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Free educational resources for parents with school-aged children at home during coronavirus outbreak



HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — More than half a million children are out of Houston-area classrooms, but there are some things parents can do to help their kids continue to learn during the coronavirus crisis.

Tips on learning from home:

  • Prepare a space designated for learning that’s away from televisions and video games
  • Set goals on what you want your home students to accomplish
  • Create a schedule and stick to it
  • Talk to your kids’ teachers about accessing learning materials remotely
  • Seek clear guidance on what’s expected of your children while they’re out of the classroom
  • Here are some resources that will help you and your kids make the most of their time away from class.

    Love science? ABC13’s Weather School is here for you!
    Our meteorologists break down everything from layers of the atmosphere and phases of a water cycle, to what to do to stay safe during a lightning storm.

    The Houston Zoo is here to help! Despite closing its doors until April 3, the Houston Zoo is live streaming their favorite animals on Facebook in order to bring the zoo to you! The zoo will be hosting an 11:00 a.m. livestream Monday-Friday, sharing daily updates and showing viewers what the animals are up to.

    They encourage viewers to follow @HoustonZoo on all platforms for more updates.

    The Houston Astros have some fun free activities for kids to work on, including a word search and a maze.

    The Houston Texans devoted a page on their website called Huddle at Home to activities for kids, including Texans story time, math drills, and more! Parents can print or download an entire activity book for children.

    Space Foundation is offering free downloadable STEM lesson plans for students in grades K-8 to help keep kids engaged during the gap in traditional class time.

    Children’s Museum Houston
    You may know the brick and mortar location in Houston’s Museum District, but did you know about its database of online activities for classes?

    The museum is also sharing experiments, activities and inside looks at their exhibits through its daily virtual learning broadcast schedule.

    • 10:15 a.m. – O Wow Moment on Facebook
    • 11:15 a.m. – Story Time (English) sponsored by Phillips 66 on Instagram
    • 12:15 p.m. – Educator Moment on Facebook or Instagram
    • 1:15 p.m. – Story Time (Spanish) sponsored by Phillips 66 on Instagram
    • 3:15 p.m. – Toodler Time sponsored by McGovern Foundation on YouTube

    Frontiers for Young Minds
    This website has a free collection of science-related material for kids.

    Huntington Learning Center
    Download the recorded 30 minute webinar to help parents maximize children’s learning at home.

    DK find out!
    DK find out! has free lesson plan ideas for teachers and resources for parents, as well as videos and interactive modules on a variety of subjects.

    Epic! has thousands of books and videos online for kids. There’s a 30 day free trial to set up an account.

    Khan Academy
    Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that has excercises, quizzes, and videos to help students.
    Bill Nye The Science Guy
    You might recognize the name of this children’s science show host.
    Nye is a well-known science communicator with a long list of life science, physical science, and planetary science lessons.

    This website offers free access for students whose school is closed due to COVID-19.
    The site even has a free learning module for young people on coronavirus.

    National Geographic Kids
    This site from the National Geographic Society has everything from outer space to women heroes and homework help.

    This site from Learning A-Z is designed for students from kindergarten through fifth grade and has a free trial.

    Check this list for more free educational resources and activities.

    Pre-School and Early Elementary School

    Oxford Owl – Free e-books and math games and activities for ages 3-11

    BrainPop Junior – Learning tools for STEM, social studies, reading/writing, health and arts for grades K-3

    The Space Foundation Discovery Center – STEM lesson plans for ages PreK-20

    Mystery Science – Science lessons for grades K-5

    Children’s Museum Houston – Weather and Science videos and activities for grades PreK-5

    Elementary, Middle School and Above

    ABCYa – Reading and math games and activities for grades PreK-6 – Math lessons for grades K-5

    Disneynature – Movies and complimentary educational materials for grades 2-6

    Scratch – Interactive story, game and animation design from the MIT Media Lab, designed for ages 8 to 16 but available for anyone

    STMath – Math lessons for grades PreK-8

    Prodigy Math – Math programs for grades 1-8

    Curriculum Associates – Math and reading activity packs for grades K-8

    DK Find Out! – Lessons in subjects such as history, science and coding

    Listenwise – Non-fiction audio stories covering ELA, social studies and science for grades 2-12

    CommonLit – Reading and writing lessons for grades 3-12

    Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Academy – Interactive middle and high school computer science curriculum

    Codecademy – Data science and coding lessons for high school and college students

    Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Academy – Interactive middle and high school computer science curriculum

