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Update: LASD Halts Efforts to Close Gun Shops

March 25, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Yesterday, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that gun shops were nonessential businesses and must close. He also hinted at some “loopholes” between state and county orders that his department would be working to sort out. As of this morning, however, LASD has reversed course on gun shops. This comes after a statement from the L.A. County counsel’s office, which said, “Neither the governor’s executive order nor the county’s Department of Public Health order specifically address gun shops. In interpreting those orders, county counsel has opined that gun stores qualify as essential businesses.”

According to LASD’s Facebook Page, the department is now “waiting for further information from CA Gov. Gavin Newsom to clarify what qualifies as a nonessential business.”

Both LASD’s Facebook page and Villanueva’s Twitter account link to a Fox 11 news story about the department’s decision.

In that clip, reporter Bill Melugin says Villanueva told him he continues to believe gun shops should only remain open to law enforcement and private security, as there are too many first-time buyers panic purchasing firearms they may not know how to use.

For now, however, gun shops may flip on their open signs back on.

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News

L.A. Launches Portal to Find More Medical Workers

March 24, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: County of Los Angeles/Facebook

The City of Los Angeles needs more medical professionals to help with COVID-19. If you are a medical professional who wants to pitch in (either pro bono or paid), there is now a portal where you can apply. 

All you have to do is go to coronavirus.lacity.org/medicalworker. The link will take you to a Google form where you can fill in your background and availability. You may need to verify your training before you can begin working or volunteering. 

While you may think all available medical professionals are already working long hours, there may be some—such as those who worked in offices that offered elective procedures—who aren’t working right now.

Today, the County announced 662 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and, according to the Los Angeles Times, experts predict a surge of patients in the coming days.

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News

Garcetti: You Can Report Nonessential Business That Won’t Close

March 24, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: David Lofink/Flickr

Today, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti returned for his daily 5:15 p.m. briefing to share the latest coronavirus updates. While he thanked those individuals and businesses that have been complying with the Safer at Home order, he noted that some nonessential businesses are continuing to operate as normal.

‘This behavior is irresponsible and selfish,” he said. “It may serve a few people for a moment, but it’ll put all of us at risk for a long time.”

L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer has assigned neighborhood prosecutors to enforce public health and safety measures, while a Safer at Home business ambassadors program will help. Businesses will first receive a warning. If they do not comply, greater enforcement may occur. This includes not only a misdemeanor but the possibility that LADWP will shut off the business’s water and power. (Note: LADWP will not shut off your home’s water and power during this crisis.)

If you know of or work at a noncompliant nonessential business, you can:

  1. Let this business know that they could face fines and other penalties if they continue to operate.
  2. If they still don’t comply, you may call 311 and report them.

The City Attorney will handle these calls.

While this may feel like tattling, Garcetti noted that while “no one wants to be punitive at a time like this,” these businesses are not only putting their customers at risk but the workers they are asking to report, which puts us all at risk. Today, Los Angeles County announced 662 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths.

If you’re not sure if a particular business is deemed essential, see the Safer at Home FAQ here. For more local COVID-19 info, see the city’s website here. If you are concerned about reduced or lost wages, see info from EDD here.

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News

LASD: Gun Shops Are Not Essential Businesses and Must Close

March 24, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: LASD/Facebook

[Update: March 24] The morning after Villanueva’s announcement, the LASD announced it would suspend its efforts to close gun shops. Read the new story here.

You may have seen recent photos of area gun shops with lines winding around the building, rivaling even the queues around grocery stores. Today, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed that gun shops are not an essential business and must close for the time being.

Per the state’s Stay at Home and the county’s Safer at Home orders, all businesses deemed non-essential must close to the public. Grocery stores are allowed to remain open, for example, but all restaurants must operate as pickup and/or delivery only. This is primarily to ensure that people practice social distancing, or staying six feet apart to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. During an afternoon press conference, Villanueva said there have been complaints about certain businesses that “have not been adhering to…social distancing.”

“Chief among them have been gun shops, night clubs, bars, and strip clubs,” Villanueva said.

