Your No-Panic Guide To LA Life, And The New (And Changing) Coronavirus Rules
UPDATE: We've revamped this guide.
Since we're in this for the long haul, we've transitioned to to an easier-to-read format: How To (New) LA.
Check it out for all the latest updates, and thank you for reading.
Restrictions have been lifting since early May, but COVID-19 is not under control in L.A. County.
On a state-level, all Californians are now required to wear face masks in public. Meanwhile, experts say the overall daily case numbers we're seeing are an undercount -- in part because of equity issues with testing and lab backlogs.
So, how should you evaluate possible hazards when engaging with the world right now? Great question.
Since the reopening began, there have been mixed signals from officials and leaders about how to exist safely, with messages vacillating between use-L.A.-at-your-own-risk, and "hunker down, back in your home, whenever you can."
Below is everything we know about the coronavirus in L.A. It's updated as new information becomes available, and we've been publishing it since January.
It reflects reporting from every corner of our newsroom, and beyond. It's also a reflection of more than 3,000 questions that you've asked and we've answered. Keep asking.
WHAT'S INSIDE THE GUIDE
Scroll, search, or jump to a section.
Timeline | Reopening L.A. | Officials and Orders | About the Virus | COVID-19 and MIS-C Symptoms | Testing | Masks and Sanitizers | Food Help and Food Safety | Daily Life | Is Nature Closed? | Enforcement | Reporting Violations | Rent, Loans, Unemployment | Other Kinds of Help | Hospitals | Schools | City and County Operations | Homelessness | More Q&A | Ask A Question |
WHAT'S REOPENING IN L.A.
KEY DETAILS BEFORE VENTURING OUTSIDE
1) Stay-at-home orders for L.A. County will exist into the summer with no specific end date. Restrictions have been/are being "gradually relaxed" along the way. The revised Health Officer Order has all the specifics.
2) Face coverings are mandatory in L.A. County (and the state). You're required to wear one when you're out of your home and interacting with people you don't live with -- even outdoors. If no one is around, keep it in your pocket in case other humans appear. For runners, put one on when passing. The idea with cloth masks is to stop the virus from getting out, not in.
3) Self-isolate and do not go out for at least 10 days if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or have tested positive. If you think you've been exposed, self-quarantine for 14 days.
4) Physical distancing is in effect in all places, unless otherwise noted and addressed via protocols.
5) This is not over. The number of confirmed cases and deaths explain it better than words. The global total is now over 11,892,000 confirmed cases and more than 545,000 deaths. In L.A. County, there have been over 116,500 confirmed cases and more than 3,400 deaths.
Some things that reopened were subsequently shut down again.
Click "RULES & DETAILS" for specifics and official guidance.
May 8: Florists, toy stores, bookstores, clothing shops, sporting goods, more (RULES & DETAILS)
May 9: Hiking trails (RULES & DETAILS)
May 9: Golf courses (RULES & DETAILS)
May 13: Manufacturing/logistics businesses (RULES & DETAILS)
May 13: L.A.'s beaches (RULES & DETAILS)
May 13: Tennis, archery, equestrian centers, community gardens, more (RULES & DETAILS)
May 16: Angeles National Forest trails (RULES & DETAILS)
May 16: Descanso Gardens (RULES & DETAILS)
May 19: Pet grooming and training (RULES & DETAILS)
May 19: Car washes (RULES & DETAILS)
May 22: Beach bike paths, parking (RULES & DETAILS)
May 22: Car parades (RULES & DETAILS)
May 25: L.A. River recreation zones (RULES & DETAILS)
May 26: Runyon Canyon (RULES & DETAILS)
May 27: Shopping inside of stores, shopping centers, malls (RULES & DETAILS)
May 27: Houses of worship (RULES & DETAILS)
May 27: Flea markets (RULES & DETAILS)
May 27: Drive-in theaters (RULES & DETAILS)
May 27: Pools at multi-unit residences (RULES & DETAILS)
May 29: Hair salons and barbershops (RULES & DETAILS)
May 29: Restaurant dining rooms (RULES & DETAILS)
May 29: Offices without telework options (RULES & DETAILS)
June 8: Libraries w/ sidewalk service (RULES & DETAILS)
June 12: Gyms (RULES & DETAILS)
June 12: Public pools (RULES & DETAILS)
June 12: Professional sports (RULES & DETAILS)
June 12: Hotels (RULES & DETAILS)
June 12: Zoos, aquariums, museums, galleries (RULES & DETAILS)
June 12: Day camps (RULES & DETAILS)
June 12: Music, film, and tv production (RULES & DETAILS)
June 19: Bars, wineries, brewery tasting rooms (RULES & DETAILS)
June 19: Nail salons, tattoo parlors, massage, skin care, more (RULES & DETAILS)
June 19: Cardrooms, satellite wagering facilities, racetracks (RULES & DETAILS)
TBD: Movie theaters, mini-golf, arcades, batting cages, bowling (RULES & DETAILS)
TBD: School campuses (RULES & DETAILS)
TBD: Casinos (RULES & DETAILS)
A ROLLERCOASTER OF RULES
With the reopenings, come the rules. And there are many. And sometimes they change.
Sometimes counties reopen behind the state pace because certain criteria still needs to be met (if counties want to move faster than the state pace, they need special permission to do so). Once the state allows for something to reopen, it's then up to the county to approve it or not.
We are keeping a running list or reopenings (and upcoming reopenings) with details, links, and history. For all of the activities and locations listed below, social distancing protocols should be followed, and face coverings are required.
SHOPS AND SHOPPING
The first wave of L.A. County shops were allowed to reopen on May 8 for curbside pick-up only, if they followed new safety rules. There were a lot of them. Florists, toy stores, music stores, bookstores, clothing stores, sporting goods stores, and car dealership showrooms were all part of this group. Some cities, like Long Beach, allowed additional shops/activities.
Doorside pick-up was allowed on May 13, and more businesses, including some manufacturing/logistic companies, were greenlit to reopen if they complied with health department protocols. The next move was curbside pickup at indoor malls on May 22.
In-store shopping was restored (pun intended) statewide on Memorial Day. But the state's go-ahead was just the first step. The county had to say OK, and we had not met the criteria yet. L.A. County Department of Public Health gave the greenlight less than a week later. Shopping inside of stores was approved locally on May 27.
Malls and outdoor shopping centers were also approved to reopen. On July 13 Gov. Newsom closed down L.A.'s indoor malls again., citing the spread of COVID-19, and announced that the entire state was moving back into a modified version of the stay-at-home order.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: IN-STORE SHOPPING
- L.A. County's reopening rules: MALLS & SHOPPING CENTERS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: WAREHOUSING, MANUFACTURING, LOGISTICS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: CAR DEALERSHIPS
- State health department guidance: RETAILERS (with checklist)
- State health department guidance: SHOPPING CENTERS (with checklist)
- State health department guidance: CAR DEALERSHIPS & RENTALS
HIKING AND CAMPING
Hiking trails operated by L.A. County and the City of L.A. were reopened to the public on May 9. Runyon Canyon and Griffith Observatory remained closed. Runyon Canyon, was allowed to reopen on May 26 with "counters" in place to avoid overcrowding and "the trail will only be open for hiking as a one-way loop," the City of L.A. tweeted.
Some Angeles National Forest trails and (while not so much a hike, but certainly a walk) Descanso Gardens reopened, with restrictions, on May 16. Eaton Canyon was reopened, but then closed again because of crowds, and then reopened again with new rules and timed entry. Other related, ongoing reopenings: Joshua Tree National Park, some CA state parks, some campgrounds, other natural spaces.
Golf courses operated by L.A. County and the City of L.A. reopened to the public on May 9. They were reservation-only, one person per golf cart, and foam fillers were added to the holes so players wouldn't have to touch the flag. Golf at other recreational facilities were allowed to reopen on May 13.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: GOLF COURSES
Bike paths got some restrictions lifted a few days later, and parking lots run by the county and the city -- at Cabrillo and Venice beaches, Dockweiler State Beach, Will Rogers State Beach, Zuma Beach, and Surfrider Beach -- reopened on May 22.
Due to rising COVID-19 cases, the county announced on June 29, that beaches, piers, and beach bike paths would be closed from July 3-6 (fireworks displays were also prohibited).
- L.A. County's reopening rules: BEACHES
Tennis courts, pickleball courts, shooting ranges, archery ranges, other golf courses, equestrian centers, model airplane areas, community gardens, bike parks and other recreational facilities were also allowed to reopen -- with limitations -- on May 13.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: BMX AREAS & BIKE PARKS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: TENNIS COURTS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: PICKLEBALL COURTS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: COMMUNITY GARDENS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: ARCHERY & OUTDOOR SHOOTING
- L.A. County's reopening rules: MODEL AIRPLANE AREAS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: EQUESTRIAN CENTERS
PET GROOMING AND TRAINING
Pet grooming and training -- shops and mobile services -- were allowed to operate starting May 19. Customers had to drop off and pick up pets outside of the store, or home, if a mobile service.
Car washes were allowed to resume operations on May 19.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: CAR WASHES
Graduation (and other types of) vehicle parades were given the green light on May 22 -- provided an exhaustive set of rules were followed.
- L.A. County rules: CAR PARADES
Restaurants got guidance from the state on May 12 about how to reopen dining rooms, but it would be a few more weeks until that happened in L.A. On May 29, the county gave the greenlight for restaurants to reopen -- with restrictions -- provided they followed safety protocols.
Initially, compliance was on "the honor system." That worked about as well as you might imagine.
On June 15, health officials announced that half of the 2,000 L.A. restaurants they inspected since reopening were not in compliance with new guidelines. Those rules include strict measures to ensure physical distancing.
On June 27, the county said that 3,700 food establishments were recently surveyed and 83% were in violation of coronavirus regulations.
Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told LAist it appears businesses are not communicating the new rules to staff and patrons. A significant number of employees weren't wearing face coverings, which is a major public health issue both for workers and guests. Lack of social distancing was also a problem.
Residents were urged to report any potentially unsafe conditions to the health department.
On July 1 in-restaurant dining was shut down again.
Citing the spread of COVID-19 across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was re-closing indoor operations in multiple business sectors, including this one, effective immediately.
The order was to remain in place for at least three weeks.
PLACES OF WORSHIP
On July 13 Gov. Newsom closed them down again in L.A., citing the spread of COVID-19, and announced that the entire state was moving back into a modified version of the stay-at-home order.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: PLACES OF WORSHIP
- State health department guidance: WORSHIP, CEREMONIES, SERVICES
HAIR SALONS AND BARBERSHOPS
While neighboring counties were trimming and snipping, L.A. was still waiting. Hair salons finally got the go ahead to reopen May 29 after the state approved L.A.'s variance application (which is, essentially, permission for a county to skip ahead in the reopening process).
On July 13 Gov. Newsom closed them down again in L.A., citing the spread of COVID-19, and announced that the entire state was moving back into a modified version of the stay-at-home order.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: HAIR SALONS, BARBERSHOPS
Drive-in theaters are the place to be. What year is it? Doesn't even matter. Time has no meaning. These were allowed to reopen on May 27.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: DRIVE-INS
FLEA MARKETS & SWAP MEETS
These reopenings were announced along with the reopening of drive-in theaters.
POOLS AT RESIDENTIAL COMPLEXES
These were allowed to reopen on May 27. The rules apply to pools, hot tubs and saunas in a multi-unit residence, or part of a homeowners association.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: SHARED RESIDENTIAL POOLS
OFFICES (WITHOUT REMOTE WORKING)
Offices in "non-critical sectors" were allowed to reopen on May 29, but only when telework was not possible. "So if you can work from home, you still need to work from home," L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news briefing.
On July 13 Gov. Newsom closed down offices in "non-critical sectors" again, citing the spread of COVID-19, and announced that the state was moving back into a modified version of the stay-at-home order.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: OFFICE WORKSITES
- State health department guidance: OFFICE WORKSPACES (with checklist)
L.A. River Recreation Zones in Elysian Valley and the Sepulveda Basin opened for the 2020 season on May 25. Walking, fishing (with a permit), and birdwatching was OK. Kayaking and other water activity, not OK. The initial announcement slated the recreation zones for opening on May 31.
Libraries in various locations across L.A. County opened on June 8 for contact-less drop off and pick-up. The Hours of operation were between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Staff was taking calls between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Here's where you can reserve a book. And we have a breakdown of how the process works.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: LIBRARIES WITH CURBSIDE PICK-UP
Hooray-ish for Hollywood.
A 22-page reopening plan was sent to the state and county by a Hollywood taskforce on June 1 (here's that full document). The state returned with a recommendation that music, film, and tv production could reopen on June 12, but:
"...subject to approval by county public health officers within the jurisdictions of operations following their review of local epidemiological data including cases per 100,000 population, rate of test positivity, and local preparedness to support a health care surge, vulnerable populations, contact tracing and testing."
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers should abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers. Back office staff and management should adhere to Office Workspace guidelines published by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Industrial Relations, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission."
- L.A. County's reopening rules: MUSIC, TELEVISION AND FILM PRODUCTION
- Industry unions production guidelines: "THE SAFE WAY FORWARD"
FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT CENTERS
This is a fancy way of saying movie theaters and more. This is another reopening area that California allowed on June 12, but L.A. County was keeping closed. According to state guidelines, movie theaters will allow 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is less, for at least the first two weeks.
