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Now Everyone Who Wants COVID-19 Testing Can Apply

April 6, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

In this evening’s briefing, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that COVID-19 testing is now available to everyone who wants it.

“Tonight, we’re able to expand [testing] so that anybody now in the county and anybody who wants to get a test can apply for that test. So there are no longer any limits,” Garcetti said. “That doesn’t mean we’ll have a test for everybody tomorrow, but it means that our capacity is now greater than the number that we are getting through the requirements that we had.”

Those requirements previously included the most vulnerable individuals, including those over 65 or who have compromised immune systems. Now, anyone who thinks they need to be tested for COVID-19 can register for a test online here.

Thus far, the city has been able to set up 13 testing centers and, between the centers and providers, has completed 52,000 tests. According to Garcetti, this accounts for 40% of all testing in California. 

The current coronavirus numbers in L.A. County are 6,360 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 147 related deaths. Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer anticipates a substantial increase in cases in the next two weeks as testing continues to become more widely available. During this afternoon’s briefing, Ferrer encouraged Angelenos to stay home, saying this would be the week to skip grocery shopping if you’re able to do so.

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News

Highlights from Mayor Garcetti’s COVID-19 AMA

April 6, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: @mayorofLA/Twitter

In addition to his daily evening briefing, Mayor Eric Garcetti hosted an AMA on the /r/LosAngeles subreddit earlier today to answer our questions about the coronavirus pandemic.

If you’d like to see the whole thing, click here. Don’t feel like scrolling? Here are some of the key highlights we found (lightly edited for brevity/clarity):

When asked how long we’ll have to be ‘Safer at Home,’ Garcetti says probably two months minimum, but possibly longer (like in Wuhan, where they did three months):

In 1918, San Francisco declared victory early and had a second, very deadly recurrence of influenza deaths, so I will take the advice of doctors and public health professionals.

And, in response to that same question, we won’t get everything back at once:

I led a call of 50+ mayors from around the world on Zoom about a week ago and the mayor of Milan, my good friend, Giuseppe Sala, said that they will return some stronger, younger people (including those who might have already had COVID-19) return to work and be lifted from their order, while others who are older and/or more vulnerable will have to wait longer. I could see that being the advice given here too.

So, wait. What about a second wave? Garcetti says we should expect one, but L.A. can prepare:

This means in the summer, getting our hospitals in shape for a second wave; preparing a reserve of tests; looking at antibody testing to keep some more people working instead of staying at home; having the economic assistance at the national level to keep businesses going and paying their employees; assistance for self-employed, under and unemployed, and immigrants, and having better/quicker/more extensive tools to chase down those that are positive and immediately quarantine them and their contacts.

Garcetti notes the latter would have to address privacy concerns and involve the work of more than just a single city.

Is there a ‘tipping point’ that would allow us to resume our normal livesNo, and again, the return to normalcy will be slow.

As for opening things up, my instinct is to go slow or to go smart. Slow given that many places that declare victory early get slammed with a second short-term wave. Smart meaning that there are approaches that might allow us to have “immunity passports” or some evidence through antibody tests that we are good to go to work and stay at work, though we’d want to be sure that folks can’t spread it even if they’ve had it. Certainly, when we get to zero deaths (which come later than the cases), we should be at a place where we are able to come out of this situation. My gut is that we will do it before zero deaths (since many people will continue to hang on for a long time before succumbing), but we are a way off (months, not weeks) from that kind of a statistic. 

Will the City consider shutting down roadways so that pedestrians can use them to exercise? The Mayor said they’ll keep thinking about it, but:

Even though people can try to do that as safely as possible, public health recommends that neighborhoods stay put so that we don’t have more and more spread.

Will the Port-a-Potties installed on Skid Row stay after the pandemic? Yes, and more resources are coming down the pipeline:

We doubled the storage for Skid Row residents recently, allowing 1000 more people to store their things securely and be able to have clean clothes for interviews, keep key documents safe and more. I hope we can build better than just Port-A-Potties but in the meantime they are there to stay.

