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Garcetti urges L.A. to wear face coverings when doing essential tasks in public
Mayor Eric Garcetti joined a growing push for residents to wear face coverings when out in public.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has argued that healthy people do not need a mask if they are not working in healthcare or caring for an infected person.
But in recent days, the CDC has been weighing whether to modify its recommendations and endorse the use of homemade masks.
“I can tell you that the data and this issue of whether it’s going to contribute [to prevention] is being aggressively reviewed as we speak,” Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC director, told NPR.
“The face coverings do not have to be hospital grade but need to cover the nose and mouth. For example, bandannas, fabric masks and neck gaiters are acceptable. Fabric covers and bandannas can be washed and used again,” the county said.
Officials said the recommendation is based on new knowledge about the coronavirus.
“When the situation changes, the rulebook changes,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer, said in a statement. “We’re seeing our numbers increasing even sooner than we predicted and that means our strategy must change too.”
24 L.A. farmers’ markets have received approval to reopen from Garcetti
Two days after he ordered them closed, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that 24 farmers’ markets have obtained approval from the city to operate under guidelines intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The markets must have a separate entrance and exit, limit the number of customers allowed in at any given time, set up hand-washing stations and post signs instructing anyone showing symptoms of the virus to stay out. Customers cannot handle or sample food in the markets, Garcetti said.
The 24 markets that obtained city approval to reopen can operate only on certain days of the week. On Sundays, farmers’ markets in downtown Los Angeles, Brentwood, Larchmont, Melrose Place, Atwater Village, Hollywood, Encino, Mar Vista, Studio City, West Adams and Westchester will be open for business; on Tuesdays, markets in Highland Park, Sherman Oaks and Silver Lake; on Wednesdays, markets in Lincoln Heights, Adams-Vermont, Warner Center and Northridge; on Thursdays, markets in Westwood and on Central Avenue; on Fridays, markets in Venice and Echo Park; on Saturdays, markets in West Los Angeles, Silver Lake and North Hollywood.
The Silver Lake market is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
On Wednesday evening, Garcetti said restaurants will be permitted to sell certain grocery items, and he urged city residents, whenever possible, to patronize those businesses paralyzed by the moratorium on dine-in eating.
“This could be the lifeline they need to stay afloat,” he said.
Russia sends ventilators and protective gear to the United States
Russia on Wednesday delivered a cargo plane full of emergency medical supplies to the United States to aid in its fight against coronavirus.
The State Department said President Trump agreed to purchase the supplies from Russia in a March 30 phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The supplies, including ventilators and protective gear, were handed over to FEMA at JFK International Airport.
“We are a generous and reliable contributor to crisis response and humanitarian action across the world, but we cannot do it alone,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
Wednesday’s delivery was being reported widely by the Russian Embassy in the United States, which said the equipment was 60 tons’ worth. No dollar value was given.
The Trump administration has also accepted supplies from China.
Video: Should you expect San Diego Comic-Con to take place in July?
Mark Potts, Tracy Brown and Jevon Phillips discuss whether or not San Diego Comic-Con will take place in July following a statement from organizers saying they were “hopeful” the event will still go on as scheduled July 23-26.
Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of Fountains of Wayne, dies from COVID-19 complications at 52
Adam Schlesinger, whose slyly intellectual rock band Fountains of Wayne made him a cult favorite of pop connoisseurs and whose musical expertise led to behind-the-scenes songwriting work in film and television, died on Wednesday from complications related to COVID-19. He was 52.
News of his death was first published by Variety. They had reported earlier that Schlesinger spent more than a week in a hospital in upstate New York and had been placed on a ventilator.
Named after a lawn-ornament store in Schlesinger’s native northern New Jersey, Fountains of Wayne crashed the Top 40 in 2003 with “Stacy’s Mom,” a note-perfect New Wave pastiche narrated by a hormone-sozzled high-school boy infatuated with his classmate’s mother.
Riverside County health officials say the need for hospital beds and ventilators is urgent
All hospital beds in Riverside County could be occupied by mid-April if local coronavirus cases continue to rise at their current rate, according to a modeling projection calculated by Geoffrey Leung, Riverside University Health System’s chief of medical staff.
On Tuesday afternoon, the county reported 371 confirmed cases — 80 more than the previous day — and 13 fatalities, records show.
