Coronavirus updates: Hate incidents toward Asian Americans rise, head of L.A. County commission says

The Pasadena City Council opened the Rose Bowl Loop on Wednesday allowing visitors to enjoy the popular 3-mile trail around the Rose Bowl stadium.
The Pasadena City Council opened the Rose Bowl Loop on Wednesday allowing visitors to enjoy the popular 3-mile trail around the Rose Bowl stadium.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

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

Coronavirus updates for May 12 are here

Strong typhoon roars toward pandemic-hit Philippines

A strong typhoon roared toward the eastern Philippines on Thursday as authorities work to evacuate tens of thousands of people while avoiding overcrowding in shelters that could spread the coronavirus.

The first typhoon to hit the country this year is expected to slam ashore later Thursday, weather agency administrator Vicente Malano said.

The Philippines was bracing for the typhoon while trying to fight COVID-19 outbreaks largely by locking Filipinos in their homes and prohibiting gatherings that can set off infections. More than 11,600 infections, including 772 deaths, have been reported in the country.

Typhoon Vongfong was last spotted 143 miles off Northern Samar province with maximum sustained winds of 93 miles per hour and gusts of up to 185 mph.

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Washington state allows bunk beds for farmworkers despite coronavirus risks

Fruit growers prevailed over unions Wednesday as Washington state issued regulations intended to protect farmworkers from the coronavirus.

Unions wanted the state to ban the use of bunk beds in housing that growers provide for as many as 30,000 temporary laborers who work in the state each summer. State officials acknowledged that bunks could increase the risk of contagion because they pack more worked together in tight quarters.

But growers argued that a loss of the top beds would leave half their workers without housing and wreck the state’s $4.5-billion fruit industry, leading to shortages of apples, pears and cherries and price hikes for consumers.

In the final rules issued Wednesday, state health, labor and industry agencies relented, letting growers keep the bunk beds — with some conditions.

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Chula Vista church sues Newsom, San Diego County over coronavirus stay-at-home orders

Another church has filed a lawsuit in San Diego federal court alleging the stay-home orders of Gov. Gavin Newsom illegally deprive them of their religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution because the orders prohibit communal services.

The suit was filed by the South Bay United Pentecostal Church of Chula Vista last week and contends that the stay-at-home orders issued by Newsom and essentially duplicated by San Diego County officials discriminate against religious institutions. It seeks an injunction stopping enforcement of the ban on religious gatherings and a ruling saying the orders violate constitutional rights of speech, assembly and religious expression, among others.

The claims are similar to those filed by another San Diego County church, Abiding Place Ministries, in April, as well as similar suits filed by other congregations around the state. A hearing is set for Friday in front of U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant.

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The whole world is spending to fight coronavirus. In Mexico, the leftist president is making cuts

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is one of the world’s most powerful leftists — a longtime champion of the poor who delivers scathing indictments of neoliberalism and the global elite.

Yet his approach to government spending — even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout — might best be compared to that of conservative icons Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

López Obrador has eliminated entire government departments, slashed the salaries of officials and cancelled Christmas bonuses. Those cost-cutting measures come on top of steep cuts enacted early on in his administration that targeted everything from the country’s Olympic training program to public hospitals.

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Rise in hate incidents toward Asian Americans during coronavirus crisis, head of L.A. County commission says

Hate crimes and incidents directed at Asian Americans have surged during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, whose director said Wednesday that civic groups and police departments have fielded more than 100 reports of hate incidents tied to the pandemic from February through April.

Many of these incidents were “acts of hate-motivated hostility” that did not amount to hate crimes but were no less jarring, the commission’s director, Robin Toma, said in a virtual town hall.

He described several reported incidents: A man spewed racial and misogynistic epithets at an Asian American woman walking her dog. A resident of an apartment complex, assuming an Asian tenant had contracted the coronavirus, tried to get that tenant evicted. A bomb threat targeted “a major Asian American institution,” which Toma didn’t identify by name.

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Riverside County adopts alternative plan to reopen the local economy

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to approve a Readiness and Reopening Framework that outlines alternative benchmarks toward reopening the local economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The document addresses the criteria that Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out last week in his reopening plan but proposes alternatives to the metrics, which local officials called unrealistic for an urban county as large as Riverside County. The county has about 2.5 million residents.

Rather than waiting until the county has fewer than one new COVID-19 case per 10,000 residents and zero deaths for 14 days, the locally approved framework offers a less rigid plan.

Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez said the new plan is an effort to establish balance between the county and the state, rather than reopening against Newsom’s wishes like Yuba County. He said he hopes Newsom will negotiate with Riverside County.
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California community colleges sue U.S. for denying COVID-19 funds to undocumented students, others

The nation’s largest community college system is suing the federal government for denying coronavirus relief funds to more than a half-million California students, including DACA recipients and many of those from low-income families.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley and the system’s board of governors filed suit this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against the Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos over eligibility restrictions placed on the use of federal aid money for students, arguing that the restrictions are unconstitutional.

“The Department of Education ignored the intent of the CARES Act to give local colleges discretion to aid students most affected by the pandemic, and instead has arbitrarily excluded as many as 800,000 community college students,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in a statement.

The CARES Act, approved by Congress March 27, set aside $14 billion for higher education relief. At least half of the money must go directly to students in the form of emergency grants.
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Coronavirus piles new pressures on foster children and caretakers

NEW YORK — Jessica Overstreet first entered foster care at age 14, separated from her siblings and knowing very little about what her new life meant aside from what she had seen in the popular musical “Annie.” So for a while, at the beginning, she kept her status a secret.

Her case manager was “a very good person,” she said, but so overwhelmed that Overstreet wishes she had more one-on-one time to share how hard it was to be separated from her family.

