LA traffic

Coronavirus: Traffic Sees Boost as Businesses Reopen for Pickup

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Friday, May 8, 2020

“We have to behave as if anyone could be infected with COVID-19.”

As some businesses reopen today for curbside pickup, L.A. County COVID-19 cases reach 30,200, with 1,420 fatalities.

“We do need to remember the new normal,” said Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s public health director. “When we’re out and about more, we have to behave as if anyone could be infected with COVID-19, and we also could be infected.” — L.A. Times

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department says that 290 inmates and 101 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Currently, there are 4,073 inmates in quarantine. — CBS 2

USNS Mercy, the naval ship sent to Los Angeles to function as a “relief valve” for local hospitals had stopped taking new cases after receiving just 77 patients. — Business Insider

As businesses prepare to reopen, traffic is predictably seeing an uptick, at 54% of pre-pandemic levels, up 11% from last month. — L.A. Times

On a lighter note, resident hero Danny Trejo gave away meals from his restaurant, Trejo’s Tacos, to feed those who need it in Koreatown. — ABC 7

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Souplantation may have served its last bowl of chowder.

The sad numbers as of this afternoon:
Los Angeles County: 29,427 confirmed cases, 1,418 deaths
Orange County: 3,092 cases, 66 deaths
Riverside County: 4,672 confirmed cases, 186 deaths
San Bernardino County: 2,562 cases, 108 deaths
Ventura County: 608 cases, 19 deaths

L.A. Controller Ron Galperin released a map of food banks, pantries and emergency food distribution centers where Californians can pick up free food. — CBS Los Angeles

And just like that, they figured out how to raise gas prices — even before things truly reopen. Since Feb. 26, the average price of gas in L.A. County had decreased or remained the same for 69 days straight, before finally increasing for the first time Wednesday.CBS Los Angeles

Three days after announcing a number of budget cuts, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department urged residents to call the county’s board of supervisors to voice concerns about the impact on communities. In a series of tweets this morning, the department outlined proposed closures and cuts for the fiscal year 2020 to 2021. — KTLA

California will have a budget shortfall of $54.3 billion because of the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, quite a reversal for a state that had a $21 billion surplus a year ago. — AP

The rumors appear to be true. Souplantation, the sort-of-healthy buffet with the problematic name is no longer? “I have worked at Garden Fresh Restaurants (Corporate office to Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes) since my last semester in college,” wrote Garden Fresh Restaurants Marketing Project Manager Megan Herman on her Facebook page. “I started as an intern and worked my way up to marketing project manager. I honestly thought I was going to retire there, but due to the recent COVID 19 pandemic we have exhausted all options to remain a viable company.” — SanDiegoville

Shakespeare lived his entire life in the shadow of the bubonic plague. As a shareholder and its principal playwright, he had to grapple throughout his career with repeated, economically devastating closings. There were particularly severe outbreaks of plague in 1582, 1592-93, 1603-04, 1606 and 1608-09. Here are the times he mentioned it. — The New Yorker

Hello Bello, the family brand founded by actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, will again host a diaper drive, all to help hundreds of local families. Last month, Hello Bello doled out over 50K diapers to those who stopped by, as well as other hygiene necessities and food. The next diaper drive is scheduled for 8 a.m. tomorrow, May 8, at St. Anne’s on 155 N. Occidental Boulevard. — NBC Los Angeles

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with the L.A., San Francisco and San Diego city attorneys, filed a lawsuit against Uber and Lyft. Their complaint accuses the companies of misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors, not employees, in violation of the state’s famous gig economy law, Assembly Bill 5. “Californians who drive for Uber and Lyft lack basic worker protections — from paid sick leave to the right to overtime pay,” Becerra said in a statement. “Sometimes it takes a pandemic to shake us into realizing what that really means and who suffers the consequences.” — Reason

Lyft joins Uber in requiring drivers and riders to wear face masks. Lyft said it’s been distributing face coverings to drivers in select cities across the country. But drivers say that sometimes the items are in short supply. Drivers are limited to one mask per week and supplies are available on a first-come, first-served basis. — CNET

The DMV is set to reopen 25 of its field offices throughout California starting tomorrow following statewide closures. People will be asked to wait outside the building until they get a text to come inside. And because entry into the building will be metered, officials said customers may experience extended wait times. “Californians who do not have an urgent need to go to a DMV field office should delay their visit,” DMV officials said. — KTLA

Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen continued to diss traditional TV during a conference call today. While viewership during the past two months has surged across the board due to COVID-19 shutdowns, he expects that most of the increase has gone toward ad-free streaming services. “It’s human nature. They’re going to Disney+ or Netflix or Amazon because there’s not commercials and because you can binge-watch something or you can watch whenever you want to.” — Deadline

Right now, thousands would be packing into the many area theme parks. Alas, we are all reading instead of riding. Enter Mike Roe who has put together 17 virtual theme park ride videos to either remind you of what you’re missing or help you fantasize about what life will be like One Day when you won’t feel weird hugging a stranger in a fuzzy cartoon outfit after paying $65 for parking. — LAist

Here is a great list of where masks are currently required, as well as proposals that would dramatically increase face-covering requirements to curb the spread of the coronavirus. — L.A. Times

Speaking of lists, here’s a giant collection of all the livestreaming concerts and virtual performances you can enjoy right there in your home. — Billboard

Occidental College has closed the campus to visitors after too many people failed to follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks, college officials said. — Eastsider L.A.

The state’s influential restaurant lobbying group, the California Restaurant Association, published reopening recommendations for the foodservice industry last night. The plan outlines safeguards which include taking employee temperatures, reduced dining capacity and installing plastic walls to separate tables.EaterLA

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The first round of businesses to reopen in L.A. County will offer curbside pickup starting Friday.

L.A. County officials reported 851 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to 28,644 cases. L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 55 new deaths of COVID-19 patients, bringing that grim tally to 1,367.LAist

Florists, car dealers, toy stores, music shops, book emporiums, clothing boutiques and sporting goods retailers will be allowed to open starting Friday for curbside pickup only. In-store shopping will not be permitted. Recreational amenities including golf courses and trails will also reopen, according to County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. — L.A. Times

You can’t spell beats without eats. Compton residents will receive two free meals a day via a program funded by Dr. Dre and legendary producer Jimmy Iovine starting today through June 16. Locals can expect meals like Trap Kitchen Curry Chicken, Turkey Taco Bowl and the Chicken Tinga Bowl, among others. — FOX Los Angeles

TSA officials stockpiled 1.3 million N95 masks they knew they didn’t need even after two agency officials asked to donate them. Airport traffic fell 95%, yet the masks have sat unused as hospitals searched desperately for protective equipment. “We don’t need them. People who are in an infectious environment need them. Nobody is flying,” said Charles Kielkopf, a TSA attorney. “You don’t take things for yourself. It’s the wrong thing to do.” — ProPublica

Cargo volume at the Port of Los Angeles is down 15.5%, as the pandemic upends economies around the globe, Gene Seroka, executive director of the busiest U.S. seaport, said on a webcast today. — Reuters

Masks, smaller classes and no hugs: What child care looks like right now. — LAist

How frustrating is it to reach a human on the phone to answer questions regarding unemployment claims at California’s Employment Development Department? “It got to a point where I was calling, no joke, two to three thousand times a day. Using two phones, even utilizing my children and putting them on one phone and having them hit redial … it was just so exhausting,” said Rachel Raasch, who finally reached someone on the EDD’s new phone line, but they didn’t know the answers to her questions. — CBS Los Angeles

Meanwhile, as millions of Americans continue to wait for their stimulus check, dead people are getting checks and no one knows what to do about it. — ABC 7

USC is facing a lawsuit over claims the school is profiting off the pandemic. Some argue that the quality of online classes is worth less than in-person lessons, and therefore, the South L.A. university should refund spring and summer session fees despite shifting to online learning. The school has refused any refund requests. “Led by its committed and dedicated faculty, USC pivoted immediately to deliver quality instruction in an online format when the entire world was impacted by COVID-19,” read a statement from USC. — NBC Los Angeles

Did you know: The L.A. Times has an excellent Beach Tracker that tells you what beaches are open and which are closed as well as the status of the parking lots, piers, bike paths and walking paths. — L.A. Times

Enhancing your respiratory health doesn’t prevent you from getting infected, according to Dr. Robert Eitches, an allergist and immunologist at Cedars-Sinai. But it does have benefits that may reduce the severity of the illness if you are infected. — CNN

