Coronavirus updates: New signs that restrictions are here for the long haul in California
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Wear a mask? Even with 20,000 dead, some New Yorkers don’t
Eric Leventhal felt a sneeze coming and panicked.
The Brooklynite left his cloth face mask at home for a morning run in a park last week. Walking home, he turned toward an empty street and let the sneeze out, hoping no one would notice.
Too bad for him, there’s no hiding without a mask in virus-stricken New York City.
“I picked my head up and I caught eyes with a woman who was wearing a mask, an older woman,” Leventhal recalled recently. “She was just kind of shaking her head.”
Leventhal, 36, is caught in the middle of a debate over when and where, exactly, it is necessary to wear a mask in a city where COVID-19 has now claimed more than 20,000 lives.
Since April 17, everyone in New York state has been required to wear a face covering in any place where they can’t stay at least 6 feet from people who don’t live with them. Only children younger than 2 and people with a medical excuse are exempt.
How a night out jeopardized South Korea’s COVID-19 response and sparked homophobic backlash
The city had begun breathing easy, life once more pulsating in its streets. Museums and art galleries reopened, gyms welcomed back regulars, baseball and soccer leagues kicked off. Traffic choked thoroughfares, and schools readied to greet students for the first time in months.
For 18 days in a row, this metropolis of nearly 10 million reported zero cases of community transmissions of the novel coronavirus. It seemed, even in these uncertain times, that danger had receded in a nation praised for its handling of the pandemic.
Then, a 29-year-old man who’d gone clubbing over a holiday weekend came down with COVID-19, shattering the tenuous sense of normality and setting off a frenzied search for thousands who’d been in the clubs and bars he visited.
As of Tuesday, more than 100 people had tested positive for the virus linked to a cluster stemming from the popular nightlife district of Itaewon. Co-workers and family members of clubgoers have tested positive, including an 84-year-old woman who’d dined with a grandson. The city recoiled: More than 2,000 establishments were ordered to shut down, office buildings where the infected worked were closed, and start dates for schools were, once again, pushed back.
Gym, motorcycle dealer, hair salon among 60 businesses charged with violating stay-at-home rules
The owners of 60 businesses including car washes, gyms and hair salons across Los Angeles deemed nonessential by the city but still remain open are now facing criminal charges for violating the mayor’s stay-at-home order.
Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer revealed the latest round of the crackdown on businesses flouting Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Safer at Home order by staying open. Dozens of businesses have been identified by Los Angeles police as keeping open despite being told to close. Police investigators have turned over evidence against at least 79 businesses identified by the department.
The number of businesses seemingly ignoring Garcetti’s order has risen steadily as the shutdown drags on and many small business owners struggle to keep operating.
When will dining rooms reopen? For L.A. restaurants, the wait drags on
California restaurants might soon be able to reopen their dining rooms in counties that have seen reduced cases of the novel coronavirus, provided they follow a list of guidelines for physical distancing and cleaning regimens, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.
The announcement came as the state released a detailed plan outlining “guidance for dine-in restaurants, brewpubs, craft distilleries, breweries, bars, pubs, and wineries,” including the use of face masks by employees, enhanced sanitary procedures, disposable menus, increased fresh air circulation, the elimination of table-side or cart service, and the limiting of dining room seating to allow for physical distancing.
But even as the state is moving forward with those plans, restaurants in L.A. County will likely be forced to remain on the sidelines for many more weeks.
What gyms will look like when they reopen
In Los Angeles, we don’t know when we will see the inside of a gym again. But one thing is certain: when we get there, it will look different.
As California moves into Stage 2 of the state’s stay-at-home order, Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted that Stage 3, where higher-risk workplaces such as gyms and fitness studios would be allowed to reopen, may arrive sooner than later.
But on Tuesday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home orders will “with all certainty” be extended for the next three months.
Workers in L.A. County unincorporated areas now have more protections to get their jobs back
Thousands of people who were working in Los Angeles County’s unincorporated areas before the COVID-19 pandemic now have more protections under the law to get their jobs back.
At the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, two ordinances passed that provide enhanced job protections to janitorial, maintenance, security and hospitality workers in unincorporated L.A. County, areas of the county not within any city’s boundaries. (There are 88 cities in L.A. County.)