LASD is working to get these businesses to close until the orders are lifted and to close any loopholes between the orders from the state and county regarding what an essential business is. Villanueva said so far, no citations have been issued. But, businesses that fail to comply may lose their business license.

According to the Los Angeles Times, gun sales have been on the rise throughout the country, particularly in California, New York, and Washington—three states with a comparatively higher number of confirmed coronavirus cases. 

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News

L.A. County Breaks Down 662 COVID-19 Cases by Neighborhood

March 24, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: County of Los Angeles/Facebook

Today, the County of Los Angeles again released the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases by area. Broadly, there are 662 confirmed cases and there have been 11 deaths. 

The list further breaks down cases by city or neighborhood. For example, there are 31 cases in West Hollywood, 16 in Santa Monica, 10 in Sherman Oaks, and 19 in Hollywood. Of these, 119 people have been hospitalized.  The numbers are embedded below, but you can also see them on the County’s Facebook Page.

Social distancing continues to be the best thing you can do right now, so hunker down and find something to occupy your mind. If you need food, shelter, or other resources, L.A. County has provided a guide here. If you are experiencing symptoms and believe you need to be tested, find out how here. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed, call the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health‘s 24/7 hotline at (800) 854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741.

The County advises you to not assume an area with fewer reported cases is any safer than an area with more. These numbers are likely to rise as more people are tested.

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News

Santa Monica Will Fine People Who Ignore ‘Safer at Home’ Orders

March 24, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Ocean Avenue Santa Monica
Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

The City of Santa Monica will now issue citations to people who fail to follow the state’s Stay at Home order and L.A. County’s Safer at Home order. Violating these orders is now considered a misdemeanor and may be enforced by the Santa Monica Police Department, according to a release from the city. This decision follows a weekend of packed beaches and parks, despite the order to slow the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing.

“Our first priority is to remind and educate the public when they are not following our local orders,” City Manager Rick Cole said via the statement. “However, it’s important for people to know that our local orders include the ability to fine individuals and businesses that do not abide voluntarily.” 

Anyone violating the orders may receive a $100 fine for the first violation, a $250 fine for the second violation, and a $500 fine for the third. You could also be fined if you’re a landlord who disobeys the temporary moratorium on residential and commercial evictions ($1000 per violation) or a nonessential business that refuses to close. 

Following the orders does not mean staying indoors at all times. Per the orders, you are still allowed to leave the house for necessities, such as purchasing groceries or picking up medications. You can also still go on walks, runs, and bike rides. What you can’t do is gather or form crowds. You must keep at least six feet between you and people outside your family or household.

You can read the order for yourself here. (Note: The City of Santa Monica’s website has had a few technical difficulties this morning.) Those with questions can call (310) 458-8400 or email info@santamonica.gov. 

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News

L.A. County Closes All Hiking Trails

March 23, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Solstice Canyon
Hiking Solstice Canyon. Credit: Tommi Virtanen via flickr cc

[Update: March 24] Some parks not managed by L.A. County remain open as of this morning. In those cases, facilities are likely closed while outdoor space is still accessible. This includes Griffith Park, though the Observatory and other facilities are closed. Will these spaces also shut down if people crowd them and do not practice social distancing? We’ll keep you posted.

This weekend saw Angelenos packing beaches, parks, and other outdoor areas despite strict orders to socially distance themselves. On Sunday, officials announced the closure of beach parking lots and recreation facilities. And this afternoon, Los Angeles County decided to close all hiking trails, too. 

Casey Schreiner, Modern Hiker founder and author of Day Hiking Los Angeles, said he agrees with the County’s decision.

“When officials were encouraging people to go hiking as a healthy activity, there was an expectation that we would practice social distancing on the trails,” Schreiner said. “Although I strongly believe access to public parks is important for everyone, too many people demonstrated they couldn’t follow the rules and guidelines to keep their fellow citizens healthy and safe. It pains me to say, but right now we’re better off with the parks closed.”

