Newsletter: L.A. County sees its first community transmission case of COVID-19

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti at a news conference
Mayor Eric Garcetti at an L.A. County Health Department news conference on the novel coronavirus.

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, March 10, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

The inevitable has arrived in Los Angeles.

On Monday, public health officials announced the first “community spread” case of COVID-19 in the county, meaning the individual’s source of exposure to the virus is unknown. This community spread case was one of several new cases announced Monday in Los Angeles and Long Beach, bringing the total number of known cases in the county to 19.

[Read the story: “L.A. County has first coronavirus case from community spread. Long Beach reports first case” in the Los Angeles Times]

“This is our first case of community transmission in L.A. County and we will continue to see more cases of COVID-19,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Public Health Department. “We continue to urge everyone to do their part: Stay home if you are sick and keep your children home if they are sick; plan for the possibility of school and business closures.”


The news came as the Grand Princess cruise ship docked at the Port of Oakland after days of limbo, putting the East Bay city at the center of a public health emergency. Gov. Gavin Newsom has said aggressive steps have been taken to get the passengers off the boat without jeopardizing public health. Most will eventually be sent to two California military bases.

[Read the story: “Grand Princess arrives in an anxious Oakland, now at the center of coronavirus fight” in the Los Angeles Times]

As the boat was docking, another death related to the virus was announced in the state, this one in Santa Clara County, where there are now 43 known cases. The Santa Clara woman, who was in her 60s, had been hospitalized for several weeks.

Several schools in California were closed Monday because of the virus, and Stanford University and UC Berkeley both announced they were switching to online classes. The California Department of Public Health also released broader guidance for schools and colleges to help determine if and when to shut campus doors.

Three new COVID-19 cases were also announced in the Coachella Valley, intensifying questions about whether next month’s Coachella music festival will continue as planned.

But the rippling effects of the global outbreak seen on Monday were far from limited to the Golden State. Here’s what else you need to know:

  • The U.S. stock market had its worst day in more than a decade, as an oil war and coronavirus fears slammed markets. Los Angeles Times
  • A beleaguered Italy has taken the unprecedented step of placing the entire country under quarantine, a sweeping gamble for a Western democracy that is confronting one of its most severe crises since World War II. Los Angeles Times
  • The impact of the coronavirus drew closer to Washington as seven lawmakers announced they have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19, and Republicans and Democrats considered separate legislative packages to address the economic fallout. 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.


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

A former Los Angeles city councilman became the first City Hall figure to be publicly charged in connection with a sweeping probe that has delved into the worlds of L.A. politics and real estate development. Former Councilman Mitchell Englander was charged with obstructing an investigation into his allegedly accepting such gifts from a businessman during trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs. He faces seven criminal counts — three of witness tampering, three for allegedly making false statements and a single count of scheming to falsify facts. Englander pleaded not guilty and was released on a $50,000 bond guaranteed by his wife. Los Angeles Times

Plus, Vegas escorts and cash in envelopes: Here’s what we know about the charges against Englander. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer jumped into the 2022 mayor’s race Monday, announcing his candidacy for City Hall’s top office and creating a fundraising committee. Los Angeles Times

LAX will test two new taxi pickup locations. The pilot program doesn’t change anything for ride-hail users, and taxi users can continue to use LAX-it. But beginning in late March, taxigoers will have two new options to hail a cab from the terminals. Los Angeles Times

Spanish-language radio is booming in L.A. But local DJs say they can barely make rent. Los Angeles Times

“Face-melting riffs and stomach-stuffing tortas” are to be found at this rock ’n’ roll-themed Mexican restaurant in East Compton. Los Angeles Times

A band plays at Alexander's Hub Burritos, an East Compton restaurant
A band plays at Alexander’s Hub Burritos, an East Compton restaurant that hosts live music and specializes in Baja-inspired burritos and tortas.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

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California bullet train officials say they were told to suppress bad news and “shut up.” Former employees of the California high-speed rail project’s top consultant say they were punished for flagging problems. Los Angeles Times


Led Zeppelin did not steal its “Stairway to Heaven” riff, according to a ruling from a federal appeals court. Los Angeles Times


A cluster of 10 earthquakes rattled Northern California coastal towns. The largest was a 5.8 magnitude, reported Sunday night off the coast near Petrolia in Humboldt County. Fresno Bee

Rented bees by the billions have been at work in Central Valley almond orchards, tasked with pollinating the 2020 crop. The bees are filling orchards amid renewed scrutiny over whether this process, which is crucial to growing 80% of the world’s almonds, is sustainable. Modesto Bee


Some good news: Despite the lack of rain this year, spring wildflowers are still popping up around Marin in a variety of habitats. Marin Independent Journal

How Burma Superstar’s quiet founder created a Burmese food empire. Desmond Tan is about to open his seventh Burmese restaurant in the Bay Area. San Francisco Chronicle

The dark side of Instagram’s favorite door: Palm Springs’ pink door has become an unlikely internet celebrity, drawing an unrelenting stream of visitors to one homeowner’s doorstep. Fodor’s Travel


Los Angeles: rain, 64. San Diego: rain, 69. San Francisco: partly sunny, 67. San Jose: partly sunny, 70. Fresno: cloudy, 71. Sacramento: sunny, 73. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Ricardo Duran:

“In the late 1960s, I would spend two weeks every summer at my cousin’s house in Westchester. How glorious to trek from the smoggy triple-digit haze of Glendora to the relative clear, crisp skies above Playa Del Rey, where my aunt would drop us off in the mornings. Ahead lay a day full of boogie boarding, burying each other in the sand, jumping from the bridge at Ballona Creek and general goof offery. Not a care in the world nor the benefit of sunscreen. Baby oil and money for a Coke was all that was called for.”

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.