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Morning Brief: With COVID-19 Cases On The Rise, Here’s How To Approach The Summer

Federal health officials authorized Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children under 5 over the weekend.
(Joseph Prezioso/Getty Images
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Wednesday, June 22.

It’s been a full day since Queen Bey ordered us to be outside this summer (“...with the mask outside just in case you forgot how we act outside”) with her new single Break My Soul. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve blasted that house jam in my car in the past few hours. Such a great way to kick off the season. BUT before you and I cut a rug on the dance floor, we have to talk about our long-time menace: COVID. 

Positive cases are fluctuating day-to-day but the numbers are trending up and, more concerning, hospitalizations are increasing. According to a story from my colleague Jackie Fortiér last week, the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 topped 600 two days in a row. It's been steadily ticking up this week. If cases and hospitalizations continue to climb at the same pace, we’ll enter what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has labeled the ‘high’ virus activity category by the end of the month, or in early July. If we stay in this category for two consecutive weeks, we’ll have a public indoor mask mandate once again.

Yes, I know you’re tired of all this. But there is some good news. Children as young as 6 months can now get the COVID-19 vaccination in L.A. County, which means more protection for all of us. The other upside: though a lot of people are testing positive, most cases have been mild.

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Given all this, how should we approach the summer with COVID still hanging around our necks?

I talked to Andrew Noymer, an epidemiologist and a professor at University of California, Irvine. He says, first and foremost, COVID will always be with us. We’re just going to have to cope with it. The good thing is COVID is becoming less deadly even if it’s becoming more transmissible. “When COVID is always with us, you get what we have now, which is waves,” he says. “Endemicitydoesn’t mean COVID has vanished or has become diminished.”

This summer, he says, the wave will be modest. “That’s because summer is kind of a headwind for the virus,” Noymer says. “School is out. People spend more time outdoors rather than indoors. Temperature and humidity conditions are less propitious for the virus.” 

Still, he says, be cautious.

Even though COVID is less deadly than it used to be, there is something that concerns him: Long COVID. “We still don’t really understand this mysterious portfolio of symptoms that are known as Long COVID. That’s a huge big deal,” he says. “That mild case of COVID that you thought was not that big a deal… when it's followed by months of headaches, just as an example, that can be a big deal.”

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Noymer says he still wears a mask. He encourages other people to wear masks. He recommends senior citizens 65 and up to get two boosters on top of their two original shots. For those 50 and up, he wouldn’t necessarily recommend it if they are otherwise in good health. But for most people, a single booster is a good thing.

With all this said, I know I’m keeping my mask on indoors. I am still going to go have some fun, but I definitely don’t want to risk getting COVID.

CORRECTION: In yesterday’s newsletter, we stated that “abortion services will increase almost 3,000%”. The percentage actually refers to the number of women whose nearest provider of abortion services would be California would increase almost 3,000%. And, to be clear, when we say that “All eyes are on the Supreme Court this week and next,” we are talking about the United States Supreme Court. 

As always, I hope you stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below the fold.

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What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go...Skate Hunnies Creates a Connected Community on Wheels

A diverse group of people in roller skates are stretched out on a lawn with palm trees behind them
LA Skate Hunnies founder, Jennifer Yonda (on the left) created the group out of the isolation of the pandemic.
(Courtesy Jennifer Yonda)

If you’ve seen a large group of 50 or so skaters rolling through roads, trails and boardwalks around L.A. it's likely Jennifer Yonda and her crew of Skate Hunnies. As LAist’s Arantza Peña Popo reports loneliness and isolation during the pandemic got this group together and it all started with a Facebook post to skate at Santa Monica.

“So people, more and more people started coming through the pandemic, I think, as a way to just have relief from their day to day and just kind of like get out of the COVID bubble,” Yonda said. 

In the vast, car-centric city of L.A., it can be hard to get connected with people. Add the pandemic that upended life for everyone to the equation and it’s isolation overload.

That’s why this group is so important. “ Now I have so many friends that I can go skating with and just feel very safe around,” Yonda said. “And I'm really grateful for that part of the journey.”

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