Another ‘new normal’ in California? All vote-by-mail elections
SACRAMENTO —California is headed toward its first all-mail statewide election in November to protect voters and precinct workers from the pugnacious coronavirus. Get used to it.
All-mail elections — with every registered voter mailed a ballot — are very likely to become the “new normal” for California even after the virus is subdued.
It’s ironic: Old-fashioned “snail mail” is being chosen as the easiest, safest, most efficient and fraud-free way of conducting elections in this era of rapid technological evolution. Silicon Valley techies will be posting their ballots into snailboxes.
UCLA donors have given nearly $160,000 to help athletes train remotely
Kinsley Washington had the perfect home gym for life under confinement. Free-weight racks, dumbbells, leg press, yoga and core meditation space, elliptical machine, treadmill — everything she needed was in one place.
She had it all until she headed to UCLA to play softball and her parents, realizing nobody was using all that equipment, sold everything.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Washington to return to her Whittier home recently for an indefinite period of uncertainty, she had essentially nothing that could help her stay in shape.
On a warm day in Southern California, county line separates beachgoers from stay-homers
On a beautiful, sunny day in Southern California, an invisible but very official line marked a difference between those who ventured to the beaches along Pacific Coast Highway amid the coronavirus outbreak and those who mostly stayed home.
On the Los Angeles County side of the line, at Malibu’s Point Dume State Beach, Westward and Zuma beaches, few people on Wednesday jogged or walked along the paved paths. Despite the relative desolation, many wore masks. Just a few miles north, in Ventura County, larger numbers of people gathered at Point Mugu State Park, where they boogie-boarded, swam and surfed. Few covered their faces.
After weeks of gloomy and rainy weather, the temptation to hit Southern California beaches, despite strict guidelines meant to halt the spread of the virus, must have been strong on such a gloriously pristine day.
Prosecutors are investigating a Bay Area nursing home where 13 have died
A spokeswoman for Alameda County Dist. Atty. Nancy O’Malley said Wednesday that her office had begun an investigation into Gateway Care & Rehabilitation Center.
Officials said 41 residents and 26 staff members there have tested positive for COVID-19. Teresa Drenick, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, declined to specify the scope of the investigation but said it began last week.
After the pandemic, what will be left of Anaheim’s Little Arabia?
A few minutes before closing, Nesrine Omari stands behind the order window inside Kareem’s Restaurant in Anaheim’s Little Arabia District. She’s the sole person left inside to hand out the last few orders for takeout and delivery.
The solitary moment contrasts starkly with the Palestinian eatery’s usual convivial atmosphere where Arab hospitality has had Omari conversing with families dining in since 1996.
But like most other Arab American businesses along Brookhurst Street, Little Arabia’s main thoroughfare, Kareem’s Restaurant is struggling to get by a few weeks after stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic suddenly converted it to takeout only.
“Everything is so stressful,” Omari says, before handing over a bag of grilled chicken, falafel and hummus. “Do we stay open? Do we close down?”
Los Padres National Forest closes Monterey Ranger District roads and trails until June 1
Los Padres National Forest announced Wednesday that it will temporarily close roads and trails on the Monterey Ranger District to the public effective Thursday.
This closure order of the Monterey Range District, which has its main office in King City, will be in effect through June 1.
“These roads, trails and trailheads are drawing increasingly heavy vehicle traffic and large groups of people, creating circumstances where social distancing is not possible,” forest officials said in a news release.
“Additionally, some roads, trails and trailheads are located adjacent to residential properties and could potentially contribute to exposure risks to local residents. Roads and trails may create unmanageable vectors for further community spread of COVID-19.”
The closure order includes the following roads, trails and trailheads.
· Tassajara Road – Forest Road No. 18S02
· Milpitas Road – Forest Road No. 19S09
· Nacimiento-Fergusson Road – Forest Road No. 22S01
· South Coast Ridge Road – Forest Road No. 22S05
· Baldwin Ranch Road – Forest Road No. 24S06
· Los Burros (Willow Creek) Road – Forest Road No. 23S01
· Sycamore Canyon Road – Forest Road No. 19S05
· Boranda Trail – Forest Road No. 20S03
· DeAngulo Trail – Forest Trail No. 2E07
· Kirk Creek Trail – Forest Trail No. 4E17
· Prewitt Loop Trail – Forest Trail No. 5E06
· Sand Dollar/Jade Cove Trail – Forest Trail No. 5E13
· Cruickshank Trail – Forest Trail No. 5E10
· Soda Springs Trail – Forest Trail No. 5E17
· Buckeye Trail – Forest Trail No. 5E09
· Salmon Creek Trail – Forest Trail No. 6E11
· San Carpoforo
· Salmon Creek
· Soda Springs
· Prewitt South
· Prewitt North
· Mill Creek
· Kirk Creek
· De Angulo
Forest officials said that the closure is an “interim measure” and that they will continue to evaluate the emerging circumstances around the coronavirus outbreak.
