Coronavirus updates: These California businesses can reopen this week, and these can’t


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 3 are here

Here is which California businesses can reopen this week and which ones can’t

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced that some stay-at-home rules would be modestly eased later this week.

He said details would be provided later this week, but here are some highlights:

Businesses that can open

Bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods retailers and others can reopen for pickup as early as Friday. Additional businesses could be named later this week, also with curbside pickup.
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Aircraft carrier prepares to go back to sea after coronavirus outbreak

It’s time to get back to work.

On board the coronavirus-stricken USS Theodore Roosevelt, the crew is getting the aircraft carrier ready to head back out to sea. For the ship’s commander, Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the road to recovery has been a challenge. For the crew sidelined in Guam for more than a month, it’s been an emotional roller coaster.

Sardiello was a former Roosevelt captain when he abruptly returned to the ship in early April to take command after Capt. Brett Crozier was fired for urging faster action to stem the virus outbreak onboard. In an Associated Press interview from the ship late Monday night, Sardiello said he had a simple message to the crew when he came aboard: “We have an unprecedented mission that we have never faced before. We’re gonna face it together.”

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FDA to rein in flood of coronavirus blood tests after lax oversight

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has pulled back a decision that allowed scores of coronavirus blood tests to hit the market without first providing proof that they worked.

FDA officials said Monday that they took the action because some sellers have made false claims about the tests and their accuracy. Companies will now have to show their tests work or risk having them pulled from the market.

Under pressure to increase testing options, the FDA decided in March to let companies begin selling tests as long as they notified the agency of their plans and provided disclaimers to consumers, including a caution that they were not FDA-approved. The policy was intended to allow “flexibility” needed to quickly ramp up production, officials said.

“However, flexibility never meant we would allow fraud,” Dr. Anand Shah, an FDA deputy commissioner, said in a statement. “We unfortunately see unscrupulous actors marketing fraudulent test kits and using the pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage of Americans.”

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Trust in CEOs has fallen during coronavirus pandemic, report says

Amid an enormous public health crisis, trust in governments is rising, while trust in businesses and their leaders in particular has fallen sharply, according to a new report by communications firm Edelman.

While half of respondents typically voice trust in CEOs, that number has now fallen to less than one out of three, 29%.

For the last decade or so, governments around the world have generally failed to pull ahead of businesses in establishing trust in Edelman’s annual global survey of trust and credibility in government, business, NGOs and the media. But with nearly three in four respondents supporting restrictions on movement as an appropriate response to the coronavirus pandemic and 61% willing to disclose personal health and location data to aid with containing its spread, support for governments is on an upswing.

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Mexico’s fragile health system running out of room for coronavirus patients

They waited for hours outside Las Américas hospital for word about their loved ones.

Then the small group ran out of patience and stormed inside. Upon discovering bodies on gurneys packed into the pathology ward, they accused the staff of murder.

“I unzipped the bag of my son to confirm that it was him,” María Dolores Castillo later told a television interviewer, describing how she touched his head. “My son was still warm!”

The coronavirus pandemic has battered sophisticated healthcare systems in Europe and the United States. Mexico is in another category.

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Newsom administration refuses to divulge nearly $1-billion contract for coronavirus masks

Attorneys for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration refused Monday to reveal the contents of a $990-million contract for purchasing protective masks from a Chinese electric car manufacturer, even though millions of the masks have already arrived in California to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter responding to a public records request from the Los Angeles Times, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services insisted the contract with BYD does not have to be made public, despite similar requests made by members of the Legislature since Newsom announced the deal last month.

“Cal OES determined all responsive records are exempt from disclosure, including exemptions for records reflecting attorney work product, attorney-client privileged information, or other information exempt from disclosure under federal or state law,” Ryan Gronsky, an attorney with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, wrote in a letter to The Times.

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Defendant in Ghost Ship fire released from jail over coronavirus fears

A deadly fire gutted an Oakland artists loft called the Ghost Ship in 2016. Derick Almena (inset) was the manager.
A deadly fire gutted an Oakland artists loft called the Ghost Ship in 2016. Derick Almena (inset) was the manager.
(Los Angeles Times / Handout)

A man facing a second trial after a fire killed 36 partygoers at a San Francisco Bay Area warehouse he’s accused of illegally converting into a cluttered artists enclave was released from jail Monday over coronavirus concerns.

Derick Almena, who’s been behind bars since 2017, was released after a court hearing by phone, the Alameda County sheriff’s office said. He will be under electronic monitoring while he waits for a new trial.

The 50-year-old is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Dec. 2, 2016, fire that swept through an electronic music party at the so-called Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland. Prosecutors allege Almena, who was the master tenant on the lease, was criminally negligent when he turned the industrial building into a residence for artists and held events without proper permits.

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Riverside County Supervisors to vote on ending coronavirus restrictions

On the eve of a controversial vote, Riverside County supervisors made their case Monday as to why the county’s COVID-19 restrictions should be lifted.

Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey and 2nd District Supervisor Karen Spiegel told reporters that precautionary orders have made it possible for the county to contain the virus and prevent a hospital surge that was expected to occur in mid-April. But now that the virus is seemingly under control, they want to focus on the county’s economic future.

“The metrics in Riverside County have improved,” Spiegel said at a news conference. “That was due to the extra measures that the county put in place early on. We were one of the first that stepped up and said we’re going to fight this battle. The positive results would not have been possible if the community didn’t do their part and step up.”
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Garcetti, other mayors, call for more federal funding to fight violence during pandemic

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and more than a dozen other mayors from across the country have called on Congress to provide more federal funding to fight gun violence, which has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mayors, along with the gun policy reform organization Giffords, specifically called for assistance in maintaining violence interruption programs as economic turmoil related to the coronavirus continues to create budget shortfalls.

