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California Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 17.

The latest updates from our reporters in California and around the world

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

Senators sold stock before steep market losses from virus

Records show that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and his wife sold as much as $1.7 million in stocks in more than 30 separate transactions in late January and mid-February.
(Associated Press)

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.

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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.

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Activists implore prisons to release at-risk inmates to prevent coronavirus deaths

They live in overcrowded facilities, sometimes jammed into tiny spaces in groups of three. Sanitary conditions can be an afterthought. Social distancing is rarely an option.

For the nearly 2.3 million people held in prisons and jails nationwide and the guards who work inside, a scramble is underway to prevent the coronavirus from seeping within.

In letters to the U.S. Department of Justice and local leaders, the ACLU has called for the immediate release of inmates whose sentences would be completed within the next two years and who fall within a category deemed as particularly vulnerable: over the age 65 or having an underlying condition. In the letter dated March 18, the American Civil Liberties Union also asked local law enforcement to temporarily stop arresting people for minor offenses and instead issue citations. Those in jail on low-level nonviolent offenses should be released, according to the letter.

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Cannabis dispensaries listed as essential businesses under L.A. County coronavirus order

The “safer at home” emergency order just announced by Los Angeles County and the cities within its borders at a Thursday evening news conference requires all indoor malls, shopping centers, playgrounds and nonessential retail businesses to close effective midnight tonight through at least April 19. Allowed to operate — as long as they observe proper social-distancing guidelines and do not include more than 10 people in one place — are a list of essential services including city and county government services, grocery stores, hardware stores and, wait for it, cannabis dispensaries.

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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.

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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
--Banks
--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).
--Laundromats/laundry service
--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

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High-ranking LAPD member becomes second department official to contract coronavirus

A high-ranking member of the Los Angeles Police Department has contracted the coronavirus, marking the second time an LAPD employee has tested positive for COVID-19 this week, officials said.

In a news release issued Thursday, the LAPD said the employee began exhibiting flu-like symptoms last week. The person, who was not identified, is expected to make a full recovery.

The person was described as a member of the “senior staff” in a department memo obtained by The Times. A law enforcement source said the person is a high-ranking police official.

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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.

Read the order here

“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.”

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Two Lakers test positive for the coronavirus

Two players on the Lakers have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to people who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The players, who received the test on Wednesday if they wanted one, got the results on Thursday.

The Lakers had 14 players tested for the coronavirus virus at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. All of them stayed in their cars during the testing that took about 10 seconds.

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Glendora man, 34, dies of coronavirus infection after visiting Disney World, sources say

A 34-year-old man who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, after visiting Disney World and traveling through Los Angeles International Airport earlier this month died Thursday at a hospital in Pasadena, according to medical and government sources.

The Glendora man, who spent nearly a week on a ventilator, had underlying medical conditions, including asthma and bronchitis, the sources said.

The Times has chosen not to not identify the man to prevent his family from being shunned or targeted.

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Why we should learn to accept the coronavirus craziness

Republique bakery
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 18, 2020 Grace Curran, left, restaurant manager packs the take out order for Deni Ershtukaev at Republique (French Restaurant) located at 624 South La Brea as the restaurant continues to serve patrons who love the fine pastries in the morning with a full menu available for carry-out and delivery on Wednesday morning as the restaurant has changed its work flow to accommodate for the coronavirus limitations. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Thanks to the new coronavirus, our plans for the future, once so clear and reasonable, now seem hazy and improbable.

Who knows when our kids will go back to school, or when we will return to the office? Nobody can say how long dine-in restaurants will remain closed, or when we can finally meet friends for a much-needed drink.

And how long can we live with all this uncertainty and not lose our collective minds?

Life will return to normal, someday. But the end of this liminal time feels a long way off.

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As home viewing surges in Europe, Netflix will take a load off the Internet

(L-R)- Gaten Matarazzo, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown in a scene from "Stranger Things" season 3. Credit: Netflix
(Netflix/Netflix)

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.

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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.

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More L.A. County jail inmates released over fears of coronavirus outbreak

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has reduced its inmate population by 6% in the last three weeks to free up space in case the coronavirus enters its jails, officials said.

As of Thursday morning, there were no confirmed cases of the virus inside L.A. County jails, where the number of inmates was down to 16,017 inmates from 17,076 on Feb. 28.

“We anticipate the count is going to go further down,” said Cmdr. Jason Wolak of the Sheriff’s Department’s Custody Division. “The reason why we’re doing it is so we can have flexibility in the jail in case we’re going to lose a part of it.”

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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.

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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.”

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Coronavirus cases in Orange County jump to 53 amid sweeping restrictions

The number of coronavirus cases in Orange County rose to 53, according to new numbers provided by the Orange County Department of Public Health.

So far, Orange County has reported no deaths. Los Angeles reported its second death on Thursday, with a total of 230 cases.

