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Coronavirus updates: Feds release $30 billion for U.S. health system

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

Hippie Kitchen in Los Angeles
Hippie Kitchen in Los Angeles hands out food, water and toiletries to the homeless and other residents of skid row. Additionally, masks were offered to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus among the homeless.
(Wong Maye-E / Associated Press)

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

Coronavirus updates for April 8 are here

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Feds release $30 billion for US health system

WASHINGTON — The federal Health and Human Services department says it’s releasing the first $30 billion in grants provided by the stimulus bill to help keep the U.S. health care system operating during the coronavirus outbreak.

Congress provided $100 billion for the health care system in the $2 trillion stimulus bill.

Officials say the relief funds will go to hospitals and doctors through Medicare and will be based on their billings to the program last year. Hospitals are supposed to use some of the money to cover COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured, although an independent study earlier this week suggests it may not be enough.

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Online COVID-19 diaries are helping people cope. They’re also a research gold mine

Just weeks ago, Jason Kirin, a circus performer in Pittsburgh, was juggling flaming spheres for Facebook Live, trying to make the most of the coronavirus crisis after it had led to the cancellation of all his spring shows.

Days later, Kirin got sick. He turned to one of the few outlets that kept him sane: his online diary.

Day 1 Sat 3.21: I started to get aches and pains I wasn’t used to. Joints mostly. Things started to ache in weird ways…. These pains were not in any way normal.

Day 2 Sun 3.22: Same.
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I’m the mother of a toddler. This is why I no longer live in fear.

In this time of tremendous uncertainty, many of you might be turning to books such as “The Power of Now” or “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” both of which preach the importance of living in the moment. I’m no Eckhart Tolle or Thich Nhat Hanh, but I am the mother of a 20-month-old with a terminal disease.

The moment is all I have.

Many Californians panicked last month when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a stay-at-home order, accompanied by news that 56% of us could contract the coronavirus within eight weeks. At the time, that was a worst-case scenario.
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When can we travel again? Experts share their predictions

When can we travel again?

Maybe a summer road trip. Maybe Europe in fall. Maybe 2021.

Ask an expert when Americans are going to start hitting the road and flying freely again, and you’ll get a spectrum of answers. The optimists lean toward summer. Others think it will be longer.

You also hear a lot of theories about how the recovery will happen — road trips first, flights later — and how this pandemic may change the world of travel in the long term — lost little shops, high-priority hygiene.
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The Silent Book Club, a global meet-up for introverts, now connects them remotely

On March 21, two days after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide shelter-in-place order, 12 Californians, myself included, logged on to Skype to talk about what we were reading. “It sure does feel like we’re all living in a dystopian novel,” said our affable host, book blogger Kari Erickson. “Personally, I would’ve preferred a rom-com.” After introducing ourselves, we hit the mute button on our screens and read on our own for half an hour, together.

Welcome to Silent Book Club in the time of coronavirus.

Billed as a book club for people who don’t love book clubs, Silent Book Club has 262 volunteer-run chapters in 31 countries, including six in Los Angeles County. Before migrating online in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic, these monthly events have taken place in cute cafes, speakeasy-style bars, libraries and other public spaces.
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This Mexican restaurant is selling everything from vegan tacos to KN95 face masks

Many Los Angeles restaurants have reinvented themselves as neighborhood markets to survive the ongoing coronavirus shutdown, but one Whittier taquería is taking things a step further by selling medical safety gear — including KN95 masks, the respirator masks that the FDA recently approved for use in hospital settings.

Masataco is selling the masks to doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel. Customers must present a hospital ID to purchase one of the respirator masks, which cost $5.

On Tuesday, after the restaurant advertised a new shipment of masks on its Instagram account, carloads of customers lined up to purchase them and other goods at the restaurant’s curbside, drive-up operation.
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How gamer ‘PrestonPlayz’ is adjusting to a new reality

The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined how the sports and entertainment industries operate. Professional leagues have halted seasons or delayed their opening, while as WWE pre-taped its WrestleMania event without a live audience. However, others are using this time to find new ways to keep their passions such as gaming going and their employers working, all while satisfying fans.

Preston Arsement, professionally known as YouTube’s “PrestonPlayz,” has used this time to refocus on his gaming content and shift his brand back to what first made him popular on the streaming platform.

“It’s about creating content during a time when people most need it,” he said. “It’s been going well and the audience has doubled.”
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‘Recovered hypochondriac’ Marc Maron offers tips on how to manage your fears

Marc Maron has a potty mouth, yes, and he’s certainly irreverent (“I’m not a God guy”), but the prolific comedian, actor and “WTF” podcaster who interviewed President Obama in his Highland Park garage is also a 20-year sober “recovering hypochondriac” with solid advice for getting through a pandemic.

“I have learned over time, if you don’t feel well, you should just wait,” Maron said Monday as he paced in his kitchen during a phone interview. “If you’re not coughing up blood or have a horrible fever or some other physically compromised condition, just wait a couple days and see what happens.”

Maron, whose new “End Times Fun” comedy special is streaming on Netlfix, has pretty good cred as a hypochondriac, which he defines as “someone who decides they’re sick and commits to it, with limited or no evidence. It’s like, ‘I got dizzy; so I must have MS.’”
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L.A.'s mask order is now the law. 5 things you need to know

If you are going to a grocery store, pharmacy or doing other essential shopping in Los Angeles, you need to be wearing a mask or face covering.

Beginning Friday, a new city order requires both shoppers and workers to wear a face covering.

It’s the latest effort by the city to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The stay-at-home order has already closed nonessential businesses as well as many beaches, trails and recreation centers.

Here are five things to bear in mind:
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The pandemic steals graduation ceremonies from high school seniors and their families

Nothing, not even coronavirus-forced school closures, will take away his mother’s pride: Anthony Medina will be the first in the family to graduate from high school.

His mother, Yadira Mora, has long planned to celebrate this family milestone for their University High senior. But that’s not likely to happen at the Westside school — or any other California campus.

“We’re pretty sad about that because he’s going to be the first to actually walk with cap and gown and everything,” Mora said. She and her husband, a gardener, both made it to 12th grade at local high schools but did not earn a diploma.

