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Coronavirus updates: Naming names, threatening people who report lockdown violations

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

Coronavirus updates for May 7 are here

Skelton: Newsom has gotten top marks during the coronavirus crisis. Battling California’s deficit could change that

The job is about to get a lot tougher for Gov. Gavin Newsom. He faces the certainty of whacking government services while raising taxes.

Newsom hasn’t uttered the feared “T” word publicly that I know of. But jacking state taxes even higher in infamously tax-burdened California is inevitable.

Every governor who has faced a significant budget deficit for the last 60 years has reluctantly hiked taxes.

The COVID-19 pandemic — and the collapsed economy it created when many businesses were ordered closed and people told to stay home — will also force the governor and Legislature to cut services. It’s at the very time that increasing numbers of afflicted or laid-off Californians need assistance most.

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Alabama restaurants, bars, salons and gyms to reopen

Alabama’s dine-in restaurants, bars, salons and gyms are allowed to reopen Monday as the state eases restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Kay Ivey last week announced a loosening of restrictions to “provide additional opportunities for people to go back to work.”

Businesses including restaurants, hair salons, bars, breweries and gymnasiums can reopen Monday with rules including crowd limits and cleaning requirements.

The state is also lifting bans on non-work gatherings of 10 or more people. The change will allow churches, if they choose, to resume in-person services.

Theaters, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues remain closed.

The partial opening comes despite an upswing in the number of virus cases in the state

As of Sunday night, about 9,800 people in the state have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Nearly 400 people in the state have died from the illness.

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Shanghai Disneyland reopens with antivirus controls

Visitors wearing face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as China’s most prominent theme park reopened Monday in a new step toward rolling back anti-coronavirus controls that shut down its economy.

The park, which closed Jan. 25, will limit visitor numbers and is keeping some attractions closed in line with social distancing guidelines, company executives said.

The reopening adds to efforts by companies and the ruling Communist Party to revive the world’s second-largest economy following a shutdown that plunged it into its worst slump since at least the 1960s.

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Former UCLA coach Karl Dorrell had his dream home and job. Then coronavirus hit

In at least one way, Karl Dorrell’s quarantine existence is exactly as he would have imagined it:

Every day, no matter what happens, he’s with his wife, Kim, cooped up in their forever home.

A few years back, the Dorrells realized that they’d bought a dozen houses over the course of their football coaching journey but hadn’t put down any roots. Dorrell, then an assistant with the New York Jets, wanted to change that. He and Kim couldn’t get Colorado out of their heads, so they bought a half-acre lot in Lafayette, just eight miles east of Boulder, where he had been an assistant with the Buffaloes in the late 1990s.

Eventually, they got to building, and Kim would stay there whether Dorrell was in New Jersey or, last year, in South Florida with the Miami Dolphins. Now they get to really break the place in. It’s got everything he needs.
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Long Beach to open more recreational areas on Monday

The city of Long Beach announced guidelines Sunday for the reopening of some pedestrian and bike trails, tennis centers and tennis courts, requiring that users maintain physical distance and wear masks or other face coverings when in close contact with other people.

“We know our community has been anxious to get back outdoors,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a news release. “Please remember to practice physical distancing so that we can continue to make more places available.”
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L.A. County reports 18 more COVID-19 deaths, 484 cases

Los Angeles County public health officials on Sunday reported 484 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 coronavirus-related deaths.

Long Beach, which has its own health department, reported an additional 17 cases and one new death, bringing the county’s total to 31,694 cases and 1,531 deaths.

“Each day, we report these numbers knowing that there are people who are grieving their loved ones who have passed away from COVID-19,” Barbara Ferrer, the county public health director, said in a statement. “To all of you, we are so deeply sorry for your loss.”

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Even as stay-at-home orders ease, protesters say it’s not enough

Even as the first weekend of relaxed coronavirus restrictions in California brought people back out to hiking trails, parks and beaches, some protesters took to the streets to argue it wasn’t enough.

The changes in restrictions come amid new reminders that the virus is still a major threat.

Los Angeles County public health officials on Saturday reported 1,011 new coronavirus cases and 44 related deaths, pushing the total number of virus-related deaths to more than 1,500.

Officials say it’s crucial to continue practicing physical distancing and frequent handwashing, and that those who are older or have underlying health conditions should continue to stay home.

“If you are out and about this weekend, please take every precaution since any one of us, even if we are not sick, could be infected with COVID-19 and capable of infecting others,” Ferrer said Saturday.

That includes staying six feet away from others and wearing a face covering if others are near you, she said.

“These actions are critically important,” Ferrer said, “as we begin the journey of recovery so that we don’t find ourselves with large increases in hospitalizations and deaths that would require us to reinstitute restrictions.”

An estimated 1,500 demonstrators turned up Saturday in Huntington Beach, city police spokeswoman Angela Bennett said. They called for both the state and the nation to fully reopen — both economically and socially — and protested precautions that were implemented to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.

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Love your mom, but don’t jeopardize her health by visiting today, California officials say

Nolan Kennedy of Chula Vista picked up two gifts of fruit from Edibles Arrangements in La Mesa for Mother's Day for his wife and daughter-in-law.
Nolan Kennedy of Chula Vista picked up two gifts of fruit from Edibles Arrangements in La Mesa for Mother’s Day for his wife and daughter-in-law.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

With some coronavirus restrictions lifted this weekend, officials are warning residents to avoid gatherings on Mother’s Day that could cause new outbreaks.

Officials are particularly concerned about older moms, who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying of COVID-19.

The director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health told residents last week not to visit their mothers on Mother’s Day, even if wearing masks and keeping six feet apart.

Unless residents live in the same households with their mothers, “the greatest gift we can give to our mothers this Mother’s Day is to stay away,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, who formerly worked in the Obama White House on HIV prevention. “Don’t go visit your mom in person this year.”

In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday said he would allow wholesale florists to open as a horticultural exemption for Mother’s Day.

The city of Pasadena is warning against Mother’s Day gatherings after its Public Health Department recently traced a cluster of at least five COVID-19 cases to a birthday party.

The party was held after the city issued stay-at-home orders March 19 and was attended by a large number of extended family members and friends who did not wear face coverings or stay six feet apart, the city said in a news release.

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Bagpiper’s nightly coronavirus serenade sounds a mournful yet hopeful note in Santa Monica park

Palisades Park sits, these days, behind a chain-link fence, courtesy of a pandemic that makes anyplace too tempting for the masses a potentially dangerous place.

With its palm trees, its walking paths, its stunning views of the Pacific, the Santa Monica park has been deserted for weeks.

But each night, a kilted bagpiper slips into a narrow nook in the fencing, turns toward the west, and, just as the sun appears to slip beneath the waves, breaks the silence with a melancholy melody: “Amazing Grace.”

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me.

The legato notes echo in the empty space.

Andrew McGregor, 40, has been serenading the park alone for about two months, since just before stay-at-home orders were issued and public life in California ground to a halt because of the novel coronavirus. He lives down the street, and he’s at the park every night.

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Meet the 73-year-old surgeon working to keep California veterans safe from COVID-19

Dr. Vito Imbasciani, secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs
Dr. Vito Imbasciani, secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs, at the Veterans Home of California, on April 30.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Dr. Vito Imbasciani has been at war with viruses since he was 5.

Growing up near the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York, he contracted polio in 1952 and couldn’t walk for two months. In medical school in Vermont 30 years later, he saw AIDS steal the lives of otherwise healthy gay men.

