San Francisco mayor fears city could face coronavirus crisis as big as New York’s


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.

Southern California man drummed up investments for phony coronavirus cure, FBI says

The muscled, spray-tanned and self-described “Genius Entrepreneur” cupped a white pill in his palm, then told his 2.4 million followers on Instagram: “If I walk in the Staples Center and everyone is testing coronavirus-positive, OK, I can’t contract it.”

Keith Lawrence Middlebrook didn’t just tell his Instagram followers he’d invented both a pill that inoculated him from the coronavirus and a serum to cure those who’d contracted it. He pitched the bogus medicine to a man he believed to be an investor, trying to drum up $300,000 with the promise of a $30-million return, a federal agent wrote in an affidavit.

Middlebrook, 53, was arrested Wednesday night and charged with attempted wire fraud.

“There’s a particular opportunistic cruelty in seeking to profit based on the fear and helplessness of others,” Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said in a statement.



Senate unanimously passes $2-trillion economic stimulus package

In an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the Senate on Wednesday passed a $2-trillion economic stimulus package — the largest ever — designed to pump money directly into Americans’ pockets while also shoring up hospitals, businesses and state and local governments struggling against the coronavirus pandemic.

The $2-trillion price tag is equal to more than half of the $3.5 trillion the federal government expects to collect in taxes this year, and is 9% of the nation’s gross domestic product.

“It’s going to take care of people,” President Trump said of the legislation during a news conference, vowing to sign the bill immediately when it reaches his desk.

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Orange County sheriff says there is no immediate plan to release inmates early over coronavirus

A day after the first Orange County inmate tested positive for the coronavirus, the Sheriff’s Department said it does not plan to release prisoners early amid the growing pandemic until all other options are exhausted.

Even as other counties release some inmates and limit the number of people booked into custody, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes told reporters Wednesday that his jail facilities could accommodate about 100 inmates in isolation if necessary.

“My goal is never to release people early,” Barnes said.

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Hermosa Beach will shut down beach and beach walkway starting Saturday morning

Hermosa Beach will close its beach and beachfront walkway, The Strand, along with its downtown parking structure, effective Saturday at 6 a.m.

City leaders made the decision after crowds of people flocked to the area this weekend and failed to practice social distancing, a key measure in California’s approach to slowing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

San Diego, Laguna Beach and several other Southern California communities have also announced beach closures, the city noted in its news release.

Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Manhattan Beach recently closed their beachfront parking lots.

Hermosa Beach is unique among South Bay cities in owning its own beach “and being able to proactively decide to close it,” according to the news release. Los Angeles County owns the other South Bay beaches and determines whether those close.

“We understand the desire to be outside and in nature is more powerful than ever and being out in nature is permitted if people avoid crowds and maintain six feet of distance from non-household members,” Hermosa Beach City Manager Suja Lowenthal said in a statement. “While most people are staying home to slow the spread of COVID-19, the actions of a few who choose not to follow the rules can cost the lives of many. The sooner we close the beach and Strand, the better our chance to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The closures will remain in effect until city leadership determines they’re no longer necessary.


As coronavirus deaths rise in L.A. County, officials issue new quarantine order

As the number of coronavirus cases continued to surge across Los Angeles County, the county health officer issued an order Wednesday requiring all individuals who are presumed positive or have tested positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate, and for all close contacts of such individuals to self-quarantine.

L.A. County confirmed three additional deaths linked to the coronavirus Wednesday but is no longer including a Lancaster teenager whose death was reported Tuesday in its count.

“We’ve asked the CDC to complete an investigation on that case,"said Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

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Cal State Northridge officials report three new cases of coronavirus

Cal State Northridge officials reported Wednesday afternoon that two students and one employee have COVID-19. Officials said two cases were confirmed by medical professionals and one diagnosis was reported to the university.

A note to the campus community from student health director Yolanda Reid Chassiakos and chief of police Gregory Murphy, co-chairs of the university’s COVID-19 response team, said that the employee had been on campus in the past week but neither student had.

Both students reside in a neighboring county, the note said. Facilities that the employee had visited will be closed and thoroughly disinfected, and anyone who had close contact with any of the three individuals have been or will be notified if they need to isolate or self-monitor.

“Across Southern California and at CSUN, we are moving into a phase where there will be more cases of COVID-19, which underscores the measures CSUN has already implemented to increase physical space of six feet or more for our campus community. This social distancing, combined with thorough hand-washing, cleaning surfaces and other hygiene measures, will help us reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Reid Chassiakos and Murphy wrote.


Mayor of San Francisco fears city could face coronavirus crisis as big as New York’s

A dog runs down the middle of an empty Geary Boulevard in San Francisco.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco leaders said Wednesday that it was “plausible” the city could face a crisis similar to that of New York City and fall short 1,500 ventilators and a 5,000 hospital beds.

“It is not even a question as to whether we will need more,” Mayor London Breed said during an hour-long news conference.

She called on the state and federal government for more assistance.

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Why the IOC and Japan agreed to postpone the 2020 Olympics

Olympic leaders had spent weeks buying time, watching the spread of the coronavirus, hoping for signs of improvement while stubbornly insisting the 2020 Summer Games would proceed as planned.

The numbers looked promising in Tokyo, the host city, but Sunday morning brought a fresh batch of statistics that caught the International Olympic Committee’s attention.

COVID-19 was surging across Africa.

“This was a big worry for me, personally,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “With the challenges many countries in Africa have to face already now, this would be a very dramatic development which would not only affect Africa but would affect the entire world.”

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East Bay Regional Park District to close several parks and picnic areas

After seeing more people in its parks than on a busy holiday, the East Bay Regional Park District announced Wednesday that it would close several parks and picnic areas, and prohibit any group gatherings.

As millions of people remain cooped up at home, they’ve sought relief across California in public spaces, which has prompted massive closures.In its news release, the park district stressed how unsafe overcrowding is during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We are all in this together,” Park District general manager Robert Doyle said in a statement. “We want to help everyone during this crisis by keeping parks open, but safety of the public and our employees is our top priority.”

The list below of parks, developed park areas, parking lots and entrance points will close starting Friday and remain closed until at least April 30.

All picnic areas, restrooms, water fountains, swim facilities/areas, playgrounds, campgrounds, group campsites, backcountry campsites, sports fields, kiosks and reservable facilities are closed through April 30.

New closures beginning Friday:

  • Black Diamond – Upper Parking Lot Closed (Parking available at Sidney Flat)
  • Castle Rock Recreation Area Closed
  • Contra Loma Closed (Trails Open from Frederickson Lane)
  • Crown Beach – Otis Parking Lot Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
  • Del Valle Closed (Trail Access from Arroyo Staging Area Only)
  • Diablo Foothills (Limited Parking for Trail Access)
  • Garin/Dry Creek – Meyer’s Garden Closed
  • Point Isabel – Main Parking Area Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
  • Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park – Redwood Road Gate Closed
  • Piedmont Stables (Boarders Allowed to Care for Horses)
  • Roberts Regional Recreation Main Park Area Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
  • Shadow Cliffs Closed (Walk-In Access Only)
  • Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve – Tunnel Road Entrance Closed (All Other Access Points Open)
  • Sunol Regional Wilderness Closed
  • Tilden Botanic Garden – Garden Closed
  • All previous closures remain in effect. That list can be found here:

Deborah Birx, AIDS researcher, takes a prominent role in coronavirus messaging for Trump administration

Dr. Deborah Birx
President Donald Trump listens as White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on March 20.

