In California: 50,000 hospital beds, and a doctor who's been here before

Arlene Martinez, USA TODAY

The Golden State's preparing 50,000 extra beds for the expected surge in COVID-19 cases. And a doctor who fought Ebola in Liberia is now here battling the coronavirus. Plus, trying to get pregnant in the middle of a pandemic takes its toll.

It's Arlene Martínez with the start of a new week, for those keeping track of time. 

But first, an elected official and pastor in Thousand Oaks resigned after deciding to hold Communion at his church. He deemed the act essential but didn't want his colleagues on the city council to "endure the fallout of my decision."

In California brings you stories and information from newsrooms across the USA TODAY Network and beyond to keep you safe and informed. Subscribe today for free delivery right to your inbox. 

50,000 new hospital beds on the way

A look inside the Sleep Train Arena, where the Sacramento Kings used to play. The facility is being converted into an alternative care facility to help treat the expected surge of coronavirus cases.

The Golden State's preparing to have 50,000 new hospital beds ready by mid-May to help handle the expected surge in coronavirus cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday during his midday news briefing. 

Newsom spoke from the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, where the Sacramento Kings basketball team used to play. The arena's being converted into an alternative care facility, one of several sites being converted for patients. 

Newsom also announced California is lending 500 ventilators to the federal stockpile to be immediately distributed to Eastern states with a greater immediate need for them, especially New York. He said California had a "moral and ethical responsibility to help other states" and was looking to send more than just "thoughts and prayers."

He said the loan was possible because the state's supply had risen dramatically. At the outset of the pandemic, there were slightly more than 7,500 usable ventilators in California. That number is now just north of 11,000, with another 500 expected to be refurbished and delivered as early as Tuesday.

The total number of positive cases as of Monday stood at 14,336, and the virus had killed 343 people, Newsom said.

The San Francisco Chronicle's tracker shows a higher toll: 15,824 cases and 372 deaths.

Masks, driving while sheltered in place and that drug Trump promotes

How to make a mask

You're wondering why you need to wear a mask. Consider that a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that under the right conditions, liquid droplets from sneezes, coughs and just exhaling can travel more than 26 feet and linger in the air for minutes. 

Maybe you've heard stories of people getting pulled over for driving while we're sheltered in place. Authorities' truth-o-meter: False. "That’s just not happening. I’ll debunk that rumor right now. Not happening. Period," said Ventura County sheriff's Capt. Eric Buschow. 

The anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine has shown promise in small case studies (and been ineffective in others), but medical experts say the results aren't statistically significant and much more controlled research must be done.

Approving fracking permits a 'pebble-minded' move, watchdog group says

Last week, Aera Energy received fracking permits for oil well stimulation in Kern County.

State regulators on Friday issued fracking permits for the first time in nine months, saying federal scientists had given clearance for 24 permits to Aera Energy for oil well stimulation in Kern County.

Uduak-Joe Ntuk, the state's recently appointed oil and gas supervisor, notified Aera Energy that he had signed off on two dozen permits for fracking wells after the company provided additional, detailed field descriptions and other technical data and guarantees.

Opponents of the drilling technique lashed out. 

"With the entire state shut down and kids out of school, what purpose could approving these fracking permits have now, other than to do a solid for the oil industry when no one is watching?..." said Jamie Court, executive director of Consumer Watchdog.  "...What pebble-minded bureaucrat decided that as we hunker in our homes trying to avoid a plague that it was time to bring fracking back?"

An Aera spokesperson said the moves protect both public health and safety as well as jobs for those who work in the industry.

He fought Ebola in Liberia. Now, he's battling coronavirus in Ventura County

In this 2014 photo, Dr. John Fankhauser, far left, enters a chapel converted into an isolation unit for Ebola patients in Liberia.

Time magazine in 2014 named the Ebola fighters their Person of the Year. Dr. John Fankhauser was among them, and now he's back in Ventura County, leading the region's largest medical system as it fights the coronavirus. 

In Liberia, Fankhauser and other health care workers treated patients in a chapel converted into a hospital isolation area. The disease spread. Six patients turned into 250 in days. The flood threatened to overrun supplies of saline and protective gear with shipments sometimes arriving at the last possible moment.

He remains both optimistic and vigilant.

"I’ve seen how quickly exponential growth can occur," he said, referring to sudden increases in patients who need hospital care. "My sense is that we have to be hyper vigilant and extremely prepared that this surge is going to feel overwhelming. I have been there and I know how that feels."

Cats and coronavirus, 5G and an adulting ice cream truck

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo got sick, so does that mean your cat can get sick? For starters, tigers are totally different species than domestic cats. But beyond that, we don't know.

5G cellular towers have no detrimental health effects, results from a seven-year scientific study published recently found. That isn't changing the minds of those who maintain their presence is harmful.

An ice cream truck will add cocktails to its mix, along with other prepared foods and pantry basics, which it'll deliver in the L.A. area.

Infertility, stuck on a cruise ship and perhaps the hardest-hit group

Doctor does control check of the in vitro fertilization process using a microscope.

For some couples trying to have a baby, the coronavirus has meant canceled or postponed infertility treatments. When every month counts, the wait (and emotional toll) is grueling.

California-bound passengers got off, but over 1,000 other cruise ship passengers remain trapped at Port Miami, with no idea when they'll get off.

African Americans are dying in higher numbers from the coronavirus than other groups.

"When COVID-19 first hit America hard last month, the narrative was that it was the great equalizer, that in such a divided nation, our shared humanity meant we would be equal in our suffering," NY Times Magazine reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote via Twitter. "But those of us who understand racial caste in America knew this could never be true." 

A delay in court. And bail is eliminated for some 

A Southern California Edison facility in Ventura County.

The coronavirus outbreak could delay the first trials in the Thomas and Woolsey Fire lawsuits against Southern California Edison. Hundreds of homes were destroyed in the fires, which company officials acknowledged were at least partially caused by its equipment. 

The state's judicial leaders eliminated bail for defendants charged with misdemeanors and most nonviolent felonies to reduce jail populations and the potential spread of coronavirus.

I'll leave you with these photos of a usually thriving downtown on a Saturday night. Signing off from that town, Ventura, I'll see you Tuesday. 

Can I make this more useful for you? Tell me how. I'm all ears

In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: LA Eater, NBC News, The Atlantic, San Francisco Chronicle, Twitter.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus, infertility, hospital beds, masks, anti-malaria: Mon news