Coronavirus will likely close schools for the rest of the school year, Newsom says

The latest updates from our reporters in California and around the world

A coronavirus drive-through test clinic at the San Mateo County Event Center.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Times will provide around-the-clock updates on COVID-19 from across Southern California and around the world.

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.

Column: Lakers’ possible exposure to coronavirus shows seriousness of this pandemic

The imaginary barrier that separates the Lakers from the people who admire them has been breached.

LeBron James will be tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday as will Anthony Davis and every other player in Los Angeles’ signature sports franchise.

The gravity of the pandemic had started to set in over the previous few days as emergencies were declared, schools were closed and stores ran out of toilet paper.

Now this.

The medical experts were right. The disease spreads easily and doesn’t discriminate.

Like millions of other Americans, the Lakers might have been exposed to the virus at work, specifically in their last game before the NBA suspended its season.


Nevada orders all casinos, bars, restaurants closed as U.S. coronavirus cases surge

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has ordered the statewide shutdown of all casino and gambling operations as of midnight, another startling indication of the economic and cultural impact the coronavirus is exacting on American life.

Gambling ventures will be shuttered for 30 days, said Sisolak, who also ordered that other nonessential businesses, including bars and restaurants, will be forced to close as of noon Wednesday. Businesses such as hospitals, gas stations and grocery stores will remain open. Restaurants and bars that serve food will have to close or transition to delivery and takeout only.

“Today additional steps must be taken to slow the spread of the virus in our state,” the governor said.

Showing flashes of anger at times, Sisolak spoke of the need to protect medical professionals and first responders to the coronavirus pandemic. “You’re being told not to go out,” he said, and then repeated: “You’re being told not to go out. You owe it to them to listen to that directive.


Checks to Americans will ease the coronavirus slump, but it may not be much of an economic stimulus

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s proposal to send checks to virtually every American adult would probably be a godsend to millions of lower-income households threatened by nationwide shutdowns and social distancing in response to the coronavirus.

The lump-sum payments, the exact size of which has yet to be determined, are a key element in the administration’s latest effort to offset the cascading economic damage triggered by the pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who was in Capitol Hill discussing the proposal with lawmakers, said that the White House plan was to send the checks in the next two weeks.

Economists said that based on the $250-billion cost of the program, that would translate to about $1,000 per person if every American over 18 got a payment.

“It’s certainly a beginning. It’s necessary. It’s vitally important to put money into pockets of people who are likely to spend it,” said Robert Reich, the former Labor secretary in the Clinton administration and a public policy professor at UC Berkeley. “The more people who have this kind of economic security, the better off all of us would be.”

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Here are the places that have shelter-in-place orders

Shelter in place counties/cities
Sonoma County
Marin County
San Francisco
Contra Costa County
Alameda County
San Mateo County
Santa Clara County
Santa Cruz County
Monterey 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.

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All 50 states now have coronavirus cases

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — All 50 U.S. states now have confirmed cases of the new coronavirus as West Virginia’s governor announced the first positive test in his state on Tuesday evening.

Gov. Jim Justice said the person with the virus is in the state’s Eastern Panhandle, a region close to Washington, D.C., though he didn’t disclose the county where it was reported.

Justice used a televised address to announce new restrictions, ordering bars, restaurants and casinos to close with the exception of carry-out food services. He did not address delivery services.

“This is real and it’s really concerning,” the governor said.

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.

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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.

Read all the details of the order from Orange County officials.

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.

Bellagio fountains shut, Venetian joins hotels closing over coronavirus

The Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas closed Monday night after hotel-casinos continued to take precautions over the coronavirus crisis. The dancing waters and namesake hotel as well as 14 other resorts were closed or planning to close as of Tuesday afternoon. The Venetian was the latest to decide to shut down for awhile.

MGM Resorts turned off the fountains for operational reasons. But it also will deter the typically large crowds on the sidewalk along Las Vegas Boulevard each afternoon and evening. At present, large gatherings run contrary to social distancing recommendations made by public health officials.

The novel coronavirus has had a huge impact on Vegas’ big hotels. Roughly half the resorts along the Strip will be dark as of Tuesday evening. The Venetian, which includes Palazzo, announced Tuesday afternoon that it is closing the Strip resorts at least until April 1.

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Pentagon mobilizes 1,500 National Guard troops to help battle coronavirus

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Tuesday it has mobilized 1,500 National Guard troops to help fight the coronavirus epidemic, but the top federal official for infectious diseases warned that it’s too soon to know whether a raft of strict restrictions on normal American life is slowing the infection rate.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it may take “several weeks and maybe longer” before it’s clear whether the closure of schools and businesses and other widespread disruptions to the U.S. society and economy are “having an effect” on the deadly COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.

Appearing at a White House briefing with members of the coronavirus task force, Fauci hesitated to say when he expected coronavirus cases to peak, although he suggested 45 days “is not unreasonable.”

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Hollywood Burbank Airport nearly empty during coronavirus pandemic

Hollywood Burbank Airport had its best performing year with nearly 6 million passengers in 2019, but the scene at the facility Tuesday morning suggests this year’s stats will look entirely different.

