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As Big Clinics Close Pending Vaccine Resupply, Some Small Clinics Remain Open

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A woman receives her vaccine at a mobile clinic at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. (Sharon McNary/LAist)

As massive city-run clinics at Dodger Stadium and other locales closed Friday for lack of vaccine, a handful of much smaller pop-up mobile clinics are continuing to vaccinate seniors and health care workers.

One was at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Friday morning, in the parking lot between Sears and the International House of Pancakes. Josalyn Faith Thomas, who’s 69, was among the 50 people standing in line waiting for a shot.

She used to come to the mall before the pandemic for entertainment.

“I miss getting out and going to the movies with my girlfriend. We used to go a couple of times a week,” she said.

She had been calling around to city officials and pharmacies for a vaccine appointment for a couple of days and the effort paid off.

“They called me at 8 a.m. this morning and said, ‘Come here. They’re doing walk up.' So I got dressed and was out the door and I'm here,” she said.

It’s a walk-up clinic, so people over 65 or health workers can get their shot without an appointment. They just show their ID to the screeners to get vaccinated.

This pop-up clinic is one of several the city set up around Los Angeles to make the vaccines more available in communities hard-hit by the virus and where people might have greater challenges in getting to one of the big vaccine sites.

But there’s a hitch. Unless you know where and when the pop-up clinic is giving shots, you won’t find the location on the Internet. That is by design, to avoid them becoming overrun with people who live outside the area it's meant to serve.

Antwone Roberts, spokesman for 8th District Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, said, “We’re not promoting our vaccine clinics widely to ensure local residents have access. Instead, our staff are calling eligible seniors in the area.”

So a call to your City Council member’s office might be the best way to find out if a pop-up vaccine center is nearby.

The one at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza is a familiar locale, and convenient to people who take the bus.

The rates of death from COVID-19 in the Crenshaw District and Baldwin Hills are lower than that of the city of Los Angeles as a whole, according to statistics from Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

However, Black and Latino residents in neighborhoods throughout the city and county have gotten sick and died of COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates than the white population.

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LA Vaccine Update: We Still Need More Doses

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People line up for their Covid-19 test at a mobile pop-up test site in Los Angeles, California on December 3, 2020. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

For a second week in a row, L.A. County is reserving most of its COVID-19 vaccine appointments for people who need their second shot.

Few slots will open up next week for those looking to get their first dose, as dwindling supplies of the vaccine forced large sites run by the city of Los Angeles to shut down on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the state plans to open up the vaccine pool to people with certain health conditions next month, and local officials are also gearing up to vaccinate more essential workers in the next two to three weeks.

L.A. County received over 219,000 doses this week, a slight increase compared to previous weekly allotments.

But Dr. Paul Simon, the chief science officer for the public health department, says they'll need to see larger allotments in the future to meet demand:

"We're going to have to spend some time to think about what the implications are for our planning, but it certainly means that there is even more urgency to getting a greater supply of vaccine."

According to the health department's latest count, over 13% of Angelenos over the age of 16 have received one shot so far, but fewer than 4% are fully vaccinated.

Over 1.3 million doses have been administered countywide, though less than a quarter (22%) of those doses were used for second shots.

A CLOSER LOOK AT LOCAL COVID-19 NUMBERS:

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California To Open Up Vaccinations To Ages 16-64 With Certain Diseases And Disabilities

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Silvia Lopez, Senior Custodian working in the ER, recieves the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at UCI Medical Center (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Beginning March 15, California vaccinators are free to start immunizing anyone between the ages of 16 and 64 if they have one of a number of serious health conditions, or if they have a developmental or other disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection.

The California Department of Public Health announced the job in a directive issued today. Under the new rules, vaccination will be available to people 16-64 with:

  • Cancer, current with debilitated or immunocompromised state
  • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen dependent
  • Down syndrome
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)
  • Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%

That age group will also be eligible if:

As a result of a developmental or other severe high-risk disability one or more of the following applies:

  • The individual is likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection
  • Acquiring COVID-19 will limit the individual’s ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival
  • Providing adequate and timely COVID care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual’s disability

California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said the state is still working out how the people in the above groups will prove their condition when they arrive at a vaccination site.

“We understand and know that that has been one of the challenges with the structure and we're trying to make sure that it doesn't become another challenge for this important group,” he said.

Andy Imparato, the executive director of Disability Rights California, welcomed the state’s new guidelines, calling them “a huge step forward.”

