Trump administration seeks months-long delay to complete 2020 census due to pandemic
WASHINGTON —The Trump administration is asking Congress to give it four additional months to complete the 2020 Census, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Census Bureau had previously halted its in-person outreach because of the virus’ spread, but it had maintained it would still be able to meet its legal obligation to present results to the president and Congress by Dec. 31.
In a conference call with members of Congress Monday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asked for legislation giving the bureau an additional 120 days to present the results.
Field operations, such as going door to door to collect information for those who did not respond to the census online or by mail, is now scheduled to resume June 1 and would last until Oct. 31, according to the bureau, which falls under the Commerce Department.
L.A. County Medical Assn. has purchased masks but is frustrated by inability to acquire more
The Los Angeles County Medical Assn. has tapped its membership dues and made $100,000 available to purchase masks and other personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses.
After the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of certain foreign-made respirators like the Chinese KN95 mask, the medical association was able to purchase 3,000 of those recently. Gustavo Friederichsen, chief executive of the physicians group, said doctors told him the masks were “not the first choice” but they would gladly take them.
The association had placed an order for 6,000 standard N95 masks from China last month, but the deal fell through last week after the broker informed him that Chinese officials would not let the shipment leave the country.
“I’m viscerally angry right now,” Friedrichsen said. “We have hundreds of doctors emailing and asking when the masks will arrive and now I have to tell them the terrible news.”
For the group that represents more than 7,000 physicians in L.A. County, it’s been a litany of unpromising leads, trade barriers and delays.
Dr. Sion Roy, president of the medical association, said he’s gotten at least 20 leads on companies that are selling the equipment. It usually begins with a friend or colleague who has a connection. But inevitably potential deals fizzle as questions arise about transparency, quality and trade restrictions.
“It starts with a well-meaning lead. But always there has been some sort of barrier, and eventually the conversation stops with the supplier once you start asking questions,” Roy said.
Roy said the group is competing against countless government agencies and hospitals across the country for the same equipment. And they have no experience in making deals like these, he said.
“You are this tiny little entity in this wide world in trying to get something you are not used to getting. There is a lot of uncertainty. Most of the leads we get, we assume it won’t work out, but we have to do our due diligence. It’s like the wild west where people are offering these masks and people like us not used to acquiring these. It’s created this crazy marketplace with lots of fraud. There are a lot of people emailing us with international solutions from China. From my experience it has not worked out once.”
The long-term solution is the state government buying the masks in bulk, he said. In the meantime, state and local governments should compile a list of verified vendors so that organizations like his don’t have to find their way through the frenzied marketplace, Roy said.
“That can’t come fast enough,” he said.
Local medical organizations shouldn’t be put in a position where they have to source and bid on medical equipment, said Rosemary Coates, executive director of the Reshoring Institute, a nonprofit that helps companies move manufacturing back to the U.S.
“You can’t really expect somebody in a local hospital to understand how to obtain things from a supplier in Chengdu, China,” Coates said. “That’s unreasonable. You need to rely on coordination that’s done at a higher level with people who have supply chain experience.”
The chaotic marketplace stems from the federal government’s lack of a coordinated strategy to procure protective medical equipment and distribute it equitably, Coates said.
“We don’t necessarily have a supply-chain problem; we have a project management problem. There is no coordination across the nation. The Trump administration is just allowing it to be a free-market approach. States need to now to bid up the price of things in order to obtain them. That doesn’t seem to be appropriate for a medical emergency like we have right now. We should have a strong project management group that is also experienced in supply chains and knows how to obtain supplies we need and distribute those in an organized way as needed across the nation.
“It’s just chaos at the top and that’s very unfortunate for the individual hospitals at the local level where they really need the equipment.
“It’s brainless. It’s not thoughtful. It needs to be coordinated. It’s wrongheaded to make this a competitive marketplace situation. People are dying because of that. This is serious and critical and our lives depend on it. To say it’s just a free-for-all marketplace stuff is totally inappropriate.”
Texas Gov. Abbott plans to reopen parts of state’s economy
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to sign an executive order this week to reopen parts of the state’s economy, battered by the pandemic and oil bust.
At a Monday news briefing, Abbott said it would be a “slow process of reopening Texas back up for business.”
“This is not going to be a rush the gates, everybody is able to suddenly reopen all at once,” Abbott said. “Our ability to open businesses in Texas will be tied to our ability to contain the spread of the coronavirus.”
On Sunday, Abbott extended the state’s disaster declaration, which took effect March 13. He has yet to extend his stay-at-home order, which expires April 30. And his administration has faced criticism for being slow to enact statewide restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, more concerned with businesses than saving lives. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick faced a backlash last month after he suggested fellow seniors were willing to die to restart the economy.
So far, Texas has reported 13,906 COVID-19 cases and 287 deaths, a fraction of those reported in California. But the virus also arrived later in Texas, with the first case diagnosed March 4 as opposed to January in California. The outbreak isn’t expected to peak in Texas until the end of the month.
On Monday, Abbott said the number of COVID-19 deaths in Texas had reached a three-day low, offering “glimmers of hope with a bunch of red flags attached.”
“Those are exactly the numbers we need to see to show that we are bending the curve in the state of Texas,” he said.
Abbott said he had spoken with Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, about the need to “safely reopen the state for doing business.”
