Walmart-Amazon Whole Paycheck Tracker: New Rules, New Ideas And New Threats - pymnts.com

Walmart-Amazon Whole Paycheck Tracker: New Rules, New Ideas And New Threats - pymnts.com


Walmart-Amazon Whole Paycheck Tracker: New Rules, New Ideas And New Threats - pymnts.com

Posted: 15 May 2020 07:54 AM PDT

As the U.S. is preparing to make its move from more or less closed for business to the road to recovery in an increasing number of places, businesses big and small are looking for ways to upgrade, update and pivot their services. The growing consensus is that the economy that will reopen over the next several weeks will not be the same as the one that closed down in early March — and that consumers who've spent the last two months reorienting their lives around digital services might just decide there is no good reason to go back to the way things used to be.

Which makes it unsurprising that it has been a week of interesting new rollouts from both Amazon and Walmart, as both seek to capitalize on the bounce they've seen from the great pandemic purchasing shift of early 2020. New shops, new goods and big shifts when it comes to core grocery services marked the headlines out of the two largest retailers in the nation and leading competitors to capture the largest share imaginable of the consumer's whole paycheck. The big question of the week out of both racers seems to have been how to do more or do better in meeting rising consumer expectations of all kinds.

Amazon 

Big News of the Week: Back in the Grocery Saddle Again 

It seems the Amazon grocery delivery waitlist woes of the last few weeks have been resolved. According to reports, the waitlist to get a slot on Amazon Fresh has finally dissipated in most locations. The era of waiting weeks to get a timeslot seems to be ebbing back.

"We've removed the invite list in most cities, and more than 80 percent of eligible Prime members are able to shop without requesting an invitation," an Amazon spokeswoman told CNET in a statement late Tuesday (May 12).

The picking up of the pace, according to Amazon, comes as warehouses are once again properly stocked after an unexpected surge in demand for things like home goods, groceries and medical supplies. In addition, Prime Pantry is also back after being unavailable for nearly two months. The eCommerce giant also announced the return of non-essential items to its warehouses, after an announcement last month that the firm had prioritized delivering essential items — wellness, cleaning and non-perishable home essentials — and limited shipments for unnecessary goods.

In March, Amazon told sellers it was temporarily stopping shipments of nonessential items to warehouses to make room for needed medical supplies and household staples, a policy it reversed earlier this month.

Advocacy of the Week: Amazon Urges Anti-Price Gouging Laws 

Amazon, which spent much of March beset by price gougers using its platform to sell items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer amid exorbitant mark-ups, this week urged Congress to enact legislation to ban gouging attempts during times of national emergency.

"The disparate standards among states present a significant challenge for retailers working to assist law enforcement, protect consumers, and comply with the law," Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy at Amazon, wrote in a blog post.

Huseman argued that only a federal law will create the consistency needed to really push back on price gouging in a uniform way. Amazon, along with Facebook, eBay and other marketplace eCommerce platforms, has been under pressure from more than 30 attorneys general to curtail the worst gouger abuses on their sites — like those charging $400 for a large bottle of hand sanitizer.

And though Amazon has invested massive amount of time and treasure enforcing what Huseman described in the blog post as the firm's "zero tolerance policy for price gouging" in recent weeks, to really make a dent in the problem will require more than the participation of individual platforms in trying to push back the gougers who routinely show up in the face of every emergency.

"While each state is unique and has the ability to enact individual legislative price gouging triggers and remedies, a federal price gouging law would ensure that there are no gaps in protection for consumers. This would also help retailers like Amazon more effectively prevent bad actors and ensure fair prices," he wrote.

Security Woe of the Week: A New Batch of Alexa Scammers

Amazon is taking two companies to court on accusations of "widespread tech support fraud" launched against users of Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant and smart speakers. According to filings has week in a U.S. District Court in Seattle, Amazon accuses the two firms — Robojap Technologies in Washington state and Quatic Software Solutions in Punjab, India — of scamming Amazon users with offers of help in setting up Alexa on their devices through "fraudulent websites and applications."

The companies allegedly used "Amazon's trademarks, as well as false and misleading statements about Amazon and [the companies'] services, to divert victims from Amazon's genuine activation process and customer support," according to court filings.

Amazon describes a process by which representatives of both firms would, via offers of technical support for Alexa devices, attempt to convince consumers of the existence of technical issues preventing the Alexa-enabled device from working.

"Those claims are also entirely false and fraudulent, and no such issues exist," Amazon said in the complaint, adding that the companies would then "offer services to fix these phony issues, charging customers hundreds of dollars to take the simple steps actually required to activate an Alexa device that Amazon fully supports through its own customer care."

Neither firm has responded to requests for comment, though Amazon is apparently pretty adamant about getting them to cease and desist.

"Amazon works hard to protect our customers, and the blatant misuse of our brand to deceive unsuspecting customers setting up their new device is appalling," a company spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Business.

Walmart

Big News of the Week: The Great App Consolidation 

And then there was one.

The Walmart grocery app, after only a few years in service, will be taking its final bow over the next few weeks, as its function is incorporated directly into the main Walmart app, and the grocery related standalone is phased out.

The reason? Walmart said customers told the retailer they want simplicity.

"After listening to customer feedback, we found that customers wanted to shop without switching between apps," Walmart said in its letter to consumers released earlier this week.

The move comes just after App Annie reported that Walmart's grocery app recently hit an all-time high in downloads, surpassing Amazon by 20 percent. As of April 5, the most recent rankings available, Walmart Grocery ranked No. 1 among shopping apps in the U.S. Walmart Grocery also experienced a 460 percent growth in average daily downloads  when compared to what it saw in January 2020.

Outside observers tend to agree the change is a win-win for Walmart, as the retailer can save money budgeted toward mobile marketing. Moreover, putting all commerce function in a single location for customers increases the chance customers will also buy other, non-grocery items from Walmart while they are digital grocery shopping.

Employee Advantage of the Week: Another Round of Bonuses

It looks like more bonus funds are coming to Walmart and Sam's Club employees as a reward for their difficult and at times dangerous frontline work during the pandemic. Walmart recently announced plans to distribute a bonus of $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly and temporary associates to be paid out before June 25. In order to receive a bonus, employees must have worked for the company as of June 5.

"Walmart and Sam's Club associates continue to do remarkable work, and it's important we reward and appreciate them. All across the country, they're providing Americans with the food, medicine and supplies they need, while going above and beyond the normal scope of their jobs – diligently sanitizing their facilities, making customers and members feel safe and welcome, and handling difficult situations with professionalism and grace," said John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S.

The latest allocation of bonus funds now brings Walmart's total amount committed to employee bonuses to a little over  $935 million. Previously Walmart paid out a special cash bonus worth $365 million, and their annual Q1 bonuses, worth about $185 million.

In the statement announcing the latest round of bonuses, Walmart also noted it will explore other ways to reward and recognize its associates, while staying focused on their overall well-being and safety.

To the latter end, Walmart noted it has implemented daily health screens and temperature checks, provided masks and gloves, and offered emotional well-being options such as virtual counseling.

Expansion of the Week: Walmart Looks to the Great Outdoors 

Summer vacation is changing, with road trips and campouts rapidly replacing amusement parks and resort hotels as health-conscious and social distancing enthusiasts are eschewing their normal more crowded vacations in favor of communing with nature and enjoying some solitude.

Walmart wants to help, with the rollout of  Lithic, a line of backpacking gear built for slightly more serious outdoors people, but priced for interested amateurs. The Lithic line includes camping classics like one- to three-person tents, down sleeping bags and camping stoves — gear that various sites have noted is highly comparable to gear made by specialty outdoor manufacturers but purchasable at prices roughly 40 percent lower than similar products offered by those firms.

"The outdoor industry will not grow without attracting a more diverse customer base, and diversity will not happen without inclusivity," Eoin Comerford, general manager of eCommerce for Walmart's outdoor division, said of the idea. The goal, he noted, is to simply increase outdoor participation with more inclusive gear priced for regular people entering the backcountry for the first time.

But, Comerford noted, Walmart doesn't see itself as a competitor to those specialty retailers already deeply in the game.

"The vast majority of Walmart customers who will buy Lithic gear have never walked into a specialty retailer," he said.

But they will walk into a Walmart, and in the era of trying to find activities away from crowds, Lithic might just find itself uniquely appealing to burgeoning outdoors enthusiasts on a budget.

Because as this week has demonstrated, change is the name of the game in retail as of now. And both Walmart and Amazon are running fast and working to build an entirely new racecourse at the same time.

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Trump says he won't extend social distancing guidelines; NFL furloughs employees and cuts salaries - CNBC

Posted: 29 Apr 2020 08:47 PM PDT

Quarterly earnings reports shed more light on the impact of the global pandemic Wednesday, with tech giants Facebook, Microsoft and Tesla all providing financial updates. Covid-19 cases have surpassed 1 million in the U.S., killing 60,846, claiming more American lives than the Vietnam War. The Federal Reserve held interest rates at zero as Chairman Jerome Powell said the economy will likely need more support. 

The coverage on this live blog has ended — but for up-to-the-minute coverage on the coronavirus, visit the live blog from CNBC's Asia-Pacific team.

  • Global cases: More than 3.1 million
  • Global deaths: At least 226,771
  • US cases: More than 1 million
  • US deaths: At least 60,846

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

6:57 pm: Trump says he won't extend social distancing guidelines

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D-LA) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on April 29, 2020.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said the federal government will not be extending its coronavirus social distancing guidelines once they expire Thursday, and his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, predicted that by July the country will be "really rocking again."

Meanwhile, Trump said he plans to resume official travel with a trip to Arizona next week. And he said he's hoping to hold mass campaign rallies in the coming months with thousands of supporters, even though medical experts have said there is little hope of having a vaccine by then.

Putting a positive face on the latest grim numbers — the U.S. death toll has now surpassed those in the Vietnam War — Trump delivered his daily upbeat update and Kushner described the administration's much-criticized response to the pandemic as "a great success story."

Trump also talked up the good news the day provided: hopeful results for a possible Covid-19 treatment. But the government announced dismal new economic numbers as the pandemic took hold and shut down much of the country.

The U.S. economy shrank at a 4.8% annual rate in first quarter of the year — a precursor to far grimmer reports that are expected this summer from the severe recession triggered by the pandemic. —Associated Press

6:49 pm: S&P lowers Boeing's credit rating on coronavirus hit to earnings, cash flow

S&P Global lowered Boeing's credit rating closer to junk due to the expected impact of the coronavirus on the U.S. planemaker's earnings and cash flow over the next few years.

S&P, which downgraded its rating to 'BBB-/A-3' from 'BBB/A-2', said it expects a significant decline in cash flow as Boeing tackles lower aircraft deliveries and aftermarket sales resulting from the impact of the coronavirus on air travel.

This will only be partly offset by the company's efforts to reduce costs to match lower demand, S&P said.

The coronavirus pandemic, which has led to travel bans, has added to the crisis the company faced over the grounding of its 737 MAX following fatal crashes. —Reuters

6:29 pm: US stock futures rise after solid tech earnings, Facebook up 10%

6:17 pm: Zuckerberg warns against reopening public spaces too soon

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the annual Munich Security Conference on February 15, 2020.

Kuhlmann | Munich Security Conference

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has warned that reopening public spaces too soon "almost guarantees" continued coronavirus outbreaks and economic fallout.

"While there are massive societal costs from the current shelter-in-place restrictions, I worry that reopening certain places too quickly before inaction rates have been reduced to very minimal levels will almost guarantee future outbreaks and worsen longer-term health and economic outcomes," Zuckerberg said on the company's first quarter earnings call.

"The impact on our business has been significant, and I remain very concerned that this health emergency and therefore the economic fallout will last longer than people are currently anticipating," Zuckerberg added.

Zuckerberg's comments come as some states mull whether to reopen businesses that the Covid-19 pandemic forced shut. —Jessica Bursztynsky

6:10 pm: Landlord blasts FedEx for rent reduction request

FedEx, citing the devastating impact of Covid-19, requested that its rent be cut in half at some FedEx Office locations for three months, a move sharply criticized by one landlord.

The request outraged Paul Orfalea, who is a landlord for nine FedEx locations in seven states across the country. The facilities, which are in strip malls and stand-alone buildings, are rented by partnerships in which Orfalea has a stake. He said so far he has received rent reduction letters for five FedEx locations.

Orfalea, a philanthropist and public speaker who teaches at USC and Loyola Marymount, founded Kinko's in 1970. The printing services store grew into more than 1,000 stores around the world and nearly $2 billion in annual sales. Orfalea stepped aside as chairman and left the board in 2000, prior to FedEx acquiring the business in 2004.

"If you are doing well financially, they should be paying their rent," Orfalea said. "They are taking advantage of the situation." —Scott Zamost, Jennifer Schlesinger

6:04 pm: Facing dearth of passengers, leisure airline ramps up plan to fly packages for Amazon

A Prime Air cargo plane, operated by Amazon.com Inc., sits on display with other passenger jets during the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, in Paris, France.

Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

As millions of would-be travelers stay home because of the coronavirus pandemic, one airline has found an eager customer: Amazon.

Sun Country Airlines, an Apollo Global Management-owned carrier, struck a deal last December to start flying 10 Boeing 737 freighters for the online retailer. Minneapolis-based Sun Country plans to be flying all 10 by the end of the cargo planes by the end of July, earlier than the previous target for summer's end, CEO Jude Bricker told CNBC on Wednesday.

Passenger demand is down 95% at Sun Country from what was expected just a few months ago, echoing similar declines throughout the U.S. air travel industry, so the additional cargo business is welcome. The operation will begin with its first plane on May 7. —Leslie Josephs

5:54 pm: Trump wants FDA to move 'as quickly as they can' on remdesivir approval

President Donald Trump said he wants the Food and Drug Administration to move "as quickly as they can" to approve Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for the coronavirus.

"We would like to see very quick approvals, especially with things that work," he said at a roundtable at the White House with business executives Wednesday evening.

Earlier in the day, the FDA said it has been in "sustained and ongoing" discussions with Gilead to make remdesivir available to Covid-19 patients "as quickly as possible, as appropriate."

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said data from a coronavirus drug trial testing Gilead's drug showed "quite good news" and sets a new standard of care for Covid-19 patients. Speaking to reporters from the White House, Fauci said he was told data from the trial showed a "clear-cut positive effect in diminishing time to recover." —Berkeley Lovelace

5:38 pm: The NFL is furloughing league employees and reducing salaries due to coronavirus

Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard #87 of the New York Giants makes a touchdown catch while being covered by Cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves III #28 and Mike Ewards of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.

Don Juan Moore | Getty Images

In a memo to employees, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is not immune to the economic consequences of the coronavirus and he's made the difficult decision to take broad cost-saving measures across NFL offices that includes furloughs, salary cuts and a decrease in contributions to the pension plan.

"It is clear that the economic effects will be deeper and longer lasting than anyone anticipated and that their duration remains uncertain. The downturn has affected all of us, as well as our fans, our business partners, and our clubs," Goodell said in the memo. 

The cuts outlined in the memo obtained by CNBC, include a furlough program for individuals who are unable to substantially perform their duties from home and/or whose current workload has been significantly reduced. The changes take effect beginning May 8. 

"It's important to remember a furlough is not a termination. We do not know how long a furlough will last, but we are hopeful that we will be able to return furloughed employees back to work within a few months," Goodell said. —Jessica Golden

5:20 pm: Reported cases worldwide

5:16 pm: 3 big Trump donors are among business leaders influencing response to pandemic

President Donald Trump has sought and received advice on tackling the coronavirus crisis in private conversations with several of his allies in the business world, according to people familiar with the matter.

There are at least four executives Trump and his team have been in regular contact with, according to the people, who declined to be named due to the private nature of the conversations. They include Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, Oracle Executive Chairman Larry Ellison, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and John Catsimatidis, CEO of the New York grocery chain Gristedes. Three of the men – Ellison, Schwarzman and Catsimatidis – are big Trump donors.

