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Nursing Home Inspectors Are Not Routinely Tested For Coronavirus. Newsom Says They Will Be Now

Coronavirus test tubes. Courtesy of the County of Los Angeles.

Despite requiring routine COVID-19 testing for nursing home residents and workers, state nursing home inspectors are not being tested. A report by the Los Angeles Times calls into question whether these inspectors could be inadvertently spreading the virus as they travel between skilled nursing facilities to verify the safety and hygiene of those same facilities.

In California, nearly 40% of all the people who have died from the coronavirus either worked or lived in nursing homes. Mike Dark, a lawyer for the patient support group, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, was shocked that nursing home inspectors were not being tested for COVID-19.

“How in the world has that not already been the case?” he said. “It’s a life-and-death issue for the nurses who are conducting these inspections, for their families, and for the residents of these facilities.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that his administration is working on requiring all nursing home inspectors to be tested.

"We're raising our standards," he said. "We're requiring for every sector that an inspector is inspecting that they meet the same criteria that's established within that sector."

Newsom didn’t give details on how often inspectors would be tested or when the new policy would begin. He indicated an agreement was still being worked out with the union that represents nursing home inspectors.

In an email, the California Department of Public Health said that six state nursing home inspectors had tested positive for the virus, but that they had not contracted it at work and had not exposed others in nursing homes.

“Our surveyors are professional nurses trained in infection prevention protocols; they wear [personal protective equipment] and they do not provide direct patient care or have a need to be within 6 feet of a resident while conducting their work,” a spokesperson for the health department wrote.


A Closure Loophole For Elementary Schools? How Officials Can Apply For A Waiver

In a July 24, 2020 news conference, Gov. Newsom discussed the reasoning behind the waivers for elementary schools. Screenshot via Facebook

When California announced that schools in counties on the state’s COVID-19 watch list won’t be able to reopen, there was this footnote: There will be a waiver process for interested elementary schools.

“It’s challenging for our youngest students: preschoolers, kindergarteners, even up through third grade,said California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly in explaining the reasoning behind the decision.

To request a waiver, districts, charter schools, and private schools will have to go through their county health officer.

And according to the Orange County Health Care Agency, so far most of the schools that have expressed an interest there have been private schools.

One example: TVT Community Day School in Irvine, where Head of School Jeff Davis told us:

“The county and the state are looking for schools who are implementing protocols based on … proven research that can keep the students and faculties safe. I challenge anybody to find a school that has done more work in this area than TVT Community Day School.”

Orange County’s largest public school districts, including Capistrano Unified, Santa Ana Unified, Garden Grove Unified, and Irvine Unified, have all announced they will begin the school year with distance learning.


We will continue to report on these waivers, and which schools do – and don’t – obtain one. If your school or district is considering applying for one of these waivers, please reach out to reporter Carla Javier.

Mayor Garcetti Says LA's Coronavirus Numbers Are Improving, 'But Not By Big Margins'

Screen shot from Mayor of LA Facebook page

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti opened Friday afternoon's media briefing by clarifying some major news from this week -- that California now has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country, surpassing New York. The mayor said that headline is really just "clickbait," and is misleading because it's a total number of cases, not the case per capita:

"Of course we have more cases than almost any other state, because we have more people than any other state. I track carefully, more importantly, the per capita cases, how many cases per 100,000 residents. By that measure we are 24th of 50 states right now. And most public health experts agree that in many states where testing is less robust, many many cases — many more cases than here in California — are undiagnosed."


The mayor said that four of our six indicators for COVID-19 risk are now headed in the right direction, "but not by big margins," he added. "It's important to know that just two weeks ago, five of those six were headed in the wrong direction."

Here are some facts and figures:

  • The transmission rate has gone down from 1.07 to about 0.94
  • The seven-day average of positive cases is 11.6%. That's down from 13.6% a week ago. "Another hopeful sign, but 11.6 is still too high, and we all need to do work to bring that down further," Garcetti said.
  • Hospitalizations are still higher than at any other point in the pandemic, however, with about 2,500 people currently receiving care. Our hospitals, though, still have capacity. While these numbers aren't going down, the mayor said, they seem to be stabilizing.
  • The color-coded COVID-19 threat level remains at Orange, as it was last week
  • Last week we had more deaths (326) than this week (264)
  • The testing turnaround time is now 23 hours, "which is something I'm very proud of in the midst of seeing test results come back in five, six, eight or nine days across the country," Garcetti said.

