Should migrant workers be allowed to sleep in bunk beds?
YAKIMA, Wash. — The price and availability of apples in grocery stores this fall could come down to a critical question on the farm: whether migrant workers should sleep in bunk beds.
Each spring, as many as 30,000 farm laborers — most of them from Mexico — begin arriving in Washington state on guest worker visas and live in close quarters in housing that employers are required to provide. A typical room has two bunk beds.
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the system into disarray, with public health officials and the union representing the workers warning that the sleeping arrangement could spread infections.
But farmers say banning employees from sleeping in top bunks — as the state has proposed — would force them to cut their work forces in half and drive many into bankruptcy, devastating the region’s economy and the nation’s fruit supply.
Washington produces 65% of the country’s $2.4-billion fresh apple crop, as well as cherries, peaches, berries and other fruit.
Representatives from the United Farm Workers and the powerful farm lobby spent seven hours Wednesday in an online meeting organized by Gov. Jay Inslee’s office to discuss the draft regulations with health, labor and industry officials.
In the meantime, workers are already arriving under contracts signed months ago.
Hand sanitizers and temperature checks: LAFC tries to adapt to the new normal
After nearly two months of seeing his team only on Zoom or Facetime, Bob Bradley was back at LAFC’s training facility Thursday, where he got to see many of his players work out in the flesh.
It was an important first step back from the coronavirus-induced shutdown that suspended the MLS season March 12. But, Bradley added, it didn’t feel like normal.
“No, not really,” he said. “It’s great to see guys. Every player is excited just to get back on the field, put on their football shoes, get some touches, get some fitness.
“It’s a start. But that’s still a long way from the game.”
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Souplantation’s buffet-style restaurants closing for good due to the coronvirus
Souplantation, the popular buffet-style dining brand founded in San Diego 42 years ago, is closing all of its restaurants permanently, a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic that is likely to be the death knell for all self-serve eateries.
The permanent shuttering of the 97 restaurants, including 44 in California, was announced Thursday following weeks of efforts to salvage San Diego-based Garden Fresh Restaurants, the parent company of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes. The closing will mean lost jobs for 4,400 employees.
“The FDA had previously put out recommendations that included discontinuing self-serve stations, like self-serve beverages in fast food, but they specifically talked about salad bars and buffets,” said John Haywood, CEO of Garden Fresh. “The regulations are understandable, but unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to reopen. And I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow it.
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Masks will be required on L.A. Metro buses and trains starting Monday
After pushback from bus drivers and elected officials, Los Angeles County’s transit network — the busiest on the West Coast — will require all passengers to wear masks on board starting Monday.
For the first seven weeks of the coronavirus crisis, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had balked at requiring masks, saying enforcing the rule on the vast system would not be practical.
The policy change follows criticism from Metro bus drivers, who said the lack of masks on board made them scared for their health and for the well-being of essential workers on board.
“We want our bus operators to know that we are listening to them,” Metro said in a statement on its website. Officials said they are “acutely aware that some employees have been on social media and telling the news media that this is a change they want.”
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Gov. Newsom doesn’t see packed stadiums for sporting events any time soon
The NFL is releasing its 2020 schedule Thursday night. The Rams put suites on sale for their new stadium Thursday morning. Major League Baseball would like teams to play in their home ballparks at some point this summer.
This return to normality was forcefully challenged by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday. Hours after the president of the New York Yankees talked about how fans would return to his stadium, Newsom said he did not envision fans packing any of the stadiums in his state in the months ahead.
“It’s difficult for me to imagine a stadium that’s filled until we have immunity, until we have a vaccine,” Newsom said at his daily news conference.
By that standard, the All-Star game at Dodger Stadium would not be played this season, at least not on its scheduled July 14 date, and the Dodgers, Angels, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics likely would not play before large home crowds this season, if they played at home. A league spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
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San Francisco will allow certain businesses to reopen beginning May 18
San Francisco officials announced Thursday that certain retailers such as bookstores, florists and music stores will be the first stores allowed with operate storefront pickup beginning May 18.
The move marks a moderate step in easing stay-at-home restrictions. San Francisco has been more conservative than other California counties, which plan to reopen some businesses Friday based on new rules from Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“We have been hard at work to find ways to reopen more businesses and activities safely and responsibly,” said Mayor London Breed in a statement. “Giving businesses the option to reopen and provide storefront pickup will provide some relief for everyone in our city — allowing some people to get back to work, while still protecting public health. The last thing we want is to see a spike in the number of cases or hospitalizations, so we’re going to be keeping close track of our key COVID-19 indicators and will be ready to make any adjustment needed to keep our community healthy.”