This month, Angeles National Forest announced it would close several roads and trails, including those leading to Mt. Baldy, Mt. Wilson and Echo Mountain above Altadena.
Los Padres National Forest encompasses about 1.75 million acres of Central California’s scenic coast and transverse ranges, stretching across almost 220 miles from north to south, and consists of two separate land divisions. The northern division is within Monterey County and northern San Luis Obispo County and includes the Big Sur coast. The main division of the forest includes lands within San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern counties, according to the forest’s website.
Times assistant travel editor Mary Forgione contributed to this report.
Economic slowdown could hit L.A.'s budget hard next year, city controller says
Los Angeles could experience a significant drop in revenue in the upcoming budget year, fueled in large part by the financial downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, City Controller Ron Galperin said Wednesday.
The city’s general fund — which pays for police officers, firefighters and other basic services — could see its tax revenue come in as much as $598 million below projections from earlier this year, depending on how long the crisis lasts, Galperin said in a memo updating city leaders on his financial projections.
Under that scenario, the city would experience a year-to-year decrease in revenue of $160 million, an amount that would be “very significant,” Galperin said in an interview.
Under a more favorable economic outlook, one that has the shutdowns ending earlier, revenue could come in $194 million below previous projections, leaving the city with a modest increase in overall revenue.
“We are using ranges because the economic situation is uncertain and could remain so for months,” Galperin said in his memo. “It is unclear exactly when and how our economy will rebound.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti is scheduled to release his budget on Monday for the fiscal year that starts July 1. On Monday, the mayor said there was “no question” that next year’s budget would include cuts.
Riverside County reports more than 200 new COVID-19 cases, its biggest one-day leap
With 210 additional coronavirus cases, Riverside County health officials on Tuesday reported their largest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic began.
That bring the county’s tally to 1,961. A total of 376 people, which are included in the total number of cases, have recovered from the novel virus, records show.
This comes just one day after the county reported nine COVID-19 deaths, the most it had seen in a single day. As of Tuesday evening, the death toll remained at 50 with no new fatalities.
B-movie legend Roger Corman wants to see your quarantine film
It’s safe to say no living filmmaker has done more with less than Roger Corman, the legendary king of the B-movie who has produced or directed some 400 films over the last six decades. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic bringing the film industry to a standstill, Corman is challenging others to follow his example.
On whatever day today is (Wednesday, we think?), the 94-year-old Corman issued a call on social media to A-list directors and wannabe filmmakers alike to make short movies for what he’s calling “the first (and hopefully last) Corman Quarantine Film Festival.”
“We’re looking for the next great film director,” Corman explained in a video filmed in his backyard in Los Angeles, noting that “a surprising number of Academy Award-winning film directors have started with me.”
Indeed, Corman, who earned an honorary Oscar in 2009, is credited with helping launch the careers of such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Jonathan Demme and John Sayles.
Protests and pleas in the pandemic era: Reactions to restrictions vary widely in U.S.
The daily flood of statistics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a compendium of numbers both promising and ominous, triggered starkly different reactions in different parts of the nation on Wednesday.
Government leaders in Virginia, Idaho and Washington, D.C., announced that they would extend coronavirus restrictions for several weeks in hopes of containing the outbreak’s spread.
But Idaho also will allow some businesses with curbside delivery to reopen by the end of the month. And in Michigan, hundreds of flag-waving protesters gathered outside the state Capitol to voice their anger at the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order.
California to provide more help for the unemployed, independent contractors and immigrants
California is expanding hours at its call center that handles unemployment insurance and preparing to expedite benefits to independent contractors in response to a record number of people who are out of work and seeking government help as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom discussed the efforts on Wednesday and noted that 2.7 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits in the last month after businesses across the state shuttered under his stay-at-home order. Newsom also announced a $125-million relief effort to help Californians without legal immigration status.
LAPD has quarantine site for officers: Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A.
Scores of Los Angeles police officers who have symptoms related to the coronavirus or who must quarantine because of possible exposure have the choice of self-isolating at home or moving into the Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A., according to two law enforcement sources.
The officers will be housed on at least two floors of the iconic Pershing Square hotel, a move that the LAPD has kept under wraps from the public, the sources said. The accommodations are not being covered with taxpayer funds but are paid for by the Los Angeles Police Foundation, a nonprofit independent group that buys police equipment and offers other support to the LAPD.
