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Coronavirus updates: California releases limited breakdown on cases and fatalities by race

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

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

Coronavirus updates for April 7 are here

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Skelton: With coronavirus on their minds, California voters probably aren’t in the mood to raise taxes

Even before the coronavirus infected the economy and flattened many voters’ wallets, Californians were in a sour mood. In the March 3 primary, 61% of all local bond and tax measures failed.

Combine that fact with the current virus-induced economic coma, and it would seem to doom any November ballot proposition that seeks to raise taxes — or squeeze money out of anybody.

But wait a minute! There’s another way to look at the results of those local bond and tax measures. In truth, two-thirds of the proposals were supported by a majority of voters. Only one-third didn’t receive at least 50% of the vote.

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Ship at center of virus outbreak raided by Australian police

Police wearing protective gear boarded a cruise ship to seize evidence and question crew members of the vessel linked to hundreds of coronavirus infections and 15 deaths across Australia.

About 2,700 passengers disembarked from the ship on March 19 in Sydney and it has since become the largest source of coronavirus infections in Australia. More than 600 cases of COVID-19 and 15 deaths are linked the to the ship, the Ruby Princess.

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Feds’ stockpile for coronavirus response is exhausted, amid questions about how supplies were distributed

As the Trump administration depleted the national stockpile of medical supplies over the last month to fight the coronavirus, it sent hundreds of thousands of masks, respirators and other protective equipment to states with very small outbreaks, new records show.

That left medical workers in areas hit hardest by the pandemic, including New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Washington, hustling to find the supplies they needed with relatively little aid from the stockpile. Yet Hawaii, Montana and Nebraska, which each have had fewer than 500 recorded cases, each received more than 79,000 of the critically needed N95 masks.

The distribution of scarce medical equipment has emerged as a key point of controversy in the administration’s response, as states have been left to scramble on their own to get what they need. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services have refused to divulge details of what equipment was going to what states.

Government officials told The Times that FEMA and HHS considered the populations of states and major metropolitan areas as well as the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in determining how to allocate supplies.

“HHS has deployed personal protective equipment from the [Strategic National Stockpile] to areas in need in the most equitable way for a nationwide response,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “The supplies, medicines and devices for lifesaving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term, stopgap buffer.”

The new data — which were obtained and released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform — show that larger states and cities did, in fact, receive more material than other places, if far from enough.

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Worried about coronavirus isolation during Passover, L.A.'s Jews find ways to connect

Rabbi Nicole Guzik, her daughter, Annie Sherman, 8, son Henry Sherman, 4, middle, son Zachary Sherman, 6, and husband Rabbi Erez Sherman will be hosting a virtual seder for their community on the first night of Passover.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Erez Sherman and Nicole Guzik decided to place their iPhones by the window sill, where the cameras would overlook their family of five seated at the dining room table. The couple, both rabbis at Sinai Temple in Westwood, expected dozens of virtual guests at their first Passover Seder.

Their 8-year-old daughter had written a play and their 6-year-old son would make an appearance as Elijah the Prophet. They planned on incorporating the Sephardic Jewish traditions of other community members, like tapping seder-mates with scallions to emulate the lashes from Egyptian slave drivers.

While coronavirus social distancing mandates will separate families when Passover begins Wednesday evening, many in Los Angeles have found a way to connect with their community as they read the Haggadah, the Seder guide, and recount the story of how God freed the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

“It’s every generation’s responsibility to tell the story, so we can’t give up now,” said Sherman. “We should be telling it even stronger, with more intensity and more faith than ever… It’s the story of our people.”

As rabbinic authorities have urged households to maintain social distancing, the community has rushed to help those who will be observing the holiday alone or without their families. Rabbis have taught virtual classes for those who will lead a Seder for the first time. The Rabbinical Assembly, which represents Judaism’s Conservative movement, issued guidance to permit virtual Seders. Some senior Orthodox rabbis also approved video conferencing to unite separated families — a controversial decision opposed by other leaders in the movement.

Many have found deep meaning in the holiday this year. During the pandemic, Passover’s theme of moving from a time of darkness to light offers a powerful message of hope and redemption, as well as a reminder of the struggles overcome by previous generations.

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Officials impose more coronavirus restrictions for Easter: Parks closed, no drive-in church services

Officials in Southern California are stepping up coronavirus closures to enforce social distancing during the Easter holiday.

All public parks in Los Angeles County will be closed Easter Sunday to help contain the coronavirus, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced at a Wednesday evening news conference.

City and county beaches and trailheads have already been closed to visitors, but from Saturday night through Monday morning that closure will be expanded to hundreds of parks encompassing tens of thousands of acres of land in Southern California where Angelenos have traditionally gathered for Easter celebrations.

“I know your heart breaks…. This is such a great tradition for the many families we have,” Garcetti said. “But we can’t afford to have one cluster of even just a few people together spread this disease to more people and kill them.”

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California counties scrambling to find ventilators as Newsom sends 500 to other states fighting coronavirus

California Gov. Gavin Newsom writes down a note during a tour with Sridhar of the Bloom Energy Sunnyvale, Calif. on March 28.
(Beth LaBerge / Associated Press)

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to lend 500 state-owned ventilators to New York and other coronavirus hot spots outside the state caught some local California officials off guard, particularly in Riverside County where health officials have been scrambling to acquire the critically needed medical equipment.

Riverside County officials said the state recently denied their request for an additional 500 ventilators, even though the county expects demand for the breathing machines at county hospitals and medical centers to exceed the supply in less than three weeks.

Santa Clara County, another area hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, is offering a $1,000 bounty for each device it receives and has ordered companies with the devices to report their inventory to the county.

“I understand and respect what the governor is doing. But are we going to be able to get the assistance that we’re going to need in a week or two weeks out?” Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries said Wednesday. “I think we were all a little surprised. We’re all trying to prepare so we’re not like New York.”

Newsom on Monday said the state was able to lend the 500 ventilators to other states because California currently had an excess supply of the devices and those areas were in desperate need.

Hospitals throughout California have procured thousands of ventilators in the last few weeks, increasing their total inventory from 7,587 to 11,036. Another 1,000 refurbished ventilators are expected to become available in coming days and weeks, the governor said.

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Why are eggs getting so expensive? Blame coronavirus demand

The poultry industry often injects eggs with antibiotics while vaccinating them because small holes in the shell can expose the eggs to pathogens.
The poultry industry often injects eggs with antibiotics while vaccinating them because small holes in the shell can expose the eggs to pathogens.
(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

As stay-at-home orders swept across the country, shoppers rushed to grocery stores and stocked up on staples, among them eggs. This spike in demand has boosted egg prices, both nationally and especially in California, and likely will for some time.

On March 2, the Urner Barry wholesale benchmark for a dozen, conventional California shell eggs was $1.55. By March 27, the benchmark rose to $3.66, where it remained for several days before decreasing slightly to $3.26, as of Friday.

That means higher costs for retailers — and also shoppers. In the last three weeks, grocers’ egg costs increased 57%, said Dave Heylen, spokesman for the California Grocers Assn. trade group, which represents more than 80% of the state’s retail grocery stores. A bit of relief came last week, when those costs dropped about 8%.

Northgate González Market is paying more to get eggs on its shelves, up anywhere from 20% to 35%, said Mike Hendry, executive vice president of marketing and merchandising.

He described it as “one of the largest increases we’ve seen in quite a while.”

The chain opted to reduce its margins, passing on only a portion of that cost to shoppers, Hendry said. On Tuesday, the chain decreased its retail egg prices by $1 ahead of an anticipated supplier price reduction.

