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Coronavirus updates: Trump halts U.S. funding for World Health Organization

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.

Coronavirus updates for April 13 are here

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Trump halts U.S. funding for World Health Organization

WASHINGTON — President Trump said Tuesday that he is suspending U.S. funding for the World Health Organization pending an administration review of its early response to the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The suspension threatens to undermine the WHO, the United Nations agency for international public health, as it seeks to coordinate governments in the battle against a pandemic that already has left more than 125,000 people dead in about 200 countries.

But the announcement was consistent with Trump’s efforts to deflect blame for his delay in declaring a national emergency until mid-March, after weeks of dismissing the threat, and for his personal disdain for international organizations.

Trump accused the U.N. group of mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus after it was first detected in Wuhan, China, in early January.

“The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said during a news briefing in the Rose Garden.

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Japan logs 457 new coronavirus cases as Tokyo’s hospitals feel the strain

TOKYO — Japan had 457 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its national total to 8,100 as of Tuesday, as well as 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year.

All told, Japan has a total of 8,812 cases, with 231 deaths, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said Wednesday.

Tokyo, by far, has the biggest number of cases at 2,319, most of them still hospitalized. Officials are under pressure to expand space for more patients, while transferring those with no or slight symptoms to hotels to make room for others in serious conditions.

Lack of space and equipment at ordinary hospitals that previously have not been equipped with infectious diseases treatment are being asked to take in patients.

Medical experts have warned that Tokyo’s healthcare system is on the brink of collapse amid the surge of patients and shortage of protective gear.

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Guatemala health chief says at least 50% of deportees from U.S. have coronavirus

Military guards on a bus that transfers returnees from the U.S. to their towns in Guatemala.
(Morena Perez Joachin / For The Times)

MEXICO CITY — More than half the deportees flown back to Guatemala by U.S. immigration authorities have tested positive for coronavirus, the top Guatemalan health official said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Guatemala City, Hugo Monroy, the minister of health, did not specify a time frame or the total number of deportees who had arrived home with infections.

But hundreds of Guatemalans have been returned in recent weeks, including 182 who arrived Monday on two flights from Texas.

Monroy said that on one flight — which he declined to identify — more than 75% of the deportees tested positive.

But he made clear this was not an isolated incident and said many deportees arrived with fevers and coughs and were immediately tested. “We’re not just talking about one flight,” he said. “We’re talking about all the flights.”

In video later released by the government, Monroy contradicted his earlier statements and said he was referring to just one flight.

The Guatemalan foreign ministry said through a spokesman Tuesday that the “official” number of deportees diagnosed with COVID-19 is four, including one who arrived on one of the flights Monday.

A high number of infections among deportees would cast doubt on the official tally of how many of the more than 33,000 migrants in U.S. detention are infected. U.S. immigration officials have said that 77 have tested positive, noting that some of those may no longer be in custody.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.

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12 residents who tested positive for the coronavirus die at Bay Area nursing homes

Eleven residents of a Bay Area nursing home who tested positive for the coronavirus have died, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department.

Additionally, 40 residents and 25 staff members at Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward have tested positive in the COVID-19 outbreak plaguing the facility, according to the health agency.

At another facility, East Bay Post-Acute of Castro Valley, one resident who tested positive has died. Twenty-three staff members and 22 residents there have tested positive as of Tuesday.

“We express our deepest sympathies for the families impacted by this situation,” Neetu Balram, Alameda County Public Health Department spokeswoman, said in an email. “We understand the public’s ongoing interest in case numbers and we report these facilities’ numbers daily. This is dependent on the facility confirming case numbers daily.”

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All L.A. residents with symptoms can now get same-day or next-day coronavirus tests

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that, thanks to increased testing capacity, anyone with coronavirus symptoms can now book a same or next-day appointment.

“Great news for anybody who’s feeling under the weather and has the symptoms,” he said at a news briefing.

More information about getting tested is available here.

Of more than 63,000 people who have been tested in Los Angeles County, 11% were positive, officials said Tuesday.

Public Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer said that percentage could indicate that of Los Angeles County’s 10 million residents, “we could have as many as 1 million people at some point in time” who are infected. Of course, not every individual will obtain testing for COVID-19.

Testing is considered a crucial way of tracking and potentially slowing the coronavirus.

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Navy removes 116 from hospital ship Mercy in L.A. port after coronavirus infects 7

The Navy hospital ship Mercy along with it's staff of 800 Navy medical personnel and support staff, along with more than 70 civil service mariners departed from Naval Base San Diego on March 23.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Navy has removed 116 medical staff members from its hospital ship docked off Los Angeles after seven of them tested positive for the novel coronavirus, an official said Tuesday.

The personnel from the medical ship Mercy were taken to a nearby base and remain under quarantine. None so far has needed hospitalization, said Lt. Rochelle Rieger of the 3rd Fleet.

It’s unclear where or how the sailors became infected, Rieger said.

The ship left San Diego on March 23, and all personnel were screened before they boarded, Rieger said. It arrived in Los Angeles four days later to provide relief to the city amid the pandemic by accepting patients who were not infected with the virus.

None of the more than 1,000 personnel aboard were allowed to leave the ship once it departed San Diego.

“The only people going on and off the ship are the actual patients we’ve been treating, so it’s very hard to trace where this came from,” Rieger said.

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How UV light may protect us from the coronavirus

The stealthy new coronavirus has turned face masks into ubiquitous accessories, and that means millions of Americans are looking for ways to keep them clean.

Can ultraviolet light do the job?

Ideally, single-use face masks should be worn once and then thrown away, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s certainly true of the top-of-the-line N95 masks used by healthcare workers that are designed to filter out 95% of tiny particles when properly fitted to a wearer’s face.

But last week, the CDC released new guidance on decontamination methods for emergency situations, such as the one healthcare workers are facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Any disinfection process would need to kill the coronavirus without harming an N95 mask’s ability to filter particles or fit snugly to the skin.

Ultraviolet germicidal radiation is one of the methods presented by the CDC, and UV light has generated great interest from the public. It’s already used in hospitals to disinfect contaminated surfaces. And there’s a fairly robust market of devices aimed at consumers, such as disinfectants for sleep apnea machines (although no such devices have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration so far). Other products purport to clean cellphones and disinfect water bottles.

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Tens of thousands apply for free cash debit cards through non-profit overseen by Garcetti

Tens of thousands of applicants sought free cash debit cards ranging from $700 to $1,500 that were offered Tuesday through a non-profit overseen by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The “Angeleno cards” are paid for by private donations raised by the Mayor’s Fund.

Residents can apply at Hcidla.lacity.org or call 213-252-3040 before 4:30 pm Thursday. Immigration status won’t be considered in the application process, Garcetti said Monday during a press briefing.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 56,000 applications had been entered, said Yusef Robb, a spokesman for the Angeleno card campaign. The surge in traffic apparently caused the web site to go down during the day. The call-in number also wasn’t working at some points Tuesday.

To quality, recipients must live in Los Angeles and their families’ total annual income must have fallen beneath the federal poverty line prior to the pandemic. Also, individuals and their families must have fallen into deeper economic hardship during the crisis because at least one family member has lost their job, or experienced a reduction of income of at least 50%, Garcetti said.

Another non-profit linked to Garcetti, Accelerator for America, and Mastercard’s City Possible initiative, helped design the Angeleno card campaign.