    Amazon Future Engineer – Free computer science courses for grades 6-12

    All Ages

    National Geographic Kids Science Lab – Science experiments, videos and articles

    National Ocean Service (NOAA) Kids – Science activities and resources for kids and educators

    Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems! – Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems explore ways of writing and making with kids of all ages
    Scholastic Learn-At-Home Resources – Learning experiences for K-9

    Greg Tang Math – Math games and resources for all ages

    SciShow Kids – Videos explaining scientific concepts for young, curious minds

    Frontiers for Young Minds – Science articles written by scientists and reviewed by kids

    The Kid Should See This – STEAM, history, and culture-focused videos for kids of all ages

    Imagineering in a Box – Lessons on theme park design and engineering via Walt Disney Imagineering, Pixar and Khan Academy

    BBC Bitesize – Lessons covering math, English, science and more for ages 3-16+

    BrainPop – Learning tools covering a variety of subjects

    BreakoutEDU – Immersive learning games for grades K-12

    Wonderopolis – Educational articles for grades K-12

    XtraMath – Math programs for students, parents and teachers

    How Stuff Works – Educational videos exploring the world around us – Computer science lessons for grades K-12 – Keyboarding, digital literacy, and coding lessons for all ages

    IXL – Lessons in math, language arts, science, social studies and Spanish for grades PreK-12 – Math, ELA and science for grades K-12

    KCET At-Home Learning – Educational resources from PBS SoCal | KCET, in partnership with LAUSD and in collaboration with California PBS stations for grades PreK-12

    California Academy of Sciences – Apps, immersive interactives, and engaging videos covering a variety of science topics

    Bill Nye the Science Guy – Educational videos covering life, physical and planetary sciences

    NASA STEM @ Home for Students – STEM articles and activities for grades K-12+

    Gizmos – Simulations exploring concepts in math and science for grades 3-12

    PhET Interactive Simulations – Interactive simulations for science and math

    Khan Academy – Lessons on grammar, science, history and math for grades K-12

    Professor Egghead Science Academy – Interactive lessons on science and engineering – Writing and grammar activities for grades K-12

    Quizlet – Flash cards, quizzes and games for languages, arts and humanities, social science, computer skills, science and math

    Duolingo – Language education for 35 languages

    OnlineFreeSpanish – Spanish learning games, coloring pages and interactive activities for all levels

    OnlineFreeSpanish – Spanish learning games, coloring pages and interactive activities for all levels

    Additional Resources (may require purchase or subscription)

    Pre-school Inspirations – Lesson plans for toddlers

    edHelper – Reading and math exercises for grades PreK-12

    hand2mind – Daily lessons and activities in math and literacy for grades K-5

    Institute for Excellence in Writing – English language arts lessons in writing, grammar and vocabulary for grades 3-12

    Other Goose – Lessons for ages 2-7

    ABCmouse – Reading, math, science and art curriculum for ages 2-8

    Reading IQ – Books for kids of all reading levels, ages 2-12

    Raz-Kids – Literacy and reading comprehension at various levels in English and Spanish for grades K-5

    Epic! – Books, learning videos and quizzes for ages 12 and under

    Amplify – ELA, math and science curriculum for grades K-8

    Adventure Academy – Reading, math and science games and videos for ages 8-13

    Vooks – Read-aloud animated books and complimentary lesson plans

    Book Creator – Creative book builder for students and teachers

    CodeCombat – Game-based computer science lessons

    MentalUp – Memory, logic and problem-solving games for all ages

    Conjuguemos – Language education for Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Korean and Latin

    Mango – Language education for 70 languages

    PandaTree – Spanish and Mandarin Chinese language education for ages 2-17

    edHelper – Reading and math exercises for grades PreK-12

    hand2mind – Daily lessons and activities in math and literacy for grades K-5

    Institute for Excellence in Writing – English language arts lessons in writing, grammar and vocabulary for grades 3-12

    CodeCombat – Game-based computer science lessons

    MentalUp – Memory, logic and problem-solving games for all ages

    Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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    US News

    Trump Dismantled the Very Jobs Meant to Stop the Covid-19 Epidemic



    After 9/11, we swore to never let that happen again. “Never again” was the mantra handed down to the nation’s leaders by George W. Bush in the White House on September 12th. We devoted billions—trillions, even—of dollars after 2001 to fixing the intelligence and information-gathering problems identified by the 9/11 Commission, and Congress and George W. Bush worked through the biggest reorganization of the government since 1947 to create two entirely new entities to help prevent “the next 9/11”: The Department of Homeland Security, an attempt to bring together all the agencies tasked with protecting the country at home, and the Office of Director of National Intelligence, a coordinator for the nation’s 17 disparate intelligence agencies to ensure that the country better understood both the big picture and the small picture of what was happening around the world.

