‘Virus at Iran’s gates’: How Tehran failed to halt the outbreak
Appearing before the cameras coughing and sweating profusely, the man leading Iran’s response to the new coronavirus promised it was of no danger to his country.
“Quarantines belong to the Stone Age,” Iraj Harirchi insisted.
A day later, he was in quarantine from the virus.
Harirchi’s story is a microcosm of what has happened in Iran in the pandemic. About nine out of 10 cases in the Middle East come from the Islamic Republic, which has reported over 16,000 infections and at least 988 deaths amid fears that cases may still be underreported. While most infected people recover, the virus spreads rapidly and can kill the elderly and those with breathing problems or other underlying illnesses.
All California trials delayed; L.A. County courts close to public
Criminal and civil trials were discontinued in California for at least two months after a sweeping order was issued late Monday by the state’s chief justice that aims to sharply cut down public traffic in state courthouses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said in her order that court facilities were “ill-equipped to effectively allow the social distancing and other public health requirements” that have been imposed across California to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“Even if court facilities could allow for sufficient social distancing, the closure of schools means that many court employees, litigants, witnesses, and potential jurors cannot leave their homes to attend court proceedings because they must stay home to supervise their children,” Cantil-Sakauye said in the order.
The 60-day delay — which puts the courts in California’s 58 counties on a uniform trial delay schedule — came the same day that the presiding judge of Los Angeles Superior Court, Kevin C. Brazile, blocked public access to county courthouses except for attorneys, staff, defendants and a “authorized persons,” a vague category that includes news reporters.
U.S. to bring home stranded Americans using planes that deport immigrants
With pressure mounting over Americans stranded outside the United States because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, the government plans to use its planes that deport migrants to bring U.S. citizens home, a senior administration official said Monday.
The use of repurposed deportation flights is one of several actions the State Department is taking to retrieve thousands of Americans grounded in foreign countries since the U.S. began closing its borders and barring arrivals from some nations, in an effort to slow the spread of the highly infectious virus. At the same time, commercial airlines dramatically cut back on flights.
“We’re working around the clock to bring U.S. citizens who are stranded overseas back home,” a senior State Department official said, briefing reporters by phone on grounds of anonymity, in keeping with administration protocol. Consular staffs “have been working night and day to help Americans get on flights.”
City of Los Angeles expands its temporary ban on evictions
The city of Los Angeles has expanded its temporary ban on evictions during the novel coronavirus pandemic by prohibiting landlords from removing tenants from rent stabilized apartments for the purposes of converting them to condominiums, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Monday afternoon.
Garcetti said he was enacting an executive order prohibiting such evictions under the Ellis Act, a state law that allows people to be ejected from rent-stabilized apartments if the landlord is getting out of the rental business, which can include turning the building into condos.
“This is necessary to protect additional tenants from being displaced from their homes at the exact same moment we’re asking them to stay at home,” Garcetti said.
Between 2001 and 2018, more than 25,000 apartments that had been covered by the city’s rent control laws were removed from the market through the Ellis Act, according to city statistics. Garcetti’s order applies to tenants who have already received eviction notices under the Ellis Act but whose date for vacating their apartment had not occurred.
Monday’s order follows one Garcetti announced last week, which prohibits the evictions of any tenant in the city that can’t pay rent due to health or economic effects caused by the virus.
Garcetti’s action on evictions still require tenants to pay any back rent that accumulates within six months of the expiration of the emergency order. He emphasized Monday that tenants should still pay their rent if they can as landlords need to pay their bills as well.
“It’s important to remember that everyone is struggling right now,” Garcetti said. “Not all property owners are large companies, and many get by on the month to month checks they collect.”
The L.A. City Council had planned to advance some broader protections against evictions on Tuesday, but it’s unclear when that vote will be held after Council President Nury Martinez cancelled the scheduled meeting, citing logistical problems and safety concerns over the virus.
Emergency order prohibits rental units from being pulled off the market, Garcetti announces
The mayor also announced an emergency order prohibiting any rental units from being pulled off the market under the Ellis Act, a state law that allows landlords in rent-controlled buildings to get out of the rental business.
The order “clarifies that this special class of evictions is also prohibited,” Garcetti said.
Garcetti also declared that L.A. bars and restaurants are now permitted to deliver alcoholic beverages to residents.
“I will continue to do everything in my local power to support local business and make sure Angelenos stay at home,” Garcetti said.
Newsom announces ‘soft closure’ of state parks by blocking off parking lots
SACRAMENTO —Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he is closing parking lots at California’s state parks in order to deter people from congregating and unintentionally spreading the novel coronavirus.
“We’re going to shut down all state parking lots, and that will go into effect immediately,” Newsom said.
The governor made the announcement four days after he ordered all residents to remain in their homes, making California the first state in the nation to place such restrictions on the movement of its residents in response to the coronavirus. Newsom took drastic action last week in order to slow the spread of the virus before hospitals are overwhelmed with more seriously sick patients than they can adequately treat.
Commentary: Holding NFL draft under current conditions could cause teams to make major mistakes
In this weird coronavirus reality, the sport at center stage is the one that’s not in season.
