Coronavirus food shortages beginning … but not why you think

It’s all about money. If the processing plants’ commercial and restuarant customer base is depleted, they will sit on their hands making demand go down, even though demand has actually gone up. It’s not like oil, where demand is reflected on population movement habits and a shift in workforce behavior. We have demand in food commodities that is false. Get ready.

Texas food bank distributes over 1 million pounds of goods to 10,000 families

Virus Outbreak Texas

A Texas food bank distributed more than 1 million pounds of food to about 10,000 families, whose cars sat bumper to bumper in a parking lot for the record-setting distribution event this week amid the coronavirus crisis.
About 6,000 households preregistered on the San Antonio Food Bank’s website for Thursday’s distribution held at Trader’s Village, Food Bank president and CEO Eric Cooper told the San Antonio Express-News.
But thousands more showed up for the giveaway — and aerial photos show the parking lot chock-full of cars. Cooper called it the largest single-day distribution in the nonprofit’s 40-year history.
“It was a rough one today,” he told the Express-News. “We have never executed on as large of a demand as we are now.”

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In California: 7,000 hotel rooms ready for homeless as COVID-19 cases surge

I am Gabrielle Canon, filling in for Arline Martinez. We made it to Friday!

But first, as of Friday afternoon, there were more than 11,300 confirmed cases in California, with the most concentrated in Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous. In the Golden State, 250 people in California have already lost their lives to the virus.

But the Golden State is still lagging far behind others in how quickly it can test symptomatic residents — let along those who aren’t sick enough to qualify for a test. Public health officials expect the number of people with coronavirus is a lot higher than the test numbers indicate, and have begun cautiously recommending that anyone leaving their homes (for essential reasons only!) wear something — like a scarf or bandana — over their face so they don’t run the risk of infecting others.

Despite the surging numbers — and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s update that California’s cases are expected to continue rising with a peak in early May — there’s evidence that the fast-acting decision to issue the nation’s first statewide shelter-in-place order is helping. Here’s to staying home.

In California brings you stories and information from newsrooms across the USA TODAY Network and beyond to keep you safe and informed. Subscribe today for free delivery right to your inbox every evening M-F. 

Newsom launches Project Roomkey to house the homeless in hotels

Lisa Marie Nava, right, helps a woman taking a shower at a mobile service for the homeless provided by The Shower of Hope MacArthur Park Monday, March 23, 2020, in Los Angeles. California residents have been told to keep away from others, not gather in groups and wash their hands frequently due to threat posed by the coronavirus.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

At Newsom’s noon briefing on Friday (now a regular thing that can be watched online on the governor’s Twitter page), he announced that the state had secured roughly 7,000 hotel rooms that will be made available to the homeless. The program, which aims to obtain a total of 15,000 units in areas where large numbers of people sleep on the streets, is intended to help curb the spread of COVID-19 among this highly vulnerable community.

The rooms come complete with “essential wraparound services,” including cleaning, laundry, security and other support staff. Some areas will also benefit from a partnership with Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, which will provide three meals a day.

More than 800 people have already moved in.

“What we want to do is relieve the stress in our shelter system,” Newsom said. “If left unaddressed, we allow our most vulnerable residents in the state of California to be exposed to this virus.”

California is the first state to secure FEMA funding for such a project, and the state will be reimbursed by the federal agency for up to 75% of costs.

The Trump administration announced $3 billion Thursday for homelessness pandemic efforts. Newsom has pledged $150 million in homeless aid, including money for hotel rooms.

There are more than 150,000 homeless people in California. Advocates have been concerned and critical of how slow officials were to address the higher risks faced by the homeless population, especially in the face of closures of public libraries and other facilities, which made it even more difficult for the unhoused to access water, food, and restrooms.

Still, the National Alliance to End Homelessness praised the plan.

“Through Project Roomkey, California has taken the lead in protecting homeless residents from COVID-19,” said president Nan Roman in a statement. “This initiative sets a strong national example of how state leaders can leverage their dollars with FEMA, HUD and other federal funds to address the needs of the most vulnerable homeless populations in this crisis and protect public health.”