When the urgent phone call came last month, respected HIV researcher Deborah Birx was meeting with African officials and activists from around the world at a Johannesburg conference to help determine how U.S. AIDS relief funding would be doled out.

It was the White House calling.

Birx was on the next flight out, headed home to Washington to become coordinator of the Trump administration’s new corornavirus task force.

Ever since, the tough-minded, data-driven scientist has become one of the administration’s key messengers assuring anxious Americans, and one of the daily public faces on television — often framed by colorful scarves — standing behind Trump and speaking at the lectern.



How to care for someone with COVID-19

Has someone in your home tested positive for the coronavirus or started showing symptoms? Here’s how to care for your loved one and keep yourself safe.

First, remember that most people who get sick with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms. Experts say those people should stay home and leave only for medical care.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends five steps for caring for a person with COVID-19: monitor the person for worsening symptoms, prevent the spread of germs, treat their symptoms and, finally, decide when to end home isolation.



Exercise in your own neighborhoods, don’t visit family in other households, health official says

The San Mateo County health officer is urging people to exercise only in their own immediate neighborhoods, and exhorted families spread across different households to stay away from each other.

“As hard as this is, do not gather in any way outside of immediate households. As for outdoor exercise, people certainly need to get out, but do this in your own immediate neighborhoods,” Dr. Scott Morrow said in a statement.

“Do not go into other neighborhoods for recreation. This increases the risk of virus spread.”

The California Department of Parks and Recreation has closed parking lots at several dozen state beaches and parks across the state, from Point Dume in Malibu to Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin County and Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego County.

Several county parks in San Mateo County have also been completely closed.

“Our world has changed, and we need to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the shelter in place order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities. When this is over, you will again be able to enjoy the beautiful and bountiful opportunities to be in the nature that surrounds us,” Morrow said.


Bored and on a budget? Here’s how to read for free while social distancing

Alessandra Alamilla, 7, reads at the kitchen table in her home in San Bernardino. All of her siblings are focused on academics, and they all want to help their hardworking parents.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

In the past week, publishers and audio entertainment companies have offered a deluge of free e-books and audiobooks to keep readers of all ages engaged while they’re hunkered down at home.

Parents, teachers and kids can choose from electronic editions of beloved stories such as Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” Ann McGovern’s “Stone Soup,” Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” and Charlotte Brontë's “Jane Eyre.”

For audiobook fans, Penguin Random House Audio is among those offering free listens for families, including “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum.



Fauci warns Americans that a new strain of coronavirus could reemerge this winter

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room on Wednesday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top epidemiologist, gave an ominous warning Wednesday, telling Americans that a new strain of coronavirus could reemerge in the winter, even after the current outbreak dies down.

“I’ve always indicated to you that I think it very well might,” he said at a White House briefing.

Other epidemiologists have suggested the possibility but Fauci went further than he has in the past on Wednesday.

Fauci said scientists are starting to see cases appearing in the Southern Hemisphere, where autumn is just beginning.

“If in fact they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we’ll get a cycle around the second time,” he said.

Fauci said “it totally emphasizes the need to do what we’re doing” in developing and testing a vaccine and “a menu” of new drugs that could be used to prevent or cure the disease the next time it emerges.

“I know we’ll be successful in putting this down now, but we really need to be prepared for another cycle,” he said.


After delays, L.A. City Council will meet Friday via call-in to take up relief measures

The Los Angeles City Council will convene an emergency meeting Friday, allowing members of the public to comment by phoning in or sending email, an aide to Council President Nury Martinez said Wednesday.

Martinez spokesman Rick Coca said she decided to call the meeting after staffers successfully tested a remote dial-in meeting on Wednesday. The councilwoman plans to be on the council floor for the meeting, along with a city clerk, a city attorney and possibly a handful of other officials.

“Last week we were going for 50 people or less,” Coca said. “Now we’re trying to go for 10 or less in the room.”

The decision to conduct a Zoom conference call for council members comes two days after Martinez abruptly canceled the last two regularly scheduled council meetings in March. Labor unions, nonprofit groups and community activists quickly voiced alarm, saying council members need to act swiftly on protections for renters and workers suffering financially amid the coronavirus pandemic before April rent is due.

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San Francisco says it could face coronavirus crisis on par with New York

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco city leaders said Wednesday that it was “plausible” San Francisco could face a coronavirus health crisis on par with that now occurring in New York City and fall short 1,500 ventilators and 5,000 hospital beds.

“It is not even a question as to whether we will need more,” Mayor London Breed said during an hourlong news conference.

She called on the state and federal government for more assistance.

Breed also repeatedly asked the public to remain at home and engage in social distancing.

If people fail to do so, she said, they or their sick relatives may have to be turned away from hospitals because of shortages, she said.

San Francisco now has 178 confirmed cases of the virus and one death. City officials who spoke at the news conference said social distancing appears to be helping, but the number of cases rises daily.

“Sadly, things are going to get worse,” Breed said.

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Eight Long Beach firefighters test positive for the coronavirus

Eight Long Beach firefighters who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus all worked at the same fire station, Mayor Robert Garcia said at a news conference Wednesday.

Officials believe the firefighters, who worked at Station 11 in North Long Beach, were exposed to the virus while on the job performing their regular duties. 
“As you can imagine, this has been devastating news,” Garcia said. Additional firefighters are being tested, he added, “so that number could up.”
The firefighters are in stable condition, resting while in self-isolation at home and in good spirits, Fire Chief Xavier Espino said. 
“The contraction of COVID-19 among multiple firefighters highlights the ease with which this virus can spread,” Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said. “We know that this virus is in our community. What’s key now is that we take timely and active action to interrupt new infections.”
Four of the firefighters live Long Beach residents and are included in the city’s count of 41 confirmed coronavirus cases, while four others live elsewhere and are included in the count in their respective communities.
Garcia urged residents to adhere to the city’s orders for residents to stay at home except for essential tasks such as going to the grocery store, to keep at least six feet away from other people when outside your home and to behave as if anyone around them could have the virus.
The number of cases confirmed in the city has risen exponentially in recent days, and will likely continue to grow rapidly, Garcia said. 
A day earlier, On Tuesday, the city updated its “Safer at Home” order to prohibit gatherings of any size and closed parking lots at parks, beaches and the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier.
“We had to do that because too many individuals are still outside congregating in groups and being quite frankly not just unhealthy, quite frankly also irresponsible,” Garcia said.
“This is a serious public health emergency and people need to take it seriously,” Garcia said. “The next 2, 3, 4 weeks are the critical weeks in making sure that we’re prepared for the hospital and medical emergency that could be in front of us.”

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No, the LAPD isn’t ticketing for outdoor exercising, driving amid coronavirus rules

The Los Angeles Police Department said its officers are not stopping people for violating the city’s strict Safe at Home restrictions.

