Skelton: Rural areas have a message for Newsom: One size doesn’t fit all in reopening California
Rebellion is infectious. Rural people are in revolt against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide virus-fighting rules, which make little sense in burgs such as Bieber.
Bieber has hardly anything in common with the likes of Burbank or Balboa.
“There’s a bar, a restaurant, a hardware store, market, post office, school and a gas station with one pump,” says Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle of Bieber in Lassen County. “No stop light.”
Dahle grows cereal grains and represents 11 mostly mountain counties in the Senate. His wife, Megan Dahle, is a Republican assemblywoman.
In four of the senator’s counties — Modoc, Lassen, Sierra and Alpine — there hasn’t been one case of coronavirus, he says. Zero.
“There is no curve. It’s flat.”
“People are getting fed up” with the governor’s stay-at-home, business-shut-down orders, Dahle says. “They want to open up, get back to normal.
“We’re not like Los Angeles or San Francisco. Let’s get back to cooler heads. Let the people free.”
With testing, Iceland claims major success against COVID-19
Winter storms isolated the northern village of Hvammstangi from the rest of Iceland. Then spring brought the coronavirus, isolating villagers from each other. Now, as summer approaches, residents hope life is getting back to some kind of normal.
High schools, hair salons, dentists and other businesses across Iceland are reopening Monday after six weeks of lockdown, after this North Atlantic nation managed to tame its coronavirus outbreak.
Iceland has confirmed 1,799 cases of the virus and 10 people have died. The number of new COVID-19 cases each day has fallen from 106 at the peak of the outbreak to single digits — even, on some days, zero.
“I didn’t expect the recovery to be this fast,” said Iceland’s chief epidemiologist, Thorolfur Gudnason.
Trump acknowledges outbreak death toll could reach 100,000
President Trump on Sunday sharply revised upward his projected toll of U.S. coronavirus deaths, saying that fatalities could reach 100,000, even as he defied warnings from leading public health experts and renewed his calls for a quick reopening of businesses across the country.
Speaking at a Fox News event staged at the Lincoln Memorial, Trump acknowledged being warned in late January about the threat posed by the virus, but faulted officials who he said delivered their assessment “matter-of-factly — it was not a big deal.”
Earlier Sunday, health experts from inside and outside the government warned the s outbreak may flare up more fiercely in coming months, even as many U.S. states are moving to ease stay-at-home restrictions.
Several of the nation’s governors, meanwhile, acknowledged they were walking a tightrope, fearing intensified outbreaks even as some of them embarked on reopenings meant to ease deep economic distress in their states.
Santa Barbara News-Press owner compares COVID restrictions to Nazi Germany; editor exits
The Santa Barbara News-Press lost its editor in chief this weekend after the newspaper published an editorial by owner and co-publisher Wendy McCaw that accused Democratic lawmakers of using the coronavirus for their own political agenda and compared stay-at-home orders to Nazi Germany.
“Our liberties are being stripped for what, a virus?? Think about this,” McCaw wrote in the editorial, published Friday and titled “We are living in tyranny.”
She continued: “If this country can be put into this situation by a virus, what would it take to completely turn us into the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany? We are not that far away now, having to stand in line to get into supermarkets....”
A note at the end of the editorial read: “Wendy P. McCaw is the co-publisher of the News-Press and the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the SBNP staff.”
Some countries report new infection peaks, even as lockdowns ease
While millions of people took advantage of easing coronavirus lockdowns to enjoy spring weather, some of the world’s most populous countries reported worrisome new peaks in infections Sunday, including India, which saw its biggest single-day jump yet.
Second in population only to China, India reported more than 2,600 new infections. In Russia, new cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time. The confirmed death toll in Britain climbed near that of Italy, a hot spot of Europe’s outbreak, even though the U.K. population is younger than Italy’s and Britain had more time to prepare before the pandemic hit.
The United States continues to see tens of thousands of new infections each day, with more than 1,400 new deaths reported Saturday.
L.A. County cases top 25,000, with more than 1,200 deaths
Los Angeles County public health officials on Sunday reported 21 additional coronavirus-related deaths and 781 new cases overall, pushing the county’s total number to more than 25,000.