The conversations have ranged from the idea of shutting down the stock market, which did not happen, to discussing the state of the U.S. economy during the pandemic.  —Brian Schwarz

5:10 pm: The stock market is up from its pandemic dip. Should you get out?

The stock market is acting strangely these days, with headlines about market rallies next to ones about historic unemployment figures and companies filing for bankruptcy

You can't figure it out. But you may be wondering if you should take advantage of the upswing and pull some money out of the market.

If you entered this year with a $500,000 portfolio, split between stocks (70%) and bonds (30%), you'd have watched your savings shrivel to around $392,000 toward the end of March, according to data provided by Morningstar Direct.

Now that portfolio is back up to more than $470,000.

If you're tempted to pull money out of the market, first consider what you would do with the funds, said Sara Stanich, a Montauk, New York-based certified financial planner and founder of Cultivating Wealth.  —Annie Nova

4:57 pm: Jobless claims tally could top 30 million if new filers are close to last week's level

Some economists expect there were at least 4 million workers who filed for state unemployment benefits last week,  signaling the job losses could be greater than expected, as states catch up on claims applications.

The sudden shutdown of the economy, starting in the second half of March, has resulted in an unprecedented number of layoffs and furloughs, and is expected to send claims for benefits to above 30 million in six weeks. Claims already had reached 26.4 million in the prior five weeks.

Total claims filed with states for the week ended April 25 will be reported Thursday at 8:30 a.m. The consensus forecast of economists was at 3.5 million, according to Dow Jones. There were 4.4 million claims filed in the prior week of April 18. —Patti Domm

4:24 pm: Pandemic halts climate research and raises fears of long-term hit to science budgets

From delaying Arctic expeditions to canceling climate summits, the coronavirus pandemic is hindering global progress on fighting climate change and raising fears over a long-term hit to scientific research budgets.  

"It's increasingly apparent that all kinds of science is being disrupted by the pandemic, from field work to theoretical studies to efforts to improve public policy," said Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and founder of the Pacific Institute in Berkeley, California.

"Every minute of disruption further delays the urgent need to tackle the accelerating threat of climate change," he said.  —Emma Newburger

4:10 pm: California governor announces additional $3.2 million for farmers, food banks

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced that the state plans to expand its Farm to Family Program, which connects surplus from local farmers and ranchers to the state's food banks.

Newsom said the expanded effort will provide more than $3.2 million in federal and private funds to connect 128 farmers and ranchers to 41 food banks in every county in the state.

Newsom said ranchers have seen a 50% reduction in demand amid the Covid-19 outbreak and have reported having excess produce and other perishable items.  Meanwhile, food banks have had a 73% spike in demand. The goal of the expanded initiative will be to provide 21 million pounds of fresh food and produce to food banks in May.

He also announced the state would expand its food benefits program to allow more than 4 million EBT card holders to shop online at  Amazon and Walmart, and he said the state will offer a pandemic-EBT program to provide up to $365 in additional funds for children who are no longer receiving free or reduced-cost school lunches. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

4 pm: VW indefinitely extends plant shutdown

Volkswagen is indefinitely extending the shutdown of its vehicle assembly plant in Tennessee due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The German automaker has rescheduled its plans to reopen the facility several times since production ceased on March 21 due to Covid-19. The most recent date was to restart production on Sunday.

VW joins General Motors and Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler in indefinitely extending the shutdowns while others continue with plans to restart U.S. facilities.

Toyota Motor, Hyundai Motor and Honda Motor have announced plans to reopen factories in early-May. Nissan Motor, following several postponements, has announced plans to restart production in mid-May.

Mercedes-Benz has confirmed it restarted vehicle production at its plant in Alabama on Monday. — Mike Wayland

3:50 pm: Subway CEO defends franchise owners who applied for small business loans

Subway CEO John Chidsey is defending the company's franchisees who applied for small business loans to help offset the economic impacts from the coronavirus pandemic

"We literally have 10,700 franchisees in the U.S., and on average they own two restaurants apiece," Chidsey said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." 

"We are the ultimate mom-and-pop, if you will, and totally woven into the fabric of local communities out there," he added.

A number of large companies, many of them publicly traded, have in recent days been criticized for seeking loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. Some of the corporations, such as Potbelly and Shake Shack, have said they will return the money received through the program, which was created in March by the $2 trillion CARES Act.  —Kevin Stankiewicz

3:41 pm: FDA in 'ongoing' talks with Gilead to make remdesivir available to patients 'as quickly as possible'

The Food and Drug Administration has been in "sustained and ongoing" discussions with Gilead Sciences to make antiviral drug remdesivir available to Covid-19 patients "as quickly as possible, as appropriate," the agency said. 

FDA spokesman Michael Felberbaum told CNBC, "As part of the FDA's commitment to expediting the development and availability of potential COVID-19 treatments, the agency has been engaged in sustained and ongoing discussions with Gilead Sciences regarding making remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible, as appropriate." —Berkeley Lovelace

3:25 pm: Powell says the economy will likely need more support from the Fed for the recovery to be 'robust'

Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said more stimulus is needed to ensure a robust economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

"It may well be the case that the economy will need more support from all of us if the recovery is to be a robust one," Powell said in a virtual press conference on Wednesday following the central bank's policy decision. "Will there be a need to do more though? I think the answer to that would be yes."

"We have a number of dimensions on which we can still provide support to the economy as you know our credit policies are not subject to specific dollar limit," Powell said. "They can be expanded as needed and we can do new ones, so we can continue to be part of the answer." —Yun Li

3:15 pm: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reopens state parks and golf courses

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said he's reopening the state's parks, golf courses and county parks on Saturday, but visitors will still need to follow social distancing rules. 

"For passive recreation including running and hiking, biking, fishing, boating, kayaking and horseback riding, come Saturday morning our state parks will be open once again," Murphy said at a news briefing Wednesday, adding that he's signing an executive order reopening recreational areas. "County governments will regain the authority to decide whether county parks will be open or closed," he added.

After declaring a statewide stay-at-home order on March 21, the New Jersey governor shut down all state and county parks April 7 to help contain the coronavirus outbreak across the state. —Noah Higgins-Dunn, Jasmin Kim

3:04 pm: Apple is making it easier to unlock your iPhone without Face ID, since everyone's wearing masks now

Apple has released beta iPhone software that makes it easier to unlock your iPhone without using Face ID and while wearing a mask. 

Right now, if you're wearing a mask, you need to lift your mask to unlock an iPhone with Face ID. Otherwise, there's a small but annoying delay between when the phone realizes it can't see your face and when it presents the screen to enter in a passcode. You can just turn off Face ID, but then you don't get the convenience when you're at home and not wearing a mask.

In the new iOS 13.5 beta 3 code, which was released to developers for testing on Wednesday, Apple simplifies the unlock process for folks wearing masks by bringing the passcode field to the main screen. All you need to do is swipe up if you're wearing a mask, and you'll skip the Face ID display and enter in a code instead. —Todd Haselton

2:51 pm: Trump to meet with executives from Waffle House, Wynn, Toyota, others to discuss reopening economy

Executives from the Wynn ResortsHilton Worldwide, Toyota North America and Waffle House are among those meeting with President Donald Trump today to discuss reopening the U.S., according to people familiar with the matter.

The people, who requested anonymity because the list of attendees is not yet public, said other executives will be in attendance as well. 

Trump has been soliciting feedback from a wide range of executives on when and how to reopen businesses that have shuttered their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for Toyota confirmed the company's attendance at the meeting Wednesday.  

"Toyota announced its intention to ramp up its North American manufacturing operations in May. As a result, Toyota was invited to the White House to be part of a discussion highlighting a group of companies that are ramping up their operations," the spokesman said. —Lauren Hirsch

2:45 pm: Construction, outdoor activities allowed to resume in San Francisco Bay Area

A revised order announced by multiple counties will allow all construction work, as well as certain outdoor businesses and activities, to resume in the San Francisco Bay Area. Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, as well as the city of Berkeley, announced the revision Wednesday. The revision comes as part of an order that extends the area's stay-at-home policy through May 31. —Hannah Miller

2:08 pm: Fed pledges to keep rates near zero until full employment, inflation come back

The Federal Reserve painted a dour picture of current conditions and pledged to continue its historically aggressive policy stance until it is comfortable that the U.S. economy is back on its feet.

Following this week's Federal Open Market Committee meeting, the central bank said it would maintain its current interest rate target between 0% and 0.25%. 

"The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term," the committee said in its post-meeting statement. "The Committee expects to maintain this target range until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals." —Jeff Cox

2:00 pm: Over 50% of malls with department stores are predicted to close by 2021, real estate services firm says

Shoppers wearing protective masks walk through the re-opened Anderson Mall in Anderson, South Carolina, on Friday, April 24, 2020.

Dustin Chambers | Bloomberg | Getty Images

First, the department store closes. Then, the apparel shops try to scoot out of deals. This is a one-two punch that could trigger a wave of malls shutting for good over the next 12 months. 

More than 50% of all the malls anchored by department stores in America could close permanently by the end of 2021, a new report by Green Street Advisors predicts. There are about 1,000 malls still open in the U.S. And roughly 60% of those have department store retailers, such as Macy's, as anchor tenants, the commercial real estate services firm said. 

The coronavirus pandemic that has slammed the U.S. economy is speeding up the demise of department stores. As Covid-19 forced the likes of J.C. Penney, Macy's, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus to shut stores, the circumstances became even more dire for these already struggling companies. Slumping sales and an overhang of debt could push some into bankruptcy. Strained for cash, these retailers are scrambling for additional liquidity. More department store closures are inevitable. And that will put another level of pressure on mall owners. —Lauren Thomas

1:52 pm: Large lenders temporarily shut out of small business relief lending, Treasury and SBA announce

Large lenders will be prohibited from lending through the government's Paycheck Protection Program on Wednesday evening.

A joint statement read:  "To ensure access to the PPP loan program for the smallest lenders and their small business customers, starting at 4 p.m. today EDT through 11:59 p.m. EDT, SBA systems will only accept loans from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion dollars.

"Please note, lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion will still be able to submit PPP loans outside of this time frame. Please also note that lenders with asset sizes greater than $1 billion will be able to submit loans outside of today's 4pm -11:59 p.m. EDT reserved processing time. —Al Lewis

1:44 pm: Contactless payments jump 40% as shoppers fear germs on cash and credit cards, Mastercard says

Shoppers are increasingly paying in ways that don't involve touching cash, or handing over a credit card, because of fears of the coronavirus, according to Mastercard. 

The credit-card giant reported a 40% jump in contactless payments — including tap-to-pay and mobile pay — during the first quarter as the global pandemic worsened.

Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga said the trend was being driven by consumers "looking for a quick way to get in and out of stores without exchanging cash, touching terminals, or anything else." 

"We are seeing an increase in the use of contactless transactions, and we think this trend will continue after the pandemic," Banga said Wednesday on Mastercard's first-quarter earnings call with analysts. —Kate Rooney

1:36 pm: WHO is investigating whether coronavirus causes rare inflammatory disease in some kids

Children are seen wearing raincoats, gloves, goggles and facemasks as they wait for their flight at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on March 18, 2020 in Manila, Philippines.

Ezra Acayan | Getty Images

The World Health Organization is investigating whether the coronavirus causes some children to develop a rare inflammatory disease, WHO officials said.

Health officials in the U.K. warned doctors over the weekend that Covid-19 could be causing a rare inflammatory condition in children. Britain's Pediatric Intensive Care Society said Monday the National Health Service alerted it to a small number of critically ill children presenting with "an unusual clinical picture." 

The society noted that many — but not all — of the children with symptoms of the new inflammatory disease had been diagnosed with Covid-19. The condition was likened to toxic shock syndrome and Kawasaki disease.

"We are aware of this report which came out of the United Kingdom about a small number of cases amongst children with this inflammatory response," WHO's lead scientist on Covid-19 Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said. "We're looking at this with our clinical network."

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins. Symptoms include a high temperature, a sunburn-like rash and flu-like symptoms such as a headache and sore throat. —Will Feuer, Jasmine Kim

1:27 pm: Lyft lays off 17% of workforce, furloughs hundreds more

Lyft is laying off 982 employees and furloughing an additional 288 in an effort to reduce operating expenses and adjust cash flows due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company announced in a regulatory filing

Lyft stock was up nearly 4% Wednesday afternoon, amid a broader market rally thanks to a study from drugmaker Gilead that showed promising results for antiviral drug remdesivir in Covid-19 patients.

The layoffs account for 17% of the company's workforce, Lyft said. Lyft also has implemented reductions in base salary for employees exempt from the layoffs and furloughs for a twelve week period. The salary cuts, which begin in May, will consist of a 30% reduction for executive leadership, 20% for vice presidents and 10% for all other exempt employees, Lyft said. —Jessica Bursztynsky

1:19 pm: Apple and Google release test version of coronavirus tracing software

Apple and Google released a beta version of their coronavirus tracing software. 

This software will power apps that do "digital contact tracing" or, as Apple and Google call it, "exposure notification." These apps will provide notifications to users that they may have been exposed to someone infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus, without collecting or sharing data about their identities.

Apple and Google are not building the apps. Rather, they're building technology into their market-leading smartphone operating systems, iOS and Android, to enable apps to use Bluetooth signals to determine their distance from other phones. If a person tests positive with Covid-19, they can use the apps to send notifications to other phones that have come within a certain distance, telling the owners of those phones to get tested.

Millions of people around the world are expected to download these apps to fight the spread of the coronavirus over the coming months. —Kif Leswing

1:13 pm: Fiesta Restaurant Group returning $15 million in small business rescue loans, share surge 20%

Source: Taco Cabana

1:05 pm: New York Gov. Cuomo says NYC subway system is disgusting and deteriorating, orders cleaning plan

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he's ordering New York City's subway authority to develop a cleaning plan for all trains after reports that the subway system has deteriorated, trains are filled with homeless people and crime has proliferated. 

Cuomo said he saw pictures in The Daily News of train cars that were filthy and disgusting and had homeless people living on them with all of their belongings. He added that some crimes have increased despite a 90% drop in ridership amid the Covid-19 outbreak. 

"And it was not just the Daily News picture, it reflected what has been in the press and what people have been saying, which is the deterioration of the conditions in the subways," Cuomo said at a press conference in Albany.

He said that he's ordered the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to submit a full plan by Thursday on how they intend to disinfect every train, every night to protect commuting essential workers.

"Any essential worker who shows up and gets on a train should know that that train was disinfected the night before," Cuomo said. —Noah Higgins-Dunn, Kevin Breuninger

12:54 pm: Stocks extend surge, with Dow rallying 600 points to session high

12:46 pm: Mnuchin says he's reserving $259 billion to add to Fed coronavirus lending programs

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks as U.S. President Donald Trump and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump listen during an East Room event highlighting Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for small businesses adversely affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 28, 2020.

Carlos Barria | Reuters

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is keeping some $259 billion worth of coronavirus aid capital in reserve for new or expanded Federal Reserve lending programs, but is not considering further aid to airlines at the moment.

Mnuchin told reporters during a video news briefing that all of the unallocated capital would go to broad-based Fed lending programs.

"I didn't want to allocate all the money up front," Mnuchin said on a Zoom chat. "I wanted to leave some in reserve to see how each one of these programs did, to see if the programs needed more money and to see if we needed to do more programs." —Reuters

12:38 pm: UK has second-highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, new figures show

The United Kingdom now has Europe's second-highest official death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures on Wednesday that cover fatalities in all settings, including in nursing homes.

Some 26,097 people died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus as of April 28 at 1600 GMT, Public Health England (PHE) said. That means the United Kingdom has had more Covid-19 deaths than France and Spain have reported.

"These more complete data will give us a fuller and more up to date picture of deaths in England and will inform the government's approach as we continue to protect the public," Yvonne Doyle, medical director at PHE, said.

