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Some in U.S. may not get stimulus checks until August, memo says
The federal government expects to begin making payments to millions of Americans under the new stimulus law in mid-April, but some people without direct deposit information may not get checks until mid-August or later, according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press.
The document from the House Ways and Means Committee says the IRS will make about 60 million payments to Americans through direct deposit in mid-April, likely the week of April 13. The IRS has direct deposit information for these individuals from their 2018 or 2019 tax returns.
Then, starting the week of May 4, the IRS will begin issuing paper checks to individuals, says the memo obtained by AP on Thursday. The paper checks will be issued at a rate of about 5 million per week, which means it could take up to 20 weeks to get all the checks out. That timeline would delay some checks until the week of Aug. 17.
Actors in Seoul get virus; theatergoers may quarantine
The South Korean capital of Seoul says it will ask more than 8,500 theatergoers to self-monitor at home after Canadian and American cast members of “The Phantom of the Opera” were found to have the coronavirus.
Seoul City official Na Baek-ju said Friday the musical’s international tour was halted following the positive test of an unidentified Canadian actress, who began experiencing throat pain and dry coughs days after she began performing at the city’s Blue Square theater on March 14. She last appeared on stage on Monday, a day before her test.
Officials have since tested 138 of her contacts, including colleagues and guests at the downtown Somerset Palace hotel, and confirmed the infection of an American actor on Thursday.
Na said officials were still awaiting test results for 48 people while the other 89 tested negative.
He said the hotel was ordered to prevent guests from leaving the property and stop taking new customers.
South Korea earlier on Friday reported 86 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its nationwide total to 10,062.
Why China’s wildlife ban is not enough to stop another virus outbreak
SHANGHAI — When SARS hit the world in 2003, China went after the civet.
The weasel-like animal, eaten as a delicacy in southern China, was suspected of being an intermediary host of the virus that infected 8,000 people and killed 800 in China and across the world. Tens of thousands of civets were drowned or electrocuted.
China also banned the hunting, trading and consumption of wildlife. But that restriction was lifted three months later. The National Forestry and Grassland Administration announced that 54 types of wildlife, civets included, could be consumed and sold, as long as they were raised on farms.
By 2019, the wildlife trade was thriving. In November, the forestry administration republished a news report from Jiangxi province on its website, boasting that it had helped 1,700 people in one town alone to take up civet breeding and “embark on the road to riches.”
Stories of success read like fables: “The cold winter wind was screaming on Nov. 27, but Zhang Zhilin, a poor farmer in Shaping town of Wanan county had a ‘warm sun’ in his heart. The 33 civet cats he bred would come out for sale next year, bringing in $7,000 of income,” the report read.
Two months later, another coronavirus — SARS-CoV-2, as it is officially called — was sweeping the nation. The disease it causes, COVID-19, would soon devastate the world, infecting more than a million people and killing more than 52,000 so far.
U.S. stops issuing passports, except in emergencies
The U.S. State Department won’t be processing new passports and renewals except for emergency cases because of the coronavirus pandemic, the agency’s website says.
“Due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours,” says a March 27 online statement.
Passport applications received on or before March 19 will be processed. Travelers who paid extra for expedited service can expect to receive their passport in the next two to three weeks.
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O.C. moves to convert two hotels into housing, medical facilities for the homeless
Officials in Orange County entered into an agreement this week with a boutique hotel group to convert two properties into temporary housing and medical facilities for the homeless amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ayres Hotels, located in Orange and Laguna Woods, will be leased on a month-to-month basis to shelter and provide medical care for homeless individuals who are over age 65, have underlying health conditions, are showing symptoms of the coronavirus or who have tested positive, according to county officials.
Homeless people, who are more likely to have underlying health conditions and weakened immune systems, often from living on the streets, are at a higher risk for developing severe forms of COVID-19 than the general population, health experts say.
Officials across the state have been working on ways to quickly move people indoors amid fears that an outbreak in this vulnerable population could strain an already fragile health system.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has allocated $50 million to purchase or lease hotels and motels across the state for that purpose, along with an additional $100 million in emergency grants. The state is also providing trailers to Orange County to use in isolating homeless people.
Trump invokes Defense Production Act to aid in manufacturing of ventilators
President Trump on Thursday issued an order under a Korean War-era law to help manufacturers secure supplies and parts they need to make ventilators, a key medical tool in the fight against the coronavirus.