The NFL provided a distraction last week by staying the course with free agency. Although initially the decision seemed tone deaf, it actually gave millions of fans something to fixate on and discuss that didn’t have life-or-death gravitas.
But the league’s insistence to stick with the April 23-25 dates for the draft could be problematic, giving some teams an unfair advantage and leaving some lesser-known players out in the cold.
Over the weekend, speaking with multiple NFL general managers and player personnel directors from both conferences — each of whom was working from home — they commented on the condition of anonymity so they could be candid.
Democratic National Committee exploring contingencies for July convention
MILWAUKEE — Democratic National Committee officials are exploring contingencies in case the coronavirus outbreak makes a routine presidential nominating convention impossible.
Statements from convention planners don’t explicitly outline the possibility of a virtual convention. But their acknowledgement underscores the unknowns the party faces amid the pandemic and stay-at-home orders across the county.
The convention is scheduled for July 13-16 in Milwaukee. It would attract about 4,000 delegates and tens of thousands of activists, Democratic donors and media.
South Africa to go into nationwide lockdown
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa, Africa’s most industrialized economy and a nation of 57 million people, will to go into a nationwide lockdown for 21 days starting Thursday to try to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, the president said Monday.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the measures in response to the increase of COVID-19 cases to 402. South Africa will be the third country in Africa to close down all but essential economic activity, after Rwanda and Tunisia.
South Africa’s coronavirus cases jumped by 47% on Monday from the day before with 128 new cases, increasing worries of exponential growth and making it the country with the most cases in Africa, taking over from Egypt. More than half of South Africa’s total cases are in Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, the country’s largest city with 5.7 million people, and the capital, Pretoria, with 2.4 million, according to figures released by the Health Ministry.
South Africa has not registered a known death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus. Officials have said the majority of people infected were travelers from Europe and other countries, although the number of cases that are locally transmitted is rising. South Africa’s crowded working class residential areas and packed commuter trains and minivan taxis are expected to contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Ramaphosa said the lockdown would be enforced by police and the military starting at midnight Thursday. Military convoys have already deployed across Johannesburg.
All South Africans will be required to stay home except for those working in essential services, including healthcare providers, workers in the security industry and those involved in the production and distribution of food, power and medical products, the president said. Individuals will only be allowed to leave home “under strictly controlled circumstances” to access goods such as medical supplies and food, he said. Banks, supermarkets and gas stations will be allowed to continue operations.
Florida governor to mandate travelers coming from New York City area self-quarantine
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he plans to issue an executive order mandating that anyone arriving on a flight from New York City and the surrounding area submit to self-quarantine for two weeks.
DeSantis says over 100 such flights arrive daily in Florida and he believes each one contains at least one person infected with the coronavirus. Passengers will be screened when they arrive and told they must self-quarantine. They won’t be allowed to stay with family or friends because that is one way the virus is spread.
DeSantis says he’s been in contact with federal officials about curtailing such flights, but hasn’t heard back yet. He didn’t say how the self-quarantine would be enforced.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he understands DeSantis’ order since New York is an epicenter for the virus in the U.S. However, he has mixed feelings about travel restrictions and says, “I’m not sure it’s the most enlightened approach.”
Italy’s ‘Patient No. 1’ leaves hospital
ROME — The man known in Italy as Patient No. 1 in the country’s devastating outbreak of the coronavirus is out of the hospital a month after he arrived in critically ill condition.
Authorities in Italy’s hardest-hit region of Lombardy played an audio message recorded by the 38-year-old man in which he says, “You can get cured of this illness.”
The man identified only by his first name of Mattia spent 18 days in intensive care on a respirator. After that time, he says he began to do on his own “the most simple and beautiful thing: that is, to breathe.”
The man is awaiting the birth of a child within days. Last week, Italian media reported the death of his father, who lived in one of the first towns in Lombardy that were at the heart of the outbreak’s start.
Italian doctors say that even before Mattia’s case, they suspect the virus was circulating in Italy and that some patients who died of pneumonia last fall might have had coronavirus.
Even with no games, something fun is Bruin with UCLA announcer Josh Lewin
Josh Lewin’s voice begins the countdown, a sequence that might have accompanied any of his UCLA radio play-by-play calls over the years.
“Twenty-four seconds on the clock … ” Lewin starts, before it immediately becomes evident that this broadcast won’t end with a Joshua Kelley touchdown run or a Jaime Jaquez Jr. three-pointer.
“ … the Old El Paso taquito almost ready,” Lewin continues, his voice narrating a video that pans across the front of a microwave. “A giddy sense of anticipation here in Josh’s kitchen, this crowd — the wife, the dog — everyone waiting for the Maytag microwave to produce these 180 calories of abject perfection.”
The camera moves back toward the clock panel, revealing the final countdown, the tension building.
Arizona man dies after taking additive for treatment
PHOENIX — An Arizona man has died and his wife is in critical condition after the couple took an additive used to clean fish tanks.
Banner Health says the couple in their 60s took chloroquine phosphate and got sick within 30 minutes.