During a news conference last Thursday, Leung said cases of COVID-19 in Riverside County were doubling every 4.7 days. This means the current 371 cases could jump to nearly 1,500 by the week of April 12, according to surge projections.
The number of current cases, however, already have surpassed the county’s initial forecasts.
To prevent cartels from capitalizing on pandemic, U.S. will increase operations targeting drug trafficking
President Trump said the U.S. would increase operations targeting narcotics trafficking to prevent criminals from capitalizing on the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“As governments and nations focus on the coronavrius, there’s a growing threat that cartels, criminals, terrorists and other malign actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain,” he said at a White House briefing while flanked by national security leaders. “We must not let that happen. We will never let that happen.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said there would be more patrols in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
“We came upon some intelligence, some time ago, that the drug cartels, as a result of COVID-19 were going to try to take advantage of the situation and infiltrate additional drugs into our country,” said Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.
He added, “We’re at war with COVID-19, we’re at war with terrorists, and we’re at war with the drug cartels as well.”
In a ‘slow-burning catastrophe,’ MOCA furloughs or cuts pay for nearly all staff
The Museum of Contemporary Art, after laying off all 97 part-time employees last week, said Wednesday that now almost all full-time employees — 69 staffers — are taking a full or partial furlough or a significant salary reduction effective Friday.
The employees, who were notified by phone Wednesday morning, come from every department of the museum, including curatorial, education, membership and development, operations and communications. They were told the museum hopes to reinstate their positions when the economy stabilizes and the museum reopens.
Only four individuals who work on-site in security are unaffected.
Gov. Newsom: State expects to need 50,000 new hospital beds around mid-May
Gov. Gavin Newsom says that, as of Tuesday, 774 patients with COVID-19 are in intensive care and 1,855 have been hospitalized across California. The governor announced the numbers at a Wednesday news conference.
Newsom has said the state expects to need 50,000 new hospital beds to meet a surge in patients around mid-May.
5 homeless people in L.A. test positive for COVID-19
In Los Angeles, five homeless people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Ferrer released the numbers at her daily news briefing Wednesday. They come the day after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Los Angeles’ skid row. This confirmed case was of an employee of the Union Rescue Mission. The person is being treated at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
Ferrer said there were two staff members at two different shelters who had tested positive. She didn’t say whether the case at the Union Rescue Mission was one of them.
Virus outbreak creates new challenges for addiction recovery
Charlie Campbell has been sober nearly 13 years. These days, it’s harder than ever for him to stay that way.
His dad is recovering from COVID-19 in a suburban Seattle hospital. His mom, who has dementia, lives in a facility that now bars visitors because of the coronavirus. A good friend recently killed himself.
Last week, Campbell, 61, tried his first online Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. His internet connection was shaky, and he didn’t get to speak. The meeting did not give him the peace and serenity he craved.
Rep. Devin Nunes calls California school closures ‘way overkill’
Republican Congressman Devin Nunes criticized California’s strict social distancing restrictions and stay-at-home rules and said people needed to get back to work soon to prevent more economic distress.
“The schools were just canceled out here in California, which is way overkill,” Nunes said. “It’s possible kids could have gone back to school in two weeks, four weeks.”
Nunes said he was optimistic about a vaccine for the virus being developed and that the nation needed to focus on getting people back to work over the next week or two weeks. “I don’t believe we can wait until the end of April,” he said.
Attempt to take a second photo of a black hole is canceled
HONOLULU — Observatories on Hawaii’s tallest mountain have shut down operations in response to the governor’s stay-at-home order aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
The shutdown of telescope operations on Mauna Kea is expected to affect more than 500 astronomers, instrument scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff who work at the Big Island summit and at observatory bases below, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported this week.
30 reality TV shows that will help you escape reality
It’s clichéd at this point to note that our reality feels like it’s been scripted by the writer of a horror film. But maybe that’s why reality TV has become such a desirable distraction from what’s happening IRL.
If you’re looking for shows to keep you glued to your couch — or at least keep you entertained enough not to venture outside unnecessarily — we’re here to help. Although this is by no means a comprehensive list, with hope, it’ll introduce you to a show you wouldn’t have sampled were you not doing your part to stay at home. In fact, some were discoveries in my own early days of staying home (cough “Guy’s Grocery Games” cough).
