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Coronavirus updates: This is California’s reopening plan for stores, offices, schools, sports, concerts

Tibetan Buddhist nuns in Dharmsala, India
Tibetan Buddhist nuns wait to receive free rations in Dharmsala, India.
(Ashwini Bhatia / Associated Press)

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

Coronavirus updates for April 27 are here

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Plan to administer hydroxychloroquine to crowded Indian slums is shelved

Public health officials in India have shelved their plan to administer hydroxychloroquine — or HCQ, an untested anti-malarial — to thousands in Mumbai’s crowded slums as a way of preventing infections in healthy people.

Health officials in Mumbai said that the plan to “conduct a test” was still on the cards but had not yet been approved by the Indian government. For now, they will follow federal guidelines that say that the drug can only be used for “high-risk” groups: health care workers taking care of COVID-19 patients, contacts of confirmed patients and those in quarantine centers.

Experts have pointed out that there is little evidence to show that HCQ can help treat COVID-19 infections and none to justify its use to prevent infections.

India has reached the grim milestone of over a thousand deaths. There are over 30,000 cases in the country and cases are doubling in roughly 10 days.

The malaria drug had been widely touted by President Trump for treating the new coronavirus and has, since, been advised by India for front-line healthcare workers. But a large analysis of its use in U.S. veterans hospitals last week found that more death was recorded among those given the drug, versus standard care.

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Experts in South Korea downplay possible reinfections

South Korean infectious disease experts have downplayed concerns that patients could get reinfected with the new coronavirus after fully recovering.

While hundreds in South Korea have tested positive again after their release from hospitals, Oh Myoung-don, who heads the country’s central clinical committee on new infectious diseases, told a news conference on Wednesday there was a “high possibility” that such test results were flawed.

He said South Korea’s standard real-time PCR tests, designed to amplify the genetic materials of the virus so that even tiny quantities are detected, doesn’t reliably distinguish between remains of dead virus and infectious particles. He said lab tests on animals suggest that COVID-19 patients would maintain immunity for at least a year after their infections.

He also said it was unlikely that the virus could be reactivated after remaining dormant when it doesn’t seem to be a type that causes chronic illnesses.

As of Tuesday, 277 people in South Korea tested positive for the virus for a second time after being diagnosed as recovered. Health authorities have tested some of their samples, but none so far have been successfully cultivated in isolation, indicating a loss of infectiousness.

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Newport Beach council votes to keep beaches open, despite crowds and rebuke from Newsom

An aerial view of thousands of beach-goers enjoying a warm, sunny day at the beach on April 25 amid state-mandated stay-at-home and social distancing mandate.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday rejected a measure that would have closed its beaches for three consecutive weekends in May.

Instead, the council advised city staff to maintain beach access with additional enforcement of social distancing. Any visitors to the city’s beaches will see an increased presence of police officers and lifeguards, and the council supported citing anyone who doesn’t follow the social distancing order, according to a city news release.

The council action followed a busy weekend in Newport Beach as thousands of visitors sought to escape the Southern California heatwave.

“The vast majority of the beach visitors this weekend were practicing social distancing, but many were not,” the city said in its statement.

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O.C. learning center comes to the rescue for panicked parents during pandemic

The front door of the Shalimar Learning Center in Costa Mesa.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

Emeteria Hernandez walked through the empty supermarket aisles, hunting for food, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes for her family.

Nothing.

The month-old memory still brings fresh tears to her eyes.

“I thought the world was going to end,” the 41-year-old cook said in Spanish. “And I didn’t have food for my [three] kids.”

That afternoon, she received a call from Myrna Zornoza, an educator at the Shalimar Learning Center, the Costa Mesa-based founding facility of the not-for-profit organization Think Together.

“What do you need?” asked “Ms. Myrna,” as Hernandez affectionately calls her, after two years of attending Think Together’s parenting classes while her son Jeremy went to after-school teen classes.

Soon, Hernandez received the first bins from Think Together, filled with food, sanitizer and soap. The next week, more food came. Then more food, soap, toothpaste and $100 gift cards.

In the age of the coronavirus, organizations that offered one kind of service — such as Think Together’s educational programs after school and during the summer — have found themselves pivoting to serve the ever-changing requests of an increasingly needy population.

The Shalimar Learning Center had just hit 25 years of offering educational services to about 120 families in its predominately Latino and low-income neighborhood in Westside Costa Mesa, called Shalimar. The center, which operates out of an apartment in Shalimar, was the go-to after-school place for nearly 250 neighborhood children whose parents worked multiple jobs. At various points, it also provided translation services for families, as well as all-around academic support and college and career guidance.

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L.A. County releases first neighborhood breakdown of COVID-19 deaths; poor areas hit hard

The first neighborhood-level glimpse of the COVID-19 death toll in Los Angeles County shows in grim detail that poorer areas are seeing an outsize number of fatalities.

Some of the highest death rates are in low-income neighborhoods of Central Los Angeles, a Times analysis of county health department data released Tuesday shows.

Working-class neighborhoods such as East Hollywood, Pico-Union and Westlake all have more than 40 deaths per 100,000 people, which is four times higher than the countywide rate of 9.9 per 100,000. Many neighborhoods across South L.A. also had higher death rates, figures show.

County health officials said this week that those who live in lower-income communities in L.A. County are more likely to die of the disease than those in wealthier communities.
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Orange County creating guidelines for when businesses reopen

The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a set of business guidelines Tuesday that could help inform the county’s eventual easing of stay-at-home rules that have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The county is seeking to “strike a balance between the need for continued protection from the disease and the need for the economy to function again,” Supervisor Don Wagner said.

“These guidelines are intended to state clearly the minimum that business owners and operators must do, in addition to following all applicable jurisdictions’ orders,” he said.

Employers should require customer-facing workers to wear disposable gloves or wash their hands or use hand sanitizer every 30 minutes, according to the guidelines.
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USC says no to partial tuition refunds for coronavirus shift to online learning

USC will not give partial tuition refunds for the spring semester or upcoming summer sessions even though the campus has shifted to online instruction, Provost Charles F. Zukoski said Tuesday.

While this is not the semester any of us envisioned, we are continuing to provide a high-quality education, ensure academic progress towards degree, and offer a robust learning environment,” Zukoski said in an email to the campus community. “Whether our instructors present their classes in person or online, they bring the same expertise, depth of knowledge, and commitment to their teaching, and students continue to earn credits toward a USC degree.”

Zukoski’s message came one day after students demanded refunds for mandatory campus fees in class-action lawsuits against the University of California and California State University. The lawsuits argue that the two public university systems should return millions of dollars to the 700,000 students they collectively serve because they can no longer fully access health care, campus centers and other services funded by their mandatory fees.
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L.A. purchasing 24 million N95 masks. ‘These will be lifesavers’ in coronavirus battle

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday a deal with mask manufacturer Honeywell to procure 24 million N95 masks — at 79 cents each — to distribute and sell to first responders and hospitals in need.

The city will get 100,000 masks in May, 500,000 more in July and 1.2 million per month by November, Garcetti said.