“We had Zoom, we had Skype and stuff like that. But it wasn’t utilized at all,” Overstreet, now 26 and living on her own in Tampa, Fla., recalled in a video interview.

Foster children have enormous challenges even in the best of times. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens them with even greater turmoil, isolating them from adult supervisors and friends and making it harder to move on to new lives — either with biological or adoptive families, or as newly independent adults.
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Saturday classes? Schools consider ways to make up lost time

When students return to school after a lengthy pandemic-induced absence, the consensus is they will have lost significant academic ground. Still unresolved for governments and educators are the questions of how — or even whether — teachers should try to make up for lost learning.

Some have proposed holding evening or Saturday classes for students to catch up. A Maryland senator has proposed school year-round. In California, the governor has suggested the next school year could begin as soon as July.

But any remediation plans will be complicated by social distancing mandates that may require smaller class sizes and budget cuts that appear imminent because of falling local and state revenues. In surveys, many educators say the fall will be no time to pile on additional schoolwork.

“First and foremost, we need to recognize that we have young people in front of us who have gone through a traumatic experience,” said Andres Perez, a Chula Vista high school teacher who warns against moving too fast to get back on track. “And right now, I think students and teachers really want to make school something that feels meaningful, that students are excited to go back to.”
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The Hollywood Bowl domino effect: Layoffs and furloughs follow season cancellation

The Los Angeles Philharmonic‘s announcement Wednesday that it had been forced to cancel the 2020 seasons at the Hollywood Bowl and the Ford Theatres came with details of an $80 million budget shortfall and a painful ripple effect in the form of staff furloughs and layoffs.

The summer closure — the first in Bowl history — following the spring closure of Walt Disney Concert Hall has triggered the furloughing of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (65 musicians and staff) and 25% of the L.A. Phil’s full-time, non-union workforce (about 50 people) through September. A total of 226 seasonal employees at the Hollywood Bowl have been laid off.

These cuts come on the heels of reductions announced in early April that included the layoffs of 94 part-time L.A. Phil employees and pay cuts of more than 35% for the leadership team. L.A. Phil orchestra musicians have been receiving 65% of their weekly minimum scale since April 20.
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Meet the robot dog enforcing social distancing in Singapore

SINGAPORE — Leaves crunch underfoot as Spot marches through the park, back straight as a tabletop, stride brisk as a soldier’s.

A grassy field encircled by trees beckons. But Spot is focused on the asphalt path ahead, where a few joggers and bicyclists are out for some socially distanced sunshine.

A cyclist in a brimmed hat rides past. Spot pipes up, not with a bark, but with a recorded message.

“Let’s keep Singapore healthy,” comes a woman’s voice, polite but firm. “For your own safety, and for those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you.”
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Drive-ins in New Jersey, haircuts in Florida, gyms in Iowa — a patchwork of coronavirus rules grows

In New Jersey, residents can go to drive-in movies, church services and other “gatherings of vehicles” starting Wednesday, and curbside retail will resume within days, the governor announced.

In Louisiana, restaurants can open their doors over the weekend to a quarter of their former capacity, with reservations-only dining in New Orleans.

But in northern Virginia, the governor has put into place two more weeks of stay-at-home rules as other parts of the state reopen. Across the Potomac in Washington, D.C., the mayor is continuing restrictions until at least June 8.

As the U.S. death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, an increasingly complicated patchwork of regulations is growing, governing where residents can go and what they can do as regions lift some restrictions and clamp down on others.
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Will there be a second round of coronavirus stimulus checks? Probably not soon

As unemployment numbers rise and the economy continues to slide due to the coronavirus outbreak, millions of Americans are probably wondering: Will there be another stimulus check?

It’s possible, but it’s not looking likely in the immediate future.

House Democrats announced a $3-trillion plan on Tuesday that would provide another round of $1,200 checks to Americans and expand the number of people eligible to receive the stimulus benefit.

The bill, called the Heroes Act, would also give $900 billion to state and local governments, earmark $200 billion in hazard pay for healthcare workers, provide relief for student loans, mortgages and rent, and extend enhanced unemployment benefits through January.
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When will national parks reopen? Grand Canyon and others have phased plans

National parks in the West are starting to open their gates, and more are likely to follow as the National Park Service boosts access and services in a “phased approach across all units” of the system. Each park said it has worked with federal as well as local public health officials in crafting reopening plans.

In many cases, parks will reopen as they closed — by varying timetables, depending on the park and its region. The agency said decisions would follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as regional and local health authorities.

The CDC has dedicated a web page for visitors on how to stay safe in park settings.
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Drew League will shut down this summer because of coronavirus

Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley could see it — the biggest summer yet. Inside a new home at El Camino College, imagine LeBron James suiting up next to his son, Bronny. Maybe Drake, who name-checked the league on his latest album, is calling the game on the mic.

“Being there,” Smiley said, “you never know who is coming.”

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those plans will have to wait. No one will be coming because the league will shutter for the first time since in was founded in Los Angeles in 1973.

“We didn’t want to shortchange what we’ve been doing. We want to bring the same energy that we’ve been doing for these past 46 years,” Smiley said. “… We just didn’t see it.”
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Orange County coronavirus death toll reaches 80 as hospitalizations hit new high

Orange County health officials on Wednesday reported a new high for coronavirus hospitalizations, noting there are currently 248 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the county.

While the total number of those hospitalized increased from 230 reported the day before, the number of patients in intensive care dropped to 98 from 100 the previous day.

The number of coronavirus cases also rose on Wednesday, with an additional 157 infections among residents, bringing the overall total to 3,749 cases in the county. Officials also confirmed three new deaths, for a total of 80 coronavirus-related fatalities.

