Coronavirus Today: Temperature checks at LAX
Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Monday, June 22. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.
For the last couple of months, health experts have discussed the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus infections arising in the fall and winter. But transmission rates are still increasing across the country, along with hospitalization rates; these signs indicate that the pandemic may not slow during the summer as some experts had hoped it might. Instead, the nation may see the first wave continue. “I think we’re going to just see one very, very difficult forest fire of cases,” said the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that hospitalizations from COVID-19 rose 16% over the last two weeks as California reported more than 46,000 new cases of the disease. The number of patients in intensive care has increased by 11% over two weeks. “Those that suggest this somehow is going to disappear, these numbers tell a very, very different and sobering story,” Newsom said.
Social gatherings and a lack of masks are the likely reasons for an uptick in transmission rates in some parts of California, health officials say. Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which rescinded their mask orders before Newsom instituted the statewide mandate on face coverings, have been added to the list of those that will need to be monitored by Sacramento. Although hospitalization rates in Los Angeles County are mostly flat, health officials reported 2,571 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday — a high number considering limited weekend testing — and 18 deaths. “The virus is not done with us,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County public health director.
Former California governors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson have launched a video campaign supporting Newsom’s statewide mandate ordering the use of masks in most public indoor settings and outdoors when physical distancing is not possible. “This is not about being weak,” said Schwarzenegger in the video.
And besides being required to wear masks and maintain proper physical distance, any travelers passing through the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX will be subjected to temperature checks starting Tuesday. Three thermal cameras will scan streams of passengers arriving at and departing from the terminal in hopes of spotting those with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher — a common symptom of COVID-19. Asymptomatic spread means that the checks are not a silver bullet for preventing transmission; still, LAX plans to operate the cameras for 12 weeks to test the effectiveness of the technology before deciding whether to expand their use to other terminals.
By the numbers
California cases and deaths as of 4:30 p.m. PDT Monday:
Track the latest numbers and how they break down in California with our graphics.
See which counties are reopening with our tracker.
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Newsom on Monday struck a budget deal with lawmakers that relies on a mix of cuts, along with a more optimistic economic outlook, to protect social services programs and public schools. The compromise largely abandons the far-reaching spending reductions he had originally proposed, such as $8 billion in cuts for K-12 schools and community colleges. Still, programs aiming to provide more housing for low- and middle-income Californians will be cut by $250 million, and court operations across the state will be cut by $150 million. “It’s a tough budget for all of us,” Newsom said.
Los Angeles County’s Project Roomkey effort, meant to provide private rooms to 15,000 homeless people considered most at risk from the coronavirus, has fallen far short of its goal as it enters its fourth month. Negotiators have so far secured only 3,601 rooms, and the pace of new leases is slowing rather than speeding up. County officials would not comment on what’s kept them from closing deals, although obstacles related to insurance and indemnity are at least partly responsible, as is organizing the services needed to manage the hotels.
Data show that online learning during the pandemic has hindered the trajectory of many students enrolled in the Los Angeles Community College District. More than 32,000 students withdrew from classes in spring 2020, compared with about 27,000 in spring 2019 — a 17% increase. Lack of computers and internet access were cited as factors, as well as financial stress from layoffs and reductions in work hours. “A lot of our students aren’t sure if they even want to continue with their studies,” said the director of a support program at Southwest College. “They keep saying over and over to us, ‘I’m not sure if I’m gonna make it.'"
While the lockdown closed most retail businesses for months, Southern California’s apparel manufacturers were able to turn on a dime to produce masks and other critically needed personal protective equipment. Although the industry has been battered as leading brands moved production out of the country, the pandemic ended up giving local producers an edge over foreign factories with lengthy supply chains and potential quality-control problems. At the same time, however, the decision to keep local factories open exposed employees to possible infection and reignited allegations that their low-income, largely immigrant workforce was being exploited.
— 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 there.
— Need a COVID-19 test? Here’s how to receive a free test if you’re in L.A. County. And here’s a map of testing sites across California.
— 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
Death rates in the U.S. from COVID-19 have continued to decline after the peak hit in New York in April. However, the number of people hospitalized has climbed sharply in several states in the South and Southwest, and health officials worry death rates may begin to rise again. In some of the most affected states, such as Florida and Arizona, not only are larger proportions of tests coming back positive but also more of the infected are becoming sicker, according to the director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins.
President Trump is set to announce new restrictions on U.S. visas that target temporary foreign workers in industries including technology, academia, hotels and construction, according to officials. The orders largely exempt those who work in the agricultural, healthcare and food industries after businesses in those fields argued work authorizations for immigrants are critical to the coronavirus response.
Cruises won’t restart at U.S. ports until at least Sept. 15 because more time is needed to fine-tune safety procedures, according to an announcement from the world’s largest cruise industry trade association. If your cruise is canceled, you may be eligible for a refund or a value-added cruise voucher; contact your cruise line or travel agent for more information.
Major League Baseball is expected to begin a shortened season of 60 games around July 24, without fans in seats. Commissioner Rob Manfred exercised his authority Monday to impose the season after nearly three months of contentious negotiations between team owners and the players’ union: Owners demanded that players take additional pay cuts to help cover the financial losses teams would incur from playing games in empty stadiums. The move is expected to prompt the union to file a grievance.
In many parts of the world, lockdowns have sparked concern about increased illegal hunting that’s fueled by food shortages and a decline in law enforcement in some wildlife protection areas. Authorities in India are concerned a spike in poaching could kill not only endangered tigers and leopards but also species these carnivores depend upon to survive. “It is risky to poach, but if pushed to the brink, some could think that these are risks worth taking,” said a wildlife biologist.
Your questions answered
Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: What happens after the federal $600 weekly unemployment benefit ends? Reporter Faith E. Pinho looked into it.
The unemployment benefit, part of the $2-trillion economic stimulus package Congress passed in March, ends July 31. But with the pandemic still in full force, lawmakers are debating what might come next. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the ideas proposed so far:
The Worker Relief and Security Act, introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), would extend the $600-per-week benefit for 30 days past the president’s emergency declaration. The funding would then be phased out in line with changes triggered by each state’s unemployment rate.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has proposed a return-to-work bonus wherein a person returning to work would receive $450 per week for six weeks, on top of regular wages. Added to the federal minimum wage, Portman estimated, the $450 weekly bonus would make returning to work more attractive than continuing on unemployment insurance.
But economic experts say the problem is that there are no jobs for workers to return to. The Paycheck Security Act, proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would give qualifying small businesses a refundable tax credit of up to $90,000 per employee annually to hire back furloughed or laid-off workers and cover their health benefits.
Negotiations for the future of unemployment benefits are likely to heat up in the coming weeks. You can find your representative and senator in Congress to give feedback here.
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.
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