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Science

Coronavirus Today: A mail-in 2020 election

Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Friday, May 8. Starting today, we’ll use the Friday edition of this newsletter to get you up to date on what’s happening with the coronavirus, equip you for your weekend and delve deeper into some of the week’s best stories on how our lives have changed and what’s to come.

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It’s been nearly two months since the coronavirus outbreak reached pandemic status. California is acclimating to the crisis and beginning to reopen, and the impact on our business and our jobs is becoming clearer — including for me and other journalists at The Times. We need your support more than ever, and if you’re able, please consider subscribing.

After weeks of stay-at-home orders, California allowed some retailers to open today. “Low-risk” stores that sell books, music, clothing, toys, flowers and sporting goods are open for curbside service, but shopping malls and dine-in restaurants are still shut. On Saturday, most L.A. County golf courses, trails and parks will reopen. Visitors must adhere to physical distancing and infection-control protocols such as wearing face coverings and staying six feet away from people who aren’t in your household. County beaches are still closed but could reopen next week, officials say.

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The November election in California will be conducted mostly by mail, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday, citing public health concerns. He ordered ballots to be mailed to the state’s 20.6 million registered voters and imposed strict new rules for anyone who participates in person. Most of California’s votes are now cast in person, and the change will mark the first time every registered voter is mailed a ballot. The decision, Newsom said, reflects the assessment from health officials that the COVID-19 pandemic will not have subsided enough to hold the election under its traditional rules.

Is the coronavirus more dangerous to younger people than first thought? Doctors on the front lines in the U.S. have noted strange and often alarming conditions in younger COVID-19 patients. Some in their 30s and 40s have died of strokes after experiencing only mild symptoms. Children and teens have landed in intensive care units with symptoms reminiscent of a rare inflammatory syndrome called Kawasaki disease, which scientists say could be related to the coronavirus. But on the whole, scientists generally agree that the risk of ending up in the hospital or dying has remained markedly higher for older people, even though the virus infects people of all ages.

And finally, it’s been yet another ruff, er, rough week after months of rough weeks. Let these puppy portraits from the Beverly Hills Dog Show help you start your weekend off on a good note.

Ray Castaneda, of Covina, kisses his pug Ninja Nate at the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills Dog Show in Pomona on Feb. 29, 2020.
Ray Castaneda of Covina kisses his pug Ninja Nate at the Kennel Club of Beverly Hills Dog Show in Pomona on Feb. 29.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 3:30 p.m. PDT Friday:

Track the latest numbers and how they break down in California with our graphics.

What to read this weekend

What do you do with a billion pounds of potatoes? That’s what Washington farmers are stuck with, along with millions of dollars in debt they can’t pay, as closures interrupt food distribution lines nationwide. “The only thing I can do is keep raising this crop and hope something changes.”

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Kevin Weber
Kevin Weber loads a bag of potatoes from one of his family’s refrigerated storage bays in Quincy, Wash.
(Karen Ducey / For The Times)

The whole U.S. food system has been flipped on its head, and a vast network of producers, distributors, retailers and advocates has scrambled to shore up the food supply and their own bottom lines while reducing waste and want. We talked with dozens of farmers, truckers, restaurateurs, food bank administrators and others about their efforts. Here’s what they told us.

This couple turned their North African taqueria into a food bank. Before the pandemic, Revolutionario in Exposition Park had already scaled back its hours to focus on feeding homeless neighbors. With a community organizer’s help, it’s now become a full-time food bank for black and Asian American seniors and L.A.'s skid row. “Sometimes we’ll reach out, giving out bags with notes inside. ‘Hey, hope you’re OK,’ with a note and a phone number. I’m not a stranger; that helps.”

The drive-through was made for this moment. Before the coronavirus, drive-through restaurants were fast losing status, and the drive-in movie theater was nearly extinct. But in these days of social distancing, they — along with drive-in churches, concerts and casket viewings — are a weird sort of societal glue for those seeking some pre-pandemic normalcy.

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The Donut Hole, the historic drive-through donut shop in La Puente.
The Donut Hole, the historic drive-through doughnut shop in La Puente.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

“I laugh thinking that finally my autism is an advantage in life.” The pandemic has been especially stressful for autistic adults — but many also say they’re unusually practiced in dealing with its challenges, from social isolation to disrupted routines to economic strain.

