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Cases jeopardized by racist & homophobic comments by Torrance police

They joked about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying

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Photo Credit: City of Torrance, California, Police Department

TORRANCE, Ca. – Years of text messages that contained extremely offensive descriptions of Black and Jewish people or members of the LGBTQ+ community by more than a dozen Torrance police officers resulted in the dismissal of criminal cases The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

According to the Times, while no officers face criminal charges in direct relation to the text messages, the racist exchanges have led to the dismissal of at least 85 criminal cases involving the officers implicated in the scandal.

The text messages were first discovered during an investigation into two former Torrance officers, who were charged with allegedly spray-painting a swastika into a car in January 2020.

Former Torrance officers Cody Weldin and Christopher Tomsic, were charged by the LA County District Attorney’s office with conspiracy and vandalism after allegedly spray-painting a swastika and a “happy face” into the car after responding to a call.

The Los Angeles Times noted that while looking into the vandalism allegations, the office of LA County district attorney George Gаscón began requesting texts sent by the officers, which led to the discovery of racist and homophobic messages from other police officers.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said his office will investigate the Torrance Police Department in the wake of a scandal that revealed more than a dozen police officers had exchanged racist text messages for years the Times reported.

Los Angeles Times Crimes & Court reporter James Queally wrote in a tweet; “For years, more than a dozen Torrance cops exchanged racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic texts and images. Today, I can identify most of the officers and reveal some of their hateful conversations.”

According to Queally’s reporting, in the span of one week in November, the Los Angeles County public defender’s office received approximately 300 letters from prosecutors disclosing potential misconduct by officers implicated in the scandal, according to a spokeswoman for the public defender’s office.

The broad scope of the racist text conversations, which prosecutors said went on for years, has created a crisis for the Torrance Police Department and could jeopardize hundreds of criminal cases in which the officers either testified or made arrests, the Times reported.

The officers’ comments spared no color or creed: They joked about “gassing” Jewish people, assaulting members of the LGBTQ community, using violence against suspects and lying during an investigation into a police shooting, according to district attorney’s office records reviewed by The Times.

In a statement on its website, the City of Torrance said: “The City of Torrance wants all members of the community alike to be reassured that the city does not condone any member under our employ that expresses or condones behaviour inconsistent with our mission to serve everyone in the community with respect and dignity. 

“We will not tolerate any form of bigotry, racism, hate, or misconduct. 

“An internal investigation is being conducted and the involved officers have been placed on administrative leave.”

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Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County sets another daily record of 45,000 new COVID cases

The department also reported 13 new deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the county to 27,785 since the start of the pandemic

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – According to figures released by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Sunday, Public Health officials recorded 45,584 new cases amid the ongoing surge in infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The department also reported 13 new deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in the county to 27,785 since the start of the pandemic. In all, nearly 2 million people in the county have been infected with the virus. There are 3,364 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and more than 10,317,000 individuals tested; 18% of people tested positive to date.

The updated numbers from the county underscored anew how the spread of the virus has exploded with the arrival of the Omicron variant. With an average of nearly 115,000 people being tested each day over the last seven days, more than 20% of people are testing positive for the virus, the county said. On Saturday, officials said the county had tallied more than 200,000 new cases over the previous seven days — the highest one-week total of the pandemic.

Los Angeles Unified School District is returning to in-person instruction Tuesday and all students must receive a negative test before they come back to campus.

Los Angeles Unified School District is returning to in-person instruction Tuesday and all students must receive a negative test before they come back to campus. Regardless of vaccination status, children and school district employees will have to prove they’re not infected with COVID-19.

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Los Angeles County

Surge becomes a Tsunami; 200,000 confirmed COVID cases in 7 Days

 “We ask residents and businesses to continue following the public health safety measures that we know reduce spread & keep people safe”

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Graphic courtesy of UCLA Research Administration

LOS ANGELES – LA County continues seeing high rates of transmission with more than 200,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past 7 days, the highest numbers of cases in one week since the beginning of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations have also doubled in one week to 3,200 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and over 20% of those getting tested are positive for COVID-19. Health officials are pointing out that it’s important to note that although the case counts are higher than last winter’s peak, when L.A. County was recording about 16,000 new coronavirus cases a day, many people are becoming less severely ill due to the milder effects of the Omicron variant.