“Our emergency resources are dedicated to protecting public health and safety, but we do not have enough healthcare resources to fight both these battles,” Garcetti and the other mayors wrote. “We need our healthcare resources to combat COVID-19, and we need specific resources to tackle gun violence and support the frontline workers and organizations who are already working to do so.”
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Coronavirus unemployment: UTA furloughs workers as talent agencies manage fallout

United Talent Agency on Monday said it will furlough a “significant number” of its 1,200 employees, in the last sign of economic duress in Hollywood caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Beverly Hills-based company declined to say how exactly many people were affected by the furloughs but said those impacted will largely be assistants. The furloughs will begin on May 15.

The cost-reductions are in addition to salary cuts that UTA announced in March.

“We had hoped the salary reductions we all took would be sufficient, but at this point we must take this additional step to ensure the ongoing financial stability of UTA,” wrote UTA’s CEO Jeremy Zimmer in a note to employees on Monday. Zimmer in March said he would give his salary up for the rest of the year, as did co-presidents Jay Sures and David Kramer.
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Strict rules, limited access as California Legislature resumes work on coronavirus needs

SACRAMENTO — Separated from one another and wearing masks while speaking into microphones draped with protective coverings, some members of the California Legislature returned to the state Capitol on Monday, determined to begin addressing the myriad problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Seven weeks after public health concerns brought the work of the Legislature to a sudden halt, only members of the Assembly are returning to Sacramento this week, with the Senate choosing to do so on May 11. And even then, neither house is planning to reconvene for final votes on bills until June — in large part because of the challenges for adequate physical distancing posed by the tightly placed desks for legislators in the chambers of the Senate and Assembly.

“I know it’s going to be a very different way of doing business. But I think it was important for us to be here, to start thinking about the great challenges that we have ahead,” Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) said during the day’s first event, an Assembly hearing on healthcare issues.
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UC could reopen just one-third of its dorm rooms this fall

The University of California could reopen just one-third to one-half of dorm rooms this fall in order to maintain safe distances among students amid the coronavirus outbreak, a top UC official said Monday, raising questions about what would happen to others without campus housing.

Campuses are still making decisions on their fall scenarios, which may come in June or July. Last week, UC President Janet Napolitano said campuses will first be required to satisfy systemwide guidelines to ensure public health and safety and any reopening “will probably be greatly reduced.”

Any reduced availability of dorms — and subsequent decline in housing revenue — would amplify the staggering financial toll on the UC system triggered by the coronovirus crisis. The UC system was hit with $558 million in revenue losses and added expenses to its 10 campuses and five medical centers in March alone and those costs are projected to rise to about $2.5 billion by the end of the fiscal year June 30, according to Nathan Brostrom, UC Merced interim chancellor who also has served as systemwide chief financial officer.
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Masks should be mandatory on L.A. Metro buses and trains, official says

A face mask should be mandatory for anyone who wants to board a bus or train in Los Angeles County during the coronavirus outbreak, a county official said Monday.

Allowing passengers without face coverings to ride on Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses “threatens to compound the spread” of coronavirus because workers at grocery stores, restaurants and other essential businesses rely on public transportation, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a letter Monday.

Hahn, who is also a Metro director, said that Los Angeles County is requiring customers to wear face coverings while visiting essential businesses. Transportation is an essential service too, she said, and should have the same requirements.
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Fourth construction worker at SoFi Stadium tests positive for coronavirus

Another construction worker at SoFi Stadium has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to an internal email the lead contractor sent to trade partners Monday.

This is the fourth worker on the $5-billion project known to have tested positive since late March.

The email from Turner-AECOM Hunt said the worker was last on site Thursday to help paint the stadium’s “North VIP Canopy” and is currently at home “doing well.”
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California Supreme Court denies ACLU petition to lower state’s prison and jail populations

The California Supreme Court has denied a petition filed late last month by the American Civil Liberties Union calling for the state’s highest court to take action that would further lower the state’s prison and jail populations during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a four-page decision, the court said the ACLU had raised issues that “call for prompt attention,” but ruled that those matters would be better handled by the county courts where each facility is located.

The ACLU’s filing, submitted April 25, had argued that social distancing is almost impossible in California jails and prisons, where many inmates are housed near one another and take showers or eat in communal areas. The petition, which named Gov. Gavin Newsom and Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra as respondents, contained sworn statements about poor conditions at jails in 15 counties across California.

“We are very disappointed in the court’s decision. The COVID crisis in jails and juvenile facilities is a statewide emergency that will cause serious harm and even death not only to people in those facilities but also in the communities that surround them,” said Peter J. Eliasberg, ACLU SoCal chief counsel.

The California Judicial Council and some local sheriffs have already taken significant steps to lower California’s incarcerated population during the COVID-19 pandemic. The spread of the coronavirus in the Lompoc federal penitentiary and the Otay Mesa immigration detention center have highlighted how fast the virus can spread in close quarters.

Data show the state’s average daily incarcerated population fell from about 72,400 in late February to nearly 54,500 in early April, while bookings statewide have also plummeted. The number of juveniles in custody in California has also dropped by about 1,000 youths in that time frame, records show.


Travel industry offers new safety procedures in bid to revive business

Hoping to give Americans confidence to travel again, the nation’s biggest travel trade group has unveiled enhanced cleaning, social distancing and touchless payment procedures for hotels, airlines, airports, theme parks, restaurants and cruise lines.

The protocols by the U.S. Travel Assn. demonstrates an attempt by travel business leaders to help revive an industry that was setting profit and passenger total records only a few months ago but has been losing about $18 billion a week since the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S. in March.

The protocols for operating in a post-COVID-19 world don’t dictate when it’s safe to travel again but set basic standards that all travel and hospitality businesses must adhere to once government and medical experts lift stay-at-home orders and give a green light for leisure and business travel.

Each individual travel business, such as airlines, hotels and cruise lines, will be encouraged to adopt specific protocols for its own industry. The American Hotel and Lodging Assn. released its protocols Monday, in cooperation with the U.S. Travel Assn.
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State lockdowns have become politically divisive. Here’s how we can come together

Americans are in the midst of a moral dilemma as stark as any in the Bible. If we end the lockdown, deaths from COVID-19 will increase, but if we maintain it, the astounding unemployment rate will move still higher.