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Actor Daniel Dae Kim shares his coronavirus journey, from scratchy throat to drive-through testing

“I guess it’s nice to be mentioned in the same breath as Tom Hanks and Idris Elba — two of my favorite actors. I think I’m in some pretty good company.”

That’s what actor Daniel Dae Kim said Thursday in a video announcing he was diagnosed the day before with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. He posted the 10-minute video, which describes his path to diagnosis step by step, on Instagram.

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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.

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Tesla will suspend car production to comply with coronavirus lockdown

Tesla will temporarily end production at its Fremont assembly plant beginning March 23 to comply with Bay Area restrictions due to coronavirus.

The company made the announcement Thursday after days of controversy as Chief Executive Elon Musk kept the plant running full-tilt despite shelter-in-place lockdown orders from Alameda County, where Fremont is located.

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Saints coach Sean Payton says he tested positive for the coronavirus

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said Thursday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

His is the first known positive test from the NFL.

Payton told ESPN that he has no fever or cough but didn’t feel well Sunday, so he was tested the following day.

Payton, who led the Saints to a Super Bowl victory following the 2009 season, said he’s feeling fatigued but also upbeat.
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Coronavirus has shut down the box office. Faith-based romance ‘I Still Believe’ heads for VOD

In the latest example of film distributors scrambling to salvage their current releases amid mass theater closures, Lionsgate announced Thursday that it will make the faith-based romantic drama “I Still Believe” available for viewing on-demand across various platforms on March 27.

The film, which stars KJ Apa and Britt Robertson and is directed by Jon and Andrew Ervin, is based on the life of Christian music singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp and his first wife, Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly their wedding. It was released in theaters on March 13, just as the exhibition business was being hit with a tidal wave of closings because of growing coronavirus fears. With that weekend’s box office plummeting to a 20-year low, the film earned $9.1 million, falling considerably short of pre-release tracking of $15 million or more.
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Make way for Granny: L.A. grocers go 65-plus in pre-dawn hours during coronavirus pandemic

ALTADENA, CA - MARCH 19, 2020 Shopper Aviva Rosenbloom, 72, left, is thankful for toilet paper donated in single rolls by shopper Carol Wallace, right, who was able to grab a package early at the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in Altadena as senior shoppers lined up before dawn outside Thursday morning as the store opened before 7am to accommodate the senior population. The store which normally opens at 9am said they wouldn't turn any person away but were allowing 30 shoppers in the store at a time to not exceed the 50 person recommended limit including staff. The store also had volunteers who took shopping lists from seniors in their vehicles to shop for them and return the items to them. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
(Al Seib/Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

As concerns over the coronavirus pandemic grow and lengthy lines snake outside grocery stores before the sun even comes up, many retailers have announced they are setting aside time for people 65 and older (at most stores) and other at-risk populations to do their shopping in a less-crowded environment.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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Grocers offer preferred times for seniors, others at risk amid coronavirus outbreak

As concerns over the coronavirus pandemic grow, and lengthy lines snake outside grocery stores before the sun even comes up, many retailers have announced they are setting aside time for people 65 and older (at most stores) and other at-risk populations to do their shopping in a less-crowded environment.

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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.

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.

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Cannes Film Festival postponed due to coronavirus concerns

Actress Leyna Bloom poses for photographers at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, which has been put off because of the virus outbreak.
(Ian Langsdon / EPA-EFE/REX)

The 73rd Cannes Film Festival, which was scheduled to take place May 12-23 in the south of France, has been postponed, for now, due to the growing coronavirus crisis, festival organizers announced Thursday.

The news follows the March 9 announcement by the French government banning all gatherings of more than 1,000 people, as the country struggles to contain one of Europe’s largest outbreaks of the virus. Last year’s edition of Cannes brought in more than 12,000 attendees from around the world, and the festival’s largest venue, the Louis Lumière auditorium, holds 2,300 people.

Festival organizers said that a postponement of the event until the end of June or early July is being considered but will depend on how events unfold.

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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.

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How to have a Netflix Party: Instructions

Netflix Party is a free Google Chrome extension that allows users to synchronize viewing with friends and chat while watching together.

Requirements: The Google Chrome browser and a Netflix account.

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Netflix and chat: Gabby movie nights at a social distance are possible

The coronavirus may be cramping our social scene, but it can never take away our movie nights.

Yes, movie theaters are shut down and having friends over for a flick now constitutes an actual public health risk. Enter Netflix Party, which essentially takes the second-screen habit of texting your friends about whatever you’re watching and merges it with watching the film together through a live-chat feed scrolling along the right of the screen.

It’s a free Google Chrome extension (not actually affiliated with Netflix) that enables users to synchronize their viewing with friends and chat while watching. As a public service, we at The Times gave it a spin.

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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.

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Rejoice! To calm coronavirus panic, Hallmark will air a Christmas movie marathon

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as brands and civilians continue searching for something — anything — to spark cheer during the coronavirus pandemic.

The holiday season is coming several months early to the Hallmark Channel, which has scheduled an impromptu Christmas movie marathon beginning Friday and ending Sunday.