“We’ve heard the rumors, so let’s put an end to them. No, the LAPD is not stopping or ticketing people for exercising outdoors. Spreading false rumors during this time does no good,” tweeted the department.

Asst. Chief Horace Frank said the department is not conducting driving under influence checkpoints or towing or impounding cars.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has expressed frustration and outrage that some nonessential businesses remain open despite coronavirus restrictions.

On Tuesday, Garcetti said that his office is still receiving daily reports of nonessential businesses that continue to operate as normal — behavior he called “irresponsible and selfish.”



Coronavirus diversions: What to play if you’re ‘bad’ at games

Video games, to the uninitiated, can be intimidating. And yet in this time of social distancing, video games may suddenly look quite appealing to a whole new audience.

There’s no shortage of vast, enveloping worlds to explore — I’m partial to “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” and “Marvel’s Spider-Man” (both PlayStation 4 games) for slick adventuring, and Nintendo’s “Fire Emblem: Three Houses” for deep, time-consuming romance and role-playing — but these games are off-limits unless you have $250 to $350 for a home console and are already controller literate.

The latter, especially, speaks to a common concern of those who either stepped away from games or never got into them. “I’m bad at games” is a phrase I hear all too often.

But it is possible to play games on a budget and still discover what makes the medium so rich. While there’s some degree of learning to any game, here are a few of my favorite relatively recent recommendations for those who think they are “bad” at games. Everyone, after all, has an inner player waiting to break free.

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Life in the time of the coronavirus: Photos from around the world

It’s clear that the coronavirus outbreak represents an extraordinary global threat to both public health and global economies. The coronavirus has spread to at least 194 countries, and the disease it causes, COVID-19, has claimed more than 20,500 lives and infected over 450,000 people.

The speed of the crisis and the change to our everyday lives, as well as the threat to our most at-risk citizens, is astonishing and has many reflecting on their values and way of life.

These 21 photos reflect the new normal around the world.

JAPAN: A woman uses hand sanitizer before lining up to see the Olympic cauldron in Tokyo. It was on display a day after the Tokyo Games were postponed.
JAPAN: A woman uses hand sanitizer before lining up to see the Olympic cauldron in Tokyo. It was on display a day after the Tokyo Games were postponed.
(Clive Rose / Getty Images)
KIRKLAND, Wash.: Pat and Bob McCauley self-quarantine at their home in Kirkland, a city hit hard by the coronavirus.
KIRKLAND, Wash.: Pat and Bob McCauley self-quarantine at their home in Kirkland, a city hit hard by the coronavirus.

(Karen Ducey )
PAKISTAN: A health official checks the temperature of a woman at the Lahore railway station.
PAKISTAN: A health official checks the temperature of a woman at the Lahore railway station.

(Arif Ali / AFP via Getty Images)

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Here’s how to apply for unemployment in California if your job was affected by coronavirus

Californians who have lost a job or had hours reduced because of the coronavirus outbreak can file a claim for unemployment benefits in the state.

With Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order in place, the usual one-week unpaid waiting period has been waived. That means you can apply right away. The quickest response? Applying online.

  • Who’s eligible: You must be unemployed through no fault of your own, physically able and available to work, actively looking for work, and ready to accept work immediately.
  • What you need to apply: Make sure you have information such as your employment history (including the last day you worked, the reason you aren’t working anymore and your gross earnings) and driver’s license number handy. You can find a more detailed list of what you need here.
  • What happens after you apply: After you file, you’ll be mailed information about the claim and the program. Once you’re receiving benefits, you’ll have to certify every two weeks, which you can do online.

Some people are trying to ride out the pandemic in the mountains and desert. That’s not a great idea

The scenery near Bishop, Calif.
Remote locations in California (such as Bishop, seen here in October 2019) aren’t equipped to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Last week, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that residents were forbidden from moving to or from vacation homes outside the city, along with other restrictions aimed at fighting the virus.

As The Times’ Louis Sahagun reports, smaller, remote areas lack the capacity to handle an outbreak. In places like Mammoth Lakes, tourism officials are trying to discourage Airbnb customers and others from out of town from taking up shelter until the threat subsides.

With only one ventilator and 17 emergency beds at the local hospital, patients in dire condition are sometimes flown by helicopter to a hospital in Reno.

“A lot of these rentals are in remote areas that are prone to flooding and wildfires and serviced by cash-strapped hospitals ill equipped to handle a surge in population threatened by coronavirus,” said Leroy Westerling, a professor at UC Merced and an expert on risk management issues related to climate change.

For now, you’re better off staying put.


Senate vote expected on $2-trillion economic stimulus package

WASHINGTON — The Senate returned Wednesday with plans to vote on a $2-trillion economic stimulus package — the largest in U.S. history — designed to pump money directly into Americans’ pockets while also shoring up hospitals, businesses and state and local governments.

Despite announcing a deal around 1 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, final legislative text, including many details of how the money will be spent, was not available by the afternoon.

The Senate vote has not yet been scheduled, but the bill is expected to pass there with large bipartisan support after five days of tense marathon negotiations between congressional Democrats and the White House and Senate Republicans. President Trump indicated Tuesday night that he favored the bill, but he has not explicitly endorsed it.

The real test will be whether the House accepts the massive bill as is and can pass it with “unanimous consent,” a procedure usually reserved for small, noncontroversial bills. If a single member comes to the House floor and objects, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) may have to recall House members to Washington for a vote that would inevitably draw out the process.

Democratic and Republican House leaders are hoping to avoid that, but it remains to be seen if they can. A House vote is unlikely before Thursday.

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Students with disabilities deprived of crucial services because of coronavirus closures

Nine-year-old Trevor de la Torre was home with a migraine when his parents got word that his school was closing in response to the coronavirus emergency — and his critically needed hands-on therapies would effectively stop, too.

His one-on-one reading specialist, gone. His speech therapy, gone. His occupational therapist who is teaching him how to write letters, gone. His one-on-one classroom aide is no longer by his side to help him understand assignments and break down lessons into more manageable parts.

Trevor was born with a rare brain malformation called hemimegalencephaly — half his brain was removed when he was 6 months old to stop life-threatening seizures. He has only half of his vision and his mobility, as well as visual, auditory, speech and developmental delays, his mother, Kelly de la Torre, said.

Now the expert support team provided by the Poway Unified School District is only permitted by the district to wave a virtual hello and check in on video chat — and De la Torre is everything to her son.

“It’s a ton to be balanced. I felt very anxious this week and I don’t usually struggle with anxiety,” said De la Torre, who also has children who are 2 and 10 years old.

Students with disabilities and their parents, like the De la Torre family, were dealt a particularly harsh blow when the coronavirus emergency shut down California schools. Overnight, the intense hands-on assistance required for their children’s education and physical needs was no longer available, and in many cases not suitable for online learning.

Under federal education and civil rights law, public schools are required to provide equal educational resources to students with disabilities. School districts that do not meet the individual needs promised in personalized education plans could be at risk of losing federal funding.

Statewide, 767,560 California students, about 12% of the total, received special education services in 2017-18, according to the National Center for Education Services. In Los Angeles public schools alone, there are about 70,000 special education students, according to the superintendent.