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California to reopen 25 DMV field offices on Friday
SACRAMENTO — Six weeks after closing field offices to the public because of the coronavirus, the California Department of Motor Vehicles will reopen 25 locations to people with appointments on Friday, including offices in Los Angeles, Inglewood, Glendale and Santa Ana.
The agency, which closed all 170 field offices to the public on March 27, will open others in the coming weeks in phases and will require customers to wear face coverings and remain six feet apart in line, officials announced Thursday.
The DMV will also limit the number of people allowed inside the buildings at any given time and will send text messages to people waiting outside to let them know when they can enter and be served. As a result, the DMV is warning of extended wait times.
Hand sanitizer company is ordered to stop distribution over questionable claims
The Department of Justice earlier this week ordered an Orange County-based company to stop distributing its hand-sanitizer products until it received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval or removed certain claims from its labeling that its products could protect against norovirus, rhinovirus, rotavirus, flu and Ebola.
As of Thursday morning, the product’s website was processing orders.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California instructed Innovative BioDefense Inc. of Lake Forest, Calif., on Monday to stop distributing its Zylast products until stipulations were met.
Even if you want to buy a home, it’s harder now to get a loan — or to tap home equity
While the number of home sales entering escrow has plunged amid the coronavirus pandemic, some people are still touring homes virtually and willing — at a time of enormous uncertainty — to make the biggest financial investment of their lives.
What they are finding, however, is lenders aren’t always willing to go along.
Mortgage credit is tightening. Some lenders are increasing FICO score and down-payment requirements. One type of low-documentation loan has all but dried up. So-called jumbo mortgages, which in Los Angeles and Orange counties are those for greater than $765,600, have also grown rarer.
Drive-through celebrations and car parades nixed in Santa Clara County
Santa Clara County residents who thought they could shift their in-person celebrations to the car had a rude awakening this week when officials explicitly prohibited any vehicle gatherings. That includes the likes of car parades, caravans and drive-through graduations.
County health officials extended the area’s shelter-in-place orders through May 31 alongside a handful of other Bay Area communities. Though some restrictions have been lifted on businesses, officials added explicit prohibitions and clarifications around activities that have previously taken place as the coronavirus has pushed people indoors.
House Democrats move to pass the next bill without GOP support
WASHINGTON —As they work on the next bill to respond to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, House Democrats are eschewing negotiations with Republicans or the White House, and hope to vote on their own measure as soon as next week.
It marks a change of course for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who with Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin successfully negotiated two of the last three major bills to respond to the pandemic.
Democrats are putting together a bill focused on new spending for localities, individuals and testing — knowing that they will eventually have to negotiate with Republicans to get legislation through the Senate.
Death risk nearly twice as high for black Britons than whites, data shows
LONDON —Almost all ethnic minorities in Britain are at greater risk of dying with the coronavirus, and blacks are nearly twice as likely to die than whites, according to an analysis by the national statistics agency.
The Office of National Statistics looked at the virus-related deaths in England and Wales from March 2 to April 10. Since ethnicity and race are not recorded on death certificates, researchers linked the mortality information to 2011 census data.
The analysis found that along with black Britons, people of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and mixed ethnicity have a significantly heightened risk of COVID-19-related death compared with those who identified themselves as white.
After adjusting for factors such as age, socioeconomic background, health and disability, the study showed that black people were 1.9 times more likely to die with the coronavirus than whites in Britain, while Bangladeshi and Pakistani men were 1.8 times more likely to die than white males.
Newsom unveils rules governing how quickly California communities can reopen businesses
SACRAMENTO —Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new coronavirus safeguards and protocols for retail stores and workplaces eligible to reopen Friday and in the weeks ahead, marking the beginning of California’s gradual easing of the stay-at-home order and attempt to rekindle a state economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the plan, in-restaurant dining, car washes and some office buildings could also be allowed to reopen in the weeks ahead if public health officials in a county are able to demonstrate that the spread of coronavirus has stabilized there. County officials must prove to the state that they have adequate testing and hospital capacity and the ability to isolate people with the virus, and trace who they have contacted.
Newsom said earlier this week that bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods retailers, clothing stores and others can reopen for curbside pickup as early as Friday, unless barred by tougher local restrictions. Manufacturers and suppliers that provide goods for those businesses also will be allowed to resume operating.