“These will be lifesavers, quite literally,” Garcetti said.

The announcement comes as hospitals grapple with a nationwide shortage of protective gear, and a rise in price-gouging and counterfeit masks.
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California independent contractors struggle for unemployment help amid coronavirus

SACRAMENTO — Two weeks after other states started sending checks, California on Tuesday began accepting unemployment benefit claims from millions of independent contractors, gig workers and the self-employed, but many said ongoing glitches on the state’s overtaxed website prevented them from filing applications.

The reports of technical issues follow weeks of similar complaints from other Californians left jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic, who said they were stymied by error messages and clogged phone lines that kept them from completing applications.

While some people said they were able to file a claim Tuesday, many others said they were frustrated that the online portal malfunctioned as a flood of people tried to log on, preventing them from signing up for financial help.

“It’s a complete mess,” said Tim Curtis, who is self-employed and provides technical services to recording studios.

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Third construction worker at SoFi Stadium tests positive for COVID-19

A third construction worker at SoFi Stadium has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an internal email Tuesday from the joint venture overseeing the $5-billion project in Inglewood.

The worker, who hadn’t been on the 298-acre site since last week, was involved in “light pole foundation work” outside of the stadium structure.

“First and most importantly the worker is doing well, had shown no symptoms, and is at home under self-quarantine,” the email from Turner-AECOM Hunt to trade partners said.

Equipment, facilities and tools the worker might have used have been disinfected, according to the email, and other workers who may have been in “close contact” with him are under self-quarantine until May 8.

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In Gov. Newsom’s four-phase plan to reopen the state, concerts are phase four

Concerts in California will be on hold until a vaccine or other therapeutic treatments for COVID-19 are developed, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In a new four-step plan outlined by Newsom on Tuesday morning, some aspects of California’s economy could start reopening in less than a month. “We believe we are weeks, not months, away from making meaningful modifications” to the current shutdown rules, Newsom said.

Retail and offices, movie theaters and religious services will be among the businesses and events to resume in phase two and three of the plan. However, mass gatherings will be, as expected, in the final tier of public life to resume.

Stage four means “reopening the highest-risk parts of our economy — once therapeutics have been developed,” Newsom wrote on Tuesday. Among the industries singled out? Concerts, live sports and conventions.

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Oscars eligibility rules are changing in the face of coronavirus crisis. Here’s what’s new

The coronavirus crisis has left Hollywood reeling, with movie theaters shut down and film production at a standstill. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is determined that, at least as far as the Oscars are concerned, the show must go on.

The organization has made changes to this year’s eligibility rules that, for the first time, will enable films to qualify for Oscar consideration without a theatrical release.

In a virtual Zoom meeting held Tuesday morning, the group’s 54-member board of governors, which includes such luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Laura Dern and Whoopi Goldberg, voted on a series of rule changes in response to the global pandemic that will temporarily relax the normally strict requirements for Oscar consideration.

Academy rules have long required that a film be screened at at least one theater in Los Angeles for a week in order to be eligible for Oscar consideration. But with movie houses in L.A. and around the world shut down indefinitely, the group’s leadership clearly needed to make a change.

Since the mass closure of theaters in mid-March, studios have scrambled their release schedules, shifting back some titles to later in the year or beyond to avoid box office doom and, in some cases — like Universal’s animated “Trolls World Tour” and Disney’s upcoming fantasy adventure “Artemis Fowl” — bypassing theaters entirely and going directly to digital releases.

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L.A. County working to ease stay-at-home order by May

Los Angeles County officials passed a motion Tuesday to develop a plan to ease the safer-at-home order, strict social distancing rules that have slowed the spread of the coronavirus, that is set to expire May 15.

Public Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday there were no plans to extend the current order, but as the deadline approaches, officials will reevaluate what is best for the county.

More than 20,000 in the county of 10 million have tested positive for the virus, and nearly 950 have died. County officials have warned the public that although social distancing practices have worked to slow the spread of the virus, the number of those who have been infected is likely far higher than the official count.

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More than 200,000 in the U.S. on H-1B visas could lose legal status by June

Manasi Vasavada has less than three weeks left before she loses her legal right to be in the country.

The dental practice in Passaic County, N.J., where Vasavada, 31, has worked for almost two years closed its doors in mid-March because of COVID-19. She has been on an unpaid leave of absence since.

Vasavada is in the country on an H-1B visa, a temporary visa program designed for people with specialized skills. H-1B recipients can remain in the country legally only for 60 days without being paid. Her husband, Nandan Buch, also a dentist, is in the country on an H-1B visa that expires in June. They have been watching the days tick by with growing fear.

There may soon come a point when the couple can’t stay and can’t go: India, their home country, has closed its borders indefinitely. They also have a combined $520,000 in student loans from the advanced dental degrees they completed at U.S. universities, which would be nearly impossible to pay back on the salaries they would earn in India.

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Horse owners and labor organizers call for racing to resume at Santa Anita Park

About three dozen members of the horse racing industry gathered in front of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, which houses the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, on Tuesday in hopes of convincing the Board of Supervisors to push for racing to resume at Santa Anita Park.

Tuesday marked the first official meeting of the Board of Supervisors since Santa Anita submitted a proposal to the county for additional safety protocols they would implement should racing be allowed to resume. That includes a plan to house jockeys at the track.

The gathering was spearheaded by Oscar de la Torre, a labor organizer and advocate for backstretch workers, and included several horse owners and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. The protest did not include many backstretch workers who must typically work at the track until about 11 a.m.

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Here’s the latest list of Orange County communities with coronavirus cases

Orange County reported 34 new coronavirus infections Tuesday, bringing the region’s cumulative total to 2,151 since the outbreak began.

Included in that case count are 42 deaths, three of which were confirmed as part of the Health Care Agency’s latest update.

To date, 27,737 have been tested for COVID-19 countywide, including another 1,390 tests that were reported Tuesday alone.

Overall, coronavirus infections have been confirmed in roughly 7.7% of people who have been tested, and the county’s observed mortality rate associated with COVID-19 is just under 2%.

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Coronavirus hospitalizations hit new high in Orange County as death toll reaches 42

Orange County announced three additional coronavirus-linked deaths Tuesday as the number of people hospitalized while battling COVID-19 hit a new high.

The latest fatalities pushed the county’s total death toll to 42. However, its mortality rate associated with COVID-19 remains just under 2% — significantly lower than the state’s, which is about 4%, and neighboring Los Angeles County’s, which is roughly 4.7%.

Of the confirmed victims in Orange County, 25 were at least 65 years old. Only five were 44 or younger.

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Evangelical church sues Newsom over coronavirus restrictions

A small San Joaquin County evangelical church that was forced to stop meeting for Sunday services because of coronavirus restrictions is suing Gov. Gavin Newsom, arguing the state’s public gathering ban violates 1st Amendment rights to religious freedom.

“Our civil rights are not suspended by a virus,” attorney Dean R. Broyles, who is representing the Cross Culture Christian Center in Lodi and its pastor, said in a statement. “For millions of Californians, their religious faith is truly ‘essential’ like the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. That’s why religious liberty is one of our ‘first freedoms’ recognized by the 1st Amendment in the Bill of Rights.”