Annenberg Space for Photography lays off nine
The Annenberg Space for Photography, the Century City art space whose image exhibitions have touched on a diverse array of subjects, including music, celebrity and climate change, has laid off nine workers after closing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The layoffs includes eight full-time visitor services employees and one temporary employee. The Annenberg Space for Photography, which is part of the larger Annenberg Foundation, normally has a dedicated staff of 12. Remaining staff will have their hours reduced and will take pay cuts during the closure.
Column: Wimbledon 2020 is canceled because of COVID-19 pandemic
This year’s edition of Wimbledon has been canceled, officials of the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced on Wednesday, adding yet another premier sports event to the list of those cancelled around the world because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wimbledon, the oldest of the four tennis Grand Slam events, last was canceled in 1945 because of World War II.
“It is the Committee of Management’s view that cancellation of The Championships is the best decision in the interests of public health, and that being able to provide certainty by taking this decision now, rather than in several weeks, is important for everyone involved in tennis and The Championships,” the All England Club said in a statement.
Huntington Beach suspends rent for some struggling businesses, halts water shutoffs
The Huntington Beach City Council has decided to suspend water shutoffs and to halt rent for small businesses on city-owned property as ways to ease financial hardships caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The council also voted Tuesday against a proposed ordinance that would have allowed the city to fine property owners who weren’t following the state’s temporary ban on residential evictions.
In keeping with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order for local governments to suspend water shutoffs, the council voted unanimously to halt shutoffs, penalties and fees through May for those who can’t pay bills due to the pandemic. Residents will be required to pay the bills within two years or less, depending on a timetable the city will decide on once the shutoff suspension ends.
L.A. County juvenile hall employee tests positive; 21 juveniles quarantined
A Los Angeles County probation officer who works inside Sylmar’s juvenile hall has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to an email reviewed by The Times.
Probation officials declined to provide information about the officer, citing privacy laws, but said 21 juvenile detainees at the Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall have been quarantined. None of the juveniles are symptomatic, said Adam Wolfson, communications director for the Probation Department.
The officer had been isolating at home while awaiting the test results, the email said.
In a statement, probation officials said they were “acting quickly and taking this incident very seriously including working with our health care partners to mitigate any additional cases.”
Public schools expected to remain closed for the rest of the academic year, Newsom says
California’s public K-12 campuses are expected to remain closed for the remainder of the academic year in response to the escalating coronavirus pandemic as educators take on the massive challenge of distance learning for about 6.1 million students, state officials announced Wednesday.
Families and educators should operate “with the expectation now that schools will not reopen, but classes are in” for the rest of the school year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.
“To all of the moms, all the teachers, all the caregivers, i know how stressful this is, trust me,” Newsom said. “I know and I know what we’re asking of you over the course of the next few months.”
Cases soar to more than 8,700 in California as death toll nears 200
Coronavirus cases topped 8,700 on Wednesday in California as the death count neared 200 and officials grappled with a shortage of supplies while rushing to prepare hospitals for what was expected to be a deluge of patients in the coming weeks.
The number of intensive care patients in the state tripled — from 200 to 597 — in less than a week, and the number of hospitalizations nearly doubled, from 746 to 1,432, officials said this week.
State officials are working on adding more hospital and intensive care beds to handle the surge in coronavirus patients. There is concern that, without action, the state could be short tens of thousands of hospital beds needed on the epidemic’s worst day.
Orange County sees biggest single-day case increase
Orange County saw its biggest single-day increase in coronavirus infections to date Wednesday, as officials announced 107 new cases and three additional deaths.
In all, 606 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths have been confirmed countywide.
Life in my ‘Animal Crossing’ quarantine: Is it paradise? Or just a little less bad than reality?
Every day since it launched in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the community of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” has found new ways to inspire. Reports, for instance, of virtual weddings and birthdays taking place in its world illustrate how the Nintendo Switch game is bringing us together at a time when we can’t gather in real life. And plenty are having fun with the game’s creation tools, even finding ways to turn the game’s idyllic setting into something more twisted.
The game, which places players in an island paradise and asks them to shape it into a dream home/dream getaway, truly is an interactive work for these stressed-out, stay-at-home, coronavirus times. Although far from the only calming game out there, “Animal Crossing” is blessed with a slow pace and daily tasks, a thinly veiled real-life simulator in which we balance desires and endless debts with daily job-like activites. Only the chores include fishing, catching bugs (stay away from tarantulas) and chopping wood.
