Newsletter: Coronavirus concerns, and a study in contrasts

President Trump
President Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, holds a news conference with members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP-Getty Images)

President Trump is seeking to tamp down fears of the new coronavirus, as a case in Northern California raises new questions.


Coronavirus Concerns, and a Study in Contrasts

A jittery public. Jolted financial markets. Warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of potential major disruptions to everyday life. A new case of the deadly coronavirus known as COVID-19 in Northern California.

Against this backdrop, President Trump held a rare news conference in the White House briefing room that was a study in contrasts. While calling the danger to Americans “very low,” Trump named Vice President Mike Pence to coordinate the federal government’s response. His public health officials were notably less upbeat, warning that the virus could still spread quickly in the U.S.


As if to underline those concerns, minutes after Trump spoke, the CDC confirmed it’s investigating a case that could be the first in the U.S. involving a patient who had neither traveled out of the country nor been around someone who had. State officials say the individual is a resident of Solano County and is receiving medical care in Sacramento County.

In Southern California, fear is already taking a toll. A proposal to move patients to a facility in Costa Mesa has sparked a bitter battle and left some locals speaking in conspiratorial, even apocalyptic terms. Orange County has declared a local health emergency, largely in response to that plan.

Meanwhile, to economists, the outbreak’s new phase raises the risk of a global recession. They say the recent sell-off in stocks reflects a reassessment of the hit they think corporate earnings could take, suggesting the economy might not recover as quickly as they’d thought.

Why Do They ‘Stan’ Bernie?

It is one of the most consistent — and counterintuitive — facts behind Sen. Bernie Sanders’ four-year march from insurgent presidential contender to front-runner: The oldest candidate in the Democratic field owes his success to the youngest voters in the party. Sanders, 78, may seem like an unorthodox choice for voters several generations removed. But with his defiance for convention and decades-long crusade for revolution, Sanders is uncommonly in sync with the political sensibilities of younger Americans hungry for sweeping action on climate change, student debt and healthcare.

More Politics


— Former Vice President Joe Biden has picked up the endorsement of a towering figure who could give him a crucial boost in South Carolina: Rep. James Clyburn, the highest-ranking black member of the House.

Republicans are mounting an aggressive campaign to win back some of the seven California congressional seats they lost in 2018.

— After each mass shooting in America, lawmakers debate a familiar menu of gun control policies. Would any of them work?

— Gov. Gavin Newsom promised a database to track homeless people statewide. It won’t be easy, experts say.

When Killing a Cactus Is (and Isn’t) a Crime

In Arizona, cactus rustling — stealing or killing the state’s saguaros — is a felony. So why are they being removed for Trump’s border wall? The plants, sacred to Arizona’s Tohono O’Odham Nation, have been chopped down to make way. In addition, construction crews have used explosives to blast a path for the wall through a Native American burial ground. Federal officials say that most of the affected saguaros have been “carefully transplanted.” But even if they’re transplanted, saguaros often die, said a scientist who has researched and rescued the plants for years.


Arthur Cleaver sold off most of a Seal Beach subdivision, save for an odd slice of land, “hardly fifteen feet wide in places.” The laundry operator wanted to get rid of it, but his wife, Kathryn, had a hunch it would become valuable. According to a Feb. 27, 1928, Los Angeles Times story, she was right.

Oil was found, and suddenly that strip was in demand. Cleaver leased it out to J. Paul Getty for oil extraction. Cleaver never revealed how much money he made from the discovery, but according to The Times, it “must have been $40,000 to $60,000 per month” in 1927. Adjusted for inflation, a $60,000 payout would be worth $900,000 in 2020.


— A federal order to drain Silicon Valley’s largest drinking water reservoir has thrown the region into disarray. It sits on an earthquake fault, but without it, local leaders fear their cities could run out of water.

— California’s biggest marijuana industry group is at odds with powerful labor unions. The fight has now come to Sacramento.

— For 137 years, San Diego’s downtown public library has maintained a collection of public federal documents. Now it’s giving up its special status.

Los Angeles International Airport is testing a new self-service bag checking system designed to let international travelers drop off their luggage and get to their plane faster.

— The James Beard Foundation has announced a list of nominees for its food awards. Meet the L.A. chefs and restaurants who made the cut.

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— TV has a new kind of heroine: the Latina genius. With two new shows this year, it’s a sudden growth spurt of on-screen representation.

— Who needs “Friends”? Apple TV+ doesn’t. The streaming service is aiming for original content, says CEO Tim Cook.

— Singer Angelica Garcia plumbs her East L.A. roots on a defiant new album: “It’s more than just the tacos.

— KCRW’s new music director, Anne Litt, is the first woman in the influential job.

— Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino on living, and touring, sober: “I feel very powerful.


— Authorities say a gunman opened fire at the Molson Coors brewery complex in Milwaukee, killing five people and then himself.

Neo-Nazi leaders on both coasts of the U.S. have been arrested and charged with conspiring to harass journalists, churches and a former Cabinet official.

— The governments of Spain and its Catalonia region have opened a series of talks that could determine the future of Spain’s wealthy — and rebellious — northeastern region.

— A reign of fevered killing and mass graves swept through Cambodia decades ago. Will the last of the Khmer Rouge ever face justice?


AMC Theatre will open a location in Porter Ranch. It’s another step forward as the cinema giant grows in L.A.

— Disney’s new CEO Bob Chapek is no Bob Iger, but he’s focused, driven and speaks fluent Disney.

— California gas prices might rise after a fire erupted at the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Carson.


— The WNBA lost a huge supporter in Kobe Bryant. Players and coaches are asking: Who will step up next?

Blake Bolden has had a pioneering role in hockey as a scout for the L.A. Kings. It’s believed that she is the first black female professional scout in the NHL and is among the few women who scout for NHL clubs.


— Newsom says physical fitness tests may make some students feel bad. But that’s no reason to stop doing them, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Do people in L.A. hug too much? The New York Times thinks so, but columnist Steve Lopez disagrees.


Gmail’s algorithm shapes your email inbox. Could it be shaping your political views too? (The Markup)

— Transgender women are nearly always incarcerated with men, putting many in danger. And California won’t say where its more than 1,200 trans prisoners are placed. (NBC News)


L.A. has no shortage of farmers markets. But sometimes you just need to pick up cereal, food editor Peter Meehan writes. What local supermarkets can you turn to without giving up your foodie cred? There’s Marukai Market in Little Tokyo for Wagyu beef and bright bags of shrimp chips, Lax C for Thai groceries and equipment and Torrance’s Alpine Village for German specialty products. Here are another eight we love too.

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