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Morning Brief: Vaccine Expansion, The Lasting Effects Of COVID-19, And The Story Of Ramon ‘Chunky’ Sanchez

People walk past a public art installation by Wrdsmith, @_ShowzArt_ and @Willow.inthe.ether aimed at turning boarded up shopfronts into works of art in Los Angeles on April 28, 2020. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 26.

Starting next month, new tiers of L.A. County residents will become eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

On March 1, teachers, school staff, child care workers, and more emergency service workers can sign up for their first doses. And on March 15, appointments will open up for anyone ages 16-64 with a qualifying underlying health condition, including cancer, Down syndrome and pregnancy.

Along with that advancement comes the necessity of increasing the number of vaccinations received here, but low supply has been dogging distribution in L.A. since the beginning of the rollout.

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At first, it wasn’t entirely clear why it was so difficult for eligible individuals to make appointments for first doses. But as my colleagues Emily Guerin and Jackie Fortiér explained in mid-January, county health officials earmarked a certain number of vaccines for second doses — and they were receiving so few from the feds that only a scant amount were available for first-timers.

The problem persisted early this month, when county vaccination sites temporarily resorted to offering only second doses. City sites later followed suit.

However, earlier this week, Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that California’s supply will be steadily increasing, by about 100,000 doses per week. New supersites are also opening, all as part of President Biden’s ambitious goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days.

L.A. city and county officials are gearing up by extending the hours of mobile vaccination clinics, and even offering “midnight clinics,” in which doses that would otherwise go to waste are administered. (According to a county health official, midnight clinics are rare.)

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer has said that as more people become eligible, she expects that it will become more difficult to get a vaccine through March, but she anticipates things will be moving faster by April.

That’s when Pfizer and Moderna will have ramped up production of their vaccines, and a third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will hopefully be approved.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

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Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, here’s what you may have missed:

A new bill would require California to contract with more Black-owned businesses. (L.A. Watts Times)

In the 1970s, a trans woman from L.A. almost single-handedly revolutionized the car industry. A new documentary tells her story. (LAist)

Black journalists and editors in L.A. are examining the question of equity in local newsrooms. (L.A. Sentinel)

An anti-gentrification group in Little Tokyo is working to keep interlopers at bay. (L.A. Taco)

The failures of California’s Employment Development Department have left many residents in dire financial straits. (LAist)

A plan to expand the 605 and 5 Freeways would bulldoze hundreds of homes in Downey. (StreetsBlog L.A.)

If passed, President Biden’s immigration plan would create an eight-year path to citizenship. (LAist)

Shops and condos are starting to go up around SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. (Urbanize L.A.)

Long Beach has become the epicenter of Southern California’s (long-awaited) bread renaissance. (LAist)

Before You Go … Here’s What To Do This Weekend

Grammy-nominated Amythyst Kiah performs a set at the Skirball Cultural Center's virtual concert series. (Anna Hedges)

They say that March comes in like a lion, so while you wait for that fearsome feline to show up, here are some activities to keep you busy.

Head to the drive-in for a screening of Coming to America, just in time for the upcoming sequel, Coming 2 America. Learn about the music and life of Ramon "Chunky" Sanchez. Catch some laughs — and maybe some feels — at a nonbinary, interactive comedy show. Listen to a concert by Joachim Cooder and Amythyst Kiah. Explore Bob Baker's Los Angeles. Tune in for the opening of Historic Belmar Park in Santa Monica. And more.

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter,Facebook and Instagram.

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