Essential California Week in Review: The cost of containment

Andre Ross, 30, is a floor care specialist at Southern California Hospital in Hollywood. He disinfects the floors of patients' rooms, including possibly those of COVID-19 patients.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, April 11.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Promise and progress stall. South L.A.’s renaissance was decades in the making. The coronavirus could end it in weeks, as the virus closes doors for weeks on end.

Rent’s due. Even with L.A.’s protections against evictions, the financial consequences of the pandemic have some landlords searching for new ways to press tenants into paying — even if they’re not in line with the law.

First responders are hit hard. The virus is starting to take its toll on their ranks. Fire departments in San Jose and Long Beach have been hit by outbreaks, and healthcare workers are falling ill.

The forgotten front line. Hospitals’ janitors, food-service workers and clerks are exposed to many of the same risks as doctors and nurses, but they say they’re getting less protective equipment and less respect.

Equipment shortages persist. Where are the masks and ventilators? The medical supply chain is trying to deliver hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment to medical workers, while architects lead a 3-D printing effort. But some hospitals say they still don’t have enough, even as Gov. Gavin Newsom lends ventilators to other states.

Masks become mandatory. Across Southern California, civilians are being told to wear fabric face coverings in an effort to slow the virus’ spread, especially when visiting essential businesses. Here is when to wear a mask, and here is how to do it right.

What we don’t know. Southern California has been bracing for impact for weeks. The virus is still spreading and cases are still growing, outpacing an early hot spot in the Bay Area. The question remains: When will it end?

What we do. Patterns are starting to emerge in how the virus is affecting different communities, although data remains incomplete. But so far, L.A. County’s black patients are dying at higher rates, reflecting a nationwide disparity, while Latinos appear to be faring better.

The dread of waiting. With so much uncertainty, a new poll of Angelenos finds overwhelming numbers of Los Angeles County residents feel deep anxiety about contracting COVID-19. They’re also worried about the economic costs.

Weird dreams. If fear and dread have invaded your dreams, you’re not alone. Plenty of people are having vivid dreams with images such as tidal waves, lethal injections and masses of thin white worms. Here’s why.

A path forward. Entire industries are being forced to adapt to a new reality, one where unemployment is high and personal contact is a risk. For real estate agents, virtual tours are offering a chance to keep working.

Another Weinstein charge. L.A. County prosecutors charged Harvey Weinstein with one more count of sexual assault in connection with an alleged 2010 attack at a Beverly Hills hotel. He had already been charged with assaulting two women in separate incidents in L.A. County.


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1. I have the coronavirus and hope you’ll act like you have it too. Los Angeles Times

2. You may never see Yosemite like this again. Beautiful video peeks into valley, without humans. Sacramento Bee

3. Tracking the coronavirus in California. Los Angeles Times

4. L.A. releases first racial breakdown of coronavirus fatalities; blacks have higher death rate. Los Angeles Times

5. Tired of the mainstream? An alternative guide to watching movies at home. Los Angeles Times


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. (And a giant thanks to the legendary Laura Blasey for all her help on the Saturday edition.)