The first measure, a “right of recall” ordinance, ensures that workers who are laid off because of the pandemic have first rights on their jobs when their employer starts hiring employees back. The other ordinance is a “worker retention” measure that ensures that workers get to keep their jobs if the business they work for gets sold because of the pandemic.
For example, if someone was laid off from a hotel in Marina del Rey, under the “right of recall” ordinance, they could get their job back once that hotel started hiring again.
Under the new measure, workers will have five days to respond to a recall notice. An amendment was made to the ordinance to ensure that workers who cannot return to work because of health concerns can use their remaining sick leave before accepting their job back.
Several people called into the meeting to voice their support or opposition of the measures, including members of the business community who opposed the measures.
“Businesses are struggling to survive and doing their best to adapt under unprecedented circumstances. When this crisis is over it should be up to them to figure out how best to rehire and rebuild their businesses,” said Sarah Wiltfong, Los Angeles County Business Federation policy manager.
Meanwhile, Unite Here Local 11, a labor union representing more than 32,000 hospitality workers in Southern California and Arizona, celebrated the ordinances.
“We thank the supervisors for their hard work in creating them, and the fact that everyone worked very hard to find the right path is a sign of good policymaking,” said Francis Engler, California political director with Local 11.
‘No time to get cocky’: Experts urge caution as governors weigh more reopenings
Governors across the nation have faced armed protesters and death threats as they have struggled with how to begin easing coronavirus restrictions on residents and businesses without creating new outbreaks of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, as the nation’s top health officials warned that moving too quickly could lead to more infections and deaths, new polling indicated that Americans overwhelmingly approve of how the nation’s governors are handling the coronavirus outbreak, particularly those who have been the most cautious.
Despite pressure from protesters and the business community to reopen the economy, nearly three-quarters of Americans approved of their governors’ performance, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Washington Post and Ipsos.
Governors who acted swiftly to shut down their states in the face of the pandemic and have been cautious about reopening received the highest marks from their constituents — Republican Mike DeWine of Ohio with 86%, and Democrats Andrew Cuomo of New York with 81% and Gavin Newsom of California with 79%.
Surviving the Shutdown: A taco truck owner in Santa Ana tries to keep the city’s lonchera culture going
The bottle of hand sanitizer that Alebrijes in Santa Ana has next to its takeout window has always been there.
“We’re a taco truck, so hands always get messy for our customers but also us workers,” owner Albert Hernandez said on a recent morning, as customers who just finished shopping at a nearby Northgate Supermarket queued up to order.
“But almost none of our customers would ever use it,” he said. “Now, they ask for it more than salsa!”
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Vaccines ‘are poisonous’ and other views of a business owner who banned masks in his shop
By the time I got to the Simi Valley flooring shop late Monday morning, the controversial signs had been hauled inside, and the store was locked up tight.
Peering through the window of Ramsay One Construction, I could see why they had caused such a fuss. There were four of them; white paint on plywood slabs about four feet high and two feet wide:
“We’re OPEN – to the truth.”
“No Masks Allowed.”
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She organized California’s back-to-work protests, but now she’s calling it quits
A group calling itself We Have Rights has recently started organizing large back-to-work protests throughout California, calling on state and local leaders to end social distancing orders aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The group, which popped up in just the last two weeks, has a professional-looking website and a growing social media presence, which provide details for upcoming events, instructions for dealing with the media and highly produced Instagram videos, as well as T-shirts and other branded merchandise for sale.
What’s open and closed this busy week: Beaches, parks and trails in Southern California
Southern Californians are still under orders to remain close to home and cover their face outdoors, but the reopening of Los Angeles city and county trails Saturday — followed by L.A. County beaches on Wednesday — means new room to move for millions of people on thousands of acres of public land.
With that freedom come warnings from many public health professionals that this relaxation of rules could give the pandemic a chance to grow further.
Beaches are now open (with many restrictions) in Orange, Ventura, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties. L.A. County, which has kept beaches shut while suffering more pandemic deaths than any other area in the state, joins them Wednesday morning.
CSU plans to cancel most in-person classes and go online this fall, chancellor announces
The 23-campus California State University system plans to all but cancel in-person classes in the fall and instead will offer instruction primarily online, Chancellor Timothy White announced Tuesday.
