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Morning Briefing: To Easter Or Not To Easter

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Just a few hours after President Donald Trump doubled down – then walked back – his seemingly random hope that Americans will be largely out of their homes and back to work by Easter ("I just thought it was a beautiful time,” he said, by way of explanation), California Gov. Gavin Newsom told Californians that Trump’s timeline would be "sooner than any of the experts that I talked to would believe is possible."

With that said, COVID-19 cases are increasing rapidly in L.A. County. We have 662 reported infections now, and officials are tightening social distancing orders and shutting more operations down.

Here’s what happened in the past 24 hours:

  • Three more Angelenos died from the coronavirus. There are now 662 reported COVID-19 cases in L.A., and at least 420,000 worldwide.
  • L.A. County officials closed hiking trails, and California’s chief justice suspended all jury trials in the state's superior courts for 60 days. Meanwhile, tests for the coronavirus are still in short supply, even for people showing symptoms of the illness.
  • Los Angeles Community College will suspend all classes that require hands-on, in-person instruction through May 4, and the city of Long Beach closed parking lots for municipal parks and beaches.
  • 1,700 inmates have been released from L.A. County jails, but it’s not clear how officials plan to help the homeless among them.
  • L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said that non-essential businesses who don’t comply with stay-at-home regulations will be given verbal warnings. If they still don’t comply, then their water and power will be shut off.
  • President Trump said that he would “love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” but then appeared to waffle back and forth later in the day.
  • Addressing Californians shortly after Trump's address, Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested that the president’s hoped-for timeline was all but impossible.
  • Given that social distancing appears to be our new normal for the foreseeable future, this year’s presidential election might be held by mail.

Here’s what we’re covering today:

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  • Emily Elena Dugdale talks to state prisoners who are worried about contracting coronavirus, citing a lack of soap and other concerns.
  • Domestic violence shelters are full but emergency call lines are slow, reports Alyssa Jeong Perry. Shelter operators say that may be because people required to report violence aren't seeing abused people.
  • Libby Denkmann explains how voting by mail could change how we do elections in California.
  • Robert Garrova will look at community testing data we’re expecting from L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
  • Josie Huang visits Little Tokyo restaurants that have historically depended on foot traffic, and that are now scrambling to get online and create takeout menus.
  • Routine dental cleanings are on hold, reports Jackie Fortiér, so that personal protective gear like masks can be freed up for frontline healthcare workers.

Here are some blessed, relaxing, non-COVID-19 reads (from our recent archives):

And now, your moment of Zen:

One from the files of our terrific photojournalist Chava Sanchez, who has spent less idyllic days recently wearing a N-95 mask and maintaining a safe distance from the people and places he is photographing.

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Yosemite National Park (Chava Sanchez/LAist )

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft.

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