Coronavirus updates: White House orders staff to wear masks after Pence aide is infected

Visitors take photos of Shanghai Disneyland, which reopened on Monday.
(Associated Press)

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

Coronavirus updates for May 8-10 are here

Quarantine to be required for visitors to Spain

Spain will require all visitors from abroad to quarantine for 14 days if they arrive in the country after May 15.

The new Health Ministry order, published Tuesday in Spain’s official gazette, says the goal is to “limit the risks derived from the international traffic of people” during the rollback of the coronavirus lockdown.

Travel agencies and transport companies must inform their customers about the new regulations before they sell their Spain-bound tickets, and airlines need to make sure that passengers fill out a “location card” in case they need to be contacted after their trip.

Tourism-magnet Spain is starting to loosen the grip after seven weeks of strict confinement. Authorities have reported more than 26,700 deaths for the new coronavirus and over 268,000 infections confirmed by tests.


Judge denies request to release medically vulnerable federal inmates from San Diego detention center

A federal judge over the weekend denied a request from medically vulnerable inmates in federal criminal custody at Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego County to be released because of the COVID-19 outbreak there.

The decision comes less than two weeks after the same U.S. District judge — Dana Sabraw — ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to review the cases of those in its custody at the facility and release as many detainees as possible who are medically vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

While Sabraw wrote in his order that he did not dispute inmates’ concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union, he could not grant the temporary restraining order because of a 1996 law that limits judges’ ability to order released people who are in criminal custody.

“The 5th Amendment prohibits punishment of detained persons prior to ‘a formal adjudication of guilt’ but cannot require a complete elimination of all risk of contracting the virus,” Sabraw wrote in his decision. “Holding otherwise would place an impossible burden on detention facilities.”

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Rodeo in Shasta County delays plans to reopen as many fans sidestep coronavirus guidelines

A day after crowds flocked to a rodeo in Cottonwood, a community of about 3,000 people in Shasta County, the county health officer said Monday that the rodeogoers — many of whom thronged the town’s livestock auction without masks or keeping a safe distance between one another — have delayed the county’s plans to reopen.

“I am not happy and the state isn’t happy and it’s impacting the approval of our variance,” Dr. Karen Ramstrom said in a news release.

Last week, Ramstrom said Shasta County had met certain requirements that would allow some storefronts, dine-in restaurants, childcare centers, shopping malls and office buildings to reopen — subject to approval by the state government.

In Shasta County, which has a population of about 180,000, 32 people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Four people have died.

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Organ transplants plummeted as the coronavirus spread, study says

Organ transplants plummeted as the coronavirus swept through communities, with surgeons wary of endangering living donors and unable to retrieve possibly usable organs from the dead. Even when doctors were willing and able, hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients were sometimes too full to accommodate them.

Between late February and early April, deceased donor transplants — the most common kind — dropped by about half in the U.S. and plunged 90% in France, researchers reported Monday in the journal Lancet.

Transplants from living donors had a similarly staggering dive, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which runs the U.S. transplant system. There were 151 living donor transplants in the U.S. in the second week of March when a pandemic was declared. By the week of April 5, there were only 16 such transplants, according to UNOS.

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Fifth worker at SoFi Stadium tests positive for coronavirus

A staff member for the joint venture overseeing construction at SoFi Stadium tested positive for COVID-19, according to an internal email sent Monday to trade partners on the $5-billion project.

This is the fifth worker on the 298-acre development in Inglewood known to have tested positive since late March.

According to the email, the staff member performed “office related duties” in the Turner-AECOM Hunt complex on site. The staff member last worked Thursday, felt ill Friday and was tested the same day.

“First and most importantly the staff member is doing well with minor symptoms, and is at home under self-quarantine,” the email said.
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Avoid weekend trips and summer vacations for now, California health officials say

As Americans start planning summer vacations, health officials in California urged the public to not take leisure trips, including weekend trips, in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

“We are, in fact, asking people in our health officer order to avoid nonessential travel and we would ask that our neighbors across the state and across the country do the same,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County. “There’s probably very few places in the world right now that would like to see travel into their communities.”

There is no mandatory 14-day mandatory quarantine for visitors coming to California, as is the case in Hawaii, which is punishable by a $5,000 fine and a year in imprisonment.

But Ferrer requested that people coming to L.A. County “do self-quarantine when you come in [and] you do keep yourself away from other people … for that 14-day period.”
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Los Angeles County beaches may reopen Wednesday. Here are the new rules

Los Angeles County beaches, which have been closed for more than six weeks, should reopen Wednesday with some restrictions on activities and other rules in place, officials said Monday.

Manhattan, Redondo and other county beaches will reopen on May 13 for active recreation only, the Department of Beaches and Harbors said on Twitter. Permitted activities will include running, walking, swimming and surfing. Group sports like volleyball are prohibited.

More languid activities, including picnicking and sunbathing, and their accessories — canopies, coolers and the like — will continue to be prohibited.

Face coverings will be mandatory for anyone on the sand, but not for people in the water. People will be required to practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other groups, the department said.
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Coronavirus cases continue to climb in Orange County — but don’t blame the beaches, officials say

There are a number of reasons why Orange County continues to see new coronavirus infections, but there’s no evidence that the throngs of people who flocked to the region’s famed shoreline weeks ago have contributed to the caseload, officials said Monday.

