Coronavirus updates: California will ‘do the right thing’ on restrictions, Newsom says
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‘Under siege’: 55 deaths at New York care home blamed on COVID-19
As residents at a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., began dying in late February from a coronavirus outbreak that would eventually take 43 lives, there was little sign of trouble at the Cobble Hill Health Center, a 360-bed facility in an upscale section of Brooklyn.
Its Facebook page posted a cheerful story encouraging relatives to quiz their aging loved ones about their lives, and photos of smiling third graders at a nearby school making flower arrangements for residents.
That quickly changed. By the middle of March, the CEO began sending increasingly alarmed emails about banning visitors, screening staff, confining residents, wiping down all surfaces, and having all-hands-on-deck meetings to prepare everyone for the coming coronavirus “freight train.”
Now listed with 55 deaths it can only assume were caused by COVID-19, among the most of any such facility in the country, Cobble Hill Health Center has become yet another glaring example of the nation’s struggle to control the rapid spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes that care for the most frail and vulnerable.
India reports biggest one-day virus spike as lockdown eased
India recorded its biggest single-day spike in coronavirus cases on Monday as the government eased one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to allow some manufacturing and agricultural activity to resume.
An additional 1,553 cases were reported over 24 hours, raising the national total past 17,000. At least 543 people have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, and epidemiologists forecast the peak may not be reached before June.
The shelter-in-place orders imposed in India on March 24 halted all but essential services. Starting Monday, limited industry and farming were allowed to resume where employers could meet social distancing and hygiene norms, and migrant workers can travel within states to factories, farms and other work sites.
The loosening of restrictions comes as India continues to ramp up testing, build up stocks of ventilators and personal protective equipment and prepare makeshift isolation wards and dedicated COVID-19 hospitals.
California will ‘do the right thing’ when lifting stay-at-home orders, Newsom says
The number of coronavirus cases in California topped 30,000, with nearly 1,150 deaths, as officials said that science — not political pressure — would determine when they began to reopen the economy.
Although the state is seeing the rate of new infections from the coronavirus declining, Gov. Gavin Newsom said rising death counts were a major concern.
“For those who think we are out of the woods … I caution you on the basis” of the death toll, Newsom said Saturday.
As for lifting some stay-at-home orders, Newsom added: “We are going to do the right thing, not judge by politics, not judge by protests, but by science.”
California lessons from the 1918 pandemic: San Francisco dithered; Los Angeles acted and saved lives
The big, striving city on the south coast moved fairly quickly at the first signs of danger — shutting down bars, pool halls, sporting events and more.
Its rival to the north waited at least a week longer to order closures, as its leaders went mask-happy, betting that their best weapon against the onrushing contagion was face coverings, and going slow on what is now referred to as “social distancing.”
The two great cities charted their disparate paths in the months that followed, straining — amid rudimentary science and massive public pressure — to craft the proper response to the greatest infectious disease emergency in modern memory.
Some 102 years later, this tale of two cities offers some cautionary insights as a few states, responding to President Trump’s urging, take steps to open up.
Los Angeles and San Francisco in the early 20th century were vastly different places than they are now. But they already had distinct cultures and leaders who responded to the great Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 in markedly different ways, thereby producing distinctly different outcomes.
At the helm in one city was a headstrong public health commissioner, who defied the mayor and city council to lock down his city, but only so much. The other also had a physician as its chief health officer, but one who relied even less on quarantine-style limitations, grasping, instead, for a dubious solution.
Yet Los Angeles, San Francisco and 20 other cities across America shared one common failing, a mistake that would spur a “double hump” of contagion. That second surge of influenza infections in 1918 hit both Los Angeles and San Francisco and killed more people than the first wave in other cities, such as Denver, Kansas City, Milwaukee and St. Louis.
“The really important lesson of 1918 is to keep interventions in place as long as possible,” said Alex Navarro, assistant director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. “Because once the controls are removed, it’s very difficult to reinstate them.”
Advocates say hundreds of immigrants detained in California are on hunger strike. ICE says only two
On April 8, Jose Mendez, an immigrant held at Adelanto ICE Processing Center near Victorville, said things had noticeably changed at the facility: Some guards had started wearing masks, detainees could no longer leave their cells for yard time and meals were delivered to them.
Mendez said detainees had asked for their own masks, gloves and cleaning supplies to protect against the coronavirus, and facility staff promised they’d get some. But they never delivered, he said. The 38-year-old had grown increasingly concerned about the virus, particularly because he has high blood pressure and diabetes. He wanted to get out but didn’t have a lawyer.
Two days later, Mendez and other detainees in his pod complained to guards who weren’t wearing masks about lack of protection against the virus. He said their complaints were never addressed.
“We all collectively decided that we’d start a hunger strike if they won’t change,” Mendez said. “If one person becomes infected, we all do.”
Advocates say hundreds of immigrants detained in California facilities are now on hunger strike over conditions that leave them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
But officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday that two detainees are on hunger strike at Adelanto and none at any other facility. According to ICE policy, facility staff must record detainees not eating for 72 hours before designating a hunger strike.