The problem would be tragic enough, but now it’s become politicized and has further divided Americans. Research on how people think about dire choices may help governors bring us together on this issue.

In one sense, the choice ought to be easy, because preserving life is what psychologists call a “sacred value.” Sacred values are not simply important, they are nonnegotiable — a human life is considered priceless — and people angrily condemn those who say otherwise.
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‘You could literally kill someone’: Masks become a new COVID-19 battleground

In the bustling college town of Stillwater, Okla., residents are allowed to visit restaurants and retailers — freedoms that most of the country does not currently enjoy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet when the city issued an emergency proclamation Friday that required citizens to wear face coverings, store employees were “threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse,” according to a statement released by the city. In response, Stillwater quickly amended its wording to only “encourage” use of masks.

“This has occurred in three short hours and in the face of clear medical evidence that face coverings help contain the spread of COVID-19,” Stillwater City Manager Norman McNickle said in a statement. “Many of those with objections cite the mistaken belief the requirement is unconstitutional, and under their theory, one cannot be forced to wear a mask. No law or court supports this view.”
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Trump rarely shows empathy in coronavirus crisis

WASHINGTON — For weeks, waves of grief have washed across the country as hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of Americans have died from COVID-19 in the deadliest disease outbreak in a century.

But when President Trump leaves the Washington area on Tuesday for the first time since March, he isn’t going to meet with devastated families, as presidents normally do during times of national crisis. He won’t console survivors or comfort victims.

He will visit a factory where workers are churning out protective masks in Phoenix. Arizona Gov. Doug Deucy has extended a statewide stay-at-home order until May 15, but some businesses and two sheriffs have vowed to defy the order — in keeping with Trump’s increasingly insistent call for states to reopen their economies.

The danger of opening too soon was clear Monday with reports that the Trump administration is privately projecting a steep increase in deaths this month. The daily death toll will reach about 3,000 on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, nearly double the current number of about 1,750.
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A baseball or hockey game here, a golf tournament there: Events without fans are rare

Plenty of unknowns remain about the return of live professional sporting events, but one thing is certain: Fans will not be in attendance for the foreseeable future.

NASCAR announced that its premier Cup Series season will restart without fans May 17. The PGA Tour will restart June 11 with no fans for at least its first four events. They’ll follow in the footsteps of the WWE, which has held events, including Wrestlemania, without fans for two months.

The timeline is slower for major team sports leagues. They must account for more people — players, coaching staffs, officials, etc. — essential to the operation. Widespread testing for the coronavirus is considered a prerequisite.

Major League Baseball suspended operations during spring training March 12, but officials are confident they can hold some form of a regular season. NBA officials remain hopeful the league can salvage its regular season and playoffs. The NHL is considering holding neutral-site games, playing into October and delaying the start of the 2020-21 season.
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Kroger announces free coronavirus testing for all its frontline grocery workers

The largest U.S. grocery chain has announced it will provide free coronavirus testing for all its frontline associates amid an outbreak at one of its stores in Southern California.

Kroger, which operates multiple supermarket chains, including Kroger, Ralphs and Food4Less, said Monday that it will begin offering the testing this month through its healthcare division, Kroger Health. The tests will be provided through a combination of self-administered kits and public drive-thru sites, the company said.

“The resilience of the Kroger family is unparalleled, and we’re doing all we can to keep our team healthy and safe,” Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in a statement. “The widespread availability of diagnostic testing will now allow our associates to feel more empowered and knowledgeable about their health, creating safer stores and facilities.”

The company did not immediately respond to questions about how many employees are considered frontline associates and how many will be tested as a result of the announcement.
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San Francisco police to replace ‘thin blue line’ masks after controversy

San Francisco police officers will be provided with neutral face coverings after some responded to a recent protest wearing masks with the “thin blue line” logo, sparking controversy, Police Chief Bill Scott announced over the weekend.

The move drew harsh criticism from the San Francisco police union, which distributed the face masks to officers last week.

“With a global pandemic raging across the world and the inability of police officers to shelter-in-place, San Francisco’s professional protesters played the race card,” San Francisco Police Officers Assn. President Tony Montoya said in a message to members sent Saturday. “They pulled the strings that control our chief, and we are now prohibited from wearing the POA masks on duty.”

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Orange County reports 5 more coronavirus deaths as dispute rages over beach closures

Orange County health officials reported five additional coronavirus-linked fatalities Monday, bringing the region’s death toll to 57.

In the latest update — which followed days of protests over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to close local beaches — the county also confirmed another 89 coronavirus infections, bringing its cumulative total to 2,819 since the outbreak began.

The number of new COVID-19 cases Orange County announced Monday was the lowest since April 28. The county has seen its daily caseload swell recently as it has significantly increased testing.

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World leaders pledge billions for coronavirus vaccine research

World leaders, organizations and banks on Monday pledged 7.4 billion euros ($8 billion) for research to find a vaccine against the coronavirus, but warned that it is just the start of an effort that must be sustained over time to beat the disease.

The funds, pledged at a video-conference summit hosted by the European Union, fell marginally short of the 7.5 billion euros being sought, but more money could arrive in coming days. Notably absent from the event was the United States, where more than 67,000 people have died, and Russia.

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2 California counties let businesses reopen: ‘You don’t know if you’re an outlaw or a pioneer’

For Natalie Lambert, welcoming diners back into her Yuba City restaurant was an exciting but somewhat conflicting experience.

“You don’t know if you’re an outlaw or a pioneer at this point,” the Lambert House Cafe owner said in a phone interview.

She, like other residents of Northern California’s Yuba and Sutter counties, woke up to a host of new possibilities Monday after the local health officer relaxed some regulations that were imposed in response to the coronavirus outbreak — allowing some businesses to reopen.



