Rents Soar for Millions of Americans as Threat of Eviction Looms

Rents are soaring in many U.S. cities as the economy rebounds, squeezing the budgets of tenants who also face increased risk of eviction after courts overturned a pandemic-era ban.

There’s no single indicator that captures a complex national picture, as Covid-19 drove major shifts in where people live and work. Still, data point to tight markets in much of the country.

The median monthly charge on a vacant rental jumped by $185 in March from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A national index compiled by Apartmentlist.com shows that rents rose 1.9% in April alone, the most in data going back to 2017.

The rising costs will pile pressure on poorer families who are more likely to rent -– and less likely to be earning money right now, in a recovery that’s seen better-paid jobs bounce back faster. For low-income Americans, shelter accounts for 40% of spending.

Adding another risk, a federal judge in Washington ruled on Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its authority by ordering a nationwide moratorium on tenant evictions last year.

Read More: Judges Strikes Down CDC’s National Moratorium on Evictions

The ban, due to last through June, had loopholes that allowed some evictions to proceed -– but it still offered protection for those who’d lost their jobs. About 24% of renters, roughly 8 million people, missed at least one housing payment since March 2020 according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Rapid Rebound

The early months of the pandemic saw a headline-grabbing decline in prices for some expensive urban markets, like Manhattan and San Francisco. Higher-income workers were able to move out of city-center apartments to work remotely from somewhere else.

One result was a lot of unoccupied high-end properties in such places. That may have exaggerated the jump in median costs for vacant rentals as measured by the Census Bureau, creating what’s called a “compositional effect” that skews the data, according to Chris Salvati, a housing economist at Apartmentlist.com.

The declines in some regions offset gains elsewhere and kept national measures fairly steady last year, Salvati said. But he now sees prices rising in all the places where they fell last year -– and pretty much everywhere else too.

“I’ve been surprised at how quickly things have rebounded over these past couple of months,” he said.

The latest monthly survey by Fannie Mae suggests Americans expect the median increase in rent to be 5.3% this year, close to the highest in the past decade.

Even in the exodus cities, rents in less central districts typically didn’t plunge last year. In many mid-sized markets, there was a steady increase. Cities like Richmond, Virginia; Fresno, California; and Dayton, Ohio, saw a plunge in rental vacancies, limiting supply and pushing prices up.

“Outside of the gateways and a select few other top 30 markets, most other metros had positive year-over-year rent growth,” research firm Yardi Matrix said in its latest monthly National Multifamily Report.

Areas where rents have risen more than 10% year-on-year include Boise City, Idaho, and Riverside, California, according to Zillow data.

Some of the pandemic rental trends are extensions of older ones. For example, rents rose about 5% in the past year in Tampa, Florida, and Atlanta, where there’s been strong migration and limited rental supply. Both cities have seen increases of around 30% over five years, according to Zillow data.

Over that period, only New York City among the 100 largest national markets has posted a drop in rental prices. But that could be a temporary effect of the pandemic, which may get wiped out as vaccines drive the city’s recovery.

Manhattan leases surged an annual 89% in March, the fastest pace on record, according to Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants. It found that the net effective median rent has risen for four straight months — at “the highest rate in a decade.”

Covid-19 vaccine side effects, explained

What’s now clear: an injection with either vaccine, both of which use mRNA technology, can feel more intense than other routine vaccinations (such as the flu shot) — with side effects for some recipients such as pain, headache, and fatigue. And this may be especially true for Moderna’s vaccine: About 16 percent of people who got the shot in clinical trials experienced a “severe” adverse reaction, a classification the FDA uses to refer to side effects that require medical attention and prevent people from going about their daily activities.
“We should anticipate that if you got vaccinated that day, you may not want to go to work,” Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College, said of the vaccines. That’s why health systems are being warned to stagger immunizing their workforces, to avoid “potential clustering of worker absenteeism,” as the vaccine expert group advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put it.
These side effects are known as reactogenicity, and vaccine developers and regulators allow for some level of reactogenicity in all approved vaccines. They can be a sign of the body’s immune response kicking into gear, said Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health.