Last week, Trump misstated that the malaria medication chloroqine was a known treatment for COVID-19. Even after the FDA chief clarified that the drug still needs to be tested, Trump overstated the drug’s potential upside in containing the virus.
Dr. Daniel Brooks, medical director of Banner Poison and Drug Information Center, says the last thing health officials want is for emergency rooms to be swamped by patients who believe they found a vague and risky solution that could potentially jeopardize their health.
Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller have a message for New Yorkers: Stay home!
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has gone straight to the people to spread his stay-at-home message — the famous people, that is.
“This is not life as usual. There is a density level in NYC that is destructive. It has to stop and it has to stop now. NYC must develop an immediate plan to reduce density. #StayAtHome,” Cuomo tweeted Sunday morning.
Video messages from Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Ben Stiller and Lala Anthony followed, all tagged with New York state’s new slogan: “Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives.”
The messages, aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, were a reaction to situations in New York that were similar to the scenes at California’s beaches and parks over the weekend. Those gatherings, many of which failed to adhere to social-distancing guidelines, resulted in the closure of local trails, parks and beach parking lots.
United Talent Agency cuts salaries and top executives forgo pay
United Talent Agency on Monday said it will cut the salaries of its staff, as the entertainment industry continues to grapple with the fallout from the novel coronavirus.
The Beverly Hills business, which has about 1,200 employees, said salaries would be cut across every level and “structured so our most senior colleagues make the largest financial sacrifice.”
UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer and co-Presidents Jay Sures and David Kramer will give up their salaries for the rest of the year, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to comment.
“Like companies across the industry and our country, UTA is taking some immediate and painful steps to ensure we get through the current public health and economic crisis as strong as possible,” UTA said in a statement.
Texas joins Ohio in restricting abortion access
On Monday, Texas officials followed the lead of Ohio and restricted access to abortion, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton released a statement saying all licensed healthcare providers, including abortion providers, must postpone procedures “that are not immediately medically necessary” due to an executive order issued by the governor Saturday restricting elective procedures.
Paxton said the restriction applies to, “most scheduled healthcare procedures that are not immediately medically necessary such as orthopedic surgeries or any type of abortion that is not medically necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.”
“Postponing surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary will ensure that hospital beds are available for those suffering from COVID-19,” Paxton wrote, and prevent shortages of protective equipment like surgical masks.
He noted that those violating the order could be fined up to $1,000 or jailed for 180 days.
“No one is exempt from the governor’s executive order on medically unnecessary surgeries and procedures, including abortion providers. Those who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law,” he wrote.
Commentary: How a Hollywood poker game keeps the camaraderie — and trash talk — going on Zoom
I don’t care who you are or what you do, everybody has already lost something to the virapocalypse. Personally, I’ve lost lots. So much that as I stood there, counting dust-covered packets of Ramen by the light of my smoldering stock portfolio, I wondered what I was missing most. Restaurants. Sure, who didn’t love eating out? Retirement security, yes, that was nice while it lasted. Sports … I must say, it was shocking to realize what a hole the loss of Premier League Soccer put in my weekends.
And yet, as each of these practical and emotional touchstones was stripped from me — like some cruel future serial killer kid pulling the legs off an ant one by one — none seemed unrecoverable. But flicking through the endless abject horror of my news feed, the thing I found myself missing the most intensely was my Sunday night poker game.
Amid pandemic, hospitals need medical safety gear. Here’s how you can help
Increasingly desperate pleas from healthcare workers and public authorities for donations of face masks and other protective gear are an unsettling sign of just how unprepared American hospitals are for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Alison Cooke, assistant chief of hospital medicine for Kaiser Permanente-San Francisco, warned recently that her institution had less than a week’s supply of medical masks for doctors and nurses. “If you have any masks or safety goggles at home, please consider giving them to your nurse and doctor neighbors,” she wrote on the neighborhood social networking site Nextdoor.
On Friday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged nonessential medical offices and other businesses to donate their protective gear to hospitals. And former federal health official Andy Slavitt tweeted a request to dentists, painters, contractors and plastic surgeons, to give “all you have” in the way of masks, gloves or thermometers to local hospitals.
Long Beach reports first COVID-19 fatality as cases rise
Long Beach confirmed its first COVID-19 fatality on Monday as total cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus rose to 19.
Officials said the victim was a woman in her 50s with underlying health problems.
“We’ve been dreading this day and were hoping it would never come,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We extend our deepest condolences to the victim’s family, friends and loved ones. We are all mourn this incredible loss to our community.”
About 140 people in the city have been or are currently being monitored for coronavirus symptoms.
Watch live: White House holds news conference
80% of COVID-19 patients in L.A. County are ages 18 to 65; fatalities rise to 7
Los Angeles County on Monday provided new information about the spread of coronavirus as well as the demographics of the patients.
NEW CASES: Officials confirmed Monday there were 128 new COVID-19 cases in the county and two more deaths from the disease caused by the coronavirus. That brings the total number of fatalities in the county to seven and the total case count to 536.
