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Morning Briefing: What Disney’s Furloughs Say About This Moment

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There’s something particularly jolting about The Walt Disney Co.’s recent announcement that it will furlough some employees beginning April 19 as a result of COVID-19. Companies and individuals across the globe have been affected by the pandemic, but Disney stands out as a worldwide symbol of happiness and escaping reality… until now. From John Horn:

...the pandemic has hit almost every one of Disney’s core businesses. Disney’s dozen theme parks, which contribute almost half of the company’s profits, are locked up around the globe. The company’s cruise ships are empty, as are theaters where musicals like “The Lion King” would play. With essentially every domestic and international multiplex shut down, there’s no way Disney can exhibit its movies, which include the Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm brands.

With that said, maybe it’s time to remember that when push comes to shove, we’re responsible for our own happiness — and it doesn’t hurt to think of our neighbors, too. Little gestures, more than behemoth theme parks, have become what matters: A pop-up drive through for college kids, a (not-so-little) donation to local arts organizations, a commitment to help unhoused community members.

Hope you find some small happinesses this weekend, and I’ll see you Monday morning.

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L.A., California, The World: In L.A. County, there are now more than 4,500 coronavirus cases, and 11 more people have died. In California, there have been 10,710 positive coronavirus tests in California, with 2,188 hospitalized and 901 in ICUs. There are more than 1 million cases worldwide. L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer expects to see as many as 1,000 new COVID-19 cases a day as early as next week.

Food, Art And Love: Santa Monica College held a drive-through pop-up for students and gave away 250 bags of non-perishable goods, 500 ready-to-eat meals and 250 cupcakes. The J. Paul Getty Trust has created a $10 million fund to help smaller L.A. County visual arts organizations that might not have access to cash reserves, endowments or wealthy donors. Also, should people try to find love in the time of the coronavirus? Damona Hoffman, a relationship expert and host of the podcast Dates & Mates, says “yes.”

L.A. Kids: Attorneys and advocates for youth offenders say children and young people held at juvenile facilities across L.A. County lack basic protections from the novel coronavirus. Also, LAUSD will use more than $77 million in bond funds to cover the 200,000 laptops officials purchased for students amid the coronavirus shutdowns.

Jobs: Starting Friday, small businesses can apply for the nearly $350 billion in loans available through the economic rescue plan from Congress, through a program being called the Paycheck Protection Program. But that money might not last long or get to the people who need it most. Meanwhile, U.S. employers shed 701,000 jobs in March, taking a net loss for the first time in nearly a decade, and the Walt Disney Co. will furlough an unspecified number of workers “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time,” effective April 19.

To Live And Rent In L.A.: One Los Feliz renter received a letter from landlord ROM Residential, which [falsely] said tenants on a rent deferral plan needed to turn over "100%" of any government stimulus money towards back rent, within five days of receiving it. Many L.A. landlords are urging their tenants to pay rent online, but these requirements may violate state law. California has secured nearly 7,000 hotel rooms for homeless residents to stay in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

First Person: In his weekly column, Erick Galindo asks, what if I have it?

“See, my throat's been hurting and I've been having headaches that feel like someone is running by and punching me on one side of my head, and then doing it again going the other way.”

His prayer for us all: more miracles than tragedies.
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Our visual journalist Chava Sanchez captured messages of hope and thanks in the skies above Hollywood on Friday.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)


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