California Sun

Good morning. It's Monday, March 16.

Nightlife shutdown threatens small businesses.
Fear of civil breakdown prompts run on firearms.
And nature's version of Notre Dame in San Diego.



Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday urged all California bars, wineries, nightclubs, and brewpubs to close and called for restaurants to reduce their occupancy by half, extraordinary measures designed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. In requesting but not requiring the closures, he stopped short of bans as emphatic as those in Ohio or Illinois — at least for now. Newsom added: "We have the capacity to enforce if necessary." S.F. Chronicle | A.P.

Defying the experts, Rep. Devin Nunes had this advice: "If you're healthy, you and your family, it's a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant." Fresno Bee | N.Y. Times


A bartender worked at a bar in Grand Central Market in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Hours after Newsom's remarks, officials in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Palm Springs announced that nightlife closures in their cities would be mandatory. Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, which added a prohibition against dine-in restaurant service, acknowledged that it would be painful for small businesses. "I have not taken these steps lightly," he said. "To some it may feel wrong, but I would say it's exactly when things feel wrong that it is the right time to do them." L.A. Times | Eater Los Angeles

"Absolute madness."
"This will bankrupt me."
"How do people survive?"
Restaurant and bar owners across California were deeply worried for their livelihoods and those of their workers. An official in wine country predicted the economic fallout there would surpass that of a devastating wildfire. Press Democrat | O.C. Register


Newsom also urged all Californians 65 and older to isolate themselves at home — 5.3 million people in all — as well as anyone with chronic health conditions. The governor acknowledged how daunting it would be to ensure delivery of food, medicine, and services to some of the state's most vulnerable residents. A nursing home operator raised an additional concern: "Isolation is very, very difficult for older adults. Many believe it can be more detrimental than some physical ailments." CalMatters | Sacramento Bee


The latest confirmed infections included 15 new cases in Sacramento County, 23 in Santa Clara County, and 16 in Los Angeles County, along with first cases in San Luis Obispo County and San Bernardino County. Here are latest totals, according to trackers by the S.F. Chronicle and N.Y. Times:

3,602 in U.S.
490 in California
251 in Bay Area
148 in Southern California

Also: Some illuminating simulations of the outbreak by the Washington Post and N.Y. Times.


Shopping cart pandemonium at a Costco in Novato on Saturday.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Great Costco Siege of 2020 persisted through the weekend. Here's an incredible video of people lining up for what looks like roughly a quarter mile outside a Costco in Asuza. ABC7/Twitter

While empty grocery shelves have given the appearance of scarcity, food producers assured the public that was not the case. "There is plenty of food in the country," the leader of a trade group said. N.Y. Times

The same goes for toilet paper. L.A. Times


Newsom's administration has stopped short of ordering the closure of all schools, citing concerns that rural areas may be ill-equipped to provide services to children cast into limbo. But the vast majority of districts have acted on their own. According to a tally by EdSource, 84 percent of California's K-12 students have faced shutdowns. Until Sunday, Kern County — which has had no confirmed coronavirus cases — had the only remaining large school district in the state with no plan to close. That changed Sunday. EdSource | Bakersfield Californian

Here are full lists of closures of K-12 schools and colleges.


People waited outside the Martin B. Retting, Inc. guns store in Culver City on Sunday.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Another hot item: Firearms. At a gun shop in Culver City, a line of customers stretched out the door. Inside, they stood shoulder to shoulder, waiting up to five hours for service. One man said he feared that "civil services will break down." L.A. Times | O.C. Register


A stretch of Interstate 8 in San Diego was empty on Sunday.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

While obnoxious, Southern California's clogged freeways are a sign of a booming economy. Now, suddenly, they are empty. "Free-flowing traffic across Los Angeles seems more a cause for mourning than celebration as the region grapples with the coronavirus pandemic," the L.A. Times wrote.




Dan Carino/LAist

"Human rights? I have never thought about human rights."

In Southern California's San Gabriel Valley, thousands of Chinese immigrants live as many as 13 to a unit. LAist spent several months investigating the illegal tenements, known as "boarding houses," and found people enduring rats, mold, insects, and the threat of fire. Among the obstacles: Landlords who profit from tenants who pay by the night, and code enforcers reluctant to tip people into homelessness. LAist


The New Republic checked in on Stockton's experiment with universal basic income. More than 4,000 households, randomly selected from low-income neighborhoods, have been getting $500 a month — no strings attached. One of the biggest changes that families describe: having more time to spend with their children. New Republic


"His castle was built on the backs of the most vulnerable people in society."

Some of the wildest house parties in Los Angeles are thrown by an 80-year-old bon vivant named Jimmy Goldstein. His modernist masterpiece home is famed for its role in "The Big Lebowski." He told a reporter all about his expensive, hedonistic passions then clammed up when asked about the mobile home empire that finances them. Hollywood Reporter


A namesake tree at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Herb Knufken

The Torrey pine, the rarest of American pines, is indigenous to only two places: Santa Rosa Island off Santa Barbara and a narrow stretch of coast at the northern edge of San Diego. Fragile remnants of a distant age, the gnarled trees are protected within Torrey Pines State Reserve. The park's most stirring feature, however, may be the wrinkled sandstone bluffs in which the pines improbably take root. They are, as one writer put it, "nature's version of Notre Dame," carved by the chisel of wind and water over nearly a million years. | Outbound Collective

Below, a few views from the reserve, which, like all outdoor state park areas, remains open.

Andrew Armaneous

Ryan Luder


Thanks for reading!

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

The Sun is built by Marquee on Proof.

Consider becoming a member.

Please tell us how we can make the newsletter better. Email

California Sun masthead
The California Sun, PO Box 6868, Los Osos, CA 93412
Wake up to must-read news from around the Golden State delivered to your inbox each morning.