“The people lost to COVID-19 are mourned by all of us in L.A. County, and to their loved ones, we wish you peace and healing,” Barbara Ferrer, the county health director, said in a statement.
Long Beach, which has its own health department, reported 15 additional cases, bringing the county’s total to 25,677 cases and 1,229 related deaths.
World-class pole vault competition in backyards proves entertaining
The sport of track and field found a way to stage a world-class competition Sunday, keeping athletes at a healthy social distance — as in hundreds, if not thousands, of miles apart.
The “Ultimate Garden Clash” had three champion pole vaulters square off by video from their backyards on separate continents.
“I was really missing that competition feeling,” said Renaud Lavillenie of France. “It could be crazy, but even if it’s just a garden competition … I get the same feeling like if I was going for the world championship.”
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist shared first place with world-record holder Mondo Duplantis of Sweden in an unusual event with unusual rules.
Bird-watching takes flight as Americans head back outdoors
Conner Brown, a 25-year-old law student at Stanford University, spent the early days of the coronavirus outbreak following his brother as he spotted and collected characters in the “Pokemon Go” mobile video game.
Then, Brown noticed the birds.
“I thought, ‘Why don’t I take up birding?’ It’s like real-life ‘Pokemon Go.’ It’s super addicting because you can start logging them and you get a little collection. It’s really cool,” Brown said. He paused, then added, “They should really game-ify it.”
California stay-at-home order faces revolts at beaches and in rural communities
Pressure to reopen parts of California continued to build over the weekend, with more rural counties vowing to ease stay-at-home restrictions and protesters marching against the closure of Orange County beaches, a move intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Polls show most Californians support stay-at-home rules, which have been credited with helping California avoid the massive death toll of New York and other hot spots, and fear that lifting them too soon could cause more outbreaks.
Hollywood theaters in limbo: Photos
At 8 o’clock on a Saturday night, the scene outside the Regal LA Live & 4DX theater complex in downtown L.A. would normally be packed. Moviegoers would be rushing to arrive by showtime, packing crosswalks and backing up traffic on a busy Olympic Boulevard. Across from the cineplex, taco trucks would be drawing their own crowds.
On this particular Saturday night, however, with California’s stay-at-home order in effect, there were no cars, no moviegoers, no movies.
L.A. Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin captures Hollywood’s movie houses in this pandemic moment.
Migrants trapped in mid-route danger zone
Thousands of desperate migrants are trapped in limbo and are even at risk of death without food, water or shelter in scorching deserts and at sea, as governments close off borders and ports in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.
Migrants have been dropped by the truckload in the Sahara or bused to Mexico’s border with Guatemala and beyond. Others are drifting in the Mediterranean after European and Libyan authorities declared their ports unsafe. And around 100 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are believed to have died in the Bay of Bengal, as country after country pushed them back out to sea.
Many governments say that a public health crisis requires extraordinary measures. These measures, however, are just the latest steps taken to clamp down on migrants.
“They just dumped us,” said Fanny Jacqueline Ortiz, a 37-year-old Honduran who was abandoned March 26 with her two young daughters at the El Ceibo border crossing with Guatemala, expelled first by the U.S. and then by Mexico.
Bush issues a criticism-free call for national unity; Trump slams him on Twitter
President Trump lashed out Sunday at former President George W. Bush a day after his fellow Republican issued a message calling for national unity amid the coronavirus crisis.
In a morning tweet, Trump cited a Fox News anchor’s criticism of the former president and amplified it with his own commentary, expressing resentment that Bush did not speak out against Trump’s impeachment by the House last year.
“He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!” Trump tweeted. The president was impeached by the House in December and acquitted in February by the Senate.
Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, Trump has often used Twitter and White House briefings to excoriate political foes, sometimes firing back over perceived denigration of his pandemic response, but sometimes launching attacks over unrelated matters.
Bush’s three-minute video, shared Saturday on Twitter, did not criticize Trump over the pandemic response or anything else. In his video, the former president called on Americans to remember “how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat.”
The call for unity is in keeping with type of consolation often voiced by former presidents in the face of a national tragedy.
