Coronavirus updates: New closures, restrictions for Easter Sunday in California

A man arranges shopping carts at a "disinfectant unit" at a  Brussels supermarket Friday.
(AFP/Getty Images)

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

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

Coronavirus updates for April 9 are here

Former chief rabbi of Israel dies of coronavirus

JERUSALEM — Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, a former chief rabbi of Israel, has died from COVID-19, hospital officials say.

Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center said Bakshi-Doron died late Sunday, several days after he was admitted to the hospital with the coronavirus. It said he had suffered from underlying health problems. Israeli media said Bakshi-Doron was 79.

Bakshi-Doron served as Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi, representing Jews of Middle Eastern ancestry, from 1993 to 2003. He held a number of other key roles, including the head of Israel’s rabbinic court system, and was active in interfaith causes.

In 2017, he was fined and sentenced to probation for his role in a scheme that allowed policemen to receive fraudulent educational credentials that enabled them to obtain pay raises. He remained a popular and respected figure with much of the public.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remembered Bakshi-Doron as a warm person and a gifted religious scholar. “His essence was wisdom, tolerance and love for the people and the country,” he said.

Israel has reported more than 11,000 cases of the coronavirus and 104 deaths. Its ultra-Orthodox religious community has been especially hard hit by the outbreak.


France’s death toll nears 14,400 as intensive care admissions drop slightly

PARIS — The overall death toll in France from the coronavirus has risen to nearly 14,400, but for the fourth day in a row, slightly fewer people were admitted into intensive care, giving health officials a reason to grasp for good news.

Sunday’s statistics issued by the Health Ministry confirm that the country is reaching a “very high plateau” and reflect initial signs that nearly four weeks of confinement and the “drastic reduction in contacts” are producing an effect, a statement said.

Strict confinement measures began March 17, were renewed once and are expected to be extended again, with a likely announcement to the nation Monday by President Emmanuel Macron.

Since March 1, hospitals and nursing homes have counted 14,393 deaths.

Of the 31,836 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, more than 1,600 were admitted in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.

Still, with more than 6,800 patients being treated in intensive care Sunday, that was 35 people fewer than a day earlier, a ray of hope for overworked health workers and authorities looking for small signs of change.

Since the start of the epidemic in France, more than 95,400 people have been infected.


China reports more than 100 new coronavirus cases, most of them imported

BEIJING — China on Monday reported 108 new cases of coronavirus infection, 98 of them imported.

Of the new domestic cases, seven were recorded in the northern province of Heilongjiang, which borders on Russia, and three in the southern business bub of Guangzhou, which is close to Hong Kong. Two more deaths were reported in the former epicenter city of Wuhan, bringing China’s totals since the illness emerged in December to 3,341 deaths among 82,160 official cases.

Most patients in China have recovered, and the final travel restrictions in Wuhan were lifted last week. But China has continued to see new cases in travelers arriving from abroad.

Social distancing, temperature checks and other measures remain in effect while businesses are reopening and people resume work and other activities.


Christians mark an Easter like no other

NEW YORK — Christians around the world celebrated Easter Sunday isolated in their homes by the coronavirus while pastors preached the faith’s joyous news of Christ’s resurrection to empty pews. One Florida church drew a large turnout for a drive-in service in a parking lot.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the first major world leader to test positive for the virus, was released from a London hospital after a week during which he spent some time in the intensive care unit and was given oxygen at one point. He credited health workers for saving his life and especially thanked two nurses who stood by his bedside for 48 hours “when things could have gone either way.”

The strangeness of this Easter was evident at the Vatican. St. Peter’s Square, where tens of thousands would normally gather to hear Pope Francis, was empty, ringed by police barricades. Francis celebrated Easter Mass inside the largely vacant basilica.

In his address, the pope called for global solidarity to confront the “epochal challenge” of the pandemic. He urged political leaders to give hope and opportunity to the millions laid off work.

Read more >>>


Faithful find creative ways to celebrate Easter together, separately

When Archbishop José H. Gomez stepped to the lectern Easter Sunday, his view from the pulpit differed from years past. The pews inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, where generations of faithful once sat awaiting his holiday message, were now barren.

“It is a different celebration this year because almost everyone all over the world has been forced to celebrate this Easter Sunday in their homes,” Los Angeles’ archbishop said. “Because, as we know, our world is shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.”

This year, his audience watched from their homes as the archdiocese streamed the service online at a time when people across Southern California were forced to alter their Easter plans amid orders to self-quarantine.

As state and local officials ramp up restrictions on Californians’ movements, most houses of worship have moved their services, classes and prayer groups online.

Read more >>>


Silver Lake reservoir path made one-way over worries about crowding during coronavirus

The popular walking path around the Silver Lake Reservoir remained open but was converted to a one-way-only trail Saturday in an effort to improve social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Pedestrians were required to walk counterclockwise, stay six feet apart and wear masks.

“If we can all walk in the same direction, practice social distancing and wear face masks, everyone will remain healthy and have these options to exercise during the pandemic,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said in a video posted to social media Saturday.

Read more >>>


New York sees potential slowing of coronavirus outbreak

As churches across the U.S. held Easter services online, New York officials voiced cautious optimism Sunday that the spread of coronavirus might be slowing in the nation’s hardest-hit state.

New York continued to lead the country with 8,650 deaths, but significant indicators including hospitalizations and ICU admissions have increased at a lower rate over the last three days.

“It’s all reinforcing the same thing,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “You’re not seeing a great decline in the numbers, but you’re seeing a flattening.”

There was similar hope from New Jersey, though Gov. Phil Murphy told CBS news that his state was still “fighting to stay ahead” of the need for hospital beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment and healthcare workers.

Read more >>>


Health officials caution against talk of quickly reopening businesses

WASHINGTON — Senior U.S. health officials and some governors on Sunday warned against a too-rapid easing of restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus, while President Trump’s wished-for Easter date for reopening the economy passed with most Americans remaining at home.

Following a week in which the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 soared above 20,000 — a doubling of the fatality total a week earlier — there were growing signs that the numbers of new hospitalizations and patients needing critical care were easing, even in New York, which accounts for about half of the country’s diagnosed cases.

In an Easter message, Trump telegraphed his continued hopes for a quick end to stay-at-home restrictions that have largely shuttered the U.S. economy. That has propelled joblessness to levels not seen since the Great Depression, with more than 16 million people seeking unemployment benefits.

Read more >>>


6 shot at a large party in Bakersfield, where there’s a ban on all gatherings

Six people were shot shortly after midnight Saturday at a party attended by dozens of people at a Bakersfield apartment complex, authorities said.

Deputies found six victims including a girl at the scene of the large private gathering in the 3500 block of Pioneer Drive, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Adult victims of the shooting included four women and a man.

Paramedics took the victims to a local hospital, where they were treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, authorities said. The suspects remain at large. They’re described as four men driving a white sedan.

The party occurred despite the county’s April 2 ban on all public and private gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak.


Fear of ‘Wild West’ as coronavirus blood tests hit the market

Blood tests for the coronavirus could play a key role in deciding whether millions of Americans can safely return to work and school. But public health officials warn that the current “Wild West” of unregulated tests is creating confusion that could slow the path to recovery.

More than 70 companies have signed up to sell so-called antibody tests in recent weeks, according to U.S. regulators. Governments around the world hope that the rapid tests, which typically use a finger-prick of blood on a test strip, could soon ease public restrictions by identifying people who have had the virus and have developed some immunity to it.

But key questions remain: How accurate are the tests, how much protection is needed and how long will that protection last?

Read more >>>


Comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor of the Goodies dies after contracting COVID-19

LONDON —British performer Tim Brooke-Taylor, a member of comedy trio The Goodies, has died after contracting the new coronavirus. He was 79.

Brooke-Taylor’s agent says he died Sunday morning “from COVID-19.”

Brooke-Taylor was part of Cambridge University’s Footlights revue, the breeding ground of several generations of British comic talent. He broke into radio and television comedy in the 1960s alongside future Monty Python members John Cleese and Graham Chapman.