“As of now, that is not something we are pointing to as a cause of cases,” said County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick.

The crowds over the weekend of April 25 and 26 — either a prime example of what not to do or a blip that was blown out of proportion, depending on who you ask — prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to temporarily close the county’s beaches, a decision state officials said was meant to stave off potentially unsafe conditions that could worsen the spread of COVID-19.

Quick, though, said “correlation to the beach, that is not something that we have evidence of at this point.”
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‘Hamilton’ at the Pantages canceled through Sept. 6; engagement extended through February 28, 2021

Performances of “Hamilton,” at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, have been canceled through Sept. 6, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend the performing arts. The good news? The engagement has been extended through February 28, 2021.

On Monday, the production announced that it had initiated refunds of canceled performances, which ticket holders will receive by June 5. Those with tickets to rescheduled performances were instructed to wait for further information.

“From all of us at Broadway in Hollywood and Hamilton, we hope you’re staying safe and well during this difficult time,” read the Monday announcement from the L.A. production. “We understand our responsibility to make careful choices in service of your health and safety.”

The L.A. production initially suspended shows through March 31 — the announcement coming just hours before it was set to begin performances March 12. About a week later, the production suspended three additional weeks of performances through mid-April.
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Soccer referee helps make the right calls against the coronavirus

Katja Koroleva has experienced more triumph and tragedy in the past 11 months than most people will see in a lifetime.

As a soccer referee, she worked five games in last summer’s Women’s World Cup in France, the ultimate reward from a game that has long consumed her. As a physician assistant, she has spent the last three months working 12-hour shifts in a hospital emergency room, battling death in the form of COVID-19.

The difference isn’t lost on Koroleva. Blow a call in a soccer match and someone gets a penalty kick. Make a mistake in the emergency room and. … well, she’d prefer not to think about it.

“It’s an important perspective,” she said. “Sports is an important part of our life. But life, ultimately, is the most important. There is no sport above life.”
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Twitter to label disputed COVID-19 tweets

CHICAGO — Twitter announced Monday it will start alerting users when a tweet makes disputed or misleading claims about the coronavirus.

The new rule is the latest in a wave of stricter policies that tech companies are rolling out to confront an outbreak of virus-related misinformation on their sites. Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, have already put similar systems in place.

The announcement signals that Twitter is taking its role in amplifying misinformation more seriously. But how the platform enforces its new policy will be the real test, with company leaders already tamping down expectations.

Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity, acknowledged as much: “We will not be able to take enforcement action on every tweet with incomplete or disputed information about COVID-19.”

Roth said Monday the platform has historically applied a “lighter touch” when enforcing similar policies on misleading tweets but said the company is working to improve the technology around the labels.

In February, Twitter said it would add warning labels to doctored or manipulated photos and videos after a recording of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was slowed down to make it appear as though she slurred her words. But even with obviously fake videos, such as one showing Joe Biden lolling his tongue and grinning that was shared by President Donald Trump, the company has since used the label only twice, in part because of technical glitches.

And Twitter has not added any warning labels to politicians’ tweets that violate its policies but are deemed in the “public interest” under a policy the company announced in June 2019.

Under the newest COVID-19 rules, Twitter will decide which tweets are labeled — only taking down posts if they are harmful.

Politicians’ tweets will be subject to the notices, which will be available in roughly 40 languages.

Some of the questionable tweets will run with a label underneath that directs users to a link with additional information about COVID-19. Other tweets might be covered entirely by a warning label alerting users that “some or all of the content shared in this tweet conflict with guidance from public health experts regarding COVID-19.”


134 pregnant women in L.A. tested positive for coronavirus, but none of their babies

COVID-19 has hit all walks of life in Los Angeles County, from wealthy enclaves to working-class neighborhoods, as well as prisons and nursing homes.

Officials have warned that the most vulnerable individuals to developing serious effects from the novel coronavirus include women who are pregnant. But little is known about how pregnant women have fared since the pandemic began, as their numbers are not typically broken out in overall case counts.

On Monday, L.A. County officials addressed this little-discussed segment of the population. In the county that has recorded more than 32,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 1,500 deaths, roughly 134 pregnant women have tested positive, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

There have been 29 live births among those women, and one stillbirth. Twenty-four infants were tested at birth, including one set of twins, and none tested positive for the virus.
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New coronavirus test is an imperfect step toward mass screening

A new type of coronavirus test offers a cheaper, quicker way to screen for infections, moving the U.S. toward the kind of mass screening that experts say is essential to returning millions of Americans to school and work.

But the first so-called antigen test — approved Friday by the Food and Drug Administration under an emergency use authorization — is not quite the kind sought by top government health officials to identify patients with COVID-19. It is less accurate than the current gold standard for testing and can only be run on specialized equipment.

“It is too early to tell” what kind of impact the new test will have, said Patricia Simner of Johns Hopkins University, who researches new ways of diagnosing infectious diseases. “It certainly has the potential to aid in more widespread testing.”
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Newsom joins 4 governors in seeking $1 trillion in federal relief for all states

SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his counterparts in four Western states on Monday asked Congress for $1 trillion in COVID-19 pandemic relief for all states and local governments.

