Los Angeles Times - 03.04.2020

(C. Jardin) #1




SPORTS INSIDE:Former boxer Mia St. John finds it tough to stay sober in a pandemic. B

A day after the World
Health Organization de-
clared the coronavirus out-
break a pandemic, friends
Annie Bickerton and Cristin
Lim knew they couldn’t wait
around for government to
The two millennials mo-
bilized, as Bickerton, 33,

went to Lim, 24, with an idea.
“Can you help me make a
website for a rapid response
thing for neighbors if COVID
gets really bad?” Bickerton
texted Lim.
In a matter of hours, they
had launched Westside
Friends, a network of neigh-
bors helping one another
during the outbreak with
grocery runs, meals, phar-
macy pickups, check-in calls

and other errands.
Their skills aligned
Bickerton works in
public policy and has a
knack for rallying people.
She organized a core group
of volunteers.
Lim is a freelance de-
signer who always thinks of
her audience. She created a
domain, designed and devel-

ANNIE BICKERTON, left, Richard Tamayo and Cristin Lim post fliers in Mar
Vista offering to help Angelenos who are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jason ArmondLos Angeles Times

Random acts of kindness

As the coronavirus strains government services,

neighbors ramp up an all-hands-on-deck approach

By Cindy Carcamo


warned virus
may be lurking

Atmospheric chemist
fears the coronavirus
could enter coastal
waters and then be
kicked into the air. B

Pet adoptions
soar in pandemic
Across L.A. and around
the world, in uncertain
times, it seems as
though every animal is
now a therapy pet. B


Nine-year-old Trevor de la Torre
was home with a migraine when his
parents got word that his school was
closing in response to the coronavirus
emergency — and his critically
needed hands-on therapies would ef-
fectively stop, too.
His one-on-one reading specialist,
gone. His speech therapy, gone. His
occupational therapist who is teach-
ing him how to write letters, gone. His
one-on-one classroom aide is no long-
er by his side to help him understand
assignments and break down lessons
into more manageable parts.
Trevor was born with a rare brain
malformation called hemimegalen-
cephaly — half his brain was removed
when he was 6 months old to stop life-
threatening seizures. He has only half
of his vision and his mobility, as well as
visual, auditory, speech and devel-
opmental delays, said his mother,
Kelly de la Torre.
Now the expert support team pro-
vided by the Poway Unified School
District is only permitted by the dis-

DARLIN PEÑA watches his siblings Heaven and Richard play in their Los Angeles yard. Darlin has
cerebral palsy and is struggling with the tools he’s been given by his school for remote learning.

Dania MaxwellLos Angeles Times

A new challenge for

special-needs students

With schools shut, they struggle with inadequate resources

“I WANT to learn more, but they don’t have anything for me to do,”
Darlin Peña said of his Willowbrook training center, now closed.

By Sonali Kohli


A family foundation con-
trolled by Dr. Patrick Soon-
Shiong is seeking to buy an
empty hospital near down-
town Los Angeles and turn it
into a sprawling campus for
COVID-19 patients and co-
ronavirus research.
Soon-Shiong and his
wife, Michele B. Chan, run
the Chan Soon-Shiong Fam-
ily Foundation, which has of-
fered to purchase St. Vin-
cent Medical Center out of
bankruptcy for $135 million.
Soon-Shiong, who owns
The Times, said in an inter-
view that the goal was to cre-
ate a “central command”
center that would attract
doctors and experts on the

virus, and relieve pressure
on other hospitals.
The state recently moved
to lease the property to help
the region cope with the co-
ronavirus pandemic, and
Soon-Shiong said his pur-
chase would bolster that ef-
“That’s what every city
should have done, they
should have established a
central command,” Soon-
Shiong said, adding that “we
are in a war zone now.”
Ajudge on Wednesday
approved the Chan Soon-
Shiong Family Foundation
as the lead bidder for the
hospital at a federal Bank-
ruptcy Court hearing. Com-
peting offers must be sub-
mitted to the court by Fri-
St. Vincent has been
closed since January amid
bankruptcy proceedings, a
blow to the working-class,
predominantly Latino
neighborhood served by the

Times owner seeks

to buy St. Vincent

Soon-Shiong wants to

turn vacant hospital

into a coronavirus

‘command’ center.