Also included in this group of reopenings: bowling alleys, mini golf courses, batting cages and arcades. Not included: water parks, amusement parks, ice skating, roller rinks, and laser tag.
While they hadn't yet reopened in L.A., on July 1 family entertainment centers were shut down again in the rest of the state. Citing the spread of COVID-19 across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was re-closing indoor operations in multiple business sectors, including this one, effective immediately.
The order was to remain in place for at least three weeks.
- State health department guidance: FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT CENTERS
State recommendations include a worksite-specific plan, topics for employee training, individual control measures like temperature checks, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, physical distancing guidelines, and extra considerations for communal bathrooms and showers.
L.A. County said gyms could reopen June 12. On July 13 Gov. Newsom closed them down again in L.A., citing the spread of COVID-19, and announced that the entire state was moving back into a modified version of the stay-at-home order.
- State health department guidance: FITNESS FACILITIES
- L.A. County's reopening rules: GYMS AND FITNESS ESTABLISHMENTS
PUBLIC SWIMMING POOLS
The county order was lifted on June 12, but just because pools can open doesn't mean they will open.
There are a lot of rules.
There is no Marco Polo.
Pool operators now need to maintain 6 feet of social distancing among swimmers and loungers. Maximum occupancy is cut in half. Lap swimmers might be one person per lane (if not a family group). And some locations could require reservations. Frequent cleaning of "high-touch surfaces" -- like door handles, pool railings, deck chairs, training gear -- is also required.
This guidance applies to:
- campground pools
- club pools
- commercial pools
- health or fitness club pools
- hotel pools
- licensed day care facility pools
- medical facility pools
- mineral spring pools
- motel pools
- municipal pools
- public school pools
- private school pools
- recreational or mobile home park pools
- resort pools
- special purpose pools
- swim school pools
Residential swimming pools at apartment buildings, bed and breakfasts, condos, and HOAs have their own reopening rules.
- L.A. County's reopening rules: PUBLIC SWIMMING POOLS
As far as the state is concerned, professional sports in California could resume training and competition -- without live audiences -- on or after June 12. L.A. County is also going forward on June 12.
"Athletes, coaching staff, medical staff, broadcasting staff and others at sporting facilities or events should abide by COVID-19 protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers. Back office staff and management should adhere to Office Workspace guidelines ... Retail staff should adhere to Retail guidelines."
- L.A. County's reopening rules: PROFESSIONAL SPORTS LEAGUES AND FACILITIES
ZOOS, AQUARIUMS, MUSEUMS, GALLERIES
These were allowed by the state to open on or after June 12, pending "county health officer approval following their review of local epidemiological data." L.A. County health officials approved the June 12 date.
On July 1 indoor operations at zoos, aquariums, museums and galleries were shut down again.
Citing the spread of COVID-19 across California, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was re-closing indoor operations in multiple business sectors, including this one, effective immediately. The order was to remain in place for at least three weeks.
- State health department guidance: MUSEUMS, GALLERIES, ZOOS, AQUARIUMS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: MUSEUMS, GALLERIES, ZOOS, AQUARIUMS
The day camp recommendations are substantial -- from prioritizing outdoor activities, to promoting healthy hygiene practices, to keeping kids from eating hand sanitizer, to monitoring staff and campers for signs of illness (and having a plan when someone does gets sick), to considerations for partial or total closures, and oh so much more. L.A. County has given the go ahead for day camps to reopen on June 12.
BARS, WINERIES, BREWERY TASTING ROOMS
Party's over for now.
The day after bars were allowed to reopen, about 500,000 people decided to go out for a drink, according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. About a week later on June 28, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered them to close again immediately as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and positivity rates were increasing in various parts of the state.
On July 1 Newsom also closed down indoor operations at wineries and tasting rooms again. That order was to remain in place for at least three weeks.
See more details, diagrams, and compliance checklists in county's official protocols.
- State health department guidance: RESTAURANTS, BARS, AND WINERIES
- L.A. County's reopening rules: BARS, WINERIES, BREWERY TASTING ROOMS
CARDROOMS, SATELLITE WAGERING FACILITIES, RACETRACKS
L.A. County gave the go ahead for this group of on June 19. On July 1, they were shut down again. Citing the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was re-closing indoor operations in multiple business sectors, including this one, effective immediately. The order was to remain in place for at least three weeks.
- State health department guidance:CARDROOMS, SATELLITE WAGERING FACILITIES, RACETRACKS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: CARDROOMS, SATELLITE WAGERING FACILITIES, RACETRACKS
PERSONAL CARE SERVICES
L.A. County allowed the following establishements to reopen at 50% capactiy on June 19. This group of reopenings applies to services that require touching a client's face or body:
Esthetician, skin care and cosmetology services
Body art professionals
Microblading, permanent make-up
Massage therapy (non-healthcare)
- State health department guidance: PERSONAL CARE SERVICES
- L.A. County's reopening rules: PERSONAL CARE SERVICES
L.A. County health officials have cleared hotels to reopen for recreational use on June 12.
- State health department guidance: HOTELS, LODGING, SHORT TERM RENTALS
- L.A. County's reopening rules: HOTEL, LODGING SHORT TERM RENTALS
- State health department guidance: TRIBAL CASINOS
LAUSD announced that classes would be online-only when the new school year starts on Aug 18.
District officials said L.A.'s coronavirus numbers went the wrong way abd they would not be opening campuses for in-person instruction.
Beutner did not give a date or timetable for reopening LAUSD campuses.
ADDITIONAL L.A. COUNTY HEALTH PROTOCOLS
- OUTDOOR MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
- PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS
- SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER GROUPS
- MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT GROUPS
- OWNERS OF COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS
ADDITIONAL STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT GUIDANCE
- SCHOOL CAMPUSES
- PORTS (with checklist)
- PUBLIC TRANSIT (with checklist)
- DELIVERY SERVICES (with checklist)
- MEAT, DAIRY, PRODUCE PACKING FACILITIES (with checklist)
TIMELINE REALITY CHECK
If it feels like the recovery process is moving a lot faster all of a sudden, that's because it is. A week before the major May 29 announcements, County Supervisor Kathryn Barger proposed July 4 as the target date to fully or partially reopen retail, restaurants, and malls in the county.
At that time, L.A. County's public health director Barbara Ferrer said that county leaders and residents would "have do a lot of things right so that we can actually get to that date... and we're still going to need to pay a lot of attention to what the data's telling us." Mayor Garcetti had a similar response.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly defined those metrics as:
- No more than a 5% increase in hospitalizations over seven days
- And EITHER less than 25 coronavirus positives per 100,000 residents OR less than 8% positive tests.
When we talked to Ferrer again on May 28, she said she felt the data supported moving ahead now.
"We're well positioned to enter into the recovery phase," she told us. "I don't think we're going too fast... It's easiest on all of us if, wherever possible, the county can move in alignment with the state and I think that's what we've done."
We asked Garcetti at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend how Angelenos should evaluate risk as things reopen.
He said: "We've never been fully closed," and we should get comfortable living in a "gray area" between being open and closed for a while. People will need to make their own individual assessments of the risks they want to take by going out, he added.
"I think it's okay to take a step forward, but don't dash forward. Don't go crazy and stay out all weekend."
WHAT IS A VARIANCE?
Simply, it's permission for a county to skip ahead in the reopening process.
The reopening process works like this: The state decides when California moves into a new stage (or phase within a stage) of changes. But individual counties need to qualify to make those changes based on their own circumstances.
The state lifts closure orders and provides guidance on how to open, but doesn't say when to open.
Sometimes counties want to reopen behind the state pace.
Sometimes counties want to move faster than the state pace.
That's where the "variance" comes into play. It's when a county requests, and is approved by the state, to go further, faster, and reopen areas not covered in the current statewide status.
There are additional "mitigation strategies" for: first responders, law enforcement, homeless populations, retirement communities, tribal communities, correctional and detention facilities, shared housing, community events, faith-based organizations, and more.
In the past, state and local health departments viewed the CDC "as the central federal agency responsible for communicating to the public" during a crisis, Politico reports. "But since March, the White House has shifted much of that work to its coronavirus task force."
HOW DID WE GET HERE AND WHERE ARE WE NOW? -- ACCORDING TO LOCAL OFFICIALS
A local public health emergency was declared by county officials on March 4.
L.A. County announced the first death from COVID-19 on March 11.
Confirmed cases and deaths are being tracked on the public health department's website.
On March 15, L.A. County officials said they were closing all offices to the public, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a moratorium on evictions, and an executive order banning dine-in restaurants and entertainment facilities went into effect at midnight.
L.A. County followed with a similar list of actions, closures, and restrictions the following day, including strongly discouraging gatherings of more than 50 people.
The "Safer at Home" emergency order was issued by L.A. County and city leaders on March 19. It included the following directives:
- Residents should remain at home.
- Do not gather in enclosed spaces with more than 10 people.
- Close all non-critical businesses (that can't operate remotely) until further notice.
"I want to be clear about this," said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti during the announcement, "that the only time you should leave your home is for essential activities and needs -- to get food, care for a relative or a friend or child, get necessary health care," and the like.
Jobs that are critical to safety, health, and the security of city, as well as an "economy of recovery," are exempt. Examples Garcetti cited:
- Emergency personnel
- First responders
- Government employees
- Medical personnel
- Vital infrastructure workers
- Health care providers
- Transportation services
- Grocery stores
- Restaurants (but for take-out or delivery only)
- News outlets
- Hardware stores
- Gas stations
- Banks and financial institutions
- Plumbers, electricians
- Dry cleaners and laundromats
But social distancing must be enforced in all of these cases.
You are allowed to go outside, take a walk, and enjoy an open space. But some outdoor areas are off-limits because of crowding. And even in outside, you are required to stay 6 feet away from people.
On March 25, Garcetti said the stay-at-home order would likely be in place until May.
On March 27, Garcetti tonight used what may have been his strongest language yet to urge people to heed his stay-at-home orders.
"These aren't suggestions, I remind you, these are orders. We are in the midst of a pandemic," Garcetti said.
The city punctuated that message with a piercing emergency alert sent moments after his nightly address reminding people to keep staying at home, and to only go out for essential activities. L.A. County sent an alert as well.
Official guidance on general mask-wearing arrived on April 1. Garcetti made the recommendation that all residents wear face coverings whenever they're out of the house and interacting with people.
About a week later, that was changed to a requirement. Shoppers and store employees must wear face masks starting April 10.
L.A. County echoed with a face covering ordinance a few days later, bringing some uniformity to the patchwork of mask rules across the 88 cities. You now have to wear a mask when shopping anywhere in L.A. County.
County health officials have also extended the stay-at-home order to May 15. They laid out new data that shows current social distancing practices are working -- but we need to do better.
We are bending the curve, but if we stop physical distancing, the projection is that "virtually all residents in Los Angeles County would have been exposed or infected with COVID-19" by mid-summer, said the director of L.A. County's Department of Health Services.
Testing was still only being recommended for people who were symptomatic.
Garcetti said he doesn't see large gatherings like concerts happening again this year, but relative normalcy may come sooner. Similar to Gov. Gavin Newsom's six strategies, the mayor laid out five key marks for the city to hit in order to lift the stay-at-home order:
- Widespread virus and blood testing
- Real-time disease surveillance to detect outbreaks faster
- Rapid, aggressive response to potential outbreaks
- Increase hospital capacity
- Ongoing research and development
Based on the current modeling, mid-May is the projection to begin rolling back the current restrictions, said Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health at a briefing on April 21. But, she said, there is no "magic day."
Ferrer said on April 22 that CDC staff members would be helping the health department improve infection control practices at skilled nursing facilities, and that approximately 40% of all deaths countywide have been at institutional facilities.
On April 27, Ferrer said that county residents living in areas with high rates of poverty are dying at a rate about three times that of communities with low poverty rates.
"This data is deeply disturbing and it speaks to the need for immediate action... this would mean increased testing, better access and connection to health care and support services, and more accurate culturally appropriate information about COVID-19, and we're joining with our partners in the community to make sure this happens."
Garcetti added "it's not really about a date, or how few cases you have -- it's about the infrastructure you have to handle opening up."
A day later he announced a major testing change: all L.A. city residents, even those without symptoms, could get tested for COVID-19, for free.
On May 4, Garcetti called the reopening situation "fluid," and said he thought by May 15 the city would be ready to take some steps forward. Ferrer said the city would be releasing recovery plan guidelines. This was in response to the Governor's expected order which may allow some businesses to re-open beginning May 8.
On May 5, Garcetti's position was more concrete: "I'm sorry, we're not going to be moving on those things this Friday (May 8)." He did, however, give permission to the Flower District downtown to prepare to reopen in time for Mother's Day, under strict monitoring by the public health department.
The mayor said that moving forward he would follow the county's guidelines on retail businesses. Curbside retail, he said, is something that might be allowed next week, or more likely, the following week.
The timeline from L.A. County officials the following day was different.
Certain businesses and recreational spaces in Los Angeles County would be allowed to start reopening on May 8. According to County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Shops that reopened would be for curbside pickup only. And all of the actual shopping still had to be done online or over the phone.
Barger said that easing restrictions aligned with the state, and the decision to open some stores and not others was "less about what products are sold, and more about the ability to maintain social distancing."
On May 6, Garcetti announced a revised timeline that better aligned with the county and state plans. He said L.A.'s stay-at-home order would be amended to allow some low-risk businesses and areas to reopen on May 8 and 9.
