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Trump extends coronavirus social distancing guidelines to April 30

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

Coronavirus Pandemic
Sailors prepare to admit the first patient aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy on March 29.
(Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abigayle Lutz/ U.S. Navy)

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

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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.”

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China reports 31 new coronavirus cases

China’s National Health Commission on Monday reported 31 new COVID-19 cases, among them just one domestic infection while the others were individuals recently arrived from abroad.

As outbreaks have surged in the United States and the rest of the world, China’s reported cases have dwindled four months after the then-unidentified illness first emerged in the central province of Hubei.

The country is now easing the last of the controls that confined tens of millions of people to their homes while they sought to contain the spread of the virus. At the peak of China’s restrictions, some 700 million people were in areas covered by orders or official requests to stay home and limit activity.

The focus of China’s prevention measures has shifted to overseas arrivals, who have made up the bulk of new infections for more than two weeks. Virtually all foreigners were barred from entering the country starting Saturday.

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AIDS crisis shaped Anthony Fauci, disease expert at front lines of coronavirus pandemic

For decades, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci has been known as the hardest worker in Building 31 — the first scientist to arrive at the sprawling National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md., in the morning and the last to leave in the evening.

“He’s even found notes on his windshield left by co-workers that say things like, “Go home. You’re making me feel guilty,” President George W. Bush said in 2008 when he awarded Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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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.

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Louisiana church defies COVID-19 order, holds Sunday services

Rev. Tony spell leads Sunday service at Life Tabernacle Church outside Baton Rouge.
(Woody Jenkins)

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.”

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‘I don’t want to get sick. But if I die, I die’: Florida retirees grapple as coronavirus cases soar

A resident of The Villages, Fla., gets tested for the coronavirus with a nasal swab at a drive-through site that accommodates golf carts.
(Joe Burbank / AP)

Retirees and snowbirds have long flocked to the slew of country club-like gated communities in Florida known for their communal amenities, low taxes and year-round sun. The elderly account for close to a quarter of the state’s 21 million residents.

But now, as nearly half of the U.S. adjusts to stay-at-home orders put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus, life at many of Florida’s retirement villages has come to a standstill, with complaints from some and calls for additional safeguards from others.

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Plácido Domingo, once opera’s biggest star, has been hospitalized in Mexico with coronavirus

Plácido Domingo has been hospitalized in Mexico with complications related to COVID-19, Opera News reported on March 28.

In a press statement, a spokesperson for the opera singer reported that he is in stable condition but will remain the hospital for “as long as the doctors find it necessary until a hoped-for full recovery.”

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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.

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Coronavirus outbreak at Yucaipa nursing home leaves 12 infected, one dead

San Bernardino County officials said 12 people at a Yucaipa nursing facility tested positive for the virus Saturday after a resident of the facility died of COVID-19 earlier in the week.

At least one of the people who tested positive worked at the facility, which officials did not immediately name.

The 89-year-old woman had underlying health conditions and died Thursday, officials said.

In addition, a resident of a second Yucaipa nursing facility has symptoms of the illness, officials said. County public health staffers are working with both facilities to expedite testing of all residents and employees, they said.

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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.

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Trump extends federal social distancing guidelines to April 30

President Trump announced Sunday that federal social distancing guidelines, which were to either expire or be renewed on Monday, would be extended to April 30.

Speaking at a briefing held in the Rose Garden of the White House, Trump said the voluntary guidelines, which were originally to have lasted 15 days, would be extended to “slow the spread” of coronavirus.

Previously, the president had expressed impatience with isolation measures, which have virtually shut down large parts of the economy.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease specialist, called the extension a “wise and prudent” decision.

“We feel that the mitigation that we’re doing right now is having an effect,” said Fauci, speaking at the same briefing.

We’ve really built this on scientific evidence,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the task force’s coordinator, said of the decision to keep the guidelines in place until the end of next month. She acknowledged the “sacrifices” being made by ordinary Americans.