According to L.A. County’s Twitter, you may still leave your house to get some fresh air.

You can:

  • Go for walk or jog in your neighborhood 
  • Walk your dog
  • Ride your bike
  • Get groceries, medications, or other essential needs
  • Pick up takeout from a restaurant
  • Take care of a loved one

When you do leave your home, you should leave at least six feet of space between you and people you do not live with. Don’t bunch up on the sidewalks and allow others to pass from a safe distance. The better we abide by these rules, the sooner, hopefully, it’ll be over.

These new restrictions don’t just follow video and photo evidence of people gathering outdoors. They also follow new numbers from L.A. County regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Officials cite 536 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of noon today. At press time, seven people have died due to the virus. Totals of confirmed cases are expected to rise as more people are tested in the coming days.

If you really miss your national parks and hiking trails, you can explore several parks via Google Earth. We know a virtual hike pales in comparison to the real thing, but in these sobering times, maybe it’ll give you a little joy.

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News

This Navy Ship Will Become the Largest Hospital in L.A.

March 23, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Steve King, a Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest forklift driver, prepares to deliver pallets during a supply load aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) at Naval Base San Diego, March 21, 2020. Photo: Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Mike Jones, U.S. Navy/Flickr

The USNS Mercy is on its way from San Diego to the Port of Los Angeles. Equipped with 1,000 beds, it’s the biggest hospital ship in the world, the Navy Times reports. And according to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, the USNS Mercy will also become the largest hospital in Los Angeles when it docks. 

Though the ship is in response to the coronavirus outbreak, it will not serve COVID-19 patients. Rather, the ship and its some 800 personnel will care for patients with other issues, meaning that hospital staff on land can redirect their efforts to COVID-19. 

At one point, Seattle was the ship’s expected destination. However, FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said that even though there are currently more confirmed cases in Washington state, “the projected need for beds in California is five times more [than] that of Washington.” California Governor Gavin Newsom recently said he expects more than half of Californians to ultimately become infected with the virus. 

The USNS Mercy leaves San Diego today. Meanwhile, the USNS Comfort, currently undergoing maintenance in Virginia, will depart for New York in a few weeks.

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News

L.A. Metro Announces Reduced Bus and Rail Service

March 20, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo by Christina Champlin / We Like L.A.

If you rely on Metro to get you to the essential places we’re still allowed to go (pharmacies, grocery stores, medical appointments, etc.), know that L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said yesterday that he has no plans to shut Metro down. However, there will be some changes.

Due to COVID-19, L.A. Metro ridership is down 50-60%. As a result, some changes were announced today. Metro will watch ridership over the following days to see if other adjustments need to be made. They will also install sanitation stations at major transit stops. If Metro makes any additional changes, updates will be here or on Twitter @metrolosangeles. Here’s what you need to know:

Bus service:

Metro is reducing its bus service 15-20%. They will attempt to adjust select trips to minimize inconvenience. 

Rail service: 

Starting March 20, the last trains leave terminal stations at midnight. Metro recommends getting on the system before 10:30 p.m. to make sure you catch your last connection.

Starting March 23, trains on the B (Red), D (Purple), A (Blue), E (Expo), and L (Gold) Lines will run every 12 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Outside of those hours, they’ll run every 20 minutes.

Light rail trains will have three cars. D (Purple) Line trains will have four cars. B (Red) Line trains will have six cars. This is to help passengers practice social distancing. 

Also starting March 23, the C (Green) Line (which will have two cars) will run every 12 minutes between 4-9 a.m.; every 15 minutes between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.; every 12 minutes between 3-6 p.m., and every 20 minutes between 6 p.m. and midnight. 

Union Station is partially closed. While it’s still open for ticketed Amtrak and Metrolink passengers, the public is encouraged to buy tickets online in advance. Security and station employees will guide anyone using the Red, Purple, and Gold lines or catching a bus to their destination. You will not be allowed in the station unless you have a ticket or are using one of these services. Note: Amtrak also announced reduced service on its Pacific Surfliner route. More info and updates can be found here.

