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With coronavirus crisis, Redondo Beach closes its pier

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

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

China urges cooperation with U.S. in coronavirus fight

BEIJING — Chinese leader Xi Jinping has told President Trump that China “understands the United States’ current predicament over the COVID-19 outbreak and stands ready to provide support within its capacity.”

The official Xinhua News Agency said Xi delivered the message in a call to Trump on Friday, in which he also urged the U.S. to “take substantive action in improving bilateral relations.”

Even before the virus outbreak, the U.S. and China were in the midst of a trade war and in sharpening conflicts over intellectual property, human rights, Taiwan and Beijing’s policies in Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

In the phone call, Xi “suggested that the two sides work together to boost cooperation in epidemic control and other fields, and develop a relationship of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation,” Xinhua reported.

The virus outbreak was first reported in China in December and now appears to have peaked in the country, even while the government remains on guard against imported cases.

Beijing has been particularly annoyed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s repeated references to the outbreak as the “Wuhan Flu,” after the Chinese city where it was first detected, saying that the appellation politicizes the issue and promotes bias against China and Chinese Americans.

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In Iran, hundreds die ingesting a poison they wrongly believe can fight coronavirus

Standing over the still body of an intubated 5-year-old boy wearing nothing but a plastic diaper, an Iranian healthcare worker in a hazmat suit and mask begged the public for just one thing: Stop drinking industrial alcohol over fears about the new coronavirus.

The boy, now blind after his parents gave him toxic methanol in the mistaken belief it protects against the virus, is just one of hundreds of victims of an epidemic inside the epidemic gripping Iran.

Iranian media reports that nearly 300 people have been killed and more than 1,000 sickened by ingesting methanol across the Islamic Republic, where drinking alcohol is banned and where those who do rely on bootleggers. It comes as fake remedies spread across social media in Iran, where people remain deeply suspicious of the government after it downplayed the crisis for days before it overwhelmed the population.

“The virus is spreading and people are just dying off, and I think they are even less aware of the fact that there are other dangers around,” said Dr. Knut Erik Hovda, a clinical toxicologist in Oslo, Norway, who studies methanol poisoning and fears Iran’s outbreak could be even worse than reported. “When they keep drinking this, there’s going to be more people poisoned.”

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Citing coronavirus risks, L.A. teachers union calls for new limits on charter schools

Citing the coronavirus emergency, the L.A. teachers union on Thursday called for a moratorium on new charter school approvals and a halt to new campus-sharing arrangements with charters.

United Teachers Los Angeles has long wanted to slow or stop the growth of these privately operated public schools, but cast its current opposition in terms of the ongoing health crisis of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl, in a letter sent to Los Angeles schools Supt. Austin Beutner on Thursday, said it would be unfair to approve new charter schools without an opportunity for board members to hear from community members. Currently members of the public are unable to gather and it could be difficult for them to participate in scheduled board meetings, which probably would take place by video or audio-conferencing.

All district campuses have been closed since March 13 and are will not open until at least May 1. Typically the seven-member school board meets at least twice a month at district headquarters just west of downtown. It it not known when the board will resume its regular meetings. It was not clear Thursday night how many charter schools, if any, would have been scheduled for possible board approval in the next several months.

Also in the letter the union said it opposed any first-time agreements that would allow a charter to share space with a district-operated school. Charters have a right to space on district campuses under state law.

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Citing the coronavirus, ex-L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca asks for release from prison

Citing the threat of the novel coronavirus, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has asked a federal judge to release him from a Texas prison while he fights to have his conviction tossed out.

Baca, who was found guilty of thwarting a federal investigation into his department’s scandal-plagued jail system, is less than two months into a three-year prison term.

“Mr. Baca is nearly 78 years old and has Alzheimer’s disease. He is part of the population most vulnerable to the virus,” the motion filed by Baca’s San Diego-based attorney, Benjamin L. Coleman, said.

The filing notes that President Trump said earlier this month that the government was considering releasing “nonviolent prisoners due to the grave risk of the virus spreading in a prison environment.”

“Mr. Baca clearly fits the type of offender who should be released under the circumstances,” the motion states. Coleman declined to comment further.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in L.A., said prosecutors will respond “in coming days.”

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Redondo Beach closes its pier, several other locations

People watch the sunset at the Redondo Beach Pier on Dec. 30.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Redondo Beach announced Thursday that the city would join several other municipalities in shutting down access to public places in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Effective at midnight Friday, Redondo Beach will close:

  • The Redondo Beach Pier, International Boardwalk and parking structures, except for the purpose of picking up food at city-designated locations from restaurants providing to-go orders and employees of those restaurants still providing service.
  • The Esplanade
  • Veterans Park and parking lots, including the public parking areas adjacent to the Elks Lodge
  • All public walkways, stairways, ramps and paths that provide access to the beach
  • The coastal bluff trail between Knob Hill Avenue and George Freeth Way
  • The pedestrian path adjacent to the beach bike path between the city’s southern boundary and the Redondo Beach Pier
  • All walkways and stairways that provide access from private residential properties to the Redondo Beach Pier and International Boardwalk
  • George Freeth Way, including the street, sidewalk and parking
  • Czuleger Park, except for the purpose of entering and leaving residential properties next to the park
  • Redondo Bike Path parkette and parking lot
  • Moonstone Park
  • The sidewalk, bike path and public parking on the west side of Harbor Drive
  • The personal watercraft hand launching facility and the access road behind Seaside Lagoon
  • The public boat hoist in the Redondo Beach Marina
  • The Redondo Beach Marina parking lot, except for the purpose of picking up food from restaurants providing to-go orders, for employees of those restaurants, and for live-aboard residents in the marina
  • Aviation Park
  • The north Redondo Beach bike path from Robinson Street to Felton Lane
  • The dog park at Dominguez Park
  • City Park basketball courts
  • City park tennis courts

It is part of a growing list of closures along Southern California’s coast.

The Santa Monica Pier is closed, as are the nearby beach parking lots. Orange County closed county-owned parking lots at all trails, parks and beaches under OC Parks jurisdiction earlier this week.

Hermosa Beach city officials announced Wednesday that the city’s beach, the Strand and its downtown parking structure would be closed starting Saturday morning.

The closures came after throngs of people flocked to the beaches over the weekend, desperate to escape their homes and find a reminder of what normal life looks like.

There have been 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Redondo Beach.

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As criticism mounts, Mexican government rejects more aggressive fight against coronavirus

Members of the media attending a news conference for Mexico City's mayor, keep a distance between them as part of the measures taken to avoid the spread of coronavirus on March 26.
(Manuel Valasquez / Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY — Resisting calls to amp up the fight against the coronavirus, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his top aides continued to defend a strategy they say balances public health needs with potential damage to the country’s faltering economy.

“We don’t want to have a cure that is costlier in social terms than the actual illness,” Hugo López-Gatell, the country’s sub-secretary of health, told reporters Thursday. “We have said many times that there are some measures that don’t have a technical basis, such as closing borders and airports.”

Mexico has taken some measures, such as extending schools’ Holy Week break, urging people to work from home and encouraging social distancing — widely disseminating a cartoon character called Susana Distancia, which means “your safe distance.”

Some states and cities have mandated additional measures. Mexico City has ordered bars, gyms, churches and museums closed, and banned gatherings of more than 50 people, but restaurants and other shops remain open and some street life continues.