Robb said that as of Tuesday morning, applicants from at least 133 cities had applied for the card.

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Social distancing in a classroom? Newsom suggests major changes when schools reopen

Although campuses are likely to reopen in the fall, the school day may unfold in starkly different ways, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday, suggesting staggered start times, “reconfigured” classrooms that allow for social distancing and some continuance of online learning.

The governor said that physical distancing and other precautions against transmission of the coronavirus could remain in place for a lengthy period at schools after stay-at-home orders are lifted and California begins to gradually reopen.

School district leaders will need to begin considering a host of safety measures, he said.

“Can you stagger the times that our students come in so you can appropriate yourself differently within the existing physical environment — by reducing physical contact if possible, reducing the congregate meal, dressing issues related to PE and recess?” Newsom said. “Those are the kinds of things — those are the kind of conversations we’re all going to be having over the course of the next number of weeks and the next number of months.”

“We need to get our kids back to school,” he added. “I need to get my kids back to school. We need to get our kids educated.”

Such precautionary measures would have a profound impact on the experience of school for the state’s 6.1 million students in kindergarten through 12th grade as well as for students attending college. Since early to mid March, virtually all schooling in California has become “distance learning,” typically involving students and teachers interacting online.

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L.A. County moves to protect delivery workers, limit number of customers in stores

Groceries
Grocery shopping, and waiting, at Trader Joe’s in La Cañada Flintridge last week.
(Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County leaders on Tuesday passed new rules aimed at protecting the health of food delivery employees, who are playing a key role in getting meals and groceries to housebound residents.

Companies such as Instacart, Doordash and Shipt are targeted by an ordinance written by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and passed by the board on Tuesday.

The ordinance requires food delivery platforms to provide access to face coverings and gloves or hand sanitizer for workers, either by supplying workers directly or by making sufficient funds available to workers to purchase this personal protective equipment.

Companies are also required to provide a “no contact” option, so that workers can make deliveries without being physically close to customers. Grocery and pharmacy stores will be required to allow delivery workers to use their restrooms to wash their hands.

Grocery delivery services are in high demand as people avoid visiting stores for fear of contracting or spreading the coronavirus. Many most vulnerable to the coronavirus, including those 60 years and older or those with underlying health conditions, have begun to rely heavily on food delivery workers contracted by these companies to get their groceries, toiletries and other essential household goods.

Delivery workers for start-up Instacart and Target-owned grocery delivery app Shipt in recent weeks have protested what they see as a lack of safety protections and pay commensurate with the risk they are taking by operating during the pandemic.

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Coronavirus concerns force cancellation of San Diego County Fair

Performer Jerry Hager entertains guests at the San Diego County Fair.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

SAN DIEGO — The Del Mar fair board voted unanimously Tuesday to postpone this summer’s San Diego County Fair until 2021 because of the state’s prohibitions on mass gatherings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Board President Richard Valdez said that he had planned to delay a decision for another week or more, but Gov. Gavin Newsom’s media briefing earlier in the day made it clear there will be no large gatherings this summer.

“Our vendors are relying on our decision for determining whether they can go forward,” Valdez said. “There is a tremendous amount of preparation and expense involved.”

The event, scheduled for June 5 through July 5, will move to about the same dates next year with the same theme, “Heroes, Unite!” that was planned for this year, fairgrounds General Manager Tim Fennell said.

The fair has attracted more than 1.5 million visitors over its monthlong run in recent years.

“We are in uncharted waters ... and the No. 1 priority is safety,” Fennell said.

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Major airlines will take $25 billion in aid to meet their payrolls

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Tuesday that the nation’s major airlines had tentatively agreed to terms for $25 billion in federal aid to pay workers and keep them employed through September.

The deals aren’t final, but the assistance is almost certain to be a mix of cash and loans, and the government could take a small ownership stake in the leading airlines.

The airlines did not want to give up equity, but the Treasury Department demanded compensation for taxpayers. The airlines have little leverage — their business has collapsed as the COVID-19 pandemic reduces air travel to a trickle, and they face mass layoffs without the federal aid.

The nation’s six biggest airlines — Delta, American, United, Southwest, Alaska and JetBlue — along with four smaller carriers have told the Treasury Department they plan to take part, and discussions are continuing with others, Mnuchin said.

“We look forward to working with the airlines to finalize the necessary agreements and disburse funds as quickly as possible,” Mnuchin said in a statement.

The airlines had expected to begin receiving the aid — entirely in cash that didn’t have to be repaid — from the government to cover their payrolls by April 6, the deadline set by Congress. Instead, they found themselves locked in several days of tense negotiations with the Treasury Department, which insisted that only 70% of the aid should be in cash, with the rest in loans that airlines must repay.

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Coronavirus infections low, optimism growing in Orange County

Huntington Beach
Patrons, many of them wearing masks, wait to pick up food for their Easter meals at HoneyBaked Ham Co. in Huntington Beach on Saturday.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County officials on Tuesday continued to express cautious optimism that restrictions taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus were working.

On Monday, health officials reported nine new infections, a total that was revised later to eight. That was the fewest reported cases since March 17. On Tuesday, 23 new cases were reported, for a two-day count of 31 — the county’s lowest two-day total in three weeks. There were no additional deaths from COVID-19 reported Tuesday.

Countywide, the total case count now stands at 1,299. There have been 19 deaths linked to the coronavirus.

The COVID-19 mortality rate in Orange County was about 1.46% as of Tuesday. In Los Angeles County, where 40 new deaths were reported Tuesday among more than 10,000 cases, it was 3.6%.

Across Orange County, 122 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized, 62 of them in intensive care. To date, 14,977 people have undergone testing for COVID-19 in the county — 802 of them since Monday.

Orange County officials, while cautioning against reading too much into one or two data points, said the recent results indicated that steps taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus might be working.

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How the coronavirus outbreak rewrote the presidential primary calendar

If your Democratic primary hasn’t happened yet, you might want to double-check the date.

The coronavirus outbreak has left the presidential primary calendar in a state of flux as government officials and party leaders attempt to balance health and safety concerns with the need to continue the electoral process.

Some states have rescheduled early spring primaries for May and June, while working to massively expand mail balloting. In other states, like Wisconsin and Ohio, elections turned into chaotic legal battles between those seeking to delay and those who wanted to stick to the original dates.

Sixteen states have delayed their primaries, and Puerto Rico has postponed indefinitely. Two states, Montana and Kansas, have kept their primary dates but switched to vote-by-mail only. Even now, the calendar is far from settled. There are 27 presidential nominating contests between now and the convention, and what seems like a safe date today could change in a few weeks.

The Democratic presidential race has ended, with Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out and endorsed the former vice president. But Sanders said his name will still be on the remaining ballots.

“While Vice President Biden will be the nominee, we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform,” Sanders said in his April 8 speech suspending his campaign. He endorsed Biden on April 13.

The COVID-19 outbreak also forced the Democratic National Committee to move the start of its national convention from July 13 to Aug. 17. (Republicans will hold their convention a week later in Charlotte, N.C.)

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California DMV extends expiring licenses until May 31

With all field offices closed to the public during the coronavirus pandemic, the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced Tuesday it is extending driver licenses that are expiring for residents under age 70 until May 31.

The DMV had previously granted 120-day extensions for licenses of drivers age 70 and older, a group that is particularly vulnerable to the virus and so is under caution to stay home.

