Help us rise to the challenge of covering the coronavirus crisis. Our journalism is free for all to access. But we rely on your support. Donate today to power our journalists.

Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):

ICE, Border Patrol Won't Make Arrests At Vaccination Sites

Core employees check drivers appointments and ID's before being directed towards the vaccination site at Dodgers Stadium on the first day of vaccinations. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection will not conduct immigration arrests at or near COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites.

DHS released a statement this week, saying that the department supports equal access to the vaccines.

"It is a moral and public health imperative to ensure that all individuals residing in the United States have access to the vaccine," the statement reads. "DHS encourages all individuals, regardless of immigration status, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible under local distribution guidelines."

Cliníca Romero provides health services in Pico Union and Boyle Heights, and more than 40% of the patients they serve don't have legal status.

Stephanie Lemus, who directs community affairs for non-profit, says the DHS statement is important:

"Especially when our communities are afraid, due to their status, that anything that could be tied back to, you know, the government, can potentially have a detrimental consequence for them."

Cliníca Romero uses community health workers to help dispel fears that accepting a free service like a coronavirus test or vaccine could harm a person's chances of adjusting their immigration status in the future.

Clinica Romero's first vaccination clinic for seniors is this Saturday. The phone number for appointment is: 213-989-7700.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

LAPD Union And Mayor Garcetti Announce Tentative Deal To Delay Raises And Avoid Layoffs

A hybrid police car is seen April 10, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and the union representing LAPD officers said Tuesday evening they have reached a tentative deal to delay contracted raises in future fiscal years. But the deal will not help bridge the city of L.A.'s estimated $675 million budget gap for the current fiscal year.

If ratified by rank-and-file members, the agreement would eliminate the possibility of 355 officer layoffs. A recent report from the LAPD indicated those cuts would eliminate some specialized patrols in Venice, Hollywood and near USC

The Los Angeles Police Protective League said the plan includes deferring raises that had been scheduled to take effect in January (3%) and June (1.5%) of 2022 until 2023. Last year, the union declined to put off a 3.25% pay raise that took effect last month, which would have helped with the city's current fiscal crisis.

Under the agreement, the city also commits to not laying off any officers this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and to paying out a minimum of $70 million in officer overtime in each of the next three years.

In December, city budget analysts recommended laying off close to a thousand Los Angeles police officers to help the city dig itself out of the budget hole created by the loss of tax revenue due to COVID-19 and its effect on the economy.

The City Council approved across-the-board cuts to department budgets and other last-ditch actions such as borrowing to pay for daily operations, a first in the city's history. Civilian worker and firefighter unions heeded calls from city leaders and Mayor Garcetti to pitch in, agreeing last month to extend contracts and defer raises to help the city scrape by. Before Tuesday’s announcement, the Protective League had spurned calls to come to the bargaining table.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Pandemic Isn't Over: Adults Shouldn't Hug After One Gets COVID-19 Vaccine

A man and woman wearing gas masks embrace at their window during a daily 8 o'clock applause in support of medical workers in Nice, France on March 24, 2020. (Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP) VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

So you or your loved one finally got the COVID-19 vaccine and you want to know if you can ditch the mask...visit with family indoors...and, maybe even, hug!

With adults at or over the age of 65 now eligible to get the vaccine in California, it's tempting to think that newly vaccinated older adults can let go of social distancing rules.

Not so fast, says Dean A Blumberg, MD:

"We do feel that if you're vaccinated, you're less likely to transmit, but you could be completely asymptomatic and still serve as a source of transmission to others, even if you're vaccinated."

Dr. Blumberg is Associate Professor and Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children's Hospital. He joined our newsroom's local news and culture show Take Two, which airs on 89.3 KPCC. He recommends that vaccinated adults hold off on trips to see loved ones -- even if they have received both doses.

Data shows that the vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency-use authorization -- from manufacturers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna -- have been highly effective in preventing serious illness from COVID-19. However, the clinical studies conducted so far still leave these open questions: How effective are the vaccines in preventing the spread of the virus? And... Can a vaccinated person still be contagious?

For now, Dr. Blumberg urged fully vaccinated adults to take as many precautions as possible when visiting loved ones.

