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Morning Brief: LA’s Slow Vaccine Rollout Is On Par With Rest Of US

A dose of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at UCI Health Center in Orange. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A.

It seems like officials’ attempt to contain the coronavirus has been one blunder after another, on the part of the city, county, state and nation. Mistakes at the highest level of government have been well-documented, and in L.A. County we’ve seen everything from conflicting stay-at-home orders to faulty tests to utter disregard for local mandates.

Now, the vaccine rollout is starting to look like yet another poorly handled event, at least so far.

Local health officials initially declined to provide the vaccine to residents ages 65 and older, despite a recommendation to do so from the state, then reversed that decision within days. But officials’ position may be beside the point; regardless of eligibility, L.A. simply doesn't have enough doses to reach that many people yet.

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Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, L.A. County’s beleaguered public health director, Barbara Ferrer, explained that the shortage of vaccines is due in part to the county’s effort to reserve their supply for second doses. Next week, for instance, L.A. will receive 143,900 new doses. Of those, 106,000 are already spoken for.

"This is what I mean by a serious supply problem," Ferrer said.

L.A.’s inability to vaccinate residents as quickly as planned is in keeping with the rest of the country. Federal officials initially hoped to reach 20 million people with a first dose before the end of last year, but only 15 million Americans have received that shot so far.

As fingers are pointed in every direction over who’s to blame for that discrepancy, President Joe Biden has revealed a plan to speed up vaccinations and slow the spread of the virus through stricter mask and quarantine requirements.

Biden called his plan a “full-scale wartime effort.”

Meanwhile, L.A. and other parts of SoCal are working to open mass vaccination sites. Dodger Stadium has been converted from offering testing to offering the vaccine, and the Long Beach Convention Center parking lot — known locally as the “Elephant Lot” — has reopened to provide innoculations. Pasadena is asking officials to do the same with the Rose Bowl.

Here’s how to keep tabs on when you’re eligible for the vaccine, and how to (attempt to) make an appointment.

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:

Millions of Californians lost work and filed for unemployment since the pandemic began. Here’s how to get the most from your benefits. (LAist)

Some of the Manson family members are still around — here’s who they are, and what they’re doing now. (LAist)

As part of our Race in L.A. series, guest contributor Esther Lira recalls the day police stormed her home, looking for one of her brothers. (LAist)

A fruit vendor from East L.A. describes how he’s carrying on after being beaten and robbed while selling his produce. (L.A. Taco)

Silver Lake’s Chuy’s Pretzels is owned by a street artist-turned-baker. (The Eastsider)

LAUSD Board member Dr. George McKenna considers what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say about America if he were alive today. (L.A. Sentinel)

Advocates for immigrant rights see hope with the Biden Administration, but want him to go further than he is. (Capital & Main)

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

A man walks past an image of the Mona Lisa amid street art covering building exteriors in the Arts District near downtown Los Angeles in 2013. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

You made it through another week! Time to … sit at home, not see anyone in person, and try to find things to do from your couch or a very safe distance.

Fortunately, we have some ideas. In this weekend’s best pandemic-approved events, you can learn about the carrier pigeons of Catalina Island, watch Mads Mikkelsen get drunk, catch screenings of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Evil Dead, tour L.A. mysteries and graffiti art sites, 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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