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LA Unified High School Sports Will Be Back

An outdoor basketball hoop in Venice. LAUSD officials announced a return to high school sports with the caveat that they must be played outside. (Photo by Nick Jio on Unsplash)

As COVID-19 case rates continue to improve in Los Angeles County, L.A. Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner announced this evening that some high school sports can resume.

Yes, there are rules:

  • All sports must be played outside.
  • Athletes, coaches, and trainers must follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, including protective equipment, masks, social distancing, and consent from a parent or guardian.
  • And there will be weekly COVID-19 tests for everyone involved.

They'll also extend the season for athletes. The change brings LAUSD in line with state and local health guidance.

Los Angeles Unified will resume the following athletic activities:

  • CIF Season 1: Cross country, football and water polo.
  • CIF Season 2: Baseball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming/diving, tennis, track and field and traditional game day cheer.


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Will More LA County Businesses Reopen? Officials To Decide, If Region Moves Out Of Most Restrictive Tier

A new takeout menu outside Shabu Shabu House. Little Tokyo Service Center (Small Business Assistance)

Los Angeles County could meet the requirements to move out of the most restrictive tier in the state's COVID-19 reopening framework as soon as next week.

Since the state imposed its color-coded system last year, L.A. County has never cleared the hurdle to enter the red tier, which would allow many business sectors -- like restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters -- to reopen or gradually restore capacity.

It would also allow schools to reopen for higher grade levels.

During today's press briefing, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer fought back tears as she read accounts from students about how the pandemic has affected them:

"Our children have been through something that none of us experienced as children. And we owe them all our support, and our effort so that they can be as safe as possible as we move towards a more healthy future."

Even if the county meets the state's requirements, it won't move into the red tier right away.

COVID-19 numbers will need to remain stable for two weeks in a row, and it's ultimately up to local officials to decide whether to relax any rules once the county gets permission from the state to do so.

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Grocery Workers In City Of LA Set To Receive $5/Hr ‘Hero Pay’

An employee at a grocery store in in Little Tokyo. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Grocery workers in the city of Los Angeles are set to receive a temporary $5 per hour pay raise, after the city council voted today to mandate “hero pay” for employees of larger grocery and drugstore chains.

Tuesday’s vote — a procedural requirement after the measure failed to earn the council’s unanimous support last week — fell along expected lines, with 14 councilmembers supporting the measure and San Fernando Valley Councilman John Lee casting the lone “no” vote.

The pay bump will take effect immediately and last for 120 days once Mayor Eric Garcetti signs off on the ordinance, which he has said he supports. An estimated 26,000 workers in the city could benefit from the extra pay.

“For months workers have been demanding hazard pay as the pandemic continues, but companies have pocketed their profits,” said Kathy Finn, secretary-treasurer of the L.A. grocery workers union UFCW 770, in an emailed statement after last week’s council vote. “The Los Angeles City Council listened to workers today, not the fear mongering of giant corporations, and for that we are grateful.”

California’s grocery industry has filed legal challenges to “hero pay” mandates in other cities, and has vowed to fight requirements in L.A.

“Extra pay mandates will have severe unintended consequences on not only grocers, but on their workers and their customers,” California Grocers Association CEO Ron Fong said in a statement last week.

The industry group has argued the pay bump will lead to higher food prices and store closures, without making workers any safer. Employers have also pushed the city to shorten its 120-day timeline for requiring hazard pay, given that food workers in L.A. County are now eligible for vaccination.

The L.A. city council vote follows the passage of “hero pay” laws in Long Beach, West Hollywood, Montebello and the unincorporated parts of L.A. County.

Last week, a judge denied the California Grocers Association’s request for an injunction against Long Beach’s $4-per-hour mandate. The industry group said it will appeal that decision. Since the passage of Long Beach’s ordinance, the grocery giant Kroger announced the closure of two stores in the city.

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Looking Back At The Police Assault Of Rodney King, And What It Means Today

This 1991 amateur video captured the beating of Rodney King

On this day, 30 years ago, Rodney King was beaten by four L.A. police officers so severely that he was reportedly unrecognizable. A video of the assault, taken by George Holliday, a bystander, was released to the public a few days later, causing widespread outrage.

That video — and the acquittal of the officers in April of the following year — would lead to five historic days of unrest that left an indelible mark on Los Angeles.

On our newsroom’s public affairs show Air Talk, which airs on 89.3 KPCC, USC law professor Jody Armour and UCLA history professor Brenda Stevenson looked back on the beating of King on March 3, 1991 and the ensuing outcry, and what it means today.

“There's something really powerful about witnessing, bearing witness, visually seeing these images,” said Armour. “It woke up the conscience of many Americans and moved people to the streets and resulted in real change here in L.A.”

