Officials are urging the public to follow physical-distancing rules as the U.S. braces for a stark rise in coronavirus-related deaths.
A ‘Very, Very Painful Two Weeks’ Ahead
President Trump told Americans to prepare for a “minimum number” of 100,000 deaths and a “very, very painful two weeks,” urging them to follow strict rules on social distancing to prevent even greater tragedy.
“It’s a matter of life and death, frankly,” he said at a grim White House news conference that was nearly devoid of the cavalier pronouncements that have characterized some of his previous briefings about the virus. The U.S. death toll approached 4,000, with roughly 800 Americans reported dead on Tuesday alone, the highest number of daily deaths yet.
Top health officials said the country is on track for between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic, even with the monthlong extension of federal guidelines to limit public gatherings, forgo unnecessary travel and avoid restaurants through April 30.
Across the country, outbreaks are occurring in hundreds of nursing homes — leading administrators to ban visitors, confine patients to their rooms and scramble to create sterile wings to treat residents who come down with the disease. The stakes are literally life and death, because residents, who are elderly and almost always have underlying health problems, are among the most vulnerable, as a new study shows.
On Tuesday, health officials in Washington state alone reported 108 outbreaks at long-term care facilities. And at a single nursing home in Tennessee, more than 100 residents have tested positive.
Los Angeles County health officials announced Monday that 11 nursing homes have outbreaks, meaning three or more cases involving residents or staff had been confirmed at the facility. The county’s Department of Public Health is also investigating reports of at least one suspected coronavirus infection at nine additional nursing homes.
That has left families feeling helpless, not knowing whether it’s better to leave their loved ones in the facilities or move them home.
With coronavirus cases and deaths spreading across California, officials are moving urgently to slow the spread by releasing from prison 3,500 inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes, extending stay-at-home orders in the Bay Area to restrict residential construction projects, and confirming public schools are not likely to reopen before the end of the academic year.
While there are some early signs that the extreme social-distancing rules across the state might be helping, officials said they will probably have to be in place for weeks to come, which will continue to have taken a devastating toll on the economy.
Meanwhile, today is rent day for many. If you’re worried about being able to pay, here’s what you need to know.
Anatomy of a Coronavirus Test
Much has been written about coronavirus testing and the lack thereof, given how it has hampered the United States’ response. But what all does a coronavirus test entail?
Omai Garner, a professor who directs clinical microbiology testing for UCLA Health, describes the complex process, from swabbing one very sick patient to obtaining a result. And along the way, he reveals how the movie “Outbreak” inspired him to become a virologist.
What to do when you’re single, living on your own, and you have to stay at home? Some have formed their own impromptu families, creating pacts to see each other exclusively, platonically speaking.
One group in Silver Lake — a songwriter, a therapist and two journalists — share meals, huddle together on the couch strumming guitars, exercise together, even hug.
The ‘Coronavirus Coup’
Democracies across the globe are turning to emergency proclamations, abrupt lockdowns and enhanced public surveillance to slow the coronavirus’ spread. But so are the world’s authoritarian-leaning leaders — and analysts say the outbreak is providing cover for some audacious power grabs, including in Israel, Brazil the Philippines and Chile.
The latest example is in Hungary, where parliament granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban sweeping new authority to rule by decree for an unlimited period. Orban, already engaged in a systematic campaign to consolidate his powers and stifle political opposition, cited the need for heightened powers as a way to aggressively fight the outbreak.
More Top Coronavirus Headlines
— The fatality rate for people infected with the novel coronavirus is estimated to be less than 1%, according to a new study. But it varies greatly by age: It’s nearly 9% for those in their 70s.
— Several megachurches in the U.S. have revolted against guidelines against gatherings, pitting public health concerns against claims of religious freedom. But for one Florida priest, “I couldn’t live with myself knowing that one of my parishioners died.” He’s moved online.
— In late February, doctors around L.A. County began seeing an unexpected rise in the number of patients with mild, flu-like illnesses. Now health officials think it was an early sign that the coronavirus was on the loose in the Southland.
— The NYPD has been devastated by the coronavirus. The LAPD hopes it can avoid a similar fate.
— Should California punish people who refuse to stay home? Newsom prefers social pressure.