DEMOGRAPHICS: Of those who have tested positive, 80% are people ages 18 to 65, and 42% are in the 18-40 age group. “This virus can infect affect people from across the board,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Public Health Department, on Monday. Those numbers are fairly in line with the statewide breakdown of COVID-19 cases as of Sunday:
- Ages 0-17: 25 cases
- Ages 18-49: 837 cases
- Ages 50-64: 442 cases
- Ages 65 and older: 415 cases
- Unknown: 14 cases
Column: Postpone the Olympic Games now for the sake of everyone involved
Through this global crisis, while the novel coronavirus continues to change the way millions of people think and behave, the International Olympic Committee has remained unshakably constant to its twisted version of noble principles.
The inspirational Olympic motto, “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” has a different meaning to those who sit in lush ivory tower isolation by arrogant choice and not by medical directive. Faster means how rapidly they can rake in revenues from the Games. Higher means they’ve placed themselves so far above the athletes whose achievements they showcase that they are oblivious to the reality that lives and training schedules have been turned upside down by the COVID-19 outbreak. Stronger refers to their stubborn and self-centered plan, as stated Sunday by IOC President Thomas Bach, to take as long as four weeks before deciding whether to proceed with the Tokyo Summer Games on their scheduled dates of July 24 through Aug. 9.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson orders lockdown to try to contain the virus
The U.K. was to go into lockdown as of Monday night after Boris Johnson ordered sweeping measures to stop people leaving their homes.
As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the country, the prime minister approved radical measures to ban unnecessary movement of people for at least three weeks. Police will break up gatherings and have the power to fine individuals who break the tough new laws.
Under the plan:
- Shops selling nonessential items, playgrounds, libraries and places of worship will be closed.
- People will be allowed out of their homes only to buy essentials, take one form of exercise a day, travel to work if it can’t be avoided, for medical care, or to help a vulnerable person.
- The government will review the measures after three weeks to see if they can be relaxed.
Johnson announced the strict measures in a televised address to the nation from his 10 Downing Street office.
“Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope,” Johnson said. “From this evening, I must give the British people a very simple instruction: You must stay at home.”
Admissions scandal: Judge releases one parent from prison early
Imprisoned for conspiring to slip their children into USC as bogus water polo stars, a Napa Valley vintner and a Los Angeles water systems executive asked a judge last week to release them from custody early, citing the specter of the novel coronavirus.
Agustin Huneeus Jr., whose family owns several wineries in Napa, was discharged on March 17, two weeks before his five-month term was up, after U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani found that “extraordinary and compelling reasons” justified the early release.
Incarcerated in Lompoc, Devin Sloane, whose four-month prison term will end April 1, asked Talwani for similar relief and was denied. Even as she turned down the request, Talwani suggested that the process prisoners must follow to seek early release was ill-equipped to address a fast-moving crisis forced on the courts and prison system by the coronavirus outbreak.
Is it safe to walk, run or bike outside right now? Yes, and this is how
Some beaches and hiking trail heads were so crowded over the weekend that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday tightened rules for people who want to go outdoors. Some parks have closed; golf and team sports on public courts in L.A. parks have been banned. Group gatherings for outdoor activities also are on the “don’t do” list.
Right now, you can still visit your favorite park or trail. The L.A. County Public Health’s website says: “Individuals and families can also participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking or walking, as long as they can stay at least 6 feet from others while doing so.”
Los Angeles County officials confirm 128 new cases, two more deaths
Los Angeles County officials on Monday confirmed 128 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities in the county to seven and the total case count to 536.
Of those who have tested positive, 80% are ages 18 to 65, and 42% are in the 18-40 age group.
Ninety people who have been infected in the county have at some point been hospitalized while sick, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Public Health Department. That’s 17% of those who have tested positive.
Landlords will be granted U.S. mortgage relief if they delay evictions
Many landlords may be allowed to fall behind on their mortgage payments amid the coronavirus outbreak in return for not kicking renters out of their apartments.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Monday that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would grant mortgage forbearance to owners of multifamily properties in exchange for suspending evictions. The move applies to all Fannie- and Freddie-backed mortgages in situations where renters can’t afford to make their monthly payments due to the outbreak.
L.A. County has secured 20,000 new tests
L.A. County has secured 20,000 new coronavirus tests with a processing capacity of 5,000 tests per day, officials announced Monday. The tests will be free, and healthcare workers and first responders will be prioritized for testing.
Additionally, L.A. City Councilman David Ryu said officials were working with a South Korean company to have 100,000 coronavirus tests available to the area per week, with the ability to run 30,000 per day.
“With increased testing comes an increase in reported infections,” Ryu said. “This does not necessarily mean we’re having an outbreak of new infections. Rather, testing is helping us identify our current problem.”
To date, Ryu said that roughly 25,200 test had been conducted in California.
IOC member gives conflicting statements on postponement of Tokyo Olympics
A longtime International Olympic Committee member gave differing statements Monday on the potential for postponement of the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.
Dick Pound of Canada, an influential and outspoken figure with the IOC for decades, told the CBC he believed the Games would be moved to a later date.
“We’re all reading the tea leaves and so on, but the Japanese themselves are talking about postponing,” he was quoted as saying. “A lot of national Olympic committees and countries are calling for a postponement.”
That comment seemed to fall short of another interview Pound gave with USA Today, in which he stated that “postponement has been decided.”
