Coronavirus updates: Outbreak at migrant shelter in Mexico linked to U.S. deportee


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

Coronavirus updates for April 16-19 are here

Trump says he’ll ‘suspend immigration’ amid pandemic but offers no details

President Trump said Monday that he will sign an executive order “to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States” because of the coronavirus.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Trump tweeted.

He offered no details as to what immigration programs might be affected by the order. The White House did not immediately elaborate on Trump’s tweeted announcement.



WHO warns that the rush to ease virus rules could cause a resurgence

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that rushing to ease coronavirus restrictions will likely lead to a resurgence of the illness, a warning that comes as governments start rolling out plans to get their economies up and running again.

“This is not the time to be lax. Instead, we need to ready ourselves for a new way of living for the foreseeable future,” said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, the WHO regional director for the Western Pacific.

He said governments must remain vigilant to stop the spread of the virus and the lifting of lockdowns and other social distancing measures must be done gradually and strike the right balance between keeping people healthy and allowing economies to function.

Despite concerns from health officials, some U.S. states on Monday announced aggressive reopening plans, while Boeing and at least one other U.S. heavy-equipment manufacturer resumed production. Elsewhere around the world, step-by-step reopenings were underway in Europe, where the crisis has begun to ebb in places such as Italy, Spain and Germany.

Australia said Tuesday that it will allow the resumption of non-urgent surgeries from next week as health authorities grow more confident that hospitals there won’t be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.


Tom Brady ejected from Florida park closed because of pandemic

Six Super Bowl rings may get you special treatment in a lot of places, but former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady learned Monday that it won’t get you anything when you’re caught working out in a park that is closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tampa, Fla., Mayor Jane Castor said during a news briefing Monday that the new Buccaneers quarterback was spotted working out by himself at a park downtown. A city employee went over to tell him he had to leave and she recognized the man to be 42-year-old Brady.

“He’s been sighted,” Castor said.

The city of Tampa tweeted from its page Monday: “Sorry @TomBrady! Our @tampaparksrec team can’t wait to welcome you and our entire community back with even bigger smiles — until then, stay safe and stay home as much as you can to help flatten the curve.”

Brady recently moved his family into a furnished mansion he’s renting from former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter in Tampa.


Coronavirus outbreak at migrant shelter in Mexico linked to U.S. deportee

MEXICO CITY — A Mexican citizen deported from the United States is the suspected source of a coronavirus outbreak at a shelter in the city of Nuevo Laredo, Mexican authorities said Monday.

At least 14 other migrants at the shelter were infected in what appears to be the first outbreak in Mexico linked to a deportee from the United States, a scenario long feared by Mexican health authorities and migrant advocates.

More tests were being conducted to determine if other migrants or staff at the shelter had been infected, according to the health department in Tamaulipas state, which includes Nuevo Laredo and other communities across the border from Texas.

Authorities said the deportee — whose name, age and gender were being withheld — arrived at the shelter unaware of having been infected. All 15 migrants with the virus have been placed in isolation.

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Riverside County reports 209 new coronavirus cases and 10 deaths

The number of coronavirus cases in Riverside County jumped by 209 and the death toll increased by 10 over the weekend, bringing the total to 2,847 cases and 85 deaths.

The new data come just a day after the county reported 36 new cases on Sunday, which is the lowest number of cases in a single day since April 2, when 27 were reported. There are 116 confirmed cases in Riverside County jails, according to records.

The city of Riverside has the most deaths in the county with 16. Moreno Valley is next with 11 deaths.

During a news briefing Friday, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, said that the county has been seeing fewer cases than initially projected. The county has “bent the curve a little bit,” but the goal is to flatten it, he said.

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Golf courses allowed to reopen in Riverside County. But cover your face. And no caddies

Riverside County has allowed public and private golf courses to reopen, in an easing of restrictions that had been in place due to the coronavirus.

“Play is being cautiously reopened for observation,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer, said in a statement, stressing that social distancing guidelines remain in effect.

Health officials released the following guidelines:

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In San Francisco, Latinos account for 25% of coronavirus cases

Latinos in San Francisco account for 25% of positive coronavirus cases but make up only 15% of the San Francisco population, Mayor London Breed said Monday.

At Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, more than 80% of the hospitalized coronavirus patients are Latino. Latinos usually make up only about 30% of the hospital’s patient population.

City officials who accompanied Breed to a news conference said the heavily Latino Mission District may have been hit hard because many of its residents live in multi-family or multi-generational housing. They also have jobs, such as home-care aides, that require them to go to work, and they may shop frequently because of limited income.

The city of 800,000 has just over 1,200 positive cases, but city officials said the numbers will rise as more tests are done and the virus spreads.

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California unemployment call center still struggling to process claims

SACRAMENTO — California has expanded phone assistance to those filing unemployment insurance claims during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the state Employment Development Department continues to receive criticism from people who have not been able to get through on jammed lines despite making dozens of calls to the agency.

California Labor Secretary Julie Su acknowledged Monday that jobless Californians were still having a difficult time reaching live representatives for help with their unemployment claims and said her office is working to resolve the issue.

“I know that people have continued to have trouble today reaching someone on the phone center. I know that people are still not getting through,” Su said during a Facebook Live chat in which residents peppered her with 1,500 questions and messages, many of them showing frustration.

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Orange County reports 1 new coronavirus death; officials commend social distancing

Orange County officials Monday reported one additional coronavirus-linked death, raising the toll to 33.

The county also announced an additional 41 COVID-19 cases, with the total now at 1,676. There were 142 cases reported over Saturday and Sunday, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

While the county saw a slowing in the number of infections early last week, with only seven new cases Monday and 21 cases Tuesday, the number shot back up over the days that followed.

David Souleles, director of public health services for the county Health Care Agency, said during a Monday news briefing that hospitalizations have remained “relatively flat for a while” and that the total number of cases has been doubling at a slower frequency.

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Small businesses sue Wells Fargo, JPMorgan over failure to get coronavirus loans

Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and US Bancorp were sued by small businesses that accused the lenders of prioritizing large loans distributed as part of the virus rescue package, shutting out the smallest firms that sought money.

The four banks processed applications for the largest loan amounts because they generated the highest fees, rather than processing them on a first-come, first-served basis as the government promised, according to lawsuits filed Sunday in federal court in Los Angeles.

As a result, thousands of small businesses that were entitled to loans under the program administered by the Small Business Administration, known as the Paycheck Protection Program, were left with nothing, the plaintiffs said.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuits, which are seeking class-action status, include an optometrist in Long Beach, a frozen yogurt shop in Montrose, a marketing business in San Diego, and a law firm in Los Angeles County.

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People protest California’s stay-at-home rules in Sacramento and Newport Beach

Protesters wanting California to ease or lift coronavirus stay-at-home rules held rallies Monday in Sacramento and Newport Beach.

They were the latest in a series of protests around the country pushing for an ease to social distancing. Health experts have said early social distancing in California helped the state avoid the high death counts of New York and that lifting them too early could cause coronavirus to spread.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he understood the frustrations and anxieties being expressed by the protesters. But he cautioned that parts of the world that have relaxed coronavirus restrictions prematurely, including Singapore, have been quickly hit with a second wave of the virus.

