European airline EasyJet grounds all flights
LONDON — Popular European airline EasyJet says it is grounding its entire fleet of aircraft amid a collapse in demand because of the COVID-19 crisis.
The carrier, based in Luton, England, has parked all 344 of its planes, removing a significant cost as it copes with the impact of the virus.
EasyJet says it has a strong balance sheet and is in “ongoing discussions with liquidity providers.” The budget carrier also announced that it had reached an agreement with the Unite union on furlough arrangements for its cabin crew.
The announcement comes as Scottish regional airline Loganair said it expected to ask for a government bailout.
Britain’s government has so far demurred from creating a rescue package for aviation but has said it is ready for negotiations with individual firms once they had “exhausted other options.”
A choir decided to go ahead with rehearsal. Now dozens of members have COVID-19 and two are dead
With the coronavirus quickly spreading in Washington state in early March, leaders of the Skagit Valley Chorale debated whether to go ahead with weekly rehearsal.
The virus was already killing people in the Seattle area, about an hour’s drive to the south.
But Skagit County hadn’t reported any cases, schools and business remained open, and prohibitions on large gatherings had yet to be announced.
Louisiana church defies COVID-19 order, holds Sunday services
Pentecostal preacher Tony Spell didn’t just stand before his congregation on Sunday in defiance of the governor’s order to stay home: He leaped into the pews, paraded, hugged and laid hands on worshipers’ foreheads in prayer.
“We’re free people. We’re not going to be intimidated. We’re not going to cower,” the Rev. Spell said from the pulpit of Life Tabernacle Church in a suburb of Baton Rouge. “We’re not breaking any laws.”
Inside a Long Beach distillery churning out hand sanitizer to battle COVID-19
The floor is sticky, and the air smells like booze.
At Portuguese Bend Distilling in Long Beach, a skeleton crew in medical masks and Carhartt work shirts clambers around the copper still and stainless-steel fermenters that, in normal days, would be churning out vodka and gin.
But these aren’t normal days.
Governors shrug off Trump’s insults as they plead for federal aid
Wary of President Trump’s criticism that they were ungrateful for his management of the coronavirus crisis, governors of several of the hardest-hit states sought gingerly Sunday to avoid provoking him anew and risk losing desperately needed federal aid.
Despite the drastic shutdown of much of the country, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease specialist, warned Sunday that 100,000 to 200,000 Americans might die before the pandemic eases. More than 2,400 had died as of Sunday.
Several governors made clear they fear inadvertently harming their own citizens if they are too strident in demands for desperately needed medical supplies, or if they clash too publicly with Trump over pandemic policy as the contagion spreads.
So they took a new tack, articulating their states’ needs while ignoring Trump’s insults and demands.
Former USC football player Quinton Powell hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms
Powell, who underwent a test for the coronavirus, made his symptoms public with an Instagram post Saturday. In the photo, Powell is lying on a hospital bed, wearing a mask and gown, with medical equipment along the wall behind him.
“Been scared since yesterday man,” Powell wrote in the post. “Y’all really stay isolated. ... be all fun and games til u in the hospital getting a shot in yo ahh and Qtips stuck up your nose til it touch your brain. This isn’t a message for sympathy cause I know who really cares about me and my well being, but this is a message so everyone really stays inside and stop playing with this. Everybody stay safe. Real talk. Peace, love and happiness.”
Joe Diffie, country music star, dies at 61 from complications of COVID-19
Joe Diffie, a country music star who won Country Music Assn. and Grammy awards and charted five No. 1 country singles in the 1990s, died Sunday from complications of COVID-19. He was 61.
The news was confirmed by Adkins Publicity, which announced his death in a news release. Diffie revealed his positive coronavirus diagnosis on Friday.
Surfer who ignored beach closure is fined $1,000, Manhattan Beach police say
A man received a $1,000 citation for surfing in Manhatthan Beach on Saturday after he ignored numerous warnings by police and lifeguards cautioning him not to go in the water because of the coronavirus beach closures.
Manhattan Beach Police Sgt. Mike Sistoni said it was the only citation for failing to follow the stay-at-home orders the department had issued.
“Everybody else was in compliance,” Sistoni said. “People have been pretty good about it.”
