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With variants looming, LA County officials caution against long-distance travel over Spring Break
After a long spell of encouraging statistical news, Los Angeles County climbed above 2,200 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, March 4, the highest single-day total in nearly two weeks. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, however, continued to fall. According to state figures, there were 1,341 people hospitalized in the county as of Thursday, with 429 people in intensive care, the lowest numbers the county has reported since Nov. 19. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Daily News. 2021-03-05
 
The Man Behind LA's Park To Playa Trail: "Make Parks Where People Are"
If you're craving fresh air and exercise, the 13 miles of LA's Park to Playa Trail could hit the spot. The final linkage for the trail was completed late last year, and you can run or bike from the Crenshaw District all the way to the beach at Playa Del Rey. (Check out our photo tour of the entire thing). [Article]
by , . 2021-03-05
 
California Lawmakers Approve School Reopening Deal, But Will It Lead To Reopened Campuses?
California lawmakers this morning easily approved a $6.6 billion package aimed at coaxing reluctant public schools to resume on-campus classes for the youngest and most at-risk students by April 1. [Article]
by , . 2021-03-05
 
West Covina Unified schools opt to stick with distance learning for now
While many school districts across Los Angeles County prepare to reopen as the pandemic appears to ease, the West Covina Unified School District will stick with distance-learning for the foreseeable future. The school board voted last week, 3-2, not to reopen elementary schools after Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health laid out guidelines for returning to campus. Rose Lopez, Juanita Cruz and Joe Magallanes voted against reopening schools; school board president Eileen Miranda Jimenez and Michael Flowers voted in favor. [Article]
by , San Gabriel Valley Tribune. 2021-03-05
 
State contract with Blue Shield may lead to changes in UCLA’s vaccine distribution
University of California Health signed a contract approved by the state of California that may require UCLA Health to alter its vaccine distribution plans. [Article]
by , . 2021-03-05
 
More L.A. school districts are moving to reopen amid COVID
The Pasadena Unified School District on Thursday joined a growing number of Los Angeles County school systems that are swiftly putting plans in place to begin bringing elementary students back to campus by the end of the month, ending a year of pandemic-forced closures. The discussion in Pasadena typified those unfolding in many school districts in the county as board members consider a host of issues: safety measures, vaccines for teachers and staff, parent decisions — some who are eager to send their children back and others who are worried and want to continue distance learning. “This weighs heavily on us,” said Pasadena Supt. Brian McDonald, after three hours of public comment, with many people voicing concern about returning to in-person instruction. Some teachers pushed back against the idea of reopening campuses without fully vaccinating staff. But the board agreed it is time to begin a phased-in reopening in the 17,400-student district. “Given the safety measures that we have in place, and the fact that every single employee will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine, we believe it’s time now to return our students to in-person learning.” The board, by a 5-2 vote, approved a plan to bring back students for hybrid learning beginning March 30 in pre-kindergarten through second grade, meaning students will split their time between class and home. Students in third through fifth grades will join them April 13. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-03-05
 
Have half of L.A. County residents really had COVID-19?
I’ve grown accustomed to conflicting views when it comes to the pandemic. We can gather in the library, but our kids can’t go to school. I can finally get my hair done, but a facial is not allowed. You shouldn’t wear a mask, you have to wear a mask, you really should be wearing two masks. I understand the inconsistency. This virus is so new that all of us — from CDC scientists to supermarket cashiers — are still trying to navigate a steep learning curve. And I like to think that nothing surprises me anymore. But then something comes along that shocks me all over again. Last week, it was the news about how many people locally already carry antibodies to the virus. According to some estimates, as reported in The Times and elsewhere, as many as half of Los Angeles County’s 10 million people have already been infected. And that’s even though tests for COVID-19 have confirmed fewer than 1.2 million local infections. The prospect of that many millions of uncounted infections seemed mind-boggling to me. How could more than 3 million people slip through our testing apparatus? I wanted to know how those numbers were calculated, so I called L.A. County’s chief prognosticator, Dr. Roger Lewis. His job is to quantify and model the spread of COVID-19, to help make sure that the county’s hospital system is prepared to meet pandemic healthcare needs. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-03-05
 