Now, Imbasciani, secretary of California’s Department of Veterans Affairs, and his staff are responsible for keeping the novel coronavirus away from the state’s eight veterans homes. California’s defenses are holding.

The explanation, many say, lies in CalVet’s intense preparation, quick response, attention to hygiene and leadership, starting with Imbasciani, a physician and retired colonel who not too many years ago could have been discharged from the military because he is gay.

“We created our own fortune,” Imbasciani said, looking to knock on wood.

Deaths are part of life in the state-run veterans homes. The homes are populated largely by frail men and women, some of them veterans of World War II and Korea, and many from the Vietnam War era. A quarter of the vets admitted to California’s homes in recent years had been living homeless.

COVID-19 has hastened the end for scores of retired soldiers in veterans homes in other states: More than 70 veterans have died of the disease at a “soldiers’ home” in Massachusetts; more than 125 have died in New Jersey’s three homes; more than 60 residents of an Alabama veterans home tested positive, and eight have died.

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During the pandemic, Republicans see a rare political opportunity in California

There was no such thing as YouTube or Twitter. President Clinton was on the brink of impeachment. Donald Trump was a New York real estate developer, building his first golf course.

The year was 1998, and it was the last time California Republicans managed to flip a congressional seat from blue to red.

After more than two decades of losing, that futility may soon come to an end.

A special election to fill a vacant House seat to the north of Los Angeles is highly competitive, both sides agree, pitting Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith against first-time Republican candidate Mike Garcia.

The closeness is due in good part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The contest is one of two special congressional elections being held Tuesday amid the strictures arising from the novel coronavirus, which has reduced competition to a bunkered campaign of texting, remote voter outreach, virtual appearances and — in California — millions of dollars in online and television advertising. The other open seat, in rural Wisconsin, is expected to easily remain in GOP hands.

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‘We want to study you.’ Black Angelenos fear another Tuskegee

Jacquelyn Temple, outside her home in Leimert Park on Thursday.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The invitation to participate in a COVID-19 antibody study arrived in Jacquelyn Temple’s inbox early last month.

Initially, the 72-year-old Leimert Park resident felt hope. She wondered whether the study and accompanying blood test could answer why she had been experiencing months of respiratory problems, even through her coronavirus test had come back negative. Maybe, she thought, the test would reveal that she had been exposed and recovered.

Then she was hit with what she calls “a Tuskegee moment.”

“Every time I think about ‘experimental’ or ‘we want to study you’ or ‘there’s no cure, but we can treat you’ ... Tuskegee is in the back of my mind,” Temple said after deciding to go forward with the antibody study anyway.

Such seeds of mistrust were sowed almost a century ago in a rural corner of Alabama where, for four decades, medical researchers used hundreds of black men as guinea pigs in a government study now known as the Tuskegee experiment.

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Small towns across the Sierra fear tourists will bring coronavirus with them

The Sierra Nevada towns that dot Alpine County have no hospital. Nor do they have a single doctor’s office or clinic.

In this region of small unincorporated towns, the workers who comprise its fellowship of coronavirus first responders look a bit different from their counterparts in metropolises a few hours away. They’re a mix of civic-minded locals serving as volunteer firefighters and EMTs, and ambulance contractors who come when called from neighboring counties.

Until the coronavirus outbreak, a nurse practitioner ran the county’s only healthcare facility, but she recently left to help in an Army clinic in Texas. Now, residents must go out of the county, in some cases across the state line to Nevada, for healthcare, or call 911.

That’s why health and law officials in the least populous county in the state — and other nearby rural counties that draw anglers, backpackers and skiers — have united in a single message to tourists who can’t seem to keep away: Stay home.

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Newsom uses social media to raise awareness of the pandemic — and his profile

SACRAMENTO — As Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered a somber briefing in late April about the devastation wrought by the coronavirus, his personal Twitter and Instagram feeds never ceased to whir.

Newsom’s Instagram account teased an upcoming interview about the pandemic with Megan Rapinoe, U.S. soccer star, and praised a cadre of California doctors and nurses flying to New York, a COVID-19 hot spot. His Twitter account posted grim figures on virus-related deaths and a warning that Californians “MUST take this seriously.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of viewers were tuned into Newsom’s livestream on the state’s coronavirus response posted to the governor’s official Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Latest far-right tactic: Naming names, threatening people who report lockdown violations

Tammy Snider protests in Olympia, Wash.
Tammy Snider, of Parkland, Wash., is among those recently protesting Washington state’s stay-at-home order in Olympia. Some far-right groups have allied themselves with the movement.
(Amanda Snyder / The Seattle Times)

Aram Westergreen, a construction worker idled last month in the COVID-19 pandemic, filled out an online Washington state form recently to report a pawn shop open despite a ban on nonessential businesses.

Westergreen lives in Tacoma, Wash., less than an hour from the nursing home where the first COVID-19 death in the United States was reported in late February. With more than 900 deaths statewide since, and a stay-at-home order in place since March 23, Westergreen, like many of his neighbors, has suffered from lost income, but regards social distancing as critical to slow the spread of the pathogen.

To his alarm on Thursday, he opened his email to find a message entitled “Lowlife scumbag whistle-blower snitches.” It was sent from a stranger to about 100 people, informing them that their names, reports and identifying information had been released by the government and shared on social media.

“All you cowards who reported businesses as being open ... guess what ... social media is about to reign fire on you,” the message said. “How can you live with yourself when the REAL DOCTORS have already come out and stated that social distancing is making matters worse? Every one of you slimeballs must only get your news from CNN.”

The emailer was correct in one respect. The Washington Military Department, which is coordinating state response to the pandemic, had responded to public records requests by releasing spreadsheets containing more than 7,600 reports of suspected stay-home violations, including email addresses and phone numbers of those lodging complaints.

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Projections show California’s virus toll ‘going up more than we expected’

California is one of a handful of states where coronavirus cases and deaths are “going up more than we expected,” according to the latest projections in a widely relied-upon model of the coronavirus outbreak.

Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the institute’s latest projections suggested that the nationwide fatality count would reach 137,000 by Aug. 4. It stands now at nearly 80,000.

The picture is mixed in some of the country’s most populous states, he said.

“Some good-ish news coming out of New York and New Jersey and Michigan, where the death cases and death numbers are coming down faster than expected,” he said. “Some other states where cases and deaths are going up more than we expected — Illinois and then Arizona, Florida, California as examples of that.”

Murray also said scientists were tracking how much people were moving about in states where businesses were reopening — and that the additional movement would translate into more infections, hospitalizations and deaths in about the next week and a half.

“We’re just seeing explosive increases in mobility,” he said, “in a number of states that we expect will translate into more cases and deaths, you know, in 10 days from now.”

That is particularly true, he said, in states such as Georgia, which moved more quickly than most to ease shutdowns. “Somewhere like Georgia, which was one of the first — it is in the category of a big increase,” he said.

Other emerging hot spots, he said, include Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.

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Mnuchin says things will get worse before they get better, yet predicts an upbeat economic third quarter

On the heels of the worst unemployment report in U.S. history, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday things were “probably going to get worse before they get better.”

After coronavirus-caused shutdowns brought the economy to a near-halt in April, figures out last week put the jobless rate at 14.7%, the highest level since the 1930s.

Mnuchin, however, repeated President Trump’s prediction that the economy would see a strong third quarter and a still better fourth one. On “Fox News Sunday,” the Treasury secretary said the administration was “very focused on rebuilding this economy” as states began to reopen.