Of those who have tested positive for the virus, 400 were in skilled nursing homes and 322 are Orange County jail inmates, according to county data.

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Can the coronavirus live on clothes and shoes? And for how long?

As Los Angeles County embarks on a slow reopening, there are more reasons to leave the house: Some stores are offering curbside pickup, hikers are headed back to some trails and beachgoers can dip their toes in the Pacific.

Going outside typically requires wearing clothes. So with the coronavirus still a very real threat, how worried do you have to be about the virus hitching a ride home on your shirt, pants or shoes?

How long does the virus live on clothing?

Experts believe the virus can live for up to 24 hours on clothing and similar surfaces. Exposure to a smaller concentration of the virus could reduce that time to just five minutes, according to a 2005 study on the virus that causes SARS, which has properties similar to those of the new coronavirus.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine in March has been at the center of much of the discussion of how long the coronavirus can survive on different surfaces. Researchers found that the virus could live up to four days on glass, three days on hard metal surfaces and plastic, and up to 24 hours on cardboard.

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California’s $1-billion masks deal with Chinese automaker faces uncertainty. Here’s why

Federal regulators offered new details Wednesday about problems that have delayed a $1-billion deal between California and a Chinese automaker for respirators, saying they denied certification of the masks after inspections of the company’s factories in China and a review of critical documents belonging to the project.

In a statement to The Times, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said it notified car maker BYD on May 4 that on-site visits to the company’s manufacturing and production facilities in China had resulted in a rating of “Not Acceptable.” The agency also said its “review of documentation provided to NIOSH for the design, manufacturing and quality inspection of the device was concerning.”

NIOSH said it denied BYD’s bid for federal approval of its N95 masks “based on a number of factors” but declined to elaborate, saying that information is confidential under federal rules.

The company has submitted a total of four applications of N95 respirators, according to a letter from the regulatory agency. Three of the applications were denied and a fourth was withdrawn, a NIOSH official told The Times.

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L.A. County says no end date for stay-at-home rules but eases more restrictions

Public health officials on Wednesday continued easing restrictions on Los Angeles County businesses by allowing thousands of retail shops and manufacturing companies to reopen with limitations while extending the county’s stay-at-home order indefinitely.

Some portions of the local economy began to reopen Friday, with bookstores, clothing stores, flower shops and other retailers offering curbside pickup after weeks-long closures. The businesses permitted to reopen this week include thousands of retailers. The public will not be permitted to enter the stores, but can pick up items curbside, County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

At the same time, Ferrer extended the county’s stay-at-home order, which was implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus and has barred gatherings and mandated physical distancing requirements. She said there is no end date to the revised health order.

“As I’ve said from the beginning, this will be a slow journey,” Ferrer said.

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San Francisco and two other Bay Area counties plan to partially reopen Monday

MENLO PARK — At least three Bay Area cities and counties — San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin — plan to incrementally ease their social distancing restrictions on Monday, one day after Santa Clara County said it would continue with its current precautions to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

San Mateo previously had some of California’s most stringent shelter-in-place orders, but county health officials said Wednesday that conditions had improved enough to modify the requirements.

“I want to remind everyone these modifications are not being made because it is safe to be out and about,” said Scott Morrow, the county’s public health officer, in a statement. “The virus continues to circulate in our community, and this increase in interactions among people is likely to spread the virus at a higher rate.”

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said that all retail businesses in the city with direct entrances to streets would be allowed to reopen for curbside service on Monday. Warehouses and manufacturing could also reopen, subject to social distancing requirements.

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California allows 12 counties to reopen; 31 others lobby to join them

California officials said Wednesday that 12 of the state’s 58 counties — most of them rural — will be allowed to more fully reopen.

Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Tuolumne, Yuba, Sutter and Shasta have been certified as meeting the state’s conditions for additional businesses to reopen.

“This is a dynamic process, and we don’t want to delay unnecessarily based on timelines,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during his daily coronavirus news conference. “It’s not about timelines, it’s not about deadlines. It’s simply about data and it’s about health.”

Talks are underway with 31 other California counties to discuss whether they can expand their reopenings, the governor said, but he noted that conditions are still too serious in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties to modify guidelines for resuming business in those areas.

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Wuhan reopened last month. Now, new coronavirus infections spark fresh restrictions and fear

People line up for coronavirus testing in Wuhan, China, where the city government has required that all residents be tested after new cases were reported.
People line up for coronavirus testing in Wuhan, China, where the city government has required that all residents be tested after new cases were reported.
(for the Times)

WUHAN, China — Red lanterns swung in the wind above beeping thermometers. A line jerked forward every few minutes, moving like toy soldiers through a socially distanced assembly line. Medical staff in goggles and face shields manned three tables: one for registration and temperatures, two for testing.

“Open your mouth,” the staff commanded over and over. The residents in the Jade Belt apartment complex obeyed, wincing, sometimes gagging, as the workers scraped the backs of their throats with long cotton swabs. Security guards hovered around the area, cordoned off with string.

The Jade Belt residents — a few wearing raincoats as protection — were among the first in line after the city government ordered Monday for all Wuhan residents to be tested for the coronavirus within 10 days. The action was a swift response to six new cases of COVID-19 reported on Sunday — the first new infections since early April.

The 10-day time frame appeared implausible based on the city’s testing capacity. It was also somewhat impractical given that the limited accuracy of the nucleic acid virus tests were not followed by restrictions on movement. One could test negative on Wednesday morning, have lunch with an asymptomatic person that afternoon, and become infected without knowing.