Known and beloved for their cheesy and predictable plots, the feel-good films are meant to be a beacon of hope in these unsettling times.

“Guys ... hallmark just brought their Christmas movies back for this quarantine time,” one excited Twitter user wrote Thursday. “Everything’s gonna be OK.”

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Homeboy Industries to close down temporarily amid coronavirus restrictions

Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit helping gang members ease out of that life for 32 years in Los Angeles, has temporarily shut down as a result of restrictions intended to halt the spread of coronavirus.

“I’m here in my Jesuit community where all of us are on sheltering in place and ‘on house arrest,’ as the homies call it,” founder Father Greg Boyle said in a video message embedded in an email sent to subscribers Thursday morning. “We’re all trying to deal with the huge impact of this pandemic, which has altered all our lives. We’re so greatly appreciative of your help and support over the last 32 years of Homeboy Industries.”

Homebody Industries is yet another institution to announce its closure, days after Los Angeles County officials directed bars, fitness centers and movie theaters to close and restaurants to pivot to takeout only.

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Cherished springtime rituals disrupted by coronavirus threat in Toulouse, France

TOULOUSE, France —After the winter months in this southwestern part of France, March normally sees a kind of human blossoming as people return to the sidewalks and terraces to celebrate the return of the beaux jours.

But on this evening the city lay eerily quiet, with nearly every business shuttered and only scattered people wandering the streets. Yet the calm that reigned outside this week masked the emotions and uncertainties that churned behind the city’s famous red brick facades.

From small business owners anxious about their futures to parents trying to radically remake their daily routines, people were determined to adapt to unprecedented restrictions tied to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, including confinement rules that they hoped would be temporary but feared could go on without any end in sight.
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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

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California coronavirus testing: Is it finally getting easier to get a test? Here is what we know

Is testing for coronavirus finally beginning to pick up?

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said answer is yes. The state saw a 20% increase in testing in just one day as more labs come online.
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On coronavirus containment, Britain’s Johnson is less restrictive than other European leaders

LONDON —Londoners kept calm and carried on through the blitz, when Nazi warplanes hammered the British capital. Through the centuries, they weathered catastrophic fires, killing smog and modern-day terror strikes.

But when it comes to coronavirus, the spirit of pulling together for the greater good is being sorely tested, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s containment strategy has left his government something of an outlier among European nations.
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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.
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Amid coronavirus siege, California cannabis sales soar

The coronavirus pandemic and the prospect of spending extended amounts of time sheltered in place have Californians stocking up on all kinds of items — toilet paper, hand sanitizer and guns to name just a few.

And, based on an informal survey of cannabis dispensaries and delivery services conducted by The Times this week, they are also getting a whole lot of weed.

At Eaze, a San Francisco-based tech platform that coordinates in-state dispensary-to-consumer deliveries, the average order volume was up 38% on March 16 over a typical Monday, according to company spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford. Also up were the number of deliveries (which increased 38%), first-time deliveries (up 51%) and the number of people signing up through the Eaze website (up 105%).

“We’ve seen increases in all these categories statewide since March 13,” Ashford said.
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How do I make working from home work?

Make working from home work for you.
(iana_kolesnikova - stock.adobe.com)

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:

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Community meeting held to shed light on racism stemming from coronavirus

A group of community activists streamed a multicultural news conference to the public on Tuesday to address the local effects of the coronavirus outbreak on the Asian, Latino and immigrant communities of Orange County.

Speaking in English, Vietnamese and Spanish, the speakers largely focused on the animus currently directed toward the Asian community due to the coronavirus, specifically highlighting a recent incident where two Garden Grove high school students ridiculed Asian American students.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Senior shoppers and others at risk of coronavirus get special times at these stores

Albertsons is offering special shopping hours during the pandemic.
Albertsons is reserving every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 a.m. for seniors, pregnant women, those with compromised immune systems and other at-risk populations.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

As concerns over the coronavirus pandemic grow and lengthy lines that resemble those for theme park rides snake their way outside grocery stores before the sun even comes up, many retailers have announced they are setting aside time for seniors (65 and up at most stores) and other at-risk populations to do their shopping in a less-crowded environment.

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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.

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Celebrities sing ‘Imagine.’ Eye-rolling ensues

You may say Gal Gadot is a dreamer for thinking a celebrity sing-along would help regular people feel better about a pandemic. But she’s not the only one.

On Wednesday, the “Wonder Woman” star enlisted a slew of her famous friends — including Will Ferrell, Natalie Portman, Zoë Kravitz and more — to film a tag-team cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and shared it on Instagram to millions of followers.

The video, inspired by viral footage of self-quarantined Italians making music together from their balconies, features each of its all-star participants relaying the classic tune’s inspiring lyrics via selfie cam to one another.

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Texas governor announces sweeping measures to combat the pandemic

On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state’s most sweeping restrictions to date to combat the spread of coronavirus, closing schools, gyms, dine-in bars and restaurants; restricting nursing home visits; and limiting public gatherings to no more than 10 people.