L.A. boasts one of world’s most vibrant salsa scenes. The virus may wipe it out
Until recently, Colombian percussionist and bandleader Clodomiro Montes made a decent living doing what he loves best: playing a soulful repertoire of Afro-Caribbean hits at restaurants and nightclubs in the Los Angeles area. A timbales player with dazzling technical chops and a keen understanding of salsa swing, Montes performs with his wife, Karina Zurita, a singer who also plays hand percussion and guitar.
Montes moved to L.A. in 2005 after gaining experience in the tropical music scene of his native Cartagena, then as a touring musician in Asia. Now at 42, he finds himself out of work for the first time in his life — quarantining in his rental apartment in Glendora with his wife and their two children.
France has most deaths to date
France’s deaths rose by the most yet in figures released Wednesday while the number of intensive-care patients dropped for a seventh day.
Deaths linked to the virus rose by 1,438 to 17,167 fatalities, said Jerome Salomon, France’s director general of health, in a briefing in Paris.
He said the toll wasn’t over a 24-hour period, as the count included fatalities in recent days that weren’t previously reported.
George Stephanopoulos, Ali Wentworth have very different COVID-19 experiences
Actress Ali Wentworth was “deathly ill for three weeks with a high fever” while battling COVID-19. Her husband, news anchor George Stephanopoulos? Not so much.
Appearing via video chat on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Tuesday, the couple detailed their vastly different experiences with the novel coronavirus, “which is very indicative of our lives,” according to Wentworth.
“I get corona, and I’m ... sweating and achy and going crazy like Martin Sheen in ‘Apocalypse Now,’ and George gets it, and he has no symptoms,” the comedy star said. “The whole thing annoyed me, Jimmy, and if I wasn’t quarantined with him, we would probably take a separate weekend away.”
‘This is not the end’: Officials say it’s too early to scale back restrictions
After nearly a month of unprecedented social distancing efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic that have altered the lives of Californians, public officials across the state this week have begun offering their insights as to when the restrictions may finally be eased.
A common theme appears to be emerging: Now is not the time to loosen stay-at-home orders.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said California needs to increase testing, protect high-risk residents from infection and expand hospital capacity before the state can begin to modify the stay-at-home order he imposed a month ago and gradually return to a sense of normalcy.
The parameters Newsom outlined suggest the state must meet a high bar before walking back the order.
Democrats demand testing plan
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Wednesday released a national coronavirus testing strategy, arguing that they’re filling a void left by the Trump administration, which hasn’t released a plan to scale up COVID-19 testing to allow Americans to return to work and school.
“The U.S. lags the world in testing, and we lead the world in COVID-19 cases,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). “We are raising the alarm bells.”
The demand for a national strategy comes as health experts have reached consensus that the first step in allowing people to ease off social distancing is extensive and accessible testing so that people who are infected can isolate while others go to work and school.
In addition, they agree that effective antibody tests will be required so people know if they have been exposed to the virus and have recovered.
Small-business loan fund for relief is set to run dry today
A $349-billion federal relief program for U.S. small businesses is expected to run out of money Wednesday afternoon, with many still waiting to get a lifeline, according to officials familiar with the situation.
The government-guaranteed loans are available on a first-come, first-served basis. But without more funding, many small businesses that have flooded banks with applications won’t get help, advocates said.
As of midday Wednesday, the U.S. Small Business Administration reported that more than 1.3 million applications had been approved, totaling about $296 billion of the $349 billion set aside for the Paycheck Protection Program. That’s the value of loans the agency has approved for lenders to disburse, not money that has reached borrowers.
A member of the Chargers organization tested positive last month
One member of the Chargers organization tested positive for COVID-19 last month, and two others have shown symptoms, the team confirmed Wednesday.
Spokesman Josh Rupprecht reported that all involved were doing well and recovering.
The Chargers closed their Costa Mesa offices to nonessential personnel on March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak and shut down their headquarters completely March 17.
The organization notified those who had been exposed to the employee, and all were self-isolating. The two other employees who have shown symptoms have not tested positive.
Students will take SATs online at home if schools are closed in fall
High school students will be able to take an at-home online SAT test if the coronavirus keeps schools closed into the the fall, the College Board announced Wednesday.
“The College Board would ensure that at-home SAT testing is simple; secure and fair; accessible to all; and valid for use in college admissions,” a news release from the organization said. “Like the pencil-and-paper test, a digital, remote version of the SAT would measure what students are learning in school and what they need to know to be successful in college.”
