Universal CityWalk near AMC's flaship multiplex. Photo by Tony Pierce

Coronavirus: WHO Says We Have Entered “Dangerous Phase”

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AMC quickly reverses controversial policy. Now requires masks in the theaters.

 Los Angeles County today reported 1,414 new coronavirus cases and 38 additional deaths, bringing the totals to 79,609 cases and 3,063 deaths. — Fox Los Angeles

In the previous 10 days, these have been the new COVID-19 reported cases in L.A.:

6/18: 1,051
6/17: 2,126
6/16: 1,337
6/15: 1,071
6/14: 1,003
6/13: 1,568
6/12: 1,633
6/11: 1,857
6/10: 1,275
6/9: 1,329

Congratulations skeptics and mask-protesters: the pandemic has entered a “new and dangerous phase” announced the World Health Organization today as the record high infections partake in a deadly dance of businesses and cities reopening. Half of those spikes are happening in the Americas. The number of new cases reported Thursday “were the most in a single day so far” at 150,000, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. — CNBC

Here’s a fun game, as California reopens, experts rate the activities locals will return doing: from deadliest to safest. — ABC Los Angeles

After weathering a hurricane of WTFs, AMC’s CEO reverses his ill-advised policy of not requiring masks at the chain’s theaters.AP

Maybe he saw our poll?

American Airlines has banned a man who was kicked off a plane for refusing to wear a mask. “We are committed to protecting the safety and well-being of our customers and team members, which is why we strengthened enforcement of our policy for required face coverings on board,” said airline spokesman Ross Feinstein. “We expect customers who choose to fly with us to comply with these policies, and if necessary, we will deny future travel for customers who refuse to do so.” — NBC Los Angeles

And in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies say five players have tested positive for COVID-19 this week at the team’s spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida. The team also said on Friday that three staff members at the camp have tested positive. — AP

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Californians, even those in Orange County, must now wear face coverings while in public or in high-risk settings. This means masks must be worn while shopping, taking public transit or seeking medical care. “Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered — putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing.” — L.A. Times

The governor’s decree came a day after another in a long line of grim milestones for the Golden State. Yesterday, California reported 4,291 new COVID-19 cases, a new single-day record. It was the first time the state passed 4,000 cases since the pandemic began. — L.A. Times

With more than 2,000 inmates currently infected with COVID-19, the state prison system will soon begin releasing some of them early to stop the spread. Today? Tomorrow? Nope. In about two weeks, prisoners serving time for nonviolent crimes who have six months or less left on their sentence will be the first to leave but only if they can prove they have a place to live outside of the pokey. LAist

The city and county of L.A. have agreed to provide more than 6,000 new beds over 18 months for homeless people and senior citizens. In addition to the sensitive issue of homeless people living near freeways, the new agreement includes those 65 or older or who have underlying health conditions that put them at high risk of being hospitalized or dying from the coronavirus. AP

Tenants who are having a hard time paying their rent due to the pandemic could have 10 years to make it up to their landlords thanks to a bill being proposed in the California Senate. The proposal, backed by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg, would send immediate relief to renters who’ve faced job loss or wage cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sacramento Bee

Depending on which part of L.A. you live in, there are what sounds like bombs bursting every night thanks to amateur fireworks enthusiasts. But due to the pandemic, many of the professional fireworks shows scheduled for the Fourth of July are being canceled. Here are a few of those:

  • Americafest in Pasadena
  • Grand Park + Music Center in downtown L.A.
  • Marina Del Rey’s Fourth of July fireworks show
  • Hollywood Bowl’s three-night Fireworks Spectacular with the Beach Boys
  • KABOOM! 2020 at the Fairplex in Pomona
  • The Crescenta Valley High School Fireworks show in La Crescenta
  • July 4 at Mt. Rubidoux and La Sierra Park in Riverside
  • Duarte’s Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks Spectacular
  • Newport Beach’s annual fireworks display

CBS Los Angeles

But don’t be too disappointed. As this tweet from 2018 shows, L.A. is in no dire need for an official way to celebrate our nation’s independence:

Four Orange County restaurants closed yesterday due to the coronavirus: HQ Gastropub in Huntington Beach, The Boiling Crab near South Coast Plaza in Santa Ana, as well as Javier’s and A Restaurant in Newport Beach. CBS Los Angeles

About 1.5 million newly laid-off workers applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week, a surprisingly high number as the economy reopens and employers begin to bring some people back to work. “It does seem like there are many new people filing for unemployment, and this is worrisome when we are three months into the crisis and you are starting to see re-openings across the nation,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. AP

How are two luxury Beverly Hills hotels keeping their rooms virus-free? Robots, naturally. But don’t worry, neither the Waldorf-Astoria nor the Beverly Hilton are taking jobs away from humans to accomplish this important feat. “Our housekeeping team still goes into the room and does the normal cleaning and sanitization progress … and the robot comes in after. The robot is actually the last person to leave the room.” Fox Los Angeles

What will life be like for an NBA player in “The Bubble” at Disney? Here’s a glimpse: “This is not your average game, and not because there are no fans. The coronavirus-related precautions that have altered life off the court have also led to changed habits on it. Wiping the ball with your jersey? Prohibited. Licking your fingers for a better grip, as shooters are known to do? That’s a no-no.” L.A. Times

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

L.A. Reports Record 2,129 New Cases

The Boss tells POTUS to ‘put on a %@#&ing mask.’

We’ve reached a dark milestone. L.A. County today reported 2,129 new coronavirus cases and 34 additional deaths, bringing the totals to 77,189 cases and 2,991 deaths. This is the highest number of new daily cases the county has reported since the pandemic began. — Fox Los Angeles

Dr. Christina Ghaly, who oversees the county’s Department of Health Services, fact-checked some COVID-19 myths in today’s press conference. — LAist

A sister and brother from Koreatown are in desperate need of a lung transplant for their mother after their father and grandmother died from the coronavirus. “We never ate out. We didn’t touch anything,” said Hannah Kim, a student at Cal State L.A. “We always sanitized everything, but my whole family got it. It’s serious. This virus is no joke.” — ABC Los Angeles

Riverside County, which rescinded its mandatory mask mandate, is experiencing a rapid rise in hospitalizations due to a spike in COVID-19 patients. — City News Service

Dr. Anthony Fauci says MLB should avoid playing games in October, which is typically when the World Series is held. To be fair, it doesn’t seem like he’s crazy about baseball games taking place during summer either. “Even in warm weather, like in Arizona and California, we’re starting to see resurgences as we open up,” Fauci said. “But I think the chances of there being less of an issue in the end of July and all of August and September are much, much better than if you go into October.” — L.A. Times

If Disneyland reopens next month, expect to see lots of handwashing stations, reduced capacity and cast members in masks. — Disneyland

Also in Orange County: The City of Buena Park will offer financing to help pay rent for families affected by the pandemic. Eligible households will receive emergency rental assistance of up to $1,000 per month. To qualify for financial aid, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Current household income is equal to or less than 60% of median income in Orange County.
  • Family income or wages were reduced due to COVID-19.
  • Being unemployed due to COVID-19 does not automatically qualify you for assistance. Assistance is based on the total income of all household members. — NBC Los Angeles

The Pacific Dining Car in Santa Monica is closing and auctioning off its equipment and decor. The classic steakhouse, a throwback to a bygone era, is another victim of the pandemic. Last year, we featured one of Pacific Dining Car’s iconic bartenders. — Eater LA

Hundreds of flights in and out of Beijing were canceled today as authorities ordered a “soft lockdown” following an uptick of coronavirus cases in the Chinese capital. — CNN Wire

Last month, as millions of Americans lost their jobs or experienced pay cuts, video game sales reached $977 million, up 52% from a year earlier. Sales have increased by 18% so far this year. And for once, experts are saying that’s good. — L.A. Times

Beware electric hand dryers that you see in public restrooms, they could help spread disease. — Wired

Bruce Springsteen to Donald Trump: “With all respect, sir, show some consideration and care for your countrymen and your country. Put on a fucking mask.” — Stereogum

Four hundred artists and 80 arts organizations received $2.7 million in grants as a part of the Getty’s COVID-19 relief effort to support visual arts in the Los Angeles region. — Getty

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Gov. Gavin Newsom Reminds California to ?Be Smart’

Emmy host says of the September awards broadcast: “I don’t know where we will do this or how we will do this or even why we are doing this.”