Read more >>>


NBA’s plans for resuming season, holding the draft and free agency remain uncertain

In and around the NBA, there’s enthusiasm to pick up a basketball and move toward the conclusion of the 2019-20 season — a conclusion that could settle debates about the Lakers and the Clippers, about LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, about the long-term feasibility of the Philadelphia 76ers and the promise of the Boston Celtics.

Inside of front offices, there’s enthusiasm to find out what’s next — to know when the season will restart, how the league will make it work. What about the draft? What about free agency? What about the salary cap?

Players, coaches, front office personnel and employees all want answers. But conversations with people with knowledge of the NBA’s plans all point in one direction — no one knows what’s next and when “next” will happen.

That ball that everyone wants to pick up? It doesn’t even have air in it yet — the country still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic that’s shut down all but the most essential businesses. It’s why the league remains in a holding pattern — planning for a reboot it knows might not come this year.

Read more >>>


Easter brings new coronavirus restrictions and closures across California

Communities across California ushered in Easter with new restrictions on movements as officials tried to keep people indoors and away from gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

On Easter Sunday, to deter crowds from gathering for traditional outdoor observances, all L.A. County botanical gardens, lakes and parks are closed to the public. Many other cities are following suit, and officials warned authorities would be out in force to make sure people didn’t use the facilities.

“Your heart breaks…. This is such a great tradition for the many families we have,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said last week in announcing the order. “But we can’t afford to have one cluster of even just a few people together spread this disease to more people and kill them.”

Read more >>>


From the Black Death to AIDS, pandemics have shaped human history. Coronavirus will too

Hernan Cortés fled the Aztec capital Tenochtitlán in 1520 under blistering military assault, losing the bulk of his troops on his escape to the coast.

But the Spanish conquistador unknowingly left behind a weapon far more devastating than guns and swords: smallpox.

When he returned to retake the city, it was reeling amid an epidemic that would level the Aztec population, destroy its power structures and lead to an empire’s brutal defeat — initiating a centuries-long annihilation of native societies from Tierra del Fuego to the Bering Strait.

From the Plague of Justinian and the Black Death to polio and AIDS, pandemics have violently reshaped civilization since humans first settled into towns thousands of years ago. While the outbreaks wrought their death tolls and grief, they also prompted massive transformation — in medicine, technology, government, education, religion, arts, social hierarchy, sanitation. Before the cholera epidemics of the 19th century, cities thought nothing of mingling their sewage and water supply.

Read more >>>


Column One: Impeachment. Primaries. Kobe. Coronavirus rushed in while our focus was elsewhere

The intruder crept in while we were thinking about other things.

About how much we loved, or loathed, our president. About whether the Lakers or Clippers had loaded up best for an NBA championship run. About whether there was room on our New Year’s Eve schedules to check out that Korean boy band, BTS, playing a gig from Times Square. Maybe even about whether the car needed new tires.

America’s quotidian concerns loomed large in those waning days of 2019 and the start of the new year. But the everyday shrank away for a coterie of researchers, physicians, public health officers and science journalists, connected by the internet and by their uncommon concern for the deadly germs that lurk along the animal-human divide.

It began for Peter Daszak, a British American scientist, a couple of days after Christmas. While the rest of the world trundled along, the president of the New York-based EcoHealth Alliance was in his office in lower Manhattan, picking up the first clues of something amiss.

Read more >>>


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is out of the hospital, says medical staff saved his life

LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was discharged Sunday from a London hospital, where he had been treated in intensive care for COVID-19. Word is expected later in the day that the United Kingdom has surpassed 10,000 virus-related deaths.

Johnson’s office said he left St. Thomas’ Hospital and will continue his recovery at Chequers, the prime minister’s country house.

“On the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work,” the statement said. “He wishes to thank everybody at St. Thomas’ for the brilliant care he has received.”

Read more >>>


On Easter eve, a local priest speaks to feelings of doubt, anger and faith during the coronavirus pandemic

On the morning of the fourth Sunday of Lent, Father Ricardo Viveros felt lost. He sat on the steps of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Atwater Village and listened to the silence. No cars. No voices.

And for those who arrived, he saw the sadness in their eyes when he told them he could not let them in.

The pandemic had arrived.

Viveros, 40, worried about his congregation in this small working-class community, Forest Lawn to the east, the Los Angeles River to the west. So many of them worked in restaurants; so many were nurses, and he imagined what lay ahead: layoffs, sickness, fear and loneliness.

Read more >>>


Pillowcase masks and trash-bag gowns. This is the bleak reality in California nursing homes

The masks are long gone, replaced by face covers fashioned from pillowcases. Cleaning supplies are dwindling. And when Maria Cecilia Lim, a licensed vocational nurse at an Orange County nursing home, needs a sterile gown, she reaches for a raincoat bought off the rack by desperate co-workers.

“This is just one raincoat that we have to keep reusing,” Lim said last week between shifts at the Healthcare Center of Orange County, a 100-bed nursing facility in Buena Park. “A lot of people are using it.”

In thousands of facilities that house California’s elderly and infirm, this escalating scarcity driven by the spread of the coronavirus is forcing nurses and medical assistants on the front lines to employ creativity and pluck to combat a deadly pandemic.

Read more >>>


‘It doesn’t really feel like Easter.’ For black churches, coronavirus changed everything

In times of crisis, First African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Los Angeles is known for springing into action — a reflex embodied in its motto, “First to Serve.”

It provided shelter during the 1992 riots. It offered healing after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And for decades, it has filled in gaps in the social safety net when government has been absent or slow to respond.

That’s one reason the coronavirus pandemic has so pained its pastor, J. Edgar Boyd. Even as reports have shown that the deadly virus is hitting black Americans with a particular vengeance, he has had to close the doors to his church — the oldest black church in Los Angeles — in the midst of the biggest crisis of the past century. And he had to do it for Easter Sunday.

“It’s emotional and a spiritual struggle,” Boyd said.

Read more >>>


Coronavirus is forcing breast cancer patients to make tough decisions

When a routine mammogram led to a breast cancer diagnosis for Yoko Williams in January, the coronavirus was not yet among her many worries.

But after a surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, Williams arrived at an infusion center for her first round of chemotherapy in early March as the virus approached her hometown of Springfield, Mo.

The growing outbreak ushered in an entirely new set of fears as Williams contemplated her remaining monthly chemo appointments. Was it safe to go to a medical office to receive the intravenous medicine? How much would the chemo wear down her immune system and increase her risk of contracting the coronavirus from her husband, a physician who was caring for patients with COVID-19 symptoms? If she postponed the chemo, could she still beat the cancer?

Read more >>>


Pasadena to require workers and customers to wear face coverings

Workers and customers in Pasadena will now be required to wear protective face coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus, health officials said Saturday.

The order from the city’s Public Health Department requires workers at essential businesses and their customers to wear masks over their noses and mouths by midnight Wednesday.

Pasadena joins other municipalities in Southern California that have required the extra precaution in the workplace, a step public health officials say can prevent the disease from spreading, especially among people who are asymptomatic or unaware they are infected. A similar order went into effect in Los Angeles on Friday.

City officials urged residents not to use medical-grade masks to comply with the order, but rather to use scarves, bandanas or other fabric masks. They said reusable coverings should be washed daily and that single-use coverings should be thrown away after use.

Read More > > >


IRS deposits first economic support payments

WASHINGTON — The IRS says the first economic support payments stemming from the coronavirus outbreak have been deposited in taxpayers’ bank accounts.

In its tweeted announcement Saturday night, the IRS didn’t say how many taxpayers have received the payments or how much money has been disbursed so far.

The tweet says: “We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we’ll continue issuing them as fast as we can.”

The payments are part of the $2.2 trillion rescue package passed by Congress and then signed into law last month by President Donald Trump.

Anyone earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income and who has a Social Security number will receive a $1,200 payment. Parents will also receive $500 for each qualifying child.