This week California’s top education official said what many had anticipated but did not want to hear: Don’t expect traditional high school graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020. The announcement was yet another disappointment for high school seniors who lost their prom, senior sports banquets, their last bows at the spring musical and other memories.
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To make ends meet, legacy restaurants are embracing social media (with some help)

In 1976, the year the restaurant Kouraku opened on East 2nd Street in Little Tokyo, Gerald Ford was president. Nadia Comaneci scored seven perfect 10s at the Montreal Olympic Games and Patty Hearst was sentenced to prison for bank robbery. Social media and online food ordering were decades away.

Now, with the coronavirus pandemic decimating foot traffic and revenue, decades-old businesses are taking unprecedented steps to stay afloat, including offering delivery for the first time and using social media to broadcast their message: We’re still here, and we need your help to keep going.

Last week, Kouraku owner Hiroshi Yamauchi, 67, dove headfirst into the world of social media: “This is my first official post on THE Facebook,” he wrote on Kouraku’s Facebook page. “And yes this analog only old man, thanks to the help of young people is finally on social media.”
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Kids grounded need tutoring. And online platforms need more tutors

Children all over the country are struggling with distance learning necessitated by the coronavirus outbreak. That spells opportunity for those with teaching and tutoring skills. There are dozens of online tutoring platforms actively seeking new educators to help those kids stay on track.

“Our [student] sign-up numbers have quadrupled over the past two months,” says Vivian Shen, co-founder and chief executive of Juni Learning, a math and computer science tutoring platform. “We are doubling the number of tutors on our staff and giving our existing tutors more hours.”

However, every platform is different. Some seek credentialed teachers and experienced tutors, while others allow virtually anyone with subject matter expertise to list their services.
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Downtrend in Italy cases

The downtrend of new coronavirus cases in Italy is confirmed, Silvio Brusaferro, head of the country’s ISS public health institute, said on Friday. “The curve clearly shows a descending pattern and this is a good sign, but we cannot lower our guard,” he said.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is leaning toward extending the country’s lockdown to early May, with only minimal concessions to business demands to allow more companies to resume normal operations.

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Malaria drug hype reels in French President Emmanuel Macron

France’s Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly flew to Marseille Thursday and spent more than three hours meeting with Didier Raoult, the researcher whose work has propelled a medicine called hydroxychloroquine from fringe to famous in just three weeks. Raoult’s unconventional studies won over U.S. President Donald Trump, who suggested he’d be willing to take the medicine himself.

Doctors say the hype has gotten ahead of the science, though many have tried hydroxychloroquine on patients because they don’t have anything better.

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Trump wants next round of aid exclusively for small businesses

The aid package in Congress should be limited to a funding boost for small businesses to help them keep their employees, “with no additions,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet. “We should have a big Infrastructure Phase Four with Payroll Tax Cuts & more,” he said.

Trump earlier said he has asked his agriculture secretary to “use all of the funds and authorities at his disposal,” to aid U.S. farmers, whose financial peril has worsened in the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats are holding firm to their demand that a $250 billion economic stimulus for small businesses must include more funds for hospitals, states and localities struggling with the pandemic, leaving congressional leaders at a standoff for now.

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U.K.'s Boris Johnson begins recovery

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson “is at the beginning of his recovery and he will be taking the advice of his medical team,” spokesman James Slack told reporters. “The prime minister is back on the ward and continuing his recovery, which is at an early stage, he continues to be in very good spirits” after being moved from the intensive care unit, Slack said.

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Antibody tests expected next week in US, Fauci says

WASHINGTON — The top U.S. infectious disease official says coronavirus antibody tests are just days away.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says at the last White House coronavirus task force meeting, the people responsible for developing, validating and disseminating the tests were saying “a rather large number of tests” will be available within a week.

Fauci told CNN on Friday he’s ”certain that that’s going to happen.”

An antibody test could show whether a person was recently exposed to the coronavirus. Fauci says the test would say “that you were infected and if you’re feeling well you very likely recovered.”

Fauci says medical experts could then try to determine how deeply the virus “has penetrated the society” and whether previously infected people would be vulnerable to reinfection, which is particularly “important for health care workers.”

Fauci says testing for an antibody doesn’t mean medical experts are shifting away from testing for the virus to see who’s infected. He says, “those things are done in parallel.”

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Notre Dame Cathedral will have its Good Friday ceremony with no crowd

PARIS — Although still damaged and scarred by fire, Notre Dame Cathedral is — if only for an instant — coming back to life as a center for prayer in a Paris locked down against the coronavirus.

Just days before the first anniversary of the April 15, 2019, inferno that ravaged the beloved Paris landmark, the French capital’s archbishop is leading Good Friday celebrations unlike any others that have gone before inside the centuries-old jewel of Gothic architecture.

Archbishop Michel Aupetit will venerate a crown of thorns that survived the flames that brought down the cathedral’s roof and spire and horrified Parisians and believers across the world.

There will be prayers, readings and music during the Friday morning ceremony but no crowd. With the cathedral closed to the public, only a tiny handful of people are taking part. But the proceedings are to be broadcast live.

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The pandemic already changing medical care in the U.S.

WASHINGTON —The coronavirus pandemic, which has fueled widespread speculation about potential long-term changes to American life, is already causing one important shift: It has accelerated moves to restructure how basic medical care is provided and paid for in the U.S.

Doctor groups and insurers say in just the last month, there’s been a dramatic surge of interest in large-scale changes in the way primary care doctors are paid, an overhaul that policy experts have envisioned for decades.

“I’m a little amazed,” said Shawn Martin, vice president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. “The sense of urgency and financial instability brought on by the crisis has accelerated ideas that we have been noodling on for years.”
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Hospital workers feel like ‘second-class citizens’ in battle: ‘They’re terrified’

When Andre Ross gets home from his shift at Southern California Hospital at Hollywood, he immediately strips off his scrubs, puts them in a bag and runs to the washing machine.

He showers as fast as he can. He disinfects the bathroom.

Ross, 30, is terrified of catching the novel coronavirus at work and spreading it to other tenants of his South Los Angeles apartment building.

He can’t afford to get sick and miss work. He’s a floor-care specialist, part of the hospital’s janitorial team, who makes $18.31 an hour. Finances are tight. Work is scary.
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Column: The virus has created opportunities for, shall we say, quirky cures

The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the best and worst in people. Dubious claims about miracle cures fall mostly into the latter category.

Some have received due notoriety, such as those made by televangelist Jim Bakker, who is being sued by the state of Missouri for selling a product called Silver Sol Liquid that Bakker claims can diagnose and cure COVID-19.