Newsom joined with the governors of Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado, as well as legislative leaders from the five states, in asking the House and Senate for the aid. The governors said the funds would be critical for public health programs, law enforcement and schools.

“Without federal support, states and cities will be forced to make impossible decisions — like whether to fund critical public healthcare that will help us recover, or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders,” the letter stated. “And, without additional assistance, the very programs that will help people get back to work — like job training and help for small business owners — will be forced up on the chopping block.”

This request would be on top of the a $2-trillion economic relief package approved by Congress and President Trump in March. That package provided money to many Americans, as well as hospitals, businesses, and state and local governments struggling with the pandemic.
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Elon Musk says Tesla factory is back up and running, defying orders to close

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Monday that the company’s Fremont factory had restarted production, despite standing orders by Alameda County to remain closed.

“Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules,” Musk tweeted. “I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”

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Newsom puts brakes on MLB proposal to play in California ballparks by July

California’s five major league teams could be back in action in July, but Gov. Gavin Newsom declined Monday to promise they could play in their home ballparks.

Major league owners approved a proposal Monday that envisions an 80-game season that would begin in early July. The proposal will be presented to the players’ union Tuesday.

Under current California guidelines, even the 100 or so people needed to stage a fan-free game would constitute a gathering beyond the current limits. Newsom said he had spoken with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and said the league promised it would not take any action in violation of state guidelines.

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L.A. County coronavirus cases and deaths keep rising as area inches toward normalcy

In Los Angeles County, life is a contradiction.

Trails, parks and golf courses reopened throughout the county Saturday, just in time for socially distant Mother’s Day celebrations. And in-person purchases, albeit curbside, were once again available at clothing stores, bookstores, flower shops and other businesses previously deemed nonessential.

The reopening of the economy might be a hopeful indication of improvement in the fight against the coronavirus were it not for the fact that the COVID-19 death toll and confirmed case count of coronavirus infections continue to rise in the county.

County officials confirmed 39 additional coronavirus-related deaths Monday and 591 new cases.

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U.S. death toll hovers near 80,000, Trump lashes out over coronavirus reopenings, and New York will begin Phase 1

New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the United States, plans to start reopening its economy in some upstate regions Friday, but New York City is unlikely to see nonessential business resume until June at the earliest.

“We’re now on the other side of the mountain,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his daily news briefing. “Next step, how do we reopen? How do we reopen intelligently? And how do we reopen without taking a step back?”

The number of deaths in the state dipped to 161 and the number of new coronavirus infections to 488 in the last 24 hours, levels last seen in March, he said. Cuomo’s statewide stay-at-home order ends Friday.

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White House orders staff to wear masks after Pence aide is infected

The White House ordered President Trump’s staff to wear masks inside the building, except when at their desks, after Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tested positive for coronavirus infection last week.

Pence briefly isolated himself over the weekend after the aide, Katie Miller, was diagnosed with COVID-19. White House staff were instructed to wear masks in a memo Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

“Staff who sit in the West Wing are not required to wear a facial covering while at their desk if they are appropriately socially distanced from their colleagues,” the memo from the White House Management Office reads.

“Unless you absolutely need to conduct in-person business in the West Wing, we respectfully ask you to avoid unnecessary visits,” it added.

The memo was reported earlier by ABC News.

Pence returned to work on the White House grounds Monday, though it was unclear if he entered the West Wing or met with Trump.

Miller was the second White House employee to test positive for the coronavirus last week. A member of the military who works as a valet on the grounds of the president’s residence was also diagnosed with the disease.


Riverside County deaths top 200 as coronavirus cases climb to 5,000

Riverside County health officials reported an additional 47 coronavirus cases and one new death Sunday, bringing the toll to 205 residents who have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The county’s number of confirmed cases rose to 5,039. It has the second-highest number of cases in the state, after Los Angeles County, where nearly 32,000 residents have been infected.

Riverside County health officials reported that 189 people — including 73 in intensive care — are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms. A total of 2,619 people have recovered from the virus, records show.



Trump’s contradictory message amid outbreak inside the White House

Despite a coronavirus outbreak in the White House, perhaps the world’s most secure workplace, President Trump on Monday continued to defy public health experts by insisting the crisis was fading and that it was safe for Americans to return to their jobs and some semblance of social activity.

The discordant message suggests the president is willing to discount the threat of a renewed outbreak in his aggressive efforts to push for a broad reopening and revive an economy in free-fall.



L.A. County jail inmates trying to intentionally infect themselves with coronavirus, sheriff says

Inmates in the L.A. County jails are trying to infect themselves with the coronavirus, a video and evidence gathered inside the facilities show, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Monday morning.

The inmates were captured on video drinking from a container contaminated by an inmate infected with COVID-19, then hiding it as part of a scheme to get released.



Seal Beach joins other Orange County beaches in reopening for active recreation

Another Orange County beach reopened Monday after officials temporarily cordoned off the coastline in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Like its neighbors farther south, Seal Beach has restored access to its shores for active use — walking, running, swimming, surfing and other activities “where the participant keeps moving along the beach or in the ocean,” according to the city.

More leisurely pursuits, like lounging or sunbathing, are prohibited, as are items that go with those passive pastimes: coolers, blankets, tents, umbrellas and the like.



