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Coronavirus updates: 24 L.A. farmers’ markets have received approval to reopen

The latest updates from our reporters in California and around the world

A shopper walks past a storefront mural depicting actor James Dean in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
(Associated Press)

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

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Column: Newsom and Cuomo have been top leaders in the coronavirus crisis. Don’t count on them to challenge Biden

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been drawing lots of speculation about maybe becoming an upgraded Democratic presidential nominee, pushing aside bland Joe Biden.

But there hasn’t been a peep about California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Why’s that?

Both governors are doing a statesman-like job leading their states through the surging coronavirus pandemic. So why all the national political focus just on Cuomo?

Well, it makes sense.

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Israel’s health minister has new coronavirus

Israel’s health minister, who has had frequent contact in recent weeks with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other top officials, was diagnosed with the new coronavirus, the Health Ministry announced Thursday.

Yaakov Litzman and his wife, who also has the virus, are in isolation, feel well and are being treated, the statement said. Requests to enter isolation will be sent to those who came in contact with the minister in the past two weeks, the announcement said.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency and the National Security Council were asked to go into isolation because of their contacts with Litzman. Netanyahu had gone into isolation previously after a top aide tested positive for the virus.

Israel has gone into near lockdown to try to contain the virus outbreak.

Israel’s large, insular Ultra-Orthodox community, of which Litzman is a member, has been particularly hard hit by infections. In the early phases of the outbreak, some rabbis had pushed back or ignored government-mandated movement restrictions, but resistance appears to have diminished.

Israel has reported just over 6,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 26 people have died.

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The most powerful photos of California during pandemic

Billy Gross, 35, and girlfriend Kristina Sorensen, 38, right, check out a new mural with a timely suggestion while taking their dog Bear out for a walk along La Brea Avenue in midtown Los Angeles on March 31.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Check out the full gallery here > > >

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Navy to move almost 3,000 sailors off coronavirus-stricken carrier Theodore Roosevelt

SAN DIEGO — Nearly 1,000 sailors have moved off the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt and almost 2,000 more will be off by Friday as the ship battles a COVID-19 outbreak in Guam, Navy leaders said Wednesday.

Thomas Modly, acting Navy secretary, and Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of naval operations, announced the partial evacuation of the San Diego-based ship at a Pentagon news conference.

The move comes after ship’s captain, Brett Crozier, wrote a four-page letter decrying the Navy’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak on the ship and its emphasis on testing, saying those measures have not slowed the spread of the virus.

Modly disputed a statement Crozier made in his letter, saying his claim that the Navy was “breaking faith” with its sailors is untrue.

“It’s disappointing to have him say that,” Modly said.

“I know that that’s not the truth. We’ve been working very, very hard with the ship, with the command structure, to make sure” that the Navy is not breaking that trust. “We need sailors to be safe. We need them to be healthy.”

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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.

Riverside County released the new mask guidance Tuesday, covering such essential tasks as grocery shopping and medical visits.

“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.”

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24 L.A. farmers’ markets have received approval to reopen from Garcetti

People wearing personal protective equipment shop at the Santa Monica Farmers Market on April 1.
People wearing personal protective equipment shop at the Santa Monica Farmers Market on April 1.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

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.

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Garcetti authorizes shutting off utilities to nonessential businesses violating Safer at Home

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday that he’s authorized the Department of Water and Power to shut off service to nonessential businesses that continue to operate despite the strict Safer at Home restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

It’s the latest move in an effort to impose social distancing as coronavirus cases and deaths surge across Los Angeles County and California.

Coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County rose dramatically Wednesday as officials reported more than 500 new cases, bringing the total number of people infected by the virus in the region to 3,518. In their daily briefing, county officials also reported 11 new deaths, bringing the toll to 65.

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More than 200 L.A. County sheriff’s employees quarantined since coronavirus outbreak

Since last month, the Sheriff’s Department has sent 209 employees home to quarantine because of exposure to the coronavirus, and issues over their pay have caused another squabble between Sheriff Alex Villanueva and county leaders.

In a letter Wednesday, Villanueva requested that the county’s chief executive secure retroactive pay for quarantined employees who he said have had to dip into their personal sick leave prior to Wednesday, when federal benefits for workers impacted by the virus took effect.

Villanueva said there was at least one employee exposed to the virus on patrol who had not accrued enough sick time to stay compensated through the quarantine period. It’s unclear if that person lost out on any pay, and if so, how much.

“The first responders from the Sheriff’s Department sacrifice their lives for the residents of Los Angeles County every day,” he wrote. “The least we can do is fully compensate these men and women for their daily sacrifices by covering their COVID-19 related absence from work.”