Gov. Gavin Newsom says reopening will begin this week

SACRAMENTO —Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that some retail stores across the state can reopen with modifications as early as Friday amid growing pressure to ease the stay-at-home order that has cratered the California economy.

“We are entering into the next phase this week,” Newsom said at his Monday news conference. “This is a very positive sign and it’s happened only for one reason: The data says it can happen.”

Under the new guidelines, the governor said bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods retailers and others can reopen for pickup as early as Friday. He said more detailed guidelines on the businesses that can reopen would be released later this week.


L.A. schools will start Aug. 18, whether campuses are open or not

L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner said Monday that the school year would start on Aug. 18 as scheduled, but no decision has been made on whether campuses will reopen for in-person classes by that date.

In addition, an expanded summer school session will begin online in mid-June.

The timing of campus reopenings is complicated, Beutner said.

“The timing remains uncertain because the science is still uncertain,” Beutner said in prepared remarks. “At a minimum, a comprehensive system of testing and contact tracing will need to be in place and the implications of the testing widely understood before schools can reopen. We are in regular discussions with state and local health authorities and are also working alongside a team of UCLA experts in infectious diseases, virology, epidemiology and testing.

“That’s critical because it will be the science, and only the science, which can provide a foundation for the safe return of our school community.”



NFL won’t hold international games in 2020

The NFL is moving its five games scheduled for London and Mexico City this season back to U.S. stadiums because of the coronavirus pandemic, two people with knowledge of the switch told the Associated Press.

All five regular-season games will be played at the stadiums of the host teams, the people said, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday because the decision had not been announced publicly.

Scheduled were two home games for the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London and two at Tottenham’s new facility, with the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins as hosts. The Arizona Cardinals were set to be the home team for the game at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.



U.K. leader names baby after doctors who treated him

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds arrive at the March 9 Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London. Symonds gave birth April 29.
Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds arrive at the March 9 Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London. Symonds gave birth April 29.
(Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press)

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson and fiancee Carrie Symonds have named their baby boy Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson in honor of their grandfathers and doctors who saved the U.K. leader’s life when he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

Symonds made the announcement on her Instagram page Saturday, posting a picture of her cradling her 3-day-old son and explaining the name choice. She praised the maternity team at University College Hospital in London and said her “heart is full.″

“Introducing Wilfred Lawrie Nicholas Johnson born on 29.04.20 at 9am,” she wrote in the post. “Wilfred after Boris’ grandfather, Lawrie after my grandfather, Nicholas after Dr Nick Price and Dr Nick Hart - the two doctors that saved Boris’ life last month.”

The birth came just days after Johnson returned to work following his hospitalization for the coronavirus. He spent a week at London’s St. Thomas’ Hospital, including three nights in intensive care.

Johnson was present for the birth but back working at 10 Downing St. within hours amid the ongoing pandemic. Johnson’s office said he would take paternity leave later in the year.


France’s prime minister urges public transport companies to open as restrictions are lifted

PARIS — French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe urged public transport companies to open May 11 as the country will start lifting confinement measures.

Heads of France’s biggest public transports companies, including national railway SNCF and Paris metro RATP, have voiced concerns over the lack of human and material resources to ensure travelers’ safety.

In a speech to French senators, Philippe said they needed to “find the right answers to complex questions” because it was necessary to provide public transport “in a controlled way” next week to help the economy recover after two months of strict lockdown.

Philippe reaffirmed that people would be allowed to travel no farther than 62 miles, with exceptions only for compelling familial or professional reasons.

He said reservations would be mandatory to halve the number of passengers in long-distance trains.

Heads of public transports companies, in an open letter, called for police to help them regulate passenger flows and warned of potential disruptions during rush hour.

Starting May 11, all French businesses will be allowed to resume activity and schools will start gradually reopening.


A pivotal week for California reopening, as communities and businesses revolt against Newsom

Bill, Teresa Beukers talk constitutional rights with officers in Newport Beach.
Bill and Teresa Beukers claim there constitutional rights as they speak to police officers in Newport Beach, where the beach was closed Saturday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

This is shaping up to be a pivotal week in the efforts to reopen California as Gov. Gavin Newsom said there could be some easing of stay-at-home rules even as several communities and individual businesses were taking matters into their own hands.

Newsom’s bid to keep Orange County beaches closed this weekend appears to have worked. While the beaches drew some protesters and much media attention, they were not overrun by visitors, and officials said those who did venture out usually practiced social distancing.



Testing in California still a frustrating patchwork of haves and have-nots

Months into the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, widespread diagnostic testing still isn’t available, and California offers a sobering view of the dysfunction blocking the way.

It’s hard to overstate how uneven the access to critical test kits remains in the nation’s largest state. Even as some Southern California counties are opening drive-through sites to make testing available to any resident who wants it, a rural Northern California county is testing raw sewage to determine whether the coronavirus has infiltrated its communities.

County to county, city to city — even hospital to hospital within a city — testing capacity varies widely, as does the definition of who qualifies for testing.



As beaches remain closed, second heat wave bears down on Southern California

Southern California’s second heat wave in as many weeks is poised to bring scorching temperatures that could break records in Los Angeles County by midweek.

The warm-up will begin Monday afternoon, with temperatures in the low to mid-70s along the coast and highs in the mid-80s to low-90s in the valleys. Temperatures are expected to peak Thursday, when it could reach nearly 100 degrees in downtown Los Angeles, according to the National Weather Service.

The skyrocketing temperatures come amid the coronavirus outbreak and public health orders that have closed many outdoor recreation areas, including parks, pools and beaches where people typically flock to cool off during warm weather.



A French nursing home takes on the virus and wins

LYON, France — As the coronavirus scythed through nursing homes, cutting a deadly path, Valerie Martin vowed to herself that the story would be different at the home she runs in France.

The action she took to stop the virus from infecting and killing the vulnerable older adults in her care was both drastic and effective: Martin and her staff locked themselves in with the 106 residents.

