COVID-19

One day, many realities, as COVID-19 cuts an uneven swath across L.A.

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The pandemic may have slowed the city, but it hasn’t stopped it.

Starting well before dawn, essential workers toil at factories and markets and restaurants. Some remain deep into the night; the lucky ones work from home. Parks and beaches and hiking trails beckon those desperate for a break.

But COVID-19 has not been an equal-opportunity scourge. Those who see no choice but to work outside their homes are far more exposed than those who have the luxury of sheltering in place. Those in crowded households are far more likely to fall ill than those who live alone or in small families.

A Times analysis, based on Los Angeles County data, shows that someone living in the heavily immigrant Pico-Union neighborhood, for example, is seven times more likely to contract the disease — and 35 times more likely to die — than someone in relatively affluent Agoura Hills.

The Times sent reporters across the city to capture one day, Wednesday, in the life of the coronavirus pandemic. Here is what they found:

4 a.m. | Los Angeles Flower Mart

Sunrise Wholesale Flowers at The Original Los Angeles Flower Market

Most of Los Angeles was still asleep, but the heart of L.A.’s flower district on Wall Street was already full of life — of both the human and plant variety — a cacophony of color. Buckets of lilies, roses, baby’s breath, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, hydrangeas and daisies were being carted through the cavernous Original Los Angeles Flower Market.

The market reopened May 7 after being shut for two months due to COVID-19.

“We are all adjusting to the new norm,” said Qiana Rivera, as she separated bunches of green fronds. One of the market’s vendors, Rivera is grateful to be back at work. “It was so nice to come back and see our regular customers.”

But it’s been challenging too. Many vendors, like David Ramirez, say business has suffered tremendously. Ramirez is barely breaking even: “We are just trying to survive,” he said.

Summer is typically peak wedding season, a lucrative time for the flower market, but most gatherings and celebrations have been postponed or canceled. “This should be a good season for us, but we are really struggling,” Ramirez said.

It’s not just the sellers who are having difficulties. During the two-month shutdown, growers across California threw out thousands of flowers and lost millions of dollars.

Many Flower Market customers are florists doing their best to drum up work despite the decline in events, but individual shoppers have also begun to visit the market again too.

Charlotte Redmond, a phlebotomist who is now testing people for COVID-19, stopped by before work.

She was browsing the house plants, looking for pothos and air plants. “Testing for COVID all day is wearing me out,” Redmond said. “My happy place is my garden now — the plants make me feel peaceful.”