“In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants, we are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God,” Bush said in the video. “We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”
There is ample precedent for sitting presidents to consult with or call on predecessors in national emergencies, such as the Sept. 11 attacks or Hurricane Katrina, without regard to party affiliation. There has been no public indication that Trump has sought the counsel of any former presidents in the course of the coronavirus outbreak.
Homeless activists are losing patience with L.A.
Not long after L.A. County reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday, Davon Brown decided he was done putting himself at risk. So he put on a blazer and went to the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles.
Joined by activists from Street Watch L.A., he told hotel staff they were interested in renting several rooms but wanted a tour first. The concierge happily obliged, he said, and took the group to room 2221.
Then he revealed his plan: “I’m homeless in Echo Park and I’m not leaving this hotel.”
Brown, who was later arrested and released, told The Times that he had planned to stay until government officials had commandeered enough hotel rooms to house every homeless person in Los Angeles.
“If I stayed outside,” he said, “I could die.”
Senate returns to Washington despite city’s virus spike and Congress’ stalemate
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hauling senators back to Washington this week even as the city reports record numbers of new coronavirus cases and the two parties are mired in a stalemate over the next bill to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Republicans have demanded that any new economic relief measure must shield businesses that reopen from liability against lawsuits brought by customers and employees. Democrats have balked, saying workers need more protection, not less. Their chief demand is $1 trillion for state and local governments burdened by burgeoning costs and plunging revenues.
Two more California counties to defy stay-at-home order, allowing businesses to open Monday
SAN FRANCISCO — Yuba and Sutter counties in Northern California are set to allow many businesses to reopen on Monday in defiance of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide 6-week-old stay-at-home order.
The two counties near the state capital would join a sparsely populated county in California’s northeastern corner, Modoc County, with fewer than 9,000 residents, that on Friday allowed all businesses, schools and churches to reopen as long as people inside can stay six feet apart.
The move by Yuba and Sutter counties — with a combined population of 171,000 people and just 50 coronavirus cases and three deaths — comes as other California counties on the Central Coast and San Joaquin Valley are demanding to reopen more businesses. On Friday, Newsom said he could make an announcement within days about easing the state’s stay-at-home order.
COVID-19 finally came. Armed with a plan, Mariposa County was waiting to fight back
MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. — Dr. Eric Sergienko was already in his office early last Tuesday when his cellphone pinged with the message he had been both expecting and dreading.
A 23-year-old woman in Mariposa County — the scenic, lightly populated mountain community Sergienko serves as health officer — had tested positive for COVID-19. It was 7:13 a.m., a time that has become seared in Sergienko’s memory the way others mark the birth of a child or the initial tremors of an earthquake.
More than 53,000 Californians have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but in Mariposa County, Tuesday’s result was the first.
Though the case marked the arrival of a potentially deadly pathogen, it also allowed Sergienko to launch a contact-tracing system he had been working on for weeks, one of the final planks of a well-constructed response platform the county has been building for months.
How a reclusive town worked to screen itself from the virus
BOLINAS, Calif. — When the coronavirus outbreak appeared likely to rage through the Bay Area weeks ago, residents of this hermit-like beach community tried to protect themselves by doing what they do best — keeping out strangers.
Despite a regional stay-home order, outsiders were inundating Bolinas, which sits just south of Point Reyes National Seashore in west Marin County. Yelling matches ensued. Residents posted themselves at the entrance to town and shouted at drivers, “Go home!”
Under a homemade “Bernie 2020" sign painted in red, residents hung two others: “Bolinas closed to visitors for duration of pandemic. Residents, deliveries only.”
Unmasked and grouped together, shutdown protesters pose risk, White House official says
The sight of shutdown protesters crowded together in public, often unmasked, is “devastatingly worrisome,” the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, Deborah Birx, said Sunday.
But Birx, whose boss, President Trump, has called the protesters “very good people,” did not take issue with the demonstrators’ message that states should move more quickly to lift virus-related restrictions.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Birx instead focused on the need for physical distancing, whether by protesters or beachgoers in California.
Asked about demonstrators, some of them armed, who crowded into the Michigan statehouse last week, Birx said they risked infecting one another, possibly passing the virus on to those at high risk for severe illness or death from COVID-19.