Here’s how to protect yourself from coronavirus scams

It’s sad to think there are people out there exploiting this emergency and preying on pandemic fears to turn a profit. But, well, sigh.

While we can’t stop scammers, are ways to be vigilant and not fall victim to online tricks. The Federal Communications Commission has shared some helpful tools and examples of what to expect, to keep you ahead of the game.

Got a call offering free home testing kits? SCAM.

Maybe a text message came in from a Department of Health and Human Services official ordering you to take a mandatory online screening test? SCAM.

Someone has called saying you need to verify your personal information to get your federal stimulus check, a loan for your small business, or student loan debt forgiveness? SCAM, SCAM, SCAM.

Report anything that seems suspicious or consult this list of tips from the Feds:

  • Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
  • Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
  • Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding.  Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
  • Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
  • Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.

E-sports, big cats, and one man’s attempt to vacation from home

Home security camera captures mountain lion jumping over fence at California home
San Bruno Police via Storyful

Sports events have been canceled, much to the dismay of fans now home on their couches looking for something to watch. If ever there was a moment for e-sports, it is now.

People are tuning in to watch others play video games.

Nascar drivers are now behind the wheels of virtual cars.

And now, you can even get your basketball fix with the NBA’S 2K Players Tournament. The LA Times has all the details here.

Sports not your thing? Already binge-watched Tiger King? Try looking out your window—  some Gilroy residents have spotted big cats this week. Mountain lions, to be exact. Just another reason not to leave your house.

If all else fails, here’s how The Desert Sun’s columnist Shad Powers survived a staycation.

Federal Judge rules that gun stores aren’t essential

Even as businesses shuttered across the state under Newsom’s shelter-in-place orders, lines outside gun stores could be seen wrapping around buildings. It’s not just happening in California.

As fears spiked alongside coronavirus numbers in recent weeks, Americans have purchased a record-breaking number of firearms. Federal data shows that more than 3.7 million background checks were conducted in March, shattering a more than 20-year record.

But some California county officials have cracked down on the businesses, ordering them to close. Gun rights advocates argue that they should be considered “essential” enterprises, which are exempt from the orders.

A federal judge has now officially disagreed.

U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall ruled against Camarillo resident Donald McDougall, who filed for a temporary order blocking gun stores from closing in Ventura County, claiming that his constitutional rights had been violated by the order.

In a two-page opinion, Marshall acknowledged the importance of protecting the Second Amendment but ruled that protecting public health is a priority, writing, “the county order does not specifically target handgun ownership, does not prohibit the ownership of a handgun outright, and is temporary.”

Still, it’s not a done deal. McDougall is hoping for help from powerful pro-gun organizations.

In a separate suit, the National Rifle Association sued several California cities and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for closing gun shops during the COVID-19 response.

Two coronavirus deaths in one Sheriff’s Department

Riverside County sheriff’s Deputy Terrell Young, left, and fellow Deputy David Werksman each died on Thursday, April 2, 2020, after they contracted the coronavirus, Sheriff Chad Bianco announced.
Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

On Friday morning, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department shared tragic news — a second deputy has died after getting coronavirus.

Deputy David Werksman was 51 years old and had devoted 22 years to serving his community. Described as kind and always willing to help, department leaders said the department is reeling from the second loss of the week. On Thursday, Sheriff Chad Bianco announced that Deputy Terrell Young had died from the virus.

“I’m seriously heartbroken,” Bianco said during an afternoon news conference outside the sheriff’s department in Riverside. “We are reeling from the reality that this virus has taken the lives of two of our family members in the past 24 hours. Our hearts and our prayers go out to Deputy Werksman’s and Deputy Young’s families.”

Newsom shared that Santa Rosa Police Department Det. Marylou Armer was the first line of duty death of a police officer in California associated with COVID-19. She was 44.

“Jennifer and I are terribly saddened to learn of Detective Armer’s untimely death. Amid the current fight against COVID-19, Detective Armer selflessly and courageously served her community and the people of California,” Newsom said in a statement. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, colleagues and members of the Santa Rosa community as they mourn her loss.”

The flags are being flown at half-staff to honor her.

That’s it from me tonight. Hope you all stay safe and #STAYHOME this weekend.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Press Democrat, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Guardian. 