"Well, what we do know is this, that 90 percent of transmission that's occurring is occurring indoors. So if you can be with people outdoors, ideally, masking and social distancing, that's the way to do it. That's the safest way to interact with other people in person. Indoors is the worst way and especially indoors when you're not masking and social distancing."

LA County Has Lost Over 17,000 Residents To COVID-19; Daily Case Counts Continue To Decline


More than 17,000 people in L.A. County have now died from COVID-19.

County health officials reported 205 new deaths today, brining the total to 17,057 since the pandemic began. More than 7,000 of those happened in just the past month (since December 30), during the holiday surge. It took the county nine months to record that many deaths last year.

But there is some good news on the horizon.

The number of daily new cases continues to slow. Health officials reported 3,763 new cases today.

There are also now 5,259 patients in local hospitals with COVID-19. That's down nearly 2,000 from three weeks ago.

The numbers are still much higher than they were before the current surge began; in September the average was about 1,000 cases a day.


Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

'Hollyboob' Prank Planned By Insta Model After Social Media Ban Over Near-Nudity

null Composite by Chava Sanchez/LAist

A pair of influencers, along with four of their friends, changed the letters of the Hollywood sign on Monday to read “Hollyboob” before being arrested on Wednesday. While initial reports connected the effort with breast cancer awareness, social media influencer/model Julia Rose now says it was a protest of censorship on Instagram.

Instagram influencer Julia Rose poses Monday, Feb. 1 after changing the Hollywood sign to read "Hollyboob." (Courtesy Julia Rose)

Rose staged the protest after she was banned from Instagram for violating its policies and posting nearly nude photos. The act also served as an opportunity for Rose to promote her digital pornography magazine, Shagmag (which also had its Instagram account banned). She wore a Shagmag T-shirt and posted photos and video following the stunt, showing her arrest. The stunt was relatively shown by the fact that we're writing about it.

She was joined by YouTuber Jack Tenney, who helped her pull it off. They’d made multiple previous attempts, they told the L.A. Times, but managed to complete the letter replacement after figuring out how to do it with just one giant tarp and one smaller piece of material, to turn the D into a B, instead of having to lug around two giant tarps.

The Hollywood Sign Trust thanked the LAPD and L.A. Park Rangers for their quick arrest of Rose and Tenney, describing the event as attempted vandalism. However, the two have been charged with trespassing, not vandalism, as there was no damage to the sign. There are currently a variety of security measures in place, including video monitoring, to protect the sign.

“There are those who think modifying the Sign is fun, but this renowned icon should be appreciated, not demeaned,” the Trust posted on its Twitter account.

LAPD Capt. Steve Lurie described what the influencers did as “way uncool.”

Rose previously flashed her breasts from behind home plate during the 2019 World Series. Rose and Tenney, along with their friends, are due in court June 3. No word yet on how she’ll turn the court hearing into another viral stunt to promote herself.

The stunt is another in the decades-long tradition of transforming the Hollywood Sign to make a statement, or use it a promotional opportunity, or, as in this case, both. This includes the sign being changed to say "Hollyweed" multiple times, from the 1970s all the way up to 2017.

You can read more about the history of Hollywood sign hijinx in this brief history we wrote about those changes over the decades — after that 2017 Hollyweed incident. A caller to KPCC's AirTalk on Tuesday took credit for being part of a group of Hollywood High School alumni responsible for the first Hollyweed sign change back in the 1970s, as well as several more over the years, including "Ollywood" during the Oliver North trial and "Oil War" during the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

This Rookie Had A Hunch About Who The ‘Night Stalker’ Was, But It Was Hard To Believe

Richard Ramirez, known as the Night Stalker, from episode 4 “Manhunt” of "Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer." (Courtesy Netflix)

From June 1984 to August 1985, Richard Ramirez terrorized Los Angeles, and later parts of San Francisco. The search for the person behind the spree is the subject of a new docu-series, Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer, which features the two lead investigators on the case, Gil Carrillo and Frank Salerno.

Carrillo was a rookie in Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide unit when he was paired up with Salerno, a veteran investigator, to look into the crimes being committed by Ramirez, who was eventually given the name “Night Stalker” by the L.A. Herald Examiner.