“That was aspirational,” Trump said of his earlier stated hopes of restarting the economy by Easter, which falls on April 12. Now, he said, “Easter should be the peak number” of infections.

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Former USC football player Quinton Powell hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms

Quinton Powell
Linebacker Quinton Powell celebrates a win in 2016.
(Getty Images)

Former USC linebacker Quinton Powell has been hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19 and is pleading for others on social media to “stay inside and stop playing with this.”

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.”

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Joe Diffie, country music star, dies at 61 from complications of COVID-19

Country star Joe Diffie died Sunday from complications related to COVID-19.
(Crystal K. Martel)

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.

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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.”

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5-minute coronavirus test gets FDA approval

Abbott Laboratories is unveiling a test for the coronavirus that can tell if someone is infected in as little as five minutes, and it’s so small and portable it can be used in almost any healthcare setting.

The medical-device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day starting Wednesday, said John Frels, vice president of research and development at Abbott Diagnostics.

The molecular test looks for fragments of the coronavirus genome, which can quickly be detected when present at high levels. A thorough search to definitively rule out an infection can take up to 13 minutes, he said.

Abbott has received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company said.

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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.”

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CBS News executive who contracted the coronavirus dies

Maria Mercader
(CBS News)

CBS News veteran Maria Mercader died Sunday from complications of COVID-19, the first media executive to die as a result of the pandemic.

The network confirmed that Mercader, 54, died in a New York hospital. A former producer who spent her career at the network, she was director of talent strategy at the news division.

Mercader, who lived in Manhattan, had been on medical leave from CBS since late February. She was a cancer survivor who had undergone numerous treatments and surgeries that left her among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

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California received 170 broken ventilators from feds; Silicon Valley is fixing them, Newsom says

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, second from right, tours the Bloom Energy Sunnyvale, Calif., campus Saturday.
(Associated Press)

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.

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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.

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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.”

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Coronavirus cases in California soar past 5,000 as hospitals fill up

COVID-19 cases in California surged past 5,000 — with 121 deaths — as intensive care unit hospital beds began filling up with patients, and officials tried to enforce unprecedented social distancing measures they believed were the state’s best chance to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Los Angeles County has seen 32 deaths and more than 1,818 cases; Santa Clara County, the second hardest-hit county in the state, has reported 25 deaths and 591 cases.

On a sunny Southern California weekend, beaches, hiking trials, recreation airs and many streets were empty amid calls for people to stay at home except for essential trips and exercise in their neighborhoods. Police were out in force, turning away people trying to used closed facilities.

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Stranded at LAX since Christmas Eve. Homeless. Then the coronavirus hit

Seth Tom Davis realized how serious the coronavirus outbreak was when he went to buy lunch at the Earl of Sandwich at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.

He sat down and laid his jacket on the seat beside him. Poppy, his seizure-alert dog, jumped up and made herself comfortable. Then the Jack Russell terrier-Dalmatian mix sneezed a very big sneeze for a very little dog. The woman beside him, Davis said, “freaked out.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom had yet to order Californians to stay at home in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. People were still going to work and traveling. The airport was still bustling; the grocery stores, more or less stocked. But “people got really scared,” the 30-year-old said. “They were scared of my dog. They were afraid because she sneezed.”

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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.

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‘She hadn’t showered in nine days.’ L.A. makes it hard to be homeless, avoid coronavirus

Harry Sanchez knows how important it is to wash your hands these days, but he’s never certain when he’ll have access to soap and water.

Tinkering with a handheld radio while his belongings sat in a bag leaning against a mountain bike in Lincoln Park last week, the 58-year-old maintenance man was as concerned as anyone about catching the novel coronavirus. Homeless since 2014, Sanchez says he usually tries to keep clean by visiting businesses with public restrooms or cobbling together enough change to buy hand wipes.

But with more and more businesses closing as the number of coronavirus cases in L.A. County balloons, Sanchez says his already short list of options to maintain basic hygiene has dwindled toward none.