The lawsuit followed a warning from the Food and Drug Administration that Silver Sol Liquid and other products touted by Bakker “are unapproved new drugs sold in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.”
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How far has the virus spread? This quick blood test might provide some answers

It has been one of the most glaring unanswered questions of the coronavirus crisis: How much has the virus spread? A new study in Los Angeles County might help provide some answers.

Starting Friday, county health officials will begin testing the blood of 1,000 randomly selected residents, including those with no symptoms, to see if they have or had COVID-19. Using emerging technology that tests for antibodies to a virus, the study has the potential to shed light on the true mortality rate of the coronavirus, the efficacy of social distancing efforts and when this unprecedented clampdown on daily life could end.
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Delays put some Supreme Court cases in limbo. Trump may benefit

WASHINGTON —The Supreme Court had planned to spend these weeks deciding whether President Trump has “absolute immunity” from congressional and grand jury subpoenas seeking his tax returns and other financial records.

The justices were also set to rule on the inner-workings of the nation’s little-understood presidential election system and decide whether a state’s electors may ignore the wishes of the majority of their state’s voters.

These were among the more than two dozen cases from March and April whose oral arguments have been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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Now that we’re all DIYing fabric face masks, this sewing maven has you covered

Social-media sensation and sewing maven Mimi G may be able to whip up a dress in less than two hours, but there’s only one person she’s making it for.

“People assume that if you sew, you want to sew for other people,” said the onetime hobbyist turned DIY instructor. “But unless I’m wearing it, I’m not making it.”

That’s why she’s showing her millions of followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube (where the latest tutorial is a DIY face mask), as well as her MimiGstyle.com website and her virtual fashion school, Sew It Academy, how easily they can do it themselves even if they’ve never picked up a needle.
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Rising from their own sickbeds, medics head back to front lines

PARIS —“Be strong, mum, we really love you,” is what Dr. Aurelie Gouel’s kids tell the ICU physician when she sets off for long hospital shifts trying to save critically ill coronavirus patients.

Although just 4 and 6 years old, Gouel’s children are acutely aware of how dangerous the disease can be, not only because their mother has briefed them but also because she is among the more than 1.6 million people worldwide who have fallen sick.

Telltale symptoms — fever, cough, intense fatigue, difficulty breathing — felled Gouel in March. “It was very tough for three, four days,” she said.

But as soon as she felt well enough, she plunged straight back to work at the Paris hospital that treated Europe’s first fatal case.
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We can’t shelter in place forever: How the lockdown might end

The coronavirus cannot keep us stuck in our homes forever.

Someday our kids will go back to school, we will return to work, and families and friends will gather once again for birthdays, holidays, weddings and funerals.

We will see movies in theaters, get drunk in crowded bars, and scream recklessly in packed sports stadiums — droplets be damned.

But how will we get from here to there? What will reentry to normal life look like? How will we ever trust the coronavirus, our unseen enemy, not to infect us at every opportunity?
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States do battle for protective gear in a market driven by chaos and fear

WASHINGTON —The text messages and emails come in the middle of the night from strangers claiming to be middlemen and manufacturers. Deals are cut quickly; millions of dollars are wired overseas. Sometimes the supplies arrive; other times, the too-good-to-be-true offers prove to be just that.

When President Trump told governors last month that the federal government was “not a shipping clerk,” he left states and local governments to fend for themselves in a global market for protective gear in which sellers have all the power, and confusion and chaos dominate.

In interviews, state and local officials around the country depicted a market that even the most seasoned say has astonished them by its logistical challenges, lack of transparency, and potential for fraud.
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Singapore stops Zoom for online education as hackers strike

Singapore has suspended the use of Zoom for online education after hackers hijacked a lesson and showed obscene images to students.

In what is known as “Zoom-bombing,” two hackers interrupted a geography lesson a day after Singapore closed schools on Wednesday as part of partial lockdown measures to curb local transmissions of COVID-19.

Lessons have moved online, with some teachers using video conferencing tools like Zoom.

Singapore’s Ministry of Education said it was investigating the “serious incidents” and may file police reports.

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A city under siege: 24 hours in the fight to save New York amid coronavirus pandemic

Before the pandemic swept in, America’s biggest, loudest city often lived up to its own hype. Then the coronavirus all but shut it down, claiming lives from the Bronx to the Battery and beyond. Now the hush, whether at midnight or midday, is broken mostly by the wail of ambulances. Streets long ago rumored to be paved with gold are littered with disposable medical gloves.

Over 24 hours, a taxi driver will cruise those desolate streets, searching for the few workers who need to keep moving. A bodega owner will make a promise to a customer he hopes he’ll never have to keep. An emergency room doctor and a paramedic will labor to hold down a death toll that on this day threatens to surpass the number killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

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Ventura County bans gatherings of more than two people

Ventura County has banned all public and private gatherings of more than two people occurring outside a single household or living unit, although the updated public health order released Thursday leaves room for a few exceptions.

Under the updated “Stay Well at Home” order, residents are still allowed to leave their homes to operate an essential business or to perform essential governmental functions or services. Additionally, members of a single household or living unit are allowed “to engage in essential travel or essential activities together,” according to a county news release.

Also, gatherings of 10 or fewer people are permitted at graveside funeral services.

People who work at organizations or associations can still gather for the sole purpose of preparing and facilitating a livestreamed video or other virtual communications with their members, but they are limited to as few people as possible, no more than seven.

The order also requires businesses to have social distancing protocols in place by Sunday, and it advises long-term care facilities to relocate COVID-19-positive patients to COVID-19 holding units within hospitals.

“We are saddened to note that the virus continues to devastate families across the county of Ventura, and we extend our deepest condolences to all who are mourning the loss of a loved one,” Dr. Robert Levin, the county’s public health officer, said in a news release. “We must protect the most vulnerable, especially seniors confined together in long-term care facilities. We cannot underestimate COVID-19, a virus that knows no boundaries, infects people of all ages, and can cause significant illness and death, particularly among people who are elderly or who have underlying serious health conditions. The Stay Well At Home Order has been updated to further help save lives and protect our community.”

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More than 20,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in California

More than 20,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in California.

There are now more than 20,212 cases with 547 deaths in the state after the totals grew by 1,149 new cases and 40 deaths on Thursday, although experts say the true number of the infected is unknown and likely much higher than the official tallies.

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Newport Beach closes popular Wedge surf spot over crowds

The city of Newport Beach announced Thursday that in light of recent crowds surfing at the Wedge will be prohibited between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. starting Friday.

The adjacent beach area will also close in an attempt to discourage public gatherings at one of the city’s most visited surf spots.