The payment steadily declines for those who make more.


Doctor treating COVID-19 patients gambles on clot-busting drug

The woman was dying. Workers at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital were about to call her husband and break the news that there was nothing left to try. Then Dr. Hooman Poor took a gamble.

With high-stress, high-stakes decisions, doctors around the world are frantically trying to figure out how COVID-19 is killing their patients so they can attempt new ways to fight back. One growing theory: In the sickest of the sick, little blood clots clog the lungs.

Poor couldn’t prove it. The tests required would further endanger his staff, who were already at risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. But the lung specialist saw clues that were “screaming blood clots.” So Poor pulled out a drug best known for treating strokes, and he held his breath.

“I said, ‘What do we actually have to lose?’” Poor said. “That’s when I decided to give not just a blood thinner but a blood-clot buster.”

Exactly what’s going on with blood clots in at least some COVID-19 patients is a mystery.

Chinese doctors were first to sound the alarm. In March, Chinese heart specialists advised the American College of Cardiology to watch for clots and said certain blood tests showing a rise in clot risk might signal which patients were in greatest danger. Other reports suggested the clots can show up all over the body. But were they a cause of deterioration or an effect?


Are schools open? Governor and New York City mayor give different answers

Governor and mayor locked horns again Saturday, this time over whether school buildings in the nation’s largest district would close for the rest of the year, with classes continuing online.

In a news briefing earlier Saturday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that public school sites in the city’s 1.1 million-student school district would shutter for the rest of the academic year to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Soon afterward, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his own briefing that the decision was his to make.

“It is my legal authority in this situation, yes,” Cuomo said.

De Blasio, like Cuomo a Democrat, had said that it was not an easy decision to close school buildings in favor of online learning, but that “it is the right decision and it’s also a decision made a little clearer by the fact that the distance learning is working more and more every day.”

The goal, he said, is to reopen school sites by September, adding that high school graduates may have to go without a commencement ceremony.

But Cuomo said school closings would have to be coordinated with districts surrounding the city.

“So I understand the mayor’s position, which is he wants to close them until June, and we may do that, but we’re going to do it in a coordinated sense with the other localities,” Cuomo said. “It makes no sense for one locality to take an action that’s not coordinated with the others.”

When a reporter suggested that the mixed messages would confuse parents, Cuomo said, “We just clarified it. It’s not going to be decided in the next few days because we don’t know.”

Adding to the confusion, an email from the city to parents was issued while Cuomo spoke, advising of the extended school closing.

“NYC school students will continue with Remote Learning for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year,” it said.

The dispute was the latest bout in a long-running grudge match between the two elected officials, who have failed to maintain a united front in the face of a pandemic.

When de Blasio said last month that city residents should prepare for a “shelter-in-place” order, Cuomo countered that the city didn’t have the power to make such a declaration.

Days later, Cuomo announced a “New York state on pause” order directing nonessential businesses to close and telling people to stay 6 feet away from others when in public. The order sounded much like shelter-in-place, a term de Blasio has continued to use.

De Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein alluded to the earlier dispute on Twitter, saying Cuomo’s reaction to de Blasio’s school announcement was “reminiscent of how he reacted when the Mayor called for a shelter in place. We were right then and we’re right now.”

Cuomo addressed the school issue as he released numbers showing that 783 deaths from COVID-19 were recorded statewide on Friday, the fifth day in a row that the toll topped 700.

The new figures raised the number of coronavirus-related deaths in the state to 8,627.

“These are just incredible numbers depicting incredible loss and pain,” Cuomo said.

The governor, whose national profile has risen as his virus briefings have become must-see TV, said again Saturday that he is not interested in running for president.

When a reporter said some Democrats would prefer Cuomo to former Vice President Joe Biden as their party’s presidential nominee, Cuomo said, “That is on one hand flattering. On the other hand, it is irrelevant.”

“I have no political agenda. Period,” he said. “I’m not running for president. I’m not running for vice president. I’m not running anywhere. I’m not going to Washington. I’m staying right here.”

De Blasio ran for the 2020 Democratic nomination but dropped out early in the race.

School buildings in New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, have been closed since March 16. All school buildings in the state have been closed since March 18 following a Cuomo executive order.

The school closings were initially announced for a few weeks back before the virus’s full impact was known. New York’s school year lasts through late June.

A massive effort to move instruction online has met mixed success in the city, where many low-income students lack Wi-Fi and devices for connecting to their virtual classrooms.

De Blasio said tens of thousands of tablets and laptops have been loaned to students who needed them and the remaining students who lack devices for online learning will get them by the end of April.

De Blasio had resisted closing schools as the city recorded its first deaths from the coronavirus, saying he feared that health care workers would have to stay home to care for children and that hundreds of thousands of poor students would go hungry without free school meals.

Since then, the city has set up food distribution sites and centers where essential front-line workers can drop their children off.

Authorities in some other locales, including the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, previously announced that schools would close for the rest of the year.


Jerusalem and Israeli health ministry reach agreement on continued neighborhood closures

The City of Jerusalem and the Ministry of Health reached an agreement on which city neighborhoods would be subject to continued closure, pending Cabinet approval.

Any neighborhood in which 1 out of every 1,000 residents is diagnosed with the coronavirus will remain closed.

Israel has 10,743 confirmed cases of the virus and reported 101 deaths as of Saturday afternoon. The country imposed lockdowns in March.

As of tomorrow morning, Israelis can be stopped and fined the equivalent of about $100 if they go out in public without face masks.


Nurses in New York, lauded for coronavirus efforts, find their tires slashed

Some nurses at a New York hospital who had just been lauded for their work during the coronavirus pandemic ended their stress-filled overnight shifts to find their tires had been slashed while they worked.

New York state police reported that the tires of 22 vehicles were found slashed Friday morning outside New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt.

Daniel R. Hall, 29, was arrested on charges including criminal mischief and possession of a controlled substance. Police said he had a small amount of PCP when he was arrested.

Hall is due in court May 18. It’s not clear whether he has an attorney who can speak for him.

Hospital officials said they would pay for the damage.

“We were shocked to hear of this incident, especially at this time when our employees are working tirelessly and courageously” through the COVID-19 pandemic, the officials said in a statement to the Journal News.

Before the tires were slashed, dozens of police officers and firefighters had gathered outside the hospital Thursday night to applaud the healthcare workers, who like their colleagues across New York state have been treating patients stricken by the coronavirus infection, the newspaper reported.

“What our hospital is focusing on today is the beautiful tribute given by our first responders last night,” the hospital statement said.


Trump’s top advisor on coronavirus testing says U.S. may be ‘in the ballpark’ of testing needs by May

President Trump’s top advisor on coronavirus testing said that by May the U.S. will be in the “ballpark” of the diagnostic capacity it needs, should the president decide to recommend parts of the country relax economy-crushing social distancing practices.

Adm. Brett P. Giroir said in an interview Saturday the U.S. is working on four forms of diagnostics it needs to reopen the economy: widespread surveillance to catch new flare-ups; testing of people who have specific symptoms; contact-tracing for confirmed cases; and antibody testing to know who’s recovered from the virus, which he said is weeks away.

“By May we’ll have a lot more testing than we do now,” Giroir said. “By May, we certainly will be in the ballpark. Whether we are exactly there depends on some factors, including how much is circulating and where regionally this falls out. That is the correct answer, I can’t give you a yes or no.”

Trump tapped Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, to accelerate U.S. testing for the virus last month. The government’s delays in fielding a functional test in January and February prevented containment of the outbreak when it first erupted, leaving public health authorities all but blind to the spread of the virus across the country for weeks.

Though the U.S. has now tested more than 2.2 million people for the virus, fewer than 100,000 nationwide had been tested by March 19, less than a week after Giroir was appointed, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who serves on Trump’s coronavirus task force, said last month that the shortage of testing was a “failing.”