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, Newsom’s statewide stay-at-home executive order has shut down businesses except those deemed essential, prohibited group gatherings and required most people to stay inside homes except for trips such as grocery shopping or medical appointments.

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Brazilian president’s latest crisis threatens country’s coronavirus response

RIO DE JANEIRO — As Brazil careens toward a full-blown public health emergency and economic meltdown, President Jair Bolsonaro has managed to add a third ingredient to the toxic mix: political crisis. Even if it doesn’t speed his downfall, it will render Brazilians more vulnerable to the pandemic.

Bolsonaro’s decision last week to replace the federal police chief — and cross his popular justice minister, Sérgio Moro, who quit and alleged impropriety — has sparked an investigation into the president’s actions that will be conducted by the federal police. Already the scandal threatens to supplant coronavirus as the day’s most urgent matter.

“He is dividing the attention of the government and of society, and draining efforts and energy that, in such a grave moment of pandemic, should be exclusively concentrated on efforts to fight COVID-19,” said Paulo Calmon, a professor of political science at the University of Brasilia.

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This is California’s reopening plan for stores, offices, schools, sports, concerts

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday released a four-stage plan for reopening parts of the California economy after weeks of stay-at-home home rules that have been credited with slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

The phases are designed to slowly reopen the state while preventing new outbreaks that could lead to another shutdown. There are no timetables attached; rather, officials will use benchmarks around testing, hospitalizations and other factors.

Under the plan, some retail businesses, manufacturing, schools and open spaces could reopen first, with strict social distancing rules. Down the line, certain entertainment venues and religious institutions could reopen. Live sports, concerts and other crowded events would be the last to reopen under the plan.

Here’s a breakdown of that four-stage plan:

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Rafael Cardenas set out to capture L.A. in a photo a day. He ended up recording a pandemic

The plan was simple: take a photo a day, every day, for a year.

For Rafael Cardenas, a Los Angeles photographer known for capturing candid images of life in the city, the plan was a way of staying nimble with his camera — a daily looking exercise that also functions as a visual diary. (He posts one image to his website, rafa.la, every evening.)

The project is also a way of marking an important personal milestone.

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Why did Trump push disinfectant as a cure for the coronavirus? He listens to quacks

It was one of those jaw-dropping moments we’ve come to expect from the president: “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said last week during his daily news briefing.

Looking in the direction of the experts sitting against the wall to his right, he asked: “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

The uncomfortable stare of Deborah Birx, the physician who serves as the response coordinator for his Coronavirus Task Force, said it all.

The president seemed to be suggesting that doctors inject patients with household disinfectants such as bleach, which kills the virus on hard surfaces. Calls to poison control centers spiked. The manufacturers of Clorox and Lysol pleaded with the public not to ingest their products.

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Coronavirus and giving to charity: How to decide where to donate

As the ranks of the unemployed continue to swell and people’s lives are upended because of the coronavirus outbreak, people might be wondering what they can do to help. Charitable giving could be a way to make a difference in these uncertain times.

According to a survey of nonprofit organizations by Charity Navigator and Reuters this month, 83% of respondents said they were suffering financially because of the outbreak. Many groups have had to cancel fundraisers and in-person events meant to bring in revenue.

But choosing where to donate can be an overwhelming task.

“Giving is such a personal experience for people,” said Laura Tomasko, policy program manager for the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute.

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Riverside County reports 23 new coronavirus deaths, bringing toll to 141

Riverside County health officials on Monday announced 23 new coronavirus-related deaths — the most reported in a single day since the pandemic began — pushing the county’s death toll to 141.

The dramatic increase in the number of deaths is the result of the county catching up on records from coroner officials. The 23 fatalities occurred between April 21 and Monday, said John Welsh, a Riverside County spokesman.

Welsh added that the number of fatalities was a reminder that the public should continue staying home as much as possible and practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

“We’re still seeing people succumb to this virus,” he said. “We still have legitimate concerns for our residents.”

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Nick Cordero’s COVID-19 battle takes a turn as Broadway castmates salute him in song

Broadway star Nick Cordero’s health took a turn for the worse on Monday, not long after some of his former colleagues banded together for musical tributes to help support him over the weekend.

Amanda Kloots, who has been documenting on Instagram her husband’s battle with COVID-19, shared on Tuesday that the “Rock of Ages” actor had gone into septic shock after an infection in his lungs spread into his blood.

“We had a bit of a rough day yesterday,” said Kloots in her Instagram story. “This kind of came out of nowhere after two days of really great progress. But he’s back to feeling better and he’s resting.”

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Oregon furloughs state workers

SALEM, Oregon — Facing steep budget shortfalls, the state of Oregon is furloughing workers to save money.

A state economist predicted that Oregon’s leaders would have to grapple with “balancing limited revenues with increased need for programs to help Oregonians” affected by the economic shutdown put into place to stem the coronavirus spread.

“Things won’t bounce back overnight” after the restrictions are lifted, Josh Lehner, who is helping produce Oregon’s economic and revenue forecast, said on a webcast.

Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle announced late Monday that managers in the agency she directs, the Bureau of Labor and Industries, must take one unpaid furlough day per month through June 2021, the end of the budget cycle.

“The coronavirus pandemic has collapsed our economy,” Hoyle said.

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Fauci is ‘cautiously optimistic’ on vaccine

The U.S. government’s top infectious disease specialist is “cautiously optimistic” scientists will develop a COVID-19 vaccine that can protect against future outbreaks of a virus he says is unlikely to disappear.

“The very fact that people can mount a natural immune response that gets rid of the virus in them makes me cautiously optimistic that we can develop a vaccine that can mimic natural infection enough to induce that same sort of response that would ultimately protect people,” Anthony Fauci said Tuesday at a virtual event hosted by the Economic Club.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in the past has shied away from making predictions about treatments.

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California schools could begin as early as July, Newsom says

The academic year could start in July or early August to prevent further learning loss that may have been worsened by school closures in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

“We recognize there’s been a learning loss because of this disruption. We’re concerned about that learning loss even into the summer,” Newsom said. “Our kids have lost a lot with this disruption. ... And you can either, you know, roll over and just accept that or you can do something about it. So that’s our thinking.”

Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health, said reopening child-care centers was also important for parents.

Schools for California’s 6.1 million students have been closed since mid-March.

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Russian activists protest lockdowns

MOSCOW — Russian opposition activists have staged an online protest against lockdowns.

Participants in Tuesday’s video call charged that the government had used the coronavirus outbreak to impose illegal restrictions violating people’s rights.

Opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov denounced an electronic pass system introduced in Moscow as a “digital concentration camp.” He also criticized the Kremlin for failing to offer tangible support to private businesses.

A partial economic shutdown ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin has kept most Russians home since late March. The measure was set to expire Thursday, but Putin extended it through May 11.

Russia has recorded 93,558 cases of coronavirus infection and 867 deaths.