DMV officials also said Tuesday that all commercial driver licenses expiring between March and June are now valid through June 30, a date set by an emergency declaration from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

“The DMV has alerted California law enforcement of the extensions,” said an agency statement.

Officials have opened a new Virtual Field Office at https://virtual.dmv.ca.gov/ where drivers can still conduct many transactions.

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L.A. County health officials confirm 40 more deaths, marking largest reported total in a day

Los Angeles County health officials on Tuesday confirmed 40 more deaths linked to the coronavirus, the highest number reported in a single day.

The county’s death toll now stands at 360, Public Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer said, noting that the mortality rate has increased to 3.6%.

Ferrer confirmed 670 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s total to more than 10,000. Officials have previously said that the case count includes individuals who have recovered, but there is currently no way to track those numbers. Of more than 63,000 people who have been tested in the county, 11% were positive.

Ferrer said that percentage could indicate that of Los Angeles County’s 10 million residents, “we could have as many as 1 million people at some point in time” who are infected. Of course, not every individual will obtain testing for COVID-19.

The number of those tested has been collected via an electronic reporting system, Ferrer said. Commercial labs, medical providers and hospitals are recording those numbers, and a public health team checks for duplicate reports. Ferrer said the numbers are reported once a result is obtained.

At some point, certain labs did not have access to the reporting system, which is one possibility why the reported number of those tested jumped by more than 10,000 Tuesday.

The governor said Monday that 3,015 people had been hospitalized in the state, including 1,178 who were receiving intensive care.

Nearly half of those hospitalized are in L.A. County. Ferrer said Tuesday that roughly 1,433 residents are hospitalized for the virus. One-third 33% of those patients are in intensive care, and of those in ICU, 22% are on ventilators.

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California must do 6 things before restrictions can be lifted, Newsom says

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday offered his most detailed look yet at how California could begin to lift coronavirus stay-at-home rules and get its economy going again.

The administration highlighted six key indicators for altering his stay-at-home mandate, including the ability to closely monitor and track potential cases, prevent infection of high-risk people, prepare hospitals to handle surges, develop therapies to meet demand, ensure schools, businesses and child-care facilities can support social distancing, and develop guidelines for when to ask Californians to stay home again if necessary.

Newsom did not offer any firm timetables for when stay-at-home orders could be modified but provided some general goals that must be met to move forward.

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Santa Monica combines all weekend farmers markets into one big Saturday market

All weekend farmers markets in Santa Monica will be consolidated into a single Saturday market for the duration of the shelter-in-place restrictions.

The new combined market, announced Tuesday, will operate out of the existing downtown farmers market location starting Saturday. It will include the Saturday Pico farmers market at Virginia Park, the regular Saturday downtown farmers market and the Sunday Main Street farmers market.

The Wednesday downtown farmers market will continue to operate normally.

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While meeting with survivors, Trump again touts unproven drug

WASHINGTON — Reeling from mounting death tolls and escalating criticism of his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump searched for a silver lining on Tuesday by touting an unproven drug during a meeting with people who had recovered from the infection.

It was the latest episode in Trump’s weeks-long promotion of hydroxycloroquine as a possible treatment or preventive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, even though clinical trials have yet to confirm his claims.

“I haven’t heard a bad story. It’s pretty amazing, actually,” Trump said. “The word is out.”

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Forget puzzles: Model-car building should be your next shutdown activity

Add model cars, boats and planes to the hobbies making a comeback, another old-school activity, like baking and sewing, that has received a lightning bolt of life because of the coronavirus lockdown.

“We are definitely seeing an unbelievable increase in business across all segments but certainly in plastic modeling,” Alan Bates, an executive with Hobby Enterprises and MegaHobby, said last week by phone.

Jack Hodgkins, owner of Model Roundup, said in an email, “I talked to a man today ... [who] is retired, lives in Central California and is returning to modeling after a 50-year hiatus due to the stay-at-home mandates.”

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Column: The shaming of Anthony Fauci at Trump’s news conference from hell

One of the first signs that Monday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing was going further off the rails than usual was the early appearance of Anthony Fauci at the microphone.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been among the few trustworthy voices in that room, taking care, day after day, to stick to the facts.

But the doctor is only human, and every once in a while we have gotten brief glimpses of how hard it must be for him to cope with the president’s incessant need to politicize everything. Remember when, a few weeks ago, he rubbed his forehead as President Trump spoke dismissively of the “deep state”?

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How to thank healthcare, grocery and other essential workers during the outbreak

Lines snake through parking lots at grocery stores. Buses carry people to essential jobs. Packages wait outside doorsteps. And doctors and nurses gear up for long shifts in packed hospitals.

While many people work from home and await the end of stay-at-home guidelines, some workers continue to brave the coronavirus pandemic to go to work to keep essential parts of society running.

“At first, we looked at it like we’re here to provide to the community,” said Prince Clay, a store captain at a Trader Joe’s in Culver City. “But now people look at us — we’re not heroes — but we’re on the front line of defense.”

Here are a few ways to thank those essential workers.

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Column: Bears thriving at Yosemite. Clear skies. Does the outbreak reveal a ‘World Without Us’?

Skies have cleared over the smoggiest urban centers, wildlife runs free in parks, streets and plazas, flowers rise from the cracks of formerly well-trodden sidewalks and birdsong replaces the more motorized score of modern daily life. With much of the world’s population on COVID-19 lockdown, nature has never seemed more gloriously present — sublimely indifferent to human anxieties, eager to run riot over all the places in which it was once controlled, to return to the spaces from which it was expelled.

Meanwhile, in his Massachusetts home, environmental journalist Alan Weisman is getting many calls from people in many nations who all want to know the same thing:

Are we beginning to see the world without us?

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In largest increase since the pandemic began, Riverside County reports 9 new deaths

Nine more people died Monday in Riverside County of complications from COVID-19, the largest number of coronavirus-related deaths reported in a single day since the pandemic began, health officials said.

An additional 132 people tested positive a day after the county recorded the biggest jump in its number of confirmed cases.

The new deaths bring the county’s toll to 50. Two of the victims were from Palm Desert, two from Riverside, two from Moreno Valley and one each from Cherry Valley, Wildomar and Hemet, according to Brooke Federico, the county’s public information officer.

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Paul McCartney hopes Chinese government shuts down wet markets

Paul McCartney has some thoughts on the health crisis that has upended the entire world.

The former Beatle called Howard Stern on Tuesday from Sussex, England, to update the Sirius XM radio host on his well-being during the coronavirus pandemic.

McCartney explained that he was “locked down” with his daughter Mary and her family and said “the only bad” thing about self-isolating there was that his wife, Nancy, was in New York.

“Can you believe what’s going on? Did you ever think in your lifetime you’d see something like this?” Stern asked McCartney.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom outlines goals that must be met to lift California’s order

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom says California needs to increase testing, protect high-risk residents from infection and expand hospital capacity before the state can begin to modify the unprecedented stay-at-home order he imposed one month ago and gradually return to a sense of normalcy.

“I want you to know it’s not, it will not be, a permanent state,” Newsom said of the restrictions put in place to fight the spread of coronavirus. “We recognize the consequences of the stay-at-home orders have a profound impact on the economy, your personal household budget, your personal prospects around your future.”

The governor broadly described the steps his administration expected to take in the weeks and months ahead to protect the public and gauge how long the order should remain in place, underscoring a transition in the fight against the virus in recent days as California and other states map out plans to ease restrictions.

