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Coronavirus Today: ‘Yes, it really sucks’

Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Wednesday, Aug. 12. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

The geography of California’s coronavirus outbreak has shifted. Suburban and agricultural areas that had been relatively spared during California’s initial surge are now seeing skyrocketing rates of infections and deaths, according to a Times data analysis. Those regions are home to Californians who have low-income jobs as essential workers in agriculture and food processing and can’t afford to take time off, said a professor at UC Merced’s Community and Labor Center. “As long as we want food on our table, there’s going to be people working in some amount of proximity to each other,” he said.

If California had stockpiled enough masks and other personal protective equipment earlier in the pandemic, at least 15,800 essential workers would not have contracted COVID-19, according to a study from UC Berkeley. Lawmakers pushing a bill to create a state PPE stockpile said the report highlights the need to prevent shortages during a future healthcare crisis. “What this UC Berkeley study shows is the cost of not being ready is very high,” said state Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).

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The U.S. college football season has been canceled for millions of fans of teams in the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences. With the start of football practice a week away, the presidents of Pac-12 universities unanimously decided there was no safe option but to cancel the fall season, with the hope of moving the games to winter or spring. At least 10 Big Ten football players have reportedly developed a rare inflammation of the heart after contracting COVID-19. “We listened to all the views, and we determined there’s too much uncertainty right now,” said the president of the University of Oregon. “We really thought this was the morally correct thing to do.”

The Times’ sports columnist Bill Plaschke contracted the disease at the end of July and thankfully recovered, but before he did, he experienced constant chills, intense fatigue and even hallucinatory dreams. “I would occasionally hear acquaintances wonder if it was truly that awful,” he wrote. “I can now offer indisputable confirmation. Yes, it really sucks.”

By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 6:03 p.m. PDT Wednesday:

More than 591,300 California cases and at least 10,753 deaths as of 6:03 p.m. PDT Wednesday, Aug. 12.
(Compiled by L.A. Times Graphics)
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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

The Los Angeles Board of Education has approved a plan for a structured academic schedule while also allowing for a shortened online school day. Under the deal, struck between the L.A. Unified School District and the teachers union last week, classes will run Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., with an overall teacher work day of six hours; Mondays will have shorter school days to allow for teacher planning. Critics say there aren’t enough learning hours in the plan. “It is not perfect,” Supt. Austin Beutner said. “But in the midst of a pandemic, perfection has never been a goal.”

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A coronavirus testing center capable of administering 1,500 tests a week has opened at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles and will accept appointments and walk-ins Wednesdays through Sundays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis established the new site as part of an effort to better serve Latinos, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. “The numbers don’t lie,” she said.

A judge has declined to order the immediate closure of a Ventura County church that has been holding indoor worship services in violation of state health orders. Godspeak Calvary Chapel has held indoor services without masks or social distancing every Sunday since May 31. As of Tuesday, the coronavirus had infected a total of 8,740 Ventura County residents and killed 93.

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

Even as Democrats and Republicans fight over other aspects of another major stimulus bill, they have largely agreed on how to revamp the Paycheck Protection Program to restore its popularity and usefulness. They say that the small-business loan program should focus on smaller businesses and that very small and minority-owned businesses should be prioritized. “It reflects a lot of our joint priorities, and we’re pretty close,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who chairs the small business committee, of the panel’s work on the bill.

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Hotels, airlines, car rental companies and sports arenas have teamed up with the makers of popular cleaning products like Clorox wipes and Lysol spray to vouch for their cleansing protocols. The partnerships are intended to reassure a nervous public about the companies’ efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, the cleaning protocols focus mostly on disinfecting public spaces and high-touch surfaces, whereas the coronavirus is transmitted primarily through the air after an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales.

Among the world’s top economies, the British economy has suffered the deepest recession this year. The United Kingdom has fared worse than other members of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations — including Germany, France, Italy and the United States — largely because it introduced its coronavirus lockdown at a later stage in the outbreak, particularly when compared to other European countries, said a senior economist at Berenberg Bank. That meant the country had a bigger first wave of infections and deaths — and that restrictions had to last longer.

Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: What tips can you give people looking for new jobs? Audience engagement editor Jessica Roy has advice on how to nail your next video job interview.

Job interviews were stressful enough before the coronavirus outbreak. Now that the pandemic has sent unemployment skyrocketing and millions of Americans are seeking work, it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed at the prospect of impressing a potential employer over video chat.

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Dress like you would for an in-person interview. You don’t have to don a full suit unless it’s a job where you’ll be expected to wear one daily. Think smart-casual: Button-down shirt, nice sweater, possibly a blazer. Bright solid colors will work better than stripes or prints, which can create a distracting effect on the screen. Cameras tend to wash out faces, so wear more makeup than you normally would. And don’t forget to wear pants.

Anticipate technical difficulties on the platform you might be using for the interview. Do a test-drive during which you also check your background and lighting. Keep the space as uncluttered as possible, and make sure your light source is behind your monitor, not behind your face or otherwise in the frame.

During the interview, try to be more animated than you normally would, one expert says. “You really need to be amped up, at least 30% more than your normal persona, on video to be perceived as even having a pulse.”

For more tips on work, personal finance and jobs during the pandemic, sign up for our weekly Business newsletter.

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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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