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Sick and angry: Some public health officers are showing stress of coronavirus

MENLO PARK — After Bay Area county leaders ordered residents to stay home to stem the spread of the coronavirus on March 16, residents packed into parks, supermarket aisles and beaches the next weekend. That pushed one public health officer seemingly near the edge.

“If you decide you want to do your own thing and follow your own rules, you disrespect us all,” wrote Dr. Scott Morrow, public health officer for San Mateo County in a letter posted Monday to the county website. “You spit in our face, and you will contribute to the death toll that will follow.”

Morrow’s missive astonished some of his peers and constituents, but it also reflects the pressure health officials face in the Bay Area and elsewhere as the pandemic takes a rising toll. As of Saturday evening, there were 1,700 cases and 38 deaths in the Bay Area, the early epicenter of the virus.

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TV pilots, a big employer in L.A., are in limbo. How the coronavirus could change the industry

This year’s batch of TV pilots included some ominous names: “Triage,” “Wreckage” and “Housebroken.”

Now, those show titles also describe network TV’s pilot season, which has been upended by the coronavirus outbreak.

Broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and the CW were gearing up to employ thousands of workers in Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York and beyond when film and TV production shut down two weeks ago.

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Central America fears Trump could deport coronavirus

GUATEMALA CITY — Marcelo Ibate waited outside the big black door, eating tortillas out of a sweating plastic bag. A line of camouflaged soldiers stood beyond with large weapons and face masks.

Ibate didn’t know which day his son Eduardo would arrive or whether he’d be carrying coronavirus with him on the deportation flight from the United States, now the epicenter of the global pandemic.

“Of course I am afraid for my son, but I think he is OK,” Ibate said in Spanish as he waited outside the Air Force base where returnees were being processed, attached to the commercial airport in Guatemala City. “If he’s sick, there’s not much we can do — we can only wait and care for him. I’m his father; I am responsible for him. I have to.”

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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.

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No running water. No electricity. On Navajo Nation, coronavirus creates worry and confusion

Lisa Robbins worries about the coronavirus spread in Navajo Nation.
As the coronavirus spreads in Navajo Nation, Lisa Robbins worries for her mother and for her own weakened immune system.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

CAMERON, Ariz. —Lisa Robbins runs the generator attached to her family’s mobile home for just a few hours most mornings. With no electricity, it provides heat in this rural high-desert stretch of the Navajo Nation where overnight temperatures often linger in the low 30s this time of year.

Robbins first started hearing the whispers earlier this month — the fever, that sickness, something called coronavirus — but most people in this town of about 900 didn’t seem too worried. It was far off, neighbors told her, a world away in the big cities.

So, Robbins, who rarely has access to the internet or TV news, continued with her daily routine, which includes helping her mother who sometimes suffers from side effects of a surgery years ago to remove a cancerous stomach tumor.

Then came the bang on her door and a stark warning from local leaders.

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Mexico’s president shifts tone on coronavirus, urges people to stay home

MEXICO CITY — As the coronavirus pandemic spread globally, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been criticized at home and abroad for what many call a lackadaisical posture — urging people to hug, shaking hands and kissing well-wishers as he’s stumped and extolling his personal good-luck charms such as Catholic scapulars, a shamrock and a $2 bill.

“Because of our culture, Mexicans are very resistant to calamities,” the president said in a video filmed a week ago in a Oaxaca city eatery and circulated on social media.

“Continue bringing the family to eat in restaurants,” López Obrador advised compatriots, arguing that such activity bolsters “the popular economy.”

But the president and his team have shifted their message radically in recent days as virus cases have begun surging, urging people to stay home and to practice social distancing — and warning of dire results if that advice is ignored.

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Knicks owner James Dolan tests positive for the coronavirus

New York Knicks owner James Dolan has tested positive for the coronavirus, the team announced Saturday.

The first major U.S. sports owner to reveal he’s tested positive for the virus, Dolan is experiencing few to no symptoms, the team said. He has been in self-isolation and continues to oversee business operations for the Knicks and the Madison Square Garden Co.