What should you do if your landlord is trying to kick you out right now for no or partial payment of your rent? If you receive an eviction notice that you think violates current city laws, file a complaint with the city of Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID). Also, regarding any notice you receive:

According to HCID, in the meantime, and before the notice expires, tenants should also let their landlords know the reason why they haven’t paid. (The notice will say the number of days a tenant has to act.) Tenant advocates typically advise tenants to conduct this type of important communication with their landlord in writing, but tenants do NOT have to provide any documentation about their economic or health reasons they are unable to pay rent. When a complaint has been filed, it will be assigned to an HCID inspector. The inspector will review the documentation the tenant has to prove that their non-payment is related to COVID-19. If everything is in order and the proof is sufficient, the housing inspector will send the landlord a letter requesting the cancellation of the notice and alert them about the repayment period.

Will the city consider a moratorium on rent and mortgages? Garcetti agrees we need more help, but it’s not up to the city. Los Angeles will need federal and state support, too:

I have said since the beginning of this that the best policy would be in exchange for federal support of banks and lenders, there should be mortgage forgiveness, and then the same for rent. Without all three levels working together, it is a mess. Local government has no power to mandate this, though we have asked the state to do so (also some deep legal questions), and I support the federal government doing this (after all, our tax dollars, we should have some say about how they are spent). If the city were to, we would be liable for all of the rents and according to back of napkin calculations, we wouldn’t have the cash flow to pay for even two weeks of everyone’s rent and in about three months the city government would have no money and be bankrupt (no fire department, no 911, no power, no water, etc.). The package from Washington is woefully inadequate so I have joined with a group of mayors across the country to advocate for another round and a true economic stimulus package. I have already asked a number of Senators and members of Congress to give assistance to renters and landlords now. For those who say forget the landlords, if they cannot pay their mortgages and lose their properties, they will be snapped up by Wall Street as we have seen with many single family homes after the 2008 Recession. In the meantime, we are raising money for more cash assistance (especially for families and workers not included in the federal legislation), and ensuring that there are no evictions allowed during the crisis and the most generous payback order in the country so far (12 months to pay rent for residential tenants).

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Food, Fun Stuff, News

‘Bodega On Wheels’ Delivers Groceries, Sandwiches, Ice Cream & Booze

April 6, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: LA Bodega on Wheels

Ice cream brand Coolhaus is now using its fleet of ice cream trucks to deliver food, pantry items, booze, and dessert to Angelenos. The new service, L.A. Bodega on Wheels, launches tomorrow. But if you’re located within the delivery radius, you can start placing your orders online now. 

Bodega on Wheels is a partnership among Coolhaus, 101 Coffee Shop (which offers the food and pantry items), and alcohol-providers Future Gin, Minibar Hollywood, and VERVET. The project not only puts some employees who would otherwise be out of a job back to work, but also donates 10% of all proceeds to charities including L.A. Regional Food Bank and Opportunity Fund’s Small Business Relief Fund. 

The Bodega’s sizeable menu consists of four sections: Staples, Food, Sweets, and Booze. 

In the staples section, you’ll find all those pantry items your local grocery store might be out of. Flour, loaves of fresh bread, pasta, rice, produce, milk (cow, almond, and oat), and the ever-elusive toilet paper. And it’s not a small roll either, but the big rolls commercial businesses like 101 Coffee Shop would use. It may not fit on your toilet paper holder, but it’ll get the job done. 

The food menu consists of prepared sandwiches while Coolhaus’s ice creams and cookies round out the sweets menu. For booze, you can get mini bottles of Future Gin paired with tonic, pre-mixed cocktails from MiniBar, and canned sparkling cocktails from VERVET.

“When this pandemic flipped our lives over, VERVET was only nine months old and faced with an unexpected crisis to survive,” VERVET founder Tuan Lee said. “Coupled with our own struggles was the shock and distress of seeing everyone around us suffer. It was awful. Enter the power of community. We were able to connect and combine forces with the amazing people behind these beloved L.A. businesses to create this mobile pop-up, taking the idea beyond what any of us could do alone.”

VERVET’s Tiki Tea—prickly pear vodka, oolong tea, lime, ginger, allspice, clove, and vanilla—sounds pretty refreshing, frankly.