López Obrador has been hesitant to impose stay-at-home orders, curfews or other more severe restrictions. He has called on Mexican families to monitor the health of elderly loved ones.

The president’s restrained approach stance has earned him blistering criticism from independent public health experts and an accusation Thursday from New York-based Human Rights Watch that he is “putting the people of Mexico in grave danger.”

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Massive unemployment claims during coronavirus crisis have California officials scrambling

California Governor Gavin Newsom
(Randall Benton / Associated Press)

SACRAMENTO — California faces an unprecedented number of unemployment claims amid the coronavirus pandemic, sparking emergency actions by the state agency that handles jobless benefits and a waiting game to see whether the state can keep up.

The state’s Employment Development Department processed 186,809 claims for unemployment benefits last week, up from 57,606 the week before, according to weekly data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor. The total last week was a startling 363% higher than the number of claims processed during the same week last year.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that those figures are only rising. In the past 12 days, Newsom said the state has received 1 million applications for unemployment benefits, a figure highlighting the sharp economic impact crisis-related business closures will have on California.

“To have an organization be able to ramp up overnight at that high of a level is very difficult,” said state Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). “We’ve had a significant number of constituents say they are having a hard time reaching EDD on the phone or, due to the shelter in place order, being able to go into the office for help.”

Frustrated filers took to social media to vent about problems reaching a “real person.” Those trying to file unemployment claims said it has been near impossible to reach a representative on the phone to ask a question. The department’s call center is open only four hours a day Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The department said it has no plan to extend the hours because it needs as many workers as possible processing claims.

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Two residents and an employee test positive for COVID-19 at Westside luxury home for dementia patients

Two residents and an employee of a Westside luxury home for dementia patients have tested positive for COVID-19.

A man who moved into the facility, Silverado Beverly Place, last week developed symptoms shortly after his arrival and was rushed to Cedars Sinai Medical Center by ambulance, according to emails reviewed by The Times and interviews with relatives.

Subsequently, a second resident and a worker at the home were diagnosed, according to an email sent to residents’ families Thursday afternoon.

“Currently we do not have any other resident exhibiting symptoms,” Loren Shook, the CEO of the facility’s parent company, wrote to relatives.

The facility is owned by Silverado, an Irvine-based company which runs upscale memory care homes across the nation. Jeff Frum, a company spokesman, confirmed the substance of the emails.

Silverado charges residents up to $10,000 a month, and the West L.A. location, in the Beverly Grove neighborhood, has become a popular choice for the elderly relatives of the elite in the entertainment and business worlds.

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Stimulus plan includes long-sought boons for special interests

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks about the coronavirus stimulus package on March 25.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — In the days before the Senate unanimously passed a roughly $2-trillion bailout bill for the nation’s nosediving economy, lobbyists and special-interest groups flooded Congress with long-standing wishes and wants — though couched as urgent needs in a time of crisis.

The 880-page bill that emerged — and that the House is expected to approve Friday — did not give everyone everything they sought.

But it does include provisions plucked from the wishlists of hotels, restaurants, retailers and over-the-counter drug manufacturers, among others. Some measures will last only as long as the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout last. Others are permanent.

One of the biggest winners could be a company whose name doesn’t show up anywhere in the relief package. Aerospace giant Boeing Co., which had struggled long before the coronavirus pandemic hit, appears the chief beneficiary of a $17-billion loan program intended for what the bill calls “businesses critical to maintaining the national security.”

Small banks won lower requirements for capital reserves, a longtime goal for their lobbyists, on the theory that it would allow them lend more money to struggling businesses.

Similarly, restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers argued successfully for a federal tax break that would let them write off renovations to their business they would otherwise have to spread out over years.

And a little-noticed provision added to the bill would speed up the Food and Drug Administration’s review of over-the-counter drugs and sunscreen products.

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NCAA announces huge reduction in revenue payout after cancellation of March Madness

Greensboro Coliseum is mostly empty after the NCAA college basketball games were cancelled at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on March 12.
Greensboro Coliseum is mostly empty after the NCAA college basketball games were cancelled at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on March 12.
(Gerry Broome / Associated Press)

Since the cancellation of March Madness and the NCAA’s other winter and spring championship events because of coronavirus fears, conferences and schools have been bracing themselves for what the economic impact could be.

The NCAA gave a painful first glimpse Thursday, announcing that its Board of Governors voted unanimously to distribute $225 million in June — $375 million less than the $600 million it had originally budgeted for distribution in April.

For many athletic departments, the eventual disbursement will arrive as a reality check of a murky financial future that likely won’t clear up anytime soon.

The NCAA Board of Governors stressed to members the importance of “planning carefully with less revenue.”

The NCAA receives most of its revenue from its March Madness television rights deal with CBS and Turner, which pays the association nearly $800 million per year.

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Colorado Avalanche player tests positive for COVID-19

A player on the Colorado Avalanche has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, the team announced Thursday, making him the third NHL player known to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The Avalanche did not identify the player but said he has “been at home in isolation since the first symptoms appeared, has recovered and is back to normal.” The statement continued, “The Avalanche have notified anyone who has had known close contact with the athlete.”

The Avalanche played the Kings on March 9 at Staples Center. The two other NHL players who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus were members of the Ottawa Senators, who were at Staples Center to face the Kings on March 11. That was the last NHL game played before Commissioner Gary Bettman put the league on pause in order to help halt the spread of the virus.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said via email there are additional tests pending. “There aren’t any additional known positives,” he said.

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Two coronovirus responses: Chateau Marmont fires workers; Commerce Casino keeps paying

For decades, the luxurious Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood has been a favorite haunt of actors and musicians who enjoyed its secluded European flair and high-end amenities.

But when the coronavirus outbreak pushed hotel occupancy rates to below 30% throughout Southern California, even the famed 91-year-old hotel was forced to take drastic action: The hotel abruptly fired most of its staff without severance pay and only a brief extension of health benefits.

“In the middle of this pandemic, I’m now unemployed and will soon lose health insurance for my entire family,” said Walter Almendarez, a bellman who worked 23 years for the hotel.

Chateau Marmont isn’t unique in its response to a crisis that is expected to devastate broad swaths of business and industry, whether because of plummeting demand or government mandated closure.

But not all businesses are responding the same way.

About 16 miles from the Chateau Marmont, managers of the Commerce Hotel and Casino in the City of Commerce announced they would continue to pay the base salary of all 2,500 employees while the operation remains closed, as well as provide health insurance for those who had the benefit

The casino and its hotel closed nearly two weeks ago, along with several other California casinos after Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended canceling large gatherings to help slow the spread of the virus, and local government began to call for the closing of nonessential businesses.

On Wednesday, the governing board of the Commerce Hotel and Casino voted to pay all employees their base pay and health benefits during the closure of the casino.

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Are you a healthcare worker? Crocs will give you a free pair of shoes

The Colorado-based maker of Crocs announced Wednesday that it was prepared to donate — and ship free — up to 10,000 pairs a day of its colorful, molded-resin clogs to members of the medical community workers across the country.

The “Free Pair for Healthcare” program will work like this: Every day, at approximately 9 a.m. Pacific, the Crocs’ website will begin taking orders for one pair of shoes per healthcare worker from select classic clog or Crocs At Work styles up to a daily limit of 10,000 pairs. (Shoes in these two categories usually retail from $34.99 to $59.99.)

