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Israeli government warns of fatalities as virus numbers rise
Israel’s health ministry said Wednesday that 90 more people have tested positive for the new coronavirus, bringing the country’s overall number to 427 and sparking fears of a further outbreak, a day after authorities issued a new series of guidelines that out Israelis in near-shutdown mode.
There have been no fatalities so far but with 15 patients in moderate to serious conditions and the number of those infected exponentially rising in recent days, authorities have taken severe measures to stem the spread, warning of catastrophic consequences and thousands of deaths if people don’t follow instructions.
“We have seen what is happening in other countries that did not take these steps. Thousands around the world have already died. As prime minister, I must tell you the truth. To my joy, we have not lost anyone. However, this will not continue,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Tuesday in his daily address to the nation. “This is a huge crisis. We are only at the start of the campaign.”
The new coronavirus has spread to more than 100 countries, infected more than 195,000 people worldwide and killed more than 7,800.
Here are the places that have shelter-in-place orders
Shelter in place counties/cities
Contra Costa County
San Mateo County
Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz County
San Benito County
City of Palm Springs
Ventura County has a shelter in place order for those 75 and older
Schools likely to be closed for the rest of the school year, Newsom says
California public schools are likely to be closed for the remainder of the school year in response to the escalating spread of coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday afternoon.
“I don’t want to mislead you,” he said to parents and educators during an afternoon press conference.
School districts serving about 85% of the students in California have closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the top 25 largest districts, displacing millions of students.
L.A.’s restaurants are barely hanging on. They hope to see you on the other side
There was word earlier in the day that they’d be shutting down the bars. Many braced for what seemed imminent: Restaurants were next.
When L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement to shut down dine-in service at all city restaurants and bars, it was “a gut punch on a Sunday night,” said Sang Yoon, chef and owner of Father’s Office and Lukshon.
It was the latest body blow in a combination of hits L.A.'s dining scene has suffered in the past several weeks (for some, even longer). So much has been going wrong, at all times it seems. The coronavirus pandemic has ripped the city’s restaurants off their moorings, and there has been no time for anyone to adjust.
Trials in L.A. are on pause, but some ‘essential’ court proceedings will continue: ‘It’s unprecedented’
In an unprecedented move, nearly all trials in Los Angeles County will be on hold for at least a month, but a broad swath of services will still be accessible to the public when courthouses reopen Friday, raising concerns about safety measures.
In an order filed Tuesday, Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile said several “essential functions” will continue to be processed, including civil and family restraining orders, emergency petitions for temporary conservatorships and guardianships, arraignments, search warrants, preliminary hearings, bail and bond processing, grand jury indictments and criminal jury trials where there is no agreement to delay the case.
Brazile’s order appeared to be a compromise between limiting the number of people in courthouses — no jurors or prospective jurors were to report to any of the county courthouses until at least April 16 — while maintaining core functions of the legal system.
“This order will allow us to comply with social distancing and to prevent the spread of the virus within our community,” Brazile said in the statement.
The Times has posted the full order online, and it lists new extended deadlines. For example, any temporary restraining order set to expire will be extended by 21 days. Whereas defendants charged with a felony previously had 48 hours to appear before a magistrate, that deadline has been lengthened to seven days.
Scenes from a very empty Las Vegas Strip
Orange County issues new restrictions for residents
Orange County has executed new restrictions for its more than 3 million residents, county officials announced Monday afternoon.
“This prohibition applies to all professional, social and community gatherings, regardless of their sponsor, that are not engaged in essential activities,” the order states.
Health officials directed the closure of bars and other alcohol-serving establishments that don’t serve food. The order also prohibits restaurants from provide on-site dining. Only curbside service and takeout are now allowed.
“Any person who violates or who refuses or willfully neglects to obey this regulation is subject to fine, imprisonment, or both,” the order states. It cites California’s Government Code, which provides for fines of up to $1,000, six months in jail or both.
“We are taking these mitigation steps in line with a directive issued by Governor Newsom to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” Orange County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said in a statement. “We recognize community members may experience anxiety related to the social disruption caused by COVID-19, and want to encourage residents to reach out to loved ones using appropriate methods like telephone, video messaging, email and text.”
* An earlier story reported that Orange County issued a shelter-in-place order. This has been corrected to reflect new restrictions that fall short of a shelter-in-place order.