“If we’re ultimately going to come back economically, the worst mistake we can make is making a precipitous decision based on politics and frustration that puts people’s lives at risk and ultimately sets back the cause of economic growth and economic recovery,” Newsom said.

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Op-Ed: Yes, the government can restrict your liberty to protect public health

Can the government restrict individual liberties to stop the spread of COVID-19? It’s a question being raised by protesters and in lawsuits filed to contest government-imposed restrictions.

There have been very few Supreme Court cases involving the government’s power to deal with the spread of communicable diseases. The most relevant decision for today was issued in Jacobson vs. Massachusetts in 1905. In that case, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a state law requiring compulsory vaccinations against smallpox. The court declared, “Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

The court explicitly rejected the claim that “liberty” under the Constitution includes the right of individuals to make decisions about their own health in instances where those decisions could endanger others. But the court also made clear that restrictions imposed by the government to control communicable diseases must have a “real or substantial relation” to protecting public health.

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Newsom resists pressure to ease California’s coronavirus stay-at-home order

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday acknowledged that pressure from Californians and local governments is building to modify the statewide stay-at-home order carried out to stem to spread of the coronavirus, but he said restrictions will remain in place until the threat to public health subsides and adequate testing and other safeguards are implemented.

A bipartisan group of elected officials from San Luis Obispo County on Monday asked Newsom to grant them the “authority to implement a phased reopening of our local economy,” a request that comes just days after Ventura County officials modified a stay-at-home order to permit some businesses to reopen and some gatherings to take place.

Officials in San Luis Obispo County argued that their COVID-19 infection rate has been declining because residents have been diligent in adhering to stay-at-home orders and maintaining social distancing practices, but with businesses shut down and so many people out of work, the county faces a perilous financial outlook.

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Deadline is Wednesday for extra $500 stimulus for Social Security recipients with dependents

Social Security recipients who can claim dependents but didn’t file taxes in the last two years have until 9 a.m. PST on Wednesday to give the Internal Revenue Service information about their dependent or miss out on receiving an extra $500 for their dependent along with their $1,200 stimulus check, the IRS announced Monday.

Recipients of Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (also called SSI or disability) and Veterans Affairs benefits who didn’t file a tax return in the last two years should receive their up to $1,200 stimulus check automatically from the government in the next few weeks through the same method they normally receive their benefits, but because the Treasury Department is using existing government data, it doesn’t have information of if those people have dependents.

They can provide the information at this web address:

Those who don’t give the IRS their dependent information by Wednesday will receive the additional $500 per eligible child amount as part of their 2020 taxes, according to the IRS.

“They’ll get $1,200 automatically, but they need to act quickly and register at to get the extra $500 per child added to their payment. These groups don’t normally have a return filing obligation and may not realize they qualify for a larger payment,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement.

Only people who receive the listed government benefits, but didn’t file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to submit their information. Beneficiaries who did file a tax return in the last two years should not have to take any action to receive a payout for their dependent.


AB 5 forced arts groups to evolve. For some, COVID-19 made the change ‘catastrophic’

Even before the coronavirus entered the picture, the Los Angeles-based Pacific Opera Project faced a daunting challenge in January: turn an operation with just three official employees into a company with about 200 singers and other part-time employees on payroll.

The move was triggered by a new state law, AB 5, that aimed to expand benefits such as workers’ compensation and a minimum wage to people formerly classified as freelancers and independent contractors.

“We had the money and we said, ‘This is the law, we’re going to follow it,’” said the company’s founding Artistic Director and Chief Executive Josh Shaw. The opera company’s projected 2020 budget had been about $500,000, but with AB 5, Shaw saw his expenses balloon by $44,000.

Then COVID-19 came to California, and Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended canceling public gatherings of 250 or more people — just one day into Pacific Opera Project’s rehearsal for Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte.” The company, which had expected to make $57,000 from ticket sales, had to cancel the production instead, losing $22,000 on the venue rental, sets and costumes, artist fees and promotional materials.



The resumption of NBA season might rely on protocols not yet available

When T.O. Souryal heard the PGA Tour planned to resume its season in June, the former Dallas Mavericks team physician didn’t think it sounded far-fetched.

Following social-distancing guidelines on a sprawling golf course, without spectators, seemed feasible. A positive test for the novel coronavirus might derail a player’s season, but not the tour’s schedule.

But restarting the NBA’s 2020 season? Souryal’s experience, during 27 years as the Mavericks’ doctor and two terms as president of the league’s association of team physicians, taught him that would be a complex undertaking. The path to a resumed season remains fraught with uncertainty, including what he calls “the $64-billion question.”

“What do we do if we come back and a player tests positive?” said Souryal, the medical director at a Texas sports medicine clinic. “Until they have an answer for that, I don’t see the NBA or hockey or any other close-quarter team sport coming back anytime soon.”



Coronavirus crisis exacerbates struggles of animal sanctuaries in Spain

OVIEDO, Spain — At El Refugio del Burrito animal sanctuary in Malaga, Spain, the phone kept ringing.

Many people who had adopted burros, horses or other animals had fallen ill or died because of the coronavirus. Relatives, friends or the sick themselves often called to try to get the four-acre sanctuary to take the animals, but it was already caring for 255 animals and could not provide food and safety for more.

“There are days when I’m afraid to even answer the phone,” said Rosa Chaparro, spokeswoman for El Refugio del Burrito. “We can’t afford more, but we can’t leave them abandoned either.”

The circumstances for many animals and their caregivers are among the many grim situations found in Spain, one of the nations hardest hit by people suffering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with 200,210 confirmed cases and 20,852 deaths as of Monday.



Orange County can use Laguna Hills hotel as homeless shelter amid pandemic, judge rules

Officials in Orange County can move forward with a plan to convert a 76-room hotel in Laguna Hills into temporary housing for homeless people in an effort to prevent a surge of deadly coronavirus cases from spreading in the community, a judge ruled Monday.

The county brokered an agreement this month with Elite Hospitality Inc. to lease the Laguna Hills Inn for at least 90 days to shelter homeless individuals who are over 65, have underlying health conditions, are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The county had hoped to begin moving people into the hotel last week. However, their plans were delayed when Laguna Hills — a city of roughly 31,000 people in the southern section of the county — filed a lawsuit against the hotel’s owner, the county and a nonprofit specializing in homeless outreach in an attempt to block the effort.

City officials, and the owners of four buildings adjacent to the hotel, alleged the project would put the surrounding community at risk and would violate restrictions outlined in the property’s covenants, conditions and restrictions, or CC&Rs.



Senate stalls on more coronavirus funds for small businesses

Congressional leaders and the White House remained at stalemate Monday over an emergency coronavirus package to replenish a small business assistance program that ran out of funds last week, even as critics said misuse of the popular loan program by large companies had squeezed out smaller businesses.

The now-depleted Paycheck Protection Program was designed to provide forgivable loans to small businesses if they kept workers on the payroll during the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic.

It would receive an additional $310 billion under the spending deal being negotiated, with a portion set aside to be lent by smaller banks in an effort to help smaller businesses that may have been shut out of the initial $349-billion disbursement.

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Here is the latest list of Orange County communities with coronavirus cases

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Orange County grew to 1,676 Monday as health officials confirmed 41 new cases.