Abbott’s order is set to take effect at midnight Saturday and last until midnight April 3.

“It may be extended after that depending on the status of COVID-19 in Texas and the recommendations of the CDC,” he said during an afternoon briefing at the capitol building in Austin, where he appeared flanked by state leaders.

Abbott noted that his directive was not a shelter-in-place order, that Texans are still free to visit grocery stores and banks as necessary, but he urged them to stay in and for employers to allow them to work from home if possible.

Since Abbott declared a disaster in Texas last week, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased to 143, with three deaths. So far, 2,335 Texans have been tested.

On Friday, Texas health officials declared a public health disaster, a step Abbott said was last taken in 1901.

“We as a country must swiftly elevate our response to COVID-19,” Abbott said. “The more that people do to reduce their public contact, the sooner the ... disease will be contained.”

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Trump says Japan hasn’t decided on holding Summer Olympics amid pandemic

Japanese leaders have yet to decide on holding the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to President Trump.

At a White House news conference on Thursday morning, Trump said he discussed the matter with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a conference call.

“That’s a big decision for him … it’s a tough situation,” Trump said to reporters. “He told us he has not made a decision as to what to do.”

The president’s comments came hours after a scaled-down ceremony at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, where only a few people were permitted to watch Greek officials hand the Olympic flame to the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee in a traditional ceremony.

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Nationalism could rear its head as Europe battles coronavirus

BERLIN — In long-ago days before the novel coronavirus swept Europe — last week, last month — the contagion many leaders in the region most feared was a virulent strain of nationalist populism.

In recent years, authoritarian-style leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban have entrenched themselves in the heart of Europe, seeking to stifle institutions such as free media and an independent judiciary, at the same time blaming migrants for a host of social ills.

Already, the European Union had been tested by Brexit and internal discord. Now, as grand boulevards and great cathedrals stand empty and scarce hospital beds inexorably fill, those same leaders wonder whether the coronavirus will drive a sharp nationalist wedge between members of the 27-nation bloc.

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Italy’s death toll from the virus surpasses that of China

ROME — Italy has become the country with the most coronavirus-related deaths, surpassing China as it registered 3,405 who had died of the virus.

Italy reached the gruesome milestone on the same day the epicenter of the pandemic, Wuhan, China, recorded no new infections. Overall, China on Thursday counted 3,249 dead, 156 fewer than Italy, according to the Johns Hopkins University virus map.

Both Italy’s death toll and its new infections shot up again, adding 427 more dead and 5,322 more infections. Overall, Italy has recorded 41,035 infections, more than half of the world’s positive cases.

Italy’s healthcare system has been overwhelmed, and on Thursday a visiting Chinese Red Cross team criticized the failure of Italians to fully quarantine and take the national lockdown seriously.

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Stuck inside? Go places with these music, movie, TV and book recommendations

Even if you’re not in a position to travel, the right tune can take you just about anywhere.

These 20, including compositions by Death Cab for Cutie, Johann Strauss, the Beatles and several that might surprise you, work for me. Let us know what you think by writing to us at travel@latimes.com.

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LAX screenings are haphazard, travelers say

As thousands continue to pour into LAX, many international travelers have complained about haphazard health screenings, being required to stand or sit near others who have returned from countries with known outbreaks of the coronavirus, or not being screened at all.

Travelers who were identified as high-risk by the White House but were not screened have taken to social media to decry the process, expressing alarm over the fact that they were so easily able to slip through the cracks amid an extraordinary global health crisis.

Kitty Horowitz said she and her husband also weren’t screened when they arrived at LAX from London on Sunday. The couple had been vacationing in Europe since late February, and had visited Austria and Germany — both on the list of countries that fell under Trump’s order.

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Trump touts unproven coronavirus remedies

WASHINGTON — President Trump, facing a national outcry over the lack of available coronavirus testing and an imminent spike in positive cases, suggested Thursday that two existing drugs might be effective remedies and said the Food and Drug Administration was fast-tracking them to market.

But neither drug is a proven treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and neither is likely to be publicly available in the near future.

Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug developed more than 50 years ago and also used to treat arthritis, has been determined to be effective against the coronavirus in recent laboratory experiments, Trump told a White House news conference.

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The coronavirus is changing life in California. These 20 photos show how

Workers clean chairs with disinfectant at Union Station in L.A.
Salvador Lareas, left, and Raul Arias clean chairs with disinfectant inside Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The Southland has taken extraordinary measures this week to stop dine-in restaurant eating, close gyms and movie theaters, and ban or limit gatherings to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Most Southern California measures were not as stringent as those imposed in 10 counties in the Bay Area and Central California, which asked residents to shelter in place and stay home as much as possible in the coming weeks.

The coronavirus outbreak has killed 17 people across California, including three people in the Coachella Valley in Riverside County — all over the age of 70, with two of them having underlying health conditions — and one person in Los Angeles County, a non-California resident in her 60s with underlying health issues.