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L.A. County beaches reopen


Hollywood Bowl season canceled for the first time in 98 years

Fireworks punctuate the Hollywood Bowl's summertime Tchaikovsky Spectacular.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

For the first time in its nearly 100-year history, the Hollywood Bowl is canceling its entire season — a loss that amounts to far more than opening night with Brandi Carlile, the film screenings and sing-alongs, the concerts starring Diana Ross, Yuja Wang and Janelle Monae that were to have followed.

The Hollywood Bowl is summer in Los Angeles. It is running, dizzy, down Highland Avenue with friends after a drink at the Frolic Room or a chilled martini at Musso & Frank.



Rose Bowl loop reopens to public

The 3.1-mile loop around Rose Bowl Stadium reopened Wednesday morning after a weeks-long closure prompted by safety concerns over the coronavirus.

The City Council made the move earlier this week following an outcry from visitors asking for the loop — a draw for walkers, joggers and bicyclists — to be reopened, said Pasadena spokeswoman Lisa Derderian. The reopening came days after Los Angeles County reopened trails, parks and golf courses, including Brookside golf course, adjacent to the Rose Bowl.

The City Council also moved to reopen hiking trails in the nearby foothills.



Thunderbirds will fly over Southern California to honor coronavirus workers

Thunderbirds take a practice run over Huntington Beach in 2018.
The Thunderbirds take a practice run over Huntington Beach in 2018.
(Mark Boster / For The Times)

California workers battling on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus will be honored from the sky during two military salutes this week.

Taking off from Fresno on Wednesday, four California Air National Guard F-15C Eagle fighter jets will soar over hospitals and medical centers, fire stations and government buildings. The flight is part of a nationwide show of support for healthcare workers, first responders and other essential workers aiding the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six F-16C/D Fighting Falcons will fly over San Diego and Los Angeles in honor of healthcare workers, first responders, members of the military and others working during the pandemic.



America has lost 600,000 clean energy jobs. Here are ideas for bringing them back

The United States shed more than half a million clean energy jobs in March and April, a new report says, reversing years of growth in an industry that has helped reduce lung-damaging air pollution and the emissions responsible for climate change.

Clean energy employment has fallen by 17% since the coronavirus brought much of daily life to a screeching halt, according to unemployment data analyzed by BW Research and published Wednesday by advocacy group Environmental Entrepreneurs. The numbers are especially grim in California, where 105,000 clean energy workers have lost their jobs, more than any other state.

Los Angeles County lost nearly 15,000 clean energy jobs in April alone, two-and-a-half times as many as any other U.S. county.



Reopening restaurants and malls will be slower in some parts of California

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced more guidelines Tuesday that will allow a greater number of California businesses to open their doors.

But it’s likely that parts of the state hit hardest by the coronavirus will reopen later than areas — mostly in rural counties — that have seen fewer cases.

Here is what we know:

What additional businesses can reopen?

California restaurants and shopping malls in counties that meet state standards for testing and success at reducing cases of the coronavirus can soon reopen, but all businesses will have to abide by state guidelines for physical distancing and cleaning regimens.

Newsom said restaurants could open for dine-in service in counties certified as meeting state benchmarks for addressing the pandemic but should adopt measures to guard against spreading the virus.



Waiting for coronavirus stimulus check? Direct deposit information is due Wednesday

Haven’t gotten a stimulus check yet? The IRS is giving folks until 9 a.m. PST Wednesday to provide direct deposit information using its online portal. Those who don’t will get a paper check.

The IRS has issued about $209 billion in payments to 127 million Americans, including just under $22.5 billion through about 13.6 million payments to Californians.

The payments of up to $1,200 per adult were authorized by Congress in March as a speedy way to get cash to Americans while the economy is shut down. But the reality of reaching the nation’s 327 million residents, many of whom might not have direct banking information on file with the IRS, has caused delays.

While millions of Americans have been able to log into the IRS’ Get My Payment site to confirm or provide their banking information, others have been unable to match the personal information the IRS has to simply log into the site.



Lockdown ends and the locks fall down as a New Zealand barber gets back to business

New Zealand barber Conrad Fitz-Gerald cuts the hair of a customer.
Conrad Fitz-Gerald cuts the hair of a customer just past midnight in Christchurch, New Zealand.
(Mark Baker / Associated Press)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The raggedy coronavirus hairstyles and scruffy beards have been there for all to see on video calls, so barber Conrad Fitz-Gerald decided to reopen his shop at midnight Wednesday night — the moment New Zealand dropped most of its lockdown restrictions as the nation prepared itself for a new normal.

Malls, retail stores and restaurants are all reopening Thursday in the South Pacific nation of 5 million, and many people are returning to their workplaces. But most gatherings will be limited to 10 people, and social distancing guidelines will remain in place.

The reopening reflects the success New Zealand has experienced in its bold goal of eliminating the virus. The country reported no new cases of the virus on Tuesday and Wednesday. More than 1,400 of the nearly 1,500 people in New Zealand who contracted COVID-19 have recovered, while 21 have died.

Fitz-Gerald said he’d had about 50 inquiries for midnight haircuts but limited the initial customers to a dozen, starting with his 18-year-old son. He planned to then go home and return at 6 a.m. for another round of cuts.



Guidance from the shelved CDC report was more restrictive than the White House plan

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Advice from the top U.S. disease control experts on how to safely reopen businesses and institutions during the coronavirus pandemic was more detailed and restrictive than the plan released by the White House last month.

The guidance, which was shelved by Trump administration officials, also offered recommendations to help communities decide when to shut facilities down again during future flare-ups of COVID-19.

The Associated Press obtained a 63-page document that was more detailed than other previously reported segments of the shelved guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It shows how the thinking of the CDC infection control experts differs from those in the White House managing the pandemic response.

The White House’s “Opening Up America Again” plan, released April 17, included some of the CDC’s approach but made clear that the onus for reopening decisions was solely on state governors and local officials.

