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.
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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.
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.
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.”
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: https://www.ebparks.org/news/displaynews.htm?NewsID=316&TargetID=3
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.
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.
Some people are trying to ride out the pandemic in the mountains and desert. That’s not a great idea
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
‘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.”
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:
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.”
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’
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Column: Lenders say they’ll be flexible during this pandemic. But you’ll still have to pay
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.
Deal reached on $2-trillion stimulus bill — largest by far in U.S. history
WASHINGTON —After haggling for days over the final details, Senate Democrats and the White House agreed Wednesday to a nearly $2-trillion stimulus package to combat the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak, including direct payments to most Americans and a half-trillion-dollar fund to shore up struggling companies.
The stimulus bill — by far the largest ever proposed — comes with a price tag equivalent to 9% of the nation’s gross domestic product and is meant to provide direct financial aid to help individuals, hospitals and businesses. It includes $300 billion for small businesses, $150 billion for local and state governments and $130 billion for hospitals, according to those involved in the negotiations.
Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) negotiated through Monday night and all day Tuesday to resolve outstanding issues.