Final Round of COVID-19 Relief Grants from the State of California: The final round of the State of California's COVID-19 Relief Grant Program will open on April 28th and close on May 4th. This final round will accept new applications. Grant award amounts will be between $5,000 - $25,000. For more information and to apply, visit www.CAreliefgrant.com.
Round 2 of 'Keep Our Shops on the Block' - Personal Care and Retail Recovery Grants Coming Soon! Retail & personal care service businesses are encouraged to apply for the LA Regional COVID-19 Fund grants. Brick and mortar businesses that meet minimum criteria may submit an application beginning April 26th and no later than May 2nd. Grants of $10,000 will be awarded through an online, random application system. For more information about the program and to apply, click here.
Restaurants Care Resilience Fund- $3,500 Grants: Small restaurants are invited to apply for a grant of up to $3,500 from the recently launched Restaurants Care Resilience Fund. Funded by SoCal Gas in partnership with the California Restaurant Foundation, these grants are intended to support restaurants that have suffered losses related to COVID-19 and to pay for things like payroll and the hiring back of employees. The application deadline is Sunday, April 18th. For more information and to apply, visit www.restaurantscare.org/resilience/.
Property owners can now apply for the Mortgage Relief Program, a partnership with Neighborhood Housing Services of LA County and local HUD-approved housing counseling agencies. The $5.5 million initiative developed by the LA County Board of Supervisors will support property owners who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mortgage Relief Program will include a relief fund which provides grants of up to $20,000 for qualified property owners, plus expanded foreclosure prevention counseling services. The program is structured to benefit single-family homeowners and property owners with four or fewer units living in communities highly impacted by COVID-19. To apply now for the Mortgage Relief Program, call (888) 895-2647 or visit nhslacounty.org/mortgagereliefprogram.
Virtual Forum: Bankruptcy Law for Small Businesses-Questions about bankruptcy law? Join the Los Angeles County Consumer & Business Affairs on Thursday, April 22 at 11:00 am to learn about its application to small businesses. RSVP Now
Globally: The global death toll from the coronavirus topped a staggering 3 million people Saturday amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil, India and France.
The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; or metropolitan Lisbon, Portugal. It is bigger than Chicago (2.7 million) and equivalent to Philadelphia and Dallas combined.
And the true number is believed to be significantly higher because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019.
Cases-the Numbers and More: Pasadena’s coronavirus infection rates held steady last week as of Thursday — though officials say they’d prefer if it was going down a little more. Meanwhile, the city’s vaccination rate accelerated with an 8 percentage point jump — an improvement over the past few weeks that have mostly seen 5 or 6 percentage point increases — as nearly 66% of all residents have now received at least one dose, city data shows. Four out of 10 residents have been fully vaccinated as everyone over the age of 16 is now eligible to get the jab, whether it’s from the city, county, local pharmacy or a medical network such as Kaiser Permanente.
Within the next day or so, the Pasadena Public Health Department will release an updated health order to align with recent guidance from the state around indoor live events, such as theaters, as well as private social gatherings of many types. Most of the guidance will be similar to existing rules, Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, the city’s health director and medical officer, said in a Thursday interview, though it will be more nuanced and complicated. There will be instructions for buildings’ ventilation systems and social distancing, while indoors; there will be protocols for using tests to keep folks safe and will say how the rules should change when the majority of folks have been vaccinated.
The biggest shift in guidance will be around indoor live events — something that still hasn’t returned in earnest after more than a year of closures — but the state has said could reopen as soon as June 15. Goh said the city’s soon-to-be-released guidance will require a worker testing program to be in place. It will bar patrons from eating in their seats, though it will allow for an indoor dining space that will be the only place one is allowed to take their mask off. It also will have instructions for how businesses can optimize their ventilation systems.
Goh said her department has been talking to Pasadena’s local venues, helping them figure out ways to get back up and running for the summer. Guidance and protocol information from the Pasadena Public Health Department can be found at: https://www.cityofpasadena.net/covid-19/#health-orders.