Early on, Carrillo had a hunch one man was behind them, but his colleagues didn’t buy it at first, because the cases didn’t fit a single profile on record.

The crimes varied, from murder to rape to robbery, and they occurred all over town, across multiple jurisdictions, and the victims included both children and adults. That array of crimes was unheard of, Carrillo said.

“It was difficult to believe one man was responsible for everything, since no one in criminal history had been documented doing what Richard did,” Carrillo told our newsroom's news and culture show Take Two, which airs on 89.3 KPCC.

One of the early clues was how Ramirez approached those he murdered, Carrillo said:

"I had never been to any profiling school, but there was a professor at Cal State L.A. by the name of Dr. Robert Morneau, and I took two semesters of Advanced Criminal Investigations, and he instilled in me that a part of a sign of a sexual deviant is that they like to see the frightened look on people's faces and they dominate people."

In at least three cases, there was evidence that Ramirez let his victims know he was coming — and one survivor, Maria Hernandez, gave a physical description that matched an artist rendition of a suspect in an attempted child abduction that year.

Eventually, a print from the bottom of a shoe helped point to one man being behind the crimes, but then a San Francisco Police inspector got the full name of the suspect during an interrogation: Richard Ramirez. That led to the man everyone had been hunting for.

Eventually, it was a group of bystanders who brought Ramirez to justice. After witnessing an attempted carjacking by Ramirez, they chased him down and held him until police arrived.

“I remember going in [to the station to see Ramirez] and he knew exactly who I was and who Frank was,” said Carrillo. “It was a great feeling — we’d been chasing, up until the night before, an unknown person and now he was in custody.”



Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

DA Gascón's Reform Effort Runs Into Opposition From His Own Prosecutors

L.A. County DA George Gascón. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón took office on Dec. 7, he immediately issued a sweeping set of directives designed to implement his progressive criminal justice agenda.

One order in particular has run into heavy opposition from the DA's own prosecutors: his order to stop seeking longer sentences — through the use of so-called "enhancements" — for circumstances such as a defendant using a gun or belonging to a gang.

The prosectors' union has sued Gascón in an attempt to undo the policy; while that legal battle plays out, individual deputy district attorneys are arguing against their own motions to drop enhancements.

We watched this remarkable scenario play out in a double murder case being heard in an L.A. courtroom.


Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Sick Of High LA Rents? Community Land Trusts Could Help

Rents in the Los Angeles Eco Village are less than half the price of some comparable apartments nearby. (Zoie Matthew/LAist)

Though fairly uncommon in L.A, community land trusts, or CLTs, are becoming increasingly popular among the region's affordable housing advocates, who say it offers a long-term solution for displacement and gentrification in an increasingly unaffordable city.

The trusts aim to scoop up affordable housing stock before it gets into the hands of speculators, to make sure it stays permanently affordable.

Newly minted CLTs have cropped up throughout L.A. County, in areas like South L.A, El Sereno and Boyle Heights.

At the end of last year, the Board of Supervisors launched a pilot program aimed at bolstering the work of these organizations with millions of dollars in county grants.


Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Prison Officials Responsible For Coronavirus Outbreak At San Quentin That Killed 29 People, Report Finds

An exterior view of San Quentin State Prison last June. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A report from the State Inspector General’s Office blames a widespread COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison on mistakes made by prison health officials.

It’s the third in a series of reports about COVID-19 outbreaks across the state prison system.

This report focuses on last spring’s COVID-19 outbreak among inmates at the California Institution for Men in Chino.

"Due to the prison’s lack of proper quarantine and isolation space, San Quentin placed many of the persons it suspected had been exposed to COVID-19 in cells without solid doors, jeopardizing the health of both those persons and those already housed in the unit," the report says. (Photo from Office of the Inspector General)

Here's what happened:

The office in charge of health care at prisons statewide decided to transfer some inmates to other prisons in May, specifically older inmates and those with diabetes or high blood pressure. A total of 122 inmates were ultimately transferred from Chino to San Quentin.

The report says that under pressure to move the inmates out, Chino officials did not test them for coronavirus. It was later found that 15 of them were infected with COVID-19.

Nurses at San Quentin spotted the symptoms after the tranfer, and had all the arriving inmates tested. But it was too late.

