Newsletter: The coronavirus havoc spreads

The Grand Princess cruise ship
The Grand Princess cruise ship sails under the Golden Gate Bridge to dock at the Port of Oakland on Monday.
(Peter DaSilva / For The Times)

The coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc with the daily lives of millions across the globe.


The Coronavirus Havoc Spreads

Financial markets plummeted. Italy — the entire country — placed itself under quarantine. In California and the United States, more and more new cases of the novel coronavirus were reported. Around the state, public schools and universities continued closing or moving classes online, large gatherings were canceled, and public officials urged “social distancing.”

At the Port of Oakland, the Grand Princess was at last allowed to dock, with officials starting to take passengers from the cruise ship to facilities for treatment or to be placed into quarantine.


As of last night, there were more than 113,000 virus cases worldwide, and nearly 4,000 deaths. Nationwide, more than 700 persons were confirmed to be infected with the virus; 19 have died, including two in California. The latest was a Bay Area woman in her 60s, believed to have caught the virus through community contact

Meanwhile, L.A. County has recorded its first case of community spread, and the Coachella Valley has three new cases, raising more doubts about the music and arts festival that has been held there for more than two decades.

Recession Fears Grow

The combination of coronavirus fears and an oil price war sent financial markets into a tailspin yesterday, with U.S. stocks dropping to their lowest since late 2008, during the financial crisis. That, in turn, has prompted fears of a coronavirus-fueled recession. Blame uncertainty: How bad will the outbreak get, what economic havoc will it wreak and what will the government do about it?


President Trump, who has long tied his fortunes to the markets, struggled to respond, downplaying the public health crisis and projecting a wishful calm at odds with an agitated public. He said that he would meet with lawmakers today about taking “very major” actions to lessen the economic blow, including a possible payroll tax cut.

As the White House, Congress and the Fed struggle to stem the crisis, success may ultimately come down to one factor: the American consumer. Consumer spending accounts for 70% of the U.S. economy, and it’s held remarkably strong in a decade-long expansion. But the coronavirus strikes a blow at that long-running source of economic strength, forcing people to cancel trips and stay home.

More About the Coronavirus

— At a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., the death toll climbed to 19 with the announcement of three more COVID-19 fatalities, and 31 residents tested positive for the virus.


College campuses across the country are on “war footing” as they mobilize against the virus. California released guidance on what precautions schools should take and when they should close.

— In Washington, D.C., seven lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz, have announced they have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

— In China, Beijing is claiming credit for beating the coronavirus in a “people’s war,” but many Chinese people are outraged the government isn’t admitting its early mistakes.

— Heading to Israel? Expect to spend at least two weeks quarantined when you arrive.


— Coronavirus fears are beginning to affect the major sports leagues. The future of the San Jose Sharks’ next home games is in doubt after a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

— The L.A. restaurant chain Sichuan Impression is taking patrons’ temperatures before letting them dine.

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.

Tensions Atop the Sanders Campaign


Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign is being pulled in two directions as it heads into a critical moment, with former Vice President Joe Biden leading in delegates for the Democratic presidential nomination and primary votes in six states today, including the key battleground of Michigan. “There have been some big tensions,” says a high-ranking official. At their heart: How big is his tent? It’s a conflict reflected in Sanders’ mixed signals since his lackluster Super Tuesday — releasing ads starring President Obama, then attacking the “establishment.”

Aides and those close to the campaign say his lack of progress with black voters is evidence of weakness in his inner circle — he replaced his 2016 senior leadership team with one much newer to presidential politics — and of his own reluctance to take advice. And while the scarcity of veteran Democratic operatives is a point of pride, it’s also left the campaign adrift.

Envelopes, Escorts and City Hall

Former L.A. City Councilman Mitchell Englander has become the first person publicly charged in connection with a wide-reaching federal investigation into corruption and pay-to-play schemes at City Hall. He was arrested yesterday and charged with obstructing a probe into him accepting escort services, hotel rooms, lavish meals, nightclub bottle service and envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash from a businessman trying to boost his business in the city. Englander pleaded not guilty to seven counts.


Meanwhile, L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer has announced he is officially running for mayor in 2022, becoming the highest-profile politician yet to enter the race to succeed Mayor Eric Garcetti. He told The Times he wanted “to bring the values of service, integrity, standing up for people, changing the world, to the mayor’s office.” His run comes eight months after FBI agents raided the city’s attorney’s office in a separate probe, which grew out of the 2013 botched rollout of a Department of Water and Power billing system. A court-appointed investigator said he found preliminary evidence of fraud.