An L.A. newcomer who loves Souplantation grieves its closing. Times editorial page editor Sewell Chan remembers what he loved about the soup-and-salad restaurant chain, with its no-nonsense buffet-style offerings and family-friendly seating, and how its dining rooms “truly were a democratic space.”

The skinny señorita fish, the blue-gray blacksmith and the horn shark are among the only denizens of L.A.’s Union Station these days. Each week, a marine biologist comes to feed them in their 7,500-gallon home, part of a public art installation whose maintenance is deemed essential business. “It’s eerie,” he says. “It’s a real escape from what’s going on in the outside world.”

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Union Station.
Etched into the 7,500-gallon aquarium at Union Station are portraits of Native Americans and early Los Angeles settlers in the artwork “City of Dreams/River of History” by artists Richard Wyatt and May Sun.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. has seen lots of changes. We hope some are permanent. The pandemic has profoundly altered the look and feel of our communities in once unimaginable ways. In an effort to highlight the silver lining in this grayest of clouds, we compiled a dozen positive — and L.A.-centric — things we’ve enjoyed these last two months and hope will stick around.

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What to do this weekend

Celebrate Mom. Here are some restaurants with takeout Mother’s Day specials, and here are 14 great Mother’s Day recipes to share and send. We’ve also found seven ways to celebrate while keeping your distance.

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Watch something great. Are you participating in The Times’ Ultimate Summer Movie Showdown? This week saw a head-to-head battle between “The Fifth Element” and “Bridesmaids.” For more under-the-radar movie recommendations, get film writer Mark Olsen’s Indie Focus newsletter. Plus, here are the 51 best TV shows to binge.

Get cooking. Our Food team has you covered with its new weekly newsletter and video series, plus tips for making a pasta salad that’s actually a salad. Need to restock your veggie drawer? These local farms are here for you.

Let somebody else do the cooking. Times restaurant critic Bill Addison has eight suggestions for great takeout banh mi. Sign up for his and fellow critic Patricia Escárcega’s Tasting Notes newsletter for more.

Listen to the birds. If it seems like their songs are louder lately, you’re not imagining it. Birding may be the perfect pastime we all need right now. Here’s how to get started, and these seven apps will help.

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Host a virtual meetup — happy hour, karaoke, game night, book club or anything else. We’ve got technical instructions, plus more ideas.

Get outside. Walk, run or bike — away from others, of course. Here’s what’s open and what’s closed.

Work out at home. When was the last time you stretched? Try our 10 ways to exercise in your living room, from video yoga to free on-demand classes.

Listen to a podcast. Try “Coronavirus in California” for dispatches from the front lines — or for a break from the crisis, hear your TV favorites discuss their TV favorites on “Can’t Stop Watching.” Here are eight more great podcasts.

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Resources

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (here’s a super-fun how-to video), and keep your phone clean. Practice social distancing, maintaining six feet of space. And wear a mask if you leave home. Here’s how to do it right.
— Watch for symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell. If you think you might be infected, call your doctor or urgent care clinic before going.
— Here’s how to care for someone with COVID-19, from monitoring their symptoms to preventing the virus’ spread.
— If your job has been affected by the pandemic, here’s how to file for unemployment.
— We’ve got free resources for restaurant and entertainment industry workers having trouble making ends meet.
Helping kids navigate pandemic life means being honest, acknowledging their feelings and sticking to a routine.
— In need of mental health services? Here are resources for coping during the crisis from the CDC and the L.A. County Department of Public Health. L.A. County residents can also call (800) 854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741.

A pandemic in pictures

Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin
Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin captured Hollywood’s theaters all lighted up with nothing to play for our special report on what’s next for the movies. The Fairfax Cinema, pictured, is closed and left the message “Stay Safe Los Angeles” on its marquee.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Got a question? Our reporters covering the coronavirus outbreak want to hear from you. Email us your questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them. You can find more answers in our Frequently Asked Questions roundup and in our morning briefing.

For the most up-to-date coronavirus coverage from The Times over the weekend, visit our homepage and our Health section, listen to our “Coronavirus in California” podcast, sign up for our breaking news alerts, and follow us on Twitter and on Instagram.


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