Agricultural experts describe the price increase as a lesson in supply and demand. There’s only a fixed number of eggs available on any given day — you can’t squeeze an unlimited number of eggs out of a chicken, and it can take months to buy more hens and build more coops for them. In the meantime, shoppers are clamoring for extra cartons as they aim to limit grocery runs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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With coronavirus Easter, chocolate bunnies now wear masks

This Easter some chocolate bunnies are practicing good public health behavior by wearing (white chocolate) masks. And they’re in demand, as the world prepares to celebrate the Christian holiday on Sunday in isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tiny Bohnenblust Bakery in Bern, Switzerland, decided to embrace the times we live in. Candy makers created coronavirus-ready chocolate bunnies that sold out quickly. Red hearts adorn the tip of the masks on the army of sweet figures.

“We are a small bakery, with only four people working in the chocolate manufacture,” co-owner Ruth Huber wrote in an email.

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Second SoFi Stadium worker tests positive for COVID-19

Construction work continues on March 19 at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood where the Rams and Chargers are set to play.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A second construction worker at the SoFi Stadium development in Inglewood has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an internal email by the joint venture overseeing the project. Mandatory temperature checks are being instituted for workers on site.

The email, sent Tuesday by Turner-AECOM Hunt and reviewed by The Times, said the person last worked March 29 on two parking lots at the 298-acre project.

“The worker was located in an isolated area outside the building performing backfill operations in Parking Lots F & G,” the email said. “The individual had not at any time entered the building or used any of its common areas.”

The worker is “receiving care and recovering,” according to the email. Co-workers who had “close contact” with the worker are in self-quarantine and equipment and facilities the worker used are being disinfected.

“PLEASE NOTE,” one sentence of the email said, using all capital letters, “THE PROJECT REMAINS OPEN TO WORK WITHOUT RESTRICTION.”

A spokesman for the joint venture didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Coronavirus school closures stress out parents and students, survey finds

Parents across California are more stressed than usual, and school — or lack thereof — is a major source, according to a statewide survey of 1,200 public school parents commissioned by a nonprofit research and advocacy group.

Most parents gave their schools and districts credit for short-term crisis planning, but worry about their kids falling behind academically. The same equity issues long entrenched in California education remain so during the pandemic, said Elisha Smith Arrillaga, executive director of Education Trust-West, which sponsored the survey conducted by the research firm Global Strategy Group from March 26 to April 1.

According to the poll, 89% of parents are concerned about ensuring their children do not fall behind academically during school closures, and 79% are worried about their children’s mental well-being while at home. The poll showed that 80% of parents said their own stress is higher or much higher than usual, and 49% reported that their children’s stress was higher than usual.
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Here is the latest list of Orange County communities with coronavirus cases

Orange County reached a grim milestone Wednesday as officials disclosed that the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the area had surpassed 1,000.

Countywide, there have been 1,016 confirmed COVID-19 cases — 91 of which were reported Wednesday.

The Orange County Health Care Agency also announced two additional fatalities in its latest update, bringing the death toll to 17.

As of Wednesday, 99 people were hospitalized, 59 of them in intensive care, health officials say.
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Orange County coronavirus deaths grow to 17 as cases top 1,000

Orange County now has more than 1,000 confirmed coronavirus infections, as health officials reported one of the region’s largest single-day increases in confirmed cases.

Along with 91 new COVID-19 cases — for a total of 1,016 — the Orange County Health Care Agency also announced two additional coronavirus-related deaths Wednesday, bringing the county’s toll to 17.

One of the new victims was at least 65 years old, and the other was between the age of 45 and 64, county figures show.
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Food stamp recipients can purchase food online, government says

California on Wednesday received federal approval to allow food stamp recipients to purchase food online to avoid the risk of exposure to COVID-19 when going to the grocery store. The state hopes to have the new program in place in late April.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said he approved requests from California and Arizona to participate in a pilot program that allows online food purchases from government-approved businesses for people in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. Six other states, including New York and Oregon, had previously been approved for the test program.

“Enabling people to purchase foods online will go a long way in helping Americans follow CDC social distancing guidelines and help slow the spread of the coronavirus,” Perdue said in a statement.

Calfresh, the state’s SNAP program, serves more than 4 million people, with new applications coming in at record levels as people have lost income and jobs during the lockdown ordered by the state in response to COVID-19.

Under the program, Calfresh recipients will be able to use their EBT cards to buy food online from Amazon and Walmart, while the state is hoping to expand the list of approved retailers in the future.

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When will California stay-at-home order end? Newsom says still too early to tell

Gov. Gavin Newsom repeated Wednesday that the duration of the coronavirus stay-at-home order is dependent on whether Californians continue to follow it and wear appropriate face coverings if they go out.

The governor said the state plans to expand testing, including serology tests and community surveillance testing, to better understand when “we get back to a new normalcy.”

“We have a team of people working on this 24/7,” Newsom said. “There’s no question on this that we haven’t asked ourselves on dozens and dozens of occasions. Everybody, not least of which myself as governor of the state of California, wants us to be able to affirmatively answer that question by giving you a specific date and time and in detail telling you how people are going to go back to work, back into their community.”
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Coronavirus becomes a weapon of disinformation in Middle East battle for influence

The coronavirus had struck the emir of Qatar, said one bogus headline. His wife was infected too, claimed another. Authorities in Qatar, one online video indicated, were to blame for allowing “Turks and Iranians to bring corona to its lands.”

Such stories have appeared in wide-scale and well-funded disinformation campaigns in the Middle East, officials, data experts and analysts say, and have remained aggressive during the COVID-19 outbreak. Several have even intensified, leveraging the pandemic to settle scores in the Middle East’s rivalries.

“It’s as if the virus is a mark of shame on countries struggling with the disease. Or there’s an attempt to improve the image of a certain side, crediting them with false capabilities to cure corona,” Omar Fares, an editor at Misbar, an Arab fact-checking platform, said in a phone interview Tuesday.
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‘An existential crisis’: Poll finds widespread fear of coronavirus in L.A.

A new poll of Angelenos reflects the region’s unnerving descent into sudden urban desolation as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.

Overwhelming numbers of Los Angeles County residents express deep anxiety about contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and are worried about the financial costs of staying at home, according to the poll by researchers at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs that was released Wednesday.

Overall, 78% of county residents surveyed told researchers they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that they or a family member might catch the virus, which has infected more than 6,000 in the county and slowed economic activity in a region home to 10 million people to a crawl.

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A virologist answers the coronavirus questions you are too embarrassed to ask

What’s safe and what isn’t these days?

With coronavirus, it’s hard to know. But an expert on viruses has some insights. We posed a selection of burning questions from our readers to Paula Cannon, a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Keck School of Medicine at USC.

Is it safe to have my windows open? Is it safe to get takeout or delivery? Do I need to disinfect all my groceries? Is it safe to have sex with my partner or with a person I met on Tinder? Where should I be wearing masks or gloves? Should I be gargling hydrogen peroxide or taking colloidal silver to fight the virus? What kind of face covering is best, and when should I be wearing one?

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Judge says R. Kelly must remain locked up amid coronavirus crisis

A federal judge in New York on Tuesday denied R&B singer R. Kelly’s request for release from jail in Chicago. The singer’s lawyers had argued for release based on concern about contracting the coronavirus behind bars.

“The defendant is currently in custody because of the risks that he will flee or attempt to obstruct, threaten or intimidate prospective witnesses,” U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly of Brooklyn wrote in her denial. “The defendant has not explained how those risks have changed.”

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L.A. Community College District employee dies from COVID-19

An employee of the Los Angeles Community College District died Wednesday morning from complications of COVID-19, Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez announced in an email to district colleagues.

The employee, who had worked in the district’s information technology office for more than 15 years, was hospitalized March 29 after exhibiting symptoms of the disease caused by the coronavirus. The employee “was very well-respected,” Rodriguez said in the email. The district is not releasing the person’s name to maintain privacy and out of respect for the family.

Other employees who may have come in contact with the employee before the individual’s hospitalization have been notified.

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Ready to restart sports? Medical experts say, not so fast

Football has been on Larry Chang’s mind the last few days. He cannot help thinking about his Baltimore Ravens and the return of games this fall.

“I’m a huge NFL fan,” he said, musing about the team’s star quarterback. “I want to see Lamar Jackson back on the field.”

