Coronavirus Updates: Mercy Hospital Ship Arrives in L.A., Gates Warns About COVID-19 Fight, SMMUSD Closes Indefinitely

Coronavirus Updates: Mercy Hospital Ship Arrives in L.A., Gates Warns About COVID-19 Fight, SMMUSD Closes Indefinitely

Here are the latest headlines regarding how the novel coronavirus is impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.

Today:

  • Coronavirus cases surge in L.A. County, 5 deaths reported
  • Navy hospital ship Mercy enters the Port of Los Angeles
  • Bill Gates warns there's "no middle ground" in coronavirus fight
  • Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District tells parents it will remain closed indefinitely

    Coronavirus cases surge in L.A. County, 5 deaths reported

    Los Angeles county officials reported a massive surge in coronavirus cases on Friday with 257 new cases and five deaths. That brings the total number of cases to 1,465 and 26 deaths due to the fast-spreading COVID-19.

    In less than a week the number of cases have tripled and with the spread unabated, officials shut down beaches and trailheads where crowds had been flocking.

    "The crowds we saw at our beaches last weekend were unacceptable," Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a statement. "We cannot risk another sunny weekend with crowds at the beach spreading this virus."

    The county has a higher mortality rate than New York City, said Barbara Ferrer, the county public health director.

    Health officials have ramped up testing, but still only about 11,000 individuals have been tested far below New York. About 11% of those have tested positive.

    Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District tells parents it will remain closed indefinitely

    upload.wikimedia.org

    Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District's Superintendent Ben Drati sent a letter to parents, guardians and staff on Thursday evening telling them that in accordance with directive from Gov. Newsom and county health and education officials that the district will remain closed until further notice with distance learning continuing. The school is also continuing its meal services for students at four school sites. -- Tami Abdollah

    Navy hospital ship Mercy enters the Port of Los Angeles

    Navy doctors from USNS Mercy perform joint replacement surgery in Vietnam during Pacific Partnership 2015

    upload.wikimedia.org

    Mayor Eric Garcetti was on hand to greet the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy as it arrived at the Port of Los Angeles to ease the crush of coronavirus patients expected to slam local hospitals. The ship, which departed from San Diego on Monday, will provide 1,000 hospital beds. The Mercy will also have doctors, nurses and other medical staff to accept patients who do not have COVID-19. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Garcetti have been warning residents to expect that the virus will not peak for a few weeks, and that a quarantine could last months as the state tries to get a handle on the crisis. There are 4,204 confirmed coronavirus cases in California, and 85 deaths as of late Thursday,

    Bill Gates warns there's "no middle ground" in coronavirus fight

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    Bill Gates was a trending toping on Twitter on Friday after his appearance on a CNN town hall with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The Microsoft co-founder cautioned that "there is no middle ground" in the fight against the novel coronavirus, calling for a coordinated effort to effectively shut down normal life across the United States to stop the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the long-term economic impact. Cooper did not mention President Trump by name, and Gates is traditionally careful not to delve into politics, but the question was a clear reference to the president's stated goal to return the country to normal by Easter Sunday, April 12, a little more than two weeks away. "No, it's not realistic," Gates said. "The numbers are still going up." He's calling for a 6-10 week nationwide quarantine.

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    Ben Bergman

    Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

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