Although international comparisons are difficult, the new figures confirm Britain's place among the European countries worst hit hardest by the pandemic. —Reuters

12:30 pm: Dr. Anthony Fauci says data from remdesivir drug trial shows 'quite good news'

Dr. Anthony Fauci (L), director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks next to Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx, during a meeting with US President Donald Trump and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards D-LA in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on April 29, 2020.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that data from a coronavirus drug trial testing Gilead Sciences' antiviral drug remdesivir showed "quite good news."

Speaking to reporters from the White House, Fauci said he was told data from the trial showed "clear cut positive effect in diminishing time to recover."

U.S. health officials are expected to release the full results of a drug trial conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases later Wednesday. Gilead Sciences announced earlier in the day that the study had met its primary endpoint, but did not provide further details. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

12:19 pm: Starbucks plans to start reopening US locations next week. Here's what customers can expect

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson detailed how the coffee chain plans to operate U.S. cafes. as it moves to reopen "a significant number" of stores next week. 

Roughly half of Starbucks' U.S. company-operated locations are closed. Those that have remained open during the pandemic have had drive-thru only service, Johnson said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." 

Johnson said Starbucks plans to have over 90% of its company-operated U.S. locations open by early June.

As cafes reopen, Johnson said they will begin to offer mobile ordering for pickup.

"And in this pickup, we have a contact-less handoff that's at the entryway," he said. "And in other cases, we've got mobile order for drive-thru." 

Mobile order also will be expanded for curbside pickup, he said. And in certain cities where it can be done safely, to-go ordering could be offered, he added. —Kevin Stankiewicz

12:06 pm: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Americans are not ready to go back out in public yet

As parts of the U.S. start to reopen their economies during the coronavirus pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said polls find Americans do not want to move too quickly to return to normal life.

"The polls show that the American people are wiser than anyone, overwhelmingly 6-to-1, 7-to-1, say that we should not go out there any sooner than ready and say that we should not end the social distancing because of the risks involved to their health," the California Democrat told CNBC's Jim Cramer.

Mostly Republican governors and members of Congress have agitated to start a phased reopening of the economy – despite the ongoing public health risk as U.S. Covid-19 cases top 1 million. Pelosi said moving too soon could jeopardize the progress made by isolating Americans in recent weeks.

"We have to be careful because we're going to waste the investment we already made in keeping people safe at home," she said.

About three-quarters, or 73%, of voters say the U.S. should sustain social distancing even if it hurts the economy, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll taken over the weekend. Another 15% said the U.S. should stop isolating to help the economy.

Meanwhile, 80% of respondents to a mid-April Kaiser Family Foundation poll said shelter-in-place measures are worth it to protect people. —Jacob Pramuk

11:49 am: More than a third of the population live in states that are partially reopened or will be soon

Jeannie Dent talks to a customer across the room as she gets a manicure from Sally Le and pedicure from Tom Dinh at Nail Turbo, during the phased reopening of businesses and restaurants from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in the state, in Roswell, Georgia, on April 24, 2020.

Bita Honarvar | Reuters

The economic door, haltingly, is creaking open

According to a review of state plans by CNBC, 13 states have already partially reopened and another 7 have announced a date to do so in the next week or so. In all, CNBC's analysis finds 118 million Americans, or slightly more than a third of the population, are living in states that have partially reopened or will be soon.

While the reopening plans have sparked concern that they are too soon and carry risk of a potential new round of contagion, they also offer the possibility, if successful, of a faster economic rebound than forecast.

Georgia with its 10.6 million people is the largest state to partially reopen followed by Tennessee and Indiana. In all, 58 million Americans, or about 18% of the population, live in states that have already partially reopened. Gov. Brian Kemp was hit with criticism for giving permission to gyms, tattoo parlors and restaurants to open this week, though they must still adhere to social-distancing rules.

Among those states set to reopen soon, Texas will be the largest with its 28 million residents. Governor Greg Abbott on Monday set May 1 for a partial reopening. His plan allows all retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and malls to reopen at 25% of capacity. Business in counties with few coronavirus cases can open to 50% of capacity. —Steve Liesman, Caitlyn Freda

11:38 am: 8-month 'structured lockdowns' could halve economic damage from the coronavirus, research claims

Enforcing eight-month "structured lockdowns" could halve the economic destruction that would be wrought by Covid-19 if no social-distancing measures were imposed, according to researchers from Cambridge University and the Federal Reserve.

According to the study, published Wednesday by economists from Cambridge University and the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, the economic price of inaction when it comes to encouraging social distancing could be twice as high as that of a "structured lockdown."

Researchers found that imposing no lockdown at all would be "extremely risky" for economic output, as the spread of the virus would hit workers in sectors that were vital to keep developed economies functional.

Without any social distancing, the core workforce would be hit hard — and the economy would shrink at a peak monthly rate of 30% as their industries came under pressure, the study projected.

Researchers claimed that in order to protect the economy to the maximum, "core workers" — those in key industries such as health care, food and transportation — must be separated from the rest of the working population. —Chloe Taylor

11:25 am: Coronavirus testing chief says 'no way on Earth' US can test 5 million a day, despite what Trump says

Assistant Secretary for Health admiral Brett Giroir speaks as US President Donald Trump listens during a news conference on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on April 27, 2020.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said he thinks the U.S. will "very soon" be able to test 5 million people for the coronavirus a day – but there's "no way on Earth" the country can reach that goal, according to the government's top testing official.

"There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day," Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health who is in charge of the government's testing response, told TIME in an interview he gave Tuesday morning that was published later in the evening. The interview took place before Trump's remarks about testing.

The U.S. will be able to test 8 million per month by May, Giroir told Time. 

Giroir was responding to a new study's findings. Harvard University published a report last week that said the U.S. would need to ramp up testing capacity to at least 5 million tests a day by early June, and 20 million per day by late July, in order to reopen the economy. Giroir told TIME the assessment is "an Ivory Tower, unreasonable benchmark," adding that it's not needed based on current modelling. —Will Feuer

11:16 am: Orthodox Jewish funeral that drew thousands was 'absolutely unacceptable,' NYC mayor says

Mourners gather for the funeral of ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Mertz in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on April 28th, 2020.

NBC News

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said a funeral for a local rabbi that drew thousands of mourners in Brooklyn on Tuesday "was absolutely unacceptable" and warned that people could die from the event

"It was a large gathering, again, tragically thousands of people. The amount of danger created by that kind of gathering is inestimable ... people will die because of it, which goes against everyone's values," de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The police didn't issue any citations Tuesday night, according to a police spokesperson, but that will change. De Blasio and NYC Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said they are done warning people who violate social distancing guidelines and will issue summons or arrest violators going forward. —Noah Higgins-Dunn

11:08 am: Pending home sales tank nearly 21% in March

Home sales took a deep dive in March as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the economy and homebuyers and sellers pulled out of the normally busy spring market.

Signed contracts to purchase existing homes, referred to as pending home sales, fell 20.8% compared with February and were 16.3% lower annually, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

Regionally, pending sales fell 14.5% in the Northeast for the month and were 11% lower than a year ago. In the Midwest, sales decreased 22% monthly and 12.4% annually. In the South sales dropped 19.5% for the week and 17.8% annually, and in the West they fell 26.8% weekly and 21.5% compared with a year ago. —Diana Olick

10:44 am: You might be able to get more college aid money due to the pandemic

Now more than ever, it may pay for students to negotiate with colleges for more money towards tuition. The coronavirus pandemic has left many American families facing financial hardship. Colleges are also concerned about their fall enrollment, which is likely to drop. Most have already extended decision day for incoming freshmen to June 1 from May 1.

That means colleges may be more willing to say "yes" to appeals for more financial aid and scholarship money — for both new and returning students, said Shannon Vasconcelos, who works with incoming freshmen and their families as director of college finance at Bright Horizons College Coach. She is also the former assistant director of financial aid at Tufts University.

There are different tactics to getting more money, depending on whether it is need-based financial aid or merit-based scholarship money. Here are some ways to try and get some of that aid. —Michelle Fox

10:40 am: Promising data from drug trial 'beginning of the end of the true nightmare,' Cramer says

CNBC's Jim Cramer said positive news from Gilead Sciences about a potential treatment for the coronavirus marked a turning point in the fight against Covid-19. "What I regard this as is the beginning of the end of the true nightmare, which is that it's a death sentence," Cramer said on "Squawk Box."

Cramer said the existence of a truly effective treatment for Covid-19 would have broad benefits for how people behave.

"You eliminate the fear of becoming a society that it's terrible to congregate," Cramer said. "Now we know that crowds are still bad. We know we have to wear masks. ... But you take off the death sentence, and I think what happens is people approach life very differently. And that's why I think it's perfectly realistic for the Dow to go up." —Kevin Stankiewicz

10:35 am: NYC begins antibody testing for health workers and first responders

New York City will offer free coronavirus antibody testing to more than 150,000 health-care workers and first responders on the front line of the outbreak to determine if they've likely been infected with Covid-19 and recovered, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. 

"Antibody testing brings a lot to the table, and our goal is to reach a lot of people who would like to take advantage of it on a voluntary basis, of course," de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday.

An antibody test shows whether someone has been exposed to or potentially had the coronavirus and developed the antibodies to fight the infection. It doesn't guarantee immunity, but physicians say a positive antibody test indicates that a patient may have some level of protection against reinfection. —Noah Higgins-Dunn, Jasmine Kim

10:31 am: Dr. Scott Gottlieb sees millions of vaccine doses ready for testing this fall

Millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine could be available in the fall to be used in human trials, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Wednesday.

It could be "enough to use in large-scale studies if you have an outbreak in American city where you might deploy the vaccine in an experimental protocol," he said.

The hope would be to try to contain the outbreak and "validate whether or not the vaccine is truly safe and effective for mass inoculation of the population," the former FDA chief explained. —Kevin Stankiewicz

10:13 am: Pizza Hut accelerates transition away from dine-in sales 

Pizza Hut's same-store sales shrank 11% during the first three months of the year, but the company's digital and delivery sales are booming.

In recent years, Pizza Hut has been trying to shed its reputation with consumers as a dine-in pizza chain and grow sales by focusing on its digital ordering options and delivery.

David Gibbs, chief executive of Pizza Hut's parent Yum Brands, said that the company is experiencing "three years worth of changes" in just three months. —Amelia Lucas 

9:52 am: LabCorp swings to a loss, withdraws 2020 guidance as coronavirus outbreak drives up costs 

Labcorp CEO Adam Schechter talks as commercial lab executives and government Health officials meet with Vice President Mike Pence on the Coronavirus crisis at the White House on March 4, 2020 in Washington,DC.

Eric Baradat | AFP | Getty Images

LabCorp reported Wednesday a net loss for the first quarter as the coronavirus pandemic drove up costs and cut demand, prompting the company to withdraw 2020 guidance.

The company, which manufactures diagnostic tests, said the coronavirus outbreak drove a 50% to 55% plummet in demand for testing services at the end of the quarter compared to the same period last year. That hit to demand was "marginally offset by an increase in demand for COVID-19 tests," the company said, adding that the drop in volume appears to have stabilized.

LabCorp said it expects to make up for the hit to testing demand by ramping up its capacity to conduct Covid-19 antibody testing to more than 200,000 tests per day by mid-May. —William Feuer 

9:43 am: Boeing burns through $4.3 billion in cash, seeks to cut 10% of workforce as coronavirus hurts demand 

Boeing posted a first-quarter loss of $641 million Wednesday and said it burned through $4.3 billion in cash during the first quarter as the company faces the coronavirus crisis and the 13-month-long grounding of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max.

The company said it is planning to reduce aircraft production, including the 787 Dreamliner, and to cut payroll by about 10% through voluntary measures and "involuntary layoffs as necessary."

Boeing had about 160,000 employees at the end of last year. —Leslie Josephs

9:35 am: Dow surges more than 400 points as positive Gilead news lifts hope for coronavirus treatment 

Stocks jumped Wednesday on the back of positive data from a potential coronavirus treatment from Gilead Sciences while investors digested a sharp drop in U.S. economic activity. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded more than 400 points higher at the open, or over 1.5%. The S&P 500 gained 1.9% while the Nasdaq Composite traded 2.1% higher. —Fred Imbert, Yun Li

9:29 am: Oil jumps more than 20% on hope economy will reopen sooner than expected 

A woman wearing face mask walks on the ocean front while Oil tankers are seen anchored off the coast of Long Beach, California, after sunset on April 25, 2020.

Apu Gomes | AFP | Getty Images

Oil prices jumped more than 25% on Wednesday following a report that showed a smaller-than-expected build in U.S. inventory, and on the hope that economies will re-open sooner-than-expected.

West Texas Intermediate for June delivery surged 26.4%, or $3.26, to trade at $15.60 per barrel, while international benchmark Brent crude traded 11.6% higher at $22.84.

The surge higher came after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that U.S. crude inventories jumped by 10 million barrels in the week to April 24, to 510 million barrels. That was lower than analysts' expectations of a build of 10.6 million barrels, according to estimates from Reuters. —Eustance Huang, Pippa Stevens 

9:07 am: US GDP shrank 4.8% in the first quarter amid biggest contraction since the financial crisis 

Gross domestic product fell 4.8% in the first quarter, according to government numbers released Wednesday that provide the first detailed glimpse into the deep damage the coronavirus wreaked on the U.S. economy.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected the first estimate of GDP to show a 3.5% contraction.

This marked the first negative GDP reading since the 1.1% decline in the first quarter of 2014 and the lowest level since the 8.4% plunge in Q4 of 2008 during the worst of the financial crisis.

The biggest drags on the economy were consumer spending, nonresidential fixed investment, exports and inventories. Residential fixed investment along with spending from both the federal and state governments helped offset some of the damage. —Jeff Cox 

9:00 am: New coronavirus cases reported daily by region 

8:56 am: Gilead reports 'positive data' on remdesivir coronavirus drug trial 

Gilead Sciences said Wednesday it is aware of "positive data" from one of its studies looking at antiviral drug remdesivir as a potential treatment for the coronavirus.

The drugmaker was expected this week to release clinical trial results involving patients with severe cases of Covid-19. The severe study is "single-arm," meaning it will not evaluate the drug against a control group of patients who didn't receive the drug.

There are no proven treatments for Covid-19, which has infected more than 3 million people worldwide and killed at least 217,569 as of Wednesday morning, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. U.S. health officials say producing a vaccine to prevent the disease will take at least 12 to 18 months, making finding an effective drug treatment soon even more crucial. —Berkeley Lovelace Jr. 

8:46 am: Weekly mortgage applications to buy a home make a strong recovery, as rates hit a new record low 

Evidence is mounting that homebuyers may be coming back to the market after demand plummeted in the past month due to the coronavirus.

Mortgage applications to buy a home rose last week, but refinance demand fell, causing total application volume to decline by 3.3% for the week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted index. 

Mortgage demand from homebuyers jumped 12%, signaling a potential turn in buyer confidence. Volume was still 20% lower than the same week one year ago. Real estate firms and listing websites have been reporting more buyer demand anecdotally over the past two weeks, and some homebuilders say they are also seeing buyers come back. —Diana Olick

7:57 am: Boeing posts quarterly loss of $641 million

Boeing reported a first-quarter loss of $641 million, as the company faces both coronavirus and the more than yearlong grounding of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max.

The company is planning to reduce production of some aircraft, including the 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing is facing a dismal market for new planes as air travel demand plunges as the pandemic and measures to stop it from spreading keep travelers home. —Leslie Josephs

6:55 am: GE reports a revenue hit, expects worse quarter due to pandemic

General Electric reported steep declines in first-quarter revenue and earnings as the industrial giant took a hit amid the coronavirus pandemic

The company posted a total revenue of $20.524 billion, which represents a year-over-year decline of 8%. GE Industrial profits fell 46% year over year to $1.096 billion from $2.017 billion. On an adjusted per-share basis, the company earned 5 cents. That's below a Refinitiv estimate of 8 cents per share. 

"The impact from COVID-19 materially challenged our first-quarter results, especially in Aviation, where we saw a dramatic decline in commercial aerospace as the virus spread globally in March," CEO Larry Culp said in a statement.