Indie bookstore Powell’s Books rehires more than 100 employees as online orders soar
After laying off more than 300 staff members, Portland’s cherished indie bookstore Powell’s Books has rehired more than 100 of its workers on the strength of online orders, the company’s CEO announced on Facebook Sunday.
“Your kind words, messages of encouragement, ideas for perseverance and orders for books have taken our breath away,” said CEO Emily Powell in a Facebook post. She also announced that the rehired staff were all full time and receiving benefits.
“We’ve made an internal commitment to only pay for expenses that keep folks employed, and the lights on, for the time being,” she wrote. “Right now … our focus is on keeping Powell’s moving, keeping our community healthy, taking care of our wonderful customers and having as many folks working with health insurance as our sales can support.”
California received 170 broken ventilators from feds; Silicon Valley is fixing them, Newsom says
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday said the federal government sent Los Angeles County 170 ventilators that arrived “not working,” and now a Silicon Valley company is fixing the equipment amid the coronavirus outbreak.
California and other states have been stocking up on ventilators in anticipation of a shortage at hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Newsom said he learned about the problem with the federal government’s ventilators when he visited Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday.
“Rather than lamenting about it, rather than complaining about it, rather than pointing fingers, rather than generating headlines in order to generate more stress and anxiety, we got a car and a truck,” Newsom said. Bloom Energy is fixing them, he tweeted Saturday.
Illinois infant with COVID-19 dies; exact cause of death unknown
CHICAGO —An Illinois infant with COVID-19 has died, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday. The cause of death is unknown, and an investigation is underway.
A state employee also was among 13 new deaths reported Saturday as Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike urged people to do all they could to prevent the spread of the virus.
“If you haven’t been paying attention, maybe this is your wake-up call,” Ezike said.
The risk of death and severe illness from COVID-19 is greater for older adults and people with other health problems. In most cases, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization.
Children have made up a small fraction of coronavirus cases worldwide. A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Chinese researchers earlier this month reported the death of a 10-month-old with COVID-19. The infant had a bowel blockage and organ failure, and died four weeks after being hospitalized.
U.S. can expect ‘millions of cases’ and more than 100,000 deaths, Fauci says
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said Sunday the U.S. could expect “millions of cases” of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and a possible death toll of “between 100,000 and 200,000.”
Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The death toll presently stands at more than 2,000.
The scientist, who has at times corrected President Trump’s statements about the outbreak, was careful in his wording when asked if there should be a rollback of guidelines on social distancing in less affected parts of the country.
That should happen, Fauci said, only if there is stepped-up testing in those places to ensure they are not about to become new hot spots for the virus.
“We’re going to have millions of cases” of COVID-19, Fauci said, but added that the pace of infection was a “moving target,” and that projections of cases and deaths were based on many factors.
While Trump has said he would like to see the economy reopen by Easter, which is April 12, Fauci has been much more conservative in terms of social-distancing requirements, saying they should be dependent on the widespread availability of testing with swift results.
“It’s going to be a matter of weeks,” he said. “It’s not going to be tomorrow, and it’s certainly not going to be next week.”
Also expressing caution on the easing of social distancing measures was Tom Inglesby, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Inglesby said that isolation measures already put into effect lagged behind the spread of the virus.
“We’re still at the very beginning of this outbreak,” he said. “We should expect it to continue for some time, and focus on social distancing as one of the main interventions to stop it.”
This is what it’s like to deliver food during a pandemic
With restaurants dining rooms closed, conventional wisdom would suggest that more people are ordering in. And that means better business for app-based food delivery drivers and bike couriers, right?
Wrong, says Justin Zemlyansky, a bike courier who has delivered food on and off for the last three years for delivery platforms such as Grubhub, Caviar and DoorDash.
More people than ever are turning to gigging in the food delivery space, Zemlyansky said. “They’re coming and trying to do these kinds of jobs because it’s the only money and revenue they can get,” he said.
Army vets fought to mass produce $100 ventilators. They hit roadblocks
SACRAMENTO — For the last month, Army reservist Lt. Colonel Kamal Kalsi, an emergency room doctor in New York, has been scrambling to find a way to quickly mass produce ventilators, equipment that could save the lives of thousands of coronavirus victims nationwide.