After months of waiting, we finally have detailed information on the safety and efficacy of the first Covid-19 vaccines that will be distributed in America.
On Thursday, a committee that advises the Food and Drug Administration will meet to determine whether the Moderna vaccine should get an emergency use authorization. Ahead of the decision, the agency shared the most comprehensive data to date on what we know about the shot. The same process happened last week with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is now being rolled out across America following an EUA Friday night.
While both vaccines had already been shown to be highly effective, the new data provides a much more granular picture of their side effects and safety profiles.

“Think about [reactogenicity] as mouth wash — it’s hurting while it’s working,” Omer said. “The key is to prepare people to know this will happen — this may hurt a little, give you a bit of fever — but these are short-term, known side effects that you need to be aware of.”
The stakes for clearly communicating information about each vaccine’s risks and benefits are high: More than a quarter of Americans reported that they would probably or definitely refuse to take a Covid-19 vaccine, according to a late-summer survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, even if it were freely available and deemed safe by regulators. And with the pandemic spreading further and faster in America than just about anywhere else in the world, it’s critical that people don’t feel caught off guard by the side effects or spread misinformation about the vaccine.
To achieve that, transparency is key, said Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth professor of political science who has been thinking about how to build trust in the Covid-19 vaccines. “Millions of people are going to get this vaccine and we know huge numbers of people are going to have normal side effects, which are often indicating that the vaccine is working. We want to build trust with people so there are no surprises when that happens.”
In that spirit, here’s what we know about the side effects of these two shots and how to think about them.
What mild and moderate side effects really mean
Before we get into the weeds, it’s helpful to understand how these companies classify side effects in the first place. In general, vaccine developers seeking approval in the US market use the FDA’s “toxicity assessment scale” to grade side effects and other adverse events from 1 to 4, from mild and moderate to severe and life-threatening.
Grade 1 “mild” side effects are generally easily tolerated and don’t interfere with a person’s regular activities. Grade 2 “moderate” effects may interfere with regular activities, grade 3 “severe” effects are incapacitating and need medical attention, and grade 4 are “potentially life-threatening,” usually requiring an emergency room visit or hospitalization. Let’s use the example of headache following vaccination. Here’s how the FDA would classify it:
Mild: “No interference with activity”

Moderate: “Repeated use of nonnarcotic pain reliever > 24 hours or some interference with activity”
Severe: “Any use of narcotic pain reliever or prevents daily activity”
Potentially life-threatening: “ER visit or hospitalization”
So a mild side effect is one you’d notice but doesn’t require any special care or keep you from living your life; a moderate side effect can keep you home from work but doesn’t warrant medical intervention; severe adverse events require medical care and definitely interfere with your normal life; and potentially life-threatening is just what it sounds like and usually involves a visit to or stay in the hospital.
In vaccine studies, these events are broken down into “local” reactions (meaning they’re specific to one part of the body, like pain or tenderness where the vaccine is injected) and “systemic,” whole-body reactions (like fever or fatigue).

For a vaccine to win FDA approval, any reactions people have during clinical trials have to be mostly mild and moderate. And that’s because the safety bar for vaccines is really high, even compared to medicines.

