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Garcetti: LA's Coronavirus Threat Level Is 'On The Border Of Going Red'

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Since it was introduced at the start of the month, L.A.'s color-coded COVID-19 threat level has hovered at orange. That's stayed true even as efforts to reopen the economy have brought a corresponding increase in coronavirus cases.

Now, the city is in danger of tipping to red, the highest alert level, Mayor Eric Garcetti said tonight in his regular update on L.A.'s efforts to fight the pandemic.

If that were to happen, Garcetti said, we would return to the restrictions of his original "Safer at Home" order instead of the more relaxed guidelines of his "Safer L.A." And he made this point about the volume of cases here in the nation's most populous county:

"If we were an independent country, Los Angeles County would have the 20th most cases in the world. Put differently, we have more cases in Los Angeles County than all of Canada."

Garcetti said gathering with people outside of your household right now is "selfish, but it's also dangerous." He called on residents to "do the right thing as we did in those first few months."

"Do not host a party, do not attend a gathering, don't treat this like a normal summer break," he said. "This virus is not taking the summer off and we can't afford to either."

The mayor called Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision to again shutter businesses like gyms, churches and salons for all "watchlist" counties the "right approach." In Southern California, those counties include Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Garcetti praised the regional approach, noting that it can be difficult to prevent the spread of the virus if people can easily cross the street or a city boundary and "engage in risky activities."

There were some positive trends in the mayor's report. The city has reduced the number of deaths in senior nursing facilities by 80% since May. And outside of nursing facilities, the proportion of deaths among African Americans was now lower than their share of the population.

But at the same time, the share of Latinos dying of COVID-19 has continued to soar, Garcetti said.

HOSPITALIZATIONS ON THE RISE

L.A. now has more people in the hospital because of COVID-19 than at any previous time during this pandemic.

Across the county, currently there are 766 available beds, 141 of which are for intensive care.

The county also has a "strong ventilator capacity" of 1,128, he said.

But to put these numbers in perspective, the number of ICU patients has risen significantly in just a few weeks, from just under 400 to 565 a month ago and again to the new high.

TESTING

The city will be offering more than 100,000 tests, this week, a 25% increase in capacity from last week, Garcetti said.

All tests are booked for tomorrow, but appointments for Wednesday will be made available online tonight.

After initially inviting everyone to get a test, Garcetti noted that tests at this time are limited to those who are showing symptoms or who think they may have been exposed, along with essential workers who operate in high-risk environments.

To help reach those who may not be able to make an appointment or reach a testing site, the city is continuing to use mobile testing teams. Garcetti said it was just such a team that helped respond to the outbreak that forced Dov Charney's L.A. Apparel factory to close.

More than 1,100 community members in the area got tested in two days, the mayor said.

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Court Allows Release Of ICE Detainees at Adelanto Through Bail Process

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Published
FILE PHOTO: The Adelanto detention facility photographed in November 2013. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Immigrant detainees at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center are now filing applications to be released on bail from the facility due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The applications come after a federal judge allowed the start of a bail process as part of a class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Southern California. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had appealed the order to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but last week, the 9th circuit denied that appeal.

“We are thrilled that there’s an avenue for class members to seek release,” said Minju Cho, an attorney at ACLU of Southern California.

Cho said the organization has filed bail applications for 43 detainees at the facility since last week. The court order allows for up to 15 applications a day.

A spokesperson for ICE said the agency cannot comment on pending litigation. He said the agency has “reduced the population at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center from 1,687 in January to approximately 875 as of [Monday], which reflects a 48% reduction.”

In April, the ACLU of Southern California filed the class action suit against ICE, asking the government to reduce the population at the San Bernardino County facility over concerns about the coronavirus. The same judge, Judge Terry Hatter Jr., ordered the government to start releasing detainees, but the federal government appealed the order and the case is still pending.

As of today, Adelanto have had 14 detainees test positive for COVID-19.

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This June Was Earth's Third Hottest On Record

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Sunny afternoon surrounded by palm trees in Venice Beach, California. (Guillaume Bassem Via Unsplash)

June temperatures may be a distant memory — in fact you might be wishing for them following this weekend’s dangerous triple digit scorcher that reached 128 degrees in Death Valley — but new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lays out just how hot the start of summer was.

According to NOAA, this past June was the third hottest on record for the globe, about 1.6 degrees hotter than average. In California, temperatures were about two degrees above average, putting the month in the top third of its hottest Junes.

The heat is part of a longer term warming trend, which has seen the state's average June temperature climb more than two degrees farenheit, or about .2 degrees per decade, over the past 126 years.

While some Junes have measurred below average — obviously — the last nine have been hotter than normal.

