Mass release of California prisoners weighed by judges amid virus fears
LA Times' PAIGE ST JOHN: "As parole dates are sped up and inmates tear shirts and socks to make masks, federal judges are weighing whether California must take larger, more drastic steps to avert the spread of COVID-19 in its teeming prisons.
“There is injury and despair” among inmates living in crowded dorms under threat of the coronavirus, attorney Sarah Norman with the Prison Law Office said during an emergency hearing Thursday before three federal judges.
The remedies that inmate lawyers propose range from mass releases to the state’s use of empty buildings and acquisition of property to temporarily house inmates — akin to COVID-19 measures to house cruise ship passengers and the homeless."
CA unemployment claims top 878,000 as pandemic pushes US jobless to new high
Sac Bee's DAVID LIGHTMAN: "New jobless claims in California surged again last week, reaching an estimated 878,727, an explosion in claims far greater than the national percentage increase, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.
The rise in state claims was even greater, measured by percentage increase, than the national surge, the Labor Department reported. Nationally, more than 6.6 million people filed for the first time in the week that ended Saturday.
The seasonally adjusted figure, an historic high, was double the previous week’s total."
READ MORE related to Economy: Newsom's originally planned budget will be radically upended by the pandemic -- Sac Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG/ADAM ASHTON; Do you need to pay property tax? Newsom says he doesn't want to 'overpromise'-- Sac Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG; Country in 'Great Depression neighborhood' and unemployment could top 32% -- The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID; City grants, loans for SF businesses reeling from outbreak -- The Chronicle's JOHN KING; Fremont to open drive-through testing center -- The Chronicle's STAFF; Some in US may not get stimulus checks until August, memo says -- AP; Disney to furlough employees amid crisis -- LA Times' RYAN FAUGHNDER
See how California's COVID-19 death curve is projected to look, compared to other large states
Sac Bee's PHILLIP REESE: "California will have fewer COVID-19 deaths on its worst day than New York, Texas and Florida will have on their peak days, even though California has far more people than any of those places, according to a widely-cited prediction model.
The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, founded in 2007 with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the state of Washington, has released dynamic projections showing when deaths from COVID-19 will peak in each state. The model assumes social distancing continues until the end of May. It is updated regularly as new data about the spread of the disease is reported.
The model predicts that California will see its worst day on April 26, when 119 of its residents will die from COVID-19. By comparison, New York will see its worst day on April 10, when 855 of its residents will die. Florida will peak on May 4, when around 175 residents will die, and Texas will peak on May 6, when around 161 residents will die."
How to make your own COVID-19 face mask -- including a no-sew one
From the LA Times' LISA BOONE: "As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, we’re now learning that any mask is better than no mask, and it may be time for healthy people to start wearing them.
If you’re like many Americans, though, you can’t find a mask — at least not one at a reasonable price. So we’re going to show you how to make your own.
But first, if you are feeling confused about the “should I wear a mask or not” messaging, you’re not alone."
READ MORE related to Pandemic: Mass unemployment claims as California passes 11,000 infected -- Sac Bee's MICHAEL MCGOUGH; State testing backlog is a vast 64% unprocessed -- The Chronicle's CATHERINE HO; Pentacostal church in Sacramento linked to dozens of cases -- LA Times' ANITA CHABRIA/SEAN GREENE/RONG-GONG LIN II; Asian countries impose new restrictions as cases come roaring back -- LA Times's SHASHANK BENGALI;
Backers of California Prop 13 revision turn in signatures
The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "Backers of an initiative to revise California’s Proposition 13 and allow property taxes on large commercial property to rise more quickly submitted 1.7 million signatures Thursday to get the measure on the November ballot.
The signatures going to county registrars’ offices across the state actually are for a property tax measure revising one that is already on the ballot. The revised version makes technical fixes to the original and adds provisions supporters believe will make it more attractive to voters.
If the new measure qualifies, it will replace the original version on the fall ballot."
Newsom announces agreement between teachers and school officials amid closures
Sac Bee's SAWSAN MORRAR: "Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a major agreement Wednesday between teachers and school management that provides guidance on pay, benefits and distance learning.
The framework, which is not a directive, was agreed upon by teachers, classified employees, school boards, superintendents and principals. It will allow more students to receive school resources as schools remain closed to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
“While schools might be physically closed, class is still in session,” said Governor Newsom in a news release. “This agreement is good news for students and parents, and the announcement means that more California kids will have tools to learn at home during this crisis."