There have also been a few other changes in surrounding cities:

West Hollywood’s Pickup and SunsetTrip are closed. You may take CityLine Local and CityLine Commuter.

Pasadena Transit and Dial-A-Ride are now FREE. See the schedule here.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus will no longer serve Rapid 3, Rapid 7, Route 42, or Route 44. Other routes, including Rapid 12 and Route 9, now have fewer stops. UCLA’s Hilgard Terminal is now closed, and Routes 1, 2, and 8 will instead service UCLA Charles E. Young/P2 Hub. Read the complete details here.

The Culver CityBus is now FREE for riders. Passengers should use the rear door to board unless they use a mobility device and require the lift at the front door. Due to decreased ridership, they’ll be using their existing Saturday service schedule with additions to accommodate select lines. Read those details here.

You can also check out this Google doc of transit updates here

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Lifestyle, News

Here’s What Not to Flush If You’re Out of Toilet Paper

March 20, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Tatiana Vdb/Flickr

This afternoon, my landlord slipped a note beneath my door. Among other things, it warned us not to flush anything but toilet paper. “With current shortages,” it read, “many may be tempted to flush napkin or paper towels.” It further stated that anyone who was caught doing this would be charged for the cost of possible repairs—which could be delayed due to our current situation. 

Which led me to wonder: are people running out of toilet paper, using other items, and screwing up the plumbing systems? Turns out, yes. Yes, they are. In Redding, someone was flushing shredded T-shirts. This caused a backup at a lift station where workers had to quickly prevent a spill.

While not flushing T-shirts seems pretty obvious, not everything you’d think is flushable is. For example, you shouldn’t flush “flushable” wipes. According to a release from California Water Boards:

A majority of urban centers are on centralized sewage collection systems [and] depend on gravity and enough water flow to move along human waste and biodegradable toilet paper. The systems were not designed for individual nylon wipes and paper towels. The wipes and paper towels do not break down like toilet paper, and therefore clog systems very quickly. Wipes are among the leading causes of sewer system backups, impacting sewer system and treatment plant pumps and treatment systems.

So, what can you flush and what should you do if hoarders have prevented you from getting toilet paper?

You can flush:

  • Waste that comes out of your body
  • Toilet paper

You should not flush:

  • Literally anything else, including napkins, paper towels, wipes, rags, socks or T-shirts, sponges, tampons and sanitary napkins, or condoms. 

What can you do instead?

  • Buy a bidet
  • Take a shower
  • Use napkins or paper towels, but bag and throw them away instead of flushing 

And if you are hoarding toilet paper, please stop. You don’t need to. According to Popular Mechanics, the average person only uses about 100 rolls in a year and there’s no threat to toilet paper supply chains in the U.S. The greater threat would be unsanitary blockages and spillages caused by people who can’t buy toilet paper flushing wipes or other items. 

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Culture, Food

L.A. Chefs Offer Recipes, Online Cooking Classes

March 20, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen. Photo: Kim Fox

If it’s never been in your skillset before, now’s a great time to learn how to cook. Or if you’re comfortable in the kitchen already, you might want to learn a new dish. And maybe you’d like to interact with people while you do it.

Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen is helping Angelenos cook at home via Starry Kitchen’s subreddit.

Tran takes into account what seems to be available at the grocery stores (“lots of vegetables,” he noted) and pairs that information with recipes from his cookbook, Adventures in Starry Kitchen: 88 Asian-Inspired Recipes from American’s Most Famous Underground Restaurant.

Tran was inspired to share his recipes seeing all the empty market shelves. But even though canned and frozen items were mostly gone, he noticed spices and other ingredients were available.

“I just realized I need to help people make food with what little they [have] or what they can get. I hope by sharing the recipes I can give a sense of support and hope, but also create a dialogue to help people understand what else they can make with what limited resources they have right now, too,” Tran said.

He’ll also offer possible substitutions for various ingredients. Tran plans to be online on Sundays around 3 p.m. PST to answer questions, share tips, and generally interact with home chefs. Via the comments section, you too can share your successes (and failures, it’s fine) with other cooks. 

