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Coronavirus Today: Black Americans’ jobs crisis

Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Monday, June 8. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

The coronavirus shutdown is widening the racial divide in unemployment numbers across the U.S. Black Americans saw their jobless claims rise to a staggering 16.8%, up a notch from 16.7% in April, according to the most recent jobs report. That’s in contrast to the nation’s overall unemployment rate, which officially ticked down to 13.3%, from 14.2% in April. Black communities have long felt a deep sense of injustice, and divergent numbers are only contributing to that, as protests continue this week over the death of George Floyd. “The financial instability has been tearing at the social fabric” of these communities, said the founder of the Black Worker Center in South Los Angeles. “It is fueling a lot of what we are seeing in this recent uprising.”

Local officials have continued to commend protesters for exercising their 1st Amendment rights peacefully while also reminding them to remain cautious. If you’ve been to a demonstration, they urge you to get tested, especially if you’ve been close to people who weren’t wearing masks. However, don’t get tested too early after attending a large event, said Los Angeles County health director Barbara Ferrer. The incubation period for COVID-19 can last as long as two weeks and “your viral load will be too low to be detected yet on a test.”

That means the recent uptick in L.A. County’s COVID-19 transmission number is not solely the result of the protests. Instead, it primarily reflects infections from before the start of demonstrations, when businesses reopened and more people returned to old routines. Over the weekend, some shopping centers and public spaces began to see bigger crowds, with only some wearing masks and practicing social distancing, officials said.

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Here’s how one restaurant reopened its dining room with a revamped safety plan. The owner of Faith & Flower restaurant came up with what he called “landing zones” — either an additional table at the end of your seating area or a removable cart, on which servers drop table settings, drinks, food and your check. “You’re not allowed to present things to the table and hover over customers,” the owner explained. “A landing zone is our idea to make it safer and easier.”

As businesses reopen, there’s a pending crisis with a third of child-care workers nationwide either laid off or furloughed. Employers report in multiple federal surveys that along with fears of contracting the coronavirus, a lack of child care is one of the top reasons employees cite for not returning to work. “This will have devastating consequences for parents who need to work and their children who will be left with no safe option,” said the deputy executive director for policy at an anti-poverty nonprofit. Some child-care employees are also wary of returning for fear of bringing the virus home. “It means there will be a number of people in my life who I will not be able to see,” one said.

By the numbers

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

Nearly 131,500 California cases and at least 4,641 deaths as of 3:30 p.m. PDT Monday, June 8.
(Compiled by L.A. Times Graphics)

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

The Newsom administration's roadmap to reopening California.
(Priya Krishnakumar/Los Angeles Times)

See which counties are reopening with our tracker.

Across California

Counties that have been allowed to accelerate their reopening of their economy — including Los Angeles County — could decide to reopen movie theaters as early as Friday, according to new state guidelines released Monday. The authority to move forward rests with local health officers, and theaters would have to implement safety protocols such as limiting the number of guests with the help of a reservation system, removing seats from use to comply with social distancing and asking moviegoers to wear masks when they’re not eating or drinking.

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The San Francisco Bay Area‘s reopening has been slower than Los Angeles’ due in no small part to the close relationships between health officials for the counties in the area. When one county moves more quickly to reopen, neighboring counties come under pressure to follow. Bay Area public health officers work closely together and enjoy the support of elected leaders, making it easier to decide health strategy as a region. Los Angeles does not have the same relationship with its neighboring counties in Southern California; all of them moved ahead with an accelerated reopening schedule in the week before L.A. County joined them.

Nail salon owners are pressuring Gov. Gavin Newsom to let them reopen, saying his earlier statement that community spread in California started in a nail salon was inaccurate. “Families are hurting, crying, losing income daily,” said a manicurist from the Bay Area. “We still have no idea when we can return.”

The NFL has issued protocols for when players are allowed to return, and now the NBA is making plans to restart its season. Members of the Clippers will be seeing their facility for the first time later this month when they report, get tested and begin training camp. Clippers forward Patrick Patterson described some of the changes, including limited parking spaces, new requirements for masks and gloves, temperature checks and extensive cleaning. “They clean anything you’re bringing in as far as cellphones, keys, wallet or anything else,” he said. “It’s a very thorough process.”

Resources

— 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 CDC.
— 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.

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Around the nation and the world

President Trump’s recent decision to halt entry of some Chinese graduate students to the U.S. is sowing broad anxiety among university officials. They’re worried that the order could wrongly shut out students whose work is critical to American research efforts in fields ranging from climate change to energy storage. U.S. officials say that the decision, which took effect last week, is aimed at safeguarding national security from the theft of sensitive military technologies. Chinese students say the new ban adds to mounting stress exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis, especially from Trump’s references to “the Chinese virus” and the rise of anti-Asian hostility.

Iran is in the midst of its second wave of the coronavirus, and more people are going online as they shelter at home. Now some are concerned that they may be punished for recent posts on Instagram and other social media websites. Since 2009, Iranian women have been required by the Computer Crimes Law to adhere to strict guidelines for online conduct, which includes what they can wear in images and videos. Human right activists estimate that more than 250 Iranians have been arrested in recent months for posting photos on Instagram that are said to violate the requirement that women cover their hair. “It is ridiculous that at the time of spreading coronavirus in the country, their priority is our hijab on Instagram,” said an Iranian social media influencer.

Open space and fresh air — plus massive clubhouses that afford room for social distancing — will allow the PGA Tour to resume play this week. Still, professional golf will see a few changes: Caddies will be expected to wipe down every bunker rake or flagstick they touch. Tournament directors have talked about handing out tees in individual baggies. Players might have to pull their own clubs from their bags. “We have taken the time to think through a day in the competitive life of a player and caddie and how we need to make some small adjustments,” said a PGA Tour executive.

Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: Is it safe to visit the dentist? Reporter Thuc Nhi Nguyen looked into it.

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Your next trip to the dentist may be much different from what you’re used to. To set a “new normal” as patients return, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health issued safety guidance that includes pre-care screenings, which tools to use and how air is filtered inside offices.

Dental offices are calling patients to ask about any symptoms of possible infection within the past two to 14 days, as well as about any contact with people who’ve had COVID-19. When patients arrive at the dentist’s office, they are screened again with the same questions and get their temperature taken. Anyone suspected of having an active COVID-19 infection should not be seen for dental care.

In the dental office, chairs will be spaced six feet apart in waiting rooms, appointments will be staggered and masks will be required at all times, except for patients during procedures.

Many standard dental procedures can aerosolize the virus by creating a spray containing a mix of water, saliva and other debris, according to the CDC. The official recommendations are to limit use of tools such as ultrasonic drills, polishing tools and the air/water syringe. That means hygienists will likely use hand tools, which may take longer but are just as effective, a dentist said.

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When it’s necessary to use ultrasonic tools, the CDC is recommending offices open windows to promote air circulation when possible, and to use portable HEPA air filters during and after aerosol-generating procedures. Offices should also disinfect all surfaces following each patient visit.

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 on our coronavirus roundup page.

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


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