On March 9, 1997, the Notorious B.I.G. was killed in a shooting along Museum Row in Los Angeles, just after leaving a music industry party, The Times reported the next day. The 24-year-old Brooklyn rapper, born Christopher Wallace, had only released two albums but was already “an indelible force” who “helped put the East Coast sound on the map at a time when ears were glued to the gangster rap that was brewing out of the West,” Times staffer Gerrick D. Kennedy wrote in a 2012 retrospective. Only months earlier, rival rapper Tupac Shakur had been shot and killed in Las Vegas. Neither case was ever solved, and in 2017, The Times called Wallace’s death one of L.A.'s biggest unsolved homicides.

Biggie Smalls, or the Notorious B.I.G., in a Los Angeles hotel room in 1997. He was killed 10 days later.
(Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)



— California bullet train officials say they were told to suppress bad news from bosses and “shut up,” even as costs soared and the project fell behind schedule.

— Los Angeles and Long Beach officials have approved a modest $20 truck fee on shipping containers moving through the nation’s largest port complex, in a bid to help truckers replace their diesel vehicles with lower-polluting models. Environmentalists and community groups say it’s not steep enough to reduce smog.

— Widespread showers and a chance of thunderstorms are coming to Southern California, but will they drop enough rain for a “miracle March?”

LAX will test two new taxi pickup locations starting late this month.


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— “The Godfather” it isn’t. From “Narcos” to “ZeroZeroZero,” TV has brought the organized crime drama into the 21st century — but there’s still a common thread you can trace back to the gangster movies of the ‘30s.

— Swedish actor Max von Sydow has died at 90, after a career that took him from playing chess with the devil in “The Seventh Seal” in 1957 — the start of a defining series of collaborations with Ingmar Bergman — and playing Jesus in “The Greatest Story Ever Told” to, half a century later, roles in “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” and “Game of Thrones.” Critic Justin Chang remembers him as “marvelously nimble and eclectic,” a “restless experimenter.”

— A federal appeals court has ruled that Led Zeppelin didn’t steal parts of “Stairway to Heaven” from a guitarist from the L.A.-based band Spirit.


Shakina Nayfack has made a career pushing for trans representation on screen. But her latest role is all about her voice: a new English-dubbed re-release of cult hit Japanese anime film “Tokyo Godfathers.”


— Here’s everything you need to know about the 2020 census.

— A former CIA software engineer accused of stealing a massive trove of the agency’s hacking tools and handing it over to WikiLeaks has been convicted of only minor charges after a jury deadlocked on the more serious espionage charges.

— Half-empty offices, schools and businesses: Mexico went a day without women as they went on strike to raise consciousness about violence against women.


Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, made their final appearance as senior royals at Westminster Abbey, before flying off into self-imposed exile in North America.


— Weeks before launching its much-anticipated bite-sized streaming service for phones, Quibi is denying accusations that it stole technology from an interactive video firm called Eko.

Twitter and its investors have called a truce after an attempt to oust CEO Jack Dorsey.


— UCLA’s Mick Cronin has been named the Pac-12 coach of the year. But the Bruins aren’t the obvious betting favorite in the conference, and Oregon should scare the rest of the pack.


— Twenty-seven people have been charged by federal prosecutors in a race horse drugging scheme — among them Jason Servis, trainer of Maximum Security, the recent winner of the $20-million Saudi Cup — dealing a new blow to the credibility of a sport already reeling from a rash of horse deaths.


— “If the president’s foes had set out to create a crisis, they could hardly have designed anything better than COVID-19,” columnist Jonah Goldberg writes. “Not only is Trump himself famously germophobic; the disease and its economic effect are primarily a threat for his best demographic — old people.”

— “Is Englander the first domino to go down in a larger corruption probe?” the L.A. Times editorial board wonders. “It’s impossible to say. But the Englander indictment only adds to the longstanding view that L.A. City Hall is tainted by cozy relationships and pay-to-play politics.”

— A bad rule by the National Labor Relations Board lets fast-food chains off the hook for workers’ rights, letting the use of contractors and new technology insulate them from responsibility, write law professors Andrew Elmore and Kati Griffith.



— When a campaign ends, the drinks money starts flowing: the Democratic primary in Venmo transactions. (New York Times)

— How a Dungeons and Dragons chart became the Internet’s arbiter of morality, from bookmarking methods to celebrity turtlenecks. (The Atlantic)


Omar Flores knows what life is like for small bands trying to break through in L.A.’s tough music club circuit. So he and his father decided to open up Alexander’s Hub Burritos in East Compton. It’s a rock ’n’ roll-themed Mexican restaurant that hosts live music nights twice a month, with a mix of local punk, ska and indie rock bands. “In L.A. when you play, sometimes the host isn’t even there, there’s no love at all,” Flores says. “We give the bands tacos. Our photographer takes pictures of them. We try to give them a lot of love, and they appreciate it.

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