Last week, Dolan and Clippers owner Steve Ballmer agreed to a $400-million deal for the Forum in Inglewood, clearing the way for the Clippers to build their arena.

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From helicopters and cruisers, police try to keep public off beaches, trails amid coronavirus

Authorities were out in force Saturday enforcing orders to keep beaches, parks and hiking trails clear as part of unprecedented restrictions on public movements to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Most beaches, trails, recreation facilities as well as nonessential businesses were closed because of the state and local orders, and many obeyed.

A Ventura County Sheriff’s Department cruiser could be seen guarding the entrance to a popular trail in Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks, upon which hundreds of hikers and families descended on Saturday. In Venice, a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter was seen circling a skate park, announcing that people who did not leave the area would be “arrested for trespassing.”

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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.

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Coronavirus patients in California’s ICU beds double overnight

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks in front of the Navy hospital ship Mercy on March 27.
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks in front of the Navy hospital ship Mercy on March 27.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

SACRAMENTO — The number of coronavirus patients in California’s intensive care unit beds doubled overnight, rising from 200 on Friday to 410 on Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

The number of hospitalized patients testing positive for the coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID-19 rose by 38.6% — from 746 on Friday to 1,034 on Saturday, Newsom said.

“We’re blessed that we’re just at 410, devastating for the individuals there and their family members and loved ones,” Newsom said at a press conference in Sunnyvale on Saturday. “But by comparison and contrast to other parts of this country, that number seems relatively modest.”

California has reported more than 100 deaths and more than 5,500 cases of coronavirus around the state as of Saturday.

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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.

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Second Colorado Avalanche player tests positive for the coronavirus

A second player on the Colorado Avalanche has tested positive for COVID-19, the club said in a statement released Saturday. That brings to four the number of NHL players known to have tested positive, following positive tests on two players on the Ottawa Senators.

The statement said the Avalanche were informed of the second positive late Friday.

“The player is in self-isolation. All other Avalanche players, staff and others who might have had close contact with the player have been informed and remain isolated as per prior League direction and are monitoring their health and will be in touch with Club medical staff as necessary,” the statement read. “No other Avalanche player or staff member has shown symptoms at this time.”

The four players who are known to have tested positive all played the Kings at Staples Center in the last few days before the NHL suspended play March 12 in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The Avalanche faced the Kings on March 9, and the Senators played the Kings on March 11.

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Orange County coronavirus cases jump past 400 with 4 deaths

Orange County on Saturday said total coronavirus cases jumped to 403, including four deaths.

The rise came as the county is doing more testing. As of Saturday, the county had performed more than 4,800 tests.

Officials on Friday began released city-by-city coronavirus cases, with Anaheim, Irvine and Newport Beach having among the highest totals.

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How bad will the next few weeks be for California as coronavirus cases surge?

Looking east, California can envision its coronavirus future in the overflowing hospital wards of New York City. Looking west, it can draw hope from the disease’s swift decline in Asian nations that quickly imposed strict physical-isolation measures on infected people.

Two months after its first confirmed case of the deadly respiratory illness in California, the state is preparing to confront what public health authorities agree will be the cruelest month — an April that portends a peak in sickness and death.

How cruel remains to be seen. Officials hope that sharp limitations on work and public activity, imposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 19, and subsequently ratcheted up in some cities and counties, will hobble the COVID-19‘s racehorse spread.

The enormous social reengineering of recent days has closed businesses and emptied public places. But its ultimate effectiveness remains one of multiple unknowns — dependent on innumerable actions by millions of Californians.

Preparing for the worst, hospital administrators across the state continued Friday to clear all available beds for an influx of patients. San Francisco ordered priority testing for doctors and nurses to try to prevent sick health practitioners from becoming super-spreaders of the disease. Los Angeles County shut all of its beaches to limit social interaction. And the Navy hospital ship Mercy cruised into the Port of Los Angeles, with 1,000 beds and 800 staffers ready to help easy the county’s healthcare system.