On May 7, as L.A. braced to enter the second of its five-stage plan for reopening, officials urged residents to continue staying home as much as possible, and to continue adhering to public health guidance about social distancing and masks.
On May 8, some L.A. County businesses were allowed to reopen for curbside pick-up. City and county hiking trails and golf courses reopened to the public on May 9. L.A. beaches reopened on May 13 for "active" use, and select recreational facilities were also allowed to reopen under the revised Health Order. Some additional businesses were greenlit too. [see: REOPENING L.A. for details]
Garcetti announced on May 15 the launch of the city's "Slow Streets" program, which will temporarily restrict traffic to give pedestrians more room to safely walk, skate and ride bikes.
He also extended the relaxed parking rules until June 1.
As L.A. reopened, officials still urged people to stay at home as much as possible.
About one million people ignored that request the second weekend of lifted restrictions. About 40,000 of those people out and about in L.A. might have been infected with COVID-19, according to Ferrer (which means this many people could have possibly gotten it in the process).
Ferrer said on May 18 that the death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County continues to climb. She said about the residents and staff who tested positive for COVID-19: the vast majority did not display symptoms.
On May 19, some L.A. County officials on the Economic Resilience Task Force have targeted July 4 for a full or staged reopening of retail, restaurants, and malls.
However, Ferrer said, 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."
Garcetti announced on May 19 that some pet-related retail and mobile businesses and car washes were allowed to operate, effective immediately, provided they follow the county's retail protocols for safe operations.
Beach bike paths and some parking lots run by L.A. County, and some run by the City of L.A, were allowed to reopen on May 22. Graduation car parades and curbside pickup at indoor malls were also given the green light -- all with many layers of protocols.
And circling back to the July 4 comment made by County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Garcetti on May 22 said what she meant was it would be nice to open by July 4, "but nobody said the county is planning to quote-unquote open up all the doors to everything on July 4."
We asked Garcetti how Angelenos should evaluate risk as things reopen. He said that "we've never been fully closed," and we should get comfortable living in a "gray area" between being open and closed for a while. People will need to make their own individual assessments of the risks they want to take by going out, he added.
"I think it's okay to take a step forward, but don't dash forward. Don't go crazy and stay out all weekend."
On May 26, L.A.'s Health Officer Order was amended again, and the county moved toward "sweeping new standards for swift and safe reopening," that aligned with state regulations.
All retail stores in Los Angeles that show they have adopted the county's safety protocols were given permission to begin in-person shopping at 50% capacity on May 27. That included shops at indoor and outdoor retail centers. That did not include personal services like barbershops and hair and nail salons.
For businesses that want to reopen, there's a kit to download with the official process.
Houses of worship were also permitted under the new rules to reopen, but could not exceed 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever was smaller. Flea markets, swap meets and drive-in movie theaters could also resume operations. Pools, hot tubs and saunas in a multi-unit residence (or part of a homeowners association) were also allowed to open.
Physical distancing and cloth face coverings are required.
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.
Also on May 26, Runyon Canyon, which initially remained closed, was allowed to reopen. "Counters are in place to help manage overcrowding and the trail will only be open for hiking as a one-way loop," according to a tweet from the City of L.A.
On May 28, Ferrer told us: "We're well positioned to enter into the recovery phase. I don't think we're going too fast. I think we have to be mindful of aligning with the state as the state reopens. It's easiest on all of us if, wherever possible, the county can move in alignment with the state and I think that's what we've done."
L.A. County was granted the variance on May 29, which cleared the way for another big day of reopenings, including restaurants and hair salons.
During the weekend that followed, tear gas was used by law enforcement during protests in L.A. -- a tactic that could lead to more cases of COVID-19, experts said.
"During this time when we're protesting police brutality, the use of tear gas is causing more harm in the way of spreading COVID," said David Eisenman, professor of medicine and public health at UCLA. "There is some culpability on the police for using this method, which increases the sneezing and increases the coughing and therefore increases the spread."
There was also concern that law enforcement wasn't considering social distancing in custody: "If there's one person in that group who is asymptomatic and spreading, or even symptomatic and spreading, we could have super-spread or events due to police custody."
Eisenman said people who attended protests should get tested.
During a June 1 news briefing, county health department director Ferrer talked about the underlying racism that connects the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans by police officers, to the disproportionate toll COVID-19 has taken on Black Angelenos.
"When I report each week that we have seen elevated numbers of Black deaths in this county due to COVID-19, I am reporting on the consequences of these long-standing inequities," she said.
On June 5, Ferrer called racism is "a public health issue" and said more than 80% of the county's COVID-19 patients have self-identified as persons of colors.
Health officials also said that the rate of transmission in L.A. County appeared to be trending slightly up.
According to the model predictions, "if transmission has indeed increased... we will have a continued increase in hospital patient volume over the next two to four weeks," Ghaly said. We'd start to see that change within a week or two.
There should be enough ventilators to handle that potentially increased volume, but number of ICU beds "may become inadequate in two to four weeks," based on the current estimates.
Gyms, fitness centers, museums, aquariams, hotels, day camps (and their pools), and more were allowed to reopen on June 12. Garcetti urged business owners to make their own decisions and not feel pressure to open right away.
He also said anyone attending protests should get a free COVID-19 test. If you test positive, he said, you should expect a call from the public health department so they can start the process of contact tracing. The mayor said they would not ask about immigration status.
Ferrer said on June 15 that health inspectors had paid a visit to about 2,000 restaurants that resumed dine-in service. Half of them, she said, were not in compliance with the new safety guidelines. Those rules includes strict measures to ensure physical distancing:
"There should be no places where tables are right next to each other. They either need a 6-foot barrier, or a physical barrier -- those are requirements in the protocols."
The highest single day increase in cases so far was reported on June 17. The number was in part due to "a large backlog" at one of the labs, Ferrer said. Christina Ghaly, who oversees the county's Department of Health Services sought to dispel some coronavirus myths and "misconceptions" at the public health briefing. Here's what she had to say:
An increase in cases isn't just because of more testing -- the virus is still spreading.
Just because restrictions are being lifted does not mean COVID-19 is under control in L.A. County.
This is not an overreaction, and it's not like the flu. U.S. deaths from COVID-19 were 15,000 per week in mid-April; peak season flu deaths are about 750 people per week. Also, the long-term health effects are not yet fully understood, but the officials are learning that consequences for many who survive are significant.
Masks and other basic health measures do make a difference. Keeping distance, avoiding gatherings, washing your hands and wearing face coverings have all been shown to limit the risk of spreading the virus.
- The hospitalization rate is giving officials a better understanding of the transmission rate.
But the transmission rate was rising. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on June 22 that it was the third day in the past week with over 2,000 new cases during a single day.
She attributed some to lags in reporting, but said the numbers do tell them that there's increase. Here's how that calculation works.
Ferrer also acknowledged death threats and other messages of violence directed at her and other public health officials around the country. She released a statement earlier that day.
On July 1 Garcetti introduced a new color-coded system to alert the public to the local threat level of COVID-19: red, yellow, orange and green.
- Red means we are at the highest risk of infection and residents should stay home.
- Orange means you should stay home as much as possible and only leave for essential outings like grocery shopping or essential work. You should assume everyone around you is infectious.
- Yellow means we are successfully flattening the curve.
- Green means COVID-19 is mostly contained.
The mayor said we were facing threats on six out of the seven critical coronavirus indicators and added this warning:
"Everyone should be wearing your face covering. I'm not asking you. I'm telling you, if there's no mask, there should be no service in any of the places where we shop, where we work."
In response to a question about enforcement, he said the city is not issuing tickets to individuals who are not wearing masks, saying that he doesn't want the city to become "a police state."
The Health Officer Order was revised again on July 4, and on July 6, Ferrer said that L.A. County was in "a new chapter of our response," adding, "where we are today is different than where we were two three or four weeks ago. Cases are surging, hospitalizations are increasing and, mostly, this is all a reflection of a lot more community spread."
HOW DID WE GET HERE & WHERE ARE WE NOW? --ACCORDING TO THE STATE
On March 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for far stricter guidelines in the state. He asked all seniors and people with underlying conditions to isolate at home, restaurants to operate at diminished capacity, and wineries, bars, and brewpubs to close.
In a March 18 letter to President Trump, Newsom projected that more than half of the population of California will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period. He asked for $1 billion in federal funding and requested the hospital ship USNS Mercy be sent to Los Angeles.
On March 19, about an hour after the L.A. County orders were announced, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all residents of California to stay home or otherwise remain at their place of residence in order to slow the spread of the virus. There are exceptions for people who maintain critical infrastructure in 16 key sectors, including:
- Commercial Facilities
- Critical Manufacturing
- Defense Industrial Base
- Emergency Services
- Financial Services
- Food and Agriculture
- Government Facilities
- Health Care and Public Health
- Information Technology
- Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste
- Water and Wastewater Systems
On April 13, Newsom announced what he described as a shared framework with Oregon and Washington about how to economically reopen California. More details came April 14 with a plan that includes six key metrics for loosening the stay-at-home orders. They include:
- More testing, tracking, isolating/quarantining, and supporting people who are positive/exposed.
- Protecting the most vulnerable from infection and spread.
- Hospitals and health systems being able to handle surges.
- The ability to develop therapeutic drugs to meet the demand.
- The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to allow for physical distancing.
- The ability to determine when/if to reinstitute measures like stay-at-home orders.
The governor's tasked 80 leaders to help plan for the state's economic recovery, with an advisory council that includes all four of the state's living governors. He said the task force -- which will divide up into sub-groups covering entertainment, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, regional issues, etc. -- will work on actionable ideas in real time, not some future report.
Newsom said on April 21 that local officials can lift some stay-at-home restrictions, as long as they don't conflict with state orders. His comments, made a daily press briefing, were in response to a question about Riverside County opening up golf courses and Port Hueneme opening beaches.
The governor reviewed testing numbers on April 22, saying the 465,000 tests administered so far in California were not enough to modify stay-at-home orders.
On April 27, Newsom said he hoped the state was weeks, not months, away from making significant changes to the stay-at-home orders -- but that those decisions will be driven by data, and require people to abide by physical distancing orders.
Newsom has phases on phases to go with his six key metrics. On April 28, he laid out a "resilience roadmap" with four steps towards a full reopen. He also said that despite distributing millions of masks, the state is not even close to where it need to be with personal protective equipment yet.
Newsom said on April 29 that the state was possibly "a week or two away from significant modifications on our stay-at-home order," as long as coronavirus numbers remained stable.
Two days later the governor said the state is now "days, not weeks" away.
On May 4, Newsom said parts of the state would start moving into Phase 2 of reopening on May 8, and that guidlines would be forthcoming. This phase includes changes like retail beginning to reopen for pickup. Here's more on the six key metrics on the "State Reopening Roadmap Report Card."
Social/physical distancing is even more important in Phase 2, he said on May 5.
Announcements about counties moving further into Phase 2 were expected May 12, with detailed guidelines for dining, offices, and malls.
Ten counties got that green light for May 13. L.A. was not one of them.
The state said on May 20 that it was close to releasing guidelines for resuming film, television and commercial production. The expected release date was then pushed about a week as Newsom said the state was working more formally with the film industry and labor.
There are a variety of metrics counties need to hit to move forward, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. These include:
- No more than a 5% increase in hospitalizations over seven days
- And EITHER less than 25 coronavirus positives per 100,000 residents
- OR less than 8% positive tests
Newsom said on May 22 that the state was days away from putting out guidelines for reopening churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship.
On Memorial Day, the California Department of Public Health announced that churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship had permission to reopen statewide. In-store retail was also approved to reopen, with restrictions.
Changes were subject to approval by each county's public health department, and L.A. County was not approved.
On May 26, Newsom announced that counties with approved "variances" could skip ahead and reopen barbershops and hair salons instead of waiting for a statewide greenlight. That did not include L.A.
When asked on June 15 if the state was putting the economy ahead of health concerns in reopening, Newsom said that concerns like poverty, unemployment, access to preventative health care, and mental health also needed to be considered.
"This is not an economic question," he said, "it's a health question, broadly defined." He said officials believe that California imposing the first stay-at-home order saved lives, but:
"...there's a certain point where you have to recognize, you can't be in a permanent state where people are locked away for months, and months, and months, and months on end ... to see lives and livelihoods completely destroyed, without considering the health impact of those decisions as well."
Masks were made mandatory in California on June 18. People state-wide must wear face coverings when:
- Inside indoor public spaces
- In line to enter indoor public spaces
- Outdoors in public spaces when it's not feasible to keep 6 feet of physical distance (from non-household members)
- Healthcare settings like hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, labs, doctor's offices, dental offices, veterinary clinics, blood banks and more
- Waiting for public transportation, paratransit, taxis, private car service, ride-sharing vehicles
- Riding in/on public transportation, paratransit, taxis, private car service, ride-sharing vehicles
- Driving or operating public transportation, paratransit, taxis, private car service, ride-sharing vehicles when passengers are present (and when no passengers are present, face coverings are still strongly recommended).
- Working -- at your workplace, or off-site -- if,
a) interacting with the public, or
b) in a space visited by members of the public even if no one is there at the time, or
c) in a space where food is prepared or packaged, or
d) walking through common areas like hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities, or
e) in a room or enclosed area with non-household members where you're unable to physically distance
- There are some exceptions
L.A. County's case rate was called "very high" at a press conference on June 22.
