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A letter to readers

Dear Reader,

I woke up New Year’s Day convinced that 2020 would be the most consequential year in recent memory. It would be all about politics. How could it be otherwise? The incumbent in the White House, having been impeached by the House of Representatives, was certain to be acquitted in the Senate. Our team of reporters and editors would cover months of rancorous debate, certain only that the election would leave the country divided, no matter which Democrat was nominated or which party won in November.

If only we had celebrated a little less on New Year’s Eve and had paid more attention to a report from Wuhan, China, where officials were investigating a suspicious cluster of respiratory cases apparently tied to a seafood market.

The story remained mostly offshore until Jan. 30 — less than a week after Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash — when the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency. Even then, few experts were predicting the ways in which public life across our city, state and country would grind to a halt, changing our lives and our way of life.

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It’s also been a time of remarkable change and challenges for the Los Angeles Times and its journalists as we strive to keep you informed about a story unlike any we have ever imagined or witnessed.

It was Friday, March 6, when a small group of editors met with our executive chairman, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, to discuss the science behind the highly contagious coronavirus. Soon-Shiong, a scientist and surgeon who has spent his career studying the human immune system while developing therapies to fight cancer and infectious diseases, urged us to take the virus seriously. He told us to adhere to self-quarantine protocols following travel, to wash our hands with soap and to avoid touching our faces.

Soon afterward, the largest newsroom west of the Potomac went virtual, with most reporters and editors working from home. A few of our journalists continue to report on the street, taking great care to protect their health and that of the community.

As we receive daily and often contradictory updates from federal, state and local officials, we have dedicated ourselves to reporting and explaining what every facet of this novel global pandemic means for you. We know your health and safety, your jobs, even your children’s schooling, are at risk. Our oft-proclaimed commitment to public service journalism has been put to a test. We must be the destination that best provides you with the facts and analysis you need to protect yourselves.

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We increasingly see the world as a global village where news from abroad and from down the street can be of vital importance. A report from our Beijing correspondent, Alice Su, about China’s latest recovery efforts, a story from Richard Read, our bureau chief in Seattle, questioning deaths among members of a choir, and a look at how students are adjusting to online learning from staff writers Howard Blume and Sonali Kohli are all critical to understanding this crisis.

If you subscribe to our print edition, please be sure to sign up for our digital services at latimes.com/activate so you can receive alerts and reports at any time, on any device. Here are a few examples of the important information available to you:

· Coronavirus: What to know now. Twice each weekday, a group of our reporters provides the latest on the news that we believe matters to you. It’s information to help you stay safe, healthy and sane. This is also where we answer many of the questions we receive from readers.

· Tracking the coronavirus in California. This project from our data and graphics team allows you to monitor how testing, diagnoses and deaths are tracking over time. It also shows how and where the virus has spread and gives you current information about what’s open and closed in counties across the state.

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· Coronavirus Today. Keeping up with the constant breaking news can be overwhelming. This daily newsletter, delivered by email in the evenings, rounds up the top headlines and links to our best stories each day.

· The Science Behind the Coronavirus. In a series of short videos, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong tells you what you need to know to understand COVID-19.

While we prioritize coverage of the coronavirus, we recognize that we must also continue to publish stories that matter to Californians and to people everywhere who count on us for news from and about the West. We hope that projects including our virtual Book Club events, cooking demonstrations that show you how to make nutritious meals and great comfort food, and expert advice on what to watch, listen to and read help keep you connected at home.

We appreciate the trust you place in us, and your choice to become a subscriber. With so many businesses in the region and around the world dealing with this crisis, most of our advertisers are unable to continue advertising, which makes your subscription and support of our journalism more important than ever.

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Your comments and criticisms are always welcome.

Thank you.

Norman Pearlstine
Executive Editor
Los Angeles Times


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