Two arrested in brawl with Target employee over refusal to wear masks

Two people are facing felony battery charges after police said they assaulted a Target employee who confronted them about refusing to wear masks inside a Van Nuys store.

The altercation took place at the store in the 5700 block of Sepulveda Boulevard about 10:20 a.m. May 1, said Officer Drake Madison, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.



California coronavirus deaths reach stubborn plateau

SAN FRANCISCO — Although some hope the worst of California’s coronavirus crisis has passed, there are signs the pandemic in the Golden State has merely stabilized, and the worst may be yet to come.

The number of COVID-19 deaths in California has hit a stubborn plateau, and the number of cases has not begun a sustained week-over-week decline, a Los Angeles Times analysis has found. For the seven-day period that ended Sunday, 503 people in California died from the virus — the second-highest weekly death toll in the course of the pandemic and a 1.6% increase from the previous week.



Reopening schools will be pricey and complicated, L.A. schools chief warns

Although the school year in Los Angeles is set to begin in mid-August, the prospect of opening 900 campuses will rely on solutions for daunting and costly problems — including whether half a million students and their families would be tested for COVID-19, Supt. Austin Beutner said.

“There has been discussion about the need to have students with families tested, but no clear picture yet drawn as to where the tests would be provided and who will pay for them,” Beuntner said in an interview. His staff is working with state and local authorities and a team of UCLA experts on reopening protocols.



Pennsylvania governor blasts defiant local officials as ‘cowardly’

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf blasted local elected officials who planned to reopen in defiance of his shutdown orders, threatening Monday to yank coronavirus aid and accusing them of “choosing to desert in the face of the enemy.”

The normally mild-mannered Democrat fired back after several counties declared themselves in open rebellion against his restrictions on businesses and movement, saying local officials who pronounced themselves open for business would pay a steep price.

“To those politicians who decide to cave in to this coronavirus, they need to understand the consequences of their cowardly act,” said Wolf, threatening to withhold state and federal funding to counties “that put us all at risk by operating illegally.”



Dr. Fauci says NFL season is feasible: ‘The virus will make the decision for us’

Dr. Anthony Fauci feels it would be “impossible” to start the NFL amid the coronavirus outbreak right now.

But, luckily, the season isn’t scheduled to start for several months. And in an interview with NBC Sports’ Peter King, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases sounded somewhat optimistic about the prospects of playing NFL games this fall.



Rebellion in Inland Empire over masks: ‘I’m not afraid. ... People get old and they die’

How important is it to wear face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus?

Many health experts say it’s essential and have required the use of masks when conducting essential business. Some cities, such as Beverly Hills, have gone so far as to mandate the wearing of face coverings anytime residents leave their homes.

But there is also pushback in some California communities.



Waiting for coronavirus stimulus check? Direct deposit information is due Wednesday, IRS says

Haven’t gotten a stimulus check yet? The IRS is giving folks until 9 a.m. PST Wednesday to provide direct deposit information using its online portal. Those who don’t will get a paper check.

The IRS has issued about $209 billion in payments to 127 million Americans, including just under $22.5 billion through about 13.6 million payments to Californians.

The payments of up to $1,200 per adult were authorized by Congress in March as a speedy way to get cash to Americans while the economy is shut down. But the reality of reaching the nation’s 327 million residents, many of whom might not have direct banking information on file with the IRS, has caused delays.

While millions of Americans have been able to log into the IRS’ Get My Payment site to confirm or provide their banking information, others have been unable to match the personal information the IRS has to simply log into the site.

People have taken to social media to crowd-source solutions. For some, entering their address in all caps has worked or they’ve gained access using addresses not associated with their recent tax return. Some people report success with including dashes in their Social Security numbers, others say that doesn’t work. Several have reported success only when trying the personal information of the person listed first on the most recent tax return.

After Wednesday, the IRS will begin sending paper checks by mail to people without direct deposit information on file. The checks should arrive in May and June.


Islands that once inspired Charles Darwin struggle to adapt to coronavirus

A sea lion sits outside a hotel closed because of the pandemic in San Cristobal.
(Adrian Vasquez / Associated Press)

Before the coronavirus, sudden life-threatening ailments among tourists, fishermen and others on the Galapagos Islands were considered so rare that hospitals didn’t have a single intensive care unit bed.

Now, officials are racing to equip medical teams on the remote islands with breathing machines while also trying to stanch an economic crisis that has left many of the 30,000 residents jobless.



Institutional racism, inequity fuel high minority death toll from coronavirus, L.A. officials say

Extensive racial and economic disparities are emerging among victims of the coronavirus in Los Angeles County, and officials attribute the trend in part to systemic inequities and institutional racism.

Officials reported a rate of 89 deaths per 100,000 people among native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders and 18 per 100,000 among black people. The rate was 15.5 for Latinos, 12 for Asians and nine for white people.

“These rates are significantly higher than the mortality rate for other races and ethnicities, and although some of the numbers are small, they are still very concerning,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Friday at a news briefing.

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Policing empty streets amid coronavirus: Cops are killjoys, bearers of goodwill

The police officers chased the suspected thief on foot, losing sight of him and spotting him again on the west side of Los Angeles.