Will steering vaccine to disadvantaged areas stop COVID-19?
Months into a vaccine rollout that has been stymied by shortages and marred by persistent inequities, California is now going all in on a new strategy: flooding those communities hardest hit by COVID-19 with doses. Officials say they hope the radical shift unveiled this week will not only slow the spread of the disease and tackle glaring inequities in who is receiving vaccines, but also speed up reopening of the economy by inoculating essential workers who are putting themselves at greater risk. Under the new approach, the state will now provide 40% of its available supplies to underserved areas, such as in South L.A., the Eastside, Santa Ana and the heavily Latino communities along the Interstate 10 corridor between Pomona and San Bernardino — places that have experienced a disproportionate share of the pandemic’s pain, yet still lag behind more affluent neighborhoods when it comes to getting vaccines. The dramatic change in California’s allocation strategy reflects the growing view from state officials that they must more equitably balance vaccinating those most in danger of dying of COVID-19 and those who have the greatest risk of contracting and spreading the disease because of where they work and live. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-03-05
 
Can Blue Shield deliver COVID-19 vaccine equity in California?
Getting a lucky break in both the crowd and the rain clouds, Howard Alonzo ducked under a blue tent and into a relatively short line at Jesse Owens Park on Wednesday afternoon. Hours earlier, hundreds of mostly Black and Latino Angelenos had been waiting there, hoping to get their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. “My family members all came like a couple of days ago and got vaccinated,” he said. “Then I got a text message from them.” Indeed, to find this site — the newest in South Los Angeles — you pretty much have to know someone who knows someone. Forget about scouring government websites or scoring secret access codes to the state’s joke of an online appointment system, MyTurn. Personal referrals, paper fliers and Google Forms are the go-to tools here. Well, for now anyway. The timeline isn’t clear. But whenever Blue Shield of California begins managing the state’s disjointed system of distributing vaccines to counties, pharmacies and healthcare providers, everything could change. And that’s what Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell fears most. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-03-05
 
New California COVID vaccine plan targets misuse by wealthy
With California now dedicating 40% of its COVID-19 vaccine supply to underserved communities, one challenge is making sure the doses actually get to those in need. Even before the change in policy, people in wealthier communities have used redistributed access codes to secure vaccine appointments intended to be reserved for lower-income neighborhoods. One solution, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday, will be to use single-use access codes to secure appointments, instead of group-access codes. Newsom also acknowledged that counties have had problems with the state’s vaccine appointment system, My Turn, and pledged to continue improving it. “We’re going to have to target appointments and make sure individuals that live in our targeted communities are actually the ones who get the specific codes, who get the appointment blocks,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, said. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-03-05
 
California's My Turn COVID vaccine system is flawed
California’s My Turn COVID-19 vaccination appointment system is riddled with flaws that are making it difficult for counties to reserve vaccine appointments for targeted populations, according to local officials. These flaws have been exploited by wealthy, privileged people to use redistributed access codes to secure appointments for vaccines that had been intended for people living in underserved communities, as The Times has previously reported. Though California is insisting that counties prioritize vaccinating people living in the hardest-hit areas or those who work in specific front-line essential jobs, the My Turn system does not offer the flexibility to account for a county’s vaccination strategy or eligibility requirements, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday. It is also web-based, making it inaccessible for many who are unable to use an online interface, Ferrer added. “My Turn is wide open and you can’t restrict access to appointments … to people who are in eligible categories,” Ferrer said. For instance, L.A. County sought to hold clinics at its so-called mega-POD (point of distribution) sites on Tuesdays and Thursdays just for food and agricultural workers, “but we really had no way to restrict people in making appointments in the system if they were eligible.” [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-03-05
 