County health officials announced 1,337 new cases of the coronavirus and 33 new deaths. This brings the totals to 75,084 positive cases, with 2,959 deaths. — LAist

More than 8 million people have contracted the coronavirus around the globe. — Fox Los Angeles

Feeling bummed, depressed, lonely? Well, you’re not alone. Americans, thanks to the coronavirus and other factors, are the unhappiest they’ve been in 50 years.AP

Demographic statistics have been released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among the findings, coronavirus cases with known race and ethnicity are as follows: 33% were Hispanic, 22% were black and 1.3% were American Indian or Alaska Native. The report notes that “these findings suggest that persons in these groups, who account for 18%, 13%, and 0.7% of the U.S. population, respectively, are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.” — CNN

There are a lot more COVID-19 symptoms than just fever, shortness of breath and loss of taste. — Fox Los Angeles

Regal Cinemas will be the first movie chain in L.A. to reopen its multiplexes. Regal, which has theaters in DTLA, Downey, Alhambra and elsewhere, plans on screening films starting July 10. — CBS Los Angeles

Meanwhile, at Television City, the soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful” will go back to taping episodes. The show’s safeguards include an independent COVID-19 coordinator on set, regular testing of everyone involved in production, a minimized crew and the requirement of masks and social distancing for all except actors when the cameras are rolling. — AP

More TV: Jimmy Kimmel will host the Emmys on Sept. 20. But that’s about as much as anyone knows, including him. “I don’t know where we will do this or how we will do this or even why we are doing this, but we are doing it and I am hosting it,” the funnyman said in a statement. — USA Today 

While most of us stand in long lines in hopes of finding that rare mega-pack of toilet paper or paper towels, the wealthy are purchasing things too. But it isn’t squeezably soft, just the opposite. The rich are buying diamonds and gold jewelry. “I think people are seeking things of beauty to equalize the challenging news and information they are digesting daily,” said Los Angeles jewelry designer Loree Rodkin, who has designed pieces for Cher and Elton John. “Beautiful shiny objects take away the darkness that everyone is going through and bring back a sense of normalcy to their lives.” — L.A. Times

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said today that the U.S. economy faces a deep downturn. He warned that the longer the recession lasts, the worse the damage on the job market and businesses will be. — AP

Orange County, which ran its top health official out of office when she was crazy enough to require residents to wear masks, reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases this weekend. — KCRW

In the wake of that bleak update, the Orange County Labor Federation, an umbrella group representing about 90 local unions, has joined religious and business leaders in calling for the mandatory wearing of face masks.CBS Los Angeles

While there isn’t a vaccine yet, today, British researchers are claiming that a cheap, widely available steroid called dexamethasone has shown to reduce COVID-19 deaths by up to one-third in severely ill hospitalized patients. — AP

When Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lifted the state’s stay-at-home order on May 15, he boldly declared, “what an Arizonan decides to do is up to them.” A month later and his people are flooding dance clubs, refusing to wear masks, scoffing at social distancing and surprise: their hospitals’ intensive care capacity has passed 80%.L.A. Times

Before Angelenos judge Arizona, things aren’t all that better in L.A. Half of the restaurants in the county inspected for coronavirus health and safety regulation compliance are not meeting the minimum standards, according to L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. — Eater LA

If the president of the United States still seems unfazed about the fact that the curve is not flattening in 40% of the U.S., perhaps it’s because he thinks there is an AIDS vaccine, so of course, a COVID-19 vaccine is right around the corner:

Why is the White House not being transparent on where coronavirus spending is being used and which businesses are getting bailed out? “Government officials don’t want to share information because they’re worried it will be politically harmful or show failures in the program,” said Neil M. Barofsky, who oversaw spending in the 2008 bank bailout as special inspector general for the so-called TARP and has kept an eye on the evolution of the coronavirus bailout. — L.A. Times

Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a member of “The Squad,” has lost her father to COVID-19. Omar, the first-ever Somali-American member of Congress said, “No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew him.” — CNN Wire

Sorry, pro wrestling fans. The WWE was supposed to tape one of its staged events today in Florida, but a wrestler tested positive for the coronavirus. “A developmental talent, who was last on site at WWE’s training facility on Tuesday, June 9, has tested positive for COVID-19. Since that time, no other individuals that attended the facility have reported symptoms. However, out of an abundance of caution and to ensure the health and safety of the company’s performers and staff, all talent, production crew and employees on site at the training and production facilities will be tested for COVID-19 immediately. Following the test results, WWE plans to proceed with its normal television production schedule,” the company said in a statement. — Wrestling Observer

Monday, June 15, 2020

Academy Awards Pushed to April

The FDA rescinds emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for COVID-19.

California tops 5,000 COVID-19 deaths. Data from the California Department of Health shows the state reported at least 2,000 new COVID-19 cases every day this month. — MSN

The Oscars were moved from Feb. 28, 2021, to April 25, 2021, due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, the eligibility period for feature films — which typically expires at the end of the year, has been extended to Feb. 28, 2021. Sorry, “Sonic the Hedgehog,” but you will have competition after all. — The Hollywood Reporter

“What do you have to lose?” President Donald Trump asked in April when he recommended Americans take hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19. He famously told reporters last month that he takes the malaria drug himself, despite not showing symptoms of the disease. “You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it. The frontline workers, many, many are taking it,” he said.

Today, the Food and Drug Administration revoked its emergency use authorization of both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19. “It is no longer reasonable to believe that oral formulations of HCQ and CQ may be effective in treating COVID-19, nor is it reasonable to believe that the known and potential benefits of these products outweigh their known and potential risks,” the agency said. — CNN

Cedars-Sinai treated more than 400 COVID-19 patients from the beginning of March through the beginning of June with an 88% success rate. “We attribute these results to our extensive experience treating complex cases, meticulous care in our ICUs, the use of new and experimental therapies and a manageable volume of COVID-19 patients,” said Dr. Richard V. Riggs, senior vice president of Medical Affairs and chief medical officer. — City News Service

Inspire South Bay Fitness reopened today. Members are required to sanitize their hands, have their temperature taken, sign a waiver and then, they are assigned — a pod:

There is great debate among NBA players over their return to the court in light of several factors, including COVID-19. Aging superstar LeBron James very much wants to start postseason play ASAP, but his teammate Dwight Howard is nervous that returning might deflect from all of the social change currently sweeping up the attention of the nation. On Sunday, Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, perhaps in a sign that the other L.A. team is ready to take on the Lakers, tweeted, “Hoopers say what y’all want. If @KingJames said he hooping. We all hooping.” — Sports Illustrated

Meanwhile, the California-based gym chain 24 Hour Fitness has filed for bankruptcy after the coronavirus pandemic forced the company to close down locations across the country. — Fox Los Angeles

Airline passengers brought COVID-19 into LAX in March — and no one warned the public:

A second wave of state shutdowns could be more damaging than the first. “Because of quarantine fatigue, because of the economic effects of quarantine, another round of shutdowns might have even larger effects on businesses that may be on the edge of not being able to stay solvent,” said Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. — CNN Wire

Our neighbors in Arizona are feeling the heat. More than 1,000 new coronavirus cases have been reported on 10 of the past 14 days. ICU beds for patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 hit its highest number on Sunday, with 464 patients. — AZ Central

The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department reported that 335 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, along with 2,585 jail inmates. Currently, there are 290 department employees quarantined. — NBC Los Angeles

For the third week in a row, Pasadena has seen its best week ever for new coronavirus cases and deaths, as both continue to decline. Between June 6 and June 12, officials reported 54 new cases and only one fatality. — Pasadena Star-News

Los Angeleno