Vaccines “are given to healthy people who have in many cases absolutely nothing wrong with them. And we are talking about [giving them] to literally billions of people. Even rare side effects if they’re serious matter enormously,” said Charles Weijer, a professor of medicine and an ethicist at Western University in Alberta, Canada. “We’re more willing to accept adverse effects [with drugs], provided those are counterbalanced by benefits to the patient.”
Mostly mild and moderate side effects: that’s the safety profiles of both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines — and that’s why the FDA in the US, and drug regulators in other countries around the world, are rushing to bring them to market. But there are important differences between the two vaccines.
What we know about Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech side effects
Now, let’s look at the best data we’ve got on the vaccines. It comes from the FDA’s analyses of phase 2 and 3 clinical trials ahead of their emergency use authorization meetings on December 10 for Pfizer/BioNTech and December 17 for Moderna. (The companies also released their own data but we focused on the agency’s independent reviews here.)
The reviews show the vaccines are both safe and that they’re wildly successful at preventing Covid-19 infections (with about a 95 percent efficacy rate). That’s important at a time when more than 3,000 Americans are dying from Covid-19 each day on average.
They also give a sense of what side effects we might expect when these are rolled out. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine caused mild or moderate reactions in most people, but severe reactions were rare. Moderna didn’t share the details of its vaccine trial’s mild and moderate side effects, but the FDA said mild and moderate is how they’d characterize the bulk of them. A key difference with the Moderna vaccine, however, is that we know severe reactions were more common in the trials.
Let’s get into what this means, but with a couple of caveats first. Because we have no head-to-head study of the two vaccines and the companies haven’t reported side effect data in the same way, doing apples-to-apples comparisons is tricky, said Hilda Bastian, an expert in reading medical evidence who has been analyzing the coronavirus vaccine data. The vaccines also come in different doses: 30µg in the case of Pfizer/BioNTech and 100µg with Moderna. While they’re supposed to be delivered in two shots per person, the time intervals are different: the Pfizer/BioNTech shots are three weeks apart and Moderna’s are four weeks.
Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna also tested their products on different populations. “Some of the differences affect risks and so could be affecting outcomes,” said Bastian. For example, there were more people of Hispanic/Latino background and with chronic lung disease in the Pfizer/BioNTech trial than the Moderna trial, she added. And in the real world, when the vaccines roll out to millions, the side effects may again look different.
With all that in mind, here’s what we know about each shot. For Pfizer/BioNTech the most common side effects overall, according to the FDA’s analysis of the data, were local reactions at the site of injection (including pain, redness, swelling), fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. Again, these were mostly classified as mild or moderate. Severe reactions, meanwhile, were rare — occurring in 0 to 4.6 percent of participants, depending on the specific side effect. (There were no severe fevers reported, for example, but 4.6 percent of the age 18-55 study participants experienced severe fatigue after the second dose of the vaccine.)
In general, side effects popped up more after the second dose than the first. They also happened less frequently in people 55 and younger, the FDA said. You can see the breakdown of adverse events data in younger adults (18-55) in the chart below following dose 1, and if you click through, following dose 2. (Note: Pfizer/BioNTech found no potentially life-threatening (grade 4) adverse reactions linked to the vaccine in the population they analyzed for safety.) READ MORE: https://apple.news/AZvmcYrtKQWObJ00qk6feuw

The untold truth of Chadwick Boseman

The actor who brought the beloved Marvel superhero to life was also an avid philanthropist and activist. Here are 5 times the star rose above and beyond to put goodness and honor into our world.

Cast your mind back a few years, and recall that there was a time when most people didn’t know what “Wakanda forever!” meant. Names like Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri held no significance for the man on the street. And Chadwick Boseman, who became one of the brightest stars of the MCU, a man as comfortable in high-octane action scenes as he was depicting staid and solemn UN meetings? Well, people might have recognized him, but more likely as “that guy in that biopic last year.” T’Challa was coming, but only the most diehard fans knew. And nobody could have anticipated what a massive hit Boseman’s regal performance would make his debut movie, the instantly iconic Black Panther.

And while the character had been around for decades, it was truly Boseman’s legendary performance as the King of Wakanda that made Black Panther a household name. And so it was a brutal shock to the world when news hit of his passing at the age of 42. According to a statement released by his family, Boseman died after a brave fight with colon cancer for four years.

So, who was Chadwick Boseman? As it turns out, he was even more interesting as the complicated king he portrayed. Join us as we explore the life of Chadwick Boseman.

Black Panther changed the world. From its societal significance to its bona fide status as a box office smash, this became T’Challa’s Marvel universe, and we’re just living in it. As the curtain fell on the character’s 2018 solo film, one thing became clear: Black Panther had taken cinema to adventurous new heights. He became, within weeks of his own movie’s premiere, a cultural icon.

