As hospitals prepare for a nationwide explosion of new coronavirus infections, the federal government turns to more emergency measures.
Trying to Turn the Tide
President Trump has invoked wartime powers that could increase the manufacturing of medical equipment used to fight the coronavirus pandemic, such as ventilators needed to keep critically ill patients alive and protective masks and gowns for hospital workers. Health experts have been warning there are not nearly enough, despite a government stockpile.
Meanwhile, Congress is rushing to enact emergency legislation, as the stock market has plummeted and layoffs have skyrocketed. The Senate passed a measure — already approved by the House — to provide free testing and expand sick leave for Americans; Trump signed it hours later. Lawmakers are now working on the next package of proposals, expected to top $1 trillion, including aid to struggling industries and individual checks to most taxpayers.
Trump, who has now declared himself a “wartime president,” also ordered a halt to evictions from public housing for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak, and to foreclosures for homeowners who have mortgages backed by the federal government.
The emergency steps come as the country continues to lock down in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The U.S. and Canada have announced the temporary end of “nonessential travel” across their 5,500-mile border, and the U.S. government is preparing new limitations on migrants entering from Mexico.
Amid all this, the Trump administration faces ongoing criticism for moving too slowly and timidly to slow the pandemic — and for the president’s calling SARS-CoV-2 the “Chinese virus.” Until last weekend, Trump had mostly shrugged off the coronavirus; this week, as the fabric of daily life has been altered and the crisis set off alarm bells in his reelection campaign, he has abruptly changed course.
Bracing for the Worst
The coronavirus could soon overwhelm California hospitals, unless social distancing measures slow its spread. State projections show that a rapid rise in infections expected in the next two weeks would require anywhere from 4,000 to 20,000 additional hospital beds and quickly fill existing hospital space.
A Los Angeles Times data analysis found that California has 7,200 intensive-care beds across more than 365 hospitals. In total, the state has about 72,000 beds. The Times data analysis shows roughly one intensive-care bed for every 5,500 people in California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the state has asked the Department of Defense to deploy the Navy’s Mercy hospital ship and two mobile hospitals to California to help care for the expected surge in hospitalizations. In addition, Trump said the Army Corps of Engineers would be “ready, willing and able” to assist with emergency facilities, though that rollout has not yet happened.
It’s no secret that a lack of testing has put the U.S. behind in its efforts to battle the outbreak — and that as testing grows in the coming days, the number of infections that have been confirmed is likely to rise dramatically. Then there are those who aren’t being counted, despite their best efforts.
C.A. Lim, a 33-year-old nonprofit executive, woke Friday in her Venice apartment with a fever, dry cough, aching muscles and a tightness in her chest like a corset she couldn’t remove. At an urgent care clinic, a physician and an infectious disease specialist told her she “clearly” had COVID-19, but that they couldn’t spare a test because she was not elderly or a high-risk patient. And she’s far from the only one to have had a similar encounter.
More Top Coronavirus Stories
— California’s nearly $50-billion agricultural industry is anticipating a potential labor shortfall that could hinder efforts to maintain the nation’s fresh produce supply.
— Staff members at the Seattle-area nursing home overrun by COVID-19 spread the coronavirus to other facilities where they worked, an investigation led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found.
— The pandemic is forcing the Trump administration to pause, and even reverse, its years-long effort to roll back healthcare regulations and restrict access to the nation’s medical safety net.
— Two members of Congress — Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) — have tested positive for the coronavirus.
— Think the most isolated corners of the U.S. are safe? Think again. Even in Wyoming, concerns are growing.
Plus, here are some practical tips on getting through the days ahead. For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a new special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter that will help you understand more about COVID-19:
— What are the restrictions in my community? A guide for Southern California.
— Social distancing: the dos and don’ts.
— Misinformation and hoax emails are making the rounds. Here’s how to spot them.
— The 44 best TV shows to binge while self-quarantining, according to TV experts.
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
During the Cold War, Los Angeles leaders determined the city needed an escape route. For a brief time, that idea looked like Shoemaker Canyon Road, a panic route through the San Gabriel Mountains. In 1956, the city sent inmates from Sheriff’s Department detention camps to start construction. But the process was slow, and by 1969, it stopped all together. Only 4 miles of a planned 25 were ever completed.
In March 1980, The Times revisited the road to nowhere, capturing a series of photographs. You can see them here.
— Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the city will convert 42 of its recreation centers into temporary shelters for homeless residents, providing 6,000 new beds in an effort aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
— UCLA will cancel traditional graduation ceremonies and hold them remotely to prevent the spread of the virus.
— California is a climate leader. But critics say it needs to move even faster if the state is going to reach its goals in slashing emissions.
— L.A. will pay up to $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit from a police detective who said she was assaulted, abused and blackmailed by a fellow officer.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Even late-night TV hosts are working from home. Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert and Conan O’Brien all filmed material from their homes this week.
— Amid the coronavirus outbreak, drive-in theaters are unexpectedly finding their moment.
— Across L.A., bookstores are closing and scrambling to stay afloat.
— A top aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sanders is assessing the future of his campaign but suggested he might take some time before announcing a decision.
— Could the U.S. move its November election? Experts say it’s possible, but not without serious consequences — like Trump potentially forfeiting to a Democrat.
— Across the country, engaged couples are making tough calls about whether to postpone, downsize or outright cancel their weddings.
— Surging COVID-19 deaths in Iran have lead to mass burial pits and changed the way families can mourn their loved ones.
— Warning that Germany was facing its greatest challenge since World War II, Chancellor Angela Merkel made a rare prime-time television appeal to her country to take the coronavirus threat seriously. The nation’s death toll has remained remarkably low at 28 fatalities out of more than 12,300 confirmed cases.
— A tiny fossil skull found in Belgium is giving scientists a rare look at the ancestors of today’s birds. They’re calling it the “Wonderchicken.”
— Uber and Lyft drivers depend on a steady stream of customers who have places to be. They’re bracing for impact as the coronavirus keeps people at home.
— Lime will remove its scooters from California and other states because of the coronavirus.
— With empty sidewalks, L.A. street vendors are struggling under the lockdown.
— A handful of NBA teams, including the Lakers, have offered coronavirus testing for their players, when the general public can’t get them. It comes down to connections.
— The coronavirus threw ESPN a curveball. How the sports giant is changing its game when there are no games to cover.
— The people who have participated in all 35 editions of the L.A. Marathon are an elite group. Known as the Legacy Runners, they share a passion and bond decades in the making.
— Trump’s China-bashing might make his base happy, but it puts everyone at risk, The Times’ editorial board writes.
— Coronavirus makes jails and prisons potential death traps, but the editorial board writes, it is a crisis as well for the rest of us for two distinct reasons.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— Instagram was the place to show off a curated version of our lives. In the coronavirus era, it’s a real, raw and intimate window into our home lives. (The Atlantic)
— How Gene Carr, a retired NHL player who lives in Los Angeles, met the daughter he didn’t know existed. (The Athletic)
— Need a break? Watch this baby goat live cam from upstate New York. (Beekman 1802)
ONLY IN L.A.
Jack Henry Iverson turned 7 years old on St. Patrick’s Day. His school birthday party was canceled — after all, there was no school because of the coronavirus, and the CDC is warning against gatherings of more than 10 people. But Jack Henry’s mom had a sweet surprise in store for him when they went on a walk in their Culver City neighborhood.
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