Britain falls short of promised testing rate
LONDON — The British government is under fire for failing to keep its promise to increase the number of tests performed for COVID-19.
The U.K. has restricted testing to hospitalized patients, leaving many people with milder symptoms unsure whether they have had the new coronavirus. Many scientists have urged wider testing to allow medics who are negative to remain at work, and to better understand how the virus spreads.
That has happened in Germany, which has the capacity to do 500,000 tests a week.
The U.K. initially performed about 5,000 tests a day, but the government promised to increase that number to 10,000 by the end of last week. The target has not been met, with slightly more than 8,000 tests performed Monday, the last day for which figures are available.
Officials have blamed a shortage of the chemicals needed to perform the tests.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said Wednesday that the number of tests should hit 15,000 a day “within a couple of days” and rise to 25,000 a day by mid-April. He conceded, “We do need to go further and we need to do that faster.”
He told ITV that “it isn’t easy to procure the tests in a global pandemic because there is a great deal of demand.”
China reports 36 new COVID-19 cases, almost all from abroad
BEIJING — China’s National Health Commission on Wednesday reported 36 new COVID-19 cases, one day after announcing that asymptomatic cases will now be included in the official count.
The commission said all but one of the new cases was imported from abroad, while seven more deaths from the disease had been reported over the previous 24 hours. The commission did not say if any of the new cases were asymptomatic but on Tuesday reported that, of a total of 1,541 asymptomatic cases now being isolated and monitored for symptoms, 205 had come from overseas.
The move to disclose the number of asymptomatic cases comes amid scrutiny of China’s reported figures, which previously only included people who exhibited symptoms. While the proportion of people who have contracted the virus but remain asymptomatic is currently unknown, scientists say these “carriers” can still pass COVID-19 onto others who do end up getting sick.
As China’s domestic outbreak has largely abated, some questioned whether the country’s failure to count asymptomatic cases could lead to a resurgence of infections. China, where the virus was first detected in December, has recorded a total of 81,554 cases of COVID-19 and 3,312 deaths from the disease.
Churchgoers flock to hear Louisiana pastor despite virus ban
Buses and cars filled a church parking lot as worshipers flocked to hear a Louisiana pastor who is facing misdemeanor charges for holding services despite a ban on gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A few protesters turned out Tuesday evening, too, including a man shouting through a bullhorn against the gathering at the Life Tabernacle Church. Another demonstrator held up a sign reading: “God don’t like stupid.”
Afterward, as people began leaving the church, some chatted outside the front doors and many appeared to not be adhering to social distancing recommendations to remain at least six feet apart. Hugs and handshakes were shared freely as people said their goodbyes and departed.
Hours earlier, Pastor Tony Spell was issued a summons for holding services previously at the church in violation of the governor’s order banning gatherings.
Photos: Birds claim Peru beach emptied by virus outbreak
Agua Dulce beach is usually a sea of humanity, packed with as many as 40,000 people a day at the height of Peru’s Southern Hemisphere summer, which runs from December to March.
The new coronavirus pandemic has changed all that. In recent days, an army of seabirds has claimed the sandy territory abandoned by people.
Veteran Santa Rosa police detective dies of COVID-19
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of a member of our SRPD family, Detective Marylou Armer. Marylou has faithfully served our community in the Santa Rosa Police Department for the past 20 years,” the department said in a statement.
The department, which memorialized the loss on its social media accounts, added: “Marylou was one of the first employees to test positive for COVID-19 and today succumbed to complications from the illness. Our hearts are with the family and Marylou will be deeply missed.”
Coronavirus is spreading in police departments nationally.
The New York police announced that 1,048 officers and 145 civilian employees have tested positive for the coronavirus. Five of the department staff have died.
Of those positive, 17 have recovered and returned to the job. As of Tuesday, 15.6% of the department’s officers are out sick.
The Los Angeles police department continues to test more of its 13,000 employees, and nearly 30 have tested positive. Four are department leaders.
California National Guard helps distribute food boxes in Ventura County
Crews from the California National Guard on Tuesday were in the mix at Food Share of Ventura County, its only food bank, to help prepare food boxes for the neediest and most vulnerable residents of this agricultural region.
“People think National Guard, they get scared, ‘martial law,’ but this is what they are trained to do, this is purely their humanitarian mission,” said Jennifer Caldwell, chief development officer for the food bank.
Giving a reporter a quick tour of the facility in an industrial section of Oxnard, Caldwell pointed to rows upon rows of dry and canned food supply as well as a massive produce cooler that looked almost like a walk-in bank safe; it was packed to the brim with fresh produce -- “apples and oranges, mostly” -- from their partnering sources.
