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Newsletter: ‘Call your own shots’

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How will the U.S. open up again? It’ll be up to the governors.

TOP STORIES

‘Call Your Own Shots’

As the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 33,000 people and an alarming new Labor Department report showed more than 22 million Americans had filed for unemployment in the last month, President Trump and federal health officials have outlined a broad three-stage road map for each state to begin phasing out restrictions that have forced tens of millions of Americans to stay home for weeks.

In the first stage, a governor could allow some people back to work, while keeping most businesses closed, but only after starting to see declining coronavirus caseloads and demonstrating it has sufficient hospital capacity to treat patients. If confirmed infections continue to drop, the second stage would allow schools, theaters and bars to reopen and vacation travel to resume. Groups of up to 50 people could gather again, although many people would still be directed to work from home. In the third phase, elderly and other vulnerable people would no longer be asked to remain at home, and restrictions on working in offices would be lifted.

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No timeline was given, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned that some states may not fully reopen until fall, if then, and that the guidelines were far from foolproof.

For Trump, the guidelines acknowledge his limited power to ease local restrictions. After previously having said it was up to governors to take the lead, Trump claimed earlier this week he had “total” authority to override them in deciding when to lift stay-at-home orders. Then, on Thursday, he told governors in a conference call to “call your own shots” on when it’s safe to loosen the rules that have sent the economy into a record-shattering nosedive.

In California, local governments, including Los Angeles County’s, are beginning to map out how they could ease some of the coronavirus stay-at-home orders, with officials saying the process could gradually begin in May and continue in targeted ways through the summer and fall.

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A Growing Toll

Even as the growth of coronavirus cases appears to be slowing in California, the numbers of dead reached new highs this week. In L.A. County, health officials on Thursday confirmed 52 additional deaths for a total of 457. It also marked the third straight day the county has seen a record number of deaths, according to the county’s tally.

L.A. County represents a quarter of California’s population but has been the site of almost half the deaths due to COVID-19, a Times data analysis has found. The five-county Southern California region accounts for roughly 60% of the deaths in California related to the coronavirus, even though it makes up just 48% of California’s population.

Meanwhile, records reviewed by The Times and a source with knowledge of the situation say the coronavirus has infected California medical workers with much greater intensity than has been publicly revealed, including more than 175 cases at UCLA. The virus has spread in UCLA’s outpatient clinics, geriatric and labor and delivery units and in the pediatric intensive care unit, the source said.

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Putting Faces to the Numbers

Carolina Tovar, 86, and Letty Ramirez, 54, were an inseparable mother-and-daughter duo — the twin matriarchs of their family. They died of COVID-19 on the same day. Scott Blanks seemed to be able to tackle anything in life with good humor. The dental assistant died of COVID-19 at age 34. David Werksman was “a real cop’s cop.” He died of complications from COVID-19, after fighting his illness for three weeks, at 51.

In California, more than 850 lives have been lost in the coronavirus outbreak, in cities and small towns, in hospital wards and nursing homes. The virus has moved across the state, killing the old and the young, the infirm and the healthy. This page, which will be updated regularly, presents some of their stories.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

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The White House calls Project Air Bridge, which Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner helped set up, a bold public-private partnership to bring masks and other medical equipment to the U.S. to fight the coronavirus outbreak. But what the Trump administration refuses to talk about is how it’s sending tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the nation’s largest medical-supply companies, with little public accounting.

Over the last three weeks, taxpayers have paid to fly the companies’ supplies to the U.S. from Asia on government-chartered cargo flights, while the firms have been free to sell the material to hospitals, clinics and others at prices they choose. That has saved the companies more than $25 million in shipping costs, savings they are not required to pass on to the medical systems, state governments and others who buy their products. The supply companies’ profits topped $2 billion last year, financial statements show.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— The Paycheck Protection Program, the federal government plan designed to help small businesses weather the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, has run out of money. Congressional leaders remained at a standoff over how to replenish the funds.

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— Dozens of employees at California agencies, including the DMV, have been infected by COVID-19, raising fear and uncertainty in the workforce as some civil servants say the state has been slow to protect them and has deemed too many services essential, requiring people to stay on the job.

— Ten nurses at Providence St. John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica have been suspended after refusing to work inside a coronavirus ward without what they deem adequate protective gear.

— San Francisco is deploying coronavirus detectives to ramp up contact-tracing, one of several conditions experts say is key to begin recovery.

— If the new coronavirus has ever made you its host, you are almost certainly guilty of some silent spreading, according to new research from Chinese scientists.

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— A visual look at how coronaviruses replicate inside you.