“It’s devastatingly worrisome to me personally, because if they go home and they infect their grandmother or grandfather who has a co-morbid condition and they have a serious or very unfortunate outcome, they will feel guilty for the rest of their lives,” she said. “So we need to protect each other at the same time as we’re voicing our discontent.”
Asked whether it was safe for people to flock to beaches in California, Birx said that depended on proximity. “If it’s done with social distancing, yes,” she said. “If it’s not done with social distancing, no.”
Protesters rally in Orange County to denounce Newsom’s beach closure
On the seventh Saturday of the state’s stay-at-home order, the division over mandatory closures widened, and the flashpoint in Southern California was once again the beaches of Orange County.
Surfers hopped fences. Walkers strolled with their dogs, and parking lots became impromptu Chautauquas to debate policy and voice opinion.
The actions are in defiance of the orders issued Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom calling for a “hard close” of all state and local beaches, a mandate that singled out the sandy stretches of Orange County for last week’s crowds who were seeking relief from an early heatwave.
Newport Beach joins fight against Newsom’s Orange County beach closure order
The Newport Beach City Council on Saturday voted to back other Orange County coastal cities trying to block Gov. Gavin Newsom’s beach closure order and filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge.
Newsom closed the beaches over the objections of Orange County officials after crowds hit the sand last weekend. He said the closure is designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus and promised easing of some stay-at-home rules next week.
City leaders in Dana Point and Huntington Beach voted during emergency meetings Thursday night to approve filing for an injunction to block Newsom’s directive to close their beaches.
On Friday afternoon, Orange County Superior Court Judge Nathan Scott rejected a request from the two cities seeking a temporary restraining order to keep beaches open. He set a hearing for May 11 to consider the cities’ request for an injunction.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said his department did not plan to cite people simply getting out for beach exercise. He said most beachgoers have acted responsibly.
“As long as people are social distancing and doing what they’re expected to do, the sheriff does not have interest in criminalizing people enjoying the beach,” department spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.
Newsom’s Orange County beach ban could have ripple effect along Southern California coast
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to close Orange County beaches to slow the spread of the coronavirus faces a test this weekend, and could have an impact on other Southern California shores.
Temperatures will be cooler this weekend, but officials are bracing for more visitors. And it remains unclear how aggressively the closure will be enforced.
Los Angeles County beaches are closed, but many in San Diego and Ventura counties remain open. Some leaders worry that the Orange County closure could send more beachgoers their way.
Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey expressed concerns that the beach ban in Orange County could affect San Diego.
“I’m definitely pleased that the state isn’t taking a heavy-handed approach with our county,” he said, “but I am disappointed that they are shutting down beaches in Orange County because that might create some compression and have a spillover effect on our beaches.”
Column: We all love a nostalgia trip like the ‘Parks and Recreation’ reunion. Here’s why it’s dangerous
Like millions of Americans, our family laughed and cried its way through the “Parks and Recreation” reunion special Thursday night. And the best known citizens of Pawnee were not the only people the show reunited.
Although there’s been a lot of TV watching in our house during the COVID-19 shutdown, most of it has been done separately on laptops or in subgroups around bigger screens; even when two or more of us agree on a movie or series, the chances of a unanimous vote are not good.
But we all love “Parks and Rec” and so there we were, lined up on sofas and chairs, shoving and shushing one another in the ways of a bygone era when there was an electronic hearth with cords to be managed, not cut.
First California county reopens despite state’s stay-home order; diners rejoice in the ‘new normal’
In the far northeast corner of California, “the new normal”began to take shape.
Tiny Modoc County on Friday began to reopen, with restaurants again serving food and other retailers swinging their doors open for customers.
Modoc County — which has recorded no coronavirus cases — was the first California county to reopen even as Gov. Gavin Newsom said his stay-at-home order remains in effect. He said Friday to expect changes within days but stressed that social distancing is still necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The Modoc County reopening came with health rules. Restaurants and bars were allowed to host diners, but only at half the businesses’ capacity. People 65 and older and residents with underlying health conditions were still required to stay home except to conduct essential business, and large gatherings where people cannot stay six feet apart will still be banned.
