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City Of LA Says Dodger Stadium Vaccination Site Will Temporarily Close Because First Doses Are Low

Cars line up late last month for vaccine appointments at Dodger Stadium. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti says the city is expected to exhaust its current supply of the Moderna vaccine for first-dose appointments by tomorrow. That's why the city will have to temporarily close Dodger Stadium and the other four non-mobile vaccination sites on Friday and Saturday.

Here's the Mayor speaking during his briefing tonight:

"This is not where I want to be. It's not where we deserve to be. And we have firefighters, we have workers from core, we have clinicians, ready to draw vaccines, ready to give vaccines, ready to welcome traffic in and out by car by foot into our centers, but we won't have those vaccines because the supply, isn't there."

Garcetti says the hope is to receive more vaccines and reopen all those sites by Tuesday or Wednesday. The mayor also say this will not affect those waiting for their second dose.

L.A. County health officials had warned last week that the immediate concentration at county-run facilities would be on getting second doses to people.


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More LA Essential Workers Could Soon Be Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine, Health Officials Say

A server takes a guest's order in the outdoor dining area at Casa Vega. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Los Angeles County health officials say they now expect to expand the local COVID-19 vaccine eligibility pool to more essential workers, within the next two to three weeks.

Here's who's next in line:

  • Child care workers and teachers
  • Grocery store employees
  • Food and agricultural workers
  • Emergency responders
  • Members of law enforcement

According to data from the county health department, there are nearly 700,000 child care and education workers, along with more than half a million people in the food service industry in L.A. County.

County public health director Barbara Ferrer said it'll take some time to get through and vaccinate everyone in those groups:

"In these times of vaccine scarcity, we do need to ask that everyone be mindful of waiting for your turn, and helping to ensure that those who are most vulnerable in each eligible group have good access to the vaccine."

Ferrer said in order to speed up distribution, the department is working with businesses to set up their own sites to vaccinate their employees, and to get more supplies of the vaccine to local pharmacies and community-based sites.

The city of Long Beach, which has its own health department, started offering shots to those frontline groups late last month, shortly after Gov. Gavin Newsom gave local officials the green light to expand their vaccine pools.


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Where LA Is Exploring Congestion Pricing

Downtown L.A. in 2001. (David McNew/Getty Images)

When it comes down to it, L.A. County’s crippling congestion stems from the basic economics of supply and demand.

That's why L.A. Metro is exploring congestion pricing. The agency launched its study 2019 and is now exploring four concepts to implement congestion pricing in specific high-traffic corridors or geographical areas.

  1. Santa Monica Mountains Corridor - This would include freeways and other roadways that pass through the Santa Monica Mountains from the 405 Freeway to the 5 Freeway. That includes the dreaded Sepulveda Pass. A variant of this concept would narrow the corridor to the 101 and 5 freeways.
  2. Downtown L.A. Freeways Corridor - This would mean congestion pricing on the 110, 10 and 101 freeways that converge in downtown L.A.
  3. Downtown L.A. Cordon - This option is based on the center of downtown L.A. as a geographical area, not the roadways. Drivers would be charged for crossing a specific boundary.
  4. 10 Freeway Corridor - This would implement congestion pricing for the 10 Freeway and other arterial roadways between Santa Monica and downtown L.A.


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LA's 'Pop Art Nun' Was A Rebel. Her Legacy Has The City Reckoning With The Way It Preserves Its Own Art History

Corita Kent in her nun's habit. (Courtesy of Corita Art Center)

Silkscreen artist Corita Kent, aka Sister Mary Corita, was known in the art world as the Pop Art Nun. A member of the order of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Feliz between 1936 and 1968, her work was a rebellious take on religious art.

Her comments on consumerism and social upheaval were not judgmental, but infused with everyday joy. Her colorful screenprints, mass-produced by a troupe of students and fellow nuns, were distributed in un-numbered editions to spread her message of love and hard work.

Since the 1960s, Kent's work has continually appeared in exhibitions in L.A. and around the world. Dozens of institutions added her prints to their collections, including LACMA, the Hammer Museum, the Whitney Museum, MOMA, and the Library of Congress.

But the building where it all happened is, put nicely, utilitarian.

City staff contended that Kent's work in L.A. is worth recognizing, but didn't find that preserving her studio building in Hollywood was the way to do it. Most of the city's historical buildings are architectural gems, such as centuries-old adobes or the Art Deco City Hall building.