Palm Springs issues shelter-in-place order after third death in Coachella Valley
At an emergency city council meeting Monday morning, Palm Springs city leaders issued an order advising all residents to shelter-in-place and limit their activities.
The order comes as Riverside County officials confirm a third person has died as a result of COVID-19 in the Coachella Valley.
The emergency order directs all non-essential businesses to close to the public. Twenty-one “essential types of businesses,” including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, gas stations and health services, will be allowed to stay open. The city plans to outline further details about which businesses can remain open later Monday on its website.
“40% of our residents are aged 60 and above. We also have many with underlying chronic health issues and compromised immune systems. The Coachella Valley has 17 individuals who have tested positive and three deaths in past 24 hours. We also had three firefighters quarantined due to exposure to someone who tested positive. These all resulted in my calling the emergency meeting and Council taking the action we did,” Palm Springs Mayor George Kors said.
“We are working with our senior center and the county to help our senior population and high risk populations and many organizations, businesses and residents are stepping up to help as well.”
The order goes into effect at 7 a.m. Wednesday and will remain in effect until April 2.
At the council meeting April 2, city leaders will consider whether they need to extend the measure.
New supermarket hours for seniors and other at-risk groups
Some Southern California supermarkets are establishing store hours exclusively for seniors, pregnant women and people with disabilities.
Northgate Market has already implemented its daily 7 to 8 a.m. window for “senior citizens and disabled customers.” Starting tomorrow, all 50 locations of Vallarta Supermarkets will follow suit with the same time frame and will include pregnant women as well. All Gelson’s locations will begin a seniors-only shopping hour tomorrow as well starting at 7 a.m.
The three markets define seniors as those 65 years and older and all recommend bringing identification, as it may be checked.
Orange County-based Mother’s Markets has established a “Safe Shop” program for “elderly, disabled, those with compromised immune systems, chemo patients, etc.” every Wednesday from 6 to 7 a.m. and free home delivery for the same population.
Store representatives from Whole Foods in Burbank and Beverly Hills said 7 to 8 a.m. would be for at-risk shoppers only. The store manager of the Beverly Hills location anticipated the same would be implemented chainwide in Southern California soon.
Ruoqui Lial, the marketing director of 99 Ranch, said all of its stores nationwide would begin a similar initiative starting Monday. The company is finalizing details now.
Most supermarkets across Southern California have modified hours generally; be sure to check their websites for updates.
Albertsons Companies family of more than 2,200 stores nationwide (including Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions in Southern California) are offering special hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 7-9 a.m. for vulnerable community members, including seniors.
Texas prepares alternatives if hospitals become overwhelmed by patients
If Texas hospitals become overwhelmed by coronavirus patients, officials are preparing to offer alternatives, including medical tents, rehabilitation centers or re-opening shuttered medical facilities. So far, Texas has 64 confirmed coronavirus cases.
“For people who test positive who need to be in isolation but don’t need critical care, we are looking at the possibility of using hotels and motels in various regions across the entire state of Texas,” Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday after teleconferencing with hospital leaders from across the state.
Abbott said officials also discussed the need to staff and provide childcare for workers at any newly opened facilities as well as ways to increase capacity at existing hospitals. Abbott announced a temporary waiver that eliminated fees and paperwork for hospitals to increase unused bed capacity.
“Texas is ensuring our hospitals are able to care for those who contract COVID-19, while maintaining normal health care operations,” Abbott said.
Trump administration considers mobilizing National Guard
The Trump administration is considering mobilizing the National Guard to help amid the coronavirus crisis and is readying two hospital ships to treat patients, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday.
More than 1,500 Guard members have already been activated in 18 states to aid the anti-virus effort, Esper said. They are providing personnel for drive-through virus-testing sites and emergency operations centers, as well as sanitizing public areas and transporting healthcare workers.
The federal mobilization under consideration by the Pentagon would put reserve soldiers under control of the president and enable them to deploy outside their state to assist with planning, logistics and medical support. The deployment would be paid for by the federal government, rather than the states.
Esper briefed Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the coronavirus task force Monday.
The Navy is preparing its two hospital ships, the Comfort and the Mercy, for potential deployments along the East and West coasts to help support patients who aren’t suffering from the virus, easing the strain on civilian hospitals, Esper said.