Column: Amid an epidemic, Trump is still making decisions that could kill people
President Trump’s somber tone when he projected a death toll from the coronavirus as large as 240,000 at his daily press briefing Tuesday had many in the media thinking that he finally had come to grips with the scale of the crisis.
They must have forgotten the cardinal rule, when it comes to presidents, of paying attention to what they do, not what they say. In just the last day, Trump has taken steps that could bring health problems, even death, to millions of Americans.
The administration finalized a rollback of auto emissions and mileage standards that will mean dirtier air nationwide, a spur to climate change, and potentially tens of thousands of premature deaths over the next few decades.
Seeking an eviction moratorium, protesters target Garcetti’s house
Housing activists held a drive-by protest at Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s residence Wednesday morning, honking their horns and shouting from their windows to urge him to pass a blanket moratorium on residential evictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
A parade of about 20 vehicles circled Getty House in Windsor Square for more than half an hour, snaking around the block until Los Angeles Police Department officers arrived and blocked a nearby intersection with two large vehicles.
After police blocked the intersection, a crowd of more than 40 housing activists then took to the sidewalks in front of Getty House. “It’s not a real moratorium,” protesters yelled. “No wages, no rent,” others shouted, while some held signs that read, “Freeze all rents.”
J.K. Rowling launches activity website for kids
Family stressed about the coronavirus crisis? Harry Potter is here to save the day.
Wizarding World mastermind J.K. Rowling has unveiled a new website, Harry Potter at Home, in an effort to provide a mystical escape from current events in the muggle world.
“Parents, teachers and carers working to keep children amused and interested while we’re on lockdown might need a bit of magic,” the author tweeted on Wednesday, saying she was delighted to launch Harry Potter at Home.
“We’re casting a Banishing Charm on boredom!” the site says on its welcome page.
Laguna Beach works on measures for renter relief
In its first meeting since closing the council chamber to in-person public attendance as a measure to stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Laguna Beach City Council directed staff Tuesday night to return next week with a potential letter for landlords and a draft ordinance on deferring rent and forgoing evictions amid the pandemic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom last week issued a statewide ban through May on residential evictions for those who couldn’t pay their rent because they had lost work, become sick or had to take care of ill family members due to the virus and the associated closures and other restrictions intended to inhibit it. But city staff said the executive order did not include commercial renters or a rent repayment schedule.
Pandemic has sidelined nearly 9,000 Homeland Security employees, internal report shows
WASHINGTON — Nearly 300 employees of the Homeland Security Department have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 8,500 are under quarantine because of possible exposure to the coronavirus, sidelining them as the agency struggles to respond to the pandemic.
Those numbers are according to an internal report at the department dated March 30, which the Los Angeles Times obtained from a House Democratic aide. It showed that 292 employees had tested positive for COVID-19 and 8,524 more were under “Self-Quarantine & Self-Monitoring.”
As Trump lets private sector supply the fight, the well-connected often get first dibs
WASHINGTON — As hospitals, doctors and state and local governments race for masks, ventilators and other medical supplies with little coordination by the Trump administration, the well-connected are often getting to the front of the line.
An outpouring of corporate and philanthropic support has funneled badly needed supplies to combat the coronavirus to well-known institutions such as Cedars-Sinai and UCLA medical centers in Los Angeles and the UC San Francisco Medical Center.
But in the absence of an overall nationwide distribution plan, many smaller hospitals, nursing homes and physicians are being left behind, especially those lacking relationships with suppliers, ties to wealthy donors or the money to buy scarce equipment at a time when prices on the open market are skyrocketing.
America’s food supply is strong, Pence says
GORDONSVILLE, Va. — Vice President Mike Pence says Americans will have enough food and supplies to get through the coronavirus pandemic.
Pence said America’s food supply was “very strong” on Wednesday as he toured a Virginia distribution center for Walmart, the world’s largest retailer.
Shelves at grocery stores and other stores across the U.S. have been picked clean of toilet paper and other essentials since the onset of the pandemic.
Pence toured a chilly warehouse for perishable goods ranging from potatoes to bananas. He had removed his suit jacket and sported a Walmart associate’s badge that said “Mike.”
The vice president told a Walmart truck driver that he and all drivers were considered “critical infrastructure.”