They caught up and slapped handcuffs around his wrists. Then, the adrenaline gave way to concern.

“I had to put hands on this guy … Did I have my mask on?” LAPD Sgt. Aron Alagren, who supervised the officers, said of the second thoughts cops sometimes had in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Cape Town becomes South Africa’s virus hotspot

Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape province have become South Africa’s coronavirus hotspot, accounting for more than half of the nation’s confirmed cases.

South Africa has confirmed more than 10,600 cases of COVID-19 and the Western Cape province has 5,621 cases, according to figures released Monday. Of the country’s 206 deaths caused by COVID-19, 116 have occurred in the province.

Cape Town, with its poor, densely populated townships, is the center of the cases in the province.

South Africa has the continent’s highest number of confirmed cases and has eased its restrictions to allow an estimated 1.6 million people to return to work in selected mines, factories and businesses.

However, the concentration of cases in Cape Town may see the city return to a stricter lockdown.


Putin declares an end to Russia’s economic shutdown

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared an end to a nationwide partial economic shutdown but says some restrictions will remain.

Putin, speaking in a televised address to the nation Monday, said it would be up to regional governors in the far-flung Russian Federation to determine what industrial plants could reopen starting Tuesday. He emphasized that it was essential to preserve jobs and keep the economy running provided that workers strictly observed sanitary norms.

Putin ordered the economic shutdown in late March, although key industrial plants and some other sectors have been allowed to continue operating. Most Russians have been ordered to stay home, except for visits to nearby stores, pharmacies and visits to doctors.

Moscow will allow all of its industrial plants and construction sites to resume work starting Tuesday, and Putin said other regions might follow the example. Non-food stores, hairdressers, car dealers and most other enterprises in the services sector remain shut.

Putin emphasized that the restrictions must be lifted gradually to avoid triggering a new wave of contagion.


European countries cautiously reopen, but rules and restrictions apply

Plastic spacing barriers and millions of masks appeared Monday on the streets of Europe’s newly reopened cities, as France and Belgium emerged from lockdowns, the Netherlands sent children back to school and Spain let people eat outdoors.

All faced the delicate balance of trying to restart their battered economies without causing a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Fears of infection spikes have been borne out over the past few days in Germany, where new clusters were linked to three slaughterhouses; in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus started; and in South Korea, where a single nightclub customer was linked to 85 new cases.



Arts center in Gold Rush town opens, but coronavirus forces closure two days later. What now?

The $6-million Center for the Arts in Grass Valley
The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.
(Melissa Clark)

In tiny, ravaged Grass Valley, best known as the site of the historic Empire gold mine, the last two years were marked by wildfires that left the town scarred, and dotted by blackouts that closed businesses for 22 days.

Locals worried for the future. But the Gold Rush community had started to feel hopeful while preparing for the planned March 12 soft opening of the town’s $6.3-million Center for the Arts, housed in an Art Deco complex complete with a modern art gallery, theater, commercial kitchen and a 492-seat auditorium.

Culture boosters had booked Arlo Guthrie and Amy Grant as part of the first season, and were working to uplift residents in the devastated area outside Sacramento, after so many setbacks.

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Coronavirus pushes L.A. dance companies toward the inevitable: Going virtual

For 35 years, choreographer Heidi Duckler has navigated the unique challenges of creating work in nontraditional L.A. spaces including churches, underpasses and laundromats.

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Duckler was in Zoom meetings discussing ways to keep staff, company artists and the community engaged. She thought about the possibilities for her postponed work, “Illuminating the Chandelier,” based on the inner dialogue of a woman in isolation.

Although the work originally was set to open at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in April, Duckler realized the video conferencing platform itself could be a stage.

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L.A. animal shelters brace for influx of pets as people face financial hardships from coronavirus

Stray kittens were brought to L.A.'s Chesterfield Square animal shelter.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

When Los Angeles resident Paulina Valdivia scrolls through Snapchat and Instagram, she sees both heartwarming and troublesome posts about dogs and cats.

“There’s a lot of people looking for pets or wanting to ditch their pets,” said Valdivia, who was dropping off stray kittens she’d found in her yard at the city’s Chesterfield Square animal shelter Thursday.

Fosters of shelter animals are way up, both in Los Angeles and nationwide, as people seek out companions to ease the isolation of the coronavirus outbreak.

At the same time, Los Angeles city officials are bracing for an influx of pets being dropped off at city animal shelters, predicting that people facing financial hardship after losing jobs or homes will have to surrender their animals.

That influx hasn’t happened yet, but Los Angeles Department of Animal Services general manager Brenda Barnette is warning that she expects to see more pets given up in the coming year than during the Great Recession.



Stir-crazy Californians are crowding Arizona’s Lake Havasu

Every year, the seasons in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., are marked by the arrival and departure of tourists.

The retirees with second homes fly down in the fall and leave in April, right around the time spring breakers descend upon Lake Havasu, the 19,300-acre turquoise oasis that straddles the California-Arizona border.

This spring, though, there were no college revelers shotgunning cans of beer on pontoon boats. The lake was relatively quiet in March as the usual visitors self-quarantined at home. The city’s economy, heavily reliant on tourism, suffered.

And then came the Californians.