“Next year is going to be a great year,” he said.

As the administration and Congress weigh another economic-stimulus package — something Trump said last week he was in “no rush” to see enacted — the White House is calling for a payroll tax cut, a move opposed by Democrats and some Republicans.

Mnuchin threw cold water on the idea of supplemental funding for states whose budgets were devastated by the virus, imperiling basic public services.

“We are absolutely pushing for the payroll tax cut,” he said, calling it a means of “delivering money to American public and business in a very effective way.”

The Treasury secretary added, “We’re not going to do things just to bail out states that were poorly managed.”

Congressional Democrats point out that many of the states pressing for more federal funding, including New York and New Jersey, are so-called donor states, which pay more in taxes to the federal government than they receive back.

White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett, though, did not rule out additional aid for states and local governments in the next relief package — although he said a decision now would be “premature” until the economic effects of current reopenings were better understood.

“We’ve got a bunch of economies around the country and around the world starting to turn the lights back on,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Hassett said the administration was “watching to see what happens to economic activity and the path of the disease.”

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Nurse without N95 mask rushed to treat a ‘code blue’ virus patient. She died 14 days later

Nurses attend a candlelight vigil for nurse Celia Marcos.
Nurses attend a candlelight vigil for nurse Celia Marcos outside Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The decision that Celia Marcos made, the one that would ultimately steal years from her life, had been hard-wired after decades working as a nurse.

On the ward that she oversaw at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, a man with COVID-19 had stopped breathing. Marcos’ face was covered only with a thin surgical mask, and obtaining a more protective N95 mask before entering his room would have wasted valuable time, her colleagues say.

The 61-year-old charge nurse knew the chest compressions and other breathing treatments the patient needed would likely spew dangerous virus particles into the air that could land on her face and clothing. She would be at high risk of catching the coronavirus.

Marcos raced into the room. Fourteen days later, she was dead.

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Health expert contradicts Trump, says virus ‘isn’t going to go away’ without vaccine

A leading public health expert, directly contradicting President Trump’s prediction last week that the coronavirus would vanish on its own, said Sunday that “this virus isn’t going to go away” without a vaccine.

Thomas Inglesby, who directs Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the virus would remain a “big problem in this country [and] around the world until we have a vaccine.” He added, though, that treatments being developed might begin to ameliorate the worst effects of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

With the U.S. death toll closing in on 80,000 and well over a million cases reported, Inglesby said, “we’re still in the early stages of the pandemic.”

He noted that while states like New York and New Jersey have managed to slow the rate of virus transmission, it is rising in many other areas. The country as a whole, he said, is on a plateau.

Inglesby said that although the rate of unemployment was “shocking” and must be addressed, he remained concerned about states reopening too quickly in the absence of a robust nationwide program for testing and isolating the infected.
“The bottom line is that we’re not diagnosing enough cases,” he said, “and we’re not tracing their contacts.”

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The differences between U.S., European safety nets

In Bonn, Germany, a bust of Beethoven gets a mask. Germany's jobless benefit pays 60% of a worker's salary for a year.
(Getty Images)

The coronavirus pandemic is straining social safety nets across the globe — and underlining sharp differences in approach between wealthy societies such as the United States and Europe.

In Europe, the collapse in business activity is triggering wage support programs that are keeping millions on the job, for now. In contrast, in the United States more than 33.5 million people have applied for jobless benefits, and the unemployment rate has soared to 14.7%. Congress has passed $2 trillion in emergency support, boosting jobless benefits and writing stimulus checks of up to $1,200 per taxpayer.

That is a pattern seen in earlier economic downturns, particularly the Great Recession. Europe depends on existing programs kicking in that pump money into people’s pockets. The U.S., on the other hand, relies on Congress taking action by passing emergency stimulus programs, as it did in 2009 under President Obama and the recent rescue package under President Trump.

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Two White House coronavirus task force members in quarantine

Two members of the White House coronavirus task force placed themselves in quarantine after having contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, another stark reminder that not even one of the nation’s most secure buildings is immune from the virus.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be “teleworking for the next two weeks” after it was determined he had a “low-risk exposure” to a person at the White House, the CDC said in a statement Saturday night. The statement said he felt fine and has no symptoms.

Just a few hours earlier, the Food and Drug Administration confirmed that FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn had come in contact with someone who tested positive and was in self-quarantine for the next two weeks. He tested negative for the virus.

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Protesters gather outside Mayor Garcetti’s Hancock Park residence to protest health restrictions

At least 100 protesters gathered Saturday outside the Hancock Park residence of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, with marchers calling for the economy to reopen and condemning the health orders enacted in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Los Angeles police Sgt. Zachary Wechsler said the crowd numbered between 100 to 200 people at Getty House, the city-owned mansion in Windsor Square that serves as the residence for L.A.'s mayors. No arrests were made, and the protest lasted about two hours, Wechsler said.

Officer Mike Chan, a spokesman for the L.A. Police Department, said demonstrators had dispersed by about 4:30 p.m. Images of the protest published online showed crowds waving American flags and carrying signs demanding an end to the shutdown.

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Grateful hikers return to Griffith Park: ‘Like being set free’

This trail south of Griffith Park offers spectacular views.
(Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times)

Porsche O’Neil wasted no time going to Griffith Park, enjoying a seven-mile hike Saturday morning featured natural sights and sounds, including two deer browsing in a glade of oak trees while acorn woodpeckers flitted among their gnarled branches.

“Those deer were happy, beautiful and eating without a care in the world,” she said. “And hikers were respectful. Everyone oohed and aahed from a respectful distance. Nobody rushed toward them with cameras. It’s been that kind of a wonderful day.”

Los Angeles County officials reopened trails and golf courses with restrictions Saturday morning. Face coverings are required in parking lots, trailheads and other crowded areas; hikers are required to wear them on trails only if they’re unable to keep six feet apart from others. At some locations, vest-wearing park monitors will keep an eye out for compliance.

City trails also reopened this weekend, with the exception of Runyon Canyon, which remains closed.

The reopening of Griffith Park’s trails Saturday could not come soon enough for Hector Cervantes, a 35-year-old machinist and avid hiker, who said, “After three months at home in lockdown, I was starting to feel like a slave in a prison run by dangerous germs.”

“To finally be outdoors again,” he added, trudging down a shady stretch of Vermont Avenue crowded with fellow hikers, “is like being set free.” Roads into Griffith Park remained closed to traffic.

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As demand for food skyrockets due to coronavirus, food banks play catch-up

Ofelia Jiménez didn’t think her family would need to rely on a food pantry -- not again.

But after her son’s hours at McDonald’s were cut due to the coronavirus pandemic, her husband’s $1,500 monthly pension was not enough to keep everyone fed.

The family had been coming for years to St. Margaret’s, a Catholic charity near the intersection of the San Diego and Century freeways, to get help with food. After Jiménez and her husband paid off their home in Inglewood, she figured she wouldn’t need to come back.

But this spring, the family again found itself struggling to pay a car note, insurance and utility bills and to buy food.

“I’ve been so worried,” said Jiménez, 60. “Without this help, I don’t know where we would be.”

Across L.A. County, a record number of families have flocked to food pantries since mid-March, as more than half the region’s residents have lost their jobs. It’s a challenge many food banks have met with remarkable agility, as the need has doubled, in some cases tripled, and a steady food supply has been harder to maintain. Some pantries have struggled with a dwindling number of volunteers; others have launched donation campaigns, in order to buy food that they used to receive for free.

