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Coronavirus Today: Candidates vs. COVID-19

Good evening. I’m Soumya Karlamangla, and it’s Wednesday, Oct. 7. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris debated each other through plexiglass barriers Wednesday night, and now all eyes are turning to the next scheduled matchup between President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

The second presidential debate, set for Oct. 15 in Miami, was already generating interest after the maelstrom that was the first one. But Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis has significantly complicated matters.

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On Wednesday, Biden’s campaign said that before the debate can begin, Trump must show he can no longer infect others with the coronavirus. The event will take place nearly two weeks after Trump revealed his positive test result.

“Look, the obligation is on Donald Trump here to prove that he’s not contagious for that debate,” Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, told CNN.

Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis was announced a little more than two days after he and Biden had shared the same indoor space for the first debate in Cleveland. Since then, Biden has repeatedly tested negative for the virus, and now that a whole week has passed, he is probably out of the woods in his risk of catching it from Trump, according to a panel of UC San Francisco physicians and other experts.

However, the panel members warned that Trump could still have COVID-19 symptoms and be contagious Oct. 15. In fact, by then he may even take a turn for the worse — a common progression for severe cases of COVID-19 can involve a sudden deterioration about a week after the illness begins.

Also concerning, experts added, was Trump’s labored breathing when he returned to the White House on Monday night. And worth watching for, they said, are the effects that can occur from taking powerful steroids like the one given to Trump to combat his COVID-19. Such medication can cause emotional instability and euphoria.

By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 6:47 p.m. PDT Wednesday:

More than 842,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 16,300 deaths in California

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

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

A map of California showing what tiers counties have been assigned based on their local levels of coronavirus risk.
(Los Angeles Times Graphics)

The tiers to which California counties are assigned based on coronavirus risk level. These determine what can reopen.

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Across California

Colleges in the state have become hot spots for the coronavirus, as no amount of online instruction, limits on dormitory occupancy or isolation rooms could stop the thousands of students determined to salvage some semblance of a college experience. That’s because university officials can’t prevent students from filling apartment buildings and houses in neighborhoods surrounding the schools. At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, more than 130 people have been infected with the virus since the start of the school year. San Diego State has had more than 1,110 confirmed infections, with more than half of them connected to students living off campus.

A major surge in coronavirus cases in Shasta County has been tied to an evangelical college where more than 120 students and staff tested positive in the last two weeks. The surge forced the state to increase restrictions on businesses in the county to try to slow the spread.

An office staff intern for Gov. Gavin Newsom and another state employee who interacted with administration personnel have both tested positive for the coronavirus, though neither came in contact with Newsom or his top advisors. Officials declined to identify the two employees or their office locations, citing privacy laws.

The L.A. sports scene over the first weekend in March represented an inflection point between the life we always knew and the fast-approaching realities of a pandemic. That Friday night, the Lakers hosted the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center. Saturday, the USC and UCLA men’s basketball teams squared off at Galen Center, Mexican soccer star Chicharito made his debut with the Galaxy and the Kings took on the Minnesota Wild. Sunday offered a titanic tilt between the Lakers and Clippers. And the L.A. Marathon carried through the city 23,000 runners, young and old. It’s still anyone’s guess when Los Angeles will enjoy another weekend like that.

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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 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 Mental Health. L.A. County residents can also call (800) 854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741.
— For domestic violence victims, the pandemic can pose a “worst-case scenario,” advocates say. If you or someone you know is experiencing such abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or L.A. County’s hotline at (800) 978-3600. Here are more ways to get help.

Around the nation and the world

The White House has become a coronavirus hot spot, with most advisors and aides gone because they are infected and under quarantine at home, or they worry they soon will be. Desks have been abandoned as workers in hazmat suits disinfect office spaces and scrub down surfaces. President Trump, still being treated for COVID-19, escaped confinement in the residence and headed back to the Oval Office. Outside the White House, a pack of hungry raccoons circled reporters Wednesday morning. With so few staff left inside, the raccoons may be taking over.

After declaring Tuesday afternoon that all relief bill talks would be called off until after the election, Trump began pressing for $1,200 stimulus checks and a new wave of aid for airlines and other businesses hard hit by the pandemic. “I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” Trump tweeted Tuesday evening, referring to his longtime rival, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The stock market fell precipitously after Trump pulled the plug on the talks but was recovering in morning trading Wednesday after he floated the idea of piecemeal aid.

In the midst of stay-at-home orders brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, youth climate leaders across the country are juggling online school and Zoom fatigue while still attempting to take action against the climate crisis and raise awareness about the inequities it amplifies. Many youth climate activists have also shifted focus toward showing up in solidarity for Black Lives Matter protests while hitting pause on in-person organizing of their own. “We’re still here and we’re not backing down,” said one 20-year-old Los Angeles activist.

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Even before the pandemic, India’s white-collar workers were under immense pressure as the country’s growth stalled, which some experts say has led to increases in suicides among professionals in recent years. With historic job losses due to COVID-19, those trends are only intensifying. “There is fear and widespread panic,” said a Brookings Institution economist in New Delhi. “The entire Indian economy is in the petrified zone.”

Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who ask: After her COVID-19 diagnosis, how is the first lady doing?

Unlike President Trump, who spent several days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, First Lady Melania Trump has been home at the White House since her diagnosis. In a tweet Monday, her most recent regarding her health, she said she was “feeling good & will continue to rest at home.”

Melania Trump, who is 50, has said throughout her illness that her symptoms have remained mild. The president’s age, weight and sex put him at increased risk, while the first lady’s do not. The risk of death in his age group is three times higher than hers, according to national data.

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Her Chief of Staff Stephanie Grisham confirmed with USA Today on Wednesday that the first lady continues to feel well.

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 in our reopening tracker.

For the most up-to-date coronavirus coverage from The Times over the weekend, visit our homepage and our Health section, sign up for our breaking news alerts, and follow us on Twitter and on Instagram.


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