“Every weekend has been like a holiday weekend on the lake,” said Robert Koerber, an air conditioning contractor in Lake Havasu City.

As much of California closed down its beaches in the face of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Golden Staters looking for freedom and respite from the heat have flocked to Lake Havasu.



California’s coronavirus outlook worse than researchers expected, as cases, deaths rise

While California has avoided the grim death toll of coronavirus hot spots like New York, there are growing concerns that the state’s most populous regions have not yet seen the rapid decline in deaths and cases needed to significantly reopen the economy.

Cases and deaths in the state have remained relatively flat in recent weeks, with some areas, including Los Angeles County, continuing to see rapid growth, and some rural areas seeing much less.

California is one of a handful of states where coronavirus cases and deaths are rising faster than researchers expected, according to the latest calculations in a widely relied-upon model of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said Sunday that the institute’s latest projections suggested the nationwide fatality count would reach 137,000 by Aug. 4. The current total is nearly 80,000.

Researchers are now predicting that California could see more than 6,000 COVID-19 deaths by the end of August, up about 1,420 from projections they released last Monday. It’s the fifth-largest increase in projected death tolls among U.S. states, after Pennsylvania, Illinois, Arizona and Florida.



Feared shortage of ventilators in the U.S. could turn into glut

WASHINGTON — As requests for ventilators from the national stockpile crescendoed in late March, President Trump made what seemed like a bold claim: His administration would provide 100,000 within 100 days.

At the time, the Department of Health and Human Services had not ordered any new ventilators since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in January. But records show that over the following three weeks, the agency scrambled to turn Trump’s pledge into a reality, spending nearly $3 billion to spur U.S. manufacturers to crank out the breathing machines at an unprecedented pace.

An analysis of federal contracting data by the Associated Press shows the agency is now on track to exceed 100,000 new ventilators by around July 13, about a week later than the 100-day deadline Trump first gave on March 27.

By the end of 2020, the administration is expected to take delivery of nearly 200,000 new ventilators, based on the AP’s review of current federal purchasing contracts. That would more than double the estimated 160,000 ventilators hospitals across the U.S. had before the pandemic.

But it’s also raising the unexpected prospect that the United States could soon be awash in surplus ventilators, so much so the White House is now planning to ship thousands overseas to help boost the virus response of other nations.



Denmark reopens its shopping malls

COPENHAGEN — As Denmark continues its reopening of society, shopping malls were allowed to reopen Monday.

Also on Monday, nearly 200 children from the fourth and fifth grades of a Copenhagen school gathered in the fan section of a soccer stadium that belongs to one Denmark’s top soccer clubs to sing the national anthem. The event was organized by FC Copenhagen.

Restaurants and cafes are scheduled to reopen next week at the same time as schoolchildren from fifth grade and up are to return to classes. Last month, lower classes and preschool returned.

Museums, zoological gardens and amusement parks have been ordered to remain shut. However, Copenhagen’s famed downtown Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park that inspired Walt Disney to create his theme parks, has been able to open its doors to children from the capital’s kindergartens and preschools so they can play.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned.


Coronavirus offers new challenges to people trying to manage diabetes and kidney disease

Amar Abu-Samrah has been waiting years for a kidney transplant.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

After nearly six years waiting for a kidney transplant, Amar Abu-Samrah found out late last year that she was near the top of the list. In mid-March, the coronavirus outbreak forced the transplant center to postpone most procedures.

Since then, Abu-Samrah, 24, has been trying to limit her potential for exposure to the novel coronavirus as much as possible: She’s doing more doctor appointments over the phone and avoiding hospital waiting rooms when she goes in for lab work. The Westminster resident, who lives with her parents, is even limiting contact with family members to mealtimes, knowing her kidney failure puts her at high risk if she contracts COVID-19.

“It makes me anxious,” she said. “I’m like, OK, how much longer do I have to wait?”

The coronavirus outbreak has placed an additional emotional and safety burden on people with underlying health conditions, like chronic kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. The pandemic has pushed routine doctor visits to telemedicine and made outings for picking up medicine, getting blood drawn or dialysis treatment yet another risk for exposure.



Could the ‘City of Lost Wages’ persevere with half-full casinos? Las Vegas ponders its future

LAS VEGAS — Security guards pace aimlessly and cyclists pedal silently along thoroughfares once teeming with tourists and showgirls. Janitors — wearing face masks and gloves — spray disinfectant on infrequently touched handrails, door knobs and staircases along the eerily silent Strip. In the desert heat, neon lights outside empty casinos display messages urging people to stay away.

More than seven weeks after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s stay-at-home orders were put in place to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the bustling heart of Las Vegas remains one of the bleakest faces of the nation’s pandemic-driven crisis.

About 1.5 million people visited Las Vegas in March 2020 — the month the crisis began — compared with the more than 3.6 million tourists who visited the same time last year, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

With the closure in mid-March of casinos, hotels, shows and restaurants, joblessness in southern Nevada’s leisure and hospitality sector — which accounts for 30% of the work force — has skyrocketed.