The U.S. has now surpassed Italy in total deaths from the virus, making it the global epicenter. Even so, there are signs of optimism in hot spots such as New York that have Trump eyeing an easing of measures that have hundreds of millions of Americans in near-lockdown. Giroir said testing is ramping up and didn’t rule out a May reopening.


Observing Passover, Easter and Ramadan amid coronavirus outbreak


Kentucky announces measure to record license plates to curb holiday gatherings

During his daily press conference Friday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear urged Kentuckians to stay home during the holiday weekend, announcing a new action being taken by the state.
“We’re having to take a new action that I’d hope that we wouldn’t,” Beshear said. “It’s that any individual that’s going to participate in a mass gathering of any type that we know about this weekend, we are going to record license plates and provide it to local health departments,” he explained.
Beshear said local health departments would then issue an order for those individuals to be quarantined for 14 days. “We’re going to have state police there, collecting those license plates, because the occupants of those cars are in violation of the orders,” he explained.
When asked for clarification on the order, Beshear announced that it would not apply to those churches hosting drive-through services, provided local officials have not ordered against said services.
Beshear reported 242 new cases of coronavirus infection in Kentucky, the largest increase to date. He also said the state was made aware of one duplicate test in its system. As a result, the state’s official total to 1,693.

The Whitley County Health Department reported three cases Friday, bringing the county’s total number of cases up to four.
Laurel County now has eight total cases after the Laurel County Health Department reported two positive tests Friday morning.

The governor reported that as of Friday, 24,288 tests have been administered in Kentucky. Four hundred fifty-nine Kentuckians have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 271 currently in the hospital. One hundred seventy-seven individuals in total have been placed in intensive care, with 105 still in intensive care.
Beshear also reported 11 new deaths Friday, bringing the state’s total to 90.

The governor also announced the formation of a long-term-care task force that will look at assisting long-term facilities and the issues they face during a pandemic.
The small group made of health leaders from Kentucky’s universities and other health organizations met for the first time Friday, announced Eric Friedlander of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Beshear also announced that the state is working with local health departments to ensure that the addresses of those who have tested positive, who are in self-quarantine, are available to first responders.
“That helps them know the level of personal protective equipment they may need,” he explained. “It’s something very reasonable that they’ve asked for, and we are working to make that a reality.”
The governor also announced that the state had activated its first state park in housing first responders who are choosing to self-quarantine.
“We anticipate that we will see more of our lodges activated,” said Beshear. “Whether it’s for the caregivers or volunteers we’re sending in; or potentially residents themselves, if they are not in need of hospitalization, but can’t be isolated within their own facility.”


COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. closes in on Italy’s as Midwest braces for more cases

The U.S. moved closer to overtaking Italy as the country with the highest death toll in the world from the coronavirus Saturday as Chicago and other cities across the Midwest braced for a potential surge in victims and moved to deal with smoldering hot spots of contagion before they erupt.

With the New York metropolitan area swamped with cases, fear mounted over the spread of the virus into the nation’s heartland. Twenty-four residents of an Indiana nursing home hit by COVID-19 have died. Chicago’s Cook County has set up a temporary morgue that can take more than 2,000 bodies. And Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been roaming the city telling groups of people to “break it up.”

Around the world, meanwhile, European countries used roadblocks, drones, helicopters, mounted patrols and the threat of fines to keep people from traveling over the Easter weekend. And with infections leveling off in Italy, Spain and other places on the continent, governments took tentative steps toward loosening the weeks-long shutdowns of much of public life.

Glorious weather across Europe posed an extra test of people’s discipline.

“Don’t do silly things,” said Domenico Arcuri, Italy’s special commissioner for the virus emergency. “Don’t go out, continue to behave responsibly as you have done until today, use your head and your sense of responsibility.”

Read More >>>


Should young adults move back in with Mom and Dad? Many say yes

Oko Carter, 30, left, and Andres Vidaurre share a home in Los Angeles with eight other people.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Andres Vidaurre’s story is a lot like those of the many young adults who make their way to Los Angeles in search of work and a vibrant, diverse city to call home.

The 27-year-old Houston native moved here two years ago after attending Notre Dame University and settled down in a five-bedroom home in northeast Los Angeles that he found on Craigslist. He has roommates — 22 to be exact. Each tenant pays $580 a month and each room has several bunk beds.

Vidaurre loved the vibe, and so when the house manager moved out, he took over the role, which allowed him to live there for free. The additional work came with a new set of headaches, but his duties never included “pandemic response” — until last month.

On March 14, one of his roommates texted to say he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and had moved back in with his family in Fresno.

Vidaurre delivered the news to his roommates. Almost everyone handled it calmly, he said. But there were a few exceptions, including one who started packing and left that night on a 13-hour drive back to his parents’ home in Oregon.

But moving back in with his parents isn’t an option for Vidaurre, the way it might be for others in their mid-20s. His mom has an autoimmune disorder.

“Going to Houston and coming into contact with them is really not a desire I have right now,” he said. “I just really hope they stay inside.”

In the last month, as the headlines about the pandemic have become grimmer, young people in cities across the country have contemplated the possibility of moving home to live with their parents or extended family.

Some of them can’t afford it. Others, like Vidaurre, worry that they might be asymptomatic and put their medically frail relatives at risk, as some reports suggest that infection is more likely to happen in clusters, such as with a family living under one roof.

But many others are returning to their childhood bedrooms and setting up workstations in the dining room of homes where food — and support — are in ample supply. The trade-off is often living in a household where siblings are sleeping nearby and families are trying to figure out who will do a video-conference from what room.

Decisions to stay or go have been made under pressure, sometimes in haste. For those who have moved home, it’s not clear how long they’ll be there. It’s highly unlikely that anyone was thinking about their emotional or financial independence, but their decisions could very well influence the way they and their parents navigate the world for the rest of their lives.

Read More >>>


New York City public school campuses will remain closed for the rest of the school year

Mayor Bill de Blasio says public schools in New York City’s 1.1 million-student district will be shuttered for the rest of the academic year.

He says online education will continue for students.

School buildings in the nation’s largest public system have been closed since March 16. A massive effort to move instruction online has met with mixed success. Many low-income students lack Wi-Fi and devices for connecting to their virtual classrooms.

Officials in other states, including Virginia and Pennsylvania, previously announced schools will be closed for the rest of the year.


Laguna Hills hotel chosen to house people 65 and over

A 76-bed hotel in Laguna Hills has been chosen as housing for people ages 65 and over who have either contracted COVID-19 or are suspected of being infected with the disease, sparking anger and concern from city officials Friday.

The Laguna Hils Inn, a former Comfort Inn along Avenida de la Carlota, would also serve as a medical facility open to patients with underlying conditions. City leaders said they just learned that county officials have signed a contract with the facility’s owner to use the location temporarily, with an initial lease of 90 days.

“The City Council is deeply troubled with the county of Orange’s unilateral decision to place individuals afflicted with COVID-19 within 750 feet of a residential neighborhood and about one-third of a mile from the thousands of susceptible, elderly residents of Laguna Woods,” said Laguna Hills Mayor Janine Heft.

Neighboring Laguna Woods is home to a large retirement community and last week — after strong protests — county officials “backed out of a similar plan to convert the Laguna Woods Ayres Hotel to a COVID-19 facility because of genuine concerns for this same older and more vulnerable population,” Heft added. “This new location in Laguna Hills does nothing to solve that problem. I strongly urge the Orange County Board of Supervisors to revisit the decision to open this facility.”

The hotel lies in the northern part of Laguna Hills, just off Lake Forest Drive, and is close to Lake Forest and Irvine. Officials say they have not granted approval for this type of housing and are seeking legal advice.

In Laguna Woods, county leaders had planned to house homeless people in two boutique Ayres hotels during the the COVID-19 pandemic. One facility is just outside Laguna Woods Village, a community with thousands of residents over 55. At the time, officials said they had little choice but to move people inside, fearing that an outbreak among the homeless population could further strain healthcare systems.