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Reopening California: Hollywood is figuring out how to start rolling again

Los Angeles movie studio Millennium Films was just days away from starting production on its Megan Fox horror movie “Till Death” in Sofia, Bulgaria, before fears of the coronavirus shut everything down.

Millennium President Jeffrey Greenstein doesn’t know when the film will get up and running at the company’s Nu Boyana Film Studios. But he knows that when it happens, film sets will feel very different from the pre-COVID-19 era.

Health and safety rules will be stricter. Social distancing standards could limit how workers interact with actors, filmmakers and department heads. Crew members may even have to wear protective masks on set.

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Some California businesses could reopen within weeks, Newsom says

SACRAMENTO — California businesses seen as presenting less risk of spreading the coronavirus could open in the near future under a plan Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled on Tuesday, the first of several slow steps toward easing the statewide shutdown order.

“We believe we are weeks, not months, away from making meaningful modifications,” of the current restrictions, Newsom said.

But Newsom’s announcement of a four-phase plan did not come with a guaranteed timetable. He said that although current public health indicators such as hospitalizations and testing capacity looked promising, additional progress needed to be made.

“Politics will not drive our decision-making. Protests won’t drive our decision making. Political pressure will not drive our decision making,” he said.

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L.A. County isn’t ready to lift restrictions, but it has a plan

When California issued its stay-at-home order on March 19 in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, most counties went beyond the state’s guidelines to impose more stringent policies, each with varying expiration dates.

Some counties, like San Francisco, took measures well before the governor shuttered all nonessential businesses and mandated that all Californians should stay home and restrict their social interactions.

Now, 40 day later, several places have begun to ease local restrictions. Golf courses and beaches have reopened in some areas. Other areas are petitioning the governor to be allowed to open restaurants and places of worship

Many have argued their regions have already flattened the curve in the fight against the coronavirus and that the shuttered economy is hurting them financially.

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Coronavirus canceled wedding season. So what’s a wedding singer to do?

Susie Garcia and Pepe Martinez Jr. are leaders of mariachi bands.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Until a few weeks ago, if you got married in L.A. and hired a mariachi band, there was a good chance Susie Garcia’s family played you down the aisle.

The singer and bandleader has fronted her own group, the renowned all-female Mariachi Las Colibrí, for a decade and has seen generations of Mexican American Angelenos through birthdays, baptisms, weddings and funerals. Her husband, Pepe Martinez Jr., leads his own band, Mariachi Ángeles, inspired by his father, the founder of legendary group Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán.

Almost every weekend this spring, the two were booked to perform traditional music at cultural events and regale young couples at weddings across Southern California. That is, until early March, when COVID-19 turned everyone’s future around.

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Syrian, Kurdish governments inhibiting medical supply delivery, rights group says

UNITED NATIONS — Human Rights Watch says medical supplies to prevent and treat the new coronavirus are not reaching northeast Syria because of restrictions imposed by the Syrian government and the Kurdish regional government.

The international rights organization urged the U.N. Security Council to immediately adopt a resolution reopening the Al Yarubiyah border crossing from Iraq into the northeast, where Syrian Kurds established an autonomous zone in 2012. The crossing, which was used primarily to deliver medicine and medical supplies, was closed in January at the insistence of Russia.

Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director for Human Rights Watch, stressed at a video news briefing that “this is not a political question, it’s a humanitarian question, [and] very easy for the Security Council to move quickly.”

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Some governors extend orders and urge caution as cases top 1 million

As President Trump applauded the states that had reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed tens of thousands of American lives and topped 1 million confirmed cases, several governors warned that caution was needed before allowing people to crowd shops and restaurants.

Confirmed cases of the coronavirus reached 1 million as the death toll topped 57,200 in the United States on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. death toll is the highest in the world.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state officials would be measuring certain critical data points as it reopened businesses in the weeks ahead. Among those points, Cuomo said, is whether hospital emergency rooms begin to exceed 70% capacity.

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Trump to order U.S. meat plants to stay open

President Trump plans to order meat-processing plants to remain open, declaring them critical infrastructure as the nation confronts growing disruptions to the food supply, a person familiar with the matter said.

Trump plans to use the Defense Production Act to order the companies to stay open, and the government will provide additional protective gear for employees as well as guidance, according to the person.

Trump signaled the executive action at the White House on Tuesday, saying he planned to sign an order aimed at Tyson Foods Inc.’s liability, which had become “a roadblock” for the company. He didn’t elaborate.

The order, though, will not be limited to Tyson, the person said. It will affect all processing plants supplying beef, chicken, eggs and pork.

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What leaving lockdown looks like in Europe

PARIS — Europeans are starting to venture outside after weeks of confinement, scarred emotionally by a virus that has overwhelmed some of the world’s best healthcare systems and killed more than 120,000 but yearning to rediscover signs of normalcy.

Leaving lockdown looks different in Berlin than it does in Madrid, however, as each government sets its own rules and pace for letting the continent’s half a billion people taste freedom again. Here’s a look at some of the measures being rolled out:

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L.A.'s clean air streak has already come to an end. Here’s why

A few cars are seen on the 110 Freeway in late March.
( Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

It’s been hailed as a silver lining of the coronavirus lockdown: With fewer cars on the road, air quality has improved, bringing clearer skies to cities across the world.

Los Angeles had its longest streak of good-air days in decades, and social media is full of photos of an unusually crisp skyline. “Coronavirus Got Rid of Smog,” proclaimed a headline in the Wall Street Journal.

So has L.A. smog been eliminated?

Not exactly.

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Texas cases rise 3.5%

Texas cases rose 3.5% to 26,171, almost in lockstep with the rate of increase in testing, according to the state Health Department. Hospitalizations climbed by 119 to 1,682, or 19% higher than a week ago.

The increases in caseload and admitted patients came as Gov. Greg Abbott moved to reopen the economy and leaders of the state’s biggest metropolitan areas warned that moving too fast could ignite a second wave of contagion.

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Business, health industry groups urge Congress to beef up insurance coverage for the unemployed

WASHINGTON — Business and health industry groups are urging lawmakers to shore up health insurance coverage for unemployed Americans in the next coronavirus bill.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Assn. and the insurance lobby America’s Health Insurance Plans are calling for lawmakers to put aside bitter political differences over Obamacare and provide support for keeping people insured as millions lose coverage in a shuttered economy.

The Trump administration has instead said it will reimburse hospitals for caring for uninsured COVID-19 patients, from a pot of money Congress approved.

The three groups wrote congressional leaders of both parties that more ambitious steps were needed to make sure reopening the economy goes smoothly.

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U.K. reports 586 more deaths

Another 586 people have died in U.K. hospitals from the disease caused by the coronavirus, the government says.

That’s an increase from the 360 deaths reported Monday, but U.K. death numbers are usually artificially low after a weekend.

Some 3,996 more people tested positive for the disease, down from an increase of 4,310 the day before, according to figures provided Tuesday by Health Secretary Matt Hancock. The U.K. now has more confirmed cases than does Germany, and the fifth-highest number of confirmed cases in the world.

