Crime Rate Falls Amid Coronavirus Shutdown

Crime in Los Angeles fell sharply in March as the city imposed strict new rules on residents and businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Violent offenses in the city dropped 14% and property crime declined 12% through March 25 compared with the same period last year, according to figures from the Los Angeles Police Department. The department had reported single-digit reductions before this month.

Homicides have dropped slightly so far this month from 15 to 12, department figures show. Robberies were down 22% along with an 11% decrease in aggravated assaults. Meanwhile, thefts fell 18% and burglaries were down 7%. The only categories to see increases were vehicle theft, up 10%, and rape, which ticked up 2% during that time. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Coronavirus: The state had 21 million N95 masks stockpiled. All are expired.

As the coronavirus pandemic slammed into California and doctors and nurses sounded the alarm on a dire shortage of masks, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the release of the state’s emergency stockpile of 21 million N95 respirators.

What he didn’t mention then: They are all expired.

Every one of the masks stored in the state’s climate-controlled warehouse in a secret location has surpassed its wear-by date. A California Department of Public Health news release this month indicated that only “some” masks are expired, but after repeated inquiries from The Chronicle, the agency acknowledged that the whole supply is outdated. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

Bay Area Coronavirus Cases Climb as Testing Grows: 26% Test Positive

More than a quarter of the people tested for coronavirus at a Hayward site that opened this week turned up positive, city officials said Thursday, as confirmed cases climbed in the Bay Area, topping 1,400, with at least 32 deaths.

At the city-run site, 26% — 54 out of 207 tested Monday, its first day — were positive, as new sites open daily in the Bay Area and confirmed cases of the illness caused by the coronavirus rise.

Increased testing reveals more cases. But providers are still having trouble keeping up with the need.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said this week the state needs more tests, “smarter and more targeted testing, and more community surveillance,” noting that the state’s testing capacity is still not good enough. …

Click here to read the full article by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Relief coming for Californians with lost paychecks, looming mortgage bills

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that four of the nation’s five largest banks have agreed to suspend mortgage payments for 90 days for California homeowners affected by the coronavirus.

Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank and U.S. Bank, along with about 200 state-chartered banks and credit unions, agreed to the 90-day grace period, he said.

Congress, meanwhile, was struggling to pass a stimulus bill that would provide most Americans with direct payments of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child younger than 17. The bill also would provide expanded unemployment benefits, even to those who are not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits because they are self-employed, haven’t worked long enough or ran out of benefits. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

Coronavirus Restart: Trump Wants Return-to-Normal by April, but Gavin Newsom Sees California Danger

President Trump and Gov. Gavin Newsom have been mutually complimentary during the coronavirus crisis, but they are on a collision course when it comes to how long to keep social distancing measures in place to blunt the pandemic.

Californians could find themselves caught in the middle as Trump’s stated desire to start returning to normal by mid-April conflicts with what they hear from Newsom. The governor issued a stay-at-home order last week and said he wouldn’t back off before seeing evidence that the state has begun to “bend the curve” of the pandemic.

On Tuesday, Newsom said an April restart “would be sooner than any of the experts that I talk to believe is possible.”

“It’s going to confuse people,” said Lee Riley, a professor of infectious disease and vaccinology at UC Berkeley. “The only way to make it clear to people is to have a more uniform message.” …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Trump, Congress agree on $2 trillion virus rescue bill

The White House and Senate leaders of both parties announced agreement early Wednesday on unprecedented emergency legislation to rush sweeping aid to businesses, workers and a health care system slammed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The urgently needed pandemic response measure is the largest economic rescue measure in history and is intended as a weeks- or months-long patch for an economy spiraling into recession and a nation facing a potentially ghastly toll.

Top White House aide Eric Ueland announced the agreement in a Capitol hallway shortly after midnight, capping days of often intense haggling and mounting pressure. It still needs to be finalized in detailed legislative language. …

Click here to read the full article from the Associated Press.

Deadline to File Taxes Extended Until July 15

Tax forms and payments won’t be due to the Internal Revenue Service until July 15 this year, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Friday as the government looks for ways to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are moving Tax Day from April 15 to July 15,” Mnuchin said in a tweet. “All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties.”

California made a similar move Wednesday regarding state tax returns and payments, which are now also due July 15.

Mnuchin’s announcement follows a decision earlier this week to delay the payment deadline, but not the filing deadline, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tax professionals and lawmakers from both parties have said it could confuse taxpayers to have forms and payments due on separate days. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

This Nobel Laureate Predicts a Quicker Coronavirus Recovery

Photo by Tai’s Captures on Unsplash

Michael Levitt, a Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist, began analyzing the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide in January and correctly calculated that China would get through the worst of its coronavirus outbreak long before many health experts had predicted.

Now he foresees a similar outcome in the United States and the rest of the world.

While many epidemiologists are warning of months, or even years, of massive social disruption and millions of deaths, Levitt says the data simply don’t support such a dire scenario — especially in areas where reasonable social distancing measures are in place.

“What we need is to control the panic,” he said. In the grand scheme, “we’re going to be fine.” …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.

Where in the Bay Area to Donate Masks, Other Medical Supplies to Hospitals

Bay Area hospitals — which are running low on masks, gowns, face shields and other protective equipment needed by health care workers to safely treat coronavirus patients — are starting to accept donations from manufacturers, companies and the public.

Valley Medical Center Foundation, which raises funds for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s three hospitals and 11 clinics in the South Bay, began soliciting donations March 17 and has gotten one major contribution from IBM of 15,000 surgical masks and another from a local import company of 40,000 pairs of gloves, said the foundation’s chief operating officer, Michael Elliott.

Individuals have dropped off masks they had at home from the large fires two years ago, bringing in a couple dozen at a time, Elliott said. Painters and construction companies have also donated their stash. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Could California see 25.5 million coronavirus cases in two months?

On Wednesday, in a letter asking President Trump for help handling the novel coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom made a startling prediction: More than half of Californians could be infected with the fast-moving sickness in a two-month period.

That would be 25.5 million people, with the potential for more than 5 million — 20% — requiring hospitalization. The state is attempting to build capacity in its hospitals to about 100,000 beds.

Taken together, the potential number of patients is alarming, given the capacity to help them.

But is it accurate?

Kent State public health professor Tara Smith said it was “unlikely” millions of infections would hit so quickly with social restrictions in place. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times.