Before Abbott spoke Monday, Trump said on Twitter that the authority to “open up the states” during the outbreak rests with him and the federal government, but that “the administration and I are working closely with the governors.”
“A decision by me, in conjunction with the governors and input from others, will be made shortly!” he said.
Jailer on life support and 11 inmates test positive at L.A. County jails
A custody assistant at Men’s Central Jail is on life support and is one of 33 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department employees infected by the coronavirus, officials said.
“We’re just praying and rooting for him that he can pull through,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters at a news conference Monday.
Slightly more than half of the infected employees are sworn deputies, and 429 more employees are under quarantine, he said.
Eleven inmates in L.A. County jails have tested positive for the virus, including two who have fully recovered. Nearly 700 inmates are quarantined.
A member of the jail’s nursing staff who was infected has died, but Villanueva did not have further details. A spokesperson for the county’s Correctional Health Services unit did not respond to multiple requests for information.
Villanueva said testing protocols in the jails have gotten stricter — inmates in isolation, he said, must now test negative for the virus twice before they are returned to general population housing.
To battle the spread of the virus in its custody facilities, the Sheriff’s Department has reduced the jail population by about 25% to roughly 12,800 inmates, he said.
More L.A. County Probation Department employees test positive
The number of L.A. County Probation Department employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has jumped to 16, including six employees who are assigned to juvenile facilities, officials said Monday.
Interim Probation Chief Ray Leyva confirmed that although no youths had fallen ill from the coronavirus yet, the number of employees with positive tests had jumped significantly. As of Friday, the number of known probation employees who had tested positive for the virus was just three, the agency had said.
Three of those who have become sick are assigned to the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, probation officials previously told the Los Angeles Times. An alternate public defender assigned to the juvenile courthouse attached to that facility also tested positive for the virus last month, officials have said.
At a Monday news briefing, Leyva did not say where the sick employees had been assigned but noted that all those who had fallen ill were “doing well.”
At least eight juveniles have been tested for the virus after displaying symptoms, according to a spokeswoman for the L.A. County Department of Health Services. But none have tested positive.
Dozens of juveniles had to be quarantined after two probation employees at the Sylmar hall tested positive for the virus last week. It was not clear how many were under quarantine as of Monday.
Calls to reduce the number of youths incarcerated by the county and state because of fears of an outbreak have been nearly constant in recent weeks. On Monday, Leyva said 66 juveniles were released last week as part of broader efforts to reduce the number of youths in custody in L.A. County. He also claimed the county’s juvenile population had been reduced by 30% in the last five weeks but did not specifically say how many juveniles had been released.
There were 677 youths in juvenile custody in L.A. County as of April 2, according to the Probation Department; 285 of those youths are awaiting trial.
For our future, we look to Europe, which is warily easing some restrictions
Spain began easing parts of its coronavirus lockdown Monday, and other Western European countries like Italy and Austria appeared poised to follow suit with fewer restrictions on public activities.
But will the easing of constraints, however limited, prove to be a beacon of hope or a cautionary tale?
To onlookers in the United States, where many people are staying at home to help curb the spread of the virus, events in hard-hit European nations have been like dispatches from the future. Before COVID-19 fully established itself in hot spots such as New York, it devastated vulnerable Spanish nursing homes, filled the obituary pages of Italian provincial newspapers, and unnerved French villagers with a wave of urban refugees.
Surveillance video shows more than 100 people entering secret San Francisco club
A time-lapse security video of the club parking lot released by authorities revealed more than 150 people entering and exiting the nightclub during the early-morning hours on April 5 and 6.
Amid theater closures, Sean Parker’s controversial Screening Room returns, sort of
Sean Parker’s controversial video-on-demand start-up Screening Room, which roiled the film industry four years ago when it first emerged, is staging a comeback amid widespread disruption in Hollywood due to the coronavirus.
The Napster cofounder made waves in 2016 with the Screening Room, which was proposed as a service that would charge users $50 to watch movies at home while the films are still in theaters. The service never launched and eventually faded from view.
On Monday, the nascent company rebranded as SR Labs, named a new chief executive and announced $27.5 million in new capital. Man Jit Singh, former president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, will lead the company as CEO, while previous chief Prem Akkaraju will assume the role of executive chairman, SR Labs said. Akkaraju and Parker cofounded the Screening Room.
U.S. confirmed cases rise 5.6%
U.S. cases rose 5.6% from the day before to 572,169 by Monday afternoon, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That was lower than the 7.4% average daily increase over the past week but slightly higher than the 5.4% increase on Sunday. Deaths rose 7.3% to 23,070.
New York’s cases rose about 3.3%, but the rate was about half of what it was a week ago.
South Dakota’s cases increased by about 19%. Governor Kristi Noem announced that South Dakota, with Sanford Health leading the effort, will begin a statewide clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump as a possible Covid-19 treatment.
New York, New Jersey, four other states will work together to reopen their economies once outbreak subsides
New York, New Jersey and four other states will work together to reopen their economies once the coronavirus outbreak begins to subside, governors of those states said Monday.
They held a conference call to announce that they will share information and form a task force to help guide the reopening of the states’ economies when it’s time.
“The house is still on fire. We still have to put the fire out, but we do have to begin putting in the pieces of the puzzle that we know we’re going to need ... to make sure this doesn’t re-ignite,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said.