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Britain ramps up testing efforts

LONDON — Britain is ramping up its coronavirus testing efforts, with tests now available to people older than 65 as well as those who are not able to work from home.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says anyone over 65 and their households, and all workers who must leave their homes to work, are now added to the list of those eligible for tests as long as they show symptoms.

All hospital patients and staff, as well as nursing home residents and workers, also qualify, even if they have no symptoms.

A government website where people can book coronavirus tests crashed last week after tens of thousands of eligible people rushed to apply.

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Trump considers requiring tests, temperature checks for airline travelers

WASHINGTON — President Trump says his administration is talking to the airline industry about giving passengers temperature checks and testing them for the coronavirus.

Trump also says it “sounds like a good idea” for passengers to wear face masks during flights.

The comments come as Trump meets at the White House with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida about that state’s plans for loosening restrictions on the economy put into place as a result of the pandemic.

Florida health authorities have attributed many of the state’s COVID-19 cases to people traveling from other hot spots, including Europe, Nile river cruises, the New York City area and Latin America.

DeSantis tells Trump that his state’s ability to test people for the virus exceeds current demand and that moving to the first phase of reopening the economy should not be a heavy lift.

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Ohio primary tests mail-in voting

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The first major test of an almost completely vote-by-mail election during a pandemic is unfolding Tuesday in Ohio, offering lessons to other states about how to conduct one of the most basic acts of democracy amid a health crisis.

The process hasn’t been smooth as state officials have navigated election laws and the need to protect citizens and poll workers from the coronavirus. Ohio’s in-person primary was delayed just hours before polls were supposed to open last month, prompting legal challenges and confusion.

Tuesday’s election replacing it requires the delivery of at least three pieces of mail — a ballot application, a blank ballot and a completed one — through the U.S. Postal Service.

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California air travel declined dramatically. But by how much?

Air travel has fallen dramatically since the novel coronavirus prompted social distancing and travel restrictions earlier this year, reducing flights each week from major airports across the globe.

Since early March, the number of departures from world airports has fallen just over 60%, according to a Times analysis of millions of aircraft radar records released by Flightradar24, an industry tracking firm.

California hasn’t escaped the pandemic’s toll: Departures from its commercial airports dropped by roughly 65% during this period, largely clearing the skies of passenger traffic in recent weeks.

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When will California reopen? Here’s a reality check from across the state

Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to get requests from some local officials in California who want to begin easing stay-at-home rules put in place to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Most of the calls to reopen have come from areas that weren’t hit as hard by the outbreak as hot spots such as Los Angeles and the Bay Area, where many officials said they were concerned about the effects of restarting the economy too soon. That fear is echoed by many health experts, who say lifting social distancing prematurely could cause additional outbreaks.

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MLB reverses ticket policy, clearing way for teams to offer refunds to fans

With more than 400 major league games already called off because of the coronavirus outbreak, the league Tuesday reversed a policy that restricted fans from widespread refunds on tickets to those games.

On a conference call, Major League Baseball informed team officials that they no longer needed to advise fans to hold onto those tickets. The decision clears the way for teams to announce refund policies for the games.

The change comes one week after MLB and all 30 of its teams were named as defendants in a lawsuit over the failure to refund tickets. StubHub, the league’s official resale partner, and three other ticket outfits also were named as defendants.

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Spain to remove most restrictions over next 8 weeks

Spain aims to remove most restrictions on daily life and return to a “new normal” over the next eight weeks, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said.

The process will be subject to data on the number of COVID-19 infections and won’t follow a strict calendar, Sanchez said in a televised address. Schools won’t reopen until September. Each province will ease curbs on activity at its own pace in accordance with its particular situation, Sanchez added.

After a six-week lockdown that has crippled the economy, the health ministry earlier reported a drop in the number of new virus cases and deaths, continuing a trend of steady decline in Europe’s most extensive outbreak. Fatalities rose by 301 to 23,822 in the 24 hours through Tuesday, compared with Monday’s increase of 331. Total confirmed cases increased by 1,308 to 210,773 after rising by 1,831 Monday."The only target is to reach the new normality,” Sanchez said. “We will recover gradually.”

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Putin extends Russia’s lockdown

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russians to remain under lockdown through May 11 after the total number of coronavirus cases in the country surpassed China’s.

“We have been able to slow down the epidemic,” Putin said Tuesday in a videoconference with officials and regional governors. “The peak has not yet been reached. We are facing the most intense stage of the fight against the epidemic.”

Putin also ordered the government to prepare a plan for gradually lifting the virus restrictions starting as early as May 12, and said ministers should draw up further programs to support the economy. Easing the measures against the epidemic won’t happen all at once, the president said.

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Nevada joins Western states pact to fight virus with science over politics

LAS VEGAS — The states of Nevada and Colorado joined a Western regional pact Monday to help fight the coronavirus outbreak while moving closer to reopening businesses and modifying stay-at-home orders.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak resisted joining a West Coast pact earlier this month with California, Oregon and Washington, saying he intended to base any decisions about relaxing pandemic-related restrictions on the advice of his state’s medical experts.

Sisolak and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said Monday the five-state Western States Pact had a shared vision that put science ahead of politics. The Nevada Democrat said state leaders intended to exchange critical information about how to mitigate the outbreak and reopen businesses “responsibly.”

“Millions of visitors from our fellow Western states travel to Nevada every year as a premier destination and this partnership will be vital to our immediate recovery and long-term economic comeback,” Sisolak said.

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Chris Cuomo tests negative but finds his antibodies ‘confusing’

Chris Cuomo’s “freaky” battle with the coronavirus is finally won.

On Monday’s episode of “Cuomo Prime Time,” the CNN anchor revealed he had tested negative for COVID-19 nearly a month after announcing his diagnosis. And he has antibodies, a development that seemed to perplex the TV host more than it comforted him.

“I have both antibodies — the short-term one and the long-term one. So I’m lucky, right?” he said, broadcasting from his home under lockdown. “Or not. Why do we question it now? Well, the World Health Organization issued a warning, saying, ‘Chill out with these immunity passports. We don’t know what the antibodies mean — if they mean anything.’”

The WHO update that Cuomo referenced states, “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”

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Nine essential workers describe what their lives are like

Karla Barrera, with her two kids, is a deli manager at a Ralphs in Sun Valley.
Karla Barrera, 28, is a deli manager at a Ralphs in Sun Valley and the mother of two kids, 4 and 6. She likes her work but says she hasn’t felt safe since the coronavirus outbreak.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

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 COVID-19 pandemic to go to work to keep essential parts of society running.

“I just want to thank everybody who’s out here working because at the end of the day, people are laying their lives on the line,” said Alonzo Wells, a security guard in Alhambra. “So just thanking everyone. Thank you for taking the time just to talk to us.”

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Virtual pet therapy, coloring books: How hospitalized kids are coping

In the 14 months that 4-year-old Rhett has battled cancer, few things excite him more than visits with Cooper.

When the playful dog lies on Rhett’s bed at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the boy forgets about everything else. At home, Rhett refers to every golden retriever and yellow Labrador he sees by the name of his canine friend and talks constantly about the dog until they are together again.

