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Coronavirus Today: Restarting sports

Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Wednesday, June 17. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

Overall, coronavirus hospitalizations statewide have been relatively flat for the last six weeks, even as California continues to relax restrictions on businesses and move through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stages of reopening. But in some parts of the state, hospitalizations are again on the rise, according to the Los Angeles Times coronavirus data tracker.

That’s leading health officials to worry that some people are no longer following safety recommendations, including wearing face coverings and adhering to social distancing guidelines. “We have met the enemy, and they are us,” said the health officer in Ventura County, where hospitalizations are up.

California is still in its first wave of infections, health experts say. But there’s already growing concern that a second wave will hit in the fall and winter, necessitating another round of restrictions and shutdowns. In the United States, deaths from the coronavirus are projected to rise steadily in July and August, then increase rapidly through September, according to data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has gone so far as to say that when Major League Baseball resumes, it should end its already-shortened season in September. “Even in warm weather, like in Arizona and California, we’re starting to see resurgences as we open up,” Fauci said. “But I think the chances of there being less of an issue in the end of July and all of August and September are much, much better than if you go into October.”

As sports leagues try to plan their fall and winter seasons around the pandemic, the NBA has unveiled an elaborate battle plan for basketball’s return. The exhaustive document details a range of protections, from experimenting with wearable medical technology that can monitor body temperature and blood oxygen levels to the proper way to disinfect basketballs.

UCLA athletes involved in fall sports are allowed to voluntarily return to campus as soon as Monday as part of a four-phase plan to eventually resume competition. Those who fly back to campus will be isolated for seven days before being tested and allowed to resume workouts if they get a negative test result; those who drive to campus can be tested immediately.

And while California has not yet cleared the way for fans to return to sports stadiums, USC is planning on “reduced capacity” at the Coliseum for football games. The stadium, which was renovated before last season, has a capacity of 77,500 fans; how much that will have to be cut — and who gets to fill those open seats — remains to be seen.

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By the numbers

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

More than 162,000 California cases and at least 5,255 deaths as of 3:30 p.m. PDT Wednesday, June 17.
(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)
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See which counties are reopening with our tracker.

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Across California

Officials in Ventura County said they might slow reopenings if the number of hospitalizations continues to grow. The number of patients hit 47 on Tuesday — significantly higher than two weeks ago, when only about 20 were hospitalized, according to the county public health officer. “At this point, it would be foolhardy to just open up and continue to open up everything given … what our numbers are doing,” he said.

Orange County, where last week officials rolled back a mandate that residents wear face coverings in public, reached a new milestone in hospitalizations this week. As of Monday, 328 people were being treated at a hospital for issues related to the coronavirus. County data also show that 131 of those people were in the intensive care unit, and that ICU admissions have jumped 76% in the last six weeks. Despite the uptick in hospitalizations, the chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors indicated that local leaders have no plans to slow reopening.

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Even as officials caution against nonessential travel, they have permitted the reopening of hundreds of hotels across the state. San Diego and Mammoth Lakes are among the latest locales to reopen hotels and other attractions as summer begins. To reassure prospective visitors, destinations are boosting their cleaning and distancing efforts, and changing their normal routines to adhere to state and local safety guidelines.

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

The U.S. and Mexico have agreed to extend travel restrictions at the border through July 21 “after reviewing the development of the spread of COVID-19 in both countries,” Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said. This is the third extension since the initial joint agreement was adopted in March.

The pandemic has inspired a massive effort to claim intellectual property rights, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office receiving more than 1,500 applications for trademarks with variations on the COVID-19 and coronavirus theme. Intellectual property experts say the surge may be due to the pandemic‘s massive scale, the relaxation of normally stringent filing deadlines, and the many people scrambling for ways to make money amid the economic downturn.

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Countries that have brought the coronavirus under control, such as Taiwan, Macao and Singapore, are keeping many social distancing measures in place for the foreseeable future to stem a resurgence of the virus, which is raging in other regions. The move comes after Beijing reported its first new local infections in months, prompting fresh neighborhood lockdowns and the grounding of flights. “It is critical that we continue to remain vigilant so as to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said the co-chair of Singapore’s COVID-19 task force.

China framed the battle to beat the virus as a “people’s war.” Now it’s portraying the global race to create a vaccine as a patriotic effort, part of a decades-long goal to prove the country’s strength as a scientifically advanced state. The pressure to win is entangled in global politics driven by the animus between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Trump — strong nationalists whose relations have become increasingly strained over the virus’ origins and its devastating impact. “A vaccine is the most powerful weapon to end the novel coronavirus,” said an epidemiologist leading the country’s research efforts. “If China is the first to develop this weapon with its own intellectual property rights, it will demonstrate not only the progress of Chinese science and technology, but also our image as a major power.”

Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: Is it safe to go camping? Assistant Travel editor Mary Forgione looked into it.

While being outdoors reduces the risk of transmitting COVID-19, you should still take precautions.

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As of mid-June, campgrounds and RV parks in California were allowed to reopen as long as they received permission from local public health officials and complied with detailed state guidelines. Every campground will have a set of rules designed to keep visitors and employees safe and healthy.

Though rules vary, most campgrounds say multifamily gatherings or big parties with friends won’t be allowed. Some limit the number of people who can stay in individual and adjoining sites. The idea is to stick with people in your household or family bubble, and that goes for backcountry campers on public lands too.

Campers and hikers should social distance and frequently wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. Even if you have a reservation at a campground you know, check the rules before your visit and read about the site’s sanitation precautions. Look for information posted online by the campground or its reservation provider, or call before your trip.

And for more news and advice on exploring California’s great outdoors, subscribe to The Times’ newly launched weekly newsletter “The Wild.”

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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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