So far, Tran’s recipes include mustard green and pancetta, garlic noodles, and citrus sesame tofu. 

A recent episode featured these turkey spinach meatballs. Photo: Create Hospitality

Lauren Koeppe of Create Hospitality and her fiancée Page Jeter are hosting a cooking show via Instagram @createhospitality. They go live nightly at 7 p.m. PST, each time cooking a new dish. 

“Obviously, anyone in hospitality is shut down right now, so we decided to make a nightly cooking show for friends and followers to tune in and engage with us and laugh,” Jeter said. “[And] to teach people how to cook simply and healthily, but also keep up spirits.”

Log in tonight to watch them prepare roast chicken and vegetables. The pair selected this meal after noticing that while stores are out of most meats, whole chickens seem to be readily available. 

And for nights when you don’t feel like cooking, many restaurants are available for delivery and pickup. This is a great way to support your favorite spots, many of which are losing revenue due to COVID-19 closures. Check out our guide to over 50 local spots here.

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News

New ‘Safer at Home’ Order: Don’t Go Out Unless Necessary

March 19, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: Mayor of LA/Facebook

Today during a 5:30 p.m. press conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced even stricter measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Shying away from terms like “lockdown” and “shelter in place,” Garcetti is instead calling this order “Safer at Home.”

The Safer at Home order goes into effect at midnight tonight through April 19. The County of Los Angeles has put a similar order into place. 

In short, you shouldn’t go to work unless your job is an essential service (defined below) and there should be no gatherings of more than 10 people. Basically, you should, when possible, stay at home. But don’t panic if you still need something. You can leave your home for essential services and, if you like, to take a walk outside—as long as you practice social distancing.

“We encourage you not to be locked down,” Garcetti said. “This is not ‘shelter-in-place’ like a school shooting. This is stay at home because you’re safer at home.”

Things you can do:

  • Go to the grocery store
  • Go to the pharmacy 
  • Go to medical appointments (check with your doctor first)
  • Take a walk, ride your bike, and exercise outdoors while social distancing
  • Walk your pets and take them to the vet if needed
  • Help someone else get supplies they need

But you shouldn’t:

  • Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by the Safer at Home order. (Working from home, of course, is fine.)
  • Visit friends and family unless there’s an urgent need
  • Travel to or from a job outside of Los Angeles, except to perform essential activities
  • Travel to or from a vacation home outside of Los Angeles
  • Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or any other residential care facility

Per the Safer at Home order, the following is a list of business and services considered essential (more details here):

  • City/County government services:
  • Gas service stations, auto supply, auto repair, bicycle repair shops, and related facilities.
  • Health care providers
  • Food services (note: no dine-in restaurants or bars can be open)
  • Hardware stores and nurseries
  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, custodial/janitorial workers, handyman services, funeral home workers and morticians, moving services, HVAC installers, carpenters, landscapers, gardeners, property managers, private security personnel and other service providers who provide services to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation to properties and other essential activities  
  • Banks
  • Organizations and businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, (including gang prevention and intervention and domestic violence agencies).
  • Laundromats/laundry service
  • Newspapers, magazines, television, radio, podcasts and other media services
  • Educational institutions, including public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing essential functions provided that social distancing of six-feet per person is maintained to the greatest extent possible

Today’s announcements come after days of ramping up restrictions throughout the state, including the closure of all restaurants (save takeout and delivery), bars, and fitness centers. You may listen to the entire briefing here.

In a separate news briefing, the County also revealed that the current number of confirmed cases is now around 230. At press time, two people have died due to the coronavirus, most recently a 34-year-old resident Glendora resident who had recently visited theme parks in Florida.

L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said lab tests have been performed on nearly 1,700 people. On average, about 13% of those tests have come back positive. 

If you are feeling stressed or anxious, Ferrer pointed to the Department of Mental Health’s 24/7 hotline. That number is 800-854-7771.

Correction: A previous version of the article stated 17,000 people had been tested.

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