In the order, Trump directed the Department of Health and Human Services to use its authority to ensure major companies like General Electric and Medtronic PLC can secure ventilator parts. “Today’s order will save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production” of the devices, Trump said in a statement.
Governors and doctors are scrambling to find more ventilators, which can help keep patients breathing when severely stricken by the virus, and have pressed Trump to use the Defense Production Act to force companies to build the devices and to help them obtain them. They have complained that states and hospitals are competing to obtain such devices on the open market.
The federal government has shipped nearly half of the 20,000 ventilators it had in its stockpile at the start of the crisis, and governors say hospitals will require tens of thousands more to treat the sickest patients before the pandemic ebbs.
Trump has been reluctant to use the Defense Production Act to force companies to make goods, saying it would endanger free markets. Last week, he used the act for the first time in ordering General Motors to produce ventilators.
Healthcare experts have said the only way to produce enough critical supplies — masks, gloves, scrubs and ventilators — is for Trump to use the act to spur production and help allocate resources.
Trump signed a second order dealing with distribution of health-related items, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said. He dubbed it a “3M order,” saying the administration has had concerns in recent days making sure 3M Co.’s production around the world is delivered to the U.S.
Bloomberg contributed to this report
Californians won’t have water service turned off for unpaid bills during crisis, Newsom says
Californians won’t have their water turned off due to unpaid bills during the coronavirus crisis, and those who already had it turned off will have their service restored, under action taken Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The governor’s directive comes in response to calls from environmental justice organizations for assistance to low-income residents facing mounting financial pressures.
“This executive order will help people who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring they have water service,” Newsom said in a written statement after hinting at the action during an event broadcast online. “Water is critical to our very lives, and in this time it is critically important that it is available for everyone.”
The decision also requires that residential water service be restored to those who had it turned off for lack of payment since March 4, when the statewide coronavirus emergency went into effect.
FDA provides updated guidance to address need for blood during the pandemic
The U.S. government Thursday eased restrictions on blood donations from gay men and other key groups because of a drop in the nation’s blood supply triggered by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Food and Drug Administration’s new policy aims to allow tens of thousands more Americans to give blood, including gay and bisexual men and people with recent tattoos and piercings.
“We want and we need healthy people — all healthy people — to give blood,” said Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who announced the changes in a media briefing with the FDA.
Canceled blood drives have decimated donations to the American Red Cross and other nonprofits that provide most of the blood supply. Last month, the Red Cross estimated there had been 86,000 fewer blood donations in recent weeks because blood drives were canceled at workplaces, colleges and other locations.
The FDA’s previous rules barred donations from men who have had sex with a man in the previous year. The same policy applied to women who’ve had sex with gay or bisexual men and people who’ve received tattoos and piercings in the last year.
Under the new policy, the disqualifying time period was reduced to three months. FDA officials said the move to three months matches recent changes in the United Kingdom and other developed countries.
The FDA on Thursday made similar changes to restrictions for people who have recently traveled to countries where malaria exposure is a risk.
The agency said it expects the changes to remain in place after the pandemic ends.
The U.S. and many other countries have long restricted donations from gay and bisexual men and several other groups due to the risk of spreading HIV through the blood supply. In 2015, the FDA moved from a total ban to the one-year abstinence period for men who have sex with men.
Gay rights groups have continued to challenge that policy, saying it’s unnecessary given current testing technology and continues to stigmatize gay and bisexual men.
Donated blood is screened for a number of infectious diseases, including HIV. The new coronavirus can’t be spread through blood.
Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, natural wine and toilet paper: Sara’s Market in East L.A. adapts to the times
In an East L.A. neighborhood dense with mini-marts, the flamingo pink Sara’s Market is hard to miss even as you zoom down the busy stretch of road on which it has sat for 60 years.
Sara’s Market was hitting its stride in recent months, jammed every afternoon with kids from the nearby schools; they’d load up on candy and chips while their parents perused the selection of pet-nats and skin-contact wine. An active social media account and a steady lineup of pop-ups — Lowkey Burritos one night, Evil Cooks tacos or Love Hour burgers the next — helped draw crowds from all over to this little-known corner of L.A., the unincorporated community of City Terrace.
But then the coronavirus outbreak hit, and though Sara’s Market has been permitted to stay open, it’s shifting gears once again.