Each ship has a 1,000-bed capacity, but it takes a week or more to mobilize active-duty and reserve personnel to staff the vessels. The military could also erect field hospitals in addition to the hospital ships, but those facilities are optimized for trauma cases, not for infectious patients, officials said.
“What I don’t want to do is take reservists from a hospital where they are needed just to put them on a ship to take them somewhere else where they’re needed,” Esper told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
Mercy is based at Naval Station San Diego, and Comfort is at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
Cooped up, bored and on a budget? Here’s how to stream TV without paying a dime
The reality is starting to set in: Coronavirus has a lot of people stuck at home. Sports are shut down. Some people are temporarily out of work or might be soon. Budgets for luxuries — like premium TV —are tightening.
So how do we stay entertained without breaking the bank with $20-a-pop movies on demand? Streaming services, of course.
It turns out that if you string together various streamers’ current free-trial offers just right, you can have a pandemic’s worth of entertainment without paying a dime.
In San Francisco Bay Area, compliance with ‘shelter in place’ order is uneven
SAN FRANCISCO — Emergency orders further upended normal life across the greater San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday, as businesses, schools and other institutions closed and the number of coronavirus cases continued to creep up.
Seven Bay Area counties on Monday ordered residents to “shelter in place” until at least April 7, going out only for essential needs, such as visiting grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors and relatives. Officials say the order seeks to prevent COVID-19 from overwhelming the healthcare system of a region where 7 million people live.
San Francisco opened at least 37 recreation sites as emergency child care centers, as did other cities wanting to serve families needing to work while their children are out of school. The Bay Area Rapid Transit system continued to operate, while ferry operators reduced services. Shelters remained open for the homeless, who, having no roofs over their heads, are exempt from the order to stay home.
Italy sees wartime-era stress at hospitals — and cemeteries
ROME — In parts of Italy, the coronavirus means the local cemetery keeps its crematorium running 24 hours, the newspaper adds far more obituary space than normal, and families yearn to touch loved ones in hospital isolation wards.
Hospital staffs often find themselves filling in where relatives and spiritual leaders cannot, even as they face their own risk of infection.
In some cases, doctors in overflowing hospitals are facing the toughest choice of their lives by determining which patient gets a lifesaving ventilator when there are not enough for everyone in need.
That is the kind of wartime decision-making that is now part of the shift at Bergamo’s Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital, where Dr. Fabiano di Marco has not had a day off since Feb. 21, the day the city realized the virus was in its midst.
Beverly Hills officials order nonessential businesses to close
Beverly Hills is ordering Rodeo Drive retailers and most plastic surgeons’ offices shuttered amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Beverly Hills City Council approved the measure, joining many other California cities in closing down commerce in the short term, and declared a local emergency.
All nonessential retail businesses, including those on Rodeo Drive, will be closed except for pick-up, delivery and certain transactions by appointment, the city directed.
Also all bars and nightclubs in the city that do not serve food are to be closed to the public. Restaurants can offer food to customers via delivery service or takeout. Dine-in food service is prohibited.
Cinemas and gyms have also been shuttered, along with nail salons, hair salons and massage parlors. Beverly Hills’ array of plastic surgeons will see their doors shut as services are prohibited including “all elective medical and surgical procedures” as well as “all elective dental procedures.”
Marriott to furlough tens of thousands; other hotels to close
With the travel industry staggered by the coronavirus outbreak, Marriott International said Tuesday it planned to furlough tens of thousands of workers in the face of unprecedented booking cancellations.
The world’s largest hotel company, with 30 hotel brands and more than 7,000 properties worldwide, confirmed reports that it would be forced by a surge in cancellations to either cut back work hours or issue furloughs to a large portion of its workforce. Marriott International employed 174,000 people around the world at the end of 2019, according to securities filings.
“We are adjusting global operations accordingly, which has meant either reduction in hours or a temporary leave for many of our associates at our properties,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “Our associates will keep their health benefit during this difficult period and continue to be eligible for company-paid free short-term disability that provide income protection should they get sick.”
Negative rates may come to U.S., with pain for money market funds, other savings
Mattresses full of money, getting paid to take out a mortgage, surging demand for safe-deposit boxes — these are some of the ideas people have about what happens when interest rates turn negative.
Just a few months ago, such scenes — at least in the U.S. — seemed unthinkable. But with Treasury yields tumbling and the Federal Reserve abruptly slashing rates to near zero on Sunday, Americans may soon get a taste of them firsthand.