“ICE does not retaliate in any way against hunger strikers,” the agency said. “ICE explains the negative health effects of not eating to our detainees. For their health and safety, ICE closely monitors the food and water intake of those detainees identified as being on a hunger strike.”
Across the country, 124 immigrants and 30 ICE employees at detention centers have tested positive for the virus. With 18 confirmed cases, the second-largest outbreak among ICE detainees at any facility is at Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego.
Governors say — despite White House claims — they need supplies, federal help to ramp up testing
President Trump came under new criticism Sunday from governors who said the White House was pushing to reopen the country’s economy without a proper testing regimen in place for coronavirus infections.
Trump last week unveiled guidelines for easing, in phases, the shelter-in-place restrictions that shuttered many businesses across the country. The president declared at a briefing Saturday that the country had “tremendous testing capacity” and accused opponents of “trying to politicize the issue of testing.”
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said it was “delusional” to assert that there was enough testing in place to move quickly on easing restrictions.
“Our president, obviously, has been unable to deliver on tests,” Northam said on CNN’s “State of the Union.
Although U.S. testing rates lag behind those of many other countries weathering the pandemic, Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday that smaller numbers of tests could suffice if carefully targeted. He also said states needed to step up their efforts.
“We’re doing 150,000 tests a day now,” Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” adding that “if states around the country will activate all of the laboratories that are available in their states, we could more than double that overnight.”
But governors, including some Republicans, said more federal action was needed to bring testing up to effective levels. Some public health experts have said widespread measures to reopen the economy will need to be accompanied by half a million tests a day.
“I think this is probably the No. 1 problem in America, and has been from the beginning of this crisis — the lack of testing,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Hogan, who heads the National Governors Assn., said he had “repeatedly made this argument to the leaders in Washington on behalf of the rest of the governors in America.”
Some state executives pointed out that the federal role was crucial in certain aspects of the testing process. Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, a Republican, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that states “shouldn’t be making their own decisions on that stuff.”
“Everything associated with testing has to be approved by the CDC and the FDA, as it should be,” Baker said on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” referring to the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, whom Trump has often singled out for criticism, said on NBC that states like hers had the capacity to ramp up testing if they received needed supplies as part of a coordinated federal effort.
“Part of the story in Michigan is we have the capacity to double or triple the number of tests that we are doing, but we need some of these supplies,” she said, citing chemical reagents and swabs. “You can’t process all of these tests if you can’t take the sample and protect it and move forward though testing.”
Disney stops paying nearly half its workforce
Walt Disney Co. will stop paying more than 100,000 employees this week, nearly half of its workforce, as the world’s biggest entertainment company tries to weather the coronavirus lockdown.
Suspending pay for thousands of so-called cast members will save Disney up to $500 million a month across its theme parks and hotels, which have been shut in Europe and the U.S. for almost five weeks.
But slashing fixed costs in a more severe way than other theme-park owners, such as NBCUniversal and Warner Media, poses significant risks to the reputation of the century-old empire behind Mickey Mouse.
Protesters fed up with stay-at-home orders rally in San Diego
SAN DIEGO — One month into a statewide stay-home order that has upended daily life as we know it, protesters took to the downtown streets Saturday and demanded that California reopen.
“I think at [this] point people have had enough and they want to get back to work again,” said retired Point Loma resident Darla Clark, noting many of her friends have lost their jobs. “This is definitely where the cure is going to be worse than the disease.”
The rally, which mirrored several others staged across the nation in the last week, ignored repeated calls from health experts and local public officials to keep the restrictions in place for potentially several weeks longer to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
South Korea reports just eight more cases over 24 hours
SEOUL — South Korea has reported eight more cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the first time for a daily jump in the country to drop to a single digit in about two months.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the additional figures released Sunday took the country’s total to 10,661 with 234 deaths.
It said 8,042 of the total had recovered and released from quarantine and that 12,243 others were under tests to determine whether they contracted the virus.
South Korea’s caseload has been waning in recent weeks since it recorded hundreds of new cases every day between late February and early March, mostly in the southeastern city of Daegu and nearby areas.
Despite the recent downward trend, South Korean officials have warned about the possibility of a broader “quiet spread” with people easing up on social distancing.
Broadway star Nick Cordero to have leg amputated in COVID-19 complication
Broadway star Nick Cordero, who recently starred in a new production of “Rock of Ages” in Hollywood, is set to have his leg amputated after suffering complications linked to the COVID-19 disease.
The Canadian actor, who has a 10-month old son with former dancer Amanda Kloots, was to have his right leg amputated Saturday due to blood clotting in the limb following infection from the novel coronavirus, Kloots shared on Instagram Saturday.
The Laurel Canyon-based couple had moved to L.A. for Cordero’s role in the Broadway production. In March, he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai hospital in March with pneumonia and later diagnosed with COVID-19.
He has spent 18 days under sedation in the intensive care unit of the hospital and has received assistance with his breathing through extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), Kloots said.
Hundreds of workers shelter in stables at Santa Anita, trying to survive racing ban
Peacocks wail from a nearby arboretum, the sound ringing through a parking lot along the backstretch of Santa Anita Park racetrack. On a crisp Saturday morning, there are more than 200 cars, most of them belonging to those who bathe, brush, walk, exercise and train the hundreds of horses in the stables.