Officials also announced one additional fatality linked to the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 33.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported that 128 people are currently hospitalized, with 42 in intensive care.

According to the county, 18,766 people have been tested by the county and commercial labs.

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‘Like a time bomb’: Tijuana’s hospitals under pressure and understaffed as coronavirus spreads

As Mexico faces rising numbers of coronavirus cases, Tijuana’s Clinica 20 is just one more public hospital fighting on the front lines. The five-story facility in central Tijuana has too few doctors, limited equipment and the expectation that the patient load will only grow.

“From the time we got our first patient until we were full, it took only 10 days,” said a doctor at Clinica 20. On the coronavirus ward, “many of the doctors and nurses are sick or on leave, and we have only about half the staff. Those who are there are working extremely hard, because there are few doctors and many patients with COVID-19.”

Three doctors at Clinica 20 agreed to talk anonymously about their working conditions in the busy hospital. They said they had been forbidden from speaking publicly and risked losing their jobs if they were identified.



Some California communities are pushing to ease stay-at-home orders. Is it too soon?

California’s social distancing rules are credited in part with the state seeing far fewer deaths from the coronavirus outbreak than other hot spots like New York and New Jersey.

But as the state begins to bend the curve, there is growing pressure to loosen the rules. A few corners of California have eased some of the most restrictive rules, and some local politicians are beginning to push for a clearer timetable. Some conservative activists held protests this weekend calling for easing the rules.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday he would not be swayed by public protests in deciding when to reopen the state, noting that his decision would be based on science and the public health. Many top leaders agree.

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What’s open and closed this week: Beaches, parks and trails in Southern California

Southern Californians can still walk, hike and bike outdoors without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order. But public officials urge residents to stay home as much as possible and wear masks when they go out.

Local, state and federal agencies continue to enforce closures or severely limited access at hundreds of beaches, parks, trails and forests, all phased in since early March. Yet as the measures move into their second month of enforcement, differences in government policies and enforcement have become more apparent.

Ventura County on Saturday allowed the reopening of golf courses and bike shops among various modifications to its Stay Well at Home order. That order, which continues to close campgrounds, gyms, swimming pools and many other facilities, is effective through May 15.



Hundreds of thousands in L.A. County may have been infected with the coronavirus, study finds

Hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles County residents may have been infected with the coronavirus by early April, far outpacing the number of officially confirmed cases, according to a report released Monday.

The initial results from the first large-scale study tracking the spread of the coronavirus in the county found that 2.8% to 5.6% of adults have antibodies to the virus in their blood, an indication of past exposure.

That translates to roughly 221,000 to 442,000 adults who have recovered from an infection, according to the researchers conducting the study, even though the county had reported fewer than 8,000 cases at that time.

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Here’s how to get tested for the coronavirus in L.A. County

Four new drive-through coronavirus testing sites opened in Los Angeles County on Monday.

The locations are at a city-owned parking lot in Bell, at Beverly Community Hospital in Montebello, at PIH Health Good Samaritan Hospital in MacArthur Park and at PIH Health Whittier Hospital, county officials announced over the weekend.

Any resident with symptoms of COVID-19 can now make a same- or next-day appointment for testing, the county announced Friday. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

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Painful closures lie ahead for L.A. galleries. How 35 are bracing for the worst

Scattered in storefronts and light industrial buildings around Los Angeles are gallery exhibitions trapped in suspended animation. The fully installed shows had opened — or were about to open — when California’s governor issued a stay-at-home order on March 19 and now sit in the dark, under lock and key until the COVID-19 pandemic abates.

At L.A. Louver in Venice, two exhibitions in limbo feature painstakingly detailed works by L.A. painter Tom Wudl, inspired by a key Buddhist text, and more than a dozen never-before-exhibited paintings by the late Don Suggs, works that turn broad swathes of color into impish beings.

Across town, at Charlie James Gallery in Chinatown, realist paintings by Long Beach-based artist Narsiso Martinez portray farm laborers on grocery store produce boxes — works that come at a moment in which the pandemic has thrown the risks of farm work into stark relief.



Column: With attack on NIH, Trump steps up his assault on science

Buried as it was within the usual blather, bluster and bunkum of President Trump’s daily coronoavirus briefings, Trump’s attack over the weekend on the National Institutes of Health went largely unnoticed.

But it’s dangerous to ignore it.

Trump’s comment about the NIH, which is the government’s largest purveyor of basic scientific research, came about 44 minutes into his hour-and-10-minute appearance Saturday. It was nestled next to his attack on the World Health Organization, the federal funding for which he says he is blocking.



CNN’s Brooke Baldwin calls battle a ‘full two-week beating’

Chris Cuomo isn’t the only CNN anchor with a nasty case of COVID-19.

On Sunday, “CNN Newsroom” host Brooke Baldwin published a “coronavirus diary” detailing her own “relentless, scary and lonely” battle with the respiratory illness, which “took a full two-week beating” on her body.

“I thought ‘Do I show everyone these photos of me taken at my WORST?’ Yes. Yes I do,” Baldwin wrote on Instagram, announcing the release of her CNN piece. “I want you to see the unvarnished version... but also that it’s oh-so-possible to beat this. Not to mention, in my darkest moments: I found truth in clarity and connection. ‘When I was sick and my body came to a screeching halt, I stopped doing and started really feeling.’”



‘It’s going to backfire’: Fauci warns against reopening too quickly

As the rate of new infections and deaths from the coronavirus slowed in parts of the country on Monday, some local governments began to ease stay-at-home restrictions while others pleaded with residents to stay put amid scattered protests in support of reopenings.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned Americans against trying too quickly to return to normal.

“It’s going to backfire,” Fauci said in an interview on “Good Morning America.” “That’s the problem.”



Newsom’s secretive $1-billion mask deal with Chinese automaker sparks bipartisan concerns

SACRAMENTO —Gov. Gavin Newsom‘s decision to spend almost $1 billion in taxpayer funds to buy protective masks drew national attention as an aggressive move by California to solve one of the most nagging problems of the coronavirus crisis.

But almost two weeks after he announced the deal during a cable TV interview, very few details have been disclosed. The governor’s advisors have so far declined requests for information about the agreement with BYD, the Chinese electric car manufacturer hired to produce the masks, though the state has already wired the company the first installment of $495 million.

Newsom, who has been praised for his efforts to slow the spread of the disease, bristled on Saturday at suggestions that his administration had been too slow to explain a deal that would cost California taxpayers 30% more than his January budget would spend on infectious disease prevention for an entire fiscal year.



Coronavirus could wipe out $12 billion in TV ad spending

The shutdown of sports due to the coronavirus pandemic is propelling a historic decline in U.S. TV advertising: Sales could be down by as much as $12 billion in the first half of the year.

The projection, released Monday in a new report by digital research firm eMarketer, illustrates the financial pain facing U.S. broadcasters, particularly ESPN, CBS, Turner and NBC, which rely on live sports to boost their ratings and advertising hauls.

The New York firm said Monday that TV ad spending in the U.S. would decline by an estimated 22.3% to 29.3% — or $10 billion to $12 billion — during the first half of the year, compared with the first six months of 2019. In the first half of 2019, broadcast and cable networks collected $33.9 billion in advertising spending, according to eMarketer. It now estimates that TV networks could collect from $24 billion to $26.3 billion in the first six months of this year.