“Having nine years in a row is a fairly remarkable statistic given the fact that no other period in the 126-year record has seen that kind of consistency or persistence year-over-year for the month of June,” said Karin Gleason, climate scientist with the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Zoom in on Los Angeles County and the data shows that last month was about 2.5 degrees hotter than average, placing it among one of the hottest on record as well.

The first half of the year — January through June — was the second hottest start to a year on record for the globe.

Hotter temperatures due to climate change have huge implications for California, including an increased risk of wildfires (this decade has seen five of the most destructive in state history), worsening air pollution, and heat related deaths, which disproportionately impact marginalized communities.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly specified a region that experienced record June temperatures, when in fact the record in question is global.

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L.A. Wants 15,000 Homes For The Homeless ASAP

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A small homeless encampment at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles, March 24. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

California's Project Roomkey has sheltered thousands of people experiencing homelessness in hotels across the state, protecting them during the pandemic.

L.A. County had a goal of moving 15,000 of the oldest and most medically vulnerable people into hotel rooms, but so far only 3,700 have been housed, mostly due to a lack of resources to manage such a large task.

So, as Project Roomkey begins to wind down, L.A. County officials are hoping to finish what they started. They have an ambitious $800 million plan to not only house the original 3,700, but all 15,000 unhoused vulnerable residents.

How will they do it? It's pretty straightforward: lease thousands of apartments and offer rental subsidies.

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COVID-19 Deaths Top 3,800 In LA County As State Reverses Local Reopenings

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Published

Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force delivered an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Read highlights below or watch the full video above.

Following new state guidelines announced today, L.A. County public health officials said new protocols will be issued, closing a variety of businesses and spaces that had reopened in recent weeks. That includes:

  • Places of worship
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Nail salons
  • Spas
  • Tattoo shops
  • Indoor malls

"I know this step back in our recovery journey is disheartening," County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said, "but we must do everything in our power to stop the virus from spreading — from the making of people we love sick, and from causing untimely death."

Ferrer noted that while the death rate for the coronavirus has declined, health experts are bracing for an increase in deaths as infections and hositalizations surge.

Given the available data, "everything is pointing towards an alarming trend," she said, adding:

"Our data shows us that every day, thousands of people in our communities are being infected with COVID-19 and our friends, families and neighbors are being hospitalized at a much higher rate. While our death rate has remained relatively stable, we anticipate that, unfortunately, with the rise in hospitalizations, we will soon see corresponding increases in the number of people who pass away."

BY THE NUMBERS

Los Angeles County officials reported 2,593 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 136,129 cases countywide.

Ferrer also reported 13 new deaths of COVID-19 patients — all of whom were over 65. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 3,822 people.

So far, 93% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.

Ferrer also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 3,533 of the victims. According to the latest available information:

  • 46% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 11% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 26% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 16% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • “Slightly less than" 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander [0.4% of county residents]
  • 1% identified as belonging to another race or ethnicity

SHARP INCREASE IN WORKPLACE OUTBREAKS

Ferrer shared the county's latest data, which showed that the sharpest increase in recent outbreaks of COVID-19 are happening at workplaces and offices, including warehouses, manufacturing and retail businesses.

(Courtesy Los Angeles County)

"What this tells us is clear: that business owners and operators must take their employee health needs seriously, and they must heed the public health directives," Ferrer said. "There are real consequences to not following the infection control directives that are in place. People's health and their livelihoods are at risk."

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Newsom: LA, Other Counties On Watchlist Must Close Gyms, Salons, Offices, More

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Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to coronavirus, including both additional closures for watchlist counties (including L.A. County) and closures across the state. You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference above.

GYMS, CHURCHES, SALONS, MORE MUST CLOSE IN LA COUNTY, OTHER WATCHLIST COUNTIES

All counties on the county monitoring list — 30 out of the state's 58 counties, which represent about 80% of the state's population — have to close indoor operations for additional sectors due to the risk of COVID-19 spread. And any additional openings based on county variances are no longer allowed.

Those additional closures:

  • Fitness centers
  • Worship services
  • Offices for non-critical sectors
  • Personal care services
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Indoor malls

The governor said that the state is moving back into a modified version of its stay-at-home order, Newsom said. He once again compared the state's stay-at-home order to a dimmer switch — not fully on with an open economy, but not fully off with a lockdown.

Coronavirus hospitalizations and the positivity rate are continuing to rise, Newsom said. The number of intensive care unit patients is also moderately increasing, he said.

INDOOR RESTAURANT OPERATIONS, MORE MUST CLOSE THROUGHOUT CALIFORNIA

Effective today, all counties are required to close indoor operations in a number of different areas. The list is similar to an order that counties on the state's monitoring list were already under, including Los Angeles County.