But this wasn’t Boseman’s first time playing a world-changing hero. In fact, Black Panther was one of the first times he’d played one that didn’t actually exist. Before he stepped into T’Challa’s royal sandals, he was depicting the all-time greats of music, sports, and lawmaking. Boseman’s first starring role came in 2013, when he portrayed the legendary Jackie Robinson in Brian Helgeland’s biopic, 42. He followed this up a year later with 2014’s Get On Up, directed by Tate Taylor, in which he brought the electric skill of James Brown to life. Only three years later, he made it a hat trick when he played Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 2017’s Marshall. Though some stars of the MCU might have had years on Boseman, career-wise, no one had more experience playing heroes.

Given that he had achieved the peak of actorly ambitions, it might be surprising to learn that Boseman actually spent much of his life wanting to be behind the camera instead of in front of it. His original aspirations, in fact, didn’t even involve the camera at all — only a pen, some paper, and his own imagination. Boseman began his life in the performing arts as a playwright, writing and staging his first play in high school.

It was a deeply personal piece — the story of a basketball teammate who’d been shot and killed while they were still in school. Entitled Crossroads, the play wasn’t just a statement for Boseman, but a guiding light. “I just had a feeling that this was something that was calling me,” he told Rolling Stone. “Suddenly, playing basketball wasn’t as important.” Years later, his play Deep Azure would go on to be performed by professional theater companies and even win a few awards.

Writing wasn’t the only experience Boseman had on the creative side of the performing arts. He also nurtured a deep and abiding interest in being a director, and in fact began to study acting in order to better relate to the actors he believed he’d be working with in a very different capacity. His college degree was a testament to this ambition: he graduated from Howard University in 2000 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in directing.

“I really only started acting because I wanted to know what the actors were doing, how to communicate with the actors. And then I realized I’m supposed to do all of it,” Boseman remarked in a radio interview with New York’s Power 105.1. He went on to study the craft from every angle possible, including a stint at the world-famous Oxford University. And while Boseman’s acting talents were a delight for audiences everywhere to enjoy, we can only imagine what the world of art, theater, and cinema might’ve lost as his life was cut short before he could flex his writing and directorial muscles once again.

Connections are key in any industry, and can be a tremendously positive force in providing for an actor’s big break. How can anyone, let alone someone pursuing the arts, navigate such stormy seas alone? Mentorship is particularly key to ensuring the future of any given artform. Only through the passing-down of wisdom from an experienced group to their neophytes can any craft, community, or pursuit build a foundation and all that lies atop it.

Boseman had a few mentors, but veteran actor Phylicia Rashad stands out as a particularly meaningful one. Rashad has a massive treasure trove of experience to share: From her starring role as Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show to her Tony-winning performance in A Raisin in the Sun, Rashad is a grand dame and an accomplished teacher. Rashad and Boseman met at Howard, where she served as one of his professors. “We were just trying to aspire to her excellence,” Boseman recalled to Rolling Stone. Nearly 20 years later, we’d say he’s made that goal a reality.

Teaching is one of the most everyday acts of heroism around. From something so tiny as a parent teaching their child how to tie their shoelaces to esteemed professors passing down the work of ages, no civilization would have gotten anywhere without people willing to teach others.

Boseman himself had participated in this long and noble tradition, working, naturally, in the world of drama. Back in 2014, the Michigan Chronicle profiled Boseman as a “star on the rise,” paying special attention to his tenure at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. There, he worked as a drama instructor as part of the Schomburg Junior Scholars program, and continued to highlight its important work in his new capacity as a world-famous movie star. It just goes to prove the old adage wrong — those who can absolutely do teach, and often grow from the experience.

Any road can be rocky, but few are more harrowing than that of an actor. One great audition can loft you into the heights of success, fame, and glory — but one terrible audition can doom you forever. Many begin as starry-eyed optimists, certain their big break is around the corner, only to crash and burn a scant few years later as scarred cynics. Hopes are tested, and resilience must build. Only through fortitude can a career in the dramatic arts be accomplished.

Boseman knows this better than most. Before he was cast as Jackie Robinson in 42, he was, in fact, thinking of giving up on acting altogether. “Nobody had called me. Nobody had told me anything. I had gone in for it 100 percent, but there was no reason for me to think I’d done well,” he told GQ in 2014. He came perilously close to giving up on acting altogether, until he landed the role of Robinson and the skies began to clear. Given that this interview happened before he was cast in what would become his biggest role by far, even then he didn’t realize how much higher he was going to climb.