President Donald Trump asserted Monday that he is the ultimate decision-maker for determining how and when to reopen the country.
Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, however, said that considering governors had the responsibility for closing states down, “I think we probably have the primary responsibility for opening it up.”
Wolf also asserted that it is a “false choice” to choose between public health or the economy.
U.N. suspends troop deployment in peacekeeping missions until June 30
UNITED NATIONS — United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has suspended the deployment and rotation of U.N. peacekeeping troops and international police in its 13 global peacekeeping missions until June 30 to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The U.N. has about 85,000 soldiers and police serving in missions in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix made the announcement Monday saying: “We don’t want to be part of the problem.”
He stressed: “We want to be on the safe side. We want ... to not in any way contribute to the spread of the virus.”
Lacroix said the secretary-general’s guidance provides for exceptions, and any new deployments will be quarantined before and after arrival for 14 days.
U.N. Undersecretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare said there have been 12 cases of COVID-19 in U.N. peacekeeping missions, but only three among uniformed personnel and all were treated in the countries where they serve.
Macron extends France’s lockdown to May 11
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron announced the extension of France’s strict lockdown until May 11, on his third televised address to the nation on the virus crisis from the Elysee palace.
France has been under lockdown since March 17.
Macron said he sees “hopeful signs” as the spreading of the virus in the country appears to be stabilizing. But he urged the French to keep respecting strict confinement rules for the moment.
Starting from May 11, schools will reopen “progressively”, he said. Restaurants, cafes, hotels, cinemas, museums and concert halls will remain closed and no big gatherings will be allowed until mid-July, he added.
Macron acknowledged “failures and deficiencies” in a reference to the lack of masks and other equipment.
As a response to the criticism that the country has not conducted enough coronavirus tests, he promised that by May 11, all those who have symptoms will be able to get tested.
French health authorities have reported Monday a drop in numbers of people in intensive care for the fifth straight day.
The country registered 574 deaths over the past 24 hours in hospitals and nursing homes, bringing the total number of deaths from the COVID-19 to 14,967 since the outbreak began in France.
Karl-Anthony Towns’ mother, Jacqueline, dies
Jacqueline Cruz, the mother of NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns, has died from complications of COVID-19, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced on Monday.
Towns said on March 24 that his mother had been put in a medically induced coma in an attempt to battle her novel coronavirus infection.
The Timberwolves, for whom Towns has played since he was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2015 NBA draft, released a statement that Jacqueline Towns died Monday.
Automakers, rental firms fear shutdowns could sink used-car prices
The auto industry — already fretting over lengthy factory shutdowns and depressed new-vehicle demand — is starting to sound the alarm about a potential used-car-price collapse that could have far-reaching consequences for manufacturers, lenders and rental companies.
Used-vehicle auctions are for now virtually paralyzed, much like the rest of the economy. The grave concern market watchers have is that vehicles already are starting to pile up at places where buyers and sellers make and take bids on cars and trucks — and that this imbalance will last for months.
Riverside County reports largest single-day jump in cases on Easter Sunday
With 188 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, Riverside County health officials reported its largest single-day spike since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. There were no virus-related deaths over the holiday weekend, records show.
As of Sunday evening, the county had 1,619 cases and 41 deaths. A total of 194 residents have recovered from the novel coronavirus, according to officials.
Over the holiday weekend, county officials permitted residents to partake in drive-in religious services as long as they practiced “proper social distancing” this weekend only. Brooke Federico, the county’s public information officer, said a couple of churches participated in drive-in services, but many religious leaders encouraged their members to stay home.
Despite progress in California, L.A. County’s death toll reaches a new high
Even as California makes guarded progress against coronavirus, Los Angeles County continues to see rising death counts.
Public health officials reported 31 additional coronavirus deaths on Easter Sunday, the largest single-day total since the outbreak began.
Twenty-five of those fatalities were people over the age of 65, and the other six were in the 41-65 age bracket, health officials said.
In all, 296 L.A. County residents have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The number of confirmed infections in the county rose to 9,192 — an increase of 323 since Saturday. That’s the lowest number of new cases on a single day since March 27.
Trump’s oil-production pact may do little to help U.S. producers or drivers
WASHINGTON — The agreement announced Sunday by Russia, Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries to cut back output is not likely to raise fuel prices much for American consumers in the weeks and months ahead.
That should be good news for the American economy and for President Trump. But these are not normal times.
The coronavirus pandemic has created a painful bind for Trump and for the United States: Plunging oil prices, coupled with a huge glut in global oil inventories, are savaging the petroleum industry at a time when the U.S. has grown into the world’s largest oil producer.
What will ‘back-to-normal’ look like for California? Some businesses could restart before others
SAN FRANCISCO —How will California get back to normal amid the coronavirus outbreak?
There will be no getting back to normal anytime soon, with the new coronavirus unlikely to ever be completely eradicated, and a vaccine 12 months to 18 months away under the most optimistic scenario.
Certainly, society will be opened back up eventually. But the process is likely going to be slow and methodical — guarding against new outbreaks in an effort to prevent a resurgence even worse than what California is experiencing now, but also focusing on starting to reopen the economy.
In 2015, Bill Gates predicted an epidemic would kill millions. Here’s what he says now
But Bill Gates came pretty close.
The billionaire Microsoft mastermind had an I-told-you-so moment Monday on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” reflecting on a harrowing prediction he made during a 2015 TED Talk titled “The next outbreak? We’re not ready.”