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As the coronavirus spreads in Ecuador, bodies are being left on streets

Wrapped coffins sit in the back of a pickup truck outside a hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on April 1, 2020, seen in an image taken from video.
(Enrique Ortiz / Getty Images)

QUITO, Ecuador — The corpses have been overwhelming Guayaquil, a port city of 2.8 million at the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in Ecuador.

Over the last few days, several were wrapped in plastic and left on the streets. Others have lain unclaimed in hospitals and clinics that have been overwhelmed by infections. The city morgue is full.

The majority of the dead are believed to be victims of the virus, but nobody can say for sure how many. There has been little testing.

The country has confirmed 2,700 infections and 93 deaths — 60 of them in Guayaquil and its immediate surroundings. But municipal officials there said they have recovered at least 400 bodies in recent days.

Mayor Cynthia Viteri, who announced that she has tested positive for the virus, said the national government should be responsible for collecting the corpses.

“They’re leaving them in the villages, they fall in front of hospitals,” she said in a Twitter video message to residents last week. “No one wants to recover them.”

The majority of those whose bodies have been found on the street were probably indigent, said Hector Galarza, a publicist in Guayaquil. “But it is generating panic.”

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California orders skilled nursing facilities to accept coronavirus patients

As fears escalate about the toll the coronavirus will take on the sick and elderly in nursing homes — who are among the most vulnerable to the deadly virus — California regulators have told skilled nursing facility operators that they must accept patients even if they have the disease.

The order comes amid a fierce debate between healthcare providers. Hospitals are desperate to clear space for an expected wave of COVID-19 patients, so they are discharging as many patients as possible, including nursing home residents.

Many nursing home administrators are equally desperate to keep those residents out until they are proven virus-free, fearing a catastrophic result if the deadly pathogen gains a foothold in their institutions.

The directive, in a letter to facilities on Monday from California Department of Public Health Deputy Director Heidi Steinecker, appears to side squarely with the hospitals. It says skilled nursing facilities “shall not refuse to admit or readmit a resident based on their status as a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.”

California nursing home administrators and advocates for the elderly view the order as an alarming move by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration.

“Sacrificing the lives of beloved nursing home residents is beyond unconscionable,” said Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

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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.

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Locomotive driver charged with derailing train near hospital ship Mercy over coronavirus concerns

Federal prosecutors charged a locomotive driver at the Port of Los Angeles with intentionally derailing a train near the Navy’s hospital ship Mercy because he suspected it was not there to help with the coronavirus crisis.

Eduardo Moreno, 44, of San Pedro was charged with deliberately wrecking a train during the incident Tuesday, which led to a derailment and fuel leak, according to the charges.

Prosecutors allege that Moreno derailed the train and deliberately crashed through barriers designed to stop engines before grinding to a halt 250 yards from the Mercy.

Firefighters and a hazmat team took care of the incident without an explosion or injury.

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Video: Should you expect San Diego Comic-Con to take place in July?

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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.

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Coronavirus transformed the presidential primary calendar, but not in Wisconsin

How do you run an election in the middle of a global pandemic? Some states have postponed voting or shifted to mail-only balloting. Some states have taken both approaches.

Wisconsin, the next state to head to the polls, has done neither.

Tuesday’s primary will go on as planned, despite efforts to delay it. State officials have urged voters to request absentee ballots by Thursday, leading to application numbers that have far surpassed both the 2016 presidential primary and general election.

The state reported Wednesday that a record-setting 1,053,556 voters had requested absentee ballots. So far 387,833 mail ballots have been returned. (In the state’s April 2016 election, 249,503 voted by absentee ballots.)

There have been calls, including from Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, for Wisconsin to push back its election, as 15 other states have. “People should not be forced to put their lives on the line to vote,” Vermont Sen. Sanders said Wednesday. “The state should delay Tuesday’s vote, extend early voting and work to move entirely to vote-by-mail. While we wait for a decision, we urge our supporters to vote-by-mail.”

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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.

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This city has endured war and Ebola. Now comes coronavirus

In 1994, when Cacuru Emmanuel was 12, 850,000 people fleeing neighboring Rwanda poured into his hometown of Goma.

Eight years later, the Nyiragongo volcano spat out a 1 ½-mile-wide river of lava that destroyed his house and 40% of the city.

In late 2012, Goma was captured by rebels and Emmanuel’s sister was killed by a stray bullet.

And over the last two years, an Ebola outbreak in the city and the surrounding province has killed at least 2,273 people.

Now the government says coronavirus is coming.

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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.

