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Morning Brief: COVID-19 Variants Are Spreading, But Safety Protocols Remain The Same

(Courtesy LAC+USC Medical Center)
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Good morning, L.A.

On Sunday, public health officials in L.A. reported the second local case of a COVID-19 variant which was first discovered in the U.K.

The first case of the variant was found in Southern California at the end of December, and in L.A. County, the first case was confirmed on Jan. 16.

At this point, there’s a lot that researchers don’t know about faster-spreading variants such as the U.K. strain and others emerging from Brazil, South Africa and even Southern California.

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The vaccines that are now available to some members of the public appear to protect against these new strains, but it’s not clear how well they protect, or whether they’ll protect against other mutations that will inevitably develop.

And in the meantime, reports California Healthline’s Anna Maria Barry-Jester, “a lot of damage can be done in the time it will take to roll out the current vaccine.”

In other words, Americans haven’t been so great about adhering to coronavirus safety measures such as wearing masks, socially distancing and gathering outdoors. A faster spreading COVID-19 variant could make the existing danger we’ve brought upon ourselves that much riskier.

And yet, the fact remains that there is no other answer to curbing the spread than the answers we already have.

"It's very unsexy what the solutions are," said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a physician and professor at the University of California-San Francisco. "But we need everyone to do them."

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go … A Chicana's Ongoing Journey To Leave White Supremacy Behind

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Sam Varela in New York in 2014 photographed by Mindy Tucker, who chronicles NYC's comedy scene. (Photo by Mindy Tucker)

As a light-skinned Latina in the comedy-entertainment industry, LAist contributor Samantha Varela reflects on the role that entrenched white supremacy, and "passing" as white, have played in her career.

“I was aware early on that my skin color allowed me access to jobs and worlds that I didn't see Black and Brown folx occupying,” she writes, “and I often felt like I ‘made the cut’ due to my white skin.”

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