When will stimulus payments arrive? A primer on the federal relief plan
Almost three weeks after the $2-trillion stimulus package authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was signed into law, Americans are starting to receive stimulus payments that Congress hopes will energize the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, the IRS announced in a tweet that the process of distributing the $1,200 checks had begun.
“The idea is, if the economy is down, people don’t have as much money in their pockets. They’re very likely to spend that [stimulus check] money instead of saving it, so that money is going to help the economy,” said Till Von Wachter, a professor of economics and faculty director of the California Policy Lab at UCLA.
New York may run out of swabs for testing
Facing a shortage of the most basic testing supplies, New York officials Monday renewed their pleas to the federal government for help in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.
New York City, in particular, could soon run out of the swabs and personal protective equipment needed for coronavirus tests.
“It’s still an atmosphere of tremendous scarcity,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his daily news conference. “I spoke with the president and other key members of the administration … this is the crucial need.”
Nationwide, coronavirus totals rose to 558,999 reported cases and 22,154 deaths over the weekend, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Insurers owe refunds to Californians because of restrictions, commissioner says
Drivers and business owners in California should get full or partial refunds on at least two months’ worth of insurance premiums because of the coronavirus-induced restrictions that have slashed commutes and shut companies’ doors, the state insurance commissioner’s office ordered Monday.
Commissioner Ricardo Lara ordered insurance companies to adjust insurance premiums covering March and April, since less activity means lower risk in several categories. Californians could also see refunds for their May premium payments if shelter-in-place restrictions extend into next month.
No L.A. Unified student will get an F this semester
No student will receive a failing grade on their spring report card, and Los Angeles campuses will be closed not only for the remainder of the academic year, but throughout the summer as well, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced Monday.
The actions are the latest sweeping measures taken by the nation’s second-largest school system in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is still no clear picture in testing, treatments or vaccines and we will not reopen school facilities until state authorities tell us it is safe and appropriate to do so,” L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner said during a Monday video briefing. “The remainder of the school year ... will be completed in the current, remote fashion and we will have a summer session in a similar manner.”
WHO urges governments to use new criteria when easing restrictions
To support countries in making decisions about when to ease restrictions, the World Health Organization will publish its updated strategy for government leaders Tuesday.
“The new strategy summarizes what we have learned and charts the way forward,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghehrevesus, WHO director general.
Here are six criteria from the agency that it said countries should meet before considering lifting restrictions:
• Transmission is controlled.
• Health system capacity is in place to detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact.
• Outbreak risks are minimized in special settings such as health facilities and nursing homes.
• Preventive measures are in place at workplaces, schools and other places where it is essential for people to go.
• Importation risks can be managed.
• Communities are fully educated, engaged and empowered to adjust to the new norm.
More California inmates, jailers testing positive
Coronavirus continues to move through the ranks of law enforcement in Southern California as officers and jail inmates struggle to maintain social distancing.
Nowhere is that more profoundly apparent than in Riverside County, where at least 80 inmates and 55 employees — most of whom are deputies — have tested positive for COVID-19. Two veteran deputies in the department have lost their lives to the coronavirus infection.
In 10 days, the number of deputies infected has more than doubled, while the number of inmates who have tested positive has multiplied by more than six, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said.
U.K.’s daily death toll expected to rise this week
LONDON — The British government’s chief scientific advisor has warned that the U.K.’s daily death toll from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, will likely rise this week. It will then plateau for potentially two to three weeks, he said, and subsequently decline.
Patrick Vallance said at the government’s daily news briefing that the U.K. was tracking behind Italy, the European country with the highest death toll from COVID-19, and “following the same sort of path.”
He said he thought there would be “a further increase” this week before a plateau as the effects of social distancing came through.
Earlier, government figures showed that another 717 people who tested positive for the coronavirus had died in the hospital, taking the total in the U.K. up to 11,329.
Though that was the third straight daily decline in the daily death toll, Vallance’s comments suggest that the numbers may have been artificially depressed over the four-day Easter holiday weekend.
With Italy seemingly at the other side of the peak, there are growing expectations that the U.K. will end up being the European country with the most coronavirus-related deaths.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is acting for Boris Johnson as the prime minister convalesces following his weeklong stay in a hospital with the coronavirus infection, said the government did ”not expect to make any changes” to the lockdown measures in place.
Mexican health workers demand more protective gear
MEXICO CITY — Health workers briefly blocked a street in Mexico City on Monday to demand more protective gear as their hospital received more patients suffering from COVID-19.
Dozens of nurses, doctors and other personnel from the October 1 Hospital carried handwritten signs and shouted for assistance. The hospital is part of Mexico’s public health system for government workers.
One nurse, who had worked at the hospital for more than 20 years, said she received only one flimsy mask per day even though she worked on a floor with dozens of patients with the new coronavirus. She spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing repercussions.
At least one nurse has already died at the hospital and a doctor is in intensive care, she said. Calls to the hospital and the agency that runs it were not immediately answered.
Orange County reports 19th death as case count nears 1,300
Orange County reported its 19th coronavirus-related death Sunday as the region’s overall infection count continued to climb.
Of those who have died as a result of COVID-19, 11 were 65 or older and five were 45 to 64, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Two other victims were in the 25-34 age bracket, and the other was 35 to 44.