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New Orleans social worker who died at 39 did not have coronavirus, test results show

When Natasha Ott, a 39-year-old social worker originally from Claremont, died on March 20, loved ones suspected she died of COVID-19.

Ott, who lived in New Orleans, had suffered symptoms generally associated with coronavirus infection in the days before her death. Her job exposed her to strangers from disadvantaged communities in New Orleans, a city that’s become a hotspot in the outbreak.

Ott was tested for COVID-19, but died before she received the results — which came back negative.

So, did she have the virus?

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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.”

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Can pets get the coronavirus?

With Californians under order to shelter at home and leave only for necessities, we’re spending more time than ever with our pets.

Wet puppy noses and sandpaper cat kisses may be a balm for our souls during this time of stress and extended social isolation. But can our physical closeness to our pets affect our health — or theirs?

Here’s a look at the latest advice from experts about keeping everyone in your household safe.

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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.

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Coronavirus scythes across U.S. as cases top 200,000

The United States hit a grim milestone Wednesday as confirmed coronavirus cases topped 200,000, adding intense pressure at overstretched hospitals still struggling to find necessary medical supplies and warnings that the worst is yet to come.

With more than 4,500 Americans already dead, Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the White House coronavirus task force, compared the fast-rising trajectory to that of hard-hit Italy, which has suffered the most deaths so far from the global pandemic.

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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.

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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.

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This is where the coronavirus has been found in Orange County

Orange County saw a significant surge in new coronavirus infections Wednesday, bringing the county’s total case count to 606.

That’s up 107 cases from Tuesday. The county also reported three new coronavirus-related deaths, for a total of 10 since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Countywide, 67 people are currently hospitalized — 31 of them in intensive care.

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Commentary: What L.A.'s future looks like from New York and my coronavirus time machine

Since the second week of March, my self-quarantine routine has become increasingly finite and fixed: the same waking hours, the same couple dozen scrolls through Twitter, the same Zoom meetings, the same late-night Netflix bingeing. The same sameness.

In the late morning, I turn on the television to watch the daily news briefing by my state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, who offers projections of a pandemic surge that he tells us is still more than two weeks nigh. He is charismatic and clear-spoken. He starts with the numbers, then offers his opinions, when he becomes visibly more emotional. His empathy has made him an overnight political and cultural lodestar. His words are not a vaccine, but they are something. They are a lot, actually.

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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.

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Two more Koreatown restaurants robbed during coronavirus shutdown

Koreatown restaurant Chef Kang Sul Box was burglarized on Monday by at least two people who took cash, credit cards, blank checks and car keys.

“People know right now that everyone is understaffed and there are no customers, so they could do this,” owner John Kang, 50, said.

Shortly after the robbery, Kang learned that his other restaurant, Shuto Izakaya, next door, had been burglarized earlier that day.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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Seniors receive thousands of masks for protection during coronavirus crisis

Face masks have been increasingly hard to come by during the coronavirus outbreak for both medical professionals and regular people alike, but a La Cañada-based group has stepped up to help provide the protective garment to senior citizens in the community.

The Chinese Club of La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta have begun distributing surgical masks to seniors, who are among the most at risk of becoming severely ill from the virus that causes COVID-19. The group has dubbed their efforts “Masks for Many.”

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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.

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‘Vivarium’ nails the feeling of social isolation. Its creators never expected it to feel so real

Lorcan Finnegan’s “Vivarium,” a fever dream about a suburban hellscape, offers a terrifying portrait of a young couple slowly unraveling under the crushing weight of social isolation.

The director had no idea how prescient the film would seem upon its release at the height of the global coronavirus outbreak, with shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders rendering neighborhoods across the globe eerily desolate.

“It’s very strange, very surreal and weirdly creepy,” said Finnegan by phone from Dublin. “I don’t know if it’s something we should capitalize on, but people have been messaging me saying that they loved it and the experience was more intense with what’s going on outside.”
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Watch live: Gov. Newsom provides California coronavirus update

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Ventura County makes dire prediction as coronavirus cases, deaths increase

Amid an increase in testing and the dire prediction of a massive death toll in Ventura County if measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus aren’t heeded, officials announced an increase in both the number of cases and victims.

Nearly 3,000 people have been tested for the coronavirus in the county, and 149 are confirmed to have contracted the illness. Twenty-three new cases were reported late Tuesday.

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Coronavirus recession now expected to be deeper and longer

As projections of the coronavirus death toll soar, forecasts for the ensuing economic carnage have also quickly turned much darker — both for the depth and the duration of the damage.