State educators offered a sobering assessment last week after district-level administrators asked for guidance about how to go about equally serving disabled students.

“We’re not likely able to physically provide those supports and services that we’re all so used to, to the same degree that we have previously,” said Kristin Wright, director of the CDE’s special education division. “So the first sentiment I want to reinforce is — do what you can.”

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Nearly half of all patients at one Kaiser hospital believed to have COVID-19

MILLBRAE, Calif. — About half of Kaiser Permanente’s San Jose hospital has been filled with patients confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, a hospital vice president said in an interview with a medical journal.

There have been so many patients that Kaiser San Jose has had to boost its staffing, Dr. Stephen Parodi, a Kaiser executive vice president, infectious diseases expert and incident commander for the health system’s COVID-19 response nationally, told the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

“Our San Jose facility in California actually has almost half of the hospital filled either with COVID-confirmed or persons under investigation,” Parodi told JAMA. “So we’ve literally had to revamp the hospital to make sure that we’ve got enough capacity from a personnel standpoint. Because to provide the care to these patients requires resource intensive personnel.”



Netflix complaints rise as coronavirus lockdowns strain service

Complaints about Netflix Inc.’s service are pouring in from the U.S. and Europe, a sign that soaring home viewing because of coronavirus lockdowns may be straining the streaming service.

The problems surged a little after noon New York time, according to Downdetector, which tracks service complaints via social media. The most common issue, reported by more than 40% of respondents, was the loss of a connection to Netflix, the site found. As of 1:17 p.m., the outages were more concentrated in Western Europe.



Loss of smell and taste may be symptoms of coronavirus infection

A loss of smell or taste could be an early sign of infection with the new coronavirus, say medical experts who cite reports from several countries.

It might prove to be a useful screening tool for COVID-19, they say.

The idea of a viral infection reducing sense of smell is not new. Respiratory infection is a common cause of loss of smell, because inflammation can interfere with airflow and the ability to detect odors. The sense of smell usually returns when the infection resolves, but in a small percentage of cases, the loss can persist after other symptoms disappear. In some cases, it is permanent.

Now, there’s “good evidence” from South Korea, China and Italy of loss or impairment of smell in infected people, according to a joint statement from the presidents of the British Rhinological Society and of ENT UK, a British group that represents ear, nose and throat doctors.



As 1 million Californians file for unemployment, homeowners to get a break

SACRAMENTO — Several major banks and financial institutions have agreed to delay foreclosures and provide mortgage relief to California homeowners struggling to make their monthly payments due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday.

Eligible homeowners would be able to defer mortgage payments for at least three months and perhaps longer if they suffer hardship due to the pandemic, and would be shielded from late fees and penalties. Any late payments would not be reported to credit agencies.



Elton John to host TV, radio concert as coronavirus antidote

Elton John is hosting a “living room” concert aimed at bolstering American spirits during the coronavirus crisis and saluting those countering it, iHeartMedia and Fox said Wednesday.

Alicia Keys, Billie Eilish, Mariah Carey, the Backstreet Boys, Tim McGraw and Billie Joe Armstrong are scheduled to take part in the event airing 9-10 p.m. EDT Sunday on Fox TV and on iHeartMedia radio stations.

The artists will be filmed with cellphones and cameras in their homes “to ensure the health and safety of all involved,” according to a statement. The event will take the time slot that was to belong to the iHeartRadio Music Awards, which became part of a wave of public-event postponements and cancellations because of the pandemic.



Some billionaires want people to go back to work. Workers aren’t so sure

The billionaire Tom Golisano was smoking a Padron cigar on his patio in Florida on Tuesday afternoon. He was worried.

“The damages of keeping the economy closed as it is could be worse than losing a few more people,” said Golisano, founder and chairman of the payroll processor Paychex Inc. “I have a very large concern that if businesses keep going along the way they’re going, then so many of them will have to fold.”

President Trump says he doesn’t want the cure for the COVID-19 pandemic “to be worse than the problem,” and some of America’s wealthiest people and executives are echoing his rallying cry. They want to revive an economy that could face its worst quarterly drop ever — even if it means pulling back on social-distancing measures that public health officials say can help stop the coronavirus. These investors aren’t prizing profits over lives, they say, they’re just willing to risk some horrors to avoid others.


France launches special military operation to combat the outbreak

PARIS — President Emmanuel Macron launched a special military operation Wednesday to help fight the new coronavirus in France, one of the world’s hardest-hit countries.

As part of the new “Operation Resilience,” France is deploying helicopter carriers to help transport patients in overseas French territories in the Caribbean, South America and the Indian Ocean.

Striking a combative tone on a visit to a military field hospital in the virus-ravaged eastern city of Mulhouse, Macron paid homage to medics who have died, “who paid with their lives to save other lives.”

Macron also promised a “massive” new investment plan for public hospitals, after years of cost cuts in France’s renowned health care system that have complicated efforts to stem the spread of the virus.

Facing criticism that his government was too slow to lock down the country as the virus spread, Macron criticized those “who would fracture the country, when we should have one obsession: to be united to fight the virus.”

Reiterating that France is at “war” with the virus, Macron warned: “We are just at the beginning. But we will make it through, because we will not surrender, because we have the strength.”


They already had an anxiety disorder. Then the pandemic hit

At first, Jonathon Seidl wasn’t worried about the coronavirus despite his anxiety disorder. But that changed.

The 33-year-old digital media strategist from Dallas, who takes medication for his condition, said his concern was less about getting sick than about the battering the economy could sustain. Would he be able to feed his family? Would there be a run on food stores? He could not shake his worries.

So he paced. His heart raced. He wanted to go to bed early “because sleep was the only respite.” But his sleep was rarely restful. “I would wake up during the night,” he said.

The pandemic is worrisome enough for most people. For those with anxiety disorders, it presents a special challenge, especially if they are not receiving treatment.


Private prayers and empty funerals: The pandemic is hard on the Middle East faithful

BEIRUT — Paying no attention to the tenets of social distancing, the abaya-shrouded women — no masks or gloves among them — crowded into the Baghdad square surrounding the shrine to Imam Musa Kadhim.

“I invite China, Italy and Iran,” one of the women said to a journalist from a satellite news station. “Those are the three biggest countries to be harmed. … I invite them all to come to the Imam.”

“We’ll run tests on them in this very square,” she said. “If they’re not all 100% free of [the novel coronavirus], they can slaughter all of us.”

The woman’s devotion was unwavering. But in a time of pandemic, religion, the sanctuary for so many in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, has been hit hard. Its houses of faith — mosques, churches, temples and shrines — have become a front line in the battle by governments to smother the spread of a deadly global virus. So have its rituals, which draw believers to pilgrimages or massive gatherings of communal worship.



Chef Floyd Cardoz dies of coronavirus complications

NEW YORK — Chef Floyd Cardoz, who competed on “Top Chef,” won “Top Chef Masters” and operated successful restaurants in both India and New York, died Wednesday of complications from the coronavirus, his company said in a statement. He was 59.

Cardoz had traveled from Mumbai to New York through Frankfurt, Germany, on March 8. He was admitted a week ago to Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, N.J., with a fever and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, the statement said.

