Coronavirus will peak in the Golden State on April 17, when an estimated 70 people will die, new modeling predicts. And a USA TODAY investigation shows health officials sounded the alarm on the virus long before action was taken. Plus: If you must grocery shop or run other errands, read on for expert tips to do it safely.
It's Arlene Martínez with news for Tuesday.
But first, April showers set records in some parts of SoCal, and more are on the way. Check out photos of snow on the Topatopa Mountains and other scenes from the weather-soaked Central Coast.
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Model: California peaks April 17 with 70 deaths
California's early action on social distancing measures means far fewer people here will die than in states like New York, which acted about a week later than the Golden State in ordering people to shelter in place, and even the small state of Massachusetts, where no shelter-in-place order exists.
That's according to a state-by-state NPR analysis of projected deaths and cases from the coronavirus.
Californians "had one week ahead of (New York) in order to deal with the problem, and took the right measures," says Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation who helped create the model. "And we're seeing the benefit."
According to the modeling, California's peak will be April 17, when 70 people will die. By the end of June, 1,783 people will have died.
The models assume all states issue mandatory shelter-in-place measures, close schools and essential businesses within a week (if they haven't already) and current social distancing measures stay in place through the end of May.
Though NPR's modeling shows a peak death rate on April 17, the state projects the number of overall cases will peak in the second half of May.
Gov. Gavin Newsom during his Tuesday briefing said the state's overall coronavirus case numbers are increasing at a slower rate than last week. The curve of the count of positive cases is "bending, but it's also stretching," he said.
Newsom also touted the state's efforts on homelessness, saying as many as 50,000 people could be housed in the future as part of an initiative called Project Roomkey.
During and after coronavirus: In your words
As the writer of the LA Times' "Essential California" newsletter, Julia Wick has been trying to sort out how to make sense of the news of the day. It's been a struggle. And then she got the coronavirus.
As the state rebuilds and recovers, "We must recommit ourselves to providing real economic equity. We must create a government that works for the people. And we must track our progress toward these goals in a way the public can see and trust," writes the CEO of California Forward, a nonprofit focused on equity and sustainability.
California isn't exactly a state to emulate when it comes to schools, traffic and housing. But in times of crisis? "...We move faster, more aggressively, and with clearer intent than national leaders in Washington," writes Connecting California columnist Joe Mathews.
A UCLA doctor suggests it's time to reconsider social distancing policies to get people back to schools and work and allow health officials to focus on the most vulnerable groups.
Top health care officials sounded the alarm, but who was listening?
By mid-February, some of the nation's top health care officials were privately expressing alarm over evidence that the coronavirus was spreading from patients without symptoms, according to the contents of a chain of emails obtained by USA TODAY.
The agencies they help lead failed to translate the information into rapid action, leaving cities and counties to forge their own containment strategies. Since then, more than 12,000 Americans have died from the virus.
The email thread was called "Red Dawn Breaking" - a riff on a 1980s movie. In their candid notes, some of the nation's leading infectious disease experts and most powerful health care officials traded critical information as the threat mounted.
On Feb. 27, at least 10 days after he had pushed the group to get social distancing measures in place, one federal health official in an email said the outbreak was significant and the United States was already well behind the curve. Wrote Dr. Carter Mecher, a senior medical adviser in the Department of Veterans Affairs: "You can't outrun it."
Related: Trump says he never saw aide's memos that warned coronavirus could endanger millions of Americans.
Stay at home. Or take these precautions
If you've got to go grocery shopping - and health officials are asking folks to skip it this week and next if they can, expecting the coronavirus to peak over the next two weeks - today's Coronavirus Watch newsletter included expert tips on doing it safer:
Wear a cloth face mask and wash it when you get home.
Bring hand sanitizer. Use disinfectant wipes on the cart or basket.
Bring as little as possible into the store to avoid contamination.
Stay at least 6 feet from others, especially in the checkout line or in an aisle.
Shop alone and leave children at home, if possible.
Limit the time in the store: Make a list to save time and use paper so you can throw it away.
Throw away plastic and paper bags. If you must use cloth bags, wash them after each use.
Wash your hands before and after you unpack groceries, and before you wash produce or prepare food.
(BTW: If you haven't signed up, here's the link. With its national focus, it complements this one well).
On a rainy day, some sunny news
A zoo in Hong Kong closed to the public because of the coronavirus, and that's when two giant pandas who hadn't mated after more than a decade of attempts finally did the deed. Fingers crossed Le Le and Ying Ying get pregnant.
Pop in a time of quarantine: Supalonely and other (unintentional) coronavirus anthems.
Fewer vehicles on the road has meant fewer accidents, so auto insurance companies Allstate, American Family Insurance and Liberty Mutual plan to give policyholders some of their money back.
That's it for today. Let's do it again tomorrow.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: NPR, Los Angeles Times, Vox.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Giant panda, coronavirus, peak, Newsom, homeless, groceries: Tues news