Culp said the company is eyeing cost cuts of more than $2 billion along with $3 billion in cash preservation to cushion the coronavirus blow. GE's earnings release also indicated the industrial giant expects this quarter to be worse than the first. 

"The second quarter will be the first full quarter with pressure from COVID-19, and GE expects that its financial results will decline sequentially," GE said. —Fred Imbert

6:18 am: Most of Spain has virus reproduction rate of below 1, health official says

A man wearing a face mask and gloves walks past a mural in the village of Bueu, northwestern Spain, on April 2, 2020 amid a national lockdown to fight the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Miguel Riopa | AFP | Getty Images

Almost all areas of Spain have a coronavirus reproduction rate, known as the "R" number, below one, health emergencies chief Fernando Simon said Wednesday, Reuters reported. The reproduction rate refers to the number of people that an infected individual goes on to infect.

"Right now, almost all areas in the country have a reproduction number below one," Simon told reporters in an online briefing.

If the reproduction number is not below one on average, he said, Spain cannot consider easing mobility restrictions. —Holly Ellyatt

5:44 am: Russia nears 100,000 cases

A medical worker in a protective suit takes swabs from a patient at a clinic in St. Petersburg, Russia on March 18, 2020.

Peter Kovalev | TASS via Getty Images

Russia's crisis response center reported 99,939 cases as of Wednesday, up an additional 5,841 cases in the last 24 hours.

The total number of reported fatalities remains relatively low, however, at 972 deaths. Russia says it has carried out 3.3 million tests. On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin extended the national "nonworking" month through to May 11. He also warned that Russia had not yet seen the peak of the virus. —Holly Ellyatt

5:33 am: Spain's daily death toll rises again, 325 new fatalities

Mortuary employees wearing face masks transport a coffin of a COVID-19 coronavirus victim at La Almudena cemetery on April 04, 2020 in Madrid, Spain.

Carlos Alvarez | Getty Images

Spain's daily death toll rose again with the health ministry reporting 325 deaths Wednesday, up from 301 reported the day before.

The overall death toll from the virus rose by 453 to 24,275, however, as additional data was added from previous days, Reuters reported.

The country now has confirmed 212, 917 cases of the virus, the ministry said, up 2,144 from the previous day. —Holly Ellyatt

4:30 pm: Malaysia reports 94 new cases but no new deaths

Coronavirus In LA: Your No-Panic Guide To Daily Life And The New (And Changing) Rules - laist.com

Posted: 08 May 2020 12:00 AM PDT

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UPDATED: May 15, 2020

Life in L.A. has been fundamentally changed — and it keeps changing.

After nearly two months of shut downs, lost work, and stay-at-home orders, California is beginning to reopen.

We're currently in "Phase 2" of Gov. Gavin Newsom's reopening plan, which rests on six key metrics and phases on phases. L.A. County has a recovery plan too. That one's structured in stages and batches. And L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti also has a plan. His is built around five pillars.

If that all sounds confusing, that's because it is.

Here's another confounding set of messages: as L.A. starts reopening, public health officials are still urging people to stay at home as much as possible.

HERE'S WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW

  1. L.A. County beaches and City of L.A. beaches reopened on May 13 for "active" use. No biking, sitting, sunning, gathering, piers, boardwalks, or parking. Face masks and physical distancing required.
  2. Some non-essential retail shops in L.A. County were allowed to reopen starting May 8 for curbside pickup. Additional retail and manufacturing businesses were greenlit to open on May 13. Mask wearing and physical distancing are required. So are a lot of operational changes.
  3. City and county hiking trails and golf courses were allowed to reopen on May 9. Mask wearing and physical distancing are still in effect there too.
  4. L.A.'s stay-at-home orders will extend into the summer, with more restrictions "gradually relaxed" along the way. There is no specific end date.
  5. Face coverings are mandatory in L.A. County when you're out of your home and interacting with people you don't live with. If no one is around, keep a face covering in your pocket in case other humans appear (and runners, put it on when passing). The idea is to stop respiratory droplets with the virus from getting out, not in.

Meanwhile, the U.S. still has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, our local numbers are still rising, and we are still publishing and updating this massive resource guide.

HOW WE'RE REPORTING ON THIS

For months we've been doing what we can to help combat fear, anxiety, frustration, and confusion by bringing you the most recent and accurate information, explaining what's happened/happening in clear language (but let us know if we're falling short), continuing to update this 16,000+ word monster guide as new information becomes available, and answering your questions.

All of us in the LAist newsroom take our essential work as journalists very seriously. Most of us have been working from home since March 11. We're here for the long haul, and we remain committed to helping you understand the changing reality — and confront the recovery ahead — while we all do our best to slow the spread of this deadly disease.

This guide is a reflection of our reporting from every corner of the newsroom — and more. Here's what we know so far.

WHAT'S INSIDE THE GUIDE

Scroll, search, or jump to a section.

Timeline & Map |
Officials & Orders |
About The Virus |
Symptoms, Testing, Treatment |
Masks & Products |
Food Help & Food Safety |
Daily Life |
Enforcement |
Rent, Loans, Unemployment |
Other Kinds Of Help |
Hospitals |
Schools |
City & County Operations |
Homelessness |
More Q&A |
Ask A Question |

THE GLOBAL TIMELINE

On January 30, a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern" was declared by the World Health Organization over an outbreak of a new, deadly, novel coronavirus which began in Wuhan City, China.

On February 11, WHO announced "COVID-19" as the name of he disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is an abbreviation of "coronavirus disease 2019."

On March 4, L.A. County declared a local and public emergency, and Gov. Gavin Newsom made the call to declare an emergency for the state of California the same day.

On March 11, WHO made it official: COVID-19 is a pandemic.

On March 19, California, the nation's most populous state, ordered its nearly 40 million residents to stay home and practice social distancing (there are exceptions).

On March 26, the United States surpassed China as the country with highest total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world.

On April 11, the U.S. became the nation with the most confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

The global total is now more than 307,000 deaths and over 4,534,000 confirmed cases. The local total is now more than 1,750 deaths and over 36,200 confirmed cases.

BACK TO TOP

THE COVID-19 MAP

You can track the global scope and spread with this map and list from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. And these U.S. numbers from the CDC are updated daily.

The map below also shows cumulative confirmed cases, deaths, and recoveries. It's updated in near real-time throughout the day. Zoom out to see more of the world.

The data is maintained by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which pulls from: World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China, local media reports, local health departments, and the DXY.

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WHAT'S THE WORD FROM L.A. OFFICIALS?

A local public health emergency was declared by county officials on March 4.

The first possible community spread case — meaning the source of infection was unknown — was announced on March 9.

L.A. County announced the first death from COVID-19 on March 11.

Confirmed cases and deaths are being tracked on the public health department's website.

On March 15, L.A. County officials said they were closing all offices to the public, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a moratorium on evictions, and an executive order banning dine-in restaurants and entertainment facilities went into effect at midnight.

L.A. County followed with a similar list of actions, closures, and restrictions the following day, including strongly discouraging gatherings of more than 50 people.

The "Safer at Home" emergency order was issued by L.A. County and city leaders on March 19. It included the following directives:

  • Residents should remain at home.
  • Do not gather in enclosed spaces with more than 10 people.
  • Close all non-critical businesses (that can't operate remotely) until further notice.

"I want to be clear about this," said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti during the announcement, "that the only time you should leave your home is for essential activities and needs — to get food, care for a relative or a friend or child, get necessary health care," and the like.

Jobs that are critical to safety, health, and the security of city, as well as an "economy of recovery," are exempt. Examples Garcetti cited:

  • Emergency personnel
  • First responders
  • Government employees
  • Medical personnel
  • Vital infrastructure workers
  • Health care providers
  • Transportation services
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants (but for take-out or delivery only)
  • News outlets
  • Hardware stores
  • Gas stations
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Plumbers, electricians
  • Dry cleaners and laundromats

But social distancing must be enforced in all of these cases.

You are allowed to go outside, take a walk, and enjoy an open space. But some outdoor areas are off-limits because of crowding. And even in outside, you are required to stay 6 feet away from people.

On March 25, Garcetti said the stay-at-home order would likely be in place until May.

On the same day, public health officials issued an Emergency Quarantine Order and an Emergency Isolation Order. Here's when to home-quarantine, and when to self-isolate.

(Screenshot via Megan Erwin/KPCC/LAist)

On March 27, Garcetti tonight used what may have been his strongest language yet to urge people to heed his stay-at-home orders.

"These aren't suggestions, I remind you, these are orders. We are in the midst of a pandemic," Garcetti said.

The city punctuated that message with a piercing emergency alert sent moments after his nightly address reminding people to keep staying at home, and to only go out for essential activities. L.A. County sent an alert as well.

Official guidance on general mask-wearing arrived on April 1. Garcetti made the recommendation that all residents wear face coverings whenever they're out of the house and interacting with people.

About a week later, that was changed to a requirement. Shoppers and store employees must wear face masks starting April 10.

L.A. County echoed with a face covering ordinance a few days later, bringing some uniformity to the patchwork of mask rules across the 88 cities. You now have to wear a mask when shopping anywhere in L.A. County.

County health officials have also extended the stay-at-home order to May 15. They laid out new data that shows current social distancing practices are working — but we need to do better.

We are bending the curve, but if we stop physical distancing, the projection is that "virtually all residents in Los Angeles County would have been exposed or infected with COVID-19" by mid-summer, said the director of L.A. County's Department of Health Services.

Testing was still only being recommended for people who were symptomatic.

Garcetti said he doesn't see large gatherings like concerts happening again this year, but relative normalcy may come sooner. Similar to Gov. Gavin Newsom's six strategies, the mayor laid out five key marks for the city to hit in order to lift the stay-at-home order:

  • Widespread virus and blood testing
  • Real-time disease surveillance to detect outbreaks faster
  • Rapid, aggressive response to potential outbreaks
  • Increase hospital capacity
  • Ongoing research and development

On April 17, Garcetti said testing capacity has increased and urged everyone with symptoms to get a free test.

Based on the current modeling, mid-May is the projection to begin rolling back the current restrictions, said Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health at a briefing on April 21. But, she said, there is no "magic day."

Ferrer said on April 22 that CDC staff members would be helping the health department improve infection control practices at skilled nursing facilities, and that approximately 40% of all deaths countywide have been at institutional facilities.

On April 23, COVID-19 became the leading cause of death in L.A. County, surpassing coronary heart disease, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the flu.

On April 27, Ferrer said that county residents living in areas with high rates of poverty are dying at a rate about three times that of communities with low poverty rates.

"This data is deeply disturbing and it speaks to the need for immediate action... this would mean increased testing, better access and connection to health care and support services, and more accurate culturally appropriate information about COVID-19, and we're joining with our partners in the community to make sure this happens."

On the same day, Mayor Garcetti said L.A. might be baby stepping toward normalcy in the next two to six weeks. There are plenty of caveats. There's also this: because what we've done is working, most of us could still get the coronavirus. "If we open up the wrong way," he said, 95% of us could get COVID-19 by August 1, citing a USC study.

Garcetti added "it's not really about a date, or how few cases you have — it's about the infrastructure you have to handle opening up."

A day later he announced a major testing change: all L.A. city residents, even those without symptoms, could get tested for COVID-19, for free.


REOPENING L.A.


On May 4, Garcetti called the reopening situation "fluid," and said he thought by May 15 the city would be ready to take some steps forward. Ferrer said the city would be releasing recovery plan guidelines. This was in response to the Governor's expected order which may allow some businesses to re-open beginning May 8.

On May 5, Garcetti's position was more concrete: "I'm sorry, we're not going to be moving on those things this Friday (May 8)." He did, however, give permission to the Flower District downtown to prepare to reopen in time for Mother's Day, under strict monitoring by the public health department.

The mayor said that moving forward he would follow the county's guidelines on retail businesses. Curbside retail, he said, is something that might be allowed next week, or more likely, the following week.

The timeline from L.A. County officials the following day was different:

Certain businesses and recreational spaces in Los Angeles County would be allowed to start reopening on May 8. According to County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Shops that reopened would be for curbside pickup only. And all of the actual shopping still has to be done online or over the phone.

Barger said that easing restrictions aligned with the state, and the decision to open some stores and not others was "less about what products are sold, and more about the ability to maintain social distancing."

On May 6, Garcetti announced a revised timeline that better aligned with the county and state plans. He said L.A.'s stay-at-home order would be amended to allow some low-risk businesses and areas to reopen on May 8 and 9.

On May 7, as L.A. braced to enter the second of its five-stage plan for reopening, officials urged residents to continue staying home as much as possible, and to continue adhering to public health guidance about social distancing and masks.

On May 8, some L.A. County businesses were allowed to reopen for curbside pick-up only. The official requirements for reopening were released by the county. L.A. city also has guidance about the changes business owners have to make to "prepare and effectively manage the safety of employees and customers."

Stores approved to reopen during this wave included:

  • Florists
  • Toy stores
  • Music stores
  • Bookstores
  • Clothing stores
  • Sporting goods stores
  • Car dealerships
  • Some individual cities, like Long Beach, listed additional shops and activities

L.A.'s city and county hiking trails and golf courses reopened to the public on May 9. Runyon Canyon remained closed. Griffith Observatory remained closed. Golf courses were reservation only, one person per golf cart, and foam fillers were added to every hole so players wouldn't have to touch the flag.

The first weekend rules:

  • Face coverings worn at all times on trails and golf courses.
  • Maintaining proper physical distance.
  • "If you're 65 and older, you cannot go out to those places if you have pre-existing conditions," the mayor said.
  • Gatherings, even small ones, are still not permitted.
  • Hikers and golfers can go by themselves or with someone from their household.

The first weekend recap:

L.A. County beaches and L.A. City beach reopened on May 13 for "active" use, according to the county's department of Beaches and Harbors. Parking lots, bike path, piers, and boardwalks will remain closed, . Mask wearing and physical distancing will be required.

L.A. County's stay-at-home orders, which were set to expire May 15, will be extended for the next three months, into the summer, according to Ferrer. Restrictions will continue to be "gradually relaxed" along the way.

Restaurants also got guidance from the state on May 12 about how to reopen their dining rooms when the time comes. Many of the rules will be set at the county and local level — this is a buffet of options for front-of-house and back-of-house changes that authorities can choose from.

On May 13, more businesses were greenlit to open, provided they follow the public health protocols.

Businesses are required to "prepare, implement, and post their compliance with our directives to demonstrate that they're adhering to distancing and infection control practices that protect both employees and customers," Ferrer said.

This batch of shops includes retailers that allow doorside pickup (but ones in indoor shopping centers or malls), and manufacturing/logistic businesses that supply these lower risk retail businesses.

The public is still not allowed to go into the retail businesses.

Here are current local totals of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Here is an L.A. County breakdown by area.

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WHAT'S THE WORD FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA?

On March 15, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for far stricter guidelines in the state. He asked all seniors and people with underlying conditions to isolate at home, restaurants to operate at diminished capacity, and wineries, bars, and brewpubs to close.

In a March 18 letter to President Trump, Newsom projected that more than half of the population of California will be infected with the virus over an eight-week period. He asked for $1 billion in federal funding and requested the hospital ship USNS Mercy be sent to Los Angeles.

On March 19, about an hour after the L.A. County orders were announced, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all residents of California to stay home or otherwise remain at their place of residence in order to slow the spread of the virus. There are exceptions for people who maintain critical infrastructure in 16 key sectors, including:

  • Chemical
  • Commercial Facilities
  • Communications
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Dams
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Emergency Services
  • Energy
  • Financial Services
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Government Facilities
  • Health Care and Public Health
  • Information Technology
  • Nuclear Reactors, Materials, and Waste
  • Transportation
  • Water and Wastewater Systems

On April 13, Newsom announced what he described as a shared framework with Oregon and Washington about how to economically reopen California. More details came April 14 with a plan that includes six key metrics for loosening the stay-at-home orders. They include:

  1. More testing, tracking, isolating/quarantining, and supporting people who are positive/exposed.
  2. Protecting the most vulnerable from infection and spread.
  3. Hospitals and health systems being able to handle surges.
  4. The ability to develop therapeutic drugs to meet the demand.
  5. The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to allow for physical distancing.
  6. The ability to determine when/if to reinstitute measures like stay-at-home orders.