Backyard Homes Project: ADU and affordable housing in L.A.
In the University Park neighborhood just north of USC, Katherine Guevara and her husband, David Guevara Rosillo, are building a home that will subtly evoke a California Craftsman, with a pitched roof, porch posts and light ornamentation. Inside, a burst of colors and patterns reflects the textiles and murals of Guevara Rosillo’s roots in Guayaquil, Ecuador, as well as inspirations such as Frida Kahlo’s La Casa Azul in Mexico City. Green, red, orange, blue and yellow walls and floors will be complemented by a modern Ikea kitchen and bold touches like multichrome Cirque pendant lamps by Louis Poulsen. “We think life should be full of color,” Guevara said. “It will be stunning.” The home also will carry symbolic significance: It’s the launch of a project addressing L.A.'s affordable housing crisis. The couple are participants in the Backyard Homes Project, which hopes to bring innovation to a field where it’s often hard to come by. Thanks to recent state measures easing regulations on accessory dwelling units — a.k.a. ADUs, or granny flats — Los Angeles has been in the throes of an ADU mania. Thousands of applications have poured in from homeowners across the city, and the ADU has proved to be a lab for housing experiment. Some companies, like L.A. Based United Dwelling, are offering free ADUs in homeowners’ backyards in exchange for a share of rent. Others are offering modern design or modular construction. An Oakland-based company called Mighty Buildings is even creating 3D-printed ADUs. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-03-05
 
Orange County Might Be Able to Reopen More Businesses Sooner if More Hard-Hit Communities are Vaccinated Faster
Orange County could begin reopening more businesses sooner if officials can bolster coronavirus vaccinations to California’s hardest hit communities, following abrupt changes to the state’s reopening guidelines.  [Article]
by , Voice of OC. 2021-03-05
 
What the COVID-19 vaccination effort looks like in Orange County
Over a year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, and efforts to vaccinate the entire population are underway as new strains emerge and the number of deaths surpasses half a million. [Article]
by , . 2021-03-05
 
Southern California adopts plan to build 1.3 million new homes by 2029
Southern California leaders voted Thursday, March 4, to adopt a new housing plan for the 2020s that will triple its future homebuilding goals, acting over repeated objections that the number is too big. Thursday’s vote by the Southern California Association of Governments – made up of elected officials from 191 cities in six counties – requires local cities and counties to draft plans to zone for 1.34 million new homes by the end of 2029. That’s equivalent to adding almost as many new homes in the region as now exist in Orange and Ventura counties combined. The measure passed with a 64-1 vote, with one abstention. Unlike past meetings, Thursday’s session drew little debate, as leaders accepted a state order imposed on the region 1 1/2 years ago. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2021-03-05
 
Coronavirus: Orange County surpasses 4,000 deaths as of March 4
The OC Health Care Agency reported 160 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, March 4, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases there have been in the county to 247,140. An estimated 3,151 cases of the virus have been recorded in Orange County in the last 14 days. There were 47 new deaths from the coronavirus reported on Thursday, making the total number of people in the county who have died from the virus at least 4,013. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2021-03-05
 
Rising costs of CalSTRS debt takes money from students, classrooms
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) recently reported a 26 percent increase in early teacher retirements in the second half of 2020 relative to the previous year. CalSTRS officials suggest that the COVID-19-driven spike in retirements will not affect the pension plan’s long-term solvency. But even if that holds true, CalSTRS is currently only 66 percent funded and has $100 billion in unfunded benefits. The costs associated with paying off this pension debt are skyrocketing and siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars from classrooms each year. [Article]
by , Orange County Register. 2021-03-05
 
North County energy program comes in 2.2% lower than SDG&E for most customers
A community choice aggregation energy program in North County anticipates offering a default product to most of its customers that is about 2 percent less expensive than San Diego Gas & Electric, with a higher percentage of renewable sources. The Clean Energy Alliance — made up of the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach — will begin serving about 58,000 customers in May and June. As a CCA, it will replace SDG&E when it comes to purchasing power for those three municipalities. SDG&E will still maintain other responsibilities, such as delivering energy, maintaining infrastructure (poles and wires) and sending bills to customers each month. All board three members of the Clean Energy Alliance, known as CEA for short, voted Thursday to adopt a default rate, as well as two other programs that offer higher levels of renewable power that would cost more per month. [Article]
by , San Diego Union-Tribune. 2021-03-05
 
Vaccine shortage prompts one-day closure of Del Mar super station
The Scripps Del Mar Vaccination Super Station will be closed on Saturday due to a shortage of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine but will reopen Sunday, according to county officials. [Article]
by , . 2021-03-05
 
Western Science Center announces new research on three-toed Miocene horses
A new paper from the Western Science Center in Hemet painted a clearer picture of Southern California during the Miocene epoch and recently revealed new information about the fossils of horses found in the Cajon Valley Formation. “ [Article]
by , Temecula Valley News. 2021-03-05
 
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