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At This Rate, California Won't Finish Vaccinating 65+ Until June

An ICU RN is injected with a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the UCI Medical Center in Orange on Wednesday December 16. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Here's a sentence sure to raise your heart rate: if the current pace of local COVID-19 vaccinations continues, it'll likely take until June to innoculate all Californians 65 and older. Reminder: it is January.

That's the estimate from state health officials. State epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan explains:

"In a huge state of 40 million people, we're only getting about 400-500,000 doses a week. So it's gonna take us... anywhere from 20 to 22 weeks to actually get through just [those] 65 years of age and older."

Some math: 22 weeks = 5.5 months. End of January + 5.5 months = June.

Pan said that could change if the federal government speeds up shipments of the vaccine... but she doesn't anticipate that happening for at least several weeks.

The Biden administration says they are aimig to administer 100 million vaccine shots in its first 100 days. Next month, FEMA will set up 100 community vaccination centers as part of that effort – we aren't yet sure how that will affect Los Angeles.

Pan said all this at Wednesday's vaccine advisory committee meeting. The committee is charged with making recommendations to the state about which groups should get the shots next.

The delay in vaccinating seniors could push back the timeline for other eligible groups.

California Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris says the situation is tragic:

"This is it's heartbreaking. It's heart-wrenching for all of us, every day. And the challenge that we have, is that we don't have enough vaccine. So for every occupational group that we move to now, that means that there's going to be more 65-year-olds and older that die. For every 65-year-old that we prioritize now, there's going to be a lower number [left to vaccinate], but still there's going to be trade-offs of people who get sick and die...we're between a rock and a hard place."

The state estimates are based on allocations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both of which require two shots per person.


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Pasadena To Gov. Newsom: We Need Vaccine Help

A nurse wearing full PPE distributes a COVID-10 test at the Rose Bowl. Pasadena's mayor wants to convert the Rose Bowl into a mass vaccination site to keep up with heavy demand. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The City of Pasadena is asking Gov. Gavin Newsom for help to speed up their coronavirus vaccination process. Mayor Victor Gordo said at the current rate, it will take the city two years to vaccinate all its residents.

The mayor wrote a letter to Newsom on Jan. 19 asking for assistance.

"The systemic challenges presented by the current vaccine distribution create an obstacle the city alone cannot overcome," the letter says.

Gordo asked specifically for the governor's help in setting up a state-supported mega vaccination site, like the ones at places like Dodger Stadium and Six Flags Magic Mountain in L.A. County. He suggested the Rose Bowl as an ideal location, given its size and "familiarity."

The letter specifies that Pasadena has one mega site currently, at Victory Park, capable of delivering 100 doses per hour thanks to help from public health staff, other city departments, contracted services and volunteers. That site is only open two days a week, however, and has so far delivered 2,300 doses to recipients in Phase 1A. The city plans to open the site four days a week on Feb. 1, which would increase distribution to 2,800 doses per week.

Once the city starts administering second doses, though, they'll have even less capacity to distribute first ones, the mayor writes. He says that's simply not enough:

"Despite leveraging all city resources, it would take two years to vaccinate everyone in the city at a rate of 1,500 doses per week."

He added that Pasadena was supposed to partner with Walgreens and CVS, but that the partnership has sucked away evern more city resources and vaccine supply.

"These challenges coupled with limited delivery of vaccine from the state have made it improbable to meet the reasonable expectations of our residents and resulting demand for vaccine," the letter says. "With the state transition to Phase 1B despite limited vaccine supply, these challenges have become more pronounced."

By "state transition to Phase 1B," he means the state's suggestion that counties begin vaccinating those in the 65+ age bracket sooner.

As of Tuesday, Pasadena has vaccinated 7,282 residents. The city has orderd 20,600 doses, but only received a little over 15,000. According to census data, Pasadena has approximately 22,000 residents in the 65+ age group.

The city is still in the process of vaccinating health workers, nursing home residents/workers, and police/fire department members. Pasadena is part of of L.A. County, but the city has their own public health department, meaning they have to handle vaccine distribution separately.

The city is releasing about 3,000 additional appointments to seniors today, a spokesperson told LAist, but those appointments are guaranteed to fill up fast. Vaccination sites do not accept walk-ups.

Mayor Gordo finished the letter with a statement we can all agree with:

"I look forward to a time when everyone who wants a vaccine can get one."


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Gut Check: L.A. Reflects On Trump’s Exit And The Challenges He Leaves Behind

A New York City street sign that normally reads Thompson St. has been painted over to read "Trumpgone St" on January 21, 2021. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

While the world watched inaugural festivities in Washington, D.C., we asked LAist readers to share their thoughts about the end of the Trump era and their hopes for the Biden administration.

Here’s a sample of what we heard:

But many expressed skepticism about what President Biden will actually achieve.


What Will Post-Pandemic College Classrooms Look Like For UC Schools?

Michael Dennin is Vice Provost for teaching and learning at UC Irvine.( screenshot UC Regents meeting)

With a full semester of online learning completed for hundreds of thousands of University of California students, the UC Regents are reviewing how the pandemic will drive reforms and shape the post-pandemic classroom.

“The pandemic, I hate to say this, has been our friend,” Michael Dennin, UC Irvine’s vice provost of teaching and learning, told the Regents Academic and Student Affairs committee on Wednesday. “It's allowed us to experience even deeper: what does it mean to be a UC course?”