Here’s a visual look at how life has changed in the Southland.

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With these six art books, you needn’t distance yourself from beauty

With the coronavirus lockdown in effect and theaters, museums and galleries temporarily shuttered, it’s harder than ever to experience art in the most vital and old-fashioned way: face to face.

Luckily there’s a backstop in art books; usually deployed as coffee-table souvenirs, now they can salve your deep museum FOMO. I like to think of it as “visual meditation.” (Or, if you’re 7 years old, it’s looking at a picture book, but meditation sounds more sophisticated, doesn’t it?)

Taking 30 minutes to flip through evocative or layered images can result in a transporting experience, a renewable antidote to cabin fever (or actual fever). Think of it as self-care for the artistically inclined.

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Ventura County issues coronavirus shelter-in-place order to people 75 and older

Coronavirus cases in Ventura County rose to 13, and officials imposed a series of orders designed to slow the spread.

People 75 or older have been ordered to shelter in place through April 1. The order also applies to people 70 and older with chronic disease.

The following types of businesses are ordered to close now to April 1, according to Ventura County Public Health:

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Amid restrictions, funerals are canceled or live-streamed

Funerals at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale are currently limited to 10 people.
(Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times )

As her father lay dying of congestive heart failure this month, Mary Jo Dixon asked what kind of funeral he wanted.

Glenn Wilson, 78, asked for old-fashioned hymns. “In the Garden” sung by Andy Griffith. “The Old Rugged Cross” by Alan Jackson. Please finish the service, he requested, with “Amazing Grace.”

His Baptist pastor would officiate. He did not want to be cremated. He had already paid for a cemetery plot.

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Coronavirus can’t keep them away from ‘Urban Light’: LACMA landmark still draws fans

Even in these dark times, some people have found the light.

Against a shuttered and dimmed Los Angeles County Museum of Art — where, on Tuesday evening, the sidewalks of Wilshire Boulevard were largely devoid of foot traffic — the public art installation “Urban Light” was bright with activity.

About a dozen visitors scampered within the grid of glowing lampposts, striking poses and snapping social-media-bound selfies. Toddlers chased one another, squealing; couples embraced beneath an aqua sky at dusk.

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Coronavirus kills the joke for L.A. comedians, as clubs shutter and UCB lays off staff

“Wow, man, what a week — like, my head is spinning,” said Adam Carolla from the stage of the Laugh Factory in Hollywood on Saturday night. “I can’t wrap my head around the finale of ‘The Bachelor.’ Pete dumped Madison at the very end!”

The joke landed in the busy room, where, despite measures to limit attendance below the government-mandated limit of (at the time) 250 people, nearly every seat on the ground floor was filled. Attendees sat elbow-to-elbow at many tables, and the waitstaff hustled to deliver drinks and food. If you didn’t know any better, everything looked pretty normal.

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Less freeway traffic means more speeding, and that worries the CHP

With the majority of Californians being urged to stay home as much as possible amid the coronavirus outbreak, life is changing rapidly across the state.

Many places are less crowded, including the notoriously clogged freeways. Traffic conditions are so light, in fact, speeding during rush hour is now possible.

On the other hand, some locations are far more crowded. Try getting into to your local Costco at opening time, for example.

Here are some scenes from Southern California over the last day:

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Prince Albert II of Monaco tests positive

The palace of Monaco says Prince Albert II has tested positive for the coronavirus but says there’s little concern for his health.

In a statement, the palace says the 62-year-old is being treated by doctors from the Princess Grace Hospital, named after his mother, who before becoming princess of Monaco was U.S. actress Grace Kelly.

Albert plans to continue working from his home office in the palace.

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This is a tough time for those in the restaurant industry. Here are some resources

The people who work in restaurants — owners, operators and food-service workers alike — are trying to figure out what to do now that the coronavirus pandemic has upended their businesses. We have a list of restaurants that are still doing takeout, as well as a list of resources if you’re a food-service or other worker who’s been laid off or had your hours cut.

The mayor has ordered all bars, wineries and tasting rooms to close down, and all restaurants to convert to takeout, delivery and curbside only. Chefs are scrambling to reinvent their sit-down locations to try to stay afloat.

They’re getting creative: At Guerrilla Tacos downtown, $150 will get you an Emergency Taco Kit that includes 10 pounds of meat, two pints of salsa, 30 eggs, and four rolls of toilet paper. (Place your order here.) Antico in Larchmont is now a pick-up-only pop-up called Focacceria & Ice Cream. The Historic Filipinotown restaurant Porridge + Puffs will be a “collaborative provision shop,” set to open Thursday. All Day Baby in Silver Lake organized a one-day fire sale to offload inventory. Here’s our running list of L.A. restaurants offering takeout and delivery right now.