Those areas are:

  • Restaurants
  • Wineries and tasting rooms
  • Movie theaters
  • Family entertainment centers
  • Zoos and museums
  • Cardrooms
  • Bars must close all operations

COVID-19 IS HERE TO STAY — YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR BEHAVIOR

"COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon," Newsom said.

He said that the state will be working to mitigate the disease's spread for the long-term, until there is a vaccine or effective therapy. California is a leader in some of the work going on when it comes to COVID-19 therapeutics, Newsom said, allowing for some optimism.

Vaccines are unlikely to be able to be procured, administered, and distributed at scale in the immediate future, Newsom said.

Californians have to adopt new behaviors to help slow the spread of COVID-19, Newsom said. He emphasized limiting your mixing with people outside your household — and if you have to mix, do it outside when you can.

He also reminded people to wear a mask, physically distance, and wash your hands.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS: 7.4% POSITIVITY, SOME COUNTIES BELOW 20% ICU BED AVAILABILITY

In the most recent reporting period, there were 8,358 COVID-19 positives. The seven-day average is 8,211. That's up from the average at this time last week: 7,876.

There were 23 COVID-19 deaths yesterday. A total of 72 died Saturday. Newsom noted that more than 100 people died on one day last week, but only 6 died on another day — though, he said, 23 is likely on the low end when it comes to deaths.

The state's positivity rate is now at 7.4% over the past 14 days. Over the past 7 days, the positivity rate is at 7.7%. Yesterday, almost 138,000 people were tested.

The positivity rate is up from 6.1% two weeks ago and 6.7% last week. That's a 21% increase from where the rate was two weeks ago.

Hospitalizations are up from 5,077 two weeks ago to 6,485 — a 28% increase. Newsom noted that the rate of growth has improved, as last week there was a 50% increase from the week before.

COVID-19 patients are currently taking up 9% of the state's hospital beds, while 60% of the state's hospital beds are occupied total, including non-COVID patients. That's up from 8% of the state's beds being occuped by COVID patients last week.

ICU patients are up 20% over two weeks; last week, those numbers were up 39%. That's gone from 1,528 two weeks ago to 1,833 now. COVID-19 patients are taking up 16% of the state's ICU beds.

Officials are seeing an increase in rural parts of the state in their ICU use, which is part of the reason for the expansion of the stay-at-home order, Newsom said. ICU capacity is below 20% in those counties.

Newsom plans an update on testing with California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly on Tuesday.

KEEPING SCHOOLS CLOSED — MORE GUIDELINES COMING ON DISTANCE LEARNING, MASKS, SPORTS, CHOIR, MORE

The governor addressed news that L.A. Unified School District decided to start the school year with distance learning still in place. He said that he wanted to applaud the leadership of districts deciding to do so for giving children and parents the opportunity to adjust and make plans.

Newsom noted that there is still a lot of work left to help students affected by the "digital divide" and not having the same ability as their peers to engage in distance learning.

The governor signed off on new regulations Friday that are currently being "socialized" within the school system — it includes guidelines around masks, contact sports, choir, bussing, and distance learning. That includes addressing the digital divide, as well as social and emotional concerns that are part of distance learning, Newsom said.

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LAUSD Will Not Reopen Campuses At The Start Of Next School Year

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Los Angeles Unified school officials have ruled out reopening the district’s campuses for in-person instruction when a new school year begins next month, Superintendent Austin Beutner announced Monday.

On August 18, classes will resume in online-only mode — though unlike last spring, Beutner pledged LAUSD students will be able to expect “daily, live engagement” with their teachers.

Beutner did not set a timetable for reopening LAUSD campuses, but promised more details about how the semester will play out by “early August.”

In his video address Monday, he acknowledged the decision would disappoint some parents and that a prolonged closure could lead to “lifelong impacts” for some students. But, he said, L.A. County’s coronavirus testing numbers are headed in the wrong direction:

“Reopening schools will significantly increase the interaction between children and adults from different families. A 10-year-old student might have a 30-year-old teacher, a 50-year-old bus driver or live with a 70-year-old grandmother. All need to be protected. There's a public health imperative to keep schools from becoming a petri dish.”

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LA’s $103 Million Rent Relief Effort Launches Today

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A Now Leasing sign outside of an apartment building in Koreatown. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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The city of Los Angeles’ rent relief program launches today, with $103 million in its coffers, and intense demand amid a deep recession and worsening pandemic.

The program, administered by the city’s Housing and Community Investment Department, will accept applications from today at 8 a.m. until Friday at midnight. To qualify, tenants need to live in multifamily rental housing in L.A., have suffered a hit to their income from COVID-19, and make less than 80% the area median income — in Los Angeles, that’s $83,500 for a family of four.

The application is availbable online on HCID's website.

