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Coronavirus Today: A key advisor resigns

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

Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health and a key advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom in the state’s fight against the coronavirus, abruptly resigned Sunday night.

Her surprise, immediate departure came just days after the state learned that technical problems had caused a huge undercount in coronavirus case data. Newsom refused to divulge whether he asked Angell to step down, saying only that he was grateful for her service. He also said the massive backlog of as many as 300,000 test results had been processed and that his administration would be transparent in its investigation into the undercount. “These things are unfortunate, but we are moving forward,” he said.

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Early in the pandemic, Newsom assembled an all-star task force to help him steer the state to an economic recovery. Among the 108 members are Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Los Angeles Times owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. But months later, few details about its work have been made public, and critics say they are still waiting for the big ideas Newsom promised in April. “It’s the worst type of construct for the public, because you don’t know what is being said and what information is being given to the governor,” said the president of the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog.

Even though the state’s reopening is more or less at a standstill, young adults between 18 and 34 still represent an outsize share of its new coronavirus cases. And there’s new data that suggests the virus is infecting a growing number of children and teenagers just as some schools prepare to reopen with hybrid schedules that include in-person learning.

In Nevada County, which isn’t on California’s coronavirus monitoring list, one Catholic school has reopened its classrooms and welcomed students back to campus five days a week — one of the few schools in the state to attempt in-person learning this semester. Mount St. Mary’s was able to attempt this experiment largely due to its private status, its small class sizes and its capacity to adapt quickly as new information emerges. But those factors also highlight some of the inequities that keep face-to-face learning out of reach for many. Among them: Tuition at Mount St. Mary’s is about $5,000 a year.

By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 4:10 p.m. PDT Monday:

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More than 568,800 California cases and at least 10,433 deaths as of 4:10 p.m. PDT Monday, Aug. 10.
(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

In the Inland Empire, COVID-19 hospitalizations have begun to decline. Both San Bernardino and Riverside counties reported figures that are significantly lower than the record-high hospitalizations from a month ago. In both counties, the bulk of new infections are being seen among younger residents who are less likely to experience the more severe symptoms that require hospitalization.

In Marin County, one of the healthiest, wealthiest and best-educated in California, the coronavirus has swept through communities of color — including one neighborhood that’s home to Latino service workers. Latinos, who make up 16% of the population in Marin, account for 75% of coronavirus infections there, according to the county’s public health officer. “This is our essential workforce,” he said. “This isn’t the result of casual socializing at happy hour.”

A new coronavirus testing site is set to open in San Ysidro, home to a busy pedestrian crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border. Between 18,000 and 22,000 people cross there every day, including U.S. citizens who live in Tijuana and Mexican citizens with U.S. work visas who are essential workers in healthcare, at public agencies and in restaurants. It can be difficult for these employees to find time to get tested, San Diego County officials said, even though many are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

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.

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Around the nation and the world

Even though fewer people are flying during the pandemic, the number of guns that airline passengers are caught carrying in U.S airports has tripled over the past year, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Such weapons are prohibited at airports and aboard flights. Nevertheless, airport screeners uncovered 15.3 weapons per million passengers in July 2020, up from 5.1 firearms per million passengers in July 2019. About 80% of the firearms identified last month were loaded.

A high school in Georgia made headlines soon after classes began Aug. 3 and photos posted on social media showed hallways crowded with students, many of them not wearing masks. That school has now shifted all its classes online because nine students and staff tested positive for the coronavirus.

New Zealand on Sunday marked 100 days since it stamped out the spread of the coronavirus. The country of 5 million imposed a strict lockdown in late March, when only about 100 people had tested positive for the disease. Since then, the only new cases have stemmed from a few incoming travelers. Total infections were limited to just over 1,500, and the country has had only 22 deaths. Its economy has fared far better than expected as well. “It was good science and great political leadership that made the difference,” said an epidemiologist at the University of Otago.

Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: What resources are available for domestic workers who cannot show up for their jobs?

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Early on in the pandemic, nannies, housekeepers and other domestic workers were largely following California’s stay-at-home orders. But many of them were worried about the financial toll of of staying home: Most of the 2.5 million domestic workers in the U.S. don’t have access to healthcare and 83% do not get paid sick days, according to the director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

We now know more about how to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 — and how to treat it if you do become ill. That has emboldened some employers to ask their domestic employees to return to work. But there are many who would be risking their safety, and that of their loved ones, by doing so. Here are some suggestions for possible sources of relief.

The California Domestic Workers Coalition has a list of organizations across the state that provide resources and mutual aid. It also supplies information in multiple languages on topics from labor rights to food banks.

The National Domestic Workers Alliance has established the Coronavirus Care Fund; qualifying applicants who are experiencing financial hardship can receive $400 in emergency assistance. The organization also has a dedicated chat line for advice and emotional support from trained coaches.

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The organization Legal Aid at Work has a list of known relief funds for undocumented workers in California, available in English, Spanish and Chinese.

And if you are an employer who plans to resume domestic service, the network Hand in Hand has created a tip sheet on how to treat workers fairly during the coronavirus crisis. It includes information on workplace safety, overtime and sick pay laws.

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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