Coronavirus Today: Crossing 100,000
Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Wednesday, May 27. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.
There’s one number on everyone’s mind today: 100,000.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in California has officially crossed that threshold. The same goes for the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.
In less than four chaotic months, the U.S. leads the world in fatalities, with a toll nearly three times higher than that of the United Kingdom, which has the next-highest count, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. California is the fourth U.S. state to surpass 100,000 confirmed cases, with New York seeing more than triple that number.
The Golden State’s rising case count doesn’t necessarily mean outbreaks are spreading; some officials credit the increase to the dramatic expansion of testing. But as most counties move to Stage 3 of reopening businesses — with Gov. Gavin Newsom saying Wednesday his administration will release safety guidelines for fitness centers “in a week or so” — some health officials worry that the pace of relaxing restrictions is too rapid.
Dr. Sara Cody, health officer for Santa Clara County and a key architect of the nation’s first shelter-in-place order, said she was concerned by the decision to allow gatherings of up to 100 people for religious, political and cultural reasons. Even if just one infected person showed up to such an event, the virus could easily be transmitted to many people and overwhelm local health officials’ ability to investigate all related cases, she warned: “Making changes too frequently leaves us blind. We can’t see the effect of what we just did.”
This story illustrates how quickly things can turn: A 63-year-old man went to work at an Amazon delivery center in Irvine in late March. Two weeks later, Harry Sentoso died of COVID-19 in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. “The last thing I want is for another family of another worker to go through what we have,” said his son, who is pushing for more safety measures at Amazon warehouses.
The pandemic has taken the lives of thousands of Californians in cities and small towns, in hospital wards and nursing homes. Here’s what we remember about them.
By the numbers
California cases and deaths as of 3 p.m. PDT Wednesday:
Track the latest numbers and how they break down in California with our graphics.
See which counties are reopening with our tracker.
Tens of thousands of renters facing financial challenges in Los Angeles could receive assistance under a plan unveiled today from City Council President Nury Martinez. To qualify, tenants would have to prove that they earn 80% or less of the area’s median income and that they’ve faced economic or health difficulties because of the coronavirus outbreak. Though the proposed $100 million in relief could assist more than 70,000 renters, some estimates say that would still be just a fraction of the population struggling to pay.
As California rolls back coronavirus-related restrictions on houses of worship, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has released guidelines to reopen churches for private prayer and public Mass as early as next week. Parishes must receive their regional bishop’s approval after meeting safety criteria to prevent crowding and physical contact as much as possible. “We need to proceed with prudence and caution and concern to protect our most vulnerable parishioners,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez.
New Los Angeles County school reopening guidelines released Wednesday describe the vastly different experience students can expect when they return to campus: staggered schedules, mandatory masks, class sizes capped at 16 and lunch at desks. “Our main priority is health and safety,” said Debra Duardo, the superintendent for the L.A. County Office of Education. That could mean important social traditions such as playtime, group sports and cafeteria meals fall by the wayside. “Unfortunately some of the things that children could enjoy in the past, they’re not going to be able to do that,” she said.
The Greek Theatre in Griffith Park has called off its entire 2020 season, striking yet another blow to Los Angeles’ outdoor summer concert programming. This marks the first time the Greek has canceled a full season in its 90-year history. “We feel it is the right, responsible and safe thing for fans, artists, staff and our Griffith Park community to put a pause on live, large crowd events until 2021,” said the executive officer of the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks.
— For general safety, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (here’s a super-fun how-to video). Stop touching your face, and keep your phone clean. Practice social distancing, maintaining a six-foot radius of personal space in public. And wear a mask if you leave home. Here’s how to do it right.
— Watch for symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell. If you’re worried 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 coronavirus pandemic, here’s how to file for unemployment.
— Here are some free resources for restaurant workers and entertainment industry professionals having trouble making ends meet.
— Advice for helping kids navigate pandemic life includes being honest about uncertainties, acknowledging their feelings and sticking to a routine. Here’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
— 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.
Around the nation and the world
Some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations are planning to reopen in the coming weeks. In Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak signed off on the reopening of casinos on the Las Vegas Strip starting June 4, saying, “I don’t think you’re going to find a safer place to come than Las Vegas.”
Six Flags Entertainment Corp. became the first major U.S. theme park company to release a set of safety protocols for the reopening of all its U.S. parks, with promises to limit the number of people allowed in, check guests’ temperatures, require everyone to wear masks and ensure guests spread out in lines and on rides. Later Wednesday, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Walt Disney Co. announced proposals for similar guidelines to reopen their parks in Orlando, Fla., in June and July, respectively.
Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, who performed at Italy’s Duomo di Milano for an Easter Sunday livestream watched by millions, revealed that he’s recovered from COVID-19. In a Facebook post, Bocelli said he tested positive for the coronavirus but had a “swift and full recovery” by the end of March. “Out of respect for those for whom contracting the virus has had more serious consequences, I decided it would be best not to share the news” at the time, he said.
Citing the coronavirus as a reason to tighten the U.S.-Mexico border, the Trump administration is engaged in a pressure campaign against immigrant parents to get them to give up either their kids or their legal claims to protection. Scores of migrant families across the country are being targeted, including three children whom officials are attempting to send to El Salvador, although their father is in the U.S and their mother is in Mexico. The outcome of their federal case could set a precedent for how the courts handle Immigration and Customs Enforcement efforts to deport unaccompanied minor children.
Your questions answered
Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: What’s happening with our utility bills? Reporters Sarah D. Wire and Anna Phillips looked into it.
When states began issuing stay-at-home orders and millions of Americans lost their jobs, governors in dozens of states temporarily barred utility companies from shutting off gas, water, electricity and even internet service. In other states, utility companies voluntarily agreed not to shut off services.
California has a moratorium that prohibits energy, water, sewer and communications companies under its jurisdiction from suspending or disconnecting service for ratepayers who cannot pay their bills.
The moratorium lasts until April 16, 2021, but it applies only to investor-owned companies — such as Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison — that are regulated by the state. Many public utilities in California, such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, have voluntarily suspended shut-offs and can resume them at any time. The DWP said it has suspended shut-offs through the end of the year.
If you think you might need assistance paying your bills, visit the websites of the California Public Utilities Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for information on potential sources of relief.
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.