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Trump declares a major disaster in Michigan in response to coronavirus pandemic

President Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan on Saturday, providing additional money to address the coronavirus pandemic as a top health official warned that the situation in Detroit, a national hot spot for new cases, will worsen.

Michigan officials reported nearly 1,000 new cases and 19 additional virus-related deaths Saturday.

The disaster declaration makes money available for crisis counseling and other emergency measures. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had sought funds to set up field hospitals and help provide food and housing to people affected by the virus.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on “CBS This Morning” on Friday that Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans “will have a worse week next week.”

The 993 additional COVID-19 illnesses reported Saturday were the largest daily increase so far and brought the state’s total to 4,650 cases. At least 111 people have died from the virus in the state.

Three counties in the Detroit area — Wayne, Oakland and Macomb — account for 87% of the state’s deaths and 82% of the illnesses.

The declaration follows a sometimes bitter back-and-forth between Trump and Whitmer, a Democrat who has criticized the Trump administration for being slow to respond to the pandemic.

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U.S. coronavirus hotspots grow as Italy passes 10,000 deaths

RUSSIA - A young woman wearing a face mask, amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, walks on Red Square in Moscow, Russia.
(ALEXANDER NEMENOV/ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

As the United States led the world with confirmed coronavirus cases, cities such as Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans grew as hotspots Saturday, while the virus continued to pummel New York City and made its way into rural America.

Elsewhere, Russia said its borders would be fully closed as of Monday, while in parts of Africa, pandemic prevention measures took a violent turn, with Kenyan police firing tear gas and officers elsewhere seen on video hitting people with batons.

Worldwide infections surpassed the 650,000 mark with more than 30,000 deaths as new cases also stacked up quickly in Europe, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. leads the world in reported cases with more than 115,000, but five countries exceed its roughly 1,700 deaths: Italy, Spain, China, Iran and France. Italy alone now has 10,023 deaths, the most of any country.

New York remained the worst-hit U.S. city. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said defeating the virus will take “weeks and weeks and weeks.” The U.N. donated 250,000 face masks to the city and Cuomo delayed the state’s presidential primary from April 28 to June 23.

But Cuomo said he knew nothing of President Donald Trump’s suggestion of some kind of quarantine for New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, all hit hard by the coronavirus.

The federal government generally does not have the power to impose such restrictions on states. 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 the response there.

Cases also have been rising rapidly in Detroit, where poverty and poor health have been problems for years. The number of infections surged to 1,381, with 31 deaths, as of noon Saturday.

“At this time, the trajectory of Detroit is unfortunately even more steep than that of New York,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, the medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at the Detroit Medical Center.

“This is off the charts,” she said.

Chopra said many patients have ailments like asthma, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. She also acknowledged that in Detroit, one of the nation’s largest African American cities, there is a distrust among some in the community of the medical system and government due to systemic racism.

“In Detroit, we are seeing a lot of patients that are presenting to us with severe disease, rather than minor disease,” said Chopra, who worried about a “tsunami” of patients.

Louisiana has surpassed 3,300 infections, with 137 dead from COVID-19, according to the health department. Gov. John Bel Edwards said the region was on track to run out of ventilators by the first week of April.

Officials urged residents and businesses to donate protective gear such as masks, gloves and face shields at New Orleans’ fire stations.

Worried that people would flee New Orleans, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered anyone arriving from Louisiana to self-quarantine. He said the Florida Highway Patrol and sheriff’s deputies will set up checkpoints to screen cars from Louisiana.

Cases in Chicago and suburban Cook County accounted for about three-fourths of Illinois’ 3,026 total as of Friday. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed popular lakeshore parks after people failed to practice social distancing, despite a statewide shelter-at-home order.

Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Michigan, providing money for the outbreak. He has done the same for New York, Louisiana and Illinois.