The announcement comes as colleges across the country — including the University of California — are making the SAT and ACT standardized tests optional as an admissions requirement for students entering college in fall 2021.
People are leaving their homes a lot less. CDC numbers show how much
First came the emergency declarations. Then the rules on mass gatherings, followed by limits on senior living facilities and school closures. Bars and restaurants came next. Then stay-at-home orders.
A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at people’s movement patterns in coronavirus hot spots such as New York, San Francisco, Seattle and New Orleans and compared them to the timing of closures and various orders in those cities.
The data show that in February about 80% of people were leaving home, but by April 1, the percentage of people leaving home varied from 42% to 61%. In all four areas, the more significant declines in people leaving home occurred after limits on gatherings and school closures and after the White House issued guidelines March 16 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
No California ‘victory lap’
SAN FRANCISCO — Gov. Gavin Newsom offered his take Tuesday on how stay-at-home restrictions would be eased, but California’s governor wasn’t alone in issuing those restrictions. Health officers have extraordinary powers to issue wide-ranging shelter-in-place orders for the state.
This week, a number of health officers across California voiced agreement with the governor: Now is not the time to loosen up the coronavirus stay-at-home orders.
It could be sometime in May before state and local officials begin to seriously contemplate how they might start to gradually ease the stay-at-home order.
San Diego County adds 6 to deaths, case total nears 2,000
San Diego County health officials reported Tuesday that six more residents had died of COVID-19, bringing the region’s death toll to 53.
Three of the victims were men ages 63 to 86. The other three were women in the 81-100 age bracket.
Among all who have died, 22 were white, 16 were Latino, two were Asian, and one was multiracial. Race was not available in 12 cases.
Column: Nixon wanted to take credit for government checks too, but a top official stopped him
The report that government assistance for Americans will be delayed because President Trump demanded that his signature appear on the checks reminds us of a previous president’s attempt to do something similar — until it was blocked by an independent-minded government official.
The year was 1972. The president was Richard Nixon. The program was Social Security. And the man standing firm against an overt politicizing of a government program was Robert Ball, who was so broadly respected that he was known as “Mr. Social Security.”
When Ball threatened to resign over the attempt, Nixon backed off.
WHO regrets U.S. decision to halt funding
Dr. Tedros Adahanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization addressed president Trump’s order to halt funding to the group at a global press conference Wednesday morning.
“We regret the decision of the President of the United States to order a halt in funding to the World Health Organization,” he said.
He noted that in addition to fighting COVID-19, WHO is also working to address a wide range of public health concerns including polio, measles, malaria, Ebola, HIV, tuberculosis, malnutrition, cancer, diabetes, mental health and others.
“WHO is reviewing the impact on our work of any withdrawal of U.S. funding and will work with our partners to fill any financial gaps we face and to ensure our work continues uninterrupted,” he said.
Ghebreyesus also called for unity.
“This is a time for all of us to be united in our common struggle against a common threat – a dangerous enemy,” he said. “When we are divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us.”
China didn’t warn public of likely pandemic for six key days
In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicenter of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people; millions began traveling through for Lunar New Year celebrations.
President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day, Jan. 20. But by that time, more than 3,000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence, according to internal documents obtained by the Associated Press and expert estimates based on retrospective infection data.
The outbreak could halt L.A. concerts and sporting events until 2021, Garcetti says
Los Angeles may hold off on allowing big gatherings until 2021 because of the coronavirus threat, according to an internal Los Angeles Fire Department email.
Mayor Eric Garcetti raised the issue during his weekly briefing Monday with a group of high-level staff from several departments, including Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas. Garcetti indicated during the conference call that “large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events may not be approved in the city for at least 1 year,” according to the email.
LAFD Deputy Chief Trevor Richmond wrote the email summarizing Terrazas’ meeting with Garcetti and others, and sent it Tuesday to several Fire Department staffers. The email was reviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
Fears haven’t stopped the sex trade on Los Angeles streets
Armed with condoms and disposable thermometers, the outreach workers ventured out to streets in South Los Angeles notorious for sex trade activity.
They expected that some women would still be working on this chilly Friday night in early April. But what they saw caught them off guard.
Two weeks into the mandated state-at-home orders designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic, not only were sex workers out in pre-quarantine numbers — but so were the johns.
Could baseball in a bubble work? Dr. Fauci thinks it could
Baseball this summer? Get into the bubble, Dr. Anthony Fauci says.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a regular at President Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings, told Snapchat that baseball could be played this season despite the COVID-19 pandemic, without fans.