Deliveries start Tuesday and will run daily through Saturday, April 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (This is a test week and we’ll hopefully see more dates from the Bodega on Wheels in the days to follow.) There is no additional delivery fee, but you must reach $50 each order. You also must be in the delivery radius, which includes ZIP codes 90004, 90005, 90006, 90010, 90019, 90020, 90027, 90029, 90028, 90036, 90038, 90046, 90048, 90068, 90069. See the delivery map here. Contact-free delivery is available upon request.

For more info and to place an order, visit L.A. Bodega on Wheels here

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Food, News

The Fairplex is Hosting a Drive-Thru Food Pantry

April 6, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: L.A. County/Facebook

The Fairplex in Pomona is now hosting a drive-thru pantry where people in need can pick up free food and other essential items. It’s open between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. while supplies last on April 15, May 6, May 20, and June 3. 

The pantry is a partnership between the Fairplex and the Sowing Seeds for Life Food Pantry. According to Joyce Johnson of Sowing Seeds, they already serve up to 7,000 people per month. At the last pantry event, they had prepared enough boxes for 3,000 people. 

To ensure social distancing, visitors will not get out of their cars. Instead, they’ll line up at Gate 17. When it’s their turn to receive groceries, they’ll pop their trunk and workers will place the boxes inside, then close the trunk. Find more details about the pantry here.

Since Friday, the Fairplex has also been a COVID-19 testing site, currently administering up to 200 tests per day, according to the Daily Bulletin

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Culture, News

HBO Dropped A Bunch of Free TV and Movies

April 3, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

If throwing on a ridiculous, sexy vampire show or a movie about an adorable, fuzzy detective would help you get through another weekend indoors, you’re in luck. To give us more content to binge at home, HBO is dropping a ton of free films and TV shows today. You’ll be able to access the free content through April 30. 

Not everything HBO has to offer will be free. For instance, some newer shows like Game of Thrones and Westworld aren’t on the list. But there some solid TV options, including Six Feet Under and Barry—two of our picks for binge-worthy shows set in L.A. Plus, there’s a slew of documentaries and films, including family-friendly choices like Detective Pikachu, Smallfoot, and The LEGO Movie 2

To watch, go to HBO GO, HBO NOW, or On Demand. See more info here. See the full list of free TV shows and movies below.

TV shows include: 

  • Ballers
  • Barry 
  • Silicon Valley
  • Six Feet Under
  • The Sopranos
  • Succession 
  • True Blood
  • Veep 
  • The Wire 

Documentaries:

  • The Apollo
  • The Case Against Adnan Syed
  • Elvis Presley: The Searcher
  • I Love You, Now Die
  • The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
  • Jane Fonda in Five Acts
  • McMillion$
  • True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality
  • United Skates
  • We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest 

Films:

  • Arthur
  • Arthur 2: On the Rocks
  • Blinded by the Light
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love.
  • Empire of the Sun
  • Forget Paris
  • Happy Feet Two
  • Isn’t It Romantic
  • Midnight Special
  • My Dog Skip
  • Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase
  • Pan 
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu
  • Smallfoot
  • Storks
  • Sucker Punch
  • The Bridges of Madison County
  • The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
  • Unknown 
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Food, News

These 24 Farmers Markets Are Ready to Reopen

April 1, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Brussel Sprouts at Silver Lake Farmers Market
Brussel Sprouts at Silver Lake Farmers Market / Photo by: Christina Champlin

Earlier this week, Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered all L.A. farmers markets to close until they could prove they could enforce social distancing practices. Just two days later, the Bureau of Street Services has approved the plans from 24 farmers markets. 

The list includes markets in North Hollywood, Venice, DTLA, Sherman Oaks, Brentwood, and Larchmont. You can see the complete list here.

If your favorite market doesn’t appear on the list, it may be because it’s not in the City of Los Angeles. For example, Los Angeles wouldn’t oversee markets in Santa Monica or West Hollywood. Or, it could be your market has yet to submit plans for approval. In this evening’s news briefing, Garcetti encouraged customers to prompt the markets they frequent to do so. 