‘It’s unlike anything I have ever seen’: A deadly week across America

Death fell hard across America this week.

More than 7,000 people died of COVID-19. Total U.S. infections of the coronavirus reached nearly half a million. It was the worst seven days the country has seen so far.

The news came as the world faced its own grim milestone Friday: more 100,000 dead in an outbreak that has battered countless towns and cities. Even as the virus waned in China, its origin, it has surged across the planet.

Read More >>>


Remdesivir shows promise in preliminary coronavirus trial

A preliminary report on COVID-19 patients treated with the experimental drug remdesivir suggests that the antiviral medication may lower the risk of death in severely ill patients and improve the condition of patients relying on a range of devices for breathing assistance.

The safety and effectiveness of remdesivir as a treatment for coronavirus infection is being tested in clinical trials in the United States and around the world. Those studies will rigorously compare the drug against a variety of standard treatments to determine whether its benefits are real, and come without side effects that could put vulnerable patients in further danger.

The report published Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine is among the first to detail the results of remdesivir use in patients whose conditions were meticulously recorded and tracked for 28 days. Among the study’s 53 patients, three-quarters got a full 10-day course of the drug and the remainder took it for between five and 10 days.

Read More >>>


Bankruptcy judge tentatively OKs sale of St. Vincent hospital to Patrick Soon-Shiong

A federal bankruptcy judge on Friday issued a tentative ruling approving the sale of a shuttered Los Angeles hospital to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who plans to create a coronavirus research facility on the campus.

Judge Ernest M. Robles also signaled at a court hearing Friday that he would sign a final order approving the deal to sell St. Vincent Medical Center for $135 million to Soon-Shiong after owner Verity Health System canceled the hospital’s license. That was expected to happen in the coming days.

In his tentative ruling, Robles said he supported the transfer. “Prompt closing of the sale is necessary given the estates’ precarious financial position,” Robles wrote. “In addition, there is a risk that the purchaser will walk away if the sale does not close promptly, since the purpose of the sale — establishing a research center to address the COVID-19 pandemic — would be defeated absent a prompt closing.”

Read More >>>


Hundreds of meat workers have now tested positive for coronavirus

There’s been a spike in coronavirus cases at meat plants in the U.S., with hundreds of reported infections in just the last week. That’s adding to questions over the fragility of the food-supply chain and raising concerns about worker safety.

As many as 50 people at a JBS SA beef facility in Colorado’s Weld County tested positive, adding to more than 160 cases at a Cargill Inc. meat-packaging plant in Pennsylvania, union officials said Friday. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday reported 190 cases at a Smithfield Foods Inc. pork facility, the Associated Press said. The Cargill and Smithfield plants are being closed, while JBS said it will continue operations.

Workers are also starting to die. Two more deaths were reported by union officials on Friday, one at the Greeley, Colo., meat plant and one in Pennsylvania. Both those facilities are owned by JBS SA, the world’s top meat producer, which didn’t confirm the deaths.

Read More >>>


Orange County probation employee tests positive for the coronavirus

An Orange County probation department employee who was assigned to a juvenile facility has tested positive for the coronavirus, though no youths had become sick as of Friday afternoon, officials said.

The employee last worked on April 3 and the probation department became aware the person had tested positive for the virus on Thursday night, according to a statement issued by the agency.

The person was in stable condition and under self-quarantine at home. As of Friday, probation officials had “not received official notification of any other staff member or youth housed in any of its juvenile facilities testing positive for COVID-19,” the statement read.

As of March 31, there were 147 juveniles in custody in Orange County, according to Jennifer Palmquist, a probation department spokeswoman. 43 of whom were awaiting trial.

Palmquist said the agency’s current juvenile population is “quite low,” allowing for easier social distancing practices at meals and during educational programs.


California’s early coronavirus efforts will cost $7 billion, Gov. Gavin Newsom says

Budget advisors to Gov. Gavin Newsom told California lawmakers on Friday that the state’s initial efforts to combat the coronavirus will total at least $7 billion, with additional costs expected before year’s end.

The estimate, contained in a letter to the Legislature’s joint budget committee, is the first comprehensive look at the fiscal impact of responding to the pandemic. It does not include substantial costs already borne by city and county governments across the state.

“This impact is expected to be immediate, affecting fiscal year 2019-20, and will continue into fiscal year 2020-21 and additional years depending on the pace of recovery of local, state and national economies,” wrote Keely Bosler, the governor’s finance director, in the letter to lawmakers.

Read More >>>


L.A. Opera cancels May shows; Long Beach Opera cancels rest of the season

Los Angeles Opera on Friday canceled two productions originally scheduled for May, while Long Beach Opera has called off the rest of its 2019-20 season.

The L.A. Opera announcement dovetailed with news that Los Angeles County’s safer-at-home order has been extended through May 15. Shows affected by the extended closure of the county Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion are Debussy’s “Pelléas and Mélisande,” which was scheduled to run May 2-23, and a concert performance of Handel’s “Rodelinda” that was on the calendar for May 8.

“With great regret, we had no option but to cancel these productions,” L.A. Opera President and Chief Executive Christopher Koelsch said in the announcement. “At this time, our collective top priority must be to do whatever we can to protect the health and safety of our audiences, our artists and our community. We are eager to take the stage again, just as soon as we are able, so that we can all experience the wonder and magic of opera together.”

Read More >>>


California’s coronavirus death toll is way below New York’s. Here’s why

California’s relatively quick action to close businesses and order residents to stay home has tamped down the coronavirus pandemic and left many hospitals largely empty, waiting for a surge that has yet to come.

The initial success of the unprecedented shutdown of schools, businesses and other institutions has pleased experts and public health officials, prompting calls to keep the restrictions in place, at least into May, to help cement the progress.

By late Friday, California had reported more than 570 deaths over two and a half months, fewer than New York experienced in a single day Wednesday, when 799 in the Empire State died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. California has averaged 43 deaths per day over the last week, with no spike in fatalities.

Read More >>>


Online system to pay property tax crashes hours before deadline

Los Angeles County officials said Friday that the online system to pay property taxes crashed hours before the deadline to submit payment.

In a Twitter post, the county recommended property owners recheck the website before the midnight deadline to see whether it was working.

Late penalties will be waived for people unable to make their payments on time, according to the Twitter post.

Officials have also said that people who face hardships tied to COVID-19 can have late fees canceled.

Update: The county has tweeted that the system is up and running.


California moves to protect nursing home residents from the coronavirus

The hospital ship Mercy.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Responding to escalating concerns about COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that some healthy residents at afflicted facilities will be transferred to the Navy hospital ship Mercy in Los Angeles to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.

The state also is dispatching 600 nurses trained in infectious disease control to assist nursing homes and other adult care facilities to stem the spread of the virus and identify and quarantine residents who test positive as quickly as possible.

Newsom said protecting California’s seniors, considered to be most at risk to become seriously ill, remains the state’s top priority.



His first coronavirus test was negative. Now, this 39-year-old city leader is on life support

The coronavirus so ruthlessly attacked Gerardo Hernandez’s lungs that he now needs a ventilator to breathe for him. A tube delivers food to his stomach. His kidneys no longer function on their own.

The 39-year-old has spent the last three weeks lying unconscious in a hospital bed, barely clinging to life.

But when Hernandez was first tested for the coronavirus, when he showed up at an emergency room gasping for breath, he got a false negative and had to be retested. In the meantime, he began rapidly deteriorating and was moved into the hospital’s intensive care unit.



Six nights on tour, and never leaving their house: How one L.A. band is making the best of quarantine

Last month, the L.A. indie rock band Sure Sure was four hours outside of Tampa, Fla., when the world began to fall apart.

The Atwater Village quartet was on a national tour opening for the rock band Coin. As the band members drove from L.A. to Florida for opening night, they watched the news about the novel coronavirus get worse seemingly by the hour.

