Newsletter: A new phase in the coronavirus fight

Airmen from the California National Guard lowered virus testing kits to the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California on Thursday.
(California National Guard via Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, March 9, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead, before we get to the latest on the coronavirus in California:

There will be a “supermoon” on Monday night, meaning the moon will appear bigger and brighter in the night sky than normal. For the record, a “supermoon” is the non-technical term for what occurs when the moon turns full as it reaches the point in its orbit when it is closest to Earth.

On Tuesday, presidential primary elections will be held in six states, including Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Washington state, and the North Dakota Democratic caucuses.


Harvey Weinstein will be sentenced on Wednesday. Weinstein was found guilty by a New York jury of a criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. He is still facing charges brought by Los Angeles County prosecutors.

There will be yet another Democratic presidential debate on Sunday. But this one — the 11th of the 2020 election cycle — will look very different from prior debates. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will probably be the only candidates on stage March 15, after the Democratic National Committee raised the requirements. (Yes, Tulsi Gabbard is still running for president, but it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to meet the requirement threshold.)

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Top health officials warned that the country has entered a new stage in dealing with the deadly coronavirus — one in which containment is no longer possible. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the number of Californians testing positive for COVID-19 jumped from 88 Saturday to 114 Sunday, but he emphasized that the number was expected to rise as testing became more widely available.

According to Newsom, California has testing kits for 8,000 individuals and that a private lab — Quest Diagnostics in San Juan Capistrano — will also have the capacity to run an additional 2,000 tests each day beginning Monday, if needed. San Francisco issued recommendations for social distancing on Friday, advising residents to stay home as much as possible and avoid congregating in large groups. Santa Clara County has issued similar guidelines. Los Angeles Times

The Grand Princess, a cruise ship that spent the weekend in a holding pattern off the coast of San Francisco, will dock Monday in Oakland. The ship has nearly 3,000 stranded travelers and crew aboard, including at least 21 people who with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The ship will dock at the commercial port of Oakland to disembark all passengers and those who need medical attention. Newsom said Sunday it could take three days or longer to get all the passengers off the ship, but emphasized that the situation was “fluid” and could take longer.

After medical cases, California residents will be prioritized for disembarkation. About 1,000 Californians are expected to be taken to Travis Air Force base in nearby Solano County to begin a 14-day quarantine, with the remainder of Californians going to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. The remainder of American passengers will be sent to military bases in Texas and Georgia, while foreign passengers will be sent to their home countries via charter flights. Los Angeles Times


Are you or were you a passenger on the Grand Princess? Or have a tip about the coronavirus? If so, please contact The Times’ Anita Chabria at

More coronavirus coverage:

  • What is the fatality rate for the new coronavirus, and why does it keep changing? The biggest uncertainty surrounds the number of people who have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide. The official count has surpassed 100,000, but the true number is probably much higher. Los Angeles Times
  • Warnings have become more urgent for the elderly and frail, who are at the greatest risk from COVID-19. Los Angeles Times
  • Locals are torn over the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival coming to their town amid growing coronavirus concerns. In Indio and Palm Springs, residents fear not only the spread of coronavirus from the influx of fans for the Coachella festival, but the loss in revenue as well. Los Angeles Times
  • Organizers of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament have canceled this year’s event at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, citing the public health emergency declared by the Riverside County Public Health Department after a recently confirmed local case of the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times
  • Why the coronavirus outbreak isn’t likely to be a repeat of the 1918 Spanish flu. We don’t know for certain, but at this point, “I think it’s nowhere near as bad as 1918,” said Dr. James Cherry, an infectious diseases expert at UCLA. Los Angeles Times

Sign up for Coronavirus Today, a new special edition of the Los Angeles Times’ Health and Science newsletter that will help you understand more about COVID-19.


Opposition persists against plans for 420 apartments and a beer garden along the L.A. River. The development would be located at an industrial site near the 2 Freeway and the waterway. Curbed LA

A homeless man, a Corgi and a rescue mission on two legs and four: When a man loses his job and becomes homeless, a couple fostering his dog lends a hand. Los Angeles Times

A Corgi staying with a foster family in Hollywood nuzzles up to his visiting owner, who is homeless and trying to get back on his feet.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation vowed to do homeless housing better. But tenants say it’s a “slumlord.” Los Angeles Times

What DIY democracy looks like in an underserved L.A. neighborhood. “Harbor Gateway North is a neighborhood so divided by freeways and railroads and surrounded by other cities that some residents don’t know they actually live within Los Angeles city boundaries.” LAist

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California Sen. Kamala Harris endorsed Joe Biden on Sunday and said she would “do everything in my power” to help elect him, becoming the latest dropout from the Democratic race for president to line up behind the former vice president in his battle with Bernie Sanders for the nomination. Los Angeles Times

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife, documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, reported an income of $1.2 million in 2018, including $800,000 from the governor’s wineries, restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses. Los Angeles Times

After whirlwind week, L.A. Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey has an election, and a family matter, hanging in the balance. In the most recent results, Lacey’s share of the vote hovered just below the 50% plus one she needs to avoid a runoff. Images of Lacey’s husband pointing a gun at unarmed protesters spread rapidly across news websites and television stations the day before the election. Los Angeles Times



Taking an Uber or Lyft pollutes more than driving, California finds. Next stop: Regulations. Los Angeles Times


UC graduate students threaten more strikes as their movement grows. A growing number of students and faculty members across University of California campuses walked out of class, held rallies and signed letters last week, as a systemwide movement takes hold in support of graduate students demanding cost-of-living adjustments to their salaries. Los Angeles Times

How See’s Candies became Warren Buffett’s “dream” investment. Buffett bought the California-based candy company 47 years ago. The Hustle

Champions of sport. Champions of causes. Champions, through and through. Here are the women who shook up, and are shaking up, the sports world. Los Angeles Times



Los Angeles: cloudy, 73. San Diego: cloudy, 70. San Francisco: partly sunny, 65. San Jose: cloudy, 66. Fresno: cloudy, 69. Sacramento: partly sunny, 66. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa (March 10, 1949), actor-activist Janet Mock (March 10, 1983), record producer Jimmy Iovine (March 11, 1953), singer James Taylor (March 12, 1948), record producer Quincy Jones (March 14, 1933) and NBA star Steph Curry (March 14, 1988).

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.