Thousands of healthcare workers are laid off or furloughed
Healthcare workers, championed as heroes of the coronavirus crisis and applauded for risking their lives to protect others, have been hit especially hard by the severe economic fallout wrought by the pandemic.
In California, thousands of nurses, doctors and other medical staff have been laid off or furloughed or have taken a pay cut since mid-March. The pain has been felt broadly, from major facilities such as Stanford Health Care to tiny rural hospitals to private practitioners. Across the nation, job losses in the healthcare sector have been second only to those in the restaurant industry, according to federal labor statistics.
Hospitals and doctors’ offices lost billions in revenue when they canceled elective surgeries and non-emergency visits to prepare for a possible surge in COVID-19 patients and to reduce the spread of the virus.
Patients also began scheduling fewer appointments and avoiding the hospital, even for medical emergencies, creating another hit for providers who were already hurting. The surge, in places where it did arrive, was not enough to compensate for the losses, experts say.
American healthcare is a business, and the economics are simple: Fewer patients means less money. And though some California hospitals are beginning to schedule elective surgeries again, experts say the healthcare industry is unlikely to bounce back immediately, as large swaths of the population are now struggling to make ends meet and may continue to avoid or put off medical care.
“For 35 years, job prospects in healthcare have been great,” said USC health economist Glenn Melnick. “This time, I think it’s going to have to slow down quite a bit” as hospitals and clinics learn to cope with lower revenue “in a permanent way.”
Northern California official ousted after saying elderly, ill, homeless people should be left to die in pandemic
A planning commissioner of a Northern California city was removed from his post Friday night after saying that just as a forest fire clears dead brush, “the sick, the old, the injured” should be left to meet their “natural course in nature” during the coronavirus outbreak.
Via a Zoom meeting, the five-member City Council of Antioch, a city of about 110,000 people 35 miles east of Oakland, voted unanimously to remove Ken Turnage II as chairman of the city’s planning commission.
Turnage, who owns a home restoration company in Antioch, had characterized older people, the homeless community and people with weak immune systems as a drain on society who should be left to perish as COVID-19 sweeps through Contra Costa County, where it has killed 27 people and infected 891 to date.
‘It’s too soon’: In small towns and big cities, Georgia’s experiment in reopening moves slowly
JONESBORO, Ga. — At the end of a nine-hour workday, David Simmons sprinkled a cloud of lemon-pepper over a pile of chicken wings, stepped up to his cash register and shook his head.
He had cooked three batches of wings for two customers, bringing in just $23.97 — a fraction of the $300 he typically made each day at his small soul food joint.
“I don’t think it’s worth staying open,” the 48-year-old business owner said as he scanned his empty NoToSo’s restaurant in a strip mall in Jonesboro, a sprawling suburban town about 15 miles south of Atlanta. “I’m just hanging in here until I can’t.”
A week after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp plunged the state into the middle of a national social experiment — rolling back restrictions on businesses in an effort to restart the economy after a monthlong shutdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus — many business owners and workers remain a long way from getting back to normal.
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Smithfield reopening key hog slaughterhouse this weekend while others remain closed
Smithfield Foods plans to reopen its large hog slaughterhouse in Monmouth, Ill., on Saturday after a weeklong shutdown due to cases of COVID-19 among workers.
The facility, which employs 1,700 people and accounts for 3% of U.S. pork products, was among three Illinois pork processing plants that closed last week. The company had previously said a “small portion” of its Monmouth employees had tested positive for COVID-19.
On Friday, it did not provide any details about the decision to reopen.
The company’s meat processing plant in St. Charles, Ill., remains closed a week after the Kane County Health Department ordered its temporary shutdown. The county on Friday said a worker at the plant died.
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White House blocking Fauci testimony, House panel spokesman says
WASHINGTON — A spokesman for a key House panel said Friday that the White House has blocked Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying next week at a hearing on the coronavirus outbreak.
House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander said the panel sought Fauci — the highly respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — as a witness for a subcommittee hearing on the government’s response to the pandemic, but was denied. Hollander said the panel was informed by an administration official that Fauci’s testimony was blocked by the White House.