For 47 days and nights, staff and residents of the Vilanova nursing home on the outskirts of the east-central city of Lyon waited out the COVID-19 storm together as the disease killed tens of thousands of people in other care homes across Europe, including more than 9,000 people in France.



California reopening would start slow, not be complete for at least a year, expert estimates

SAN FRANCISCO — So when might California be ready to really loosen up its statewide stay-at-home order?

Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined a four-stage plan that envisions a process by which restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus are lifted gradually.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he understood the frustrations and suggested he would announce an easing of some rules as early as this week.

“I just want folks to know we’re getting very close to making really meaningful augmentations to that stay-at-home order,” Newsom said Friday. “I want to say many days, not weeks, as long as we continue to be prudent and thoughtful.”



Man wears KKK hood while grocery shopping; mayor calls it a ‘sad reminder of intolerance’

SANTEE, Calif. — A man was spotted wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood in a Vons in the San Diego County city of Santee on Saturday, igniting outrage from the mayor, the head of the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego and others.

A corporate spokeswoman said grocery clerks repeatedly asked the shopper to remove the hood or leave the store, located on Mission Gorge Road.

A supervisor found the man once he was in a checkout line and asked him again to take off the hood or leave, said Melissa Hill, a spokeswoman for Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions stores in Southern California.

The man removed the hood, purchased his items and left.



Battered and exhausted Italy eases its lockdown as some neighbors gingerly do the same

ROME — Millions of people were allowed to return to work Monday as Italy started to ease Europe’s longest coronavirus lockdown. Some of the battered country’s neighbors also began gingerly lifting restrictions imposed to help halt the spread of COVID-19.

Italy was the first European nation to be hit by the outbreak and has one of the world’s highest COVID-19 death tolls. On Monday, 4.4 million Italians were able to return to work after a two-month shutdown. Traffic in downtown Rome picked up, construction sites and manufacturing operations resumed, and flower vendors returned to the Campo dei Fiori market for the first time since March 11.

“It’s something that brings happiness and joy, and people have been missing that these days,” vendor Stefano Fulvi said. Like many entrepreneurs, Fulvi had to calculate when it was worth returning to work, given the limited demand with clients stuck at home. He doesn’t expect to break even anytime soon, “but you have to take the risk at some point.”

As infection rates have fallen in large parts of Europe, tentative efforts to restart public life are gathering pace.



Spain warns state of emergency must be extended

MADRID — The Spanish government is turning up pressure on opposition parties to approve another extension of the country’s state of emergency. The government says a failure to do so could “bring chaos.”

Transport and Mobility Minister José Luis Ábalos anticipates a tough debate in parliament on the issue Wednesday. He says the measure is “the most effective legal instrument” to fight the new coronavirus because it grants authorities the exceptional power to restrict freedom of movement.

Ábalos says that, without it, all the sacrifices made so far will have been “pointless.”

“There’s no Plan B, no alternative” to the state of emergency, Ábalos told a news conference in Madrid on Monday.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said it was “indispensable.”

Spain has managed to reduce the daily increase in the number of coronavirus infections from around 35% in mid-March to 0.16% because of a strict lockdown. More than 25,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the country.


‘My long goodbye’: Already coping with her husband’s Alzheimer’s, a wife now faces lockouts

Felice Blair knew two things for certain about the man she met that December day in Tel Aviv — he looked good in a red sweater and he was quite late.

After apologizing profusely for having gotten lost, her blind date, Bernard, a friend of her cousin, suggested they grab something “cheap and cheerful,” a phrase revealing his British roots. Want to get Chinese food, he suggested.

“I’m in love!” she blurted, telling him that it was her favorite.

He flashed her a baffled look and laughed and soon they were swapping stories about divorce and children over orange chicken and lo mein. They met up a couple more times before Felice’s weeklong trip ended and she returned home to Woodland Hills.



France and Germany to coordinate future stimulus

Germany and France have asked economists to look at how the two countries can coordinate fiscal stimulus to reboot their economies once the health crisis is over.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier have asked a committee of experts to advise on how to coordinate measures to ensure the biggest possible economic impact. Le Maire said France wouldn’t set out its plans for stimulus to reboot the economy until September.


Ukraine to ease lockdown restrictions

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president says the country is starting preparations for easing its coronavirus lockdown.

Volodymyr Zelensky says some of the restrictions could be lifted starting May 11. Ukraine has been in lockdown since March 12, and authorities have said it would be extended until May 22.

But the Cabinet has allowed some retailers, hairstylists, car dealers and other businesses to reopen May 11 on the condition that they strictly observe social distancing and other precautions. Walks in parks also will be allowed.

Ukraine has registered 12,331 coronavirus cases, including 303 deaths.


Hong Kong economy at lowest level since 1974

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s coronavirus-battered economy shrank by 8.9% over a year earlier in the first quarter, its worst performance since quarterly reporting began in 1974.

The government said Monday the Chinese territory’s economy already was struggling before the pandemic due to weak global trade and anti-government protests that began in June and depressed tourism.

Exports fell 9.7% in the first quarter from a year earlier, the government reported. Exports of services plunged 37.8%, and consumer spending declined 10.2%.

Even though virus cases may be subsiding, trade tensions are heating up again, and protests are resuming, said Iris Pang of ING, a banking and financial services company.

“A longer recession is expected,” said Pang in the report.


‘All Rise’ is the first TV drama to tackle the virus. Here’s how they did it

It’s only a couple of hours after sunrise on a recent morning and, already, that frequent work-from-home question pierces through a fatigued internet connection.

“Edwin, can you hear us?”

He can’t. But it’s a temporary hiccup — one that’ll happen a few more times under these unusual circumstances. Because if you thought your virtual work meeting had its occasional twitches, try producing an hour of prime-time scripted television that way.

It’s what the team behind the CBS legal drama “All Rise” is doing as it creates an episode to close out its stunted season. Edwin Hodge, who has a guest role in the episode as the brother of the defendant, is having some technical difficulties. But nothing signing off and signing back in can’t fix.