The committed advocate of making the food industry more sustainable began his hospitality training in his native Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay. He later moved to Switzerland, where he honed his skills in French, Italian and Indian cuisine before moving on to the kitchens of New York City.



How L.A. radio is responding to the crisis

The coronavirus pandemic has sent millions of people around the globe daily, if not hourly, to their computers and smartphones for news updates, for entertainment and for a sense of connection and community with family members and friends in a time of ever-expanding government directives for sheltering at home.

For a significant audience, however, those options are not available, because many lack either the technology or the desire to be part of the virtual world of the internet. For them, a key ally remains one of the first avenues of mass communication: radio.

“I get into my car, and KUSC [FM classical music radio] takes me to a better place (psychologically, if not physically) immediately thank you!” Pasadena resident Loren A. Roberts wrote last week in appreciation to the USC-based classical music station (91.5). Like many broadcasting operations in Southern California and around the world, the station has hastily arranged for its on-air personalities to continue their daily shows from home studios.



Pandemic lockdown backs ‘Clueless’: Everywhere in L.A. does take 20 minutes

In “Clueless,” the 1995 teen-queen classic starring Alicia Silverstone, her father catches her in a lie when she’s late coming home.

“Everywhere in L.A. takes 20 minutes,” he scolds her over the phone, using their Beverly Hills home as the center of all things.

Actually, Silverstone’s character, Cher Horowitz, was partying in the Valley, hardly 20 minutes from anything.

In 1995, Beverly Hills may have seemed 20 minutes from almost everywhere. Not anymore.

Or is it? L.A. freeways are deserted these days. Amid the bad news and the worry, the open roads provide a tiny break for those headed to the pharmacy, physical therapy or just to clear their head with a soothing drive.

Welcome to my three-hour tour.



Yes, we’re in a deadly pandemic. You still have to pick up your dog’s poop

This is a public service announcement from the Los Angeles Times:

Are you someone who has a dog?

Does said dog eat food, digest it, and ultimately excrete solid logs of waste matter that are unpleasant to smell and even more unpleasant to step in?

If the answer to that second question is no, I am both fascinated and disturbed.



Column: Here’s what’s wrong with Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home order: It’s a legal mess

There is little doubt about the overall wisdom of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: On March 19, he ordered Californians to stay home for everyone’s good.

But the order’s legal adequacy is another matter. In fact, legally speaking, it’s something of a mess. As it drags on, it will chafe and even cripple many Californians. Some of them will react for their own good: They’ll sue.

And they may prevail.



Social distancing alone will not stop the spread of the virus, WHO says

A second window of opportunity for nations to gain a foothold in combating the coronavirus is narrowing, the head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Social distancing may have slowed the spread of COVID-19 in those countries that have taken significant measures to shut down schools, stores and workplaces, but it will not be enough to fight the global-level outbreak, said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general.

“Asking people to stay at home and shutting down population movement is buying time” and reducing the pressure on health systems, Tedros said.“But on their own, these measures will not extinguish epidemics.”

He added: “The point of these actions is to enable the more precise and targeted measures that are needed to stop transmission and save lives.”

Tedros identified six steps to get the virus’ spread under control:

  • Expand, train and deploy healthcare and public health work forces;
  • Implement a system to find every suspected case at the community level;
  • Ramp up production capacity and availability of testing;
  • Develop facilities to isolate and treat patients;
  • Create a clear process to quarantine those who had contact with infected people;
  • Focus government resources on suppressing and controlling the disease.

“The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence,” Tedros said.

The comments came after President Trump said Tuesday in a Fox News town hall that he hoped to have the country “back to work” by Easter and predicted there would be “packed churches” all over the country. Tedros did not directly address those comments; instead he praised President Trump for “taking responsibility” and leading the U.S. government’s response to the pandemic.


Column: The coronavirus bill is a big step toward a stimulus that helps you, not corporate bigwigs

Someone was paying attention to the lessons of the last bailout.

The $2-trillion stimulus bill on which Congress will start voting Wednesday includes several provisions aimed at making sure that the government’s massive bailout of big business comes with at least some strings attached and that ordinary households get help.

As we write, much of the measure is still under wraps, though portions have been making their way into the public sphere droplet by droplet. A draft described as “near final” has also been released by the Senate. We’ll outline what we’ve seen, and update as more details emerge.



MLS extends moratorium on training until April 6

Major League Soccer on Wednesday extended its moratorium on training sessions for a third time, barring players and staff from using team facilities until at least April 6 because of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The MLS has suspended its season until May 10, postponing 115 games league-wide.

The training moratorium, first imposed on March 13, the day after the league suspended the season, allows only players requiring specialized medical treatment and rehabilitation that cannot be performed at home to access team facilities. In addition, players have been advised to do conditioning alone at home, and not practice or train in groups.



Airlines cut in-flight food and drinks to slow coronavirus’ spread

To slow the spread of the coronavirus, several of the nation’s largest airlines are eliminating or reducing the food and drink services offered on most flights.

The changes announced by American, Southwest, Delta and Alaska Airlines come as the nation’s carriers continue to struggle with a pandemic that has led the industry to slash capacity by up to 75% on international flights and 30% on domestic flights.

Airlines have taken hundreds of planes out of service and parked them in remote desert airports until they can be returned to the air after the crisis subsides.

The cuts in food and beverage services came days after Southwest and American Airlines agreed to let their flight attendants wear masks while on duty.



How the coronavirus will change book publishing, now and forever

On Monday night, the literary agent, editor and publisher Andrew Blauner sent his contacts a PDF of “The Patient’s Checklist” by Elizabeth Bailey. The book is currently out of print, and with no digital copies available, Blauner wanted people to have access to the text should they fall ill and have to go to the hospital. “You can send this version to anyone you’d like, anyone you think might be helped by it. It’s the book which [doctor and author] Atul Gawande said ‘could save your life.’ ”

Blauner is just one member of the homebound publishing community still trying to find a way to work, even if it means giving away a book that sold a respectable 17,000 copies when it was published in 2011. The editors and writers who create books, most based in the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, New York, and the retailers across the country who put them into customers’ hands are not considered essential businesses. They are effectively on hiatus.



Elderly patients stranded in hospitals as nursing homes turn them away

Carl Schoen’s 99-year-old mother has lived in a nursing home for five years. On March 13, she was taken to the emergency room at Huntington Memorial Hospital with pneumonia.

She got better quickly, within a few days, but now the nursing home won’t take her back because she can’t prove she doesn’t have the coronavirus. She was tested 12 days ago, but the results aren’t back yet.

“They are being very steadfast in saying that until she gets the test result back she can’t return,” said Schoen, who asked that his mother’s name and the name of the care facility in northeast L.A. not be published for fear of alienating her caregivers.

Across the country, hospitals and nursing homes are stuck in similar high-stakes battles over the fate of elderly patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic.



Endeavor to cut up to 250 people as the coronavirus clobbers the entertainment industry

In a further sign of how the coronavirus outbreak is buffeting the entertainment industry, the operator of one of Hollywood’s largest talent agencies disclosed that it would lay off as many as 250 employees due to the crisis.