The mayor said he owes much of this success to Angelenos wearing masks:

"A recent study showed that some workers who wore a mask at work with over 150 co-workers, even though they didn't know they were positive, pass that on to zero workers. But when they came home and they took their masks off ... a majority of their households became infected. Simply put, masks work to protect people from those who are infected, whether they know they are or not."


  • If you get a call from the L.A. Dept. of Public Health, please answer it. It is likely a contact tracer trying to get in touch with you.
  • Parking restrictions will now remain eased until Aug 16 (meaning no tickets on street sweeping days)
  • Applicants for rental assistance will be notified next week. The city received more than 200,000 applications
  • The mayor said again to avoid people outside of your household, especially on the weekend.


Garcetti mourned the loss of LAPD officer Valentin Martinez, who died today from COVID-19, leaving behind his wife, who is 20 weeks pregnant.

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Long Beach Police Release Video Account Of How An LAist Reporter Was Hit By Projectile At a Protest


While covering a protest in May, our reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was shot in the neck with a foam round by a Long Beach Police Department officer. How did that happen?

Long Beach police say it was inadvertent — that two officers used their launchers during a chaotic moment, and the round bounced off of something before hitting Guzman-Lopez.

Today the department publicly released their account in the video that can be viewed above, which includes video from the scene that our newsroom had previously reviewed. That footage does not capture Guzman-Lopez being hit by the round.



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Read The Column: A Legendary Latino-Owned Restaurant In Southeast LA Stays, For Now

(Illustration by Chava Sanchez, LAist/Photo courtesy of La Casita Mexicana)

In the middle of March, chefs and owners Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana shut the critically acclaimed Bell restaurant all the way down because of the pandemic. There was no more cochinita pibil, no more of their lauded chile en nogada.

The restaurant has served the Southeast L.A. community for nearly 25 years, and I was starting to get worried. So I put my mask on and went over there to chat with the chefs about how they are surviving when so many restaurants are closing their doors forever.

I hope theirs never do. At least for now, there's some hope.



The Ticking Eviction Time Bomb, And What Could Be Done

A rent strike protester holds up a sign reading "food not rent" on May 1. Chava Sanchez/LAist

As August approaches, so does another rent due date for millions of renters in Southern California. After months of unemployment, many have fallen far behind on rent, but for now, evictions in California are on hold.

Cities and counties have enacted temporary moratoriums, and the state’s court system has basically halted all eviction proceedings until 90 days after the emergency is over.

But it’s not a permanent answer. The reality is many thousands of households won’t be able to keep up when the rent, eventually, comes due.

The fear is of a so-called “eviction tsunami,” that some say the government is not meaningfully attempting to prevent.

Instead, advocates argue that we should just cancel the rent.


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'Mulan' Joins More Movies Being Postponed Indefinitely

Yifei Liu stars as Mulan in Disney's live-action adaptation of its animated classic. (Courtesy Disney)

You know the expression, “Coming soon to a theater near you.” Well, you may not hear it for quite some time.

The pandemic has forced the major studios to postpone the release dates of a lot of summer movies. Now the studios have even stopped saying when those films might eventually hit the multiplex.

For the third time, Disney has delayed the premiere of its live-action version of “Mulan.” And just as Warner Bros. did with its postponed drama “Tenet,” Disney didn’t even mention a new release date. And Paramount has pulled its “Top Gun” and “Quiet Place” sequels.

AMC, the world’s biggest theater chain, announced it’s delaying its reopening from late July to mid or late August. But some people inside Hollywood say theaters may stay closed until next year.

Meanwhile, all the postponements are having a cascade effect. Disney has now delayed many of its biggest movies for years to come, including four sequels to James Cameron’s “Avatar.” The fifth “Avatar” film is now scheduled for 2028.

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Gov. Newsom Wants New Protections For Essential Workers


Gov. Gavin Newsom today said he wants to see additional safeguards and preventative measures to protect essential workers, who have been hard hit by COVID-19.

