Essential California: State runs low on vaccine, as Biden gets to work

Dr. Anthony Fauci fields media questions at the White House on Thursday.
(Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Jan. 22, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has returned to the White House.

After being largely sidelined during the final months of the Trump administration, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases was back in the White House Briefing Room on Thursday, delivering an update on the coronavirus and answering questions from reporters. The briefing came shortly after Fauci met with President Biden. Fauci also stood by the president’s side as Biden signed a number of executive orders on the pandemic.

In his first full day in office Thursday, President Biden moved swiftly to try to assert control over the nation’s pandemic response.


As my D.C. colleague Chris Megerian reports, Biden signed 10 executive orders, including directives to boost the production of vaccines, ensure they reach hard-hit communities and set up more locations where Americans can receive shots. But, as the president warned, things will probably continue to get worse before they get better.

[Read the story: “Biden immediately turns to boosting federal COVID-19 response” in the Los Angeles Times]

As Chris reports, Fauci said that he hopes to see between 70% and 85% of Americans vaccinated by summer’s end. If that effort is successful, Fauci said, he believes the country “will be approaching a degree of normality” by the time we get to the fall.

[Read the story: “California is running critically low on COVID-19 vaccines as people vie for shots” in the Los Angeles Times]

Here in California, the state is running critically low in COVID-19 vaccine doses, as people over 65 struggle to secure limited appointments. As my colleagues report, county officials say they have most of the resources — large vaccine centers and personnel to run them — but lack the doses they need.

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


Newsom promised 1 million COVID-19 vaccinations. California can’t tell if he hit his goal. Gov. Gavin Newsom urged Californians to “hold me accountable” to a goal of administering 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in 10 days, but, nearly two weeks later, data collection problems have left state officials unable to offer clear evidence of success or failure. Los Angeles Times

The chance that a person hospitalized for COVID-19 will die in Los Angeles County has doubled in recent months. That’s according to an analysis released Wednesday by the county’s Department of Health Services, which found that the chance someone will die from the disease while hospitalized increased from about 1 in 8 in September and October to roughly 1 in 4 since early November. Los Angeles Times

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Your next takeout meal awaits in Chinatown: From Nashville hot chicken sandwiches that are worth the wait on your delivery app to groundbreaking Filipino fare, our food critics describe some of the best restaurants in the neighborhood. Los Angeles Times

Veggie and chili crunch pancit from Lasa.
The “Quarantine Kitchen” menu at Lasa is “an extraordinary distillation” of the Filipino-Californian cooking for which brothers Chad and Chase Valencia are known at their Chinatown restaurant.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to delay Trump’s impeachment trial to February: Former President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial is unlikely to get started for days if not weeks as Republicans try to give Trump time to put together a legal team to defend himself against a charge of inciting an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. Los Angeles Times


More than 50 wineries and restaurants across Napa and Sonoma counties are suing to overturn a state ban on in-person dining, saying their constitutional rights are being trampled as they slip into financial ruin. Los Angeles Times

California courts are bracing for eviction cases to double over the next year as pandemic-related financial woes deepen for thousands of renters across the state. Los Angeles Times


A coronavirus variant found in Denmark is increasingly common in California: A strain of coronavirus first identified in Denmark is becoming increasingly common in hospitals and jails in Northern California and the Bay Area, according to the state’s Department of Public Health. Los Angeles Times

Orange County’s second large-scale COVID-19 vaccination site will open in Aliso Viejo on Saturday as officials continue their efforts to ramp up inoculations, despite ongoing supply issues. Los Angeles Times

A “conga line of storm systems” is on its way to the Bay Area. It’s an encouraging development after months of mostly dry weather. Mercury News


A Santa Maria man and his 10-year-old terrier mix have become TikTok stars. Their video, which has more than 7 million views, shows the terrier wagging his tail as he rides a coin-operated horse outside a carniceria. Santa Maria Times

Mark Zuckerberg punts a decision on banning Trump from Facebook to an outside panel: “Facebook’s Oversight Board will decide whether to make former President Donald Trump’s ban permanent, the company said Thursday, in an unprecedented move that will take decision-making power away from CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives.” San Francisco Chronicle

A poem to to start your Friday: “How to Regain Your Soul” by William Stafford. The Writer’s Almanac

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Los Angeles: 50-50 chance of rain, 61. San Diego: partly sunny, 63. San Francisco: rain, 54. San Jose: rain, 54. Fresno: probably rain, 55. Sacramento: rain, 52.


Today’s California memory comes from Jesse Damazo:

I was in Beijing when my mom texted me: A wildfire had devoured my hometown of Paradise, Calif. (It was in the Chinese news the next day.) My parents and grandparents lost everything, not only valuables but memories: World War II love letters and photographs, an antique coin collection, my Mom’s wedding ring and my childhood home. My grandfather, displaced but irrepressible, started a charity drive for victims of wildfire. A runner and marathoner into his 70s, he walks every day to raise funds for the Red Cross. He’s raised five times his goal! He just turned 98.

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.