Once that number of orders has been reached, a notification advises visitors to return the next day and try again. (On Thursday — Day 2 of the program — a check of the website shortly after noon Pacific found the daily limit had already been reached.)

“Like everyone, we’ve been closely monitoring the news and working hard to map out a way to most effectively help where we can,” Crocs President and Chief Executive Andrew Rees said Wednesday in announcing the initiative. “Over the past week, we have spoken to healthcare workers, their facilities and even their family and friends, and they have specifically asked for our shoes in an effort to provide ease on their feet as well as ease of mind as they need the ability to easily clean up before they go home to their families.”

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U.S. passes Italy and China for the most confirmed coronavirus cases

The United States has surpassed Italy and China in having the most confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a global case tracker run by Johns Hopkins University.

By 3:45 p.m. Pacific time, the United States was reporting more than 82,400 cases, above China’s tally of more than 81,700 and Italy’s count of more than 80,500. Spain has recorded more than 56,000 cases. Worldwide, there are more than 526,000 cases.

Italy still tops the list of countries with the most coronavirus deaths, reporting more than 8,200. Spain has reported more than 4,300 deaths, and China has confirmed more than 3,200.

The U.S. has reported more than 1,200 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

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Coronavirus cases double this week in Orange County, with overall count at 256

Orange County’s number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, pushing the overall count to 256 this week as public health officials ramp up testing.

Health officials reported an additional 69 cases on Thursday, increasing Wednesday’s total of 187. On Monday, officials reported 125 coronavirus cases; the next day, the number rose to 152.

“An increase in reported cases is one of the factors of increased testing,” County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick said. “This serves as a reminder of the importance of staying at home and social distancing when leaving the household for essential activities, or to work at an essential business.”

County leaders have closed parking lots at trails, beaches and parks to try to contain the virus’ spread. They have also implemented phone hotlines and a text-alert system to keep the public informed.

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Daily bread? In France, fighting coronavirus one baguette at a time

A bakery in Paris
A vendor wearing a protective mask puts a baguette in a paper bag at a bakery in Paris on March 23.
(Associated Press)

In France, the fight against COVID-19 is being waged one baguette at a time.

No longer just a mere staple, the iconic loaf and the French daily ritual of buying it have become loaded with moral, civic and public health considerations that could never have been imagined before the new coronavirus turned life upside down.

In a nation in lockdown, popping out for a fresh baguette is proving a handy excuse for people to get out of the house. There is one notable exception: a town on the Mediterranean coast where the mayor has banned people from doing just that, to keep them indoors.

But eschewing the crusty comfort of a fresh-baked baguette has become significant, too — a small sacrifice in this new era where sacrifices are being asked of many. For some, not buying bread daily and instead staying indoors to try to stay healthy has become an act in itself, a gesture of solidarity with the doctors and nurses fighting to save lives in stressed emergency wards.

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Coronavirus is supercharging the fight over California’s new employment law

Kathrin Kana juggles a few jobs: She’s a voice-over actor, a yoga instructor and a home organizer. But after the coronavirus outbreak and the shelter-in-place order implemented to contain it made gigs around Los Angeles hard to come by, Kana watched her bank account balance dwindle to $36 last Friday. Seeing few options that wouldn’t involve jeopardizing her health, she tried to sign up to transcribe audio clips for Rev.com from the comfort of her home.

She got turned down — because of where she lives. Rev is among a handful of companies that stopped using workers in California after the state legislature passed a law last fall that makes it harder to treat them as contractors rather than employees.

“I was like, ‘We are in a crisis, so can we get a work around so we can at least make some money?’” Kana said. “This [Rev customer support] person said it doesn’t work that way.”

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As coronavirus spread, a slew of California businesses posted layoff notices last week

California companies reported a surge of layoffs last week as they grappled with economic effects of the coronavirus, but the reports reflect just a fraction of the job losses in the fast-moving meltdown.

Between March 1 and March 25, 139 companies reported laying off 18,998 employees. Many businesses have yet to report their losses, but the sharp jump in WARN notices is another indication of the state’s rapid economic downturn. In February, just 64 companies reported 7,164 employee layoffs. A year earlier, for the full month of March 2019, 77 employers reported 5,657 layoffs.

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Metrolink cuts service by 30% as ridership plummets amid coronavirus outbreak

As rail ridership plunges amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Metrolink has significantly scaled back its train schedule, reducing service by 30%, officials said.

The new schedule, effective Thursday and until further notice, maintains peak-time routes and as many connections as possible for riders, said Stephanie Wiggins, chief executive of the regional commuter rail network.

Although no routes are being entirely eliminated, Metrolink will operate only 115 trains on weekdays compared with its normal 167. Weekend service will not be affected, spokesman Paul Gonzales said.

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How the coronavirus has upended economics in just a few weeks

In the heat of a global crisis more sudden and severe than anything in living memory, economic orthodoxies are getting tossed aside at a furious pace. Some of them may be gone for good.

Public debt, for example, has often been seen as a drag on economies — but right now it’s their lifeline. The coronavirus has shut down swaths of private business. In the U.S. alone, it threw about 3 million people out of work in just a week.

Whatever their prior views on budget deficits, leaders have been forced to fill the gap by channeling cash to households, businesses and markets — strengthening safety nets that are paid for out of the public purse, and improvising some new ones.

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As demand for a government relief grows, L.A. restaurants form a united front

The push to organize began in earnest early last week with two meetings: one held at the Atwater Village pizzeria Hail Mary, the other a conference call organized by Ann Hsing, chief operating officer of Santa Monica restaurants Pasjoli and Dialogue.

A few days earlier, Mayor Eric Garcetti had ordered dine-in service suspended at Los Angeles restaurants to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus. The directive effectively shut down thousands of sit-down restaurants. With revenue from takeout and delivery unlikely to keep businesses afloat, a handful of chefs, owners, and other restaurants workers gathered to assess the situation.

“Originally it was just a forum for chefs and owners to express their concerns, share knowledge, get everyone on the same page because we’re all reeling,” said Kristel Arabian, a former chef and owner of a hospitality recruitment company who attended the meeting at Hail Mary. “We talked about rent concerns, taking care of employee payroll, business interruption insurance.”

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L.A. Convention Center to be used for quarantine of patients released from hospitals

The Los Angeles Convention Center will be pressed into service as a quarantine facility, officials say.

At a news conference Thursday, county public health officials said the L.A. Convention Center would be used for the quarantine and isolation of COVID-19 patients who had been released from hospitals, those who don’t need acute medical treatment but could still be contagious.

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L.A. County reports 9 new coronavirus-related deaths as toll reaches 21

Nine more people have died after contracting the coronavirus in Los Angeles County, bringing the death toll to 21, public health officials announced Thursday.

The county has now reported 1,216 confirmed cases of the virus, including 41 in Long Beach and nine in Pasadena, officials said.

The number of coronavirus cases in California has surged past 3,000, and officials say the COVID-19 growth rate is such that it could overwhelm hospitals in the coming days and weeks.

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Check out the Las Vegas Strip, without the 42 million visitors

The Bellagio Fountains have stopped dancing. The Venetian’s gondolas are docked and empty. The Welcome to Las Vegas sign welcomes far fewer visitors, and urges them to spread out 6 feet apart. Electronic signs at casinos tell you to wash your hands instead of touting headliner shows.