Many places will be forced to close, temporarily or permanently. And that means potentially thousands of people will suddenly have no source of income. We’ve collected some resources for you if you’re one of them:

The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group for restaurant operators and workers, has created a list of resources for restaurants and workers coping with the COVID-19 crisis. The One Fair Wage Campaign has started a relief fund for restaurant and gig workers affected by the crisis in states where it has active campaigns. The California Restaurant Assn. Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the state’s restaurant workforce through educational grants, has an emergency loan program called Restaurant Cares to help restaurant workers cover basic living expenses. (If you’re not affected by the pandemic and want to help, you can donate to the RWCF’s emergency relief fund, and to the One Fair Wage Campaign relief fund.)

If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19 — whether you work in a restaurant or somewhere else — you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits from $40 to $450 a week. You can file a claim with California’s Employment Development Department. Apply for public assistance programs such as CalFresh, Medi-Cal or CalWorks online on the California benefits website.

Undocumented labor has been a large part of the U.S. food service industry. The Los Angeles County Bar Assn.’s Immigration Legal Assistance Project provides legal aid and counseling for a nominal fee. Community Legal Aid SoCal has a hotline providing low-cost evaluation, advice and counsel for low-income residents of Southern California.

Small-business owners, including restaurateurs, may be able to get some relief as well: The U.S. Small Business Administration announced March 12 that it would provide disaster assistance loans for small businesses affected by COVID-19.

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With schools closed, LAUSD is offering free meals at 60 sites across the region

Julie McAfee picks up meals from volunteer Dante Johnson at Dorsey High.
Julie McAfee picks up meals for her 87-year-old father from Dante Johnson, right, an LAUSD volunteer at Dorsey High School, on Wednesday.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

California public schools will probably remain closed for the remainder of the academic year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said this week, a move that affects 6.1 million students and their families statewide.

“Don’t anticipate schools are going to open up in a week. Please don’t anticipate in a few weeks,” Newsom warned. “I would plan, and assume, that it’s unlikely that many of these schools — few, if any — will open before the summer break.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District has set up 60 “grab-and-go” sites across the region for low-income students and their families to pick up food. Volunteers will provide up to two packaged meals per person between 7 and 10 a.m.

L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner said no one would be turned away, whether or not they have a connection to the school system.

“Our intent is to serve children, but if adults ask, we will offer and we’re going to serve those in need,” Beutner said. “These are not ordinary days. ... Our goal is to help as many as we can.”

With coronavirus cases increasing, more than 8 million Californians are now living under shelter-in-place orders.

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Can voting by mail save the November election?

WASHINGTON — As states scramble to postpone presidential primaries, election workers abandon their posts, and voters worry about the risk of contagion in crowded polling places, the question of how the nation is going to pull off a general election in November has generated increasing anxiety.

Some states are much better prepared than others.

In a significant swath of the nation, however, most voters still lack the one viable option for casting ballots that doesn’t put their health at risk in a time of pandemic: voting by mail.

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Watch live: White House holds update briefing

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The ultimate guide to hanging out virtually with your friends

Staying socially isolated doesn’t mean you have to cancel your social plans. You just need to adjust them a bit.

If you have a webcam and an internet connection, you can still host dinner parties, happy hours, game nights, karaoke sessions and more. We have some technical advice for ways to get set up and share your screen — and then some ideas for what to do.

Before you begin, know to expect some technical difficulties. Try to have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Most of us aren’t video-conferencing pros. (Here’s some advice about how to set up your laptop and physical space for an optimal video experience.) It’s likely going to take a little trial and error to get set up the first time.

Once you’re ready to go, here’s how to get started.

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Can strain strengthen neighborhood bonds during the coronavirus crisis?

People fill up food boxes at the Unite Here Local 11 food bank.
People fill up boxes at the Unite Here Local 11 food bank to distribute to those in need during the virus outbreak.
(Carolyn Cole/Carolyn Cole/Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

It was billed as “solid practical advice from Stanford” for handling the coronavirus when it showed up in my inbox last week:

Take a deep breath every morning and hold it for 10 seconds. If you don’t cough or feel discomfort that “proves there is no Fibrosis in the lungs,” which means you’re “basically” infection-free.

That was followed by: “Serious excellent advice by Japanese doctors treating COVID-19”:

Take a few sips of water every 15 minutes. Because even if the virus gets into your mouth, drinking water will wash it down through your throat and into the stomach, where your stomach acid will kill all the virus.

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Column: When cabin fever strikes, I try board games and an icy ‘quarantini’

Irish as a boiled carrot, I always celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in my usual way, hollering Yeats’ “The Wild Swans at Coole” on street corners and small social gatherings of doctors and deadbeats.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,And now my heart is sore …

The bell-beat of their wings above my head,Trod with a lighter tread.

In my own peculiar way, I am keeping the Irish Literary Revival alive. I’m also testing my lungs for all the obvious things.
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What small businesses need to know about L.A.'s new emergency microloans

The coronavirus has thrown the economy and especially small businesses into crisis, with restaurants, shops and beauty salons among the enterprises sending workers home as customers vanish. In response, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced an emergency loan program to put $5,000 to $20,000 into the hands of desperate owners within a few weeks if not sooner.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the whole purpose is to help these businesses at a very difficult time,” said Caroyln Hull, general manager of the Economic and Workforce Development Department, which is running the lending program.