John Oliver roasts ‘not-a-medical-Dr. Phil’ for his false claims

John Oliver is here to remind you that Dr. Phil’s bizarre comparison of the number of deaths from drowning in swimming pools to those from coronavirus doesn’t hold water.

During Sunday’s quarantined edition of “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver roasted several of his fellow TV hosts, including “not-a-medical-Dr. Phil,” for spreading misinformation amid the public health crisis.

His attack on Phil McGraw — who isn’t a medical doctor but has a PhD in clinical psychology — was in reaction to widely criticized comments the CBS star made last week downplaying the severity of the outbreak.



Trump’s coronavirus plan: What are the 3 phases?

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has issued new guidelines for states, individuals and employers on how to gradually revive activity and ease up on social distancing in areas where coronavirus cases are on the decline.

The guidelines, distributed to governors Thursday, are published under the headline “Opening Up America Again.” They follow concerns voiced by President Trump about the need to get more people back to work and to shopping as millions of Americans lose their jobs.

A look at the guidelines:



Can you get a refund for sports, concerts and other events? It depends

Friday’s cancellation of Taylor Swift’s 2020 concert tour brought back to the forefront a familiar question facing concertgoers, sports fans and entertainment enthusiasts amid the coronavirus pandemic. Can I get a refund if I have tickets?

Under normal circumstances, the answer would almost always be yes.

But now, with the coronavirus outbreak causing thousands of cancellations and postponements across the country, many ticket holders have been left in limbo, wondering whether they qualify for refunds.



‘Worst is yet ahead of us,’ WHO chief says

GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization has warned that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coronavirus outbreak, raising new alarm bells about the pandemic just as many countries are beginning to ease restrictive measures.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus didn’t specify why he believed that the outbreak that had infected nearly 2.5 million people and killed over 166,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University, could be even worse.

Tedros also alluded to the so-called Spanish flu in 1918 as a reference for the coronavirus outbreak.

“It has a very dangerous combination and this is happening in a hundred years for the first time again, like the 1918 flu that killed up to 100 million people,” he told reporters in Geneva. “But now we have technology, we can prevent that disaster, we can prevent that kind of crisis.”

“Trust us. The worst is yet ahead of us,” he said. “Let’s prevent this tragedy. It’s a virus that many people still don’t understand.”


These U.S. citizens won’t get stimulus checks — because their spouses are immigrants

She works as a film producer and her small business has ground to a halt, forcing her and her husband to eat red beans and rice most nights, scramble to find small business loans and apply for medical assistance for their two children.

So the 44-year-old woman from the Midwest, who asked that her name not be used to protect her privacy, has had to bite her tongue as friends have celebrated the arrival of economic stimulus checks.

As a U.S. citizen whose children are also U.S. citizens, she is excluded from the government’s $2-trillion coronavirus financial relief package because she files her taxes jointly with her husband, a Mexican citizen from Guadalajara.



With the live music industry ravaged, Travis Scott turns to ‘Fortnite’

“Fortnite” will continue its evolution from a game to a full entertainment platform when it debuts a new musical experience featuring hip-hop star Travis Scott at 4 p.m. Thursday. Encore events will roll out through Saturday, with staggered performance times geared for multiple global time zones.

The Scott event, in which the artist will premiere a new single, furthers Epic Games’ continued attempts to evolve “Fortnite” from a competitive multiplayer game to a communal hangout full of limited-time events. Last year, “Fortnite” put director J.J. Abrams live into the game to introduce a less-than-60-second clip of his then-upcoming film “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”; before that, it had already promoted other large cultural events involving “Avengers: Endgame” and the NFL, among others.



Machine that could decontaminate 20,000 masks daily has arrived in Burbank, company says

A machine that could decontaminate tens of thousands of N95 masks each day has arrived in California — potentially alleviating some of the shortages of protective equipment for medical workers.

Battelle, an Ohio-based scientific research and development company, confirmed Monday morning that its cleaning unit had arrived at the Burbank airport, where it will remain located.

It could decontaminate up to 20,000 N95 masks a day, said Battelle spokeswoman Katy Delaney in an email.

“The team is setting it up now and expects it to become operational in about a week,” said Delaney.



15 coronavirus-linked deaths in the airline industry in 9 days. Why are planes still flying?

Somehow, word got around among retired New York City firefighters about a perfect second-career job: a local company, with lots of travel perks. One by one, they became flight attendants at JetBlue.

Ralph Gismondi was among the first of an estimated 30 or so former firefighters who joined the airline. He retired as a fire captain after several decades that included a stint at ground zero on 9/11. He began working as a flight attendant for JetBlue in 2003 and saw each trip as a chance to fine-tune his comedy routine over the public address system. On layovers, he would play the piano in hotel lobbies and rally other flight attendants for nights out on the town, coworkers said.

On April 5, Gismondi became the first JetBlue employee to die of COVID-19.



Italy has its first-ever decline in the number of currently infected patients

ROME — Italy has marked the two-month anniversary of its coronavirus outbreak by registering its first-ever drop in the number of currently infected patients.

Civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli said Monday the 108,237 currently infected were 20 fewer than a day earlier, “another positive point” toward easing pressure on the country’s healthcare system.

Overall, Italy has had 181,228 confirmed cases, up just 1.2% from a day earlier in one of the lowest day-on-day increases. Another 484 people died, bringing its toll to 24,144, the highest in Europe and second only to the U.S.

Italy’s outbreak began two months ago when a 38-year-old Unilever employee tested positive in the Lombardy city of Codogno. After the test was confirmed Feb. 21, the man spent weeks in intensive care as his pregnant wife tested positive and his father died. He was released from the hospital in time to be home to welcome baby Giulia.


New York death rate is lowest in weeks, Cuomo says

New York state reported the smallest increase in deaths from the new coronavirus since the start of April, and other data also point to a descent in the outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

There were 478 deaths on April 19, down from 507 the day before, and new hospitalizations are essentially flat. Cuomo says his top concern is making sure the numbers don’t inch back up. He said the state would remain closed until it was safe to reopen.

“What we’re doing here, as a general rule, determines our future,” he said. “This is cause and effect on steroids.”

Cuomo said the federal government had pledged funding but hadn’t come through yet. If it doesn’t step up, New York anticipates 20% cuts in state aid to schools, local governments and hospitals, the governor said.

A state policy about elective surgeries will be released Tuesday, Cuomo said. His administration will be taking into consideration the virus rate in each region, as well as the vacancy rate, he said.

Antibody testing was set to start immediately in New York, with a goal to determine how many people contracted COVID-19, Cuomo said. There also will be a “Reimagine New York” task force focusing on how to reopen the downstate region and make businesses and transportation better than they were before the outbreak.


U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada closed to nonessential travel for at least another month

WASHINGTON — The U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada will be closed to nonessential travel for at least another month.

Acting Secretary Chad Wolf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that the three nations had agreed to extend restrictions initially imposed in March aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Wolf said the restrictions would be extended for 30 more days. Canada announced the agreement between Ottawa and Washington on Friday.

Commercial traffic continues over both borders.

