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Newsletter: The ‘hardest, saddest’ days ahead

U.S. Surgeon Gen. Jerome Adams
U.S. Surgeon Gen. Jerome Adams warned that the coming week will be “the hardest and saddest of most Americans’ lives.”
(Associated Press)

Top U.S. health officials are warning of a difficult week ahead in the coronavirus crisis.

TOP STORIES

The ‘Hardest, Saddest’ Days Ahead

With the U.S. coronavirus death toll nearing 10,000 people yesterday, Surgeon Gen. Jerome Adams warned that the coming week will be “the hardest and saddest of most Americans’ lives.” He likened the projected loss of life to “our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”

He was not alone in that assessment. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, predicted that the next eight or nine days would be “shocking to some.” His advice: “Just buckle down, continue to mitigate, continue to do the physical separation, because we’ve got to get through this week that’s coming up.”

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As for President Trump‘s message? On Saturday, he said America’s “toughest week” of the coronavirus crisis is coming up, but by Sunday, he was largely eschewing talk of dire days, instead expressing hopes for a “leveling-off in the hottest spots” of infection.

Trump also continued to push back against criticism of his administration’s performance, including states being forced to compete against one another and an Associated Press report showing federal agencies largely waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, ventilators and other equipment needed by front-line healthcare workers.

In Europe, the picture was mixed. Deaths were still climbing in the United Kingdom, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized and Queen Elizabeth II tried rallying the nation.

But Italy — the European epicenter — said Sunday that its daily toll was at a two-week low, with officials crediting strict lockdowns for seemingly slowing the progress of new infections. Hard-hit Spain, too, reported signs of a leveling-off.

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The Search for Treatments

Over the past several days, Trump has repeatedly touted chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — used to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and the autoimmune disease lupus — as a potential “game changer.” But those are far from the only drugs that scientists are testing in hopes of finding a proven, effective treatment for COVID-19. Among the best known are some antiviral medications — remdesivir, lopinavir and ritonavir — that were developed to treat Ebola and AIDS, along with a range of less celebrated drugs and therapies.

Inhaled nitric oxide is also being tested as an experimental treatment for COVID-19 and may prove helpful in protecting healthcare workers on the front line of the pandemic from getting sick.

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Church Vs. Stay at Home

Trump tweeted this weekend that he would be “tuning in” on Sunday to listen to Greg Laurie, the Southern California megachurch pastor who organizes the annual Harvest Crusade. Laurie held online services from his empty Riverside campus, which would normally be bustling.

But across the country, including in California, pastors have revolted against stay-at-home orders, pitting public health concerns against claims of religious freedom.

At the Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, the congregants lined up six feet apart on Palm Sunday, waiting to take communion from Pastor Rob McCoy, who resigned his position on the Thousand Oaks City Council to violate stay-at-home orders. In the church parking lot, protesters lined up their cars and honked their horns, disturbed that the church would so brazenly flout stay-at-home orders from Ventura County and the state, put in place to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

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And in Lodi, police officers greeted the pastor of Cross Culture Christian Centerabout an hour before he intended to hold an in-person service.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— In a bid to slow the coronavirus, California judicial leaders are expected today to adopt a statewide emergency order setting bail at zero for misdemeanor and lower-level felony offenses. They may also suspend evictions and foreclosures and allow for the expansion of court hearings held by video or telephone.

— While efforts to prevent the coronavirus’ spread by reducing the adult prison population are underway, policies for the early release of juvenile detainees are more complicated. That’s leaving hundreds of them in L.A. County detention centers, which have barred in-person family visits and those of community-based organizations.

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Nursing homes and assisted-living centers across California continue to see significant increases in coronavirus cases, alarming officials who are trying to slow the spread.

— How can the same virus affect people so differently — killing some while leaving others blissfully unaware that they have been infected at all? Two infectious disease experts outline the unknowns.

School from home is the new reality. What will the next three months look like? It’s uncharted territory.

— A federal investigation is underway after 39 million masks never materialized at hospitals.

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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. As with all our newsletters, it’s free:

— How to care for someone with COVID-19.

— How to keep your coronavirus face mask clean.

— Twenty easy ways to manage stress eating during quarantine.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1947, the Hollywood Bowl hosted an Easter sunrise service for thousands of worshipers.