But as an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in the city where the Ravens play, Chang asks an important question: “Is that realistic?”

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California releases limited racial breakdown of coronavirus patients and deaths

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday presented a partial breakdown of coronavirus deaths by race.

The governor emphasized the breakdown was based on limited data, which has been an issue across the state because many reports of new cases and deaths don’t include racial identifiers.

With about 37% of patients identified by race, here is a breakdown of infections statewide:

Latino 30%
Asian 14%
Black 6%

Here is a breakdown of deaths on which the state had racial data:

Latino 29%
Asian 16%
Black 3%

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The internet says you should use soap to clean your groceries. Don’t listen

According to the CDC, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.

Given the continued uncertainty and anxiety around the coronavirus, the natural response is a desire to protect ourselves in every possible way. For many, that has meant washing produce with dish soap, antibacterial wipes, disinfecting sprays and other household cleaners.

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Amid coronavirus outbreak, California property taxes are still due. Here’s how to get help

More than a million Californians are recently unemployed. Others have seen their hours slashed, the revenue of their businesses evaporate.

While the coronavirus pandemic has hammered the economy, bills are still coming due. A major one for homeowners, landlords and businesses is property tax, which funds government services that are in high demand during a pandemic and, if left unpaid, can rack up large fines.

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An animation buff picks 15 cartoons to watch if you miss life before quarantine

From slice-of-life comedies to post-apocalyptic fantasies, cartoons always seem a bit magical: They’re drawings brought to life. And the touch of magic that allows us to fall into these animated worlds is especially comforting during a global pandemic, when uncertainty has become a part of our everyday routines.

Thankfully, peak TV means there’s no shortage of television, including animation, to help us pass the time and stay distracted as we continue to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible.

This list is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to the medium, but if you are looking to add titles to your queue, here are 15 animated series to consider.

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Allen Garfield, ‘Nashville’ and ‘Conversation’ star, dies of COVID-19 complications

Allen Garfield, a veteran character actor who was a vital player in classic 1970s films including “The Conversation” and “Nashville,” has died at a rest home in Los Angeles of complications from COVID-19.

Garfield’s sister, Lois Goorwitz, said he died Tuesday at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, the industry retirement facility where several staffers and some residents have tested positive for the virus. The actor was 80.

The Newark, N.J.-born Garfield first set out as a boxer and a sportswriter. While covering sports for New Jersey’s Star-Ledger, he studied acting at night and eventually joined the Actors Studio. There, he studied under Lee Strasberg.
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Column: The virus has already flattened one thing — the line between work and family

Remember BBC Dad? You know, Robert E. Kelly, that poli-sci professor in South Korea who in 2017 was being interviewed remotely about the impeachment of then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye when his adorable 4-year-old daughter marched into his office with her baby brother hilariously rolling behind her?

Remember how stricken their mother, Jung-a Kim, looked as she dashed in to haul them out? Remember how the video dominated news cycles for days, briefly sparking conversations about balancing work and family? Nevertheless, since in this country conversations about the difficulty of balancing work and family are ongoing and thus far fairly fruitless, BBC Dad was seen by most as a blooper supreme that made everyone on the planet laugh.

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What to do after the outbreak takes away your job

Dear Liz: I’m a single mom who just lost my job because of COVID-19. I have a mortgage, a car payment, credit card debt and a child who is headed to college in the fall. What do I do? I am very scared.

Answer: This is a very scary time. Your job now is to identify and use all the resources that may help you. You’ll need to be patient and persistent, since millions of people are in the same boat.

Your first task could be among the hardest: applying for unemployment benefits. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, signed into law on March 27, expanded unemployment relief to include the self-employed (including contract and gig workers), people who work part time, and those whose hours were reduced because of the pandemic.

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Column: The next stimulus bill must fix all the problems of the last one

Even as Congress was debating its third coronavirus rescue plan -- the $2-trillion CARES Act eventually signed by President Trump on March 27 -- it was assumed that a follow-up measure would be necessary to forestall an extended economic downturn.

The moment to assemble that measure is now upon us, with the House reconvening Thursday in a continued atmosphere of national crisis. That makes the question of what should be in the bill especially urgent.

1. Get more money out ... The first imperative is to ensure that there is sufficient federal assistance to meet the needs of furloughed and laid-off workers, employers, and creditors such as landlords.
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With ventilators in short supply, here are some alternatives

With the coronavirus still spreading and cases of COVID-19 still mounting, mechanical ventilators are in notoriously short supply. That has physicians scrambling to find alternatives for patients so weakened by the respiratory disease that they can no longer breathe without assistance.

It won’t be easy.

The modern mechanical ventilator has been a workhorse in hospital intensive care units since the 1950s, when better breathing assistance was needed for the most stricken polio patients. The machines mimic the act of breathing by pushing oxygen-rich air into the lungs and removing carbon dioxide through a separate tube.
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Stay-at-home duration depends on how Californians comply, Gov. Newsom says

Gov. Gavin Newsom repeated Wednesday that the duration of the stay-at-home order depended on whether Californians continued to follow it and wear appropriate face coverings when going out.

The governor said the state was expanding testing, including serology tests and community surveillance testing, to better understand when we will “get back to a new normalcy.”

“We have a team of people working on this 24/7,” Newsom said. “There’s no question on this that we haven’t asked ourselves on dozens and dozens of occasions. Everybody, not least of which myself as governor of the state of California, wants us to be able to affirmatively answer that question by giving you a specific date and time and in detail telling you how people are going to go back to work, back into their community.”

Newsom says the “curve is bending” in California, but he warned people to remain at home and not be tempted to break the order on Easter Sunday and as the weather gets sunnier.

As of Wednesday, 16,957 people have tested positive for COVID-19, Newsom said. Hospitalizations from the virus increased 3.9% to 2,714 in the last day, including a 4.2% bump in patients receiving intensive care. Newsom said 442 people had died from the virus in California.

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Riverside nursing home evacuates patients

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New York state’s deaths now more than double 9/11 fatalities

New York reached a grim new milestone Wednesday in the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting 779 new deaths, the state’s highest number yet for a single day.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the state’s flags lowered to half-staff as the confirmed death toll there reached 6,268, more than double the fatalities in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

“It is breathtaking,” Cuomo said.

Nationwide, health authorities have confirmed nearly 13,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to John Hopkins University.

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Snow day? No way. Restrictions bar outdoor play after storm blankets mountains

Residents in the Southern California mountains awoke to a blanket of fresh snowfall on Wednesday, but thanks to restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, a would-be snow day was quashed by health officials.

A slow-moving storm has unleashed steady precipitation over the last two days, drenching urban areas with rain and covering the mountains with powder. Mountain High Resort reported that 20 inches of snow had fallen in the last 24 hours, and Big Bear Mountain Resort saw 8 to 12 inches of new snow overnight.

But the snowfall was bittersweet, as many mountain recreation, skiing and snow play areas are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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‘An existential crisis’: Poll finds widespread fear in L.A.

A new poll of Angelenos reflects the region’s unnerving descent into sudden urban desolation as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.

Overwhelming numbers of Los Angeles County residents express deep anxiety about contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and are worried about the financial costs of staying at home, according to the poll by researchers at the UCLA School of Public Affairs.

Overall, 78% of county residents surveyed told researchers they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that they or a family member might catch the virus, which has infected more than 6,000 in the county and slowed economic activity in a region home to 10 million people to a crawl.

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New York, New Jersey sees record deaths

New York suffered another day of record fatalities from the coronavirus outbreak, reporting 779 additional deaths even as hospitalizations declined.

“The number of deaths will continue to rise as those hospitalized for a period of time pass away,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday at his daily virus briefing.

The state has lost more than 1,500 people to the virus in the last two days, for a total of almost 6,300. Despite the rising death toll, Cuomo said the state’s social-distancing rules and other measures were working.