Madrid health chief quits day after vote to accelerate the end of lockdown
MADRID — The health chief for the Madrid region of Spain has quit a day after the region’s Cabinet voted unanimously to try to accelerate the end of its coronavirus lockdown.
Yolanda Fuentes, a doctor, tendered her resignation Thursday, private Spanish news agency Europa Press and other national media reported.
The Madrid region has Spain’s highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with 63,870 out of more than 221,000 nationally.
Spain is slowly rolling back its restrictions on movement, but Madrid’s move to ask the central government to be included in the next phase of the rollback surprised many.
The spread of the coronavirus in the Madrid area has slowed considerably, with an increase of just 86 cases from Wednesday.
The central government has said a decision will be made in coming days.
Trump-touted treatment fails in study
A malaria drug that was touted by President Trump and widely used as a potential treatment for patients with COVID-19 failed to help those with infections stay off ventilators or live longer, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City evaluated 1,376 consecutive patients who showed up at the emergency room with symptoms of coronavirus, comparing the fate of those who received the medication, hydroxychloroquine, to those who didn’t. Nearly 60% of the patients were given the drug, typically within 48 hours, and they were more sick on average.
There were no significant differences between the groups in the number of patients who needed to be put on a ventilator or who died, even after taking into account the differences between them, the researchers said. Additional study, including more scientifically rigorous trials that randomly assign patients to treatment groups, is needed to confirm the findings, they said.
The results shouldn’t be used to rule out either a potential benefit or harm from the drug, though they don’t support use of the medication outside of clinical trials, the researchers said. The medical center updated its clinical guidance to remove the suggestion that patients with COVID-19 should receive it.
Amtrak passengers will be required to wear masks
Amtrak passengers will need to wear face coverings at stations and in coaches starting Monday as part of the railroad’s program to combat the outbreak and protect its employees. The coverings can be removed when passengers eat in designated areas, in private rooms, or while seated alone or with a travel companion in their own pair of seats, Amtrak said. Small children who are unable to maintain a facial covering are exempt.
British await ‘very limited’ easing of restrictions
LONDON — Britain’s foreign secretary is stressing that any changes to social distancing and lockdown measures will be “modest and incremental” to avoid a second peak, as the country’s total death toll reaches 30,615.
Asked about changes to lockdown rules expected to be announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday, Dominic Raab said, “It’s a very dangerous moment. We need to proceed with caution.”
Trump administration buries detailed CDC advice on reopening
The Trump administration shelved a document created by the nation’s top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak.
The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they began to reopen.
It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official. The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
The AP obtained a copy from a second federal official who was not authorized to release it. The guidance was described in AP stories last week, prior to the White House decision to shelve it.
The Trump administration has been closely controlling the release of guidance and information during the pandemic spurred by a new coronavirus that scientists are still trying to understand, with the president himself leading freewheeling daily briefings until last week.
California nears 2,500 deaths on eve of state reopening
As California readies to reopen some businesses Friday, the state’s coronavirus-linked death toll continues to creep higher and likely will surpass 2,500 before the day is done.
The dichotomy is at the heart of the delicate dance that Gov. Gavin Newsom and other elected and health officials must perform as they seek to restart certain sectors of the state’s battered economy while avoiding a potential second wave in the number of coronavirus infections.
Newsom announced earlier this week that the state would ease some of its strict stay-at-home rules, allowing bookstores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods retailers, clothing stores and others to reopen for curbside pickup Friday.
Factories that supply those businesses are also allowed to resume operating.
California reopening begins Friday: Here is what it will look like
California will begin the first steps in easing stay-at-home orders Friday.
The latest changes in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-stage plan to gradually reopen the state expand decision-making at the local level, allowing some communities to move further ahead into the second phase of the reopening process at their own pace and open more businesses beyond those outlined in the statewide policy.
The changes will affect a small set of businesses at first and are unlikely to jump-start the coronavirus-battered economy in a significant way.
But officials say it’s a start.
White House employee tests positive; Trump and Pence test negative
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were tested for COVID-19 and found to be negative after a member of the U.S. military who worked on the White House campus contracted the virus.
The president and vice president “remain in great health,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement on Thursday.
The White House declined to identify the service member. CNN reported that the person was a member of the U.S. Navy who served as a valet in the White House residence, suggesting possible close contact with the president or his family. Service members detailed to the White House provide a range of household functions, including food service, hospitality and medical support.