The usually throbbing entertainment city has come to a standstill. Residents are following stay-at-home rules, and visitors have left or canceled their plans to come. Last week the governor closed its famous casinos, restaurants and businesses that last year drew 42.5 million visitors.

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Angels star Mike Trout talks about being stuck at home like everybody else

Baseball fans aren’t the only ones becoming restless as they wait for the coronavirus outbreak to be stemmed and shutdowns to be lifted.

Angels star Mike Trout and his teammates are finding ways to battle the stay-at-home blues too.

“I’m going crazy,” Trout said Thursday in an interview broadcast by MLB Network. “I’m driving my wife crazy. [Pitcher] Michael Kohn is staying with me and I think my wife’s about to kick us both out of the house.”

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Lakers’ LeBron James says a layoff is not good for his 35-year-old body

LeBron James doesn’t want to hear any more about how a break in the schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic might be good for his 35-year-old body.

“It’s actually the opposite for me,” James said. “My body when we stopped playing was like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ ”

James made the comments during a nearly hourlong podcast of “Road Trippin’” released on Uninterrupted, his digital platform. He was a guest on the podcast, which regularly features his former teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, along with Spectrum SportsNet studio host Allie Clifton.

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‘All my income is gone’: Tenants, landlords voice fears as rents come due

Tenants and landlords throughout Southern California are bracing for next Wednesday, when April rents are due just as thousands of people have lost their jobs and most business have been shut down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Government officials have provided certain protections against evictions for renters and limited mortgage relief for landlords affected by the virus. Some landlords say they are trying to work out deferred payment plans with tenants to make up for any missed rental payments.

But stress, fear and confusion remain, especially in Los Angeles County, where 55% of residents are renters and rents are among the highest in the nation.

Here’s how a few tenants and landlords are grappling with the crisis:

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Ventura County cases steadily increase, reaching 50

Eleven new confirmed COVID-19 cases pushed Ventura County’s total to 50 as of Wednesday evening, health officials reported.

The new benchmark came less than three weeks after the county’s first confirmation on March 6 and demonstrated the spread of the coronavirus outside the area’s biggest hot spot.

Simi Valley continues to lead Ventura County in cases with 12, but only one of the latest 11 confirmed cases was recorded in the city.

Three new cases were identified in Camarillo, which moved that city’s total to eight, while Thousand Oaks and Ventura jumped by two, upping their counts to seven and six, respectively.
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Louisiana caseload surpasses 2,300

BATON ROUGE, La. — The number of known coronavirus cases in Louisiana jumped by more than 500 Thursday, surpassing 2,300, with 86 deaths, the state Health Department said.

A 17-year-old was among the latest deaths, the first fatality in the state of someone younger than 18.

The higher infection numbers reflect the increase in testing. In Thursday’s figures, the number tested rose nearly 6600, to 18,000.

Coronavirus has now been found in 53 of 64 parishes, although Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he believes it’s present in every parish, even as statewide mandates banning crowds and closing businesses continue.

“We won’t see the impact of the distancing and the closing of schools and people staying home for a couple of weeks. ... We are not near the peak of this yet,” said Dr. Catherine O’Neal, an infectious disease expert and chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge.

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IOC reportedly hopes to reschedule Olympics in midsummer 2021

Though the head of the International Olympic Committee has preached the need for flexibility in rescheduling the 2020 Tokyo Games, one of his top aides is pointing at a conventional date in the summer of 2021.

John Coates told the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri on Thursday that his IOC coordination commission, working closely with Tokyo organizers, hoped to create an opening in July-August.

“We want to more or less finalize the dates in four weeks’ time,” Coates was quoted as saying.

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France death toll jumps 27% in a day

PARIS — France’s virus death toll is continuing to climb fast, increasing 27% in one day Thursday to 1,696 victims, including a 16-year-old.

The overall number of confirmed cases grew 15% over the previous day to more than 29,000, according to national health agency chief Jerome Salomon.

But he acknowledged that the real number was much higher because France was only testing people with severe symptoms. He said doctors estimated another 42,000 people who had sought medical advice for milder symptoms recently also had the virus.

Salomon did not provide details about the 16-year-old who died, citing medical privacy. He noted that thousands of people with the virus in France had recovered and expressed hope that confinement measures would start bringing the number of deaths down soon.

France has reported the fifth-highest number of deaths from the virus of any country. France’s government has come under criticism for its limited number of tests, and for waiting until last week to impose nationwide confinement measures even as the virus spread rapidly in neighboring Italy and Spain.

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Army providing two field hospitals to New York City

WASHINGTON — U.S. Army leaders said Thursday that two field hospitals were being sent to New York City and would be able to begin treating patients at the Javits Center on Monday.

The Army combat units from Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Campbell in Kentucky will include as many as 700 personnel and almost 300 beds. Those medical personnel will also be able to help staff additional beds and medical equipment that are being brought in by state and local authorities.

Gen. James McConville, chief of staff of the Army, said they would begin setting up the units this weekend at the center. Officials expect there will be a couple of thousand beds in the center to treat patients who do not have the virus.

An Army combat hospital from Fort Carson in Colorado will be heading to Seattle. McConville said advance staff were already there, working with local officials to review potential locations to set up the unit.

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‘Millions could die’ without ‘aggressive action in all countries,’ WHO says

GENEVA — The head of the World Health Organization has warned G20 leaders that “without aggressive action in all countries, millions could die” from the new coronavirus outbreak.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a video message to the leaders of the world’s top powers, said “only time will tell” what the full economic, political and social fallout would be.

“But we know that the price we end up paying depends on the choices we make now,” Tedros said. “This is a global crisis that demands a global response.”

He noted “sacrifices” made by some countries including “drastic social and economic restrictions” like shutting schools and businesses and urging people to stay home.

“These measures will take some of the heat out of the epidemic, but they will not extinguish it,” he said. “We must do more.”

Tedros called for training and deployment of health workers to test, isolate and treat cases — and trace their contacts. He decried a global shortage of personal protective equipment as endangering front-line responders. He urged countries to boost output of such items, and lift export bans and boost distribution of them.

“The actions we take now will have consequences for decades to come,” he said. “We are at war with a virus that threatens to tear us apart — if we let it.”

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Second person in U.S. immigration detention tests positive

WASHINGTON — A 52-year-old man detained in New Jersey has become the second person in U.S. immigration detention to test positive for COVID-19.

The unidentified man was being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.

A statement Thursday from the county said the man was admitted to a local hospital on Sunday for an issue unrelated to the outbreak. But the county said the man started to show symptoms of the coronavirus. A test came back positive for the virus.

U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement had no immediate comment.

The agency previously reported a positive test of a 31-year-old man held in Bergen County, N.J.

It comes as immigrant advocates around the country urge the government to release migrants from detention centers because of the risk of a potential outbreak among detainees.

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An illustrated check-in with ourselves and our food during a pandemic

Just checking in. How’s everyone doing? It’s been a challenging few weeks for all of us.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted so much of our lives. Here, in this space, we’re most concerned with how this global health crisis has deeply affected our relationship with food and to the hands that feed us.

This is a Food section that likes its art. We reached out to some of our favorite artists to illustrate how they’re thinking about food during these confusing and challenging times. Just as we turn to food for comfort, we can find levity in art.