One of the greatest strengths of Black Panther is its villain. Killmonger is the kind of man who will let nothing get in the way of his goals, to the point of shooting his girlfriend, upending a country’s government, and working with the most unscrupulous possible criminals. But, well, he did have some good points. By the end of the film, in fact, Killmonger has even managed to halfway convince T’Challa of the righteousness of his aims. Though T’Challa in no way condones his methods or carries out Killmonger’s vision, he does concede that Wakanda owes the world its shelter and knowledge, and he ends the film by taking strides towards making that a reality.

It’s only appropriate, then, that T’Challa and Killmonger’s actors also share a bit of history in common. Before they were facing off in the deepest pits of the vibranium mines, Boseman and Michael B. Jordan shared the role of Reggie Porter Montgomery, a young gang member on All My Children. There’s little record of Boseman’s time on the show because he quit in frustration with what he saw as a narrow, cliched role — and so it passed to Jordan, who made it his own. Years later, they’d meet again in circumstances neither could have ever imagined.

Read More: https://www.looper.com/153204/the-untold-truth-of-chadwick-boseman/?utm_campaign=clip

‘Like Armageddon’: Rotting food, dead animals and chaos at postal facilities amid cutbacks

Six weeks ago, U.S. Postal Service workers in the Southern California high desert town of Tehachapi began to notice crates of mail sitting in the post office in the early morning that should have been shipped out for delivery the night before.

At a mail processing facility in Santa Clarita in July, workers discovered that their automated sorting machines had been disabled and padlocked.

And inside a massive mail-sorting facility in South Los Angeles, workers fell so far behind processing packages that by early August, gnats and rodents were swarming around containers of rotted fruit and meat, and baby chicks were dead inside their boxes.

Accounts of conditions from employees at California mail facilities provide a glimpse of what some say are the consequences of widespread cutbacks in staffing and equipment recently imposed by the Postal Service.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, responding to a national outcry over service disruptions and fears of voter disenfranchisement, said this week he would suspend many planned changes until after the election. But postal workers say significant damage has already been done, including the removal of mail-sorting machines, which may not be replaced.

While the long-term effect of the cuts on U.S. mail service is unclear, the evidence of serious disruptions appears to be mounting, according to postal employees interviewed by the Los Angeles Times as well as customers, lawmakers and union leaders.

Until this week, the Postal Service was implementing a sweeping plan to remove 671 mail-sorting machines, or about 10% of its total, from facilities across the U.S. _ including 76 in California. Officials also slashed overtime pay and imposed a new policy that could delay outgoing mail.

The cuts have had a ripple effect, delaying the delivery of prescriptions, rent payments and unemployment checks. Some people have complained of going days without receiving any mail at all.

At least five high-speed mail-sorting machines have been removed from a processing plant in Sacramento, according to Omar Gonzalez, the Western regional coordinator for the American Postal Workers Union. Additionally, two of the machines have been removed in Santa Ana and six in San Diego, Gonzalez said.

Processing plants serve more than 1,000 California post offices, some of which deliver to far-flung, rural addresses that could be faced with high delivery costs if serviced by private mail carriers.

Inside one sprawling facility at Florence and Central avenues in Los Angeles, which serves 92 L.A.-area post offices, seven delivery bar code sorters were removed in June, leaving three, Gonzalez said.

Each of those machines, which would handle mail-in ballots, can process up to 35,000 pieces of mail per hour.

“A lot of the machinery has already been gutted. Some of it has been dismantled and relocated or trashed,” Gonzalez said. “Although we welcome the news of the suspension of these changes, it’s just that — a suspension. The attacks and undermining of our operations will resume, maybe at the worst possible time, in December, our peak season.”

Before the recent cuts, workers at the facility were working six days per week, and were still struggling to keep up with the volume of packages driven by an influx of online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic, said mail handler Aukushan Scantlebury, 47.