In addition, citizens of all three nations are not being turned away if they are trying to return home. But it does mean a further ban on trips for tourism, shopping and recreation, as well as any other activities deemed nonessential.


Oh, the places you’ll (virtually) go!

It’s spring 2008. British singer Estelle has just released her hit single “American Boy.” In it, she sings, “Take me on a trip, I’d like to go someday.”

It’s spring 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has the world at a standstill. People are stuck at home. They very notion of taking a trip someday seems elusive.

If your wanderlust is strong, here are some custom Zoom backgrounds to tide you over.

Just click the “Download image” link beneath the background you like to open a full-size version in a new tab. Right click on the image to save it to your device, and it’s yours to upload to Zoom. By default, Zoom mirrors your image so our backgrounds will appear flipped to you but display properly to others. (Note: Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, the owner of The Times, is an investor in Zoom.)



U.S. to continue expelling migrants it encounters along border for at least another month

WASHINGTON — The U.S. says it will continue to quickly expel migrants it encounters along the border for at least another month in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

An order issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday said the policy should be kept in place for another 30 days to help reduce the spread of the virus. The new order extends the policy until May 20.

U.S. officials last month launched the policy, saying it would be dangerous for Customs and Border Protection to detain people because of the potential spread of the virus in detention facilities.

As a result, CBP has been turning away thousands of migrants, including asylum seekers.

Adults from Mexico and Central America make up most of the border crossers and are being sent immediately back to Mexico.

Unaccompanied minors from Central America are being quickly flown back to their home countries.

CBP has said it allows people to seek asylum on a case-by-case basis but has not said whether any have been allowed into the country.

Critics including the American Civil Liberties Union say the policy amounts to an abandonment of longstanding international commitments to protect refugees.


Protesters demand California stay-at-home rules end. There is a path forward

Over the last three days, protesters have converged in Huntington Beach, San Diego, San Clemente and Encinitas, calling for the end to California’s stay-at-home orders, which have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus.

They cite the devastating toll the shutdown has had on the economy. Some claim that coronavirus fears have been overblown and that social distancing is not needed, which goes against what public health officials and experts have said.

“I think at [this] point, people have had enough, and they want to get back to work again,” said retired Point Loma resident Darla Clark at a San Diego protest, noting that many of her friends have lost their jobs. “This is definitely where the cure is going to be worse than the disease.”



Debate rages in Mexico: Is beer essential?

MEXICO CITY — Perhaps one of the most heated debates in Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic — after disagreements about personal protective equipment and testing — is the burning issue of whether beer should be considered an “essential” item during the lockdown.

“Beer supplies should be guaranteed, because beer helps people get through quarantine on better terms,” Mexico’s National Alliance of Small Business declared in a statement last week.

After Mexico ordered the closure of most “nonessential” industries in late March, including the country’s major breweries, the prospect of a looming shortage of cerveza turned into a heated disagreement within the government.



Brazil’s Bolsonaro mixes with crowds again in push to reopen economy

President Jair Bolsonaro escalated his campaign for the reopening of the Brazilian economy after he attended a protest against restrictive measures imposed by state governors to slow the coronavirus’ spread.

The Brasilia demonstration on Sunday, similar to others that took place in several Brazilian cities the same day, was organized by his more radical supporters -- some of whom demanded a military intervention in Congress and the Supreme Court, institutions that have mostly sided with the governors.

“We don’t want to negotiate anything,” Bolsonaro said in an improvised speech delivered from a flatbed truck, according to videos posted on social media. “We want action for Brazil.”

He had previously shared on Twitter a newspaper report about the growing number of Brazilians unable to pay their bills, saying it’s not difficult to guess what comes next if lockdown measures remain in place.


Demonstrators in Russia protest lockdowns

MOSCOW — Several hundred demonstrators in southern Russia have protested a strict lockdown amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

The protesters rallied Monday outside the regional government’s headquarters in Vladikavkaz, the regional capital of the province of North Ossetia in the North Caucasus mountains.

They booed a local official who spoke to the crowd and argued that the quarantine measures were necessary to stem the spread of infections.

Police detained several organizers of the rally.

Russia so far has 47,121 COVID-19 cases, including 405 deaths.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a partial economic shutdown through April 30, and authorities in most of Russia’s 85 regions have introduced strict lockdown measures.


Video: An empty Los Angeles


Column: It’s natural to long for an end to the coronavirus quarantine. But we should remember what it has shown us

Last week, I caught up with one of the workers I met last year as I was reporting a column about labor violations at a Koreatown barbecue restaurant.

Anderson Casteñon was the cook who prepared meats, side dishes, sauces and salads at Genwa Korean Barbecue. The high-end restaurant, which is popular among celebrities, has locations in Beverly Hills, downtown Los Angeles and Hancock Park. Casteñon’s boss cut his hours but required him to do the same amount of work, all without bathroom or meal breaks.

I didn’t use his name or the name of the restaurant then because I wanted to protect him from retaliation, but now there’s nothing to protect. He was laid off at the end of February, along with most of the restaurant’s staff, because of a downturn in business related to coronavirus fears.



When being stuck on a cruise ship during the pandemic was ‘a stroke of luck’

BARCELONA, Spain — For Spanish traveler Carlos Payá, being on an around-the-globe luxury cruise while the rest of the world scurried into their homes for fear of the coronavirus was beyond surreal. It was “a stroke of good luck.”

Now, his trip inside the virus-free bubble that the Costa Deliziosa cruise ship became on its 15-week odyssey has come to an end. The boat steamed Monday into Barcelona, its first port-of-call after 35 days of continuous sailing with no human contact with the outside world.

The Costa Deliziosa is one of the last three cruise ships believed to have still been out at sea until Monday, when all were expected to dock. Another of the three, the Pacific Princess, is reportedly due to dock in Los Angeles.



Second peak would prolong U.K. economic and health risks, prime minister says

The U.K. is intent on avoiding another wave of coronavirus infections, a spokesman for the prime minister told reporters on Monday.

“The big concern is a second peak; that is ultimately what will do most damage to health and to the economy,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman James Slack said.

“If you move too quickly, the virus could begin to spread exponentially again — the public will expect us to do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus and protect life.”


Widespread U.S testing may be unlikely until September

Widespread testing and the ability to trace the contacts of those who are infected likely won’t be in place until September, and they definitely won’t be in place in May, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Monday on NBC.

Gottlieb, who is among experts advising the White House on reopening the economy, said it was likely that some places with low rates of infection would be able to open at the beginning of May.


Prince Philip makes a rare public statement

LONDON — Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, issued a rare public statement praising those tackling the new coronavirus pandemic and keeping essential services running.

The prince, who turns 99 in June, said he wanted to recognize the “vital and urgent” work of medical and science professionals.

He also gave thanks to key workers, including people working in food production, garbage collection, and postal and delivery services.

The royal, who retired from public duties in 2017, signed off simply with “Philip.”

Philip has been staying with the queen at Windsor Castle with reduced staff for their safety.


Economic recovery will not happen if reopening is too fast, Fauci says

WASHINGTON — The top infectious disease expert in the United States has a message for protesters who are ignoring their governors’ stay-at-home orders and calling for him to be fired over his guidelines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the message is “this is something that is hurting from the standpoint of economics, from the standpoint of things that have nothing to do with the virus.”