Two weeks ago, he thought he’d found a company in Sacramento with the perfect answer.
But then, as he tells it, necessity took a back seat to business.
The firm Kalsi contacted wanted tens of millions of dollars before they’d help him, he said.
CDC urges residents of of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days, effective immediately.
The advisory does not apply to workers for critical infrastructure industries, such as truck drivers, public health professionals and those in financial services and food supply. “The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will have full discretion to implement this Domestic Travel of Advisory.”
Earlier Saturday, President Trump said he was considering some type of enforceable quarantine to prevent people in New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut from traveling. He later tweeted that a quarantine would not be necessary and said he asked the CDC to issue the travel advisory, to be administered by governors.
Pentagon struggles as pandemic hits bases and ships
Washington — The Pentagon was waging a two-front war against the coronavirus outbreak Saturday, ramping up military assistance in hard-hit states as commanders battled to prevent widespread infections in the ranks that could force them to curtail military operations around the globe.
The Pentagon already has canceled or curtailed several large-scale training exercises, halted the movement of troops overseas and domestically, confined the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt to port in Guam after an outbreak aboard the warship, and shuttered many of its recruiting offices around the country.
President Trump flew to Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia on Saturday to watch as the 1,000-bed Navy hospital ship Comfort departed for New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, where it will take patients who have tested negative in an attempt to relieve overwhelmed civilian hospitals. The sister ship Mercy docked in the Port of Los Angeles on Friday to perform the same role there.
“We will win this war, and we will win this war quickly — with as little death as possible,” Trump said, standing on the pier with Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The use of the two hospital ships highlighted the growing military role in assisting beleaguered state officials as they try to contain the contagion. As of Saturday, public health officials had confirmed more than 121,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and more than 2,000 deaths.
More than 12,000 members of the National Guard were mobilized as of Friday to help run testing sites, move supplies and build makeshift tent hospitals in dozens of states where infection numbers are rising and threatening to overwhelm civilian medical facilities.
At the same time, senior Pentagon officials and top commanders grappled with the potential effect on military operations and the potential risks to national security if thousands of U.S. military personnel become sick or need to be quarantined.
Scenes from an empty downtown Los Angeles
Vatican: Pope and his closest aides are not involved with six COVID-19 cases
The Vatican says neither Pope Francis nor any of his closest aides are involved with six cases among Vatican residents or employees who tested positive for COVID-19.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni has confirmed news reports earlier in the week that an official of the Holy See’s secretariat of state office tested positive for the coronavirus. Bruni also has confirmed that the official lives at the Santa Marta hotel where Pope Francis lodges, too.
The health condition of the official “doesn’t at the moment present any particular critical” aspects, according to Bruni. But as a precaution, the official has been admitted to a Rome hospital for observation.
Bruni says more than 170 COVID-19 tests have been conducted on Vatican employees and residents of the hotel. The Vatican hasn’t specified if Francis was testified. But Bruni added: “I can confirm that neither the Holy Father nor his closest collaborators are involved” with infected cases.
Italy sees a slight drop in its death rate
Italy’s COVID-19 deaths are down slightly from the previous day.
Civil Protection officials said there were 889 deaths in a 24-hour period ending Saturday evening in the country, where intensive care units have been overwhelmed at the heart of the outbreak in the north. That compares to 969 a day earlier, which was a one-day high in the country which has the world’s highest number of deaths of persons with confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
The day-to-day rise in new cases was just under 6,000, about the same as the previous day’s figure. Overall, Italy has at least 92,472 cases of COVID-19 and days ago surpassed the total of China, where the outbreak began in early 2020.
The current national lock-down decree expires on April 3, but health experts have said the need to try to contain contagion in the outbreak will likely last weeks beyond that.
Spain orders a two-week ban on commuting to non-essential businesses
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced his government will order a two-week ban on commuting to all non-essential businesses starting on Monday.
Sánchez says in a publicly televised address that all workers are ordered to remain at home “as if it were a weekend” to “intensify” efforts to stem the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Spain is approaching the end of the second week of stay-at-home rules and the closing of most stores, but workers were allowed to go to offices and factories if they were unable to work from home.