“There’s a way of doing that,” Fauci said in an interview released Wednesday. “Nobody comes to the stadium. Put [the players] in big hotels, wherever you want to play, keep them very well surveilled. ... Have them tested every single week and make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family, and just let them play the season out.”
Bezos gains $24 billion as wealthy reap rewards from stocks bounce, bailouts
The world’s richest person is getting richer, even in a pandemic, and perhaps because of it.
With consumers stuck at home, they’re relying on Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.com more than ever. The retailer’s stock climbed 5% to a record Tuesday, lifting the founder’s net worth to $138.5 billion.
The pandemic has brought the global economy to a near standstill and pushed almost 17 million Americans onto the unemployment rolls in the span of three weeks. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. signaled Tuesday that loan losses fueled by the unprecedented job cuts — many of them in the retail sector that Amazon so efficiently disrupted — could rival those incurred after the 2008 financial crisis.
FAA outlines concerns about anti-malarial drug
WASHINGTON — President Trump has repeatedly touted the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the new coronavirus, but pilots who take it will have to wait 48 hours before flying.
The Federal Aviation Administration says it reviewed hydroxychloroquine and closely related chloroquine when they became available. The drugs “have long been considered generally incompatible for those performing safety related aviation duties,” reads an FAA statement.
The safety agency cites the “wide variety of dosages” and lack of standards around using the drugs to treat COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, in deciding that pilots who take them must wait before flying.
Trump golf resort temporarily lays off 560 workers
DORAL, Fla. — The Trump golf resort in south Florida where President Trump initially wanted to host this year’s Group of Seven summit has temporarily laid off 560 workers.
A notice that the Trump National Doral Miami filed with the state of Florida at the end of last month said it had been forced to halt its business because of the coronavirus.
The resort in metro Miami has been closed since mid-March. Al Linares, the resort’s director of human resources, wrote to state and city officials that it was unknown when it would resume regular operations.
The laid-off workers are mostly food and beverage workers, golf attendants, housekeepers and bell hops. None of the workers are unionized.
More than 100,000 clean energy workers lost their jobs in March
Nate Otto is selling fewer rooftop solar systems these days.
Business is down around 50% from a record-setting first quarter for Otto’s Palm Springs-based solar installer, Hot Purple Energy. But he hasn’t fired any of his 48 employees, or cut their salaries. He’s been giving them odd jobs — cleaning trucks, adding security lights — even as he limits the number of people at job sites and takes steps to keep them as far away from each other as possible.
“I’ve done everything I can just to keep the guys busy,” he said.
Otto’s employees are some of the lucky ones.
Global response stymied by lack of leadership from the U.S. and Trump
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s America-first policies, contempt for multilateral organizations and testy relationships with other world leaders are contributing to what many see as a surprising lack of global unity and coordination in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
It is usually the U.S. president who would lead such an effort in times of global emergency. But Trump’s moves to weaken Western post-World War II alliances like NATO, his harsh treatment of traditional American allies and his slow response to the coronavirus threat have prevented close cooperation even among the United States’ usual partners, like Europe and Canada.
Tour de France is rescheduled to start in late August
The Tour de France has new dates, and it will be followed by cycling’s two other major races.
Because of restrictions related to the coronavirus outbreak, the iconic race around France will now start on Aug. 29 and finish on Sept. 20. The Giro d’Italia and the Spanish Vuelta, cycling’s two other Grand Tours, will take place after the French race.
The International Cycling Union announced the new dates for the race on Wednesday after consulting with organizer Amaury Sport Organisation. The race was originally scheduled to start on June 27 in Nice.
Three potential vaccines moving ahead in tests
Three potential coronavirus vaccines are making fast progress in early-stage testing in volunteers in China and the U.S., but it’s still a long road to prove if they’ll really work against COVID-19.
CanSino Biologics of China has begun the second phase of testing its vaccine candidate, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology said Tuesday.
In the U.S., a shot made by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. isn’t far behind. The first person to receive that experimental vaccine last month returned to a Seattle clinic Tuesday for a second dose.
NIH infectious disease chief Dr. Anthony Fauci said there are “no red flags” so far and he hoped the next, larger phase of testing could begin around June.
Trump’s halting World Health Organization funds sparks rebuke
GENEVA — Nations and health experts worldwide reacted with alarm Wednesday after President Trump announced a halt to the sizable funding the United States sends to the World Health Organization. They warned that the move could jeopardize global efforts to stop the coronavirus pandemic.
At a briefing in Washington, Trump said he was instructing his administration to halt funding for the WHO pending a review of its role “in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” The United States is WHO’s largest single donor, contributing between $400 million and $500 million annually to the Geneva-based agency in recent years.