There were also massive cardboard boxes filled with local citrus from residents’ private homes. Food Share volunteers normally collect fruit from people’s homes in Ventura County but have drawn down the practice in lieu of current physical distancing measures to fight Covid-19.
Now a limited group of volunteers, which normally number more than 3000, are preparing food boxes to distribute at three “pop up” locations starting on Wednesday in Oxnard. The boxes include juices, cereals, pasta, dried fruit bags, nuts, and some produce to help people get by during the statewide stay-at-home order.
“Even if they lift the orders, the economy won’t just snap and start up again. There will be a buffer,” Caldwell said. “And as we see unemployment filings go up, it’s clear people won’t just need financial help, they will also need food help.
“The bank purchases, collects donations, and distributes some 13 million pounds of supply to local residents every year. The privately funded organization expects to distribute thousands of boxes this April and expects increased demand. But since churches, boys and girls clubs, and other traditional points are closed during the shutdown, Food Share will be going out and getting boxes into people’s hands as directly as possible while still practicing the necessary distancing.
“This is what we’re prepared to do,” Caldwell said. “This is what we do on a daily basis.”
White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S.
The White House on Tuesday projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. President Trump called American efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus “a matter of life and death” and urged the public to heed his administration’s social distancing guidelines.
Trump called on Americans to brace themselves for a “rough two-week period” but predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” of the global catastrophe that has killed more than 3,500 Americans and infected 170,000 more.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” Trump said. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.”
Lakers clear quarantine, say no players have symptoms
The Lakers announced Tuesday that the team’s players had cleared quarantine and were without COVID-19 symptoms.
Two players tested positive two weeks ago after most of the team was administered tests while sitting in their cars in the parking lot of the Lakers’ facility in El Segundo. The organization did not divulge the names of those players, and they have not come forward. The team did say both players who tested positive displayed no symptoms.
The testing was administered after the Brooklyn Nets announced four of the team’s players had tested positive for COVID-19. The Lakers’ most recent game was on March 10 against the Nets.
“I just kind of knew right away that we had to get tested,” forward Anthony Davis said on Friday when asked what his reaction was to the Nets’ announcement. “We were talking about getting tested regardless … but there was some type of rules that if you don’t have symptoms [you can’t]. When the team came out and said they had four players tested positive for coronavirus, I knew right away we would probably get tested.
“It’s kind of tricky because some guys you feel fine and you could have it, asymptomatic. And some guys you have all the symptoms.”
Davis said his test returned negative. Jared Dudley said on a podcast that his test returned negative. JaVale McGee’s sister posted on Twitter that her brother’s test was negative, and a report by Yahoo Sports cited a person saying Quinn Cook’s test had returned negative.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issues monthlong stay-at-home order
Weeks after many other states took action, the Texas governor announced a monthlong statewide stay-at-home directive Tuesday, citing recent recommendations by state health officials, the president, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Now it is time to redouble our efforts to reduce further exposure as much as possible,” Gov. Greg Abbott said at a briefing. “I urge my fellow Texans to heed these heightened social distancing directives to protect their health and the health of those around them.”
Abbott didn’t call his directive a stay-at-home order, but it essentially was, requiring residents to “minimize nonessential gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.” Essential services were exempt from the order, he said, including healthcare, grocery shopping, banking, hunting, fishing — and churches.
The governors of other states, including neighboring Louisiana, and some local Texas leaders have not exempted churches from stay-at-home orders and orders limiting gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, police charged a Baton Rouge area pastor with a misdemeanor for holding services six times in defiance of the governor’s order. On Monday, three Houston pastors appealed to the state Supreme Court to exempt them from a county order after police cited one of the ministers for holding Sunday services.
So far, 3,266 Texans have tested positive and 41 have died. Abbott has been reluctant to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, saying he preferred to leave such decisions to local authorities and noting that the virus had not spread to many of the state’s 254 counties. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who flanked him at Tuesday’s briefing, prompted a backlash earlier this month when he suggested the economy should be saved even at the expense of the elderly.
Abbott slowly took action as the virus spread, closing schools, activating the National Guard, declaring an emergency and recommending people stay home — but not requiring it.
Last weekend, he ordered people coming to Texas to self-quarantine for two weeks if they had traveled from COVID-19 hot spots, including Atlanta, California, Chicago, Connecticut, Detroit, Louisiana, Miami, New York, New Jersey or Washington state.