By Dakota Smith


Pentecostal church in a Sac-
ramento suburb is the epi-
center of a coronavirus out-
break, with more than six
dozen confirmed cases,
prompting county officials
to warn against religious
“It’s outrageous that this
is happening,” said Dr. Peter
Beilenson, the Sacramento
County public health direc-
tor. “Obviously there is free-
dom of religion, but when it’s
impacting public health as
this is, we have to enforce so-
cial distancing.”
The church, Bethany
Slavic Missionary Church,
did not immediately return a
call for comment Thursday.
But Beilenson said health
officials were concerned
that church members may
still be meeting in private
homes to conduct services,
despite county orders.
“Whether or not you have
community-wide sermons
or meetings in people’s
houses, they are all dangers
and they are very detri-
mental to the public’s
health,” Beilenson said.
Beilenson said 71 of the
church’s members who live
in Sacramento County have
tested positive, and more
members who live in sur-
rounding counties also have
confirmed cases, though he
could not say how many.
Information and ser-
mons on the church’s web-
site indicate it stopped
holding large gatherings
March 18. The church is the
largest Russian-language
Pentecostal church in the
area and has a congregation
of more than 3,000 people,
according to published re-
ports. Its two-story building

is normally packed with con-
gregants, many of them old-
er immigrants, during multi-
ple services each week.
According to a sermon
from Sunday posted online,
the church’s senior pastor,
Adam Bondaruk, is hospi-
talized with the virus, as are
two other pastors, who were
described as “critically ill” by
an unidentified pastor in the
“We have many different
people in our church, they
are ill, so we need to pray. We
need to intervene,” the pas-
tor continued in the video.


church linked

to outbreak

Health officials say

over 71 worshipers

have the virus, raising

concern that members

are meeting in private.

By Anita Chabria,
Sean Greene and
Rong-Gong Lin II


The death toll from co-
ronavirus surged again
Thursday to 78 in Los Ange-
les County as officials
warned residents “many
weeks of work” were ahead
before the region might see
signs that the spread was
Although cases are rising
across the state, Los Ange-
les County — the state’s
most populous — has seen a
large number of fatalities
and new cases. Officials ac-
knowledged the psycholo-
gical toll of the losses but
said it’s essential people
keep following social dis-
tancing rules and follow
health guidelines.
“Please don’t lose hope,
and please don’t stop follow-
ing all of the directives that
you are following right now
to slow the spread of
COVID-19,” said Barbara
Ferrer, director of the Los
Angeles County Depart-
ment of Public Health.
The county confirmed 13
new coronavirus-related
deaths Thursday, bringing
the toll to 78. Twelve of the
victims were over age 65, and
all but one of them had
underlying health condi-
tions, Ferrer said. The other
person who died was be-
tween ages 41 and 65 and also
had underlying health con-
ditions, she said.
L.A. County officials also
announced 534 new
COVID-19 cases. Long
Beach, which has its own
health department, an-
nounced 14 new cases, bring-
ing the city’s total to 153.
There were 49 confirmed
cases in Pasadena, which
also has its own health de-
partment. There were more
than 4,000 confirmed cases
overall in L.A. County as of
Thursday night. The daily
count increased by more
than 1,000 in 48 hours.
“The psychological im-
pact of rising case counts
and deaths is real, both indi-
vidually and collectively, and
I urge everyone to take care
of their emotional health
and to check in frequently
with those in your extended
communities,” Ferrer said.
“This will be a long haul, and
we have many weeks of work






L.A. County has 40%

of state cases. ‘Please

don’t lose hope,’

health director says.

By Hannah Fry,
John Myers
and Paige St. John

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