By contrast, the organizational tool created by the CDC advocates for a coordinated national response to give community leaders step-by-step instructions to “help Americans re-enter civic life,” with the idea that there would be resurgences of the virus and lots of customization needed. The White House said last week that the document was a draft and not ready for release.



Free travel around Europe could be a permanent casualty of the coronavirus, some warn

BRUSSELS — The future of passport-free travel across 26 European countries is at risk if governments don’t ease the emergency border restrictions soon that they introduced to halt the spread of the coronavirus, European Union lawmakers and officials warn.

As the virus outbreaks expanded in Italy in February, the country’s neighbors imposed border measures to keep the disease out, without any consultation. Others then followed suit until almost half the members of the zone known as the Schengen area had reintroduced border controls of some kind.

Free movement is one of the pillars of the European Union, and helps business flourish by allowing goods and people to seamlessly cross borders. The Schengen agreement has come under pressure before, as countries introduced border measures in response to the arrival of more than 1 million migrants in 2015 and to a series of extremist attacks. Some countries have kept those controls in place.

European officials fear that the coronavirus could be a nail in the coffin of friction-free movement across a zone that includes countries such as Germany, France and Italy.

“The risk we are facing seriously today is the death of Schengen,” Tanja Fajon of Slovenia, a leading EU lawmaker on the border measures, said Tuesday. “It is in a very poor and problematic state. It has been hit years ago by the refugee crisis, and the virus delivered another blow.



Popular Angeles National Forest trails and campgrounds set to reopen

The trail to Timber Mountain in the Mt. Baldy area will reopen.
The trail to Timber Mountain in the Mount Baldy area will reopen Saturday.
(Mary Forgione / Los Angeles Times)

The Angeles National Forest north of Los Angeles on Saturday will reopen popular trails, trail heads, roads and campgrounds that have been shut since April 4 because of the coronavirus outbreak. New social distancing rules will be required when 23 trails, including those to Mt. Baldy and Mt. Wilson, and 19 roads reopen at the 700,000-acre site.

Hikers and other outdoor users are asked to wear masks, stay six feet apart and follow CDC guidelines that explain how to safely visit parks and recreation areas. Campers and picnickers should limit their group to “a family that lives together, not to extended families to come together,” forest spokesman Nathan Judy said Tuesday.

Judy emphasized that forest lands were reopened for recreational use, not to encourage people to gather in large groups for a picnic or party.

Parking lots, picnic areas and restrooms will open as well as Mt. Pacifico, Chilao, Manker Flat and Millard unreserved campgrounds. Seasonal campgrounds will remain closed. Also, fire restrictions for campers and picnickers are in place too.



Digital theater is all the rage, but could it destroy the live stage?

No one at this point can say when live performance will come back. Not the medical experts. Not theater owners and producers. And not the unions that represent the creative professionals whose livelihoods are in a state of suspended animation.

Digital is the only safe stage right now. Theaters, fighting for their lives, have been creatively exploring how to connect to their audiences with media technology. Richard Nelson wrote a play for Zoom, celebrated productions from the past are streaming, online benefit play-readings are proliferating and virtual town halls have become the new theater hangout.

Last week Center Theatre Group managing director and chief executive Meghan Pressman moderated an L.A. Theatre Speaks panel on the subject of creating theatrical content for online platforms. The speakers were enthusiastic yet understandably cautious. Digital dangles the promise of salvation yet has a track record of devastating financial disruption. But what other choice is available in a pandemic?

Yuval Sharon, artistic director of the Industry, an innovative opera company devoted to exploring nontraditional performance spaces, said he’s interested in “work that does not feel like it’s an apology” for our inability to gather in person. Digital is less appealing to him as a delivery system “for content we would normally do.” He’s more intrigued by “brand-new work” that is responsive to the tools that are still being discovered.



Grocery stores and coffee chains gave workers hazard pay. Now they’re taking it back

They called it hero pay.

As coronavirus cases soared and state and local governments issued stay at home orders, grocery workers navigating wraparound lines and panicked customers grew anxious about exposure to the virus.

Companies resorted to offering essential workers financial incentives in an effort to keep operations running. Major chains including Target, Walmart, CVS, Whole Foods, Costco, Sprouts and Kroger offered bonuses or temporary raises to employees.

Starbucks shuttered thousands of stores and offered all employees a month of paid leave. Those that stayed on to work the drive-throughs that remained open received a $3-an-hour raise.

But this rise in wages — the “hero bonuses” and “appreciation pay” — is already subsiding, even with the number of new infections refusing to fall. With Starbucks reopening stores, those $3 raises will terminate at the end of May. So will Target’s $2 hourly raise. Kroger-owned grocery chains such as Ralphs, QFC and Fred Meyer will stop paying an extra $2 per hour Sunday.



Airports are testing thermal cameras and other technology to screen travelers for COVID-19

Airports equipped with full-body scanners, metal detectors and face-recognition technology to identify potential terrorists are starting to make room for devices to target the latest global threat: travelers infected with the novel coronavirus.

Airports in the U.S. and overseas are testing thermal cameras, sanitation booths and other technologies in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus while reducing the risk of exposing airport screeners to the disease.

“This is going to be part of our normal travel system,” said Richard Salisbury, managing director and founder of Thermoteknix Systems, a British company that has developed thermal cameras for airport use. “It will be part of the fabric of our travel patterns.”

The pandemic has pushed demand for air travel down by as much as 95% in the U.S., and airport operators hope new screening technologies will give passengers renewed confidence to fly again.



A patient’s return to hospital COVID-19 unit underscores uncertainty to come

VICTORVILLE, Calif. — She sat in a corner of the hospital room, breathing into a tube designed to prevent pneumonia or the collapse of her lungs.