Beverly Hills-based Endeavor Group Holdings, owner of the William Morris agency that has significantly invested in live events, is cutting as many as 250 employees from its roughly 7,000-person staff, said a person close to the agency who was not authorized to comment.



Tony Awards postponed indefinitely

The 74th Tony Awards have been postponed indefinitely due to the novel coronavirus.

The Broadway-lauding ceremony was scheduled to air on CBS, broadcasting live on June 7 from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It was announced Wednesday that the event would be postponed and rescheduled at a later date.

“The health and safety of the Broadway community, artists and fans is of the utmost importance to us,” read a statement from Tony Award Productions.

“We will announce new dates and additional information once Broadway opens again. We are looking forward to celebrating Broadway and our industry when it is safe to do so.”



Q&A: How can I tell if I have the coronavirus?

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, it’s hard not to be alarmed by even a stray cough.

But for people who suspect they have come down with COVID-19, the upheaval in the healthcare system is making it challenging to get a diagnosis and treatment.

Tests to confirm a coronavirus infection remain relatively scarce in California, at least for now. The state’s hospitals, like those in Italy and Spain, could soon be overwhelmed by critically ill patients.

Yet most people who get the disease do not need to be hospitalized. Their illness is mild, and their best course is to recover at home.

For anyone feeling sick and wondering what to do, here is some guidance from doctors and public health authorities.



‘Zoombombing’ hits USC as classes are interrupted with racist remarks

USC’s top administrators apologized to the school community after some online classes fell prey to “Zoombombing,” disrupted by people making racist remarks.

“Zoombombing” is a relatively new frontier in internet trolling in which someone takes advantage of features of the Zoom video-conferencing platform to interrupt meetings and lectures. Many colleges and school districts have made greater use of Zoom following the cancellation of in-person classes amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to the university community, USC President Carol Folt and Provost Charles Zukoski wrote that they learned Tuesday that some online Zoom classes “were disrupted by people who used racist and vile language that interrupted lectures and learning.”


Leading lung expert John F. Murray dies of coronavirus-related complications at 92

John F. Murray, a leading figure in the field of pulmonary medicine and an expert on lung disease, has died of coronavirus-related complication at a hospital in Paris.

Murray, who led the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division at UC San Francisco for 23 years, died Tuesday after being diagnosed with the disease on March 18, said Douglas Murray, his son. He was 92.

As a researcher, professor and physician, Murray dedicated his career to pulmonary medicine and helped establish the study of the lung and lung diseases as a distinct field, separate from cardiology. He co-authored “Murray and Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine,” now in its 6th edition, edited the American Thoracic Journal, and helped develop the standards for training pulmonary doctors.


Surviving the Shutdown: Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop has its loyal fans, but these are desperate times

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.

On a normal day, the tables at Gardena Bowl Coffee Shop on Vermont Avenue would be filled with South Bay locals sharing plates of banana pecan pancakes and kimchi bacon fried rice.

But as of last week those tables, now vacant, became an improvised barrier, arranged to separate takeout customers from the skeleton crew keeping the restaurant running.

“Business has gone down by at least 50%,” co-owner Frank Nakano said. “We have a pretty loyal following in the community, so we’re luckier than some, but it’s been hard to watch.”



Vespertine for $49, n/naka for $38: Fine dining joins the takeout game amid prolonged shutdown

Vespertine for $49, Auburn for $39, n/naka for $38, Dialogue for $35. In a world that has seemingly turned upside down, several of the city’s most elite and exclusive dining establishments — finding themselves in the same perilous situation as every other restaurant — have thrown themselves into the takeout and delivery game.

In some ways, the coronavirus shutdown has been the great equalizer as restaurants of all kinds fight to stay afloat and adapt to unfamiliar ways of doing business. Suddenly, no matter the price point, restaurants across the board are faced with bills to pay, workers to let go, suppliers to support, kitchens full of food and no answers on when it will all end.



A virtual tour of TV cars, a most unusual ‘Madama Butterfly’: Today’s best arts online

For a little culture during your home quarantine, we’ll be offering daily recommendations of streaming concerts, online musicals, virtual art exhibitions and more. Here are five picks for Wednesday; all times Pacific:

“Madama Butterfly”

L.A.’s Pacific Opera Project and Houston’s Opera in the Heights reimagined the Puccini classic about the ill-fated romance between a Japanese geisha and an American naval officer. Filmed last April at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, this production features a libretto in English and Japanese. Available anytime, free, on YouTube.



Travel the world from your easy chair with these video sites

You’re stuck at home, wishing you were on that trip to wherever that you had to cancel. Here are ways to tour destinations throughout the world from the safety of your own home. Some of the videos offer 360-degree views, music and narration, and all but one are free.



Costa Mesa approves eviction moratorium for residents and businesses, and plan for low-income rent assistance

Renters in Costa Mesa who are despairing about how to pay their rent during the economic slide caused by the coronavirus outbreak can breathe a sigh of relief — the City Council passed an eviction moratorium Tuesday night.

The urgency ordinance applies to residents and businesses unable to pay rent or facing foreclosure “arising out of a substantial decrease in household or business income” because of coronavirus-related restrictions.

The ordinance, which goes into effect immediately, passed on a 5-2 vote, with council members Allan Mansoor and Sandy Genis dissenting.



GOP senators say ‘massive’ stimulus error could incentivize employers to lay off workers

Three Republican senators have opposed fast-tracking legislation seeking to stimulate the economy amid the coronavirus outbreak, saying there is a “massive drafting error” that would give a “a strong incentive for employees to be laid off instead of going to work.”

Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska in a joint statement said they could not back expediting the bill until the text was changed or the Department of Labor issued guidance that “no American would earn more by not working than by working.“

“This isn’t an abstract, philosophical point,” the senators said. “It’s an immediate, real-world problem. If the federal government accidentally incentivizes layoffs, we risk life-threatening shortages in sectors where doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are trying to care for the sick, and where growers and grocers, truckers and cooks are trying to get food to families’ tables.”


Young athletes have rug pulled out from under them in wake of coronavirus pandemic

Like many young athletes today, sports were my salvation when I was growing up.

Whether it was playing at the Little League and park-and-recreation levels or competing in four sports in high school, or just staging our own Olympics and Wiffle ball games in our backyard, sports played an integral part in my life.

And when I wasn’t playing sports, I was glued to the television, watching myriad sporting events, or taking in games at venues around Southern California.

Unfortunately, all of those activities have been halted for current young athletes in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.



Lawmakers have negotiated a $2-trillion coronavirus stimulus package. What happens next?

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers in the wee hours of Wednesday morning agreed on a rescue package for the U.S. economy that is the largest in the history of the nation. Democrats and Republicans came to an agreement on roughly $2 trillion meant to help workers and distressed businesses hurt by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Here’s what you need to know:



A search for answers in teen’s death that may be linked to coronavirus

Officials are trying to determine whether a teenager in Lancaster died of coronavirus and are awaiting the results of more testing.

The boy’s father, an Uber driver, has the virus, but it remains unclear how the boy may have contracted it.



Tokyo Olympics could be held before the summer of 2021

A day after announcing the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, the head of the International Olympic Committee suggested the competition might be rescheduled at some point before the summer of 2021.