California Health And Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said without wearing face coverings and limiting exposure, a COVID-19-positive person can infect 2.5 people in five days, which could lead to more than 400 people being infected in 30 days. To reduce exposure:
- wear face coverings
- maintain physical distance
- stay at home as much as possible
- practice good hand hygiene and washing your hands
- stay home while sick
- socially distance from other people in yoursehold when sick
- stay home if you are 65 or older or have underlying medical conditions
- answer a call from contact tracers
Newsom again defended the state's decision to continue reopening, citing: 5.7 million residents having filed for unemployment, the inability to get preventative care, unemployment rates being at the highest rate since the Great Depression, and social health factors (such as poverty) needing to be considered.
HOW DID WE GET HERE AND WHERE ARE WE NOW? --ACCORDING TO THE WHITE HOUSE
Voluntary, nationwide guidelines were announced on March 16, initially set to last for 15 days.
President Trump and the White House coronavirus task force asked Americans to close schools, avoid groups of more than 10 people, homeschool kids where possible, avoid discretionary travel, and refrain from visiting bars, restaurants, and food courts.
Note: When President Trump was participating in daily White House briefings on the coronavirus pandemic he usually opened the briefing with his own remarks. His comments were frequently contradicted by information provided by other officials. He has also repeatedly used stigmatizing language to describe COVID-19. Following the president's remarks, health experts and other adminstration leaders provided additional updates.
Meanwhile, a Level 4, "Do Not Travel" global health advisory was issued by the U.S. State Department advising all citizens to "avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19."
At a March 23 briefing, Trump said the REAL ID deadline will be postponed and that surgical and N95 masks would be distributed by FEMA. An executive order was also announced by Attorney General William Barr making certain items illegal to hoard.
On March 27, Trump announced at a briefing that he invoked the Defense Production Act, "to compel General Motors to accept, perform and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators." He put it differently on Twitter that day.
The task force said on March 31 that Americans should brace for 100,000 or more people to die in the coming months in the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx renewed pleas to observe precautions. Birx said she's "reassured" by what L.A. has accomplished with social distancing in terms of how other cities might be able to respond as well.
On April 3, Trump said hospitals treating uninsured coronavirus patients would be reimbursed by the administration with funds from the economic relief package. The president also announced new CDC recommendations that people wear non-medical cloth face coverings when out in public.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said eligible taxpayers could receive stimulus payments within two weeks (others said some checks could take months).
On April 9, the federal government released new guidelines about when people in critical infrastructure roles can go back to work if they've been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of the coronavirus. The CDC recommendations include taking temperatures before work, wearing face masks at all times, and practicing social distancing as much as duties allow.
On April 16 came a three-phased approach to normalization, albeit without time requirements. The strategy is contingent upon states having data about case levels, the capacity to treat all patients and test healthcare workers, and the ability to trace the contacts of those infected. States can decide on a county-by-county approach, according to an 18-page document obtained by NPR.
Each phase would require a 14-day period of a "downward trajectory" of cases to advance to the next one. Here's an overview --
- states or regions would have social distancing guidelines similar to those in place now
- a prohibition on gatherings of more than 10
- maximized physical distance
- working from home when possible
- the closures of schools and bars etc.
- strict physical distancing protocols would be ordered for places like restaurants, theaters, sporting venues, churches and gyms.
- vulnerable people would be urged to stay home.
- states and regions that show no signs of a rebound could expand gatherings to 50 people.
- resume non-essential travel.
- working from home would still be encouraged.
- schools could reopen and bars could operate with "diminished standing-room occupancy."
- vulnerable people still would be urged to stay home.
- states and regions could expand guidance so that vulnerable individuals could go out in public.
- visits to hospitals and nursing homes could resume.
NPR has the full guidelines documents.
On April 20, Trump announced via Twitter his intention to "temporarily suspend immigration."
"In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!"
On April 22, Trump signed an executive order to temporarily ban some green carder seekers from coming to the U.S. It goes into effect on April 24 and will last for two months, further extending the wait for green card seekers, some of whom first applied decades ago.
But the move is far less wide-ranging than Trump had indicated in his tweet.
His order exempts green card applicants who are the minor children and spouses of U.S. citizens. It also has a carve-out for health care workers, including nurses and doctors and people doing work that is "essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak."
There were mixed messages out of Washington on May 22.
The U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, warning him that the city's long-term stay-at home orders may be "arbitrary and heavy handed." Meanwhile, Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the White House's main medical advisors included Los Angeles as one of the regions where the spread of coronavirus remains a concern.
Garcetti responded to the DOJ letter in a coronavirus briefing: "We are not guided by politics in this, we are guided by science."
Birx said she would ask the CDC to investigate the problem areas "to really understand where are these new cases coming from, and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future."
L.A.'s latest stay-at-home order was originally supposed to be lifted May 15. It's still in place, but the reopening timeline has greatly accelerated in recent days.
THE GLOBAL TIMELINE
On January 30, a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern" was declared by the World Health Organization over an outbreak of a new, deadly, novel coronavirus which began in Wuhan City, China.
On March 4, L.A. County declared a local and public emergency, and Gov. Gavin Newsom made the call to declare an emergency for the state of California the same day.
On March 11, WHO made it official: COVID-19 is a pandemic.
On March 26, the United States surpassed China as the country with highest total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world.
On April 11, the U.S. became the nation with the most confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
As of June 19, the U.S. still has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, and our local numbers were still rising.
WHAT IS SARS-CoV-2?
SARS-CoV-2 is in the family of coronavirus pathogens that usually cause short-lived illnesses.
They get their name because of how they look, which is spiny around the edges, like a crown. And some coronaviruses are scarier than others. A lot is still unknown with this new ("novel") one.
HOW IS THE CORONAVIRUS SPREAD?
Coronaviruses generally jump from person to person on the droplets from coughs and sneezes.
The CDC's current best guess is that the incubation period for novel coronavirus -- that's the time from exposure to when symptoms first start showing up -- is somewhere between two and 14 days.
We still don't know exactly how easily this coronavirus can spread through the air, but at least 239 scientists in 32 countries think it's airborne.
Another question has been viral load, or the amount of the virus in your system. It's still unclear whether viral load can affect your chances of getting sick, and recent studies suggest that it could affect the severity of your illness, Ferrer said.
On May 15, public health officials announced that L.A. County had reduced the rate of COVID-19's spread from three people for every one person infected, to just one. By July, the situation had changed significantly.
Ferrer said on July 6 that L.A. County was in "a new chapter of our response," adding, "cases are surging, hospitalizations are increasing and, mostly, this is all a reflection of a lot more community spread."
She said the data showed that many people, including many younger people, were no longer following the health guidelines that helped initally flatten the curve in the county.
HOW LONG DOES IT LIVE?
It depends on where it is.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is "stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces," according to a study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine.
- detectable in aerosols for up to three hours
- up to four hours on copper
- up to 24 hours on cardboard
- up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel
IS THIS CORONAVIRUS LIKE SARS OR MERS?
MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) are two members of the coronavirus family that tend to make people sicker. "About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died," according to the CDC. And SARS was responsible for a global outbreak in 2002-2003 that killed 774 people.
"The novel coronavirus is more genetically related to SARS than MERS," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier.
But scientists don't know yet if novel coronavirus will act the same way as SARS or MERS; they're using information from both pathogens to guide their research.
CAN MY PET CAT OR DOG GET THE CORONAVIRUS?
Maybe. It has happened.
A tiger in New York City with a respiratory illness (I know, nothing makes sense) was the first animal to test positive in the U.S. That was in early April.
On April 22, two pet cats in New York were confirmed to have COVID-19 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories.
- Don't let pets interact with people or animals from outside of your home.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent mingling with other animals or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash and keep at least 6 feet away from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
- If you're sick (either suspected or confirmed COVID-19), you should:
- Avoid contact with your animal friend, and isolate.
- That means no petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, or sharing food or bedding.
- Have another member of your household care for your pet if possible.
- If that's not possible, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after interactions.
Meanwhile, adoptions of shelter pets in L.A. have been "off the charts."
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THE CORONAVIRUS NOW?
You can track the global scope and spread of COVID-19 with this map and list from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Also, these U.S. numbers from the CDC are updated daily.
The map below also shows cumulative confirmed cases, deaths, and recoveries. It's updated in near real-time throughout the day. Zoom out to see more of the world.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 AND MIS-C?
The virus behaves differently in different people, and while you may have read reports with symptoms ranging from frostbite-looking rashes to conjunctivitis, below are the official ones, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and Harvard Health
Early symptoms in most COVID-19 patients include fever, myalgia, cough, and sore throat (5), which are common in other acute respiratory virus infections (6). can include: low-grade fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea, new loss of taste or smell.
Severe symptoms can include: high fever, severe cough, shortness of breath, inability to wake or stay awake, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, bluish lips or face.
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. However, some people infected with the virus have no symptoms at all.
There also may also be additional symptoms beyond what we've listed above.
Meanwhile, across the country, doctors are reporting cases of children with a rare inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus.
The illness, initially known as Pediatric Inflammatory Multi-System Syndrome (PIMS) and renamed the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), is similar to a disorder known as Kawasaki Disease. Symptoms include high fever, rashes and inflammation that can affect organs, including the heart.
Doctors at Children's Hospital Los Angeles have treated patients who've exhibited symptoms consistent with this condition since April. Specialists say symptoms can range broadly, and there's been concern over coronary artery enlargement or aneurysms in kids.
The CDC says "different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. We do not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care."
If a child shows the following symptoms, contact a medical professional immediately:
Feeling extra tired
If a child shows the following symptoms, seek immediate emergency care:
Pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
Inability to wake or stay awake
Bluish lips or face
Severe abdominal pain
WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK I MIGHT HAVE IT?
The orders from L.A.'s public health department set out timeframes, restrictions, and criteria for self-isolation and self-quarantine.
For people who have contracted COVID-19, the guidance from the CDC is to self-isolate for 10 days, plus 3 days without fevers and/or symptoms. The virus may shed for longer than initially thought, which means a person may be able to infect other people for a longer.
If you think you might have been exposed, or if have COVID-19 symptoms, isolate, and call your doctor for next steps (or dial 211 in L.A. County if you need to find a clinician).
If you experience severe symptoms, get immediate medical attention.
If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 at home, here are some things to keep in mind. These tips come from UCLA's Dr. Robert Kim-Farley with the Fielding School of Public Health (and a former staffer with the CDC):
- Make sure they wear a mask
- Make sure you wear a mask
- Monitor for trouble breathing
- Monitor for persistent chest pain or pressure
- Call their healthcare provider if symptoms become more severe (especially if they're elderly or have pre-existing conditions).
- Clean surfaces frequently
- Try to keep the patient in one bedroom, and ideally one bathroom
- Don't shake the laundry before washing (to avoid aerosolizing virus particles that may be on their clothes).
- Restrict unnecessary visitors
- Wash hands frequently
The CDC requires people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to notify everyone they were in close contact with -- including during the 48 hours before symptoms started -- so those people can self-quarantine for up to 14 days. Close contact means less than 6 feet apart for 10 minutes or more.
People who have tested positive also need to self-isolate for 10 days, plus 3 days without fevers or symptoms, according to the CDC.
Quarantine: a separation for people who have a contagious disease, have symptoms consistent with a contagious disease, or were exposed to a contagious disease. A person's movements are restricted when they are quarantined
Isolation: a less restrictive separation that keeps people who are sick away from people who are not sick
Self-Isolation: a voluntary action to stay at home by people who are sick (or are likely to be sick) and are experiencing mild symptoms
Self-Quarantine: a voluntary action to stay at home by people who may have been exposed but are not experiencing symptoms
- Social Distancing: keeping your distance from other people. The distance reduces the risk of breathing in droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or, in some cases, breathes. It can also mean cancelling events or gatherings (the term "physical distancing" means the same thing.)
HOW CAN I GET TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS?
Drive-up and walk-up testing sites are open across L.A. County.
The test is free, but you can't just show up.
Testing is by appointment only, and you have to register/apply first.
There are a few ways to do that:
1) APPLY ONLINE if you live anywhere in L.A. County.
County Testing Sites: If you're in L.A. County and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms you can apply for a test, but it doesn't necessarily mean you will get one. You'll be asked some questions on the eligibility form, and then asked for your contact information for next steps if an appointment is available.
City Testing Sites: If you're in the city of L.A., you used to be able to register for a test even if you didn't have symptoms, but that changed in early July despite a spike in cases. Also, the screening website does not distinguish between county and city. You have to select from the actual list or map if you want to select by location.
State Testing Sites: The state-run sites are managed by two companies -- OptumServe and Verily. Those locations are also listed on the L.A. County testing map with links out for scheduling.
Additional Sites & Pharmacies: These sites run independently from the county, state, or city, but also offer free drive-up or walk-up testing. There are a lot of them, and they are on the L.A. County testing map with links out for scheduling. Click the map or list to circumvent the county/city screening interface and schedule at an independently-run location.
2) CALL YOUR DOCTOR to get tested at their facility/office, or for a directive to get tested elsewhere. If you don't have a health care provider, call 211 and you'll be directed to a one nearby. L.A. public health officials have continued asking people not to call 911 and not go to the emergency room unless you're experiencing severe, life-threatening symptoms and need immediate help.