“So much of their freedom and normalcy is stripped away when they’re here,” Rhett’s mom, Jenn Dupke, 33, said of the young patients at the hospital.

The dog therapy program at CHLA includes 127 pairs of patients and dogs, including Cooper. The animals help ease children’s anxieties before surgery, during physical therapy and at checkups. But amid the coronavirus crisis, the hospital has had to move its 19-year-old program to a virtual space, one of several changes made to lessen dangers posed by the virus.

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Federal loans of more than $2 million will be audited, Mnuchin says

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says all loans of more than $2 million in a government relief program for small businesses will be audited to ensure they are justified after large public companies and big chains sparked outrage by taking funds.

Mnuchin said the loans of as much as $10 million, meant to keep workers on payrolls under the Paycheck Protection Program, were intended for small firms that lacked access to other capital, and the U.S. Small Business Administration will check that borrowers who took large loans properly certified that money was needed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I want to be very clear it’s the borrowers who have criminal liability if they made this certification and it’s not true,” Mnuchin said Tuesday on CNBC.

The Treasury secretary also said those states that had poorly managed budgets before the COVID-19 outbreak shouldn’t be rescued by the federal government.

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France to begin reopening shops May 11

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Tuesday that a decision on whether to reopen restaurants and cafes would be examined at the end of May and that pupils could start returning to school beginning May 11 but with strict rules.

Public events of more than 5,000 people are outlawed until September, and working from home is encouraged for at least three more weeks, he said.

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New York City sees drop in hospitals admissions

New York City reported a decline in the number of people admitted to hospitals for coronavirus infection, to 112 from 122 as of April 25.

The number of people in New York City Health + Hospitals intensive-care units also declined, to 745 from 766 as of April 25, according to figures presented by Mayor Bill de Blasio at his Tuesday virus briefing.

In another sign of progress, De Blasio reported that the citywide percentage of people who tested positive for COVID-19 was 27%, down from 29%. Positive test results were slightly higher at the public health lab, up to 56% from 55%.

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Britain working on virus contact tracing app

LONDON — An official says the British government’s virus contact tracing app will be ready in two to three weeks.

Britain and many other countries are developing mobile apps to help reduce infections after they ease lockdown restrictions.

Matthew Gould, CEO of the National Health Service’s digital transformation unit, says San Francisco-based software company Pivotal Labs has done most of the work building the app.

He told Parliament’s science and technology select committee the rollout would be part of a wider post-lockdown strategy that included expanded testing.

The app will use Bluetooth signals to anonymously log when a user comes into close contact with others. The data are kept on devices. But if users later develop COVID-19 symptoms or get positive test result, they can choose to upload the data to a central server so those contacts can be alerted.

Gould says such an approach would maintain user privacy while allowing authorities to see any patterns in the movement of the virus.

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Students sue California’s university systems, demand refunds

The University of California and California State University systems were sued Monday by students demanding refunds of some campus fees since the virus pandemic closed schools and forced learning online.

The class-action lawsuits, filed in federal courts in Los Angeles and Oakland, say that the systems, which serve more than 700,000 students, have refused to refund unused portions of fees for campus services that spring-semester students aren’t using, such as health facilities, student association dues and student centers.

The campuses have been closed since March because of the COVID-19 outbreak and athletic events have been canceled.

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After coronavirus: Your next hotel stay may look like this

On your first post-pandemic hotel stay, whenever that happens, management will be glad to see you. But don’t expect to see the front-desk clerk smile.

Or offer you a cookie. Or invite you to a wine-and-cheese happy hour. You might not even get a room key. And you might be glad about it all.

The coronavirus has turned hotel conventional wisdom on its head. After years of emphasizing the importance of face time and people skills among their “front-of-house” staffers, hotels will be obliged to outfit them with masks (no smiles visible) and turn a spotlight on their housekeeping teams. Many other hotel traditions are threatened as well.

“The buffet could potentially go away for good,” said Tamara Mims, president of Four Sisters Inns in Monterey.

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Britain holds a minute of silence for front-line workers who have died

LONDON — Britain held a minute’s silence Tuesday for all front-line workers who had died from coronavirus infection. Meanwhile, official figures showed a new weekly high in the total number of deaths in England and Wales.

As clocks struck 11 a.m., senior political leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, joined hospital and nursing home staff in observing the silence. London’s subway and bus networks came to a halt as workers honored colleagues, and Westminster Abbey paid tribute to “the sacrifice of health and care workers who have lost their lives in the service of others.”

On Monday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said 82 workers in the National Health Service and 16 social care staff had died so far. Other workers, including a number of bus drivers in London, have also died after testing positive for COVID-19.

The minute’s silence had been campaigned for by the Unison union, the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal of College of Nursing.

Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said it was “important to pay tribute” and urged all front-line workers be “afforded the greatest protection.” The government has been criticized for not having sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment.

Johnson, who returned to work on Monday after recovering from COVID-19, tweeted that the country “will not forget you.”

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It’s a Zoom cooking lesson with the Food team: Beer-braised chicken

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Covering restaurants for a living has a few side effects. In addition to the added salt and calories, you don’t get to cook nearly as much as you would like: Mealtimes are always an opportunity to try a new restaurant. The result is that the less you cook, the worse you are at cooking, and it becomes something of a vicious cycle. Two of our less-experienced cooks on the Food staff, deputy editor Andrea Chang and columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson, have made it a goal to cook more this year, and with everyone at home, this seemed like a perfect time to start.

Fortunately, they have a wealth of knowledge that’s just a few keystrokes away: Cooking editor Genevieve Ko and cooking columnist Ben Mims’ series How to Boil Water shows readers how to make simple, delicious food without too much technical know-how.

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‘Angels without wings’ helped save a couple in their 80s

Sandra Borns glances at her husband, her expression a mix of surprise and concern. His head is bowed. His eyes glisten. His forehead rests on a bony hand.

“We’ve been married for over 60 years,” she says. “I’ve never seen Bob cry.”

But on this Thursday morning in April, sitting in a wheelchair in the living room he thought he would never see again, Bob Borns tears up over and over. It mostly happens when he talks about how grateful he is. For his long life. For his loving family. For the nurses who helped him and Sandra fight off death.

“Angels without wings,” he calls them, over and over again. When their shifts ended, they promised the man some dubbed “Papa” that they would see him in the morning, that he would get better. He was “shocked,” he says, “that anybody would give a damn so much. And work so hard.”

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Everyone is cooking on Instagram. These are the best chefs and celebrities to watch

Many of us are trapped in the Instagram vortex. In the absence of sleep or anything to do, you scroll and scroll (and scroll) until you pause at a video of someone throwing something into a pan. The ASMR of the sizzling is enough to inspire your own attempt at cooking or, at the very least, offer a welcome distraction.

It seems everyone — that college friend you never see in person but still follow, your favorite chef, your celebrity crush — is cooking on Instagram. The hashtag #quarantinecooking has nearly 200,000 tags.

Some videos offer real cooking tips. Others provide self-validation: My kitchen is somehow cleaner than yours? Winning.