The city’s infection rate largely held steady past week, declining slightly from 2.7 cases per day on average to 2.4, measuring from April 8 to Thursday. It’s a bit higher than April 9, when cases dipped to 1.7 cases per day — a pandemic low — but these are typical fluctuations that are most noticeable when case counts are hovering so low. Since April 9, case counts have wavered between 2.9 and 2.4 cases per day on average, depending on the day.
On the vaccine front, the city saw big gains in two age groups: 45- to 64-year-olds as well as 18- to 44-year-olds.
The younger folks received about 4,000 doses last week; the older ones got about 3,500. Nearly half of all 18to 44-year-olds have now received at least one vaccination — 48.8% — while 72.7% of 45- to 64-year-olds have gotten the jab once. The vast majority of those older than these two groups have gotten at least one shot.
Meanwhile, about 1 in 5 of those younger than those two groups also has gotten a shot. That number is expected to rise in the coming weeks now that eligibility has expanded to everyone over age 16.
The city’s racial data was a little skewed last week, making it difficult to say how progress fared in that arena. The city found racial data for more than 4,200 patients, who already received a shot, city data shows, making it difficult to observe week-toweek progress.
However, at this point, communities of color are still lagging behind white and Asian residents.
• 62% of White residents have received at least one shot.
• 30.4% of Latino residents have received at least one shot.
• 42.3% of Black residents have received at least one shot.
• 59.1% of Asian/Pacific Islander residents have received at least one shot.
Los Angeles County reported 527 new cases of COVID-19 and 29 additional deaths Saturday and the county’s daily test positivity rate of 0.9% is the lowest it has been since the beginning of the pandemic. According to state figures — which are typically one day ahead of county figures — the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Los Angeles County dropped from 498 Friday to 486. That’s down from 512 Thursday and 518 Wednesday. There were 112 people in intensive care, down from 117 Friday. The latest numbers brought the county’s totals to 1,228,564 cases and 23,626 fatalities since the pandemic began, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
This week, the county will receive an allocation of 361,750 doses, a 12% increase from last week. That supply will be supplemented by direct allocations by the state and federal governments to specific providers such as major health systems, health care centers and pharmacies. With those allocations, more than 600,000 new doses will be available across the county this week, Simon said.
Vaccines: The State of California has expanded vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 years-old or older.
Out of an abundance of caution, Los Angeles County is following the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pause the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after reports that six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed unusual types of blood clots 6 to 13 days after receiving the vaccine. This pause will last until the FDA and CDC complete their review, which is expected to take several days. Vaccine providers in LA County will contact patients about rescheduling or providing a new appointment for Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
These reactions are extremely rare, as nearly 7,000,000 people have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States to date. People who received the vaccine in the last 3 weeks should look for any symptoms of these unusual clots, including severe headaches, abdominal or leg pain, and shortness of breath, and contact their medical provider if symptoms develop. People who don't have a medical provider can call 2-1-1 to connect with a healthcare provider. To learn more, visit FAQ's: Johnson & Johnson Pause or VaccineLACounty.com.
The Economy: Pacific Theaters, which operates about 300 screens in California, including the ArcLight theaters and the historic Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, said Monday that it will not be reopening.
Employment: From the LA Times: California’s economy is slowly picking up as businesses reopen and new unemployment claims fall, but stubborn joblessness persists as many simply stop looking for work. In March, employers added 119,600 positions, state officials reported Friday. The Golden State has yet to recover 56% of the 2.7 million jobs lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic last spring.
California’s unemployment rate dropped to 8.3% in March from 8.5% a month earlier but remained far higher than the 4.5% in March 2020, before the virus took hold. And last month’s slide was mainly caused by nearly 40,000 workers quitting the labor force, economists said.
The state’s economy is recovering more slowly than the nation’s as officials have been more cautious in lifting restrictions on businesses than in other states. After New York and Hawaii, California unemployment was the third-highest in the nation, tied with New Mexico. The U.S. jobless rate stood at 6% in March. “California is clawing back some of the huge job losses suffered during the pandemic, but much progress remains to be achieved,” said Lynn Reaser, an economist at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.
Payrolls nationally were 5.5% below pre-pandemic levels, compared with California’s 8.6% drop.