Initially, the tests were limited to people most at risk. Restrictions were relaxed a few times to allow for same-day or next-day testing for anyone with symptoms, and testing of certain front-line workers without symptoms.
On May 6, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state was launching a new site where people can enter their zip code to find testing locations and schedule a test. It includes mobile testing sites, although it doesn't include private hospitals.
Pharmacies were also given permission to test for coronavirus, under state guidelines released May 12. There are 6,492 pharmacies in the state where that could potentially happen.
All city and county sites were reopened on June 4.
On July 8, the rules for the city changed again. Garcetti said test should be reserved for those with symptoms, anyone who thinks they've been exposed, and essential workers. Asymptomatic individuals should not just be getting tested so they can hang out with their friends, he said.
But, testing or not, if you experience severe symptoms, get immediate medical help.
DO I HAVE TO PAY TO GET THE CORONAVIRUS TEST?
No. California health officials are waiving all co-pays for COVID-19 testing. That applies to people on all insurance plans, and people who don't have health coverage.
You can also be tested for free regardless of your immigration status. And the federal government has said that getting tested or treated for coronavirus will not count toward the public charge test for getting a green card.
And if you don't have insurance, here are some options for getting it: Covered California and the entire individual health insurance market extended the enrollment window to June 30; enrollment for Medi-Cal is open year round; and in L.A. County, there's the no-cost health care plan My Health LA.
Here's a map of the locations.
But, again, you can't just show up.
You have to be approved first.
Get screened online to request a test, or try to get a directive from a health care provider.
HOW DOES THE CORONAVIRUS TEST WORK?
At some testing sites, a health professional will administer a nasal swab.
At other places, you'll be given a testing kit for an oral swab that you can administer yourself.
HOW LONG SHOULD IT TAKE TO GET MY CORONAVIRUS TEST RESULTS?
The turnaround was "about three days" for L.A. County-operated sites.
"There are certainly some cases in which it's taking longer than three days," Christina Ghaly, director of health services at Los Angeles County Health Agency, told us. "That number is an average."
Many of you asked us about this.
Some people were told their test results would be available in one or two days, and it wound up being five. Others said they were told five days, and they were still waiting.
The city/county guidance says results typically take "3-5 days."
When they're ready, you will be notified by email. Results can then be viewed online.
If you don't have an email address, you will get a call.
And here are some steps you can take if it's been more than five days and you're still waiting.
WHAT'S THE ANTIBODY TEST?
It's a blood test to see if you've formed antibodies against the coronavirus, which is a way of telling whether you've ever had it, even if you never developed symptoms. Antibodies are proteins your body produces to fight infections.
This test hasn't gotten as much attention as the test to see if you actively have the coronavirus, but widespread testing for antibodies will be crucial to figuring out how much the virus has spread, how deadly it is, and when we might get back to something approximating normal life.
To help kickstart that effort, L.A. County and USC teamed up to test for antibodies in 1,000 Angelenos.
County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis told us that people will be tested to determine if they've been infected, and if so, "what their antibodies look like." Davis said the data will help to make some "general estimates and predictions" about how far the virus has spread and how deadly it is.
At least one SoCal hospital is experimenting with transferring antibodies from a recovered patient. The hope is that the antibodies will attack the virus to help a sick person heal.
The county/USC study participants are all adults, and they were selected to create a random sample that reflects the county's demographic makeup. They'll got the "serology" test at six drive-thru sites on April 10 and 11, according to ABC7.
Those leading the study intend to repeat the tests every two weeks for three months.
Neerja Sood, a vice dean at USC involved in the project, told The Washington Post that the test kits were donated by a private individual who read his Wall Street Journal op-ed about the importance of randomized testing.
Preliminary findings were announced April 20. The data suggests many more people in L.A. County could potentially be infected than the official count. It also suggests the mortality rate for the county could be lower.
IF I'M AN ASYMPTOMATIC CORONAVIRUS CARRIER, HOW LONG AM I CONTAGIOUS?
L.A. County Department of Public Health says:
"A person with a positive COVID-19 test but no symptoms is considered to be infectious from 48 hours before their test was taken until 10 days after their test."
IF I HAD CORONAVIRUS CAN I GET IT AGAIN?
Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, told us: "We don't have conclusive evidence on that."
She said that "in general you can be protected when you've had an infection, but not always. We're just going to have to wait for the researchers and the scientists to let us know what they're finding out about that."
IS THERE A VACCINE? WHAT'S THE TREATMENT?
There is no vaccine yet. But scientists started working on a plan in January, before COVID-19 even had a name. A number of companies have been in development, and clinical trials are underway. The timeline is unknown, but experts have been weighing in with estimates.
For treatment, at least one SoCal hospital was experimenting with transferring antibodies from a recovered patient. The hope was that the antibodies would attack the virus to help a sick person heal.
Cedars-Sinai was participating in a clinical trial of the drug Remdesivir. The experimental antiviral drug had shown encouraging results, the hospital announced on April 10. On May 1, it was approved by the FDA for emergency treatment for COVID-19. The effectiveness of Remdesivir is still being studied.
The CDC's guidance for clinical management of the virus includes, "infection prevention and control measures and supportive care, including supplementary oxygen and mechanical ventilatory support when indicated."
For children who develop the associated illness MIS-C, the CDC says doctors may order blood tests, chest x-rays, echocardiograms, and abdominal ultrasounds to look for inflammation or other signs of disease. They may also provide supportive care like medicine and fluids for symptoms, and medication to treat inflammation, noting:
"Most children who become ill with MIS-C will need to be treated in the hospital. Some will need to be treated in the pediatric intensive care unit (ICU)."
WHAT ABOUT HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE?
The president had widely promoted a pair of malaria drugs, including hydroxychloroquine, as a possible treatment. The drug was granted "emergency use authorization" by the FDA in late March.
But the drug was found to have no preventative benefit in a study published June 3 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers found it to be no more effective than a placebo. It "did not prevent healthy people exposed to someone with COVID-19 from getting the disease," according to a report from The Washington Post.
Then, for even more controversy, there was this.
The FDA withdrew its emergency use approval on June 15:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoked the emergency use authorization (EUA) that allowed for chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate donated to the Strategic National Stockpile to be used to treat certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19 when a clinical trial was unavailable, or participation in a clinical trial was not feasible. The agency determined that the legal criteria for issuing an EUA are no longer met.
IS IBUPROFEN SAFE TO TAKE FOR A COVID-19 FEVER?
There's currently no established link between ibuprofen and coronavirus complications, but there has been a lot of conflicting information circulated.
The World Health Organization officially weighed in on Twitter on March 18 with this guidance, in all its double negative glory:
Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of of ibuprofen.
SHOULD I BE WEARING A MASK IN DAILY LIFE?
Yes. A COVID-19-positive person who is not wearing a face covering and limiting exposure can infect 2.5 people in five days -- which leads to more than 400 people being infected in 30 days.
Here's a short version of the rules:
- If no one is around, keep a face covering in your pocket in case other humans appear.
- Runners, put one on when passing.
- The idea here is to stop respiratory droplets containing the virus from getting out, not in.
- Staying 6 feet away from people is still crucial -- and required -- when wearing a mask/face covering.
Also, if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick you should all be wearing masks.
The state-wide rules have additional specifics. People must wear face coverings when:
- Inside indoor public spaces
- In line to enter indoor public spaces
- Outdoors in public spaces when it's not feasible to keep 6 feet of physical distance (from non-household members)
- Healthcare settings like hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, labs, doctor's offices, dental offices, veterinary clinics, blood banks and more
- Waiting for public transportation, paratransit, taxis, private car service, ride-sharing vehicles
- Riding in/on public transportation, paratransit, taxis, private car service, ride-sharing vehicles
- Driving or operating public transportation, paratransit, taxis, private car service, ride-sharing vehicles when passengers are present (when no passengers are present, face coverings are still strongly recommended).
- Working -- at your workplace or off-site -- if,
a) interacting with the public, orb) in a space visited by members of the public even if no one is there at the time, or
c) in a space where food is prepared or packaged, or
d) walking through common areas like halls, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities, or
e) in a room or enclosed area with non-household members where you're unable to physically distance
- There are some exceptions
The first official guidance on general mask-wearing arrived on April 1.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti made the recommendation that all residents wear face coverings when out and about (but not to put masks on kids under 2-years-old. It's a suffocation risk).
This isn't an excuse to suddenly all go out, you need to stay at home. But when you have to go out, we are recommending that we use non medical grade masks.
2. Homemade -- These are cloth face coverings and can be bandanas, scarves, hand-sewn masks, etc. They should be worn by everyone else, including essential services workers and those with vital infrastructure jobs.
About a week later, Garcetti changed the city's mask-wearking recommendation to a requirement: shoppers and store employees must wear them. This applied to grocery and drug stores, restaurants, hotels, taxis and rideshares, construction sites, and other non-medical, essential businesses. Employers were also required to provide face masks to their employees, or reimburse them for the purchase.
People leaving their homes must wear "a cloth face covering whenever there is or can be contact with others who are non-household members, in both public and private places."
And the L.A. County Sheriff's Departments did not dance around the message: wearing a face covering is law.
The CDC also officially messaged cloth masks for everyone, and recommended people in critical infrastructure roles wear a face mask at all times when they go back to work after being exposed to (a confirmed or suspected case of) the coronavirus.
Masks were made mandatory in California on June 18.
Where to get a face covering? Pay to make it fashun, or DIY and make it your own:
Some Clorox and Lysol products are on the list, but so are dozens and dozens of others.
Here's what the EPA says about killing the virus:
"Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product. Consumers using these disinfectants on an enveloped emerging virus should follow the directions for use on the product's master label, paying close attention to the contact time for the product on the treated surface (i.e., how long the disinfectant should remain on the surface)."
As far as keeping your hands virus-free, the CDC says handwashing for at least 20 seconds is still your best bet. If that's not possible, it recommends using an "alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol."
IS IT SAFE TO TOUCH TAKEOUT & DELIVERY FOOD CONTAINERS?
"There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food," according to the CDC, but the virus can live on surfaces.
To reduce risk, go contactless when getting meals delivered.
In whatever app you're using (or on the phone), ask your driver to leave your food outside your door. You might have to leave the message as a note.
Once you've brought it in, put the food on your own plates, throw out the packaging and wash your hands for 20 seconds before eating.
And tip well.
If you're doing takeout in Los Angeles, look for new signage about special parking zones for to make pickup easier.
WHERE CAN I FIND FREE FOOD / LOW-COST FOOD / FOOD ASSISTANCE?
There's a food bank locator.
And a locator for food pantries, soup kitchens, food shelves, and other food help.
Grab & Go meal sites are set up for students and families.
Emergency meals can be delivered to seniors 60+ who live in the city of L.A. Call (213) 263-5226 or go online and sign up.
WIC is allowing online applications for its special supplemental nutrition program.
And the author who wrote the book on SNAP cooking has advice about how to eat on $4 a day.
If you know of something we should add to this list, share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARE FARMERS MARKETS ALLOWED TO OPERATE?
Farmers markets were initially deemed "essential," and allowed to stay open.
So, operations were suspended in the city of Los Angeles, and any market that wished to reopen was required to submit a social distancing plan for approval.
The city is keeping a list of L.A. markets that were given permission to reopen.
We made a guide with everything we know so far about COVID-19 and food (and what we don't know), including tips for minimizing risk at the grocery store:
1. Try to go at a less busy time. Generally, earlier is better, and weekdays seem to be less busy than weekends.
2. If you're a senior or in another high-risk group, take advantage of the "senior shopping hours" many stores have introduced.
3. Wear a mask.
4. Wear latex gloves if you have them, be careful about tearing, and avoid touching your face when they're on.
5. If you don't have gloves, use hand-sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. If you don't have either, use an plastic produce bag to touch certain items or produce.
6. Before you touch your cart, wipe it down with an antiseptic wipe.
7. While you're in the store, stay at least 6 feet away from other shoppers.
8. While you're in the store, touch as few things as possible.
BACK TO TOP
CAN I HELP FEED EXHAUSTED HEALTHCARE WORKERS?
A number of restaurants, organizations, and people across Southern California have crowdfunding campaigns to support meal deliveries to hospitals.
Some restaurants are also offering discounts or free delivery to hospital staff.
ARE ALL EVENTS CANCELED IN CALIFORNIA?
Basically, yes. That's why we struck through all this earlier guidance. In a move that really punctuates the point, there will be no Hollywood Bowl season for the first time in nearly 100 years (and the L.A. County Fair is also canceled for the first time since WWII).
But life finds a way. Even if it's pixelated.
As such, we've replaced our twice weekly events posts with "What To Do Mostly From Your Home" roundups.
The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 by "flattening the curve" and not overwhelming the medical infrastructure.
IS NATURE CLOSED?
Even before the restricted reopenings, people were allowed to go outside, take a walk, and enjoy an open space. But even in nature, you are still required to stay six feet away from people, and wear a mask if non-household members are around. If no one is around, keep a face covering in your pocket in case other humans do appear.
When "too many people" packed beaches, trails and parks, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti closed sports and recreation at L.A.'s city parks and parking lots at city beaches. "That doesn't mean gather elsewhere," he tweeted. "This is serious. Stay home and save lives."
L.A. County's next move was to fully shut down all public beaches, including bathrooms, piers, promenades, and bike paths; L.A. city shut down all trails, including Griffith Park.