"Not enough focus candidly has been placed on essential workers in this state," he said in today's update on California's response to coronavirus. Newsom mentioned grocery store workers, food delivery truck drivers, warehouse workers and other people who provide healthcare, food and shelter.

He mentioned expanding Project Roomkey so if someone who is an essential worker feels ill, they can quarantine themself.

"The most important thing we can do is if someone is sick or feeling sick or has been exposed to the virus, we've got to give them the supports where they have the ability to isolate and, in some cases, to quarantine," Newsom said.

He also cited a program "Housing for the Harvest" that provides places for farm workers to isolate and quarantine if they are exposed to or test positive for the virus. The state plans to expand that program, which currently operates in Monterey, to cover more of California's 626,000 crop workers in the Central Valley, Central Coast, and Imperial Valley.

Newsom also announced a major scale-up of awareness campaigns designed to let workers know their employers have a responsibility to pick up costs associated with testing for employees.

The state released an Employer Playbook for reopening today with industry-specific guidelines, instructions for how to manage an outbreak at a workplace and information about compliance and enforcement. Newsom made it sound like officials may step up enforcement but their efforts would focus on compliance rather than being punitive.

He said he would work with the state legislature to establish the authority to compel businesses to report outbreaks to local health authorities.

Newsom also cited gaps in California's paid sick leave that he said state legislators are working to close.

"We want to open the economy quickly," he said. "People that are feeling sick, we don't want them going to work and infecting other people, having a big outbreak where now a factory or a meat processing plant [or] any business has to shut down. You want to give them the protection so that you can be protected and customers can be protected."

The governor also urged people to remain vigilant and adhere to physical distancing and other safety protocols. "I don't mean to remind you, perhaps, that [on] weekends where we certainly take off the suit and tie and may take down our guard a little bit, that's where we have started to see some spread of this virus. So I encourage you when you're mixing outside your household, if you have to do that, wear the masks and physically distance. Don't let down your guard."


  • Newsom said California tested almost 138,000 people yesterday and 9,718 of those people tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The seven-day positivity rate is 7.5%. On Monday, it was 7.4%, so that figure is holding fairly steady.
  • Hospitalizations are increasingbut not at the rate that they were two weeks ago. This week, we're seeing a 9% increase in hospitalization. Two weeks ago, they were icnreasing by 28%. "That is nothing to jump up and down about. These are statewide numbers and they mask the reality in different parts of the state," Newsom said.
  • Like the number of hospitalizations, the number of ICU admissions is increasing at a slower rate than it was a couple weeks ago.
  • Newsom said the state has approximately 12,000 available ventilators.
  • Newsom also said California is going to be doing more pooled testing and he may have an announcement about a new testing strategy next week.
  • Above, you can watch the live video of Newsom's full comments.


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More Than A Month After Supreme Court Decision, New DACA Applicants Still In Limbo

DACA supporters drive around MacArthur Park during a rally celebrating the Supreme Court's June decision to let DACA stand. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

It's been more than a month since the Supreme Court upheld the DACA program for young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and grew up here without legal status.

But there’s still no federal guidance for new applicants. Last week, a federal court in Maryland ordered the Trump administration to begin taking new applications again. Meanwhile, thousands of would-be new DACA applicants in California have been waiting to file applications since President Trump rescinded the program in September 2017. Since then, only those with existing DACA permits have been allowed to renew them.

On Thursday, Luis Perez with the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said the Trump administration is still not accepting new applications, in spite of last week's court ruling. His group had sent in an application for a legal client the day of the Supreme Court decision.

"We got silence from them," Perez said.

There have been news reports that new applications are being rejected, and the DACA information page on the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services still reads that "USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA." The page is marked "Archived Content."

Still, groups like CHIRLA are encouraging prospective DACA applicants to ready their applications and the nearly $500 federal fee. They also caution that the Trump administration could try to end DACA again.


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Asian Americans Are Facing Disproportionate Economic Insecurity, And Racism Plays A Role

The storefront of Tasty Dining in San Gabriel, which began losing business in the early days of the pandemic. (Caroline Champlin/LAist)
Asian Americans working in hospitality, retail and service jobs are facing unemployment at higher rates than whites, according to a new UCLA study. (Paul Ong and Donald Mar/CPS)

A new UCLA study using data from unemployment claims, the Current Population Survey, and from the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that Asian Americans are suffering financially more than whites amid the pandemic, and that related xenophobia has harmed Asian-owned businesses.