“Every day got more ominous. The prospect of shows to 2,000 people a night, we didn’t feel good about it,” drummer Kevin Farzad, 30, said.
Read more >>>


Where to donate to help restaurant industry workers affected by the pandemic

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the restaurant and food industry lost 60% of its workforce last month. Many food service workers were already living paycheck to paycheck, so the crisis has hit particularly hard. Below is a list of organizations that are giving help and money to those in need.

Children of Restaurant Workers: Started in 2004 to help support restaurant workers’ families, CORE pivoted to help food industry employees and their families who have been diagnosed with the virus. The organization also provides resources for those whose jobs have been affected.

Campaign to Support Mexican Migrants in the U.S.: Chef Enrique Olvera (of Pujol in Mexico City and Cosme in New York City) and journalist Leon Krauze, both natives of Mexico City, founded this organization to help migrant workers with financial and health issues due to the outbreak.
Read more >>>


Governors, not Trump, will determine when to resume normal life

President Trump said again Friday he would “love” to begin reopening the nation’s shuttered economy on May 1. But ultimately, nervous governors, mayors, school boards and families across the country will determine when to resume normal life.

With more Americans out of work than at any time since the Great Depression in the 1930s, Trump is eager to ease the stay-at-home guidance he issued on March 16 and later extended through April 30 in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president and his top economic advisors have floated plans to restart economic activity in phases, with some regions given greater leeway than others. Privately, White House officials concede the approach will have little impact on the larger economy, but hope to at least let some small businesses begin bringing back employees.
Read more >>>


In turbulent times, a magical art-filled garden offers solace

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic altered the normal rhythms of our everyday lives, Jeremy Glatstein, an ardent plantsman, sought solace in his Long Beach garden.

“Gardens have always been a place of refuge, whether from the heat of a punishing desert sun or the unkindness of modern life,” Glatstein said. “Whole worlds are contained within a lovingly planted terra cotta pot, a window box or a jungle of plants grown indoors.”

The 39-year-old art history professor has seen firsthand how a garden offers comfort during troubling times. He’s watched his children splash in pools of water, nibble on nasturtiums, and chase after monarch butterflies and the family’s Welsh Harlequin ducks. He’s witnessed birds, butterflies and bees find shelter in the riot of plants that surround his home.
Read more >>>


Coronavirus infection may cause lasting damage throughout the body, doctors fear

For a world grappling with the new coronavirus, it’s becoming increasingly clear that even when the pandemic is over, it won’t really be over.

Now doctors are beginning to worry that for patients who have survived COVID-19, the same may be true.

For the sickest patients, infection with the new coronavirus is proving to be a full-body assault, causing damage well beyond the lungs. And even after patients who become severely ill have recovered and cleared the virus, physicians have begun seeing evidence of the infection’s lingering effects.
Read more >>>


San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter becomes a COVID-19 recovery center

San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter has been turned into a COVID-19 recovery center after 68 residents and two staff members tested positive for the new coronavirus, city officials announced Friday.

The shelter, which normally has beds for 340 people, now has only 100 residents and is being staffed by medical professionals, city officials said at a news conference. Two individuals at two other shelters also have tested positive for the virus.

On Sunday, two people at the largest center tested positive and were moved into hotel rooms leased by the city for isolation. On Wednesday, the city started testing all the residents and staff at the shelter.

“This virus can take off quickly, and we are prepared to provide an aggressive response,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s public health director.

Officials said one former resident of the shelter has been hospitalized.

“I would like to assure San Franciscans that it doesn’t mean a significantly greater risk to the general public,” Colfax said. “However, it is a very serious matter.”

The city continues to have bed capacity at its hospitals. About a third of COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units, officials said.

The city has spent $35 million to lease hotel rooms for first responders and vulnerable populations, including the homeless.

Of the 1,892 rooms leased, 880 are for first responders, including healthcare workers, and 1,012 are for people who live in congregant settings and the homeless.

As homeless shelters are reducing intake to prevent the spread of the illness, the city is trying to move more more homeless into the hotel rooms, officials said.

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said the city has been experiencing some burglaries at shuttered businesses, and police will be “out there in force” to protect them. He said police will also patrol parks this weekend to ensure people are social distancing.

The city also announced it has established a 911 text for victims of domestic violence who may be unable to call police safely.


The latest list of Orange County communities with coronavirus cases

Coronavirus cases in Orange County continued to climb steadily on Friday, with health officials announcing 62 new cases.

The additional cases brings the county’s total to 1,138 — up more than 400 from a week ago, the Orange County Health Care Agency said. The county’s death toll remained at 17 in the latest update.

To date, more than 12,800 people have been tested for coronavirus countywide. Officials reported that 124 people are being hospitalized for the illness, and 57 of them are in intensive care.
Read more >>>


U.S. mourns as coronavirus death toll pushes past 18,000, nearing most in the world

America’s mourning stretched from coast to coast Friday as the United States approached another sad milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic: more deaths than any other country in the world.

In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis paid tribute to 21-year-old college baseball player Cody Lyster, one of the 241 people in the state who have died of COVID-19.

“Our hearts go out to the friends, family and loved ones of everyone affected,” Polis said outside the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, where construction crews were building a makeshift hospital to start treating several hundred coronavirus patients next week.

Read more >>>


Trailers sent to Orange County Fairgrounds could house homeless

Less than a week after a proposal to house the homeless at a boutique hotel withered under intense public opposition, officials moved forward Friday with a plan to use the Orange County Fairgrounds as a location for temporary housing and potential emergency medical facilities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 150-acre site in Costa Mesa will receive 10 trailers Friday afternoon that fairgrounds officials say will assist with housing for unsheltered residents who may have risk factors that make them vulnerable to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

“Fairgrounds all over the state are being called into service to assist their communities, and we are happy to do our part in helping Orange County through this pandemic,” Michele Richards, chief executive of O.C. Fair & Event Center, said in a statement.

Read more >>>


Tokyo organizers can’t guarantee Summer Olympics in 2021

The leader of Tokyo’s effort to stage the postponed Olympic Games acknowledged Friday that the coronavirus might ultimately preclude the event from being held next year.

Speaking with reporters in a teleconference, Tokyo 2020 Chief Executive Toshiro Muto blamed the pandemic’s unpredictability.

“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” Muto was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “We certainly are not in position to give a clear answer.”

Read more >>>


The coronavirus crisis has been great for Instacart. For its workers, it’s a different story

Dina W. did her last job for Instacart on March 20. Before the coronavirus outbreak, Dina could easily avoid doing the labor-intensive orders that required her to shop for and deliver groceries to two to three customers at a time. But on that day, with few other choices, she accepted a triple order that promised take-home pay of $48. Only $17 of that was to be from Instacart, the rest in tips.

With shoppers in Delaware frantically preparing to hunker down in their homes, lines at the grocery store spanned the length of the building. Some items were nearly sold out; others carried limits on how many a customer could purchase at a time. Dina queued for more than 20 minutes at the deli, then again at the seafood counter. The line to check out lasted an hour. All the while, Dina was in constant communication with the three customers about what was unavailable and what they wanted instead.

Read more >>>


International Champions Cup tournament at SoFi Stadium canceled because of coronavirus

The International Champions Cup soccer tournament, which has brought European superclubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich to the U.S. each summer, will not be played this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cancellation of the tournament, announced Friday afternoon, takes with it what was expected to be one of the first events at SoFi Stadium, the NFL venue still under construction in Inglewood.

ReleventCQ Sports Group, organizer of the ICC, was deep in negotiations to stage a Barcelona-Real Madrid game at the stadium in early August, according to people with knowledge of the talks.

Read more >>>


L.A. County stay-at-home order could last into summer; more social distancing essential, officials say

Los Angeles County health officials warned Friday that the region needs to significantly increase the social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus and that stay-at-home restrictions could remain into the summer.

Even with the dramatic social distancing the county is now seeing, officials forecast that up to 30% of residents could be infected by mid-summer without more behavioral changes, such as reducing shopping trips.