Reached at home by the Los Angeles Times, Pound initially agreed to talk but asked a reporter to call back. He then hung up on the return call.
‘Once on This Island,’ the first Broadway tour to end early because of pandemic
The traveling production of “Once on This Island” has wrapped its scheduled run four months early, making it the first Broadway national tour to close prematurely because of the coronavirus.
Michael Arden, who received his second Tony Award nomination for directing the acclaimed revival, announced the news on Saturday via Instagram.
“It’s a great loss for so many, but I am deeply proud of everyone who came together to make this production happen from day one, who lifted their voices, paintbrushes, hands and hearts to spread the word of love and forgiveness and celebrated the human spirit’s resilience against even the greatest of odds.”
Hawaii visitors face strict 14-day quarantine upon arrival
Amid the spread of the novel coronavirus to all 50 states, Hawaii’s governor ordered a strict quarantine for arriving passengers. Anyone flying to the islands will have to quarantine at home or at their hotel for 14 days. Also, Hawaiian Airlines will suspend all but one flight between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii beginning Thursday.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige ordered the strict airline passenger quarantine Saturday.
Packed parks and overflowing trains: Britain inches toward a crackdown on crowds
LONDON —The images abound on social media and newspaper front pages: a crowded Monday morning commute on the London Tube, parks and beaches packed with weekend joggers and walkers.
With many Britons appalled by compatriots who are flouting social-distance recommendations put in place to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus, pressure mounted on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to enact stricter controls.
Like President Trump, Johnson has taken reluctant steps toward imposing isolation measures that drastically curtail economic activity. Many public health experts say without swift action, Britain’s chances of averting an Italy-style trajectory, with an onslaught of cases, are dimming.
Senate partisanship boils over as stimulus talks stall
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans and Democrats grew visibly angry and emotional on the Senate floor Monday morning as negotiations over a financial rescue package appeared to stall, even as Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin were close to a final agreement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) bitterly accused Democrats of fiddling with politics by trying to add to the deal unrelated environmental policies. Schumer similarly blamed Republicans for issuing “partisan screeds” instead of engaging in serious negotiation.
In a sign of the fiercely partisan back and forth, Schumer briefly blocked Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) from speaking on the floor. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) shouted, “This is bullshit.”
An estimated 13,500 American citizens stranded abroad, official says
WASHINGTON — A senior State Department official says that roughly 13,500 American citizens stranded abroad because of the coronavirus pandemic are seeking help in returning to the United States.
The official said Monday that thousands more Americans were expected to return on department-arranged flights in the coming weeks, about 1,500 of whom are booked on flights over the next several days. The official said the repatriations were being done with a combination of military flights, chartered passenger planes and commercial airlines where airports are still open. The official said the Department of Homeland Security had also offered to bring Americans home on planes that it used to return deportees to mainly Central American nations.
The official says that since late January the department has helped to evacuate more than 5,000 Americans from 17 countries, including early repatriation efforts for 800 people from China and more than 300 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan. Some 1,200 from were transported from Morocco last week, the official said.
The official urges Americans abroad seeking help to join the department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive alerts from embassies. The official said the department had, over the weekend, doubled the capacity of the server that handled STEP enrollments to address complaints that the system was not working well. The department also set up call lines for Americans needing assistance: (888) 407-4747 (toll free) or (202) 501-4444.
A second official says fewer than 30 State Department employees at 220 embassies, consulates and other diplomatic facilities have thus far tested positive for the virus and that the number of U.S.-based employees is in the single digits, with clusters of one or two testing positive at offices in Washington, Boston, Houston, Seattle and Quantico, Va. The State Department employs some 75,000 people worldwide. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak on the matter by name.
L.A. City Council president cancels upcoming council meetings
Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez canceled council meetings that had been scheduled for Tuesday and next week, saying that the city needed to ensure it was ready to meet “recommended safety standards.”
The Tuesday meeting had been planned, in part, as a teleconferencing meeting during which members of the public could call in with comments. Some council members would also have been in the council chambers, Martinez said in her letter.
Martinez said that everything slated for the Tuesday meeting would be rescheduled for a future meeting. Last week, council members put forward a long list of proposals to address the needs of Angelenos during the coronavirus pandemic, including boosting sick leave and restricting evictions, that have not yet been formally drafted and passed as laws.
Martinez said that “one way or another, we must meet to resolve those items and assist the good people of Los Angeles.”
“Should there be any emergency items that the council needs to address, I will convene an emergency meeting to take action once all safety and logistical concerns have been met,” Martinez added.
Verizon to offer free student internet for L.A. Unified
Supt. Austin Beutner announced Monday that Verizon will provide free internet access for all students who do not currently have it so learning can continue.
Beutner said he has authorized $100 million in spending on technology to help students as the district struggles to provide online learning for about half a million students, many without internet access at home. The district is working on a plan to distribute more computers to students and instructions for accessing the Verizon program.
Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified have appealed to the state for emergency aid, saying that costs related to the outbreak have thrown their budgets out of balance, creating serious financial problems.