He wouldn’t identify who informed the committee that Fauci would not appear.
The White House said Fauci is busy dealing with the pandemic and will appear before Congress later.
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Is time flying by oddly quickly during COVID-19? Here’s why you may feel that way
Think about your first day in quarantine. Does it feel like a lifetime ago? Or does it feel like yesterday?
Many people staying at home as a result of the coronavirus crisis are noticing time pass more strangely than usual. While some complain of days dragging on and on, others have taken to social media, explaining they feel the past several weeks have flown by eerily quickly.
Turns out, science can provide some insight into why our perception of time is a little wonkier than normal while in quarantine. Here’s what the experts say:
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Some national parks will start to reopen Monday
Some national parks will open their gates in coming days, but far from all. The National Park Service announced Thursday that it would start “increasing access and services in a phased approach across all units of the National Park System.”
Here’s what to watch as the system rebounds.
In many cases, parks will reopen as they closed — by varying timetables, depending on the park and its region. The agency said the decisions would follow federal CDC guidance as well as that provided by regional and local health authorities.
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah on May 6 plans to open trails around the red-rock spires of the Bryce Amphitheater, its most visited area. The main park road and viewpoints along the way will be open from the entrance to Rainbow Point. However, the visitor center, campgrounds, backcountry trails and restrooms remain closed (except for one at Sunset Point), a park announcement said.
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Newsom teases announcement in ‘days, not weeks’ on reopening California
SACRAMENTO — Under mounting pressure to lift the state’s stay-at-home order, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday said that he will make an announcement as early as next week on his plans to begin to ease restrictions on Californians to stem the spread of coronavirus.
“I just want folks to know we’re getting very close to making really meaningful augmentations to that stay-at-home order,” Newsom said at his daily news conference on coronavirus efforts. “I want to say many days, not weeks, as long as we continue to be prudent and thoughtful.”
The governor has described the next phase of his stay-at-home order as allowing some lower-risk businesses to reopen in communities across California, including retail locations, manufacturing sites and small businesses.
“The only thing that’s gonna hold us back is the spread of this virus,” Newsom said. “And the only thing that is sure to advance the spread of the virus is thousands of people congregating together. Practicing social distancing or physical distance, we can avoid that.”
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Raucous protest in Huntington Beach demands beaches open, end of stay-at-home order
More than 300 protesters converged on Huntington Beach again Friday to demand stay-at-home rules in California be lifted and to express their displeasure with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directive closing local beaches to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The crowd was significantly larger than a demonstration at the same site near the Huntington Beach Pier two weeks ago.
The raucous protest included people carrying banners that read “All Jobs are essential” and “Freedom: We the people.” One person had a sign that said “Recall Gavin Newsom.”
Parents walked hand-in-hand with children to the now-closed beach, while protesters, some bringing their dogs, arrived on bikes, skateboards and scooters. Several shared their grievances through chants, signs and occasional songs.
While some protesters wore face coverings, most neither wore marks nor followed social distancing guidelines of six feet of separation.
Warning that cases could rise, ACLU sues O.C. sheriff to free more inmates
Accusing the Orange County Sheriff of failing to adequately protect inmates from the coronavirus, the ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to create more social distancing in the jails, with the first step being the release of medically vulnerable inmates.
The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California accuses Sheriff Don Barnes of violating the constitutional rights of inmates and cites a public health expert who warns 500 inmates are medically vulnerable and that COVID-19 could quadruple in the jails without immediate action.
It asks a federal judge to order the release of “vulnerable and disabled people” in the jails with a public health expert appointed to oversee a comprehensive plan for social distancing, increased cleaning, quarantining and care as well as testing and the wide distribution of personal protective equipment.
As of Thursday evening, Orange County’s three jails had 122 inmates who have tested positive for coronavirus. Three sheriff’s deputies have also tested positive, but they have all recovered.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says well-heeled private schools should return federal loans
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin on Friday stepped up his criticism of elite private schools that have received federal loans under the Paycheck Protection Program, calling on those with “significant endowments” to return the funding, which is designed to help small businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis.