As a result, Los Angeles County is extending the stay-at-home order for California’s most populous county through at least May 15.

Read more >>>


Q&A: What do people ask a librarian in a pandemic? L.A. Library’s InfoNow has the answer

For seven years, librarian Tina Princenthal has fielded all manner of questions at the Los Angeles Public Library’s InfoNow desk. While the coronavirus pandemic has closed the landmark Central Library and all 72 branches for the foreseeable future, InfoNow remains open and fully staffed — albeit with a shift in approach.

Once drawing an eclectic variety of requests by phone, Princenthal and her colleagues have shifted to a more digital focus while still assisting those in great need who may have limited internet access.

City librarians now work from home answering dozens of emails a day. They aim to guide Los Angeles toward remaining connected to the library both as a vital source of information and a familiar resource that can provide comfort or distraction in an uncertain time.

Read more >>>


Ebola returns to Congo. The WHO sees a lesson about COVID-19

Congo confirmed a new Ebola case days before it was expected to declare that outbreak over, a development the World Health Organization said may be a lesson for COVID-19.

“There’s no exit strategy until you’re in control of the situation,” said Mike Ryan, head of the WHO’s health emergencies program.

The WHO would like countries to lift restrictions “as much as anyone,” but ending too quickly could lead to a “deadly resurgence,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

COVID-19 is a serious challenge even in countries that say they have the strongest health systems, and it’s alarming how many health workers are catching the disease, he said.

“No country can claim it has a strong public health system.”

The virus is spreading to rural communities in Africa, which will cause “severe hardship for already overstretched health systems,” said Tedros, Ethiopia’s former health minister.

G-20 countries need to expedite assistance for that region as the number of cases on that continent accelerates, he said.


This Easter, the pandemic prompts revival of a Southland legacy: the drive-in ministry

This Easter, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller plans on letting his faith take the wheel.

The son of the pastor who built Garden Grove’s Crystal Cathedral, Schuller is temporarily reviving the drive-in ministry, a practice that helped his father rise from humble beginnings to become one of the late 20th century’s most recognized religious figures.

For the last four years, the younger Schuller has been preaching mostly on social media, providing daily sermons from his “church with no walls.”



Column: Why did the stock market rally on awful unemployment news?

The stock market’s rally Thursday after the release of a truly gruesome unemployment number was taken widely as yet another indicator that Wall Street is a hive of callous profiteers.

This seemed to be true even among people who should know better. Ben White, who is the chief economic correspondent for Politico and a frequent guest on CNBC, expressed perplexity that the market hadn’t been seized by grief after the government’s announcement that 6.3 million workers had filed new unemployment claims in the last week.

“Has Wall Street gone crazy?” White tweeted, repeating the query in his Morning Money newsletter Friday. “The S&P just wrapped up its best week since 1974. We also learned this week that the Covid-19 virus has wiped out 17 million jobs in just three weeks, 10 percent of the entire America work force.”


It’s not just teens: We’re all in the TikTok-dance-challenge phase of quarantine now

It was early March, just a week before spring break, when social work graduate student Richard Unite learned that Columbia University would be moving classes online to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Like many others in the coming days and weeks, Unite was suddenly confined to his apartment, which he shared with one roommate.

“I was just in bed all the time and I didn’t really have access to the gym,” the West Harlem resident said. “I wanted to find a way to have some kind of outlet for exercising and having fun without leaving the house because I was too scared.”


WHO concerned about plans to lift to lift restrictions

GENEVA — The World Health Organization chief has warned that a premature lifting of stay-at-home and other restrictions by countries to fight the coronavirus outbreak could spark a “deadly resurgence.”

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that some countries are already planning to transition out of stay-at-home restrictions, and insisted that the U.N. health agency “wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone.”

“At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence,” Tedros told reporters from WHO headquarters in Geneva. “The way down can be as dangerous as the way up, if not managed properly.”


Four more deaths in San Diego County as cases top 1,600

County officials on Thursday announced that four more San Diego County residents have died of COVID-19 as the regions case total climbed to 1,628.

To date, the county’s death toll stands at 40. Of the victims, 16 were white, 10 were Latino, two were Asian and one person was more than one race. Race was not available in 11 deaths.

Officials also reiterated changes to the region’s emergency health order, which expanded the list of employees who are required to wear face coverings. Affected workers now include those who work at banks, public transportation employees, including Lyft and Uber drivers, and daycare providers who serve food.


These showbiz seniors have their own TV channel to keep them connected

Chair yoga had concluded, but before the call-in trivia game show could begin, Bob Beitcher had a critical message for the 227 residents of his retirement community.

“Stay the ... home,” the generally well-mannered chief executive of the Motion Picture and Television Fund urged over the campus’ closed-circuit television station.

The Woodland Hills colony — which has accommodations for both independent living and long-term care — had already been under shelter-in-place orders for nearly a month. Hospitality staff had been delivering meals directly to residents’ doors, communal gatherings were canceled and essential employees were receiving daily thermal scans.


Apple and Google plan technology to allow COVID-19 contact-tracing using phones

Apple Inc. and Google unveiled a rare partnership to add technology to their smartphone platforms that will alert users if they have come into contact with a person with COVID-19. People must opt in to the system, but it has the potential to monitor about a third of the world’s population.

The technology, known as contract-tracing, is designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus by telling users they should quarantine or isolate themselves after contact with an infected individual.


Italy extends nationwide lockdown to May 3

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte extended Italy’s nationwide lockdown until May 3, rejecting pressure from businesses which have been clamoring for a chance to restart their activity as containment measures weigh on the economy.

The sweeping restrictions, which include a ban on all non-essential business, are crippling Europe’s weakest large economy, burdened by high debt and low growth even before the virus hit. But the risk of sparking a second wave of infections by relaxing the curbs too early was seen as too large.

Italy on Friday reported fewer new cases of coronavirus, and fewer deaths than the day before.


IRS launches website to speed relief payments to some Americans who didn’t file taxes in 2018 and 2019

WASHINGTON —Many Americans who didn’t file taxes in 2018 or 2019 can now provide the IRS with direct deposit information in order to more quickly receive their up to $1,200 economic stimulus payout, the IRS announced Friday.

The portal is separate from the soon-to-be-launched “Get My Payment” portal that the IRS is creating for people who filed their taxes but did not get a tax refund through direct deposit. That portal -- which will also allow people to track the status of their payout -- is expected to be ready as soon as next week.

The portal announced Friday is for Americans who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019. Using the portal they can submit basic personal information to the IRS, including full names and Social Security numbers for themselves and any spouse or children in the home, mailing address and bank account information for direct deposit.


The pandemic forces adjustments in Good Friday worship

Expressions of faith in many religious services emphasize close contact: hand-holding, sharing Communion in Christian churches, touching or kissing religious objects at synagogues. These practices are now being avoided and replaced by social distancing as the religious rituals of hundreds of millions of people undergo profound changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many religious authorities are closing places of worship or have placed a limit on public gatherings. Easter, Passover and Ramadan, which occur within weeks of each other in April, will face major disruptions due to social distancing policies

Some houses of worship have embraced technological solutions, such as livestreaming services or offering drive-through confessions. . At the same time, many religious leaders have appealed to their followers to not only take safety precautions, but also to embrace their spirituality to help confront the health, social and economic challenges ahead.


Coronavirus deaths pass 100,000 globally

The worldwide death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic passed 100,000 on Friday, and the United States was on the brink of surpassing Italy as the nation with the highest number of fatalities.

More than 1.6 million have been confirmed as infected, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true number of lives lost is believed be much higher because of limited testing, different rules for counting the dead and cover-ups by some governments.


Faulty masks. Flawed tests. China’s quality control problem in leading global COVID-19 fight

BEIJING —The COVID-19 pandemic has ignited a worldwide scramble for medical gear: masks, gowns, ventilators, testing kits, much of it made in China, which is attempting to recast its image as the source of the virus to the leader in the fight against it.

But that narrative is threatened by a major problem: quality control.