Whereas only days ago, economists were following President Trump’s lead in saying the U.S. economy would be back on track relatively quickly, a growing number now say the downturn will likely exceed the Great Recession of 2008-09.

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Iran, Venezuela and other U.S. foes fight coronavirus amid American sanctions

Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Islamic faction in Lebanon deemed a terrorist group by the U.S., has decades of experience fighting wars. But not the kind it launched this week.

Armed with red, yellow and green Hezbollah flags and face masks decorated with the same colors, thousands of doctors, nurses and medical technicians began mobilizing to battle a new adversary: the coronavirus.

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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.

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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.

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Seeking an eviction moratorium, protesters target Garcetti’s house

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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10 crime writers to read while under house arrest

During this week’s Los Angeles Times Book Club’s first-ever virtual meetup, authors Steph Cha and Joe Ide talked about their fictional heroes and noir stories.

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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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Enjoy culture while social distancing: 11 picks from L.A. Opera to Tessa Thompson

For a little culture while you shelter at home, we’re offering daily recommendations of streaming concerts, online musicals, virtual art exhibitions and more. Here are 11 picks for Wednesday, all times Pacific:

“Carmen”: For its new “From the Vault” series, Los Angeles Opera streams an audio-only recording of its 2017 staging of Bizet’s musical drama about a Spanish soldier who falls for a fiery and free-spirited woman, with tragic results. Soprano Ana Maria Martinez stars; James Conlon conducts. Available any time. Free at LA Opera.

“Nora Highland”: “Westworld” actress Tessa Thompson and “Ugly Betty” actor Michael Urie head the cast of a live benefit reading of Ryan Spahn’s comedy. 4 p.m. Wednesday. $5 and up at Play-Perview (requires the Zoom teleconference app, downloadable for free at Zoom).

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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?

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A K-pop star claimed he had coronavirus as an April Fools’ joke. But fans didn’t laugh

It turns out April Fools’ Day and a deadly pandemic don’t mix.

But that didn’t stop K-pop singer Jaejoong from tricking millions of fans with a tone-deaf coronavirus prank.

On Wednesday, Jaejoong of the band JYJ said on Instagram that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and apologized “to those who could have been infected because of me.”

“It was because I lived carelessly, disregarding all of the cautions provided by the government and those around me,” he wrote, according to a translation by the New York Times.

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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.

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‘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:

“OAN, please.”

At one recent briefing, Trump called on the outlet twice and elicited two versions of the same question — or statement.

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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.”

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Infants and children in the time of the pandemic

A mother and her newborn in a Wuhan, China, hospital on Feb. 21.
(Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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WHO is struggling against the pandemic and a divided world testing its authority

SINGAPORE — In a few awkward seconds, Bruce Aylward, a senior official at the World Health Organization, laid bare the flaws and pressures faced by the global health agency charged with leading the response to the worst pandemic in over a century.

A video that’s since gone viral shows the distinguished Canadian epidemiologist dodging a reporter’s question about why Taiwan is not a member of the WHO. Aylward twitches and blinks. He says he cannot hear the journalist. When she offers to repeat the question, he asks her to change the subject. When she persists, he hangs up on the video chat with a Skype chime thud.

Aylward is a veteran of the United Nations’ health agency, responsible for preventing millions of children from contracting polio and stanching the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. But the agency’s limitations were starkly sketched at the mention of Taiwan. An island nation of 24 million crucial to the fight against the coronavirus, Taiwan has been blocked from joining the WHO because China considers it a renegade province.

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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.

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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.”

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Comedians improvise, going from the stage to the web

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No building, no stage, no audience.

No problem.

Chris Garcia is a stand-up comedian. He’s been featured on “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” Comedy Central, NPR, “WTF With Marc Maron” and has released a stand-up album that has yet to result in a lawsuit from Paul McCartney.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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California may face 5,000 deaths a week if social distancing eases too soon, health official says

MILLBRAE, Calif. — California faces 5,000 coronavirus deaths a week if the state’s stay-at-home policies are relaxed too early, a health officer in the Bay Area said Tuesday.

“Some of the modeling is predicting — at the peak — up to 5,000 deaths a week throughout California,” Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for Contra Costa County, told his Board of Supervisors. That would mean 600 deaths a week from the disease known as COVID-19 in the central San Francisco Bay Area, and 100 to 200 deaths a week in Contra Costa County, he said.

“We are still hopeful we can avoid [this scenario] if we don’t relax our efforts to flatten the curve,” said Farnitano, who shared the possible epidemic outcomes on the same day that six Bay Area counties extended and strengthened the nation’s first coronavirus shelter-in-place order.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.