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How to make your own hand sanitizer at home

When it comes to protecting yourself from the novel coronavirus, you already know what to do: Stay home and keep your hands clean by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds — and keep your hands away from your face.

But what happens when you have to leave the house to go grocery shopping or pump gas and don’t have access to soap and water?

Hand sanitizer is the next best option, although health officials stress that it’s not a replacement for washing your hands with soap and water.

That hasn’t stopped the demand for hand sanitizer, which has flown off store shelves much like bottled water and toilet paper. The demand has been so great, in fact, that EBay has forbidden the sale of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in the wake of egregious price gouging.

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Lockdowns and civil liberties collide in a remote corner of California

CRESCENT CITY, Calif. — In Del Norte County, which lies along California’s northwestern coast, officials are straddling a tenuous line: On the one side, they are desperate to keep their residents free of a deadly virus raging across the globe; on the other, they can’t ignore their community’s libertarian tendencies and traditions.

“For people living here, we kind of naturally social distance already,” said the county’s sheriff, Erik Apperson, who noted that many of the county’s residents lived here precisely because they wanted to avoid the crowds and traffic found elsewhere in the state.

“But, if we start pushing too far onto people’s civil rights and personal liberties — their ability to move freely, or get out onto the ocean to fish — well, what are we doing here?” he said, referring to his office’s role in defending and enforcing the U.S. Constitution.

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Construction crews back on the job in Spain, but rebuilding work life won’t be simple

GIJON, Spain — It was the first day back at work in more than four weeks for Alberto Menendez, a construction company owner in the northern Spanish city of Gijon.

But Monday was hardly a normal day on the job.

In its first tentative move to ease coronavirus restrictions that were imposed last month across much of Europe as the outbreak took hold, the Spanish government has begun allowing construction and factory employees to go back to work under strict safety guidelines.

It was a small first step toward restarting a national economy devastated, like others around the world, by the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

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Chris Cuomo just wants his battle to be over: ‘It is in my head’

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo is still battling symptoms — and his own psyche — in his ongoing fight with COVID-19.

In conversation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Monday’s edition of “Prime Time,” a frustrated Cuomo offered another update on his health, which has yet to fully recover from his “freaky” bout with the coronavirus two weeks after his diagnosis.

“I’m scared by this. I’m scared by the potential of this, and it frustrates me because I can’t get out of this basement,” he said. “I still have this low-grade fever. I can’t shake it. And I know everybody tells me it’s gradual. It takes time. It’s anywhere between two to 3½ weeks — but it is maddening to have this little, stupid fever.”

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Column: Trump can’t reopen the economy, but governors can’t either

President Trump’s assertion Monday that he has “ultimate,” even “total,” authority to dictate the reopening of the U.S. economy raised eyebrows among constitutional scholars and set up a conflict with governors and local officials who had placed their own states and communities on lockdown.

“In the coming weeks, the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19 — with our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities,” said Gavin Newsom, Jay Inslee and Kate Brown, respectively the governors of California, Washington and Oregon, in a joint statement Monday. “This effort will be guided by data.”

The truth is that Trump doesn’t have the legal or practical authority to dictate that restrictions be lifted for workplaces and commercial establishments, but neither do the governors.

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Amazon fires 3 more employees who criticized working conditions

Amazon.com Inc. is hitting back at activists within its own ranks, terminating three employees who criticized working conditions in its warehouses.

The retailer confirmed Tuesday that it had fired Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa for violating company policy. The two employees, who worked at Seattle headquarters, had taken to Twitter recently to voice concerns about the treatment of workers during the coronavirus pandemic; they’ve also long been involved in an employee campaign urging Amazon to do more to fight climate change.

A third employee, Bashir Mohamed, who worked in a warehouse in Minnesota, was also fired. The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News reported earlier on the firings, which took place last week.

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‘We don’t have a king’: Governors hit back at Trump

The battle between President Trump and governors over how and when to relax COVID-19 restrictions continued Tuesday with more angry words from both sides.

Reiterating his claim of “total authority,” Trump started the day with a series of tweets that, among other things, compared any resistance from the states to a “good old fashioned mutiny.”

“Tell the Democrat Governors that ‘Mutiny On The Bounty’ was one of my all time favorite movies,” he tweeted.

Within hours, prompted by reporters’ questions, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo fired back.

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Disney animator’s death is third at motion picture retirement home

A famed Disney animator has become the third resident of the Motion Picture and Television Fund skilled-nursing facility in Woodland Hills to die from complications related to the coronavirus.

As of Tuesday, 16 residents and eight staff have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Ann Sullivan, 91, a veteran Disney artist, died Monday. Her death follows those of actor Allen Garfield, 80, and John Breier, 64, both of whom died last week after being hospitalized, according to MPTF officials.

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Am I still an elite flier? Some airlines extend status 18 months

Airlines want you back. Really. U.S. carriers have allowed passengers to change or cancel flights without penalty fees during the coronavirus pandemic. Now some are giving elite members in their loyalty programs automatic extensions on their status, some as long as 18 months.

Airlines have lost big in the last few months. Airline tracker OAG says that, since March 1, U.S. airlines have been operating many flights at less than 20% of their usual passenger load.

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Coronavirus kills annual 4/20 marijuana holiday: ‘Do not come to San Francisco,’ mayor warns

Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill, known for its pungent and pervading aroma of marijuana, won’t be nearly as green this 4/20.

The cannabis holiday — which falls on Monday — is an exalted day for pot enthusiasts. But this year, the coronavirus has upended traditional celebrations that typically draw thousands of smoky revelers to the famous San Francisco knoll.

In response to the city’s stay-at-home orders, the organizers of the 420 Hippie Hill festival announced last week they were canceling the event. In past years, tens of thousands of people packed Robin Williams Meadow to pay homage to the cannabis plant with music, merchandise and food, a tradition organizers say dates back to the 1970s.

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How citizen scientists can help fight the outbreak

As the new coronavirus continues its assault on humanity, scientists are fighting back by gathering data from an unlikely source: ordinary people.

With a smartphone app and a little free time, anyone 18 or older can contribute valuable information that might help bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control, researchers say.

The apps ask volunteers — whether they’re feeling healthy or sick — to log their symptoms and, with permission, tap into the health data that smartphones and fitness trackers collect as a matter of course. Others apps search out more context, asking participants about their success in social distancing and the status of their jobs, among other things.

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A 2020 timeline: How California could reopen, from restaurants and schools to offices and sports

SAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday is set to provide more detail on how California might ease out of a strict stay-at-home order aimed at curbing the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

What might it look like? We spoke with Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, a UCLA medical epidemiologist and infectious disease expert, to see what a possible timeline for reopening the state might look like.

Kim-Farley has been in the shoes of public health officials before. He headed the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Division of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention from 2004 to 2018 and previously worked as a career epidemiology field officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Based on what’s known now, here is a likely scenario of what may be to come:

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Cannes Film Festival abandons plans for June or July postponement but will explore other options

NEW YORK — The Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday abandoned plans for a postponed 2020 edition in June or July but declined to give up entirely, saying it will explore other options.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday extended France’s national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, banning all public events until mid-July. That essentially dashed the hopes of Cannes organizers, who last month said they would aim to move the annual May event by a month or two.

“It is clearly difficult to assume that the Festival de Cannes could be held this year in its original form,” the festival said in a statement.