How airport control towers keep operating after workers test positive
When a traffic control tower worker at the Palm Beach International Airport recently tested positive for the coronavirus, the staff evacuated the tower to allow for a thorough cleaning.
A makeshift tower to temporarily direct planes was then set up at the top of a nearby parking garage.
The incident is one of several in the last few weeks that demonstrate how air traffic control workers have had to turn to creative alternatives to keep airlines operating in the midst of a pandemic that has so far infected more than 75 control tower workers across the country.
Burning Man is moved from desert to online
Burning Man ticket holders can no longer gather in Black Rock City due to the coronavirus crisis. So organizers are bringing Black Rock City to them.
On Friday, the Burning Man Project announced that the annual Nevada festival, originally set for Aug. 30 to Sept. 7, is going virtual in 2020, “given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes.”
“After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” organizers said in a statement.
Trump claims that he — not governors — has power to reopen states
President Trump declared Monday that he, rather than governors, had the power to “open up” states and relax social-distancing practices adopted to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
He didn’t elaborate on how he had reached that conclusion. The Trump administration issued guidance March 16 recommending Americans isolate themselves from one another to curb the spread of the virus, days after many governors, municipal leaders, businesses and families had already adopted the practices themselves.
It isn’t clear if the country would comply should Trump demand people return to work and school, particularly if the outbreak hasn’t yet abated.
“It is the decision of the president, for many good reasons,” Trump said in a subsequent tweet. He didn’t list any reasons.
Trump said he would make a decision “soon” on reopening “in conjunction with the governors and input from others.” He said last week he planned to name a panel of doctors and business people on Tuesday to advise him on restoring the U.S. economy following the outbreak.
But the president’s relationship with governors during the outbreak has been complicated and oftentimes prickly. He has insisted that governors, not the federal government, bear primary responsibility for keeping their hospitals supplied and staving off the coronavirus. And he’s declined to criticize governors who have refused to issue “stay-at-home” orders to their citizens to curb the spread of the virus.
Out-of-towners who went to 7-Eleven for ‘essential drinks’ are fined $1,000 each
A run to 7-Eleven came at a hefty price for seven people Friday night, as Santa Cruz police cited them each $1,000 for violating local shelter-in-place rules.
The gathering — which authorities called an expensive hangout — took place at a branch of the convenience store on Ocean Street, according to the Santa Cruz Police Department.
Police said the visitors were from Fremont, which is more than 40 miles away.
95% of L.A. supports stay-at-home orders, poll finds. But for how long?
Los Angeles County officials have said the stay-at-home order aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus will stay in place until at least May 15 — perhaps longer.
The unprecedented social-distancing requirements, which have closed nonessential businesses, prohibited gatherings and shuttered beaches and trails, have been working. But more is needed, health officials say.
Polls suggest the public supports these measures — at least for now — even as the restrictions have devastated the economy.
Davis man arrested after test sample stolen from hospital, found in CVS shopping cart
A 40-year-old man was arrested after police say he stole a coronavirus test sample from a hospital in Davis over the weekend.
Shaun Lamar Moore of Davis was taken into custody on suspicion of burglary Sunday morning after an officer saw him riding his bicycle across an overpass. Authorities said that, a day earlier, Moore stole a specimen that was being tested for COVID-19 at Sutter Davis Hospital and fled the scene on a bike.
Supreme Court will hear oral arguments via telephone for first time
WASHINGTON — Responding to the coronavirus outbreak, the Supreme Court announced Monday it would hear oral arguments over the telephone for the first time ever and provide a live audio feed for journalists.
The health crisis forced the high court to suspend oral arguments on several cases that had been scheduled for March and April. Most justices have been working from home during the outbreak.
On Monday, the justices said they would proceed to hear arguments on 10 of the cases that had been put on hold, including whether Congress can demand to see President Trump’s tax returns.
A Berkeley lab, a team of volunteers and a mission to make sanitizer for the most vulnerable
Inside a laboratory at UC Berkeley, a PhD student and a research assistant have been working nonstop for nearly a month to produce hand sanitizer for tens of thousands of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable residents.
“If we’re not churning or mixing, we’re on the phone or answering emails,” said PhD student Abrar Abidi. Often, that work, funded by donations and out-of-pocket costs, continues well beyond midnight — long after they’ve left the student teaching lab at the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences.
Their goal is ambitious: produce enough sanitizer for every homeless person and vulnerable individual throughout the Bay Area who may not have the luxury of physical distance during the coronavirus pandemic. The group has distributed sanitizer to homeless shelters, San Francisco County Jail and food banks throughout San Francisco — one of the first cities to issue a shelter-in-place order.
ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos tests positive
ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos told viewers Monday that he had tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Stephanopoulos disclosed his diagnosis on “Good Morning America,” where he has been broadcasting from his home for the last few weeks and said he had no symptoms and was feeling fine. Stephanopoulos had been caring for his wife, comic actress Ali Wentworth, who confirmed two weeks ago that she tested positive.
“I’ve never had a fever, never had chills, never had a headache, never had a cough, never had shortness of breath,” Stephanopoulos said. “I’m feeling great.”
U.K.’s daily death toll eases
A further 717 people have died from the coronavirus in U.K. hospitals, a slight drop in the number of new deaths from the 737 reported Sunday.