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Was the coronavirus made in a Wuhan lab? What the science says

The coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19, is isolated from a patient in the U.S.
(National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—Rocky Mountain Laboratories)

Like the virus whose origin it purports to explain, the following conjecture refuses to die: The novel coronavirus was cooked up in a Chinese lab and either escaped or was intentionally released.

It’s a claim without the support of any publicly available evidence. It implies that tight-lipped members of a large and malign network colluded to engineer the COVID-19 pandemic or to cover up an accident that caused it.

The story has all the earmarks of a conspiracy theory. And it has drawn support from the highest levels of the U.S. government.

By contrast, strong and widely available evidence supports a very different hypothesis about the virus’s origins: It evolved naturally.

Laboratory releases of dangerous viruses are not unheard of. In 2003, for instance, the virus responsible for SARS sickened a graduate student who worked in a Singapore lab a few months after the outbreak had ended there.

But there is nothing to indicate a similar breach touched off the current pandemic.

Scientists believe the direct ancestor of the coronavirus now known as SARS-CoV-2 has lived for so long in bats and other animals that it is no longer capable of making them sick. At some point near the end of 2019, the virus’s genetic code mutated in a way that allowed it to jump from its animal “reservoir” to its first human host.

At the time that leap was made, the virus had recently developed — or soon would develop — the ability to spread easily from human to human. The result is a global pandemic that has sickened at least 3.9 million people and caused more than 274,000 deaths.

Scientists cite several layers of evidence to support their surmises. Though they acknowledge gaps where further research would strengthen their position or shift their reading of the exact path the virus has taken, they are firm on where the evidence ultimately leads.

Here’s how a team of biologists, infectious disease researchers and biosecurity experts put it in a report published in the journal Nature Medicine: “We do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible.”

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Flare-ups in Germany and South Korea show the risks in easing restrictions

South Korea’s capital closed down more than 2,100 bars and other nightspots Saturday because of a new cluster of coronavirus infections, Germany scrambled to contain fresh outbreaks at slaughterhouses, and Italian authorities worried that people were getting too friendly at cocktail hour during the country’s first weekend of eased restrictions.

The new outbreaks — and the fears of a second wave of contagion — underscored the dangers authorities face as they try to reopen their economies.

Around the world, the U.S. and other hard-hit countries are wrestling with how to ease curbs on business and public activity without causing the virus to come surging back.

Elsewhere, Belarus, which has not locked down despite increasing case numbers, saw tens of thousands of people turn out to mark Victory Day, the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat in 1945. That was in contrast to Russia, which skipped the usual grand parade in Moscow’s Red Square.

Germany and South Korea have both carried out extensive testing and contact tracing and have been hailed for avoiding the mass deaths that have overwhelmed other countries. But even in those two countries, authorities have struggled with finding the balance between saving lives and saving jobs.

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Decision to shelve CDC report came from top White House officials, documents show

The decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House, according to internal government emails obtained by the Associated Press.

The files also show that after the AP reported Thursday that the guidance document had been buried, the Trump administration ordered key parts of it to be fast-tracked for approval.

The trove of emails shows the nation’s top public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spending weeks working on guidance to help the country deal with a public health emergency, only to see their work quashed by political appointees with little explanation.

The document, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen. It included detailed “decision trees,” or flow charts aimed at helping local leaders navigate the difficult decision of whether to reopen or remain closed.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Friday that the documents had not been approved by CDC Director Robert Redfield. The new emails, however, show that Redfield had cleared the guidance.

Even though the new CDC guidance — a mix of advice already released along with newer information — had been approved and promoted by the highest levels of its leadership, including Redfield, the administration shelved it on April 30.

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Coronavirus case cluster tied to Pasadena party and ‘selfish behavior,’ officials say

Pasadena was recently named no. 2 on a list of "gayest cities in America."
(Keith Johnson/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The city of Pasadena is warning against Mother’s Day gatherings after its public health department recently traced a cluster of at least five coronavirus cases to a birthday party.

The party was held after the city issued stay-at-home orders March 19 and was attended by a large number of extended family members and friends who did not wear face coverings or stay six feet apart, the city said in a news release.
“One person showed up to the party exhibiting symptoms and joking she may have the virus,” Lisa Derderian, spokeswoman for the city of Pasadena, said in an email. “The aftermath affected several others who became seriously ill because of one person’s negligent and selfish behavior.”

Through contact tracing, a Pasadena Public Health Department disease investigation team discovered more than five laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases among attendees of the party “and many more ill individuals,” the city said. The team identified the woman as the index case, or the first patient in the outbreak identified with the infection, officials said.

“This is an example of how good contact tracing can identify disease clusters and tell us more about the spread of disease in our community,” Dr. Matthew Feaster, an epidemiologist with the Public Health Department, said in a statement.

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Vatican Museums prepare to resume visits to the Sistine Chapel

Journalists stare at the Sistine Chapel with its new lighting during a press visit at the Vatican on Wednesday.
(Filippo Monteforte / AFP/Getty Images)

The Vatican Museums are gearing up to resume visits to the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens and papal estate outside Rome after a two-month coronavirus lockdown.

New protocols will require reservations in advance, protective masks and likely afternoon and evening visiting to stagger crowds.

The Vatican hasn’t announced a reopening date for the museums. The head of the Vatican City State that oversees the museums, Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, suggested Saturday it might not be ready to coincide with the May 18 reopening of Italian museums.

But he says the Vatican was finishing the installation of scanners to check temperatures of museum visitors and preparing protocols for tours of the Vatican Gardens and the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo on Lake Albano.

The Vatican Museums usually receive 7 million visitors a year and are the main source of income funding the Holy See bureaucracy. Vergez says the museums have a “solid” economic foundation.

The Vatican, a city state in the center of Rome, imposed a lockdown in tandem with the rest of Italy, which was the first European country hit hard by COVID-19. This week, Italy began a cautious and gradual reopening.

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Remdesivir to be shipped to six more states

The federal government is sending supplies of the first drug that appears to help speed the recovery of some COVID-19 patients to six states, where it will be distributed by health departments.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday that it is delivering 140 cases of the drug remdesivir to Illinois, 110 cases to New Jersey, 40 cases to Michigan, 30 cases each to Connecticut and Maryland and 10 cases to Iowa. Each case contains 40 vials of the drug, the department said in a statement.

“State and local health departments have the greatest insights into community-level needs in the COVID-19 response,” the statement said.

Earlier this week the government sent 565 cases to New York, 117 to Massachusetts, 94 to New Jersey, 38 to Indiana, 33 to Virginia, 30 to Rhode Island, and seven to Tennessee.

The company that makes the antiviral drug, California-based Gilead Sciences, has said it is donating its entire current stockpile to help in the U.S. pandemic response.

Remdesivir was cleared for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration last week.

The department says the doses have to go to more critical patients including those on ventilators or in need of supplemental oxygen.

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Italy says it has released more than 4,000 people from hospitals

Italy says a near-record 4,008 people were released from hospitals in the past day after testing negative for COVID-19 as the country continues its cautious reopening after a two-month national lockdown.

Another 1,083 people tested positive, half of them in hard-hit Lombardy, bringing Italy’s confirmed number of cases to 218,268. Officials say the real number is as much as 10 times that.

Another 194 people died, one of the lowest day-to-day death tolls in recent weeks. The confirmed COVID-19 toll in the onetime European epicenter is 30,395.

