Newsletter: Trump struggles with the coronavirus message

President Trump on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House
President Trump on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday.
( Win McNamee / Getty Images)

President Trump once again finds his handling of the coronavirus crisis coming under fire on multiple fronts.


Trump Struggles With the Coronavirus Message

President Trump claimed he was “FEELING GREAT” in a tweet Tuesday, his first full day back at the White House after three nights in a hospital for COVID-19, and the president’s doctor said the president reported “no symptoms” of the disease.


Yet all is not well at the White House or in Trump’s campaign.

Trump is still dismissing the danger from COVID-19, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans, even as the top U.S. general, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley, and several members of the Pentagon’s senior leadership went into quarantine after the vice commandant of the Coast Guard tested positive. Senior policy advisor and speechwriter Stephen Miller also tested positive Tuesday, one of three new cases reported in the West Wing.

Trump tweeted that he was abandoning talks with congressional Democrats about crafting a deal to provide additional stimulus funds — accepting responsibility for walking away and ensuring that Americans, who support additional economic relief by a 3-to-1 margin, won’t get any before the election. The stock market plummeted in response. Then, hours later, he took to Twitter again and called on Congress to send him a “Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200).”

“I just can’t imagine how Trump could be doing more to hurt himself than he is right now,” said Rory Cooper, a Republican operative who worked in the George W. Bush administration.

The president wants to deliver a formal address to the country, according to aides, and tweeted that he is “looking forward” to his second debate with Joe Biden, scheduled for Oct. 15, even though his doctors said he is not yet fully recovered. Biden suggested that the debate be canceled if Trump is still sick with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien has been quarantined since a positive coronavirus test, and the reelection operation is relying on surrogates, including the president’s adult children and Vice President Mike Pence.

More Politics

— Biden called for an end to the divisions and partisanship that now define U.S. politics, traveling to the historic battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa., for a speech that did not mention Trump and that probably sets the tone for the final four weeks of his presidential campaign.

— Trump’s brief hospitalization for COVID-19 could raise the stakes for Wednesday’s debate between Vice President Pence and California Sen. Kamala Harris. Here’s what to expect.

— In a video, Michelle Obama accused Trump of racism and of lying to the American people about the deadliness of COVID-19, and she encouraged young voters and people of color to make a plan to cast their ballots.

An Inherently ‘Risky Environment’

This fall, as colleges around the U.S. wrestled with how to reopen amid the coronavirus crisis, officials in California required a cautious approach. Classes were put online, isolation rooms were set up on campus, and restrictions were placed on the number of students permitted to live in dormitories or come on campus.

But what deans and provosts couldn’t control were the thousands of college students who returned to fill apartments and houses in neighborhoods surrounding their schools, determined to salvage some semblance of a college experience.

As a result, the virus has spread rapidly on and around several California campuses, despite sparsely populated dormitories and classrooms. From San Diego to Chico, the outbreaks have thrown universities into crisis mode as they scramble with tighter restrictions and attempts to cajole students into safer behavior.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Although a handful of California counties advanced in the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan this week, two moved backward. It’s the first time since the state launched its tiered system that parts of the state have regressed.

— Eight months into the pandemic, the move toward saliva screening is gaining traction, with tens of thousands of people across the country undergoing such testing daily.

— The final weekend of sports in Los Angeles before the COVID-19 shutdown was one that continues to play out in the minds of the people who experienced it.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

A Stellar Outcome

It began as a high-stakes race to peer across 26,000 light years of space and find evidence of a supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

Leading one team was Reinhard Genzel, an established astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany with a part-time appointment at UC Berkeley. Nearly half a world away, Andrea Ghez, a young assistant professor who had just started her career at UCLA, spent a full year persuading skeptical colleagues that she could produce results.

Over two decades, the competition fueled remarkable findings. Now, it has earned both Ghez and Genzel a share of the Nobel Prize in physics.

‘The Mozart of Rock Guitar’

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen was born Jan. 26, 1955, in Amsterdam to a Dutch father and an Indonesian mother. His father was a classically trained clarinet and saxophone player and passed his obsession to his sons, Eddie and Alex. Their parents hoped the boys would become classical musicians.

Instead, after moving and growing up in Pasadena, they’d eventually form Van Halen and find rock superstardom. On Tuesday, Eddie Van Halen, the band’s legendary lead guitarist, died of cancer at age 65.