Some 88,621 people have been diagnosed with the virus, up from 84,279 the day before. Total deaths are now above 11,300.
‘Time to #FireFauci’: Fauci comments on virus response draw Trump’s ire
WASHINGTON —Social restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus could have saved lives if they’d been started earlier, and when they’re eased, new cases are certain to arise, said the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, seeming to draw the ire of President Trump.
Trump, who has been chafing at criticism that he didn’t do enough early on to fight the virus, reposted a tweet that referenced Fauci’s comments and said “Time to #FireFauci.” Trump again pointed to his decision in late January to restrict travel from China, writing, “Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up.”
Spain allows some people to go back to work
MADRID — Spanish authorities have let some workers begin returning to their jobs, but Health Minister Salvador Illa says the government will move carefully on allowing others to end their self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Illa said officials will proceed with “the utmost caution and prudence ... and always based on scientific evidence” in easing restrictions.
“We’re in no position to be setting dates” about when isolation might end, he told a Madrid news conference Monday. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
The Spanish government, looking to get the economy moving again, has allowed workers to return to some factory and construction jobs. But retail stores and services must remain closed and office workers have to keep working from home.
He said Spain, a country of 47 million people where the death toll officially attributed to the coronavirus is 17,489, is carrying out some 20,000 tests a day and plans to increase that number.
Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said a program to distribute 10 million face masks began Monday.
“We’re still at an early stage” in fighting the coronavirus, Grande-Marlaska said. “Once it is defeated, we will have to rebuild our country, socially and economically.”
We’re crisscrossing California — at a safe distance — to tell your stories amid the pandemic
SOMEWHERE ON HIGHWAY 101 —Some are calling it a war against an unseen enemy — the coronavirus. Yet if it truly is a war, the battlefield can’t be covered from an office.
That’s why Los Angeles Times staff photographer Carolyn Cole and I are embarking on a road journey that will take us throughout California. We want to check in with the communities and people of our nation’s most populous and diverse state. We aim to give voice to those in remote parts of California as they grapple with the worst health and economic calamity of our lifetimes.
We are starting at the Oregon border, with a plan to wind down to the Mexican border — crisscrossing back and forth, from the coastal range to the Sierra, with the valley in between, as we head south. Then back.
How will we do this — safely?
Home wrestling, masked dinners and lots of books: Kevin Wilson’s Tennessee quarantine diary
The Times asked authors to track what they do in isolation. Already isolated in rural Tennessee, bestselling novelist Kevin Wilson (“Nothing to See Here”) enjoys great books for kids and adults. He also plays fantasy basketball and practices WrestleMania moves with his kids.
Putin tells Russian officials to prepare for worst-case surge in cases
MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin says Russia is facing a surge in the number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients and needs to prepare for worst-case scenarios.
Putin told officials during a conference call that they should be ready to move medical personnel and equipment between regions to respond to the rapidly changing situation.
He said the preparations must anticipate “any possible scenarios, including the most difficult and extraordinary.”
Putin ordered officials to recruit additional personnel from universities and medical schools.
Russia had recorded 18,328 coronavirus cases and 148 deaths as of Monday. Moscow and its surrounding region accounted for about two-thirds of all cases.
Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova reported to Putin that Russia had 40,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and planned to increase the number to 95,000. She said infections have been growing steadily by 16% to 18% a day.
U.S. outbreak stable, CDC director says
Coronavirus has stabilized across the U.S. and is expected to show declines in days ahead, CDC Director Robert Redfield told Fox News. The U.S. will reopen slowly and in a prudent way, he said, without providing a timeline.
“We are nearing the peak right now,” Redfield said in another interview, with NBC. “I think sometime, hopefully this week, we will be able to say. You’ll know when you’re at the peak when the next day is actually less than the day before.”
L.A. schools chief Austin Beutner is performing admirably. But what comes after the pandemic?
When the Los Angeles School Board chose Austin Beutner to lead the district in 2018, critics complained that he had no classroom experience, and cynics worried that he’d cede power to his wealthy charter-school-supporting friends.
He was a Wall Street wunderkind. He made his first $100 million by age 33. But his education credentials were slim; his Vision to Learn philanthropy had provided eyeglasses to hundreds of thousands of students in schools across the country since 2012.
I’d seen Beutner at work during his brief stint as Los Angeles Times publisher in 2014. He was smart and stubborn, righteously impatient and admirably forthright. When he was replaced a year later by our corporate overseers with someone more malleable, I was disappointed to see him depart.
Britain’s Boris Johnson tests negative for COVID-19
LONDON — Boris Johnson’s spokesman says the British prime minister is continuing his recovery from COVID-19 and, on the advice of his doctors, is “not immediately returning to work.”
Johnson was discharged from St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday and then went to Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence, around 40 miles northwest of the capital.
James Slack confirmed that Johnson had now tested negative for the coronavirus and denied that the government had downplayed the seriousness of Johnson’s condition.
Johnson was admitted to St. Thomas’ on April 5 after his condition worsened and he was transferred the following day to its intensive care unit, where he received oxygen but was not put on a ventilator. He spent three nights there before moving back to a regular hospital ward. After leaving the hospital, Johnson expressed his gratitude to the staff of the National Health Service for saving his life when it could have “gone either way.”
Slack said Johnson spoke over the weekend to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been filling in for the prime minister during his illness.