Info on how to submit plans can be found here. To reopen, markets will have to implement several safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They include providing one separate entry and one separate exit, posting health and safety signs, offering hand washing and sanitization stations, preventing customers from touching food, and minimizing the exchange of cash. Farmers markets are also encouraged to move orders online or for pickup. And, sadly, samples are now forbidden. 

Check out that list to get your fresh produce and continue to support our local farmers. But remember to make sure to stay six feet from other shoppers, or else we might lose them again.

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Culture, News

Call for Health-Themed Art Will Award $1K to 30 Artists

April 1, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Submissions from Adam Kammer (left) and Thomas Wimberly (right)/Amplify

Those who are using their time at home on creative works may be interested in a new call for art from Amplifier. The design lab is inviting artists to submit work that deals with themes of public or mental health for a chance to win a $1,000 award. Submissions remain open through April, and you can send them here

Amplifier’s mission is to amplify grassroots movements. Previously, they held an open call for art reflecting the Women’s March. Now, they’re hoping to solicit artwork that can help us get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Submissions may revolve around one of two themes: “public health and safety messages that can help flatten the curve through education” or “symbols that help promote mental health, well-being, and social change work during these stressful times.”

Each week, curators will choose five artists to receive a $1,000 award, totaling 30 artists. Selected works will then be distributed to both physical locations and online. Anyone who would like to download the pieces to share, print, or post is also welcome to do so. 

Judges include artists Shepard Fairey and Hank Willis Thomas and Guggenheim Artistic Director and Chief Curator Nancy Spector.

See current submissions and vote for your favorites here.

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Culture, Lifestyle

New Drag Fest Lets You Stream Live Performances

April 1, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
The Boulet Brothers/Facebook

Do you miss your local drag show or drag brunch? Are you sad DragCon was canceled this year? There’s now a way to support and stream live performances from your favorite artists from the comfort of your own home.

Through PEG Presents: Digital Drag Fest, drag stars are bringing their acts to you via 30-minute livestreams on Stageit. The fest runs March 27 through April 30 and features multiple daily shows from artists including BenDeLaCreme, Divina de Campo, Jiggly Caliente, Peppermint, Sharon Needles, The Boulet Brothers, Jackie Beat, Tammie Brown, and several others. Organizers say to expecting singing, drama, comedy, and even perhaps a little cooking. 

Trinity the Tuck (RuPaul’s Drag Race) told EW, “I’m going to make a section of my house to look like a quarantine zone. I have a hazmat suit. Trust, I’m pulling out all the stops for this little show I’m putting on in my house!”

Tickets to individual shows start at $10. Audience sizes will remain small so that guests can interact with and tip performers. You could even win a prize or giveaway. 

To participate, go to the Shows tab here. You can filter by date or artist. New shows keep popping up, so you might want to check back often. Merch is also available here, with proceeds supporting GLAAD.

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Culture, Fun Stuff

The Broad Pairs Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room With Music

April 1, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Infinity Mirrored Room
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room. Image via broad.org

Following a popular livestream from Yayoi Kusama’s mirror infinity room “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” The Broad is now offering Infinite Drone

Infinite Drone pairs the popular artwork with music. Videos are taken from the perspective of the viewer and allow for a far longer gaze than 45 seconds, which is what’s typically allotted to museum guests. First up is composer Geneva Skeen’s “The Oval Window,” a 14-minute “stereo drone work composed strictly using recordings of voice and piano processed through digital and analog technologies.” Other forthcoming musical selections might be electronic or pop cuts, but this one is more of a dark ambient track. It’s oddly meditative with a hint of ASMR.

You can also watch several other videos on The Broad’s YouTube channel, including family art-making workshops and selections from the Un-Private Collection. Interplay: Poetry and Art is another new series in which poets respond to various pieces within the museum’s collection. 

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News

Wilshire Blvd. to Close in Beverly Hills for Purple Line Construction

April 1, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Jon Lee Clark/Flickr

Thanks to reduced traffic while we’re all social distancing, the Purple Line extension is speeding up a bit. The City of Beverly Hills has approved a temporary closure of Wilshire Boulevard to allow for faster construction. 