Tributes soon poured in. So did memories of his best performances.


As the Pasadena hard rock band Van Halen, whose co-founder Eddie Van Halen died Tuesday, was making the leap from neighborhood backyards to stages up and down Sunset Boulevard in the mid-1970s, its name started appearing in the pages of The Times.

First arriving via advertisements that ran alongside the paper’s beefy music listings and reviews section, the band earned its earliest editorial mention in a Dec. 18, 1976, story titled, “L.A. Rock Resurgence.”

Less than a week later, Times’ music writer Richard Cromelin checked out Van Halen at the Whisky. Read the review here.

Ad for an early Van Halen show at the Whisky A Go Go.
(Los Angeles Times)

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— The state suffered its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years because energy planners didn’t take climate change into account and didn’t line up the right power sources to keep the lights on after sundown, according to a damning self-evaluation by three state agencies.

— More than 2,000 Los Angeles County voters got mail-in ballots with an egregious flaw: no way to vote for U.S. president. County officials told one recipient of the botched ballot that they would be sending new ones soon.

— A firefighter battling the Glass fire was transported to a Santa Rosa-area hospital after potential exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said. Track the progress of California’s wildfires with our map.

— A large “Trump” sign, with white capital letters similar to those of the Hollywood sign, appeared Tuesday morning in the Sepulveda Pass hills near the 405 Freeway. Authorities promptly took it down, citing concerns that it would distract drivers.

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— The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Wednesday to UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer A. Doudna and French scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier for their pioneering work on the CRISPR tool for gene editing.

— Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the state’s voter registration deadline after he said heavy traffic crashed the state’s online system and potentially prevented thousands of enrolling to cast ballots in next month’s presidential election.

— Nearly 40 mainly Western countries criticized China’s treatment of minority groups, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet, and expressed grave concern at the effect of its new national security law on human rights in Hong Kong.

— Officials in Kyrgyzstan nullified the results of weekend parliamentary elections after mass protests erupted in the capital of Bishkek and other cities, with opposition supporters seizing government buildings and demanding a new vote.


— With film and TV productions stalled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, studios have gobbled up the rights to hundreds of novels and nonfiction books that they hope will underpin future hits.

Larissa FastHorse, a playwright of indigenous stories, has won a MacArthur grant. She is one of 21 fellows this year across the arts, education, science, media, law and environmental studies, a MacArthur class that also includes L.A. historian Natalia Molina.

Rihanna issued an apology to the Muslim community after being criticized for using a song that sampled a recitation from Islam’s sacred hadith for her 2020 Savage X Fenty lingerie fashion show last week.

— Just in time for Halloween, Blumhouse TV and Amazon will unveil four psychological thrillers under the umbrella “Welcome to the Blumhouse.” It will put diverse filmmakers in the genre spotlight.


— In its most sweeping content policy decision to date, Facebook implemented a comprehensive ban on QAnon-related pages, groups and Instagram accounts. But will it work?

— The Trump administration announced plans to sharply limit H1-B visas for skilled workers, a move officials said was a priority amid job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


— The Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, 102-96, to take a 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 on Friday.

— The Dodgers defeated the Padres 5-1 to take a 1-0 lead in their Division Series.

— The Kings selected Quinton Byfield with one of the most important draft picks in franchise history. As the second overall pick, Byfield is the highest drafted Black player in NHL history.

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— COVID-19 has put Trump’s incompetence in the White House on full display, columnist Doyle McManus writes.

— The position of two Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, is the latest threat to same-sex marriage, writes Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law.


— “Trump took $70,000 in tax deductions for hair care. Experts say that’s illegal.” (New York Times)

— The federal duck stamp is a permit required for hunting waterfowl; it features paintings of ducks. This year, the Trump administration required “waterfowl hunting-related accessories or elements” to be part of the imagery. (Audubon Magazine)


Now this is a bummer: Surfer magazine, which helped legitimize wave riding as a global sport, printed its final edition and suspended operations this month. Though founded in Orange County in 1960, the magazine was based in recent years in Carlsbad. “It was so much more than just a magazine for a lot of surfers of a certain generation,” said Steve Hawk, who edited the magazine for eight years in the 1990s. “It was a cultural touchstone and groundbreaking in a lot of ways.”

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