But Adrian Scott Fine, the L.A. Conservancy's director of advocacy, argues that if a run-down building such as Kent's former studio can be saved, it could change the way L.A. thinks about its own art history, and how it's preserved. The L.A. Conservancy ties an integrity-based evaluation, at least in part, to some startling statistics — only 3% of Historic-Cultural Monuments are associated with women's history, and only 8% are associated overall with women's, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ history.

"When there's this focus on kind of the materiality, or the physical aspects of a building, that can be a barrier, or, in some ways, a gatekeeper," Fine said. The L.A. Conservancy believes that the qualifier of integrity holds back underrepresented groups at the gates to designation, because they are less likely to have worked in spaces that have maintained architectural integrity.


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Meet Sparks: LA's Undersung Rock Royalty

American singer-songwriters and musicians Russell Mael and Ron Mael of rock band Sparks, UK, 16th October 1975. (Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

It's been said that Sparks are the best British band to come out of America.

They hit the scene in the early 1970s and were hugely influential on the likes of Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Erasure, Franz Ferdinand and countless electronic dance musicians.

Lead singer Russell Mael sported big hair and bigger stage theatrics. His brother, Ron, at keyboards, was far more subdued but in a sort of eerie way. He's known for his mustache, which at first looked vaguely Hitler-ian and now resembles a David Niven-esqe pencil drawing.

In the decades since, Sparks has recorded more than 250 songs over some 20 albums. The brothers have been performing music for more than 50 years, and they’re still at it today. But they remain a largely underground band, and even people who know them make a common mistake.

As much as people are convinced they're from the UK, they actually grew up right here — in Pacific Palisades.

Now their story is being told by superfan Edgar Wright, the director of "Shaun of the Dead" and "Baby Driver." Wright, known for the use of pop music in his films, told us despite his love for the band, he's never used one of their songs:

"Sparks cannot be audio wallpaper. The songs are too epic. And the lyrics are too evocative. They're not easy songs to just have on in the background."


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Gov. Newsom: More Covid-19 Variants Have Been Discovered In California

A Face Covering reminder is displayed on a bus in Los Angeles, California on November 30, 2020. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

Governor Gavin Newsom said today that two cases of the South African COVID-19 variant have been detected in California.

Both cases were in the Bay Area – one in Alameda County, and the other in Santa Clara County.

There are also over 150 confirmed cases of the more contagious U.K. variant in the state, including at least eight in Los Angeles County.

Newsom made the announcement at a press conference at the Fresno Fairgrounds, which was recently converted into a COVID-19 vaccine super site (you can watch the live-stream above).

He said the variants are of global concern:

"The issue of mutations is top of mind, not only here in the state of California, across this nation, but increasingly around the globe."

The CDC says there's no currently no evidence that the South Africa variant is deadlier or more likely to trigger more severe instances of COVID-19, but it could be more contagious than the original virus.

Data also shows that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet approved for use in the United States, is not as effective against the South African variant.

State health officials have also confirmed over 1,200 combined cases of two "West Coast" strains. Those variants have also been found in at least two dozen other states.

And another variant first identified in Brazil has not yet been detected in California, though just a handful of cases have been reported in Minnesota and Oklahoma, along with a presumed case in Tennessee.

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Child Care Providers Will Get More Financial Help From The State 

Child care providers who have stayed open during the pandemic will get some financial relief from the state. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Members of California's child care union who have continued to operate during the pandemic will get additional financial relief from the state under a new labor agreement.

The tentative pact, which still requires legislative approval, includes:

  • A one-time $525 stipend for each child enrolled in a subsidized child care program. This program is typically available to low-income families but during the pandemic it has been extended to essential workers.
  • 16 additional paid closure days in the event that a provider has to temporarily shut down because of COVID-19.
  • Establishing a working group to discuss how California should spend an estimated $700 million in federal money for child care included in the most recent coronavirus relief act – $300 million was already designated through last year’s budget.
  • A grievance process to settle any disputes related to the agreement.

The stipends will be funded through the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Act and cost an estimated $144 million. The $31.25 million for the additional closure days will be pulled from leftover money allocated for the same purpose last year.

California's legislature has to approve the stipends and paid closure days before the 43,000 providers represented by the union will see any of the money.

"We cannot stop putting the pressure on the state of California," said union chair Max Arias. "This is just the first step."

The average pay L.A. County family child care providers, who are largely women of color, is $11.73 an hour.

Almost half of California family child care providers haven't been able to pay themselves at some point during the pandemic and 22% missed a rent or mortgage payment, according to a survey from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley.

As of January 25, 2,599 licensed child care homes had closed permanently since the start of the pandemic, according to the California Department of Social Services.

While there have been relatively few reported coronavirus cases in child care settings, home-based child care providers also carry the burden of potentially exposing their families to the virus.

