The Los Angeles Times will provide around-the-clock updates on COVID-19 from across Southern California and around the world.
- Read our coverage from last week here
Senators sold stock before steep market losses from virus
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) sold as much as $1.7 million in stocks just before the market dropped in February amid fears about the coronavirus epidemic.
Senate records show that Burr and his wife sold between roughly $600,000 and $1.7 million in more than 30 separate transactions in late January and mid-February, just before the market began to fall and as government health officials began to issue stark warnings about the effects of the virus. Several of the stocks were in companies that own hotels.
The stock sales were first reported by ProPublica and the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of them came on Feb. 13, just before Burr made a speech in North Carolina in which he predicted severe consequences from the virus, including closed schools and cutbacks in company travel, according to audio obtained by National Public Radio and released Thursday.
China exonerates doctor reprimanded for warning of virus
China has exonerated a doctor who was officially reprimanded for warning about the coronavirus outbreak and later died of the disease, a startling admission of error by the ruling Communist Party that generally bodes no challenges to its authority.
The party’s top disciplinary body said the police force in Wuhan had revoked its admonishment of Dr. Li Wenliang that had included a threat of arrest.
It also said a “solemn apology” had been issued to Li’s family and that two police officers, identified only by their surnames, had been issued “disciplinary punishments” for the original handling of the matter.
In death, Li became the face of simmering anger at the ruling Communist Party’s controls over information and complaints that officials lie about or hide disease outbreaks, industrial accidents, natural disasters and financial frauds, while punishing whistleblowers and independent journalists.
After seeing thousands of new cases daily at the peak of the city’s outbreak a month ago, Wuhan on Friday had its second consecutive day with no new confirmed or suspected cases.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom orders all Californians to stay at home
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered all Californians to stay at home, marking the first mandatory restrictions placed on the lives of all 40 million residents in the state’s fight against the novel coronavirus.
The governor’s order comes at a critical time in California, where 19 people died and another 958 have tested positive for the disease.
Officials hope telling people to remain in their homes and restrict social interactions will slow the spread of the virus and ultimately prevent hospitals from being overrun with sick patients. The request for all residents to quarantine at home marks the strongest escalation of the Newsom adminstration’s response to the virus.
Here is what is permitted and not under L.A. County’s new ‘Safer at Home’ order
Under the city’s order, officials said the following activities are permitted:
- Go to the grocery store
- Go to the pharmacy to pick up medications and other healthcare necessities
- Go to medical appointments (check with your doctor or provider first)
- Take a walk, ride your bike, and be in nature for exercise — just keep at least six feet between you and others in the community.
- Walk your pets and take them to the veterinarian if necessary
- Help someone to get necessary supplies.
This is not permitted:
- Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by this Order
- Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
- Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when you go out, as possible
- Travel to or from a job outside the City, unless to perform essential activities
- Travel to or from a vacation home outside the City
- Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility
These are considered essential services:
--City/County government services:
--Health care providers
--Food and grocery service
--Hardware stores and nurseries
--Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, custodial/janitorial workers, handyman services, funeral home workers and morticians, moving services, HVAC installers, carpenters, landscapers, gardeners, property managers, private security personnel and other service providers who provide services to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation to properties and other essential activities
--Organizations and businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, (including gang prevention and intervention and domestic violence agencies).
--Newspapers, magazines, television, radio, podcasts and other media services
--Educational institutions, including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities -- for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible
L.A. County orders closure of indoor malls, shopping centers, non-essential retail businesses
In a new bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, Los Angeles County officials on Thursday announced a new order that requires all indoor malls, shopping centers, playgrounds and non-essential retail businesses to close and prohibits gathering in enclosed spaces of more than 10 people.
“We know this will have an impact on the social fabric of our communities. We still encourage individuals to stay connected to their community and their loved ones in creative ways, and to spend much-needed time outdoors,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement. “We won’t have to maintain these restrictions forever, and they will have an invaluable long-term impact.”
As home viewing surges in Europe, Netflix will take a load off the Internet
Netflix on Thursday said it would reduce its impact on European Internet traffic for 30 days, after a European Union official said a streaming surge caused by the coronavirus scare could strain the region’s Internet capacity.
Netflix said it would reduce its bit rates, or the bits per second, to transmit video streams onto screens.
“We estimate that this will reduce Netflix traffic on European networks by around 25% while also ensuring a good quality service for our members,” Netflix said in a statement.
2,500 ‘pop-up’ shelters, 3,500 hotel rooms to be used to isolate homeless people, others in San Francisco
San Francisco is adding 2,500 new shelter spaces for homeless people and identifying at least 3,500 hotel rooms to house people who need to be isolated as the city battles the coronavirus spread.
Many of the hotel rooms will go to those who live in single-occupancy hotels with shared bathrooms and kitchens, said Trent Rhorer, executive director of San Francisco’s Human Services Agency. The rooms are for people who test positive for the virus but don’t need a hospital and don’t have a place to self-isolate.
The city will open the 2,500 “pop up” shelters to ensure social distancing and isolate homeless individuals who have tested positive but do not require hospitalization.