Panic over the coronavirus and its threat to the global economy has made the prospect of negative rates in the U.S. at once all too real. Americans are currently staring at Treasury yields closer to zero than they were during the 2008 financial crisis. JPMorgan Chase & Co. says the odds are rising that T-bills will go negative and hurt savers in the $3.8-trillion money-market-fund industry. Indeed, traders in Asia woke Monday to quotes below zero on some bills.
The L.A. City Council met inside City Hall. The public had to watch remotely outside, under a tent
Los Angeles City Council meetings typically draw a feisty crowd ready to sound off about planned housing developments, lawsuit settlements and city contracts.
Tuesday’s meeting was held with new measures meant to curb the spread of COVID-19: Amid the unprecedented shutdown of Los Angeles businesses and schools amid the coronavirus crisis, city officials erected a tent outside City Hall so the public could watch the meeting on a video screen and comment remotely to the city’s 15 council members.
Several speakers complained about the setup, arguing it was unfair and disenfranchising. “Keeping the public outside of a public meeting in 52-degree weather with no heaters and no bathrooms is not a pandemic response, it’s oppression!” said Sabrina Johnson, a member of the homeless advocacy group KTown for All.
Rob Quan of the Unrig L.A. coalition also complained that there were no restrooms and questioned whether the site was accessible to people with disabilities. Shortly after he spoke, a city attorney said there was a wheelchair lift by the outdoor steps.
U.S. delays April 15 tax payment deadline by 90 days for millions
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Tuesday that his department was pushing back the April 15 deadline to pay taxes owed, giving individuals and many businesses 90 extra days to send checks to the government.
Individuals can defer up to $1 million of tax liability and corporations get an extension on up to $10 million, Mnuchin said.
“All you have to do is file your taxes,” he said. “You’ll automatically not get charged interest and penalties.”
The payment extension, which affects millions of taxpayers, is part of the Trump administration’s effort to curb the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Mnuchin said the delay would free up $300 billion of liquidity in the economy as individuals and businesses had more time to pay their taxes.
‘Your actions are jeopardizing public health!’: Last call in New Orleans as police disperse crowds
NEW ORLEANS —Over the past 180 years, the family that runs Antoine’s, a bastion of the French Quarter, managed to keep the restaurant open despite the Civil War, two World Wars, Prohibition, the Great Depression and Hurricane Katrina — but not the coronavirus.
This week, with three deaths and 136 coronavirus cases statewide, most in the New Orleans area, Louisiana’s governor closed bars and restricted restaurants to takeout orders until April 13 to prevent the disease’s spread. Antoine’s shut indefinitely.
“Who’s going to come and get a pompano Pontchartrain takeout?” owner Lisa Blount said as she sipped her last wine Monday night. “I can’t give you Antoine’s on Grub Hub.”
Few U.S. cities are as dependent on fine dining and drinking to drive tourism and the local economy as is New Orleans. The coronavirus arrived during peak spring tourist season, forcing the postponement of a slew of events including the French Quarter Festival and leaving the fate of others like Jazz Fest in doubt. And this week’s sudden closures are likely a preview of what’s to come for other cities, imperiling culinary institutions and leaving hundreds of the chefs, bartenders, waiters and kitchen staff they rely on adrift.
Column: The pandemic points out our preparedness gaps. If only it was a practice run
This is not a test. This is not a drill. This is the real thing. If only it weren’t.
We are learning so much so fast about what we need to have in place when a pandemic happens, only it has happened and a lot of us weren’t prepared — or were prepared but for very different disasters, for the grab-your-most-important-papers fires and keep-your-shoes-by-your-bed earthquakes.
The coronavirus is requiring us to be ready in new ways — and we are trying, we’re adapting fast, but the pandemic may be spreading faster.
There are things we were supposed to have taken care of earlier for that long-expected guest that we’ve always called the Big One: stocking up on the basics — the water, the toilet paper, the batteries, the canned goods.
These are the celebrities who have tested positive
Screen icon Tom Hanks stunned the world last week when he announced that he and wife and actress Rita Wilson had tested positive for the coronavirus — the first stars to go public with their diagnoses.
Since then, a handful of celebrities have revealed that they, too, have contracted the respiratory illness, with varying symptomatic effects.
From a Bond girl to a “Game of Thrones” wildling, here are all the known famous coronavirus patients so far.