The Challenges Of Vaccinating LA’s Black Community

RN Ebony Thomas (L) administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Cecilia Onwytalu, 89, at Kedren Community Health Center, in South Central L.A. (Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite promises of an equitable COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Black Angelenos over 65 are the least vaccinated of any racial group, according to data from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

There are lots of reasons, including: a lack of easy access to health care and the internet, mistrust of the medical system due to systemic racism, “vaccine chasers” who come in from wealthy, mostly white areas to snag appointments, and a glitchy statewide online appointment system.

Some of those factors come into play for Gregory Williams, a 64-year-old semi-retired finishing carpenter in West Athens who has no computer, no smart phone, and hesitancy about vaccination:

“A lot of my friends I've talked to, they are skeptical, really skeptical. You don't know if this is good or bad, you don’t know what to trust.”


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Campaign Aims To Get Vaccination Info To The LGBTQ Community

Rainbow flags. Jasmin Sessler/Unsplash

A new campaign by the civil rights organization Equality California aims to get COVID-19 vaccine information to LGBTQ Angelenos.

Rick Chavez-Zbur, the organization’s executive director, said LGBTQ people as a community have a harder time surviving the coronavirus and other illnesses because of systemic discrimination, which leads to stress and socioeconomic disparities, and shortens lives.

That has a disproportionate impact on young people.

"Four out of 10 homeless youth in our major cities identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community," he said.

Equality California's campaign, which is running in both Spanish and English, promotes vaccination as safe, free, and effective. Chavez-Zbur said there's a unique need to get this narrative out:

"31% of the LGBTQ community nationwide doesn't trust government data related to COVID-19 information."

That statistic is from a study released by the Williams Institute at UCLA Law. It referred specifically to a lack of trust in data during the final months of the Trump administration.

The study also found LGBTQ communities of color had been harder hit by the pandemic:

Our main finding is that the impact of the pandemic on LGBT communities cannot be fully understood without considering race and ethnicity as well as sexual orientation and gender identity. In short, across a number of indicators, LGBT people of color are more likely to experience the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 than non-LGBT White people

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Power Outage In LA Neighborhoods Is Tied To Fire At An Electrical Station

FILE: Line crews with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power work on power lines in 2018. (Courtesy LADWP via Twitter)

Fire in a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power electrical receiving station caused some 39,000 people to lose power in the city today.

The receiving station, on Centinela and Nebraska Avenues, is a place where high voltage power is stepped down to a lower voltage for distribution along power lines to homes and businesses. To enable Los Angeles Fire Department to get into the receiving station to combat the fire, LADWP had to de-energize power lines to the thousands of customers in the Westside, San Fernando Valley and other areas.

The fire was put out, damage to the station was limited, and no injuries were reported, said LADWP spokesman Joseph Ramallo.

Power began to be restored to homes and businesses within about an hour, as crews re-routed power through circuits that were still functioning. But the utility did not have an estimate when all customers would get their lights back on.

LADWP offered this advice for anyone still without power:

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LA Civil Rights Leaders Tell Police: Give More Support To Targets Of Anti-Asian Hate

Koreatown has been the site of attacks on Asian Americans during the pandemic, including last month's assault on a 27-year-old Korean American man. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

In L.A., civil rights leaders are asking the Los Angeles Police Department to provide more support to Asian American people who are the targets of violence and harassment.

Connie Chung Joe, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, called for more training of police officers so they can identify hate crimes. She also said victims whose experiences don't meet the definition of a hate crime still need support.

In a meeting with the L.A. Board of Police Commissioners, Joe and other civil rights leaders asked police to be aware that some victims are elderly and have limited English. They said officers need to get better at recognizing hate crimes and being sensitive to victims -- but they also made it clear they were not calling for more policing.

The LAPD recorded 15 hate crimes against AAPI community members in 2020 — up 114% from 2019. Three cases of anti-Asian hate crimes have been documented so far in 2021.



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We're About To Get Rain But It Won't Be Much

(Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Break out the umbrellas! Batten down the hatches! Board up the windows! Rain is coming to Southern California.

Nah, don't sweat it. We're about to get a little rain. It's nothing major but here in Los Angeles, we like to get excited — too excited — about every drop of water that falls from the sky. (Remember that time it snowed in L.A. two years ago? We're still talking about it.)

As a low-pressure system moves through Southern California on Wednesday, Los Angeles and Ventura counties should see light rain and local mountains will likely get a bit of snow.

We'll take whatever we can get. Southern California hasn't received much rain this winter and we're officially in the midst of yet another "critically dry" year.

Look for the showers to start around 10 a.m., when Los Angeles has a 50% chance of rain, according to the National Weather Service. Most areas will receive less than a quarter-inch of precipitation.

The San Gabriel Mountains, however, could get up to three-quarters of an inch of rain. The NWS says mountain areas may also receive 2 to 4 inches of snow. Be careful if youre driving in the mountains — or anywhere, really — as it will be windy and road conditions will be slippery.