Salvation Army offers stores and camps as homeless shelters amid outbreak, but it’s a leap
Just like for-profit businesses across California, the Salvation Army has taken a hit from the social distancing measures enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, with foot traffic drained, the giant nonprofit best known for its Christmastime bell ringers shut down 17 thrift stores in Los Angeles County and 10 in Orange County.
The next day, top brass from the military-structured organization made an unexpected appearance in federal court in Los Angeles, offering up its stores and several other facilities as part of the response to COVID-19, which threatens to ravage homeless encampments across the city.
The Salvation Army is now in talks with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to determine if any of its facilities, which include two mountain camps and an 80,000-square-foot warehouse in the city of Bell, would be useful for housing homeless people — either to prevent them from being exposed to the virus or to quarantine those who may come down with it.
City of Hayward opens free testing center
The city of Hayward opened a free, public COVID-19 testing center Monday that officials say should be able to screen up to 350 people a day and provide results within 24 hours.
The center — at city Fire Station #7, 28270 Huntwood Ave. — will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and staffed by personnel from the Hayward Fire Department. It’s a cooperative effort between the Alameda County city and Avellino, a Menlo Park-based precision medicine company.
As of Monday morning, there were “dozens of people who have presented themselves for testing, arriving both by car and on foot,” said city spokesman Chuck Finnie.“It’s about testing sick people and first responders and health workers who’ve had recent exposure to COVID-19 or suspected exposures to COVID-19,” he said.
While no doctor’s referral is required, people arriving at the center will be screened for symptoms of the disease — such as fever, cough and shortness of breath — before they’re tested.The hope, city officials say, is that those who test positive will then be properly isolated, reducing community spread of the coronavirus.
“Suppression, through isolation after testing, or SIT, as we call it, is an approach that has proven to be most effective in countries on the leading edge of this pandemic,” Hayward Fire Chief Garrett Contreras said in a statement.
Finnie said the city hopes the testing center will become a model — both for the wider Bay Area and beyond.“We just think it’s essential that there’s a robust testing component to our efforts to address transmission of the virus, so we’ve done everything we can to create that in Hayward,” he said. “And, hopefully, it will be recreated in other places in the region and elsewhere.”
COVID-19 lung patterns show few clues for treating pneumonia
Scans of the lungs of the sickest COVID-19 patients show distinctive patterns of infection, but so far those clues are offering little help in predicting which patients will pull through.
For now, doctors are relying on what’s called supportive care, which is standard for treating patients with severe pneumonia.
Doctors in areas still bracing for an onslaught of sick patients are scouring medical reports and hosting webinars with Chinese doctors to get the best advice on what has and hasn’t worked.
TSA says 24 screening officers at 10 airports test positive
WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration is reporting that 24 screening officers at 10 airports around the country have now tested positive for the coronavirus.
It also says an additional five employees who have limited interaction with travelers have also tested positive. Those numbers from Monday are up from just seven employees a week earlier.
Hardest hit is New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport, where five screening officers have tested positive.
TSA says security lanes remain open, but there are fewer passenger than have ever been counted by the agency at U.S. airports.
In addition to both New York City airports, officers have tested positive at airports in Newark, N.J.; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Fort Lauderdale and Orlando in Florida; Atlanta; Cleveland; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and San Jose.
Puerto Rico announces $777-million financial package, 90-day moratorium on mortgages
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico has announced a record $777-million financial package to help alleviate the economic effects of the coronavirus in the U.S. territory.
The package is the biggest so far compared with any U.S. state.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez said Monday there would be a 90-day moratorium on mortgages as well as car, personal and commercial loans. She also announced a flurry of bonuses, including $2,000 to $4,000 bonuses for nurses, police and other emergency workers.
The announcement comes amid a 13-year recession on an island still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria and a string of recent strong earthquakes that together caused billions of dollars in losses.
LAUSD spring sports season remains uncertain
With the Los Angeles Unified School District announcing on Monday that was extending school closures through at least May 1 in trying to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, there’s growing uncertainty whether the spring high school sports season will be able to resume.
“It’s so fluid,” said City Section commissioner Vicky Lagos. “We’re in wait-and-see mode. We’re still suspended.”
The 10 section commissioners of the CIF are scheduled to hold a teleconference on April 3. In their last teleconference, on March 17, they declined to make a decision on whether to cancel regional and state competitions.
“It gives us time to assess where everyone in the state is and what our options are,” said Ron Nocetti, executive director of the CIF.
Pentagon to provide Seattle, New York with military field hospitals
The Pentagon is planning to provide military field hospitals to Seattle and New York City later this week to treat non-coronavirus patients and free up bed space in civilian hospitals, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a news conference Monday.
The planned move is still awaiting approval by officials at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Field hospitals can supply as many as 1,000 beds in tents and are staffed by military medical personnel. They are mainly equipped for trauma care, not infectious diseases, but could alleviate crowding at civilian facilities, officials.
UC Irvine in clinical trial to test drug’s potential to treat COVID-19
UC Irvine will participate in a National Institutes of Health clinical trial to test the antiviral drug remdesivir as a potential therapy for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus that has triggered a global pandemic, the university said Monday morning.