Inside is a community that on a given day might swell to 1,700, including the more than 700 people who, as part of their compensation, live in small dorm-style rooms set in well-worn buildings near the barns. The workers, many of them immigrants from Mexico and Central America, still have jobs because facilities that care for animals are considered essential and therefore exempt from stay-at-home-orders that have closed many Los Angeles County businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But their futures are tenuous. On March 27, county health officials ordered Santa Anita to stop holding races, effectively amputating the industry’s financial arm.
Santa Anita made a proposal to the county commissioner and public health officials last week, seeking to restart live racing. The decision to shut down “was based on the definition of what constitutes an essential business,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in an email. Some people in the business wonder whether there wasn’t a different reason.
Activists lobbied hard last year to rein in the sport as 30 thoroughbreds died after racing or training at the track. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Gavin Newsom were publicly critical and at times called for a halt to the races. This season, 11 horses have died at the track, including two after racing stopped.
County health officials did not answer an email asking whether pressure from animal rights groups had an impact on last month’s decision to close down racing.
Oscar de la Torre, a labor organizer who engages with workers on the backstretch, thinks shutting down the sport was the plan all along. “It’s pretty obvious that’s what they intend to do,” he said.
As protests occur across U.S., Cuomo urges unity
As growing numbers of protesters challenge coronavirus restrictions across the nation, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an impassioned plea Saturday for the nation to remain united as it fights the pandemic.
“The emotion in this country is as high as I can recall, people are frustrated, we’re anxious, we’re scared, we’re angry,” Cuomo said during his daily briefing, emphasizing that the crisis is mentally and economically devastating. “Look, if you have partisan divisions splitting this nation now, it’s going to make it worse… This is no time, and no place for division. We have our hands full as it is. Let’s just stay together, and let’s work it through.”
Cuomo spoke before scheduled protests began in Texas, Maryland, Indiana and Wisconsin against ongoing stay-at-home restrictions enacted to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Several such demonstrations have already taken place across the country this week, including in California, Michigan, Ohio and New Jersey.
On Saturday in downtown Annapolis, Md., dozens in their vehicles drove in circles and honked during a lunchtime protest. One woman waved a sign out her window that said, “I want to save my business!!! I need to work!” Another man scrawled on his pickup truck, “The face mask you were duped into wearing symbolizes you loosing your freedom of speech.”
Outside the Texas statehouse in Austin, protesters chanted, “Fire Fauci!,” referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert who is widely credited with influencing President Trump’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic. Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones made an appearance.
The protests come at a time when governors are weighing measures for reopening their economies without easing restrictions so quickly that they risk a new surge of infections, and without adequate testing capability. On Friday, Florida allowed some beaches to reopen — resulting in throngs crowding Jacksonville shorelines not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Texas announced plans to ease some restrictions starting next week.
Trump, after claiming sole authority over such matters and later reversing course and saying he was leaving such decisions up to the states, seemed to encourage protests Friday when he took to Twitter and wrote “LIBERATE” three states led by Democratic governors. Protests have already taken place in the states — Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia — and Trump later defended the protesters.
U.S., Canada to keep border closed 30 more days
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the U.S. and Canada have agreed to keep the border closed to nonessential travel for another 30 days.
Trudeau says it will keep people on both sides of the border safe amid the pandemic. U.S. President Trump said Wednesday the U.S.-Canada border would be among the first borders to open. Nearly 200,000 people normally cross the border daily.
The U.S. has more confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world. The U.S. and Canada agreed last month to limit border crossings to essential travel amid the pandemic. The agreement was due to expire this week.
State-funded L.A. ‘surge hospital’ opens at St. Vincent Medical Center
A temporary state-funded hospital opened this week on the shuttered St. Vincent Medical Center campus near downtown Los Angeles in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Los Angeles Surge Hospital, which is operating at the St. Vincent complex, is accepting only individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, said Julie J. Sprengel, acting chief executive of the hospital and Southwest Division president of Dignity Health Hospitals. Patients are transferred by the county from community hospitals, Sprengel said.
The hospital, which opened Monday, had eight patients as of Friday morning, said Dr. Christina Ghaly, director for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.
Ticketmaster offers fans refunds for concerts postponed
The ticket retailer Ticketmaster is finalizing plans to issue refunds for up to 18,000 postponed events in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parent company Live Nation announced that refunds for those concerts, including stadium dates from Taylor Swift at the now-postponed opening of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, will be open to fans requesting them starting May 1, for a 30-day period.
The postponements, which affect shows scheduled through July, represent a big swath of the 55,000 events currently listed on Ticketmaster for 2020. Future cancellations and postponements will be dealt with at a later date.
COVID-19 concerns prompt hunger strikes and protests inside Otay Mesa Detention Center
Detainees in at least 11 units at the Otay Mesa Detention Center have said they are beginning hunger strikes this week over continued concerns about their safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to advocates who communicate with them daily.
Otay Mesa, run by private prison company CoreCivic, holds people in immigration custody as well as those who are awaiting trial or sentencing in federal criminal court. It has been a hot spot for the novel coronavirus among U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.