Column: Flesh-eating apocalyptic films and shows didn’t prepare us for this pandemic’s horror
We should have been much better prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m not talking about on a federal or local level — although President Trump’s firing of the pandemic experts and ignoring the medical community during early weeks, not to mention California’s decision to stop funding a bunch of mobile hospitals — certainly contributed to the crisis.
Whether by recognizable virus (“Outbreak,” “Contagion,” “Containment, “Black Death”), radiation (“Chernobyl,” “On the Beach”), weaponized rage (“28 Days Later”), biological warfare (“Daybreak”) or the ever popular zombie-disease (“The Walking Dead,” “Zombieland,” “World War Z,” “Shaun of the Dead”), mass infection is one of film and television’s favorite topics.
Trump’s oil production comments on Saudi Arabia and Russia sow confusion
Not so long ago, President Trump seemed to welcome the emerging energy war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, when both countries seemed bent on flooding the markets with barrels of oil. Even though the development roiled the stock exchange, on the eve of its plummet during the coronavirus crisis, Trump said the dispute would lower gasoline prices for American consumers.
On Thursday, he seemed to have a change of heart. Trump claimed in a tweet that he had spoken with “my friend” Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, who had in turn spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the three agreed to cut back oil production.
“I expect & hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more which, if it happens, will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!” Trump tweeted. American consumers were no longer on his mind, apparently.
Moreover, both the Saudis and Russians disputed Trump’s version of events. The Saudis said the prince and Trump merely agreed to attempt to reach agreement. The Russians said Putin had not even spoken with Mohammed.
Trump’s reference to Mohammed as his friend also rankled many in Washington. Mohammed is widely considered — by the U.S. intelligence establishment and United Nations investigators — responsible for the gruesome murder 18 months ago of Washington-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of Saudi agents. Mohammed has denied responsibility and the kingdom prosecuted a handful of low-level personnel.
Trump apparently hoped to give a boost to markets, which have been battered badly during the pandemic as oil consumption and business generally has slowed dramatically. And it worked, at least initially, with oil prices surging after his tweet and gains in the market before closing.
Newsom says face coverings can help, but California won’t mandate now
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that face coverings are beneficial in grocery stores, but his administration has stopped short of telling Californians to wear them.
“We believe and we put out guidelines that if individuals want to have face coverings,” Newsom said, “that is a good thing and a preferable thing, in addition to the physical distancing and the stay at home order.”
“We have been very clear that if you are going into an environment where physical distancing is all but impossible, for example, into a grocery store with small aisles and a long queue, that we do believe it would be additive and beneficial to have a face covering.”
L.A. County death toll jumps to 78 as number of cases skyrockets past 4,000
Los Angeles County health officials on Thursday confirmed 13 new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the death toll to 78.
Twelve of those individuals were over the age of 65 and, of those, 11 had underlying health conditions, according to Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Another person, who was between the age of 41 and 65, also had underlying health conditions, she said.
Health officials also announced 534 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 4,045. The daily count has increased by more than 1,000 in the last 48 hours.
Congressional Budget Office predicts unemployment could exceed 10% in 2nd quarter
Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper predicted Thursday that unemployment would exceed 10% in the second quarter of the year, part of a dramatic decline of the overall economy because of the coronavirus.
The Congressional Budget Office also estimated that the national gross domestic product would decline by more than 7% and that interest rates on the 10-year Treasury note would fall below 1%, CBO Director Phillip Swagel wrote in a blog post.
CBO based its predictions, in part, on the expectation that the current guidance on social distancing across the country would generally continue for three months. The organization also accounted for later outbreaks of the virus, including an expectation that social distancing would diminish by three-quarters during the second half of 2020. But the job losses would continue for quite some time; CBO expects the unemployment rate to be about 9% at the end of 2021.
What’s open and closed this weekend? Trails, parks, beaches in Southern California
Southern Californians can still walk, hike and bike outdoors without violating Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, but public agencies are urging residents to stay home as much as possible, and many are urging people to wear masks outside.
This weekend, the National Park Service will close all Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area trails, trailheads, restrooms, overlooks and pullouts in Ventura County — and then reopen them Monday, when crowds are thinner.
IOC won’t speculate on potential threat to Olympic Games in 2021
With the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo postponed until next year, it seems Olympic leaders would rather not think about the elephant in the room.
