Newsletter: Life on the coronavirus front lines

Dr. Brian Lee
Dr. Brian Lee is the emergency department medical director at St. Joseph Medical Center in Orange County. Hospitals are stocking up on gowns, gloves and goggles and holding refresher courses in infection control amid a growing outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Healthcare workers say they are concerned about the challenges they face fighting the new coronavirus.


Life on the Coronavirus Front Lines

Doctors and nurses say they are alarmed by reports that multiple health workers in the United States have been sickened by a deadly coronavirus and that hospitals and other healthcare facilities appear to have become hotspots for the spread of infections.

On Sunday, health officials announced that two staff members at a Northern California hospital had contracted COVID-19 from a patient. A day earlier, officials said a health worker at a Seattle nursing home had been diagnosed with the disease and that several more staff members would probably test positive in the coming days.


In the United States, the conversations taking place in hospital hallways and clinic break rooms are heightened by the specter of China’s death toll, which includes several medical workers who have died not only from COVID-19 infection but also from ailments caused by overwork and fatigue.

With the coronavirus expected to spread in the U.S., doctors and nurses say they are nervously watching as stockpiles of masks and other protective gear in hospitals dwindle. The flu season has further complicated efforts to identify suspected COVID-19 cases because the two infections have similar symptoms.

At last count, the number of cases of the coronavirus reported in the U.S. stands at about 70. Sunday night, officials in Washington state announced that a second person infected with the virus had died: a man in his 70s at a nursing home.

More About the Coronavirus


— Costco and some other stores have seen a run on supplies, even though the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Congress last week there was no need for healthy Americans to stock up.

— Businesses in L.A.'s Chinatown are beginning to feel the sting of the scare, even though there has yet to be a single documented case connected to the area.

— To shake or not to shake hands? That is the question bedeviling billions around the world. Some churches are taking new precautions.

Q&A: I have a cough and fever. Should I get checked for coronavirus?


— Could it hit California’s homeless population? Health officials are worried.

Biden’s Back

After a resounding victory in South Carolina, former Vice President Joe Biden is regaining momentum and looking to cast the Democratic presidential race as a two-man contest with Sen. Bernie Sanders. He got some help in that department with former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire activist Tom Steyer dropping out

The moves come just ahead of Super Tuesday, which features primary voting in 14 states, including California. Former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will be on the ballot for the first time since he began sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into his candidacy.


Polls show Sanders with a firm lead in the Golden State, and after holding rallies in Los Angeles (along with rapper Chuck D) and San Jose yesterday, he’s turning his attention on trying to defeat Sen. Elizabeth Warren in her home state of Massachusetts.

Biden has planned campaign stops Monday in Houston and Dallas today. With the second-largest number of delegates behind California, Texas — along with other Super Tuesday states such as Virginia and North Carolina — will test whether Biden can truly compete against Sanders.

More Primary Politics

— Bloomberg’s shaky debate performances and fraught history with women in the workplace has sent his campaign scrambling to shore up support with a key demographic.


— Warren announces a plan that aims to strengthen farmworkers’ rights ahead of her visit to East Los Angeles on Monday.

— Where the Democratic presidential candidates stand on healthcare, immigration, housing and homelessness, gun control and combating climate change.

Why Afghanistan Isn’t a Done Deal

President Trump has a lot riding on a precarious agreement with Taliban militants to end America’s longest war. But the process, which began over the weekend, is fraught with obstacles that could lengthen the conflict rather than conclude it.


The first step in the deal agreed to by the U.S. and the Taliban is a seven-day period of “reduced violence” in which neither side attacks. It falls short of a cease-fire, which the Taliban consistently refused to consider. On Saturday, the United States and the Taliban signed the landmark pact in Qatar’s capital, Doha, that calls for a drawdown of American troops in exchange for Taliban assurances to fight terrorism and stop attacks against the United States.


— Along scenic State Route 33, there’s a political road map of California’s hopes and anxieties.

— Who got America to the moon? An unlikely collaboration of Jewish and former Nazi scientists and engineers.


— How Disney’s Bob Iger went from underrated CEO to Hollywood royalty.

— The very specific rules for naming your houseplants, according to scientists.