Another 134 intensive care beds were freed up, bringing the total number close to 1,000. At the height of the outbreak, there were more than 4,000 people in ICUs, and the wards in Lombardy were nearly saturated.

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2 more New York children die from rare syndrome

Three children have now died in New York state from a possible complication from the coronavirus involving swollen blood vessels and heart problems, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.

At least 73 children in New York have been diagnosed with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease — a rare inflammatory condition in children — and toxic shock syndrome. Most of them are toddlers and elementary-age children.

Cuomo announced two more deaths a day after discussing the death of a 5-year-old boy Thursday at a New York City hospital. He did not give information about where the two other children died, or provide their ages. There is no proof that the virus causes the mysterious syndrome.

Doctors have recently identified a condition called pediatric inflammatory multi-system syndrome among children who have tested positive for antibodies against COVID-19.

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FDA authorizes antigen tests for coronavirus

U.S. regulators have approved a new type of coronavirus test that administration officials have promoted as a key to opening the country.

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday announced emergency authorization for antigen tests developed by Quidel Corp. of San Diego. The test can rapidly detect fragments of virus proteins in samples collected from swabs swiped inside the nasal cavity, the FDA said in a statement.

The antigen test is the third type of test to be authorized by the FDA. Antigen tests can diagnose active infections by detecting the earliest toxic traces of the virus rather than the genetic code of the virus itself.

Currently, the only way to diagnose active COVID-19 is to test a patient’s nasal swab for the genetic material of the virus. While considered highly accurate, the tests can take hours and require expensive, specialized equipment mainly found at commercial labs, hospitals or universities.

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Senior care homes source of nearly half of all California coronavirus deaths, data show

SACRAMENTO — Nearly half of all deaths related to COVID-19 in California are linked to elder care facilities, a data analysis by the Los Angeles Times has found, with the state releasing new data late Friday suggesting that there have been many more outbreaks than previously disclosed.

At least 1,276 people have died after being infected with the coronavirus in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities in California, accounting for more than 49% of total fatalities reported by the state.

The deaths are part of state data showing that at least 292 skilled nursing or assisted living facilities in California, many clustered in Los Angeles, have recorded cases.

The highest death toll in the state remains at Redwood Springs Healthcare Center in Tulare County, where 28 residents have died and 116 patients and 61 staff members have been infected.
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Facebook and YouTube race to squash viral video full of coronavirus lies

Earlier this week, a Southern California filmmaker posted his newest production on Facebook and YouTube and let the social media platforms do what they’ve been built for: make his video go viral.

Within days, the 26-minute video had spread like wildfire, racking up millions of views and attracting legions of new fans. The video, called “Plandemic,” looks like a serious documentary, with well-shot interviews intercut with news footage and ominous music. But it propagates coronavirus conspiracy theories, which could encourage viewers to ignore public health recommendations or attempt ineffective or dangerous treatments for the viral infection.

By Thursday, the social media companies where the video proliferated pledged to stop the video’s spread. They’re now struggling to stop new copies from emerging. As of the time of this article’s publication, links to or versions of the video were still available on both Facebook and YouTube.
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Group calls for social distancing, more testing during coronavirus counter-protest in Huntington Beach

For the second straight Friday, a protest was held near the Huntington Beach Pier.

This one was far smaller in scope than the stay-at-home protest last week that brought at least 2,500 protesters to Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. And that was part of the point, event organizer Aaron McCall of Costa Mesa said.

McCall said the three-person counter-protest in Pier Plaza, put on by the left-leaning group Indivisible OC 48, was organized to bring attention to all of the people who are following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home orders during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Spencer Kelly of Huntington Beach wore a Grim Reaper costume, holding a scythe and a sign that read, “Brought to you by the OC Board of Supervisors.” On the other side, it read, “Stay home, wear masks, save lives.”
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Is the coronavirus crisis reason to worry about how other nations view U.S. leadership?

Maybe for the first time in decades we should begin worrying about what others are saying about us.

Jeremy K.B. Kinsman, a veteran Canadian diplomat, speaks of “continental drift” and “America’s evacuation of world leadership.” Swedish former Prime Minister Carl Bildt says “there’s not been even a hint of an aspiration of American leadership” in the global fight against the novel coronavirus. The distinguished Irish columnist and critic Fintan O’Toole, referring to the American response to COVID-19, asks: “Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode?”

Washington, we have a problem, and it goes beyond the virus and the million-plus Americans who have contracted the disease.

And as a result the globe has a problem — with America and its indecision and indiscretion, with the prospects for an ordered world, perhaps even with a world leadership vacuum unlike any since the decline of the Spanish empire at the beginning of the 17th century.
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‘Chinese virus’ and other COVID-19 racism have designers, stylists of Asian heritage pushing back

Amid the surge of anti-Asian sentiment in America right now, a collective West Coast-East Coast voice stemming from the fashion community — including stylist Jeanne Yang, designers Prabal Gurung and Kimora Lee Simmons — has risen to speak out against the rhetoric and racism.

During the seven-week period from March 19 to April 30 there were 1,716 reported incidents of coronavirus-related attacks directed at Asian Americans, according to a recent study released by Stop AAPI Hate, a Los Angeles-based organization that was launched in March to record incidents of coronavirus-related discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

To put that number into perspective, just look at three years ago: The number of reports of discrimination against Asian Americans registered in 2017 at the website standagainsthatred.com, started by Washington, D.C.,-based Asian Americans Advancing Justice, came in at 200 for the entire year.
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Yosemite employees evicted amid coronavirus pandemic

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK — An estimated 90 shuttle bus drivers and Yosemite National Park transportation workers who were laid off after the park closed to visitors in March are now facing eviction.

The group of Yosemite Hospitality workers were told this week layoffs require them to leave Yosemite by May 21, the Fresno Bee reported Friday.

These are the first reported Yosemite evictions solely because of layoffs caused by the coronavirus pandemic and they come in spite of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order calling for a statewide moratorium on evictions through May 31, the newspaper reported.

It’s unclear how the order pertains to federal lands, including national parks.
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Pence’s press secretary tests positive for coronavirus, Trump says

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive for the coronavirus Friday, becoming the second confirmed infection this week in a White House where top officials, from President Trump on down, have been reluctant to follow their own public health guidelines.

Trump identified Katie Miller as the staffer who had tested positive, although he continued to downplay the risk to himself or others at the White House. She is married to Trump’s senior aide for immigration, Stephen Miller.

One of Trump’s personal valets, a member of the military, had tested positive on Wednesday. The president normally has two office valets and three in the residence to act as personal assistants, doing everything from serving meals to ironing his clothes.
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3 more inmates die at Chino prison as infections continue to spread

A 2009 photo of Chino state prison, where Michael Ray Morrow escaped in 1977. He was arrested Tuesday in Arkansas, the FBI says.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

As an outbreak of the coronavirus continues to rage inside the California Institution for Men in Chino, three more inmates at the prison have died, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Friday.

The prisoners, who died over the course of two days this week at San Bernardino County hospitals, are among a growing number of inmates who have contracted COVID-19. Outbreaks at federal penitentiaries at Terminal Island in San Pedro and Lompoc are among the worst in the nation.

The number of inmates infected at the Chino prison has more than doubled to 332, officials said. Prisoners are housed in large dormitories, and implementing social distancing to stem the spread of the virus has been a struggle. The prison previously had reported only one death, on April 19.