The $11-million loan fund is expected to serve 550 to 2,500 businesses, depending on the mix of applicants, which have at least one employee and in the retail sector can have as many as 500. The loans come with no to low interest and there is no application fee. However, applicants must meet basic underwriting criteria.

Here’s what applicants need to know:
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On Catalina Island, concern yet calm as coronavirus threatens tourism economy

On a typical Monday afternoon, Don Whitaker sees all 30 of his golf carts rented out to tourists who putter around on them across the city of Avalon in Catalina.

“Right now, it would be like Disneyland without rides,” said Whitaker as the 70-year-old leaned back in one of his comfy carts and took in the beauty of Avalon Bay.

This Monday , his entire fleet stayed put.
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As coronavirus spreads, California puts National Guard on alert and asks Navy for help

With coronavirus cases and deaths rising in California, state officials are racing to prepare hospitals for more patients while also tapping other resources including the National Guard and the U.S. Navy for a hospital boat.

California has seen the number of confirmed cases continue to rise: at least 836 cases and 17 deaths as of Wednesday, compared with 157 cases and three deaths the week before. Nearly 12,000 people in the state are self-monitoring for symptoms.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has put the California National Guard on “alert” as more and more counties order residents to stay in their homes and the hoarding of cleaning supplies, toilet paper and other essential goods continues to strip market shelves.
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U.S. stocks keep falling on coronavirus-fueled recession fears

U.S. stocks slid in the first minutes of trading Thursday as investors digested a battery of economic and financial measures from global policymakers aimed at easing the market turmoil.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 2.7% around 6:45 a.m. Pacific time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 3%, or about 600 points. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.2%.

Futures had endured a choppy overnight session, swinging 7 percentage points, as traders weighed the growing likelihood of a global recession and corporate defaults triggered by unprecedented lockdowns and supply-chain disruption. U.S. jobless claims came in higher than expected.
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US pauses Afghanistan deployments, isolates arrivals there

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military says it is pausing the movement of any new troops into Afghanistan and is quarantining 1,500 troops and civilians who recently arrived in order to protect them from the coronavirus, the top commander in the country said Thursday.

Troops who are already in the country may have their deployments extended so missions can continue.

The announcement comes as the U.S. is reducing its troops presence in Afghanistan as part of the peace deal signed last month between the Taliban and the United States.

In a tweet, Army Gen. Scott Miller said the military has started new screening procedures for personnel arriving in the country. About 1,500 service members, civilians and contractors who have gone to Afghanistan from various countries in the past week are living in screening facilities.

Miller said most are either new deployments or people returning from leave and they are being quarantined “out of an abundance of caution, not because they are sick.” He added that the U.S.-led coalition is also limiting access to critical personnel and bases.

So far, 21 U.S. and coalition personnel exhibiting flu-like symptoms are in isolation and receiving medical care.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In Afghanistan, 22 people have been diagnosed and no deaths have been reported.

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Sierra ski towns ask travelers: Please stay away

Sierra ski towns should be booming right now. Snowfall in March brought some of the best conditions of the season. Instead, chairs were stilled at resorts from Lake Tahoe to Mammoth Mountain because of the coronavirus crisis. Now nearby towns are asking travelers to stay away.

“It would be irresponsible of us to encourage anyone to come to our town,” says Coleen Dalton, director of tourism for Truckee, the California town near Tahoe’s ski resorts. “Never in my career would I ever think I would be making that statement.”
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Coronavirus shutdowns are lowering greenhouse gas emissions; history shows they’ll roar back

The global struggle to slow the spread of the coronavirus has brought with it canceled flights, closed businesses and a quickly escalating economic slowdown that could be devastating to millions. It is also certain to shrink greenhouse gas emissions this year, according to climate scientists.

But does that mean we are turning a corner in cutting planet-warming pollution?

If history is any indication, no. The slide in emissions will be temporary, experts say. What’s more, scientists and environmentalists worry the pandemic will at the same time undermine government and industry’s resolve to cut emissions in the long term.
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Spike in jobless claims due to corornavirus provides dramatic evidence that economy is stalling

WASHINGTON —Providing dramatic evidence of soaring layoffs from the coronavirus virus, the government reported Thursday that new unemployment insurance claims spiked last week to the highest level in two and a half years.

First-time jobless claims for the week ending Saturday jumped by 70,000, or about one-third, from just the prior week. And analysts say that’s just the beginning as employers have only in recent days begun to cut their payrolls in response to business closures and lockdowns across the country caused by spreading virus.
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EU Brexit negotiator has coronavirus

BRUSSELS (AP) — Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator for the bloc’s future relationship with Britain after Brexit, has been infected with the new coronavirus.