He added on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “unless we get the virus under control, the real recovery economically is not gonna happen. So what you do if you jump the gun and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re gonna set yourself back.”


Charity is off the charts. Is that a sign of America’s strength or weakness?

The coronavirus outbreak has shut down entire school districts and turned bustling commercial corridors into ghost towns, but there’s one sector of society that’s busier than ever: philanthropy.

The charitable acts have come in all shapes and sizes. Small checks to food pantries, foundations issuing emergency grants to desperate nonprofits and, most conspicuously, billionaires doling out big-dollar gifts with all the attendant publicity.

Large charitable gifts from corporations, foundations and individuals, including faith-based and other sources, hit $7.8 billion worldwide last week, with about two-thirds originating in the United States — an amount that dwarfs records set after other disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.



L.A. school district confronts $200 million in coronavirus costs and a grim budget future

The Los Angeles Unified School District is confronting an estimated $200 million in emergency coronavirus costs — after swiftly moving to provide computers for all students and food for their families — but it’s not clear from where crucial additional funding might ultimately come, Supt. Austin Beutner told The Times.

The mounting expenses will not immediately push the district’s $7.87-billion general fund into insolvency, but the unbudgeted spending probably violates state law requiring school systems to maintain a three-year balanced budget. Although state officials may relax those rules in the current crisis, they have not committed to covering the costs incurred by L.A. Unified — especially with state tax revenue plummeting.

“We know the crisis is having a big impact on the students and families we serve, and it’s having a big impact on school budgets as well,” Beutner said.



London Breed, a mayor who scolds and empathizes, is San Francisco’s face of the crisis

SAN FRANCISCO — Mayor London Breed ran into a friend a few weeks ago at the grocery store. As she recounted on an online forum, he rushed to hug her.

“Noooo!” she shrieked, moving back. He told her he had never been sick in his life.

She countered that he could be an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus.

“The thing that is making me lose it is people who are not staying away from each other outside,” she said, laughing. “I feel like this is payback for all the problems I gave my grandmother.”



From quiet acceptance to ‘crippling fear,’ medical workers confront their own mortality

As the coronavirus tore through California in March, Dr. Amit Gohil bought his family a new board game: Pandemic.

A pulmonary critical care doctor at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Gohil has asthma and diabetes, risk factors for COVID-19, and has been treating infected patients for weeks. At age 43, he is acutely aware his life could be cut short.

He hoped the game, with its heroes of scientists and researchers, could be a way to help his children feel a sense of control over the virus, a story they all know could end badly.

“The kids say, ‘Dad, are you going to die?’ And I say, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” Gohil said.



Oversight of $2-trillion relief act hasn’t gotten off the ground

WASHINGTON — Oversight systems are still largely dormant for the $2 trillion in coronavirus economic relief passed by Congress last month, leaving gaping holes in accountability just as the Treasury Department prepares to give hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to corporations.

The coronavirus response package was the largest in U.S. history, and lawmakers wanted to ensure adequate checks and supervision of the massive funding. But with no fewer than four oversight bodies now struggling to get up and running, and Congress functioning remotely because of the pandemic, lawmakers acknowledge the deficiency.

“Oversight is occurring; it’s just not occurring as effectively as it would be if we could have committee hearings with administration testimony,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). “The ideal, of course, is to get back into session, have hearings [and] call witnesses.”



Shake Shack to return $10-million paycheck protection loan

The burger chain Shake Shack says it has obtained new funding and will return a small-business loan it got to help weather the coronavirus crisis.

Shake Shack has laid off or furloughed hundreds of its employees and needed the assistance, its CEO Randy Garutti and its founder Danny Meyer said in a statement seen Monday.

But the company was able to get extra funding late last week through an “equity transaction” and decided to “immediately return” the $10-million paycheck protection loan it obtained through the CARES Act.



Spain passes 200,000 infections but records a drop in daily deaths

MADRID — Spain has surpassed the 200,000 mark of coronavirus infections while recording the lowest number of new deaths in four weeks.

Health ministry data showed Monday that 399 more people had succumbed to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s total death toll to 20,852. Spain had counted more than 400 daily deaths since March 22.

The outbreak’s spread has continued at a slower pace than in previous weeks, with 4,266 new infections bringing the pandemic’s total tally to 200,210.

The Spanish government is starting to relax its confinement measures, trying to reactivate the economy after a two-week freeze and planning to allow children younger than 12 to venture out and mingle for brief periods beginning next week.

The government has been under pressure from regional governments, parents and some educators to ease the lockdown for children.


Coronavirus is a brewing threat for Germany’s beer makers

WERNECK, Germany — The Werneck Brewery has survived world wars, economic crises and decades of declining beer consumption. But after 400 years in existence, it has finally met a challenge it can’t overcome: the coronavirus outbreak.

The brewery, which traces its history to 1617 and has been owned by the same family since 1861, is closing for good, taking with it 15 full-time jobs and more part-time positions. Also gone is a chunk of local history and tradition in Werneck, a town of 10,000 people in the brewery-rich southern state of Bavaria, home of the historic Oktoberfest.

German brewers fear that the Werneck Brewery’s demise is the leading edge of more closures as the virus outbreak threatens the existence of the country’s many local producers of the national beverage — community institutions, often family-owned for generations, whose buildings and affiliated taverns are regional landmarks in a country where the hometown brew is often a sentimental favorite despite competition from national brands.

Hardest-hit are smaller breweries that like the one in Werneck that depend on supplying kegs to local taverns and events such as local festivals. Restaurants are closed, and the government says mass gatherings will not resume until Sept. 1 at the earliest — and even then it may take years before they rebound to levels seen before the virus outbreak.



Singapore now has the most coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia

SINGAPORE — Singapore reported a record 1,426 new coronavirus infections on Monday, mostly among foreign workers, pushing its total number of confirmed cases to 7,984.

The tiny city-state now has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, a massive increase from just 200 infections on March 15, when its outbreak appeared to be nearly under control. About 3,000 cases have been reported in just the last three days.

Low-wage migrant workers, a vital part of Singapore’s workforce, now account for at least 60% of its infections.

More than 200,000 workers from Bangladesh, India and other poorer Asian countries live in tightly packed dormitories. Clusters of infections have expanded rapidly in the dorms after they were overlooked in the government’s earlier health measures.

Social distancing is impossible in the dormitories, which house up to 20 men per room with a shared kitchen, toilets and other facilities. Most work in construction, shipping and maintenance jobs.

More than half of the 43 registered dormitories have been declared isolation areas where workers have been quarantined. Several thousand other workers have been moved to other locations to reduce crowding.

The government expects cases to rise further as testing at the dorms continues but hopes that the country’s partial lockdown until May 4, mandatory wearing of masks and strict social distancing will help curb the spread of the virus.


Some shops begin reopening in Germany as lockdown eases

BERLIN — Some shops are reopening in much of Germany as Europe’s biggest economy takes its first tentative step toward restarting public life after a four-week shutdown.

Shops with a surface area of up to 8,600 square feet are being allowed to reopen on Monday, along with auto showrooms, bike shops and bookshops of any size, under an agreement reached last week between Germany’s federal and state governments.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, told a TV news outlet that big shops “draw large numbers of people into the city center. They have high customer numbers, and that isn’t possible in the first step.”