The governor of Kansas also issued a stay-at-home order to begin Monday, as the virus takes hold in more rural areas, where doctors worry about the lack of ICU beds.

The virus is straining health systems in Italy, Spain and France. Lockdowns of varying degrees have been introduced across Europe, nearly emptying streets in normally bustling cities.

Germany has fewer deaths than some neighboring countries but still closed nonessential shops and banned public gatherings of more than two people until April 20. But it still had its share of grim news, with 12 residents of a nursing home in the northern town of Wolfsburg dying since Monday after being infected, news agency dpa reported.

As Italy’s deaths topped 10,000, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte told the nation Saturday night that he has signed a decree freeing 400 million euros ($440 million) for coupons and packages of food aid, to be delivered door-to-door if necessary.

“People are suffering psychologically. They’re not used to staying in their homes. But they are also suffering economically,” Conte said. Italy has almost completed a three-week lockdown, with no end in sight.

In Spain, where stay-at-home restrictions have been in place for nearly two weeks, the death toll rose to 5,812.

Another 8,000 confirmed infections pushed that count above 72,000 cases. But Spain’s director of emergencies, Fernando Simón, saw hope in that the rate of infection is slowing and figures “indicate that the outbreak is stabilizing and may be reaching its peak in some areas.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, meanwhile, called for a more vigorous response from the European Union. Spain, Italy, France and six other EU members have asked the union to share the burden of European debt, dubbed “coronabonds” in the media, to help fight the virus. But the idea has met resistance from other members, led by Germany and the Netherlands.

“It is the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation and it has to be ready to rise to the challenge,” Sánchez said. “

As the epicenter has shifted westward, the situation has calmed in China, where some restrictions have been lifted. Some subway service was restored in Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in December, after the city had its virus risk evaluation reduced from high to medium. Five districts of the city of 11 million people had other travel restrictions loosened after their risk factor was reduced to low.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and lead to death.

More than 135,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins.

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Scenes from an empty downtown Los Angeles

Words on the Orpheum theater marquee try to bring levity to the current situation along the normally bustling commercial area on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, which is largely deserted because of the coronavirus lockdown.
(Luis Sinco/Luis Sinco)
Downtown L.A. in the coronavirus
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -MAR. 26, 2020. A security guard walks around the Grand Centrral Market downtown, where restaurants are limited to takeout or delivery orders only because of the coronavirus lockdown. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)
(Luis Sinco/Luis Sinco)

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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.

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Italy sees a slight drop in its death rate

Don Marcello Crotti, left, blesses the coffins with Don Mario Carminati in the San Giuseppe church in Seriate, Italy, Saturday, March 28, 2020.
Don Marcello Crotti, left, blesses the coffins with Don Mario Carminati in the San Giuseppe church in Seriate, Italy, Saturday, March 28, 2020.
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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.

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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.

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Kansas governor orders residents to stay home to curb virus

In this Thursday, March 26, 2020 photo, a sign posted at a Mission, Kansas playground, serves as a reminder to parents that use of the playground is prohibited, in compliance with social distancing guidelines. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (AP Photo/Heather Hollingsworth)
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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.

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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.

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As coronavirus spreads, LAX is becoming a ghost town

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here’s what you can’t do this weekend

Hermosa Beach is all but empty days after all beaches in parks were closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
(Robert Gauthier/Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Southern California officials have one message to residents already a bit stir crazy from more than a week of unprecedented restriction on movements due to coronavirus: Stay home.

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.

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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.

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Joe Biden calls for a national lockdown to contain the coronavirus

Former Vice President Joe Biden called for an immediate nationwide stay-at-home order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, saying the main mistake that leaders can make in a pandemic is “going too slow.”

The Democratic presidential candidate told CNN on Friday that he agreed with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates that the uneven patchwork of state and local lockdowns in effect in the United States will inevitably cost lives and prolong the economic catastrophe.

“Why would we not err on the side of making sure that we are not going to have a repeat?” Biden said from his home in Wilmington, Del.

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