If the coronavirus outbreak stretches into next winter — or subsides and then returns — might the Games be canceled?
“Let’s not speculate,” Christophe Dubi, an International Olympic Committee executive, told reporters during a Thursday teleconference, adding that “hopefully we can see the flattening of the curve in Europe and in other continents to follow.”
Thousands of medical masks from national stockpile rotted
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — More than 5,000 medical masks that an Alabama county received from the national stockpile were rotted, the local emergency management director said.
States and cities are receiving shipments from the National Strategic Stockpile to try to relieve shortages in medical equipment because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Christi Thornton, director of the Montgomery City/County Emergency Management Agency, said the shipment of 5,880 procedure masks was unusable because of dry rot. The masks had a 2010 expiration date, according to the city’s response to a survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Thornton said they received a replacement shipment Wednesday.
Alabama has more than 1,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the state health department. There have been 32 COVID-19 deaths reported to the state; health officials have so far confirmed 17 of them.
Feds propose fine for Seattle-area nursing home where at least 40 died
SEATTLE — Federal authorities have proposed a $611,000 fine for a Seattle-area nursing home connected to at least 40 coronavirus deaths.
State regulators and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services conducted an inspection of the Life Care Center of Kirkland on March 16, finding serious infractions that they said placed residents in immediate danger.
Authorities said Life Care had at least partially fixed the most serious problems by the time they conducted follow-up inspection last weekend. In a letter to Life Care on Wednesday, CMS proposed a fine of $611,000, but said that could be adjusted up or down based on how Life Care continues to correct remaining problems.
Dodgers head trainer Brandon McDaniel to stream workouts for fans twice a week
Among the challenges for many people during the COVID-19 outbreak, though perhaps somewhere down the list of importance, is maintaining a workout regimen while confined at home. The Dodgers are offering help.
Brandon McDaniel, the team’s director of player performance, will stream a 30-minute workout every Monday and Friday at 8 a.m. for the public on the Dodgers’ YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter pages. McDaniel will conduct the first few sessions alone with explanations for each exercise. He said players may join eventually if they’re interested and can get to his home, where he’s holding the workouts. The first workout is Friday.
An immunity test is essential for the U.S. But will it work?
It’s a potential saving grace salvaged from a pandemic: As people recover from the coronavirus, they may develop immunity that could allow them to return to school or work, helping place the U.S. on the road to recovery.
But tests to determine whether a person is immune are just being developed in the U.S., and concern is growing that the process could be marred by the same kind of widely criticized delays and confusion that plagued testing aimed at detecting COVID-19.
The test, called a serology test, uses blood samples, rather than secretions taken from throats and noses, to check if a person has developed antibodies against the novel coronavirus. Germany may begin wide-spread serology testing in April, and the U.K. has ordered millions of at-home antibody tests.
Column: Sobriety a struggle in this time of isolation for former boxer Mia St. John
Mia St. John sighed as she searched for the words to describe the despair she felt on the day of her relapse.
“There was such, I don’t know, just like a sense of isolation,” she said.
The 52-year-old former boxer had driven to one Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, then another, only to find neither was in session.
Her next stop was a grocery store, where she purchased a bottle of wine.
Getty to create $10-million relief fund for L.A. arts organizations
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a torrent of bad news to cultural institutions, which have had to close galleries, cancel exhibitions and lay off workers. But a new relief fund could bring a glimmer of hope — and the possibility of survival — to Los Angeles arts organizations.
The J. Paul Getty Trust has announced that it is establishing a $10-million COVID-19 relief fund for small and midsize arts organizations in Los Angeles County. In addition, the Fellowship for the Visual Arts grant, which is administered by the California Community Foundation (CCF) from an endowment established by the Getty in 1988, will this year be repurposed as an emergency support grant for individual visual artists.
The outbreak reduced its workforce and supplies but O.C. food bank finds a way to help
A crew of workers descended this week on the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County to pack boxes of food for those in need.
A month ago, none of these workers would have been there. The program they were hired to staff didn’t even exist.
Like virtually all public and private organizations, the Irvine-based nonprofit has had to dramatically retool its operations in a coronavirus pandemic world where “business as usual” is fast becoming a distant memory.
Chris Cuomo details ‘freaky’ night with the virus: ‘like somebody was beating me like a piñata’
A day after announcing his COVID-19 diagnosis, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo offered viewers a glimpse into the severe and “freaky” symptoms he’s been experiencing while quarantined in his home.