“Standing beneath a rugged wooden cross on the north hillside, eight white-robed young women trumpeters hailed the rising sun with the inspiring ‘Gloria Patri,’ ” The Times reported the next day.

While this year’s Easter Sunday will be markedly different, here’s a look back at Easter celebrations in L.A. through the decades.

April 6, 1947: A trumpeter heralds the dawn for 25,000 worshipers at Hollywood Bowl sunrise service.
(Paul Calvert / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA)
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CALIFORNIA

— Some landlords in Los Angeles have been pushing tenants to agree to rent repayment plans that are far more onerous than what’s required under state and city laws passed to prevent evictions during the pandemic.

— Across the state, more than 360,000 people and their families depend on the safety net of programs for people with developmental disabilities. That net is now torn and frayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

— An L.A. suicide prevention hotline has seen a rise in coronavirus-related calls, as counselors share some of the same anxities.

— A powerful late-season storm is expected to bring significant and unseasonable amounts of precipitation to Southern California through the middle of the week.

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NATION-WORLD

— Trump is still fighting against independent oversight of his administration, firing Michael Atkinson, a watchdog who played a pivotal role in his impeachment, and moving to limit supervision of how trillions of dollars are spent for relief against the coronavirus pandemic. Atkinson says he is “disappointed and saddened” by the firing, but he also encouraged other inspectors general to continue to speak out when they are aware of wrongdoing.

— Now with the nation’s economy reeling, more than 10 million Americans out of work and the stock market plummeting 30%, Trump and his aides are struggling to find a new election message he can take to Americans in November.

— The Taliban said in a statement said its peace deal with the U.S. is nearing a breaking point.

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Italy has been among the countries hardest hit by the global pandemic. At the foot of the Alps, a volunteer effort built a 142-bed field hospital.

— If the North Korea is to be believed, it is one of maybe a dozen nations not yet invaded by the coronavirus. (It’s probably best not to believe it.)

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

“World on Fire,” a naturalistic melodrama set in the first year of World War II and presented on the PBS showcase “Masterpiece,” shows how to win a war through struggle, sacrifice and cooperation.

— The mobile video platform Quibi launches today with 50 shows and movies mainly targeting young adults, ages 25 to 35. The coronavirus turned plans for the show “Last Night’s Late Night” upside down.

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— Hollywood costumers, whose job is to create and fit costumes for actors on sets, are plying their sewing and design skills to help address shortages of face masks and other protective clothing among medical workers.

— How USC students turned Zoom into a video game platform for coronavirus life.

BUSINESS

— The pandemic has exposed nursing assistants and home-care aides’ low pay and few protections.

— In California’s $360-million cut-flower industry, the coronavirus could spell the end of many farms.

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SPORTS

Kobe Bryant is one of eight basketball figures who were selected for enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend. Columnist Bill Plaschke calls it a reminder that, in this time of crisis, we all should adopt “The Mamba Mentality.”

NASCAR iRacing has become the hottest new esport. Here’s how it struck gold.

Who is the biggest icon in L.A. sports history? The Sports Report newsletter is soliciting your votes in its March Madness-style tournament startng today. Sign up for the newsletter here.

Free games at latimes.com

Get our free daily crossword puzzle (and, if you wish, play with a friend), sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

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OPINION

— Trump’s “America First” foreign policy, coupled with his early attempts to minimize the threat posed by COVID-19, is undermining U.S. leadership in rallying the world to deal cooperatively with the pandemic, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Columnist Steve Lopez would like to know: Why can’t President Orange Julius be more like Queen Elizabeth?

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— As New York firefighters respond to coronavirus emergency calls, an FDNY battalion chief and 9/11 survivor confronts the city’s latest mass tragedy. (ProPublica)

— Is this the end of social media influencing as we know it? (Vanity Fair)

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ONLY IN L.A.

Who is “the most well-connected non-entertainment person in all of L.A.” and “has the ability to influence more people on more issues than anybody in Beverly Hills”? It’s Gloria Leon, a 69-year-old waitress from Nate ’n Al’s, whose regular customers have included the titans of show business. When Nate ’n Al’s closed because of the coronavirus, she found herself out of a job. Then the phone calls from rival delis started coming in, and with that, advice from the talent agents at William Morris Endeavor.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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