As of Thursday afternoon, 18 ICE detainees and nine U.S. Marshals Service inmates at the facility had tested positive, according to facility documents obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune. The virus had spread to at least nine units, comprising nearly half of the facility.
Judge rejects more inmate releases from California prisons
A federal judge has denied an emergency motion that would force California officials to develop a plan to further reduce the state’s inmate population by thousands in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, saying the state has already implemented myriad changes.
In his ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar said lawyers for the inmates had to demonstrate that Gov. Gavin Newsom and correctional officials were indifferent to protecting the inmates and therefore in violation of their federal rights.
Inmates want the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to create a detailed plan that would change the way prisoners are housed in the state’s 35-prison system and release more inmates or house some outside of prisons.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and no one questions that it poses a substantial risk of serious harm to plaintiffs,” Tigar wrote in his ruling. “But given the numerous and significant measures the state of California has taken and continues to take in response to COVID-19, the court cannot conclude that state officials have been deliberately indifferent.”
Bay Area counties issue order for residents and workers to wear face coverings on public transportation or in taxis
San Francisco and other Bay Area counties issued orders Friday to require residents and workers to wear face coverings in essential businesses and when riding public transportation or in taxis.
Dr. Grant Colfax, the city’s director of public health, said at a news conference the orders will not replace the six-feet social distancing requirement
When stay-home orders are eventually relaxed, “by then people will already be in the habit of wearing face coverings,” Colfax said.
Children under 12 will not be required to wear masks, and masks should never be placed on children under 2, he said.
Mayor London Breed said the orders will be enforced by police.
“If you are not a police officer, don’t act like one,” she said. “We are not expecting people to police one another.”
Colfax also announced that a city jail inmate has tested positive for the coronavirus, the first since the pandemic hit. The inmate was isolated, and investigators are checking on others who might have had contact with the person. Officials have been testing all new inmates during booking, Colfax said.
So far 1,058 San Franciscans have tested positives out of 10,077 tested, Colfax said. Twenty residents have died.
Ninety-one patients have been hospitalized for COVID-19, and about 30% of them are in intensive care units, he said.
The city had 1,048 acute care and 445 intensive care beds available Friday “to meet the demands of the surge,” Colfax said.
City officials also announced a new program that will give the elderly and disabled access to taxis at an 80% discounted rate for making essential trips to stores and doctors. City transportation leaders said city staff will police bus stops to ensure people waiting are six feet apart and buses will limit ridership to ensure distancing onboard.
‘Live free or die:’ Protesters march against California stay-at-home rules in Huntington Beach
A group of more than 100 protesters converged on Huntington Beach in a demonstration against California’s coronavirus stay-at-home rules, part of a series of national demonstrations organized by conservative groups.
The protesters — some with President Trump banners and American flags — mostly were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing of standing at least six feet apart. And they offered views about the spread of the coronavirus that different sharply from scientific findings and experts’ recommendations.
One of the first people to trickle into Friday afternoon’s protest in Huntington Beach was 62-year-old Paula Doyle.
Under pressure to reopen the economy, governors lay out varying paths
Pressured by President Trump to reopen the economy, governors across the nation on Friday laid out varying paths as they tried to balance public health in the midst of the coronavirus crisis with the crushing financial pressures facing the nation’s workers.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that his state would reopen state parks, allow retailers to offer to-go sales and let physicians and nurses perform diagnostic tests and surgeries that had been put on hold to ensure hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients.
These moves, which start next week, include safeguards such as social distancing requirements to minimize the risk of infection. Additional openings — possibly including restaurants and movie theaters and an easing of the state’s stay-at-home order — will be announced April 27, he said.
“We have demonstrated that we can corral the coronavirus,” Abbott said as he announced the creation of a “strike force,” including medical experts, elected officials and business leaders, to guide the effort to reopen his state’s economy.
From Taylor to Elton to J. Lo: How Hugh Evans (and Lady Gaga) assembled ‘One World’ in just two weeks
In a festival season with no music festivals, Global Citizen has been working to bring pop’s biggest acts into a shared virtual space.
On Saturday at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, the international aid group with ties to the United Nations will present “One World: Together at Home,” an all-star special featuring the likes of Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Jennifer Lopez, Paul McCartney, Elton John and the Rolling Stones — each of whom will perform from wherever they’re sheltering in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic that’s brought the live-music industry (and so much more) to a standstill.
Set to be broadcast on ABC, NBC and CBS — and streamed on virtually every major tech platform — the show is meant to “celebrate the front-line community health workers who are the heroes in all of this,” Global Citizen Chief Executive Hugh Evans, 37, said in a phone call this week from New York. But Evans is also looking to raise money for the World Health Organization at a moment when President Trump has ordered the U.S. to halt its funding.
Michelle Obama will read your kids a story by video on Mondays
Get ready for storytime with Michelle Obama.
Penguin Young Readers, Random House Children’s Books, and PBS Kids announced Friday that the former first lady will be hosting a series of online read-alongs for a month of Mondays.
Obama will launch “Mondays With Michelle Obama” on April 20 by reading aloud “The Gruffalo,” written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, and continue with other selections through May 11.