The Newport Beach Fire Department, which oversees beach lifeguards, made the recommendation Thursday after observing a higher number of surfers at the Wedge, and spectators gathering to watch them, during this week’s strong swell, according to the city’s news release.

It is the latest in a growing list of closures in Newport Beach. The city announced earlier this week that it was closing West Jetty Park on the Balboa Peninsula and the Balboa Island bayfront walkway.

Since March 25 when the city closed its beach parking lots, overall beach use in Newport Beach is down significantly.

“Most beach goers are practicing responsible social distancing,” the city said in its Thursday news release. “City lifeguards, park patrol and police officers have been monitoring the beaches to encourage social distancing and look for problem areas where social distancing is not being practiced.”

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Beverly Hills mandates face coverings, even during neighborhood strolls, during COVID-19 pandemic

The city of Beverly Hills issued an order Thursday that requires all people, including essential workers, to wear face coverings when they leave their homes, including for walks through the neighborhood.

The order, which goes into effect at 6 p.m. Friday, requires residents to wear a scarf, bandanna or other cloth over their faces in hopes of slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Like other city leaders, Beverly Hills officials are encouraging residents to leave medical-grade masks for health and emergency workers. At last count, the city had 71 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“We believe this action will help to protect and ultimately save lives,” Mayor Lester Friedman said in a news release. “While we continue to ask our community members to remain at home, those who do go outside and the people they encounter will be safer.”

Under the order, drivers traveling alone or with members of their households do not need to wear face coverings unless they lower their vehicle’s windows for any reason, including to interact with first responders, food service workers or others who are not members of their household.

An increasing number of cities in California and across the U.S. are ordering residents to wear face coverings.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city’s face-covering order Tuesday. Unlike Beverly Hills, the L.A. mandate doesn’t require residents to wear face coverings when alone outside.

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Newsom gave ‘very little information’ on $1-billion coronavirus masks purchase, lawmakers say

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers demanded details Thursday about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s agreement to spend almost $1 billion on protective masks needed to combat the state’s coronavirus outbreak, saying there has been too little transparency in spending those taxpayer dollars.

“We’re getting very little information,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), chairman of the Assembly’s budget committee. “We have great trust and faith in the governor, but we also have a job to do to ensure that every dollar he’s spending can stand up to scrutiny.”

Newsom announced the agreement to purchase 200 million masks during an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday. Some 150 million of the masks, he said, would be N95-type masks that are seen as critical to protecting healthcare workers and emergency responders. He said that the state would also purchase 50 million traditional surgical masks, and that shipments of both types of masks would begin soon.

“We’re not waiting around any longer,” he said during the interview.

But there’s been little clarity so far about the details of the agreements made by the governor’s administration, either on the terms or the total amount that will be spent.

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A vacant Sears store is the site for a temporary hospital in Riverside County amid the coronavirus outbreak

A day after nearly 100 skilled nursing center patients were evacuated from a Riverside County facility because of staffing issues, officials announced plans to open a second temporary hospital in the western part of the county to alleviate stress at area hospitals amid the coronavirus crisis.

County officials closed the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Wednesday after several employees didn’t show up for work. Earlier in the week, 34 patients and 16 employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus, said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer.

Kaiser said it was unclear why employees didn’t go to work, but the issue troubles officials as cases continue to rise in the county. As of Thursday evening, there were 1,280 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 125 recoveries and 33 deaths in Riverside County.

“Nationwide all of our healthcare workers are considered heroes and they rightly are. They are the first line of defense,” Kaiser said during a media briefing Wednesday. “But implicit in that heroism is the people stay at their posts. I am concerned this could rise to the level of abandonment no matter how justified the reasoning might be, and the state licensing board will have to determine.”

In response, officials said Thursday that they would turn a former Sears department store on Arlington Avenue into a temporary facility. The 90,000-square-foot building will house 125 beds, which were provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, officials said. The county had been searching for a location for about two weeks.

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Trump administration, citing coronavirus, expels 10,000 migrants in less than 3 weeks

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has quickly expelled roughly 10,000 migrants to Mexico and other countries in less than three weeks since imposing its most severe immigration restrictions yet in response to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said Thursday.

After the United States and Mexico last month closed their border to “nonessential travel,” U.S. officials began rapidly removing almost all migrants arriving at the border, with minimal processing. For the first time, those turned away en masse include people seeking asylum as well as hundreds of lone migrant children, both groups that are protected by U.S. law.

The actions reflect how the administration — in response to the pandemic — is taking steps toward achieving some of President Trump’s long-sought goals restricting immigration, in this instance barring asylum seekers and unaccompanied children from entry into the United States, and with an end-run around the laws and bureaucratic requirements. Administration officials said they are acting to protect U.S. residents according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is not about immigration,” the acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection agency, Mark Morgan, said repeatedly in a call with reporters. “Right now this is purely about infectious disease and public health.”

The unprecedented new steps go beyond existing policies such as one known as “Remain in Mexico.” Under that policy, more than 60,000 asylum seekers had to wait on the Mexican side of the border for immigration hearings in the U.S. Now, with rare exception, migrants do not get the chance to seek protection in the United States, including those attempting to enter at official entry points.

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Unemployed Californians to get an extra $600 in weekly benefits starting Sunday

Californians struggling to find work will receive an extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits from a federal stimulus package starting Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, as a deluge of 2.3 million new claims in the last month has the state struggling to get payments to those who have just lost their jobs.

The additional relief money approved by Congress means California’s average weekly benefit of $340 will be boosted to $940, while those who get the maximum weekly state benefit will see checks increased to $1,050. The higher benefits will last for four months.

The first payment is going out Sunday to those with already-processed claims, and is for the week ending April 11. They will be credited to state Employment Development Departmen debit cards.

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Coachella was supposed to start on Friday. How crazy is that?

A scene from the 2012 Coachella festival.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

In any other year, Erick Martell would be slathering on the sunscreen and combing Spotify for DJs to see at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this weekend.

For the last five Aprils, the 34-year-old Harvard Heights resident has hauled across the 10 Freeway from L.A. to Indio, staying with a big group of friends at a vacation house near the Empire Polo Club.

But as with most everything else in life right now, the novel coronavirus has demolished those plans.