State governments are responsible for imposing and loosening shutdown measures, and there are regional variations. Berlin and neighboring Brandenburg are expected to reopen small shops later this week. The eastern state of Thuringia is waiting until next Monday. So is Bavaria, although it is allowing DIY and garden shops to reopen Monday.

The eastern state of Saxony is the only one so far to require that people wear face masks in shops and on public transport.

A few states also are starting high school finishing exams, though schools aren’t expected to start reopening on a larger scale for another two weeks.


Denmark reopens hair salons, tattoo parlors and dentists’ offices, among others

COPENHAGEN — Denmark took another small step toward reopening society when hair salons, dentists, physiotherapists, tattoo parlors and driving schools, among others, were allowed to reopen Monday.

Social distancing, removal of magazines in the waiting area, facilities for both staff and customers to wash their hands, thorough cleaning, and shifted work times were key to the reopening, business minister Simon Kollerup said. “It goes without saying that you cannot avoid contact with a masseur or hairdresser,” he said. “But the new guidelines need to reduce our infection.”

Earlier, the Scandinavian country had allowed some classes — from preschool to the fifth grade — to return to school with similar precautions.

In neighboring Norway, preschools that had been shut down since March 12 reopened, while classes for older pupils were expected to restart before the summer break, Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

Dentists, physiotherapists and opticians were also allowed to start again Monday, NTB wrote.


Coronavirus brings spike in anti-Semitic sentiments, experts say

Israeli researchers reported Monday that the global coronavirus outbreak had sparked a rise in anti-Semitic expression blaming Jews for the spread of the disease and the economic recession it has caused.

The findings, which came in an annual report by Tel Aviv University researchers on anti-Semitism, show an 18% spike in attacks against Jews last year. The report warns that the pandemic has threatened to amp up incitement even more.

Although they did not include 2020 statistics, the researchers said the hatred had come from sources as varied as right-wing European politicians, ultra-conservative American pastors, anti-Zionist intellectuals and Iranian state authorities.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers working inside Israel can no longer travel back and forth from their homes in the occupied West Bank.

Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry releases its report every year on the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins Monday at sundown.

Researchers said the 18% increase in anti-Semitic violence in 2019 continued a steady rise of recent years. Seven Jews were killed in 2019 in more than 450 attacks across the globe against synagogues, community centers and other Jewish targets.

The researchers said the hateful response to the novel coronavirus — and the COVID-19 illness it causes — was the continuation of an ancient form of anti-Semitism that involves blaming Jews when “things go wrong.”


At least 20 employees at Afghanistan’s presidential palace test positive

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 20 employees at Afghanistan’s presidential palace have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a senior government official who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to comment on the subject.

It wasn’t clear whether President Ashraf Ghani had been in contact with any of the employees or whether he had been tested himself. The presidential palace has refused to comment.

Ghani has reportedly been self-isolating, although he still meets daily with some senior officials. At 70 and a cancer survivor, Ghani is considered in the higher-risk category.

Afghanistan has reported only 993 positive cases even as the International Office of Migration, which monitors the movement of refugees, says more than 200,000 Afghans have returned from Iran in the last two months. Iran is one of the hardest-hit countries in the region, with more than 82,000 confirmed cases and more than 5,000 deaths.

Many of the returning refugees scattered throughout Afghanistan without testing, generating widespread fears of an outbreak of cases that could overwhelm the country’s war-ravaged healthcare facilities.


‘Cartels are scrambling’: Coronavirus snarls global drug trade

Authorities seized narcotics inside a tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego.
Authorities seized narcotics inside a newly discovered tunnel connecting a warehouse in Tijuana with south San Diego.
(U.S. Border Patrol)

The coronavirus is dealing a gut punch to the illegal drug trade, authorities say, paralyzing economies, closing borders and severing supply chains in China that traffickers rely on for the chemicals to make such profitable drugs as methamphetamine and the powerful opioid fentanyl.

One of the main suppliers that shut down is in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the global outbreak.

Interviews with nearly two dozen law enforcement officials and trafficking experts found that Mexican and Colombian cartels are still plying their trade, as evidenced by a bust last month in which nearly $30 million worth of street drugs was seized in a new smuggling tunnel connecting a warehouse in Tijuana to southern San Diego. But the lockdowns that have turned cities into ghost towns are disrupting production as well as transport and sales.



Iran opens up as economic woes trump virus infection fears

Iran on Monday began opening intercity highways and major shopping centers to stimulate its sanctions-choked economy, gambling that it has brought under control its coronavirus outbreak — one of the worst in the world — even as some fear it could lead to a second wave of infections.

Stores from high-end malls to the meandering alleyways of Tehran’s historic Grand Bazaar opened their doors, though the government limited working hours until 6 p.m. Restaurants, gyms and other locations remain closed, however.

Volunteer body washers have been called on to uphold a sacred Islamic custom amid the health crisis in Iran. One such person is 33-year-old Tahereh Adibi.

There are still lingering questions over Iran’s outbreak and the safety of those returning to work. Taxi drivers partitioned their seats from the customers with plastic shields and wore masks, having seen colleagues sickened and killed by the virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes.

Iran’s outbreak has killed more than 5,000 people in over 80,000 reported cases, though even Iran’s parliament suggests the death toll is nearly double that and overall cases remain vastly underreported. Deaths and new cases continue to be reported.

Iran downplayed the crisis for weeks, even as top officials found themselves sick with the virus. The country’s civilian government, led by President Hassan Rouhani, has declined to implement the 24-hour lockdowns seen in other Mideast nations.


Column: Newsom is helping immigrants amid coronavirus pandemic. There’s nothing Trump can do about it

Three years ago, President Trump complained to Fox News that California was “out of control.” What he meant was that the state was out of his control. It still is.

And states always will be, no matter who is occupying the Oval Office.

Trump must have been asleep in his high school civics class when the teacher lectured about states’ rights and the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Trump has been knocked down by federal courts a few times when he tried to force his will on California.

The “out of control” gripe was a reference to legislation pending in Sacramento to declare California a “sanctuary state” for immigrants living here illegally. The president threatened to withhold federal funds if the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown enacted the bill. They did. But Trump wasn’t allowed to block funds already appropriated by Congress.

Last Monday, Trump declared he had “total” authority to reopen states that governors had shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus, even if they objected. Governors ignored him and proceeded with their own planning. Trump soon backed off and told the governors he was authorizing them to call their “own shots” — so-called authorization they didn’t need.

One of my favorite California rebuffs of Trump came last week when Gov. Gavin Newsom authorized payments of $500 each to undocumented workers — up to $1,000 per household — as partial reconciliation for their snub by the president and Republican U.S. Senate.



‘Under siege’: 55 deaths at New York care home blamed on COVID-19

As residents at a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., began dying in late February from a coronavirus outbreak that would eventually take 43 lives, there was little sign of trouble at the Cobble Hill Health Center, a 360-bed facility in an upscale section of Brooklyn.

Its Facebook page posted a cheerful story encouraging relatives to quiz their aging loved ones about their lives, and photos of smiling third-graders at a nearby school making flower arrangements for residents.