It was the fourth week of April, and the last two months had been so long and so monotonous that Janice Brown started counting the cars rolling by her window — just for something to do. The janitor and the nurses had become old acquaintances.

So, it seemed, had the coronavirus.

In the short annals of the Desert Valley Hospital’s COVID-19 unit, Brown is a person of some distinction. It’s a notoriety that no one would want — but sometimes in life you don’t get to pick what makes you special. Or how.

Brown, 66, was the first patient at Desert Valley to test positive for the coronavirus. One of the first to be released. She thought she was in the clear, spending weeks — masked but confident — walking around her sister’s home and backyard in Rancho Cucamonga.

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Most California voters say coronavirus is increasing inequality, especially among blacks, poll finds

A strong majority of California voters believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased inequality in the United States, with many noting that the crisis has had the greatest impact on black people, according to a new poll.

The poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies documents the hardship caused by the pandemic and the economic disruption surrounding it. The survey found that 70% of registered voters in the state somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that COVID-19 was increasing inequality, while less than 1% strongly disagreed, and 8% disagreed.

Most of those surveyed also agreed that there were racial disparities in the virus’ effect on different ethnic communities. Some 59% either somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that the coronavirus “impacts black people more than other groups.”

But Californians’ perceptions of inequality varied along party lines, as well as along education levels and by region. Those with more education, and respondents living in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, perceived inequality at much higher rates than their counterparts.



He’s free for now during the coronavirus outbreak. But a looming prison date has him fearing for his life

PHOENIX — These days, Johnny Madero almost never leaves the three-bedroom house he shares with his girlfriend and their two young sons.

In the evening, as the unrelenting desert sun disappears, the family sometimes walks to the end of the block and back. It’s never hard to stay more than six feet away from other people.

He takes comfort in knowing his family seems safe, but most nights bring panic. His mind slows and he ticks another day from the mental calendar — one day closer to his nightmare.

Next month, Madero must either accept a plea deal for six years in state prison on a DUI or risk a sentence of 12 to 27 years if found guilty at trial. Madero faces the harsh terms because he is on probation for a 2012 burglary conviction and a subsequent shoplifting arrest. None of the charges have involved violent behavior.

Madero fears, however, that the six years, which he is planning to accept, could prove to be a death sentence if he contracts the coronavirus in the Maricopa County jail or in a rural state prison where he would eventually be transferred.



Paul Manafort released from prison due to coronavirus concerns

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s onetime presidential campaign chairman who was convicted as part of the special counsel’s Russia investigation, has been released from federal prison to serve the rest of his sentence in home confinement due to concerns about the coronavirus, his lawyer said Wednesday.

Manafort, 71, was released Wednesday morning from FCI Loretto, a low-security prison in Pennsylvania, according to his attorney Todd Blanche. Manafort had been serving a sentence of more than seven years in prison following his conviction.

His lawyers had asked the Bureau of Prisons to release him to home confinement, arguing that he was at high risk for the coronavirus because of his age and preexisting medical conditions. Manafort was hospitalized in December after suffering from a heart-related condition, two people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press at the time. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Manafort was among the first people to be charged in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, which examined possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia before the 2016 election.



Lesotho becomes the last of Africa’s 54 nations to report a coronavirus case

Southern Africa’s tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho has confirmed its first positive case of COVID-19, making it the last of Africa’s 54 countries to report the disease.

The Lesotho health ministry says that one person, who recently arrived in the country, had tested positive without showing signs of illness. The patient is isolated.

Lesotho, a country of 2 million people, is surrounded by South Africa, which has the highest confirmed cases in Africa at 11,350.

The coronavirus has been slow to spread in Africa, but cases are rising. More than 69,500 cases have been confirmed and more than 2,400 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Japan may lift state of emergency early in some areas

TOKYO — Japan is considering a partial lifting of its coronavirus state of emergency, currently in place nationwide through May 31.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to make an announcement Thursday. Abe declared a monthlong state of emergency April 7 in Tokyo and six other urban prefectures, and later expanded it nationwide.

Japanese media say the lifting is expected in more than 30 prefectures where new cases of COVID-19 have decreased. Restrictions would remain in place in Tokyo and its neighboring areas, as well as Osaka, where medical systems are still under pressure.

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said that working from home should continue and residents should avoid trips after the state of emergency is lifted.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said it was too early for people to put their guard down, even though the number of new cases in the capital has decreased.

Meanwhile, Japan’s health ministry approved a new type of coronavirus test. Antigen test kits developed by Fujirebio can detect virus proteins in samples swiped inside the nose of a suspected patient, with results in 30 minutes. Ministry officials and experts say it is faster than the PCR test, which takes several hours.

Japan has nearly 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 680 deaths.


Roman Catholic shrine at Fatima, Portugal, holds Masses without worshipers for the first time

FATIMA, Portugal — The Roman Catholic shrine at Fatima in Portugal has held its annual celebrations without worshipers for the first time in its more than 100-year history.

Hundreds of thousands of people traditionally hold candles as they attend Masses at the small town’s huge shrine on the night of May 12 and morning of May 13. The ceremonies mark the day when three illiterate shepherd children first reported seeing visions of the Madonna.

Like the shrine at Lourdes, France, Fatima draws about 6 million pilgrims from around the world every year to give thanks to Our Lady of Fatima, or to pray for help.

Authorities this year asked people not to travel to Fatima due to the coronavirus outbreak. Police cordoned off roads leading to the shrine.

Ceremonies were broadcast live and streamed. The dean of the shrine asked people to place a lighted candle in a window of their home and “make a pilgrimage of the heart.”


