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FBI Sees No Credible Threat In LA On Biden's Inauguration Day
The FBI says there’s no evidence of a credible threat to Los Angeles during Wednesday's inauguration of Joe Biden as president.
Flanked by armored vehicles, a sniffer dog and officers carrying semi-automatic rifles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the LAPD is deployed in increased numbers and that California National Guard troops are stationed nearby and ready if needed.
"We have 200 troops on standby at Los Alamitos as we speak," said Paul Walters, assistant chief with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.
They were joined at a news conference by LAPD Chief Michel Moore, Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Kristi Johnson, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s L.A. Field office.
Johnson said the agency activated a 24/7 command post a few days ago:
“That was designed to make sure that we were in a posture to make sure that we are identifying any threats.”
Chief Moore said he’s aware of three demonstrations planned in the city for Inauguration Day.
“Should acts of vandalism or violence take place, we will take immediate action," he said. "We will make arrests and prosecute those individuals vigorously.”
Moore said his department has identified three off-duty employees who were in D.C. during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. At this point, he said, there’s no information they committed any crimes.
California's Positivity Rate And Hospitalizations Are Finally Easing After That COVID-19 Surge
In a rare bit of good news about the COVID-19 outlook in California, the state's 14-day positivity rate has dropped 8.7% in the past two weeks.
And COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped 8.5% over the same time period.
In early January, the state was averaging more than 3,500 COVID-19 patients a day, according to state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. Now, he said, that number is down to anywhere from 2,500 to 2,900 a day.
"These are rays of hope shining through with the hospitals coming down some, and that overall curve of our case numbers beginning to flatten."
Ghaly said hard-hit areas such as the Southern California region are also stabilizing.
Meanwhile, as of today, more than 1.5 million Californians have received a coronavirus vaccination.
Long Beach Kicks Off Mass Vaccination Effort
The Long Beach Convention Center parking lot — known locally as the "Elephant Lot" — is open once again. This time, it's serving as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site.
City workers expect to vaccinate about 1,800 people today. Long Beach is currently distributing the vaccine to essential health workers, first responders, and people age 65 and older. About half of those in the first vaccine phase have already received their second shots.
And starting today, grocery store employees and food workers — including restaurant cooks — can sign up for appointments.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said of his city's efforts:
"I've been talking to all of the different mayors across the state, I talked to the governor's office, been communicating with the governor as well, directly. And right now, there is definitely a sense that we are getting something right in the city."
Garcia says appointments will open next week for Long Beach Unified School District teachers and staff. The city is also implementing a system to prevent doses from going to waste — so if someone doesn't show up, people further down the waiting list will be contacted to get the shot instead.
MORE ON LONG BEACH
65+ LA County Residents Can Now Sign Up For Vaccine Appointments, If They Can Get The Website To Work
Starting today, L.A. County residents 65 and older can book an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine, with slots open as early as Wednesday.
Appointments are available at the county's five "super sites," as well as at smaller distribution sites.
Residents 65+ are eligible to be vaccinated starting Wednesday, January 20th. Book your appointments by visiting https://t.co/UVkFi7cEUy. For additional assistance, call 833-540-0473 between 8:00 am and 8:30 pm. pic.twitter.com/t8uiFnruKO— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) January 19, 2021
The expansion comes after county Board of Supervisors chair Hilda Solis signed an executive order to expand the pool of currently eligible vaccine candidates to that age group.
Just last week, county public health director Barbara Ferrer said health officials would not be able to offer vaccines to all seniors until vaccinations for essential health workers were complete — that wasn't expected to happen until early February at the earliest. L.A. County still has to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of health care workers.
Last week, Ferrer said she wished she could offer vaccines to more people, sooner, but the county simply did not have enough doses from the state and had requested more to no avail.
Mayor Garcetti and Gov. Newsom have said it's not California's fault; they place the blame on the federal government for not giving states enough vaccine doses, which is causing a logjam. President-elect Biden says he plans to fix that in his first 100 days.
Today Ferrer spoke about the new appointment system, cautioning that the vaccine supply is still limited, so appointment slots will only open a few days in advance:
"It will require patience, because we haven't received yet all of the doses that we'll need to vaccinate the priority groups. And we, too, are looking forward to a new administration and more transparency on how many doses will be available in the future."
