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Coronavirus Today: ‘The line of least resistance’

Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Thursday, Aug. 6. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

In Los Angeles County — as in other counties across the state — the virus appears to have carved an eastward path from wealthy to working-class neighborhoods made up of Latino and Black residents, a Times analysis found.

It’s a path some experts predicted months ago. “We expected that the COVID cases would sweep out of Beverly Hills and Brentwood and Bel-Air and down into the more exposed areas,” said a UCLA professor of medicine, adding that shelter-in-place orders imposed early in the pandemic overlooked essential workers while letting white-collar workers stay home. “It’s done that exactly, following the line of least resistance.”

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Underscoring that is a new poll that found that Black people and Latinos throughout the state are far more likely than white people to report that the coronavirus has threatened their health, jobs and finances. The survey of registered voters, conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, also found that Latino residents reported the greatest economic impact, with 78% seeing a major threat to their jobs and 48% saying they or their families faced a “very serious” problem of not being able to pay for food or other necessities.

State officials have promised to do more to protect essential workers, many of whom can’t afford to stop working. “I think all the attention has been on people hanging out in bars and restaurants,” said a professor of sociology at USC. “But someone is working the back rooms in those places.”

This week, there’s been more of a focus on the illicit gatherings that might be fueling outbreaks among California’s young people, from fraternities at USC and UC Berkeley to wild parties in the Hollywood Hills. And while the young are less likely to become severely ill with COVID-19, that doesn’t mean they can’t spread it to others who are more vulnerable or, like hundreds in L.A. County, die from it themselves.

In California, the death toll today surpassed 10,000.

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By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 5 p.m. PDT Thursday:

More than 540,300 California cases and at least 10,006 deaths as of 5 p.m. PDT Thursday, Aug. 6.
(Compiled by L.A. Times Graphics )

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

See the current status of California’s reopening, county by county, with our tracker.

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Across California

Speaking of parties, Halloween celebrations have been canceled at Southern California‘s biggest theme parks, including Universal Studios Hollywood, the Disneyland resort in Anaheim and Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. In the past, these parks have drawn thousands of visitors eager to experience mazes, rides and haunted attractions full of scream-inducing jump scares — but these crowded activities don’t pass the social distancing test.

Additionally, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has said that it will issue official instructions for trick-or-treating sometime in the fall, but that families should “be prepared to offer alternative ways of celebrating that minimize contact with non-household members.”

The agency did issue guidelines Wednesday for high school sports teams to resume working out. Games are still on pause, but outdoor workouts can take place if protocols are followed for maintaining distances of at least six feet, conducting workouts outside, using face coverings and screening players and coaches. These guidelines are expected to bring some students back to campuses as early as next month if principals allow use of their athletic facilities.

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Up in Bakersfield, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deliberately limited coronavirus testing at a detention center in the midst of an outbreak there, emails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and the San Francisco public defender’s office show. Officials at the center rejected advice to test all detainees, saying it would be too hard to isolate those who tested positive. Today, a federal judge in San Francisco ordered them to administer weekly rapid tests to all current detainees and stop taking in new ones, saying ICE has been so “cavalier” in its response to the crisis that it has “lost the right to be trusted.”

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 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 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
— In need of mental health services? Here are resources for coping during the crisis from the CDC and the L.A. County Department of Mental Health. L.A. County residents can also call (800) 854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741.
Thinking about going out? Here’s how you can assess your risk.

Around the nation and the world

What will it take to reopen schools safely, getting students beyond just athletes back on campus? That’s a question educators, health officials and epidemiologists are still wrestling with, in part because the answers depend on the level of risk and uncertainty communities are willing to bear. “The context of COVID-19 transmission and spread is so different across communities that a one-size-fits-all solution is not appropriate,” an education researcher said.

An important factor to keep in mind is that schools provide an array of benefits to children and families that extend beyond education — including meals, physical and mental health services, essential child care that enables parents to work and support for students with learning difficulties and other needs. Taking these away could cause student health to suffer. “We need to ask ourselves, are we trying to maximize health outcomes, or are we trying to maximize COVID health outcomes?” one health policy expert said.

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AMC Theatres, the world’s largest cinema operator, lost a staggering $561 million in its most recent quarter as revenue collapsed during the pandemic. Its chief executive called it “the most challenging quarter in the 100-year history of AMC.” The financial report comes after Disney’s latest earnings call revealed losses of $4.72 billion in just three months — and news that the long-awaited remake of “Mulan” would be released on its streaming platform, Disney+, instead of in theaters.

Airlines are limiting, and sometimes eliminating, food and drink service aboard flights because of fears of transmitting the coronavirus. Many have cut out or curtailed alcoholic beverages.

Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: How do I know if I’m a victim of a coronavirus scam? Business columnist David Lazarus has some suggestions.

There’s been a steady rise in coronavirus-related rackets, and the Federal Trade Commission says it has received more than 131,000 complaints linked to the pandemic — from bogus miracle cures and fake charities to work-at-home scams and phishing schemes.

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Of particular note is the rise of “government impostors attempting to scam consumers out of their stimulus checks,” the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection testified at a recent hearing on Capitol Hill.

The FTC and consumer advocates say it’s especially important to keep your guard up at a time like this. Here’s what they suggest:

— Hang up on robocalls. Ask your phone-service provider what resources are available to help keep scammers at bay.
— Ignore anyone who claims they have a cure for the coronavirus or COVID-19. No such thing yet exists.
— Don’t send money to someone you don’t know. If you’re ever instructed to make a payment using gift cards, walk away.
— Don’t give personal information — particularly financial info — to strangers.
— Pay no attention to anyone claiming on the phone to be a government official. The Internal Revenue Service, for example, will never call with a demand that you pay back taxes.

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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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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