UCI Health scheduled an 11 a.m. news conference call to provide details.
COVID-19 can involve mild to severe respiratory illness, with symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. In older adults and people with preexisting medical conditions that may compromise their immune systems, the illness can develop into severe pneumonia.
United Nations wants worldwide cease-fire
UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Monday for an immediate cease-fire in conflicts around the world to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.N. chief said: “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
Guterres said people caught in armed conflicts, which are raging around the world, were among the most vulnerable and “also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19.”
He told reporters from U.N. headquarters in New York that it was time to silence guns, stop artillery, end airstrikes and create corridors for lifesaving aid.
“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world,” the secretary-general said.
WHO says outbreak is accelerating but insists trajectory of pandemic can be altered
GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization says the coronavirus outbreak is accelerating but insists “we can change the trajectory of this pandemic.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that COVID-19 has now been reported in nearly every country in the world.
He said 67 days elapsed from the first reported case to 100,000 cases; it took 11 days for the second 100,000 cases to be reported; and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.
Tedros said he would speak with heads of state and government from the G20 countries regarding “lifesaving tools” that are in increasingly short supply. He said he would ask leaders to help increase production, avoid export bans, and ensure fair distribution of the tools.
He noted measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus might be exacerbating shortages of essential protective gear and the materials.
Malibu beach parking lots closed
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva closed beach parking lots along Malibu’s 26 miles of coastline on Monday to promote social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Among the parking lots shut:
- Corral Canyon
- Point Dume
- El Matador
- La Piedra
- Nicholas Canyon
- Leo Carrillo
The move came after a weekend that saw crowds flocking to the beaches along the California coast.
Butcher shops are seeing a huge spike in meat sales
Now is the time to turn on the slow cooker, set it and forget it.
Butcher shops have seen a dramatic rise in sales in the last week due to the virtual citywide quarantine, with many customers stocking up on cuts that lend themselves well to freezing and long cooking times.
“It’s been a crazy couple days,” said Jered Standing, owner of Standing’s Butchery on Melrose Avenue. “Monday we sold 10 times more than a normal Monday. I would have thought it was impossible to sell that much meat in that short amount of time.”
Orange County to house older homeless people not showing signs of virus
A former juvenile correctional facility in Orange County will be used as a shelter for older individuals who are homeless but not showing signs of coronavirus infection, officials said.
The temporary shelter at Joplin Youth Center — which the Orange County Probation Department operated in Trabuco Canyon until May — will be open for “sheltered homeless persons who are older but not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19,” county officials said in a statement Sunday.
“The county is working with shelter providers to identify individuals who fit this category and to maximize the space at Joplin while maintaining safe social distance.”
Officials also are moving to identify and secure other alternative shelters.
Tom Hanks says he and Rita Wilson ‘feel better.’ Meanwhile, she’s rapping
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson “feel better,” the “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” actor tweeted Sunday.
The Hollywood couple has been quarantined in Australia after contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Hanks was down there filming Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley movie, in which he plays Col. Tom Parker.
“Sheltering in place works like this: You don’t give it to anyone — you don’t get it from anyone,” Hanks continued in his tweet. “Common sense, no? Going to take awhile, but if we take care of each other, help where we can, and give up some comforts ... this, too, shall pass. We can figure this out.”
Hanks and Wilson, both 63, were the first celebrities to go public with their positive coronavirus test, announcing their situation March 11. Since then, they’ve been sequestered.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel tests negative
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman says the German leader has tested negative for the coronavirus.
Spokesman Steffen Seibert told news agency dpa on Monday that “further tests will be conducted in the coming days.”
Merkel went into quarantine at home on Sunday evening after being informed that a doctor who had administered a vaccine to her had tested positive for the coronavirus.
School closures at LAUSD and other districts extended to at least May 1
Los Angeles public schools will remain closed until May 1 in response to the coronavirus outbreak, district officials announced Monday in communications sent to parents.
The announcement extended a closure that was originally scheduled for two weeks — with Monday marking the beginning of the second week. The extension came after the county’s top education official, Debra Duardo, who has no direct authority over L.A. Unified operations, recommended that all school districts in the county remain shuttered until May 5.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week that was likely that campuses would remain closed for the remainder of the traditional school year.
Schools and school districts are turning to online learning to keep academic activities going, with mixed results.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s husband tests positive
Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced today that her husband, John, tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The three-term Minnesota senator and former presidential candidate said that her husband’s symptoms began when he was in Washington, D.C. and she was in Minnesota. He initally believed he had a cold and quickly quarantined himself, later developing a “bad, bad cough” and soon began coughing up blood, Klobuchar said.
“(John) now has pneumonia and is on oxygen but not a ventilator,” she said.
Klobuchar said her doctors advised her not to get a test because she is outside the 14-day period for getting sick.
“As everyone is aware, there are test shortages for people who need them everywhere and I don’t qualify to get one under any standard. I love my husband so very much and not being able to be there at the hospital by his side is one of the hardest things about this disease,” Klobuchar said. “I hope he will be home soon.”
The senator remains in Washington while her husband is in Minnesota.