A University of Pittsburgh professor on the verge of making “very significant findings” researching COVID-19 was killed in an apparent murder-suicide. — CNN

The California Supreme Court denied a bid to block the state’s plan to give money to immigrants living in the country illegally who are hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. It was the second time in two days that judges refused to stop Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $75-million plan to aid an estimated 150,000 unemployed adults who were left out of the stimulus package approved by Congress because of their immigration status. — AP

Peloton’s revenue surged 66% during the third quarter, as more people purchased their fitness equipment and tuned into live classes to try to break a sweat while stuck at home. — CNBC

A woman who worked with a Westside hypnotherapist to deal with her pandemic-induced anxiety said, “the experience was far more vivid, more surreal and more puzzling than I could have ever imagined, and the process of trying to figure it out took me deep into science, myth and meaning.” — Vice

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Hundreds of thousands of California jobs have been jeopardized as travel and tourism are on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

California recorded its first week-over-week decline in reported coronavirus deaths, a glimmer of progress as Gov. Gavin Newsom prepares to reopen some businesses this week. — L.A. Times

Speaking of governors reopening things, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was recorded saying that if businesses open too quickly, the spread COVID-19 will surely increase. In a leaked phone call with members of the state legislature, he said, “Listen, the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening — whether you want to call it a reopening of businesses or of just a reopening of society — in the aftermath of something like this, it actually will lead to an increase and spread. It’s almost ipso facto.” — Daily Beast

The Golden State will lose an estimated $72 billion in tourism spending in 2020. This will negatively impact 613,000 jobs in California by the end of May, more than half the tourism industry’s workforce. — CBS Los Angeles

After protests and lawsuits, Gov. Newsom announced today that Huntington Beach, Dana Point and Seal Beach are set to reopen. — Deadline

Where’s the beef? Around 18% of Wendy’s 5,500 U.S. restaurants are not serving any hamburgers or other meat-based items, according to an analysis of online menus at every location conducted by financial firm Stephens. Wendy’s is “more exposed” to the shortage sparked by the coronavirus pandemic because of its reliance on fresh beef compared with its competitors. — CNN

Observing Cinco de Mayo from home? Consider a taco kit. There are certain types of tacos that work especially well for take-home kits, like birria, carnitas and barbacoa, where the meat is wrapped in foil, or butcher paper, with tortillas and condiments on the side. Some taco spots will even fill your own pot with stewed meats to take home. Families might even employ their own ingredients at home, like homemade salsas, tortillas and guacamole. — L.A. Taco

Boys & Girls Clubs of L.A. Harbor offer 5,000 meals a day during coronavirus pandemic. — Daily Breeze

The team behind The Troubadour, the 500-capacity club that helped launch the careers of David Bowie, The Eagles and Elton John, worry that the cub may not survive this lockdown. Since music clubs will be the last to reopen, and it is speculated that limited attendance will be allowed once the rock returns, the West Hollywood staple has launched a GoFundMe to help it ride out the storm. — L.A. Times

Could L.A.’s homeless soon be living at the Ritz-Carlton? “I don’t think fancy hotels should be exempt from Project Roomkey,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin about the joint effort to temporarily house some of the most vulnerable homeless people in hotels and motels. “As we look to hotels to step up, those that have benefited from public investment and public largess — those are the first that we should be looking towards.” — ABC 7

Airbnb has a message for people looking to rage in rented L.A. homes: Read the room. “We want to be very clear — not only will we ban guests who attempt to throw an unauthorized party in a Los Angeles area Airbnb listing, we will be cooperating with LAPD and other law enforcement authorities in any investigations relating to parties and violations of public health mandates, consistent with our terms of service,” the company said. — Santa Monica Patch

Ask and ye shall receive, Sanden. An L.A.-based team behind tours for artists like Skrillex has designed a suit that makes it possible for clubgoers to safely dance, vape, mosh and even have sex. Yes, vape! The “Micrashell” features an air-tight face shield design and intricate filtration system with nightlife specific add-ons, such as high-tech speakers, microphones and elements that allow wearers to part-tay without exposing themselves to the Rona. There’s also a wireless voice communication system with user-controlled options for privacy so you can chat with that bae without that other one hearing you. — Billboard

