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Morning Brief: Vaccine Access, Rain, And Hero Pay

Covid-19 safety warnings. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s March 4.

We’ve reported a great deal on the disturbing inequity in coronavirus vaccine administration across racial and socioeconomic lines — wealthier, white Angelenos are more likely than any other group to have received at least one dose.

The reasons for that are myriad, complex and overlapping, but my colleague Jackie Fortiér reports that two of the biggest contributing factors are lack of access to the internet or to health centers offering the vaccine, and hesitancy to get a vaccine that appears to have been developed remarkably quickly.

Jackie notes that the science behind the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines — messenger RNA technology — has been studied for over a decade. But the Trump administration gave its vaccine rollout program the unfortunate name “Operation Warp Speed,” leading many to believe that researchers cut corners.

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"It created the perception that boom, let's just get the drug to market no matter what," said Rhonda Smith, executive director of the California Black Health Network.

But as Jerry Abraham, Kedren Health’s director of vaccine programs, told LAist in early February, the problem isn’t just mistrust or a cynical perception.

“What is most frustrating is, you may have heard me say, ‘What vaccine? We weren’t even offered a vaccine,” he said. “So misinterpreting lack of access for hesitancy was, to me, very offensive, because the Black and brown health care workers that came [to vaccine sites], came with their sleeves rolled up, and they were ready for a vaccination.”

As of Feb. 20, 47.8% of white Angelenos over the age of 65 had received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 28.9% of Black Angelenos over the age of 65. It’s the continuation of a trend that’s been going on all along; on Feb. 8, 25.4% of white Angelenos had received at least one dose, compared to just 3.5% of Black Angelenos.

At that time, L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer called the discrepancy a “glaring inadequacy.”

And unequal vaccine distribution is a continuation of another trend: The ways in which COVID-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color since its onset.

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Civil rights leaders are asking LAPD to provide more support to Asian American people who are the targets of violence and harassment.
  • With 67% of the vote in, Sydney Kamlager was more than 50 points ahead of the second-place finisher for the vacant state Senate seat representing California's 30th District.
  • Wednesday marked 30 years since Rodney King was assaulted by four LAPD officers, which led to unrest the following year that has had a lasting impact on L.A.
  • As a low-pressure system moved through SoCal, we saw some light rain.
  • Grocery workers in L.A. will receive a temporary $5 per hour pay raise.
  • A fire in an L.A. Department of Water and Power station caused 39,000 Angelenos to lose power.
  • A new campaign by the civil rights organization Equality California aims to get COVID-19 vaccine information to LGBTQ Angelenos.

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Before You Go … Everybody Loves The Sunshine: Don’t Erase The Black Angelenos Who Helped Shape The City

(Photo illustration by Chava Sanchez)

Essayist Lynell George writes:

“When you're from Los Angeles and far from home, it is never unusual to spot a hint of the familiar in some on-screen backdrop: a car commercial, a music video, a glammed-up police procedural. But when you hail specifically from "Black Los Angeles" — finding your personal cross streets swirl up on television, especially from afar, prompts a unique set of emotions.

In late March 2019, I was time zones away from both those L.A.s, jammed into a hole-in-the-wall blues lounge in New Orleans. Waiting for change, I glanced at a soundless news report on the above-the-bar flatscreen. Something, though, held my vision. I couldn't look away.”

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