“As a little kid, I loved to read aloud. And when I became a parent, I found such joy in sharing the magic of storytelling with my own children — and then later, as first lady, with kids everywhere,” Obama said in a statement Friday.
Disabled veterans will automatically receive stimulus checks without having tax return on file
Disabled veterans will automatically receive their up to $1,200 stimulus checks without having to file a tax return, the IRS announced Friday.
The IRS has begun sending the payouts to the millions of Americans for whom it has direct deposit information, but questions have lingered over how best to get the money to people who don’t normally earn enough to have to file taxes, including millions of disabled veterans.
For weeks members of Congress have pushed the agency to use existing Veterans Administration contact information to get the money to veterans rather than requiring the veterans to file a separate tax return. The IRS did not provide a timeline for when the funds would arrive.
Congress specifically instructed the IRS to use Social Security Administration information to rush payments to Social Security recipients, but failed to make a similar edict for other groups traditionally unlikely to file a tax return including disability benefit recipients and disabled veterans.
Earlier this week the IRS said it would deliver the checks to disability recipients in early May using the same method by which they normally receive Social Security benefits.
Retired Army counterintelligence specialist Melvin Willmirth, 54, of Santa Monica said he hasn’t had to file a tax return in 10 years because while his VA benefits meet his needs, they aren’t enough to require one. The $1,200 would let him pay off some debts, he said.
“It would change everything. I would be just fine,” Willmirth said. “That $1,200, man, it would be a bit of a game changer.”
Newsom asks CEOs and former governors to join economic task force
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom tapped former governors, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Disney Chairman Bob Iger and other business executives and politicians on Friday to guide the state’s economic recovery from the coronavirus outbreak as unemployment climbed and millions of Californians sought financial support.
The governor said his chief of staff, Ann O’Leary, and billionaire climate activist and former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer would head the new Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery and develop recommendations for the government and companies to improve the economy, create jobs and help Californians get back on their feet.
“We are now in a pandemic-induced recession in the state of California,” Newsom said. “These are sobering and challenging times.”
Journal the pandemic and those weird grocery store trips — with help from Michelle Obama
How many times have you thought lately, I should write this down? We’re living in Never Before times: Pillaged grocery-store aisles. Skyrocketing unemployment rates. Nurses begging strangers for N95 masks on Twitter.
Yes, reality is now dystopic, but we’re also living in unprecedented times for journaling. These are Golden Wow days. You should be writing this down. Not only will you thank yourself later, you will be grateful now.
You’re snorting with laughter behind your mask. With what time? How?
The crisis hastens the collapse of local newspapers. Here’s why it matters
Jeff vonKaenel has weathered wildfires, recessions and getting sued by a mayor in his nearly 50 years running weekly newspapers.
But the Sacramento newsman met his gravest challenge yet last month when public health officials urged cancellations of large gatherings to slow the novel coronavirus’ spread.
Four days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory, the 69-year-old owner of the Sacramento News & Review and sister publications in Chico and Reno made the “brutal” call to stop the presses and lay off 40 staffers.
“This could be the death knell, not only for us, but for the dailies that we compete with,” vonKaenel said in an interview.
MLS extends moratorium to June 8. Shortened season could affect player salaries
Major League Soccer announced Friday it had extended its moratorium on games another four weeks, to June 8, adding for the first time that it is exploring changes in player compensation if a full 34-game season is not played.
“We are seeking to work collaboratively with the [players union] to find a solution that provides a safety net for all players, opportunity to earn full salary in the scenario where all matches are played with fans, and in particular provides protection for the players at the lower end of the salary scale,” the league said in a statement.
The league and the players union are discussing “significant salary cuts,” with the league seeking reductions of up to 50% if games are canceled, ESPN reported Friday. That percentage could change based on games played and games played without fans in attendance.
Players making less than $100,000 this season would not be affected. Those proposals were debated during a conference call between league and union officials Thursday.
U.S. hospitals are desperate for sterile gowns
TRENTON, N.J. — U.S. hospitals are so desperate for sterile gowns to protect workers that some are resorting to having staff wear coveralls, Tyvek suits and ponchos. That’s according to a new survey from hospital consultant Premier Inc. illustrating how fighting a shortage of protective face masks can exacerbate another.
The survey finds companies that make personal protective equipment recently boosted manufacturing of N95 and surgical masks so much in response to pleas from hospital workers that now hospitals are having more trouble getting sterile gowns than masks. That’s because they’re often made from the same type of textiles.
Premier helps its 4,000 hospital members get medicines and supplies at discounts. It said 700 hospitals replied to the survey conducted April 11-15.
Outbreak at Safeway distribution center: One worker dead, 51 infected
One worker at a Central Valley Safeway distribution center has died of complications related to the coronavirus, and 51 others have been infected, officials said this week.
Andrew Whelan, a spokesman for Albertsons Cos., which owns Safeway, said 3% of the roughly 1,700 workers at the Tracy facility in San Joaquin County had tested positive for the virus, and additional health and safety measures are now in place.
The center provides groceries to about 300 stores throughout Northern California, Nevada and Hawaii.
“We continue to reinforce with all associates the importance of social distancing as the most effective tool we have to combat the spread of COVID-19,” Whelan said in a statement Friday. “We have also closed all common areas in addition to encouraging associates to take lunches and breaks by themselves.”