    Unfortunately, President Donald Trump’s routine, day-to-day mismanagement of the government has left both organizations—the very entities we tasked as a nation to prevent the next 9/11—riddled with vacancies and temporary officials as the novel coronavirus rapidly spread from a small blip in China to a global health and economic catastrophe. In fact, the four top jobs at DHS and ODNI have all been filled with temporary acting officials for literally every day that Covid-19 has been on the world stage.

    While we often think of those jobs as focused on protecting against terrorism, both agencies have critical public health roles too; U.S. intelligence spent the winter racing to understand how serious a threat Covid-19 truly was and deciphering the extent of China’s cover-up of its epidemic. Just last week, news broke about a special report prepared by U.S. intelligence documenting China’s deception about the disease’s spread—information that, had it been more accurately captured and understood, might have caused a faster, harder response and lessened the economic and personal toll of the epidemic at home.

    Yet Trump has churned through officials overseeing the very intelligence that might have helped understand the looming crisis. At Liberty Crossing, the headquarters of the Office of Director of National Intelligence, the government will have been without a Senate-confirmed director for eight months as of next week; last summer, Trump accepted the resignation of Dan Coats and forced out the career principal deputy of national intelligence, Sue Gordon. Coats’ temporary stand-in, career intelligence official Joseph Maguire, then served so long that he was coming close to timing out of his role—federal law usually only lets officials serve for 210 days before relinquishing the acting post—before Trump ousted him too, as well as the acting career principal deputy. In their place, at the end of February—weeks after the U.S. already recorded its first Covid-19 case—Trump installed German ambassador Richard Grenell as his latest acting director, the role that by law is meant to be the president’s top intelligence adviser. Grenell has the least intelligence experience of any official ever to occupy director’s suite.

    This Friday, the role of homeland security secretary will have been vacant for an entire year, ever since Kirstjen Nielsen was forced out over Trump’s belief she wasn’t tough enough on border security. DHS has numerous critical roles in any domestic crisis, but its acting secretary, Chad Wolf, has fumbled through the epidemic; in February, Wolf couldn’t answer seemingly straightforward questions on Capitol Hill from Republican Senator John Kennedy (La.) about the nation’s preparedness—what models were predicting about the outbreak, how many respirators the government had stockpiled, even how Covid-19 was transmitted. “You’re supposed to keep us safe. And you need to know the answers to these questions,” Kennedy finally snapped at Wolf. Wolf has been notably absent ever since from the White House podium during briefings about the nation’s epidemic response.

    “Actings” often struggle to be successful precisely because they’re temporary—their word carries less weight with their own workforce, with other government agencies or on Capitol Hill—and they rarely have the opportunity to set and drive their own agenda, push for broad organizational change, or even learn the ropes of how to be successful in the job given the usually brief period of their reign. Anyone who has ever changed jobs or companies knows how long it can take to feel like you understand a new organization, a new culture or shape a new role.

    And yet up and down the org chart at DHS, there are people still learning the ropes. DHS is riddled with critical vacancies; according to the Washington Post’s appointment tracker, just 35 percent of its top roles are filled. Its chief of staff, executive secretary and general counsel are all acting officials, and there’s no Senate-confirmed deputy secretary, no under secretary for management, no chief financial office, no chief information officer, no under secretary for science and technology, nor a deputy under secretary for science and technology.

    Even as we face a global crisis with complex travel restrictions and health guidelines, there are no Senate-confirmed leaders of any of DHS’s three border and immigration agencies—Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Nor is there a deputy administrator at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as the airline industry faces an existential cutback to global travel.

    Matthew Albence, the acting head of ICE, which faces a growing Covid-19 problem in its national network of detention facilities, has been “acting” for so long that he’s surpassed the 220-statutory limit for the role and instead is now technically the “senior official performing the duties of the director,” a legal term of art that’s become all too common around the federal government as vacancies linger in the Trump era. Ken Cuccinelli, the similarly-titled “senior official performing the duties of the USCIS director,” who is simultaneously also DHS’s temporary No. 2, the “senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary,” is currently appealing a court ruling that he’s not even legally serving at DHS.