Nearly 419,000 Nevadans have filed for unemployment claims since early March, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Roughly 40% were from food and service industry workers, most of whom work in southern Nevada, said Stephen Miller, director for the Center of Business and Economic research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

With no vaccine in sight, the city’s business model luring throngs of carefree tourists packed inside sweaty nightclubs and shows or pressing the buttons on frequently touched slot machines — seems particularly fraught.



Economic upheaval could soon thrust half a billion people into extreme poverty

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil : Neighbors cover the the body of Luiz Carlos Da Rocha, 36, with a sheet, as he lies on a street where he dropped dead at the Alemao Complex slum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, April 28, 2020. After more than 12 hours on the street the body of Da Rocha, who the family said suffered from epilepsy, had not been picked up by authorities. Military police said that due the new coronavirus pandemic, they only can remove corpses in cases of violent death. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
(Silvia Izquierdo/AP)

RIO DE JANEIRO — It seemed like Silvanah Lima was finally getting ahead.

Born and raised in Brazil’s drought-ridden northeast, she moved with her partner to Rio de Janeiro in 2018, in search of work. He was hired as a janitor; she began selling meals on the street, and soon they were bringing in $280 a month — enough to start saving to one day build a house back home.

The novel coronavirus pushed that dream out of reach. Lima, who has diabetes and heart problems, putting her at higher risk of dying if she contracts the virus, stopped working once the pandemic took hold in her sprawling slum, known as the City of God.

Now it seems that if the coronavirus doesn’t kill her, hunger may.

“We have to pay the rent, and we don’t have the money,” said Lima, 48. “I haven’t even been able to buy beans.”

The economic devastation the pandemic wreaks on the ultra-poor could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself.

The United Nations predicts that a global recession will reverse a three-decade trend in rising living standards and plunge as many as 420 million people into extreme poverty, defined as earning less than $2 a day.

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Uptick in new cases in China sparks concern

BEIJING — The spokesman for China’s National Health Commission says a rise in newly confirmed cases is a growing concern.

“In the past 14 days, there were seven provinces reporting new confirmed local cases,” Mi Feng told reporters at a briefing on Monday.

“The number of cases from local mass infections continues to grow. We must find out the origins of the infections and the routes of transmission. Also we must work hard on tracking management, isolated treatment and medical observation,” Mi said.

China on Monday announced 17 new cases, the second consecutive day of double-digit increases after more than a week when daily new cases were in the single-digits.


South Korea postpones partial school reopenings by a week

SEOUL — South Korea has pushed back its reopening of schools by a week as health authorities scramble to isolate virus carriers and trace their contacts after finding dozens of coronavirus infections linked to club-goers.

Before discovering the new transmissions, the country relaxed social distancing guidelines amid what had been a slowing caseload and scheduled the reopening of schools, starting with high-school seniors, for Wednesday.

But Vice Education Minister Park Baeg-beom said in a briefing Monday that the school openings for high-school seniors would be pushed back by a week.

Local education authorities, including Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of Seoul’s education office, earlier called for the government to postpone the reopening of schools, raising concerns that children could be exposed to larger infection risks.

The country’s elementary, midde- and high schools have been providing remote learning since April.


British government’s new lockdown guidance sows confusion

LONDON — British businesses, trade unions and employees are expressing confusion after the government changed its lockdown message from “stay at home” to go to work if you can, starting Monday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has extended most of the restrictions imposed March 23 to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, while sketching out how the lockdown will be gradually eased if the number of infections continues to fall.

But while most employees were previously told to stay away from workplaces, Johnson said Sunday that those who can’t do their jobs from home “should be actively encouraged to go to work.” He also said workplaces should observe social distancing and people should avoid public transport if possible, raising many questions about how feasible the advice was.

Johnson’s government says more details will come in a 50-page document being published Monday.

But critics accused the government of sowing confusion. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said that Johnson “appears to be effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety or clear guidance as to how to get there without using public transport.”

The leaders of Scotland and Wales also criticized the announcement, and rejected Johnson’s decision to replace the “stay at home” slogan with one urging people to “stay alert.” They said they would not change the “stay at home” message in their territories.


India reports biggest daily increase in number of new cases

India reported its biggest daily increase in cases Monday as it prepares to gradually resume train service while easing its coronavirus lockdown.

The Indian government reported 4,213 new cases of coronavirus infection over the past 24 hours. It now has more than 67,000 cases which include 2,206 deaths.

The rise in the number of infections come on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to meet various state chiefs to discuss the country’s lockdown exit strategy. The lockdown is expected to end on May 17.

India’s train network was halted in late March as part of the lockdown imposed on the country of 1.3 billion people.

When railway service restarts Tuesday, passengers must wear masks and pass health screenings before being allowed to board. The trains will make fewer stops than usual as service is gradually restarted.

The announcement comes after the government arranged for trains to transport thousands of migrant workers stranded in Indian cities back to their homes.

The railway system is often described as India’s lifeline, transporting 23 million people across the vast subcontinent each day, some 8.4 billion passengers each year.


New Mexico woman, 105, who beat 1918 flu, is now battling the coronavirus

GALLUP, N.M. — A 105-year-old New Mexico woman who beat back the 1918 flu that killed millions, including her mother and infant sister, is battling COVID-19.

The Gallup Independent reports Lubica “Luby” Grenko, who will turn 106 in August, has been fighting the coronavirus since being diagnosed April 29 at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Gallup, N.M.