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Italy has fewest cases in a month

Italy reported its fewest new coronavirus cases in a month on Tuesday, as a government-appointed task force seeks to map out a way to ease a nationwide lockdown that’s crippling the economy.

There were 2,972 new cases of the disease — the fewest since March 13 — compared with 3,153 a day earlier, civil protection officials said at their daily briefing in Rome. The decline came as testing slowed over the Easter holiday weekend. Confirmed cases in the country now total 162,488.

Italy registered 602 deaths linked to the virus, compared with 566 the day before. That brings the total number of fatalities to 21,067.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has extended containment measures until May 3, and he appointed Vittorio Colao, former chief executive officer of Vodafone Group, to head a team that will help the country’s firms gradually restart activity, depending on the spread of the disease.

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Hedge fund managers are claiming bailouts as small businesses

Free money.

That’s the enticing prospect hedge funds and other trading firms are pondering after realizing they too might be able to participate in a historic U.S. stimulus package to keep small businesses alive through the coronavirus pandemic.

Since early April, law firms have hosted webinars and sent out alerts, and accounting firms have reached out to clients, all with the goal of explaining how they might be able to tap into the Paycheck Protection Program. The $349-billion package administered by the Small Business Administration provides loans to cover payroll, rent and utilities for up to eight weeks. The loans can convert to grants if recipients retain or rehire their workers.

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California cases approach 25,000 as state eyes plans to lift restrictions

Coronavirus cases in California are approaching 25,000 as the state enters a new phase of the crisis: figuring out how and when to lift social distancing rules that have been credited with keeping deaths in the state relatively low.

California has seen more than 700 COVID-19 deaths, a fraction of the toll in hot spots such as New York and New Jersey. Although state officials say California won’t hit a peak until May, they already are beginning to talk about how the economy could eventually be restarted.

Gov. Gavin Newsom will discuss some ideas at his news conference Tuesday.

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Rita Wilson took chloroquine to fight COVID-19 and didn’t like what it did to her

Rita Wilson doesn’t know if chloroquine helped her in her COVID-19 fight. She only knows how it made her feel on her road to recovery.

In short? Not good.

“I don’t know if the drug worked or if it was just time for the fever to break,” Wilson said Tuesday, noting the “extreme side effects” she suffered.

Wilson, who along with husband Tom Hanks came down with COVID-19 while in Australia, told “CBS This Morning” that the medication left her “completely nauseous” and suffering from vertigo. She was given the drug on about Day 9 of her illness, she said.

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Trump accuses Democratic governors of ‘mutiny’ over power struggle

WASHINGTON — Invoking the movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” President Trump suggested Tuesday that governors’ objections to his claim of absolute authority over when to lift guidelines aimed at fighting the coronavirus were tantamount to insurrection.

Democratic and Republican governors sounded the alarm about a federal power grab a day after Trump asserted he had the ultimate say on when and how to reopen the economy after weeks of tough social distancing guidelines.

Trump, meanwhile, said he was relishing the fight with state officials — particularly those in hard-hit states run by Democrats — who voiced fears that Trump’s ambitious timetable could lead to a resurgence of the virus.

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16 meaty book series to get you through stay-at-home orders

By now you have binge-watched your way through “Tiger King,” “Pandemic” and “Schitt’s Creek.” You’re done trying to be productive but maybe ready for something a little more sustaining.

It might be time to immerse yourself in the world of a multi-volume book series — a universe with a wild diversity of options, each tailored to your particular taste for distraction. Here’s a list of recommendations for books grouped by genre (with further reading suggestions too) that can easily soak up the isolated weeks (months?) ahead.

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Walk-up testing site opens in South L.A.

A new walk-up coronavirus testing site opens Tuesday in South Los Angeles as city and county officials continue work to expand the capacity to screen for infections.

The new location, at the Kedren Community Health Center, is one of roughly two dozen testing centers across Los Angeles County.

“Testing is absolutely critical to our ability to track this outbreak and flatten the curve, and so we are scaling up and ramping up this effort,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in announcing the opening Monday.

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South Korea forges ahead with an election — with masks, thermometers and lots of hand sanitizer

SEOUL — At a time when most governments are urging citizens to stay put at home, one country is calling on them to come out in force this week — to the polls.

South Korea is going ahead with its hotly contested parliamentary elections Wednesday, even as nations around the world, from Britain to Bolivia, have postponed races out of coronavirus concerns, and as primaries in Wisconsin raised myriad concerns about safety and disenfranchisement.

With nearly four out of five South Koreans saying they intend to cast a ballot and early voting already logging record turnout, the country may offer an early look at how to hold a general election in the midst of a pandemic.

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Navy battles a growing outbreak on hospital ship as more sailors test positive

Naval health officials are fighting an outbreak of the novel coronavirus among the crew of the hospital ship Mercy, where four more sailors tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the total cases among the crew to seven, a Navy official said Monday.

The affected sailors, as well as those with whom they had close contact, have left the ship and are either isolated or quarantined off the ship, according to Cmdr. John Fage, a 3rd Fleet spokesman.

“The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crew members and patients on board,” Fage said in an email.

The outbreak has not affected Mercy’s ability to receive patients, he said.

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French court tells Amazon to stop delivering nonessential items

PARIS — A French court has ordered Amazon to stop buying, storing or delivering nonessential goods for the next month to protect its employees from the virus.

The emergency ruling Tuesday requires Amazon to evaluate health risks at all its facilities around France and negotiate new safety measures with worker representatives, according to lawyers for unions that launched the legal proceedings.

The court stopped short of halting all Amazon warehouse activity, which the unions had sought.

Lawyer Judith Krivine says Amazon must suspend its nonessential trade within 24 hours of Tuesday’s ruling or face 1 million euros in fines per day. Sales of food, medicine and hygiene supplies are still allowed.

Amazon did not immediately comment. The head of Amazon France, Frederic Duval, said last week the company was putting in place safety measures.

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Another Trump vs. California battle looms over reopening a battered economy

California could find itself again at odds with the Trump administration, this time on when and how to lift the unprecedented social distancing restrictions that many credit with helping contain the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

California has seen markedly fewer deaths than other hot spots like New York and New Jersey, and officials have said its early embrace of stay-at-home rules is one reason why.

Now, Gov. Gavin Newsom and others are beginning to talk about how the economy could restart. But President Trump on Monday claimed that he had that power, rather than local and state officials.

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IMF sees 2020 recession as worst since Great Depression

The International Monetary Fund predicted Tuesday that the “Great Lockdown” recession, fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, would be the steepest in almost a century and warned that the world economy’s contraction and recovery would be worse than anticipated if the coronavirus lingered or returned.

In its first World Economic Outlook report since the spread of the coronavirus and subsequent freezing of major economies, the IMF estimates that global gross domestic product will shrink 3% this year.

That compares to a January projection of 3.3% expansion and would likely mark the deepest dive since the Great Depression. It would also dwarf the 0.1% contraction of 2009 amid that financial crisis.

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India’s Modi extends lockdown to May 3

MUMBAI — Hundreds of jobless migrant workers crowded a railroad station protesting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to extend the lockdown in the country to May 3.

They’re demanding special trains be run to take them to their hometowns and villages in northern India.

Police charged them after they refused to leave Bandra railroad station in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, and pushed them to nearby slums where they live.

They were hoping for easing of the lockdown restrictions to allow them to return home, mostly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states.