The vast majority of classes across the Cal States will be taught online, White said, with some limited exceptions that allow for in-person activity. The decision comes as schools throughout the country grapple with how long to keep campuses closed amid the coronavirus crisis.
L.A. County to keep stay-at-home orders in place through July
Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home orders will “with all certainty” be extended for the next three months, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer acknowledged during a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
Ferrer said that would only change if there was a “dramatic change to the virus and tools at hand.”
“Our hope is that by using the data, we’d be able to slowly lift restrictions over the next three months,” she said. But without widely available therapeutic testing for the novel coronavirus or rapid at-home tests that would allow people to test themselves daily, it seems unlikely that restrictions would be completely eased.
Ferrer made the comments as the board debated whether to extend the county’s eviction moratorium for one to three months.
The comments come one day before beaches of Los Angeles County are set to reopen Wednesday, just days after the county lifted restrictions on hiking trails, parks and golf courses and allowed curbside pickup at nonessential businesses.
What the 1918 flu pandemic can teach us
Watch live: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a news briefing
After public outrage over gender imbalance, Italy adds women to key committees on reopening the country
ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says six women are joining a key committee advising the government about how the country can safely emerge from lockdown.
That comes after female researchers, scientists and lawmakers noted with outrage that women weren’t represented in Italy’s management of the pandemic, even though more than half of the country’s doctors are women.
The premier’s office says Conte made the appointments “out of the need to guarantee gender representation.” Since Italy’s devastating COVID-19 outbreak began, the 20-member technical-scientific committee had been all male.
Among the female experts who now join the committee are a biologist with expertise in immunology and an expert on safety in the workplace. Conte also added five women to a separate ad hoc advisory body that is headed by a male Italian industrialist and made up mainly of men. Among the women joining that advisory body will be a sociology professor and a founder of Italy’s first university center dedicated to fighting domestic violence.
Earlier this month, female lawmakers lodged a parliamentary motion calling on Conte to remedy gender imbalance on the advisory panels. For weeks, Italians had been briefed daily by only male doctors, epidemiologists and other experts about developments in the pandemic.
Column: With California reopening, L.A. County Arboretum charts a safe path for people and peacocks
It’s peafowl mating season, in case you were wondering, which means the peacocks are strutting and posing like celebrities on the red carpet all over the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, COVID-19 be damned.
They are also screaming quite a bit, a startlingly desperate whoop of a noise familiar to many residents of Arcadia and adjacent neighborhoods — a noise that’s currently being deployed to get the attention of any nearby peahen who might be looking for a good time.
The peahens, it must be said, appear generally unimpressed. Indeed, none of the other Arboretum fauna reacts at all to the mournful cry, not even the wee gaggles of fuzzy goslings, skittering about their mamas in photo-op adorableness.
Wandering the gardens, you can hear in the peacock’s howl an echo of our shutdown fear and frustration — or you can pretend it’s the paparazzi trying to get your attention.
Scores of L.A. businesses reopened but failed to follow safety rules, officials say
Over the weekend, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said that it surveyed 410 businesses and found 162 were in violation “because they were allowing customers into stores, not following physical distancing measures and not requiring customers to wear cloth face coverings.”
Some retailers were allowed to reopen with curbside service beginning Friday, including florists, bookstores and clothing stores.
“As a reminder, retail establishments are closed to public entry and must ensure compliance with all protocols before reopening. Inspectors will continue to monitor for compliance and ensure that all adhere to the health officer order,” the county said.
More than 8,000 people died of COVID-19 in British nursing homes over two-month period
LONDON — More than 8,000 people died of COVID-19 in British nursing homes from March 2, the date of the first recorded death, to May 1.
The U.K.’s Office for National Statistics says that, in the two-month period, there were 8,312 recorded deaths in care homes in England and Wales that mentioned COVID-19 on the death certificate. The figure doesn’t include deaths in Scotland or Northern Ireland, which would add several hundred to the total.
In all, there were 35,044 deaths involving the coronavirus in England and Wales up to May 1.
The figure is higher than the official government toll, which stood Monday at 32,065, because it includes cases in which COVID-19 was suspected but not confirmed by a test.
The number of deaths among people with the virus, both in hospitals and elsewhere, is starting to fall. Nick Stripe, head of health analysis at the statistics office, says the total number of weekly deaths is declining but remains well above average for the time of year.
