Newsletter: Act like you have the coronavirus

Drive-through coronavirus testing at Crenshaw Christian Center on Sunday.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, April 8. I’m Nita Lelyveld, filling in for Julia Wick, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Where is Julia? She has the coronavirus. And what she wrote about the experience should give all of us pause.


My wonderful colleague is 30. She is otherwise healthy. She is strong. And still she has found this virus “a doozy.” At one point, after a week off work, when she felt she might have turned the corner, she took a bath and then passed out on the way back to bed.

“I’m not entirely sure what happened,” she writes. “Suddenly I was on the floor, with my face and knees badly banged up.”

Please read her account. She has a lot to say that we can learn from — about the loss of smell that she now realizes was the first sign of the virus, about her reassessment of the help she offered to others before she knew she was sick. She’s been so worried since that she could have infected others.

We all need to “act at all times as if you already have the virus,” she writes. “Because you very well might. And in a worst-case scenario, you could be endangering the very people you aim to help.”

[Read the story “I have the coronavirus and hope you’ll act like you have it too” in the Los Angeles Times]

That’s the same message, by the way, that we’re hearing every day from public health officials up and down the state.

Our governor says we are bending the curve. But that doesn’t mean we’ll avoid tough times ahead. We’re still not sure when we’ll hit our peaks in Southern California and as a state. And how we behave right now might make such a difference.

That’s one reason our mayor just announced that anyone visiting an essential business in L.A. must wear a face covering — and that workers at those businesses will have to wear them as well.

If you are able to do so, please just stay home instead. Settle in. We need to, and we have some ideas to pass the time.

Missing watching your favorite teams live? Substitute with some good sports-themed TV shows selected by a die-hard fan.

Want more movie choices? We’ve got some tips.

Maybe look for ways to help others if you can, perhaps by sending meals to healthcare workers at hospitals.

And try to find ways to relax and calm your stress, because those coronavirus dreams are something else.

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


Looking closely: L.A. County releases its first racial breakdown of coronavirus cases. Los Angeles Times

Shoes, smokes, electronics: L.A. cracks down on businesses that were supposed to close but didn’t. Los Angeles Times

Almost home: A man who spent three months at LAX gets a great head start toward a better future from L.A. Times readers. Los Angeles Times

Ready to buy a house online? Right now, the door has shut on the in-person open house. Home inspections have gone virtual too. Appraisals have gone drive-by. Los Angeles Times

Mask machines: USC’s architecture school leads one local effort to make masks and face shields. Los Angeles Times

Please don’t come: Why and how Mammoth Lakes is turning away visitors. San Francisco Chronicle

Caution, caution, yellow tape. It’s everywhere now to keep people away — from playgrounds, paths, skate parks and farmers market produce. Check out these photos. Los Angeles Times

A statue of a prehistoric short-faced bear is surrounded by caution tape in the park at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)


More help, please: L.A. City Council members push for rent relief and a jobs program. Los Angeles Times

Waiting game: Millions of gig economy, contract and furloughed workers who were promised they would qualify for unemployment benefits for the first time during the pandemic are in limbo as the federal government and states scramble to implement that part of the $2.2-trillion relief package. Los Angeles Times

Civic cuts: The city of San Diego furloughs 800 workers as tax revenues drop. San Diego Union-Tribune


Timely hearings: A federal appeals court ruled that detained immigrants facing deportation and possible persecution in their home countries must be given bond hearings after six months. Los Angeles Times

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Virtual justice: The California Supreme Court just held its first remote oral argument. Los Angeles Times

Behind bars: Coronavirus is spreading in our prisons. Los Angeles Times

La Luz del Mundo: The criminal case against a Mexican megachurch leader on charges of child rape and human trafficking was dismissed on procedural grounds. Associated Press


Bring them home? L.A. County’s public health czar says it would be “perfectly appropriate” to take loved ones out of nursing homes and communal living institutions given coronavirus outbreaks. Los Angeles Times


Collapsing into each day: Randy Newman on how he’s handling life at home in the time of coronavirus. Los Angeles Times

Mark your calendar: Our L.A. Times Book Club will still meet, even if it’s online. On April 21, we’ll be talking to writer Fanny Singer and her famed mother, Alice Waters. Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles: afternoon showers, 60. San Diego: isolated thunderstorms, 62. San Francisco: partly cloudy, 57. San Jose: mostly cloudy, 65. Fresno: rainy, 61. Sacramento: partly cloudy, 69. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Judith Rasson:

Our family story of how we came to live in California starts with my grandfather, who immigrated from Northern Europe just after the beginning of the 20th century and looked for work in the snowy Midwest. He was a dedicated newspaper reader and at some point well before World War I read a story about the Rose Parade. He thought that any place where roses bloomed in January would be a good place to live, so he moved here and the family is now third-generation Californians.

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.