Mnuchin’s remarks, shared in a tweet, came a day after The Times published a story reporting that Brentwood School — the exclusive K-12 facility in West L.A. that his children attend — had received a PPP loan.
The school, which according to the Internal Revenue Service had an endowment of about $17.4 million in 2017, told The Times on Thursday that the loan for an undisclosed sum would help it navigate a future that could include “a potential decline in enrollment and charitable giving, accompanied by increased demand for financial assistance and other escalating expenses.”
Column: How states with early reopening orders are coercing workers into risking their lives
Anyone who thought that the COVID-19 crisis would produce lasting respect for low-wage service workers should feel like a chump, as certain states roll out their return-to-work orders.
That’s because the subtext of those orders, such as those issued by the governors of Iowa and Texas, is coercive. Workers who refuse to return to work at businesses that have been cleared to open will lose their unemployment benefits.
In other words, in economic terms they’ll have no choice between losing pay and placing their lives at risk from a coronavirus infection.
Apple and Google won’t solve contact tracing. Here’s what will
A middle-aged woman arrived at a tent set up by St. John’s Well Child and Family Center for coronavirus testing on April 13, her mother in tow. When both tested positive, clinic staff began to ask more questions.
Can you give us the names of people you have been in close contact with? We need to make sure your family and friends and co-workers are safe, staffers explained. It turned out the women shared their two-bedroom apartment near Figueroa and 50th Street in South Los Angeles with two other families —14 household members total.
Within the next two days, clinic staff were able to contact and persuade other household members to come in for testing, said Jim Mangia, chief executive of the nonprofit, which operates 18 health centers and school-based clinics in Los Angeles and Compton. One other housemate tested positive and was instructed to self-isolate.
Some California cities push back against governor’s stay-home orders
Gov. Gavin Newsom has said it’s too soon to lift the state’s stay-at-home order, doubling down on that commitment Thursday and calling for the “hard close” of all Orange County beaches.
But local governments from Southern California to the Oregon border were preparing to stage acts of resistance Friday, fed up with six weeks of restrictions that have curbed their movements in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The Orange County beach closure was intended to avert a repeat of last weekend, when thousands flocked to sandy stretches that had been opened, even as shorelines in neighboring Los Angeles County remained closed.
“Specific issues on some of those beaches have raised alarm bells,” Newsom said Thursday. “People that are congregating there, that weren’t practicing physical distancing, that may go back to their community outside of Orange County and may not even know that they contracted the disease and now they put other people at risk, put our hospital system at risk.”
With no cases, California county defies Gov. Newsom and reopens today
Modoc County, which has fewer than 9,000 residents and reported zero coronavirus cases, is set to become the first county in California to ease stay-at-home rules Friday, despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s urging to keep them in place for now.
“Our businesses are dying and people need to be able to feed their children and pay their rent,” said Heather Hadwick, the deputy director of the county’s Office of Emergency Services. “We live a different life than the rest of California. We’re very rural and naturally socially distanced in our everyday lives.”
Modoc County, which borders Oregon and Nevada, is one of the least-populated counties in the state, with fewer than 9,000 residents.
After the canceled E3, video game industry plots Summer Game Fest
Microsoft, Sony, Electronic Arts, Bethesda and Activision are among the publishers who will participate in the so-called Summer Game Fest, a digital-only, multimonth event designed to promote current and upcoming game content.
Spearheaded by Geoff Keighley, the architect behind the annual Game Awards, Summer Game Fest will aim to somewhat replicate the teaser-heavy game events that accompany the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), typically held each June in downtown Los Angeles.
Yet with E3 canceled due to concerns around the spread of the coronavirus, Summer Game Fest will also aim to act as something of a hub for all of this summer’s announcements, which were highly anticipated among game fans due to new consoles from Sony and Microsoft on the horizon. It’s Keighley’s hope to move beyond just teasers and trailers of upcoming games to include demos, when possible.
“Our goal is to have a fully functioning digital pipeline for demos, gameplay across all platforms,” says Keighley, “so we can give fans access to more to play — that means demos, but also more in-game events, live game launches and so on.”