    When Trump turned to DHS’s FEMA last month to oversee the federal government’s coronavirus response, the agency lacked Senate-confirmed officials in either of its deputy roles—including its deputy overseeing preparedness and continuity of government planning, a function that may become all-too-important in the days ahead if the virus sickens government leaders, as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already been hospitalized.

    And the assistant secretary for countering WMD—the person who oversees DHS’s chief medical officer, the doctor designated to advise the DHS secretary and the head of FEMA? That job is vacant too. Meanwhile, in addition to its role serving the nation, DHS itself faces a growing number of Covid-19 infections in its own workforce—up to 600 cases as of Monday’s numbers, including 270 TSA employees and 160 CBP employees.

    The effect of these vacancies ripple further than most people realize. Since vacant roles awaiting either an official appointment or a Senate-confirmed nominee are always filled by “acting” officials pulled from other parts of the organization or broader government, even more offices are understaffed as people do double-duty and as their own positions are filled with other “actings” behind them. Grenell, even as he fills in as director of national intelligence, continues to technically be the U.S. ambassador to Germany, meaning that amid the huge economic uncertainty around Covid-19 epidemic the U.S. is without a high-level envoy to the largest economy in Europe. For the 14 months he was “acting” White House chief of staff, up until March 31—another horse Trump changed mid-stream in the epidemic—Mick Mulvaney was still technically serving as the director of Office of Management and Budget, a normally critical role itself overseeing the nation’s spending. In Mulvaney’s absence, Russell Vought, OMB’s deputy, filled in as the acting director—leaving his own job, normally its own full-time role, to be filled in by others, and so on.

    In government agencies, deputies are not like the vice president—a spare role kept around, if needed. Often, the “deputy” role is the most important figure in the day-to-day operations of the department or agency—the person who runs the bureaucracy and organization while the principal (the secretary or director) attends to the policy and the politics. Robbing an agency or department of a principal and forcing the deputy to fill in means the organization will be running at reduced effectiveness, with less guidance, direction and oversight.

    The vacancies at DHS and ODNI are hardly the whole story of how Trump has hampered the very jobs meant to protect the nation in crisis. While much attention has been focused on Trump’s decision to shutter the National Security Council’s pandemic unit, less attention has focused on an even more critical change in the NSC’s structure. Another key post-9/11 reform was the creation of a White House homeland security advisor, a domestic equal to the national security advisor, a post created just days after 9/11 by President George W. Bush and filled at first with Tom Ridge, who would go on to be the first homeland security secretary. Presidents Bush and Obama for years had at their beck and call senior, sober homeland security advisors like Fran Townsend, Ken Wainstein, John Brennan and Lisa Monaco; Monaco helped oversee the nation’s response to Ebola and led the incoming Trump administration through a pandemic response exercise in the days before inauguration to highlight how critical such an incident could be.

    Over the course of his administration, Trump effectively has done away with the role of homeland security advisor; when John Bolton took over as national security advisor, one of his first acts was to fire Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert and downgrade the role in rank. Ever since, the Trump NSC has sidelined the officials who filled the role. In February, as Covid-19 loomed domestically, Trump actually even shuffled the Coast Guard official then filling the post out to a new job, overseeing Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery.

    Further afield from the homeland security roles, the empty holes in federal organization charts will continue to slow and hamper the government’s ability to respond at the speed and scale necessary to address a crisis of unprecedented complexity.

    At the Treasury Department, Secretary Steve Mnuchin began confronting the crisis without a chief of staff or legislative director. As Bloomberg reported, “Of 20 Senate confirmed roles reporting to the secretary, seven aren’t filled, and four are occupied by acting officials. The domestic finance unit, which should be handling the brunt of the work related to the coronavirus outbreak, is particularly empty. It has no top boss and is missing three assistant secretaries, who are the next level down.”

    At the Pentagon, the Navy faced last week’s Covid-19 crisis about the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt without a Senate-confirmed navy secretary; Richard Spencer departed last fall amid the controversy of Trump’s pardoning of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes. Now that Spencer’s successor as acting Navy secretary has himself resigned amid the carrier fiasco, the under secretary of the Army—the only one of the three service under secretaries now filled and a post he only took up two weeks ago—will apparently be filling as acting Navy secretary. To say that it’s less-than-ideal for all of those roles—which serve as each military service’s chief management officer—to be vacant in the midst of an unprecedented, global crisis is an understatement. Across the building, roughly a third of the Pentagon’s top jobs are vacant or filled with acting officials—an administration-high. The under secretary for personnel and readiness, Matthew Donovan, has only been on the job for about two weeks—the job sat vacant since July 2018—and there’s currently no undersecretary for policy.