By Tuesday, COVID-19 had spread to 122 Texas counties, including all of the state’s largest cities, where local officials had issued stay-at-home orders in response. Representatives from the Texas Hospital Assn. and Texas Nurses Assn. sent Abbott a letter urging him to issue a statewide order as the virus spread.
The statewide directive will last from Thursday to April 30. The governor also extended school closures through May 4.
Newport Beach plans more weekend boardwalk closures on Balboa Peninsula
Newport Beach’s oceanfront boardwalk closure came and went over the weekend with good cooperation from the public, according to city officials, who said more closures were coming.
The city plans to close its boardwalk on the Balboa Peninsula every weekend in April, or until Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxes California’s social distancing guidelines intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Fauci says White House could recommend broader use of masks
WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci said the White House coronavirus task force was looking into the idea of recommending broader, community-wide use of masks to deter the spread of the coronavirus.
Fauci said the task force first wanted to make sure that such a move wouldn’t take away from the supply of masks available to healthcare workers.
“But once we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks,” Fauci said in a CNN interview Tuesday. “We’re not there yet, but I think we’re close to coming to some determination.”
He said wearing a mask might prevent an infected person from spreading the virus.
Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leader of the U.S. response to the pandemic.
President Trump said Monday he could see broader use of masks on a temporary basis.
“I mean, you know, we want our country back. We’re not going to be wearing masks forever, but it could be for a short period of time,” Trump said.
The World Health Organization on Monday reiterated its advice that the general population didn’t need to wear masks unless they were sick. Since the epidemic began in China, the WHO has said masks are for the sick and for the people caring for them.
Here’s how to help with relief by dining with Bill Walton
Hey, you’ve always wanted to have lunch with UCLA legend Bill Walton, right?
And three of your friends have always wanted the same thing? Perfect!
All four of you are in luck. Or at least you will be as soon as we’re all done social distancing.
You’ll also need a minimum $7,500 among the four of you.
Demand for food stamps surges in California as virus takes economic toll
SACRAMENTO —With many Californians losing income and jobs, the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic has spurred a record surge in the number of applications for CalFresh, the state’s food stamp program, forcing operational changes to expedite help for those unable to put meals on the table.
The number of people applying for food assistance jumped to 55,624 in the third week of March, up from 34,882 during the same period last year, said Jason Montiel, a spokesman for the state Department of Social Services.
In Los Angeles County, CalFresh applicants nearly doubled from 9,060 in the third week of March 2019 to 17,532 during the same period this month.
Squabbling over 4th bailout bill begins, but passage is likely weeks away
WASHINGTON — Political squabbling over what Congress should do next to address the coronavirus pandemic has begun, and the only point of agreement so far seems to be that the fourth relief bill is likely weeks from being passed, if not longer.
Just days after President Trump signed a more-than-$2-trillion economic stimulus package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) began floating trial balloons of what the new package should look like, including potentially another direct payment to Americans, expanded paid sick leave and infrastructure projects.
“Our first bills were about addressing the emergency. The third bill was about mitigation. The fourth bill would be about recovery. Emergency, mitigation, recovery,” Pelosi told reporters on a conference call Monday.
Sick-out at Whole Foods seeks better protections and pay
A group of Whole Foods employees across the country is calling in sick Tuesday in an effort to press the Amazon.com Inc.-owned grocery chain to provide more safety protections and higher pay for those in jobs with higher potential exposure to the coronavirus.
Leaders of the protest are pushing for paid leave for all workers who self-quarantine, hazard pay that would double store workers’ current hourly wage over the course of the crisis, more sanitation supplies and social distancing policies, and free coronavirus testing for workers. If a worker tests positive, they want the store where the employee works to be closed immediately and remain closed while all other employees at that location are tested.
NFL team owners approve expanding playoffs to 14 teams this season
The NFL playoffs just got more crowded.
Teams voted Tuesday to expand the postseason by two teams, starting with the upcoming season.
The vote took place during a league meeting held remotely because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Two additional wild-card teams, one from each conference, will qualify for the playoffs, expanding the field from 12 to 14 teams. Only the top-seeded team in each conference will receive a first-round bye, whereas in the past it has been the top two seeds.
ESPN’s Patrick McEnroe, former pro tennis player, tests positive
ESPN commentator and former professional tennis player Patrick McEnroe tested positive for COVID-19, he said in a video he released via Twitter on Tuesday. But he said he was feeling better and remained in quarantine in the basement of his home in Westchester, N.Y.
McEnroe, 53, said he “got some minor symptoms” and self-isolated 10 or 11 days ago. He recently received the positive results.