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What’s open and closed this weekend: Beaches, parks and trails in Southern California

The downtown view from Griffith Observatory (closed since late March) in Griffith Park (closed on Easter Sunday).
(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

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 — especially on Easter Sunday — and many are urging people to wear masks when they go out.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that the city will close all parks to visitors on Sunday, to avoid crowding that might come with with family holiday festivities. County officials announced a similar Easter restriction Tuesday on local, community, regional parks, lakes and botanic gardens.

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‘Fox & Friends’ weekend co-host contracts coronavirus

"Fox & Friends" weekend co-host Jebediah Bila.
(Fox News)

“Fox and Friends” weekend co-host Jebediah Bila is the latest TV news personality to test positive for the novel coronavirus.

Bila, 41, told her Instagram and Twitter followers Thursday that she is home recovering from the virus. She said her husband have both tested positive but their infant son, born in November, is not sick.

“I’m very much on the mend, so please don’t worry,” she said in the post.

Bila typically sits alongside co-host Pete Hegseth, who was among the network’s early and most vocal skeptics on the seriousness of the coronavirus.

During a March 8 “Fox & Friends Weekend” segment on the coronavirus, Hegseth said, “The more I learn about this, the less there is to worry about.”

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Masking up to stop coronavirus isn’t so easy for many of L.A.’s homeless residents

To slow the spread of the coronavirus, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz argued this week, the city should insist that Angelenos don some sort of mask whenever they leave their homes — even if it’s “a rag and a couple of rubber bands.”

“I don’t think there’s anybody that doesn’t have that,” Koretz said at a City Council meeting, his nose and mouth swathed by a butterscotch-yellow bandanna to make his point. “Even homeless people all have rags in their possessions.”

But homeless people and their advocates say masking up is easier said than done for tens of thousands of people living on Los Angeles streets. Getting even a makeshift mask — and keeping it clean enough to be sanitary — has been difficult for many, despite efforts to MacGyver coverings out of T-shirts, scarves, shoelaces and other odds and ends.

Requiring masks or other facial coverings “sounds good. It sounds like something that you would want everybody to cooperate with,” said Pete White, executive director of the skid row-based Los Angeles Community Action Network. “But there’s no way, without the government handing out masks, that people are going to be able to comply.”

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Newsom assures Californians that the state has enough ventilators in coronavirus fight

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday offered assurances that the state will have enough ventilators to “meet the needs” of Californians stricken by the novel coronavirus based on the state’s projections of the outbreak.

The governor said California hospitals reported that they are currently using only 31% of the ventilators they have, meaning 8,000 of the breathing machines are available for future COVID-19 patients who might need them. That number does not include the ventilators in the state stockpile, he said.

Newsom’s comments come after some officials from counties scrambling to procure ventilators expressed surprise over the governor’s decision earlier this week to lend 500 of the devices to New York, New Jersey, Illinois and other COVID-19 hot spots facing shortages.

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BTS announces free ‘online concert weekend’ to stream during the coronavirus lockdown

BTS performs on James Corden's "Homefest" special on March 30.
(YouTube)

K-pop sensation BTS is hosting a “special online streaming” party April 17-18 in the United States (April 18-19 on Korea Standard Time), more than a month after the group began canceling tour dates due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The virtual BTS fest, dubbed Bang Bang Con, will feature a marathon of concert footage taped before the pandemic shut down live events around the world.

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The latest list of Orange County communities with coronavirus cases

Orange County health officials on Thursday announced 67 new coronavirus cases, bringing the countywide total to 1,079.

No additional deaths from the virus were reported, leaving the county’s toll at 17.

As of Thursday, 127 people were being hospitalized for the virus, and of those, 63 people were in intensive care. More than 12,000 people have been tested countywide, according to health officials.

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We checked in with 15 chefs and restaurant owners around L.A. Here’s what they told us

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Restaurants are facing unprecedented hardship during the coronavirus pandemic, and chefs and restaurant owners are getting creative to keep active and afloat — whether they’re offering takeout and delivery for the first time or transitioning into selling provisions and groceries, all have had to adapt quickly and dramatically.

For safety reasons, we’re not able to bring cameras into restaurant kitchens right now. So I asked a handful of chefs and restaurant owners to send us homemade videos — taken at their restaurants, trucks, in their homes or on the street. I asked them what they were up to and what else they wanted to say.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ to deliver brand new, socially distant episode this weekend

Colin Jost, left, and Michael Che will likely have a different “Weekend Update” configuration as “SNL” broadcasts while social distancing this Saturday.
(NBC / Rosalind O’Connor/NBC)

“Saturday Night Live” is about to live up to its name again.

On Saturday, with almost all TV production shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak, the long-running NBC sketch comedy will come to audiences in a live broadcast, a show spokesman said Thursday. Cast members, working at an appropriate social distance, will deliver a new “Weekend Update” and other original content. Details are scant, but remote participation does open the door to any number of special guest stars.

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News of death should not come by phone. Doctors struggle to adapt to coronavirus reality

Matt Kaufman is accustomed to death. He knows well the task of telling people that someone they love is gone — from a stroke, an overdose, a car accident, or any of the dire scenarios he often sees at the urban New Jersey hospital where he works.

Usually, says the emergency room doctor, he can find a way to honor the gravity of the moment with small, but meaningful gestures of compassion — waiting while a family member cries, touching them gently on the shoulder, or simply looking them in the eye to give them words nobody wants to hear.

He had never broken such news over the phone. Until now.

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The outbreak is taking a devastating toll on California healthcare workers

Coronavirus is continuing to take a devastating toll on healthcare workers across the state, according to new data.

More than 1,600 healthcare workers have become infected, a number of them through sources outside work, and officials say they are alarmed at the pace.

With coronavirus “moving rapidly within the community, healthcare workers now appear just as likely, if not more so, to become infected by COVID-19 outside the workplace,” the California Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Healthcare workers are essential in caring for the growing number of sick people. But the state said those who did get infected needed to be isolated immediately.

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Q&A: Answering teens’ questions about coronavirus, school closures, grades, college

When about two dozen high school students across Los Angeles gathered for a recent virtual town hall with a Times reporter, they had many questions about their education, and what the coronavirus outbreak means for their futures. On top of school, they were worried about their family struggles brought on by the coronavirus emergency.

The session was organized by Heart of Los Angeles, a nonprofit organization in MacArthur Park that provides free after-school programming for underserved youth. These students, as well as others we have interviewed since schools closed, wanted answers.

Here are some of the questions we’ve received and the answers we could find:

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Starting next week, Americans can give IRS direct-deposit information to get stimulus check faster

As soon as next week, Americans will be able to provide the IRS with direct-deposit information so they can receive their stimulus checks of up to $1,200, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House Democrats in a call Wednesday evening.