Filming Wednesday’s edition of “Cuomo Prime Time” from his basement, the veteran broadcast journalist gave a detailed breakdown of the feverish night he had with the respiratory illness, which raised his internal temperature to at least 103 degrees.
“This virus came at me — I’ve never seen anything like it,” the 49-year-old said, describing the effects of body-quaking “rigors.” “Yeah, I’ve had a fever, you’ve had a fever. But ... it was like somebody was beating me like a piñata. And I was shivering so much that ... I chipped my tooth.”
Wealthy L.A. areas have higher rates of cases. Why those numbers are deceiving
As a potent new strain of coronavirus continues its lethal spread across California, many of Los Angeles County’s whitest and wealthiest enclaves are reporting far higher rates of infection than are poorer neighborhoods of color.
Predominantly white, affluent areas such as Hancock Park, Bel-Air, Beverly Crest and Brentwood reported some of the highest per-capita rates of confirmed cases, while many working-class and majority nonwhite communities such as Bell Gardens, Watts and El Monte reported much lower rates, a Times analysis of county health data through Wednesday shows.
But those disparities do not mean the virus is spreading more widely through rich neighborhoods than in poorer ones, public health officials and experts say. Rather, they are likely skewed by uneven access to testing, and in some instances by wealthy residents who traveled internationally and had some of the earliest confirmed infections.
Louisiana case number spikes by 42%
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana’s confirmed number of coronavirus cases spiked 42% higher Thursday as a backlog of test results poured in.
The spike in cases confirmed Gov. John Bel Edwards’ message that the virus’s footprint across the state is much wider than limited testing has been able to document so far.
Nearly 9,200 people have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the latest figures released by the Louisiana Department of Health. That’s a jump of more than 2,700 confirmed cases from a day earlier and the largest single-day increase reported so far.
Edwards said many of the tests were done days ago, and he emphasized that most of those infected are self-isolating at home, not requiring a hospital bed.
The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 did not show a similar jump. Louisiana’s death toll from the coronavirus disease grew to 310 in Thursday’s figures, 14% higher than the day before, recording an additional 37 people whose deaths from the virus have been confirmed.
Congressional committee would add more oversight to stimulus plan
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her chamber will create a special committee to oversee the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, including how the $2.2 trillion from last week’s stimulus plan is spent.Pelosi told reporters Thursday that the bipartisan committee, to be led by third-ranking Democrat James Clyburn of South Carolina, will also seek to ensure that steps are taken based on science and to protect against price gouging of essential materials in the broader economy. The committee will have subpoena power, Pelosi said.The committee’s aim will be to “ensure that the taxpayers dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi compared the new committee to the panel chaired by then-Senator Harry Truman in the 1940s to investigate defense spending as the country mobilized for World War II. Pelosi said Congress shouldn’t wait until the coronavirus is over to look into the government’s response and make bipartisan recommendations.
“We want to make sure there are not exploiters out there,” she said of the crisis. “Where there is money, there is mischief.”
This House committee would be separate from the layers of oversight included in the stimulus bill Congress passed last week. That law mandates a special inspector general, an accountability committee of relevant government departments and a five-person panel appointed by Congress to oversee part of the federal aid for companies.
House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and top Energy and Commerce Republican Greg Walden said in a telephone news conference that an additional House panel to oversee the coronavirus response isn’t needed.
“I think creating yet another committee, a select committee, is a big mistake,” said Walden.
Pelosi also expressed support for eventual creation of a separate commission to examine the response to the pandemic, similar to the House-Senate commission following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Such a panel would not be intended to “point fingers” and may not occur until after the election, she said.
“Let’s go forward with what we are doing now,” the speaker said.
Home lenders brace for up to 15 million mortgage defaults
Mortgage lenders are preparing for the biggest wave of delinquencies in history. If the plan to buy time works, they may avert an even worse crisis: Mass foreclosures and mortgage market mayhem.
Borrowers who lost income from the coronavirus — already a skyrocketing number, with a record 10 million new jobless claims — can ask to skip payments for up to 180 days at a time on federally backed mortgages, and avoid penalties and a hit to their credit scores. But it’s not a payment holiday. Eventually, they’ll have to make it all up.