Speaking with hundreds of reporters in a teleconference on Wednesday, IOC President Thomas Bach said a newly formed task force would face the “huge jigsaw puzzle” of setting a new date amid the continuing coronavirus outbreak.

“That means this task force can consider the broader picture,” he said. “This is not just restricted to the summer months. All the options are on the table.”

Working in a group dubbed “Here We Go,” representatives from the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee are set to hold their first meeting on Thursday. They plan to focus on creating an open space in an already crowded 2021 sports calendar.



Watch live: White House news conference expected at 2 p.m. PT


Israel to go on lockdown

The Israeli government followed European countries and several states on Wednesday in announcing strict new measures intended to combat the coronavirus outbreak. The new restrictions impose a virtual lockdown on Israelis and effectively keep citizens in their homes except for emergency situations.

Members of the public may not venture farther than 3,000 feet from their homes except for provable instances of need; one family member may exit the home once a day for the purposes of restocking food and medicine, going to an urgent doctor’s appointment, making a blood donation, attending an obligatory court appearance, or going to a public protest.

Cars can only carry two people at a time, and even individual sports, such as jogging, have been forbidden in public spaces Communal outdoor prayer, up to 10 people, is allowed with the individuals standing 6 feet apart.

Public transportation has been almost completely halted. Police and border police vehicles started patrolling residential neighborhoods at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Anyone caught defying the orders risks incurring a fine of up to $1,400.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was set to address the nation later Wednesday night.


Trump’s refusal to use wartime powers to direct scarce medical supplies has left states fighting it out

WASHINGTON — When President Trump invoked emergency war powers last week to fight the coronavirus outbreak, many were hopeful that the federal government would take charge in addressing the nation’s dire shortage of ventilators, protective masks and other critical gear for patients and medical staff.

But Trump has not made actual use of the powers granted in the Korean War-era law known as the Defense Production Act, even though state governors, health experts and lawmakers of his own party have appealed to the administration to employ that authority to bulk up production of medical equipment and supplies and, just as critically, to ensure that they’re distributed to areas of most urgent need.

Trump’s reluctance to take a more assertive role — instead forcing states to fend for themselves and bid against one another — has created confusion and competition. And it has at times tied the hands of his own administration officials designated to lead the White House response to the pandemic.



BTS, Billie Eilish to join James Corden for quarantine edition of ‘Late Late Show’

Leave it to “Carpool Karaoke” mastermind James Corden to round up some of the biggest names in music for a special quarantine edition of “The Late Late Show.”

On March 30, the English comedian will host “Homefest: James Corden’s Late Late Show Special” from his garage, accompanied remotely by Billie Eilish, BTS, John Legend and more.

In addition to featuring appearances from Hollywood stars such as Will Ferrell and David Blaine, the hourlong program will include musical performances from BTS in South Korea, Andrea Bocelli in Italy and Dua Lipa in London, as well as Eilish, Finneas and Legend in Los Angeles.



Costa Mesa balked at using vacant facility for patients. Now it may relent

Federal and state officials are again eyeing the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa as a possible place to house coronavirus patients or surplus hospital patients in an effort to provide adequate care space, City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison said Tuesday.

The announcement came one month after the city fought tooth and nail to keep federal and state agencies from sending people who had tested positive for COVID-19 to Fairview, which until recently housed adults with developmental and behavioral disabilities.

Now, Farrell Harrison said, the various government agencies are closer to being on the same page.



Gov. Cuomo: Nearly 3,800 hospitalized in New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state has climbed to 3,800, with close to 900 in intensive care.

New York officials are keeping a close eye on already-stressed hospitals as the number of cases is projected to rise for perhaps three more weeks.

Cuomo said Wednesday that as many as 140,000 hospital beds may be needed in a state with 53,000. New York has more than 30,000 confirmed cases and 285 deaths. The state’s figures, the highest in the nation, are driven primarily by New York City.


‘Cacophony of coughing’: Inside New York City’s coronavirus-besieged ERs

A “cacophony of coughing” in packed emergency rooms. Beds squeezed in wherever there is space. Overworked, sleep-deprived doctors and nurses rationed to one face mask a day and wracked by worry about a dwindling number of ventilators.

Such is the reality inside New York City’s hospitals, which have become the war-zone-like epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus crisis.

Read more >>>


Citing virus, Putin delays vote that would extend his rule

Citing the coronavirus, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday postponed a nationwide vote on proposed constitutional amendments that include a change potentially allowing him to stay in office until 2036.

Putin didn’t set a new date for the plebiscite originally scheduled for April 22, saying that it would depend on how the pandemic develops in Russia.

Read more >>>


Wanted: A coronavirus test to identify people who were infected and then recovered

In the coronavirus pandemic, the next testing challenge will be to diagnose the recovered.

Identifying those who are no longer sick with COVID-19 may not seem as urgent as testing those who may be newly infected. So why scramble to confirm that patients have returned to health or find ones who never seemed sick in the first place?

The answer: Because they can provide care, and perhaps a cure, for those who are sick with COVID-19. And their numbers will offer a barometer of how near we are to this pandemic’s end.

Read more >>>


Baton Rouge pastor continues to hold church services

HOUSTON — Despite a stay-at-home order this week from Louisiana’s governor, the Rev. Tony Spell was praying over a woman in his Baton Rouge church on Wednesday morning.

“God in the name of Jesus, I want you to touch her; I want you to heal her body; I want the spirit of peace and God to go forth with her,” the evangelical pastor intoned.

As city and state officials across the country ordered people to remain at home to combat the virus’ spread, people have been defying those orders: partying on beaches, picnicking in parks and hiking in groups. But Spell’s Pentecostal services in Baton Rouge, which drew 1,800 people last Sunday, pose a unique challenge in this deeply Christian state where counties are referred to as parishes — one that pits constitutional rights to freedom of religion and speech against efforts to protect public health.

Critics posted a petition online demanding Louisiana officials charge Spell with reckless endangerment. More than 3,900 people have signed it.

“Our lives matter! This minister is putting our lives in danger and needs to pay the price!” wrote petitioner Van Maulden of Zachary, La.

The stakes are particularly high in Louisiana, where doctors say large gatherings during Mardi Gras last month likely fostered COVID-19, as revelers filled Bourbon Street, caught packed streetcars and marched in parades. It’s now spreading faster there than anywhere else in the world, with 1,388 cases and 46 deaths, most of those in New Orleans.



Jackson Browne has the coronavirus and a message for young people: ‘Don’t go anywhere’

California singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, 71, has tested positive for the coronavirus and has something to say about it.

“So many people that have it aren’t going to be tested. ... They don’t have symptoms, but they might have it and might be able to pass it on,” Browne told Rolling Stone upon revealing his diagnosis late Tuesday.

Read more >>>


Coronavirus means social distancing. For flight attendants, it’s suddenly easier

As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world and in the United States, the airline industry is taking a major financial hit. Airlines have reduced flights dramatically because of decreased passenger demand.

Delta has announced system-wide flight reductions of 70%. American will cut domestic and international flights by 20% and 75%, respectively. United is slashing international flying by 85%.