Lakers star LeBron James announced today that former President Barack Obama will take part in his virtual graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. Because of the pandemic, high school seniors found themselves without a place to rock their caps and gowns. Good ole #23 is teaming up with POTUS #44 to give the kids the recognition they deserve in the special “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020,” that will air on May 16 at 5 p.m. on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC and on many social media and streaming platforms. — Sports Illustrated

The University of California could reopen one-third to one-half of dorm rooms this fall in order to maintain safe distances among students, raising questions about what would happen to others without campus housing. The UC system was hit with $558 million in revenue losses and added expenses to its 10 campuses and five medical centers in March alone. Those costs are projected to rise to about $2.5 billion by the end of the fiscal year which ends June 30. — KTLA

What do you do if a business furloughs everyone you need to speak with? Keep trying. — L.A. Times

Great. Just great. Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious than the versions that spread in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. — NBC Los Angeles

From “Golden Girls” to “Property Brothers,” what are Hollywood stars binging during the coronavirus lockdown? — Variety

Monday, May 4, 2020

California becomes the first state to borrow from the federal government to cover unemployment claims.

Today marks the day more than 25,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in L.A. County. With the announcement of 21 additional casualties, the grim total reaches 1,229 deaths countywide. — FOX Los Angeles

A Trump administration internal document leaked to the NY Times predicts that the daily death toll will reach 3,000 a day and new cases will top 200,000 a day. The White House denies everything. “This is not a White House document, nor has it been presented to the coronavirus task force or gone through interagency vetting,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. “This data is not reflective of any of the modeling done by the task force or data that the task force has analyzed.” — NY Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a four-phase reopening plan for beaches in San Clemente and Laguna Beach. — FOX Los Angeles

Unemployment benefits will be reduced after July 31. The average worker received about $378 a week in state unemployment benefits prior to the CARES Act. Now that weekly total is up to $978 a week — a 159% increase. — NBC Los Angeles

California becomes the first state to borrow from the federal government so it can pay unemployment claims. The Golden State borrowed $348 million in federal funds after receiving approval to tap up to $10 billion for this purpose through the end of July. — MarketWatch

Almost all of the major airlines — including JetBlue, American, Delta, United, Southwest and others — now require passengers cover their noses and mouths with face coverings. Some airlines are also checking passengers’ temperatures before they board, and all are thoroughly disinfecting seats and common areas before each flight. Flight attendant unions essentially demanded the new rule for their members’ safety. — CBS Los Angeles

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians have temporary permission to work in L.A. County nursing homes to help alleviate staffing shortfalls due to COVID-19 outbreaks. — LAist

Masks and emasculation: why some men refuse to take safety precautions. For leaders like President Donald Trump, the need to exhibit masculine bravado is so deeply baked into their character that they really can’t help themselves. In 2017, when Trump stared at the sun, he only stood to harm himself. During the current coronavirus crisis, his need to defy experts and downplay danger to prove that he’s a tough guy harms us all. — Scientific American

Nomads Canteen in San Clemente was packed with non-mask-wearing bar patrons on Saturday, becoming the first O.C. beach restaurant to defy the stay at home order. — EaterLA

Metro drivers fear for their safety. As a bus driver watched, a passenger hacked a cough repeatedly into his hands and wiped his palms on the seat. “I was disgusted and uneasy,” said the driver. “Like, come on, man. What if someone sat there and they didn’t know? That’s how the virus spreads.” — L.A. Times

Booze sales have increased since the pandemic began. This includes beer, a beverage that was once falling out of favor with Americans who shifted to low-calorie drinks, including spiked seltzer and spirits. People are still buying a lot of White Claw and wine, but home-grown budget beer brands have also spiked in sales over the past two months. In particular, Busch Light sales have increased by 44%. — ABC 7

The LAUSD will start the school year on Aug. 18. Does that mean schools will reopen then or will students take classes online? “We’ve made no decisions about the opening of school facilities by that date and will not until the science and health authorities tell us it is safe and appropriate to do so,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said during a news conference. — KTLA

With businesses shuttered and millions out of work, one private security firm is looking to hire more than 1,000 security professionals over the next two months. — Hollywood Patch

In order to capitalize on the fact that people are hunkering down, buying groceries and not traveling, Marriott is now offering six loyalty points per dollar spent on grocery purchases using its American Express and Chase credit cards through July 31. — Marketplace

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