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Coronavirus Today: Hopes for a vaccine in 2020

Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Thursday, June 11. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

Despite a recent uptick in cases as the California economy begins to reopen, the virus appears to be under control in hospitals and other healthcare settings. But nursing homes are still suffering outbreaks, and residents, who are at an especially high risk, have suffered a devastating toll, with more than 2,000 deaths as of Tuesday.

Health officials, recognizing the threat posed by healthcare workers who frequently work at more than one nursing home and may be infected but asymptomatic, vowed in late April to test residents and staff at all of the county’s nearly 400 skilled nursing facilities. A month later, The Times found, the county had finished the job at only about a third of them.

Many people around the planet are behaving as if a corner has been turned in the pandemic, returning to work and daily life. But infectious disease specialists say the virus could smolder and flare, subside and reappear, for a very long time to come. In the world as a whole, the caseload is growing fast, and experts are deeply alarmed by the speed of the spread in countries including Pakistan, South Africa, Brazil and Russia. “This is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” said World Health Organization leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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While many scientists were skeptical that a vaccine could be developed this year, hope arose when scientists at Moderna, a pharmaceutical company, said they had made promising early progress and might have one proven by winter. The quick jump that some researchers were able to make into working on vaccines shaved many months, if not more, off the typical timeline, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “If the Fates have it that we have an effective vaccine and there are no glitches that are unanticipated, it is possible that we will have one in the middle of the winter. There’s no guarantee, though.”

By the numbers

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

Nearly 142,500 California cases and at least 4,920 deaths as of 4:00 p.m. PDT Thursday, June 11.
(Compiled by L.A. Times Graphics)

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

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

See which counties are reopening with our tracker.

Across California

Orange County residents no longer have to wear masks in public, officials announced Thursday — an abrupt shift in health orders following weeks of debate over the use of face coverings to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The move comes after the resignation of the county’s public health officer, who received death threats after mandating the use of masks. But businesses can require customers to cover their faces: South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, which reopened Thursday, made mask-wearing mandatory for visitors as they shopped.

Southern California’s largest landlord group has sued the city of Los Angeles over its eviction protections for renters who can’t pay rent due to the pandemic, saying the rules violate landlords’ 5th Amendment rights against government taking of their property without compensation. The suit is the latest effort from landlord groups to attempt to overturn anti-eviction rules passed by local governments across the region. Property law experts have said that local governments have broad constitutional authority to temporarily ban evictions during emergencies.

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In the Bay Area, there are worries about the future of neighborhood heath clinics that serve Black communities. The shutdown has forced the cancellation of in-person patient visits, leading to a drop in revenue and widespread layoffs despite emergency government aid. Many are closing their doors just as data emerge revealing the toll of the virus on Black Californians.

In the tiny isolated beach town of Bolinas, in Marin County, few residents — if any — have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a study subsidized by UC San Francisco. Antibody tests showed that between zero and three in 1,000 people in Bolinas were previously infected, and no one was found to have an active case of COVID-19. The results show the effectiveness of stay-home orders, particularly for remote, rural places many miles away from highways, the researchers said.

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

Las Vegas is reopening — but the safety measures in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 are not present everywhere, and Nevada does not require facial coverings for hotel and casino guests, only for employees. When Times columnist Arash Markazi toured the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino on the Strip, things seemed as though “it was six months ago when there was no pandemic and social distancing had yet to enter our lexicon.”

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The governor of Hawaii on Wednesday extended the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for all arriving travelers in a bid to keep coronavirus cases in the islands low. He said the rule is being extended to the end of July as the state works to solidify a screening process that could soon allow travelers to return in some capacity.

The federal CARES Act sent $150 billion to states and the nation’s most populous cities and counties to help them pay for expenses related to the virus outbreak. But only 36 cities met the population threshold of 500,000 or more to qualify for the money, and thousands of smaller cities and counties across the U.S. were cut off from direct aid. “It wasn’t fair,” said the mayor of Allentown, Pa. “The cities are the backbone, the heart of the state and the nation, and to get nothing ... we’re scrambling.”

Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: Is it safe to drive long distances? Here’s some advice from former L.A. Times travel editor Catharine Hamm on taking road trips.

Many travelers are asking whether driving is safer than flying these days. In terms of the coronavirus, probably, said a Southern California infectious disease specialist, “when you factor in controlled boarding/exiting processes, number of people on the airplane, unknown health status of people on the flight, uncooperative children sitting near you, etc.”

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Here are some tips for preparing for a road trip:

— Plan your trip, including all the stops you’ll be making. Don’t rely on websites to tell you the open status of hotels, restaurants or rest areas; call them to be absolutely sure.

— Before you leave, check your car’s equipment — especially tires — so as to reduce the chances of getting stranded, and clean your car.

— Pack masks and gloves for all riders, and bring soap, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.

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— Pack a cooler with drinks and snacks, including high-protein goodies that will not go bad, to reduce the number of stops. Also pack plenty of charging cords and perhaps external batteries for electronic devices.

— Create a restroom break kit for each person traveling with you: small bars of soap, paper towels (for drying and avoiding high-touch handles) and travel-size packs of toilet seat covers.

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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