Rhorer said the city was in the process of securing food and staffing for those in isolation.
More than half of Californians could become infected, Gov. Gavin Newsom says
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday asked Congress for $1 billion in federal funds to support the state’s medical response to the novel coronavirus, which he expects will infect more than half of all Californians.
The state projects that roughly 56% of Californians, or 25.5 million people, will be infected with the coronavirus over an eight week period, Newsom said in a letter sent to President Trump on Wednesday requesting the deployment of the USNS Mercy Hospital Ship to the port of Los Angeles through Sept. 1.
Amazon drivers say they received a single wipe to clean vans before a shift
When about two dozen Amazon.com Inc. delivery drivers reported for their shifts Tuesday morning on California’s Central Coast, their manager passed around a sleeve of disinfecting wipes. He said they could each take only one to clean their vans before starting their routes, according to three people present.
The drivers, who work for a company that has a delivery contract with Amazon, thought it was a joke at first. Upon realizing it wasn’t, they got busy figuring out how to use a tiny wipe to clean a van shared with other drivers and packed with boxes touched by untold others. One driver furiously scrubbed her scanner since she touches it frequently. Another wiped down his steering wheel and door handle.
“I felt so disposable,” said one of the drivers, who, like the others, requested anonymity for fear of losing her job. “We’re really worried, and one wipe for a van just doesn’t cut it.”
Still need hand sanitizer? L.A. perfume makers have some for you
As a COVID-19-driven scramble for alcohol-based hand sanitizers continues, four Los Angeles fragrance creators are hand-blending natural, aromatherapeutic solutions in elevated scents to help fill the void.
MLB to pay minor league players a uniform per diem until the season starts
The minor leaguers are going to get paid.
After the Dodgers and several other teams had agreed to continue spring training living stipends for minor leaguers even after spring training had been called off, Major League Baseball announced Thursday that all minor leaguers would receive those allowances through April 8.
Furthermore, the league said in a statement it would work with teams to develop “an industry-wide plan for minor league player compensation from April 9 through the beginning of the coming season.” The minor league season was scheduled to start April 9.
Country music stars to perform intimate sets from home for CBS special
The Academy of Country Music Awards show was recently postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but it turns out the performances will go on — in the comfort of everyone’s homes.
On Thursday, the academy announced “ACM Presents: Our Country,” a CBS television special that will feature at-home conversations and acoustic performances from country music stars. The program, which airs April 5 and will feature clips from former ACM celebrations, will replace the postponed awards show.
The performers have not yet been announced.
Carnival offers ships for use as hospitals
After being forced by the coronavirous outbreak to halt cruises on some of its most popular brands, Carnival Corp. said Thursday that it was making select cruise ships available to be used as temporary hospitals to ease the increasing demand on the healthcare system.
“Carnival Corporation and its brands are calling on governments and health authorities to consider using cruise chips as temporary healthcare facilities to treat non-COVID-19 patients, freeing up additional space and expanding capacity in land-based hospitals to treat cases of COVID-19,” the Miami-based company said in a statement.
Carnival said each ship could provide up to 1,000 hospital rooms and the on-board high-speed internet could be used to connect to remote patient monitoring devices.
In addition, Carnival said each ship could “have the ability to provide up to seven intensive care units in the ship’s medical center, equipped with central cardiac monitoring, ventilators and other key medical devices and capabilities.”
It is not clear if any government agency has taken up the offer by Carnival.
Some California cities suspending public records requests
Some local governments in California are halting responses to public records requests as they deal with staffing restrictions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
Fresno suspended “immediate responses” to public records requests on Tuesday after the city declared a state of emergency, according to an email from the city attorney’s office. The city will resume responding to requests once the emergency declaration ends.
In the Bay Area, the city of San Leandro is closed to the public and only staffing “essential employees” because of a shelter-in-place order from Alameda County, according to an email from the city manager’s office. The city will need an additional 45 days to respond to records requests after the order is lifted, the email said.
And the city clerk’s office in Fremont told a journalist this week it would not be able to accept public records requests until its offices reopened following an emergency declaration there.
Reporters across the country are seeing more and more of this: government agencies indefinitely delaying public records requests because of #coronavirus #COVID19 #FOIA— Matt Drange (@mattdrange) March 19, 2020
And now Fremont, CA
Journos: where else have you received a similar response? pic.twitter.com/1lBzX1n25r
David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said he had also heard of similar issues in the Northern California cities of Los Altos and Martinez.
“While I’m totally sympathetic to staffing and other issues cities may now be facing, and understand that slower responses to public records requests may be required, the fact remains that the California Public Records Act is still the law of the land,” Snyder said.
The coronavirus emergency makes the state’s open record law “more important now than it has been in a very long time,” he said.
“The public has a need and a right to see and understand the inner workings of their government, especially when that government is taking the extreme measures it is now taking. Government power is at its apex in a crisis, and so is the risk that the government will abuse that power. Transparency provides a crucial check on that possibility,” Synder said.
Most local governments in the state are still providing records and updates to requests from the public and media, Snyder said.