This is the second person working on the White House grounds who the administration has said tested positive for the coronavirus. A member of Pence’s staff contracted the disease in March and fully recovered.
Aloha, you’re under arrest: Hawaii goes after rogue tourists
HONOLULU — Hawaii authorities are cracking down on rogue tourists who are visiting beaches, riding personal watercraft, shopping and generally flouting strict requirements that they self-isolate for 14 days after arriving.
A newlywed California couple left their Waikiki hotel room repeatedly, despite being warned by hotel staff, and were arrested. Others have been arrested at a hotel pool, loading groceries into a vehicle outside a Costco and bringing takeout food back to a hotel room.
The rules, the strictest of any U.S. state, have helped keep infections relatively low. As of Wednesday, Hawaii has reported 626 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths.
Two McDonald’s workers shot in Oklahoma over closure of dining area, police say
OKLAHOMA CITY — Two McDonald’s employees in Oklahoma City were shot and wounded by a customer who was angry that the restaurant’s dining area was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, police said.
A female suspect was in custody after the Wednesday night shooting, but police have not yet released her name or what charges she may face.
The woman entered the lobby of a McDonald’s in Oklahoma City and was told the dining room was closed for safety reasons, police said.
The woman “became agitated and fired two to three rounds at employees,” Oklahoma City police Capt. Ronnie Beck said.
Frantic, California commits to $3.7 billion in no-bid contracts for goods, services
In a frantic effort to secure face masks and respond to the coronavirus crisis, California has committed to spend more than $3.7 billion on no-bid contracts, scores of them with businesses that have no track record with the state.
A Times data analysis found that nearly a third of those funds — about $1.2 billion — has been earmarked for suppliers of goods and services that do not appear in the state’s database of contracts prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Since Gov. Gavin Newsom’s emergency order on March 4, at least 80 were to first-time vendors, including a medical staffing firm that signed a $500-million deal and a company headed by the former attorney general of Alabama, who secured orders for more than $326 million for face masks and shields.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, L.A. flower shops reopen
Hugging your mom on Mother’s Day may be out of the question, but praising her with flowers this weekend just got a bit easier.
Flower shops across Los Angeles County will reopen Friday for curbside pickup, giving florists a chance to sell on one of their biggest days of the year.
County officials announced Wednesday they would allow several retailers to open their doors, including clothing stores, bookstores, sporting good stores and car dealerships.
For flower shops, Mother’s Day weekend is a pivotal event that provides some shops with half their annual earnings. It’s also the start of a busy season that then pivots to spring weddings and summer events, said Kate Penn, chief executive of the Society of American Florists.
2 counties defied Newsom and reopened. Now California warns restaurants could lose licenses if opened too early
Earlier this week, Yuba and Sutter counties in Northern California defied Gov. Gavin Newsom and issued local orders to allow some businesses to reopen with strict regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
But now, California officials are warning that reopened businesses risk losing their license to operate if they continue to violate the state’s stay-at-home order.
The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control visited multiple locations in Yuba and Sutter counties this week and warned restaurants that they could lose their state license to serve alcohol if they don’t close down their dining rooms.
The counties have a combined population of 171,000, with nearly half of them living in the twin cities of Marysville and Yuba City, which sit on either side of the Feather River and are about 40 miles north of Sacramento, the state capital.
3.2 million more people filed jobless claims in the U.S. last week
WASHINGTON — Nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the business shutdowns caused by the viral outbreak deepened the worst U.S. economic catastrophe in decades.
Roughly 33.5 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus began forcing millions of companies to close their doors and slash their workforces. That is the equivalent of one in five Americans who had been employed back in February, when the unemployment rate had reached a 50-year low of just 3.5%.
On Friday, the government will issue the April jobs report, and it’s likely to be the worst since modern record-keeping began after World War II. The unemployment rate is forecast to reach at least 16%, the highest rate since the Great Depression, and economists estimate that 21 million jobs were lost last month. If so, it would mean that nearly all the job growth in the 11 years since the Great Recession ended has vanished in a single month.
Even those stunning figures won’t fully capture the magnitude of the damage the coronavirus has inflicted on the job market. Many people who are still employed have had their hours reduced. Others have suffered pay cuts. Some who lost jobs in April and didn’t look for a new one in light of their bleak prospects won’t even be counted as unemployed. A broader measure — the proportion of adults with jobs — could hit a record low.