University of Wisconsin orders workers to take one furlough day off per month for a year
University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross is ordering everyone who works in system administration to take one furlough day per month for the next year.
Cross sent an email to nearly 600 system administration employees Friday announcing that, starting in May, they all must take one furlough day per month until June 2021.
System spokesman Mark Pitsch says the move will result in $3 million in savings as the system grapples with the coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout.
The system shut down in-person classes in March, told students to move back home and canceled all spring sports. The moves are expected to cost the system nearly $170 million in the spring semester alone. The losses include refunds for on-campus parking, dining and housing, technology purchases to move classes online, payments to student workers who lost their jobs and nonexistent athletic ticket sales.
System regents on Thursday authorized Cross to implement furloughs among administration workers and chancellors to order campus-based furloughs.
No country has herd immunity, WHO says
Evidence suggests herd immunity hasn’t yet been achieved anywhere and that only a low number of people have antibodies to COVID-19, Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said at a news briefing in Geneva. Countries should be careful not to assume that people who show antibodies to COVID-19 in blood tests have immunity, said Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist.
Countries must impose stringent food safety and hygiene standards on wet markets that sell animals and fish for food when they reopen, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. While such markets are necessary as millions of people depend on them as a source of food, the sale of wildlife for food should be banned, according to the WHO. The novel coronavirus outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan, China.
Reported cases in Africa rose 51% in one week, though Asia and some European countries demonstrate that it’s possible for that continent to try to contain the virus, Van Kerkhove said. “We’re constantly fearful of disease exploding in places like Yemen, Syria and Iraq, or in many fragile states where people are displaced and living in overcrowded conditions,” Ryan said.
WHO concerned by jump in cases in Africa
LONDON — The head of the World Health Organization says he’s concerned by a recent jump in COVID-19 cases across Africa.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says in the last week there has been a 51% increase in cases and a 60% jump in deaths. He says due to a lack of testing “it’s likely the real numbers are higher than reported.” Tedros says WHO and partners are working to boost Africa’s testing capacity and that 1 million test kits are set to be rolled out across the continent starting next week.
Tedros says WHO has been in recent talks with leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, philanthropist Bill Gates and others to speed vaccine production and figure out how the shots might be equitably distributed among the world’s population.
Tedros also clarified WHO’s guidance on “wet markets,” the markets across Asia where live animals and wildlife are often sold for food.
Although the origin of COVID-19 has not yet been identified, many scientists suspect the virus jumped to humans from animals at a wet market in Wuhan, China. Tedros says the markets are “an important source for food and livelihoods for millions of people around the world” but that they have often been poorly regulated. Tedros says WHO is recommending that these markets only be reopened “on the condition that they conform to stringent food safety and hygiene standards.”
‘Porch pirate’ burglars prey on homes getting deliveries
Thieves are exploiting new workplace rules that have resulted in delivery drivers avoiding opening gates, knobs and latches in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, police say.
While crime is down dramatically across Los Angeles, police say some “porch pirates” are taking advantage of the increasing prevalence of home deliveries as residents find new ways to conduct business during the pandemic.
LAPD Assistant Chief Robert Arcos said that, while overall thefts are down because more residents are adhering to the state’s stay-at-home orders, package thefts are still occurring.
Upset ‘Ellen’ crew says top producers haven’t been communicating
The core stage crew of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is reportedly making noise over how top producers have behaved during the coronavirus pandemic.
Communication appears to be the biggest complaint, though most of the crew members aren’t working and have seen their pay dramatically reduced, according to Variety.
The more than 30 crew members didn’t see a word in writing for more than a month regarding their hours or pay, or even asking about their health, two insiders told the trade outlet. Phone calls have been returned occasionally by a production coordinator, but little information was provided, they said.
Because of that, crew members who were worried about being furloughed reportedly didn’t know whether they should prepare to apply for unemployment. The show usually shoots four days a week.
San Diego Comic-Con 2020 is officially canceled
San Diego Comic-Con 2020 has been canceled for the first time in the event’s 50-year history.
Comic-Con International announced Friday that its annual pop-culture convention would not be held this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event, which draws more than 135,000 attendees in and around the San Diego Convention Center each year, will return July 22-25, 2021.
Comic-Con had been holding off on its decision in hopes that the situation around COVID-19 would improve by summer. But with California officials indicating that the state’s restriction on large gatherings will continue into the summer months, it had been expected that an event like San Diego Comic-Con would not be able to proceed.
In the post-pandemic world, the U.S. economy could be totally different
WASHINGTON — When the U.S. economy reopens, whether sooner or later, chances are it won’t look the same as it did only a few months ago before the coronavirus outbreak.
And the wider and deeper the pandemic runs, the more profound the future changes in American life are almost certain to be. Already the climb out of the deep economic hole looks to be long and slow.
“The world that we are going to live in for at least the next two to three years will be totally different than what we are used to,” said Sung Won Sohn, president of SS Economics and a professor at Loyola Marymount University.
Cal State to suspend SAT, ACT requirement during the crisis
California State University, the largest public university system in the nation, announced Friday it would suspend its SAT and ACT testing requirement for students seeking admission in 2021-22 amid continued uncertainty over the educational impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.