The governor's tasked 80 leaders to help plan for the state's economic recovery, with an advisory council that includes all four of the state's living governors. He said the task force — which will divide up into sub-groups covering entertainment, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, regional issues, etc. — will work on actionable ideas in real time, not some future report.

Newsom said on April 21 that local officials can lift some stay-at-home restrictions, as long as they don't conflict with state orders. His comments, made a daily press briefing, were in response to a question about Riverside County opening up golf courses and Port Hueneme opening beaches.

The governor reviewed testing numbers on April 22, saying the 465,000 tests administered so far in California were not enough to modify stay-at-home orders.

On April 27, Newsom said he hoped the state was weeks, not months, away from making significant changes to the stay-at-home orders — but that those decisions will be driven by data, and require people to abide by physical distancing orders.

As an example of what not to do, he brought up the photos of people crowding the beaches in Orange and Ventura counties. He gave special attention to Newport Beach's weekend crowding situation.

Newsom has phases on phases to go with his six key metrics. On April 28, he laid out a "resilience roadmap" with four steps towards a full reopen. He also said that despite distributing millions of masks, the state is not even close to where it need to be with personal protective equipment yet.

Newsom said on April 29 that the state was possibly "a week or two away from significant modifications on our stay-at-home order," as long as coronavirus numbers remained stable.

Two days later the governor said the state is now "days, not weeks" away.

On May 4, Newsom said parts of the state would start moving into Phase 2 of reopening on May 8, and that guidlines would be forthcoming. This phase includes changes like retail beginning to reopen for pickup. Here's more on the six key metrics on the "State Reopening Roadmap Report Card."

Social/physical distancing is even more important in Phase 2, he said on May 5.

Announcements about counties moving further into Phase 2 are expected May 12, with detailed guidelines for dining, offices, and malls.

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WHAT'S THE WORD FROM THE WHITE HOUSE?

Note: President Trump usually opens coronavirus news briefings with his own remarks. His comments in a number of past briefings have later been contradicted by information provided by other officials. He has also repeatedly used stigmatizing language to describe COVID-19. Following the president's remarks, health experts and other adminstration leaders provide additional updates.

Voluntary, nationwide guidelines were announced on March 16, initially set to last for 15 days.

President Trump and the White House coronavirus task force asked Americans to close schools, avoid groups of more than 10 people, homeschool kids where possible, avoid discretionary travel, and refrain from visiting bars, restaurants, and food courts.

On March 18, the border between the U.S. and Canada was closed for "non-essential" travel. On March 20 came an announcement closing the U.S. and Mexico border to non-essential travel.

Meanwhile, a Level 4, "Do Not Travel" global health advisory was issued by the U.S. State Department advising all citizens to "avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19."

At a March 23 briefing, Trump said the REAL ID deadline will be postponed and that surgical and N95 masks would be distributed by FEMA. An executive order was also announced by Attorney General William Barr making certain items illegal to hoard.

On March 27, Trump announced at a briefing that he invoked the Defense Production Act, "to compel General Motors to accept, perform and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators." He put it differently on Twitter that day.

The task force said on March 31 that Americans should brace for 100,000 or more people to die in the coming months in the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx renewed pleas to observe precautions. Birx said she's "reassured" by what L.A. has accomplished with social distancing in terms of how other cities might be able to respond as well.

On April 3, Trump said hospitals treating uninsured coronavirus patients would be reimbursed by the administration with funds from the economic relief package. The president also announced new CDC recommendations that people wear non-medical cloth face coverings when out in public.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said eligible taxpayers could receive stimulus payments within two weeks (others said some checks could take months).

On April 9, the federal government released new guidelines about when people in critical infrastructure roles can go back to work if they've been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of the coronavirus. The CDC recommendations include taking temperatures before work, wearing face masks at all times, and practicing social distancing as much as duties allow.

On April 16 came a three-phased approach to normalization, albeit without time requirements. The strategy is contingent upon states having data about case levels, the capacity to treat all patients and test healthcare workers, and the ability to trace the contacts of those infected. States can decide on a county-by-county approach, according to an 18-page document obtained by NPR.

Each phase would require a 14-day period of a "downward trajectory" of cases to advance to the next one. Here's an overview —

Phase One:

  • states or regions would have social distancing guidelines similar to those in place now
  • a prohibition on gatherings of more than 10
  • maximized physical distance
  • working from home when possible
  • the closures of schools and bars etc.
  • strict physical distancing protocols would be ordered for places like restaurants, theaters, sporting venues, churches and gyms.
  • vulnerable people would be urged to stay home.

Phase Two:

  • states and regions that show no signs of a rebound could expand gatherings to 50 people.
  • resume non-essential travel.
  • working from home would still be encouraged.
  • schools could reopen and bars could operate with "diminished standing-room occupancy."
  • vulnerable people still would be urged to stay home.

Phase Three:

  • states and regions could expand guidance so that vulnerable individuals could go out in public.
  • visits to hospitals and nursing homes could resume.

NPR has the full guidelines documents.

On April 20, Trump announced via Twitter his intention to "temporarily suspend immigration."

"In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!"

He gave more details during an April 21 news briefing, and said the measure was needed to protect the jobs of U.S. workers. He also said secondary orders were under consideration.

On April 22, Trump signed an executive order to temporarily ban some green carder seekers from coming to the U.S. It goes into effect on April 24 and will last for two months, further extending the wait for green card seekers, some of whom first applied decades ago.

But the move is far less wide-ranging than Trump had indicated in his tweet.

His order exempts green card applicants who are the minor children and spouses of U.S. citizens. It also has a carve-out for health care workers, including nurses and doctors and people doing work that is "essential to combating, recovering from, or otherwise alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak."

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WHAT IS SARS-CoV-2?
A CDC illustration. (Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM)

SARS-CoV-2 is in the family of coronavirus pathogens that usually cause short-lived illnesses.

They get their name because of how they look, which is spiny around the edges, like a crown. And some coronaviruses are scarier than others. Scientists are still trying to figure out how dangerous this new (or "novel") coronavirus is.

"Most people get infected with these viruses at some point in their lives," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms may include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and headache. But they can vary in severity. Thousands of people have died, but "other patients have had milder illness and been discharged," the CDC said.

On February 11, the World Health Organization announced "COVID-19" as the name of he disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is an abbreviation of "coronavirus disease 2019."

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HOW IS THE CORONAVIRUS SPREAD?
This photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a microscopic view of a coronavirus. (CDC/Getty Images)

Coronaviruses generally jump from person to person on the droplets from coughs and sneezes.

The CDC's current best guess is that the incubation period for novel coronavirus — that's the time from exposure to when symptoms first start showing up — is somewhere between two and 14 days.

Health officials continue to stress the importance of good hand hygiene and washing technique.

We still don't know how easily this coronavirus can spread through the air.

L.A.'s public health director Barbara Ferrer said the virus is too big and heavy to linger in the air, while others are investigating the possibility of spread via "bioaerosols." The World Health Organization says it doesn't seem to linger or travel more than 3 feet, but at least one medical expert says it's way too soon to know that.

Another question is viral load, or the amount of the virus in your system. It's still unclear whether viral load can affect your chances of getting sick, and recent studies suggest that it could affect the severity of your illness, Ferrer said.

On May 15, public health officials announced that L.A. County had reduced the rate of COVID-19's spread from three people for every one person infected, to just one.

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HOW LONG DOES IT LIVE?

It depends on where it is.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is "stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces," according to a study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine.

  • detectable in aerosols for up to three hours

  • up to four hours on copper

  • up to 24 hours on cardboard

  • up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel

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IS THIS CORONAVIRUS LIKE SARS OR MERS?

MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) are two members of the coronavirus family that tend to make people sicker. "About 3 or 4 out of every 10 patients reported with MERS have died," according to the CDC. And SARS was responsible for a global outbreak in 2002-2003 that killed 774 people.

"The novel coronavirus is more genetically related to SARS than MERS," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier.

But scientists don't know yet if novel coronavirus will act the same way as SARS or MERS; they're using information from both pathogens to guide their research.

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CAN MY PET CAT OR DOG GET THE CORONAVIRUS?

Maybe. It has happened.

A tiger in New York City with a respiratory illness (I know, nothing makes sense) was the first animal to test positive in the U.S. That was in early April.

On April 22, two pet cats in New York were confirmed to have COVID-19 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories.

The CDC's website said it has been aware of reports about pets, including cats and dogs, being infected. Most had close contact with an infected person.

There's an evolving FAQ with CDC guidance on protecting animals. Specific recommendations were laid out in the press release from the USDA:

  • Don't let pets interact with people or animals from outside of your home.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent mingling with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash and keep at least 6 feet away from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

If you're sick (either suspected or confirmed COVID-19), you should:

  • Avoid contact with your animal friend, and isolate.
  • That means no petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, or sharing food or bedding.
  • Have another member of your household care for your pet if possible.
  • If that's not possible, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after interactions.

Meanwhile, adoptions of shelter pets in L.A. have been "off the charts."

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WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19?

Common symptoms can include: low-grade fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

Severe symptoms can include: high fever, severe cough, shortness of breath, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, bluish lips or face.

These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. However, some people infected with the virus have no symptoms at all.

There also may also be additional symptoms beyond what we've listed above.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and Harvard Health have additional details.

You may have also heard about lack of smell or taste being a potential symptom, though it is not part of officials' criteria for testing.

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WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK I MIGHT HAVE IT?

The orders from L.A.'s public health department set out timeframes, restrictions, and criteria for self-isolation and self-quarantine.

For people who have contracted COVID-19, the guidance from the CDC is to self-isolate for 10 days, plus 3 days without fevers and/or symptoms. The virus may shed for longer than initially thought, which means a person may be able to infect other people for a longer.

If you think you might have been exposed, or if have COVID-19 symptoms, isolate, and call your doctor for next steps (or dial 211 in L.A. County if you need to find a clinician).

If you experience severe symptoms, get immediate medical attention.

If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 at home, here are some things to keep in mind. These tips come from UCLA's Dr. Robert Kim-Farley with the Fielding School of Public Health (and a former staffer with the CDC):

  • Make sure they wear a mask
  • Make sure you wear a mask
  • Monitor for trouble breathing
  • Monitor for persistent chest pain or pressure
  • Call their healthcare provider if symptoms become more severe (especially if they're elderly or have pre-existing conditions).
  • Clean surfaces frequently
  • Try to keep the patient in one bedroom, and ideally one bathroom
  • Don't shake the laundry before washing (to avoid aerosolizing virus particles that may be on their clothes).
  • Restrict unnecessary visitors
  • Wash hands frequently

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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN QUARANTINE, ISOLATION, AND SOCIAL DISTANCING

L.A.'s public health department issued orders about when to home-quarantine and when to self-isolate.

The CDC requires people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to notify everyone they were in close contact with — including during the 48 hours before symptoms started — so those people can self-quarantine for up to 14 days. Close contact means less than 6 feet apart for 10 minutes or more.

People who have tested positive also need to self-isolate for 10 days, plus 3 days without fevers or symptoms, according to the CDC.

These categories of separation are all designed to stop or slow the spread of contagious diseases. Here's how they differ, according to the CDC and Harvard Health:

  • Quarantine: a separation for people who have a contagious disease, have symptoms consistent with a contagious disease, or were exposed to a contagious disease. A person's movements are restricted when they are quarantined
  • Isolation: a less restrictive separation that keeps people who are sick away from people who are not sick
  • Self-Isolation: a voluntary action to stay at home by people who are sick (or are likely to be sick) and are experiencing mild symptoms
  • Self-Quarantine: a voluntary action to stay at home by people who may have been exposed but are not experiencing symptoms
  • Social Distancing: keeping your distance from other people. The distance reduces the risk of breathing in droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or, in some cases, breathes. It can also mean cancelling events or gatherings (the term "physical distancing" means the same thing.)

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HOW CAN I GET TESTED FOR CORONAVIRUS?

Drive-thru testing sites (and a few walk-in clinics) are open across L.A. County. The test is free, but you can't just show up. You have to register/apply first. There are a few ways to do that:

1) APPLY ONLINE if you live anywhere in L.A. County. You can get screened via the online portal.

COUNTY: Anyone in the county experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can apply for a test, but it doesn't necessarily mean everyone will get one. You'll be asked some questions on the eligibility form, and then you'll be asked for your contact information for next steps.

CITY: If you live in the city of L.A., you do not need to have symptoms to register for a test.

2) GET A DIRECTIVE from a health care provider. Call your doctor and they'll give you the next steps. If you don't have a health care provider, call 211 and they'll direct you to a nearby clinician. L.A. public health officials are asking people not to call 911 and not go to the emergency room unless you're experiencing severe symptoms and need immediate medical attention.

Initially, the tests were limited to people most at risk. Restrictions were relaxed a few times to allow for same-day or next-day testing for anyone with symptoms, and testing of certain front-line workers without symptoms.

There's a lengthy testing FAQ and testing information page put together jointly by the city and county.

On May 6, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state was launching a new site where people can enter their zip code to find testing locations and schedule a test. It includes mobile testing sites, although it doesn't include private hospitals.

Pharmacies were also given permission to test for coronavirus, under state guidelines released May 12. There are 6,492 pharmacies in the state where that could potentially happen.

But, testing or not, if you experience severe symptoms, get immediate medical help.

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DO I HAVE TO PAY TO GET THE CORONAVIRUS TEST?

No. California health officials are waiving all co-pays for COVID-19 testing. That applies to people on all insurance plans, and people who don't have health coverage.

You can also be tested for free regardless of your immigration status. And the federal government has said that getting tested or treated for coronavirus will not count toward the public charge test for getting a green card.

And if you don't have insurance, here are some options for getting it: Covered California and the entire individual health insurance market has extended the enrollment window to June 30; enrollment for Medi-Cal is open year round; and in L.A. County, there's the no-cost health care plan My Health LA.

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WHERE DO I GO FOR THE CORONAVIRUS TEST?

Drive-thru testing sites (and a few walk-in clinics) are open across L.A. County.

Here's a map of the locations.

But, again, you can't just show up.

You have to be approved first.

Get screened online to request a test, or try to get a directive from a health care provider.

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HOW DOES THE CORONAVIRUS TEST WORK?

At some testing sites, a health professional will administer a nasal swab.

At other places, you'll be given a testing kit for an oral swab that you can administer yourself.

Here's an instructional video from local officials, and here's a first hand account of the process.

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WHAT'S THE ANTIBODY TEST?

It's a blood test to see if you've formed antibodies against the coronavirus, which is a way of telling whether you've ever had it, even if you never developed symptoms. Antibodies are proteins your body produces to fight infections.

This test hasn't gotten as much attention as the test to see if you actively have the coronavirus, but widespread testing for antibodies will be crucial to figuring out how much the virus has spread, how deadly it is, and when we might get back to something approximating normal life.

To help kickstart that effort, L.A. County and USC teamed up to test for antibodies in 1,000 Angelenos.

County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis told us that people will be tested to determine if they've been infected, and if so, "what their antibodies look like." Davis said the data will help to make some "general estimates and predictions" about how far the virus has spread and how deadly it is.

At least one SoCal hospital is experimenting with transferring antibodies from a recovered patient. The hope is that the antibodies will attack the virus to help a sick person heal.

The county/USC study participants are all adults, and they were selected to create a random sample that reflects the county's demographic makeup. They'll got the "serology" test at six drive-thru sites on April 10 and 11, according to ABC7.

Those leading the study intend to repeat the tests every two weeks for three months.

Neerja Sood, a vice dean at USC involved in the project, told The Washington Post that the test kits were donated by a private individual who read his Wall Street Journal op-ed about the importance of randomized testing.

Preliminary findings were announced April 20. The data suggests many more people in L.A. County could potentially be infected than the official count. It also suggests the mortality rate for the county could be lower.