When DeJoy restricted overtime two months ago, Scantlebury and other workers saw their schedules cut back to five days a week. Within days, he said, the facility was in chaos.

Packages piled up, blocking the aisles and the heavy sorting machinery. Boxes of steaks, fruit and other perishables rotted. Rats dashed across the floor. At one point, Scantlebury said, the “whole building was filled with gnats.”

The delays were particularly tragic for live animals, including baby chickens and crickets, that are transported through the U.S. Postal Service. Usually, mail handlers say, they can hear the birds peeping and rustling around in their boxes.

This month, one worker said, she found a box with air holes in a pile of packages. Instead of hearing the gentle sounds of baby chicks, she heard nothing.

Workers sometimes see shipments of crickets jumping around inside their packaging, said Eddie Cowan, a mail handler and the president of a local chapter of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union. Now, he said, “you can see in the packages those crickets are dead.”

Sumi Ali, the co-owner of the Yes Plz coffee subscription company, arrived July 25 to mail a batch of freshly roasted beans to customers. A frequent visitor to the complex, he was shocked at what he saw.

The parking lot was crammed with semi trailers piled high with unsorted mail; the warehouse-like facility was packed “wall to wall” with mail; and there were very few employees in sight.

“It was like Armageddon,” Ali said. “It was a total maze. You could not walk through the facility without having to move things out of your way. I don’t know how they got forklifts through there. There were only inches of space between containers.”

Since then, Ali said, the backlog of packages seems to have improved a little. But, he said, the chaos continues to be as bad, if not worse, than the usual holiday season.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday that DeJoy informed her he did not intend to restore the removed sorting machines or blue mailboxes that have been removed in several cities, nor did he have plans to allow for adequate overtime for workers.

As for the November election — the spark that ignited a national firestorm over USPS cutbacks — Postal Service and California elections officials say there’s less concern in the Golden State than in other states.

USPS spokesman David Partenheimer did not comment on the reductions, but referred to a statement from DeJoy that said the Postal Service is equipped to fully handle election mail this fall.

The Postal Service also said DeJoy was expanding a task force to strengthen coordination with election officials to handle mail-in ballots. The Postal Service had earlier warned 46 states, including California, that some ballots might not be delivered in time to be counted.

In June, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law requiring that all ballots postmarked by Election Day and delivered by Nov. 20 be counted _ five times longer than California’s normal grace period. Still, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said the concerns raised in other states merit close scrutiny.

“Given this administration’s track record with the truth, seeing is believing,” Padilla said in a written statement. “My office will continue constant communication with the U.S. Postal Service, and will continue to monitor for any signs of disruption to service.”

At the Santa Clarita processing and distribution center, two delivery bar code sorters were padlocked and gutted of their cameras and computers in July so that workers couldn’t plug them in and start using them again.

For an unknown reason, the devices came back online Wednesday, but a third delivery bar code sorter was missing from the facility, according to a worker who did not want to named because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency.

Merchant Stephen Tu of Pasadena said in the past two months he has noticed his first-class packages have been getting stuck for as many as 10 days in the Santa Clarita facility, whereas normally they would pass through in one day. Tu, who tracks shipments of baby clothing and accessories he sells on EBay and Facebook Marketplace, said he’s never endured delays this long _ up to 20 days for packages sent outside Southern California _ in the 15 years he has been selling items online.

Tu said his customers sometimes ask him whether he has even shipped their goods at all. In order to guarantee on-time deliveries, he said, he’s considering switching to private services like FedEx and UPS.

About six weeks ago on a Wednesday morning, postal clerk Kenny Diaz, 35, showed up to work at the Tehachapi post office and saw something new in his nine years on the job: a plastic tub full of mail that should have gone out for delivery the night before.

Every afternoon, Diaz said, a truck driver picked up the post office’s outgoing mail and took it to a processing facility in Bakersfield. If the post office was running behind, the last driver of the day would wait to pick up every bill, package and letter, he said.

“They always waited — they always waited,” Diaz said. “Our No. 1 priority is getting the mail where it has to go. We’d rather delay the truck by two hours than delay the mail by a whole day.”