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SoCal's Young Great White Sharks Are Migrating North Because... Climate Change

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Scientists Kevin Weng, John O'Sullivan, and Chris Lowe tag a young-of-the-year white shark off Southern California as part of Project White Shark. (Monterey Bay Aquarium, 2010)

Young white sharks usually hang out in the waters off Southern California until they grow up, but they're now turning up in greater numbers farther north.

That's according to new study from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cal State Long Beach, and Duke University.

Researchers found that since 2014, younger sharks have started popping up close to shore in Monterey Bay, and even as far north as Santa Cruz County.

It's normal for adult white sharks to migrate north as they mature, but younger sharks prefer to stay farther south, where it's warmer. For context, "juvenile" sharks are less than 2.5 meters in total body length.

But recent marine heatwaves have pushed up ocean temperatures off the usually chilly Central Coast, and that's leading to speculation that human-driven climate change could be altering their usual habitat range.

Chris Lowe is director of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach, and one of the authors of the study.

He says that while sharks may start showing up in places where they haven't been seen before, it won't necessarily mean more run-ins with humans:

"We've been studying these juveniles in Southern California for a good 10 years now, and we know that they're in and around people all the time. When you look at the amount of people that use the ocean for recreation, if you compare Southern California with Central California, it's no competition."

Lowe and his colleagues say the shift could actually affect commercial fisherman more than beach-goers, since scientists believe that young white sharks feed on fish in the early stages of their lives.

Note: Scientists don't use the popular name "great white sharks" because there isn't a "lesser white shark" species out there (also it makes the animals sound scarier). But white sharks and great white sharks are one and the same! That's your shark fact of the day.

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DA Gascón Asks Supes To Name Rodney King Prosecutor To Investigate Police Shootings

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

L.A. District Attorney George Gascón has asked the County Board of Supervisors to authorize the hiring of Lawrence Middleton as a special prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges are warranted in past police shootings.

It’s an unprecedented step for an office that rarely has prosecuted police officers involved in shootings, leading to sharp criticism from Black Lives Matter and other activists.

A former federal prosecutor, Middleton was on the team that won the convictions of two LAPD officers for violating Rodney King’s constitutional rights when they beat him in 1991.

If he is hired, Middleton will first focus on four shootings that former DA Jackie Lacey declined to prosecute, said Gascón spokesman Alex Bastian:

  • Brendan Glenn, 29, an unarmed homeless black man fatally shot by an LAPD officer in Venice in 2015. You can see the video and read the DA's declination letter here.
  • Ricardo Diaz Zeferino, 34, an unarmed man fatally shot by Gardena police officers in 2013. The D.A.'s declination letter is not posted online, but you can watch a video of the shooting here.
  • Hector Morejon, 19, an unarmed man who was fatally shot by Long Beach police in 2015. You can read the D.A.'s declination letter here.
  • Christopher Deandre Mitchell, 23, who Torrance police say was in possession of an air rifle when they fatally shot him in 2018. You can read the D.A.'s declination letter here.

Gascón has promised to review more than 600 police shootings dating back to 2012 for possible prosecution of the officers and Sheriff’s deputies involved. A Use of Force Review Board working with UC Irvine is plowing through those cases to see if any merit possible reopening, Bastian said.

For any new shootings that occur, the DA's Justice System Integrity Division will review them, as it has traditionally done in such cases, he said.

A Gascón spokesman said the DA would retain ultimate authority over prosecutions but would defer to the special prosecutor’s decisions.

In a letter to the supervisors, Gascón said he determined he needs a special prosecutor “[t]o promote public confidence in the decision-making process, and the outcome of any such investigations.”

Middleton spent nearly 30 years with the U.S. Attorney’s office that serves most of Southern California, trying more than 50 criminal cases and rising to assistant U.S. attorney leading the criminal division, according to his website. He entered private practice in July 2019.

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We Hiked And Biked The Park To Playa Trail. What You Need To Know

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View from one part of the Park to Playa trail (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The last section of a 13-mile hiking and biking trail that's been 20 years in the making has opened in Los Angeles. Finally.

The Park to Playa trail connects a network of parks and trails from the Crenshaw District to the ocean at Playa del Rey.

The trail has several sections, each with its own charms and attractions, starting with the urban trail running along the Stocker Corridor, sloping up to the spectacular viewpoints of the Baldwin Hills Overlook, and ending along the landscaped bike path next to Ballona Creek to the Pacific.

Our visual journalist Chava Sanchez and infrastructure reporter Sharon McNary ran and biked the whole thing, meeting nature-loving Angelenos along the way.

FOLLOW THEIR JOURNEY:

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Race In LA: Reading While Black, And Other Ways To Court Trouble

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Jervey Tervalon, top row center in plaid, as a teenager at Susan Miller Dorsey High School, circa 1976. (Courtesy of Jervey Tervalon)

When you’re young, male, and Black in Los Angeles, you learn that sometimes, situations involving the police can instantly turn dangerous.