That quickly changed. By the middle of March, the CEO began sending increasingly alarmed emails about banning visitors, screening staff, confining residents, wiping down all surfaces, and having all-hands-on-deck meetings to prepare everyone for the coming coronavirus “freight train.”

Now listed with 55 deaths it can only assume were caused by COVID-19, among the most of any such facility in the country, Cobble Hill Health Center has become yet another glaring example of the nation’s struggle to control the rapid spread of the coronavirus in nursing homes that care for the most frail and vulnerable.



India reports biggest one-day virus spike as lockdown is eased

India recorded its biggest single-day spike in coronavirus cases on Monday as the government eased one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to allow some manufacturing and agricultural activity to resume.

An additional 1,553 cases were reported over 24 hours, raising the national total past 17,000. At least 543 people have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, and epidemiologists forecast the peak may not be reached before June.

The shelter-in-place orders imposed in India on March 24 halted all but essential services. Starting Monday, limited industry and farming were allowed to resume where employers could meet social distancing and hygiene norms, and migrant workers can travel within states to factories, farms and other work sites.

The loosening of restrictions comes as India continues to ramp up testing, build up stocks of ventilators and personal protective equipment and prepare makeshift isolation wards and dedicated COVID-19 hospitals.


A zoo without visitors: Animal care goes on as revenue dries up amid coronavirus crisis

Belmont Park shuts down and nobody gets to ride the Giant Dipper roller coaster. Legoland closes and tiny plastic bricks don’t get fashioned into buildings at Miniland USA.

Shutter a zoo, though, and the animals remain. They need food and care, and that costs money. You can’t furlough a flamingo. You can’t lay off a lion.

So it is that Don Sterner found himself with 4,000 exotic butterflies and no one to show them to.

Sterner is a wildlife care manager at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where the 43-year veteran is in charge of the birds. This time of year, he also oversees the popular Butterfly Jungle, which for two decades has temporarily taken over an aviary at the park with a riotous splash of flowering plants and fluttering wings.

Butterfly Jungle was supposed to open March 21 and run through Mother’s Day. But those plans, like countless others, were upended by the coronavirus pandemic. The Safari Park and its sister facility, the San Diego Zoo, which together last year drew 5 million visitors, closed to the public on March 16.



Storage facilities are open despite coronavirus. For some, it’s more rent they can’t pay

After flying back to her parents’ house in Washington state in February after two years abroad, Kirsten Barrie hoped she would be able to retrieve her items from a storage facility in Glendale, where she used to live, and bring them back up north before figuring out her next move.

Then, state by state, the country started to shut down as cases of the deadly novel coronavirus began to spread. Residents in both Washington and California were ordered in late March to stay at home except for essential needs.

But come April 1, a $1,200 bill for Barrie’s Public Storage unit was still due. The sum included rent for March and April — at $500 a month — in addition to late fees. Another fee was slapped on for paying the entire amount a few days after the first of the month.

Amid forced closures of nonessential businesses across California, storage facilities have stayed open.

Some people moving in with relatives or downsizing their living space to save money amid the public-health-turned-economic crisis are leasing space in storage facilities to stash belongings they can’t bring with them, said McKall Morris, a spokeswoman with Extra Storage.



This Bay Area town is among the first to offer coronavirus testing to every resident

The remote Bay Area town of Bolinas is among the first communities in the world to attempt to test all of its residents for the novel coronavirus.

Bolinas, population 1,600, will offer free tests Monday through Thursday to residents 4 years and older up, according to a statement from UC San Francisco, whose staffers will administer the tests.

The community-wide testing effort was spearheaded by two locals, venture capitalist Jyri Engestrom and pharmaceutical company executive Cyrus Harmon. Nearly the entire town was registered for testing as of Friday, according to the Mercury News.

The drive-through test will entail a mouth and throat swab to check for active infection and a finger prick to detect antibodies, a crucial step in determining who has already had the virus. A second round of testing will follow two weeks later if enough money is raised.



California reports first prison inmate death caused by the coronavirus

California corrections officials announced the first prison inmate death Sunday from complications related to the novel coronavirus.

The inmate died at a hospital after contracting COVID-19 at the California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement.



California will ‘do the right thing’ when lifting stay-at-home orders, Newsom says

The number of coronavirus cases in California topped 30,000, with nearly 1,150 deaths, as officials said that science — not political pressure — would determine when they began to reopen the economy.

Although the state is seeing the rate of new infections from the coronavirus declining, Gov. Gavin Newsom said rising death counts were a major concern.

“For those who think we are out of the woods … I caution you on the basis” of the death toll, Newsom said Saturday.

As for lifting some stay-at-home orders, Newsom added: “We are going to do the right thing, not judge by politics, not judge by protests, but by science.”



Coronavirus stay-at-home order saves state taxpayers $1 billion after car crashes cut by 60%

California’s stay-at-home order reduced vehicle collisions on roadways by a little more than half, saving taxpayers an estimated $1 billion since the order went into effect, according to a UC Davis survey that estimated the effect of the order on traffic.

“The savings was about $40 million a day. ... That’s about $15 billion over a one-year period, which is almost the size of the state portion of California’s transportation budget for a year,” said Fraser Shilling, co-director of the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis.

The survey used data from California Highway Patrol incident reports, and the costs saving was calculated by using equivalent data from the Federal Highway Administration. Costs include property damage, treatment of injuries, lost time at work and emergency responses, among other costs.



Garcetti: L.A. is ‘under attack’ and will need to furlough thousands of city workers

Mayor Eric Garcetti warned Sunday that the economic downturn facing Los Angeles would be more painful than the 2008 recession, requiring cuts to government programs and the furlough of thousands of city employees.

In a remarkable State of the City address, one that comes five weeks into the shutdown of many businesses, government buildings and other facilities, Garcetti declared that the city was “under attack” from the coronavirus and the economic fallout that had come with it.

“I’ve never before hesitated to assure you that our city is strong,” he said. “But I won’t say those words tonight. Our city is under attack. Our daily life is unrecognizable.

“We are bowed and we are worn down. We are grieving our dead,” the mayor continued, choking back tears. “But we are not broken.”



‘Delusional’: Governors call out White House on dearth of coronavirus testing as protests grow

As President Trump on Sunday continued to tout the nation’s coronavirus testing capacity, several governors took to the airwaves to vehemently challenge his assessment and to complain that the federal government had been laggardly in providing support for health systems and local economies.

“I am right on testing. Governors must be able to step up and get the job done. We will be with you ALL THE WAY!” the president tweeted Sunday.

Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam countered Trump, saying it was “delusional” to believe enough testing was in place to move quickly on easing restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the deadly virus.

“We are fighting a biological war,” Northam said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that governors have been left “to fight that war without the supplies we need.”

“Our president, obviously, has been unable to deliver on tests,” Northam said.

U.S. testing rates for the coronavirus lag behind those of many other countries weathering the pandemic, with several governors and health experts saying the White House has not stepped up to order the production of sufficient supplies of tests, nasal swabs and other necessary materials and has also failed to coordinate a national response.

Trump snapped back Sunday evening, saying at a White House briefing that the country will “have so many swabs you won’t know what to do with.”