DMV shuts public offices

Mar 27, 2020

DMV closing all field offices to public, official memo reveals


LA Times's LEILA MILLER/PATRICK MCGREEVY: "Faced with concerns among workers about the spread of COVID-19, the California Department of Motor Vehicles announced in a memo to employees Thursday that it is closing all of its more than 170 field offices to the public starting Friday.


In the memo obtained by The Times that was sent to employees on Thursday, DMV Field Operations Deputy Director Coleen Solomon wrote that the closures are part of the agency “taking steps to address employee health and safety concerns, including public contact and increasing social distancing between individuals.”


Employees will be placed on paid administrative time off as the offices are closed for cleaning and disinfecting from March 27 to 31, and staff will return to work April 1 though the offices will remain closed to the public."



Virus stimulus package versus the Recovery Act


LA Times's SANDHYA KAMBHAMPATI: "On Friday, the House is expected to give final passage to a roughly $2-trillion economic stimulus package, one of the largest in history, which includes direct payments of up to $1,200 for most adults, the expansion of unemployment insurance and loans to businesses struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic."


"President Trump said Wednesday that he would sign the stimulus package, which is equivalent to nearly 10% of the nation’s gross domestic product and more than half the $3.5 trillion the federal government expects to collect in taxes this year."


"Economists at the Tax Foundation estimate $300 billion will go toward recovery rebates for this year."


Health officials to Newsom: Lockdown requires enforcement


KHN's ANGELA HART in Capitol Weekly: "When Gov. Gavin Newsom last week ordered nearly all 40 million Californians to stay in their homes to combat the spread of COVID-19, he set the tone for the nation, becoming the first to issue a statewide lockdown.


Governors who had previously resisted quickly followed suit, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


But one week into the lockdown, epidemiologists tracking rates of transmission in California and the United States worry that Newsom’s shelter-in-place order will be less effective in controlling new infections without stronger enforcement. Local lawmakers and public health officers share their concern and some are exercising their policing powers."


Blood plasma transfusions from virus survivors could help treat new patients, scientists say


Sacramento Bee's SUMMER LIN: "The Food and Drug Administration said this week that it’s “facilitating access” to use donated blood plasma from coronavirus survivors to treat patients, according to CNN."


"New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that his state is pursuing the treatment in clinical trials, CNN reported."


"Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan began collecting blood donated from people who recovered from COVID-19 on Thursday, according to NBC Washington. Scientists say they plan to use the treatment, known as “human convalescent plasma,” on other patients."


California cases spike as US skyrockets past China, Italy in amount of known infected


LA Times's RONG-GONG LIN II: "The United States has surpassed Italy and China in having the most confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a global case tracker run by Johns Hopkins University.


California now has 3,910 cases and 80 deaths, a major spike over the last few days. State officials say the COVID-19 growth rate is such that it could overwhelm hospitals in the coming days and weeks.


As of Thursday afternoon, the United States was reporting more than 82,400 cases, above China’s tally of more than 81,700 and Italy’s count of more than 80,500."


READ MORE related to COVID-19 Pandemic: Check out the LV strip without the 42M visitors -- LA Times's JAY JONES; Celebrity chef Keller sues for insurance coverage over French Laundry, Bouchon -- The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO; How SF City Hall is leading the way in confronting virus threat -- The Chronicle's HEATHER KNIGHT


California approves climate change target that critics say  is far too weak


LA Times's SAMMY ROTH: "State officials signed off Thursday on a climate change target that critics say will reduce planet-warming emissions far too slowly. The action comes as economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to slow the growth of renewable energy.


Meeting via video conference to protect against the novel coronavirus, the five-member California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a plan that aims to cut power-plant emissions by about 25% over the next decade — a slower pace than those emissions fell during the previous decade. The commission had studied a plan to cut power-sector emissions in half but ultimately concluded the less aggressive target would keep California on track to meet its goal of 100% clean electricity by 2045.


Commissioner Liane Randolph described the agency’s decision as plenty ambitious. She said it would require California to roughly double its fleet of solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries by 2030, dramatically reducing the use of fossil fuels."


READ MORE related to The Environment: PG&E plans to pay its fine for involuntary manslaughter out  of fire victims fund -- LA Times's JOSEPH SERNA; Here's what you can still do at California parks and slow the virus spread -- Sac Bee's ROSALIO AHUMADA


SF DA, et al. call for undocumented immigrants' release


The Chronicle's TATIANA SANCHEZ: "Undocumented immigrants being held in proximity to one another in detention facilities across the country are at risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus at alarming rates, said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who on Thursday joined thousands of attorneys, doctors and immigration advocates across the country Thursday in calling for the detainees’ release."


"Advocates are pressuring Gov. Gavin Newsom to use his executive power to close detention centers across the state, calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” bound to explode if action is not taken."


"It is imperative, from a public health standpoint, that we quickly reduce the population of people who are in cages,” Boudin said during a virtual news conference Thursday. “It is impossible to have good hygiene, it is impossible to have social distancing, it is impossible to have a safe response to COVID-19, in the context of mass incarceration.”"


How  big will your govt check be from the virus bailout?


LA Times's JENNIFER HABERKORN/SARAH D WIRE: "The economic stimulus bill poised to be approved by Congress this week would provide direct payments to many American adults to help them pay their bills as they navigate through the shutdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak.


Here are answers to common questions about the payments."


READ MORE related to Economy: Unused vacation days give many state workers a cushion amid virus -- Sac Bee's WES VENTEICHER


Disgraced LA County Sheriff LEE BACA asks for early release


LA Times's MATT HAMILTON:" Citing the threat of the novel coronavirus, former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has asked a federal judge to release him from a Texas prison while he fights to have his conviction tossed out.


Baca, who was found guilty of thwarting a federal investigation into his department’s scandal-plagued jail system, is less than two months into a three-year prison term.


“Mr. Baca is nearly 78 years old and has Alzheimer’s disease. He is part of the population most vulnerable to the virus,” the motion filed by Baca’s San Diego-based attorney, Benjamin L. Coleman, said."


BART ridership dips 92% due to virus, agency considers more service cuts


The Chronicle's ANNA BAUMAN: "With BART ridership plunging 92% this week as Bay Area residents hunker down at home during the coronavirus outbreak, the transit agency is considering more drastic service cuts to make up for lost revenue, including no Sunday service."


"No decisions were made at a special Board of Directors meeting Thursday, but officials discussed the agency’s vanishing ridership, financial woes and potential fixes."


"March ridership to date is down 3.8 million trips, according to a presentation given at the meeting. Ridership fell by 10% the first week of the month, 39% the next week, 85% the third week — when the region’s shelter-in-place order was issued — and 92% so far this week."


Trump brags about his China travel ban. Experts say it's had no effect


LA Times's ELI STOKOLS/CHRIS MEGERIAN/NOAH BIERMAN: "Confronted with criticism about the lagging federal response to the coronavirus crisis, President Trump often boasts about his Jan. 31 decision to restrict travel from China, where the outbreak began, claiming he saved thousands of American lives.


But Trump has repeatedly overstated the effect of his decision, and the supposed opposition to it, even as he has misrepresented federal efforts to develop a vaccine and supply protective masks, ventilators and other critically needed gear."