“The good news is, I feel fine,” said McEnroe, the younger brother of tennis legend John McEnroe. “My symptoms have passed. I feel really 100%.”
‘Buy more fruits and vegetables’: L.A.’s produce wholesalers are seeing a 90% drop in sales
Need a case of strawberries? How about blueberries? Raspberries? Mangoes?
Carlos Franco of Elias Produce has tons — literal tons — of fruit sitting in his walk-in cooler right now with no place to go.
The 29-year-old produce distributor is one of 88 vendors at the 7th Street Produce Market downtown who’ve seen an alarming drop in sales in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with many reporting declines of 90% or more.
“Before I might sell 20 cases of strawberries to a place each week,” Franco said. “Now I’m lucky if they order one or two.”
How Tesla fought to keep its Fremont factory open despite restrictions
Tesla Inc.’s lone U.S. assembly plant posed a risk to public health by staying open for days in spite of Bay Area shelter-in-place orders amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to documents obtained through a California public records request.
Officials with the city of Fremont, Calif., told Tesla in a series of conversations over several days that its factory was not considered an essential business, and that it therefore needed to comply with an Alameda County order issued March 16. The electric-car maker announced March 19 that it would suspend production four days later.
L.A. supervisors remove Sheriff Villanueva as head of emergency operations
The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to remove Sheriff Alex Villanueva as the head of the county’s emergency operations center, citing a need to centralize disaster operations after shortcomings in the response to the deadly Woolsey fire.
Villanueva called the move irresponsible, criticizing the timing during a global pandemic as “a brazen attempt to consolidate power” within the board.
“It’s not gonna add more ventilators, it’s not gonna add more masks out there to first responders, it definitely does not improve functions,” he said at Tuesday’s virtual meeting. “When it comes to life-and-death matters, I don’t take it lightly.”
Ethiopia postpones general elections
Ethiopia will postpone general elections that were scheduled for the end of August because of the coronavirus outbreak, the country’s electoral body said on Tuesday.
The East African nation has 26 confirmed cases of the virus. Voter registration was supposed to start on April 22 and campaigns a little more than a month later.
New York cases surge past those of China’s Hubei province
New York state reported an increase in coronavirus cases of 9,300 on Tuesday, for a total of 76,000, surging past China’s Hubei province, where the virus began.
New York has the lion’s share of infections in the U.S., which now has the most cases in the pandemic after eclipsing China last week. China’s epidemic, which has been contained to a few new domestic cases after a two-month battle, was largely confined to Hubei province, which had 67,801 cases as of March 30.
With a population only a third of Hubei’s, New York has emerged as the new epicenter of the outbreak, which has now infected more than 788,000 people worldwide and killed more than 37,800.
Koreatown ramen shop burglarized during restaurant shutdown
Saikai Ramen Bar in Koreatown was broken into on Saturday, its front door smashed and broken glass strewn across the floor and sidewalk.
“During these uncertain times, it’s been challenging to keep our spirits high,” the restaurant said in an Instagram post detailing the incident. “It’s saddening to experience this when we already feel kicked down. Hopefully this post will warn other business owners to keep their guards up.”
The post went on to say there were no injuries and that police caught the suspect.
The noodle-focused restaurant, helmed by chef Jimin Kim, opened in July. It, like hundreds of other restaurants in the city, closed for business after Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the shutdown of restaurants, bars and other nonessential businesses March 15.
COVID-19 deaths in U.S. surpass China’s
NEW YORK — The U.S. death toll stemming from the coronavirus climbed past 3,500 Tuesday, eclipsing China’s official count.
New York’s mammoth convention center started taking patients to ease the burden on the city’s overwhelmed health system, and the tennis center where the U.S. Open is held was being turned into a hospital.
Worldwide, more than 800,000 people have been infected and over 39,000 people have died, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. Italy and Spain accounted for half the deaths, while the U.S. had around 3,550 by midday, eclipsing China’s official toll of about 3,300.
New York was the nation’s deadliest hot spot, with about 1,550 deaths statewide, the majority of them in New York City.
Netanyahu demands fewer interviewees in TV news studios
JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered his communications minister to demand there be fewer interviewees in TV news studios, saying this is so as to emphasize the importance of social distancing to the viewing public.
Netanyahu’s Cabinet explains this demand as a reflection of the importance of showing the viewing public a 2-meter (about 6½ feet) distance between individuals.
Netanyahu and other top officials have been exposed to the coronavirus, whereas thus far, no one has reported having been exposed to the virus in a TV studio.