Coughing echoes through the bus and Metro drivers wonder, ‘Am I going to catch it today?’

A Metro bus driver wears a mask while driving a route in Boyle Heights.
A Metro bus driver wears a mask while driving a route along Soto Street in Boyle Heights.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Coughing filled the bus as Metro’s Line 33 rumbled down Venice Boulevard. The driver looked on, horrified, as a passenger hacked repeatedly into his hands and wiped his palms on the seat.

“I was disgusted and uneasy,” said the driver. “Like, come on, man. What if someone sat there and they didn’t know? That’s how the virus spreads.”

For thousands of Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus drivers, going to work during a pandemic means spending hours in a confined space with strangers, wondering whether this will be the day they get sick.

Ridership on Los Angeles County buses has fallen 65% since the coronavirus outbreak began. But some lines are still so full that social distancing is impossible, according to interviews with a dozen drivers who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.



J. Crew files for bankruptcy, crushed by coronavirus and debt

J. Crew Group filed for bankruptcy, unable to revive flagging sales of its preppy clothing line amid the coronavirus pandemic and crushed by debt rooted in a long-ago leveraged buyout.

The retail chain reached a deal with a majority of its lenders to convert $1.65 billion of debt into equity, J. Crew said in a statement Monday.

Lenders led by Anchorage Capital Group, Blackstone Group’s GSO Capital Partners and Davidson Kempner Capital Management are providing $400 million of financing to maintain operations during the Chapter 11 restructuring, according to the statement.

The bankruptcy filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Va., allows J. Crew to stay in business while cutting its borrowings. Normally that would include keeping the doors open for its J. Crew and Madewell stores, but sales at those outlets vanished when the coronavirus forced shoppers to stay home and nonessential businesses to shut.



Coronavirus and downturn slam America’s oil patch

Chris and Demetris Williams of Houston want to get back to work.
Chris and Demetris Williams of Houston want to get back to work and restore their health benefits but don’t want to put their four children at risk.
(Molly Hennessy-Fiske / Los Angeles Times)

HOUSTON — In the days and weeks before coronavirus cases began spiking in Texas, Chris Williams had already sensed trouble brewing for the state’s energy-dependent economy.

With a Russian-Saudi oil price war flaring and U.S. crude flooding the market, Williams’ projects designing oil pipelines at the Houston-area office of Wood Group were being canceled. And then came the virus.

“We went from a crew of 70 to 80 people down to about seven,” Williams said, a downturn more rapid and widespread than he and other industry veterans have ever seen: “From one week to the next, we were seeing massive shutdowns.”

Williams, who has 15 years of experience in the oil sector, worked from home until the last week in March, when he was laid off. Friends and neighbors fear they could be next, what with the price of U.S. crude oil having gone negative for the first time in their lives.

“There are a lot of people that are hanging on by a mere thread,” said the 42-year-old father of four. “This turned everybody’s life upside down and did it quickly. A lot of people were not in a position to rebound.”



Europe’s race to develop coronavirus tracing apps runs into privacy roadblocks

LONDON — Goodbye lockdown, hello smartphone.

The race by governments to develop mobile tracing apps to help contain infections after coronavirus lockdowns ease is focusing attention on privacy. The debate is especially urgent in Europe, which has been one of the hardest-hit regions in the world, with nearly 140,000 people killed by COVID-19.

The use of monitoring technology, however, may evoke bitter memories of massive surveillance by totalitarian authorities in much of the continent.

The European Union has in recent years led the way globally in protecting people’s digital privacy, introducing strict laws for tech companies and websites that collect personal information. Academics and civil-liberties advocates are now pushing for greater personal data protection in the new apps as well.

Here’s a look at the issues.



L.A.'s legendary recording studios prep for a post-shutdown ‘resurgence’

In the six decades since the late recording legend and Disney sound engineer Salvador “Tutti” Camarata opened Sunset Sound Recorders in the heart of Hollywood, the studio has been continually powered up and ready for whatever musical inspiration may come its way.

Across that expanse of uninterrupted hours, months and decades, Sunset Sound’s rooms and machines at 6650 Sunset Blvd. have been the birthplace of hundreds of essential recordings by the Beach Boys, Prince, the Doors, Barbra Streisand, Bill Withers, Toto, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Janet Jackson, Linda Ronstadt, Elliott Smith and, more recently, Haim, Death Grips, John Legend and Beck.

The studio’s impressive 22,000-day streak came to an end in March, when city officials, prompted by the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, ordered Sunset Sound, its sister studio the Sound Factory and all other non-essential city businesses to close their doors.

“This is the first time in our history, in 60 years, that we’ve ever had to shut down,” says Paul Camarata, studio owner and son of Tutti.



Malaysia orders coronavirus testing of all foreign workers

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Malaysian government said Monday that all foreign workers must undergo coronavirus testing as many businesses reopen in parts of the country for the first time since a partial lockdown began March 18.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri said coronavirus cases rose over the weekend, including a new cluster involving foreign workers at a construction site in an area near Kuala Lumpur that has since been shut down.

As a result, the government decided to “make it compulsory for all foreign workers in all sectors, whether in construction, factories, commercial and including restaurants, to undergo COVID-19 screening,” he said.

He said employers would pay for the tests, which will begin in Kuala Lumpur and the wealthiest state of Selangor. The move appeared aimed at avoiding neighboring Singapore’s mistake in overlooking the virus’ spread among its migrant worker population. Crowded dormitories housing foreign workers now account for nearly 90% of Singapore’s 18,778 infections.

Malaysia has more than 2 million registered foreign workers, and more than 2 million more who have no valid documents. It has locked down several virus hot-spot areas in Kuala Lumpur and a wholesale market with a large population of migrant workers. Virus cases have dropped sharply in recent weeks, but 227 new infections were reported over the weekend.

Malaysia has confirmed 6,298 cases, with 105 deaths.