Here’s a list of chefs and celebrities to follow on Instagram, for the next time you’re trapped in the vortex and never want to (or simply can’t) get out:

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How will L.A. theater reopen? Leaders begin talk of the future

“L.A. Theatre in the Time of a Pandemic and Beyond,” the first installment of a new Center Theatre Group series of online public discussions, was surprisingly upbeat. Encouraging without being falsely optimistic.

The artistic leaders who gathered via Zoom on Thursday to discuss “the environment of unknowns,” to use the words of CTG Managing Director and Chief Executive Meghan Pressman, who served as moderator for this inaugural “L.A. Theatre Speaks” event, didn’t pretend to have answers about when the theaters might safely reopen. But they shared stories of how they’d been managing the crisis and pooled ideas about how they might move forward.

Most crucially, they offered strength in solidarity. Cohesion hasn’t always been in evidence in the L.A. theater community, which Pressman, a relative newcomer to the scene, aptly described as “robust” yet “fractured.” In leading this conversational initiative, CTG is to be commended for living up to its central role in the city’s theatrical ecosystem.

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Column: America’s poor record on COVID-19 reflects stagnant federal science funding

Among the many ways the coronavirus crisis has exposed America’s decline as a world leader, one that has gotten insufficient attention is the federal government’s decline as a supporter of scientific research.

The consequences can be looked at in several different ways. One certainly is the collapse of the American healthcare infrastructure in the face of a challenge that could more easily have been met with even minimally competent federal technological leadership.

Another is the government’s ceding responsibility for basic research to private enterprise, which doesn’t like to do much of it. Then there’s the politicization of science, which undermines institutional research and drains government programs of talented researchers.

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L.A. turned to Silicon Valley for a streamlined test. It brings potential risks and rewards

When the coronavirus hit, Los Angeles County faced a testing crisis.

Officials had only one test processing machine at its laboratory in Downey and little hope of getting help from the federal government. Swabs were scarce. Laboratories were backlogged. And there weren’t enough healthcare workers to take samples from patients.

So they turned to a brand-new Silicon Valley start-up with a novel approach that said it could provide a large number of drive-through tests very quickly.

That company, Curative-Korva, now performs most of the public testing across Los Angeles County for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The firm, started in January by a 24-year-old scientist and entrepreneur, processes nearly 6,000 samples per day at dozens of pop-up sites and claims to provide nearly 20% of all testing for the virus in California.

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Fear — and the coronavirus — spreads through Latin America’s unruly prisons

The Puente Alto prison in downtown Santiago, Chile, has the largest of Latin America’s prison outbreaks of the new coronavirus so far, with more than 300 reported cases at the one facility. The prison’s 1,100 inmates are terrified. Social distancing is hard to practice in jail.

“They are all in contact with each other,” said prison nurse Ximena Graniffo.

Any efforts at reducing contact were blown away in El Salvador over the weekend when authorities crammed prisoners — albeit wearing masks — tightly together in prison yards while searching their cells. An astonishing photo released by the office of President Nayib Bukele showed hundreds of men seated on the floor jammed up against each other like sardines, clad only in their underwear. Bukele ordered the security crackdown after more than 20 people were murdered in the country Friday and intelligence suggested the orders came from imprisoned gang leaders.

Latin America’s prisons hold 1.5 million inmates, and the facilities are often quasi-ruled by prisoners themselves because of corruption, intimidation and inadequate guard staffing. Low budgets also create ideal conditions for the virus to spread: There is often little soap and water, and cell blocks are crowded.

So far, officials from Latin American nations have together reported close to 1,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among inmates and prison staff. The worst-hit has been Peru, with 613 cases and at least 13 deaths, though the extent of testing to determine the full scale of infections differs from country to country.

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Singapore scales up medical facilities as cases climb

Singapore is in the process of scaling up medical facilities by adding capacity at isolation wards and intensive care units as the confirmed number of virus cases nears 15,000, making it Asia’s most-infected nation after China and India.

More than 18,000 beds have been created for isolation and medical needs, the Singapore Armed Forces’ director of joint operations, Brigadier-General David Neo, told reporters at a briefing Tuesday. Another 23,000 are in the pipeline.

Singapore was lauded for its response to the coronavirus in the early months. But the city-state, which reported 528 new cases on Tuesday, is grappling with a rise in the number of infections among migrant workers living in often cramped dormitories. Of the total number of infections in Singapore, an overwhelming majority are now among the community of foreign low-wage workers.

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French president to present plan to reopen country

PARIS — French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is presenting a nationwide plan to Parliament on Tuesday for how the country will gradually reopen schools, stores and some other businesses.

The plan is expected to include guidelines for public use of masks, and what to do on public transportation as more people start going back to work.

Lawmakers are also scheduled to discuss a tracing app the French government is working on to help track the virus after the lockdown eases, one that has raised privacy concerns.

Tuesday’s plan will have a key blank spot, however: The government still doesn’t know when it plans to reopen restaurants, hotels and museums, which are central to France’s all-important tourism economy.

Authorities say more than 23,000 people with the virus have died in French hospitals and nursing homes, more than any other country except the U.S., Italy and Spain.

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What’s a city to do when half its population is in the crosshairs?

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — It was a choice Lisa Weaver wished she didn’t have to make.

Keep her restaurant open. Risk contact with someone who has the coronavirus. Bring the disease home — to her doubly vulnerable partner, who is 68 and suffers from an autoimmune disorder.

Or close Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and risk losing her investment in the place — half the money she’d set aside for retirement. Weaver would have to lay off her remaining employees. For at least one, that paycheck means the difference between shelter and the street for her mother and younger siblings.

“I never thought I’d see something worse than summer,” Weaver said on a Sunday during high season in this resort and retirement hot spot. Summer’s when temperatures soar, tourists disappear and business evaporates here. “I bought this restaurant a year ago. It’s not something I’d do again, knowing what I know now.”

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Coronavirus worsens in L.A. County as hopes of an early reopening fade

The coronavirus is on the decline in many parts of California but continues to spread in Los Angeles County, sparking new debate about whether officials will need to begin easing stay-at-home restrictions in certain sections of the state while giving harder-hit regions time to flatten the curve.

The state’s epidemiological map is starting to reflect the adage that California is many states in one. Nineteen counties from Humboldt to Tuolumne have recorded no fatalities from the virus. And even moderately populated counties such as Fresno and Monterey are holding single-digit death tolls.

But Los Angeles County has had 944 fatalities from COVID-19, with 315 people dying last week alone.

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Coronavirus is boosting health insurance profits. So should firms get U.S. help?

As doctors and consumers put most non-emergency procedures on hold, many health insurers foresee strong profits.

So why is the industry looking to Congress for help?

Insurers say that while falloff in claims for non-COVID-19 care is currently offsetting many insurers’ costs associated with the pandemic, the future is far more fraught.

