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Morning Briefing: High Toll In High Poverty Communities. OC Crowds The Beaches

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L.A. County officials released some disturbing data yesterday: Communities with high levels of poverty have three times the rate of death from COVID-19 as communities with low levels of poverty. Specifically, in high poverty areas, the death rate is 16.9 people per 100,000. In areas with very low poverty, the death rate is 5.5 per 100,000.

We may all be in this together, but it’s clear we aren’t all paying the same price — or taking the same precautions. That was underscored in a major way this weekend by the images of people crammed together on Orange County beaches -- despite the fact that social distancing was in effect.

The pictures were met with disdain from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said that such behavior will only set the state back from re-opening. OC officials also weren’t happy, and the Newport Beach City Council is considering closing the beaches back down.

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But we should all be troubled by the images. The median household income in Newport Beach is $122,709, and just 6.6% of residents live in poverty, which is far below the state average. Based on what we know so far, the area likely isn’t being hit as hard by the pandemic. But we also know that any transmission within those beach crowds may spread to less well-off communities, where the death toll could be high.

So, if you care about your neighbors, raise your hand -- and with your other hand, put down that beach towel.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow morning.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, April 28

Libby Denkmann covers the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting, including a vote on whether to mandate mail-in ballots for the November election.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is handing out millions of free meals every week. Carla Javier looks at each step of the planning, packaging and distribution process -- and how the district will pay for a program that's projected to cost $78 million. (Don’t miss the great video of the process on the story from our visual journalist Chava Sanchez.)

California's Economic Development Department will finally allow gig workers and other self-employed people to apply for unemployment insurance starting Tuesday, April 28. David Wagner breaks down what people can expect.

New data shows that the majority of health care workers who have died in L.A. County worked in skilled nursing facilities, reports Jackie Fortiér. The rapid spread of the virus through the staff of nursing homes has led to the California National Guard plugging those staffing holes.

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Kyle Stokes covers the California Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance’s 2-part hearing looking at the impact of COVID-19.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

L.A., California, The World: There are at least 20,417 coronavirus cases and 942 deaths in L.A. County. There are nearly 44,844 cases and over 1,750 deaths in California. Worldwide, there are over 3 million cases and more than 210,000 deaths.

COVID-19 In The Courts: ICE was supposed to start reducing the population of a San Bernardino County processing center, but a federal appeals court temporarily halted the order. California officials have been ordered to address a lawsuit that demands the state dramatically reduce the population in county jails and juvenile halls.

The 2020 Census: L.A.'s congressional district lines could be reshaped. The slow-growing 27th District in the San Gabriel Valley, one of the districts in the country where Asian Americans make up a plurality, is looking particularly vulnerable.

Open, Close, Open?: Newport Beach is considering closing their beaches once again on weekends for the next three weeks. L.A. could start taking baby steps toward normalcy in the next two to six weeks, Mayor Garcetti told us today — with caveats. Long Beach is thinking along the same lines. LAUSD campuses will not reopen until a “robust system of testing and contact tracing” is in place, said the superintendent. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state is weeks, not months from starting to reopen — unless people keep ignoring social distancing guidelines at beaches or other public places.

Cleaning Up: The five-year cleanup of a lead-contamination zone is a story of confusion, shifting goalposts, missed deadlines and bloated budgets. The county is going to start using an institute in Monterey Park to disinfect up to 30,000 N95 masks a day.

Money In The Time Of... : A state program helps workers keep their jobs — but the archaic application process (snail mail?) might leave employers in the dark. Some community health clinics are OK for now, thanks to government loans. L.A. County’s CEO unveiled a new recommended 2020-21 budget, but nearly everything in it is subject to change. A Los Angeles law firm is suing the biggest banks in the country over their alleged mishandling of federal coronavirus stimulus loans for small businesses.

California Kids: No LAUSD student will fail this semester, and they’ll all receive at least the grade they got when schools closed down.

Food And Arts: Coronavirus hasn't stopped MacArthur Park's street food vendors — or the investigators trying to shut them down. At least three L.A. restaurants — one of them the century-old Musso & Frank — have sued their insurance companies for denying coronavirus-related claims. TV and film production dropped drastically in the first quarter of the year. Get your online events list here, including living paintings, Hamilton and home and scripts written by school kids and read by celebs.

Final Good-Byes: Ian Whitcomb, who died earlier this month at 78, was a one-hit wonder who went on to have an eclectic life and career (including hosting a KPCC music show in the 1990s). We remember him fondly.

Your Moment Of Zen

Investigative reporter Aaron Mendelson captured a marbled sky at sunset on Sunday.

(Aaron Mendelson / LAist)

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