Spain reported 832 deaths Saturday for a total of 5,690 fatalities, to go with 72,248 infections. Its health authorities say, however, that the rate of infection growth appears to be slowing.
Kansas governor orders residents to stay home to curb virus
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a statewide order Saturday requiring people to stay in their homes to slow the spread of the coronavirus, waiting until nearly three-quarters of the state’s residents were already facing such directives.
Kansas joins nearly two dozen states in ordering residents to stay at home. The Kansas order is effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday through April 19.
“As governor I left the decision to local health departments for as long as possible,” Kelly said. She called the current “patchwork” of local orders problematic and said she believes the statewide order was necessary because Kansas “isn’t ready for the peak” of the pandemic.
Kelly, a Democrat, issued the order for Kansas’ 2.9 million residents after at least 25 counties, including all of the state’s most populous ones, issued their own stay-at-home orders. Kelly said the new order supersedes the local orders.
The order directs people to stay at home except for essential business such as trips to the grocery store or to get medical care. Outdoor exercise is allowed as long as social distancing is maintained, Kelly said.
“You can leave your house. You can still go outside. You are not under house arrest,” Kelly said.
Conservatives in the Republican-controlled Legislature said that Kelly overreached this month when she ordered all of the state’s K-12 schools closed for the rest of the semester and complained that the state’s economy was being damaged too much. Legislative leaders have the power to review — and revoke — her orders related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, Majority Leader Dan Hawkins and Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch, all Republicans, said in a joint statement that the new order “will no doubt impact our families and our businesses. As members of the Legislative Coordinating Council we have a duty to carefully assess this executive order and the reasons for it. Over the coming days we will consult with the Attorney General, health care professionals, the business community, and the state’s emergency management team to make sure we are on the right path.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Kansas health officials reported 202 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus as of Friday, an increase of 34 from Thursday, and four deaths, all in the Kansas City area.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said more than 100 complaints about alleged price gouging related to the coronavirus have been filed since the state’s anti-profiteering law was triggered by Kelly’s declaration of a state emergency on March 12. Some complaints have been assigned to investigators within the attorney general’s office or to local prosecutors.
Trump raises idea of quarantine in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; Cuomo doesn’t ‘know what that means’
President Donald Trump said Saturday that he had spoken with some governors and was considering some type of an enforceable quarantine to prevent people in New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut from traveling.
Trump told reporters at the White House that it would be for a “short period of time, if we do it at all.” He said he had spoken with Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., the country’s epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Cuomo said he did not talk about any quarantine with Trump.
“I don’t even know what that means,’’ Cuomo said during a briefing in New York. “I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable, and from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. ... I don’t like the sound of it.”
It isn’t clear whether the federal government has the power to impose such restrictions on states. Under the country’s constitutional system, states have the power and responsibility for maintaining public order and safety. The federal government is empowered under the law to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states, but it’s not clear that means Trump can order state residents to stay put.
Trump made the comments on his way to Norfolk, Virginia, to see off a U.S. Navy medical ship en route to New York City to help with pandemic response there.
Using malaria drugs off-label to treat COVID-19 can be risky, doctors and experts warn
The prospect that a pair of malaria drugs will become go-to medications for treating COVID-19 before they’ve been rigorously tested is prompting new safety warnings from heart specialists and other doctors and experts.
President Trump has touted the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as a potential “game changer” for patients sickened by the novel coronavirus, and federal officials have asked pharmaceutical manufacturers to make their stocks of these drugs available for immediate use.
But as the medications begin pouring into hospital pharmacies and physicians begin prescribing them, their potential side effects are raising alerts.
An article published this week in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings warns that both drugs could prompt dangerous and potentially deadly heart arrhythmias in the 3 million people worldwide who have a congenital cardiac condition — called long QT syndrome — that can cause the heart to beat erratically and lead to sudden death.
In addition, millions of people in the United States take medications that prolong the heart’s “QT interval,” the span of time it takes the heart’s electrical system to recharge between beats. Those people — including patients who take common antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs or any one of a wide range of antibiotics — are probably also at risk of developing a dangerously irregular heartbeat if they take one of the malaria drugs without being closely monitored by a doctor, the article’s authors said.