Pence used the intercom to tell all employees they were on the “front lines” of the pandemic. He thanked them for doing a “great job” and for “keeping food on the table for the American people.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issues stay-at-home order
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Wednesday as federal and local pressure mounted for him to abandon the county-by-county approach he had implemented.
DeSantis told reporters that he is issuing the order after consulting with President Donald Trump and White House advisers, who have said that Americans need to stay home throughout April.
DeSantis’ move came hours after the U.S. surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, said on NBC’s “Today” show that he would tell DeSantis that the federal guidelines for social distancing should be viewed as “a national stay-at-home order.”
The state’s confirmed cases are approaching 7,000, deaths have reached 86 and almost 900 are hospitalized with a university model cited this week at the White House showing an exponential growth in the coming weeks.
More than 30 other states had already issued such orders, including other large states such as California, New York and Illinois. Those all acted more than a week ago.
UC to ease admission requirements: No SAT, no minimum grades
The University of California announced Wednesday that it would greatly ease admission requirements for fall 2020 and beyond by eliminating SAT test scores and minimum grades, saying that “grave disruptions” to schools during the coronavirus crisis call for maximum flexibility in evaluating students.
The move, authorized by UC Board of Regents leaders, will relax the admissions process for more than 200,000 prospective freshmen and transfer students who annually apply to the UC system’s nine undergraduate campuses but are now studying under dramatically different —and for many, highly stressful — circumstances.
U.S. trajectory akin to that of hard-hit Italy, Pence says
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence says the White House’s models for the coronavirus outbreak show the country on a trajectory akin to that of hard-hit Italy.
Speaking to CNN, Pence said, “We think Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States at this point.”
Pence was referencing the prediction models unveiled by the White House on Tuesday that projected 100,000 to 240,000 U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those figures assume that the country maintains rigorous social-distancing practices for the duration of the public health crisis.
Italy’s health system was stretched beyond capacity weeks ago, leading to soaring death tolls. U.S. governors and local officials have warned their states need urgent federal help to avoid a similar fate.
10 crime writers to read while under house arrest
They also discussed other crime writers and the books they admire — and wish they had written themselves. [Watch the book club talk on YouTube.]
Times readers followed up and asked for a recap of the authors’ picks. So here’s a rundown of their recommendations to read while sheltering at home:
Deep re-listening: Fiona Apple’s ‘Extraordinary Machine’
During this indeterminate period of staying safer at home, we’re heeding our own advice and whiling away the hours/days/weeks/months by re-listening — very deeply — to some of our favorite records.
And because we’re L.A. Times music writers, we decided we would revisit, and re-assess, classic albums either recorded in, or ostensibly about, California, for a series called “Deep re-listening.”
First up, from 2005: Fiona Apple’s “Extraordinary Machine.”
Fiona Apple sat between Magic Johnson and Jimmy Kimmel, an emissary from Planet Alt flanked by two grinning guys wearing boxy suits.
Personal trainers, coaches forced to adapt amid financial strain
It’s near 6 p.m. on a Tuesday as La Cañada High football coach Jason Sarceda sets up space in his home in Eagle Rock, preparing to go live on his Instagram account.
At least 15 users have trickled into his live sessions as he sets aside exercise bands and dumbbells and turns his speakers on louder.
Wearing a black pullover hoodie and gray shorts, Sarceda tells his viewers to begin stretching as his dog, Charlie, prances in front of his camera.
“We’re working out today!” Sarceda said.
Should you wear a mask at the grocery store? Advice keeps changing
Is it time to wear face coverings when going to the grocery store, pharmacy or medical appointments?
That is the latest advice from Riverside County health officials as they try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 8,500 people in the state and killed nearly 200.
Federal officials maintain that healthy people do not need to wear masks in most circumstances, but there does seem to be a growing belief that more people should be covering their faces more often.
Here is what we know:
Rent or buy? A guide to watching movies such as ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ at home
During this national crisis, a lot of Americans are stuck at home for an indefinite stretch of time desperate for something to watch. You’ve probably seen articles lately about movies and television shows that are available via video on demand (VOD). But if you’ve never dipped into the digital market, you may not know how to get these programs onto an actual screen in your living room.
So let’s use one film as an example, to help guide you through the process of becoming a VOD consumer. Let’s say you and your kids didn’t get a chance to see “Sonic the Hedgehog” during its run at the multiplex. This week, Paramount makes it available on VOD. How do you get it?