The admission adjustment represents a major shift for the CSU system, which educates nearly half a million students and currently relies exclusively on the combination of an SAT or ACT score and a student’s GPA to determine acceptance eligibility.
The decision by the 23-campus system follows a similar one by the University of California earlier this month.
Phil McGraw and Mehmet Oz stoke controversy with remarks
Two of television’s most well-known daytime hosts are under fire for their comments questioning stay-at-home restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
In a Thursday appearance on the Fox News show “The Ingraham Angle,” Phil McGraw suggested it was dangerous to shut down the economy in order to stop the pandemic.
“The fact of the matter is 40,000 people die a year from automobile accidents. 480,000 from cigarettes. 360,000 a year die from swimming pools, but we don’t shut the country down for that. But yet we’re doing it for this?” said the host of “Dr. Phil,” who is not a licensed doctor. (He also incorrectly stated how many people die in swimming accidents each year; that number is closer to 3,600 a year, not 360,000, according to the CDC.)
Taylor Swift concerts scheduled to open SoFi Stadium in July are canceled
The first major event scheduled at SoFi Stadium won’t take place.
Taylor Swift, whose concerts July 25 and 26 would have opened the $5-billion stadium in Inglewood, canceled all her live appearances for the remainder of the year Friday because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Fighting COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge for our global community and the safety and well-being of fans should always be the top priority,” the singer-songwriter said in a statement.
Swift was billed as the first woman to perform the opening concert at an NFL stadium.
Italy registers a few thousand new cases daily
ROME — Even as authorities in parts of Italy’s hardest-hit areas seek to ease lockdown restrictions, the nation continues to register a few thousand new cases of COVID-19 daily.
According to numbers supplied by the Health Ministry, there were nearly 3,500 new cases Friday since a day earlier, raising Italy’s overall tally of known infections to 172,434. Since Thursday, deaths of 575 people infected with coronavirus were registered.
Still, the numbers are showing a stark improvement, especially of patients in intensive care beds, since the first weeks of the outbreak.
Italy has Europe’s highest death toll of 22,745. The country is in its sixth week of nationwide lockdown.
By far, Italy’s region with the most cases and deaths is Lombardy, one of the nation’s most economically productive areas. Its governor has been insisting Lombardy’s factories must return to action starting on May 4, following the end of the national government’s current lockdown decree.
But virus experts and epidemiologists have cautioned that any easing of restrictions must be gradual. With far fewer cases in the south, experts are afraid immunity to COVID-19 is relatively low among the population there, and the virus outbreak could flare up anew.
Nurses are the heroes
The coronavirus is taking a serious toll on the doctors and nurses risking their lives while treating infected patients.
Moving in and out of negative-pressure rooms, putting on protective equipment and taking it off again, nurses are caring for patients who are severely ill and sometimes dying. They spend the greatest amount of time with the patients.
These nurses draw blood, obtain samples, provide oxygen, and devotedly tend to their patients’ needs. When a patient is placed in intensive care, it’s the nurses who do the mundane and the heroic to help the patient recover or die with a little more comfort.
To fight the pandemic, some patients turn to alternative medicine
With no approved drugs for the new coronavirus, some people are turning to alternative medicines, often on the advice of their governments.
This is most evident in China and India, both densely populated countries with a deep history and tradition of touting such treatments, and where there’s sometimes limited access to conventional medicine.
In China, where the pandemic began, officials made unsubstantiated claims that traditional medicine was key to fighting the virus. In India, where a lockdown of its 1.3 billion residents is underway, the government faced criticism after claiming some treatments might help prevent infections. And in Venezuela, where the healthcare system is severely crimped, President Nicolas Maduro pitched drinking an herbal tea.
The World Health Organization had advised against taking “traditional herbal remedies” on its website. It later acknowledged that some were turning to alternative medicine “to alleviate some of the milder symptoms of COVID-19,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said.
How many people in L.A. have had COVID-19? This study seeks answers
Antibody tests are almost impossible to get. Meet three L.A. residents who got them
Jake Warner came down with something in late February, but he wasn’t sure with what.
“It’s been a bad flu season, a bad allergy season,” Warner said. “There’s been a lot of what-ifs.”
The 27-year-old tech entrepreneur is hardly the only person to have wondered if he has unknowingly come down with the coronavirus before the extent of the pandemic was known and diagnostic testing was widely available. But he is among a rarefied group that has gotten some answers, thanks to a test that measures antibodies to the virus in the blood.
Tobacco, vaping industries seize opportunities with freebies, donations
Running low on surgical masks during the pandemic? You can get two for free by ordering a Moti Piin, a battery-powered vaping pen, from the company’s online shop.
Or buy sleek cartridges from Smok, another e-cigarette brand, and earn chances to win disposable gloves and up to 10,000 masks.
“COVID19 RELIEF EFFORT” blasts the ad of another online shop offering two-for-one e-liquid vials. Buyers at another shop get 19% off nicotine e-juices if they enter the code COVID-19.
