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California's COVID-19 Tier System Ends June 15. Will LA's Music Venues Reopen?

Photo courtesy Viper Room

Governor Newsom announced yesterday that the entire state will exit the color-coded COVID-19 tier system on June 15th. So what does that mean for L.A. music venues?

Punk bar The Sardine in San Pedro is rapidly booking local bands for June, but they're staying away from touring groups for now, in case reopening falls through.

Sardine co-owner Todd Congelliere says he's going to remain cautious:

"This to us is even early, and we've been waiting for this for a long time. We want to keep the same safety standards. I mean anything could happen again, even after everyone gets vaccinated."

In Hollywood at the Viper Room, general manager Tommy Black says his phone has been blowing up since yesterday. The venue doesn't have a grand reopening booked yet, but Black says when they do, he's glad it won't have to be a parking lot show:

"It's all gonna be inside and we're excited about it. That's what we're set up for, and that's the best way to have an intimate show at the Viper Room."

Black told us that the Viper Room will also be live streaming some concerts.

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The LA City Council Wants More LAPD Mental Health Crisis Teams

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The L.A. City Council wants to explore what it would cost to expand the LAPD’s mental health crisis teams. The council voted today to direct the police department to report back on what it would take.

The LAPD’s Mental Evaluation Unit -- or MEU -- sends out teams of one officer and one clinician from the Department of Mental Health when people are experiencing a psychiatric crisis.

The goal is to defuse situations that could otherwise turn violent, and get the individual treatment instead of sending them to jail.

The problem is, there aren’t enough of these units to respond to all the mental health crisis calls they get.

In 2019, the MEU was only able to respond to about 40% of roughly 20,000 calls.

And the number of these special teams has gone down over the last five years, from 17 to just 12.

“If we were to have more personnel, that would of course allow us to get to more calls,” Lt. Kelly Muniz, the officer in charge of the MEU, told the Police Commission last month.

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What Not To Do Before Your COVID-19 Shot

(Source photo: Waldemar Brandt/Unsplash | Image treatment: Lisa Brenner/LAist)

On April 15, all Californians 16 and older can book appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Part of preparing is knowing what to do, and part of preparing is knowing what not to do.

Below are a few things to keep in mind as you get ready. See our Vaccine Action Plan for a comprehensive checklist of things to consider before and after your appointment, and for step-by-step resources during each phase of the process.


Don’t Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

  • If possible, skip over-the-counter pain relievers before you get the vaccine. Yale University researchers say the process that blocks pain may also reduce your body’s ability to create antibodies. If you typically take over-the-counter pain medication, talk to your doctor.
  • Acetaminophen and ibuprofen should be OK to take after your appointment, according to a UC Irvine study.

Don’t Schedule Other Vaccines Within Two Weeks

Don’t Get Dermal Fillers Around The Same Time

  • The CDC doesn’t specifically say to avoid these, but it has advised that “infrequently, people who have received dermal fillers might experience swelling at or near the site of filler injection (usually face or lips).”
  • You can still get vaccinated if you have a history of dermal fillers, provided there are “no contraindications or precautions for vaccination,” according to the CDC's guidance.

There's a lot more to know, and it's OK if you don't know it yet. Let us help you make a plan. We have a guide for that.


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Tiger Woods Was Driving Nearly Twice The Speed Limit When He Crashed, But Wasn’t Driving Recklessly, LASD Says

A tow truck recovers the vehicle driven by golfer Tiger Woods in Rancho Palos Verdes on Feb. 23, 2021, after a rollover crash. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Tiger Woods was driving between 84 and 87 miles per hour on a curved stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard with a posted speed limit of 45 mph when he lost control of his car, struck the median and a sign, crossed into the opposite lanes, jumped the curb, hit a tree, went airborne and rolled before crashing down on the hillside.

That’s according to officials from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who on Wednesday revealed the results of their investigation into the Feb. 23 single-car collision in Rolling Hills Estates near Rancho Palos Verdes. Woods, 45, was seriously injured and underwent multiple surgeries on his legs.

Woods’ car had a data recorder — basically a black box — which helped investigators piece together how fast he was driving right before the crash, and the multiple points of impact.

This map graphic from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department shows the path and points of impact of Tiger Woods' crash on Hawthorne Boulevard on Feb. 23, 2021. (Courtesy LASD)

In this case, Woods was driving dangerously fast — and speed and safe turns don’t mix. But because no one witnessed the crash, no one else was hurt and deputies did not find any evidence of impairment, Woods will not be charged or be given a speeding ticket.