New Jersey reported a second day of record new deaths from COVID-19 and a tapering of infections.

Cases rose by 7% to 47,437, the fourth straight day of increases of 10% or less. In the last two weeks of March, New Jersey saw daily increases from 20% to 82%.

Gov. Phil Murphy reported 275 new fatalities since Tuesday, the biggest one-day increase since the crisis began.

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After Trump blasts WHO, organization says the world must pull together

The coronavirus crisis will escalate if countries don’t start showing more solidarity, the head of the World Health Organization said, urging the U.S. and China to show “honest leadership” and stop bickering.

“If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing in Geneva Wednesday. “No using COVID-19 to score political points.”

When asked about President Trump’s threat to cut funding and his claim that the WHO favors China, Tedros said the organization tried to treat everyone equally and that it would conduct an assessment of its successes and failures.

He urged the U.S., China, Group of 20 countries and the rest of the world to come together and fight.

“For God’s sake, we have lost more than 60,000 citizens of the world,” he said. “Even one person is precious.”

Tedros revealed he had been receiving racist insults and death threats.

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Amid the crisis, Creative Artists Agency cuts pay

Creative Artists Agency said Wednesday it was implementing salary cuts as the entertainment industry continued to reel from effects of the novel coronavirus.

The Century City business said the pay reductions would be up to 50% of an employee’s compensation, with the higher earners taking the deepest cuts.

CAA President Richard Lovett, as well as Co-Chairmen Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane, will take no salary for the rest of the year, the company said.

The company, which employs more than 2,000 people, did not announce layoffs.

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California prisons on soft lockdown; prison nurses must work overtime, or else

California has launched a 14-day statewide soft lockdown in its prisons amid the coronavirus and told exhausted prison nurses that if they’re ordered to work 16-hour shifts, they must comply or face reprisal.

Inmates will be fed in their cells but still given access to prison services, exercise yards, supply canteens and phone calls within their own housing groups, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Tuesday.

“For the next 14 days,” department chief Ralph Diaz said in a prepared statement, “there are going to be a lot of changes within our institutions, but we do it with the overall health and safety of all those who live and work in them, and the health and safety of the public, at the forefront.”

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Hollywood Burbank Airport consolidates to a single terminal

Hollywood Burbank Airport is consolidating operations to a single terminal as travelers hit pause on their plans and stay at home because of the pandemic.

In an announcement made on Twitter on Tuesday evening, airport officials said all departures and arrivals would now take place from Terminal A beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.

Ticket-counter and baggage services, as well as security screenings, have also been moved to Terminal A as part of the effort.

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Britney Spears, the comforting celebrity voice we need?

If your loneliness is killing you during the coronavirus shut-in, look no further for a pick-me-up than Britney Spears’ Instagram account, which has been active, entertaining and as chaotic as ever throughout the public health emergency.

The “Oops ... I Did It Again” hitmaker’s recent posts have social media hailing her as everything from the “queen of hygiene” and “queen of quarantine” to the “queen of charity” and “queen of communism.” That’s how scattered the pop star’s pandemic response has been.

Last month, for example, Spears filmed a video of herself vowing to do a different yoga pose on Instagram every day “to inspire others to stay healthy and sane.” That wellness crusade lasted for about two days before she moved on to her next approach: giving back.
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A member of the nursing staff at L.A. County jails who died last week had COVID-19

A member of the nursing staff at the Los Angeles County jails who died last week tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.

The employee, who was not identified, had been off work for awhile, said Jackie Clark, the county’s correctional health director. It’s unclear how or when the employee fell ill. Clark said she notified the jail staff late last week of the test results.

As of Wednesday morning, four inmates had tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Of those, one had fully recovered. Fourteen inmates, including the three others who tested positive, were in isolation because they had a fever or symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.

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How to help local food banks get needed supplies during the pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc, food banks and pantries around Southern California are ramping up efforts to distribute large quantities of food to those who have lost jobs or income while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which distributes food to about 600 agencies across the region, has seen a 49% increase in food distributed for each of the last two weeks compared with last year, said Chief Executive Michael Flood. Their food distribution last month set a new record.

The Salvation Army, which runs about 40 food pantries, has seen demand for food double since January.

“This is a disaster without edges,” said John Chamness, the divisional commander for the Salvation Army’s Southern California branch. “This is a disaster where you don’t know where it’s going to end.”

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Santa Clara asks individuals, businesses to report large PPE inventories

Santa Clara County issued an order Wednesday asking individuals and businesses to report large inventories of personal protective equipment and ventilators in anticipation of a forthcoming shortage as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise.

The county currently has a sufficient supply of equipment, but officials are preparing for an immediate need for more supplies beyond what state and federal government may be able to provide in the future.

The order comes one day after the county confirmed 1,380 COVID-19 cases and 46 deaths. “The intent is to ensure we have comprehensive collective information about what PPE exists across the community,”public health department director Dr. Sara Cody said. Officials anticipate that most individuals would not need to report any equipment. Information on those who do will remain confidential, county counsel James Williams said. Individuals and businesses that have more than a minimum supply of equipment are expected to report to the county by April 15. That includes anyone with:
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California nursing home patients are moved after employees skip shifts

Nearly 100 residents are being removed from a skilled nursing facility in Riverside County after more than a dozen employees missed two consecutive days of work, according to county officials.

The 84 patients at the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center will be moved to other locations throughout the county.

The Riverside University Health System and Kaiser Permanente sent 33 licensed vocational nurses and registered nurses to care for the residents at the facility when 13 employees didn’t show up for work, officials said.

“Staffing demands, however, require the patients be moved today,” officials said Wednesday morning.

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Virus may spread twice as fast than earlier thought, study says

The new coronavirus raced through China much faster than previously thought, a U.S. research team said, suggesting that extremely widespread vaccination or immunity will be necessary to end the pandemic.

Each person infected early in the epidemic in Wuhan probably passed the virus to an average of 5.7 other people, according to a mathematical analysis from Los Alamos National Laboratory. That’s more than twice what the World Health Organization and other public health authorities reported in February.

The team’s results are specific to the Chinese outbreak. If they hold true elsewhere in the world, the pandemic may be more difficult to control than some authorities have modeled.

At the rate of spread calculated in the study, some 82% of the population would need to be immune, either via a vaccine or because they already had the disease, to stop the virus from spreading, the Los Alamos team said. Without such protection, high levels of social distancing will be needed if more than one out of five infectious people is undiagnosed, the authors said.

Governments around the world are trying to figure out when and how to emerge from weeks of lockdown, even as some parts of China renew restrictions after a fresh flare-up. Nearly 1.5 million people have tested positive globally, including a number of recent cases in China with none of the typical symptoms of COVID-19.

“To think we’re close to an endpoint would be dangerous,” Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, said at a briefing Wednesday. The WHO has said a renewed push to test patients, isolate them and trace their close contacts will be needed as countries gradually loosen restrictions on public life.

The Los Alamos report, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, used mobile phone travel data and case reports of coronavirus outside the early epicenter in China’s Hubei province to calculate its spread. The decline in newly confirmed cases in China and South Korea in March shows it can be contained, the report said.

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More than 286 sailors on the Theodore Roosevelt test positive

WASHINGTON — The Navy says the number of sailors on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has increased to 286.

The number has been steadily growing since the ship docked in Guam after an outbreak of the virus was discovered.

The Navy said nearly all of the crew had been tested for the virus. But they are still awaiting the results of some of the tests. Crew members who test negative are being sent ashore for quarantine.

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Britain’s Boris Johnson is improving; U.K. death rate increases

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s condition was improving in the hospital where he’s been in critical care for two nights. Meanwhile, a record number of daily deaths related to the coronavirus were reported in the U.K.

“The latest from the hospital is that the prime minister remains in intensive care ,where his condition is improving,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said in a televised news conference Wednesday. “He’s been sitting up and engaging positively with the clinical team.”