Along with its more restrictive policies to contain the virus, the state’s greater dependence on tourism has devastated its hotel, convention, restaurant and live entertainment industries and accounts for much of the difference with the broader U.S. recovery, Reaser said. Many people have either quit their jobs or stopped looking for work,” she said. “Some needed to care for children and for parents. Some feared becoming infected at work. Some despaired at finding a job and opted for unemployment benefits. Still others have simply burned out.”
Although the entertainment industry is recovering more slowly than several other sectors, the state’s overall economy is showing encouraging signs since the March jobs numbers, which are collected mid-month.
Since early April, with the pace of vaccinations accelerating, many California counties have emerged from the most restrictive tiers that regulate business closures, and the number of newly unemployed workers filing for benefits is dropping sharply.
For the week ending April 10, new jobless claims totaled 91,756, the lowest level since the pre-pandemic week ending March 14, 2020, and a sharp decrease from the previous week’s total of 169,902.
“That’s the strongest sign so far of the start of an employment recovery,” said Michael Bernick, a former director of the state’s Employment Development Department. “It’s rooted in the combination of widespread vaccinations, schools reopening and the economic lockdowns being lifted.”
The March report showed a broad recovery with payrolls expanding across 10 of the state’s 11 industry sectors. Leisure and hospitality businesses such as restaurants, bars, entertainment and hotels accounted for 42,400 new jobs, more than a third of last month’s gains.
Trade, transportation and utilities, which include retail stores and e-commerce warehouses, saw the second-highest jump with 32,200 new jobs.
Other recovering sectors: professional and business services, which include jobs ranging from low-wage office clerks to well-paid lawyers and executives (22,000); the “other services” sector such as hair salons and auto repair shops (7,300); and construction (6,000).
The only sector to shrink in March was financial activities, which lost 600 jobs.
Earlier this month, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state can expect to fully reopen its economy by June 15 assuming Californians continue to wear masks, hospitalizations diminish, more Californians are vaccinated and contagious variants of the coronavirus are controlled.
“Stars are aligned right for a strong job recovery in the state,” said Sung Won Sohn, a business economist at Loyola Marymount University. Yet it could take years for employment to return to peak levels before the pandemic, he said: “Many of the jobs won’t come back at all. Many small businesses have closed permanently.”
In Los Angeles County, the unemployment rate remained high in March, at 11.3%, a slight drop from February’s 11.5%, due in part to 12,000 workers who stopped looking for work. Countywide, 579,000 workers were counted as unemployed. L.A. County added 34,200 jobs in March for a total of about 4.1 million, with leisure and hospitality posting the largest gain of 13,300 positions.
In Orange County, the March unemployment rate was 6.4%, down from 6.7% in February. The county gained 17,800 jobs for a total of about 1.52 million. Leisure and hospitality businesses added 9,800 positions, the most of any sector.
In the Inland Empire, which encompasses Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the March unemployment rate was 7.7%, down from 8.1% in February. The region added 12,500 jobs, with leisure and hospitality, up by 4,900, accounting for the largest increase.
In Northern California, buoyed by a tech economy in which many were able to work from home, unemployment stood at 5.4% in San Francisco County, 5.1% in Santa Clara County and 5% in San Mateo County.
Now that Gov. Gavin Newsom is letting more businesses reopen as coronavirus cases decline, the California Legislature on Thursday passed a bill requiring some hotels and other hospitality companies to offer laid-off workers their jobs back.
Hospitality companies were some of the hardest hit by the state’s stay-at-home order, with no people to stay in hotels while empty office buildings and deserted airports needed fewer janitors and food service workers.
Newsom has been relaxing coronavirus restrictions as more people are getting vaccinated and the number of new cases declines. If things continue to improve, Newsom said he will lift all restrictions on June 15.
With companies preparing to resume normal operations, Democrats who control the state Legislature said they wanted to make sure laid-off hospitality workers are first in line to get their old jobs back. The bill requires hotels, private clubs and janitorial service companies to let their former employees know when their jobs are available again and give them five days to decide on whether they want to come back.