The hammer comes down on construction to slow the spread among workers
Amid concerns that construction workers are being exposed to coronavirus, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced new guidelines requiring all construction sites to create a “COVID-19 exposure control plan.”
Protocols should include symptom checks, physical distancing, hygiene and decontamination, Garcetti said.
“As most of our city has stayed home or changed the way of doing business, much of our construction program has continued,” he said, adding that it is important to continue critical infrastructure but “never at the risk of anyone’s life.”
City inspectors will visit work sites to enforce safety procedures, he added.
‘OAN, please.’ Amid crisis, Trump leans on a new media friend
WASHINGTON — President Trump has made contentious exchanges with reporters a feature of his daily coronavirus briefings, often using personal invective to bulldoze past questions about shortfalls with masks, ventilators and testing and his own past statements.
But he has shown an altogether different response to one lesser-known media outlet that he has turned to repeatedly as a safety net, frequently citing them by name:
At one recent briefing, Trump called on the outlet twice and elicited two versions of the same question — or statement.
Lacking test kits and supplies, L.A. clinic operator calls for a federal mandate
Community clinics and health centers continue to face a shortage of test kits and medical equipment they need to protect staff against the novel coronavirus.
At St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, a nonprofit that operates 18 health centers and school-based clinics in Los Angeles and Compton, the situation has become so dire that patients have offered to sew surgical masks for the staff.
In a news teleconference Tuesday, St. John’s Chief Executive Jim Mangia said it wouldn’t be enough and called on the federal government to mandate the production of protective gear and masks for healthcare workers.
“The president invoked the Defense Production Act, he’s used it to force [General Motors] to create ventilators,” he said. “But he’s not using for the production of protective gear and masks for front-line healthcare workers.”
Infants and children in the time of the pandemic
Public health officials in Illinois on Saturday announced the death of an infant in Chicago who had tested positive for the coronavirus. Although the exact cause of death had not been determined as of Tuesday, it marked the first recorded death in the U.S. of an infant who had contracted the virus.
The virus is more likely to be fatal in adults, but children who have tested positive for COVID-19 also have died. Underlying health conditions increase the risk of a severe illness. Experts say the older population remains at higher risk for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Data have shown that the oldest of those infected are more likely to be hospitalized and less likely to survive the disease. To date, the pandemic has resulted in more than 3,000 deaths in the U.S.
Joshua Tree National Park closes to all visitors
Joshua Tree National Park closed indefinitely to all visitors Wednesday amid the coronavirus pandemic, the park’s website says. The 800,000-acre desert park east of Los Angeles earlier had closed campgrounds and access roads into the park but allowed walkers and cyclists to enter.
The park took action after consulting “with the local county health office to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the website says. Rangers will continue to patrol the park. Visitor centers, services and roads had closed indefinitely earlier in March to discourage visitors, but media reports say hikers and climbers flooded the park.
During the spread, L.A. County is making more nonessential trips, data show
Southern Californians have greatly reduced their daily trips since the coronavirus outbreak took hold of the West Coast, and although data show they are doing a good job, it seems their efforts have slipped a bit, according to new figures released Tuesday.
An interactive map unveiled last week by Unacast, a New York-based technology company that aims to put a grade on people’s social distancing efforts, initially gave L.A. County and California overall an A for reducing movement during the state’s stay-at-home orders. That score was based on data from millions of anonymous mobile phones comparing the distance that people in each county in the United States traveled before the outbreak started and after it began spreading.
L.A. could be barred from seizing and destroying homeless people’s items based on size
Los Angeles could be barred from seizing and tossing out items belonging to homeless people based on an object’s size if a federal judge follows through on a tentative decision issued Tuesday.
The preliminary ruling by U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer would prohibit Los Angeles from enforcing a city law that bans people from keeping larger items — those that cannot fit into a 60-gallon container — on sidewalks and other public property.
But the city could still confiscate such belongings in “a number of circumstances, including when items are unattended, blocking the sidewalk or a threat to health and safety,” Fischer wrote.
Fischer wrote that a central question in the case was whether the city could “seize or destroy items because they are of a particular size.”
Comedians improvise, going from the stage to the web
Comcast pledges $500 million to workers; executives forgo salaries
Comcast Corp. pledged $500 million to help employees struggling through the coronavirus health crisis, and its five top leaders will donate their salaries to COVID-19 relief efforts.