Though the weather has turned rainy, last week’s warm, sunny days in Los Angeles were reminiscent of March 1, 1936, when the temperature climbed to 85 degrees and thousands headed to the beaches.

Life guards reported that more than 100,000 persons on the beach from Del Rey to the Malibu in the Santa Monica Bay district,” The Times reported the next day, “with 20,000 others venturing into the water in the Long Beach area during the day.”

March 1, 1936: On a warm spring day, thousands descended upon Southern California beaches. Cars look for parking on Roosevelt Highway (now Pacific Coast Highway) near mouth of Santa Monica Canyon in Malibu.
March 1, 1936: On a warm spring day, thousands descended upon Southern California beaches. Motorists look for parking on Roosevelt Highway (now Pacific Coast Highway) near the mouth of Santa Monica Canyon in Malibu.
(Los Angeles Times )


Vanessa Bryant is “absolutely devastated” by allegations that Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies shared photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband, Kobe; daughter Gianna; and seven other people, her attorney said in a statement.

— After a dry February, an upper-level trough over the eastern Pacific is forecast to come ashore and bring much-needed rain and snow from Tuesday through Thursday. The precipitation could be heavy at times.

— The only Republican running for the 34th Congressional District in Los Angeles has repeatedly tweeted that the novel coronavirus was “man made” and implicated Pope Francis, Hillary Clinton and others in the spread of the illness. The state Republican Party has denounced her comments.


— The story of New York real estate heir Robert Durst has been chronicled for the masses in lurid and often gory detail. On Wednesday, L.A. prosecutors are expected to start telling his story to the only audience that matters: 12 jurors.

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Roman Polanski, who was convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in the U.S. in 1977, won the César — the equivalent of the French Oscar — for directing “An Officer and a Spy.” A protest ensued.

Netflix will launch a major L.A. comedy festival this spring, with Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Ali Wong and David Letterman among the headliners.


— Addicted to the dating series “Love Is Blind” on Netflix? Hear from Cameron and Lauren and from Matt and Amber.

— On Showtime’s “Kidding,” the puppeteers for Jim Carrey’s fictional Mister Rogers character aren’t kidding around.


— The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear its first abortion case since Trump’s two appointees took their seats, a dispute that could mark the first step in a gradual retreat from Roe vs. Wade.

— Cast out by Trump as attorney general, Jeff Sessions is struggling in Alabama to win back a Senate seat.


— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s fate once again is hanging in the balance in another election Monday.

North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles into its eastern sea as it begins to resume weapons demonstrations.

— A warm winter means that for the first time in years Germany’s vineyards will produce no ice wine, which is made from grapes that have been left to freeze on the vine.


— In the U.S., General Electric is increasingly known for wind turbines and other renewable energy technology. But a 1,200-megawatt plant due to be built on Vietnam’s northern coast is one of 19 coal power projects the company is working on in 17 foreign countries, many with far weaker environmental standards than the U.S


UC Santa Cruz has fired 54 graduate student workers who went on a “wildcat strike” demanding higher pay to afford the area’s high cost of living.


Santa Anita had its ninth death of the racing and training season when Chosen Vessel became the fourth fatality on the track’s turf course Saturday due to a fractured left front ankle. The season started on Dec. 26.

— Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is in negotiations with the owner of the Forum to purchase the Inglewood arena, according to a person familiar with the talks who is not authorized to speak publicly.


— It’s ridiculous that some homeless housing units sit empty because of a bureaucratic process. The Times’ editorial board says it’s time to change that.


— In case you missed it: The complete list of L.A. Times endorsements in the California primary election.


— How the 1918 influenza spread across the U.S. (Smithsonian)

— About 44,000 employees of the U.S. Postal Service were either fired or left their jobs under pressure over five years in a program that “targeted” employees with work-related injuries, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

— In Ireland, a giant Copper beach tree is inscribed with the names of some of the most famous Irish writers of the early 20th century. (Literary Hub)



Joe Coulombe was a marketing whiz, a retail visionary whose chain of budget-minded specialty food stores, launched in the late 1960s with a distinctive South Seas trading post motif, developed a cult-like following on its way to becoming a Southern California institution. Last week, he died at age 89. Here’s how the founder of Trader Joe’s introduced his target customers — “the overeducated and the underpaid” — to the joys of Two Buck Chuck and more.

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