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Everything you need to know to get through the COVID-19 pandemic in California

People walk past a barbershop, where a barber cuts a man's hair in the doorway.
Salons in California are able to operate outdoors, so Faro Tabaja, owner of Waves Barberhop in Manhattan Beach, moved his barber’s chair into the doorway.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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Keeping track of the news, reopenings and reclosings in California can be challenging. To help, The Times updates this page each week with news and information about the state’s progress, rules and more. We also will provide information for staying safe, healthy and sane.

This page is free for all readers. Please consider subscribing. For an evening update, sign up for the free Coronavirus Today newsletter.

On this page:

Headlines and numbers: The latest | What we’re all wondering: Public restrooms | Recommended reading: Great stories

The six goals: Where things stand | Essential information and resources

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Headlines and numbers

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The latest numbers

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What we’re all wondering

I’m out for a drive and have to use the restroom. What now?

It’s not a question you want to spend a lot of time answering in the moment, so be prepared. Many gas stations and some coffee bars do have restrooms open, though they sometimes have to close if they run out of soap or paper towels. You should consider bringing your own travel soap and disposable towels on a long drive, just in case.

If you do find an open public restroom:

  • Wear a face covering.
  • Don’t touch any surfaces unnecessarily.
  • Definitely don’t touch your face.
  • Keep your distance from people if there’s a crowd.
  • Use a paper towels to open doors and touch surfaces (and throw it in the trash, not the toilet, where it could create a clog).
  • Don’t linger.
  • Use hand sanitizer when you get back to your car.

There’s also the option that female truck drivers are familiar with: Tinkle Belle and similar products.

Stay hydrated, and stay safe out there.

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Many schools in Southern California return to distance learning in the fall. Ask the L.A. Times your questions, and we’ll do our best to get answers.

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Recommended reading

Take a break from COVID-19 reading with these Los Angeles Times stories.

Check in on some 1990s music heroes. Liz Phair and Alanis Morissette were supposed to tour this summer. That’s not happening, so Phair interviewed Morissette instead. “But we’re going to do it next summer,” Morissette says. “There’s a lot of important work going on right now that we need to make space for.” And Phair writes: “Damn it. She’s younger than me. But so wise beyond her years.”

The hajj is going to be very different this year. In the best of times, it’s hard to land one of the slots Saudi Arabia parcels out for the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are duty-bound to make at least once in their lives, The Times’ Nabih Bulos writes. In the worst of times — cue the coronavirus — it’s well-nigh impossible, with the numbers for this year’s event, now underway, capped at just 1,000. But in these most technologically advanced of times, what if Mecca could be brought to you?

A well-deserved sendoff. This is a story about a woman who deserved a fiesta for her funeral. She worked at San Bernardino’s Mitla Cafe for 68 of its 83 years and was a rock in the community. The Times’ Gustavo Arrellano was there for the remembrance that came together in the cafe’s parking lot.

Perseverance is on its way to Mars. The writer, professor and scientist Sarah Stewart Johnson finds escape in NASA’s latest mission to the Red Planet — the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter built by La Cañada Flintridge’s JPL that launched this week to start a seven-month journey. Johnson writes: “To travel to another planet and put a rover on its surface now feels like a rebuke to the powerlessness we feel here at home.”

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Newsom’s six goals

Gov. Gavin Newsom has laid out six benchmarks to help gauge how the state will move through the four phases of reopening.

To contain the spread of COVID-19, parks, restaurants and stores are slowly reopening.

1. Testing

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The governor says the state needs the ability to test, trace contacts, and isolate and support people who have the virus or have been exposed.

The facts: State benchmarks weren’t met before California started reopening. Now California is scaling back its testing task force, despite continued long lines and delayed test results.

And in L.A. County, contact tracing has failed to detect major outbreaks at workplaces. Orange County has also struggled.

Antibody tests have few regulations, and it’s unclear what actionable information can be gleaned from the results.

2. Prevent infections

The governor says the state needs to be able to prevent infection in people who are at a higher risk of severe COVID-19.

The facts: Strict physical distancing orders are being reinstated around the state. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations keep rising even as officials beg the public to avoid crowds and keep physical distancing in hopes of preventing outbreaks that could overwhelm the state’s hospitals.

And many schools across California will begin the new school year with distance learning.

Everyone in California must wear a mask when leaving home.

3. Robust healthcare system

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Newsom says the state needs hospitals and the health system to be able to handle surges.

The facts: Health officials say the public’s more careful social behavior recently, along with newly reissued restrictions on public life, has led to a recent decline in some numbers, including hospitalizations, the seven-day average for positive infections, and the projected transmission rate. But more cases and deaths continue to be reported each day.

4. Therapies

The governor says the state needs the ability to develop therapeutics to meet demand.

The facts: Studies are underway on numerous potential therapies. A common steroid is the latest drug to show positive results for patients with the most serious cases of COVID-19. Also, federal government researchers have reported that the antiviral medication remdesivir helped patients with advanced COVID-19 recover more quickly than a placebo treatment.