Maharashtra state Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray asked the Modi government to arrange trains and buses for their journey back.

The first phase of India’s three-week lockdown ended with nearly 10,000 positive cases and 353 deaths, with people restricted to their homes for all but essential trips.

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Sex-toy sales are up, stigma is down

The near-countrywide stay-at-home shutdown has, over the last month, turned us into a nation of at-home mask makers, stress bakers, manicurists and declutterers. It’s also turned us into a nation of self-gratifying pleasure seekers eager to stay connected — sexually and intimately — with both ourselves and others during this anxiety-fraught period of extended social isolation. At least that’s a conclusion that can be drawn from the recent increase in sex-toy sales.

Adult novelty companies contacted by the Los Angeles Times reported increased web traffic and surging sales, particularly in late March, after stay-at-home orders started being issued coast to coast.

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How to find the pandemic sex toy that’s right for you

Whether your goal is alleviating boredom or becoming a more complete sexual being, there’s a sex toy out there somewhere with your name on it. There are several options to narrow the field (hey, this pandemic isn’t going to last forever, right?) for singletons, cohabitants and disconnected couples alike.

And if you’re taking your first baby steps into the buzzing, pulsing, shiny chrome and colored plastic world of assisted loving, here’s a piece of advice from the professionals: Check any self-judgment at the door.

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57 California inmates, 78 staff members test positive

As of Tuesday morning, 57 inmates in California prisons have tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, 78 correctional or medical staff who work there have tested positive.

That number is up from Friday, when 72 custody and medical staff at prisons statewide tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus, along with 37 inmates, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

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Tour de France postponed; no starting date set

PARIS — After weeks of holding out hope that the Tour de France would be able to go ahead as planned despite the coronavirus outbreak, the world’s most famous cycling race was finally added to the list of sporting events called off.

It may still happen this year, but it’s clear the three-week race won’t be starting June 27 in the Riviera city of Nice as scheduled.

French President Emmanuel Macron effectively made that decision in his speech to the nation on Monday when he announced that all public events with large crowds had been canceled until at least mid-July.

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Their Hollywood romance is cut short by COVID-19

More than 25 years ago, Lynne Lerner walked onto the set of “China Beach,” an ‘80s television show about medics in the Vietnam War, to check in for work as an extra. There, she met the man who would become her husband, Larry Lerner, an assistant director on the show.

Over the years, the two would share beautiful moments as a married couple. They loved to rescue pit bulls together, attended Emmy events and watched TV shows in their Van Nuys home.

She acted in “General Hospital,” “Married With Children” and “Days of Our Lives.” He worked on shows that included “The Man in the High Castle,” “Ambitions” and “Drop Dead Diva.” Sometimes they worked together.

On April 1, their decades-long Hollywood romance was cut short when Larry Lerner died from COVID-19 at the age of 71.

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More people are sampling new streaming services

More consumers are increasing the number of streaming services they have access to, looking for ways to entertain themselves at home as the nation deals with the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.

The average person is streaming eight hours of content each day, double the number of hours streamed before the pandemic rapidly spread in the U.S., according to data collected from surveys conducted by market research firm OnePoll for streaming service Tubi. The study surveyed 2,000 Americans who could access at least one streaming service.

Three in four people are using more streaming services since the coronavirus came to the U.S., the study said.

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U.K. fiscal watchdog projects 35% real GDP drop

The U.K.’s Office for Budget Responsibility sees real GDP falling 35% in the second quarter under a scenario that assumes a three-month lockdown followed by another three months where measures are partially lifted.

OBR sees unemployment jumping to 10% in the second quarter and the deficit climbing to 218 billion pounds ($274 billion) relative to March forecasts under this scenario.

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Deaths in England are 15% higher than an official count

Deaths involving COVID-19 in England are running 15% higher than the number reported by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.

The Office for National Statistics said 5,979 deaths up to April 3 had been registered by April 11. That compares with the 5,186 reported by NHS England, a number which is itself revised several days after the official daily tally from hospitals.

The discrepancy is important because the government is using data on deaths, hospital admissions and the impact of social-distancing measures to plan its response to the pandemic and eventually ease a nationwide lockdown.

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Europe’s economy to slump more than 10%, survey finds

Europe is heading for a double-digit slump in the first half of 2020 amid widespread lockdowns to stem the spread of the coronavirus, according to economists.

Bloomberg’s monthly survey puts the contraction in the euro area at more than 10% in the January-June period, with most of the hit — 8.3% — in the second quarter. Even with an expected rebound later in the year, the bloc’s output will still decline more than 5% in 2020.

The survey results aren’t the only gloomy numbers to emerge on Tuesday. The International Monetary Fund predicts the 19-country bloc will contract 7.5% this year thanks to what it calls the “Great Lockdown,” with the world economy shrinking 3%.

In its first World Economic Outlook since the virus outbreak, the IMF said the global recession would be the steepest in almost a century.

Among the major euro-area countries, Italy will be the worst affected, with a 9.1% contraction, followed by Spain at 8%, the survey predicted.

In France, where the government extended confinement measures to May 11, the IMF sees a 7.2% hit this year. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is even more pessimistic, saying on Tuesday that the slump could be 8%.

The Bloomberg surveys show widespread damage: Germany will shrink 7.6% this quarter, Italy 8.8%, Spain 10%, and the U.K. will suffer a near 12% contraction.

Although rebounds are predicted later in the year, the timing depends on when restrictions on movement, gatherings and businesses are lifted, or at least eased.

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Cities, counties fear losing out on rescue funding

WASHINGTON —The $2.2-trillion U.S. federal rescue package could fail to deliver badly needed financial aid to thousands of smaller cities and counties where a majority of Americans live, according to documents and interviews with local officials.

The coronavirus outbreak has blown holes in the budgets of communities as the costs of battling the outbreak skyrocket and critical sources of revenue such as sales and income taxes plummet.

Congress’ Coronavirus Relief Fund uses a formula based on population to parcel out tens of billions of dollars to the states while allowing local governments with more than 500,000 residents to apply directly to the Treasury Department for cash infusions. But localities below the half-million population threshold are in limbo.

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89% of L.A. nursing homes with outbreaks have a history of infection problems

The vast majority of skilled nursing facilities battling outbreaks of the novel coronavirus in Los Angeles County have been cited in recent years for violating federal safety rules on preventing infections, according to a Times analysis of nursing home data.

The news outlet’s review found that 89% of facilities with the coronavirus had previous infection control violations that ranged from mishandling patients with highly contagious bacterial infections to not properly cleaning ventilators and other equipment.

The data raised new questions about how prepared nursing homes and regulators were to deal with the pandemic.

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Despite promises of more masks, doctors and nurses still have to reuse N95s

The nurse keeps her mask in a Tupperware container. In an unwelcome daily ritual, she dips her face in the plastic tub to put on and take off her N95 respirator, careful not to touch the front in case it is contaminated with the coronavirus.

“If you had told me I would be reusing N95 masks before the coronavirus, I would’ve laughed and not believed you,” said Jill Tobin, an emergency room nurse in the Bay Area. “The methods we’re using are not scientific.”

Despite assurances from government leaders about adequate personal protective equipment supplies as well as COVID-19 numbers flattening, tensions between front-line health workers and hospital leaders are higher than ever. Nurses and doctors say hospitals are conserving gear by forcing staff to re-wear masks to stretch the existing supply — and endanger their own health.