But none of these restrictions deterred skaters from visiting Venice Beach. So now the skate park is filled with sand.
Guidance from California State Parks was to stay close to home, and "not the time for a road trip."
But not everyone took that message to heart.
NOTE: Masks and physical distancing are still required. Gathering with people that you don't live with is still not allowed.
Los Angeles' city and county hiking trails reopened to the public on May 9. So did the golf courses, with restrictions. "If you're 65 and older," however, the mayor said, "you cannot go out to those places if you have pre-existing conditions."
Runyon Canyon (which initially remained closed) reopened on May 26. "Counters are in place to help manage overcrowding and the trail will only be open for hiking as a one-way loop," according to a tweet from the City of L.A. Griffith Observatory is still closed. L.A. County's Parks & Rec director has encouraged people to try less popular hikes to reduce crowding.
The beaches in L.A. County were allowed to reopen for "active recreation" on May 13 (the L.A. Times has a beach tracker tool), along with tennis courts, archery ranges, equestrian centers, community gardens and other select recreational facilities. Pasadena's Rose Bowl loop opened again to walkers, joggers and cyclists too.
And Joshua Tree National Park is partially reopened, with restrictions. Visitor centers and some campsites are still closed. Trails, roads, parking, some bathrooms, and some campsites are accessible. Some reservations are available online; others have to be made in person.
Here is the state's guidance on what outdoor recreational activities are allowed. And here's more on the coronavirus response from the L.A. County Department Of Parks And Recreation and the L.A. City Department of Recreation and Parks.
The state has also released a list of outdoor spaces that are allowed to be open -- with safety modifications. If the location is managed by the county or city, double check that it's operational before you leave the house. And bring hand soap and hand sanitizer:
California State Parks and Beaches: Some California state parks have also partially reopened, with restrictions. Camping, restrooms, visitor centers, and other facilities are still closed at all locations. Check online to see if where you want to go is open (and if there is parking). There are also new visitor guidelines, and a reminders to stay close to home and stay far apart.
Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) Ecological Reserves and Wildlife Areas: Most fish and wildlife areas are open. Visitor centers and license counters, are closed.
State Forests: Several day-use recreation areas remain open. All campsites are closed.
Baldwin Hills Conservancy Parks in LA: The Baldwin Hills Parklands in the LA area are open to the public.
Department of Water Resources (DWR) Public Recreation Facilities: Access to most lakes and reservoirs are open. Check the list of open local recreation areas before you leave home.
Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Parks and Trails: Public restrooms, are open. All other buildings are closed.
For more natural places to go, see section: REOPENING L.A.
ARE COOLING CENTERS OPEN DURING THE PANDEMIC?
Yes. L.A. County has released a list of cooling centers where you can escape the heat -- and remain physically distanced.
These spaces will likely fill up faster than usual because of the distancing rules, and the county advises calling first to make sure seating is available.
You can also call 211 for L.A. County information; 311 in the city of L.A.
IS PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION STILL OPERATIONAL?
Public transit is still running across L.A., but most agencies have reduced service.
L.A. Metro started making schedule changes in mid-March because of plummeting ridership. It then moved to rear-door boarding for all buses (with wheelchair ramp access still available at the front door), and required the transparent barrier up front be closed as a layer of protection. At rail stations, custodial staff started disinfecting touch points. Later, riders were required to wear a mask. Online service advisories and Twitter rider alerts will keep you up to date on schedule changes. Metro's also released a "four phase plan" to restore service that tracks into January.
Elsewhere in municipal transit:
LADOT, which has waived fares on its bus routes, is requesting that passengers wear a face covering while riding. Rear-door boarding is in effect. DASH buses have limited passengers per bus: 30-foot buses will carry no more than 10 riders at a time; 35-foot buses will cap passengers at 12. The DASH Observatory/Los Feliz route is now a Los Feliz-only line. The on-demand shuttle service LAnow has been suspended. The electric car-sharing service Blue LA was suspended then reinstated. Check for updates on schedules and service changes.
Foothill Transit is also not collecting fares right now and rear-door boarding is in effect. Service is reduced.
The Antelope Valley Transit Authority has cut maximum occupancy and a "reduced Saturday Schedule" is in effect Monday through Sunday. Several routes have been canceled.
Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica halted service on a few of its lines and moved to rear-door boarding. Weekday service on most bus routes has also changed "until further notice," the agency said. Check for updates on schedules and service changes.
Culver CityBus waived fares for riders and rear-door boarding is in effect. Certain bus lines are running Saturday service timelines during the week.
Both Pasadena Transit's buses and its on-demand shuttle service for seniors and people with disabilities remain in service, and the city has waived fares.
Bus services in the cities of Glendale were operating as normal.
Burbank reduced service on all its bus lines. They've also moved to free fares and rear-door boarding.
Santa Clarita Transit has reduced service across its system. Cancellation and schedule updates are available online.
CAN I STILL RIDE AN ELECTRIC SCOOTER OR BIKE?
Lime pulled its scooters off the streets and suspended service across California as the stay-at-home orders went into effect.
Bird, Lyft, and Jump said they've increased cleaning and disinfecting of their respective scooters and e-bikes. They're also encouraging riders to clean scooters and e-bike handles with disinfecting wipes before and after riding.
We know people were buying guns at the beginning of the shutdown, but we also know that most people aren't trained to use them, much less in high stress situations. And that can have disastrous consequences (even for people who are trained).
With a gun in the home, you're more likely to do something unjustifiable than to use it properly in self-defense. And while you're here imagining what you might need to defend against, keep in mind that people don't typically react to disasters like they do in the movies.
"We tend to come together as humans and work together and help each other," sociologist Joseph Trainor told us previously. During an earthquake, for example, it's much more likely you'd be rescued from a fallen building by a fellow victim than by an emergency response team, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva's take: "Buying guns is a bad idea." And "particularly, now that you have a lot of people home," he said during a news conference on March 16. "Cabin fever sets in. You've got a crowded environment. ... Weapons are not a good mix."
Here's more on the case for not panic-buying a gun.
HOW ARE RULES BEING ENFORCED?
Things have reopened over time, with restrictions.
On July 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed issues of enforcement in their respective news briefings.
Newsom said that California would be enforcing public health orders using multi-agency strike teams to target non-compliant workplaces. The strike teams -- ABC, CalOSHA, the Department of Business Oversight, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the California Highway Patrol -- would be building partnerships with local public health departments and businesses.
In response to a question about mask enforcement, Garcetti said the city was not issuing tickets to individuals who are not wearing masks, saying that he doesn't want to become "a police state."
"This behavior is irresponsible and selfish," Garcetti said during a news briefing on March 24. "It may serve a few people for a moment, but it will put all of us at risk for a long time."
His message at the time: "This is your chance to step up and to shut it down, because if you don't, we will shut you down."
He announced an enforcement plan with escalating measures:
The "Safer at Home" Business Ambassadors Program was established, made up of city workers and volunteers from the mayor's Crisis Response Team.
Non-essential, non-compliant businesses will be visited by program team members and asked to voluntarily comply.
If that doesn't happen, the LAPD and City Attorney will be notified.
The City Attorney will also contact businesses about violations before moving to stronger enforcement.
Stronger enforcement could mean citations, and repeat offenders could face misdemeanor charges.
The city could also shut off water and power to those businesses.
HOW DO I REPORT A NON-COMPLIANT BUSINESS, GATHERING, OR OTHER VIOLATION?
To report public health violations and/or gatherings:
Call the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health at (888) 700-9995
Submit an online complaint form
To report open businesses that are not supposed to be open:
Call the city at 311
Submit an online complaint form
But what's the etiquette if you see a shopper without a mask, or a stranger doesn't move out of the way when you're walking around the neighborhood? Here are some highlights from a discussion on KPCC's AirTalk with Larry Mantle.
WHAT IF I CAN'T PAY RENT (OR MY MORTGAGE) BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS?
See a video of our renters' rights and eviction Q&A with an attorney from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.
Here's a short list of critical things to know if you're a California renter right now:
During this emergency, you cannot be evicted from your home for not having paid rent.
Evictions are on hold until 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, except those dealing with public health and safety
If you cannot pay rent, you should notify your landlord in writing ASAP.
Landlords can legally start eviction proceedings during this time, but the soonest a court might issue a summons would be 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency (except in extreme circumstances necessary to protect public health/safety).
Landlords cannot change the locks or remove your property from your unit.
Only the local sheriff's department has the authority to legally lock you out.
You are legally responsible to repay all rent missed during the pandemic after the emergency is over.
Depending on where you live you may have a grace period of up to one year to pay it back.
- Do not sign anything from your landlord without first consulting an attorney.
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on March 27 that prohibits eviction enforcement by authorities and courts.
If you can't pay all or some of your rent because of COVID-19, declare it in writing no more than seven days after rent is due, and save any related documentation about illness, termination, etc. Once lifted, repayment is due "in a timely manner."
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city was expanding its eviction moratorium as well, which covers both commercial and residential units. Tenants will now have a full year to pay back any rent they can't afford to pay during the current pandemic.
L.A. County also has a countywide eviction moratorium in effect prohibiting residential and commercial evictions for nonpayment of rent, late fees, and related costs due to a loss of business or household income caused by COVID-19. Supervisors narrowly approved a motion to extend those protections for residential tenants (but not big businesses) until August 31, 2020.
However, it may not be enough without rent forgiveness. Some experts and advocates say people won't be able to save the money needed for back rent, and that could lead to future evictions and homelessness.
One of the funds has $2.1 million for "families that are already struggling to pay their rent, and are living paycheck to paycheck," said Council President Nury Martinez. It's expected to help several hundred families. A report from the city's housing department has the details and criteria.
On May 7, there were a number of housing annoucements:
The mayor signed a law prohibiting landlords from using coercion, intimidation or fraud to take their renter's stimulus checks.
Tenants can sue their landlord if they violate any of the city's renter protections.
City Council President Nury Martinez said that any renters who cannot pay their rent during this time, can submit their account to the city in writing within seven days, to avoid eviction. Renters will then have 12 months to pay that rent back.
The city council voted to freeze rents on all RSO units until a year after the emergency "is lifted." She said that covers about 75% of the rental market in L.A.
In late May, city leaders announced that the program to provide rent relief could receive $100 million in federal stimulus dollars that would go directly to landlords. Payments would be capped at $1,000 per month and $3,000 over the life of the program. The program -- which could help 50,000 households -- would be available to tenants who:
- Can document their losses from COVID-19
- And make less than 80% of their area's median income
Meanwhile, for people who own a home: some banks have agreed to 90-day mortgage waivers, and Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered property tax relief for both residences and businesses. Homeowners now have until next year to pay the taxes on their personal properties without incurring the 10% late fee. For businesses, the deadline was extended -- but only until May 31.
CAN I GET HELP FOR MY SMALL BUSINESS?
The City of Los Angeles's Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) announced low- to no-interest loans, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. The loans for qualifying businesses will be offered without interest for up to a year, or at 3-5% interest for up to five years.
The U.S. Small Business Administration was also offering low-interest disaster loans for small businesses in certain states, including California.
Another $349 billion in small business loans was included in the coronavirus stimulus package, but the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of money after 13 days. The SBA halted applications and started accepting them again on April 27, with second round funding for $320 billion.
If you need help figuring it all out, get in touch with L.A. CARES Corps. It's an L.A. county/city effort that was created to help small business owners apply for loans. Reach out online or call 833-238-4450 to speak with a loan counselor.
And here are some answers to commonly asked questions about getting government help.
So many people, in fact, that it's now the worst unemployment since the Great Depression, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on May 14.
To apply for unemployment money, file a claim with EDD.
You can file because of cut hours, unpaid leave, termination, and other coronavirus-related reasons.
And with the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, there's expanded access for many people who didn't qualify for unemployment benefits before (like: gig workers, freelancers, and other self-employed people -- but not if you have W-2s in the mix).
The program also includes some people who've exhausted their unemployment benefits. But as of May 21, those who've already run out of benefits were still waiting for the state to process their extensions. Some people have now gone months without benefits.
California's unemployment department has said it would begin automatically filing extensions on May 27 for those with exhausted claims, as long as they first started receiving benefits on or after June 2, 2019. But some may have to wait until June, or even July, before payments start to arrive.
Officials had a massive challenge trying to figure out how to process theses kinds of claims.
The PUA program opened on April 28, but applicants experienced widespread problems inputing their information, with the site reportedly crashing for many users on the first day of the program's rollout.
EDD has encouraged people to review their eligibility.
Below is a live event Q&A we held about applying for unemployment.
And here is the transcript from that event if you just can't even with a video right now.
TELL ME ABOUT THE $2 TRILLION CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PACKAGE
It's called the CARES ACT, and it was the largest emergency relief package in U.S. history. It was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27.
Broadly, the plan includes:
Direct payments to Americans
An aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance
Billions in aid to large and small businesses
A new wave of significant funding for the healthcare industry
Some of the specifics:
Checks will be sent to Americans in middle class and lower income levels.
Extended unemployment for laid-off workers.
Raising the maximum unemployment insurance benefit by $600 per week. This applies to small business workers, large businesses workers, people who are self-employed, and gig economy workers.
More than $150 billion for the healthcare system, including funding for hospitals, research, treatment, and increasing supplies of ventilators, masks and other equipment.