Quarantine Kitchen, a comic by Tim Lahan.
(Tim Lahan / For The Times)

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Infections surge in Inland Empire; San Bernardino County cases triple in days

Despite efforts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, two counties in the Inland Empire have seen a jump in confirmed cases this week.

San Bernardino County recorded 54 COVID-19 cases and two fatalities related to the virus as of Thursday. The number of confirmed cases has tripled in less than a week. The county initially recorded 17 cases Monday.

Two men — a 50-year-old and 46-year-old — died of the illness this week. Both had underlying health conditions, according to the county. Acting County Health Officer Dr. Erin Gustafson said in a statement that the deaths were a “sad reminder of the seriousness of this pandemic.”

“At the same time, for all of us, it emphasizes the importance of staying at home when we can and practicing good hygiene and social distancing,” she said.

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Mark Blum, actor in ‘Desperately Seeking Susan,’ dies at 69 from COVID-19 complications

Mark Blum, the actor known for roles in “Crocodile Dundee” and “Desperately Seeking Susan,” has died from complications of COVID-19. He was 69.

Blum died at New York Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday after being diagnosed last week with the coronavirus, said Janet Zarish, his wife of 15 years. The couple had not traveled recently or knowingly been in contact with anyone with the virus, she said, but Blum had asthma.

The New York theater company Playwrights Horizons first announced his death Thursday morning on Twitter.
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Light rail service in San Francisco, Silicon Valley suspended

Light rail service is being suspended in San Francisco and Silicon Valley due to the coronavirus.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority immediately suspended light rail service Wednesday night after a light rail operator trainee tested positive for the new coronavirus, the agency said.

“Operators are being told to shelter in place until they receive further instructions to quarantine and/or be tested,” the authority said. Light rail ridership in Santa Clara County has dropped by 82% since the region implemented a shelter-in-place order, and the transit system “will now focus our operational resources on bus service, which is more nimble and can adapt to the various needs of our community,” the authority said.

In San Francisco, the Muni Metro light rail system will be replaced by buses starting Monday.

“Closing the Muni Metro underground system will allow us to redirect custodial resources to other, higher-use facilities and minimizes risk to our station agents,” the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said in a statement.

“Based on our ridership data and observations, we do not expect these changes to impact the ability of our riders and operators to maintain social distance,” the statement said.

Service has already been suspended on the city’s famed cable car and historic streetcar system. And BART had begun ending service at 9 p.m., earlier than its standard closing time of midnight.

In the East Bay, bus riders were being asked to board the bus from the rear door and didn’t need to pay a fare, a measure to keep passengers farther away from AC Transit bus drivers.

“Customers are strongly encouraged to stay or sit 6-feet from other passengers and the bus operator when boarding, exiting and riding the bus,” AC Transit said in a statement.

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Watch live: White House hosts news conference at 2 p.m. Pacific time

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‘No time for tourism’: Newport weighs how to keep visitors away during coronavirus restrictions

Some members of the Newport Beach City Council want to harden the city’s coronavirus-related closures, including sealing off the boardwalks and nonresident access to Balboa Island — at least for the coming weekend.

City staff was noncommittal during a council meeting Tuesday night but did say that last weekend’s surge of beach visitors — eager for some relief from a cooped-up and stressful week — was “troubling.”

Councilwoman Diane Dixon asked how officials could get residents and visitors to stay home in light of a March 19 order by Gov. Gavin Newsom calling for Californians to go out only for essential needs. The sweeping directive capped days of similar locally and federally driven shutdowns aimed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
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Bored at home? Glendale library system has many materials online

Although Glendale Library, Arts & Culture locations are closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic, the department continues to operate 24/7 virtually, thanks to the library system’s myriad of online resources, according to library officials.

“In this unprecedented time, it is important that the library be here for the community, many of whom are isolated at home, some afraid. Thus, it is important for people to know their library is here for them, their families and their friends,” library director Gary Shaffer said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Many years ago, the library began adding digital materials to its collection of physical materials. ... Today, we have countless hours of free-to-access premium content and learning opportunities available,” he added.
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Sick as a dog, Kathy Griffin hit the ER with coronavirus concerns. Here’s what happened

Kathy Griffin might have been exposed to the coronavirus. Or she might not have. After a recent trip to urgent care and the emergency room while gravely ill, the comic wasn’t able to get tested.

Griffin has an abdominal infection that is being treated with medication, though she won’t know whether she’s turned the corner for a couple of days, she told The Times in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. She’s back home, and she’s not going out anytime soon.

The public likely wouldn’t have known about her illness at all had President Trump not tweeted a claim Wednesday that the U.S. had outpaced South Korea in COVID-19 testing. Griffin, who had just come home from an emergency room the day before, just had to comment, because what the president was saying didn’t match with what she had experienced.
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L.A. Community College District confirms second case

A Los Angeles Valley College faculty member has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated in a hospital, President Barry Gribbons wrote in a letter to the campus community this week. The faculty member worked in the child development department and had not been on campus since March 13.

The campus was in the process of notifying individuals who had come in contact with the faculty member and of cleaning and sanitizing all spaces in its child development and family complex, Gribbons said.

The case is the second confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Los Angeles Community College District. A student at East Los Angeles College also tested positive, interim President Raul Rodriguez said Sunday. That student was quarantined and is recovering.On Wednesday night L.A. City College President Mary Gallagher reported one unconfirmed case of COVID-19 and two cases of possible exposure. The unconfirmed case involved a library employee who has not been tested yet but whose doctor said the employee’s symptoms indicate COVID-19. The employee, who is in quarantine, was last on campus on March 19 and school officials are contacting anyone who may have had contact with that person.

The other two cases involved students who may have been exposed during clinical rotations at a Kaiser facility more than two weeks ago. The students have had no symptoms and are past the recommended quarantine period.

Though the cases were unconfirmed, “we wanted to share the information with you as quickly as possible for your own protection and to reduce any rumor or false information,” Gallagher said in a letter to the college.

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The push to release more inmates from L.A. County jails

Authorities in Los Angeles County have said that a top priority in the coronavirus pandemic was reducing the number of inmates housed in the county jail system, which is the nation’s largest. It’s considered a race against time to safeguard those living and working in the crammed quarters against spread of the virus. “The timetable is before the epidemic hits the jail. That’s the greyhound chasing this rabbit,” said Ricardo Garcia, the public defender of L.A. County.

Here’s a look at how officials are trying to lower the number of people behind bars.
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We’re at war with COVID-19. What lessons can we learn from World War II?

The Blinking Owl Distillery produces just 1,000 bottles a week of its vodka, gin and other handcrafted spirits made from organic grains out of its repurposed corrugated metal hut in a Santa Ana industrial district.

So, after government orders forced the microdistillery to close March 17 and owners Robin and Brian Christenson furloughed four bartenders from its tasting room, they were thrilled to get a call from Orange County. Would the distillery be interested in producing some critically needed hand sanitizer?
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For many Indians, the virus isn’t their biggest concern. It’s hunger

MUMBAI, India —The biggest lockdown in human history — 1.3 billion Indians ordered to stay home to curb the spread of the coronavirus — has unleashed chaos across the country as stranded migrant workers sleep in city streets, police beat curfew-breakers, fruits and vegetables rot in markets and masses of informal laborers find their livelihoods wiped out.

The first two days of the lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have thrown the lives of some of India’s poorest people into disarray. A total shutdown of trains and buses has prevented countless migrant workers from returning to their villages, forcing them into makeshift shelters or open fields where they are subsisting on food handouts, and hand-washing and social distancing are impossible.