Spain’s daily death toll stays low for a second day

MADRID — For the second day in a row, Spanish health officials are reporting 164 new confirmed deaths from the coronavirus, the lowest daily death toll in six weeks, bringing the total to 25,428.

The figures come as a respite for a country that has spent seven weeks under a strict lockdown. On Monday, the country entered the first stage of its phased reopening, which is expected to span nearly two months.

People ventured out for the first time for haircuts, to buy glasses or pick up takeout food, activities allowed by appointment only. Many small shops remain closed as business owners work on meeting strict new health and hygiene guidelines published only Sunday by the government.

Face masks are also mandatory on public transport. The government is distributing 14 million of them at major transportation hubs.

Political tension in the country is on the rise as opposition parties critical of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s handling of the crisis threaten to block a further extension of the country’s state of emergency in a parliamentary vote later this week.


Russia reports another sharp rise in new coronavirus infections

MOSCOW — Russia, which is fast becoming a coronavirus hot spot, reported another steady rise in the number of new infections, increasing pressure on the nation’s healthcare system.

The government’s headquarters dealing with the outbreak reported more than 10,500 new cases Monday, including nearly 6,000 in Moscow.

That has brought the nation’s total to over 145,000, including almost 1,400 deaths.

The number of cases has risen quickly over the past few days, fueling concerns that the nation’s hospitals could be overwhelmed. Authorities have said that broader testing has contributed to a surge in the figures.

Russia’s economy has been partially shut down since late March, and the lockdown measures have been extended through May 11.


Japan extends state of emergency to end of May

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that the ongoing state of emergency because of the coronavirus would be extended to the end of May.

Abe, citing experts’ evaluation, said the state of emergency, which was due to expire after Wednesday, needed to stay in place because the rise in the number of patients had not decreased significantly enough and hospitals were still overburdened.

He said there was a possibility of an early lifting of the measures if data in mid-May showed improvement.

Abe declared the state of emergency on April 7, initially only for Tokyo and six other urban prefectures, but later expanded it to cover the entire nation and requested that people reduce social interactions by up to 80%. He stopped short of issuing business-closure requests.

Japan has more than 15,000 cases with over 500 deaths. The number of cases detected in Tokyo accounts for about one-third of the national total.


Anonymous donor gives Santa Cruz hospital $1 million for employee bonuses

SANTA CRUZ — There’s a lot of gratitude for medical providers these days, and a recent anonymous note — plus a whopping donation — to a hospital in Santa Cruz showed it.

“Thank you for standing up (and staying up!) to care for our community,” the note said. “This humankindness is what makes you heroic.”

But it was the $1-million donation accompanying the note that had Dominican Hospital cheering. The gift was designated entirely for employees, and so nurses, cleaning staff, lab techs, medical-records keepers, security guards and even mailroom staff who have worked at the hospital for at least a year are receiving a bonus check. Full-time staff will get $800 and part-timers $600.

Hospital president Dr. Nanette Mickiewicz said the donation was a testament to the employees’ clinical excellence and their tireless dedication.



Greece gradually lifts 42-day lockdown

Greece has gradually begun lifting restrictive measures after a 42-day lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

As of Monday morning, Greeks can leave their homes without restriction and don’t need to take measures that were previously mandated to justify being outdoors, including carrying a self-written permit.

The country has opened some businesses in what authorities have said will be a staggered reopening of the economy. Hair salons and barbershops, and stores selling books, sporting goods, stationery and other items can now open, albeit with strict hygiene and social distancing measures in place.

Masks are now compulsory for staff and passengers on public transport, staff in shops selling fresh food and in several other places, with violators facing fines. Authorities strongly recommend that masks be worn in all indoor public areas.

School students in the final grade of high school are to return to class as of next week, followed later in the month by those in the rest of junior high and high school grades.

Greece’s government imposed a lockdown early in the country’s outbreak, which has been credited with keeping the number of deaths and critically ill at low levels. Greece has reported nearly 150 virus deaths and more than 2,500 infections. Almost 80,000 tests had been carried out as of Sunday.


Lesley Stahl says on ‘60 Minutes’ she was hospitalized with COVID-19

CBS News “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl said Sunday that she was finally feeling well after a battle with COVID-19 that left her hospitalized for a week.

The veteran television journalist said she was “really scared” after fighting pneumonia caused by the coronavirus for two weeks at home before going to the hospital.

“One of the rules of journalism is, ‘don’t become part of the story,’” Stahl, 78, said at the end of Sunday’s broadcast of “60 Minutes.” “But instead of covering the pandemic, I was one of the more than 1 million Americans who did become part of it.”



Skelton: Rural areas have a message for Newsom: One size doesn’t fit all in reopening California

Rebellion is infectious. Rural people are in revolt against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide virus-fighting rules, which make little sense in burgs such as Bieber.

Bieber has hardly anything in common with the likes of Burbank or Balboa.

“There’s a bar, a restaurant, a hardware store, market, post office, school and a gas station with one pump,” says Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle of Bieber in Lassen County. “No stop light.”

Dahle grows cereal grains and represents 11 mostly mountain counties in the Senate. His wife, Megan Dahle, is a Republican assemblywoman.

In four of the senator’s counties — Modoc, Lassen, Sierra and Alpine — there hasn’t been one case of coronavirus, he says. Zero.

“There is no curve. It’s flat.”

“People are getting fed up” with the governor’s stay-at-home, business-shut-down orders, Dahle says. “They want to open up, get back to normal.

“We’re not like Los Angeles or San Francisco. Let’s get back to cooler heads. Let the people free.”

Read more > > >


With testing, Iceland claims major success against COVID-19

Winter storms isolated the northern village of Hvammstangi from the rest of Iceland. Then spring brought the coronavirus, isolating villagers from one another. Now, as summer approaches, residents hope life is getting back to some kind of normal.

High schools, hair salons, dentists and other businesses across Iceland are reopening Monday after six weeks of lockdown, and after this North Atlantic nation managed to tame its coronavirus outbreak.