A growing list of foreign complaints about faulty medical gear and testing kits imported from China has upset Beijing’s designs. Within the last few weeks, scientists and health authorities in Spain, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey and Britain have complained of faulty antigen or antibody coronavirus tests purchased from Chinese companies — in some cases, costing these governments millions of dollars.


Watch Live: White House holds press conference


The pandemic brings fresh tension between Canada and the U.S.

The coronavirus crisis has increased tension between Canada and the United States, bringing a new challenge to the longtime amity that has existed between the neighboring nations.

The friction has been felt intimately amid COVID-19 fears, which has resulted in U.S. citizens being unwelcome in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and in multiple cities and rural crossroads across the country because of health concerns tied to the possible spread of the virus.

Much of Canada shuddered when President Trump floated the idea last month of battling the virus by deploying troops at the world’s longest land boundary to protect against anyone infected with the virus entering the U.S.


3 more San Bernardino County deputies test positive as Inland Empire toll climbs

Three more employees with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department have tested positive for the coronavirus, doubling the number of people in the agency infected as the death toll among residents grew across the Inland Empire.

One of the three new cases is a detective assigned to a patrol station who has been off work for the last two weeks with flu-like symptoms. The other two are “professional staff employees,” one assigned to corrections and one to a patrol station in an administrative position. Both had also been off work with flu-like symptoms before getting tested.


Rihanna donates $2.1 million for domestic violence victims on lockdown

Singer Rihanna is joining forces with Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey to help victims of domestic violence living in Los Angeles during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, the “Needed Me” artist’s Clara Lionel Foundation announced that the duo is co-funding a $4.2-million grant to the Mayor’s Fund for L.A. “to address a surge in domestic violence” in the city amid the coronavirus crisis.

Citing an increase in domestic violence incidents since last month’s implementation of L.A.’s Safer at Home order, the foundation will aid the Mayor’s Fund in providing 10 weeks of support for victims in the form of shelter, meals and counseling for individuals and their children.


Back from quarantine in China, Taiwanese fear discrimination at home

TAIPEI, Taiwan —Shelly Chen left her ancestral house in Hubei province, the coronavirus epicenter in China, at the end of March after Chinese authorities lifted an order that she stay inside for two months. She rented a private car for the sleepless, 15-hour overnight ride that would get her to Shanghai on time for a rare flight home to Taiwan.

Now she’s in quarantine yet again, in a government-allocated room in a Taipei suburb, where she must stay through mid-April with a toilet, balcony, WiFi, TV, two bottles of water and three meals delivered daily. Once that ends, the single mom can finally see her son and daughter again and reopen her beauty salon franchise, which closed in February because she wasn’t around to run it.

But she feels no elation about her upcoming freedom. Instead, like hundreds of other returnees to Taiwan from mainland China, she fears she’ll be the victim of a damaging social stigma that also has the island’s government concerned.


Theft of masks, sanitizer at Naval Medical Center San Diego lead to bag checks for staff

SAN DIEGO —Sailors and civilian staff at Naval Medical Center San Diego are undergoing random bag checks after a supply locker was broken into and raided, a Navy official said.

In addition to the break-in, other supplies have gone missing from the medical center in Balboa Park.

The thefts come as shortages of medical personal protective equipment have been reported at hospitals nationwide, although the Navy says it is not experiencing a shortage of equipment.


Do I need to wear a mask when walking outside? In my car? Does my pet need one?

Another day amid the coronavirus pandemic means another set of new rules Angelenos must follow to help flatten the curve.

Starting Friday, Los Angeles residents are required to wear a mask, bandanna or other type of covering over their mouths and noses when visiting essential businesses under an order from Mayor Eric Garcetti. Workers also must wear face coverings, which business owners must either provide or reimburse workers for buying.

Garcetti’s order is the latest effort to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and provides some relief for essential workers. The order focuses on people who are in public spaces where they cannot always remain six feet from others.


The social etiquette of social distancing: How to say ‘back off,’ politely

You suited up in your homemade face covering and disposable gloves to buy groceries. But the person behind you in the checkout line is inching closer and closer. What do you say? What do you do?

In the age of self-quarantines and social distancing, it’s a whole new world of etiquette. Things that were once considered polite — handshakes, holding the door, helping a neighbor with their arms full — are now verboten.

The most gracious, courteous thing you can do for others right now is to stay at home. When you absolutely must go out, though, you may find some people apparently haven’t heard of this whole stand-at-least-six-feet-apart thing.


Israeli leader accused of violating his own government’s Passover lockdown

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sparked controversy after allegedly violating the strict regulations his government imposed on Israelis over the Passover holiday.

Ahead of the holiday, Netanyahu closed the nation’s highways, instituted a curfew and warned Israelis to share their tables only with close family members living in the same household.

But footage was broadcast Wednesday night showing Netanyahu, 70, in a lively dinnertime discussion with his son, Avner, 25, who does not live in the prime minister’s residence.

The video was filmed and broadcast at Netanyahu’s behest as part of a national initiative in which prominent Israelis allowed their Seder tables to be filmed so as to share, if only virtually, their meals with fellow residents celebrating the festival alone. The Keshet Media Group, which broadcast the clip, told Israeli media that the video was filmed Tuesday by Netanyahu’s own crew.

A statement attributed to “sources close to the prime minister” said that “over the past month, Avner has spent hours a day at the prime minister’s residence and slept in his apartment which is adjacent to the residence and is within the boundaries of the secure complex.” However, no separate apartment is known to exist in the complex.

Netanyahu, who is the same age as Israelis who were ordered not to meet with younger relatives even before the holiday, was accused of breaking the quarantine he went into when exposed to Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who was infected with the coronavirus.


China helps neighbors fight the virus, but harasses them elsewhere

SINGAPORE —On a day when Chinese state media trumpeted more than a dozen reports of Beijing donating aid to battle the coronavirus — gloves to Italy, testing kits to Ethiopia, protective medical suits to South Korea — a brief news item escaped wide notice.

“New research stations come into operation on Nansha Islands,” read the March 20 report by the official New China News Agencyy, describing the opening of two civilian labs to study the marine environment in the South China Sea.

The announcement, using China’s name for what is more commonly known as the Spratly Islands, elided the bitter dispute surrounding the archipelago, where the People’s Liberation Army has reclaimed land to build a series of military outposts, in defiance of international rulings and territorial claims by neighboring countries.


Two women take the fight against the virus to the streets of Tehran

For the last 15 days, volunteers Maryam Moghadam, a university professor, and her friend Narges Mohammadi, a fashion designer, have been donning uncomfortable hazmat suits and spraying disinfectant from heavy bags in Tehran. For four hours each day, the two spray sidewalks, bus stations, subway stops, shelters and nursing homes. It’s not easy work.


Still scarred, Notre Dame Cathedral lives anew amid the crisis

PARIS —Still damaged and scarred by fire, Notre Dame Cathedral came back to life — if only for a fleeting instant — as a center for prayer on Friday in a Paris locked down against the coronavirus.

Just days before the first anniversary of the April 15, 2019, inferno that ravaged the beloved landmark, the French capital’s archbishop led Good Friday celebrations unlike any that have gone before inside the centuries-old jewel of Gothic architecture.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit and three clergymen who accompanied him wore hard hats as they entered the damaged cathedral, which is closed to the public and which he described as “half-collapsed.” They then took off the helmets for the ceremony, in front of a large cross and the gaping hole in the cathedral’s roof.



California toughens stay-at-home rules as cases top 20,000

California has reached another milestone in the coronavirus battle as the number of confirmed cases soared past 20,000 and the state prepared for a weekend of unprecedented restrictions, including efforts to keep people at home during Easter.

Sweeping rules limiting people’s movements have already been imposed statewide, but officials have added new restrictions in a desperate bid to slow the virus’ spread.

“Being safe means safe at home, for the next few weeks to come,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday. “Everything we can do to avoid having to be in contact with other people is a really good idea.”