Here’s a look at Yosemite National Park without people
Thanks to the coronavirus, Yosemite National Park is closed, the campgrounds are empty and the trails are void of people.
Wildlife is reclaiming Yosemite National Park: ‘The bear population has quadrupled’
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK — Yosemite Village is normally a crush of humanity and traffic congestion. On Saturday, it was peaceful like few times before — the only sounds coming from the wind and the few local residents.
A young bobcat ambled by the nearly abandoned administrative buildings, while ravens prattled and danced in the empty parking lots, and coyotes trotted along the valley’s empty roads and walkways.
Tourists aren’t allowed in California’s most popular national park, but if they could visit, they might feel as if they had been transported to another time. Either to a previous era, before millions of people started motoring into the valley every year, or to a possible future one, where the artifacts of civilization remain, with fewer humans in the mix.
Members of Congress learn to work from home during the crisis
WASHINGTON — Up until about four weeks ago, Rep. Lou Correa wouldn’t have hesitated to hug a tearful constituent as the woman described a problem she wanted his office to investigate.
But a month into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Ana Democrat couldn’t do it. Instead, he wore a mask as he spoke to her, repeatedly reminded her to maintain six feet of distance and kept the conversation brief.
“It was very antihuman,” he said. “It is very [against] our nature as people who are social.”
The virus is new front in the war between L.A. County’s sheriff and supervisors
Two of Los Angeles County’s most powerful elected officials appeared together in front of a news camera last month to describe ramped-up efforts to battle the coronavirus outbreak.
That evening, Sheriff Alex Villanueva’s phone buzzed with a text from Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
“For what it’s worth: You were great today,” she wrote. “True leadership.”
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong after that March 12 show of unity.
Mayor Garcetti talks to L.A. each night about distancing, masks and love
It was the first day of April and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was on live television once again, standing before a single camera in a nearly empty City Hall.
On this particular evening, he was trying to accomplish a more complicated task: Get Angelenos comfortable with the idea of wearing cloth face masks.
Would you commit to a college you can’t visit? The pandemic upends college decisions
Vince Cuseo, admissions dean for Occidental College, is racked with unknowns. The college relies on students from other states and countries for more than half its enrollment. It tries to seal the deal with admitted students during tours to the lush campus in eclectic Eagle Rock each April.
But with the campus closed to the public because of the coronavirus crisis and mounting financial pressures on families, will students blindly commit to a private college with a $72,600 annual price tag?
‘Apollo 13 moments’: Amid the crisis, doctors, inventors convert devices into ventilators
WASHINGTON — Dr. Charles Powell describes it as an “Apollo 13 moment.” In just a few days, a team of doctors and respiratory therapists at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City scavenged tubes and electronics, crafted a key part on a 3-D printer, and successfully converted a $1,500 sleep therapy device into a full-blown ventilator, capable of substituting for the $50,000 machine on many, although not all, patients.
Across the country, Isaac Larian, a Los Angeles entrepreneur and owner of one of the country’s largest toy manufacturing companies, pursued a similar goal. His designers and engineers worked with doctors at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to create two types of masks resembling those used by scuba divers — one to protect healthcare workers and the other to assist patients with breathing problems.
How to relieve stress during a pandemic? #quarantinebaking
Jessica Reed has baked a cake almost every day since the coronavirus crisis upended her daily routine several weeks ago.
Reed, who goes by “The Cake Historian” on Instagram, is known for designing cakes inspired by history, literature and her personal mental health battles. Lately her output has swelled in proportion to her coronavirus-induced stress.
“With something like this, where it feels like the whole world is having an anxiety attack, the way I process my feelings is by baking,” said Reed, 44, a freelance writer and artist who lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and daughter.
In the past month, she has produced several desserts sparked by quarantine-related anxiety, including kitchen-sink “chaos cookies”; a rosemary-lemon applesauce “four thieves cake” inspired by a medieval folk tale about the bubonic plague; and a “self-isolating” chocolate stout cake.
Spain logs lowest number of infections in more than three weeks
MADRID — The spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Spain continues to slow, with 517 new deaths recorded overnight and with the lowest number of infections — nearly 3,500 — logged in more than three weeks.
The Spanish health ministry’s Monday figures bring the overall death toll of the pandemic in the country to 17,489 and the total positive cases to 169,496.
Heavy industry and construction workers are returning to work Monday after a two-week hiatus in economic activity, but the government is keeping most Spaniards under confinement for the fifth week in a row.
Retail stores and services are still required to stay closed, and the government is strongly encouraging office workers to keep working from home.
Some health experts and regional politicians argue that it’s premature to ease any part of the lockdown order. Police in Madrid handed out face masks to the few commuters taking public transportation to work in the early hours of Monday.
Animals are taking over. These photos show Yosemite without tourists
The powerful energy of a waterfall teeming with spring runoff, Half Dome dusted in snow and the lines of cars filled with tourists to see it. On any other April inside Yosemite National Park, that would be the case. Not this April.
Thanks to the coronavirus, the park is closed, campgrounds empty, and the trails are void of people.
The local residents aren’t complaining. The deer, bobcats, coyotes and bears no longer have to deal with the hordes of camera-toting tourists vying to capture nature. They now roam unfettered.
Take an inside look at the park and its return to the wild.