Pandas in the pandemic produce both delight and disappointment

Wu Wen cuddles her newborn at Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen, Netherlands.
(Ouwehands Zoo)

LONDON — The excitement has been hard to bear, but so has the sadness.

In the Netherlands, fans of the Ouwehands Zoo in the city of Rhenen — as well as animal lovers around the world — have been reveling in footage of a squealing newborn panda cub being cradled by its proud mother, Wu Wen, one of the zoo’s star attractions. The short but compelling video is in black and white, but then, so is the mama bear.

Unfortunately, across the Atlantic, crestfallen staff and visitors to the Calgary Zoo are bidding goodbye three years earlier than expected to a pair of adult pandas on loan from China. Their sojourn in Canada is being cut short because of the coronavirus crisis, which has disrupted the supply of fresh bamboo needed to keep the animals alive, roly-poly and adorable.

“We believe the best and safest place for Er Shun and Da Mao to be during these challenging and unprecedented times is where bamboo is abundant and easy to access,” Clement Lanthier, the zoo’s president and CEO, said in a statement Tuesday. “This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but the health and well-being of the animals we love and care for always comes first.”



Golf courses, gardening shops and other venues reopen in England

LONDON — The sound of a crisply struck golf ball could be heard in England for the first time in nearly two months as courses reopened Wednesday as part of a modest easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

People in England are allowed to exercise more than once a day and with one person from outside their household, provided they remain about six feet apart. Golf courses, outdoor tennis and basketball courts can reopen, and swimming is once again allowed in lakes, rivers and the sea. Those who want to go fishing can do so, too.

Along with the easing of some sporting restrictions, stores selling gardening supplies can reopen, while potential house buyers or renters can once again visit properties in person. And people who can’t work from home, such as those in construction and manufacturing, are being encouraged to return to their place of work if they can do so safely.

The lifting of some restrictions, first announced Sunday by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, applies only to England. The semi-autonomous governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are going more slowly and sticking with their “stay home” message.

The four parts of the U.K. have moved as one during the lockdown, which has been in place since March 23, but are starting to take different approaches during the easing phase.


Saudi Arabia to go into full lockdown after Ramadan

Saudi Arabia says it will go into a full lockdown during the days of celebration that follow the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The Interior Ministry made the announcement early Wednesday morning, saying the lockdown would be in effect May 23-27.

Those days mark the start of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that comes at the end of Ramadan. That holiday typically sees families inviting loved ones over for meals and going out to eat and drink during the day.

Meanwhile, in the neighboring United Arab Emirates, the federation of seven sheikdoms says it will offer free coronavirus testing for all citizens beginning next week. Foreigners in the country with coronavirus symptoms, pregnant women, those older than 50 and those in contact with people who fell ill with COVID-19 also will be among those who can be tested for free.

Private beaches at hotels also are beginning to reopen in Dubai, even as the number of confirmed cases and deaths continues to rise in the country.


Over 600 new infections confirmed in Indonesia

Indonesia has reported more than 600 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time since the country confirmed its first cases in early March, making the national total exceed 15,000 on Wednesday.

There were 689 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours to bring the total to 15,438. The cumulative figure includes about 1,000 deaths and nearly 3,300 recoveries.

The highest spike in a day comes as the government is mulling over a plan to start easing social restrictions next month to allow businesses to resume operations gradually.

The plan, which is still under development, aims to restore “business as usual” by the end of July, with malls allowed to resume limited operations on June 8, schools allowed to reopen on staggered schedules, and outdoor exercise allowed with social distancing.

But the draft also stressed that the plan was contingent on fulfilling the public health metrics first, including flattening the daily curve of new COVID-19 cases.


28-year-old sumo wrestler dies in Japan from coronavirus

A 28-year-old Japanese sumo wrestler died Wednesday from COVID-19.

The Japan Sumo Assn. said Shoubushi, whose real name was Kiyotaka Suetake, died of multiple-organ failure after developing pneumonia related to the coronavirus infection.

He is the first sumo wrestler known to die from the virus, and among the youngest victims in Japan.

The wrestler developed a fever on April 4 but could not get a test or find a hospital until four days later, when he was in worse condition, the association said. He was moved to an intensive care unit at a Tokyo hospital on April 19.

Japan, under a coronavirus state of emergency since April 7, is preparing to partially lift the measures amid signs of slowing infections. Experts, however, urge people to keep avoiding close contacts, which has been a challenge for sumo.

Wrestlers in Japan’s ancient sport of sumo traditionally live together like a big family, or a group known as “stables,” usually headed by retired champions, and they train and eat together and often share food, typically a hot-pot dish called Chanko. Several other wrestlers also have been infected.

Although they still live in stables, they have stopped sharing food and stopped parts of training that involve physical contact.

The Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, scheduled to take place from May 24 to June 7 at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan, was canceled earlier this month over fears of further spreading the virus.

Japan has recorded almost 16,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 670 deaths, according to a tally by Japan’s health ministry.


Priests detained in Montenegro after religious gathering

Authorities in Montenegro have detained eight Serbian Orthodox Church priests after a few thousand people attended a religious procession despite a ban on gatherings because of the coronavirus.

Prosecutors said Wednesday the priests were facing charges of violating health regulations during the virus outbreak by organizing the procession on Tuesday in the western town of Niksic.

People participating in the procession did not wear face masks or distance themselves from one another.

The detentions could heighten tensions between the Montenegrin government and the Serbian Orthodox Church, which earlier this year led weeks of protests against a religious law that it said would strip the church of its property.

A country of 620,000 people, Montenegro has reported nine deaths related to the coronavirus and more than 300 confirmed infections.


Wear a mask? Even with 20,000 dead, some New Yorkers don’t

Eric Leventhal felt a sneeze coming and panicked.