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IF I'M AN ASYMPTOMATIC CORONAVIRUS CARRIER, HOW LONG AM I CONTAGIOUS?

You could be contagious for up to 14 days, according to Dr. Shruti Gohil, University of California Irvine Medical Center.

However, Gohil said, since asymptomatic carriers may not know when Day 1 was, it's "encouraging to know ... their ability to spread the disease is far less than those who are actively symptomatic."

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IF I HAD CORONAVIRUS CAN I GET IT AGAIN?

Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, told us: "We don't have conclusive evidence on that."

She said that "in general you can be protected when you've had an infection, but not always. We're just going to have to wait for the researchers and the scientists to let us know what they're finding out about that."

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IS THERE A VACCINE? WHAT'S THE TREATMENT?

There is no vaccine yet. Scientists started working on a plan in January, before COVID-19 even had a name. A number of companies have been working on vaccine development, and clinical trials are underway. The timeline is unknown, but experts have been weighing in with estimates.

For treatment, at least one SoCal hospital is experimenting with transferring antibodies from a recovered patient. The hope is that the antibodies will attack the virus to help a sick person heal.

Cedars-Sinai is participating in a clinical trial of the drug remdesivir. A small trial of an experimental antiviral drug has shown encouraging results, the hospital announced on April 10. And on May 1, the FDA approved the drug for emergency treatment for COVID-19. Prior to that, the FDA's FAQs had advised "there are no FDA-approved drugs specifically for the treatment of COVID-19."

But the effectiveness of remdesivir is still being studied.

"This is not a cure-all," said Jonathan Grein, who is the director of epidemiology for Cedar-Sinai. "Specifically, not everyone with COVID-19 will need this drug or even benefit from this drug."

The president has promoted a pair of malaria drugs as a possible treatment. The AP reported that a nationwide study — not peer reviewed — of hydroxychloroquine use at U.S. veterans hospitals found no benefit and more deaths among those given the drug, versus standard care.

The CDC's guidance for for clinical management of the coronavirus includes, "infection prevention and control measures and supportive care, including supplementary oxygen and mechanical ventilatory support when indicated."

Meanwhile, across the country, doctors are reporting cases of children with a rare inflammatory condition linked to the coronavirus.

The illness, known as Pediatric Inflammatory Multi-System Syndrome (PIMS), is similar to a disorder known as Kawasaki Disease. Symptoms include high fever, rashes and inflammation that can affect organs, including the heart.

Doctors at Children's Hospital Los Angeles have treated 16 patients who've exhibited symptoms consistent with this condition since April. Specialists say symptoms can range broadly, and there's concern over coronary artery enlargement or aneurysms in kids.

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IS IBUPROFEN SAFE TO TAKE FOR A COVID-19 FEVER?
(Twitter/@WHO)

There's currently no established link between ibuprofen and coronavirus complications, but there is a lot of conflicting information being circulated.

The World Health Organization officially weighed in on Twitter on March 18 with this guidance, in all its double negative glory:

Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of of ibuprofen.

The CDC has issued no coronavirus-related guidance regarding the use of anti-inflammatories as of March 20.

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SHOULD I BE WEARING A MASK IN DAILY LIFE?

Yes.

The first official guidance on general mask-wearing arrived on April 1.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti made the recommendation that all residents wear face coverings when out and about (but not to put masks on kids under 2-years-old. It's a suffocation risk).

This isn't an excuse to suddenly all go out, you need to stay at home. But when you have to go out, we are recommending that we use non medical grade masks.

He spelled out two categories of face coverings/masks, and who should wear what:

1. Surgical — These are medical grade masks (like the N95) and they're reserved for medical professionals. There's been a dangerous shortage.

2. Homemade — These are cloth face coverings and can be bandanas, scarves, hand-sewn masks, etc. They should be worn by everyone else, including essential services workers and those with vital infrastructure jobs.

About a week later, Garcetti changed the city's mask-wearking recommendation to a requirement: shoppers and store employees must wear them. This applied to grocery and drug stores, restaurants, hotels, taxis and rideshares, construction sites, and other non-medical, essential businesses. Employers were also required to provide face masks to their employees, or reimburse them for the purchase.

L.A.'s Public Health Department issued face-covering guidance, and it was written into the evolving county health order.

People leaving their homes must wear "a cloth face covering whenever there is or can be contact with others who are non-household members, in both public and private places."

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors passed a face covering ordinance, which added additional uniformity across the 88 cities.

And the L.A. County Sheriff's Departments did not dance around the message: wearing a face covering is law.

The CDC also officially messaged cloth masks for everyone, and recommended people in critical infrastructure roles wear a face mask at all times when they go back to work after being exposed to (a confirmed or suspected case of) the coronavirus.

Check your city's particular rules about wearing a mask in certain situations. Some cities, like Beverly Hills and Glendale, have issued additional guidance.

Where to get a face covering? Pay to make it fashun, or DIY and make it your own:

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WHICH DISINFECTANTS CAN I USE AGAINST SARS-CoV-2?

The EPA released a list of products that are "qualified" for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Some Clorox and Lysol products are on the list, but so are dozens and dozens of others.

Here's what the EPA says about killing the virus:

"Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product. Consumers using these disinfectants on an enveloped emerging virus should follow the directions for use on the product's master label, paying close attention to the contact time for the product on the treated surface (i.e., how long the disinfectant should remain on the surface)."

As far as keeping your hands virus-free, the CDC says handwashing for at least 20 seconds is still your best bet. If that's not possible, it recommends using an "alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol."

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IS IT SAFE TO TOUCH TAKEOUT & DELIVERY FOOD CONTAINERS?

"There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food," according to the CDC, but the virus can live on surfaces.

To reduce risk, go contactless when getting meals delivered.

In whatever app you're using (or on the phone), ask your driver to leave your food outside your door. You might have to leave the message as a note.

Once you've brought it in, put the food on your own plates, throw out the packaging and wash your hands for 20 seconds before eating.

And tip well.

If you're doing takeout in Los Angeles, look for new signage about special parking zones for to make pickup easier.

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WHERE CAN I FIND FREE FOOD / LOW-COST FOOD / FOOD ASSISTANCE?

There's a food bank locator.

And a locator for food pantries, soup kitchens, food shelves, and other food help.

Grab & Go meal sites are set up for students and families.

Some restaurants are operating as pop-up general stores and we have a neighborhood guide.

Emergency meals can be delivered to seniors 60+ who live in the city of L.A. Call (213) 263-5226 or go online and sign up.

And the state is reimbursing restaurants to deliver free meals to seniors. Apply online or call 211

WIC is allowing online applications for its special supplemental nutrition program.

And the author who wrote the book on SNAP cooking has advice about how to eat on $4 a day.

CalFresh EBT cards can now be used to buy food online at Amazon and Walmart. Apply online or call (877) 847-3663.

CalFresh P-EBT, coming soon, with extra food benefits for eligible children. Applications accepted in late May.

Here's a number to call to find lower-cost fresh food.

And there are more food resources available across the county.

If you know of something we should add to this list, share it with us at tips@laist.com.

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ARE FARMERS MARKETS ALLOWED TO OPERATE?

Farmers markets were initially deemed "essential," and allowed to stay open.

But, like other outdoor spaces, there were crowds and questions about safety.

So, operations were suspended in the city of Los Angeles, and any market that wished to reopen was required to submit a social distancing plan for approval.

The city is keeping a list of L.A. markets that were given permission to reopen.

Santa Monica has also instituted changes to its farmers markets. Check for updates about market operations there on the Santa Monica city website and @SMFMS on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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WHAT'S THE SAFEST WAY TO SHOP AT THE GROCERY STORE

1. Try to go at a less busy time. Generally, earlier is better, and weekdays seem to be less busy than weekends.

2. If you're a senior or in another high-risk group, take advantage of the "senior shopping hours" many stores have introduced.

3. Wear a mask.

4. Wear latex gloves if you have them, be careful about tearing, and avoid touching your face when they're on.

5. If you don't have gloves, use hand-sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. If you don't have either, use an plastic produce bag to touch certain items or produce.

6. Before you touch your cart, wipe it down with an antiseptic wipe.

7. While you're in the store, stay at least 6 feet away from other shoppers.

8. While you're in the store, touch as few things as possible.

Read our full food-related guide with sections on unpacking groceries, changing clothes, raw produce, and more.
CAN I HELP FEED EXHAUSTED HEALTHCARE WORKERS?

Yes.

A number of restaurants, organizations, and people across Southern California have crowdfunding campaigns to support meal deliveries to hospitals.

Some restaurants are also offering discounts or free delivery to hospital staff.

We have a starter list.

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SHOULD I STILL TRAVEL?

No. You should not travel right now.

But also, you're not allowed to travel right now if you live in L.A.

Mayor Garcetti's "Safer at Home, Stay at Home" order went into effect on March 19 at 11:59 p.m. prohibiting all travel, with some exceptions.

There's a city order.

And a county order.

And Gov. Newsom's similar, statewide order is also in effect.

All the orders require that you stay in your place of residence.

You are allowed to leave if your job, or the thing you need to do, is categorized as "essential." For example: picking up food is OK; planned vacations are not.

This is what "essential" means, according to the city, county, and state orders.

Or you can read our crib sheet: Here's What You Can And Can't Do Under The Stay At Home Order.

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ARE ALL EVENTS CANCELED IN CALIFORNIA?

Basically, yes. That's why we just struck through all this earlier guidance. And in a move that punctuates this point, and effectively cancels summer, there will be no 2020 Hollywood Bowl season.

Not all, but many (and counting).

Below is the official mandate from Gov. Gavin Newsom's office, and the recommendations from state health officials and Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, as of March 12 through the end of the month.

  • Events with 250 or more people should be canceled or postponed.
  • Smaller events should be canceled or postponed if the venue can't accommodate social distancing.
  • Avoid gatherings or places where you can't keep a 6-foot distance from other people.
  • Avoid gatherings or places where there will be 50 or more people.
  • Avoid gatherings or places where there will be 10 or more people if you are pregnant, immunocompromised or elderly.

L.A. County strongly discouraging gatherings of more than 50 people, during a press conference on March 16. Both the city and the county have enacted new closures and restrictions — some mandatory.

And remember, President Trump now says 10 is the maximum number of people you should spend time with in person.

The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 by "flattening the curve" and not overwhelming the medical infrastructure.

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IS NATURE CLOSED?

You are allowed to go outside, take a walk, and enjoy an open space. But some outdoor areas are off-limits because of crowding.

And even in nature, you are required to stay 6 feet away from people, and wear a mask if non-household members are around.

When "too many people" were packing beaches, trails and parks, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti closed sports and recreation at L.A.'s city parks and parking lots at city beaches. "That doesn't mean gather elsewhere," he tweeted. "This is serious. Stay home and save lives."

The county's Department of Parks and Recreations followed with an announcement that "trails and natural areas" would be closed until further notice.

Then the Santa Monica Stairs were closed. And Runyon Canyon was sealed off too.

L.A. County's next move was to fully shut down all public beaches, including bathrooms, piers, promenades, and bike paths; L.A. city shut down all trails, including Griffith Park.

After one crowded weekend, Garcetti closed the Silver Lake Meadow, too. And the Angeles National Forest shut down portions of the San Gabriel Mountains.

And yes, it was all still closed even on Easter.

But none of these restrictions deterred skaters from visiting Venice Beach. So now the skate park is filled with sand.

Guidance from California State Parks was to stay close to home, and "not the time for a road trip."

But not everyone took that message to heart.

When Newport Beach initally reopened it was visited by so many people — including many from out of the area — that the state shut down the beach (ALL the O.C. beaches) when local leaders did not.


REOPENING NATURE


Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and others were later approved to reopen in a limited capacity for "active recreation only."

On May 9, Los Angeles' city and county hiking trails reopened to the public.

So did the golf courses, with restrictions.

"If you're 65 and older," however, the mayor said, "you cannot go out to those places if you have pre-existing conditions."

Masks and physical distancing were still required.

Runyon Canyon remained closed.

Griffith Observatory remained closed.

Hikers and golfers were allowed to go solo, or with someone from their household.

Gatherings, even small ones, were still not permitted.

L.A. County's Parks & Rec director encouraged people to try less popular hikes to reduce crowding.

On May 13, Pasadena's Rose Bowl loop opened again to walkers, joggers and cyclists. Face coverings and distancing required.

Here is the state's guidance on what outdoor recreational activities are allowed. And here's more on the coronavirus response from the L.A. County Department Of Parks And Recreation and the L.A. City Department of Recreation and Parks.

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ARE COOLING CENTERS OPEN DURING THE PANDEMIC?

Yes. L.A. County has released a list of cooling centers where you can escape the heat — and remain physically distanced.

These spaces will likely fill up faster than usual because of the distancing rules, and the county advises calling first to make sure seating is available.

You can also call 211 for L.A. County information; 311 in the city of L.A.

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IS PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION STILL OPERATIONAL?

Public transit is still running across L.A., but most agencies have reduced service.

L.A. Metro made a first round of schedule changes in mid-March because of plummeting ridership. For schedule changes, check service advisories online and rider alerts on Twitter.

For safety, Metro moved to rear-door boarding for all its buses (riders who need wheelchair ramp access can still use the front door), and required the transparent barrier up front be closed as a layer of protection. At rail stations, custodial staff are disinfecting touch points. Also, riders must wear a mask.

And one small note for a small railway: Angels Flight has stopped carrying riders up and down Bunker Hill until further notice.

Elsewhere in municipal transit:

  • LADOT, which has waived fares on its bus routes, is requesting that passengers wear a face covering while riding. Rear-door boarding is in effect. DASH buses have limited passengers per bus: 30-foot buses will carry no more than 10 riders at a time; 35-foot buses will cap passengers at 12. The DASH Observatory/Los Feliz route is now a Los Feliz-only line. The on-demand shuttle service LAnow has been suspended. The electric car-sharing service Blue LA, has also been suspended. Check for updates on schedules and service changes.
  • Foothill Transit is also not collecting fares right now and rear-door boarding is in effect. Service is reduced.
  • The Antelope Valley Transit Authority has cut maximum occupancy and a "reduced Saturday Schedule" is in effect Monday through Sunday. Several routes have been canceled.
  • Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica halted service on a few of its lines and moved to rear-door boarding. Weekday service on most bus routes has also changed "until further notice," the agency said. Check for updates on schedules and service changes.
  • Culver CityBus waived fares for riders and rear-door boarding is in effect. Certain bus lines are running Saturday service timelines during the week.
  • Both Pasadena Transit's buses and its on-demand shuttle service for seniors and people with disabilities remain in service, and the city has waived fares.
  • Bus services in the cities of Glendale were operating as normal.
  • Burbank reduced service on all its bus lines. They've also moved to free fares and rear-door boarding.
    Santa Clarita Transit has reduced service across its system. Cancellation and schedule updates are available online.

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CAN I STILL RIDE AN ELECTRIC SCOOTER OR BIKE?

Lime pulled its scooters off the streets and suspended service across California.

Bird, Lyft, and Jump said they've increased cleaning and disinfecting of their respective scooters and e-bikes. They're also encouraging riders to clean scooters and e-bike handles with disinfecting wipes before and after riding.

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SHOULD I GET A GUN?

We've researched this question in a number of contexts, most recently while working on The Big One podcast.

We know people are buying guns, but we also know that most people aren't trained to use them, much less in high stress situations. And that can have disastrous consequences (even for people who are trained).

With a gun in the home, you're more likely to do something unjustifiable than to use it properly in self-defense. And while you're here imagining what you might need to defend against, keep in mind that people don't typically react to disasters like they do in the movies.

"We tend to come together as humans and work together and help each other," sociologist Joseph Trainor told us previously. During an earthquake, for example, it's much more likely you'd be rescued from a fallen building by a fellow victim than by an emergency response team, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva's take: "Buying guns is a bad idea." And "particularly, now that you have a lot of people home," he said during a news conference on March 16. "Cabin fever sets in. You've got a crowded environment. ... Weapons are not a good mix."