Johnson was taken into St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday and moved to the critical care unit on Monday after struggling to shake off virus symptoms, including a cough and a fever. He has been receiving standard treatment with oxygen and has not needed a ventilator, the premier’s spokesman James Slack earlier told reporters in London.

The national picture, however, is bleaker, with a record 938 people dying of the virus in the 24 hours to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, bringing the U.K. toll to 7,097, the Department for Health said. Johnson put the country into lockdown on March 23, and an extension is now likely when the restrictions are due for review on Monday, people familiar with the matter said.

There’s not enough evidence yet to justify relaxing the restrictions, though discussions are ongoing and no formal decision has yet been made, according to the officials, who asked not to be named because the plans are private.

Although Johnson is “in good spirits,” he is not working, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is now in charge of the government in all areas.

“He has the ability to contact those that he needs to,” Slack said. “He is following the advice of his doctors at all times.”

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The virus is changing the way the world feeds itself

SINGAPORE — In the dozen years since Lucas Papierniak first scouted Bali, Indonesia, for its tuna fishing, the seafood supplier has built a thriving business shipping poke cubes to hundreds of restaurants and sashimi-grade yellowfin to high-end sushi bars in Los Angeles and New York.

But almost immediately after lockdowns were announced last month to slow the spread of the coronavirus, orders for his fish came to a stop. One East Coast customer canceled a purchase of two 45,000-pound containers of poke cubes valued at about half a million dollars.

“Business just died,” said Papierniak, whose company is based in Hawaii. “We had to figure out how to keep paying our fishermen.”

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Wells Fargo gets relief from federal cap on its assets to provide aid to small businesses

Wells Fargo & Co. is getting a break from the Federal Reserve’s order capping its assets, freeing up hundreds of billions of dollars in lending power.

The Fed announced Wednesday that it would “temporarily and narrowly modify” the restriction so Wells Fargo could expand its lending to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program and the Fed’s upcoming Main Street Lending Program. Growth of the San Francisco-based lender’s balance sheet related to these programs will not count against the asset cap.

“The change today provides additional support to small businesses hurt by the economic effects of the coronavirus by allowing activities from the PPP and the Main Street Lending Program to not count against the cap,” the Fed said in a statement Wednesday. The Fed is requiring Wells Fargo to transfer benefits from these programs to the Treasury or approved nonprofits to support small businesses.

The nation’s fourth-largest bank previously approached the Fed about easing the unprecedented penalty as the coronavirus pandemic weakened the economy. The order, imposed in February 2018, restricts the bank from increasing assets beyond their year-end 2017 level until it enacts reforms to the regulator’s satisfaction.

Earlier this week, the firm pressed its case with a statement saying the asset cap prevented it from meeting demand from small businesses under the government’s stimulus plan.

The Fed cap is among the sanctions levied upon the bank for a series of consumer-abuse scandals that started coming to light in 2016 with the revelation that bank employees might have opened millions of accounts without customer permission to meet sales targets. As of the end of March, Fed officials were still reluctant to ease or lift the order because they determined Wells Fargo hadn’t made adequate reforms.

The company is a leading lender to small and midsize U.S. companies, homebuyers and commercial-property investors. Last month, Bloomberg calculated that Wells Fargo had capacity for an additional $384 billion in lending based on its capital at the end of 2019 — the most firepower among the nation’s eight largest lenders.

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Pandemic or not, the party must go on

Socorro Majarro Duran celebrates her 91st birthday, with son Guillermo Mojarro.
Socorro Majarro Duran celebrates her 91st birthday on Monday in Alhambra. Her son Guillermo Mojarro holds her birthday cake while Socorro’s family drives past.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The family blew kisses to Socorro Mojjaro Duran on her 91st birthday and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. Same as every year.

Her great-granddaughter, who also was celebrating her birthday — her fifth — dressed up in a princess costume.

Only this time, it was from a caravan of cars traveling down a residential street in Alhambra.

Social distancing has restricted normal gatherings and celebrations in the age of the coronavirus, so we thought we would show you a few creative workarounds.

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World cruise ended abruptly. Now the ship is hoping to dock in L.A.

The Pacific Princess cruise ship and its 115 passengers are heading for Los Angeles in hopes of docking at the San Pedro port on April 24, according to the cruise line. Princess says no one has been tested for COVID-19 because none of the passengers has shown symptoms.

The ship left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 5 for a 111-day world cruise that was cut short in mid-March after the company curtailed sailings because of coronavirus outbreaks aboard ships. It sailed to Aruba, the Panama Canal, Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, Los Angeles, Hawaii and French Polynesia and then to New Zealand before the order to return to port.

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Black people are disproportionately hit hard. L.A. County is taking action

Los Angeles County’s public health department will partner with a local private nonprofit university to expand testing access to South L.A. residents and analyze demographic data to better determine how diverse communities are being affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

A coronavirus mobile testing site will open Wednesday at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science to serve residents in Willowbrook, South Los Angeles and surrounding neighborhoods.

The university will also begin working with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to collect and analyze demographic data, including information on ethnicity and ZIP Code in relation to the number of tests performed, test results, hospitalization and fatality rates.

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Glimmers of optimism in California about bending the curve

California officials are offering glimmers of optimism that the state is seeing progress in its fight against the coronavirus, even as people continue dying.

California has not seen the death toll of hot spots such as New York, where more than 4,000 have died. California has recorded more 450 deaths and more than 17,000 confirmed cases. And while the virus continues to spread rapidly in some places, including Los Angeles County, there are signs that its rate of growth is slowing in parts of the Bay Area.

Officials say the state’s strict stay-at-home rules are making a difference. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday offered a “sense of optimism” to Californians about bending the coronavirus curve.

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A small Georgia hospital battles one of the nation’s most intense outbreaks

Before Mandy Hall lined up to have her temperature taken, don a surgical mask and step through the glass doors of the hospital, she recited a line from the Old Testament.

Perhaps this is the moment for which you were created.

It was not yet 7 a.m., and the small emergency room was already crammed with dozens of COVID-19 patients struggling to breathe.

Ambulances were pulling up into the emergency bay as the 47-year-old front-line nurse and director of emergency services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital put on freshly laundered Caribbean blue scrubs, fit a N95 mask under her surgical mask and huddled with staff to prepare for the coming onslaught.

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Stocks rise amid stimulus hopes, reopening speculation

U.S. stocks rose on optimism about another possible round of stimulus and an eventual move toward reopening the economy. The dollar trimmed a gain and Treasuries yield rose.

The benchmark S&P 500 Index gained as much as 1.4% a day after surrendering its biggest gain since Oct 17, 2008. Overnight, the White House was said to be developing plans to get the U.S. economy back in action. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell after euro-area finance chiefs failed to agree on a $540-billion economic package to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Oil rose as investors weighed whether output cuts being discussed by the world’s top producers would be enough to offset the drop in demand wrought by the coronavirus.

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I’m WFH. All of my coworkers are plants. Things are starting to get weird

When your coworkers are plants. (Laura Mishkin / For The Times)

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New data suggest U.S. deaths may be lower than feared

WASHINGTON — Public health experts say information about the spread of the novel coronavirus through Texas and Florida in the next few days could be crucial in predicting how many Americans are likely to die from the pandemic.

The apparent effects of social distancing in three major hot spots — Italy, New York and California — have given scientists hope that the U.S. death toll could be lower than White House projections of 100,000 to 240,000, which were based on a combination of models that administration officials have not fully explained.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which last week projected more than 90,000 American deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, lowered its estimate on Wednesday to 60,415 deaths in the period until Aug. 4.

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California won’t be lifting stay-at-home rules anytime soon. Here’s why

SAN FRANCISCO — Even as California sees glimmers of hope amid the coronavirus outbreak, authorities warn that the Golden State won’t be getting back to normal anytime soon.

Officials expect months more of some social distancing policies and warn that lifting the strict rules too early could worsen the health crisis.

The public should realize that coronavirus cases are likely to rise when stay-at-home orders are eased, officials said.