“This is a complete catastrophe,” said Ranu Bhogal, campaigns director for Oxfam India.
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National air passenger traffic down 85%, official says

Sean Burton, president of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, said at a commissioners meeting Thursday that air passenger traffic was now down 85% nationally compared with a year ago. At LAX and Van Nuys, the effects on air travel stemming from the coronavirus was just as extreme, he said.

LAX air passenger traffic numbers are down 85%, concession revenues are down 50%, and rental car transactions are down 80%, he said. The currency exchange is down 70% and duty-free revenues are down 60%, he added.

“Clearly, the magnitude of what we are facing is immense,” Burton said. “We must continue to seek out new solutions to address the financial impacts and reduce our expenses and operate more efficiently, while maintaining safety and security. In addition to the austerity measures already in place, our executive leadership team is looking at all existing contracts and identifying where there are opportunities to stop, reduce or defer activities. We’re also looking at all of our planned future capital projects to determine if now is the right time to start them, or if they can be deferred.”

Burton said, under the final stimulus bill approved by Congress, $10 billion in federal assistance would help publicly owned commercial airports such as LAX, as well as general aviation airports including Van Nuys.

He said that money would be critical as the “aviation sector grapples with the most steep and potentially sustained decline in air travel history.”

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Barack Obama joins Stephen Curry’s session with Dr. Fauci

Former President Obama was one of more than 50,000 people to view Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry’s coronavirus question-and-answer session Thursday morning with Dr. Anthony Fauci on Curry’s Instagram.

“Listen to the science,” Obama commented. “Do your part and take care of each other. Thank you, Steph and Dr. Fauci.”

Curry and Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discussed COVID-19 for more than 30 minutes in an effort to bring accurate information to a different “demographic,” Curry said.

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British government offers cash to the self-employed

LONDON — The British government has unveiled another massive income support scheme, this time for 5 million or so self-employed people, many of whom face financial ruin from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

Treasury chief Rishi Sunak said the new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme would replicate the one he announced last week for those workers that firms retained rather than laid off.

At a virtual news briefing, Sunak said the government would pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus outbreak a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to 2,500 pounds ($2,975) per month.

He said the scheme would cover 95% of Britain’s self-employed and would only be open to those who made the majority of their income from self-employment, so only the “genuinely self-employed” benefit.

He said the scheme, which will continue for at least three months, should be in a position to start handing over the grants by the start of June.

“The scheme I have announced today is fair,” he said. “It is targeted at those who need it the most and, crucially, it is deliverable.”

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Drew Brees pledges $5 million to help those in need amid coronavirus crisis

Eight days after agreeing to a two-year, $50-million contract with the New Orleans Saints, quarterback Drew Brees is putting a chunk of that money to good use.

Brees announced Wednesday that he and his wife, Brittany, are committing $5 million to the state of Louisiana, which now has more than 1,700 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 65 deaths since the state’s first COVID-19 diagnosis March 9.

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Trump letter to governors suggests eagerness to relax federal guidelines

President Trump wrote in a letter to governors on Thursday that the federal government was working on new standards for categorizing counties as at high, medium or low risk for the coronavirus.

“There is still a long battle ahead, but our efforts are already paying dividends. As we enhance protections against the virus, Americans across the country are hoping the day will soon arrive when they can resume their normal economic, social, and religious lives,” he wrote.

The letter is a further sign that Trump is eager to relax federal guidelines on school closures and limiting social gatherings in order to boost the stalled economy. Public health experts have warned that the president is moving prematurely and there’s not enough information to show that the pandemic has been slowed.

Trump said the plan would involve “robust surveillance testing” to “monitor the spread of the virus throughout the country.”

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Myanmar claimed to be coronavirus-free. Now cases are showing up

YANGON, Myanmar — As its Southeast Asian neighbors counted cases of the coronavirus in the hundreds and thousands, Myanmar recorded its first three infections this week, in citizens who had recently returned from the U.S. and Britain.

The announcement confirmed what many experts had been saying for two months: that Myanmar’s claims to have somehow escaped the pandemic, despite sharing a 1,400-mile-long border with China, could not be believed.

Two weeks ago, Myanmar’s health ministry said it aimed “to prevent a single citizen from contracting COVID-19.” Government spokesman Zaw Htay suggested the “lifestyle and diet” of Myanmar’s people protected them from the novel coronavirus.

Yet there is growing suspicion that the virus has been circulating for weeks or months in this country of 54 million people — one of the poorest in Asia — given its proximity to, and travel and trade links with, China.

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Fourth coronavirus cluster identified in San Diego County as cases near 300

SAN DIEGO — A fourth coronavirus cluster was identified in San Diego County on Wednesday, and health officials warned the outbreak was going to get much worse in the near future, especially if residents ignore critical social-distancing orders.

The number of people with COVID-19 reached 297 on Wednesday: 277 county residents and 20 travelers are in local quarantine. The number was up 55 from the day before.

Of those cases, 20% were hospitalized and 9% required intensive care. The youngest was 6 weeks old, and the oldest was over 80, health officials said. Two county residents have died of the disease.

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Puerto Rico’s top health official resigns

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s top health official has resigned, the second to do so in less than two weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Interim Health Secretary Concepción Quiñones stepped down on Thursday. She was appointed when Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez resigned earlier this month after the governor and others complained about how the department was handling COVID-19 cases.

A new health secretary has not been announced for the U.S. territory, which has reported two coronavirus deaths and more than 60 confirmed cases.

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With more than 6,000 new infections in Italy, worldwide total exceeds 500,000

ROME — Italy has reported 6,153 new coronavirus infections, pushing the global total over half a million, based on a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Italy now has 80,539 cases, almost as many as China.

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency reported 662 deaths on Thursday, bringing the country’s death toll to 8,165, which is the highest in the world.

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Indianapolis 500 postponed until Aug. 23

The Indianapolis 500, scheduled for May 24, has been postponed until August because of the coronavirus pandemic and won’t run on Memorial Day weekend for the first time since 1946.

The race has been rescheduled for Aug. 23.

The Indianapolis 500 began in 1911 but did not run in 1917 and 1918 and 1941-45 because of World Wars I and II. Tony Hulman bought the neglected speedway after the second war, and the Indy 500 returned Memorial Day weekend of 1946. It’s been scheduled for that weekend every year since.

Although weather disrupted the prestigious race before Thursday, it had never been outright rescheduled.

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As coronavirus cases rise in Orange County, Segerstrom Center cancels events through April

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa announced another round of cancellations and postponements through April in response to the government’s guidelines for people staying home during the coronavirus outbreak.

The center previously announced schedule changes through March.

The center’s ABT Gillespie School and its School of Dance and Music for Children With Disabilities will remain closed through April. Administrative offices are closed, and staff is working remotely, according to a statement Wednesday.

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Q&A: How big will your government check be for the corornavirus?

WASHINGTON — The economic stimulus bill poised to be approved by Congress this week would provide direct payments to many American adults to help them pay their bills as they navigate through the shutdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Here are answers to common questions about the payments.

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Navy aircraft carrier diverted to Guam after outbreak on board

WASHINGTON — The Navy says an outbreak of COVID-19 infections aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific has forced it to divert to Guam so that all 5,000 aboard will undergo testing.