There might also be anxiety, depression, existential dread, or suicidal thoughts to navigate as the pandemic evolves and a possible global recession plays out.

Here's more on the case for not panic-buying a gun.

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HOW IS "SAFER AT HOME" BEING ENFORCED?

All non-essential businesses have been ordered to close until further notice. Not all have complied.

"This behavior is irresponsible and selfish," Garcetti said during a news briefing on March 24. "It may serve a few people for a moment, but it will put all of us at risk for a long time."

His message to non-compliant businesses: "This is your chance to step up and to shut it down, because if you don't, we will shut you down."

He announced an enforcement plan with escalating measures:

  • The "Safer at Home" Business Ambassadors Program was established, made up of city workers and volunteers from the mayor's Crisis Response Team.
  • Non-essential, non-compliant businesses will be visited by program team members and asked to voluntarily comply.
  • If that doesn't happen, the LAPD and City Attorney will be notified.
  • The City Attorney will also contact businesses about violations before moving to stronger enforcement.
  • Stronger enforcement could mean citations, and repeat offenders could face misdemeanor charges.
  • The city could also shut off water and power to those businesses.

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HOW DO I REPORT A NON-COMPLIANT BUSINESS, GATHERING, OR OTHER VIOLATION?

To report non-essential businesses that have not closed, and/or order violations at exempt businesses and construction sites (like: social distancing, hand washing, disinfecting, sharing items, etc.):

To report gatherings and/or other public health violations:

But what's the etiquette if you see a shopper without a mask or a stranger doesn't move out of the way when you're walking around the neighborhood? Here are some highlights from a discussion on AirTalk with Larry Mantle on KPCC 89.3.

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WHAT IF I CAN'T PAY RENT (OR MY MORTGAGE) BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS?

Residential eviction in California was banned until May 31, 2020. And the majority of L.A. County households are renters.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on March 27 that prohibits enforcement by law enforcement and courts.

If you can't pay all or some of your rent because of COVID-19, declare it in writing no more than seven days after rent is due, and save any related documentation about illness, termination, etc. Once lifted, repayment is due "in a timely manner."

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city was expanding its eviction moratorium as well, which covers both commercial and residential units. Tenants will now have a full year to pay back any rent they can't afford to pay during the current pandemic.

L.A. County also has a countywide eviction moratorium in effect prohibiting residential and commercial evictions for nonpayment of rent, late fees, and related costs due to a loss of business or household income caused by COVID-19. Supervisors narrowly approved a motion to extend those protections for residential tenants (but not big businesses) until August 31, 2020.

Garcetti has also issued a new emergency order to temporary halt rent increases in rent-stabilized units, and motions to provide rent relief and freezes were introduced in L.A. City Council.

However, it may not be enough without rent forgiveness. Some experts and advocates say people won't be able to save the money needed for back rent, and that could lead to future evictions and homelessness.

L.A. County Board of Supervisors also voted to create a rental assistance program. This was a separate action from a rent relief program that's was making its way through L.A. City Council.

One of the funds has $2.1 million for "families that are already struggling to pay their rent, and are living paycheck to paycheck," said Council President Nury Martinez. It's expected to help several hundred families. A report from the city's housing department has the details and criteria.

On May 7, there were a number of housing annoucements:

  • The mayor signed a law prohibiting landlords from using coercion, intimidation or fraud to take their renter's stimulus checks.
  • Tenants can sue their landlord if they violate any of the city's renter protections.
  • City Council President Nury Martinez said that any renters who cannot pay their rent during this time, can submit their account to the city in writing within seven days, to avoid eviction. Renters will then have 12 months to pay that rent back.
  • The city council voted to freeze rents on all RSO units until a year after the emergency "is lifted." She said that covers about 75% of the rental market in L.A.

Meanwhile, for people who own a home: some banks have agreed to 90-day mortgage waivers, and Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered property tax relief for both residences and businesses. Homeowners now have until next year to pay the taxes on their personal properties without incurring the 10% late fee. For businesses, the deadline was extended — but only until May 31.

See a video of our renters' rights and eviction Q&A with an attorney from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Here's a short list of critical things to know if you're a California renter right now:

  1. During this emergency, you cannot be evicted from your home for not having paid rent.
  2. Evictions are on hold until 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency, except those dealing with public health and safety
  3. If you cannot pay rent, you must notify your landlord in writing ASAP.
  4. Landlords can legally start eviction proceedings during this time, but the soonest a court might issue a summons would be 90 days after the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency.
  5. Landlords cannot change the locks or remove your property from your unit.
  6. Only the local sheriff's department has the authority to legally lock you out.
  7. You are legally responsible to repay all rent missed during the pandemic after the emergency is over.
  8. Depending on where you live you may have a grace period of up to one year to pay it back.
  9. Do not sign anything from your landlord without first consulting an attorney.

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CAN I GET HELP FOR MY SMALL BUSINESS?

There are some options.

The City of Los Angeles's Economic and Workforce Development Department (EWDD) announced low- to no-interest loans, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. The loans for qualifying businesses will be offered without interest for up to a year, or at 3-5% interest for up to five years.

The U.S. Small Business Administration was also offering low-interest disaster loans for small businesses in certain states, including California.

Another $349 billion in small business loans was included in the coronavirus stimulus package, but the Paycheck Protection Program ran out of money after 13 days. The SBA halted applications and started accepting them again on April 27, with second round funding for $320 billion.

If you need help figuring it all out, get in touch with L.A. CARES Corps. It's an L.A. county/city effort that was created to help small business owners apply for loans. Reach out online or call 833-238-4450 to speak with a loan counselor.

And here are some answers to commonly asked questions about getting government help.

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HOW DO I APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BECAUSE OF CORONAVIRUS?

An astonishing number of people have lost their jobs in this pandemic.

So many people, in fact, that it's now the worst unemployment since the Great Depression, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on May 14.

To apply for unemployment money, file a claim with EDD.

You can file because of cut hours, unpaid leave, termination, and other coronavirus-related reasons.

And with the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, there's expanded access for many people who didn't qualify for unemployment benefits before (like: gig workers, freelancers, and other self-employed people — but not if you have W-2s in the mix).

The program also includes some people who've exhausted their unemployment insurance.

Officials had a massive challenge trying to figure out how to process theses kinds of claims.

The PUA program opened on April 28, but applicants experienced widespread problems inputing their information, with the site reportedly crashing for many users on the first day of the program's rollout.

EDD has encouraged people to review their eligibility.

And, if you're not sure if you are an independent contractor/self-employed, you could file for regular unemployment and "we will determine your eligibility."

Below is a live event Q&A we held about applying for unemployment.

And here is the transcript from that event if you just can't even with a video right now.

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TELL ME ABOUT THE $2 TRILLION CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PACKAGE

It's the largest emergency relief package in U.S. history. It was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27.

Broadly, the plan includes:

  • Direct payments to Americans
  • An aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance
  • Billions in aid to large and small businesses
  • A new wave of significant funding for the healthcare industry

Some of the specifics:

Other things to know about those checks/direct deposits:

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WHERE CAN I GET FINANCIAL, MENTAL HEALTH, EMPLOYMENT AND OTHER KINDS OF HELP?

-LA County Child Protection Hotline: 1 (800) 540-4000
-Alliance for Children's Rights
-Court Appointed Special Advocates For Children (CASA of LA)
-Childhelp National Abuse Hotline: 1 (800) 422-4453

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WHAT'S THE NEW DEADLINE FOR TAXES?

You now have until July 15 to file your state and federal tax returns.

The IRS automatically extended the deadline.

No forms or fees required.

California has done the same.

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CAN MY JOB ASK ME TO STAY HOME AND NOT PAY ME?

If you've been asked to self-quarantine because you or a family member is sick, you should be entitled to use your sick time for at least part of it.

The federal Coronavirus Relief Act also requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide two weeks of paid, virus-related sick leave and family leave.

And in California, a statewide executive order adds two weeks of extra paid sick leave for essential food service workers (like grocery store employees, fast-food employees, and farmworkers) who have contracted or been exposed to the coronavirus — or been ordered to isolate or enter quarantine.

Another executive order extended workers comp benefits for people who've tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a physician. The order went into effect retroactively, starting March 19, and extends until July 6.

The California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has more answers related to workplace laws in the age of coronavirus.

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HOW LOCAL HOSPITALS ARE RESPONDING

Officials continue to urge people to stay at home, even when they're sick, unless they believe they need hospital-level care. Meanwhile,

On March 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California needed 1 billion gloves, 595 million masks, and two million shields for three months of protection for health care workers. A few days later has said we needed 50,000 additional hospital beds. The state also said it was looking to tap more potential medical staff to handle a possible surge in COVID-19 patients.

On April 8, it was announced that California will invest more than $1.4 billion into personal protective equipment (PPE) for both medical workers and frontline employees (including grocery store workers). The state has also secured contracts for 200 million masks from various providers.

But some health care workers are concerned for their safety and don't think enough is being done to protect them.

"Right now, there's a lack of supplies — specifically protective equipment, PPE's — so we're not feeling too safe because we still have to go home to our families," a health care worker at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center told us back in March.

AP reported on April 16 that 10 nurses were suspended from Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica after refusing to work with COVID-19 patients until N95 face masks were provided, according the National Nurses United. They were subsequently reinstated, AP reported, and the hospital said it would be supplying the masks to nurses working with infected patients.

Meanwhile, as the state continues to look for hand sanitizer, testing reagents, and other supplies to help in the fight against coronavirus, more than 2,300 individuals and companies filled out applications on the state's site for contributing supplies.

Here's a looks inside L.A.s new "COVID only" surge hospital.


Meanwhile, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has come up with a partial solution to the mask shortage: a decontamination center that can clean as many as 30,000 used N95s a day.
Staff at the county's four public hospitals and 27 clinics use 10,000 masks a day; LASD, which operates the jails, uses another 10,000 a day.

The process — involving dangerous chemicals and a dishwasher-sized machine on loan from UCLA — is called hydrogen peroxide vaporization, and it must adhere to CDC guidelines.

In mid-May, as L.A. transitioned into "Phase 2" of the recovery and slowly began to reopen, some hospitals started to resume scheduled surgeries.

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WILL HOSPITALS ACCEPT HOMEMADE MASKS?

It depends on the hospital.

There's a list of U.S. facilities accepting donations, created by students at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, that includes a number of SoCal hospitals. The list has specifics about quantity, patterns, delivery instructions, and more.

"Go ahead and do it," the chief medical officer at Keck Hospital of USC told us. "If we need to use it, we'll use it."

None of the hospital officials we spoke with said their personnel have started using homemade masks, but they worried that day will come.

Casual stitchers and sew shops around L.A. have been responding to the need.

Sew Helpful Brigade said they've distributed over 3,000 masks to workers at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Long Beach Medical Center, and UCLA. They needs 200 more volunteer sewers.

At Suay Sew Shop in Frogtown, the goal is to make and distribute 10,000 masks in a week — and then continue that pace.

A first-grade teacher we spoke to said that even if hospitals didn't want her homemade masks they could be used by pharmacy technicians, grocery employees, or delivery people.

The CDC has issued guidance on homemade masks, saying they can be used while treating patients as "a last resort," and ideally under a plastic face shield similar to what you'd see on a welder.

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I'M A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. HOW CAN I HELP?

L.A. Maryor Eric Garcetti announced an online portal.

If you're a medical professional and want to help with the response, fill out this form at with your training, skills, experience, and availability.

The state is also looking for health care staff to assist with the projected surge in coronavirus patients.

Gov. Gavin Newsom asked a wide variety of medical professionals to check on eligibility and register to help via a state portal.

The effort also includes health people who may have retired in the last five years or are currently working to get licensed or relicensed.

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THE SITUATION AT NURSING HOMES

State data released by the California Department of Public Health found coronavirus cases clustering in nursing homes.

An analysis by California Healthline found that many of the hardest hit nursing facilities had problems in the past including low staffing levels and health violations for not following infection control rules.

L.A. health officials were working with CDC staff to improve infection control practices at skilled nursing facilities. On April 22, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said approximately 40% of all deaths countywide were at institutional facilities.

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMT's) have been granted temporary permission to work in L.A. County nursing homes to help alleviate staffing shortfalls due to COVID-19 outbreaks. There are also volunteer opportunities.

A health order was announced by L.A. County officials requiring all nursing home staff and residents to be tested for the virus, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.

In the city of L.A., a number of new testing protocols have been put in place. At all skilled nursing facilities:

  • Notices must be hand-deliver to all residents and workers with the most recent date testing was offered, and the next date it will be offered.
  • Notices must be updated and circulated once a month, and at least two days prior to testing.
  • Notices must be publicly displayed at the main entrance of every facility.
  • Notices must be provided to anyone who asks — whether in the media, government or general public.

In Long Beach and Pasadena, health departments also have new rules for skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, including face masks for workers, and twice daily temperature checks (even if there's no confirmed case on-site).

Meanwhile, as health authorities struggle to contain outbreaks, even official patient advocates can't visit the homes in person.

L.A. County's Long Term Care Ombudsman Program a publicly funded entity that investigates complaints about the treatment of residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities — is barred from doing site visits under federal guidelines (there's an exception for end-of-life care.)

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HOW SCHOOLS ARE RESPONDING

All 80 public school districts in L.A. County are closed, including the second largest K-12 district in the United States, and the third largest district in California.

On March 13, Los Angeles Unified School District canceled all in-person classes, sending half a million kids home — effective Monday, March 16 — with coursework moved online.

LAUSD teachers received an email from Superintendent Austin Beutner saying the district would be closed for two weeks "while we evaluate the appropriate path forward."

The closures followed an earlier LAUSD emergency declaration, and efforts by schools across the region to increase cleaning efforts.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said on March 17 it's "unlikely" that schools will reopen before summer break. State officials have promised to suspend K-12 standardized testing this year.

On March 23, Beutner announced a revised timeline for LAUSD: schools will stay closed until at least May 1.

On March 31, California's top elected education looked deeper into the calendar. In a letter — which you can read on the news site EdSource — state superintendent Tony Thurmond urged local school district leaders to prepare to beef up their online course offerings through the end of the academic year.

A labor deal announced April 9 between LAUSD and its teachers union formalized how the district will operate during the shutdown. United Teachers Los Angeles shared full terms of the deal. Some specifics:

  • Teachers will provide instruction for, on average, 240 minutes (or, four hours) per day.
  • Teachers should set regular schedules and stick to them. The idea is to "avoid scheduling conflicts."
  • Teachers will hold three regular "office hour" sessions per week.
  • Students' grades can still go up, but they can't go down.
  • Live video instruction is not mandatory.

The agreement also covers issues of pay — including for substitute teachers — and evaluations.

On April 13, LAUSD announced it will not be reopening campuses this school year, and that remote learning will remain in place for summer school.

Superintendent Austin Beutner said school facilities will not reopen "until state and local health authorities tell us how it is safe and appropriate to do so," and that campuses would be closed until authorities set up a "robust system of testing and contact tracing."

We closed school facilities on March 13th so our schools did not become a petri dish and cause the virus to spread in the communities we serve. That has worked. We do not want to reverse that in a hasty return to schools.

For seniors who are a few credits shy of a diploma, the L.A. Community College District can help get you graduate. There are free online summer classes which can earn students credits to graduate — (and you get to keep them as college credits too). High school counselors can help you figure out which school/classes to choose. Here's information about how to sign up. LACCD classes start May 18.

By the end of this school year, LAUSD will have spent approximately $200 million on its pandemic response: $78 million for meals, perhaps $50 million for expanded summer school, $31 million to train teachers for distance learning, $23 million to close the digital divide, and $9 million for safety equipment.

As for how the grading will work, many districts have relaxed their policies:

  • LAUSD will not issue any "F's" this semester — and no overall grade will drop lower from where it stood in March.
  • Long Beach Unified elementary students will not receive report cards at all this semester. Middle- and high school students will receive pass-fail grades.
  • Corona-Norco Unified students grades' can only improve from their March level.
  • Santa Ana Unified will likely revisit its grading policies soon. While details are still in the works, Superintendent Jerry Almendarez told students in a video update: "We don't want you stressing out about your grades."
  • On the other hand, San Bernardino City Unified has not changed its grading policies or practices, spokeswoman Linda Bardere said in an email.