“I will always put the well-being of America first,” Trump said in a statement on Wednesday.
Trump has repeatedly labeled COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” and criticized the U.N. health agency for being too lenient on China, where the novel virus first emerged late last year. Outside experts have questioned China’s reported infections and deaths from the virus, calling them way too low and unreliable. And an investigation by the Associated Press found that six days of delays between when Chinese officials knew about the virus and when they warned the public allowed the pandemic to bloom into an enormous public health disaster.
The WHO has been particularly effusive in its praise for China, calling on other countries to emulate their approach and repeatedly praising their transparency. But China only agreed to a proposed WHO-led mission to investigate the coronavirus after WHO’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, personally paid a visit to Chinese President Xi Jinping, a highly unusual move to secure a country visit during an outbreak.
The European Union on Wednesday said Trump had “no reason” to freeze WHO funding at this critical stage and called for measures to promote unity instead of division.
New York City may lose 475,000 jobs, $10 billion in Taxes
New York City may lose 475,000 jobs and run $9.7 billion short on tax revenue through mid-2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak, the city’s Independent Budget Office estimated.
Retail employment will take the biggest hit, followed by hotels and restaurants, and the arts, entertainment and recreation industries.
Although finance and professional services are also expected to see declines in employment, the IBO projects the most severe job losses will be disproportionately concentrated in sectors with low- and moderate-paying jobs. The only major sector of the city economy likely to avoid job losses over the next year is health care.
Infections eclipse 2 million worldwide
The new coronavirus has infected 2 million people around the world, a grim milestone exposing the difficulty of trying to contain the deadly pathogen.
What began as a mysterious pneumonia-like illness in Wuhan, China, late last year has morphed into a global health crisis that has threatened health systems and economies alike.
It took about four months for the virus to infect 1 million people and only 12 days for that number to double. The total case count today is likely even higher than 2 million, with countries including the U.S. testing only a fraction of their populations.
G-20 backs temporary debt relief for world’s poorest nations
The International Monetary Fund is set to provide $11 billion to 32 countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have requested assistance in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the region’s economies.
These steps by the IMF and its partners -- the World Bank, World Health Organization, the African Development Bank and the African Union -- will support domestic measures including transfers to vulnerable households, monetary and fiscal policy responses, Abebe Aemro Selassie, the director of the lender’s African department, said in a statement released Wednesday with a regional economic outlook.
The unprecedented health and economic crises could weigh on the region’s growth prospects for years to come, according to the IMF. Gross domestic product is forecast to contract by 1.6% in 2020, which will be the worst outcome on record. Africa needs an immediate emergency economic stimulus of $100 billion to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and almost half of that could come from waiving interest payments, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
The IMF’s $11 billion provision for countries in the region will be financed through its rapid-disbursement instruments and debt-relief support of about $300 million that will be provided this year, Selassie told reporters. The fund has already disbursed money to Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Ghana, Madagascar, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, and Togo. Globally, the lender has approved debt-service relief for 25 poor countries to support emergency medical and relief efforts.
“Together with the World Bank, the IMF is also making the case for debt relief from official bilateral creditors for those low-income countries that request forbearance,” Selassie said.
You can now order food for delivery or takeout through Instagram
The next time a restaurant posts a video of some lust-worthy food on Instagram, you may be able to have it delivered in a couple of clicks.
The social media app has partnered with the ChowNow food ordering platform to create an “order now” button and story sticker that will allow Instagram users to order and pay for food directly from the app.
“It was designed specifically for the time we are in now,” ChowNow Chief Executive Christopher Webb said. Restaurants “are using Instagram more than ever to let people know they are open.”
Should I book my summer vacation trip now?
Should you book summer travel right now? If you’re planning to visit the Pacific Northwest, you can fly round-trip to Seattle for $117 in basic economy on legacy carriers. Deal site Travelzoo is offering the Handelry Hotel in San Diego for as little as $99 a night in June and July. Or you can book, say, a rafting adventure in Colorado.
Why not go ahead and book it? After all, leisure travelers find two things irresistible: going and doing, and the value they get for money spent.
To which you may reply, “Are you out of your mind?”
Crackdown intensifies on those violating stay-at-home rules
Authorities across California are intensifying their crackdowns on scofflaws who are not following state and local stay-at-home orders aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus.
Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer filed criminal charges against 10 businesses — including a massage parlor, smoke shop, car wash and print shop — saying they refused to shut down despite Mayor Eric Garcetti’s order imposed to fight the coronavirus.