The acting secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, told reporters that the carrier remained “operationally capable.” Even so, other officials said the number of infected sailors had risen sharply, from three reported initially to “dozens” as of Thursday.

Modly said the carrier, which is the first U.S. Navy ship to have a reported outbreak while at sea, had about 800 COVID-19 test kits aboard and more were being delivered. He said the initially reported cases were sailors with relatively mild symptoms.

The Navy said earlier this week that the Theodore Roosevelt’s most recent port call was in Vietnam.

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California DMV is scaling back over coronavirus. Some employees say it’s not enough

SACRAMENTO —To slow the spread of COVID-19, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has dramatically restricted customer visits to its field offices, barring people who do not have appointments and warning that no new slots to appear in person are currently available.

But some field office employees who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity raised concerns that the measures don’t go far enough, leaving staff and customers vulnerable to infection while offices remain open.

The employees also say that a recent decision by the DMV to quietly waive knowledge tests that had previously been required for license renewals an
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Silicon Valley could face 2,000 to 16,000 coronavirus-related deaths, new estimate shows

MILLBRAE, Calif. — Silicon Valley could see a coronavirus-related death toll of 2,000 to 16,000 by the end of May, depending on how seriously people take the order to stay at home, according to projections presented at a San Jose City Council meeting Wednesday.

The rough estimates buttress calls by health and elected officials across California to shelter in place in the face of an exponential rise in coronavirus cases since the beginning of March. Officials including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and San Francisco’s director of public health, Dr. Grant Colfax, have warned about a surge in gravely ill coronavirus patients needing hospitalization in the next week or two.

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WNBA to hold a ‘virtual’ draft as scheduled utilizing video conferencing

The WNBA announced it would continue with its scheduled draft April 17 despite the COVID-19 crisis. The league will conduct a “virtual” draft utilizing video conferencing without players, guests and media in attendance.

During the event, which will be broadcast on ESPN 2 beginning at 5 p.m., the league will honor Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, three of the nine victims of the helicopter accident Jan. 26 that also took the life of Kobe Bryant.

The WNBA also announced plans to honor Kobe Bryant during the draft and upcoming season, calling him a “passionate advocate of the league.”

The league is scheduled to open training camps April 26 and begin the season May 15. Both dates are fluid because of the pandemic.

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Amid PPE shortages, residents raid personal supplies for coronavirus equipment donations

On Sunday night, Chad Loder traversed Southern California in the pouring rain.

He drove from his South Bay home to Palms to pick up N95 masks from a UCLA student. He then dropped off masks and hazmat suits to a grateful doctor in Culver City.

And finally, at the end of the night, he drove more than two hours to a Rancho Mirage hospital to drop off even more supplies.

As hospitals run short of personal protective equipment and the number of COVID-19 patients surges, residents across the country are scouring their belongings for any gear that can be used to help the doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

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How a CEO mobilized a factory deemed essential to keep it running and (he hopes) safe

When Kevin Kelly woke up on March 11, he glanced at his phone, saw a stock market in free-fall, and gently shook his head. “Overreaction,” he thought.

“I was a skeptic. The idea of a global pandemic seemed unfathomable,” said Kelly, chief executive at Emerald Packaging, a manufacturer of plastic wraps and bags for fruits, vegetables and snacks his family owns in Union City, southeast of San Francisco.

He’d change his mind on his 25-mile commute to Emerald’s factory. On the radio, disease experts spoke about the seriousness of the pandemic and about lack of preparation in the United States.

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Courteney Cox is binge-watching ‘Friends’ while in quarantine: ‘It’s really good’

Are you binge-watching “Friends” to stay sane during the coronavirus shut-in?

So is Courteney Cox.

The actress, who played the lovably rigid Monica in the hit sitcom, appeared remotely on Wednesday’s home edition of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and revealed she’d been making productive use of her time in quarantine by brushing up on her “Friends” knowledge.

“People love the show so much, I decided to binge watch ‘Friends,’” Cox said, clarifying that she recently purchased the series in full on Amazon Prime. “I just started Season 1. It’s really good.”

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Pregnant women with coronavirus infection can pass it to their babies, study finds

A study of 33 pregnant women in China who were infected with the coronavirus found that three of them gave birth to babies with COVID-19.

All three infants survived after receiving treatment for their symptoms, doctors reported Thursday in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics.

One of those infants was delivered by cesarean section nearly nine weeks before its due date because the mother was suffering from pneumonia caused by COVID-19. That baby’s health problems were primarily due to being born prematurely, not because it was infected with the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2, the authors wrote.

“The clinical symptoms from 33 neonates with or at risk of COVID-19 were mild and outcomes were favorable,” wrote the authors, who were from two children’s hospitals in Wuhan and one in Shanghai.

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Column: How the coronavirus crisis is saving Medicaid from Trump

It may seem inappropriate to look for a silver lining in the coronavirus disaster, but nevertheless here’s one that specifically applies to our largest public health program: The crisis has put a hard stop to the Trump administration’s attack on Medicaid.

This has happened in two ways. First, it has brought home even to the most ideologically addled members of the administration or benighted state governments how crucial Medicaid is to the fight against the virus and COVID-19, the disease it causes.

The crisis will drive the costs of treating its victims so high that the budgets of numerous hard-hit states would utterly collapse without the open-ended federal cost-sharing of Medicaid.
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Isolated childcare providers need supplies, guidance as California’s childcare system suffers

California’s early childhood care system has long been held together by women like Tanya García, whose Hollywood duplex is home to two licensed daycare operations serving as many as 28 youngsters — among them the children of healthcare workers and public school teachers.

As hundreds of large preschools and daycare centers have closed amid statewide school shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, many children of essential workers are now being watched over by lone providers — mostly women working in their homes with help from family members. In L.A. County, experts say 75% are immigrants.

However, these providers are facing intense pressure to not only care for little ones during stressful times, but do so with scarce state guidance, dwindling necessary supplies, and growing fears of contracting COVID-19, leaders and advocates in the industry say.
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World Central Kitchen and L.A. restaurants are banding together to feed hospital workers

World Central Kitchen, the nonprofit global relief organization founded by chef José Andrés, has partnered with a nascent program in Los Angeles that hopes to supply medical workers with healthy, free meals from local restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis.

The program, called “Feed the Frontline,” coalesced last week when a group of Westside moms organized a large-scale dinner delivery from Marmalade Cafe to 75 nurses and doctors at a local Kaiser hospital.
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China bars all foreign nationals

China is temporarily barring all foreign nationals from entry as it seeks to curb the number of imported COVID-19 cases.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that foreign nationals with residence permits would be prevented from entering the country starting Saturday. All visa-free transit policies also will be temporarily suspended.

Diplomatic workers will be exempt, and foreign nationals coming to China for “necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs” can still apply for visas, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries,” the statement said.

As the number of China’s reported domestic COVID-19 cases has dwindled, it has had to contend with imported infections from recent overseas arrivals. These individuals have accounted for the majority of China’s new cases for more than a week.

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National Theatre Live to release productions on YouTube for free

National Theatre Live, which records and broadcasts stage shows from London’s West End to movie theaters worldwide, is unveiling a new at-home initiative amid the closure of theaters due to the novel coronavirus.

Beginning April 2, audiences can watch a number of NT Live’s live-captured productions for free via the National Theatre’s YouTube channel. Every Thursday at noon PST, a production — filmed in front of an audience in the theater — will be streamed and then be available on demand for seven days.