California unemployment claims surged to 879,000 last week
California unemployment claims surged to a record level last week, with at least 878,7278 people reporting lost jobs, as the coronavirus’ economic toll engulfed the state.
The Golden State’s claims rose to more than double those of any other state.
The skyrocketing number for the week ending March 28 far surpassed the previous week’s 186,333 claims, but even that is likely to grow. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that 1.6 million Californians have filed claims since March 13, including a record 150,000 on Monday alone.
1st death in Santa Barbara County; overall case count jumps to 111
Santa Barbara County announced its first coronavirus-related death this week as its number of confirmed infections increased to 111.
Public health officials said the North County resident who died Wednesday was in their 60s and had underlying health conditions. The death occurred at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, where the patient was in intensive care and on a ventilator.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of this patient,” said Santa Barbara County Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg in a statement. “While we have expected more cases, this death is an unfortunate milestone in our efforts to fight this disease, and one that we never wanted to see.”
Riverside County sheriff’s deputy dies as toll on law enforcement grows
A Riverside County sheriff’s deputy has died from complications of the coronavirus, the latest sign of how law enforcement is being hit hard by the outbreak.
Pentagon orders 100,000 body bags for FEMA
In one of the more grim purchases of the pandemic, the Pentagon said on Thursday that it has ordered 100,000 body bags “to address mortuary contingencies” for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The numbers are in line with what have become low-end estimates for the novel coronavirus’ death toll in the United States. A military spokesman, Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, called the purchase “prudent planning” and said the bags will be used by state health agencies.
Former Angels outfielder Jim Edmonds feeling better after diagnosis
Retired Angels and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds reported late Wednesday that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
In an video shared on his Instagram profile, Edmonds said he was “doing really well” and no longer exhibited symptoms of the COVID-19 disease. He surmised he must have been infected for several weeks before the diagnosis.
“Thank God I quarantined myself and listened to what everyone said and kept our curve at our home flattened,” he said.
Edmonds was admitted to a hospital for testing Saturday — but only after he convinced health officials to do so.
Italy reports 760 more deaths from virus
ROME — Italy added another 760 dead to its coronavirus toll, bringing the count in the country with the most deaths to 13,915. But new infections continued to level off three weeks into the West’s first nationwide shutdown, with 4,668 new infections for a total official caseload of 115,242.
Pressure on hospitals in hard-hit Lombardy continued to ease, with more than 800 people recovered and 165 fewer people hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to a day earlier. Intensive care units are still saturated, but overall, Lombardy added just under 1,300 new positive cases, with about half of those infected being treated at home.
More than 10,000 medical personnel have been infected nationwide and 69 doctors have died, according to the National Institutes of Health and the Italian association of doctors.
Call it pandemic theater: These plays are set amid the quarantine
“OK, let’s do this,” said Poonam Basu to Clayton Farris. It’s the opening lines in “Our First Honest Conversation,” a one-act play in which an estranged couple attempts to reignite a sexual spark using only words.
But this staging of the dramedy was different. Playwright Christine Hamilton-Schmidt had tweaked a few lines of the script — originally set within a single room — to take place on a video call. Because of the novel coronavirus, the man and woman in the story were sheltering in place separately and therefore even more desperate to reconnect.
“It’s still the same two characters with the same relationship problems,” director Victoria Pearlman told The Times. “But the piece was slightly adjusted to speak to the immense change that’s happened in the last month, and the situation we’re all in.”
California cases reach 10,000 with more than 200 deaths
As the coronavirus pandemic continues its march across California, the number of cases in the state swelled to 10,000 Thursday — with the death toll topping 200.
Amid the surge, officials are continuing to urge the public to carry on with unprecedented social distancing measures while also rushing to get more supplies to hospitals amid a rise in sick patients.
The rapid spread of the virus brought new concerns about whether the state’s healthcare system can handle the inflow of patients. Many California hospitals and local medical centers are grappling with shortages of supplies amid a scramble to prepare for what is expected to be a deluge of patients in the coming weeks.
Democratic convention moving from July to August
The Democratic National Committee is delaying its presidential nominating convention until the week of Aug. 17 after prospective nominee Joe Biden said he didn’t think it would be possible to hold a normal convention in mid-July.
Convention CEO Joe Solmonese confirmed the decision in a statement Thursday.