Signal Hill family child care provider Zoila Carolina Toma has had to shut down three times during the pandemic, once when she and her family were sick with COVID-19 and twice for possible exposures.

Toma plans to use the money and the stipend to continue paying her assistant but says for other providers, it won't be enough to pay off the debt they've built up over the last year.

"It was not an easy decision because unfortunately some providers are going to be out, no doubt," said Toma, who's a member of the union's bargaining committee.

The details of the agreement will exclude some providers who've cared for families in the subsidy program during the pandemic. For example, the stipends will be calculated based on a providers' enrollment as of November 2020.

Toma knows from running her own business that enrollment has fluctuated from day to day during the pandemic. Her license allows her to care for up to 14 children but on Tuesday just six showed up.

LAist has reached out to the state's Department of Human Resources for comment.


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A New LA County Sheriff's Department Task Force Will Focus On Wage Theft

A job seeker looks at a job listing board at the East Bay Career Center. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Tuesday announced the creation of a task force that wil focus on wage theft. In some industries, undercounting workers' hours and/or denying them overtime pay is rampant.

Sheriff Villanueva says many workers don't report these issues because they fear their employer will retaliate against them and they'll lose their jobs. Workers without legal status are at higher risk of being victimized.

State Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower says the task force will increase investigations of what are called "unsatisfied judgements" in L.A. County and refer them to the sheriff's department.

"These unsatisfied judgments are cases where a final decision has been reached affirming that a worker is owed wages, and yet the employer still doesn't pay," Garcia-Brower said at Tuesday's news conference.

A research team from the California Labor Commission is increasing the number of investigations, according to officials.

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Why Is Long Beach Vaccinating People Faster Than Other SoCal Cities?

CSULB employee Fatou Olshanski confers with nurse Erica Olauge at a drive-through clinic at Cal State Long Beach. (Sharon McNary/LAist)

Most California health departments are still working to get vaccinations to seniors and health workers, but Long Beach has moved on to the next phase. that includes educators, child care workers, police, firefighters and food service workers.

Why? Well, the city has its own health department and was able to adopt a different, speedier strategy than Los Angeles County. Long Beach officials chose to give as many people as possible the first of two rounds of shots rather than hold back vaccine supplies for that second dose.

Mayor Robert Garcia said he took a gamble that there would be enough doses for a second shot, but "it was riskier to have waited".

So far the supply has been sufficient, he said.


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Morning Brief: A Fateful Series Of Decisions Led To Kobe’s Final Moments

Kobe Bryant played his final game as a Laker on April 13, 2016, taking on the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Good morning, L.A.

Just over a year ago, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.

At the time of the accident, it remained unclear why or how the crash happened. There was no black box, and those who knew the pilot testified to his skill and experience, noting that Bryant flew with him frequently.

Yesterday, though, experts with the National Transportation Safety Board revealed the conclusion of their investigation into the crash: They believe that the pilot, Ara Zorbayan, violated policy by attempting to navigate the helicopter through clouds, and likely became disoriented because he lost visual references, reports my colleague Emily Henderson. He then appears to have mistakenly turned the helicopter into a descent instead of an ascent, crashing it into the hillside.

In their initial investigation of the crash, federal experts who examined the scene said that Zorbayan climbed to 2,300 feet to avoid the clouds, but didn’t provide much more detail. He was operating the helicopter under airspace rules that required him to have a clear view of the ground at all times. An NTSB expert told LAist at the time that flying under those regulations is "very common.”

However, in a minute-by-minute recreation of the flight, Vanity Fair reporter Jeff Wise paints a picture of Kobe’s last trip as one that included unnecessary — and ultimately fatal — risks. Zorbayan’s attempt to pass through the layer of clouds was illegal, and he would have known as much. A series of decisions, from flying despite poor conditions to trying to navigate a low hillside pass, contributed to the crash.

In L.A., tributes to Kobe and all those who died on Jan. 26, 2020 came in the form of murals, memorials, spoken tributes, light displays, pictures in the sand, and much more. In the end, families lost loved ones, young lives were cut short, and L.A. lost a legend — but one whose legacy will live on.

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 … The Oscars Shortlist Is Here

(Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)

The Academy Awards won’t be handed out until the end of April. But to make the selection process a little easier, committees within the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have released their shortlist of the best works in nine categories.

The abridged lists mean that thousands of Oscar voters will have far fewer submissions to sift through. In the Documentary Feature category, for example, the shortlist whittled 238 eligible movies down to 15 titles. Similarly, in the race for Best International Feature, submissions from 93 countries were trimmed to 15 contenders.

Take a look at some of the films that made the cut.

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