The Gallup-born Grenko was born when World War I began, then survived the 1918 flu pandemic before enduring the Great Depression and World War II.

The flu took the lives of Grenko’s mother, Marijeta Kauzlaric, 28, and younger sister, Annie Kauzlaric, who was a month old.

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Coronavirus offers new challenges to people trying to manage diabetes and kidney disease

After nearly six years waiting for a kidney transplant, Amar Abu-Samrah found out late last year that she was near the top of the list. In mid-March, the coronavirus outbreak forced the transplant center to postpone most procedures.

Since then, Abu-Samrah, 24, has been trying to limit her potential for exposure to the novel coronavirus as much as possible: She’s doing more doctor appointments over the phone and avoiding hospital waiting rooms when she goes in for lab work. The Westminster resident, who lives with her parents, is even limiting contact with family members to mealtimes, knowing her kidney failure puts her at high risk if she contracts COVID-19.

“It makes me anxious,” she said. “I’m like, OK, how much longer do I have to wait?”

The coronavirus outbreak has placed an additional emotional and safety burden on people with underlying health conditions, like chronic kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. The pandemic has pushed routine doctor visits to telemedicine and made outings for picking up medicine, getting blood drawn or dialysis treatment yet another risk for exposure.

Read more > > >


New York’s subway shutdown because of coronavirus is another historic first

Since the first line connected Lower Manhattan to Harlem in 1904, New York’s subway has never ceased running. There were brief blips of interruption after the 9/11 attacks and in the last decade for hurricanes and blizzards, but for more than 115 years the rumbling on the rails has kept the click-clack heartbeat of New York. It’s a second, tunneled city that, like the skyward metropolis above, never sleeps.

Last week, for the first time, the trains stopped running in a planned shutdown. Between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., the subways and New York’s 472 stations began closing for a nightly cleaning to disinfect trains. It’s a humbling concession for a swaggering, all-night town that, as much as anything, shows how the coronavirus pandemic has seized the gears of New York, one of the world’s hardest hit cities.

Except for commuters fleeing to the suburbs, the entire concept of “last train” is anathema in New York. London, sure. Boston, of course. Even Tokyo. But not in New York. Through the night, trains have always shuttled early-morning workers and late-night revelers. A four-hour shutdown may not seem like a drastic change given all the transformations wrought by the pandemic. But in New York, it means a tear in the fabric of the city.

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Swedish officials reflect on virus response

A top Swedish official is saying lessons should be learned from tackling the coronavirus pandemic and Sweden could maybe have acted “a little faster.”

In a radio interview, Dan Eliasson, head of Sweden’s Civil Contingencies Agency, told Swedish radio Monday that “when major crises occur, you will always look at it afterward. So comes the question, did we react fast enough?”

His comments come after Health Minister Lena Hallengren last month told Swedish television that “we failed to protect our elderly. That’s really serious and a failure for society as a whole. We have to learn from this.”

Sweden is pursuing relatively liberal policies to fight the coronavirus pandemic, even though there has been a sharp spike in deaths.

Swedish media in recent weeks have reported cases where retirement homes have seen a large death toll with staff continuing to work despite a lack of protective gear or despite exhibiting symptoms and potentially infecting residents. Some retirement homes also have been seen shortage of staff because employees either have refused to work and have been encouraged to stay home even with mild symptoms.

The Scandinavian country has taken a relatively soft approach that has caught international attention. Large gatherings were banned but restaurants and schools for younger children have stayed open. The government has urged social distancing, and Swedes have largely complied.

The country has reported more than 3,175 fatalities and 90% of those who had died as of April 28 were above the age of 70, according to official figures. Half were nursing home residents, and another quarter were receiving care at home.


Loosening of lockdown somewhat chaotic in France

The French began leaving their homes and apartments Monday for the first time in two months without permission slips as the country began cautiously lifting its virus lockdown.

The reopening is somewhat chaotic, however, with mixed messages from authorities and a last-minute legal tangle for President Emmanuel Macron and his government.

In Paris, crowds packed into some subway lines and train stations despite new social distancing rules. Clothing shops, hair salons and real estate agencies were among businesses large and small reopening Monday, with strict precautions to keep coronavirus at bay.

As France prepares to start letting public life resume after coronavirus lockdown, many parents are deeply torn: Should I send my child back to school?

Teachers were returning to prepare classes to welcome students later in the week, but in limited numbers.

Temperatures plunged and heavy rains were forecast, putting a damper on the joy of leaving confinement.

Health Minister Olivier Veran held out the possibility of a reconfinement if infections rise again.

“We’re going to have to learn to live with the virus,” he said on BFM television.

France, among the countries hardest hit by the virus and imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures, counts more than 26,000 deaths from the virus in hospitals and nursing homes.


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

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

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

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

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

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Alabama restaurants, bars, salons and gyms to reopen

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

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

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

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

Theaters, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues remain closed.

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

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


Shanghai Disneyland reopens with antivirus controls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Long Beach to open more recreational areas on Monday

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

“We know our community has been anxious to get back outdoors,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a news release. “Please remember to practice physical distancing so that we can continue to make more places available.”

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L.A. County reports 18 more COVID-19 deaths, 484 cases

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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