San Quentin prison officials housed the inmates in cells without solid doors, and air flowed through the unit.

By the end of August, more than 2,200 San Quentin inmates were infected. Twenty-eight inmates and one staff member died.

In a two-sentence response, prison officials said they “do not agree with all” of the Inspector General’s findings.

The Office of the Inspector General called the efforts by California Correctional Health Care Services and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to prepare for and execute the transfers "deeply flawed," and said the move unesessarily risked "the health and lives of thousands."

The Inspector General also tweeted a motion graphic, showing how fast COVID-19 spread in the prison.

You can read the full report here.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

'Filled With Fear': Disability Rights Advocates Say An Age-Based Vaccine Line Leaves Them Behind

Safeway pharmacist Preston Young fills a syringe with Moderna COVID-19 vaccination during a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on January 13, 2021 in Santa Rosa, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Disability rights advocates in California are voicing their concerns about the state's decision last week to move to an age-based priority system for the coronavirus vaccine.

State health officials say equity is still a focus of the plan, but advocates for the disabled argue that pushing people who are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications further down the list means that people will die unnecessarily.

"I am filled with fear for myself and others. I also refuse to defend my humanity and prove my deservedness for the vaccine in comparison to other high risk groups, " says Alice Wong, a disabled activist from San Francisco. "High risk is high risk."

Wong posted a Twitter thread that further clarifies her point of view:

Andy Imparato is the executive director of Disability Rights California and is on the state's vaccine advisory committee. He says concerns like Wong's are valid and should be taken seriously:

"We just want to make sure that people with disabilities who are at the highest risk of getting COVID and dying from COVID are prioritized. And we certainly aren't saying put them in front of people over 65 or other high risk populations. But we've been saying, make sure that we're one of the high risk populations that receives prioritization to get the vaccine.""

State health officials say the switch to the age-based system would come after eligibility is expanded to more essential workers, such as teachers and food and agriculture workers — that's expected to happen sometime in mid-February.

Disability rights advocates aren't the only ones criticising the vaccine rollout — health equity advocates are increasingly concerned about emerging disparities in vaccine distribution when it comes to wealth and race.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly was asked Tuesday about these concerns and said that he'd been "spending quite a bit of time over the last week, two weeks working with various stakeholders on this issue."

He said out those conversations with the disability community and people who take care of individuals with serious chronic conditions, they were "beginning to galvanize around a policy that we will announce later that brings together an opportunity to vaccinate those individuals."

As far as when those opportunities will be made available, Ghaly said urrent conversations will determine a timeline.


This story updated with a response from Ghaly.

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

A South L.A. Birthing Center Built By Black Midwives And The Community 

A mural on the walls of the courtyard at Kindred Space LA by artist Rosatzin. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

There’s a long history of disparities in infant mortality and maternal health for people of color. Two local midwives are trying to do something about it.

In L.A. County, Black moms are four times more likely than white moms to die of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. African American babies are three times more likely than white babies to die before their first birthday.

“While the overall infant mortality rate in California is declining, wide disparities persist in different race ethnic groups, and these disparities are increasing,” said Anura Ratnasiri, who authored a recent study about birth outcomes in the state.

Midwives Kimberly Durdin and Allegra Hill believe the individualized care they provide through Kindred Space LA is one part of the solution.

“Feeling empowered in your birth is something that you carry with you forever,” Hill said.

It’s an experience they hope to bring to more people with the opening of a new community-funded birthing center in South L.A.

“This space doesn't really belong to us,” Hill said. “It feels like it belongs to everybody. And we're constantly trying to figure out how to let our community benefit from this space.”



Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletter. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.

On Being Black In LA: Code Switching To Survive Crossing Racial Lines

People protest the death of George Floyd in the Fairfax District on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Josie Huang/LAist)

The theme of LAist's Black History Month coverage this year is: “What does it mean to be Black in L.A.?” We'll publish reponses from community members and staff throughout the month. Add your voice to the conversation below.

Yesterday, we shared a response from a West Hollywood woman who found being bused across town as a kid in the '60s helped her see L.A. as a "place of possibilities."