Netanyahu has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three corruption cases. In two, he is alleged to have broken the law as part of an attempt to control media outlets.
MLB agrees to pay minor league players a stipend through May
By the end of May, it should be clear whether professional baseball will be played at all this season. Until then, minor leaguers will be paid.
Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that a weekly $400 stipend for minor league players has been extended through May 31. In the unlikely event the season starts before then, salaries would replace stipends.
The money is crucial for minor leaguers, who are not paid during the offseason. The current minimum minor league salaries range from $290 per week in rookie leagues, where the season lasts three months, to $502 per week in triple-A, where the season lasts five months.
Los Angeles County gun stores remain open due to federal advice, sheriff says
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said, on advice from a federal agency, he decided to cancel his order to close gun stores amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The sheriff’s latest reversal came after gun groups sued him.
Villanueva initially decided to close the stores but last week withdrew the decision, saying county lawyers had deemed gun stores essential businesses under a state stay-at-home order. But on Thursday, he announced he was closing gun stores to the public, although he would allow police and security personnel in county-patrolled areas to shop at the stores, after being informed by Gov. Gavin Newsom that he had the authority to make such closures.
Gun groups than sued Villanueva and Newsom, citing the 2nd Amendment.
Villanueva on Monday evening in a statement said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 28 had included gun sellers as “critical” infrastructure during this pandemic. Based on that information, he decided that they should remain open, he said.
Italian health official says nation has hit ‘the plateau’
ROME — The head of Italy’s national institutes of health says the country has hit the “plateau” in its coronavirus infection rate, three weeks into a national lockdown.
Dr. Silvio Brusaferro says the country should start to see a decline in new cases in the epicenter of Europe’s pandemic. But he stressed it would be folly to relax Italy’s productivity shutdown and stay-at-home restrictions now, even though the rate of new virus infections is slowing.
“The curve suggests we are at the plateau,” he said. “We have to confirm it, because arriving at the plateau doesn’t mean we have conquered the peak and we’re done. It means now we should start to see the decline if we continue to place maximum attention on what we do every day.”
Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne is fighting the virus
Adam Schlesinger, the Fountains of Wayne co-founder who also won an Emmy for his songwriting work on the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” is reportedly on a ventilator in an upstate New York hospital fighting the coronavirus.
“He’s very sick and is heavily sedated, as are all people on ventilators,” his longtime attorney, Josh Grier, told Variety on Tuesday, discounting an earlier rumor that Schlesinger was in a coma.
Schlesinger, who also plays with the bands Ivy and Tinted Windows, has been hospitalized for about a week after testing positive for the virus, Grier told Billboard. That outlet reported that the singer-songwriter’s condition was improving.
Pasadena schools resume grab-and-go meals after virus test upends service
The Pasadena Unified School District is again offering grab-and-go meals for students one day after the service was suspended because a kitchen employee was tested for the coronavirus.
“Using social distancing and public health guidelines, meals will be provided by an outside vendor with the assistance of city of Pasadena volunteers,” district Supt. Brian McDonald wrote in a message announcing Tuesday’s restart.
Meal service will be offered from 9 to 11 a.m. weekdays at seven schools. A list of sites is available on the district’s website.
The plan is for district staff to step back in on April 14, according to McDonald.
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo tests positive
CNN primetime anchor Chris Cuomo has tested positive for the coronavirus, the network said Tuesday.
The cable news network said Cuomo, who is the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will continue to do his nightly program which airs at 9 p.m. Eastern.
“In these difficult times that seem to get more difficult and complicated by the day, I just found out that I am positive for coronavirus,” Cuomo wrote in a message on Twitter.
U.S. State Department official dies
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says a State Department official has died from the coronavirus, the first American fatality among the U.S. diplomatic corps as a result of the pandemic.
Pompeo didn’t give details about the official who died or where the person contracted the disease. He said about four dozen to five dozen State Department employees had tested positive for the virus, including locally employed staffers at a handful of the 220 U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.
On Monday, State Department health officials said at least two locally employed staff members had died from the virus.
Those officials said they were tracking 105 confirmed cases among the agency’s global workforce of about 75,000. Of those, 75 are overseas and 30 are at State Department offices in the United States in nine cities.
LAUSD school shutdown worsens inequities as many students go AWOL
New data showing large numbers of Los Angeles Unified School District students failing to keep up with at-home work amid the coronavirus shutdown underscore how the crisis could be worsening already deep inequities, experts say.
When school shut down last month, the district began distributing computers and arranged for free internet access — moves that have helped many. But the swift transition to online learning has presented massive challenges in the nation’s largest school district, which serves mainly students from low-income families.
