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Can My Boss Make Me Get The Coronavirus Vaccine?

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File: Five doses of COVID-19 vaccine is held by SPC Angel Laureano at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on December 14, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

With the emergency approval of at least two different COVID-19 vaccines, the end may finally be in sight for this ongoing pandemic. But given the polarized moment, the sometimes confusing official messaging, and even outright misinformation surrounding the approval process, some folks may be hesitant to get vaccinated. Some may even be concerned that they could be forced to do so as a condition of employment.

Possible? Yes. Likely? Maybe not.

Several legal and employment experts have said employers likely have the right to mandate their employees get the shots, noting that companies have been allowed to require flu vaccinations in the past. But others suggest the answer is not so clear-cut, or that it's too soon to tell.

Either way, Dorit Reiss, a professor of law at the University of California Hastings and a member of The Vaccine Working Group on Ethics and Policy, told us it's important to recognize that mandates are not the only solution for making sure workplaces are safe:

"Mandates can be a really important additional tool, but they're not a solution for high levels of concern or mistrust, by themselves. The other thing to remember is that [the] legal framework is one thing, the question of whether it is a good idea to mandate is another. If you know that 40% of your workforce are very scared of the vaccine, that may be a reason not to mandate."

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WATCH: President-Elect Biden Addresses Electoral College Vote Certification

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File: U.S. President-elect Joe Biden addresses the media about the Trump Administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act on November 10, 2020 at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The electoral college today certified the popular vote in the presidential election. President-elect Joe Biden responded with a live-streamed address. Watch a replay above.

How Will LAUSD Cut The School Police Budget? We'll Have To Wait Another Month To Find Out

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FILE PHOTO: LAUSD school police outside Mark Twain Middle School in Los Angeles. (Brian Watt / KPCC)

More than five months ago, the L.A. Unified School District Board of Education narrowly approved a $25 million cut from the Los Angeles School Police Department's budget, with no details on how to actually implement it and how to redirect the money.

Superitendent Austin Beutner was scheduled to discuss it as part of his regular update to the Board at today's meeting, but he struck it from his agenda "to allow time for more engagement with stakeholders."

The Board agreed to table the discussion until January 12, but several board members said they were disappointed that the work hasn't been wrapped up yet.

"In the same six months we have lost Dijon Kizzee, Kevin Carr, Fred Williams, other Black and Latino men in our community, and our children see this every day," said newly sworn-in board member Tanya Ortiz-Franklin. "As the school district serving over 600,000 kids, we can no longer drag our feet."

Both supporters and critics of the budget reduction have given public comment again and again over the last several months, but the board itself has only discussed the cut publicly a handful of times. Documents posted ahead of today's meeting included recommendations for cutting more than $10 million in officer overtime and $14 million in salaries.

In a report that will be presented to the board, the district’s divisions of School Culture, Climate and Safety, and Instruction note that this cut -- which represents about 35% of the school police budget -- will impact jobs, although the effect could be lessened because of staff departures.

Thirty-seven members of the school police department -- including the chief of school police -- left the department between the time the cut was passed in June and September, then-interim chief Leslie Ramirez told the board. Ramirez was named the chief of school police last week.

As for the reinvestment of these funds, district administrators will recommend dedicating $4 million to supporting Black students academically, plus $1 million to student leadership and mentoring opportunities, and $8.3 million to “remove barriers to success” by funding guidance counselors and psychiatric social workers, and using restorative justice as a way of reducing suspensions. All of these were key parts of students organizers’ demands over the summer.

The remaining $11.7 million would be used to “recruit and develop on-campus safety personnel" who would keep an eye on the students, staff and campuses instead of police.

In addition to the cuts and reinvestments, the board on Tuesday will also consider “limiting” school police's ability to use oleoresin capsicum spray -- also known as pepper spray -- according to the board documents.