Pompeo rebuffs plea from Germany to keep funding World Health Organization
BERLIN — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has rebuffed a plea from Germany to reconsider halting funding for the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
The German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Thursday that Pompeo responded to a letter from his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, by insisting that the U.S. was “deeply committed to working with the international community to fight the coronavirus pandemic” despite the funding freeze.
Pompeo noted that the U.S. had been the largest single contributor to WHO over the years despite what he described as “a string of mismanaged pandemic responses” by the Geneva-based agency, which he accused of “public kowtowing to the Chinese Communist Party regime.”
Pompeo added that the U.S. had a “particular interest” in WHO’s “performance, transparency, and accountability,” stating that “we need functional, reliable global institutions, not dysfunctional, inept bureaucracies.”
Germany’s Foreign Ministry confirmed an exchange of letters between Maas and Pompeo but declined to elaborate. The U.S. Embassy in Berlin said it would not comment on diplomatic communications.
Column: Pain, fear and isolation. COVID-19 made his hospital stay even more surreal and sad
The pain, like a knife, had been stabbing his insides for three days when my son-in-law finally called the nurse hotline for advice. By then he could barely move from the bed and couldn’t even keep water down.
The nurse directed him to head to the emergency room right away. And that unleashed a tag team of worries in his mind: Something very wrong was going on inside his body. But might something worse contaminate him in a medical setting swamped by COVID-19?
“I didn’t want to get caught up in the mayhem of a hospital,” recalls TJ, my son-in-law. “I knew everything was different; I didn’t know what to expect.”
For weeks, health officials had been warning the public that, unless absolutely necessary, emergency rooms should be avoided; they might be overrun with contagious coronavirus cases.
But staying home had undoubtedly escalated the seriousness of TJ’s condition, complicating its prognosis. His stomachache signaled an abscess near his appendix; the delay in treatment allowed the infection to spread.
My son-in-law is now a part of what some doctors consider an under-the-radar epidemic of patients who delay seeking care for what turn out to be dangerous medical issues.
‘Don’t go visit your mom’ on Mother’s Day, San Francisco health director advises
The director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health told residents Wednesday not to visit their mothers on Mother’s Day, even if wearing masks and keeping six feet apart.
Unless residents live in the same households with their mothers, “the greatest gift we can give to our mothers this Mother’s Day is to stay away,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, who formerly worked in the Obama White House on HIV prevention. “Don’t go visit your mom in person this year.”
Colfax’s advice, shared by other public health experts, further muddles the picture of what Mother’s Day will look like Sunday in the Bay Area and beyond. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that he might allow certain businesses, including flower shops, to reopen as early as Friday.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday said he would allow wholesale florists to open as a horticultural exemption for Mother’s Day.
L.A. County, Bay Area take conservative approach as California eases stay-at-home rules
With parts of the California economy poised to reopen Friday, it’s becoming increasingly clear that major metropolitan areas are going to be taking it slow over concerns that the coronavirus remains a significant public health threat.
L.A. County officials Wednesday laid out modest first steps toward easing stay-at-home orders, which have been credited with slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. The county remains the primary hotbed of the outbreak in California, with more than 1,300 deaths and 28,000 confirmed cases, including about 800 new ones reported Wednesday alone.
Under the county plan, florists, car dealers and other types of bricks-and-mortar stores — including those that sell toys, music, books, clothing and sporting goods — will be allowed to open for curbside pickup only starting Friday. In-store shopping will not be permitted.
“This list is less about what products are sold and more about the ability to maintain social distancing,” county Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.
Britain criticizes a shipment of protective gear from Turkey as substandard
LONDON — The British government says a shipment of personal protective equipment from Turkey intended to help ease supply problems is sitting in a warehouse because it does not meet U.K. standards.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the 400,000 medical gowns were not “of the quality that we feel is good enough for our front-line staff” treating coronavirus patients.
The shipment has become an embarrassment for the British government since a minister announced on April 18 that it would arrive the next day. It was four days before a Royal Air Force plane was able to fly the cargo to the U.K.
Like many other countries, Britain has struggled to maintain a supply of protective equipment amid unprecedented global demand.
Tame elephants in Thailand at risk as owners can’t afford to feed them
The millions thrown out of work in Thailand by the coronavirus include elephants dependent on tourists to feed their voracious appetites. With scant numbers of foreign visitors, commercial elephant camps and sanctuaries lack funds for the animals’ upkeep and have sent more than 100 of them trudging as many as 100 miles back to their homes.