NYPD has been devastated by the outbreak. Can LAPD avoid that fate?
As the coronavirus ravages New York, its Police Department has been hard hit.
More than 800 officers there have tested positive for the virus, and over 4,700 officers — about 12% of the force — have been calling in sick daily. Five NYPD employees have died, and John Miller, chief of intelligence and counter-terrorism, is among those who have been hospitalized. In each case in which an officer has tested positive, those who work alongside the officer have been forced to self-quarantine in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
The crisis in Italy could provoke a depression, industrial lobby says
ROME — Italy’s industrial lobby says the coronavirus crisis could provoke a depression with a dramatic spike in unemployment and collapse of social structures unless officials in Italy and Europe take decisive action.
Italy has idled all nonessential industry in a bid to keep more people at home and stop the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 100,000 people in Italy and killed over 10,000.
Confindustria says measures to contain the virus have impacted consumption and production, with no clear indication when measures will ease.
It forecast a drop in second-quarter GDP of 10%, assuming production begins to resume in April, rising from 40% currently to 60% by the end of the month with a return to normal by the end of June.
Tokyo governor concerned about single-day record
TOKYO — Tokyo reported 78 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday, a record single-day increase that concerns Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.
Tuesday’s number exceeded the 68 cases confirmed on Sunday and brought the total to 522. She is asking residents to stay at home as much as possible, specifically urging them to avoid hostess bars, clubs and karaoke bars as hot spots. Koike has also suggested the possibility of a lockdown of Tokyo if infections don’t slow.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government enacted a special law enabling him to declare a state of emergency. That would allow local leaders to put into place a range of measures, including closures of schools and business operations.
Koike discussed Tokyo’s latest situation with Abe and says a “judgment by the government is now needed.”
How to stay safe, and how to help
The United States is home to roughly 49 million people who are 65 years or older, including 5.3 million in California. Many are at risk for severe illness with COVID-19, meaning that they must be extra vigilant to prevent being exposed to the coronavirus. Their families and caregivers must also be especially careful.
Seniors wrestle with numerous questions each day, including how to safely access essential services and cope with hoarding, isolation and other challenges. Here are some answers to many of these questions.
Clippers’ Patrick Patterson connects with fans through movie nights
Clippers power forward Patrick Patterson was supposed to have been in Detroit on Friday night. His team was scheduled to face the Pistons in its last multi-game road trip of the season. Instead, he found himself on his couch, hosting a virtual movie night.
Patterson, who is currently working toward opening a production company and becoming a film producer, has hosted movie screenings for fans since he was with the Toronto Raptors (2013-17). He took the tradition with him when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder (2017-19) and now plans to make it a weekly Friday night tradition as a Clipper with the NBA season suspended and much of the country ordered to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hospitals, nursing homes become battlegrounds as California deaths rise
In the last four days, the number of intensive-care patients in the state has tripled — from 200 to 597 — and the number of hospitalizations has nearly doubled, from 746 to 1,432. By Tuesday morning, the number of confirmed cases had climbed to more than 7,400 and deaths to 149.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary of health and human services, said modeling suggested the state would need 50,000 new hospital beds by mid-May.
“We project that we will need that toward the second half of the month of May,” Ghaly said. “So we are very busy trying to build toward that.”
Top Moscow doctor positive, shook Putin’s hand
MOSCOW — The chief doctor of Moscow’s top hospital for coronavirus patients says he’s tested positive, a statement that comes a week after his encounter with President Vladimir Putin.
Putin visited the Kommunarka hospital a week ago and met with its chief doctor, Denis Protsenko. The doctor says he’s feeling OK and previously self-isolated in his office.
There was no immediate comment from the Kremlin on whether Putin had undergone a coronavirus test following Protsenko’s announcement.
The president wore a business suit and shook hands with Protsenko before the meeting, drawing a buzz on social networks over his neglect of safety precautions.
Later that day, Putin put on a yellow protective suit and mask to visit the rooms with patients.
On Tuesday, Russia had 500 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the biggest spike since the start of the outbreak. The country has 2,337 cases so far.
Stocks wobble, on pace for worst quarter since 2008
U.S. stocks fell and then erased those losses Tuesday morning as Wall Street closed in on its worst quarterly performance since the most harrowing days of the 2008 financial crisis.
The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 0.4% around 7:20 a.m. Pacific, but it has lost nearly one-fifth of its value since the start of the year. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3%, and the Nasdaq climbed nearly 1%. Asian markets rose earlier in the day following a stronger-than-expected report on China’s economy, where factories are reopening as the spread of the coronavirus slows there. But momentum stalled in Europe, where Spain’s tally of coronavirus-caused deaths jumped.