Airline employees stood behind their ticket counters, but there were few passengers waiting to check in. The valet parking section of the facility, which usually has at least 30 vehicles queued and waiting, was completely empty.

The restaurants within Terminal A were without customers, with only a handful of people getting drinks at a bar. Most of the passengers who were there waiting for their flights kept their distance from one another, and some wore masks and gloves.

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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.

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Do not ask Vanessa Hudgens for coronavirus tips. She’s terrible at it

Really, Vanessa Hudgens? Some comments are so tacky that no context can excuse them.

Take, for example, flippant remarks about people dying from coronavirus.

The “High School Musical” actress landed in hot water when she did an Instagram Live on Monday night. We can’t embed the video because she cusses, so you’ll have to imagine Hudgens’ glassy eyes, occasionally squeaky voice and multiple hair fluffs.

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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.

Youth in detention should be released to reduce coronavirus risk, advocates say

As coronavirus cases continue to rise and government-ordered restrictions paralyze daily life across the state, juvenile justice advocates are urging officials to protect the mental and physical safety of California’s thousands of detained youth.

In recent days, defense attorneys have combed through their caseloads seeking to expedite the release of juveniles in custody. They point to the virus’ ability to spread quickly in congested areas and the risk that suspension of family visits could dangerously isolate children even further.

“Being in these facilities for these kids is really, really stressfu,l and the only time they have felt any type of letting down of their guard was when they were visiting with their friends and families,” said Ji Seon Song, president of the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center, an organization that provides guidance to juvenile defense attorneys in California. “It seems like a very harsh, counterproductive measure and just a really sad thing for our clients.”

In a letter Monday to state and local officials, Song’s group called for the immediate release of all youth held in county facilities who have not been convicted of their charge and all youth who have been convicted and are being held on technical probation violations. It also called for the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice facilities to release youth who would not pose a serious physical safety risk to the community.

Among a series of recommendations, the letter said that all arresting agencies should move to cite and release certain youth instead of booking them and potentially introducing to the virus to juvenile detention facilities.


Trump administration considers mobilizing National Guard

The U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort could be used for coronavirus patients.
The U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort could be used for coronavirus patients, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.

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.

NCAA suspends acceptance of national letters of intent because of coronavirus outbreak

The acceptance of national letters of intent for NCAA Division I and II sports has been suspended until at least April 15 as a result of the emergency recruiting dead period that began last week in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Collegiate Commissioners Assn. announced Tuesday.

The suspension will be reevaluated on or before April 15.

Any letters of intent signed by prospective college athletes before Monday will be managed through the normal validation process with the conference office.

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Idris Elba dispels ‘weird myth’ that black people are immune to coronavirus

(Olivier Anrigo / EPA)

Actor Idris Elba went live on Twitter to offer updates on his well-being and dispel a “weird myth” he’s noticed since revealing he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Something that’s sort of scaring me when I read the comments and see some of the reactions is: my people — black people, black people — please, please understand that coronavirus ... you can get it, all right?” he said in the first of two lengthy video chats conducted Tuesday afternoon. “There are so many stupid, ridiculous conspiracy theories about black people not being able to get it. That’s dumb, stupid.

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How is social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak affecting you? Share your stories

The new coronavirus is here and it’s not going away soon. We want to hear your stories about how the outbreak has affected you. California has called for a ban on gatherings of 250 or more people, travel from Europe has been suspended by President Trump and the World Health Organization has called the disease caused by the coronavirus a pandemic.

Events around L.A. and the nation have been canceled or postponed, including conferences, concerts and sporting events. Companies are encouraging workers to stay home in hopes of protecting workers from the spreading coronavirus as doctors and health officials work to create a vaccine.

Social distancing and in some cases, extended quarantines, have upended daily routines. We want to hear from you on the unique ways that you are experiencing isolation.


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.


Four Brooklyn Nets players have tested positive for the coronavirus

Four players on the Brooklyn Nets, whose last game was played against the Los Angeles Lakers, have tested positive for the coronavirus, the team announced on Tuesday.

The players haven’t been named.

The Nets beat the Lakers at Staples Center one week ago.

Of the four players, the team said, one is exhibiting symptoms. All four are currently in isolation and under the care of team doctors.


School closures: L.A. Unified mobilizes to feed hungry kids despite coronavirus

The Los Angeles school district on Tuesday was ramping up “grab and go” food services to help feed more than half a million children displaced by the closing of schools due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Starting on Wednesday, parents and students can pick up food at 60 sites scattered throughout the nation’s second-largest school district. A complete list and map of locations in Los Angeles and information about other resources have been published on the district website.

More than 85% of school districts in California have been closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including the top 25 largest districts, serving millions of students. Teachers in most closed schools are trying to continue instruction through online coursework and extended homework assignments. L.A. Unified also has partnered with PBS SoCal to provide expanded educational programming.


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.


L.A. County confirms 50 new coronavirus cases as California death toll rises to 11

L.A. County announced 50 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the county’s total to more than 140.