A Times investigation found that one promising treatment is not even being discussed by the federal government.

In the race for a vaccine, nearly 160 potential vaccines are in various stages of development. Is it possible one of them will succeed in 2020? Maybe — but a lot of things would have to go right. Many viral diseases have spread for decades without a vaccine, a reminder that there is no guarantee of success. The U.S. is nevertheless spending freely on potential vaccines.

5. Physical distancing

The governor says the state’s businesses, schools and childcare facilities need to be able to support physical distancing.

The facts: State and county officials are forcing closures in some sectors that had reopened.

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The state is still recommending that retailers encourage physical distancing and implement “hands free” ways for customers to pay. Manufacturers should close indoor break areas, and warehouses should carry sanitation materials during deliveries and provide employees with personal protective gear. In-person worship services will be limited to 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is smaller.

Newsom also has said the state needs to enact policies that allow people to stay home when they are sick. One such policy was enacted by a Newsom executive order making it easier for essential workers who contract COVID-19 to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.

Businesses — especially lower-risk retail, manufacturing and offices — will need to adapt their workplaces, provide wage replacement for sick workers, and allow employees to work from home whenever possible, according to Newsom. Individuals are required to wear masks and are asked to continue adhering to physical distancing and to avoid nonessential travel.

6. Reinstate orders if needed

The governor says California needs the ability to reinstate its stay-at-home order and other measures if necessary.

The facts: In Southern California, a coordinated effort at communication has emerged. And the city of Los Angeles has issued a color-coded system for communicating risk. As of July 31, L.A. was at orange, meaning the risk of infection is very high and that people should minimize contact with anyone outside their households.

Californians live in the land of wildfires, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Here’s what we can learn from people who take preparedness very seriously.

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What you should know

Here’s how to get tested in Los Angeles County.

Testing is by appointment only, so register online first. Most testing sites are drive-through, but some are walk-up.

Here’s the latest list of county and city testing sites.

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  • Antelope Valley Mall (1233 Rancho Vista Blvd., Palmdale)
  • Pomona Fairplex (Gate 17, West McKinley and Fairplex Drive, Pomona)
  • South Bay Galleria (1815 Hawthorne Blvd., Redondo Beach)
  • Carbon Health in Echo Park — walk-up only (2110 Sunset Blvd., Suite M, Echo Park)
  • Crenshaw Christian Center (7901 S. Vermont Ave., Vermont Knolls)
  • Glendale Memorial Hospital (222 W. Eulalia St., Glendale)
  • Hansen Dam Recreational Center (11798 Foothill Blvd. in Lake View Terrace, entrance on Osborne Street)
  • High Desert Medical Group (43839 15th St. West, Lancaster)
  • Hotchkin Memorial Training Center (1700 Stadium Way, Los Angeles)
  • VA Parking Lot 15 (100 Constitution Ave., Los Angeles)
  • Northridge Hospital Medical Center (18460 Roscoe Blvd., Northridge, enter on Reseda Boulevard)
  • Lincoln Park (3501 Valley Blvd., Los Angeles)
  • AltaMed Medical and Dental Group — Commerce, Goodrich (972 Goodrich Blvd., Commerce)
  • AltaMed Medical Group — Pico Rivera, Passons (6336 Passons Blvd., Pico Rivera)
  • AltaMed Medical and Dental Group — South Gate (8627 Atlantic Ave., South Gate)
  • Long Beach City College (1305 E. Pacific Coast Highway)
  • AltaMed Medical and Dental Group — West Covina (1300 S. Sunset Ave., West Covina)
  • Charles R. Drew campus (1731 E. 120th St., Willowbrook)
  • Santa Clarita (26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Santa Clarita)
  • Pasadena (1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena)
  • East Los Angeles College (1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez in Monterey Park)
  • Warner Center (6097 Canoga Ave. in Woodland Hills)
  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (8730 Alden Drive, Los Angeles)
  • Kedren Community Health Center — walk-up only (4211 Avalon Blvd., Historic South-Central)
  • Altamed Medical Group (2040 Camfield Ave., Commerce)

From Cal/OSHA complaints to uniting with unions, workers can take some action if they feel their workplaces aren’t keeping them safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other essentials

You know you need to wash your hands after going to the grocery store — what about your favorite hoodie? Here’s what we know so far.

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About this page

The Los Angeles Times is providing access to this page for free to all readers. This page was published March 16, 2020. Starting March 17, we updated twice each weekday. Starting April 6, we moved to updating once a day. Starting May 29, we moved to updating weekly. The news and information on this page is written and compiled by Times staffers Jessica Roy, Adrienne Shih, Nicole Santa Cruz, Fidel Martinez, Seth Liss, Lila Seidman, Faith Pinho and Matt Ballinger. Support journalism that makes a difference in our community by purchasing a digital subscription.