that de-escalation policies are working.

"I think there should be a national minimum use of force policy standard. I think all agencies should have something that ingrains reverence for life in their officers' minds. I think that they should include policies that address de-escalation techniques, tactics and training. I think training itself needs to be better at a national level for police. And these are all things that Los Angeles has implemented over the last two decades, and it has served us very well. "

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH HARRIS:

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A Growing Number Of Laid-Off Californians Are Getting Back To Work

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Many businesses are now allowed to open in Southern California, which means more and more people are getting back to work. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

After an unprecedented wave of layoffs, a small but growing number of Californians are now heading back to work.

In a new analysis published Thursday, researchers with the California Policy Lab at UCLA find that many Californians who were laid off at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic are now working again.

“We see that in May, even before the re-opening, individuals started working more,” said co-author and UCLA economics professor Till von Wachter.

The researchers looked at the percentage of unemployment recipients who have been getting only partial benefits in a given week — or no benefits at all. That number has been growing recently.

By mid-May, about 22% of Californians with unemployment claims were getting partial or denied benefits. That might sound bad, but it’s happening for a good reason. Those people were working again, and often earning too much to qualify for unemployment benefits.

“Many people were really surprised by last Friday's national jobs report, seeing the unemployment rate drop,” said von Wachter. “Our study confirms that there seems to be some employment availability.”

For the millions of Californians who’ve lost work as a result of pandemic-related business closures, this trend may reveal some light at the end of the tunnel.

But for now, many are still out of a job — especially younger workers and those with less education. The researchers found that more than half of workers in the state with just a high school degree have now filed for unemployment.

READ THE FULL CALIFORNIA POLICY LAB STUDY:

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Rialto Water Officials Chewed Out Over Their Lavish Perks

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A valve wheel (Andrew Cullen/LAist)

West Valley Water District has a long history of turmoil. It serves about 80,000 customers in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. A few years ago, staffers mutinied against the five-member elected board. Things got so heated the local police had to come keep the peace.

The most recent upset comes in a State Controller’s audit. It says managers and directors ignored many financial controls and wasted money on fancy meetings and bloated salaries.

The board spent $70,000 on two official meetings at a wine country golf resort in Temecula. It wasn’t just the money that was a problem – meeting so far outside the district made it harder for citizens to attend and see what the board was doing.

The state Controller’s report was made public this week, but it was shared with the water district in mid-April, and shortly after several top administrators were fired.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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No Mask? No Problem In The OC

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People gather on the beach last month near Newport Pier. (Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Face coverings in Orange County will no longer be mandatory, instead they will be strongly recommended.

Dr. Clayton Chau was appointed to the job Tuesday after former health officer, Dr. Nichole Quick, abruptly resigned. She'd faced strong opposition to her face covering order from elected officials and the public, and was provided security after receiving threats.

Michelle Steel, chair of the county Board of Supervisors, announced the modification:

"Masks are no longer mandatory. Health officials believe citizens should wear masks, but will no longer be required."

Gyms, bars, movie theaters and museums in Orange County can reopen tomorrow with safety protocols. Steel appealed to Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday to move fully into Stage 3, allowing for nail salons and youth sports to resume operations.

Orange County officials reported 4 new deaths and 260 new coronavirus cases were reported today. The death toll is now 202 with 7,987 confirmed cases.

OVERALL LOOK AT ORANGE COUNTY NUMBERS:

Here's a look at longer-term trends in the county. To see more visit our California COVID-19 Tracker and choose OC or any other California county that interests you. These numbers are current as of Wednesday, June 10:

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

This Doctor Is Giving Free Treatment To Protesters

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This protestor developed a severe rash from tear gas. He contacted Dr. Amir Moarefi for help. (Jackie Fortiér/LAist)

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have protested racial injustice over the last two weeks. Some have clashed with police. We don’t know how many of them have been injured.

But hundreds have contacted a Long Beach doctor who posted on Instagram that he would treat protesters for free.

"I started to get the messages coming in and first started off with a lot of virtual consults, a lot of messages, pictures, FaceTime chats," Dr. Amir Moarefi said.

Moarefi, who is an ophthalmologist, has since put together a loose network of medical professionals across the country to help out.

He also treats some protesters in person, like Deon Jones.

Jones suffered a fractured cheekbone and got a concussion after being hit by a rubber bullet at a protest in downtown Los Angeles.