On April 27, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he's "considering" asking California's K-12 schools to begin the 2020-21 school year much earlier than normal — perhaps even as soon as late July — over concerns about "learning loss."

On May 4, Beutner said LAUSD leaders have "made no decisions" about whether the fall semester — still scheduled to begin on August 18 — will involve students in classrooms, online or both. He said it's not clear what the public health conditions will allow.

To address fears that the longer students remain at home the farther they'll fall behind academically, LAUSD will offer summer classes — all online — to any student who wishes to participate.

Beutner on May 11 delared that LAUSD had hit a milestone with "just about every" LAUSD "connected."

"We've confirmed they have a device that works, we've confirmed they have either internet access of their own or we've provided it at no cost to the student, and they've engaged in learning — meaning they've logged onto Schoology or some other platform being used for their school lessons."

And most California colleges — both public and private — have decided to accept "pass-fail" grades from classes disrupted by the pandemic.

The nine campuses in the Los Angeles Community College District, as well as Santa Monica College, have already decided to extend online learning into the fall semester, with some possible exceptions.

The 23-campus California State University system said it will conduct almost all of its classes online for the fall 2020 semester. Tuition was not being reduced.

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HOW DO I BORROW A SCHOOL COMPUTER OR IPAD FOR DISTANCE LEARNING?

LAUSD is spending $100 million on devices and hotspots so that no student misses out on online lessons. District leaders promised a laptop or tablet computer to every student who needs one to learn during the the shutdown.

Schools are contacting students to distribute the devices, but parents who want to make a request can contact the district's hotline: (213) 443-1300. The request will be routed to the proper school.

In another attempt to help students access online education, Google has committed to rolling out 100,000 free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the state.

There are also some low-cost home internet deals to help bridge the digital divide. Here are a few options:

  • AT&T: The company's Access program offers internet service at $5-10 per month for low-income families. Through April 30, the company is offering two months of Access service for free. They've also expanded eligibility to all households enrolled in Head Start or receiving free or reduced-price meals at school. Families can apply here or call: 855-220-5211 (in English) or 855-220-5225 (in Spanish). For all other households, AT&T has paused disconnections and late fees through May 13, and is also "temporarily" waiving overage fees on home internet data.
  • Charter Spectrum: Teachers and families with school-aged children who aren't already Spectrum customers can sign up for two free months of internet service. After those 60 days, a spokesman says the company will offer a "discounted promotional price" for another 10 months. Customers can cancel at any time. Spectrum also offers low-cost service for certain qualifying low-income households. Families can sign up here or call 844-488-8395.
  • Starting on March 20, existing T-Mobile customers on smartphone plans will receive an additional 20 gigabytes of data to use their phones as hotspots for the next 60 days. The company is also expanding data allowances for schools using their wireless plans.
  • Also, L.A. County launched an internet/WiFi locator tool to help students get online. Go to the website to access the map, or call 211 to get the information.

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HOW DO I ACCESS SERVICES THAT MY CHILD USED TO GET AT SCHOOL?

Superintendent Austin Beutner said common special education services like physical, occupational, and speech therapies were being providing "via teleconferencing." Here is the district's FAQ on providing support. Legally-protected learning plans are to be "implemented to the maximum extent possible," according to a labor deal announced April 9.

Many families also depend on schools for meals — we've been compiling a list of places that will provide food while schools are closed.

And LAUSD also opened a hotline so "students and families can call for help to manage fear, anxiety and other challenges related to COVID-19." Counselors and mental health professionals will answer hotline calls in English and Spanish: (213) 241-3840.

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HOW PRESCHOOLS AND DAY CARE PROVIDERS ARE RESPONDING

Some preschools and day care centers are still open. The state did not order them to close, instead, that decision was left up to individual providers and municipalities.

L.A. County said it would allow it if kids are cared for in small groups that stay separated.

Guidelines were issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for early care and education providers who continue to operate. They include:

  • No more "circle time"
  • Caring for kids in groups of 12 or less — no new kids can be added to an existing group, and mixing between different groups is prohibited
  • Keeping groups in different rooms at larger facilities
  • Adult providers must stay with the same group of children
  • Practicing social distancing by restricting visitors to facilities
  • Spacing out children's activities and focusing on individual activities like coloring and puzzles

Updated guidance from the Department of Social Services reduced the number of children in groups to 10, and the number is even lower if infants are part of the group.

The new rules are in effect until June 30.

Also, by executive order, there is now state-funded child care for essential workers —health care professionals, emergency responders, law enforcement, and grocery employees. Here's the outline for how providers should prioritize enrollment of new families.

The order also allows care providers to take advantage of new provisions of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to make sure kids get nutritious meals at little or no cost.

And, in addition to the stimulus package, local resources, and loan options, there is financial relief specifically available for child care providers.

L.A. and state officials have also expanded child care options for hospital workers.

"Child care is foundational to getting people back to work," Gov. Gavin Newsom said. "If they cannot get the kind of quality child care that they deserve they are less likely to get back to work and jump start this economy."

However, in the rush to create new ways for essential workers to access child care, questions about how they'll deliver services remain unanswered.

As of April 23, 66% of L.A. County's licensed preschools and child care centers had closed, according to the state's department of social service.

The governor announced the launch of a new child-care website meant to respond to that situation.

Type in your zip code and find local child-care facilities, along with more information about each one.

Essential worker parents who want a list of providers that fits their specific needs can get a free referral at this website, or by calling (888) 922-4453.

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ARE PARKING TICKETS STILL BEING ISSUED?

Street-sweeping tickets are not being issued in L.A. city residential areas. There's a hold on towing and citing vehicles with expired registration. Citations for driver's with expired licenses are on pause. And there's also an extension on all payment deadlines.

The changes will be in effect until at least May 15.

Here's the full list of "relaxed enforcement" categories from LADOT:

- Residential street sweeping
- Expired registration on a vehicle
- Peak/rush hour and gridlock zone parking restrictions
- No ticket/tow for abandoned vehicles and overnight parking
- Vehicles displaying recently expired permits within preferential parking districts will have a two-week grace period following the expiration to renew

In addition:

- No parking fine increases until after June 1
- Extended grace period for people dropping off or picking up
- Immediate extensions on all deadlines for payments until June 1
- LADOT will supply a temporary, print-at-home permit to residents within a preferential parking district who have renewed their permit but will not receive the new hangtag before their current permit expires

But parking enforcement is still happening in other cases. Per LADOT enforcement continues for:

- Metered parking
- Time limits within preferential parking districts for vehicles without a valid or recently-expired permit
- Posted time limits zones in residential and commercial areas
- Posted temporary no-parking for repaving, street repair, and other street maintenance
- No blocking emergency access (alleyways, fire hydrants, etc.)
- Colored curb zones
- Parking restrictions for City-owned lots

Meanwhile, new special parking zones first went up to make restaurant pickups easier. The program was later expanded to help with curbside pickup at other types of businesses.

Check for updates in the "parking enforcement" section of the Mayor's FAQs, or call 311, or check LADOT's coronavirus page.

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HAS TRASH COLLECTION CHANGED?

More people at home can mean more garbage piling up. So pick-ups are increasing in the city of L.A.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city will temporarily be providing additional garbage and recycling pick-ups at single-family homes and apartments serviced by the city's sanitation department.

If you have more trash than will fit in the bins, meet the sanitation trucks when they arrive (while keeping physical distancing and mask recommendations in mind). Refill your black and blue bins after the trucks eat the first round, and they'll take those too.

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WHAT ARE L.A. EMPLOYEES DOING TO FLATTEN THE CURVE?

City and county leaders announced new rules for themselves at a press conference on March 12. Protocols include:

  • No more than 50 visitors in city buildings at a time
  • Events and conferences held on city property must have fewer than 50 people.
  • Non-essential travel by city and Los Angeles Sheriff's Department employees is canceled
  • City Hall is closed to all non-city employees
  • Hand-washing and sanitizing facilities will be available at all city properties
  • 911 operators will screen callers about COVID-19 exposure to help reduce the risk to first responders
  • County Emergency Operations Center moved to Level 1 (which means it will be fully staffed with leaders and experts from every county department, as well as with outside experts)

On March 23, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez announced the cancelation of in-person council meetings until officials can figure out how to hold them safely.

According to Garcetti's stay-at-home order, government employees "working within the course and scope of their public service employment" are exempt. They are instructed to "follow any current or future directives issued by the Mayor."

All of the city's first responders, gang and crisis intervention workers, public health workers, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, law enforcement personnel, related contractors, and others employed with emergency services providers are also exempt.

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WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE COURTS?

L.A. Superior Court Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile announced on March 16 that the largest unified trial court system in the United States would be temporarily shut down.

When it was reopened a few days later it was for "essential or emergency matters."

All civil and criminal trials were suspended.

And jurors were not to report for service until April 16 (and no additional prospective jurors were to be summoned).

On April 15, that order was extended for 30 days.

Meanwhile, courtrooms have been pivoting to remote proceedings.

After facing criticism from county attorneys and judicial advocacy groups, L.A. County will implement remote video hearings in courtrooms across the region.

The county says 32 courtrooms in 17 courthouses in each of the court's 12 judicial districts will use the new technology.

Now, people charged with a felony or misdemeanor will have the option to be arraigned remotely using a conferencing service called WebEx.

And all essential juvenile dependency hearings are now using remote technology, and delinquency hearings are being held "to the extent permitted by law" in all juvenile courthouses.

There are also plans for a remote technology pilot for mental health conservatorship hearings at the Hollywood Courthouse.

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WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO L.A.'S BUDGET?

There are massive proposed cuts to the city budget.

The new fiscal year begins July 1, and the city is facing a staggering loss of tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Eric Garcetti has declared "a state of fiscal emergency as part of the 2020-2021 budget."

A revised estimate of city revenues forecasts a $231 million shortfall this fiscal year, and up to $598 million short next year.

Garcetti signaled that there will be furloughs for the city's civilian workforce, and he estimated city workers are expected to forego about 10% of their salaries. The city's hiring freeze is also continuing.

Read the full 511-page budget proposal, or take the easy way (you deserve it) and read our guide to the proposed cuts. Here are some of the areas included:

Based on an estimate from the city housing department, the $2.1 million could help several hundred families.

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HOW ARE WE HELPING OUR HOMELESS NEIGHBORS?

On March 18, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti activated an emergency power granted to him by the city charter in order to provide special assistance to the homeless population.

The power he cited is known as the Disaster Service Worker Program, a measure which gives the mayor the ability to redeploy any city employee to combat a crisis, including to house the homeless.

Garcetti laid out several steps the city will take to ramp up the opening of emergency shelters, including:

Garcetti said the city will follow the social distancing guidelines required by public health officials, and not try to house more people in the shelters than they can contain.

On March 22, the CDC weighed in on the practice of clearing of homeless encampments, or "sweeps." Its guidance is: don't — unless individual housing units can be provided: "Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread."

On March 23, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that millions in emergency grants would be distributed to cities and counties for hotels to house the homeless.

On April 8, L.A. County officials announced an effort to shelter thousands of homeless people in up to 15,000 hotel rooms so they'll have a safe place to isolate during the pandemic.

"They are not sick when they go in. These are for people who are not experiencing symptoms, giving a place to shelter so they don't contract anything," said Heidi Marston, the interim director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

As of April 17, only 575 of the 2,377 rooms they've secured so far have been occupied.

The city also launching its first trailer program, which will be used to house homeless Angelenos who are high-risk and asymptomatic (over 65 and/or have chronic medical conditions). The trailers were given to the city by the state. The goal is to have 300 trailers city-wide.

And, despite the city's financial distress, Garcetti said spending on homelessness by the City of Los Angeles will remain steady. The budget line is projected to reach just shy of $430 million in the next fiscal year.

On May 4, Garcetti said the city has opened 24 temporary shelters at recreation centers, which are currently housing 900 people. They're at 87% capacity, and anyone who needs a bed should call 211, he said. He said the numer of hotel rooms secured so far across the county: 2,711.

If you are experiencing homelessness and don't have a permanent mailing address to receive federal stimulus money (Economic Impact Payment), use a DPSS district office location as your mailing address by calling the Customer Service Center at 1-866-613-3777.

As of May 11, there were 234 confirmed COVID-19 cases among L.A. County's homeless residents — 131 of whom were sheltered. Health officials were investigating 23 shelter sites with confirmed cases.

And, in a landmark ruling that goes into effect on May 22, L.A. City and County must move homeless residents away from freeways and into shelters or alternative sites. The court order bans encampments along and under L.A.'s freeways. There are explicit directions for the implementation:

  • People residing in freeway-adjacent spaces must be given advanced warning before the encampment is cleared.
  • Alternative shelter housing must be made available to anyone forced to relocate.
  • Shelter space must also be provided for personal belongings.
  • Shelter spaces must adhere to social distancing and have adequate hygiene facilities.

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AND A LOT OF OTHER QUESTIONS, ANSWERED

Do I Need To Change My Clothes When I Get Home From The Grocery Store?

I Don't Have Insurance. Can I Still Get Tested For Coronavirus?

Is The Water Supply Safe?

Do I Have To File A Tax Return To Get A Stimulus Check?

How Effective Are DIY Cheek Swabs?

Can I Still Go To The Dentist?

Can I Still Go To The DMV?

What If A Big Earthquake Hit California Right Now?

Should I Put A Face Mask On My Infant / Baby / Toddler / Child?

How Do I Borrow A Computer Or Tablet For My LAUSD Student?

What If I Need To Go To The ER For Something Else?

Will I Get Paid Sick Time If Coronavirus Puts Me Out Of A Job?

Am I Doing Social Distancing Right?

Are Offices And Workplaces Going To Be The Same After This?

Yes, Cannabis Shops Stay Open

Should I Take My Child To Get Routine Vaccinations?

Are Restaurants Allowed To Sell Provision Boxes And Groceries?

I Can Sew Homemade Masks. Will Hospitals Use Them?

Will My Child's Day Care Center Or Preschool Close?

What Does Coronavirus Do To Your Cells?

How Would LA's Funeral Industry Handle Mass Casulties?

What Do I Need To Buy To Prep For Coronavirus?

Why Aren't There Enough Tests?

Can I Get Coronavirus From My Faucet Or Shower?

Can The Coronavirus Be Transmitted On Paper, Coins, Or Mail?

What Do I Do If I Can't Find Any Hand Sanitizer?

How Much More Cautious Should I Be About Coronavirus If I Have An Underlying Condition?

Is It Safe To Take LA Metro In The Age Of Coronavirus?

What's The Cost Of A Coronavirus Test If I Have Medi-Cal?

So, When Is Coachella Now?

How Should I Talk To Little Kids About Coronavirus?

How Are Local Colleges Handling Online Classes Because Of Coronavirus?

If I'm An Asymptomatic Coronavirus Carrier, How Long Will I Be Contagious?

What To Know About California's 'Lockdown' Of Seniors And The Chronically Ill

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WHAT ELSE? SEND US MORE OF YOUR QUESTIONS.

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Edited and skippered by Lisa Brenner. With contributions from Robert Garrova, Paul Glickman, Lisa Brenner, Megan Erwin, Brian Frank, Megan Garvey, Kyle Stokes, Adriene Hill, Mike Roe, Matt Tinoco, Stephanie Ritoper, Elly Yu, Libby Denkmann, Elina Shatkin, Ryan Fonseca, Jackie Fortier, Jacob Margolis, Josie Huang, Jessica Ogilvie, Emily Guerin, Stephan A. Slater, Fiona Chandra, Caitlin Hernandez, Carla Javier, Nick Roman, Emily Elena Dugdale, Brianna Lee, Frank Stoltz, Aaron Mendelson, and the entire KPCC/LAist newsroom.

This story has been updated dozens of times as news continues to break on this national emergency. It was originally published on January 28, 2020.

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