It’s part of a larger crackdown not just on nonessential businesses but also on individuals who are going to beaches, trails and parks that are closed.
Many of us haven’t touched another human for weeks. What’s the price of no contact?
Do you remember the last time you shook someone’s hand?
For me, it was March 8, sometime during Los Angeles Football Club’s match against the Philadelphia Union at the Banc of California Stadium in L.A. A fan approached me to take a picture together. I was initially hesitant; afterward, I took some hand sanitizer out of my pocket — squirt, squirt, rub, rub — and kept it moving. The next day, physical contact with nonfamily members was reduced to elbow bumping; by March 11, the day the NBA suspended its season, less than that.
A month has passed since my last handshake and I still feel human. Perhaps this is what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, had in mind when he suggested that we should stop shaking hands altogether. Besides, who among us can find hand sanitizer?
From skeptics to spreading the gospel, Latinos quickly became converts to masks
Before she began to spread the gospel of masks, Rosalina Nava was a skeptic.
Even as many of her Asian immigrant neighbors in the San Gabriel Valley increasingly wore them to protect against the growing coronavirus threat, the 42-year-old court reporter resisted wearing a mask, finding them strange and cold. In this regard, that made her typical of Latinos, the largest group in California.
With commerce frozen, retail sales plunge 8.7%
WASHINGTON — U.S. retail sales plummeted 8.7% in March, an unprecedented decline, as the viral outbreak forces an almost complete lockdown of commerce nationwide.
The deterioration of sales far outpaces the previous record decline of 3.9% that took place during the depths of the Great Recession in November 2008.
Auto sales dropped 25.6%, while clothing store sales collapsed, sliding 50.5%. Restaurants and bars reported a nearly 27% fall in revenue.
Surviving the shutdown: Dear John’s launches new heat-and-eat TV dinners
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdown have left many restaurants uncertain about their future. As they grapple with new realities, we asked some of them to share their stories.
When Dear John’s steakhouse was brought back to life last year, it quickly became one of the hardest reservations to score in the city. Diners couldn’t get enough of the tableside Caesar salads tossed in the impossibly dark dining room, served alongside excellent steaks and martinis. A demolition date set for April 2021 made it feel even more impermanent and seductive.
Looking for special occasion takeout? Our critic has 15 suggestions
The crisis we’re living through has paralyzed our economy, our mobility, our way of life. Relentlessly, the calendar keeps marking time: Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays arrive. A reason to splurge on exceptionally good takeout might arise, even to ease the soul after a particularly rough day. I have suggestions.
Fighting for the survival of their businesses, many of our most decorated chefs swiveled from opulent tasting menus to family-style comfort foods. Ordering from their places now doesn’t — can’t — compare to experiencing meals in their dining rooms. Many have nonetheless found ways to cram their imagination, skill and optimism into brown carryout boxes we then unpack in our own kitchens.
Mayor hopeful New York City will be ‘more like normal’ by September
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was hopeful New York City would be back to “more like normal” by September.
“By September, then we are hopeful we could be back to something more like normal, but the way we get there is with that smart, cautious approach,” De Blasio said in Fox interview.
France expects G-20 to offer African countries debt moratorium
France expects Group of 20 nations will agree to a debt moratorium for African nations in a conference call later Wednesday, an official at the Elysee palace said.
President Emmanuel Macron has been pushing for debt relief to support African nations caught up in the pandemic, and on Monday he called for a massive cancellation of Africa’s sovereign debt.
U.S. factory output fell in March by the most since 1946
U.S. factory output dropped in March by the most since 1946 as a rolling wave of shutdowns related to the coronavirus crippled the manufacturing sector.
Production slumped 6.3% from the prior month followed a 0.1% decrease in February, Federal Reserve data showed Wednesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 4.1% decline. Overall industrial production — which includes output at mines and utilities — also declined by the most since 1946.
First responders across the Southland show gratitude to healthcare workers
Healthcare workers from Glendale to Mission Viejo were honored Tuesday by first responders who drove firetrucks, highway patrol cars and police vehicles in processions of tribute for their efforts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange, healthcare workers gathered outside to acknowledge a parade of about 25 emergency vehicles honoring them with sirens and flashing lights. The procession paused outside the windows of an emergency room, where workers inside banged on the windows in a show of mutual appreciation.
At Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Orange County sheriff’s deputies honored nurses from the cardiac rehab unit. And a group of Glendale police officers and firefighters gathered to honor the workers at Adventist Health Glendale.
Americans can get stimulus payments faster with newly launched IRS site
WASHINGTON — Americans can speed up delivery of their up-to-$1,200 coronavirus assistance payout through a new IRS website that launched Wednesday. The site allows them to provide bank account details needed to receive electronic payment and also to check when the payment will arrive.