Ferrer said the county has enough doses to get through this week, but don't yet know how much they'll receive from the federal government next week.
Users have already complained that the appointment site isn't working properly or is down completely.
Multiple attempts to sign up elicited error messages that the CalVax server – the site that allows users to actually book an appointment – was down.
Our COVID-19 vaccination hotline and website are fielding thousands of calls and users, and experiencing technical difficulties. We appreciate your patience as we work to fix these technical issues. pic.twitter.com/NaKCldaxY0— Los Angeles County (@CountyofLA) January 19, 2021
If you're confused (as you should be) about all of this, we made a timeline:
If you're confused about vaccine rollout here's a handy timeline ~~~~— LAist (@LAist) January 19, 2021
Jan 12: CDC recommends opening first tier of vaccine efforts to all seniors (65+).
Jan 13 morning: Gov. Newsom says cool, CA is gonna do that.
The county public health department is holding a town hall tonight at 6 p.m. We're sure they'll have plenty of questions to answer.
READ MORE ABOUT LOCAL VACCINATION PLANS:
- SoCal Residents: Here's How To Figure Out When And Where You Can Get The Vaccine
- LA Opens Dodger Stadium To Help Vaccinate Half A Million Health Workers
- Your No-Panic Guide To The COVID-19 Vaccines: Are They Safe, And When Can I Get Mine?
Wind Gusts Have Topped 80 MPH, Toppling Trees, Trucks And Billboards
A Red Flag Warning is in effect today for much of Southern California because of strong Santa Ana winds, moderately low humidity, and very dry plants and grasses.
The wind toppled a big rig on the 210 Freeway, knocked down a billboard in Santa Clarita, kicked a tree over onto residences in Santa Paula, and threatened to exacerbate brush fires that broke out across the region.
One of those fires, the Towsley Fire, erupted in Santa Clarita, and has so far burned up to 50 acres, though no structures were threatened,according to a tweet from L.A. County Fire.
Cal Fire and the L.A. County Fire Department are deploying additional resources to be able to respond to any new fires.
L.A. County Fire placed three additional strike teams around the county — one in the Malibu and Agoura area, another in East L.A., and another in the Santa Clarita area, said spokesman Henry Narvaez.
"And they're strategically placed there so they can spring at a moment's notice in an initial attack if anything were to spring up," he said.
Each strike team includes five fire engines and 20 firefighters.
People should be extremely cautious and think beyond things like cigarettes and campfires that could start a wildfire, said National Weather Service forecaster Ryan Kittell:
"Less obvious things like dragging trailer hitch chains, even brush clearing or weed whackers that can hit on rocks and start sparks in a dry spot, all those things have started fires before."
Meanwhile, Southern California Edison has shut off power to about 55,000 customers because of the high fire danger, mostly in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Ventura counties.
Another 255,000 customers have been warned they may lose power; nearly half of them are in Ventura County.
Some of the strongest gusts recorded today in the Santa Clarita Valley were:
- Saugus: 71 MPH (9:57 AM)
- Castaic Lake: 69 MPH (8:50 AM)
- Magic Mountain: 62 MPH (10:10 AM)
- Browns Canyon: 74 MPH (8:30 AM)
- Warm Springs RAWS: 87 MPH (8:53 AM)
- Magic Mountain Truck Trail: 86 MPH (9:50 AM)
GET UPDATES ON POWER SHUTOFFS:
Protest, Riot Or Insurrection? How The Capitol Attack Played Out In The Classroom
Days before the start of the spring semester in the Los Angeles Unified School District, pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving five people dead and President Donald Trump on the verge of an historic second impeachment.
In any other year, the violence may have scrambled lesson plans.
But many local history teachers — having spent the last year on Zoom teaching through a pandemic, an earlier impeachment, and racial justice movements — were prepared, and even eager, to put the violence in D.C. in context of other American wars, riots and insurrections.
And, by their accounts, students were ready, too, often well-informed and usually opinionated. But is civics education getting the attention it needs to support these lessons?