Wilshire Blvd. between Crescent Dr. and Beverly Dr., plus a section of Beverly Dr. at Wilshire, will close daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Other smaller, surrounding closures will also occur throughout the month, a full list of which can be seen here.

“This is truly a unique circumstance that will allow for minimal disruption in our City,” Mayor Les Friedman said via a release. “After collaborative discussions with both our residential and business communities, this plan has received support as an effective strategy in an unprecedented time.”

Signage and traffic control officers will redirect traffic to Olympic and Santa Monica boulevards, while soft closures within the detour areas will still allow local access.

Wilshire may remain closed for as long as the city’s local emergency is in effect or within five days’ notice from the City Manager or a designee. According to data from L.A. County, the City of Beverly Hills declared a local emergency regarding the coronavirus pandemic on March 16.

Metro is hosting a webinar today at noon to talk about the changes. You can hop on using your computer here or by calling (646) 749-3122 and entering GoToMeeting ID 596-703-589.  

This news may surprise you if you followed the city’s long-standing beef with the Purple Line, at times claiming the route beneath the high school would cause everything from explosions to terrorist attacks. However, Metro and Beverly Hills have since been able to come to an agreement on how the construction should proceed.

According to Streetsblog, the closure may shave six months off construction. When finished, the Purple Line will run from Wilshire/Western all the way to the Westwood/VA hospital station. The first section, which takes us to Wilshire/La Cienega, is expected to wrap in 2023. Check out more details from Metro here.

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L.A. County’s COVID-19 Cases Top 3,000

March 31, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

During this afternoon’s daily briefing, L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced a total of 3,011 confirmed COVID-19 cases. This is triple the number of cases the county saw last Wednesday, but the county also tripled the number of completed tests. Ferrer also announced a total of 54 deaths, which includes one healthcare worker over the age of 65.

Ferrer said the best thing we can do is what we’ve been doing: staying home unless performing an essential task and practicing social distancing when we’re out. That means staying six feet away from other people when at grocery stores, pharmacies, or on a walk.  

She also offered new information from the CDC. Previously, anyone who had contact with a positive or presumed positive COVID-19 patient was ordered to self-quarantine if that contact occurred the day the other person presented symptoms. Now, individuals should self-quarantine if that contact occurred up to 48 hours before symptoms. 

As always, you can find updated information from L.A. County online here. You can also view a dashboard of confirmed cases and school and park closures. Find Los Angeles city updates here. If you think you need to be tested for COVID-19, see if you’re eligible here. And if you are feeling depressed or anxious, you may call the County’s Department of Mental Health 24/7 hotline at (800) 854-7771.

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Culture, Fun Stuff, Lifestyle

VIDEOS: Fans Recreate Disney, Universal Rides at Home

March 31, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Disneyland Adventure Park
Credit: Michael Saechang via flickr

All of Southern California’s theme parks are closed, including Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Six Flags Magic Mountain. But some creative people across the internet are recreating their favorite amusement parks at home. 

You can find these genius works using the hashtags #HomeMadeThemePark, #HomemadeDisney, and #HomemadeUniversal. There are some very clever uses of props and perspective, and it seems like the housebound kids (and adults) are having a great time. Here are some of our favorites: 

Jess Siswick helped kick off this trend after a work trip to Florida, during which she planned to visit Disney World, was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She has several videos on Twitter @tinymallet, but my personal favorite is her Tower of Terror recreation: 

This Soarin’ ride, albeit just around the house this time:

A father and son get to the park early to ride Rise of the Resistance: 

Here’s Universal’s Back to the Future Ride, which, locally, was replaced by The Simpsons Ride. 

Dave Cobb, the creative director on Universal’s Men in Black: Alien Attack ride, submitted his own at-home version:

A homemade Trader Sam’s tiki bar.

And the Enchanted Tiki Room.

This Haunted Mansion recreation is shockingly good.

Mickey’s Phiharmagic.

Followed by Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast.

A very tiny It’s a Small World:

And this one is just… accurate: 

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