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:

Home-schooling hacks from real parents. (Hint: You need a schedule yesterday.)

— How to care for someone with COVID-19.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

The cheers of the crowd! Exuberant victories! Crushing defeats! In an April 19, 1947, Times story, the drama was high but the sport was not baseball or football or even professional. It was the finals of the Los Angeles Times Boy’s Club city marble tournament. Eight schools sent 24 boys to compete for spots at a national marbles tournament in Boys Town, Neb.

Among the matchups: “Charles Barker, a 10-year-old redhead from Gates School, who entered with silent confidence but who met utter defeat at the knuckles of Victor Gonzales, 11.” Victor ultimately won second place.

April 18, 1947: Charles Barker, 10, of Gates School, takes a bead in finals of city marble tournament at The Times Boys' Club. However, he lost to Victor Gonzales. This photo was published in the April 19, 1947, Los Angeles Times.
(R.O. Ritchie / Los Angeles Times)

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YOUR WEEKEND

— Can’t find flour? You can still bake these flourless brownies.

— Grow your own groceries with a victory garden. Here’s how.

— Looking for special-occasion takeout? Our critic has 15 suggestions around L.A.

Wedding plans on hold? You’re not alone. Plus, these three dressmakers, all sisters, have shifted gears.

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CALIFORNIA

— Federal prosecutors investigating corruption at Los Angeles City Hall haven’t revealed the project at the heart of the case. But a Times analysis points to a 20-story residential tower planned at the corner of Hill Street and Olympic Boulevard.

— Among the “climate monsters” that afflict California, Megadrought is the most reliable.

— The San Mateo County Fair has been closed to visitors only once in its 86-year history. The coronavirus will close it again, along with dozens of other fairs and festivals.

— The Times’ parent company, California Times, is folding three award-winning community newspapers that serve the cities of Burbank, Glendale and La Cañada Flintridge amid steep advertising losses caused by the pandemic.

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— Are L.A. restaurants and diners ready for masked servers and temperature checks?

Photos from the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NATION-WORLD

— More than half a dozen states have tried to ban abortion during the coronavirus outbreak as an elective procedure. While courts consider the fate of those policies, women have tried to self-induce miscarriages or driven hundreds of miles to out-of-state clinics.

“No blacks”: Black people are being evicted, harassed and targeted in China for their race amid the coronavirus.

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— Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has fired his health minister after a series of public clashes over the need for social distancing in response to the coronavirus.

— As the world focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic, experts fear we’re losing ground in the long fight against other infectious diseases.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Macaroni recipes and hand-washing videos. How influencers are adapting to the coronavirus crisis.

Brian Dennehy, the burly actor who started in films as a macho heavy and later in his career won plaudits for his stage work, has died at 81.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are embracing their new city. The couple were seen volunteering this week to deliver meals in West Hollywood.

— First it was billboards, now a show. Angelyne is the subject of a new series coming to NBCUniversal’s new streaming platform Peacock, starring Emmy Rossum.

BUSINESS

— Anaheim’s Little Arabia District is normally bustling with Arab American businesses. Now traffic is slow, doors are closed and an effort to earn recognition from the city is at stake.

— More than 2,000 California ride-hailing drivers have filed wage claims against Uber and Lyft since February, alleging the companies have illegally treated them as independent contractors.

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SPORTS

Professional baseball in Taiwan has begun in empty stadiums.

— A virtual hockey showdown between the L.A. Kings and the Anaheim Ducks will feature fan favorites from the past.

Ready for a different kind of NFL mock draft? The Times’ All 32 will feature football experts joining Times NFL writer Sam Farmer and Times columnist Bill Plaschke this morning starting at 9 a.m. Pacific.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

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OPINION

Migrants who pays taxes should get stimulus checks — even if they’re undocumented — The Times’ editorial board writes.

— California is headed toward its first all-mail statewide election in November, and it could become our new normal, writes columnist George Skelton.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Mask, hand sanitizer and ventilator shortages are getting the attention. But hospital staffs are finding they desperately need phone chargers, as smartphones have become the only way to connect patients and their families. (BuzzFeed News)

— More women than ever are living alone. But that also means more women than ever are facing a pandemic alone. Seven of them shared their stories. (Washington Post)

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ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

The coronavirus has shut down much of Humboldt County. But it hasn’t stopped a California tradition: the long-running conflict between loggers and eco-activists. When a logging company moved in on a patch of redwoods a few weeks ago, a group of tree-sitters was not far behind. The loggers say it’s an added frustration, when the pandemic has already reduced incomes. Meanwhile, some of the activists say the virus and its effects are what prompted them to show up.

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


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