Dana Simas, a corrections spokeswoman, said the families of the three inmates who died have been notified. “No additional information is being provided to protect individual medical privacy,” she said in a statement to The Times.

The increase in the number of coronavirus cases is a result of mass testing of inmates regardless of symptoms, according to Lt. Thomas Lopez, a spokesman for the Chino prison. Inmates and correctional staff at the prison have pushed for more widespread testing as fear has grown that asymptomatic prisoners may be infecting others with existing medical conditions that make them more vulnerable.

Debra Harrison Blagg said she fears for her husband, John Blagg, who is serving eight years for driving under the influence and has suffered three prior heart attacks.

“I am so scared for John I cannot stop crying,” she said.

Three more inmates died of coronavirus and the number who are infected has more than doubled at the California state prison in Chino, officials said.

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Merchants rejoice as they finally swing open doors and greet customers — with restrictions, of course

The congratulatory and confusing calls came flooding in Thursday for Ruben Cortez, 36, manager of Lovell’s Records and Tapes in Uptown Whittier.

“Man, I had probably around 20 to 30 calls from people asking me if the store was open or telling me they were happy and they couldn’t wait until tomorrow when they ‘could finally walk inside,’” Cortez said. “I had to tell people that the store wasn’t opening for people to come in, but just allowing for pickups. A lot of people didn’t understand.”

This is how the first day went as some businesses across California were allowed to open on Friday. It was limited, halting and a bit confusing. But merchants said they were grateful to connect with customers directly, even with all the social distancing rules and other safeguards.
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New York probing child’s COVID-19 death as states reopen

A 5-year-old boy in New York died from a condition believed linked to COVID-19, and the state’s health officials are investigating several similar cases, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

“This is every parent’s nightmare,” Cuomo said.

“While rare, we’re seeing some cases where children affected with the COVID virus can become ill with symptoms similar to the Kawasaki disease or toxic shock-like syndrome that literally causes inflammation in their blood vessels,” the governor said during his daily briefing. “This would be really painful news and would open up an entirely different chapter because I can’t tell you how many people I spoke to who took peace and solace in the fact that children were not getting infected.”
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What COVID-19 patients young and old can teach us about the coronavirus

They’re the cases that stand out, because they don’t seem to fit the coronavirus pattern: A 32-year-old nurse died of COVID-19 after spending several days on a ventilator at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. A 25-year-old pharmacy technician who had seemed to be in good health had succumbed to COVID-19 in a Riverside County home.

It’s enough to make you wonder: Is the coronavirus more dangerous to younger people than scientists initially thought?

When the outbreak took off in Wuhan, China, there was a distinct trend: The older the patient, the greater the risk of death. And as the virus spread around the world, that trend seemed to hold up. A study published in the medical journal Lancet that analyzed more than 70,000 cases from January and February found that the fatality rate for COVID-19 patients in their 30s was 0.15%, compared with 13.4% for those 80 and older.

But in the U.S., doctors on the front lines have noted strange and often alarming conditions in younger victims, including patients in their 30s and 40s dying of strokes after experiencing only mild COVID-19 symptoms. Children and teens have ended up in hospital intensive care units with symptoms of a rare inflammatory syndrome called Kawasaki disease that could be related to COVID-19, according to a bulletin released by the New York City Health Department this week.

For now, cases like these remain disparate pieces of a much larger puzzle. As scientists dig deeper, they hope to learn more about the role of age as a COVID-19 risk factor and why the disease is so dangerous to the elderly.

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All California voters will be asked to vote by mail in November due to fears, Newsom says

SACRAMENTO —Citing public health concerns over millions of Californians showing up at voting locations this fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday ordered ballots to be mailed to the state’s 20.6 million voters for the November election while imposing strict new rules for anyone who participates in person.

The decision, Newsom said, reflects the assessment from health officials that the COVID-19 pandemic will not have subsided enough to permit the election to move forward under its traditional rules. While a majority of California’s votes are now cast from a voting place, the change would mark the first time in state history that every registered voter is mailed a ballot.

“There’s a lot of excitement around this November’s election in terms of making sure that you can conduct yourself in a safe way, and make sure your health is protected,” Newsom said during a midday event.
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L.A. County beaches likely to reopen Wednesday or Thursday

L.A. County officials say they may reopen beaches as early as Wednesday morning with a range of restrictions, including closed parking lots, piers and boardwalks. Those limits are to be gradually lifted in phases, and details are still to be determined by county public health officials.

“We don’t want a stampede to the beaches. ... This gives us a few more days before the weekend,” said Nicole Mooradian, public information officer for L.A. County’s Department of Beaches and Harbors.
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Hold the Champagne: Pandemic, recession fears hammer traditional European products

TOULOUSE, France —The pop of a Champagne cork: Around the world, but perhaps especially in France, few things better symbolize conviviality and celebration than the pouring out of fine bubbly and the clink of raised glasses. But the coronavirus crisis has changed all that.

With France in a near-total shutdown since March 17, large festive gatherings like weddings vanished overnight, restaurants and hotels are shuttered, export markets have cratered, and one of the country’s most emblematic products has suffered a sales collapse.

The pandemic has brought with it dire forecasts of Europe’s deepest recession of the postwar era. According to forecasts this week, the 27-nation European Union’s economy will shrink by 7.4% this year, the steepest fall in the bloc’s history.
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Pour one out for 2020 grads. It’ll be hard to find a job in this market

Mia Maloney had what every college senior wants: a cool paid internship in her field secured months before graduation.

The USC senior had accepted her dream role as a marketing intern at a record label in Nashville that represents some of her favorite artists.

Then it was gone.

Because of the uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, the company called her in March and rescinded its offer.
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Public health officials urge caution as L.A. County reopens

Amid a plateau in the number of new coronavirus-related deaths in Los Angeles County, officials Friday were easing into an economic recovery plan.

Some retailers are being allowed to reopen for curbside pickup, and recreational venues such as golf courses and some trails will reopen Saturday.

Still, public health officials are urging caution, saying the healthcare system could be overwhelmed by a surge of new cases if people resume their daily activities without taking the proper precautions.
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Los Angeles Flower Market opens in time for Mother’s Day

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Most California counties fall short of reopening criteria as cases climb

Most big California counties are not close to meeting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s strict standards that would allow a wider reopening of the economy, including dine-in restaurants and shopping malls, a Times data analysis found.

Newsom announced Thursday a series of benchmarks each of California’s 58 counties would need to reach to significantly reopen. Can the county show that people have stopped dying from the coronavirus? Have new cases fallen to a manageable level? Can officials adequately test people? Do they have enough detectives to track down newly infected people? And do they have enough medical supplies?

The Times conducted an analysis to see which counties could pass just the first two criteria — whether deaths have stopped in the past 14 days, and whether there is no more than one case per 10,000 residents in that same time period. Most of California failed that test.
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It’s not your imagination: L.A. traffic is starting to pick up again

During the first month of California’s stay-at-home order, Hollywood writer Jon Hotchkiss went to great lengths to film the vast emptiness of the street grid: walking onto an on-ramp, lingering on overpasses, even strapping a camera on his car and driving through the sparse traffic in the Sepulveda Pass.

Last week, as cars zipped past him on Ventura Boulevard, he realized that the blissful, eerie period of no traffic was already ending.

“I’m seeing more cars everywhere,” Hotchkiss said. “It’s just strange, like: Where are all these people going?”

Like the first tender shoots of spring, or perhaps the proverbial canary in the coal mine, traffic is beginning to reappear in Los Angeles.
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With the prospect of empty stadiums, how will the NFL move forward?