"What we started seeing is people harassing Asians... blaming them for the pandemic," said UCLA economist Paul Ong. "That also seemed to translate into an informal boycott of Asian restaurants — Chinese restaurants in particular."

According to the study, Asians and whites started out on similar financial footing before the pandemic — but between February and April, according to the research, Asian American joblessness jumped ahead by 5%.

Asians working in services like hair salons and auto-repair shops, for example, faced 20% more unemployment than white people in that sector. Compared with the rest of the California labor force, Asian Americans with only a high school education filed almost 50% more unemployment claims than whites with the same education level.


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When The Power Grid Is Down, Microgrids Come To The Rescue

San Jacinto High School gymnasium, where a microgrid is being installed. (Sharon McNary/LAist)

When Southern California Edison pulls the plug on power to keep its equipment from starting wildfires on red flag days, it can be a major headache for homes and businesses.

Places such as hospitals and factories often turn to energy microgrids during shutoffs to keep the lights and air conditioning on, but other entities are also starting to invest in energy-independent "power islands."


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Morning Briefing: A First Person Account Of Police Use Of Force

A screenshot shows the crowd reaction as Long Beach police fired foam launchers on May 31, 2020. LAist reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was hit in the throat by a round police say ricocheted off of something or someone. Courtesy LBPD

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

While covering anti-racism protests in Long Beach at the end of May, our reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was hit in the throat by a foam round fired by a city police officer. In an essay, Adolfo reflects on what the experience taught him.

I believe that examining our stories will help answer this question: how much force should police officers be empowered to use?” he writes. “Police use of force ... breaks the person up physically and psychologically.”

Meanwhile, the Long Beach Police Department provided its side of the story as well. According to Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, two police officers fired so-called “less lethal” projectiles at protesters who they say had thrown bottles towards officers, and Adolfo was “inadvertently hit with a round that ricocheted either off something or somebody.”

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, July 24

Microgrids enable a small group of power users to isolate themselves from possible power shut-offs, and to generate and store their own electricity. Sharon McNary visits a solar+battery microgrid at San Jacinto High School and a hydrogen fuel cell microgrid in Pico Rivera.

Months into the pandemic, many renters have fallen far behind on rent, setting the stage for a potential crisis in the coming months. Some are predicting mass evictions; others are calling for missed rent payments to be canceled. Matt Tinoco reports.

The chefs who own Bell’s Casita Mexicana are battling to save their restaurant after California’s two statewide shutdowns. Erick Galindo says it's a case study for the frustrations experienced by homegrown local businesses in the stop-start-stop again pandemic climate.

A new UCLA report looks at pandemic-related job losses among Asian Americans, in part due to xenophobia early on that led to diminished business for Asian American entrepreneurs. Caroline Champlin has the story.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Policing The Police: Reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez provides a first person account of being struck in the throat by a foam round fired by police while covering recent protests in Long Beach. The Long Beach Police Department also provided its side of the story.

Coronavirus Updates: Starting at the end of August, L.A. County businesses that don't comply with coronavirus protection protocols will be fined between $100 and $500, and multiple offenses will result in a 30-day permit suspension.

California’s National Voice: Researchers are predicting that California could lose two seats in Congress, according to new population estimates.

Healing Resources: In South L.A., a healer, an artist and a chef are each taking different approaches to fighting food insecurity and sowing the seeds of a Black food sovereignty. Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which allocates substantial money for the upkeep and expansion of public natural areas across the country, including California.

First Person: In Episode 4 of LAist Studio’s podcast, California Love, host Walter Thompson-Hernández dives deep into what Kobe Bryant meant to him, and how the icon’s death spurred collective mourning throughout the city. In the second installment of our Unheard LA series on Race in LA, Bruce Lemon Jr. hosted a virtual event featuring the stories of Cheryl Farrell, Aeden K, and the duo Eddy M. Gana Jr. and Stephanie Sajor.

Here’s What To Do: Electronic music artists rave the vote, a new doc examines bias in facial recognition software, Mario Curie gets a "radioactive" biopic and more in this week’s best online and IRL events.

Photo Of The Day

Tak's Coffee Shop in Crenshaw, with full coronavirus protections in place.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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