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Essential California: Vaccination questions and answers

Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a vaccine vial on at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center
California Gov. Gavin Newsom holds up a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles on Dec. 14.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, Jan. 13, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Many of our readers have emailed asking the same question: When can I get a coronavirus vaccine?

The answer is, unfortunately, more than a little complicated. Here’s what to know — and what questions remain — about when you are likely to be able to get a coronavirus vaccine.

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[See also: “When can I get my COVID-19 vaccine? California trying to ramp up distribution” in the Los Angeles Times]

The state is currently focused on vaccinating healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities. But on Thursday, the state announced that eligibility for prioritization would expand to a wider pool of people within the healthcare industry, followed by people in the state’s next priority group in order to prevent leftover doses from going to waste and to speed up the vaccine rollout. (Those next groups include child-care and education workers, and people 65 and older, among others. The process for how this will play out on the ground remains unclear.)

New guidance from the CDC shakes things up:

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new federal guidance recommending states begin vaccinating all adults 65 and older.

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Newsom called the CDC’s decision “an important move” on Twitter and said the state had asked its vaccine working groups to “consider broadening our priority groups to 65+ ASAP.” The state health secretary said Tuesday that a decision on the matter could come within the next 24 hours.

We now find ourselves with something of a patchwork process, broken up by county. Orange County announced Tuesday that it was opening vaccinations to any residents 65 and older. Long Beach will start vaccinating residents 75 and older beginning Saturday at appointment-only clinics. L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday that the county expects to begin offering vaccines to Angelenos 75 and older in early February. (Vaccine plans for each county can be found here.)

Vaccine distribution in California has been painfully slow

California — the nation’s most populous state — has administered more vaccine shots than nearly any other state. But when you compare the number of doses in people’s arms to the total number of doses the state has received, California ranks toward the bottom of the country.

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Matt Willis, public health officer for Marin County, told my colleagues that the state’s complicated vaccine distribution effort had been made more difficult by layers of federal, state and local rules governing the process for healthcare providers to prioritize patients and administer vaccines. The rollout has also been at least partially slowed by technical problems with a software program used by the state to coordinate vaccine distribution among a vast network of providers.

Newsom acknowledged last week that the state’s vaccine administration numbers were “not good enough” as he pledged new funding and efforts aimed at ramping up the rollout.

The state is now opening a number of large-scale vaccination sites at locations including Dodger Stadium and Disneyland. The sites will be appointment-only.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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L.A. County is approaching 1 million coronavirus cases as officials brace for a new hospital surge: It took the county nearly 11 months to top 500,000 coronavirus cases, which occurred in mid-December. At the current rate, L.A. County will crest the 1-million mark by the end of this week, doubling its colossal case count in a month. Los Angeles Times

California lifted the stay-at-home order for Greater Sacramento on Tuesday, immediately, making the region the first to emerge from the additional restrictions on businesses and activities imposed in hopes of blunting the coronavirus surge and shielding hospitals from an overwhelming influx of patients. Los Angeles Times

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L.A. STORIES

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has struck a tentative deal with civilian city employee unions to avoid layoffs and furloughs for the next six months, by postponing raises for those workers until the summer of 2022. Los Angeles Times

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Children apologize to their dying elders for spreading COVID-19 as L.A. County reels: “One of the more heartbreaking conversations that our healthcare workers share is about these last words when children apologize to their parents and grandparents for bringing COVID into their homes for getting them sick.” Los Angeles Times

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Trump’s grip on the GOP loosens as a top Republican backs impeachment: As President Trump denied responsibility for the U.S. Capitol assault that left five people dead and the FBI vowed to prosecute hundreds of his supporters who took part in the attack, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) announced she would vote for impeachment. Los Angeles Times

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — or “my Kevin,” as the president calls him — has reaped the rewards of a close relationship with Trump. But now he finds his fundraising challenged, his links to President Trump‘s “toxic and a tricky impeachment environment to navigate.” Axios

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) has a close relationship with the president.
(Greg Nash / Associated Press)

Plus, the view from McCarthy’s hometown paper: Amid calls to resign, McCarthy straddles a divided party. Bakersfield Californian

Not the best choice of words less than a week after a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol: The California Democratic Party is facing backlash after referring to the campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom as a “coup” nearly a week after the violent pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Los Angeles Times

CRIME AND COURTS

Proposition 22 faces its first legal challenge: One of the nation’s largest labor unions and several ride-hailing-app drivers in California plan to file a lawsuit with the state Supreme Court challenging Proposition 22’s constitutionality. The California law, approved by voters in November, allows gig companies to continue treating their workers as independent contractors rather than as employees. Los Angeles Times

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[See also: “Blame Home Delivery Driver Layoffs on Proposition 22" in Capital & Main]

HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Coronavirus surges up the coast: Ventura, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties are experiencing alarming spikes in cases, further heightening the level of infections in already hard-hit Southern California and triggering fresh fears about potentially overtaxing local healthcare systems. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Good luck accessing your Bitcoin millions if you forget the password to your digital wallet. Of the existing 18.5 million Bitcoin, around 20% — currently worth around $140 billion — appear to be in lost or otherwise stranded wallets. New York Times

The end of “the golden age of Silicon Valley cafeterias”? Over-the-top cafeterias have become one of the hallmarks of tech office culture. But the pandemic could permanently upend a unique attribute of the Bay Area’s food service industry. Bloomberg

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L.A. novelist Lisa See spent a decade researching “The Island of Sea Women.” She’ll join the L.A. Times Book Club in conversation on Jan. 25. Los Angeles Times

A poem to start your Wednesday: “Let Me Tell You What a Poem Brings” by Juan Felipe Herrera. Poetry Foundation

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: partly sunny, 77. San Diego: sunny, 72. San Francisco: partly sunny, 63. San Jose: partly sunny, 66. Fresno: partly sunny, 64. Sacramento: partly sunny, 64. More weather is here.

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AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory comes from Laura Cahill:

About 29 years ago, we kept our three small children home from school one day because Tommy Lasorda was going to be at our local Sam’s Club promoting his spaghetti sauce. We arrived bright and early, stood in line, met Tommy Lasorda and had our children shake hands with the legend. As we were leaving, after doing some shopping, Lasorda was walking to his car, holding a gift basket and balloons. Our children began to wave and shout, “Goodbye, Mr. Lasorda!” He stopped and called our children over and spent a few minutes talking to them and handed our children his gift basket and balloons. I will never forget my children running back to us with beaming smiles. He was the greatest!

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.


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