Plus, here are some tips on getting through the days ahead. For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter that will help you understand more about COVID-19. As with all our newsletters, it’s free:
— FAQ: Your top questions answered.
— How to care for someone with COVID-19.
— They are not delicate flowers. Here’s how to help seniors in your life.
— In lockdown hair hell? Try these at-home tricks for cuts and covering gray.
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
On this day in 1944, some Angelenos were worried about whether their speeding tickets were real.
On April 1, Los Angeles police began a new campaign to slow down speeding drivers. According to a Times article, police issued 232 speed citations during the first 15 hours. Over several weeks, the stopped drivers included a car salesman, a motorcyclist on his way to Army duty (who was let off the hook without a ticket) and comedian Jerry Colonna. The Times reported Colonna was fined $12 for “going 40 m.p.h. in a 25-mile zone.”
— The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to remove Sheriff Alex Villanueva as the head of the county’s emergency operations center and put the county’s chief executive in charge of disaster preparedness and response. The sheriff called it “a brazen attempt to consolidate power.”
— In the first confirmed case on L.A.'s skid row, an employee of the Union Rescue Mission has tested positive for the coronavirus. Ninety-five residents and several employees have been quarantined on the mission’s third floor.
— Applications for CalFresh, the state’s food stamp program, are surging as workers lose their jobs. State officials are scrambling to keep up.
— The Trump administration weakened fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, rolling back key U.S. effort against climate change.
— Federal judges have given the Trump administration until April 6 to deliver an account of why it can’t quickly release many of the roughly 7,000 immigrant children at risk of contracting the coronavirus and their parents.
— Joe Biden says Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has drawn attention for her scrapes with Trump over the federal government’s coronavirus response, is on Biden’s list of potential vice presidential candidates.
— Fearing the coronavirus, Michael Avenatti, R. Kelly, Bill Cosby and other celebrity inmates have sought an early release.
— Photos: How the world is mobilizing to make pop-up hospitals.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— The ABC drama “For Life” is based on the experience of falsely accused prisoner-turned-lawyer Isaac Wright Jr.: “Having this show has been a very enlightening and therapeutic process.”
— Colton Underwood has recovered from COVID-19, and he’s ready to tackle a new foe: “The Bachelor” franchise that made him a star.
— Joe Exotic, the subject of the Netflix documentary “Tiger King,” filed a $94-million lawsuit over his prosecution. The former Oklahoma zookeeper, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, had been sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot.
— Prince Harry and his wife Meghan officially made the transition from senior members of Britain’s royal family to — well, it’s unclear. What is clear: They’re royals no more.
— Low-wage workers continued their push back from the front lines of the pandemic: A group of Whole Foods Market employees across the country called in sick Tuesday to press the Amazon-owned chain for more safety protections and higher pay.
— As people stock up on shelf-stable items, L.A.’s produce wholesalers are seeing a 90% drop in sales. One says, “It’s slow and scary right now.”
— Tesla fought to keep its Fremont factory open despite coronavirus restrictions, documents show.
— The Donut Man used to be a stopping-off point for early risers on their way to work in Glendora. There are fewer workers, but demand is just as high as ever, and the Donut Man abides.
— NFL team owners approved a plan to expand the playoffs to 14 teams this season.
— MLB agreed to pay minor league players a stipend through May.
— Remember wildfires? With the COVID-19 pandemic sucking up all the oxygen in the news cycle, it’s easy to forget that there are other threats to public safety, and they’re not going to stay quarantined, writes The Times’ editorial board.
— Trump’s racist comments are fueling hate crimes against Asian Americans. These advocates write that it’s time for state leaders to step in.
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— Grocery stores across the country can’t restock fast enough. Then there’s Texas chain H-E-B, which learned long ago how to prepare for disaster scenarios. (Texas Monthly)
— The contrarian coronavirus theory that informed the Trump administration’s early response. (The New Yorker)
ONLY IN L.A.
It was never easy getting people to walk into the Altadena Bunny Museum, the small rabbit-inspired museum Candace Frazee co-founded in 1998. Now, with the coronavirus shutdown, some of L.A.'s smaller hubs of culture and history worry the pandemic could close their doors permanently.
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