    Last year, the top job at the Food and Drug Administration, the role overseeing the nation’s pharmaceuticals, sat vacant for nearly eight months; the latest occupant, Stephen Hahn, took over in December, nearly a month after the first cases of Covid-19 were reported in Wuhan, China. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, which oversees a massive health care network and legally serves to supplement the civilian health care system in an emergency like the current epidemic, there’s no deputy secretary, general counsel or under secretary for health.

    Meanwhile, there’s an acting director over at the Office of Personnel Management—the federal government’s equivalent of an HR department—even as the U.S. government’s two million civilian employees face the massive challenge of working from home and carrying on essential duties amid the Covid-19 crisis. Oh, and that acting director of OPM, Michael Rigas, who himself just took over in late March when the OPM director, who had been there for all of six months, quit just as the epidemic boiled over? He’s also serving as the acting deputy director at OMB. Confused? You’d hardly be alone. Wondering how someone can effectively lead one mission-critical organization while simultaneously working as the deputy of another? The answer is you can’t.

    All of these vacancies are simple statements. They say nothing about the competence or longevity of the officials actually in any of the key roles, both of which deserve separate indictments: Trump is already on his fourth White House chief of staff, his fifth homeland security secretary and his fourth defense secretary—though the current occupant, Mark Esper, actually is technically the fifth person to occupy the role, since he was also “acting” secretary for 21 days before handing over the reins to Richard Spencer for eight days last summer while he was officially nominated for the permanent position.

    Similarly, the experience of the officials who are in charge of many key departments and agencies is troublesome; Grenell, as acting DNI, has never worked in the intelligence community before, whereas his predecessors have been admirals, generals and the heads of various intelligence agencies themselves. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, the few leaders who do exist badly lack experience in crisis response, as the department’s inspector general reported in the early days of the coronavirus crisis. As the New York Times wrote, “At the Department of Veterans Affairs, workers are scrambling to order medical supplies on Amazon after its leaders, lacking experience in disaster responses, failed to prepare for the onslaught of patients at its medical centers.” The new head of the Office of Presidential Personnel, which is in charge of choosing appointees across the government, was fired earlier in the administration over allegations of financial crimes, and one of its top deputies is still a college student.

    All of these revolving doors, empty offices and “temps” is precisely by design. Trump has spoken regularly about his preference for “acting” officials, saying they give him “flexibility.”

    Someday, reports will be written about how the U.S. government failed in its response to the Covid-19 epidemic—failures that will surely have cost additional thousands of lives, additional millions of lost jobs, and additional billions (perhaps even trillions) in economic damages by the time this virus is behind us. And yet while those reports will surely point out specific management failures and lost opportunities to arrest the spread of Covid-19, the most basic conclusion of those future reports could already be written: Donald Trump’s Apprentice-style staffing bake-offs and his oft-voiced predilection for acting officials kept the U.S. government distracted, off-kilter and understaffed.

    Trump is obviously not responsible for the appearance of the novel coronavirus—but he is responsible for the government’s spiraling failure to respond appropriately in a timely manner. He has ignored the hiring practices, protocols, norms and expertise that would have given him and the federal government a better shot at defeating Covid-19. Three years into his administration and with a Republican-controlled Senate ready to move nominees through to confirmation, he didn’t build the national leadership we needed. That inescapable fact is Donald Trump’s fault.

    The “next 9/11” is happening right now because Trump ignored the lessons of the last one.

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    USNS Comfort Crew Member Tests Positive for Coronavirus



    On Monday, Mr. Trump agreed that the Comfort would begin taking in people who tested positive for the virus.

    A Navy spokeswoman said the discovery of an infected crew member would not affect the Comfort’s mission in New York. “It does not affect the ability of the Comfort to receive patients at all,” Elizabeth Baker, the spokeswoman, said.

    As of Tuesday morning, there were 44 patients on board, she said, meaning most of the Comfort’s beds still remained unused.

    The infected crew member, who was not publicly identified, was not a medical worker and had no contact with patients, Ms. Baker said. She said she did not know how the crew member was infected.

    All members of the crew tested negative for the virus before leaving the Comfort’s port in Norfolk, Va., she said, and have not left the ship since arriving in New York.