The Save Elephant Foundation in the northern Thai province of Chiang Mai has been promoting the beasts’ return to the greener pastures of home. The foundation supports fundraising appeals to feed animals still housed at tourist parks but also believes it is good for the elephants to return to their natural habitat, where they can be more self-sufficient.
The situation is critical. London-based World Animal Protection says that as many as 2,000 tame elephants are at risk of starvation because their owners are unable to feed them.
Since last month, more than 100 of the animals have marched from all over Chiang Mai to their homeland of Mae Chaem, which is dotted with villages where members of the Karen ethnic minority live and traditionally keep elephants.
Africa reports 50,000 virus cases and 2,000 deaths
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa has surpassed 50,000, and deaths have surpassed 2,000. That’s according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Africa now has 51,698 cases, but the widespread shortage of testing materials means the actual number is unknown.
South Africa has the most virus cases, with more than 7,800, but has been testing assertively; over 10,000 tests are being carried out per day.
All but one of Africa’s 54 countries, tiny Lesotho, have confirmed cases.
Skelton: Newsom must hear from the people, not just experts
Lots of people have specific roles in life. In our American democracy, no single sector can rule absolutely — not even public health officials in a pandemic.
Public health professionals have one compelling goal right now: Vanquish the coronavirus. And do whatever it takes to achieve that end.
We’re fortunate they’re here and so dedicated. They should be the most influential advisors listened to by all elected chief executives — the president, governors and mayors. And by all indications they are, except it seems for President Trump.
But regardless of their wisdom about virus contagion, health experts cannot be given a free hand in dictating public policy. They have only one professional agenda. People collectively have many.
Trump administration shelves CDC guide to reopening the country
A set of detailed documents created by the nation’s top disease investigators meant to give step-by-step advice to local leaders deciding when and how to reopen public places such as mass transit, day-care centers and restaurants during the still-raging pandemic has been shelved by the Trump administration.
The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they began to reopen.
It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official. The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
New law allows tenants to sue landlords over violating L.A. restrictions on evictions
Tenants will soon have the right to sue landlords who violate restrictions that Los Angeles has placed on evicting renters during the coronavirus crisis, under a law passed Wednesday by the City Council.
Renters could potentially win penalties of up to $10,000 per violation — or $15,000 per violation if the tenant is disabled or a senior. The effort was about “giving the tenants a big stick,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield said.
After the vote, Council President Nury Martinez said in a statement that although good landlords were working to help tenants stay in their units, “I want the bad operators to know, today, the city of Los Angeles is putting you on notice.”
Landlords are currently barred from evicting tenants who have been affected by the coronavirus, although the council has held off on imposing a blanket ban on evictions sought by tenant activists.
He fought to protect sex workers from COVID-19 and much more. Then the virus came for him
On a cloudy afternoon this week, a few dozen sex workers gathered outside a subway station in downtown Mexico City to remember their longtime leader.
Wearing surgical masks to protect against the coronavirus, the women prayed and sang and lighted candles around a photo of Jaime Montejo, who had devoted his life to giving these women a measure of dignity.
“He fought for us,” said Carla Enriquez Perez, who cried as she handed a white rose to each new arrival. “He fought for us until the very end.”
Just a few weeks ago, Montejo was here helping workers who had seen the sex trade dry up almost overnight because of the pandemic.
In memo to teams, NFL commissioner outlines protocols for safe reopening of facilities
In a memo to all 32 NFL clubs, commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday outlined the protocols for the safe reopening of team facilities.
“The past few months have been among the most uncertain times that any of us has experienced,” Goodell wrote in the memo, obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “It is impossible to project what the next few months will bring. Uninformed commentary that speculates on how individual clubs or the league will address a range of hypothetical contingencies serves no constructive purpose … and instead distracts from the careful planning that is needed right now.”
San Diego detainee is first in ICE custody to die of COVID-19
Hospitalized and on a ventilator for a little over a week, a detainee from Otay Mesa Detention Center on Wednesday became the first in immigration custody nationwide to die of COVID-19.
Carlos Ernesto Escobar Mejia died around 2:15 a.m., according to his sister, Maribel Escobar. Her brother would have been 58 this month, Escobar said.
She remembered her brother as kind and helpful, in particular doing everything he could to support their sister Rosa, with whom he lived in the Los Angeles area.
“My brother was a one-of-a-kind person,” Maribel Escobar said.