$150 billion to state and local governments to address spending shortages related to the coronavirus pandemic.
$350 billion for small businesses impacted by the pandemic in the form of loans; some of those loans could be forgiven. (NOTE: The PPP ran out of money after 13 days and stopped taking applications; applications began again on April 27 with second round funding for $320)
All of the specifics:
Other things to know about those checks/direct deposits:
The payments are not taxable income.
If you think you qualify and haven't received your payment -- and your check's status is unavailable -- you're not alone.
Some people have been left out of the distribution, including U.S. citizens who are married to immigrants without Social Security numbers
Here's how to apply for the federal stimulus payment if you don't file taxes. It won't count against General Relief or CalFresh benefits.
If you are experiencing homelessness and don't have a permanent mailing address, use a DPSS district office location as your mailing address by calling the Customer Service Center at 1-866-613-3777
WHERE CAN I GET FINANCIAL, MENTAL HEALTH, EMPLOYMENT AND OTHER KINDS OF HELP?
The city of L.A. has a hub for heath, emergency, employment, and financial resources.
L.A. County launched an online disaster help center.
To help students access school, and everyone access emergency information, L.A. County launched an internet access/WiFi locator.
We have a guide to L.A.'s rent and eviction rules.
Equality California launched an effort to connect LGBTQ+ Californians impacted by COVID-19 with LGBTQ+ friendly resources and support services -- website | help line (323) 448-0126.
We created a comprehensive guide to finding mental health help.
The state also has a list.
The L.A. County Department of Mental Health has a 24/7 hotline: (800) 854-7771. You can also text: "LA" to 741741.
LAUSD has a mental health hotline (in English, Spanish): (213) 241-3840.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).
You can also text the Crisis Text Line. Text "HOME" (741-741) to reach a trained crisis counselor.
Institute on Aging's 24/7 Friendship Line (especially for people who have disabilities or are over 60), 1-800-971-0016 or call 415-750-4138 to volunteer.
California has a guide to managing stress at home.
There's a variety of financial assistance out there.
Loan counselors for small business owners are available via L.A. CARES Corps -- (833) 238-4450.
There's financial help for hospital workers who need child care. Options include a $100 stipend per shift, free referrals or child care at L.A. Parks and Recreation Centers.
211's has a whole index of services.
The state also started a Disaster Relief Fund to support undocumented Californians with a one-time cash benefit. Applications will be accepted in May.
Business owners without legal immigration status are eligible for loans through the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank.
There are also relief funds backed by philanthropists and grassroots donors for immigrants without legal status.
The "Angeleno Card" -- a no-fee debit card with between $700 and $1,500 -- is available to qualified residents. You must live in the city of L.A., have been below the federal poverty line before the pandemic, and lost a job or at least half your income because of the pandemic. Immigration status will not be considered. Sign up online or call 213-252-3040 through April 16.
There's also a public, crowd-sourced resources list for L.A.
And a community resource list that's updated by various L.A. city employees.
Here's a list of non-cheesy self help books.
Let Oscar the Grouch or Grover explain this situation to the small humans in your life. They recorded coronavirus PSAs for us and you can them on the phone: (626) 831-9333.
And here are some ways to help teenagers cope.
The state has resources for people in abusive situations (and for people who know people in abusive situations).
There are also local resources if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence:
- LA County Domestic Violence Hotline (24/7 Confidential): (800) 978-3600
- LA County Domestic Violence Resources En Español
- Domestic Violence Shelter 24-hour Hotlines (PDF Download)
- Resources for People Experiencing Domestic Violence
- And, while many court proceedings are on hold right now, filing a domestic violence restraining order application is still possible.
L.A.'s top prosecutors have also launched a campaign with extensive resources related to domestic violence and elder abuse.
Here are resources if you suspect child abuse or neglect:
-LA County Child Protection Hotline: 1 (800) 540-4000
-Alliance for Children's Rights
-Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children (CASA of LA)
-Childhelp National Abuse Hotline: 1 (800) 422-4453
If you are experiencing homelessness and don't have a permanent mailing address to receive federal stimulus money (Economic Impact Payment), use a DPSS district office location as your mailing address by calling the Customer Service Center at 1-866-613-3777
WHAT'S THE NEW DEADLINE FOR TAXES?
You now have until July 15 to file your state and federal tax returns.
The IRS automatically extended the deadline.
No forms or fees required.
California has done the same.
CAN MY JOB ASK ME TO STAY HOME AND NOT PAY ME?
If you've been asked to self-quarantine because you or a family member is sick, you should be entitled to use your sick time for at least part of it.
In L.A., workers get at least 48 hours of sick time/year.
In Santa Monica, it's 40 or 72 hours of sick time/year, depending on the size of the business.
In California, the minimum total is 24 hours of sick time/year
The federal Coronavirus Relief Act also requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide two weeks of paid, virus-related sick leave and family leave.
And in California, a statewide executive order adds two weeks of extra paid sick leave for essential food service workers (like grocery store employees, fast-food employees, and farmworkers) who have contracted or been exposed to the coronavirus -- or been ordered to isolate or enter quarantine.
Another executive order extended workers comp benefits for people who've tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a physician. The order went into effect retroactively, starting March 19, and extends until July 6.
The California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has more answers related to workplace laws in the age of coronavirus.
HOW LOCAL HOSPITALS ARE RESPONDING
Officials continue to urge people to stay at home, even when they're sick, unless they believe they need hospital-level care. Meanwhile,
A new "surge hospital" was opened.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department adopted telehealth to reduce non-emergency hospital trips.
L.A.'s convention center was converted into a field hospital
Local hospitals prepped with emergency triage drills, installed temporary tents and facilities, and re-trained on protective equipment
On March 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California needed 1 billion gloves, 595 million masks, and two million shields for three months of protection for health care workers. A few days later has said we needed 50,000 additional hospital beds. The state also said it was looking to tap more potential medical staff to handle a possible surge in COVID-19 patients.
On April 8, it was announced that California will invest more than $1.4 billion into personal protective equipment (PPE) for both medical workers and frontline employees (including grocery store workers). The state has also secured contracts for 200 million masks from various providers.
But some health care workers are concerned for their safety and don't think enough is being done to protect them.
"Right now, there's a lack of supplies -- specifically protective equipment, PPE's -- so we're not feeling too safe because we still have to go home to our families," a health care worker at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center told us back in March.
AP reported on April 16 that 10 nurses were suspended from Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica after refusing to work with COVID-19 patients until N95 face masks were provided, according the National Nurses United. They were subsequently reinstated, AP reported, and the hospital said it would be supplying the masks to nurses working with infected patients.
Meanwhile, as the state continues to look for hand sanitizer, testing reagents, and other supplies to help in the fight against coronavirus, more than 2,300 individuals and companies filled out applications on the state's site for contributing supplies.
Here's a looks inside L.A.s new "COVID only" surge hospital. It may close at the end of June.
Meanwhile, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department came up with a partial solution to the mask shortage: a decontamination center that can clean as many as 30,000 used N95s a day.
Staff at the county's four public hospitals and 27 clinics use 10,000 masks a day; LASD, which operates the jails, uses another 10,000 a day. The process -- involving dangerous chemicals and a dishwasher-sized machine on loan from UCLA -- is called hydrogen peroxide vaporization, and it must adhere to CDC guidelines.
In mid-May, as L.A. transitioned into "Phase 2" of the recovery and slowly began to reopen, some hospitals started to resume scheduled surgeries.
WILL HOSPITALS ACCEPT HOMEMADE MASKS?
It depends on the hospital.
There's a list of U.S. facilities accepting donations, created by students at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, that includes a number of SoCal hospitals. The list has specifics about quantity, patterns, delivery instructions, and more.
"Go ahead and do it," the chief medical officer at Keck Hospital of USC told us. "If we need to use it, we'll use it."
None of the hospital officials we spoke with said their personnel have started using homemade masks, but they worried that day will come.
Casual stitchers and sew shops around L.A. have been responding to the need.
Sew Helpful Brigade said they've distributed over 3,000 masks to workers at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Long Beach Medical Center, and UCLA. They needs 200 more volunteer sewers.
At Suay Sew Shop in Frogtown, the goal is to make and distribute 10,000 masks in a week -- and then continue that pace.
A first-grade teacher we spoke to said that even if hospitals didn't want her homemade masks they could be used by pharmacy technicians, grocery employees, or delivery people.
The CDC has issued guidance on homemade masks, saying they can be used while treating patients as "a last resort," and ideally under a plastic face shield similar to what you'd see on a welder.
I'M A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. HOW CAN I HELP?
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an online portal.
The state was also looking for health care staff to assist with the projected surge in coronavirus patients.
The effort also includes health people who may have retired in the last five years or are currently working to get licensed or relicensed.
THE SITUATION AT NURSING HOMES
State data released by the California Department of Public Health found that coronavirus cases were clustering in nursing homes. An analysis by California Healthline found that many of the hardest hit nursing facilities had problems in the past including low staffing levels and health violations for not following infection control rules.
L.A. health officials worked with CDC staff to improve infection control practices and paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMT's) were granted temporary permission to work in L.A. County nursing homes to help alleviate staffing shortfalls due to COVID-19 outbreaks. There have also been volunteer opportunities.
In the city of L.A., a number of new testing protocols were put in place. At all skilled nursing facilities:
Notices must be hand-deliver to all residents and workers with the most recent date testing was offered, and the next date it will be offered.
Notices must be updated and circulated once a month, and at least two days prior to testing.
Notices must be publicly displayed at the main entrance of every facility.
Notices must be provided to anyone who asks -- whether in the media, government or general public.
In Long Beach and Pasadena, health departments also have new rules for skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, including face masks for workers, and twice daily temperature checks (even if there's no confirmed case on-site).
L.A. County's Long Term Care Ombudsman Program -- a publicly funded entity that investigates complaints about the treatment of residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities -- was barred from doing site visits under federal guidelines (there's an exception for end-of-life care.)
A collaboration between KPCC/LAist, The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun and The Southern Illinoisan found there's one thing that distinguishes the nursing homes that have reported the highest number of deaths: their residents are mostly Black and Latino.
Race and Latino origin turned out to be a major predictor of whether a nursing home has a COVID-19 outbreak, we found, even after accounting for a facility's location, federal quality ratings, size and infection rate in the surrounding community.
On May 26, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a new role: a county inspector general to oversee nursing homes.
The position 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.
Congregate living facilities account for more than half of the county's COVID-19 deaths.
HOW SCHOOLS ARE RESPONDING
All 80 public school districts in L.A. County closed, including the second largest K-12 district in the United States, and the third largest district in California.
On March 13, Los Angeles Unified School District canceled all in-person classes, sending half a million kids home -- effective Monday, March 16 -- with coursework moved online.
LAUSD teachers received an email from Superintendent Austin Beutner saying the district would be closed for two weeks "while we evaluate the appropriate path forward."
Gov. Gavin Newsom said on March 17 it's "unlikely" that schools will reopen before summer break. State officials have promised to suspend K-12 standardized testing this year.
On March 23, Beutner announced a revised timeline for LAUSD: schools will stay closed until at least May 1.
On March 31, California's top elected education looked deeper into the calendar. In a letter -- which you can read on the news site EdSource -- state superintendent Tony Thurmond urged local school district leaders to prepare to beef up their online course offerings through the end of the academic year.
A labor deal announced April 9 between LAUSD and its teachers union formalized how the district will operate during the shutdown. United Teachers Los Angeles shared full terms of the deal. Some specifics:
Teachers will provide instruction for, on average, 240 minutes (or, four hours) per day.
Teachers should set regular schedules and stick to them. The idea is to "avoid scheduling conflicts."
Teachers will hold three regular "office hour" sessions per week.
Students' grades can still go up, but they can't go down.
Live video instruction is not mandatory.
The agreement also covers issues of pay -- including for substitute teachers -- and evaluations.
Superintendent Austin Beutner said school facilities will not reopen "until state and local health authorities tell us how it is safe and appropriate to do so," and that campuses would be closed until authorities set up a "robust system of testing and contact tracing."
We closed school facilities on March 13th so our schools did not become a petri dish and cause the virus to spread in the communities we serve. That has worked. We do not want to reverse that in a hasty return to schools.
By the end of this school year, LAUSD will have spent approximately $200 million on its pandemic response: $78 million for meals, perhaps $50 million for expanded summer school, $31 million to train teachers for distance learning, $23 million to close the digital divide, and $9 million for safety equipment.
As for how the grading will work, many districts have relaxed their policies:
LAUSD will not issue any "F's" this semester -- and no overall grade will drop lower from where it stood in March.
Long Beach Unified elementary students will not receive report cards at all this semester. Middle- and high school students will receive pass-fail grades.
Corona-Norco Unified students grades' can only improve from their March level.
Santa Ana Unified will likely revisit its grading policies soon. While details are still in the works, Superintendent Jerry Almendarez told students in a video update: "We don't want you stressing out about your grades."
On the other hand, San Bernardino City Unified has not changed its grading policies or practices, spokeswoman Linda Bardere said in an email.
On April 27, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he's "considering" asking California's K-12 schools to begin the 2020-21 school year much earlier than normal -- perhaps even as soon as late July -- over concerns about "learning loss."
On May 4, Beutner said LAUSD leaders have "made no decisions" about whether the fall semester -- still scheduled to begin on August 18 -- will involve students in classrooms, online or both. He said it's not clear what the public health conditions will allow.