Costs could remain modest or quickly outstrip savings. A recession could drive revenue down. Or the coronavirus could resurge next winter and cause treatment expenses to soar. All that uncertainty for the companies could trigger far higher premiums for consumers, if insurers hedge their bets. Then again, the current savings insurers are seeing — along with cautions from state regulators about pushing cost-sensitive customers away during an economic downturn — might result in minimal premium increases.

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Germany’s coronavirus cases increase slightly after lockdown is eased

BERLIN — Germany’s disease-control center says the country’s rate of coronavirus infections has slightly increased, but the number of new infections remains at a manageable level.

Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute says the “R” factor — the number of people infected by every person with COVID-19 — is now 0.96. Authorities have said they want to try to keep it below 1 to keep the pandemic manageable for the healthcare system.

It had been around 0.7 before Germany eased lockdown restrictions on April 20 to allow smaller businesses to open while keeping social distancing in place. It is too early to say whether that move led to the increase.

Wieler is urging Germans to keep abiding by social distancing, wearing masks while on public transportation or shopping and staying at home when possible.

He says Germany currently has about 1,000 new infections reported per day, down from a high of some 6,000. The virus has infected a total of nearly 160,000 people and killed about 6,000.

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Pope Francis calls for ‘prudence and obedience’ as governments weigh lockdown exits

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is calling for “prudence and obedience” to government protocols dictating the easing of coronavirus shutdowns to prevent infections from surging again.

Francis made the appeal Tuesday after Italian bishops bitterly complained that the Italian government’s reopening schedule contained no provisions for Masses to be resumed.

At the start of his morning Mass on Tuesday, the pontiff said: “As we are beginning to have protocols to get out of quarantine, let us pray that the Lord gives his people, all of us, the grace of prudence and obedience to the protocols so that the pandemic doesn’t return.”

The government announced Sunday that funerals could resume starting May 4, but there was no information on when the faithful could attend Mass. In a statement, Italian bishops said they “cannot accept that the exercise of the freedom of worship is compromised.”

The office of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte hastily responded that it was working on protocols to allow the resumption of Masses as soon as possible but “in conditions of maximum security.”

The clash was an unusual public display of tension between the Roman Catholic Church and the Italian state over the curbing of public religious observance, which has been blamed for helping to spread the infection in some parts of the world.

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Spain records 301 new COVID-19 deaths, for a cumulative total of 23,822

MADRID — Spain has recorded 301 new deaths of patients infected with the new coronavirus, for a cumulative total of 23,822, official data released on Tuesday showed.

The figure was down from the day before, when 331 new fatalities were recorded. The country has 210,773 infections for COVID-19 that have been confirmed by the most reliable lab tests, but the real number is believed to be much higher because many patients don’t show signs of the illness or are not being tested.

Spain’s Cabinet was set to outline Tuesday a plan that would allow people to come out of their homes for exercise starting on Friday, along with other moves to ease a seven-week lockdown that is one of the world’s strictest amid the pandemic.

The announcement came on the heels of a new order allowing children to take supervised strolls outside, around their house, for one hour per day. Officials have called on residents to be responsible and avoid crowds after people were seen in promenades and beachfronts closer than experts recommend to avoid contagion.

Discussions are underway as well on how to reactivate the economy.

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Pizza’s back on the menu in its birthplace as Naples’ shutdown eases

Wood is burning again in Naples’ pizza ovens, giving a symbolic and savory boost to Neapolitans after two months of lockdown meant an end to their most iconic and favorite food.

Pizzerias reopened Monday night in the birthplace of pizza, albeit under restrictions and for home delivery only.

Whereas pizzerias in Rome and elsewhere were allowed to operate for takeout and delivery service, they were banned in Naples out of fears that such a congested, high-density city could fast become a new hot spot for COVID-19 infections.

Campania’s governor, Vincenzo De Luca, enforced strict lockdown measures, knowing that the region’s hospitals couldn’t handle a major influx of sick patients. In the end, Campania had a relatively manageable outbreak of about 4,300 people infected, half of whom didn’t need to be hospitalized.

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Japan’s top doctor says Tokyo Olympics would be difficult without vaccine

TOKYO — The medical community in Japan is moving toward a consensus that holding next year’s Tokyo Olympics may hinge on finding a coronavirus vaccine.

Japan Medical Assn. President Yoshitake Yokokura said in a video media conference on Tuesday that the Olympics were possible only if the infections were under control, not only in Japan, but also globally.

“In my view, it would be difficult to hold the Olympics unless effective vaccines are developed,” Yokokura told reporters. “I hope vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible.”

He did not say whether he opposed holding the Olympics without vaccines.

Japan has reported 13,576 COVID-19 cases, and 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year. On Tuesday, the health ministry reported 389 total deaths from the virus.

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On the open road, U.S. truck drivers face the coronavirus and new risks

Longtime truck driver Connie Reynolds, 54, faces new security, safety concerns during coronavirus pandemic.
(Molly Hennessy-Fiske/Los Angeles Times)

STILLWATER, Okla. — By the time Connie Reynolds pulled her 18-wheeler into Cowboy Travel Plaza, she’d made the long haul up Interstate 35 from the Texas border town of Laredo to central Oklahoma and was looking forward to kicking back at a table and sampling the rest stop’s Smokey Pokey barbecue before heading to Wichita, Kan.

But the Smokey Pokey was closed — except for takeout — because of the coronavirus. So was the rest stop’s bar, Western wear store and a special indoor attraction: a pirate ship. Reynolds had to eat her sausage in her truck.

“We would like to just go in and sit down and take a break, have a meal. For a lot of drivers, it’s a way to unwind,” Reynolds said as she sat in the truck’s cab recently, next to her new mask and hand sanitizer. “It’s got a lot of drivers wound up.”

About 70% of America’s freight travels by truck, and many of the country’s 3.5 million truck drivers are busier than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, transformed into essential workers keeping shelves stocked with medical supplies and groceries.

“In the war against the virus, America’s truckers are really the foot soldiers that are carrying us to victory,” President Trump said during an event honoring truckers on the White House lawn this month. “Truckers are playing a critical role in vanquishing the virus, and they will be just as important as we work to get our economic engine roaring.”

But just as the outbreak has helped some truckers prosper — like Reynolds — it also has left some truckers idle and brought new concerns about their health and security on the road.

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Bangladesh reopens hundreds of garment factories despite coronavirus risks

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Nearly a month after Bangladesh ordered garment factories shuttered to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the industry is reopening hundreds of them despite risks the disease might spread.

Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Assn., said she was under pressure to reopen factories after the pandemic cost the industry more than $3 billion in orders that were canceled or suspended.

Huq said Tuesday that about 600 factories had reopened this week, adhering to health protocols. Workers living near the factories are the first to return to the production lines, she said.

At least 856 factories will be reopened soon, Huq said.

Bangladesh has the world’s second-largest garment industry after China. It normally earns $35 billion annually from exports mainly to the United States and Europe and employs about 4 million workers, mostly women from rural areas.

Bangladesh began its coronavirus lockdown in late March, when factory owners stopped production apart from some sewing of personal protection equipment. Workers left the capital, Dhaka, and the nearby Narayanganj and Gazipur areas in waves, heading back to their village homes.

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