For example, when you're two teenage boys reading a book (Tolkien, no less) on the front lawn of a Westside apartment building, as author Jervey Tervalon writes for the Race in LA series:

We rushed back to the lush lawn in front of his apartment building and we sat together reading, quietly and eagerly. Then we looked up to see two police officers glaring at us, their hands very close to their holstered .38s.

"What are you two doing?" one of the two white cops said.

How could I respond? It was obvious that we were two chubby pootbutts clutching thick books on a sunny afternoon.

"Reading," George said flatly.

"Where do you live?" one of them asked.

"There," George said, pointing to the apartment building behind us.

Both of the police officers seemed skeptical that George lived there. They looked at each other and then they looked at us. It was pretty obvious they didn't believe him, and that we'd soon be in the back seat of the patrol car.

Their mothers arrived in the nick of time to save them.

READ THE ESSAY:

MORE FROM OUR RACE IN LA SERIES

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Morning Brief: The Lists Defining ‘Healthcare Workers’ Are Long, Complicated, And Sometimes Overlapping

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Vaccinations will be conducted at Dodger Stadium to those with appointments. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 12.

As local coronavirus cases and deaths begin to decrease, many residents’ focus is shifting from testing to vaccinating.

We’ve reported on the myriad stumbles of the vaccination rollout, from inequitable distribution to confusion about the second dose to inadequate supply. Now, another issue is cropping up: Communication failures from the top down about who is eligible to get the shots.

My colleague Jackie Fortiér, who has been covering the pandemic and health closely, reports that despite being considered healthcare workers — the first group that was eligible for the vaccine — parents and caregivers of people with disabilities are not consistently being granted access to inoculation.

"The culture of the vaccine deployment world right now is the Wild West," said Andy Imparato, executive director of Disability Rights California.

The confusion is caused in part by the number of health departments in California, most of which are making their own decisions about vaccine deployment. L.A. County alone has three; the county’s own, another in Pasadena, and a third in Long Beach.

Another contributing factor is poor training; several families with whom Jackie spoke to reported being turned away at vaccination sites by workers who didn’t believe they were eligible, or accused them of bringing phony documentation.

And the turmoil is exacerbated by the long, confusing, and sometimes overlapping lists of who qualifies as a healthcare worker.

L.A. County’s Department of Public Health lists 38 jobs and employers that qualify a person as a healthcare worker. California describes the healthcare sector as “large, diverse, and open, spanning both the public and private sectors,” listing 22 types of workers, many of which are further broken down into dozens of specific job titles.

And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t bother with job titles at all, instead defining healthcare workers as “all paid and unpaid persons serving in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials,” followed by a long list of qualifying factors.

In other words, it would be hard for anyone to parse those lists and understand who can get the vaccine and who can’t. In the absence of clarifying instructions from state and local governments, it might be awhile before everyone is on the same page.

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


What Else You Need To Know Today


Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

Diane Edith Watson, 87, was the first African American woman elected to the LAUSD Board, and she went on to serve in state and local politics for decades. (L.A. Sentinel)

Community land trusts could be the future of affordable housing in L.A. (LAist)

Activists worry that Latina/o immigrants who lack the necessary technology, transportation, or experience navigating local bureaucracy are facing elevated challenges in accessing the vaccine. (San Fernando Sun)

A mobile vaccination clinic was rolled out for senior citizens living in South Los Angeles. (L.A. Watts Times)

Got a spare $3 million? This desert town could be yours. (LAist)

This underground fight club is gaining respect among L.A.’s best. (L.A. Taco)

The Church of Epiphany in Lincoln Heights was added to the National Register of Historic Places because of its role in the Chicano movement of the 1960s. (The Eastsider)

A new tiny home community in North Hollywood is providing shelter for Angelenos experiencing homelessness. (LAist)

97-year-old Ruth Zamora, who has lived in the City of San Fernando throughout her life, was among the first people to be vaccinated in the area. (San Fernando Sun)


Before You Go … Want to Talk about Friends?

Central Perk at the Warner Brothers Lot (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

We’re starting a new event series! If you, like so many of us, have been binging nostalgic television shows, join us to chat about them at the TV Pilot Club.

In our first get-together, hosted by LAist Arts and Entertainment Reporter Mike Roe, we’ll discuss and unpack the premiere episode of Friends — what holds up, and what really, really doesn’t. Join us for "The One Where It Began" on February 18th from 6:30 - 7:30 pm PST. for an interactive conversation.


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

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