Now, Diaz said, the truck drivers have been instructed to leave on time, regardless of whether all the outgoing mail is on the truck. That means some mail is arriving a day later at the processing facility, where it could be delayed again, he said.

“Just think of our little town, times a million across the nation,” Diaz said. “You can see the domino effect that it’s going to have.”

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.”

More Than 1,000 Companies Boycotted Facebook. Did It Work?

Facebook said that the top 100 spenders contributed 16 percent of its $18.7 billion in revenue in the second quarter, which ended on June 30. During the first three weeks of July, Facebook said, overall ad revenue grew 10 percent over last year, a rate the company expects to continue for the full quarter.

The boycott complicated planning for advertisers. The Kansas-based digital agency DEG had “a whirlwind of a month” as its small to midsize clients grappled with whether they could reach enough customers without Facebook, said Quinn Sheek, its director of media and search. Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram make up more than a third of digital spending for DEG clients.

Of the 60 percent of DEG clients that joined the July boycott, four out of five are planning to return to Facebook in August, with many having “decided it’s too much for them during a difficult economic time to remain off,” Ms. Sheek said. Still, the boycott helped amplify discussion of toxic content on Facebook. The issue was raised in a congressional hearing this past week and in repeated meetings between ad industry representatives and Facebook leaders. In the face of the pressure, Facebook released the results of a civil rights audit last month and agreed to hire a civil rights executive.

“What could really hurt Facebook is the long-term effect of its perceived reputation and the association with being viewed as a publisher of ‘hate speech’ and other inappropriate content,” Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, the executive vice president of the public opinion analysis company RepTrak, wrote in a post last month.

In addition to the prevalence of hate speech on the platform, its critics have also focused on the company’s treatment of user privacy and foreign election interference.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said during the company’s earnings call that, like the boycott’s organizers, “we don’t want hate on our platforms, and we stand firmly against it.”

The ad industry was already in upheaval when the boycott began, as businesses closed, layoffs swept through the economy and homebound consumers slowed their shopping. Before they reduced spending on Facebook in July, advertisers like Microsoft, Starbucks, Unilever and Target took a temporary break from the platform in June, as many companies were reacting to pandemic-related marketing budget cuts and widespread protests over racism and police brutality. Disney’s spending on Facebook has mostly trended downward since late March, according to Pathmatics.

Last month, large advertisers like Procter & Gamble, Samsung, Walmart and Geico sharply curtailed paid advertising on Facebook without joining the official boycott, according to Pathmatics. Others, like Hershey and Hulu, beefed up their spending on alternate platforms like Twitter and YouTube.

Companies like Beam Suntory and Coca-Cola have vowed to continue pressuring Facebook, especially as the presidential race heats up. On Thursday, the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s said it planned to keep withholding spending on product promotions through the end of the year “to send a message.”

The advertiser boycott “was a warning shot, an opening salvo,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the civil rights group the Anti-Defamation League, which helped set up the ad boycott. Organizers and other groups now plan to expand the boycott into Europe, to include Facebook users, and to address other concerns, like the presence of child sexual abuse on the platform.

Half of the companies that work with the agency Allen & Gerritsen in Boston and Philadelphia participated in the boycott, said Derek Welch, its vice president of media. Many felt it was important to “do something that is meaningful and tangible in a sea of brands putting out very well-meaning statements,” he said.

Mr. Welch said the agency’s clients typically spend $150,000 to $200,000 a month total on Facebook. Several plan to continue boycotting.

“The big companies that have signed on have been great for visibility and getting the word out,” he said. “But this is really all about these small businesses in aggregate who are spending $30,000 here or $50,000 there, whose decisions wouldn’t normally make too much of a difference.”