Union, employer make joint appeal to Trump on face masks
Sac Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "The shortage of N95 respirators, face shields and other medical equipment forged an unlikely alliance Wednesday as labor leader April Verrett joined nursing home administrator Crystal Solorzano in pleading with President Trump to use his authority to expand production of supplies needed to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“I found myself last week in one of my nursing homes, cutting pieces of tablecloth to make a makeshift face shield,” said Solorzano, the founder and chief executive officer of ReNew Health Group, which owns and operates nursing homes in California. “We can’t do that. We are doing that, but we shouldn’t have to do that. We’re working right now to get domestic suppliers online so they can start manufacturing things that they’ve never manufactured before.”
She and Verrett, president of SEIU Local 2015, spoke on a conference call with news media, joined by licensed vocational nurse Maria Cecilia, Dr. Richard Pan, the state senior representing the Sacramento area, and Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, a Democrat representing the Inland Empire region."
READ MORE related to Health: Nurses demand better protection to work with infected patients -- Sac Bee's PAUL KITAGAKI JR; California resumes disclosing how many health workers have virus -- The Chronicle's MALLORY MOENCH; UCSF, Seton nurses call on Newsom to send protective equipment -- The Chronicle's TATIANA SANCHEZ
A cold Pacific storm will bring rain and mountain snow to SoCal on Sunday and Monday
LA Times' PAUL DUGINSKI: "A cold Pacific storm is likely to bring widespread rain and mountain snow to Southern California late Sunday into Monday, the National Weather Service said.
The low system is expected to draw in a plume of moisture from the Pacific that could produce significant precipitation on Sunday and Monday, said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. The heaviest rainfall is expected on south- and southwest-facing slopes in the mountains and foothills, enhanced by low-level southerly flow.
Rain will be widespread, likely over the entire area Sunday night, with the most intense rain falling between midnight Sunday and noon Monday."
READ MORE related to Environment: This telescope could help us explore the heavens, but it's stuck in virus limbo -- LA Times's RALPH VARTABEDIAN/SAMANTHA MASUNAGA
Navy captain who asked for help on infected aircraft carrier relieved of command
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI/TAL KOPAN/MATTHIAS GAFNI: "The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier who pleaded with Navy officials for more resources to remove most of his nearly 5,000 crew members from the coronavirus-infected warship, warning sailors could die, was relieved of his command Thursday.
Capt. Brett Crozier, commander of the Theodore Roosevelt, sent a letter to Navy leaders this week pleading for immediate help for his crew as the coronavirus spread through the warship. Navy leaders, however, said he showed “extremely poor judgment” in copying the letter to more than 20 people, saying that allowed it to become public and undermine national security.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said at a Pentagon news conference that Crozier had been relieved “at my direction.” He said the captain hadn’t let his superiors know the seriousness of the situation aboard his ship before The Chronicle revealed the contents of a letter he wrote to Navy brass, and that he hadn’t taken steps to ensure the plea would not be leaked."
US stops issuing passports except in emergencies
LA Times' MARY FORGIONE: "The U.S. State Department won’t be processing new passports and renewals except for emergency cases because of the coronavirus pandemic, the agency’s website said.
“Due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20, 2020, we are only able to offer service for customers with a qualified life-or-death emergency and who need a passport for immediate international travel within 72 hours,” said a March 27 online statement.
Passport applications received on or before March 19 will be processed. Travelers who paid extra for expedited service can expect to receive their passport in the next two to three weeks."
Some red states move to restrict abortion amid the pandemic, spurring legal fight
LA Times' JENNIFER HABERKORN: "Six Republican-led states are moving to dramatically curtail access to abortion amid the coronavirus pandemic, prompting a wave of lawsuits that could soon bring the dispute to the Supreme Court.
While several states and the federal government have discouraged nonessential medical procedures like cosmetic surgery and elective dental work during the national health crisis, six states — Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas — went a step further, prohibiting abortion, unless to protect the life or health of the woman.
The Republican governors say their orders are vital to preserving hospital capacity and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers treating COVID-19 cases."
Trump administration ended pandemic early-warning program to detect virus
LA Times' EMILY BAUMGAERTNER: "Two months before the novel coronavirus is thought to have begun its deadly advance in Wuhan, China, the Trump administration ended a $200-million pandemic early-warning program aimed at training scientists in China and other countries to detect and respond to such a threat.
The project, launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2009, identified 1,200 different viruses that had the potential to erupt into pandemics, including more than 160 novel coronaviruses. The initiative, called PREDICT, also trained and supported staff in 60 foreign laboratories — including the Wuhan lab that identified SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Field work ceased when the funding ran out in September, and organizations that worked on the PREDICT program laid off dozens of scientists and analysts, said Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a key player in the program."