The pandemic could shut down some of L.A.’s most vulnerable hubs of culture and history
It was never easy getting people to walk into the Altadena Bunny Museum.
With a dearth of paying customers to help keep it going, naturally occurring social distancing was already a thing at the small rabbit-inspired museum Candace Frazee co-founded in 1998.
Then the first coronavirus guidelines rolled through California, locking down many “nonessential” businesses in a dramatic effort to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 disease. Soon, the advisories morphed into a stay-at-home order from California Gov. Gavin Newsom that closed down all museums, including Frazee’s.
“Now we have guidelines to follow, people are staying home for their safety and that’s going to make our survival difficult,” Frazee said.
Neiman Marcus to furlough employees, extends closures
Neiman Marcus Group Inc., which closed all of its stores this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic, is extending the closures and will furlough a majority of its around 14,000 workers in the coming weeks.
The luxury retailer’s Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Last Call stores will stay shut at least until April 30, according to a statement sent to Bloomberg. A “large portion” of the organization “will either be put on furlough or take temporary salary reductions,” Chief Executive Officer Geoffroy van Raemdonck said.
The decision will go into effect April 5 and last through April 30, with the potential for an extension, according to the company.
Like other retailers, Neiman is bracing for a slump tied to the virus outbreak. The company continues to serve its customers through online channels.
Major cruise lines suspend sailings until mid-May, for now
Spring cruises, including popular voyages through Alaska’s Inside Passage, seem to be off the table this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Most lines decided to extend suspension of cruises by at least a month.
Cruise lines are offering refunds or value-added vouchers for future cruises for those who delay their plans. Many are allowing passengers to change their plans within 48 hours of sailing.
Some of parent company Carnival Corp.’s cruise lines are saying they won’t sail until at least May, extending a suspension that was supposed to expire April 11. Four brands — Holland America Line, Carnival, Seabourn and Cunard — announced their plans Monday. Carnival canceled cruises through May 11; Seabourn and Holland America, through May 14; and Cunard, through May 15.
In lockdown hair hell? Try these at-home tricks for cuts and covering gray
If you aren’t careful with your hair during the COVID-19 pandemic, your coming days might include having a man bob or a self-inflicted horror haircut or glaring color and extension outgrowth that reveal one too many secrets to your significant other or your colleagues on Zoom video chat.
In search of answers, The Times turned to pro hair colorists and stylists in L.A. to get tips and tricks on how best to tend to hair during quarantine.
One universal piece of advice: Tap into your usual stylist for personalized help and book a post-quarantine appointment now to beat the rush — as recent cancellations at some salons have caused future bookings to back up.
Carnival Cruise Line seeks to raise $6 billion
Cruise line operator Carnival Corp. is turning to all corners of the capital markets to raise $6 billion of cash after the COVID-19 pandemic halted travel, bringing its business to a near standstill.
The company is tapping bond investors on both sides of the Atlantic with a $3-billion sale of secured notes in U.S. dollars and euros, according to people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the details were private. The new notes will be secured by a first-priority claim on the company’s assets and mature in three years, the people said.
Carnival said it also planned to raise $1.25 billion by issuing common shares and another $1.75 billion through the sale of convertible notes to improve its liquidity position.
President Trump asked Carnival and other major cruise line operators to stop sailing this month after a series of coronavirus outbreaks at sea raised concerns about the safety of the industry. The companies, which have large fixed costs, are now bracing for the possibility of having to go months without customers.
In China, the epidemic isn’t over, officials say
BEIJING — Chinese officials say the coronavirus epidemic isn’t over in their country and that daunting challenges remain.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that authorities needed to make sure that infected people arriving from abroad didn’t spread the disease and start new outbreaks.
She hit back at U.S. criticism of her country’s handling of the epidemic, saying China and the U.S. should work together to fight it.
“We also hope that some U.S. officials can follow through in the spirit of the two heads of states’ call and create more favorable conditions for the two countries to cooperate in the fight against the disease,” she said. The two leaders talked late last week.
Hua noted that some local Chinese governments and companies had provided virus-related medical supplies to the United States, even as the demand for those supplies remains high in China.
Gov. Gavin Newsom sticks to pressure, not force, in California’s shutdown
SACRAMENTO — In addressing the coronavirus crisis, Gov. Gavin Newsom has been steadfast in contending that his stay-at-home order should be enforced through persuasion, not punishment.