“We continue to see a huge increase in the number of cases,” public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said during a news conference Tuesday, adding that the rise in numbers is largely due to the increased capacity for testing.

Ferrer stressed the need for people to stay home, including anyone who is sick.

“If you’re sick and you’re an essential worker, please don’t come to work,” she said. “We cannot have people that are sick, even with mild illness, going about their business.”


Beverly Hills officials order nonessential businesses to close

A Rolls Royce is parked on Rodeo Drive in 2013. 
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

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.”


MLB teams to pay $1 million each to help ballpark workers during coronavirus hiatus

On the day after Major League Baseball conceded the delay in its season could last months rather than weeks, each team has agreed to contribute $1 million to a fund to assist ballpark workers who suddenly have themselves out of work because of the coronavirus hiatus.

In a statement Tuesday, commissioner Rob Manfred said representatives of all 30 teams had reached out to him over the previous 48 hours about how to “help assist the thousands of ballpark employees” affected by the delay.

On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended sporting events and other large gatherings be called off through at least May 9. On Monday, Manfred said MLB would follow that recommendation.

Manfred said the owners were “motivated by desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community.”

Manfred said each club would announce details particular to their community, and with respect for state and local laws as well as collective bargaining agreements.


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.


Column: In coronavirus bailouts of big business, here’s what we should demand in return

It’s probable that not even the Atomic Clock has the ability to keep up with the speed with which major American corporations extended their hands for government bailouts in the novel coronavirus crisis.

So far, we’ve heard from the airline, hotel, casino and cruise ship industries, all of which assert that they’re facing immense losses and even bankruptcy as the lockdown of American and international economies take hold.

Surely there will be more, since the Trump administration has been signaling its willingness to listen.

Lonely joggers and fretful bakers: The coronavirus is hitting the Middle East hard

BEIRUT —The coronavirus has turned bustling Beirut into a timid capital: You can see it in the lone jogger on the city’s normally crowded seaside corniche; in the absence of gray-haired habitués from their haunts. You could also spot it in Abu Shadi, the outgoing neighborhood baker secretly handing a box of cheese-and-spinach pies to a customer as if it were something illicit.

“We’re supposed to be closed, but — quickly! — take this and go,” he said, looking down the street as a patrol car approached. The buyer hid the box under his arm, scurrying away. Abu Shadi looked sheepish as he lowered the bakery’s shutters moments before the police drove by.

Beirut residents often boast that even at the height of the 15-year civil war the city never shut down. They take pride in the Lebanese capital’s party-while-the-bombs-fall attitude. Yet there is decidedly less partying now, with the coronavirus bringing a calculus that conflict did not. For Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries, the race to slow the spread of the disease — to “flatten the curve” — has turned desperate, as governments fear the pandemic will overwhelm health systems battered by instability and deal death blows to economies already on the brink.

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.

From hope to heartache at Trader Joe’s for seniors looking for a break amid coronavirus panic buying

Julie Carol was in good spirits Tuesday morning as she approached the front of Trader Joe’s in Monrovia. The 71-year-old would finally get that elusive carton of eggs.

As fear of the coronavirus continues to change people’s everyday lives, some grocery stores recently announced they’d host special shopping hours for senior citizens.

Word had gotten out that those 65 and older would have a special 30-minute time slot to purchase groceries at Trader Joe’s in Monrovia before it opened to the general public at 9:30 AM.

Very quickly, the mood went from hope to confusion and heartache. And anger.

A Trader Joe’s employee on site told those gathered that to his knowledge no such special shopping hours had been planned.

Mexico and El Salvador clash over airplane passengers purportedly infected with coronavirus

MEXICO CITY —Amid mounting global dread about coronavirus, the 12 young airline passengers apparently stirred scrutiny because of their facial attire — they all donned protective masks.

According to Mexican authorities, that was the origin of suspicions that led El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele on Monday to air an incendiary accusation: Twelve travelers with COVID-19 were about to board an Avianca jet Monday afternoon from Mexico City to San Salvador.

“I ask all the people who are thinking of boarding that flight, DON’T DO IT,” tweeted Bukele, who denounced Mexican officials as “irresponsible” for allowing the dozen “confirmed positive” individuals to travel freely.

“Those who board the flight are putting their families’ lives at grave risk,” the Salvadoran president wrote. “The crew is also at risk. … These patients should be isolated, not circulating in the airport.”

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.

The coronavirus will hit Hollywood assistants hard. Activists are raising money to help

Activists who have been advocating for the rights of assistants in Hollywood’s film and television industry have created a relief fund to help these low paid workers during the Covid-19 crisis.

The three women who have been spearheading the movement know as #Payuphollywood — Liz Alper, Jamarah Hayner and Deidre Mangan — along with a group of leading TV writers and others, launched a GoFundMe site to raise money for assistants who face lost work as productions shut down.

The Junior Hollywood Radio & Television Society and YEA!, a nonprofit organization supporting activism in the entertainment industry, also are backing the fundraising effort.