He found out about Moarefi from a friend who had seen the doctor's Instagram post. Then Jones went to see the doctor in person.

"I filled out some paperwork. I remember the girl saying, 'your visit today will be free,'" recalled Jones, who does not have health insurance. "I thought about how many people need to hear that."

READ MORE ABOUT THE PROTEST DOCTOR:

READ OUR LATEST COVERAGE OF DEMONSTRATIONS AND POLICE BRUTALITY:

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Coronavirus Is Surging In State Prisons

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Cramped quarters at the California Institution for Men in Chino. (U.S. District Court filing)

Two months ago there were fewer than 100 cases among California's state prison inmates.

Since then, there have been 3,000 more cases, mostly spread among six prisons. The California Institution for Men in Chino currently has more than 500.

The state says some of that has to do with expanded testing.

Fourteen inmates have died; 13 of them were in Chino. The first female inmate died on Tuesday. She had been at the California Institution for Women in Corona, which now has around 100 cases of the virus.

In late May, the state started transferring hundreds of inmates from Chino to 12 prisons that had no coronavirus cases.

One of them, San Quentin, now has 16.

Five prisons are now conducting mandatory testing of staff — including the prisons in Chino and Corona.

GO DEEPER:

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Applications Are Way Up To Live In LA's Public Housing

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The 100-unit Rose Hills Courts public housing site in Montecito Heights. (HACLA)

With unemployment rates soaring, many Angelenos are looking for an affordable place to live. An increasing number are turning to L.A.’s public housing, with more than 1,700 applications submitted to the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles last month.

But openings are rare, and the agency's waitlist already numbers in the tens of thousands.

READ MORE:

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Morning Briefing: Violence Follows Violence

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Silver Lake residents cover the fence surrounding Silver Lake Reservoir with an art installation honoring just a fraction of those whose lives have been lost at the hands of police brutality (Courtesy of Joyce Adam So.)

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As is the case in many other parts of the country, activists and protesters in L.A. are keeping the pressure on local leaders to call out and punish police brutality, even as new claims of excessive force crop up.

The L.A. Police Commission heard from civil rights activists and lawyers yesterday, who presented a list of demands, including a ban on so-called less-than-lethal weapons — like batons and rubber bullets — at protests.

And even as the civilian watchdog group reviews claims of police violence during protests against police violence, new claims of brutality keep cropping up in and around L.A. County. Video shot by a bystander in Compton on May 31 shows three L.A. County sheriff’s deputies violently arresting 24-year-old Dalvin Price, who is black, after, Price says, he willingly got out of his car when he noticed their vehicle behind him.

In the video, Price can be seen on the ground — and saying out loud, “I’m on the ground” — when one deputy holds Price's head down with his leg and punches him, and another knees Price five times in the side.

That this instance of police violence happened on day five of an international uproar over police violence only serves to drive home the point. Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, June 11

A group of all-volunteer attorneys are working to defend protesters and hold law enforcement accountable. Libby Denkmann profiles the L.A. chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Jackie Fortiér has the story of an L.A. doctor who is treating protesters for free in support of the cause.

Two servers have been trying to bring together the Mozza restaurant community with an online comedy show since the coronavirus outbreak came to L.A.. They did their last show on the night looting and fire hit the restaurant. Mike Roe checks in with them.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Policing The Police: The L.A. Police Commission found that an off-duty LAPD officer violated policy when he shot and killed an unarmed, intellectually disabled man in a Corona Costco last June. Three protestors told us their stories from the past few weeks’ demonstrations. Activists presented a list of demands to the L.A. Police Commission, including a ban on less-than-lethal weapons and batons at public demonstrations. There's outrage in Compton over a bystander video showing sheriff's deputies violently arresting a young black man late last month.

Bel Air Blaze: A brush fire broke out just after midnight Wednesday in the hills of Bel Air and burned an estimated 50 acres, but firefighters were able to build containment lines with some help from water-dropping helicopters.

Reopening L.A.: A new phase of reopening can begin in L.A. County this Friday, including gyms, museums, sports arenas (without a live audience) and film production. Disneyland has proposed dates for reopening, including reopening the park itself on July 17. Long Beach’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate has been slowly increasing over the past two weeks, but the city will still reopen more businesses on Friday.

The Fate Of Dreamers: The Supreme Court is expected to announce a decision on the fate of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients by the end of June.

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