Preposterous. Unthinkable. A science-fiction movie. How could meaningful pro football games be played in cavernous NFL stadiums filled with oceans of empty seats?

Steve Young knows how.

“I’ve lived it,” said the Hall of Fame quarterback who began his career with the Los Angeles Express of the USFL. “I played in the Coliseum in front of 10,000 people. It’s so quiet I had to whisper in the huddle. I actually had to move the huddle back. Defensive guys were like, ‘I think he said flanker drive.’ ”

When it comes to easy answers about how to restart the NFL in the age of COVID-19, the silence is deafening.
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The rich infected the poor as COVID-19 spread around the world

SINGAPORE —When it arrived in the unforgiving industrial towns of central Mexico, the sand-swept sprawl of northern Nigeria and the mazes of metal shanties in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai, COVID-19 went by another name.

People called it a “rich man’s disease.”

Pandemics throughout history have been associated with the underprivileged, but in many developing countries the coronavirus was a high-class import — carried in by travelers returning from business trips in China, studies in Europe, ski vacations in the Rockies.
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White House aide tests positive ahead of Pence trip

A White House aide has tested positive for coronavirus infection, according to people familiar with the matter, the second person working at the executive residence to contract the virus this week.

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to travel to Iowa on Friday to discuss the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on churches and on the food supply. But his plane left Joint Base Andrews outside Washington more than an hour behind schedule, after some passengers de-boarded.

It wasn’t clear if the delay was related to the positive virus test.

The people familiar with the matter asked not to be identified because the positive test hasn’t been announced. Earlier in the week, a member of the military who works on the White House grounds tested positive for the virus.
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These are the California businesses that can reopen, and these are the rules

After weeks of stay-at-home orders, California will allow some retailers to reopen on Friday.

Here is what is open and what is not based on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan:

Open with curbside service

Bookstores
Music stores
Toy stores
Florists
Sporting goods retailers
Clothing stores
Other “low-risk” retailers

The governor’s office said it also was hoping to allow some manufacturing and logistics businesses to reopen with social distancing and safety rules.
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All 10 family members in this house got COVID-19. Their patriarch didn’t survive

The Ramirez family never thought the coronavirus would get them.

They took every precaution, staying cooped up in their Azusa home since the stay-at-home order in March, the family said. Only the family’s father and eldest son went out for grocery runs, fully protected with masks and gloves.

The virus still found its way into the home. Over the course of days, each member of the 10-person household became infected. Three were hospitalized.

The family’s patriarch, Guillermo Ramirez, would not survive the battle with COVID-19. He died April 28 at 47. His family said he had no underlying conditions that would have put him at special risk.
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Most California voters back protections for undocumented farmworkers, poll finds

A substantial majority of California voters support work protections for farmworkers — including undocumented immigrants — such as paid sick leave, medical benefits and replacement wages if they contract the coronavirus, a new statewide poll finds.

Some 80% of state voters support employers providing full replacement wages to farmworkers to stay home when sick with COVID-19, while 79% back equitable pay for such workers regardless of legal or guest worker status, according to a survey from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies released Friday.

Just over seven in 10 believe that undocumented and legal workers should have equitable medical and paid sick leave should they catch the virus, with support heaviest among voters in Los Angeles County and the Bay Area. More than nine in 10 voters support providing hand-washing stations, personal protective equipment and work conditions that enable farmworkers to practice social distancing.
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Coronavirus testing has come to skid row. But what happens when infected patients disappear?

First they needed to coax Fatima from her tent.

Outreach workers Ciara DeVozza and Jenna Kennedy knew that the 37-year-old homeless woman had a fever and chills. But Fatima insisted it was from the hole in her tooth, not the coronavirus. So DeVozza and Kennedy, looking to build trust and persuade her to get tested, told Fatima they might be able help her see a dentist.

Fatima, who is blind, agreed and was guided toward the center of an empty parking lot near 3rd and Main streets.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry,” said Shannon Fernando, a nurse practitioner with L.A. Christian Health Centers, as she stuck a long swab up Fatima’s nose. “Just count to 10 and you’ll be all done. Almost done. Almost done. You’re doing so good.”
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Outbreak at Tyson pork-processing plant infected 1,031 workers, officials say

WATERLOO, Iowa — Local officials say the coronavirus outbreak at a Tyson Foods pork-processing plant in Iowa infected more than 1,000 workers, a far greater number than the state or company has acknowledged.

Black Hawk County health officials said Thursday that they have identified 1,031 workers at the Waterloo plant who have tested positive for the coronavirus or for antibodies that show they had been infected. That would be about 37% of the plant’s 2,800 workers.
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California begins reopening economy as select businesses unlock doors

California will begin a modest reopening of its retail economy Friday, allowing some businesses to offer curbside service while keeping the vast majority of shops closed amid continuing coronavirus concerns.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan allows bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods stores, clothing stores and a few others to reopen for curbside pickup only, unless barred by tougher local restrictions. Manufacturers and suppliers that provide goods for those businesses also will be allowed to resume operating.

The state is recommending that retailers continue to encourage physical distancing and implement “hands-free” ways for customers to pay. Manufacturers should close indoor break areas, and warehouses should carry sanitation materials during deliveries and provide employees with personal protective gear, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Services.
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Senate Democrats propose monthly $2,000 stimulus checks

Senate Democrats want to provide every American earning under $120,000 with a $2,000 monthly check to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan, introduced by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), is one of the most ambitious – and likely most expensive – put forward as lawmakers begin to focus on the next piece of legislation to respond to the virus.

Democrats are eager to further stimulate the economy with payments to individuals and local governments beyond what Congress approved earlier this spring in the CARES Act. It provided many American adults with a $1,200 payment.

“The CARES Act gave Americans an important one-time payment, but it’s clear that wasn’t nearly enough to meet the needs of this historic crisis,” Harris said. “Bills will continue to come in every single month during the pandemic and so should help from government.”

Republicans, citing the growing deficit, are tapping the brakes and hoping to do more targeted legislation. No top Republicans or Democrats – nor the White House – are participating in negotiations, leaving a dim outlook to quick legislation.

The new $2,000 plan would submit payments to every American adult and include $2,000 per child for up to three children. Monthly payments, retroactive to March, would go through the pandemic and for three months afterward.

In response to Democrats’ concern that the prior $1,200 payments did not go to Americans married to immigrants, lawful permanent residents of the United States would be eligible under Harris’ plan. It would cover every U.S. resident, regardless of whether they have filed a recent tax return or have a Social Security number.

Progressive Democrats in the House released a similar plan to provide monthly $2,000 payments to adults in the U.S. over age 16.

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Spain considers regions for rollback of lockdown

MADRID — Spain’s government is deliberating which regions can roll back lockdown measures next week.

The regional authorities of Madrid, hardest hit by the coronavirus, are pushing the government to allow them to loosen restrictions. However, that position appears to have led to the resignation of its regional director of public health on Thursday.

Madrid’s regional chief Isabel Díaz Ayuso told Spanish state broadcaster TVE on Friday the capital was prepared. She says, “for there to be no more infections there would have be zero movement and that would lead to (economic) ruin.”

Government deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias say it’s likely Madrid would have to wait, accusing Díaz Ayuso of “wanting to make propaganda from something as serious as saving lives.”

Madrid leads Spain with 8,500 confirmed deaths from the virus that has killed more than 26,000. Officials in Catalonia, the second-hardest hit area, have said they are not prepared to move forward with the rollback.