Hoarding and price gouging task force finds 192,000 masks to give New York and New Jersey
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department says it is distributing about 192,000 N-95 masks to frontline medical workers in New York and New Jersey that were found during an investigation by the new coronavirus hoarding and price gouging task force
Officials say the masks, gloves, gowns, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment were found by the FBI on March 30. The Justice Department says it notified the Department of Health and Human Services, which compelled the supplies be turned over as part of the Defense Production Act.
Agents also found nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, 130,000 surgical masks, some N100 masks and disinfectant spray and towels.
Authorities said the owner would be paid “fair market value” for the supplies. The equipment is being sent to officials with the New York city and state health departments and the New Jersey Department of Health.
James Patterson is donating $500,000 to independent bookstores endangered by the pandemic
In an effort to keep struggling bookstores afloat, author James Patterson is offering some relief in the form of a hefty sum of money.
The bestselling writer of “Along Came a Spider” and “NYPD Red” announced on Thursday a personal donation of $500,000 to help save independent bookstores across the country. Many have been forced to shut their doors indefinitely or drastically change their business models to comply with measures imposed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Mayor of Milan says reopening of city will be in phases
MILAN — The mayor of Europe’s first major metropolis to close for the coronavirus is expecting a ‘’stop-and-go’’ relaunch once the lockdown on movements begins to lift.
Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala says until there is a vaccine against the virus, any reopening of the city of 1.3 million residents is likely to be tentative.
‘’It is possible that we reopen, and then we have to close again. Until we have a vaccine, it will be an anomalous situation.,’’ he said.
Restrictions were first launched in Italy’s fashion and finance capital on Feb. 23, when the region of Lombardy shut schools, cinemas, museums, theaters and bars after 6 p.m. The measures have grown ever tighter, with residents of Lombardy barred from leaving their homes except for necessities like going to the grocery store or pharmacy.
Italy’s premier has announced that national containment measures will be in place at least until April 13 and that any easing would happen in phases.
Sala said the new coronavirus will provoke a major rethink in how to handle events that characterize the city, from four Milan Fashion Weeks a year, to the annual design week to cultural events.
Milan Fashion Week menswear previews usually held in June will not take place this year and that ‘’fashion sector officials are asking what they can do in September,’’ when womenswear previews are scheduled.
Ventilators and preventing a shortage
As the number of COVID-19 cases increases exponentially in the U.S., more patients will need ventilators to recover. Fearing a shortage, the government and private companies are rushing to buy, make and refurbish old ventilators. Dr. Leo Anthony Celi, a staff physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and principal researcher at MIT, and Dr. Kathryn Melamed, UCLA Health pulmonologist, share insights on the importance of ventilators and the challenges the healthcare system could face.
Fairview Developmental Center prepares to house overflow hospital patients amid the surge
The state has selected the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa to house regional overflow hospital patients in the expected case that area hospitals fill with coronavirus patients in coming weeks.
Fairview will have 900 beds for people from across Orange County who are not infected with the coronavirus but need other care, Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said Wednesday during a town hall meeting livestreamed on Facebook. An additional 200 beds will be set aside for people with developmental disabilities.
How to make your own face mask — including a no-sew one
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, we’re now learning that any mask is better than no mask, and it may be time for healthy people to start wearing them.
If you’re like many Americans, though, you can’t find a mask — at least not one at a reasonable price. So we’re going to show you how to make your own.
But first, if you are feeling confused about the “should I wear a mask or not” messaging, you’re not alone.
A guide to the internet under quarantine: 100+ things to do
Life right now is almost totally online. We meet friends online. We read and watch and work and play online. Our newspaper is no different; we haven’t been in the same room in weeks. We made this guide over the Internet.
The Los Angeles Times is compiling all of the ways the web can help you through this difficult time.
We want to answer the question: What’s online that people can use as a substitute for a part of their normal lives, as entertainment, as a learning opportunity, as a way to be helpful, to keep in touch, to explore internetland, or to learn more about the virus?
WFH got you stiff and sore? An ergo expert offers 8 tips to stay healthy
Most of us are working from home now as the fast-spreading coronavirus has forced us to shelter in place.
That means that many of us are working remotely in less than ideal ergonomic situations as we type on laptops in bed, on bookshelves, on the couch and at the kitchen table.
Staying home may be the right thing to do for the greater good, but it can be the wrong thing for your body, especially if you’re working at an impromptu desk with spouses, roommates, children and pets underfoot.