Fauci warns of ‘suffering and death’ if U.S. reopens too soon
Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is expected to warn Congress on Tuesday that if the U.S. reopens too soon during the COVID-19 pandemic, it will result in “needless suffering and death.”
Fauci is among the health experts testifying to a Senate panel. His testimony comes as President Trump is praising states that are reopening after the prolonged lockdown aimed at controlling the novel coronavirus’ spread.
Fauci, a member of the coronavirus task force charged with shaping the nation’s response to COVID-19, which has killed tens of thousands of people in the U.S., is testifying via video conference. He is self-quarantining after a White House staffer tested positive for the virus.
With the U.S. economy in free-fall and more than 30 million people unemployed, Trump has been pressuring states to reopen.
Column: Amid race for COVID-19 cure, medical files ‘are not as confidential as we think’
To hear President Trump tell it, a COVID-19 vaccine is just around the corner.
“We think we’ll have a vaccine by the end of this year and we’re pushing very hard,” he told Fox News last week.
While many healthcare experts say that’s an unrealistically ambitious goal — most say a vaccine for widespread use is unlikely until next year at the earliest — Trump’s comment raises a few interesting questions.
How will researchers recruit subjects for the vaccine or cure tests? Will scientists await infected or interested people to contact them? Will they use other means to find suitable research participants?
If the latter, it seems fair to wonder how confidential our medical records are. There’s no faster way to recruit research subjects than by going through people’s healthcare files and seeing who qualifies.
India reopens part of its vast railway network
NEW DELHI — India reopened parts of its huge rail network on Tuesday, running a limited number of trains as it looks at easing a nearly seven-week lockdown despite a continuing rise in coronavirus infections.
Special trains departed from several large cities, including New Delhi and Mumbai. Passengers were allowed to enter the stations only if they were asymptomatic and cleared thermal screening. They are required to maintain social distancing on board and are given hand sanitizer when they enter and leave.
Indian Railways also is requiring that passengers download a government-run contact tracing smartphone app before boarding the train. Critics say the Aarogya Setu app endangers civil liberties in how it uses location services and centralizes data collection.
Thousands of passengers waited in long, serpentine queues outside New Delhi’s railway station, the hub of India’s rail network. Police in riot gear tried to maintain social distancing and citizen volunteers offered water bottles to passengers who lugged heavy bags. Station workers sanitized the area with disinfectants.
“I don’t care about what happens next. At least I will be with my family,” said Ram Babu Kumar Singh, who works as an air conditioning mechanic in New Delhi but whose home is in eastern Bihar state. “If I stay here for long, I will die.”
The decision to open select train lines was made Sunday as India considers easing the strict lockdown of its 1.3 billion people that has left millions stranded in cities. The announcement led to a mad rush for online bookings on Monday as more than 45,000 people purchased train tickets within hours of the start of sales, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
Children go back to school in France
PARIS — French children start going back to school Tuesday as the country gradually lifts confinement measures following two months of lockdown.
Authorities say 86% of preschools and primary schools are reopening this week.
Most schools across the country start welcoming children again Tuesday. In Paris, schools will reopen Thursday.
Classes are capped at 10 students at preschools and 15 elsewhere. Students are required to keep physical distance from each other and wash their hands several times a day. Teachers must wear a mask.
School attendance is not compulsory. The government has allowed parents to keep children at home amid fears prompted by COVID-19, as France is one of the hardest-hit countries in the world.
Junior high schools in regions with fewer virus cases are expected to reopen next week. A target date hasn’t been scheduled yet for high schools.
As of Tuesday, French authorities reported nearly 140,000 people infected with the virus and more than 26,000 deaths.
Nebraska holds first in-person primary election in weeks amid pandemic
OMAHA — Nebraska on Tuesday will hold the nation’s first in-person primary since a heavily criticized election in Wisconsin five weeks ago in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Election officials have repeatedly urged voters to cast early, mail-in ballots, but Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and Secretary of State Bob Evnen both pledged to forge ahead with an in-person primary even though many other states have rescheduled theirs or switched to all-mail voting.