Speaking at a committee’s discussion was titled “The Future of Instruction: Designing Equitable Classrooms and Technology-Enhanced Learning at the University of California,” Dennin shared several pandemic takeawaysfrom his campus, including:

  • Students benefit greatly from the flexibility of online learning

  • Faculty banded together to shift to online learning, and the collective effort can help improve post-pandemic teaching

  • Faculty should employ technology such as recording lectures and live online chat rooms more freely than before

Earlier this month, UC President Michael Drake announced that the 10 UC campuses will return to in-person instruction this fall. The much larger California State University system made the same announcement in December. Both systems are likely to issue broad guidance, but the details of safety measures inside and outside classrooms and how classes will be offered will be up to administrators and faculty on each of the campuses.

“It's likely that we will be in kind of a hybrid situation for a while where activities on campus are ramping up,” said Susannah Scott, divisional chair in UC Santa Barbara’s academic senate, the body that represents professors in matters of teaching.

Some of the key questions for campuses:

  • How large will in-person classes be?
  • What kind of social distance protocols will there be?
  • Will all in-person classes offer enrolled students the option to attend online?
  • Will faculty be entirely responsible for the workload to create in-person and online classes?
  • Will faculty who choose not to return to campus be able to teach entirely online?

The shift to online learning has left a lot of students behind, including students who don’t have access to reliable internet or devices. Faculty, including Scott, said campus administrators are aware of these divides as they create fall classes.

But some online learning practices have closed learning gaps.

“There are some practices that are so great, that I am worried about them becoming optional,” said UC Student Regent Alexis Atsilvsgi Zaragoza, who’s a UC Berkeley undergrad.

One of those practices -- recording lectures so that students could watch them as their schedule permitted -- helped students with disabilities and students who are unable to attend in-person, she said.

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Biden Is Already Unraveling Some Of Trump's Immigration Policies

FILE PHOTO: Asylum seekers at a migrant shelter in Tijuana, Baja California, December 16, 2018. (Photo by Peggy Peattie for LAist)

The newly-inaugurated Biden administration wasted no time in taking two major steps to dismantle much-criticized Trump-era immigration policies in its first day in office.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that, starting Thursday, it would pause deportations for certain non-citizens in the United States for 100 days and would stop new enrollments in the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, also known as the "remain in Mexico" program.

That controversial policy required asylum-seekers trying to enter the U.S. from the southern border to wait in Mexico for American immigration court hearings.

The program has led to roughly 60,000 migrants getting sent back across the border since MPP was first implemented two years ago. Tens of thousands of non-Mexican migrants are still stuck in Mexico, awaiting their court hearings and living in unsanitary and potentially dangerous situations. The policy has placed enormous strain on Mexico, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands more migrants from Latin America have pushed their way toward Mexico in recent days. Some have told journalists that they are making their way north because they expect it to be easier to enter the U.S. under the Biden administration. Others say the economic situation and violence in Honduras has made remaining there untenable. The increase in migrants, however, promises even more stress on Mexico and the U.S. immigration system.


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The Math Behind Why It’s So Hard To Get A Coronavirus Vaccine Appointment In LA

A dose of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

It’s not just you: it is truly difficult to make an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine in L.A. County. And it's not just because the website keeps crashing. It's because the county prioritizes second doses.

Each week, when the county finds out how much vaccine it will receive from the state, it sets aside a certain number of doses for people requiring their second dose of the vaccine.

That means there can be little leftover for new people to receive the vaccine.


Here’s Why Getting A Coronavirus Vaccine In LA County Is So Hard

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Morning Brief: Getting To Know LA Poet Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman, the first-ever US National Youth Poet Laureate. (Anna Zhang)

Good morning, L.A.

There were plenty of luminaries at yesterday’s inauguration events, from the President-elect and Vice President-elect themselves to Lady Gaga, J. Lo and Garth Brooks.

But among them all, the 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman stood out. With her stunning words and swan-like gestures, she rallied Americans around a moment of great division to look towards a future based on strength, survival and hope:

So while once we asked, “How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?"

Now, we assert, “How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be

A country that is bruised, but whole

Benevolent, but bold, fierce and free.

While the world may have just been introduced to Gorman yesterday, she’s been known as a rising star in L.A. for years.

A native of West L.A., Gorman was raised by a single mother and attended the New Roads School in Santa Monica. Gorman has described her childhood as “this incredibly odd intersection in Los Angeles, where it felt like the black ’hood met black elegance met white gentrification met Latin culture met wetlands.”

At 14, Gorman joined WriteGirl, a local nonprofit that provides writing mentorship to girls and young women. Michelle Chahine Sinno, who mentored Gorman at WriteGirl for two years, told my colleague Caroline Champlin that the young poet’s talent was always apparent.

"The way she sees the world is amazing,” she said, “from the mundane to today, talking about democracy."

Gorman went on to become the first Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate, and later the first National Youth Poet Laureate. And while many heard her words for the first time today, Gorman has always believed in the power of poetry, and young people, to reach across divides.

“We know at the very least that poetry is powerful,” she wrote in a 2014 essay for The Huffington Post. “Youth is powerful. Combined, we produce enough power to change ourselves and change the world.”

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go … What Even Is A Coat?

Kamala Harris (left), Jill Biden (center) and Michelle Obama (right) attend the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. (Left: David Tulis. Center: Patrick Semansky. Right: Jim Lo Scalzo. All for Getty Images)

In its most basic terms, it is "an outer garment worn on the upper body" that varies "in length and style according to fashion and use." (Thanks, Merriam-Webster.) But between the naturally warm weather here in Los Angeles and the increasingly warm winters wrought by climate change, many of us who live here may have forgotten just how to coat.

And yet, there they were, in a dazzling assortment of colors and styles at yesterday’s inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

So what is this strange garment, and who won the low-key battle of the outerwear at yesterday’s socially distanced festivities?

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