Spain reported 221 deaths on Friday, down from daily totals of more than 900 deaths a month ago.

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Column: Sick of religious limits on care, a hospital seeks to end partnership with Catholic system

There may not be many reasons for optimism in American healthcare just now, but one glimmer of hope has emerged in Orange County, Calif., where a prestigious hospital says it’s fed up with the Catholic Church’s restrictions on healthcare.

Hoag Memorial Hospital of Newport Beach, which was founded as a Presbyterian institution in 1952, is suing to extricate itself from a partnership it entered with a Catholic hospital system in 2012.

The deal was controversial from the start, in part because the Catholic partners imposed an abortion ban on Hoag’s doctors even though they’d been promised that the deal would have no impact on their practices.
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Syndrome similar to Kawasaki disease linked to coronavirus at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Three patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles who displayed symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease, a rare condition that can weaken blood vessels in children, have tested positive for antibodies against the novel coronavirus, indicating a potential link between the little-understood syndrome and the virus, according to a doctor who studies Kawasaki disease.

Recently, doctors in Los Angeles, New York and the United Kingdom have identified a condition called pediatric inflammatory multi-system syndrome, or PIMS, among children who have tested positive for antibodies against the novel coronavirus, Dr. Jacqueline Szmuszkovicz, a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, said in an interview.

The presence of such antibodies indicates the children were previously infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coroanvirus, she said.
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This L.A. banker thinks the New Deal can point the way to recovery

The damage to the U.S. economy from the coronavirus is devastating: 33 million unemployed and an expected drop in second-quarter gross domestic product of up to 40%. But there’s no consensus in Washington about how to fix it.

President Trump has tweeted for the elimination of payroll taxes, a possible capital gains cut and a big infrastructure package.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday the Democratic plan for the fourth stimulus package will focus on a bailout of state and local governments, funds for testing and direct cash assistance to individuals.

Other Republican voices have called for a pause after more than $2.5 trillion in stimulus spending so far, but Russell Goldsmith, 70, the dean of Los Angeles bankers, says now is not the time to hit the brakes.
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At protests, mostly white crowds show how pandemic has widened racial and political divisions

The crowds protesting California’s stay-at-home orders aimed at stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus have a litany of grievances: Open the beaches. Free the churches. End the tyranny of a governor who has gone too far.

They hop barricades to surf. They cite the Constitution. They wave American flags. They sport Trump 2020 gear. They rail against vaccines. In other states, including Michigan, protesters have shown up at government buildings carrying rifles.

Despite their varied causes, the protesters have been almost entirely white — even in California, a state that mostly is not.

The raucous protests in wealthy, coastal Orange and San Diego counties and at the state Capitol in recent days have, for many, highlighted racial and class disparities amid a pandemic that has killed more than 2,500 Californians — a disproportionate number of whom are black, Latino and poor.
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An Orange County cafe opened in defiance of Newsom. Now it’s the center of stay-at-home resistance

When Jeff Gourley welcomed diners into his San Clemente restaurant, Nomads Canteen, last week for the first time since mid-March, the response was so overwhelming that he quickly ran out of food — and had to close again.

Gourley made attempts to socially distance customers by spreading out tables inside and having patrons wait on the restaurant’s sunny deck. But the eatery quickly filled with customers eager to get out of the house and return to some sense of normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We ran out of everything, down to the bare walls,” Gourley told the Orange County Register this week. “It was record-breaking. We sold every tortilla, bottle, can and every margarita.”

On Thursday, preparations were once again underway to reopen Nomads Canteen, with limited hours through Sunday. Gourley did not respond to a phone call and email requesting comment Thursday, but the restaurant has been outspoken about the reopening on social media.
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Fears of a second surge haunts California as it begins slow-speed reopening of economy

SAN FRANCISCO —Reopening California’s devastated economy is increasingly looking to be a slow, deliberative process in many parts of the state as Gov. Gavin Newsom issued strict protocols that communities must satisfy to speed reopening and health experts warned of the risks of a surge if social distancing is abandoned too early.

California will take baby steps in the process on Friday, as a scattering of retail businesses are allowed to reopen for curbside pickup.

But that will still leave huge sectors of the economy shut down, and leaders in communities across California will have to declare they’ve reduced the coronavirus danger to open up more businesses, such as restaurant dining rooms and shopping malls. That is going to be a challenge in hard-hit areas such as Los Angeles County, which has seen more than 1,400 deaths — more than half of the state’s total — and is still recording hundreds of new cases a day.
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How to get legally married during the crisis

Instead of a bouquet, a masked bride holds a bottle of Corona beer in her Instagram wedding photo. A groom gamely wields a can of disinfectant. It’s hard to tell if anyone is blushing behind the masks. Marriage in the time of coronavirus, like many aspects of life, has changed.

Couples in Southern California looking to say “I do” before the pandemic hit had plenty of options. For a fee, a wedding planner could handle everything from the flowers to the vows. Or the couple could sprint down to the courthouse themselves for a quick civil marriage.

Now, tying the knot has become more complex. How do you get a marriage license? Can you get a marriage license?

Here’s how it works now, and in some cases doesn’t, in Southern California.
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Coronavirus crisis sends nation’s unemployment rate to 14.7%

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy suffered its biggest labor market shock on record last month, as government figures released Friday showed the COVID-19 pandemic erased 20.5 million jobs and sent the nation’s unemployment rate to 14.7%, the highest since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

As recently as February, the United States had enjoyed record economic expansion and the lowest unemployment in half a century, 3.5%. Not only is that gone, but more bad news is almost certain in the weeks and months ahead.

“It’s just staggering,” said Holly Wade, director of research and policy analysis at the National Federation of Independent Business, referring to the economic damage wrought by the pandemic.

The unemployment rate was 4.4% in March and there were 870,000 job losses that month, according to revised figures that reflected the early stages of business shutdowns and mass layoffs.

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Lebanon’s mosques open for Friday prayers for the first time in nearly two months

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s mosques welcomed worshipers for Friday prayers for the first time in nearly two months, as authorities eased restrictions designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The Interior Ministry announced that churches and mosques could hold congregational prayers on Sundays and Fridays if they limit capacity and respect social distancing guidelines.

Mosque officials sprayed worshipers with disinfectant as they entered the buildings and took their temperatures. Masked worshipers sat, contrary to tradition, at considerable distances from one another and were obliged to bring their own prayer mats.

The minister of education says Lebanon’s schools and universities would resume May 28. They are expected to be open until the end of July when a two-month summer recess begins. Students from first to third grades will continue distance-learning.

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India records nearly 3,400 new infections in last 24 hours

NEW DELHI — India has recorded 3,390 new coronavirus infections and 103 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Total cases in the country of 1.3 billion people surpassed 56,000, with 1,886 fatalities, according to health ministry data. More than 16,500 people have recovered.

The coastal state of Maharashtra remains the worst affected, with almost 20,000 cases and 651 deaths.

India began a mammoth evacuation exercise late Thursday, bringing back the first batch of its citizens stranded overseas. More than 340 Indian nationals returned home on the first two flights from the United Arab Emirates.

National carrier Air India will conduct 64 flights to 12 countries from May 7-13 to bring back about 15,000 Indians stranded because of the coronavirus lockdown.

India is also using its Navy to bring back stranded citizens. The country suspended all international travel in March before going into a strict lockdown to slow COVID-19 cases.