More cruises are being canceled. Here’s how to get a refund or credit
Cruise lines worldwide suspended sailings March 13 because of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Now companies such as Carnival and Disney are pushing out their return dates and canceling more trips, meaning passengers can receive full refunds for the price of their trips.
Those who want to take their chances and postpone — even though there’s no firm date when this pandemic will end — can choose to receive a credit for a future cruise. Just remember: If you choose a credit, you have forfeited your refund. Cruise companies want you to stick with them, and are offering extra perks and credits to keep you on board.
Amazing! Fascinating! Mandatory! This year’s hottest destination is your living room
Dairy plants dumping unused milk as demand dries
WEST BEND, Wis. — Many dairy processing plants across Wisconsin have more product than they can handle and that’s forced farmers to begin dumping their milk down the drain.
That’s the case at Golden E Dairy near West Bend. Farmer Ryan Elbe told WISN-TV they are dumping about about 30,000 gallons (113,562 litres) a day.
The coronavirus has dried up the marketplace for dairy products as restaurants, schools and food service businesses have been closed. About one-third of the state’s dairy products, mostly cheese, are sold in the food-service trade.
The Journal Sentinel reports that Elbe’s cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to pay them for milk that’s being dumped. But like most cooperatives, DFA can only afford to do that for so long.
Elbe’s parents started the farm with 80 cows in 1991, an operation that has grown to 2,400 cows today.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson still showing symptoms
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still showing symptoms almost a week after he announced he had the new coronavirus.
Johnson’s spokesman says the prime minister “continues to have mild symptoms.”
Johnson said Friday he had tested positive for COVID-19 after developing a fever and a cough. He said he was following U.K. health officials’ advice to self-isolate for seven days.
That period is almost up.
Spokesman James Slack did not confirm whether Johnson would end his quarantine. Slack said the prime minister is following “the best medical and scientific advice” about when to end his quarantine.
Laguna Beach city manager tests positive
Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, he said Wednesday night.
Pietig told KCBS-TV/2 that he is self-isolating at home.
“I am in good spirits, will continue to work from home and expect to make a full recovery,” Pietig told the station.
Chris Erskine: I’ve fallen for my quarantine captors. Especially the furry one
Hostage Day No. 21:
At some point, men will need haircuts and the nail salons will be forced to reopen, or this thing could get really ugly. As it is, a lot of husbands are discovering that their wives have been coloring their hair. Once relationship secrets like that start spilling out, where does it end?
Turns out the Chardonnay Moms in our little town require a bit of maintenance. The husbands require almost zero. Once in a while, you splash them with a little Lysol.
The wildest, wackiest and most-fun mobile game to play with friends is now online
One of the reasons we play games is to bond, a shortcut to understanding one another and building trust. See, for instance, any number of corporate team-building exercises — the egg drop, scavenger hunts and, no one’s favorite, the trust fall.
But forget all of those.
Can’t knock on voters’ doors, maybe tap their avatars? Politicos scramble to adapt to the pandemic
WASHINGTON —A major election is approaching, college campuses are deserted and Democratic activists seeking to register young voters can’t walk up to any actual human beings.
So they are turning to avatars.
Activists at NextGen America, a Democratic super PAC, are scoping out virtual worlds — video games like Animal Crossing and Minecraft — as they seek to engage idle college students and other Gen Zers in one-on-one conversations about the real-world pursuit of voting.
Stocks wobble as unemployment filings soar
Stocks on Wall Street wavered between gains and losses in the first minutes of trading Thursday, the day after dropping 4.4%.
They had been headed for an upbeat open until the Labor Department reported that more than 6.6 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week, double the record high set just a week earlier. It was the latest sign that large numbers of Americans are losing their jobs as the economic damage from the coronavirus accelerates. The U.S. and other large economies are widely believed to have sunk into severe recessions as businesses shut down the world.
Face masks could provide protection, California health officials say
California officials said covering your face could prevent getting coronavirus but stressed it should not be a substitute for social distancing, hand washing and other measures.
The guidance comes amid a new push in some quarters for people to wear face protection when shopping, going to medical appointments and doing other essential business.
“Face coverings could provide some additional protection against COVID-19, but Californians should not have a false sense of security if they choose to wear them. Make sure you’re also staying 6 feet away from other people if you have to leave your home to get groceries or prescriptions,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, in a statement.