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Column: When even the Girl Scouts can’t get a refund, something’s very wrong

If we’ve learned anything from the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that once a business gets its hands on your money, it really, really doesn’t want to give any back.

Airlines, cruise ships, hotels — each has displayed reluctance in providing refunds to customers for virus-related cancellations, offering instead credits for future bookings.

How bad have things gotten? Bad enough that even the Girl Scouts have reached out for help.

Adriana Leyva, 50, contacted me the other day to say that her Pasadena troop of nearly two dozen 10- and 11-year-old girls had to cancel a planned trip this month to Northern California for what’s known as a “bridging ceremony.”

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L.A. is getting a government-run tent city. All it took was 40 years and a pandemic

Tent cities and tiny-house villages for homeless people have long been taboo in Los Angeles, where they’ve been deemed too expensive to maintain and too difficult to dislodge once established.

But the novel coronavirus has a way of upending the most deeply entrenched thinking.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs set up L.A.'s first temporary tent city in four decades. It’s for veterans without homes — 25 initially, with a plan to expand to 50 as needed — so they can wait out the COVID-19 crisis by sheltering in place and social distancing in their own tents.

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This rural Nevada town lacked coronavirus news. A radio station came to the rescue

ELY, Nev. — This town is stubbornly slow-paced, an outpost where keeping a secret is like trying to hide the sun, where the desert wind is more howl than whisper, and where the unsettling news of a deadly virus arrived like everything else: on the radio voices of Karen Livingston and Jodi McShane.

Calming as the two women may be, people got a little worried. So the mayor wandered down to KDSS-FM and took to the airwaves.

“I received an email last night that I need to clear up,” Nathan Robertson said, leaning toward the black microphone. “Someone heard a rumor that I was planning on imposing martial law. That is not true.”

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Reopening California could mean masks, telecommuting and social distancing at restaurants

SAN FRANCISCO — With growing signs of progress in the battle against the coronavirus, government officials and public health experts are beginning to talk more openly about the next phase: The gradual, highly targeted lifting of some social distancing restrictions that have devastated the economy.

Life is still a long way from returning to pre-pandemic norms, but some scientists believe some parts of the economy could return in the coming months under the right circumstances.

“Is it wearing masks? Probably. Is it continuing to restrict large gatherings? Yeah, probably,” said Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at UC San Francisco. “Is it continuing to have older people stay home more than they would otherwise? Yeah, probably.”

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Seattle may be through the worst of coronavirus, but the stunned city is not celebrating

SEATTLE — Dr. Theo Vos glanced up from his computer last week and marveled at cherry blossoms in the sunshine outside his window.

Seattle had been dreary for months. He missed his neighborhood soccer league teammates and wished he could lace up his cleats for scrimmage.

Then he looked back at his computer screen and the graphs predicting tens of thousands of COVID-19 deaths still to come.

Even in Seattle, where the daily death toll appears to have plateaued thanks to an early start on the rest of the country and quick action by state and local officials, it was far too soon to return to life pre-pandemic.

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From ‘gold standard’ to a coronavirus ‘explosion’: Singapore battles new outbreak

Just weeks ago, Singapore was a coronavirus success story, admired for pinpointing infected patients and isolating their contacts with brisk efficiency, all while causing minimal disruption to an economy that was the envy of Asia.

But the prosperous city-state is now battling to control an enormous outbreak spreading among a population that officials had mostly overlooked: the migrant workers who form the vast but unseen engine of Singapore’s gleaming economy.

The new wave of infections offers a stark illustration of the continued risks facing one of the world’s most densely inhabited regions — and of the coronavirus’ often disproportionate toll on the poor and marginalized.

COVID-19 cases in Singapore have tripled since the start of the month to nearly 3,000, with most of the new infections found in laborers from India, Bangladesh and other countries who live in crowded, airless dormitories on the edges of the modern, manicured city-state they’ve helped build.

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Cities, counties fear losing out on coronavirus rescue funding

The $2.2 trillion U.S. federal rescue package could fail to deliver badly needed financial aid to thousands of smaller cities and counties where a majority of Americans live, according to documents and interviews with local officials.

The coronavirus outbreak has blown holes in the budgets of communities as the costs of battling the outbreak skyrocket and critical sources of revenue such as sales and income taxes plummet.

Congress’ Coronavirus Relief Fund uses a formula based on population to parcel out tens of billions of dollars to the states while allowing local governments with more than 500,000 residents to apply directly to the Treasury Department for cash infusions. But localities below the half-million population threshold are in limbo.

Among those affected: New Rochelle, New York, one of the cities hardest hit by the outbreak.

“I cannot understand the logic,” said Noam Bramson, the Democratic mayor of the city, which has a population of about 80,000. “Cities with fewer than 500,000 people have been just as heavily impacted as those with more than 500,000 people. It strikes me as a completely arbitrary cutoff.”

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Italy allows some stores to reopen as long as they maintain social distancing

ROME — In Italy, bookstores, stationery stores and shops selling baby clothes and supplies were allowed to open nationwide Tuesday, provided that they maintained the same social-distancing and sanitary measures required in supermarkets.

But the re-openings presented a patchwork, with some regional governors and individual storeowners deciding to keep their doors shut for now.

The hard-hit Lombardy and Piemonte regions in northern Italy kept their bookshops and stationery stores closed, while central Lazio postponed any opening for another week to allow shops to put in place sanitary measures to protect both staff and shoppers. Veneto was allowing them to open two days a week under a gradual loosening that the governor termed “lockdown light.”

Another segment of workers allowed back on the job Tuesday were forestry workers, to clear dead trees ahead of the warming weather that heralds forest fire season.

While the list of commercial activities allowed to reopen seemed random, officials offered the explanation that students needed to replenish school supplies and new parents needed to outfit their growing babies. And Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini argued that books were an “essential good” for Italians cooped up at home.

“The same distancing and security measures as supermarkets will be required, but they’ll reopen,” Franceschini tweeted. “It’s not a symbolic gesture, but the recognition that even books are an essential good.”

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Spain’s coronavirus death toll pushes past 18,000

MADRID — Spain’s recorded coronavirus death toll has pushed past 18,000 after 567 more people succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, a number slightly higher than Monday’s but below most daily increases in the past two weeks.

Confirmed infections are now roughly 172,500 after Spain’s Health Ministry reported 3,045 new positive cases Tuesday, a 1.8% day-to-day increase.

But the real situation could be different because Spain has not begun widespread testing and because the government itself acknowledges that coronavirus-related fatalities are not being efficiently recorded.

A study by Spain’s main epidemiology institute on the excess mortality compared to the average over more than a decade shows that there were some 1,500 more “unexpected” deaths between March 17 and April 11 than those officially attributed to the coronavirus.

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France forecasts an 8% drop in economic growth this year

PARIS — France is forecasting an 8% drop in growth this year because of anti-coronavirus measures and is facing its worst recession since World War II.

The 8% may even be an optimistic estimate, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on BFM television Tuesday.

One of the world’s richest economies, France is pumping money into temporary unemployment payments and to help struggling businesses. Le Maire said France’s strategy is based on “more debt for fewer bankruptcies.”

But that spending, coupled with plunging growth, could push France’s deficit up to 9% in 2020, Budget Minister Gerard Darmanin said.