Soon after Congress passed the $2-trillion economic stimulus bill last month, the IRS said it was working on an online portal that would allow taxpayers, once verified, to find out the status of their checks and, if necessary, to provide their banking information for direct deposit. Initially, it wasn’t expected to be done until the end of April.

The payouts of up to $1,200 can be deposited directly within days once the IRS receives the needed bank information, Mnuchin has said.

Mnuchin spoke to House Democratic Caucus members in a closed conference call Wednesday. Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee also referenced the week of April 13 in regard to launching the portal in a memo obtained by The Times that was based on staff conversations with the IRS and Treasury Department.

Mnuchin spoke to House Democratic Caucus members in a closed conference call Wednesday. Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee also said the portal could be available the week of April 13 in a memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The Treasury Department would not confirm the April 13 timeline Thursday.

According to the committee memo, the Treasury Department and the IRS initially estimated there would be 171 million rebate payments made through the economic stimulus bill and 101 million of these payments would have to be paid by paper check unless the IRS received direct deposit information for these payments before a paper check was mailed.

For those who already have direct deposit information on file with the IRS from their 2018 or 2019 return, the payments are expected to begin next week.

The new Where’s My Economic Impact Payment portal is expected to be similar to the Where’s My Refund portal that taxpayers can use to track the status of their federal tax refund.

There are two other options for providing the IRS with direct deposit information. File a 2019 tax return, or for those who don’t normally earn enough to file taxes, the IRS is creating a short tax form that asks just a handful of questions including name, Social Security number, and dependents and deposit information.

The IRS could begin sending printed checks to those it does not have direct deposit information for by the end of April, according to the memo. The IRS can print up to 5 million checks a week, and it could take months to deliver mailed checks.

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6 from Bay Area nursing home die of COVID-19

Six residents of a San Francisco Bay Area nursing home who tested positive for the coronavirus have died, authorities said.

The Alameda County Public Health Department confirmed Thursday that 24 staff members and 35 residents had tested positive in the outbreak at Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward. “Of those 35 residents, six have passed away,” Neetu Balram, spokesperson for the Public Health Department, said in an email.

Another skilled nursing facility, East Bay Post-Acute of Castro Valley, is also suffering an outbreak. At that center, nine residents and 17 staff members have tested positive.

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A gas station in San Diego County sells $2 medical-grade face masks for $10 each

While retailers including Home Depot and Lowe’s have stopped selling N95 masks to free up limited supplies for medical workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, a gas station in Bonita was selling 10-packs of a foreign version of the respirators for $100 each on Wednesday.

A letter-size sign that read “KN 95 GRADE MASKS 10PK AVAILABLE FOR SALE $99.99+TAX ASK CASHIER” was taped above the cash register inside an Arco gas station on Bonita Road when a San Diego Union-Tribune reporter visited Wednesday afternoon. When the reporter asked to buy one, the clerk produced a package of them from behind the counter and confirmed the $99.99 price, about $10 each.

A pack of five KN95 respirators was priced around $10, or $2 each, with delivery in late May to mid-June, from online retailer Amazon.com on Thursday afternoon. A comparable price was offered Wednesday by Chinese retailer Alibaba.

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A patient makes videos for her daughters. She hopes they won’t need them

When Mireya Pérez González began to see that the global coronavirus outbreak was a serious problem, she tried to protect herself as much as she could. She closed her flower shop in Los Angeles, stopped visiting family members, and stocked up on provisions so she wouldn’t have to leave home.

But she still became infected with COVID-19.

By March 24, the mother of three girls, ages 4, 11 and 14, began to have a dry cough, fever and diarrhea. That was when she decided to make the trip to UCI Medical Center in Orange County.

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An ICU nurse sketches the heroes and fighters inside a isolation ward

SEOUL — Oh Young-jun traces the outlines of superheroes.

The stoop of a nurse’s shoulders as she carries buckets brimming with biohazard waste. The tangle of a towel holding up hair dripping wet from a shower after hours in a hazmat suit. The momentary reprieve of a nurse sitting upright and nodding off in a desk chair, her hand propping up a face bandaged in spots where protective equipment has chafed her skin.

Oh knows these details well. They are images that take shape during the days and nights of his shifts as an ICU nurse at a hospital in Incheon, a South Korean port city about an hour west of Seoul.

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Commentary: Why one South Korean adoptee in America feels more invisible than ever

After “Parasite” won the Academy Award for best picture in February, South Korea dominated headlines. Two months later, this small cultural and economic powerhouse finds itself basking again in the American media spotlight — this time for its swift and effective response to the coronavirus outbreak.

While reports in the U.S. have focused little on such places as Hong Kong and Taiwan, with their nine confirmed COVID-19-related deaths combined, South Korea has continued to receive outsize praise for its handling of the crisis, despite its Big Brother tactics, which have also been a factor in Singapore’s approach to COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus struck terror in this conservative country in part because its wide-scale technological capabilities threaten those who visit LGBTQ clubs, mistresses, psychiatrists, cosmetic surgeons — all culturally shamed activities, though little of this is given much airtime here.

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Orange County recommends face masks as protection but stops short of mandate

As the number of coronavirus cases in Orange County continues to grow, public health officials on Thursday issued a recommendation “strongly encouraging” employees at businesses open during the pandemic to wear face coverings while at work.

The new guidance, which is in line with recent recommendations by state and national health officials, is intended to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by those who are infected with the virus, but are not yet showing symptoms, said Dr. Nichole Quick, Orange County health officer.

“Face coverings are an additional tool that may help protect staff and patrons from COVID-19, but they are not a substitute for proven protective measures like frequent hand washing, keeping your hands away from your face, practicing social distancing and staying home,” Quick said in a prepared statement.

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Judge orders ICE to release four California detainees who are vulnerable to virus

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered the release of four immigrants held in federal detention centers in California because their age and medical conditions make them vulnerable to the potentially deadly coronavirus, lawyers for the detainees said Thursday.

U.S. Senior District Judge Maxine M. Chesney took the action Wednesday in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and other lawyers groups.

“This decision is an important step,” said William Freeman, senior counsel at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California. “The stakes for the release of detained persons are at an all-time high as the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak places them at an elevated risk of serious ailments or death.”

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Jimmy Fallon enlists Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell for a quarantine soap opera

If your days feel long and unexciting, some “Saturday Night Live” veterans are here for some dramatic laughs.