As the global pandemic strains the world’s inventory of medical supplies, the tobacco and vaping industries are taking advantage of a unique opportunity, offering freebie protective gear, doorstep deliveries and festive pandemic-themed discounts. Some players have donated ventilators and mounted charity campaigns.
California death toll nears 1,000, L.A. is the hardest hit
California is on pace to reach a grim new milestone Friday in the fight against the coronavirus, as the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 nears 1,000.
The rising death toll comes even as the growth of coronavirus cases appears to be slowing in the state. Officials have cautiously credited strict stay-at-home orders for the deceleration but say the trend could reverse if the restrictions are lifted too soon.
Coronavirus-linked fatalities reached another one-day high in Los Angeles County on Thursday as health officials confirmed 52 additional deaths for a total of 457. It marked the third straight day the county has seen a record number of COVID-19 deaths, according to the county’s tally.
California unemployment jumps as payrolls shrink for first time since 2010
California’s unemployment rate shot up in March as a statewide coronavirus shutdown took effect and overall payrolls shrank for the first time in a decade, state officials reported Friday.
The March report showed a jobless rate of 5.3%, up from 3.9% in February, the largest jump in more than four decades of state data collection. But the rate is based on a survey ending March 12, so it doesn’t reflect the positions axed by thousands of employers in the second half of the month.
In the first half of the month, the state lost 99,500 jobs. That ends a record 120-month streak of gains since the Great Recession.
The grim news came the day after federal officials reported that 660,966 Californians had filed jobless claims in the week that ended April 11. Over four weeks, 2.7 million claims were processed statewide, amounting to 1 of every 7 workers in the state’s 19.3-million-person labor force.
Trump tweets ‘liberate’ three Democrat-led states
President Donald Trump urged Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia to “liberate” themselves on Friday in an apparent criticism of stay-at-home orders in the three Democrat-led states.
Trump made the comments in a series of tweets on Friday, less than 24 hours after unveiling a plan that deferred heavily to governors to determine when they could safely reopen their states amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The tweets signaled support for protests demanding an easing of the stay-at-home measures aimed at curbing the pandemic that have crippled the U.S. economy. All three states have Democratic governors.
Artists, live industry brace for a year without concerts: ‘Is there is a better place for spreading disease?’
Just two weeks ago, Pollstar projected that in its most pessimistic scenario for the post-COVID-19 concert industry, shows would resume in less than a year with industry losses around $9 billion.
Now the live business is preparing for much worse.
In a Monday call with top department staffers, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti suggested that “large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events may not be approved in the city for at least one year.” On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom released a six-point plan for eventually reopening California’s economic and social life that would likely push any large gatherings, including concerts and sporting events, back a year or more.
Cases in San Bernardino County surpass 1,000
San Bernardino County health officials confirmed 36 new cases of the coronavirus Thursday, bringing the county’s total to at least 1,032, the sixth highest in the state.
The county also reported eight more deaths linked to the virus, bringing the toll to 47.
To date, eight of the 53 counties that have COVID-19 patients in California have surpassed 1,000 confirmed cases. In most instances, individuals who have recovered from infection are included in the case logs. San Bernardino County, like several larger counties, including Los Angeles, does not currently track recoveries.
The number of confirmed cases in San Bernardino County has continued to grow as testing capacity has increased throughout the state. Officials announced that several drive-through testing events will take place over the coming weeks in an effort to accommodate a larger swath of people.
Should I wear a mask every time I leave my house? Here’s what experts say
Wearing face coverings or masks when conducting essential business like shopping and keeping medical appointments is now the law in many parts of California.
But some jurisdictions are going further, requiring face coverings in most public settings.
Sundance Institute launches $1-million fund to support indie film
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sundance Institute has established a $1-million emergency relief fund for independent artists and arts organizations.
One-third of the fund will go to the approximately 100 participants in the 2020 spring and summer Sundance labs. One-third of the grants will be open to need-based artists across the U.S. in partnership with the new cross-disciplinary fund Artist Direct. The final third of the money will support U.S. and international independent artist organizations.
A statement signed by Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam, founding director of Sundance’s feature film program Michelle Satter and recently installed director of the Sundance Film Festival Tabitha Jackson read in part, “To put it bluntly: There can be no return to business as usual. When history looks back, this will either be the moment when we invested in artists, making it possible to turn what we’re feeling during these scary and surreal times into powerful, lasting creative work — or it will be the moment we lost a generation of art and artists because we failed to support them when and how they most needed it.”
Your ‘Animal Crossing’ obsession is about to get worse. Blame the Getty Art Generator
Planet Earth got you down? Spending most of your quarantine time building an elaborate virtual island world in “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”? Take comfort, you are far from alone. But you knew that already.
Now know this: You can make your dream world twice as beautiful by jazzing it up with masterpieces from the Getty Museum’s online collection via the Getty’s newly launched Animal Crossing Art Generator. Choose from more than 79,000 pieces of art, including work by Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt and Klimt, and place them inside your carefully crafted universe as wallpaper, clothing, canvases and whatever else needs immediate beautification.
“We keep telling ourselves that what we can do best at this time is bring some joy into peoples lives and take our art to where they are,” said David Newbury, an enterprise software architect with the Getty whose team spearheaded the project. “And this seemed like a great way to do that with technology.”