“There will definitely be individuals who will get sick. And because there are individuals who get sick, there will be individuals who die after the order is released, unless we come up with a foolproof immunization, which is highly unlikely,” said Dr. Jeffrey Smith, Santa Clara County executive officer.

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Puerto Rico wants a flight ban from U.S. hot spots

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor is asking federal officials to ban all flights from U.S. cities with a high number of coronavirus cases to help prevent the spread in the U.S. territory.

The petition by Gov. Wanda Vázquez to the Federal Aviation Administration comes as officials accuse some visitors of taking medicine to lower their fevers to avoid being placed in quarantine. National Guard members screen people at the island’s main international airport.

The National Guard has said at least two passengers from New York who lowered their fever with medication are now hospitalized on the island with COVID-19.

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Mayor Garcetti loosens L.A. requirements for paid leave

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday night that he was exempting a range of businesses from recently passed rules mandating more paid leave for workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Los Angeles City Council voted last month to bolster paid leave for workers at big companies — those with 500 or more employees nationwide — requiring them to provide an additional 80 hours of leave. The move was intended to stop people who were especially vulnerable or suffering symptoms from continuing to go to work during the coronavirus crisis.

Garcetti praised the council for moving swiftly to help Angelenos but said that changes were needed to avoid putting some businesses at risk.

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U.S., U.K. warn of cyberattacks using the pandemic as a lure

WASHINGTON — U.S. and U.K. security agencies have issued a joint warning about cyberattacks that use the coronavirus outbreak as a lure.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Britain’s National Cyber Security Center say criminals and what they call “persistent threat” groups are attempting to transmit ransomware and malware that are tied to the COVID-19 outbreak.

One example is emails that purport to come from the World Health Organization. Others are phishing attempts that appear to come from Microsoft or other tech companies whose remote tools are often used by people working from home.

The statement says the agencies have not detected an overall increase in cybercrime. But they have noted a growing use of malicious threats involving COVID-19-related themes.

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What you need to know about L.A.'s mandatory mask rules

Effective Friday, Los Angeles residents must wear a mask, bandanna or other type of covering over their noses and mouths when in grocery stores and other essential businesses under an order from Mayor Eric Garcetti. Workers at many businesses also must cover their faces.

It’s the latest step to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It’s designed to protect employees and customers.

Here are the details:

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The outbreak closed your local art-house movie theater. Can streaming help save it?

Before the coronavirus shut down the movie industry in mid-March, the biggest threat to art-house cinemas was people watching movies through streaming services and video-on-demand sites instead of going to their local theater.

But with revenue and concession sales reduced to zero for the foreseeable future, some small theaters have resorted to a surprisingly tech-savvy tactic: showing movies online.

Logan Crow, founder of the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, is one of dozens of indie cinema owners who have partnered with studios and distributors to create “virtual cinemas” that allow patrons to pay to watch certain movies on the web while audiences are stuck at home. Best of all, the nonprofit Frida gets a cut of the revenue.

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Refund for a vacation stay that didn’t happen? Never, rarely, sometimes, always

If you cancel a travel-related reservation because of a pandemic, shouldn’t you get your money back?

It’s an easy and logical question to ask, but it’s exquisitely hard to answer in this time of the coronavirus.

Or is it?

Let’s look at two vacation rental organizations that faced these hard questions as the world was becoming the equivalent of a slow-motion train wreck.

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Ways to make the most of Easter in isolation

This year, COVID-19 prevents us from gathering Sunday for church services or around the table for Easter brunch or dinner. And if the Easter Bunny hopped into our backyard to join the family Easter egg hunt, she’d have to wear a mask. Easter 2020 will be like no other, but let’s count our blessings. Thanks to the internet, here are ways to make the most of our first — and, we hope, last — Easter in self-isolation.

Streaming church services: Should you dress in your Easter best if you are attending church virtually? Many L.A. churches will livestream or video-stream Easter services on their websites and Facebook pages, and they invite non-members to worship with them.

All Saints Pasadena will offer Easter services in both English and Spanish. Afterward, attendees are invited to chat and eat (their own) food together in an online Easter Brunch. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in downtown Los Angeles also will celebrate mass in English and Spanish.

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The outbreak halted their student films. So, Latino stars step up to read their scripts

Latino stars of film and television are about to make some young screenwriters very, very proud.

Academy Award nominee Edward James Olmos announced Tuesday that the Latino Film Institute would stream live readings of scripts written by the institute’s Youth Cinema Project students, who were forced to cease their film productions because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Hollywood twist? Cast members from shows like “Vida,” “Gentefied,” “One Day at a Time,” “Los Espookys,” “East Los High,” “Narcos: Mexico” and more will perform the live readings, set to take place at 1 p.m. Pacific time every Wednesday and Friday on the project’s website.

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$10-million Artist Relief Fund created as a communal effort: ‘We all decided to rally’

A $10-million campaign to help artists in dire financial need during the coronavirus pandemic has been organized by seven national grant-making organizations that have banded together to create the Artist Relief Fund.

The fund, which launched Wednesday, is open to artists working across all disciplines. It provides money for immediate needs such as food, housing, medical costs and childcare. The initial goal is to give 100 artists each $5,000, and to repeat that process to new recipients every week, through Sept. 1. Organizers hope to raise more money to expand the program further.

“Artists are uniquely threatened,” said Carolyn Ramo, executive director of Artadia, which provides unrestricted merit-based grants to visual artists. “They are gig workers who often have no benefits and no labor rights.”

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Car dealers are desperate. Does that make it a good time to buy a vehicle online?

New-car showrooms are closed. Inventory is beyond bloated. Car dealers are bleeding cash and ready to negotiate.

In other words, if you’re blessed with good health and you have a reasonable chance of keeping your job, now’s a good time to buy a car.

You’ll have to shop from home — or wherever you’re sheltering in place. You’ll need to be adept at online shopping and ready to negotiate price by email or phone. But negotiating power in favor of the buyer has rarely been so lopsided.

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Air pollution linked to higher death rates from virus

Americans in communities with higher smog levels are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19, according to a new study that suggests the health damage from the novel coronavirus has been worsened by long-term exposure to air pollution.

Scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed data on more than 3,000 U.S. counties to link small increases in long-term exposure to fine-particle pollution to substantially higher death rates from the coronavirus.

Researchers calculated long-term average levels of fine-particle pollution — lung-damaging soot also known as PM2.5 — from 2000 to 2016 and compared it to the more than 7,000 COVID-19 deaths that had occurred through April 4. They found that an increase of only one microgram per cubic meter of PM2.5 was associated with a 15% rise in the coronavirus death rate.

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India’s confirmed cases reach 5,000

NEW DELHI, India — The number of confirmed cases in India has crossed the 5,000 mark, with 149 deaths.

Although the cases are spread over roughly 40% of India’s districts, they are concentrated in India’s densely populated urban centers. Mumbai has been affected the worst.

India’s strategy is focused around identifying “containment zones” where efforts would be targeted on restricting the virus “within a defined geographic area” to break the chain of transmission. But officials say the next week will be pivotal. India has only conducted 121,271 tests but is likely to scale up testing in the coming days.

India has put its entire population, one-fifth of the world’s population, under lockdown until April 14.

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Surviving the Shutdown: Takeout dumplings and that infrared thermometer at Sichuan Impression

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdown have left many restaurants uncertain about their future. As smaller, less-heralded restaurants across the city grapple with new realities, we asked them to share their stories.

When Sichuan Impression opened in 2014, you could spot the place from a distance by the line that stretched down Valley Boulevard in Alhambra.

There are no lines anymore, and the front door has been locked for weeks, closed by the coronavirus outbreak. But turn the corner these days and the side door to the restaurant is still open for business, a table blocking the entrance, a woman in a mask managing takeout orders.

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Political candidates use ads to address the pandemic, attack rivals

Political campaigns are becoming more comfortable putting COVID-19 front and center in their campaign ads. The latest entry comes from Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith, who is running to fill the remainder of former Rep. Katie Hill’s first term in California’s 25th congressional district. The $400,000 ad buy began airing Wednesday.