“We hope in some small way we can make this time easier on our employees, our local communities and our customers,” Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts said Wednesday in a memo to staff members.
The Philadelphia-based cable giant — which is the nation’s largest cable TV and broadband internet provider — joins a list of companies that have set up relief funds for workers facing hardships due to the pandemic.
Megachurch pastors defy the pandemic, insisting on right to worship
At any other time, in a predominantly Christian nation that enshrines freedom of worship in the Constitution, the news would sound absurd or terrifying: “Pastor arrested after holding church services.”
But that’s what happened this week when sheriff’s deputies handcuffed a Tampa, Fla., minister for violating municipal stay-at-home orders by gathering hundreds to worship.
Police said the minister, the Rev. Rodney Howard-Browne of the River at Tampa Bay, showed “reckless disregard for human life” by potentially exposing his congregants to the coronavirus.
Brown, now out on bail, has complained of “religious bigotry.” The church maintains that the right to assemble in worship is a fundamental freedom that cannot be abridged even in an emergency and cites early American religious dissidents, including Baptists and Quakers, as examples of the religious persecution that the nation’s founders would have found intolerable.
The bizarre reality of being new parents in the age of a pandemic
All 16 days of Mateo Rodriguez’s life have been in a world where coronavirus reigns.
He was born to Cynthia and Nelson Rodriguez on March 11, the day before California Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended a statewide cancellation of gatherings of more than 250 people to slow the pandemic’s spread. Two days later, as school districts across California began to suspend classes, his parents went to stay the night at the Yorba Linda home of Cynthia’s mother.
They have largely sheltered in place there ever since. Their first family outing happened just last week — a routine checkup in Orange where the pediatrician elbow-bumped Nelson instead of offering a handshake. Cynthia peppered the doctor with questions like any new mami would for her firstborn. But there was an extra dose of urgency.
Putin holds remote meetings after handshake with doctor who tested positive
Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun holding meetings remotely from his residence outside Moscow after being exposed to a doctor who was later diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday on a conference call. Peskov said on Tuesday that Putin was regularly tested and was fine.
Putin on March 24 shook hands and chatted with the doctor, Denis Protsenko, who is the chief of Moscow’s main coronavirus facility.
U.K. to ‘significantly’ increase testing
The number of coronavirus deaths in the U.K. rose about 31% to 2,352, from 1,789, on Tuesday. The rate of increase is roughly in line with recent days. Cases climbed to 29,474 from 25,150.
The U.K. plans to “significantly” increase testing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, James Slack, told reporters on Wednesday. The government has faced criticism over why the U.K. is lagging behind countries including Germany on testing.
“A clear instruction has been sent to all NHS hospital trusts that, where there is capacity available, it should be used on front-line NHS staff,” Slack said. “It is our intention to significantly increase the number of tests that we’re carrying out.”
Meanwhile, the U.K.’s lockdown measures may have already reduced the spread of the coronavirus, according to a study. A survey of 1,300 people showed that the number of interactions they’d had with others in a single day was 70% lower than the average from a study done in 2005-2006, researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said in the report.
That suggests that each person infected with the virus is passing it on to an average of 0.6 others, compared with 2.6 average transmissions before the measures were imposed. The authors cautioned that the study hadn’t gone through the peer review process that normally precedes publication in a journal.
‘It’s like we’re expendable’: Detroit’s first responders fall to COVID-19 pandemic
DETROIT — The downtown homeless center has been closed for the duration of the pandemic. A shelter has been temporarily set up three miles away.
And so the wretched wander the business district, pitching camp on the sidewalks, warming their suppers and sandwiches on the sewer caps that billow with steam.
Cutting through the fog and vapors of a gloomy Saturday night was the king-size silhouette of Sgt. Michael “Action” Jackson, a figure of stability in a time of pestilence.
U.N. weather agency says pandemic interferes with global monitoring of climate change
BERLIN — The U.N. weather agency says the coronavirus pandemic is affecting global efforts to monitor climate change and collect meteorological data for forecasting.
The World Meteorological Organization says most monitoring is automated, but some data in developing countries are still collected by hand. That process is now slowed by lockdowns.
It said observations in Bolivia, Uganda and Papua New Guinea have dropped by more than half over the last week compared with the average in January.