On Monday, Ricketts said members of the Nebraska National Guard would be on call to help short-staffed polling sites in eight counties, including the Omaha and Lincoln areas. He said guard members would be dressed in civilian clothes, not their normal uniforms.
“They’ll be available to help out,” he said.
A guard spokesman said 135 members had gone through poll-worker training but would not be dispatched unless requested. The counties that might have guard members as poll workers are some of Nebraska’s hardest-hit: Dakota, Dawson, Douglas Hall, Lancaster, Lincoln, Madison and Scottsbluff.
California considers unprecedented $25-billion economy recovery fund, rental relief
SACRAMENTO — Two unprecedented proposals to help Californians weather the fiscal storm unleashed by the coronavirus crisis are expected to be unveiled Tuesday by Democrats in the state Senate — one to help struggling renters, the other to create a $25-billion economic recovery fund by issuing long-term vouchers to those willing to prepay their future state income taxes.
Taken together, the ideas suggest lawmakers are willing to launch never-before-tried experiments to avoid the unpaid debts and deep cuts to government services that resulted from the Great Recession more than a decade ago.
“We need some short-term assistance,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) in an interview with The Times on Monday. “But we’ve got to be thinking long term on how to do this in a very strategic way.”
The proposals are scheduled to be formally unveiled Tuesday morning in Sacramento, two days before Gov. Gavin Newsom sends lawmakers a plan to erase a short-term budget deficit that could total more than $54 billion.
Neither the renter-assistance program nor the economic recovery fund would have a direct effect on the state budget in the coming weeks and months. Still, lawmakers believe both ideas could boost California’s shattered economy.
Quarantine to be required for visitors to Spain
Spain will require all visitors from abroad to quarantine for 14 days if they arrive in the country after May 15.
The new Health Ministry order, published Tuesday in Spain’s official gazette, says the goal is to “limit the risks derived from the international traffic of people” during the rollback of the coronavirus lockdown.
Travel agencies and transport companies must inform their customers about the new regulations before they sell their Spain-bound tickets, and airlines need to make sure that passengers fill out a “location card” in case they need to be contacted after their trip.
Tourism-magnet Spain is starting to loosen the grip after seven weeks of strict confinement. Authorities have reported more than 26,700 deaths for the coronavirus and more than 268,000 infections confirmed by tests.
Judge denies request to release medically vulnerable federal inmates from San Diego detention center
A federal judge over the weekend denied a request from medically vulnerable inmates in federal criminal custody at Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego County to be released because of the COVID-19 outbreak there.
The decision comes less than two weeks after the same U.S. District judge — Dana Sabraw — ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to review the cases of those in its custody at the facility and release as many detainees as possible who are medically vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
While Sabraw wrote in his order that he did not dispute inmates’ concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union, he could not grant the temporary restraining order because of a 1996 law that limits judges’ ability to order released people who are in criminal custody.
“The 5th Amendment prohibits punishment of detained persons prior to ‘a formal adjudication of guilt’ but cannot require a complete elimination of all risk of contracting the virus,” Sabraw wrote in his decision. “Holding otherwise would place an impossible burden on detention facilities.”
Avoid weekend trips and summer vacations for now, California health officials say
“We are, in fact, asking people in our health officer order to avoid nonessential travel and we would ask that our neighbors across the state and across the country do the same,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County. “There’s probably very few places in the world right now that would like to see travel into their communities.”
There is no mandatory 14-day mandatory quarantine for visitors coming to California, as is the case in Hawaii, which is punishable by a $5,000 fine and a year in imprisonment.
But Ferrer requested that people coming to L.A. County “do self-quarantine when you come in [and] you do keep yourself away from other people … for that 14-day period.”
Los Angeles County beaches may reopen Wednesday. Here are the new rules
Los Angeles County beaches, which have been closed for more than six weeks, should reopen Wednesday with some restrictions on activities and other rules in place, officials said Monday.
Manhattan, Redondo and other county beaches will reopen on May 13 for active recreation only, the Department of Beaches and Harbors said on Twitter. Permitted activities will include running, walking, swimming and surfing. Group sports like volleyball are prohibited.
More languid activities, including picnicking and sunbathing, and their accessories — canopies, coolers and the like — will continue to be prohibited.
Face coverings will be mandatory for anyone on the sand, but not for people in the water. People will be required to practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other groups, the department said.