On Wednesday night’s at-home episode of “The Tonight Show,” host Jimmy Fallon and fellow quarantined comedians Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell put on some ridiculous wigs and absurd accents for a spoof titled “The Longest Days of Our Lives.”

The four-minute video-chat soap opera was inspired by — you guessed it — the stay-at-home and social-distancing measures due to the coronavirus crisis.

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Boris Johnson out of intensive care as condition improves

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing St. on March 25.
(Matt Dunham / Associated Press)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of the intensive care unit of a London hospital where he was being treated for COVID-19.

Johnson had been in intensive care for three days.

He tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus on March 26 and at first had only “mild” symptoms. On Sunday, he was hospitalized with a persistent cough and fever. Then he was moved to the ICU on Monday after his condition further deteriorated.

In a statement Thursday, a spokesman at 10 Downing St. said Johnson had been moved “from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.”

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Campaign seeks to protect domestic workers from everything from fires to the virus

As fires raged in California, Socorro Diaz found herself cleaning homes in neighborhoods that had been evacuated.

The smoke and ash posed a danger, but employers did not provide the 39-year-old house cleaner with any protective equipment.

Diaz, a leader with the Graton Day Labor Center in Sonoma County, did not want to lose her job so she kept on working. The consequences came later: respiratory problems so severe that a doctor prescribed her an inhaler that she used for weeks.

Her experience is far from unique. In the midst of disasters, such as fires and the current COVID-19 pandemic, domestic workers have repeatedly found themselves on the front lines with little protection.

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Hospices, coping with the pandemic, are scrambling for supplies too

As deaths from COVID-19 mount across the country, a chronic shortage of personal protective equipment has heightened fears for the safety of hospital doctors and nurses who play a critical role in saving lives.

But similar challenges are confronting another important but less visible segment of the U.S. healthcare system: hospice workers who keep dying people comfortable at life’s end.

Nurses, chaplains and other hospice workers who tend to the terminally ill routinely visit patients in their homes or in nursing facilities, putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus or becoming vectors.

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The pandemic after dark: 10 photos from around Southern California

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - APR. 8, 2020. Youths violate a beach closure in Santa Monica as the coronavirus lockdown continues in Southern California. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)
(Luis Sinco/Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

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Oxnard closes parks and beaches over Easter weekend amid restrictions

Ventura County reported its seventh coronavirus-related death this week as public health officials urged residents to continue to stay home and practice social distancing through the Easter holiday.

Officials reported 20 new cases of people testing positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, on Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to 263. That included 96 people who had recovered and 52 who were hospitalized during their illness. There are 160 cases of the virus under active quarantine, and nearly 5,000 people have been tested countywide, authorities said.

Of the confirmed cases, 61 people were infected by someone who had already tested positive, and 142 people got it from someone in the community, officials said. Thirteen of the cases were travel-related. The origins of 47 other cases are under investigation.

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U.K. records 881 more deaths, down from the previous day

LONDON — The British government says the U.K. has recorded 881 new deaths of people with the coronavirus.

The number is lower than in the previous 24 hours, in which 938 deaths were recorded.

As of Thursday, 7,978 patients had died in hospitals after testing positive for COVID-19 in the U.K.

Britain’s death toll is close to the daily peaks recorded in Italy and Spain, the two countries with the highest numbers of COVID-19 deaths.

Italy recorded a high of 969 deaths on March 27, and Spain 950 deaths on April 2.

The figures may not be directly comparable, however. Not all the U.K. deaths reported each day occurred in the preceding 24 hours, and the total only includes deaths in hospitals.

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Sports world takes an economic hit from postponement of the Olympics

The economic impact of postponing the 2020 Summer Games is now rippling beyond the host city of Tokyo to the sports world at large.

On Thursday, the international cycling federation announced a series of drastic cost-cutting measures to counteract financial losses from the Games and other events put aside because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The federations that govern individual sports were expected to share more than $500 million in revenues from Tokyo, payments that now could be delayed until the Games take place in the summer of 2021.

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New York City reports 824 deaths in one day

New York City reported a record 824 deaths in 24 hours, a grim sign that despite a flattening coronavirus infection curve and a lower number of hospital admissions, the crisis in the largest U.S. city is far from over.

The state reported a worsening fatality rate, with 799 new deaths on Thursday, compared with 779 the previous day and 731 the day before that. The discrepancy between the city’s total and that of the state may be because each takes snapshots of coronavirus figures at different times during the day.

At his daily briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported some good news: There were 200 net new hospitalizations over 24 hours, he said, the lowest number since the crisis broke out. That number had been as high as 1,400. But Cuomo is urging people to keep social distancing practices in place and keep the progress going.

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Italy’s deaths and cases rise

Italy reported a higher number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths from the disease caused by the coronavirus as the government considered extending a national lockdown.

Civil protection authorities reported 4,204 new cases, up from 3,836 a day earlier. Italy registered 610 deaths in the last 24 hours, compared with 542 the day before. Total fatalities reached 18,279.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is preparing to extend the national lockdown, set to end Monday, for another two weeks, said officials who asked not to be identified discussing a confidential issue.

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Kaiser closing many Southern California clinics to slow spread

Kaiser Permanente announced Thursday it was temporarily closing numerous medical offices and clinics throughout Southern California, citing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

“The health and safety of our members is always our top priority,” the healthcare consortium wrote in a statement on its website. “In an effort to limit additional exposure to COVID-19 throughout the community, we have decided to temporarily close or limit services. By doing this, we are able to coordinate care and combine much-needed medical equipment and staff while still providing high-quality care to our members.”

Kaiser will suspend or limit services at locations throughout the Southland, including in the Antelope Valley, Downey, Kern County, Los Angeles, Orange County, Panorama City, Pasadena, the Inland Empire, San Diego, the South Bay and Ventura County.

All of Kaiser’s Target clinics also are temporarily closed.

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Five new movies to watch at home (or not), ranked from must-see to skip it

The major movie studios created a lot of hubbub last month by releasing some of their bigger spring films early on video-on-demand, in response to the nationwide coronavirus shutdowns. Lately, though, the home video market is starting to settle down, falling back into its usual mix of recent theatrical hits and smaller independent films.

Sometimes it’s those indies that are the real gems in any given week of the VOD release calendar. And sometimes … well, not. Here’s a quick rundown of five of this week’s lower-profile titles, ranked from surprisingly good to easily ignorable. Movies are available at most major digital retailers: Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube and Apple’s iTunes (or Apple TV).