“America is hurting,” Smith says as images of healthcare workers in masks and protective gowns, long lines at grocery stores, and empty shelves in the markets flash on screen.

The ad, which focuses on healthcare access, includes a disclaimer that all footage of Smith interacting with others was filmed before the statewide stay at home order went into effect.

In recent weeks, political candidates have acknowledged the pandemic by highlighting their responses in positive ads. In one spot, Republican Sen. Susan Collins on Maine thanks essential workers. In “Cooped Up,” Amy McGrath, a Kentucky Democrat challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, touts her campaign’s efforts to help with the crisis as her husband plays with their kids in the background. McConnell released an ad March 31 saying he “led the passage of the biggest economic rescue package in history.”

Things have been more negative at the presidential level, where Democratic super PACS have released ads criticizing President Trump’s response to the virus outbreak. The Trump campaign objected to an ad that edited audio to suggest the president called the virus a “hoax,” when he said at a Feb. 28 campaign rally that the Democrats’ outcry over the growing public health crisis was an attempt to bring him down, “their new hoax.” The president’s campaign released an ad last week with audio doctored to make it seem as if former Vice President Joe Biden called COVID-19 a hoax.

The campaign said it was “turnabout” in order to push Twitter to remove the pro-Biden group’s ad.

Smith is facing Republican defense contractor Mike Garcia in a May 12 runoff to fill the final months of Hill’s first term. Hill resigned after she was accused of having affairs with a campaign staffer and a legislative aide, and her nude photos were published on a conservative website without her permission.

She denied the affair with the aide.

Smith and Garcia placed first and second in a crowded March 3 special election. Neither won 50% of the vote, triggering a runoff. They were also the top two in a primary, also held March 3, for a new term starting in January, and will compete again in the November general election.

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An estimated 65,000 leave Wuhan as 11-week lockdown ends

BEIJING — Within hours of China lifting an 11-week lockdown on the central city of Wuhan early Wednesday, roughly 65,000 people had left the city by train and plane alone, according to local media reports.

Highways, bridges and tunnels were also opened, allowing thousands of more to exit by car and bus, as long as they were able to show a mandatory smartphone application powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance shows they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus.

Despite the new freedom, many prevention measures remain in force in the city and those leaving Wuhan — the epicenter of the global pandemic — face numerous hurdles when arriving at their destinations elsewhere. That includes being required to undergo 14-day quarantines and submit to nucleic acid tests.

China on Wednesday reported 62 new virus cases, 59 of them brought from outside the country, and two additional deaths.

The country where the virus first emerged now has recorded 3,333 deaths and 81,802 total cases, with 1,190 people remaining in treatment, 189 in serious condition. Another 83 suspected cases and 1,095 people who have tested positive but show no symptoms remain under isolation and monitoring.

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Hostess bars, night clubs, discos in Seoul shut down amid concerns over virus transmissions

SEOUL, South Korea — The South Korean capital of Seoul has shut down more than 400 hostess bars, night clubs and discos amid concerns over coronavirus transmissions.

The measures announced by Mayor Park Won-soon on Wednesday came a day after two female bar employees were found to have contracted the coronavirus after one of them contacted a pop-star customer who also tested positive, triggering public calls for stronger controls on entertainment venues.

Park says the temporary gathering bans imposed on the 422 venues through April 19 will shut down all such businesses in the city for now as 1,700 others had already closed or suspended operations under the city’s anti-virus recommendations.

Park says officials have placed 118 of the bar employees’ contacts under self-quarantine and are testing them for COVID-19. So far, 18 of them have tested negative.

The singer, Yoon Hak, of the K-pop boy band Supernova, had visited the southern Seoul bar in late March before testing positive on April 1.

South Korea’s government has shut schools and issued social-distancing guidelines for the public to slow the spread of the virus, but has not enforced lockdowns or broad business closures.

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Britain’s Boris Johnson stable, responding to treatment

LONDON — Boris Johnson’s spokesman says the British prime minister is stable and responding to treatment for the coronavirus in the intensive care unit of a London hospital.

James Slack says Johnson continues to receive “standard oxygen treatment” and is breathing without any other assistance.

Johnson has spent two nights in the ICU of St. Thomas’ Hospital since being admitted Sunday. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26 and still had a cough and fever 10 days later.

His spokesman declined to provide further details of Johnson’s treatment, saying Wednesday’s update “was given to us by St. Thomas’ Hospital and it contains all of the information which the PM’s medical team considers to be clinically relevant.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is standing in for Johnson while he is hospitalized.

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Hotels and cruise ships offer to serve as hospitals. Is it a good idea?

At the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel in Pomona, the gym and the pool are closed, the breakfast buffet has been shut down and the 244-room facility is no longer accepting reservations.

Instead, the hotel on the grounds of the Fairplex is playing a role in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak by housing more than 30 medical professionals and first responders who have been exposed to the virus or have tested positive and have nowhere else to self-quarantine.

“So far, it’s worked well,” said Miguel Santana, chief executive of the Fairplex, the 487-acre facility that includes the hotel and annually hosts the Los Angeles County Fair and other events.

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Column: These three Angelenos, ages 106, 101 and almost 90, haven’t let the virus dim their spirits

I keep hearing from readers looking for a break. Come on, they say, give us some sunshine, something that breaks through the storm of depressing coronavirus news.

As you wish.

My circle of people I’ve met through this column includes a 101-year-old former nurse and amateur painter, a retired appliance repairman who turned 106 not long ago, and a jazz drummer and band leader who’s closing in on 90 and still always looking for a gig.

As we all know by now, older people have been hit particularly hard by coronavirus, so I figured I should check in on the trio to see how they’re faring. All three are healthy, relatively speaking, and more importantly, they’re in good spirits.
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California still way behind on testing despite recent advances

State health officials have ramped up coronavirus testing in recent days, but California still lags behind most other states, leaving potentially thousands of undiagnosed patients to unknowingly spread the infections.

As of Tuesday, California said it had results for 143,172 tests — or 362 per 100,000 people. That’s a sharp increase from two weeks ago when just 39 of every 100,000 residents had been tested.

Yet for all its deep sources of innovation, the state is behind the national average of 596 tests per 100,000, according to the COVID Tracking Project. In New York, which has far more people hospitalized with severe symptoms, testing has reached 1,748 of every 100,000.
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Families draw strength from surviving wars and other disasters

The phone rings every few hours.

Are you OK, my son? Are you wearing a mask? Please don’t go out. Please don’t touch anything.

From his home in Washington, D.C., Haris Tarin, 41, does his best to answer his mother’s calls. These days, he knows how much it calms her to hear the voices of her children, spread across three states.

“She’s been through so much, she’s constantly afraid of the worst happening, of losing everything,” Tarin said. “I understand her. I’ve inherited the same anxiety.”
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How advertisers scrambled to change their message

When the novel coronavirus crisis hit the U.S., 72andSunny, one of Los Angeles’ largest creative advertising agencies, was ready.

The Playa Vista firm, which has an office in Singapore, had already watched the devastating fallout from COVID-19 in Asia.

So agency leaders in early March began arranging for staff members to work from home. And they moved swiftly with one of their biggest clients, the NFL, to spread a positive and unifying message. Unable to shoot a video, the firm asked NFL players to submit clips showing how they were coping with stay-at-home orders.
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Calm resilience at a time of anxiety: An Ebola veteran doctor joins the coronavirus fight

Dr. Colleen Kraft, left, is an infectious disease expert at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. She helped treat patients with Ebola, now she is facing off with the coronavirus.
Dr. Colleen Kraft, left, is an infectious disease expert at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. She helped treat patients with Ebola, now she is facing off with the coronavirus.
(Courtesy of Emory University)

Dr. Colleen Kraft’s teenage son had a question for his mom.