Today, a Hollywood woman who grew up in the San Fernando Valley writes about her experiences with code-switching -- to fit into her Catholic prep school and with lifelong city kids she encountered on summers in St. Louis. She reflects on how that duality still affects her as an adult.

"I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley a.k.a the 818. I lived with my mother in the Valley for most of the year, and during the summer break I would visit my dad in St. Louis. My mother was a big proponent of education and working hard to make sure I was able to get the same opportunities that wealthier, smart white kids had. She insisted on sending me to private schools during my K-12 years. I spent a big chunk of that going to a private Catholic college prep school. I am grateful for her pushing for me to go to those schools and her forethought about how that decision would provide me a bigger leg up in life.

"But it was tough at times. I had to be two different Ashleys. I was around 98% higher income white kids who had both parents in their home. I had to be a chameleon and do my best to fit in with the popular culture. I was good at it. I am a people person and can make friends with anyone. I was friends or friendly with lots of different groups. I was co-captain of my high school’s cheer squad, likely the first Black one too.

"Then summer would roll around and I would be in St. Louis. There I would have to figure out how to blend in with the more urban, city Black kids around the neighborhood. I got teased a lot because of my California-white girl voice, as the kids called it. I also had to learn how to blend in with the rest of my relatives, nieces and cousins, who grew up around mostly Black culture.

"As an adult, I have found a way to be more comfortable with my background and embracing all of my parts, but a lot of being Black in L.A./the Valley for me is about duality: knowing how to code switch and how to turn up the Blackness or turn it down sometimes. I know in a perfect world we would say that we should just be ourselves, but in reality, you can't do that sometimes. At least, that is how I feel. As a Black woman in a professional world, you sometimes have to know how to adjust personalities."

Ashley, Hollywood


The first installment of our The 8 Percent project began exploring the inextricable ties between L.A. and its Black residents — how Black migration, community and culture have shaped and changed L.A. For Black History Month, we’re homing in on a more specific experience — yours. Tell us: What does it mean to you to be Black in L.A.?

Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our nonprofit public service journalism: Donate Now.

Morning Brief: Racial And Ethnic Inequities Found In Vaccination Rollout


Good morning, L.A.

Amid many other concerns about the coronavirus vaccine rollout in L.A. and California, watchdog groups are becoming increasingly concerned that the inoculations aren’t reaching all residents equally.

California officials aren’t releasing demographic information about who’s received the vaccine, writes Barbara Feder Ostrov, who covers medicine and health policy for CalMatters. But once the current group of eligible people are immunized — a contingent that includes essential workers and those over the age of 65 — the state plans to switch to age-based eligibility.

That switch will remove suggestions to prioritize people with pre-existing conditions and individuals in harder-hit areas, instead lumping them in with everyone in the next age group below 65.

"We feel like our communities are being once again overlooked," said Rhonda Smith, executive director of the California Black Health Network.

In L.A., coronavirus vaccines have already been painfully difficult to secure, largely due to low supply. A significant percentage of new shipments are earmarked for second doses, leaving precious few to begin the inoculation process with new recipients. Plus, many residents have found the process of getting appointments for second doses confusing and slow.

Statewide, the vaccine distribution plan has come under scrutiny, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is now being questioned about his decision to enlist the help of Blue Shield to get shots into arms.

Meanwhile, data from other states is already showing racial disparities with regards to who is receiving the vaccine. For instance, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis, 1.2% of white Pennsylvanians had been vaccinated as of mid-January, compared with 0.3% of Black Pennsylvanians.

Smith notes that the pattern of Black communities being underserved by the medical system is, unfortunately, one she’s grown accustomed to seeing.

“It's nothing new,” she said, “but it's disappointing.”

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 …

Ava DuVernay speaks onstage at the 2020 13th Annual ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Rich Polk/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

This week’s from-your-couch activities are exciting. You can listen to Ava DuVernay talk about her ARRAY film initiative, tune in as Hilton Als and Jia Tolentino discuss Joan Didion, explore the LGBTQ history of Boyle Heights, and more.

Or, if all you really need is a good laugh, check out Self-Care Comedy with DeAnne Smith, Sofiya Alexandra, Anna Valenzuela, Christine Little and Sean Keane.

Help Us Cover Your Community

  • Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
  • Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.

The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.