The Los Angeles Police Department is accepting and processing requests as usual, according to spokesman Josh Rubenstein.
Disney to end internships early, sending 2,200 interns packing
When the Walt Disney Co. closed its theme parks in the U.S. recently because of the growing coronavirus outbreak, the media giant promised its workers they would continue to get paychecks through the end of March.
But more than 2,200 college students and recent graduates who enrolled in Disney’s internship programs at the Anaheim and Florida parks received a more abrupt message: The program is over. You have less than a week to move out of Disney housing.
Interns from throughout the world, participating in an internship that began in January and was scheduled to end in August, were notified Saturday that the program had ended and told they had until Thursday to move out of apartments arranged by the company.
How to have a Netflix Party: Instructions
Book chats, karaoke, long-distance seders: 10 ways to connect virtually with family and friends
It’s 10 a.m. and my 4-year-old races to the computer on our coffee table.
“Is it time for my music class, mama?” she asks hopefully.
“It is,” I say, smiling through the knot that has been tied in my stomach since last week when it started to become shockingly clear that nothing in our lives — in anyone’s lives — was going to be the same again for a long time.
I load up the computer, click on a link to YouTube live and enter “the Hootenanny,” a virtual music and movement class led by Lauren O’Brien and Matt Commerce, two entertainers with a small son, who this week launched a streaming lifeline for the nearly 80 families who have participated daily.
Governors nationwide request more resources from federal government
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, the chair of the National Governors Association, announced that later today, he will submit five requests to the president, vice president, and leaders in both houses of Congress on behalf of the nation’s governors:
(1) Dedicate at least 50 percent of supplemental funding to the states, including direct funding, and act quickly on waiver requests
(2) Increase access to PPE, masks, test kits, extraction kits, and accelerating the production of life-saving equipment, such as ventilators
(3) Support Title 32 authorization to give governors maximum flexibility for use of the National Guard
(4) Provide guidance on implementation of Defense Production Act to include what health and medical resources Secretary of Health and Human Services Azar is prioritizing under his new authority
(5) Allow more time and flexibility for completion of both the Census and the transition to REAL ID
Trump administration considering global travel limits for Americans
WASHINGTON —The Trump administration is expected to issue its strongest advisory on travel overseas Thursday, urging all Americans to refrain from international travel and encouraging those abroad to return home or take precautions in place to avoid infection with coronavirus.
President Trump, who has already partially closed the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico and barred entry of non-U.S. citizens flying from Europe, said in a briefing he was consulting with the State Department on how to execute the new restrictions.
A “level four” travel advisory urges no travel, usually to specific countries where there are wars, epidemics or other dangerous conditions. It’s not clear if global use of the advisory has been ordered in the past.
How do I make working from home work?
You’re probably already thinking: How many days deep are we into this thing?
Working from home may be a major adjustment for many, but the key to keeping sane is establishing a routine to build structure around the hours you’re staying inside.
Here are some tips from a few of our colleagues:
- You can avoid the grocery store (and take on a new hobby!) by re-creating pantry staples at home.
- And just because you’re working at home doesn’t mean you can’t define a serious home uniform.
- If you’ve canceled travel because of the coronavirus and are feeling bored, the Los Angeles Times’ Travel editor has tips on how to cope.
- Not sold on working from home? Here are a few reasons why it’s awesome (no commute = sleeping in more).
NBA tells teams to close training facilities by Friday
The NBA has instructed teams to shutter practice facilities by Friday as the league takes another step to intensify the fight against spreading the coronavirus.
The orders came in the latest memo to teams, according to people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
There have been seven confirmed cases of coronavirus in the NBA so far.
Metropolitan Opera furloughs all union employees and cancels the rest of its season
The Metropolitan Opera announced Thursday it was canceling the rest of its 2020-21 season amid the coronavirus pandemic and suspending the employment of union workers after March.
The Met is the largest performing arts organization in the country, with an annual operating budget of $308 million. Last week, the New York company canceled all shows through the end of the month — a move also made by Broadway theaters and other major cultural institutions across the country as large gatherings of people threatened to expand the reach of COVID-19.
Italian death toll overtakes China’s as virus spreads in Europe, Africa
The death toll in Italy from the coronavirus overtook China’s on Thursday in a stark illustration of how the outbreak has pivoted toward Europe and the United States.
Italy, with a population of 60 million, recorded at least 3,405 deaths, or roughly 150 more than in China — a country with a population over 20 times larger.
Republicans and White House continue hammering out stimulus package
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans and Democrats outlined competing ideas Thursday for what looked likely to be a $1-trillion stimulus package to limit the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Conversations are currently underway behind closed doors, but it’s unclear how quickly an agreement will be reached, even as the economic damage spreads.
Republicans have been working closely with Trump administration officials on a plan for federally backed loans for small businesses that continue paying their workers, and direct payments to most taxpayers.
“Senate Republicans want to put cash in the hands of the American people,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). He said the money should go out “as rapidly as possible” and would be available to “the middle class on down,” although it’s unclear how much money would be distributed and how “middle class” would be defined.