Beutner on May 11 delared that LAUSD had hit a milestone with "just about every" LAUSD "connected."
"We've confirmed they have a device that works, we've confirmed they have either internet access of their own or we've provided it at no cost to the student, and they've engaged in learning -- meaning they've logged onto Schoology or some other platform being used for their school lessons."
On May 21, the University of California announced it will not require students to submit SAT and ACT standardized test scores for undergraduate admission at least until 2024.
LAUSD Superintendent Beutner said on June 3 that it was not yet decided if 472,000 students would return to campuses in the fall. If they did, he said, students would likely attend classes on "hybrid" schedules, spending only a few days in a classroom per week and learning from home the rest of the time.
State Superintendent Thurmond held a press conference on June 8 to discuss the the California Department of Education's guidelines for reopening school campuses. Here is the 62-page playbook. The document is meant to be a guide for local discussion about on reopening schools.
California Department of Health released its own guidelines too.
HOW DO I BORROW A SCHOOL COMPUTER OR IPAD FOR DISTANCE LEARNING?
LAUSD is spending $100 million on devices and hotspots so that no student misses out on online lessons. District leaders promised a laptop or tablet computer to every student who needs one to learn during the the shutdown.
Schools are contacting students to distribute the devices, but parents who want to make a request can contact the district's hotline: (213) 443-1300. The request will be routed to the proper school.
In another attempt to help students access online education, Google has committed to rolling out 100,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the state.
There are also some low-cost home internet deals to help bridge the digital divide. Here are a few options:
AT&T: The company's Access program offers internet service at $5-10 per month for low-income families. Through April 30, the company is offering two months of Access service for free. They've also expanded eligibility to all households enrolled in Head Start or receiving free or reduced-price meals at school. Families can apply here or call: 855-220-5211 (in English) or 855-220-5225 (in Spanish). For all other households, AT&T has paused disconnections and late fees through May 13, and is also "temporarily" waiving overage fees on home internet data.
Charter Spectrum: Teachers and families with school-aged children who aren't already Spectrum customers can sign up for two free months of internet service. After those 60 days, a spokesman says the company will offer a "discounted promotional price" for another 10 months. Customers can cancel at any time. Spectrum also offers low-cost service for certain qualifying low-income households. Families can sign up here or call 844-488-8395.
Starting on March 20, existing T-Mobile customers on smartphone plans will receive an additional 20 gigabytes of data to use their phones as hotspots for the next 60 days. The company is also expanding data allowances for schools using their wireless plans.
HOW DO I ACCESS SERVICES THAT MY CHILD USED TO GET AT SCHOOL?
Superintendent Austin Beutner said common special education services like physical, occupational, and speech therapies were being providing "via teleconferencing." Here is the district's FAQ on providing support. Legally-protected learning plans are to be "implemented to the maximum extent possible," according to a labor deal announced April 9.
Many families also depend on schools for meals -- we've been compiling a list of places that will provide food while schools are closed.
And LAUSD also opened a hotline so "students and families can call for help to manage fear, anxiety and other challenges related to COVID-19." Counselors and mental health professionals will answer hotline calls in English and Spanish: (213) 241-3840.
HOW PRESCHOOLS AND DAY CARE PROVIDERS ARE RESPONDING
Some preschools and day care centers are still open. The state did not order them to close, instead, that decision was left up to individual providers and municipalities.
L.A. County said it would allow it if kids are cared for in small groups that stay separated.
Guidelines were issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for early care and education providers who continue to operate. They include:
No more "circle time"
Caring for kids in groups of 12 or less -- no new kids can be added to an existing group, and mixing between different groups is prohibited
Keeping groups in different rooms at larger facilities
Adult providers must stay with the same group of children
Practicing social distancing by restricting visitors to facilities
Spacing out children's activities and focusing on individual activities like coloring and puzzles
Updated guidance from the Department of Social Services reduced the number of children in groups to 10, and the number is even lower if infants are part of the group.
The new rules are in effect until June 30.
Also, by executive order, there is now state-funded child care for essential workers --health care professionals, emergency responders, law enforcement, and grocery employees. Here's the outline for how providers should prioritize enrollment of new families.
The order also allows care providers to take advantage of new provisions of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to make sure kids get nutritious meals at little or no cost.
L.A. and state officials have also expanded child care options for hospital workers.
"Child care is foundational to getting people back to work," Gov. Gavin Newsom said. "If they cannot get the kind of quality child care that they deserve they are less likely to get back to work and jump start this economy."
However, in the rush to create new ways for essential workers to access child care, questions about how they'll deliver services remain unanswered.
As of April 23, 66% of L.A. County's licensed preschools and child care centers had closed, according to the state's department of social service.
Type in your zip code and find local child-care facilities, along with more information about each one.
Essential worker parents who want a list of providers that fits their specific needs can get a free referral at this website, or by calling (888) 922-4453.
ARE PARKING TICKETS STILL BEING ISSUED?
Street-sweeping tickets are not being issued in L.A. city residential areas. There's a hold on towing and citing vehicles with expired registration. Citations for driver's with expired licenses are on pause. And there's also an extension on payment deadlines.
The payment due date for existing citations was also extended until Aug 1 (and if you're out of work you may be eligible to have late fees waived if you pay the base citation by the end of the 2020).
Here's the full list of "relaxed enforcement" categories from LADOT:
- Residential street sweeping
- Expired registration on a vehicle
- Peak/rush hour and gridlock zone parking restrictions
- No ticket/tow for abandoned vehicles and overnight parking
- Vehicles displaying recently expired permits within preferential parking districts will have a two-week grace period following the expiration to renew
- No parking fine increases until after July 6
- Extended grace period for people dropping off or picking up
- Immediate extensions on all deadlines for payments until July 6
- LADOT will supply a temporary, print-at-home permit to residents within a preferential parking district who have renewed their permit but will not receive the new hangtag before their current permit expires
- Metered parking
- Time limits within preferential parking districts for vehicles without a valid or recently-expired permit
- Posted time limits zones in residential and commercial areas
- Posted temporary no-parking for repaving, street repair, and other street maintenance
- No blocking emergency access (alleyways, fire hydrants, etc.)
- Colored curb zones
- Parking restrictions for City-owned lots
- Meanwhile, new special parking zones first went up to make restaurant pickups easier. The program was later expanded to help with curbside pickup at other types of businesses.
HAS TRASH COLLECTION CHANGED?
More people at home can mean more garbage piling up. So pick-ups are increasing in the city of L.A.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city will temporarily be providing additional garbage and recycling pick-ups at single-family homes and apartments serviced by the city's sanitation department.
If you have more trash than will fit in the bins, meet the sanitation trucks when they arrive (while keeping physical distancing and mask recommendations in mind). Refill your black and blue bins after the trucks eat the first round, and they'll take those too.
WHAT ARE L.A. EMPLOYEES DOING TO FLATTEN THE CURVE?
City and county leaders announced new rules for themselves at a press conference on March 12. Protocols include:
No more than 50 visitors in city buildings at a time
Events and conferences held on city property must have fewer than 50 people.
Non-essential travel by city and Los Angeles Sheriff's Department employees is canceled
City Hall is closed to all non-city employees
Hand-washing and sanitizing facilities will be available at all city properties
911 operators will screen callers about COVID-19 exposure to help reduce the risk to first responders
County Emergency Operations Center moved to Level 1 (which means it will be fully staffed with leaders and experts from every county department, as well as with outside experts)
On March 23, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez announced the cancelation of in-person council meetings until officials can figure out how to hold them safely.
According to Garcetti's stay-at-home order, government employees "working within the course and scope of their public service employment" were exempt. They were instructed to "follow any current or future directives issued by the Mayor."
All of the city's first responders, gang and crisis intervention workers, public health workers, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, law enforcement personnel, related contractors, and others employed with emergency services providers were also exempt.
WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE COURTS?
L.A. Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile announced on March 16 that the largest unified trial court system in the United States would be temporarily shut down.
When it was reopened a few days later it was for "essential or emergency matters."
All civil and criminal trials were suspended.
And jurors were not to report for service until April 16 (and no additional prospective jurors were to be summoned).
Meanwhile, courtrooms have been pivoting to remote proceedings.
The county said 32 courtrooms in 17 courthouses in each of the court's 12 judicial districts will use the new technology.
Now, people charged with a felony or misdemeanor had the option to be arraigned remotely using a conferencing service called WebEx.
And all essential juvenile dependency hearings were using remote technology, and delinquency hearings are being held "to the extent permitted by law" in all juvenile courthouses.
There were also plans for a remote technology pilot for mental health conservatorship hearings at the Hollywood Courthouse.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO L.A.'S BUDGET?
The new fiscal year begins July 1, and the city is facing a staggering loss of tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There are massive proposed cuts to the 2020-2021 city budget. Mayor Eric Garcetti has declared "a state of fiscal emergency as part of the budget."
A revised estimate of city revenues forecasts a $231 million shortfall this fiscal year, and up to $598 million short next year.
Garcetti signaled that there will be furloughs for the city's civilian workforce, and he estimated city workers are expected to forego about 10% of their salaries. The city's hiring freeze is also continuing.
Based on an estimate from the city housing department, the $2.1 million could help several hundred families.
Police and fire
On June 15, Black Lives Matter-LA led a presentation on "The People's Budget," a proposal that reallocates funding to social programs and away from law enforcement. The plan leaves LAPD with about 5.7% of city spending, instead focusing resources on public safety alternatives like conflict resolution, mental health programs and transportation.
"The People's Budget" presentation was live on the City Channel.
HOW ARE WE HELPING OUR HOMELESS NEIGHBORS?
On March 18, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti activated an emergency power granted to him by the city charter in order to provide special assistance to the homeless population.
The power he cited is known as the Disaster Service Worker Program, a measure which gives the mayor the ability to redeploy any city employee to combat a crisis, including to house the homeless.
Garcetti laid out several steps the city will take to ramp up the opening of emergency shelters, including:
The city's Department of Transportation will deliver 6,000 beds at 42 recreation centers across L.A. (however, because cots need to be 6 feet apart, the combined capacity could end up closer to 2,000 beds)
On March 19, the city announced the locations of the first 13 recreation centers to operate as temporary shelters
Beds are being provided by the Red Cross
Together with the Bridge shelter program, that means the city can bring in 7,000 unsheltered Angelenos, Garcetti said
Garcetti said the city will follow the social distancing guidelines required by public health officials, and not try to house more people in the shelters than they can contain.
On March 22, the CDC weighed in on the practice of clearing of homeless encampments, or "sweeps." Its guidance is: don't -- unless individual housing units can be provided: "Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread."
On March 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that millions in emergency grants would be distributed to cities and counties for hotels to house the homeless.
On April 8, L.A. County officials announced an effort to shelter thousands of homeless people in up to 15,000 hotel rooms so they'll have a safe place to isolate during the pandemic.
"They are not sick when they go in. These are for people who are not experiencing symptoms, giving a place to shelter so they don't contract anything," said Heidi Marston, the interim director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
The city also launching its first trailer program, which will be used to house homeless Angelenos who are high-risk and asymptomatic (over 65 and/or have chronic medical conditions). The trailers were given to the city by the state. The goal is to have 300 trailers city-wide.
And, despite the city's financial distress, Garcetti said spending on homelessness by the City of Los Angeles will remain steady. The budget line is projected to reach just shy of $430 million in the next fiscal year.
On May 4, Garcetti said the city has opened 24 temporary shelters at recreation centers, which are currently housing 900 people. They're at 87% capacity, and anyone who needs a bed should call 211, he said. He said the numer of hotel rooms secured so far across the county: 2,711.
If you are experiencing homelessness and don't have a permanent mailing address to receive federal stimulus money (Economic Impact Payment), use a DPSS district office location as your mailing address by calling the Customer Service Center at 1-866-613-3777.
As of May 11, there were 234 confirmed COVID-19 cases among L.A. County's homeless residents -- 131 of whom were sheltered. Health officials were investigating 23 shelter sites with confirmed cases.
And, in a landmark ruling that was set to go into effect on May 22 (and then postponed until Sept 1) L.A. City and County must move homeless residents away from freeways and into shelters or alternative sites. The court order bans encampments along and under L.A.'s freeways. There are explicit directions for the implementation:
People residing in freeway-adjacent spaces must be given advanced warning before the encampment is cleared.
Alternative shelter housing must be made available to anyone forced to relocate.
Shelter space must also be provided for personal belongings.
Shelter spaces must adhere to social distancing and have adequate hygiene facilities.
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Edited and skippered by Lisa Brenner. With contributions from Robert Garrova, Paul Glickman, Lisa Brenner, Megan Erwin, Brian Frank, Megan Garvey, Kyle Stokes, Adriene Hill, Mike Roe, Matt Tinoco, Stephanie Ritoper, Elly Yu, Libby Denkmann, Elina Shatkin, Ryan Fonseca, Jackie Fortier, Jacob Margolis, Josie Huang, Jessica Ogilvie, Emily Guerin, Stephan A. Slater, Fiona Chandra, Caitlin Hernandez, Carla Javier, Nick Roman, Emily Elena Dugdale, Brianna Lee, Frank Stoltz, Aaron Mendelson, Gina Pollack, Sharon McNary, and the entire KPCC/LAist newsroom.
This story has been updated hundreds of times as news continues to break on this national emergency. It was originally published on January 28, 2020.