The International Air Transport Assn. predicts airlines could lose more than $131 billion in sales if the coronavirus is not contained soon.

Read more >>>


Officials say the worst is still ahead for California: ‘The peak will be bad’

With coronavirus-related deaths in California climbing to 55, state officials are warning that the worst is still to come as the virus continues to spread.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned Tuesday that residents should be prepared for more loss of life as the pandemic expands.

Garcetti said L.A. could be six to 12 days from seeing similar numbers to the outbreak in New York City, where the death toll has dramatically increased in recent days.

“It’s coming,” Garcetti said. “The peak is not here yet. The peak will be bad. People will lose their lives.”



A quarantine diary from thriller author Steph Cha

We asked authors, who are stuck at home like the rest of us, to track what they read, hear, watch and listen to over several days of isolation. Today’s quarantine diary is from Steph Cha, the author of “Your House Will Pay” and other L.A.-based thrillers.



L.A. threatens to shut off water, power to businesses breaking coronavirus rules

Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed frustration and outrage that some nonessential businesses remained open despite coronavirus restrictions and vowed Los Angeles would take action against them.

Garcetti said his office was still receiving daily reports of nonessential businesses that continued to operate as normal — behavior he called “irresponsible and selfish.”

He also announced a Safer at Home business-ambassadors initiative that aims to bring about greater compliance from businesses that are ignoring the city’s order to close.

Such businesses should also expect to get a warning call from local prosecutors before the city takes more aggressive action, including turning off their water and power, he said.



The outbreak leaves Southland airports eerily empty

Airline service in the United States is teetering on the brink of collapse. Even with sharply reduced schedules, airlines are consolidating some of the remaining flights because passengers aren’t showing up.

Los Angeles Times photographers took a look at the changing landscape inside Southland airports. Here are some of the empty and surreal scenes.



U.S. stocks slip the morning after their mighty surge

Stocks on Wall Street opened higher Wednesday but more than erased those gains in the first half-hour of trading, dimming hopes for the market’s first back-to-back gain since its brutal sell-off began last month on worries about the coronavirus outbreak.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 1.2% around 7:15 a.m. Pacific, the day after packing a year’s worth of gains into Tuesday on expectations that Washington was close to a $2-trillion deal to aid the economy. The Dow was down 0.3%. On Tuesday, it surged 11.4%, its biggest gain since 1933. The Nasdaq was down 1.2%.

Congress and the White House did announce an agreement early Wednesday, and the Senate may vote on it later in the day. Investors were anxiously waiting for this kind of aid, which would help blunt the blow to the economy as businesses shut down to slow the spread of the coronavirus.



Fairview Developmental Center again on the table as a possible place for COVID-19 patients

Federal and state officials are again eyeing the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa as a possible place to house COVID-19 patients or surplus hospital patients in an effort to provide adequate care space, City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison said Tuesday.

The announcement came one month after the city fought tooth and nail to keep federal and state agencies from sending people who had tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus to Fairview, which until recently housed adults with developmental and behavioral disabilities.

Now, Farrell Harrison said, the various government agencies are closer to being on the same page.



Will California’s coronavirus crisis look like Italy’s soon?

It begins each day in the early afternoon: Patients stream into hospitals with fevers, shakes, chills and breathing problems. In Italy, the latest country hardest hit by the new coronavirus, it’s been happening seemingly like clockwork.

“It’s really hard to see so many people sick at the same time,” Dr. Roberto Cosentini, a doctor in the northern city of Bergamo near Milan, said in a podcast for emergency room physicians. “It’s like a regular daily earthquake.”

Is this what’s in store for California?



Sen. Mitt Romney tests negative

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah says he has tested negative for the coronavirus.

Romney posted on Twitter, “Thankfully I’ve tested negative for COVID-19.”

Romney says guidance from his physician is consistent with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and requires him to remain in quarantine. He says the test “does not rule out the onset of symptoms during the 14-day period.”

Romney was the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. He was the only Senate Republican to vote against President Trump at Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.


L.A. County sheriff suspends efforts to close gun stores

One day after announcing that gun shops were nonessential businesses that needed to close their doors amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has shelved efforts to shut them down.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed the development on Twitter early Wednesday morning, writing that department “efforts to close nonessential businesses have been suspended” and that Gov. Gavin Newsom would “determine what qualifies” as one.

Villanueva didn’t explain the rationale for the about-face in his post but linked to a Fox 11 news segment in which reporter Bill Melugin said the sheriff told him in a phone call that “the county’s top lawyer put out a legal opinion that she believes gun stores are essential businesses and should remain open.”



Zimbabwean public hospital doctors strike over lack of protective gear

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s public hospital doctors are going on strike over what they call a lack of adequate protective gear as the coronavirus begins to spread in a country whose health system has almost collapsed.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Assn. president, Tawanda Zvakada, says doctors are at “high risk” of contracting the virus: “Right now we are exposed and no one seems to care.”

He says doctors have an inadequate stocks of gloves, masks and gowns.

The southern African nation has reported three cases of COVID-19 and recorded its first death this week.


Amid the pandemic, European air quality improves, agency says

BRUSSELS — With a soaring infection rate, steadily growing death toll and enforced quarantine, it’s hard to see the positive side of the coronavirus, but the European Environment Agency says that air quality is improving.

The EEA said Wednesday that new data confirmed “large decreases in air pollutant concentrations — of nitrogen dioxide concentrations in particular — largely due to reduced traffic and other activities, especially in major cities under lockdown measures.”

Nitrogen dioxide is mainly emitted by road transport, and the agency says levels of the pollutant in northern Italy, the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, are ranging from 21% to 47% lower this month than in March 2019.

Similar trends have been seen in other parts of Europe under lockdown. Levels in Barcelona and Madrid in Spain dropped by 40% to 55% in the week of March 16-22, while NO2 levels in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon also dropped 40% over the same week.

The agency notes that air pollution contributes to respiratory and heart disease but that it’s not yet clear whether exposure to such gases might worsen the condition of people with COVID-19.

EEA chief Hans Bruyninckx made the point that crisis measures were not the way to tackle air pollution. “Addressing long-term air-quality problems requires ambitious policies and forward-looking investments,” he says.


How the coronavirus outbreak turned supermarket workers into heroes

Raymond Lopez doesn’t carry a stethoscope or wear a gun. He’s more at home on a loading dock than in a fire station.

But as a grocery store worker, Lopez is on the front lines of our daily battle against a new enemy: coronavirus pandemic panic.

He’s been working at Vons since he snagged a summer job as a bagger in Camarillo, 33 years ago.

“Back then, everybody aspired to be a grocery worker,” Lopez told me. “It put food on the table, and you could support a family.”



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Emily Patton is a pediatric occupational therapist, working with kids facing a variety of developmental challenges, including autism, cerebral palsy and attention deficit disorder.

Like many other service providers, her work has dried up as businesses shut their doors and millions of Americans shelter in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

And like many such professionals, Patton, 27, is saddled with a huge pile of debt resulting from her student loan — about $120,000, requiring a monthly payment of $1,100.

The Culver City resident also has to pony up $1,600 a month in rent and $250 for her monthly car payment, then cover the basic costs of day-to-day life.