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Newsletter: Coronavirus cases rise in California

The Grand Princess cruise ship arrives in San Francisco on Feb. 11.
(Associated Press)

Here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:

TOP STORIES

Coronavirus Cases Rise in California

The number of coronavirus cases in California grew to at least 60 on Thursday as authorities announced what may be the state’s second virus-related death in Santa Clara County, where residents are being urged to postpone or cancel large gatherings and events, and minimize work in big groups.

Officials say two of the new cases were the first reported in San Francisco and indicate that the virus is spreading in the community. The two, a man in his 90s and a woman in her 40s who are not related, have no travel history to places with the novel coronavirus and had no known contact with a person who has tested positive. “We do not know at this point how they were exposed to the virus,” Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of health, said in a statement.

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Nevada announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Thursday, in Las Vegas, a man in his 50s who had recently traveled to Washington state. He is hospitalized in isolation, officials said.

Meanwhile, a cruise line tied to the outbreak is coming under criticism from passengers for health-screening lapses, and some also fault medical authorities for not taking their reported symptoms seriously after they left the ship.

To our readers: 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.

More About the Outbreak

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— Today President Trump canceled a high-profile visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, seen as an attempt to portray himself in control of the fast-moving threat, which has led to more than 200 confirmed cases in at least 18 states. But his mixed messages have added to the nation’s anxieties.

— California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced they are ordering all public and commercial insurance plans to cover the cost of testing for the coronavirus and medically necessary screening.

— A shortage of test kits is creating chaos for doctors and nurses in California as their triage efforts are complicated by testing restrictions and shortfalls.

— The global outbreak that has sickened nearly 100,000 people across six continents may actually be fueled by two variants of the same coronavirus: one older and less aggressive and a newer version whose mutations may have made it more contagious and more deadly, according to a controversial new study.

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— The outbreak is projected to cost the U.S. travel industry billions of dollars, the biggest hit since the economic meltdown of 2008-09.

— The coronavirus is inspiring memes, parodies and art in Asia as a way to cope.

— The flu has killed far more people than coronavirus. So why all the frenzy about COVID-19?

A ‘Trap Question for Every Woman’ in Politics

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren has dropped out of the presidential race, ending a 14-month campaign to bring “big structural change” to the U.S. that failed to win a single primary. In the coming days she faces a decision on how to use her remaining leverage and whether to endorse one of her remaining rivals.

Asked if she believed gender was a factor in her repeated losses, Warren called that a “trap question for every woman” in politics. “If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner!’” she said. “And if you say, ‘No, there was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?’“

For many women, Warren’s exit was a familiar punch-to-the-gut moment of disappointment tinged with anger: a presidential campaign where a class of capable, highly accomplished female candidates was passed over for two men who look like just about every other one who’s ever held the office.

There Must Be a Better Way

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After a string of election day problems in Los Angeles County, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is demanding that local officials mail ballots to each of the county’s 5.5 million voters for the November election.

L.A. County rolled out a long-awaited new voting system this year that included new ballot-marking machines and regional voting centers instead of neighborhood polling places. But the effort was marred by reports of broken devices and wait times of three hours or longer. The county was given special treatment under a 2016 state election law, allowing officials to close polling places without mailing a ballot to every voter.

They Haunt Los Angeles

Many of the nearly 1,000 deserted oil wells across L.A. continue to expose people to toxic gases, complicate redevelopment and pose rare but serious threats of explosions, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis of state records by the L.A. Times and the Center for Public Integrity.

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Despite regulatory powers that in some ways are stronger than the state’s, L.A. has been slow and inconsistent in forcing the industry to take responsibility for its leaky legacy. If the state were to tackle the cleanup, it would cost tens of millions of dollars.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On March 7, 1924, the Avenue 26 bridge spanning the Arroyo Seco collapsed. The bridge fell “as if cut away with a huge knife,” The Times wrote in a story the next day. One man was killed, and a woman and her young daughter were injured.