In a media briefing livestreamed this morning, Sheriff Alex Villanueva addressed social media speculation that Woods received “preferential treatment” and wasn’t scrutinized by the sheriff's department the way most drivers would be.

“There [were] no signs of impairment. Our primary concern, obviously, at the scene of the collision was his safety, and this is where you have to switch gears and make sure the person can survive and receives the medical care they need … without the signs of impairment, we don't get to the point where we can actually author a search warrant and develop the probable cause to get.”

Here’s something to chew on: from a legal perspective, driving nearly double the posted speed limit is not, by itself, considered reckless driving. LASD Captain James Powers of the Lomita Sheriff’s Station explained it this way:

“You have to have multiple violations considered in conjunction with one another, like multiple unsafe lane changes, passing vehicles in an unsafe manner — kind of like road rage stuff — and that did not exist here. Therefore reckless driving was not appropriate.”

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy carries a broken "Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates" sign struck by Tiger Woods when he crashed in Rolling Hills Estates near Rancho Palos Verdes. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The outcomes of most crash investigations are not released publicly, but given the celebrity status of the driver, the public got a rare glimpse into how crashes are investigated and how drivers are held accountable (or not). While some might look at this case and see preferential treatment, in reality, vehicle drivers broadly benefit from legal privilege not present for other road users.

Investigators do not automatically file search warrants for phone records or test drivers for drugs and alcohol. When a driver severely injures or kills someone and there’s no other witnesses or video of the crash, it’s often the driver’s word against no one else’s.

And the common use of “accident” by law enforcement and news media (uttered several times in today’s briefing) to describe crashes has a loaded history. The word was part of a campaign by early automakers to shift blame away from drivers and paint traffic injuries and deaths as unavoidable.

Most drivers don’t face felony charges over crashes — even when they injure or kill another person. That’s because of the high bar investigators and prosecutors use to establish negligence, which determines fault and accountability.

To learn more about crash investigations, driver accountability, speeding and how we talk about traffic violence, explore my reporting here:

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Morning Brief: Fully Reopening California, Remembering A Beloved Tongva Elder, And Where To Find Thousand Layer Pancakes

Masked shoppers walk through Chinatown. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Good morning, L.A. It’s April 7.

In a press conference yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he expects the state to eliminate the color-coded tier system and “start to open up as business as usual” on June 15.

A key metric in the decision is the 20 million total vaccine doses that have already been administered in California.

State officials have used the color-coded tier system to reopen gradually since August of 2020. Introduced as part of officials’ Blueprint for a Safer Economy. the system uses four tiers — purple, red, orange and yellow — to determine which businesses and public spaces can open, and at what capacity.

L.A. moved from the most restrictive purple tier to the second-most restrictive red tier in mid-March, and from the red tier to the less restrictive orange tier this week.

By the end of April, Newsom anticipates that over 30 million people will have received at least one dose of the vaccine. By June 15, officials believe that every Californian who wants a vaccine will have had the opportunity to get not just one, but both doses.

“This is a big day,” Newsom said. “We are seeing bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

Included in the state’s plan to return to “business as usual” is the expectation that all schools in the state will fully reopen by mid-June, including colleges and K-12 classrooms. Currently, LAUSD plans to begin reopening classrooms over the course of the month of April, joining the majority of other districts in the county.

Newsom was clear in yesterday's announcement that masks will still be required on June 15 and beyond, and that the state is not completely out of the woods.

“It is incumbent upon all of us not to announce, ‘mission accomplished,’ not to put down our guard, but to continue that vigilance that got us where we are today,” he said.

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

Before You Go … The Thousand Layer Pancake Of Your Dreams

Vivian Ku is the chef and restauranteur behind Joy in Highland Park and Pine and Crane in Silver Lake. (Photo by Emily Henderson/ LAist)

L.A. is a city that loves its street food. Tostadas de ceviche. Bacon-wrapped elote dogs. Tijuana-style tacos. And thousand layer pancakes.

A popular snack in Taiwan, thousand layer pancakes, or cong zhua bing, are also the specialty at Highland Park’s Joy. The restaurant recently reopened for service seven days a week, and brought back its full menu.

Owner Vivian Ku of Silver Lake's Pine and Crane describes Taiwanese food as a blend of influences from Japan, China and groups indigenous to the nearly 14,000-square-mile island. Her family's roots reflect that mix.

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