    With its dazzling white hull emblazoned with red crosses, the Comfort appeared as a beacon of hope when it sailed into New York Harbor last week. But it has since become a stark symbol of the halting and at times ham-handed efforts to combat a novel contagion that continues to confound medical science.

    The ship arrived with a list of restrictions on patients that some hospital officials complained were so onerous that only healthy people would be allowed on board. When only a handful of patients could be transferred to the ship, the Defense Department eased those restrictions.

    All along, the goal was to prevent the virus from coming on board. In the end, it did anyway, in a testament to the virus’s perniciousness.

    Five patients who were originally transferred to the Comfort after testing negative for the virus also eventually developed symptoms. Additional tests confirmed they had the disease.

    Now, patients suffering most acutely from Covid-19, along with others in need of urgent care, are being transferred to the ship, while those less severely affected will remain at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, another spillover site operated by the Department of Defense in Manhattan. All patients must give consent before being transferred to the Defense Department run facilities.

    After the reconfiguration to accept Covid patients, the ship will have 500 beds, plus an additional 100 intensive care unit beds equipped with ventilators, Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, the commander of U.S. Second Fleet, said at a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.

    The Javits Center also has 42 ventilators and is expecting another 48 to come online in the coming days, said Maj. Gen. William A. Hall, who is overseeing operations there.

    To mitigate the dangers onboard the Comfort, the ship has been divided into two zones, with the medical zone completely isolated from other areas of the ship. Medical workers, who had been confined to the Comfort, will now be bussed each day to and from a local hotel in the city to reduce the number of crew members in common areas of the ship.

    “Taking on more patients as quickly as possible is critical to helping the City of New York during this pandemic crisis,” Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, the commander of U.S. Second Fleet, said in a statement. “We listened to the feedback from area health professionals and the community and believe this is the best way we can help our fellow Americans.”

    The Defense Department announced also announced on Tuesday that it was rushing additional reinforcements to New York City to assist front-line medical workers. More than 300 military medical workers have been sent to the city’s 11 public hospitals, and additional overflow medical sites are being established in adjacent countries, said Jonathan Hoffman, a department spokesman.

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    California sheriff warns he could arrest residents for not wearing face masks



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    A California sheriff warned the residents of his county Monday that they could face fines or imprisonment for violating an order to cover their faces in public during the coronavirus crisis.

    Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco made the announcement in a video posted to YouTube, just days after the department said it lost two deputies to fatal cases of COVID-19.

    “Right now, you could be a carrier of this virus, spreading it to your family and friends,” Bianco said.

    It’s unclear when deputies would issue fines or arrest people who violate the face mask order, but the county said local law enforcement agencies have the power to enforce the order “as they deem necessary.”

    Bianco said his department would not set up roadside checkpoints to stop vehicles or people hiking, walking or running without masks.

    “We will not be setting up any type of police state,” he said. “And this is not a declaration of martial law in Riverside County.”


    Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer, on Saturday banned all gatherings of “any number of people” other than relatives living together in the same home, according to a county press release. And he ordered “everyone” to wear a face covering outside their homes.

    Acceptable face coverings include bandanas, scarves and “clothing that does not have visible holes.” However, the county is discouraging residents from buying N95 or surgical masks, arguing that they are in short supply and necessary for health care workers and first responders.


    “Not everybody’s getting the message,” Kaiser said, according to the release. “It started with staying home, social distance and covering your face. But now we change that from saying that you should to saying that you must.”

    The order runs through April 30.

    Essential businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations and health care providers are exempt from the portion of the order prohibiting gatherings. Churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and other religious buildings are banned from hosting services — even at drive-in events.


    Still, Bianco asked residents not to distract first responders from emergency work over people who disobey the order.

    “Do not call 9-1-1 to report potential violations,” he said. “Cover your faces. Stay at home unless absolutely necessary, and help out your neighbors as much as possible.”

    Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco addresses the media at a press conference, Friday, April 3, 2020, in Riverside, Calif. Bianco announced the passing of the second County Sheriff’s employee to die due to the coronavirus. (Dylan Stewart/Image of Sport via AP)

    The U.S. has seen at least 379,965 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon, with 12,021 of them fatal. There were at least 16,429 cases in California and 397 deaths.

    On Thursday, two deputies of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department died from COVID-19. They were Deputy Terrell Young, a married father of four who joined the department in 2005, and Deputy David Werksman, a married father of three who joined in 1998.

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