The 69-year-old Barnier said in a Twitter video message Thursday that he is doing well and is in good spirits, while the EU’s executive arm said negotiations with British officials can continue.

“I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team,” Barnier said from his home, where he has been confined. “For all those affected already, and for all those currently in isolation, we will get through this together.”

Barnier’s announcement prompted a series of good wishes messages, including from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel.

European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said von der Leyen will be tested following Barnier’s positive result. Barnier and the EU chief last met two weeks ago. So far she has not shown any symptom of illness.

Even before Barnier’s tweet, the second round of post-Brexit trade negotiations that was due to take place in London this week had already been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. London is the epicenter of Britain’s virus infections.

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UK supermarkets impose limits amid panic buying

LONDON — British supermarkets have brought in measures to control the coronavirus-induced panic-buying that’s seen many of their shelves emptied and elderly and vulnerable people often unable to get the products they need.

Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket chain, is limiting customers to three items each across its entire product range. And Sainsbury’s reserved the first hour of trading in its stores Thursday for elderly and vulnerable customers.

Jim Gibson, 72, from southeast London, was one who took up that invite from Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe at his local store.

He said the experience was “relatively trauma-free” even though it was evident that many people under 70 hadn’t taken the CEO’s words to heart.

Most of the products he was looking for were there, though many tinned items were “leaping off the shelves” and he couldn’t get the medicines that he and his 73-year-old wife wanted.

Gibson understands the restrictions being imposed and the likely tougher ones to come, but he wants to impress on the British government the need for mass testing.

“You can’t go on ignoring World Health Organization guidelines,” he said. “If they’re wrong, who the hell is right? And their thing is test, test, test.”

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At the Santa Monica Farmers Market, vendors and customers adjust to a new normal

In some ways, it felt like business as usual at the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Wednesday.

Parsnips, carrots and heirloom potatoes crowded tables at Weiser Family Farms. A scattering of shoppers wore masks; others wore bandannas over their faces.

Fragrant kumquats and mandarins from Garcia Organic Farms resembled vivid orange gemstones. All the vendors wore disposable gloves; some stands erected improvised barriers to distance sellers from buyers.
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Job losses from coronavirus are already devastating Southern California

In the working-class city of Pico Rivera, Melanie Santos, 26, made ends meet as a substitute math teacher for $120 a day and an occasional gig dishing food-truck chicken wings.

Thirty-seven miles away, in a leafy Pacific Palisades enclave, Louise Sandy, 52, ran a one-woman business baking custom-designed cakes for birthdays and baby showers that sell for as much as $800 each.

Now the two women have something in common: Both have seen their work evaporate in the coronavirus tsunami that has engulfed California’s economy.

Workers across vast swaths of the Golden State’s labor market are feeling the pain. Wealthy, poor and levels in between. Young, old and middle-age.
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We already watch too much TV. Coronavirus may push us over the edge

Congratulations! You’ve decided to act like a responsible adult and stay home as much as possible in the coming days/weeks/months/years/decades/centuries/millenniums to help “flatten the curve” of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. You’re going to have some new challenges in your life now, and one — perhaps as challenging as not touching your face or remembering to cough like a fourth-grader into your elbow — will be particularly difficult, not to say dangerous. And it’s coming from inside the house.Read more>>>

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Stock markets subdued after more central bank support

BANGKOK —Stock markets were largely subdued Thursday after days of massive volatility, as investors digested new financial support measures, including the European Central Bank’s promise to funnel $817 billion into financial markets.

Market sentiment appeared fragile as investors rushed to convert holdings to cash, bracing for a prolonged coronavirus-induced recession.
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Southern California home prices rose in February, a time before social distancing

Reflecting a different world, data released Wednesday show Southern California home prices rose 6% in February from a year earlier, while sales surged 14%.

The release, from DQNews, covers deals that closed last month.

Since then, entire sectors of the regional and national economies have shut down or reduced service to beat back the novel coronavirus.

In Southern California, the economic pain could be deep. Major industries such as tourism and entertainment have been particularly hard hit.
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Businesses are sheltering in place. How long can the economy survive that?

We’ve all seen the unsettling images of what happens when the economy goes haywire.

Bread lines, farmers abandoning the Dust Bowl, drivers cued up to fill their gas tanks, houses with foreclosure notices pounded into their front lawns.

Add to that a rush-hour view of an L.A. freeway, typically jammed with commuters, but now more like a Sunday morning due to a virus that has wrecked the once booming U.S economy just two months after the first confirmed domestic case.
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Commentary: Echo Park is different now. Here’s what I saw on my walk

Yes, the world is different. But there’s still water in Echo Park Lake, still a tall fountain in the middle, still a pleasant path that wraps around the water. So I went for a walk on Wednesday, as I’m trying to do every day.

The lake’s dozens of white, swan-shaped paddle boats are locked up and the cafe is closed, but plenty of people are using the park. Runners. Anglers. Families with little kids. And lots of ice cream vendors.

I asked one how much he was selling.

“Very little,” he said. “Maybe later...”
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