According to a 2020 LASPD Policy Manual, uniformed school police officers carry the spray and can use it “as self defense, as a method of defending others from the unlawful use of force of violence, and in some cases, as a method for compliance.” A LAUSD spokesperson told LAist in June that pepper spray was used at schools six times in 2019. In June, Superintendent Austin Beutner told the school community in a video update that he would recommend “eliminating” the use of pepper spray.

In response to the stay-at-home order, the district is not allowing anyone to provide public comment in person at Tuesday’s meeting. Instead, speakers intending to address the board will have to sign up online and provide their comments over the phone.

You can read the full report for the board below:

READ MORE OF OUR COVERAGE OF LOS ANGELES SCHOOL POLICE:

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WATCH: Gov. Newsom, LA Mayor Garcetti Visit Hospital Giving COVID-19 Vaccinations

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Gov. Gavin Newsom visited L.A. County's Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, which administered some of the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to health care workers. Five health care workers were vaccinated there today. Newsom was also joined by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference above.

VACCINATIONS IN LA COUNTY

There were 33,150 vaccine doses delivered Monday — there were also 33,278 new COVID-19 cases reported today.

"Today we received as many doses in the entire state of California as there were new cases in the state of California," Newsom said.

The state expects between 2.1 and 2.16 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered by the end of the year, according to Newsom. The state has a total of 2.4 million health care workers that need to be vaccinated.

The average over the past week was 31,000 new cases, with an average of 159 deaths per day. The positivity rate went from 3.5% six weeks ago to 10.6% now.

Newsom said that he plans to get the vaccine himself, but won't be cutting in line.

"I have no problem taking the vaccine — I look forward to taking this vaccine, I'm confident of its safety and its efficacy, but I'm not going to get in the way of any of the critical workers ... that are more deserving," Newsom said.

Newsom said that there is light at the end of the tunnel — but that we're still in the tunnel.

Vaccines were distributed to four sites across the state on Monday, according to Newsom, with 24 more sites getting the vaccine Tuesday and another five on Wednesday.

Newsom said that the state's new vaccination awareness campaign "is about vaccinating all Californians, not just some Californians, not just connected Californians," Newsom said.

Newsom praised Garcetti and Solis for their cooperation with the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Garcetti's private advice to Newsom.

Garcetti spoke about having a nurse in his own family, and what this moment with vaccinations beginning means. He introduced nurse Kim Taylor, who received her first dose of the vaccine today.

"We are marching through the horror of this moment — there is no way around that," Garcetti said. "But today we're also marching through the hope of this moment."

"Hope is here. Relief is here. And the vaccine is here," Solis said. "We can now see an end point to this pandemic."

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Morning Brief: LA’s Underpaid Domestic Workers

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A new study from the UCLA Labor Center spells out the dire circumstances for domestic workers. (Courtesy Domestic Workers Coalition)

Good morning, L.A.

It’s perhaps no surprise to find out, thanks to new research out of UCLA, that California’s domestic workers – house cleaners, nannies, care providers and more – are underpaid and face poor working conditions.

Looking at government data from 2018, researchers found that many such laborers earned $10 an hour; two dollars less than the state’s minimum wage. On top of that, most domestic workers are categorized as independent contractors, meaning that they aren’t eligible for health care, unemployment benefits, paid time off and more.

The majority of domestic workers are Latina immigrants.

According to Saba Waheed, UCLA Labor Center research director: “We are a state and a country that doesn’t provide enough support in order for the workers to really have the level of income that they should for the kind of work that they’re doing.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.


What You Need To Know Today

Coronavirus Updates: L.A. County announced another day of staggering coronavirus numbers, with 12,731 new cases.

L.A. Protests: For the 20th consecutive day, protesters gathered outside Mayor Eric Garcetti's residence to oppose any appointment for him in the Biden Administration.

Policing The Police: The LAUSD Board must make final determinations about how to implement a $25 million cut to school police (about 35%), which they will vote on at Tuesday's meeting.

Labor Rights: California’s domestic workers – one-third of whom are in L.A. – are underpaid, and face poor working conditions.


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