The “National Theatre at Home” lineup kicks off with Richard Bean’s comedic play “One Man, Two Guvnors,” featuring James Corden’s Tony Award-winning performance as “an insatiable Humpty Dumpty who has hired himself out to two masters he’s determined to keep apart while doubling his wages and calories,” wrote Times critic Charles McNulty in 2012.

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Idris Elba, still quarantined with coronavirus, is fine but missing home

Status update: Idris Elba is still in quarantine — and is feeling homesick.

The “Cats” actor took to Twitter on Wednesday to let fans know that, yes, he’s still quarantined, but he’s feeling OK. The 47-year-old tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

“Hoping everyone is coping with this $@@!! Currently still in quarantine. Sab [Elba’s wife, Sabrina Dhowre Elba] and I still feel ok so far with no changes. Dr told us that after quarantine we will be immune for a certain time since our antibodies fought this,” he wrote beneath his selfie.

“At some point we’d like to go home to London. Bsafe.”

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Pelosi predicts House will pass Senate bill with bipartisan support

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the massive $2.2-trillion coronavirus economic relief bill approved by the Senate will pass the House on Friday with “strong bipartisan support.”

Pelosi spoke to reporters at the Capitol on Thursday a day after the Senate unanimously approved the measure.

The package comes to the House as fresh evidence emerges that the economy is in a recession. The government reported 3.3 million new weekly unemployment claims, four times the previous record.

“We will have a victory tomorrow for America’s workers,” Pelosi said, praising the bill’s expansion of unemployment benefits. She encouraged companies battered by the pandemic to keep paying their workers, even those who are furloughed.

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The virus forces adjustments for sex workers in Germany, where prostitution is legal

BERLIN — Some German brothels closed with hardly any warning. Sex workers who had been fully employed suddenly feared homelessness. Many sought ways to keep working, at home or on the streets.

The coronavirus-induced changes to prostitution in Germany, where sex work has long been legal, in recent days has left many in the business with as many troubles and fears as anyone, scrambling to find a way to adjust.

“It’s impossible to know now what the long-term economic impact of this crisis will be — and harder to predict what the impact will be for us,” said Undine de Riviere, a sex worker in Germany for the last 25 years. “What we offer is a luxury article, not a daily need. This could be the first thing people cut back on.”

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NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell says he’s been diagnosed with COVID-19

NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell says he has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the highest-profile media executive known to have contracted the disease.

“I recently have been feeling under the weather and just learned that I have tested positive for Covid-19,” Shell wrote in an email to NBCUniversal staff. “Although the virus has been tough to cope with, I have managed to work remotely in LA and am improving every day.”

Shell became CEO of NBCUniversal in January, taking over for Steve Burke who has run the company for nine years. Burke remains on as executive chairman.

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This Bay Area college wants students to return and clean their dorm rooms

MENLO PARK, Calif. — As colleges across California shuttered their campuses and sent most students home last week, one campus in the Bay Area is requiring its students to return — amid a pandemic — and clean out their dorm rooms.

On March 18, Evette Castillo Clark, St. Mary’s College dean of students, emailed parents and students that the Moraga campus was closing and students needed to return and get their dorm rooms cleaned out by April 14.

The day before, six Bay Area counties, including Contra Costa, where the college is located, announced a shelter-in-place order in response to the growing threat of the coronavirus. Health officials want people to maintain distance from everyone but their immediate families.

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Men are cutting their own hair in quarantine. It’s not pretty

There’s something going on with American men in coronavirus isolation ... something akin to the communal visions people were having of Devil’s Tower in Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

One by one, many of us, alone, without prompting — motivated perhaps by a reasonable fear that we’ll never see our barber again, perhaps by garden-variety mania brought on by our world going to pieces — have unilaterally decided that it it’s high time to cut our own hair.

Celebrities have been getting in on the self-coiffing act — Pink posted an Instagram video on Tuesday revealing her solo cut, snipped drunkenly the night before, and “Grace and Frankie” actor Scott Evans posted a video on Twitter of his Avengers star brother, Chris Evans, correcting his uneven DIY shearing.

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A love letter to video games in a time of coronavirus

My favorite childhood bedtime stories were not “Charlotte’s Web” or “The Hobbit.” No, my most treasured nighttime texts were “King’s Quest” and “The Secret of Monkey Island.”

Guybrush Threepwood, the hero of “Monkey Island,” would never be mistaken for a creation of Robert Louis Stevenson, but he was perhaps the first pirate to come equipped with a rubber chicken — a rubber chicken that could be used with an aerial cable as a sort of makeshift zip line. It was an early lesson in looking at every object that surrounds us as an item of potential discovery.

Of course, “King’s Quest” and “The Secret of Monkey Island” are not books at all. They’re early attempts at merging storytelling, animation-worthy visuals and gameplay. So yes, they’re games. But even today, when games are arguably the largest entertainment medium and the industry best-equipped for a stay-inside, work-from-home lifestyle, that word carries a stigma, a symbol of a childish medium not on par with the literature of books or the authorship of cinema.

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Looking down on coronavirus: 12 aerial photos of Southland’s new normal

An aerial view of a deserted Dodger Stadium.
An aerial view of Dodger Stadium the day before what should have been Major League Baseball’s opening day.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

New normal. The coronavirus outbreak has changed everything.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a stay-at-home order, all nonessential businesses are closed, and local law enforcement agencies are doing what they can to keep us off the streets. So what does it look like outside — from above?

Times photographer Robert Gauthier captured these images during an aerial tour of the Southland.

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Rows of tanks? National Guard patrols? Police stops? Officials debunk coronavirus rumors

As Los Angeles focuses on the coronavirus, officials are trying to debunk rumors about supposed government actions.

The latest involved photos showing a train carrying tanks in Southern California. Naval Base Ventura County put out a tweet saying the tanks had nothing to do with coronavirus preparation and instead were routine movements.

“Any logistical movements at Port Hueneme and Naval Air Station Point Mugu are just routine in nature to keep America’s deployed forces ready,” the base said.

The base said it continued to support the “Department of Defense in routine air and port operations.”

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10 ways to work out at home while you’re stuck inside

Gyms and exercise studios may have closed their doors, but there are still plenty of ways to get your sweat and stretch on at home with free YouTube channels, social media livestreams and free on-demand classes from some of the hottest names in boutique fitness.

What do you prefer? A workout that puts you in a better headspace? One that the whole family can enjoy? Or a different workout every day? Here are 10 different approaches to fitness, all to help you stay motivated, sane and active while you make the transition to working out at home.

And remember, as social distancing continues, check your favorite studios and fitness trainers’ Instagram and Facebook accounts for more free livestreaming workouts and support from the online #fitfam.

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Russia halts international flights

MOSCOW — Russian government officials announced the halting of all international flights beginning Friday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

An exception will be made for flights bringing Russians home from abroad, according to a statement published Thursday on the Cabinet’s website.

Earlier this month, Russian authorities limited its air traffic to regular flights to world capitals and charter flights.

The new measure comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Russia rapidly grows. On Wednesday, the government reported a total of 658 cases, with 163 new cases registered since the previous day. That is a significantly larger daily increase than in previous weeks, when the number of cases was growing by several dozen a day.

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Malaysian royalty under quarantine after palace staff