New York delays presidential primary
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was delaying the state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 23, when the state plans to hold legislative congressional and local party primaries.
“I don’t think it’s wise to be bringing people to one location to vote,” the Democrat said.
New York joins over a dozen states that have delayed some elections. A smaller group including Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Indiana and Kentucky have also postponed their presidential primaries.
The governor’s decision came as election commissioners across New York warned they were “risking” their health and safety to meet impending deadlines for testing machines and preparing ballots ahead of the April 28 date.
Local election boards have said they were facing shortages of polling places and inspectors and had called on legislative leaders and Cuomo to allow for increased use of absentee balloting for quarantined individuals and greater flexibility for elections officials to run June elections.
United Nations says 86 staffers around world reported cases
The United Nations says 86 staff members around the world have reported cases of COVID-19.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said most of the infected staff members are in Europe, but there are also staffers in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the United States that have the coronavirus.
To try to reduce transmission, he said the vast majority of U.N. staffers are working from home.
At U.N. headquarters in New York, where a normal day would see staffers’ passes swiped 11,000 times, the number of swipes Friday morning stood at 140, Dujarric said.
In Geneva, he said, the number of staff at the U.N. office has dropped from around 4,000 people on a regular day to just about 70 on Thursday. In Vienna, more than 97% of U.N. staff are now working remotely, he said. And, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 99% of staff are working from home.
Here’s what you can’t do this weekend
This weekend brings even more restrictions than last weekend, when officials were alarmed by crowds flocking to beaches, parks and hiking trails.
Most beaches, trails, recreation areas and other points of interest are closed, including trails in Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon Park in Los Angeles. The state has also ordered parking lots closed at dozens of state beaches and parks.
But L.A. officials said it’s fine to walk or jog in your neighborhood or through neighborhood parks as long as you social distance.
See’s Candies suspends chocolate production for first time since World War II
See’s Candies, a California chocolate institution, is suspending production because of the coronavirus. It’s only the second time in See’s 99-year history that production has been interrupted, when it was halted because of rationing during World War II.
“Given the current events with COVID-19, and our concern for the health and safety of our employees, we have made the decision to initiate an interruption once again,” the South San Francisco company said in a statement. “We will work to keep you updated as we develop plans to safely resume operations.”
The first See’s store opened in Los Angeles in 1921 by a trio of Canadian immigrants: Charles See, his wife, Florence, and his mother, Mary. That grandmotherly face on See’s trademark black-and-white boxes belongs to Mary See, and her recipes were the foundation of the operation.
In 2017, See’s Candies was expecting to sell between $400 million and $450 million of candy, and had 1,500 employees, with more workers added during the winter holidays.
Citing virus, judge orders release of two men from California immigrant detention center
A federal judge Friday ordered the immediate release of two men held in the Adelanto detention center after their attorneys cited their severe risk of contracting coronavirus.
The two — Pedro Bravo Castillo and Luis Vasquez Rueda — are among a number of detainees who have been ordered released across the country since the pandemic broke out.
“They’ve been spared a potential death sentence,” said Mark Rosenbaum, an attorney with Public Counsel, which — along with Kaplan Hecker & Fink — represented the two men. “Hopefully now ICE is going to do its part to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.”
Big L.A. restaurants ordered to pay workers two weeks’ worth of sick leave amid shutdown
Large Los Angeles restaurants will be required to pay their employees 80 hours of sick leave, part of a sweeping city effort to provide financial assistance to workers who have been affected by business closures related to the coronavirus outbreak.
City councilmembers voted on Friday evening to pass the ordinance. It applies to all employers within the city of Los Angeles that have more than 500 employees.
The 500-employee stipulation was added to the proposal just hours before it was put up for a vote, effectively sparing many owners of small restaurants from almost certain bankruptcy. That’s because with all restaurants closed to dine-in service, and many choosing to temporarily close during shelter-in-place restrictions, they’re pulling in little to no revenue.
The original version of the ordinance would have required all businesses with fewer than 500 employees to pay 80 hours of sick leave at an employee’s regular rate. It was also retroactive, and would have required paying those employed between Feb. 3 and March 4, too.