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Coronavirus Today: The competition for PPE

Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Wednesday, June 10. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

Los Angeles County is moving forward with reopening a number of businesses by the end of the week, including gyms, day camps, museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums, campgrounds, outdoor recreational areas, hotels and pro-league arenas without spectators. The decision comes as county public health officials reported 1,275 new cases and an additional 61 deaths.

As the state keeps reopening while trying to prevent new outbreaks, one question has emerged: Who will take the blame if the pace of reopening leads to a major surge of cases and deaths? While Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that the decision to reopen on an accelerated pace is one made by local leaders, some L.A. County officials have pointed to the governor’s guidelines as part of the reason they felt it was the right time to proceed.

California is still seeing cases climb, an expected consequence of lifting stay-at-home orders that were implemented to stem the spread of the illness and allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen. Despite the upward trajectory of cases and a growing death toll, there are no plans to reverse course, officials said. “As we phase in, in a responsible way, a reopening of the economy, we’ve made it abundantly clear that we anticipate an increase in the total number of positive cases,” Newsom said. The state’s increased testing ability, hospital capacity and available supply of ventilators make it safe to press ahead anyway, he added.

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Even with the announcement that more N95 masks will become available in California, states are still competing with one another to get their hands on personal protective equipment — without any oversight by the Trump administration. Large states and those that entered the market early got some of the best deals on N95 masks, The Times found in its analysis of spending data from 20 states and large cities obtained via public records requests. Smaller states and those that were slow to respond lost out, and some found themselves having to pay exorbitant prices.

Supply chain experts fear these disparities could continue as virus transmission rates rise in more than 20 states. “What I’d like to know is, what is the second wave going to look like?” said the chief procurement officer for Houston.

By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 4:00 p.m. PDT Wednesday:

California cases and deaths as of 4:00 p.m. PDT Wednesday, June 10.
(Compiled by L.A. Times Graphics)
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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

In addition to letting gyms and other businesses reopen Friday, Los Angeles County officials have also given the green light to the entertainment industry to resume music, film and television production. The order is expected to be released Thursday, along with what criteria businesses must meet beforehand.

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The Disneyland Resort, closed since mid-March to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, is preparing to reopen just in time to celebrate the park’s 65th anniversary. Both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure will open July 17, pending local and state governmental approvals.

This year’s Coachella festival has been canceled, along with its country music counterpart Stagecoach. Both had been rescheduled for October, but now they are off until next year at the earliest. “I am concerned as indications grow that COVID-19 could worsen in the fall,” said Riverside County’s public health officer. And the events “would fall under Gov. Newsom’s Stage 4, which he has previously stated would require treatments or a vaccine to enter.”

A coalition of Native American tribes has sued California for more time to qualify a measure to legalize sports betting for the statewide ballot, arguing the shutdown kept them from collecting voter signatures in recent months. The tribes began circulating petitions for the initiative in January and say it will be impossible to make the July 20 deadline for turning in the nearly 100,000 signatures needed to get on the 2022 ballot. “Tribal leaders temporarily suspended signature gathering as a sacrifice to protect everyone’s public health,” said the chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

As COVID-19 spreads through nursing homes statewide, one woman has sued the Reseda home where her mother died, accusing it of failing to provide workers with personal protective equipment and not informing residents or their families that some staffers had tested positive for the disease. In California, nearly 2,000 residents of skilled nursing facilities have died, along with more than 60 employees, accounting for about 43% of the state’s COVID-19 deaths, writes columnist Steve Lopez: “The coronavirus stalks those demographic groups. But that doesn’t excuse the tragedy of so many senior deaths as public officials have haggled, unconscionably, over the details of whether and how to make testing in such facilities mandatory.”

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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.

Around the nation and the world

Veterans Affairs national cemeteries throughout the country have resumed committal funeral services, which had been on hold since March 23. Officials said there will be limits on the number of people who can attend such services based on local guidelines, face coverings will be needed, and social distancing will be required for those who live in different households.

As hotels reopen, the industry has adopted protocols that are changing how they look and operate in order to make guests feel safe. Besides masks, hand sanitizer dispensers and plexiglass, visitors may also see more technology at work, like robot vacuums and electrostatic devices that spray fogs of disinfectant. Hotels are under more competition from Airbnb and similar companies, which are touting their properties’ relative lack of crowds and guests’ ability to cook their own meals and control who enters the space.

Major League Soccer will resume its season July 8 at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., the venue that’s also set to host the return of the NBA. MLS players and staff will be tested before they leave their home market and again upon arrival in Orlando — and once there, they’ll be tested as often as every other day. The testing follows the model adopted by the German Bundesliga, which last week became the first soccer league to resume play. “You can only go back to sports with physical contact if you really do tests at least twice a week,” said the chief executive of German club Bayer Leverkusen.

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Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: What will gyms be doing to prevent the transmission of COVID-19? Design writer Lisa Boone did the research.

With the announcement that gyms will be allowed to reopen in Los Angeles County on Friday, here’s what the new normal might look like, according to executives from larger fitness outlets.

“We will be taking temperatures. We will be doing classes in our gymnasiums. We probably won’t be able to open up locker rooms or our child activity center. We are going to be cleaning all day and require our members to clean up after themselves,” said the chief operating office of the YMCA Metropolitan Los Angeles. He anticipates the Y will open four to eight of its 26 Los Angeles-area locations in the first few weeks to ensure that everything is running smoothly. “We want to take it easy at first,” he said. “We have to hire back our staff and train them.”

Gold’s Gym, which reopened on May 8 in Oklahoma, is opening in phases, according to its president and CEO. “We opened with cardio, ellipticals and strength equipment. We did not open the classroom, studio or kids club. We are requiring our team members to wear masks and gloves and are strongly encouraging others to do so. The equipment will be shut down so that people are six feet away from each other. People are going to walk around cleaning all day.”

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At Equinox and SoulCycle, members will be required to use hand sanitizer before entering and will be scanned by a touchless thermometer, as will staff. Many bikes at SoulCycle will be left empty to help maintain social distancing, and all of them will be disinfected after every class, even if they weren’t used. Floor markers will indicate safe distances in the lobby, locker rooms and bathrooms. Riders will be asked to refrain from hugs and high fives and will be encouraged to wait outside, or in cars, before class.

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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