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From their quarantine, Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa talk ‘Sopranos’ with you

Steve Schirripa and Michael Imperioli — respectively, the sweet-natured foot soldier turned capo Bobby “Baccalà” Baccalieri and Tony Soprano’s swaggering hothead protégé Christopher Moltisanti on “The Sopranos” — dropped a TV rewatch podcast called “Talking Sopranos” on Monday. Their plan is to revisit all 86 episodes of the landmark HBO crime series. Sometimes they will have guests; sometimes it will just be the two men shooting the breeze in their rasping wiseguy voices.

If it lives up to its potential, “Talking Sopranos” could be a godsend in these difficult times: a chance for everyone sheltering in place to escape inside an episode, to recall the glory that is this iconic, beautifully made crime drama in all its emotional and physical violence and eccentric hilarity, guided by two insiders breaking down the action and swapping memories.

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Despite staggering jobless numbers, stocks gain as Fed steps up help

U.S. stocks rose for the third time in four days as investors looked past staggering jobless numbers when the Federal Reserve released new measures to cushion the fallout from the coronavirus. The dollar weakened and crude oil extended gains.

The S&P 500 Index climbed as much as 2.3% before paring gains. That brought this week’s increase to more than 12%. The Fed announced another series of sweeping steps to provide as much as $2.3 trillion in additional aid just as data showed the number of claims for unemployment benefits surged for a third week. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. fatalities from COVID-19 might be far fewer than earlier projections.

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How indie fitness studios are pivoting to stay alive amid the shutdown

Barre Attitude, Stephanie Jones’ barre fitness studio in Long Beach, had been open for only three weeks when she was ordered to close its doors as part of the statewide COVID-19 lockdown.

The next week, she was learning to shoot and upload video to a new platform, hoping to persuade her studio’s members to continue their memberships by credit card and work out with her streaming videos.

“This was not in my wheelhouse at all,” Jones said, but her daughter helped her set up her tripod, and film and upload the workouts. She has begun to put short livestream workouts on Instagram to try to attract new online customers.

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California deaths soar past 500 during a tough week

Coronavirus deaths in California have soared past 500, capping several days that saw numerous fatalities even as officials voiced guarded optimism about the state’s overall outlook.

Los Angeles County health officials on Wednesday confirmed 29 new coronavirus-linked deaths — the biggest daily jump of the pandemic — bringing the county’s total to 198 as the number of people testing positive for the illness surpassed 7,500.

Of those who died most recently, 17 were older than 65, seven were 41 to 65 years old, and one person was in the 18-40 age bracket. Details about four other deaths were not immediately known. At least 22 of those who died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.

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The pandemic and hoarding are drying up vital food supplies to L.A.'s homeless residents

During the day, Melissa Acedera works from her home in Burbank, putting in hours at her full-time job doing research and compliance work for food companies.

In between those long hours, she’s also coordinating hundreds of food drops throughout Los Angeles.

When night falls, she’s part of a dedicated network of volunteers at nonprofits, churches and shelters who are trying to keep Los Angeles’ homeless communities fed during the global coronavirus outbreak.

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Race to save rare California frog beats the lockdown

An adult red-legged frog relaxes in a pond near Ensenada, Baja Mexico.
(Jorge H. Valdez)

Slammed by heavy winds and bearing precious amphibian cargo, the helicopter heaved skyward from a remote mountain ranch on the Baja California Peninsula.

With an outbreak of the coronavirus threatening to shut down the border between the U.S. and Mexico, biologists on both sides agreed it was time to act after months of wary deliberations. “It’s a go,” they announced.

At daybreak on March 14, two ice chests filled with 1,000 fragile red-legged-frog eggs were airlifted from Baja California’s Sierra San Pedro Martir range to a landing site where they were loaded onto a pickup truck and driven to the U.S. port of entry.

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The pandemic may have robbed a baseball team of its farewell season

In Lancaster, the temperature is forecast to fall into the low 40s on Thursday night. On what would have been opening night for the minor leagues, the JetHawks would not have given away T-shirts or bobblehead dolls.

The JetHawks would have given away beanies, the better to keep your head warm.

It is not just that minor league teams know their audience. It is that they know their community.

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Sailor aboard hospital ship Mercy, docked in L.A., tests positive

A sailor on board the hospital ship Mercy tested positive for COVID-19 and will be removed from the ship, a Navy official said Wednesday.

The sailor is isolated aboard the ship and will soon transfer to an off-ship isolation facility, said Cmdr. John Fage, a 3rd Fleet spokesman. Crew members with whom the sailor came into contact also will be isolated and removed from the ship, he said.

The sailor has not been in contact with patients, Fage said.

“The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crew members and patients on board,” Fage said in an emailed statement. “We’re taking every precaution to mitigate the risk of inadvertent exposure to COVID-19 for the military treatment facility and entire Mercy crew.”
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Is it responsible to recommend restaurant takeout during the shutdown?

Dosirak is a Korean lunch box, served in cafes and carried by generations of elementary-school students and families on picnics. A basic tin might include rice, sliced sausages, fried egg, wisps of seaweed and kimchi. Often one shakes the thing — really puts muscle into it, like a bartender sweating James Bond’s martini — to meld the ingredients into an on-the-go bibimbap.

The $28 dosirak that Yoonjin Hwang conceived recently for takeout at her Beverly Boulevard restaurant Spoon by H is so beautiful it should barely be jostled. It’s a Lite-Brite collage of two dozen small dishes meticulously arranged in a tray with five compartments. Hwang writes descriptions of its ever-rotating contents in black marker on the clear plastic cover: galbijjim, japchae, fish cake, chicken leg, potato salad, pickled peppers with garlic, pineapple salsa. The flavors glow as brilliantly as the colors.
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Senate expected to deadlock on latest stimulus legislation for small businesses

WASHINGTON —Senate Democrats on Thursday plan to block a Republican effort to add $250 billion to the overwhelmed small business loan program, the latest political standoff in the weeks-long effort to pump trillions of federal dollars to businesses and families dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to try to approve $250 billion in new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program during a brief Senate session on Thursday morning through a fast-track method that requires no objection from senators.

There is widespread, bipartisan support to add money to the small business program. But Democrats say they won’t agree to the new spending unless there are safeguards in the program to ensure all businesses can access the capital. They also want to see additional spending to boost the healthcare system, and state and local governments.
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