Decline in critical patients in Italy continues
ROME — The number of patients in Italy’s intensive care beds is continuing to decline.
That’s allowing hospitals to better deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, which when it began weeks ago had overwhelmed the national health care system, especially in heavily stricken northern regions.
According to health ministry ministry figures released on Friday, 116 intensive care unit beds were freed up in the previous 24 hours.
For back-to-back days, the daily nationwide tally of new cases was lower than 2,000 – 1,965 coronavirus infections were registered in a 24-hour period, raising to 207,428 cases the nation’s known total in the pandemic. Doctors have cautioned that many cases have likely gone undetected as some people with the virus show no or nearly no symptoms.
Italy registered 269 more deaths of persons infected with COVID-19. Its death toll now stands at 28,236. Italy’s worst-hit region, Lombardy, still is registering several hundred new cases daily, while many regions, including that of Lazio, which includes Rome, are registering cases far fewer than 100 each day.
Mexican protest singer-songwriter Oscar Chávez dies of COVID-19 at 85
MEXICO CITY — One of Mexico’s best-known protest singers, Oscar Chávez, died Thursday at age 85 after being infected with the coronavirus.
Mexico’s culture secretary confirmed the singer’s death, and the State Workers’ Social Security Institute said he died of complications from COVID-19 after he was hospitalized Tuesday.
The institute said Chávez had “evident respiratory difficulty” and had a chronic lung condition. It said he tested positive for the coronavirus and succumbed to COVID-19-related pneumonia.
San Diego beaches remain open as Gov. Newsom clamps down on Orange County
San Diego residents can continue to swim and enjoy other activities at many local beaches after Gov. Gavin Newsom declined to restrict shoreline access across the entire state to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Newsom announced Thursday that a state ban on beach activity would apply only to Orange County, where large crowds gathered along the coast last weekend.
“It should be acknowledged, San Diego and L.A. and others have done an outstanding job, and we want to just focus on where there’s a problem,” Newsom said at a news briefing Thursday.
The COVID-19 death toll, in historical perspective
If a picture speaks a thousand words, what do numbers say?
More than 63,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 since the novel coronavirus hit our shores, and the count steadily grows.
Already, the number surpasses Americans killed in the Vietnam War.
Each victim represents a single life. But the sum fails to measure the toll that extends beyond one person. Each of those individuals connected to someone — as a parent, child, neighbor, co-worker, loved one.
The log of our great catastrophes takes in disasters both natural and man-made. We stack them up, place them side by side, but there is no comparing. Each is unique and uniquely tragic.
Numbers lend perspective. They allow for rankings. But they can’t measure the true extent of loss.
Progress not enough to reopen, New York City mayor says
New York City is making progress fighting the outbreak but not enough to warrant reopening yet, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Daily hospital admissions for COVID-19 have fallen to about 136 as of April 29, from a high of 850 a month earlier. The number of intensive-care patients in public hospitals has dropped to 704 from a high of 887.
Those hospitals are “still experiencing a lot of strain,” De Blasio said Friday at a media briefing. “We need to get to the day when there are no or almost no New Yorkers fighting for their lives.”
Florida cases rise 3.1% before partial reopening
Florida reported 34,728 cases on Friday, up 3.1% from a day earlier. Deaths among residents reached 1,314, an increase of 3.6%.
Gov. Ron DeSantis planned to start reopening much of the state on Monday, with the exception of the three worst-hit counties: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.
Will Orange County enforce Newsom beach closure? Officials vow a fight
A legal showdown over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order closing Orange County beaches was shaping up Friday as Huntington Beach voted to seek a temporary injunction and the county sheriff said his department didn’t plan to make arrests for people simply getting out for beach exercise.
The governor ordered Orange County beaches closed on Thursday despite opposition from local leaders who argue they should decide whether it’s safe to hit the sand.
Over the weekend, thousands flocked to Orange County beaches, which remained open even though Los Angeles County’s shoreline was closed.
“Specific issues on some of those beaches have raised alarm bells,” Newsom said. “People that are congregating there, that weren’t practicing physical distancing, that may go back to their community outside of Orange County and may not even know that they contracted the disease and now they put other people at risk, put our hospital system at risk.”