California Sun

Good morning. It's Friday, March 20.

Governor takes a dire step to curb outbreak.
What death looks like in the time of coronavirus.
And California's eerie new reality in pictures.



An empty schoolyard in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

We'll get through this.

In three weeks, California has gone from reporting its first case of community-spread coronavirus to ordering all 40 million residents of the state to isolate inside their homes "until further notice." Gov. Gavin News described the order, the most far-reaching in the nation, as painful but necessary to "bend the curve" on an outbreak that threatens to overwhelm the state. A.P. | S.F. Chronicle | L.A. Times

How long will the restrictions last? When asked, Newsom was vague but said he didn't expect it to be "many, many months." He also emphasized "the significance of this next eight weeks." YouTube

Here is California's eerie new reality in pictures, by photographers from the S.F. Chronicle and L.A. Times.


What does the order mean, specifically? A few key points:

Essential services remain open. Those include gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, take-out and delivery restaurants, banks, laundromats, and more.
People are not barred from leaving their home, and walks are encouraged as long as people stay 6 feet from each other.
Violations of the order could result in misdemeanor penalties, but officials are relying on "social pressure" to enforce compliance.

California created a coronavirus website with more information.


A health care worker interviewed people at a drive-thru coronavirus screening in Yorba Linda on Thursday.

Jeff Gritchen/O.C. Register via Getty Images

Newsom took the dire step on Thursday as he warned President Trump that the coronavirus could infect 56 percent of Californians, or roughly 25 million people, in the next eight weeks if the state fails to curb the spread. The Mercury News ran the projection by the head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley. "Is it possible?" he said. "Yes." Mercury News | Sacramento Bee

The death of a 34-year-old Glendora man, the infection of two Lakers, and a growing foothold in Kern County. Here are the latest coronavirus totals, according to tallies by the S.F. Chronicle and N.Y. Times:

Confirmed cases:
12,392 in U.S.A.
1,058 in California
463 in Bay Area
455 in Southern California

195 in U.S.
19 in California

See trackers of cases in California, the U.S., and worldwide.


Here's what death looks like in the time of coronavirus. As Stacey Silva's father lay dying in an isolation ward at a Gilroy hospital, she watched from the ICU hallway, behind two sets of glass doors. "It broke my heart into a million pieces," she said. "I didn't want him to feel alone." Mercury News


A Venice woman was told by an infectious disease specialist that she "clearly" had COVID-19, but that they couldn't spare a test to confirm the diagnosis because she wasn't high-risk or elderly. Her experience, health care workers said, is troublingly common, suppressing official tallies and making it even harder to control the outbreak. L.A. Times


Passengers on the Grand Princess, seen off the coast on March 8, were supposed to be tested.

Karl Mondon/Mercury News via Getty Images

"We will be testing everyone on that ship."
— Vice President Mike Pence, March 6

Two weeks after Pence made that pledge regarding the passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship, the Chronicle has learned that roughly two-thirds of passengers have declined testing, often at the encouragement of federal health officials. They were said to be worried that a positive test would extend their quarantine at Travis Air Force Base. S.F. Chronicle | SFist


After several days of defying a county order, Elon Musk changed direction and said he would suspend work at Tesla's Fremont auto-making plant — but not until Monday. The continued work at the factory, near the epicenter of the Bay Area's coronavirus outbreak, has stoked intense criticism. Ars Technica | N.Y. Times

Musk has repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus. He's called the panic "dumb," said children are "essentially immune," and declared there would "probably" be no new U.S. cases by the end of April. recode | The Verge


Los Angeles was on pause on Thursday.

Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

Other coronavirus developments:

The crisis is already devastating the California economy. Normally, the state averages 2,000 unemployment claims a day. On Tuesday, there were 80,000. L.A. Times | O.C. Register
Orange County courts operated with packed courtrooms on Thursday despite the outbreak. "It was wall-to-wall people, everywhere you looked," a public defender said. L.A. Times
"Ninety percent of our customers — hundreds of guns — are going to people who have not owned guns before." So said a gun shop owner in San Diego, where firearms sales have soared. KPBS

On this week's California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Matt Richtel, a San-Francisco-based science journalist and author of "An Elegant Defense," an exploration of the human immune system. As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, Richtel explains how our immune system is both saving and killing us. California Sun Podcast




"Don't get too euphoric about our mini-March Miracle."

Even with recent precipitation, California's wet season will go down as one of the 10 driest in nearly a century. And a new seasonal forecast suggests warm, dry conditions will persist and even expand across much of California over the next three months. That means prepare for an early fire season. S.F. Chronicle | L.A. Times


With a stage as awe-inspiring as the Pacific, it's no mystery why California sunsets are world-famous. Rise early and peer east, however, and behold a spectacle of desert and mountain awash in pinks, oranges, and reds every bit as wondrous. The California Sun scoured online sources and took recommendations from followers on social media to identify some of the state's most beautiful sunrise spots, listed below.

Joshua Tree —  A desert landscape of bulbous rocks and yuccas that, as one writer put it, "gesture awkwardly toward the heavens."

Death Valley — A landscape of wrinkled cliffs and jutting geological formations arrayed in shades of gold and orange.

Mono Lake — An ancient lake in the Eastern Sierra with tufa formations that look they sprang from the mind of Dr. Seuss.

Lake Tahoe — Snowy high-altitude scenery, crystal clear water, and crisp mountain air — oh, my.

Mount Shasta — In the words of the poet Joaquin Miller: "Lonely as God, and white as a winter moon."


In case you missed it


James Goldstein, whom some find admirable and others repellent.

Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Five items that got big views over the past week:

Some of the wildest house parties in L.A. are thrown by an 80-year-old bon vivant named Jimmy Goldstein. He talked all about his hedonistic passions then clammed up when asked about the mobile home empire that finances them. Hollywood Reporter
With California cooped up indoors, Vulture came to the rescue with a ranking the 100 best movies on Netflix right now.
Grabbing fresh air is allowed, even encouraged, under shelter-in-place orders. Curbed has a list of 15 perfect San Francisco strolls. Curbed San Francisco
Among the casualties of the pandemic: birthday parties for 6-year-old boys. So it was for little Jack Henry Iverson, whose parents broke the news that there would be no party this year. But mom had a surprise in store. L.A. Times
The N.Y. Times did a nice profile of Lloyd Kahn, California's king of alternative architecture. Long before cabin porn and van life became Instagram hashtags, Kahn served as shelter editor for the Whole Earth Catalog in the 1960s. N.Y. Times

Thanks for reading!

The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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