Daily Brief: Important Facts

Thousands of people in cities across the U.S. took to the streets over the weekend to protest violent tactics used by federal agents against protesters in Portland, Oregon. In Seattle, police declared a Black Lives Matter protest to be a riot and pepper-sprayed 2,000 people. In Austin, a motorist shot protester Garrett Foster dead while he was pushing his wife’s wheelchair. Meanwhile, some protesters took it right to the top, with dozens demonstrating outside the Virginia home of acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

Police Declare Riots as More Protest Federal Tactics

Sources: NYTWashington PostThe Hill

In Four Days, Virus Cases Rise by 1 Million

It’s gotten so bad, even North Korea has acknowledged having one suspected case. Last Wednesday, global coronavirus cases topped 15 million. By Sunday it was 16 million, with 646,000 deaths. Where are the outbreaks? Nearly everywhere, the worst being America’s 4.2 million cases and nearly 147,000 deaths. It’s even surging in places where the virus seemed in check, like Hong Kong and Vietnam, which is ejecting 80,000 tourists. Elsewhere, the U.K.’s health minister has urged Britons to eat less — a quixotic attempt to cut COVID-19 risks associated with obesity.

Sources: CNNABCAl Jazeera

New Low in China Relations as US Consulate Closes

This morning Old Glory was lowered and a container was hoisted onto a truck at the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, China. Chinese authorities had given the Americans 72 hours to clear out — the same deadline imposed on Chinese diplomats in Houston, who shuttered their mission last week amid Washington’s espionage claims. While there are plenty of reasons for the world’s top economic powers to sink to their worst relationship in decades, some experts fear this could be the end of a policy of engagement that has kept the peace for a half-century.

Sources: ReutersLA Times

Congress Haggles Over Helping Hard-Hit Americans

The extra $600-per-week unemployment benefit Americans have depended upon during the pandemic downturn has effectively already expired for many due to the way states process such aid. But Congress is locked in a battle over whether to extend it, with Republicans saying it discourages people from returning to work — and instead proposing a $1 trillion relief bill that would include a new round of $1,200 checks. Negotiations are expected to take weeks, which could leave many Americans in the lurch — right as a federal moratorium on evictions also runs out. 

Sources: WSJ (sub)FT (sub)

Also Important …

The Sudanese government says it’s deploying troops to Darfur to prevent attacks like those on Friday and Saturday that killed 80 people. A new CNN/SSRS poll finds that challenger Joe Biden leads President Trump 51 percent to 46 percent in Florida — and no Republican has won without Florida in nearly a century. And Hurricane Hanna has been downgraded to a tropical depression after causing flooding Sunday in the Texas-Mexico border area, hard-hit by the pandemic.

Coronavirus update: With nearly 424,000 cases, Florida has passed New York as the most infected U.S. state.

The Best Moments from NBA All-Star Weekend 2020

From Kobe tributes to Dunk Contest controversy and an All-Star Game for the ages, this was one weekend basketball fans will never forget.

Image via Getty/Stacy Revere

Kobe Bryant committed his life to being the best—the best on the basketball court, the best in business and entertainment, and the best father. Simply… the best.

It was fitting, then, that as today’s best NBA players gathered in Chicago for the 2020 All-Star Weekend, the festivities were saturated with moving tributes to the great 2-guard, and that this All-Star Weekend was perhaps the best we’ve ever had.

Kobe redefined hard work. There will only ever be one Mamba. And his one-of-a-kind impact was omnipresent in Chicago this past weekend.

Prior to the All-Star Game, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the game’s MVP award had been renamed for Kobe. In Sunday night’s showdown between the All-Star teams helmed by this year’s two top vote-getters, Team Giannis wore Kobe’s No. 24 while Team LeBron sported No. 2 in honor of Kobe’s daughter, Gianna Bryant. The structure of the game was even altered, with Bryant’s signature 24 playing a key role in the scoring system.  

To kick off Sunday’s game, hometown favorite Jennifer Hudson offered a rousing tribute to the Mamba and Kawhi Leonard dedicated his All-Star Game MVP to the former Lower Merion guard. Kobe was the focus during Friday’s entertaining activities and Saturday’s exhilarating slate. He was the center of everything.

Plenty happened off-court at All-Star Weekend, too. At the Metro All-Access Purple Couch event on Saturday, Khris Middleton, Tyler Herro, and Jason Terry dished on the behind-the-scenes realities of NBA life and shared insights on their experiences in the league. READ MORE IN DEPTH COVERAGE