Newsletter: A pandemic and a new travel ban


Amid the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump is placing new travel restrictions targeting travel from Europe.


A Pandemic and a New Travel Ban

It was just over two weeks ago that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that the new coronavirus would cause major disruptions to life in the U.S. — a matter of “when, not if.” And if there was any doubt, yesterday would seem to have removed it.

The World Health Organization officially labeled the virus a pandemic. The longest bull market in American history came to a crashing end. The NCAA announced its March Madness tournament would be played in empty arenas. California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined state health officials in recommending the postponement or cancellation of gatherings of 250 or more people, while Washington state banned such gatherings in the Seattle area and Oregon initiated a statewide ban.


Speaking from the Oval Office, President Trump announced a ban on travel from much of Europe, although his description of the restrictions sparked initial confusion. Specifically, the U.S. will ban the entry of foreign nationals who have been in 26 European nations within 14 days of arrival in the U.S. for a 30-day period.

Shortly thereafter, the NBA suspended its season after a star player tested positive for the virus — and Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, said they’d tested positive in Australia. Later in the evening, the U.S. State Department issued an advisory urging citizens to reconsider traveling abroad due to the virus and the potential that other countries may unexpectedly limit mobility.

Senior public health officials are calling for Americans to significantly change their lives to slow the spread of the disease, advocating the cancellation of public events and other dramatic steps. A number of institutions, ranging from colleges to corporations to prisons, have done just that.

Still, Trump has continued to minimize the potential severity of the disease.


More About the Coronavirus

— Even as bipartisan talks continue over how Congress can respond to the economic fallout from the coronavirus, House Democrats said they plan to pass a bill as soon as today that includes enhanced unemployment benefits, paid sick leave and a boost in the availability of food stamps — but without the big payroll tax cut Trump wants.

— The outbreak continues to grow in California. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed its first coronavirus-related death and six new cases, bringing the county’s total to 29.

— The coronavirus will test America’s unusually decentralized public health system, spotlighting large gaps in some states’ readiness to confront a major health crisis.


California’s economic growth will slow this year as unemployment rises and job creation weakens as a result of the outbreak, according to a new UCLA forecast.
The university economists stopped short of predicting a recession.

— In California, many older Asians and Asian Americans — a population that’s highly vulnerable to flu and other respiratory ailments — are taking precautions to protect their loved ones. That can mean fear and isolation.

— At USC and UCLA, the coronavirus-forced turn to online classes can get awkward.

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.


Sanders’ Shift in Tone

Sen. Bernie Sanders is staying in the Democratic primary picture — for now. After multiple defeats over the last two weeks, several in states that he won in primaries four years ago, Sanders acknowledged at a news conference that the potential path he once had to the nomination is rapidly closing. And he signaled a new role for himself in the race: using the energy and momentum of his grass-roots movement to push former Vice President Joe Biden into embracing a more progressive platform.


Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in a New York prison cell after being convicted last month of committing a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape. The 67-year-old co-founder of Miramax, who’s faced accusations from more than 80 women in four countries, has denied all wrongdoing and plans to appeal. But his legal troubles may yet worsen: The L.A. County district attorney’s office says it will begin the process of extraditing him to California, where he is charged with multiple counts of sexual assault.


‘HIV Denialism’

Much of the world has been making progress slowing the spread of HIV, but Russia has been moving in the opposite direction. Experts say HIV conspiracy theories — a thing of the past in many other countries — continue to thrive in Russia and significantly hinder efforts to combat the virus.


Today, nearly two-thirds of California’s 20.6 million voters receive their ballots in the mail. But in 1945, Los Angeles officials had to urge people to use absentee ballots, especially active military personnel whose attentions were occupied by World War II. In a March 12 story in The Times, “John Barcome, chairman of the Republican County Central Committee, and Michael D. Fanning, chairman of the Democratic County Central Committee, have made a nonpartisan appeal to servicemen to apply for absentee ballots so that they may vote in the April 3 primary election.”


This photo, published in the March 15 edition of The Times, shows Seaman Robert L. Pierce, who was identified as the first serviceman to cast an absentee ballot in that election.

March 15, 1945: Seaman Robert L. Pierce, on leave from the Navy Torpedo Squadron, was the first serviceman to cast an absentee ballot in the April 3, 1945, muncipal primary election.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)


— The L.A. County Board of Supervisors ordered an investigation into complaints about long waits and equipment malfunctions during last week’s primary election.

— As the White House takes on “sanctuary” cities, tensions between L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are ramping up.


— Federal officials have announced a crackdown on a violent drug cartel, with the arrest of 27 people in Rancho Cucamonga, North Hollywood and Sun Valley.

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— The 2011 thriller “Contagion” has quickly become the movie du jour. Here’s how its creators saw an outbreak coming, and why they made a movie about it.

— In his 91 years, composer Burt Bacharach has worked with everyone from Elvis Costello to Ronald Isley. And he’s not done yet.


— The viral comedy boom made Lil Dicky famous. Now he’s not only weathered the crash — he’s entering a new phase of his career.

— After months of controversy, “The Hunt” finally arrives in theaters this week. Times film critic Kenneth Turan says it doesn’t live up the hype.


— The Supreme Court will allow the Trump administration to keep in place a “Remain in Mexico” policy until the case can be heard. The policy requires tens of thousands of asylum seekers to stay on the Mexican side of the border while they await a hearing in the United States.

— On a base in Iraq, two Americans and one British national were killed in a rocket attack, according to the multinational coalition there.


— The battle for control of the global oil market intensified as both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates promised to produce as much as possible.

— Saving lives is a grueling business. Through poetry, American doctors and nurses are processing the pains and joys.


— Unauthorized pages for restaurants that don’t offer delivery are popping up on delivery apps like Grubhub. Owners and lawmakers are fighting back.

— Comedian-turned-media-mogul Byron Allen has submitted an all-cash offer to buy TV station owner Tegna Inc. for $8.5 billion, including debt, a person familiar with the matter says.



— Will the streaming revolution give women’s sports the coverage it deserves? Athletes and media companies are banking on it.

— As a third-grader, Rose Lavelle idolized Mia Hamm; today third-graders are emulating Lavelle.


Panicking might work in zombie films, but it’s making the coronavirus outbreak worse for everyone, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Democrats have spent a considerable amount of time wringing their hands over Joe Biden‘s imperfections. The Times’ Jon Healey says that won’t matter in November.



— It’s not just “Harry Potter” magic: invisibility cloaks are real, and part of a growing industry of surveillance-proof clothing in an age where cameras are everywhere. (The New Yorker)

— Tired of singing “Happy Birthday” while you wash your hands? Sync any song to your scrubbing with this tool. (Wash Your Lyrics)


Vanity license plates can be a fun way of expressing oneself, but the California Department of Motor Vehicles has some boundaries that can’t be crossed. For starters, nothing “profane, obscene, or repulsive” is allowed. Among the rejects: “SLAAYRR” (yes, it’s a metal band, but the department found this “threatening, aggressive, or hostile”) and “DUK N A” (get your mind out of the gutter; it’s meant to refer to “Ducati and Andrea”). Now, a lawsuit brought on behalf of five Californians, including one who wants his plate to read “OGWOOLF,” is challenging the DMV’s rules.

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