Everything should dry out by Thursday.

As we, the news media, sit in a constant state of cat-like readiness, waiting to report on #Stormwatch2021, feel free to share your stories of stormy struggle and triumph using the hashtag #LARain.

Stay strong, stay safe, stay dry, Los Angeles.


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Election Results: Sydney Kamlager Easily Leads Race For State Senate Seat

Sydney Kamlager and her husband, Austin Dove, attend a Humane Society gala 2019 on May 04, 2019 in Hollywood. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

The special election to fill the vacant state Senate seat representing California's 30th District appears to have a clear victor.

As of about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Democrat and 54th District Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager had secured roughly 67% of the vote, more than 50 points ahead of the second-place finisher, fellow Democrat and Culver City Councilmember Daniel Lee.

The special election was called after then-State Senator Holly Mitchell won a seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors last year. Kamlager previously served as Mitchell's district director.

The 30th State Senate District includes Culver City, Ladera Heights, Westmont, Crenshaw, Florence, West Athens, Century City, Mar Vista and much of downtown Los Angeles.


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Morning Brief: Anti-Asian Hate Crimes, Vaccines For All, And Burbank’s Overly Wild Western-Themed Bar

Downtown Los Angeles rises above a local neighborhood. (Dillon Shook Via Unsplash)

Good morning, L.A. It’s March 3.

Since the onset of the coronavirus, violent attacks against Asian Americans have increased. Flamed by former President Trump’s repeated racist statements — including his recurring reference to COVID-19 as “the Chinese virus” and “kung flu” — those attacks have, of late, turned deadly, and activists are calling for immediate action.

As LAist contributor Phoenix Tso reports, many advocates, who had already been speaking out for many months, were driven to demand that steps be taken after a fatal assault in the Bay Area, which targeted 84-year-old Vichar Ratanapakdee, an immigrant from Thailand.

"Unfortunately, vulnerable folks do get picked on sometimes for these types of incidents," Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, told our newsroom's local news and culture show Take Two. "And that's why urgent action really is needed."

Southern California has seen an increase in racially charged incidents as well. Over the past year, such attacks include the beating of a 27-year-old Korean American Air Force veteran, ongoing harassment of a Ladera Ranch family, and the beating of a 51-year-old man as he waited for a bus in Rosemead.

The nonprofit organization Stop AAPI Hate has been tracking anti-Asian hate crimes, and received nearly 250 reports in the L.A. area between March and December of last year.

A 2020 report by the L.A. County Human Relations Commission found that anti-Asian crimes were 32% higher in 2019 than in 2018, and that white supremacist crimes were 38% higher in 2019 than in 2018.

Kulkarni pinned the increase, in part, on racist politicians.

“We absolutely are seeing rhetoric coming from a number of our elected officials,” she said, “which is driving up hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

Some local activists are taking matters into their own hands; last year, my colleague Josie Huang reported on Hong Lee and Esther Lim, two local women who printed booklets for older Asian Americans that detail what to do if they’re victims of a crime. Some activists in Chinatown are requesting more security cameras, and others are working with law enforcement.

Lim, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Korea, said that the racism she sees today looks a lot like history on repeat.

"When I think about my parents' battle just to be accepted as an American here, it hits my core,” she said. “My parents already went through this before.”

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Grief is never easy, but grieving for a loved one during a pandemic is even harder.
  • February’s Black History Month is over, but our commitment to seeking out, highlighting and amplifying Black voices isn’t.
  • A new study looks at how low pay and cramped living conditions have heightened the risk of catching and transmitting COVID-19 for fast food workers.
  • Long Beach accidentally sent emails inviting people to get the coronavirus vaccine — even though they weren't eligible.
  • A deadly crash in Imperial County involving an overloaded SUV and a semi truck has left at least 15 people dead.
  • California's two statewide teachers unions praised a deal that would bring the youngest elementary students back to campuses as early as April 1, but L.A.’s teachers’ union disagrees.
  • Campus survivors' advocates are helping students at local colleges who are suffering from domestic or relationship violence.
  • President Biden says there will be enough vaccines for the nation’s adult population by the end of May.

Before You Go … Burbank’s Wild West-Themed Bar Is Just A Little Too Wild

The entrance toTinhorn Flats, an Old West-themed bar in Burbank. (Elina Shatkin/LAist)

Burbank has had it with Tinhorn Flats, the Old West-themed bar and restaurant that keeps defying pandemic safety protocols. On Monday, city officials filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court asking a judge to let them cut off the restaurant's electricity and padlock its doors so they can enforce a closure order, which was instituted to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Tinhorn Flats' owners have previously railed against face mask mandates (although they eventually agreed to enforce them) and vowed to defy the ban on in-person dining at restaurants.

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