The exceptions are most notably those people who hare unvaccinated, and especially children and those with severe health issues. As the highly-contagious omicron variant sweeps across the world, threatening once again to overwhelm hospitals and already-exhausted health care staff, medical staff are prepping for yet another damaging battle, Stars and Stripes noted.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is urging residents to upgrade their masks to medical grade masks that do a better job at blocking COVID-19 virus particles and to reconsider attending higher-risk activities, including indoor activities where individuals are unmasked for long periods of time, as well as crowded outdoor events.

 “As the surge continues, we ask residents and businesses to continue following the public health safety measures that we know reduce spread and keep people safe,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health. “This includes wearing a medical grade mask that is more protective against the Omicron variant and not spending time around others who are unmasked. These upgraded masks can be a surgical mask or an N95 or KN95 respirator mask.”

On Saturday, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a proposed $2.7 billion COVID-19 Emergency Response Package – including a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request – to bolster testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers, strengthen the health care system and battle misinformation.

The Governor’s budget also calls for new legislation to implement supplemental paid sick leave policies given the current situation being driven by the Omicron variant to better protect our frontline workers. 

“From day one, California has taken swift and direct action to battle COVID-19 with policies that have saved tens of thousands of lives, but there’s more work to be done,” said Newsom. “Our proposed COVID-19 Emergency Response Package will support our testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers and health care systems and battle misinformation, with a focus on the hardest-hit communities.”

Governor Newsom’s overall package includes: 

$1.2 BILLION: BOLSTER TESTING

  • Expand hours and capacity at testing sites throughout the state to help slow the spread.
  • Distribute millions of COVID-19 antigen tests to local health departments, community clinics and county offices of education and schools. This is critical to the state’s operational readiness and continued efforts to combat COVID-19, and it includes a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request to the Legislature for California’s immediate needs.
  • Supporting the state’s testing facilities, including specimen collection and expanding capacity in order to meet demand.
  • Supporting state departments in testing their staff and congregate populations

$583 MILLION: GET MORE CALIFORNIANS VACCINATED & BOOSTED, COMBAT MISINFORMATION

  • Continue the “Vaccinate all 58” public education campaign to provide reliable information and build vaccine confidence while combating misinformation, all of which is in partnership with 250 ethnic media outlets.
  • Continue a robust community outreach and direct appointment assistance campaign by conducting door-to-door canvassing, phone banking and texting with over 700 CBOs and community partners in partnership with philanthropy.
  • In-home vaccination and testing programs to meet Californians where they’re at.
  • Provide free transportation to vaccination appointments throughout the state to help get more Californians vaccinated and boosted.

$614 MILLION: SUPPORT OUR FRONTLINE WORKERS AND HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS

  • Support and distribution of critical personnel resources for health care systems to help protect frontline workers, patient care and hospital surge capacity as well as additional staffing for vaccination sites.

$200 MILLION: SUPPORT STATE RESPONSE OPERATIONS

  • Resources to enhance the state’s emergency response and public health capacities, including staffing and information technology at California Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Services and Emergency Medical Services Authority.

$110 MILLION: SUPPORT VULNERABLE POPULATIONS AND BOLSTER CONTACT TRACING EFFORTS

  • Increased public health and humanitarian efforts at the California-Mexico border to keep migrants safe, including vaccinations, testing and isolation and quarantine services.
  • Expanded statewide contact tracing activities to help keep Californians safe and slow the spread.

On Friday Newsom activated the California National Guard to support local communities with additional testing facilities and capacity amid the national surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant. 

