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‘A Great Step For Equity’: LA Clinics Praise Expanded COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Community clinics serving poor and working class areas of L.A. are welcoming the state’s move to open up vaccine eligibility to anyone 50 or older on April 1 and to anyone 16 or older on April 15.

For weeks, clinic directors have had to explain confusing eligibility guidelines and sometimes turn people away in communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the restrictions have hindered the effort to protect everyone, noted Kedren Community Health Center Director Jerry Abraham.

“Getting grandma vaccinated [when] you’ve got five to 10 people coming in and out of that one-bedroom apartment is not a safe environment,” he said.

The relaxed eligibility rules are “a great step for equity,” said Jim Mangia, CEO of St. John's Well Child and Family Center, which operates a network of clinics in Los Angeles.

“There are many low income folks, Black and Brown folks, who are doing essential jobs that are now going to be eligible for the vaccine,” he said.

The state expects a surge in supply next month: approximately 2.5 million doses per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million in the second half of the month.

Abraham and Mangia say they’ve been promised more doses in the next two weeks.

“I hope we have enough vaccines," said Abraham. "I hope we have enough hands to help them, I hope we have enough resources to do it.”

Even with this expansion in eligibility and supply, health officials warn it will take months to vaccinate every Californian who wants to be immunized.

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Volunteer Group To Chaperone Elderly Asian Americans In The San Gabriel Valley

Saturday's rally denouncing anti-Asian attacks brought out hundreds to Little Tokyo. (Josie Huang/LAist)

A newly formed volunteer group is gearing up to provide chaperones and help for elderly Asian American residents in the San Gabriel Valley. The effort follows a nationwide spike in anti-Asian attacks over the past year.

So far, about 50 people have signed up with Compassion in SGV. The chaperones will be available to anyone who requests one. It's based on a similar program that's currently active in Oakland.

Brittney Au, the group's cofounder, says volunteers will be fully trained on how to defuse a potentially bad situation:

"We really want to establish trust here, and make them feel safe, and let them know that we're here for them, we support them, and we're here to protect them."

Au says the group is accepting requests for chaperones online, and will also distribute fliers in Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Korean with a phone number to call or text for immediate help.


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USC Agrees To $852 Million Settlement Against Former Campus Gynecologist

Audry Nafziger, a 1992 USC law school graduate, said during a press conference Thursday that she was abused by former campus gynecologist George Tyndall. (Screenshot from Facebook)

University of Southern California officials said on Thursday that its board of trustees has agreed to pay 710 women a combined $852 million to settle their allegations of abuse against USC’s former campus gynecologist.

“I am deeply sorry for the pain experienced by these valued members of the USC community,” said USC President Carol Folt in an emailed statement. “We appreciate the courage of all who came forward and hope this much needed resolution provides some relief to the women abused by George Tyndall.”

An investigation by the LA Times in 2018 was the first to publicly detail accusations from current and former students that Tyndall touched their genitals unnecessarily, and made sexist and derogatory comments during exams. Hundreds of women came forward soon after with similar accusations.

“I was shaken up when I finally got out of that office,” said Allison Rowland at the Los Angeles press conference Thursday announcing the settlement, which was streamed live on Facebook. Rowland said she was abused by Tyndall during an exam while she was a USC student in 1993.

Police arrested Tyndall in 2019 and prosecutors charged him with dozens of felonies. He has pleaded not guilty. The L.A. County District Attorney's office said a hearing in his case is scheduled for Friday.

Another former patient, Lucy Chi, said Thursday that she was abused by Tyndall during an exam around 2014.

“George Tyndall specifically preyed upon Asian women,” Chi said. “He paid special attention to me because I was Asian.”

The outcry against USC’s handling of the Tyndall scandal and other recent scandals has led to fiery criticism of the administration from students and faculty. USC President C. L. Max Nikias stepped down in 2018.

“This will no longer be tolerated,” said John Manly, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs. “USC is not the only university with a dirty doctor.”

The settlement dwarfs a $215 million settlement that USC agreed to in 2019 of a class action lawsuit against Tyndall and the university. USC employed Tyndall as a student health center doctor from 1989 to 2016. The lawsuits allege USC knew of complaints against Tyndall at various times during his 26 years employed by USC, but did not act until 2016, when he was put on leave after a nurse told administrators of Tyndall’s behavior.