The original story noted it wasn’t clear what caused the collapse. But later stories came to a different conclusion: It was a casualty of a rapidly changing city. At the time, many area bridges had been designed and constructed before cars were common. The wood and iron wore out with more frequent vehicle traffic, an L.A. city engineer told The Times. Other bridges with a similar construction were inspected and some were replaced.

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March 7, 1924: Remains of the Avenue 26 bridge, spanning the Arroyo Seco, after a collapse that killed one man. A woman and her young daughter, driving over the wooden structure in an automobile, were also injured.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

CALIFORNIA

— In the college admissions scandal, Douglas Hodge, the former chief executive of Pimco, plans to appeal his nine-month prison sentence in light of newly disclosed notes taken by the scam’s ringleader, William “Rick” Singer.

— The last time a school bond failed was in 1994. So why did voters reject Proposition 13, which would have raised $15 billion for preschools, K-12 schools, community colleges and state universities?

— After nearly a week of scandal within the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, voters showed overwhelming support for a measure that would create stronger oversight.

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— An ambitious plan would turn a former mine in the California desert into a hydropower facility. Depending on whom you ask, it’s either an environmental disaster in the making, or the key to a clean energy future.

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YOUR WEEKEND

— These social media-native restaurants want you to slide into their DMs. Your stomach will thank you.

— Inspired by classic SGV restaurants, this fried rice is easy to make at home.

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— You’d think it would be easy to go plastic-free for a week in Los Angeles. Staff writer Ryan Faughnder says it’s harder than it sounds.

— The best soil for a thriving garden is water-absorbing and well-fed. Here’s how to get it.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— “Hot Rats” at 50: How Frank Zappa busted up his band, moved to L.A. and helped invent jazz-rock.

— Our TV critic writes that “Devs,” Alex Garland’s latest sci-fi thriller on Hulu, may make you want to watch it twice.

— With the release of her “Never Worn White” video, Katy Perry also revealed she’s pregnant. She’s engaged to actor Orlando Bloom.

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— Streaming service Vet Tv aims to entertain web-savvy members and veterans of the armed forces. But “don’t expect anything here to be politically correct, professional, or honorable,” its CEO says.

NATION-WORLD

— Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer has apologized for his impassioned comments about two Supreme Court justices, saying he “should not have used the words.”

— The International Criminal Court has given the green light for prosecutors to investigate the Taliban, Afghan forces and U.S. military and CIA personnel for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

— What would a Mexico without women look like? After a string of gruesome killings of women, feminist activists are organizing a March 9 protest to find out.

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BUSINESS

— In the first wave of negotiations over pay in Hollywood, the Directors Guild of America said it had struck a tentative agreement on a new three-year deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Municipal bonds now yield next to nothing. Americans keep buying them anyway.

SPORTS

— Veteran visiting clubhouse manager Brian Harkins has been fired by the Angels for allegedly furnishing illegal substances to put on baseballs, according to people familiar with the situation who were unable to comment publicly.

— The Kings’ past and future collided at Staples Center with almost as much of a bang as the hits Kyle Clifford so often dished out for them before they traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs a month ago, columnist Helene Elliott writes.

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OPINION

— Senate Republicans’ investigation into Hunter Biden is yet another example of the GOP advancing Trump’s political interests, The Times’ editorial board writes. It’s a charade, and they know it.

— The editorial board also weighs in on L.A. County’s new voting system, saying it wasn’t just glitchy on election day — it was totally unacceptable.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— This reporter lived through SARS and reported on Ebola and says these are the questions we should be asking about coronavirus. (ProPublica)

Stone is making a comeback as a building material. Why? Because it’s said to be relatively friendly to the environment. (The Guardian)

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ONLY IN L.A.

Deidre Fonseca is a Los Angeles police officer who, until January, worked in the Foothill Division’s gang unit as the only woman on a 23-member team. Also known as “Sugar Dre,” she made history as the first woman to headline a match for the 150-year-old LAPD boxing team. She’s a single mom raising two daughters. She has more than 17,500 Instagram followers. And in a department that is still more than 80% male, Fonseca has become a symbol.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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