The reduction in air travel also is having an impact. Sensors on planes collect information on temperatures and wind speeds, which they transmit to meteorological stations on the ground.
With far fewer planes in the air, weather services have seen a sharp drop in available data.
U.S. stocks slump into second quarter
U.S. stocks started the second quarter with deep losses as investors braced for a longer economic shutdown likely to devastate corporate profits and dividends. The dollar rose with Treasuries.
The S&P 500 fell for the third time in four days, with sentiment souring after President Trump warned of a “painful” period of the coronavirus pandemic. A report on private payrolls showed fewer job losses than anticipated, but it only measured through March 12. Factory data showed a contraction in March, while Friday’s jobs report is expected to show a loss of 100,000 positions.
U.S. stocks endured the worst quarter since 2008 as the pandemic shut down large swaths of the economy. Losses from the S&P 500’s February record reached 34% before an unprecedented government spending plan sparked a furious three-day rally of 18%. Since then, the index is down almost 5% as signs mount that the downturn will be longer than previously thought.
Arizona governor urges understanding as bills come due
PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Wednesday urged Arizonans to be understanding and reasonable as individuals and businesses face April 1 due dates for bills such as mortgages, rent, utilities and internet service.
“The world has changed since March 1,” Ducey posted on Twitter, adding that bills previously paid routinely “are now a struggle for many people and small businesses.”
Ducey said no family, individual or business should face eviction or lose critical services because of hardships caused by the coronavirus.
“It’s basic decency,” he said.
People and businesses should pay their bills if they can afford to do so, Ducey said, and people who can’t should talk to their landlords or lenders.
“I expect them to work with you; to be good citizens; and to treat people and small businesses with dignity — not lock them out or kick them to the curb,” he said, adding, “We’re all Arizonans and we’ll get through this together.”
Virus deaths in New York City top 1,000 as city prepares for worse
NEW YORK — Deaths related to the coronavirus topped 1,000 in New York City as officials warned that the worst of the virus’ toll was yet to come.
The city’s Health Department reported late Tuesday that nearly 1,100 people had died of the virus in the city. More than 1,500 deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded across New York state.
Data released by the city show the disease is having a disproportionate effect on certain neighborhoods, mainly in Brooklyn and Queens.
An emergency field hospital opened Wednesday in Central Park near the Mount Sinai Hospital, days after a temporary hospital in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center began taking patients and a Navy hospital ship docked off Manhattan. Officials are scrambling to add more beds around the city as hospitals become overrun.
The city’s ambulance system and police are under increasing stress from the pandemic, with nearly a quarter of the city’s emergency medical service workers out sick, according to the Fire Department. In all, 2,800 members of the Fire Department are sidelined, including about 950 of the city’s 4,300 EMS workers.
Nearly 16% of the New York Police Department’s uniformed force is now out sick. More than 1,000 officers have tested positive for the virus.
Mid-major schools have financial concerns after NCAA gives spring athletes extra year
The decision was made with fairness in mind, so of course Andy Fee agreed with its sentiment. It broke his heart to see the final spring seasons of his senior athletes shut down by a global pandemic. As athletic director at Long Beach State, where spring sports have a rich tradition, Fee supported most anything that helped recover what was lost for student-athletes in the wake of COVID-19.
But on Monday, when the NCAA Division I Council approved an extra year of eligibility for all spring sports athletes, Fee found himself wondering exactly how much fairness might cost at the mid-major level.
However much that is, he’s not entirely sure how Long Beach State or other non-Power Five conference schools plan to afford it.
Quibi was already a gamble. Will the crisis help or hurt the streaming service?
As the coronavirus outbreak spread last month, producers Jonah Bekhor and Jonas Bell Pasht worried their Quibi show, “The Nod With Brittany & Eric,” was doomed. The duo had taken over a loft in Manhattan’s Flatiron District to film the black culture show, hosted by podcasters Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings, with episodes planned to air daily on the new streaming service.
“We weren’t even sure how we could continue to do the show,” Bell Pasht said.
To save it, Bell Pasht and Bekhor fashioned sets with multiple cameras in each host’s Brooklyn apartment so they could film in isolation. Within a week, they shot a test run to see if it could be ready for Quibi’s debut next week. “It took five days of 14-hour FaceTime sessions,” Bekhor said. “The rhythm of how we communicated was unlike anything we’d ever done before.”