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What It's Like To Be On The Receiving End Of Anti-Asian Hate

People hold signs during the "We Are Not Silent" rally against anti-Asian hate in response to recent anti-Asian crime in Seattle, Washington on March 13, 2021. (JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)

Dakota Kim was having a pleasant day with a friend at the Huntington Botanical Gardens recently when a fellow visitor told them to "go back to China." In the Chinese Garden, no less.

As anti-Asian hate has spiked during the pandemic, Kim has become intimately familiar with incidents like these. It wasn't the first she's experienced, she writes, and it likely won't be the last.




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You Asked Us About Lower Case Numbers And Testing – Here’s What We Learned

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

If you have questions about COVID-19, you can ask us.

A reader wrote in to ask:

“I wanted to ask if you could research this a little. I'm pretty concerned that the COVID stats for infections are starting to degrade because most testing centers are being converted to vaccination centers ... if you're not testing, how can you really know that your infection rate is going down? Doesn't that skew the statistics? Is your infection rate only going down because your volume of testing is going down?”

To answer that, I looked at testing demand, unused testing capacity, and an important figure known as the test positivity rate.



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If You're Over 16, You'll Be Eligible For COVID-19 Vaccine Starting April 15; Those 50+ Can Sign Up April 1


Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference which included several announcements about expanding the state's COVID-19 vaccine eligibility. You can watch the full press conference above.

California's expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility includes:
  • Californians 50+ can sign up starting April 1
  • Everyone 16+ can sign up starting April 15

Starting immediately, the state is officially allowing family members who come in with anyone who's eligible to also be vaccinated. Newsom said this would be done "no questions asked." This has already been happening at many vaccination sites.

The governor noted that the state has been given public and private insurance around the Johnson and Johnson vaccine that is more promising that known as of several weeks ago. The Biden administration reiterated that on a call with governors. He noted that the president changed his goal from 100 million to 200 million vaccine doses given nationwide in the president's first 100 days.

Newsom said that the county reopening tiers will be updated, the four colors will be eliminated, and a new "green" tier will be announced in the coming weeks.

Newsom said that he expects the state to be giving 3 million vaccinations per week in May.

The event, being held at an Orange County vaccination site, was meant to highlight California's efforts to ramp up vaccinations, particularly in hard-to-reach communities.


Officials of the city of Long beach says adults over 50 can get in line starting today.

Until April 1, appointments will only be available for people 50 and older who previously signed up via the city's "Vax L-B" site and through walk-up appointments at the Long Beach Convention Center.

About 500 appointments will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday. You have to bring proof of your age and that you live or work in Long Beach.


Kaiser Permanente said it welcomes the state's decision to expand vaccine eligibility to all adults in California starting April 15.

In a statement, the health care provider said it will NOT be pre-scheduling appointments before the eligibility dates.

Kaiser also said supply will need to increase to serve all who will be eligibile.

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Recipients Of Racist Letter Sent To Asian-Run Business Are Urged To Contact Local Authorities

Copies of this letter have reportedly been sent to different Asian-run businesses in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

A racist anonymous letter that's been sent to Asian-run businesses around California refers to Asians as "nasty, ugly, smelly, disgusting, pancake face, stir-fry cockroach eaters, dog/cat eaters, toe nail cleaners, raw monkey brain eaters."

Authorities are urging anyone receiving the letter to contact local law enforcement. It's the latest in a series of disturbing attacks. The letter arrives just days after the attack on Atlanta-area spas that killed eight, including six women of Asian descent.

A different racist anti-Asian letter was also sent in recent days to a resident of Leisure World in Seal Beach. A Korean American widow received the letter days after her husband died, with the writer saying his death "makes it one less Asian to put up with in Leisure World."


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Echo Park Lake Encampment: The Latest On The Fight Against City Plans To Clear The Park

Protesters block Glendale Boulevard near Echo Park Lake on Wednesday night. (Frank Stoltze/LAist)

Early Thursday morning, city councilman Mitch O'Farrell issued a statement that said the city "has started the process of closing Echo Park, beginning with numerous intersections and freeway ramps around the facility. They are now closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic to protect public safety while crews begin the installation of the fence around the park."

LAPD and city officials now say all unhoused people living at Echo Park Lake must leave by 10:30 tonight.