The Brooklynite left his cloth face mask at home for a morning run in a park last week. Walking home, he turned toward an empty street and let the sneeze out, hoping no one would notice.

Too bad for him, there’s no hiding without a mask in virus-stricken New York City.

“I picked my head up and I caught eyes with a woman who was wearing a mask, an older woman,” Leventhal recalled recently. “She was just kind of shaking her head.”

Leventhal, 36, is caught in the middle of a debate over when and where, exactly, it is necessary to wear a mask in a city where COVID-19 has now claimed more than 20,000 lives.

Since April 17, everyone in New York state has been required to wear a face covering anyplace where they can’t stay at least six feet from people who don’t live with them. Only children younger than 2 and people with a medical excuse are exempt.



How a night out jeopardized South Korea’s COVID-19 response and sparked homophobic backlash

The city had begun breathing easy, life once more pulsating in its streets. Museums and art galleries reopened, gyms welcomed back regulars, baseball and soccer leagues kicked off. Traffic choked thoroughfares, and schools readied to greet students for the first time in months.

For 18 days in a row, this metropolis of nearly 10 million reported zero cases of community transmissions of the novel coronavirus. It seemed, even in these uncertain times, that danger had receded in a nation praised for its handling of the pandemic.

Then, a 29-year-old man who’d gone clubbing over a holiday weekend came down with COVID-19, shattering the tenuous sense of normality and setting off a frenzied search for thousands who’d been in the clubs and bars he visited.

As of Tuesday, more than 100 people had tested positive for the virus linked to a cluster stemming from the popular nightlife district of Itaewon. Co-workers and family members of clubgoers tested positive, including an 84-year-old woman who’d dined with a grandson. The city recoiled: More than 2,000 establishments were ordered to shut down, office buildings where the infected worked were closed, and start dates for schools were, once again, pushed back.



After seventh coronavirus death, congresswoman says Terminal Island inmates lack protection

Days after a seventh inmate at the Terminal Island federal prison died from a coronavirus-related illness, a U.S. congresswoman emerged from the San Pedro lockup Tuesday saying she was disturbed by what she saw inside and that detainees were desperate for protective equipment.

After touring the facility, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán peeled off the suction-cup mask, gown and protective visor she’d worn while stepping into isolation areas at the site of one of the nation’s most intense outbreaks of the coronavirus and described inmates as screaming for help. Many in the units for highly infectious inmates were supplied with just cloth masks.

“While I was there, I would hear the inmates screaming that were in isolation units,” Barragán said. “Saying, ‘Turn on the air, get us some air.’ ‘Help me.’”



60 L.A. businesses charged with violating stay-at-home rules

The owners of 60 businesses across Los Angeles, including car washes, gyms and hair salons, that have been deemed nonessential by the city but still remain open are now facing criminal charges for violating the mayor’s stay-at-home order.

Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer revealed the latest round of the crackdown on businesses flouting Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Safer at Home order by staying open. Dozens of businesses have been identified by Los Angeles police. Investigators have turned over evidence against at least 79 businesses identified by the department.

The number of businesses seemingly ignoring Garcetti’s order has risen steadily as the shutdown drags on and many small business owners struggle to stay in business.



New signs that coronavirus restrictions are here for the long haul in California

Even as officials laid out more tentative plans to reopen California’s battered economy, there were growing signs Tuesday that life would not be getting back to normal anytime soon.

The 23-campus California State University system plans to all but cancel in-person classes in the fall and instead will offer instruction primarily online.

The vast majority of classes across the Cal State system will be taught online, with some limited exceptions that allow for in-person activity. The decision comes as schools throughout the country grapple with how long to keep campuses closed amid the coronavirus crisis.

“Our university when open without restrictions and fully in person … is a place where over 500,000 people come together in close and vibrant proximity,” Chancellor Timothy White said at a meeting of Cal State’s Board of Trustees. “That approach sadly just isn’t in the cards now.”



When will dining rooms reopen? For L.A. restaurants, the wait drags on

California restaurants may soon be able to reopen their dining rooms in counties that have seen reduced cases of the novel coronavirus, provided they follow a list of guidelines for physical distancing and cleaning regimens, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

The announcement came as the state released a detailed plan outlining “guidance for dine-in restaurants, brewpubs, craft distilleries, breweries, bars, pubs, and wineries,” including the use of face masks by employees, enhanced sanitary procedures, disposable menus, increased fresh air circulation, the elimination of table-side or cart service, and the limiting of dining room seating to allow for physical distancing.

But even as the state is moving forward with those plans, restaurants in L.A. County will likely be forced to remain on the sidelines for many more weeks.



Silicon Valley has no plans now to weaken coronavirus stay-at-home order

Silicon Valley’s health officer has no immediate plans to weaken its strict stay-at-home order in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s relaxation of the statewide mandate, saying she couldn’t take that step without increasing the risk to public safety.

The San Francisco Bay Area’s most populous county, Santa Clara County, was California’s original hotbed of the coronavirus pandemic. And although levels of disease haven’t surged to catastrophic levels, they’ve remained steady, and even a small increase in disease transmission would heighten the risk to vulnerable communities, said Dr. Sara Cody, a key architect of the nation’s first regional shelter-in-place order.

“We’re not there yet,” Cody told the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.



What gyms will look like when they reopen

In Los Angeles, we don’t know when we will see the inside of a gym again. But one thing is certain: When we get there, it will look different.

As California moves into Stage 2 of the state’s stay-at-home order, Gov. Gavin Newsom hinted that Stage 3, where higher-risk workplaces such as gyms and fitness studios would be allowed to reopen, may arrive sooner than later.

But on Tuesday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that Los Angeles County’s stay-at-home orders would “with all certainty” be extended for the next three months.