Top doctor said he can’t stop Trump from talking at briefings
WASHINGTON— Dr. Anthony Fauci says he can’t jump in front of the microphone to stop President Donald Trump from speaking at daily White House briefings on the coronavirus outbreak.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert tells Science magazine in an interview that Trump listens “even though we disagree on some things.”
“He goes his own way. He has his own style,” Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in the telephone interview with the magazine on Sunday. “But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.”
Trump complained at a recent briefing that China should have told the world about the virus much earlier. The new coronavirus originated in China. Fauci says he told the “appropriate people” after Trump made the comment that “it doesn’t comport, because two or three months earlier would have been September.”
Fauci said that Trump’s aides may caution him against repeating the statement but that if the president chooses to say it again, “I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down.”
Trump and Fauci sparred politely but publicly last week over whether a malaria drug would work to treat people with the coronavirus disease.
India halts its crucial train network
NEW DELHI— As India expanded its virus-containment measures and halted its train network, the country’s lifeblood, the federal government warned Monday of strict legal action for those who flout the rules. The wholesale shutdown of India’s massive train system is unprecedented.
“Please save yourself, save your family,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted in Hindi, calling for states to follow the preventive measures issued by the federal government to contain the spread of the virus.
The strict legal action vowed wasn’t immediately clear. Other places have simply sent violators home, since alternatives like detention would create crowded conditions where the virus could spread.
To contain the outbreak, authorities have gradually started to lock down much of the country of 1.3 billion people, sending stock markets to record lows. Parliament adjourned its session, and India’s civil aviation authority banned all commercial flights within India starting Wednesday. International flights were kept from landing from Sunday until at least March 31.
At least 80 districts where cases of infection have been detected are under stringent lockdown. Police and health care were operating, but commercial establishments have closed except for essential services. Banks have asked their customers to switch to online transactions and reduced their office staff. The government has fervently appealed for people to practice social distancing and wash their hands often.
Here are the latest L.A. County communities with confirmed COVID-19 cases
With more testing, the number of coronavirus infections in Los Angeles County continued to spike over the weekend, growing by 132.
Officals on Sunday reported an additional death related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus; it was the county’s fifth. The Culver City resident was older than 65 and had underlying health conditions, the county Department of Public Health said.
The county recorded 71 new cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the total to 409. Of the total, 319 were ages 19 to 64.
Eighty-four people have been hospitalized, public health officials said.
USC women’s water polo deals with ‘insane’ event for second season in a row
Denise Mammolito could barely believe the news. Even though the USC water polo player was sitting in virtual class — a sign of the growing coronavirus outbreak — she couldn’t grasp that the virus could possibly take the NCAA championships away too.
They were still two months away, she reasoned. Then the feeling of shock only intensified when she noticed the date.
U.S. futures, world markets sink as virus crisis deepens
NEW YORK —U.S. futures slipped more than 3% on Monday and share benchmarks in many world markets logged sharp losses as governments tightened restrictions to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Stocks fell in Paris, London and Frankfurt, Germany, after a brutal session in Asia on Monday.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was the outlier, gaining 2.0% after the International Olympic Committee and Japanese officials indicated they are considering postponing the Tokyo Games, due to begin in July.
U.S. stocks open lower as economic relief bill stalls in Congress
U.S. stocks opened lower Monday after a bill to provide emergency help to the coronavirus-stricken economy stalled in Congress.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 2.3% around 6:50 a.m. Pacific time. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2%, or about 375 points. The Nasdaq composite was off 1.3%.
The market had been set to open even lower until the Federal Reserve announced its most aggressive action yet to protect the economy from the extensive damage being caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Fed said it would buy as much government debt as it deems necessary and will also begin lending to businesses and local governments.
In Alaska, Medicaid funding is depleted, local outlet report
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The state of Alaska fears it will run out of money to pay doctors, hospitals and clinics who treat Medicaid patients.
The Anchorage Daily News reported effects of the shortfall on health care expected to begin Monday could not be precisely determined. The shortfall is a consequence of last year’s budget cuts and the Legislature’s failure this year to approve a $360 million supplemental budget.
Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the Legislature cut nearly $170 million from the Medicaid budget last year. The governor has proposed to reverse cuts, but in the meantime the state’s Medicaid accounts have been depleted.
Puerto Rico has second death
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The second death from COVID-19 in Puerto Rico is a tourist from the United States.
The Health Department says the victim is a 73-year-old man who was vacationing in the U.S. territory with his wife and had other health problems.
The island has 31 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 69 pending test results. Police have detained and cited more than 200 people for violating a two-week curfew imposed last week.
South Africa’s cases jump to 402, has most in Africa
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s coronavirus cases jumped to 402 on Monday. That is an increase of 128 cases from the day before as it is the country with the most cases in Africa.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to speak to the nation about the growing threat and many expect him to announce new restrictive measures to try to slow the spread of the disease.
More than half of South Africa’s total cases are in the Gauteng province, which include Johannesburg and Pretoria. Johannesburg has 5.7 million people, South Africa has 57 million people.
The new government figures put South Africa ahead of Egypt, which has 372 cases. South Africa has not registered a death from the disease.