Iceland has confirmed 1,799 cases of the virus, and 10 people have died. The number of new COVID-19 cases each day has fallen from 106 at the peak of the outbreak to single digits — even, on some days, zero.

“I didn’t expect the recovery to be this fast,” said Iceland’s chief epidemiologist, Thorolfur Gudnason.



Navy took lessons from outbreaks on three other ships to act quickly aboard the Kidd

Novel coronavirus outbreaks aboard three Navy warships have taught the military service valuable lessons that enabled it to respond quickly in late March when a sailor started displaying symptoms of COVID-19 on the guided-missile-destroyer Kidd, a vice admiral in charge of the Navy’s surface force said last week.

The Kidd was conducting counter-drug operations in the eastern Pacific near South America when a sailor began showing symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, on April 22. Less than a week later, the ship was moored at Naval Base San Diego, with 243 of its roughly 330 sailors evacuated from the vessel.

Vice Adm. Richard Brown, commander of the Naval Surface Force Pacific in San Diego, said Friday that quick action by the Navy to bring the Kidd into port soon after its first case was reported likely prevented a broader outbreak among the crew.

“This virus is insidious,” Brown said during a conference call with reporters. “If we had left her out there, the entire crew would have got infected.”



Some California businesses reopen in defiance of coronavirus stay-at-home orders

As Californians prepare to enter the seventh week of stay-at-home restrictions, signs of fatigue are becoming evident.

From the high desert to the beach enclaves of Orange County, a growing number of businesses deemed nonessential are choosing to reopen in defiance of orders from local and state authorities.

In Victorville, 24-hour fitness studio the Gym reopened Friday with an 8-by-10-foot printout of the Constitution posted by the front door. Employees changed the colors of the studio’s sign to red, white and blue and hung banners that read #GymsAreEssential and #ReopenAmerica, according to owner Jacob D. Lewis.

Lewis said he chose to reopen after hearing from members who were struggling with issues ranging from flare-ups of chronic health conditions to declines in mental health since they had been unable to patronize his gym.



Coronavirus leaves Washington farmers with a big problem: What do you do with a billion pounds of potatoes?

The notice on Facebook was small and nondescript: “Free potatoes donated by Washington Potato Growers.” But that’s all it took.

Last Wednesday, the giveaway caused a massive traffic jam in Ritzville, a tiny eastern Washington farming town.

Farmer Marvin Wollman had filled a tractor-trailer with 40,000 pounds of russet potatoes packed into 15-pound bags, and they were gone in nearly three hours.

The next day, Wollman brought another 40,000-pound load to the city of Moses Lake, and the line of cars stretched 2½ miles.

Wollman was moved by the response, but this was much more than charity.

The coronavirus outbreak has left Washington’s farmers with at least a billion pounds of potatoes they can’t sell, a new crop growing without any buyers and millions of dollars in debt they have no way to pay.



China hid severity of coronavirus to hoard supplies, according to DHS report

U.S. officials believe China covered up the extent of the novel coronavirus outbreak — and how contagious the disease it causes is — to stock up on medical supplies needed to respond to it, intelligence documents show.

Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the COVID-19 pandemic from the world in early January, according to a four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report dated May 1 and obtained by the Associated Press. The revelation comes as the Trump administration has intensified its criticism of China, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying Sunday that the country was responsible for the spread of disease and must be held accountable.

The sharper rhetoric coincides with administration critics saying the government’s response to the virus was slow and inadequate. President Donald Trump’s political opponents have accused him of lashing out at China, a geopolitical foe but critical U.S. trade partner, in an attempt to deflect criticism of himself at home.



Santa Barbara News-Press owner compares COVID restrictions to Nazi Germany; editor exits

The Santa Barbara News-Press lost its editor in chief this weekend after the newspaper published an editorial by owner and co-publisher Wendy McCaw that accused Democratic lawmakers of using the coronavirus for their own political agenda and compared stay-at-home orders to Nazi Germany.

“Our liberties are being stripped for what, a virus?? Think about this,” McCaw wrote in the editorial, published Friday and titled “We Are Living in Tyranny.”

She continued: “If this country can be put into this situation by a virus, what would it take to completely turn us into the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany? We are not that far away now, having to stand in line to get into supermarkets....”

A note at the end of the editorial read: “Wendy P. McCaw is the co-publisher of the News-Press and the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the SBNP staff.”



Some countries report new infection peaks, even as lockdowns ease

As millions of people took advantage of the easing coronavirus lockdowns to enjoy spring weather, some of the world’s most populous countries reported worrisome new peaks in infections Sunday, including India, which saw its biggest single-day jump yet.

Second in population only to China, India reported more than 2,600 new infections. In Russia, new cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time. The confirmed death toll in Britain climbed near that of Italy, a hot spot of Europe’s outbreak, even though the U.K. population is younger than Italy’s and Britain had more time to prepare before the pandemic hit.

The United States continues to see tens of thousands of new infections each day, with more than 1,400 new deaths reported Saturday.



L.A. County cases top 25,000, with more than 1,200 deaths

Los Angeles County public health officials on Sunday reported 21 additional coronavirus-related deaths and 781 new cases overall, pushing the county’s total number to more than 25,000.

“The people lost to COVID-19 are mourned by all of us in L.A. County, and to their loved ones, we wish you peace and healing,” Barbara Ferrer, the county health director, said in a statement.

Long Beach, which has its own health department, reported 15 additional cases, bringing the county’s total to 25,677 cases and 1,229 related deaths.



California stay-at-home order faces revolts at beaches and in rural communities

Pressure to reopen parts of California continued to build over the weekend, with more rural counties vowing to ease stay-at-home restrictions and protesters marching against the closure of Orange County beaches, a move intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Polls show most Californians support stay-at-home rules, which have been credited with helping California avoid the massive death toll of New York and other hot spots, and fear that lifting them too soon could cause more outbreaks.

But the social-distancing restrictions have devastated the economy, and some parts of California that have not been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus are pushing to get back in business.