And instead of calling on the National Guard to patrol the streets, the 52-year-old Democrat continues to enlist Californians to pressure one another to “bend the curve.”
“That social pressure we’re seeing out there for people to do the right thing is the most powerful enforcement tool we have,” Newsom said Monday.
But while the approach is consistent with the governor’s deliberate response to the coronavirus pandemic and his effort to persuade Californians to adapt to the new restrictions rather than wielding the power of his office, some have questioned whether Newsom needs to do more.
Hold the bacon: Pork bellies aren’t being panic purchased like eggs, beef
As restaurants around the U.S. close, prices for the cut of pork used to make bacon have plunged to lows not seen since Bill Clinton was president.
Pork bellies have tumbled to about 41 cents per pound — the lowest since 1999 — according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, compared with 93 cents two weeks ago. That’s in contrast to some other foods such as eggs and beef that have surged as people prepare more meals at home during coronavirus lockdowns.
While bacon long has been a popular meat at breakfast, pork belly’s popularity in recent years owes more to its use in restaurants. Bacon tops burgers and doughnuts, is wrapped around dates, and the cut of pork is included in bowls of steaming ramen.
Julia Sweeney and ‘Jagged Little Pill’ star lead Geffen Playhouse watch-at-home series
Geffen Playhouse is launching a view-from-home lineup of new short performances beginning Wednesday featuring the likes of Jefferson Mays, Lauren Patten and Julia Sweeney.
The Westwood theater company will post its digital series, titled Geffen Stayhouse, on its website and on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram every Wednesday until its doors open to the public again. It is among many theaters that have halted operations since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus.
“It’s important to remind our patrons and theater lovers there is an artistic light at the end of this tunnel,” Geffen Playhouse Executive Director Gil Cates Jr. said in an interview. “In these uncertain times, nourishing the soul and knowing we will eventually get back to a familiar world and culture is important, and I think the arts, in their own way, can help. It’s also an opportunity to introduce people to new, complementary ways of experiencing theater they may have never considered before.”
Brazilian pews become battlegrounds in fight against quarantine
RIO DE JANEIRO —As he does every Sunday, Brazilian pastor Silas Malafaia took the stage of his Pentecostal church in a middle-class Rio de Janeiro neighborhood. But this week, he wore a T-shirt instead of a blazer, and behind the three cameras broadcasting to his legion of YouTube followers were thousands of empty seats.
Brazil’s churches have landed on the front lines of a battle between state governors, who have introduced quarantine measures designed to contain spread of the new coronavirus, and President Jair Bolsonaro, who is actively undermining them and says a broad lockdown will destroy Brazil’s economy.
Brazil’s politically powerful evangelical Christians helped bring the far-right president to power in the 2018 election, and Bolsonaro is letting them know they aren’t forgotten, political analysts said. The most influential pastors are backing the president’s defiant coronavirus stance while grudgingly respecting governors’ orders by canceling services or moving them online. There are signs some churches are disobeying.
Indonesia to ban all foreign arrivals
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia will close its doors to foreign arrivals in an attempt to curb the coronavirus spread, and the country plans to bring home more than a million nationals working abroad.
Foreign minister Retno Marsudi announced Tuesday that all foreigners will be temporarily banned from visiting and traveling in Indonesia territories, except for diplomatic corps and those who hold a residence permit.
The restriction will take effect later this week, Marsudi said.
She said the government would protect the health of nationals stranded abroad amid the coronavirus crisis, and has decided to repatriate more than a million Indonesian migrant workers from neighboring Malaysia.
Indonesia’s latest tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 1,414, with 122 reported deaths.
Hundreds of stranded Americans leave Nepal amid lockdown
Hundreds of stranded Americans left Nepal on a repatriation flight Tuesday, days after a complete lockdown was imposed in the Himalayan nation to help fight the coronavirus.
A Qatar Airways flight arranged by the U.S. government flew out 302 Americans from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport to Washington, D.C. The elderly, families with children and people with a medical condition were given priority on the flight.
The U.S. Embassy in Nepal estimates that 3,000 to 4,000 Americans are still in the country, but says that not all of them are seeking to leave. Plans for future flights to evacuate more of the Americans were unclear.
Passengers on board Tuesday’s flight said they paid $1,250 for the seat home.
“I have a three-month visa and I was hoping to stay another month and a half or so,” said one of the passengers, Ryan Paugh, a software engineer from Washington, D.C., who was trekking in Nepal. “We don’t feel like we want to leave, but it is the right decision to get back to the U.S. until the pandemic can calm down.”