France entered a recession in the first quarter as lockdown measures around the world pummeled the tourism industry and other key parts of the French economy. President Emmanuel Macron has now extended he confinement measures until at least May 11.

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Detained immigrants plead for masks, protection from coronavirus

Elsy was on the phone in an immigration detention center when guards showed up with face masks and forms for her to sign.

The asylum seeker from El Salvador and others had resorted to tearing their T-shirts to fashion makeshift face coverings after a woman in their unit tested positive for COVID-19. But the guards would not give out the masks until the detainees signed the forms, which said they could not hold the private prison company running the detention center in San Diego liable if they got the coronavirus, according to Elsy and two other detainees.

When they refused last Friday, the guards took away the masks, said Elsy, who spoke on condition that her last name be withheld for fear of retribution.

While U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started to lower the number of detainees to reduce the risk of people getting sick, those held in immigration jails and their advocates say there’s not enough protective gear, cleaning supplies or space to allow for social distancing. They fear that the number of coronavirus cases will sharply rise in the coming weeks as it has in jails and prisons nationwide.

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Poland to start gradually lifting lockdown restrictions this weekend

WARSAW — Poland is to start gradually lifting the restrictions that have been imposed on businesses and daily life in the fight against coronavirus spread.

Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said Monday that starting the “de-freeze of the economy” this weekend should be “good news, if we look at the costs of the isolation” that was initiated March 13.

Government spokesman Piotr Mueller said the details of the easing, to start Sunday, would be decided later this week as data of new infections come in and can be assessed. He said the number of customers allowed into shops was expected to be raised and some restrictions on open-air activity would be lifted, such as a ban on entering woods, parks and other public spaces.

The nation of 38 million has reported almost 7,050 cases of infection, including 251 deaths.

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Coronavirus becomes latest battlefront between Iran and the U.S.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Even as both face the same invisible enemy in the novel coronavirus, Iran and the United States remain locked in retaliatory pressure campaigns that have turned the pandemic into the two countries’ latest battlefront.

Initially overwhelmed by the outbreak, Tehran now seeks to sway international opinion on U.S. sanctions by highlighting its struggles with the coronavirus. Iran has asked for $5 billion from the International Monetary Fund even as it enriches uranium beyond the limits of its 2015 deal with world powers.

The U.S., which unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 under President Trump, insists that aid can reach the Islamic Republic — though humanitarian organizations say Washington’s sanctions disrupt even permitted trade.

The risk of open conflict between the countries is overshadowed by the pandemic. Yet it persists — some say at levels as high as immediately after the January drone strike by the U.S. that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

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Turkey to release 90,000 prisoners early to stem spread of coronavirus

ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish parliament has approved legislation that will free some 90,000 prisoners to ease overcrowding in prisons amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation, approved early Tuesday, reduces some sentences and places under temporary house arrest 45,000 convicts who are currently serving terms in open prisons.

Prisoners convicted of drug-related charges, sexual abuse, murder, domestic abuse and terrorism were excluded from the early-release measure, which is designed to reduce the country’s more than 280,000-strong prison population. Dozens of journalists, activists, opposition politicians and others will remain incarcerated because many of them have been imprisoned on terror-related charges.

Opposition parties and human rights groups have criticized the measure, which was passed with the votes of the ruling party and its nationalist allies.

“Those convicted in unfair trials under Turkey’s overly broad anti-terrorism laws are...now condemned to face the prospect of infection from this deadly disease,” said Amnesty International’s Turkey campaigner, Milena Buyum.

As well as reducing some prison terms, the legislation releases women with young children, the sick and prisoners above the age of 65.

The prison releases were expected to begin this week.

On Monday, the justice minister announced that 17 prisoners in open prisons were infected and three of them died.

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India extends the world’s largest coronavirus lockdown

NEW DELHI — India’s prime minister Tuesday extended the country’s lockdown until May 3, but says there may be some easing in restrictions in people’s movement after one week to help the poor daily wage earners and those working in agriculture sector.

In an address to the nation’s 1.3 billion people on radio and television, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the lockdown would be eased only in areas which do not show any deterioration in the spread of coronavirus.

He said India had paid a big economic price by imposing the lockdown, but it was much better placed than many other countries as it had acted quickly by imposing travel and quarantine restrictions even before the first death was reported in the country. He said the three-week-old lockdown and social distancing among people had worked in India’s favor.

India has recorded more than 9,000 positive cases and 339 deaths so far. People have been restricted to their homes for all but essential trips to places like markets or pharmacies.

India has sealed hundreds of residential districts as containment zones across the country, ramping up a low rate of testing. Modi said all-out efforts are being made to ensure that no new hot spots emerged in the country.

The Health Ministry said Monday that no new positive cases have been reported in 25 districts in 15 states for the past 14 days.

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Guam worries as sailors from coronavirus-hit Roosevelt take over hotels

HONOLULU — People in Guam are used to a constant U.S. military presence on the strategic Pacific island, but some are nervous as hundreds of sailors from a coronavirus-stricken Navy aircraft carrier flood into hotels for quarantine. Officials insist that they have enforced strict safety measures.

An outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt began in late March and has thrust the Navy into a leadership crisis after the ship’s commander distributed a letter urging faster action to protect his sailors. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly fired Capt. Brett E. Crozier and then assailed him during a speech on the ship in Guam, saying Crozier was either “too naive or too stupid” to be in charge of an aircraft carrier.

Modly resigned last week after facing blowback and after publicly apologizing for his comments about Crozier.

The carrier has been docked in the U.S. territory for more than a week as the 4,865-person crew is tested for the virus and moved ashore. More than 580 sailors have been confirmed infected. A member of the crew died Monday of complications related to COVID-19.

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ER doctor, near death with coronavirus, is saved with experimental treatment

SEATTLE — As critically ill, elderly patients streamed into his emergency room outside Seattle, Dr. Ryan Padgett quickly came to understand how deadly COVID-19 could be.

Of the first two dozen or so he saw, not a single one survived.

It took longer for Padgett and his colleagues at EvergreenHealth Medical Center — the first hospital in the country to treat multiple coronavirus patients — to learn how easily the disease could spread.

A 6-foot-3, 250-pound former football star who played for Northwestern in the 1996 Rose Bowl, he wasn’t fazed by much. But on March 12, with his wedding day two months away, Padgett became the patient.

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ACLU drops coronavirus lawsuit after clients are released from immigration detention

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a San Diego federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit related to the COVID-19 pandemic after its four plaintiffs were released from immigration custody.

The ACLU had sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement to call for the four detainees — whose medical conditions put them at higher risk of serious illness or death from the coronavirus — to be set free due to the pandemic. Two of the detainees were held at Otay Mesa Detention Center, which has become a hot spot for the virus; the other two were held at Imperial Regional Detention Facility.

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Appeals court blocks Oklahoma COVID-19-related abortion ban

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower-court order that overturned the Oklahoma governor’s ban on abortions during the coronavirus outbreak emergency.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows abortions to continue in Oklahoma, the ban issued by Gov. Kevin Stitt notwithstanding. In an eight-page opinion, the panel said it was letting stand a temporary restraining order issued April 6 by U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin in Oklahoma City because it caused the state no irreparable harm, since Goodwin’s order expires April 20.

The ban was part of an executive order Stitt issued March 27 that banned all elective surgeries during the coronavirus outbreak. On April 3, Stitt extended the April 7 scheduled expiration of the ban until April 30.

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