10 Things That Have Only Recently Come To Light About Area 51

Until the military research base known as Area 51 became public knowledge, no one was ever able to get an answer for the existence of aliens.

the sign for extraterrestrial highway in nevada, someone dresses up like an alien as a joke
We’ve all wondered, at one time or another, whether we’re the only ones who exist in the vast, never-ending universe. Aliens have been the subject of movies since the early to mid-1900s and the conquering of space has been a prominent goal for the world (and by that, I mean the United States).But no one has ever been able to get a definitive answer for the existence of aliens. That is until the military research base known as Area 51 became public knowledge.Area 51 has been the basis for conspiracy theories for years, as well as one of the few tangible liaisons we have to “encounters of the third kind”. Here are 10 things that only recently came to light about Area 51.

10Never Fully Acknowledged As Being Real

People running in the desert
Most of us have grown up already knowing about Area 51. However, despite being around since the 1950s, Area 51 was only officially acknowledged in 2013! The CIA was forced to release documents pertaining to the base and, unfortunately,  there was no official mention of beings from another planet.

9Why Is Area 51 Named What It Is?

Juliet Montague once asked herself “What’s in a name?” In the case of Area 51, no one knows. There have been countless theories and musings about it, though. One theory is that the name originated from a nearby nuclear testing site that was given the numerical designation of 51.

8An Ever-Expanding Enterprise

Alien themed restaurant sign and UFO on a crane

Business appears to be booming at Area 51. Between 1984 and 2016, satellite images have revealed the construction of many new infrastructures, including hangars and runways. People have surmised that it’s to test new military aircraft, while others believe that it’s evidence that aircraft of the alien kind are being held there.

7The Moon Landing: Real Event Or Fabrication?

People on a black and white film set

The 1969 moon landing has also been the subject of many conspiracy theories. In fact, conspiracy theorists believe that the moon landing was filmed at Area 51. According to author Bill Kaysing, the moon landing was filmed on the base using meteorites from Antarctica, and the astronauts were subsequently brainwashed,

6Explanations For Early UFO Sightings

Air force working with military planes

In the early days of Area 51, UFO sightings could actually be explained. The base was being used to test U-2 planes, away from civilians. So most of the supposed UFO sightings during that time period could be linked back to this military project. Unless that was just a cover-up…

5Employees Get Special Treatment

Person wearing an astronaut helmet

No one really considers the people who work in Area 51. USA Today reports that employees actually get shuttled to the base via an unnamed Boeing 737.  Flight attendants on these flights are called to be “level-headed and clear thinking while handling unusual incidents and situations”. Interpret that how you will…

4Employees Need To Stay As Off The Grid As Possible

Alien statues in the desert

Former employees of Area 51 are coming forward and giving us more information about the inner workings of Area 51. One veteran employee described how they were all sworn to secrecy kept as off the grid as possible. This included a lack of documentation and being paid in cash.

Related: 24 Little Known Facts About The Mystery Surrounding Area 51

3Even Air 51 Isn’t Impervious To The Court System

Alien statue near a structure

Turns out that Area 51 isn’t completely invincible to the law. In the 1990s, lawyer and professor Jonathan Turley was approached by Area 51 workers regarding the hazardous materials they were being exposed to, including jet fuel fumes and hazardous waste. A lawsuit was created, but the government refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Related: TravelNevada Releases Helpful Itinerary For Alien Tourists Visiting Area 51

2The Best View Of Area 51? Not What You’d Expect

People dressed up as UFOs

It’s apparently quite easy to see the activities of Area 51… if you know where to look. An anonymous former employee brought people to watch scheduled UFO flights at the Black Mailbox. Yes, that’s right. The best place to view potential alien activity is by a pair of mailboxes!

Related: 10 Places To Search For Aliens (Outside Of Area 51)

1Don’t Even Think About Sneaking In For A Rave

While there have been “Storm Area 51” events planned, actually attempting it is not advised. There are signs at the entrance of the restricted zone stating that deadly force will be taken against any trespassers. Also, pilots who fly into the restricted zone can face court martialing and even jail time.

Next: 19 Places In The USA That Are More M

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