The city estimates that 50,000 households in L.A. will benefit from the relief. The department will select them after the application period closes. The system is not first-come first-served, so families that apply on Monday and Thursday should stand an equal chance of being selected.

Qualifying households will see up to $2,000 in rent relief, with a maximum of $1,000 per month. That money will flow directly to landlords.

Advocates for low-income tenants welcome the help, but remain skeptical. “$103 million sounds like a lot of money,” said Greg Spiegel of the Inner City Law Center. But in a region with a huge shortage of affordable housing and where low-income renters were already severely rent-burdened, “it doesn’t get near to addressing the need,” he added. In fact, $2,000 may not be a full months’ rent for many households.

Spiegel would like to see the city’s effort paired with tenant outreach and education. “Rent, when it's just one month's worth, just holds it off — suspends the death sentence for a month later. What we really need are the resources in place to defend evictions,” he said.

In accepting money from the city, landlords will agree to forgo interest on late fees and rent, to not evict the tenant for six months after the city’s local emergency expires, and to not increase rent for a year after the emergency declaration ends.

The effort revived a 2019 fund to assist struggling renters. Initially funded with $2.2 million, the program received a massive boost when the city added $100 million in federal stimulus dollars, a move City Council President Nury Martinez called “an economic lifeline.”

L.A.’s is the largest rent relief program in the country. Like the Angeleno Cards that provided cash assistance, which saw intense demand in April, the rent relief fund will not ask about citizenship status.

LA Comedy Theaters Use Paycheck Protection Bailout To Get Low-Cost Loans

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File: Onstage at a classic New York Del Close Marathon. (Courtesy UCB)

The federal government's Paycheck Protection Program's stated intention was to help small businesses keep people on staff through loans that would be forgiven if those companies used at least 60% of the money on payroll. But many businesses have used the opportunity to take government money as low-cost loans instead, including L.A. comedy theaters like the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, which received between $350,000 and $1 million for its L.A. theater/training center and a similar amount for its New York City location.

The NYC theater closed shortly after UCB was approved for that loan, while L.A.'s theater didn't hire back its staff. The list of who received PPP loans was released last week, and it included comedy outlets like UCB, the Groundlings, the Comedy Store, the Laugh Factory, and Flappers in Burbank.

The news didn't go over well online, with numerous people going after UCB on social media, including former performers, staff, and more. This follows ongoing financial issues at UCB, as well as complaints of systemic racism and inequality within the organization that prompted UCB to announce the formation of a diverse board taking over management of the theater's operations, as well as the theater looking to become a nonprofit.

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Morning Briefing: Arson A Possibility In San Gabriel Mission Fire

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A statue of Fr. Junipero Serra used to stand in front of the San Gabriel Mission until leaders removed it from public view for its protection. Josie Huang/LAist

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A fire that burned parts of the San Gabriel Mission appears to have started in the church’s choir loft. Investigators are still looking into whether or not it was an act of arson, but a representative for the region’s fire department told Josie Huang that no electrical work was being done in a recent renovation.

The 249-year-old church was a landmark in San Gabriel, and a revered place for many Catholics in the area. But it’s also been a recent source of controversy; it’s associated with the missions founded by Father Junípero Serra, who has been blamed for physical and cultural violence against Native Americans. At a recent protest in downtown L.A., a statue of Serra was torn down by activists.

Still, for some residents, the church had a different meaning.

"I feel very sad," Liccia Beck, a San Gabriel resident, told Josie. "My parents were married here. This has just been in our family for several generations."

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, July 13

More than $100 million are available to help Angelenos struggling to pay rent during the pandemic. Aaron Mendelson explains how the program works.

Virtual literary events rule the week, and a classic tamalería opens a new brick-and-mortar location. Christine N. Ziemba has this week’s best online and IRL events.

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The Past 48 Hours In LA

Coronavirus Updates: L.A. County public health officials yesterday announced 3,322 new coronavirus cases and 18 new deaths. Los Angeles Apparel — owned by Dov Charney, who previously founded American Apparel — has been closed by county officials after more than 300 workers contracted COVID-19.

#JusticeForAndresGuardado: Protesters are calling for the arrest of Miguel Vega, the Sheriff’s deputy who killed 18-year-old Andrés Guardado with five shots to the back, and for Sheriff Alex Villanueva to resign.

San Gabriel Mission: A fire at the 249-year-old San Gabriel Mission has left local Catholics grieving.

California Vs. Trump: The UC System filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its new international students policy, which requires those students to take classes in person or risk having their visas revoked.

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Photo Of The Day

Members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department meet protesters demanding justice for Andrés Guardado at the Compton Civic Center, as a mural of President Barack Obama is displayed in the background.

(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

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