People will need information from their 2018 or 2019 taxes to prove their identity, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said this week at the White House. The site also allows people who have already provided the IRS with direct deposit information to verify which account the government has on file.
“You’ll be able to put in your direct deposit information, and within several days we will automatically deposit the money into your account,” Mnuchin said. “We want to do as much of this electronically as we can.”
A widow believed COVID-19 killed her husband. It took weeks to learn the truth
For Julie Murillo, the fight to get her husband tested for COVID-19 lasted twice as long as his battle with the illness itself.
Julio Ramirez fell sick March 8 after returning from a trip to Indiana for his job as a sales representative for a jewelry company. Fearing he’d been exposed to the coronavirus, the 43-year-old sought care, but doctors refused to test him on two separate occasions, instead giving him medication and telling him to rest at his San Gabriel home.
He died there March 16.
So much is unknown about the pandemic because the government keeps a lid on it
It is a tragedy unfolding in real time. At a skilled nursing facility in the Tulare County town of Visalia, 71 residents and 41 staffers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Six residents at the 176-bed Redwood Springs Healthcare Center are dead and eight are in acute care, according to Anita Hubbard, the center’s administrator.
But without Hubbard’s details, little would be known about one of California’s worst outbreaks of the deadly virus in a senior facility. Tulare County stopped commenting for five days, during which the numbers of positive cases skyrocketed. Like other cities and counties statewide, California doesn’t require it to release such information, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Amazon says it may suspend operations in France after court ruling
PARIS — Amazon has threatened to suspend all activity in France after a French court found it wasn’t doing enough to protect its workers.
The online giant also said it would appeal Tuesday’s emergency ruling, which requires it to stop selling nonessential goods for a month while it works out new worker safety measures.
Sales of food, medicine and hygiene supplies are still allowed under the ruling. Amazon France, however, said the decision was so disruptive that it could prompt the company to suspend all activity at its six French warehouses.
The company stressed the importance of its services to the “thousands of French companies that sell on Amazon” and “millions of people around the country who want to have access to products they need during the crisis.”
Amazon insists that it is providing adequate security measures for staff, noting the implementation of temperature checks and mask distribution.
But the court ruled that Amazon did not do enough to enforce social distancing, to ensure that turnstiles and locker rooms were virus-free or to increase cleaning of its warehouses. Unions say one worker infected with the virus is in intensive care.
International criticism pours in over Trump’s decision to suspend U.S. funding of the WHO
President Trump’s decision to suspend U.S. funding of the World Health Organization has come under international criticism.
The European Union said Trump had “no reason” to freeze funding at this critical stage and called for measures to promote unity instead of division.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the 27-nation bloc “deeply” regretted the suspension of funds and that the WHO was now “needed more than ever” to combat the pandemic. “Only by joining forces can we overcome this crisis that knows no borders,” Borrell said.
In China, which Trump has accused the WHO of treating more favorably, a foreign ministry spokesman said Beijing was “seriously concerned” about the president’s decision.
“As the most authoritative and professional international institution in the field of global public health security, the WHO plays an irreplaceable role in responding to the global public health crisis,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Wednesday.
Trump said Tuesday that he was cutting off U.S. payments to the WHO because it had failed to do enough to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China.
“The WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable,” said Trump, whose handling of the pandemic in the U.S. has come under increasing fire.
China wields major influence in the WHO, allowing it to elect its favored candidate, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, as director-general, blunt any criticism and block participation by rival Taiwan.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas criticized Trump’s decision, saying Wednesday: “Placing blame doesn’t help.”
In a tweet, Maas said that “the virus knows no borders. We must work closely together against COVID-19. Strengthening the U.N., in particular the underfunded WHO, is a better investment, for example to develop and distribute tests and vaccines.”
Trump halts U.S. funding for World Health Organization
WASHINGTON — President Trump said Tuesday that he is suspending U.S. funding for the World Health Organization pending an administration review of its early response to the coronavirus outbreak in China.
The suspension threatens to undermine the WHO, the United Nations agency for international public health, as it seeks to coordinate governments in the battle against a pandemic that already has left more than 125,000 people dead in about 200 countries.
But the announcement was consistent with Trump’s efforts to deflect blame for his delay in declaring a national emergency until mid-March, after weeks of dismissing the threat, and for his personal disdain for international organizations.
Trump accused the U.N. group of mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus after it was first detected in Wuhan, China, in early January.
“The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said during a news briefing in the Rose Garden.