This new action is on top of the existing 6,000 testing sites that have been set up across the state, the recent demand-based expansion of hours at state-operated sites and the 9.6 million tests that the state has distributed to schools since early December. 

California National Guard personnel arrive at Antioch Community Center testing site Friday
(Photo Credit: California National Guard)

The announcement comes as Omicron continues to spread rapidly across the globe, accounting for at least 80% of COVID-19 cases in California. The National Guard plan will deploy over 200 Cal Guard members across 50 Optum Serve sites around the state, providing interim clinical staff while permanent staff are hired, adding capacity for walk-ins, assisting with crowd control and back-filling for staff absences – all in an effort to conduct more tests for more Californians. Additional members of the Guard will be deployed next week in similar capacities. 

These measures will bolster California’s already robust testing program – the most extensive in the nation. Currently, 90% of Californians live within a 30-minute drive of a site. Amidst the surge, the state has been able to maintain a 48-hour turn around for PCR tests.

To date, California has administered almost 67 million vaccination doses and over 122.7 million tests.

The Los Angeles Times reported that L.A. County recorded 43,712 new coronavirus cases on Friday – the highest single-day total of the pandemic. The previous record, 37,215, came Thursday. Those numbers are well above the average daily peak last winter, when L.A. County was recording about 16,000 new coronavirus cases a day.

Across California, emergency rooms are coming under strain as they contend with both the rising case numbers and people seeking coronavirus tests – all as their workers are increasingly being stricken by the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

On Saturday morning The New York Times reported that the pace of daily new infections of the coronavirus has nearly doubled in the past week, surpassing two million known cases a day, underscoring just how quickly the Omicron variant has spread around the world.

On April 25 last year, the global average hit a high of more than 827,000 cases, a level that has been surpassed on each of the last 12 days as the world’s case curve charts a nearly vertical rise.

Health authorities around the world reported 2.1 million cases on average in the past seven days, nearly three times the amount two weeks ago, according to a New York Times database. The latest wave of cases has been driven by outbreaks in the United States and Europe, where the Omicron variant has become dominant.

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Hospitals Pushed To The Brink With Covid Cases On The Rise:

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Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County struggles with Omicron surge, offers free test kit

L.A. County recorded nearly 45,000 new coronavirus cases over the holiday weekend as the omicron variant continued its relentless spread

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The L.A. County Home Test Collection program is offering free, at-home COVID nasal swab test kits via mail to all L.A. County residents who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms or believe they may have been exposed.

L.A. County recorded nearly 45,000 new coronavirus cases over the holiday weekend as the omicron variant continued its relentless spread. Over 20% of those getting tested are positive for the virus, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health said Monday.

Public Health confirmed 16,269 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday as well.

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

Details:

Sign up on the Picture by Fulgent Genetics website to have a test kit shipped to your home address via FedEx. You will receive your test kit within two days after you order it. (Note that test kits cannot be shipped to P.O. boxes and you must have an email account to sign up. Guardians or caregivers may order test kits for people they care for.)

Once you receive the kit, take the test as soon as it arrives. All of the steps below must be done on the same day.

Follow the instructions included in the test kit to:

  1. Activate the test online
  2. Collect your own sample from your nose and wash your hands
  3. Package your sample in the prepaid overnight envelope
  4. Call FedEx at 1-800-463-3339 to schedule a one-time FedEx Pickup, or drop off the packaged sample back to the Fulgent Genetics lab via FedEx express drop box.

You will receive your result within 48 hours after the lab receives your sample.

Fulgent Genetics will send you an email to notify you when your results are ready to view.

As you wait to receive your test kit, you should stay at home, avoid contact with others, wear a mask and wash your hands often, health officials said.

The test kit is for immediate use only. You should collect and ship your sample within 3 to 5 days of receiving the test kit.

There will be no cost to you. However, it is asked that you enter your health insurance information so L.A. County can get reimbursed for the cost of the test. But you do not need insurance to get a test kit.

For more information or to have a test kit delivered to your home, visit http://covid19.lacounty.gov/hometest.

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