Millions of taxpaying immigrants won’t get stimulus checks
PHOENIX — The $2.2-trillion package that Congress approved to provide financial help during the coronavirus pandemic has one major exclusion: millions of immigrants who do not have legal status in the U.S. but who work here and pay taxes.
That includes Carmen Contreras Lopez, a 48-year-old housekeeper who, though she earns low wages, files a tax return each year. Since the virus took hold, she has lost most of her clients and is getting by with help from her oldest son. But she won’t see a penny of the money promised to most Americans in response to the pandemic.
“It’s hard because, to the government, we don’t exist,” said Contreras Lopez, who has lived in the U.S. for 30 years and has four grown children who are U.S. citizens.
The government expects to begin making payments to millions of Americans in mid-April. Anyone earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income and who has a Social Security number will receive $1,200. The payment steadily declines for those who make more. Legal permanent residents, or green card holders, are expected to benefit.
Boris Johnson, recuperating at his country retreat, won’t return to work right away
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is recuperating at his official country retreat after praising nurses who took care of him during the seven nights he spent in the hospital fighting COVID-19.
Dressed in a suit, Johnson said in a video posted on Twitter after his discharge from St. Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday that it was “hard to find the words” to express his debt of gratitude to the National Health Service for saving his life “no question.”
Also Sunday, Britain marked the grim milestone of exceeding 10,000 deaths from the coronavirus. The number reflects only those deaths that occurred in hospitals and not in nursing homes or other places.
Johnson listed a number of the front-line staff members who cared for him during his weeklong hospital stay but singled out two nurses who stood by his bedside for 48 hours “when things could have gone either way.”
The pair were later identified as Jenny McGee from New Zealand and Luis Pitarma from Portugal.
After his release from the hospital, Johnson made his way to Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat northwest of London. On the advice of his medical team, he won’t be returning to work immediately, his office said in statement.
Former chief rabbi of Israel dies of COVID-19
JERUSALEM — Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, a former chief rabbi of Israel, has died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, hospital officials say.
Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center said Bakshi-Doron died late Sunday, several days after he was admitted to the hospital with the illness. It said he had suffered from underlying health problems. Israeli media said Bakshi-Doron was 79.
Bakshi-Doron served as Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi, representing Jews of Middle Eastern ancestry, from 1993 to 2003. He held a number of other key roles, including the head of Israel’s rabbinic court system, and was active in interfaith causes.
In 2017, he was fined and sentenced to probation for his role in a scheme that allowed police officers to receive fraudulent educational credentials that enabled them to obtain pay raises. He remained a popular and respected figure with much of the public.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remembered Bakshi-Doron as a warm person and a gifted religious scholar. “His essence was wisdom, tolerance and love for the people and the country,” he said.
Israel has reported more than 11,000 cases of the coronavirus and 104 deaths. Its ultra-Orthodox religious community has been especially hard hit by the outbreak.
France’s death toll nears 14,400 as intensive care admissions drop slightly
PARIS — The overall death toll in France from the coronavirus has risen to nearly 14,400, but for the fourth day in a row, slightly fewer people were admitted into intensive care, giving health officials a bit of good news.
Sunday’s statistics issued by the Health Ministry confirmed that the country was reaching a “very high plateau” and reflected initial signs that nearly four weeks of confinement and the “drastic reduction in contacts” were producing an effect, a statement said.
Strict confinement measures began March 17, were renewed once and were expected to be extended again, with a likely announcement to the nation Monday by President Emmanuel Macron.
Since March 1, hospitals and nursing homes have counted 14,393 deaths.
Of the 31,836 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19, more than 1,600 were admitted in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said.
Still, with more than 6,800 patients being treated in intensive care Sunday, that was 35 people fewer than a day earlier, a ray of hope for overworked health workers and authorities looking for small signs of change.
Since the start of the epidemic in France, more than 95,400 people have been infected.
Christians mark an Easter like no other
NEW YORK — Christians around the world celebrated Easter Sunday isolated in their homes by the coronavirus while pastors preached the faith’s joyous news of Christ’s resurrection to empty pews. One Florida church drew a large turnout for a drive-in service in a parking lot.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the first major world leader to test positive for the virus, was released from a London hospital after a week during which he spent some time in the intensive care unit and was given oxygen at one point. He credited health workers for saving his life and especially thanked two nurses who stood by his bedside for 48 hours “when things could have gone either way.”
The strangeness of this Easter was evident at the Vatican. St. Peter’s Square, where tens of thousands would normally gather to hear Pope Francis, was empty, ringed by police barricades. Francis celebrated Easter Mass inside the largely vacant basilica.
In his address, the pope called for global solidarity to confront the “epochal challenge” of the pandemic. He urged political leaders to give hope and opportunity to the millions laid off work.
Faithful find creative ways to celebrate Easter together, separately
When Archbishop José H. Gomez stepped to the lectern Easter Sunday, his view from the pulpit differed from years past. The pews inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, where generations of faithful once sat awaiting his holiday message, were now barren.
“It is a different celebration this year because almost everyone all over the world has been forced to celebrate this Easter Sunday in their homes,” Los Angeles’ archbishop said. “Because, as we know, our world is shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.”
This year, his audience watched from their homes as the archdiocese streamed the service online at a time when people across Southern California were forced to alter their Easter plans amid orders to self-quarantine.
As state and local officials ramp up restrictions on Californians’ movements, most houses of worship have moved their services, classes and prayer groups online.