“How bad is it for 40-year-olds to get the coronavirus?” he asked one night after she returned home from another long day at work.

Kraft smiled, touched.

This was her kid’s way of asking if she was going to die on him.

“I said, ‘It affects different people differently, but your mom is going to be OK because I know how to protect myself,’” she said.

Kraft is an infectious disease doctor at Emory Hospital in Atlanta, and has spent her career studying and treating communicable diseases.

But these days most of her time is spent trying to defuse the anxiety and panic of those around her.

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After chaos in Wisconsin, fight intensifies over how to carry out presidential election amid pandemic

Bridget McDonald receives a ballot from poll worker Patty Piek-Groth on Tuesday in Janesville, Wis.
(Associated Press)

The political and legal chaos that engulfed Wisconsin’s primary Tuesday marked the beginning of a national battle over how democracy will function in the middle of a pandemic — a months-long struggle that could tip the balance of power between the major political parties.

At stake is the most basic function of a democracy — the ability to hold elections that partisans on both sides regard as valid. That consensus, already eroded in the Trump era, is now being further undermined.

Prompted by Republicans’ refusal to postpone the state’s primary, the Wisconsin meltdown whipsawed voters with on-again, off-again election plans, polling locations drastically reduced, and makeshift protections against contagion. It provided the most public view so far of partisan tension over election rules and how they threaten to sow chaos in upcoming primaries and the general election.

Republicans for years have viewed measures to expand access to the ballot as attempts by Democrats to gain an advantage. In the current crisis, they have launched a coordinated national effort to limit the ramp-up of absentee and mail-in voting, which have been urged by independent election-integrity experts in the face of the coronavirus.

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Spain’s daily coronavirus death toll rises again

Spain’s Health Ministry reported Wednesday 757 new deaths of patients with coronavirus and 6,180 new confirmed infections.

Both figures were slightly higher than Tuesday’s, when the first increase in five days was explained by a backlog of test results and fatalities that had gone unreported over the weekend.

But doubts about the statistics are being heard louder as fresh data starts to emerge.

Authorities have already acknowledged that a scarcity of testing kits and a bottleneck in the number of tests that laboratories can conduct on a daily basis are giving an underestimated contagion tally, which rose to 146,000 on Wednesday. A nationwide survey of 30,000 households has been launched to figure out what is the more approximate extent of the epidemic beyond hospitals and nursing homes.

Health Minister Salvador Illa said Tuesday that his department can only account for those who die and were tested. There have been few instances of postmortem testing.

To rein in the data divide, Spain’s Justice Ministry issued an order on Wednesday requiring more than 4,000 civil registries across the country to provide new and revised data.

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Possible virus outbreak reported on French ship

France's aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle leaves its home port of Toulon in 2015.
(Associated Press)

France’s defense ministry announced that French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is heading back to port amid a possible virus outbreak onboard.

The ministry said in a statement Wednesday that around 40 troops are presenting symptoms compatible with the COVID-19 disease. They have been placed under strict medical observation.

A medical team equipped with tests will get onboard Wednesday in order to confirm the potential cases and prevent the virus from further spreading, the ministry said.

The aircraft carrier, which was on a mission in the Atlantic Ocean, is returning immediately to its base in the port of Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast, where it was initially expected to dock on April 23. Its crew is composed of about 1,900 troops.

The announcement comes after a coronavirus outbreak hit U.S. aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, now at port in Guam. As of Tuesday, the U.S. Navy said at least 230 crew had been tested positive. The firing last week of the Roosevelt’s captain created a combustible controversy in the country.

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Britain’s Boris Johnson spends second night in ICU with virus

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care unit as his condition remained stable while he fought the new coronavirus.

Health Minister Edward Argar told the BBC on Wednesday that Johnson is receiving oxygen but is still not on a ventilator — a suggestion that at least his condition is not getting worse.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has temporarily taken over many of the prime minister’s duties to lead the country’s response to the pandemic as Johnson receives care. Britain has no official post of deputy prime minister.

Johnson is the first major world leader confirmed to have COVID-19. He was admitted to St. Thomas’ Hospital late Sunday with a fever and cough that persisted 10 days after he was diagnosed with the virus.

The 55-year-old was moved to the ICU on Monday evening after his condition worsened.

The news comes as the makeshift hospital installed at London’s ExCel convention center began receiving its first patients on Tuesday. The hospital was built to boost treatment capacity in London.

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Coronavirus outbreak poses dilemma for Palestinians working in Israel

A paramedic sprays disinfectant on Palestinian laborers as they exit an Israeli army checkpoint near the West Bank village of Nilin on Tuesday.
(Associated Press)

At the construction site in Tel Aviv, Jamal Salman and the other Palestinian workers wore gloves and masks, and their employer provided apartments for them to stay overnight.

But his wife, alarmed by the news about the coronavirus outbreak in Israel, called him every night from the West Bank, begging him to come home. He came back early this week.

Now he sits alone in his basement all day, quarantined from his wife and five children and wondering how he’ll make ends meet. In Tel Aviv he earned $1,500 a month, enough to support his family. Now he’s unemployed.

“Coronavirus is like an all-out war,” he said. “Everyone is suffering.”

The coronavirus outbreak poses a dilemma for tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers working inside Israel who are now barred from traveling back and forth. They can stay in Israel, where wages are much higher but the outbreak is more severe, or they can return home to quarantine and unemployment in the West Bank.

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Sex. Drugs. Virus. Venezuela elites still party, despite pandemic

A suspect arrested for attending a multiday party is presented at a news conference March 31 in Caracas, Venezuela.
(Associated Press)

They whiled away the week on a sex- and drug-fueled romp: dancing on white-sand beaches and frolicking on a Caribbean island with prostitutes from Europe, some snapping selfies with famous reggaeton artists.

But unbeknownst to several children of Venezuela’s ruling elite, the coronavirus was spreading among them.

For some of Venezuela’s high-flying “Bolichicos” — the privileged offspring of the socialist revolution — the party hasn’t stopped amid a widening pandemic in a country already gripped by crisis.

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California to get more than 200 million masks a month in coronavirus fight, Gov. Newsom says

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that California has secured a monthly supply of 200 million N95 respiratory and surgical masks to help protect healthcare workers and other essential personnel at the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

“We decided enough’s enough. Let’s use the power, the purchasing power of the state of California, as a nation-state,” Newsom told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. “We did just that. And in the next few weeks, we’re going to see supplies, at that level, into the state of California and potentially the opportunity to export some of those supplies to states in need.”

The masks are among the most coveted supplies needed in hospitals and medical facilities that are treating people infected with the coronavirus amid a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. They will come from a consortium of suppliers, including a California nonprofit, a California manufacturer with suppliers in Asia and from a company sterilizing used masks, according to Nathan Click, the governor’s spokesman.

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L.A. County closes all parks on Easter Sunday to slow coronavirus

Los Angeles County officials said all botanic gardens; lakes; and local, community and regional parks will be closed on Easter Sunday in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The move comes as officials have urged the public to stay home this week, including avoiding shopping, as cases and death in the county rise.

“With the top priority being the health and safety of our park guests, team members and community, we made the difficult decision close all L.A. County parks locations,” said Norma E. García, acting director of the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation. “We know Easter is a day of celebration for many park guests and fun tradition for L.A. County Parks, and we appreciate the public’s support and understanding as we collectively work to flatten the curve of the coronavirus.”

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Man stranded at LAX for three months during coronavirus pandemic is almost home

These are the kinds of problems Seth Tom Davis hasn’t faced since he left North Dakota four months ago and got stranded at Los Angeles International Airport during the coronavirus outbreak:

Where to buy pots and pans? Will the grocery store have Fritos and ranch dressing — key ingredients for his specialty, taco salad? And a new one: Are any veterinarian’s offices open during the pandemic to care for Poppy, his seizure dog?

Davis was on a long layover at LAX on Christmas Eve when he fell asleep and his wallet was stolen. The thief raided his ban