More than 100 tents once stood in the park. Some living at the park have accepted the city’s offer of a 60-day stay at a hotel. Others are pushing back.

Last night, about 300 unhoused people and their supporters faced off with riot police who came to help the city begin to erect fences around the park.

One of those who was protesting city plans to clear the park and shut down the encampment was Jack Allison, 35, who lives in the neighborhood.

“I think that the community they built here at Echo Park Lake is a beautiful thing," Allison said. "There’s a community garden and there’s people helping other people. And you know I visit the park pretty often. I walk the dog here. There’s nothing dangerous about it. So long as you are willing to build space.”

Our politics reporter Libby Denkmann will have the latest from the park this morning.


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Live In Unincorporated LA County? Starting April 1, You're Going To Get More Parking Tickets

A dreaded parking ticket sits on a car's windshield. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Starting April 1, the Sheriff's Department will resume enforcing all parking violations in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. That includes tickets for staying too long in a time-limited zone, parking without a permit in permit zones, letting your meter expire, having expired registration and pretty much anything else you could possibly get a ticket for.

Towing will also resume.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department had stopped most parking enforcement in spring 2020, when local and state officials issued COVID-19 "stay at home" orders. As the pandemic winds down, parking enforcement is ramping up.

To reiterate: L.A. County’s parking rules only affect you if you live in an unincorporated area. Confused? You can find out if you live in an unincorporated area by looking at this this map; specific area names are also laid out in this list.


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Morning Brief: Echo Park Lake’s Homeless Encampment, The San Andreas Fault, And Capirotada

Folks board a train at the Willowbrook green line station. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A. It’s March 25.

City officials announced plans this week to clear the tent community at Echo Park Lake, saying that repairs need to be made in the area. But residents of the community, most of whom are otherwise unhoused, have broad support from allies, and are prepared to push back against the sweep.

"This won't be as easy as they think,” resident Ayman Ahmed told my colleague Libby Denkmann “They won't just run the community out of the park.”

The Echo Park tent community has found itself at the center of several heated debates over how to handle the city’s dire housing crisis. In January of 2020, a planned sweep of the encampment, which can lead to residents losing their belongings and being left with no place to go, was met by protesters who blocked city vehicles and stood near tents.

The following month, protesters once again joined residents to defend their right to be there.

Many who oppose officials’ plan to clear the area say that it’s a public relations maneuver, and blame the area’s city council representative, Mitch O’Farrell, for not doing more to ensure the safety of those living in the encampment.

Recently, officials and advocates have announced plans to ease the plight of L.A.’s unhoused residents by building community land trusts, making it easier to construct granny flats, and establishing communities of tiny homes.

But these efforts, while no doubt well-intentioned, are only the latest in an exhausting series of projects to get the problem under control. Some ideas have also included government-funded campsites, vacant hotel rooms, empty parking lots, neighborhood shelters, new legislation, emergency shelters, RV parks, prevention efforts, and more.

Wednesday’s protest began at 7 a.m., moved to O’Farrell’s nearby satellite office, then ended back at the lake.

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

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What Else You Need To Know Today

  • As if the San Andreas Fault wasn't concerning enough, research shows that a nearby portion of it is moving much faster than scientists previously thought.
  • In the wake of an unprecedented spike of COVID-19 among L.A.'s unhoused residents, health officials have begun distributing vaccines to the tens of thousands of people who live in shelters, encampments and vehicles.
  • Democratic California Assemblymember Rob Bonta has been nominated by Gov. Gavin Newsom to be the state's next attorney general.

Before You Go … Capirotada, The Lenten Bread Pudding That Sweetened My Ma's Relationship With The United States

Capirotada made with buttermilk biscuits, cotija cheese and raisins. (Elina Shatkin/LAist)

My mother and I were together because I had asked her if we could make capirotada, a bread pudding-like dessert commonly prepared during Lent in many Mexican Catholic homes. The dish is made by frying sliced bread, soaking it in piloncillo syrup then topping it with cheese and dried fruit.

Like many Mexican kids, I grew up eating capirotada — and not just during Lent. In my house, we ate it whenever Ma had a craving. I loved it, but I also took it for granted. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized my mother's recipe was also a marriage of tradition and innovation, a fusion of her Mexican childhood with her life in the United States.

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