Essential California: The anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death

Fans gather near a memorial for Kobe Bryant.
Fans gather near a memorial for Kobe Bryant at Staples Center in Los Angeles last year.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Jan. 25, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected on Monday to lift regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders across California, a change that could allow restaurants and gyms in many counties to reopen outdoor dining and services. Sources briefed on the plan by the governor’s office told my colleagues that all counties will return to the colored tier system that assigns local risk levels based on case numbers and rates of positive test results for COVID-19 infections.

It’s far from clear whether the decision will lead to easing the rules in Los Angeles County, but we’ll have a full explanation of the governor’s forthcoming announcement and what it means for Californians in tomorrow’s newsletter.

Also Monday: The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to deliver an article of impeachment against former President Trump to the Senate. The Senate impeachment trial will start no sooner than Feb. 9 to allow time for the House and the former president to prepare, under a framework announced Friday.


As my D.C. colleague Laura King reports, Republican senators staked out opposing views Sunday on the wisdom of holding an impeachment trial for Trump, with Marco Rubio declaring the idea “stupid” and Mitt Romney asserting “truth and justice” demanded that the chamber pass judgment on whether Trump incited a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol.

Tuesday is the first anniversary of the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. Bryant and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash in the hills above Calabasas. Baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa; mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester; Mamba Academy basketball coach Christina Mauser; and pilot Ara Zobayan also perished in the crash.

The Sundance Film Festival, streaming edition: A stripped-down and largely virtual version of the annual film festival opens on Thursday.

[See also: “The Sundance Film Festival had to be totally reimagined. Tabitha Jackson met the challenge” in the Los Angeles Times]

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

There is, officially speaking, no such thing as a standby line for COVID-19 vaccinations in Los Angeles County. But some clinics have soon-to-expire doses left over at the end of the day or during an early-afternoon lull, and word has quickly spread about this potential back door to vaccine access. Some who flock to the sites spend whole days waiting in the hope of catching a lucky break. Los Angeles Times


The helicopter crash that killed Bryant and daughter Gianna placed a new and urgent focus on what many had long considered significant flaws in federal aviation regulation. But a push for safety measures has stalled in Congress amid the COVID-19 pandemic and industry opposition. Los Angeles Times

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Winter weather continues: Another storm — this one wetter and colder — is expected Tuesday night into Thursday. Los Angeles Times

In a stab at equity, an L.A. hospital vaccinates older relatives of housekeeping staff: The inclusion of elderly relatives of hospital housekeepers, cafeteria and warehouse workers came amid a chaotic push across the county and state to quickly get the vaccine to at-risk groups to stem the relentless rise of COVID infections. Los Angeles Times

A woman in scrubs walking with her elderly parents.
Maria Saravia, center, an Environmental Services Worker at Keck Hospital of USC, walks with her parents Sara, 81, and Juan Saravia, 83, before her parents receive a COVID-19 vaccine at Keck.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

In Los Angeles, COVID-19 ravages overcrowded homes: “Perhaps nowhere else in America can the unequal toll of the virus be felt more dramatically. Suburban sprawl and freeways demarcate the neighborhoods of the haves and the have-nots.” New York Times


Inside CBS’ fraught investigation into allegations of racism and misogyny: An L.A. Times review of court filings, CBS’ internal communications and interviews found that many were troubled by the outcome of the outside investigation into the TV giant and questioned the company’s commitment to cleaning up its culture. Los Angeles Times

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Xavier Becerra, President Biden’s nominee to be the nation’s top health official, on Sunday likened the U.S. spread of COVID-19 to a “plane in a nose dive” as the new administration vowed to rapidly ramp up vaccinations against a virus that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, nearly one-tenth of them in California. Becerra is California’s attorney general. Los Angeles Times

The campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom has ties to far-right movements, including QAnon and virus skeptics. A Times investigation found that recall campaign leaders, seeking to capitalize on the darkening public mood, allied with radical and extreme elements early on to help collect signatures. Los Angeles Times


More reporting on Vallejo’s scandal-ridden police force: “A Vallejo police lieutenant has a long history of excessive force allegations in a department that is under investigation by the California Department of Justice — and he continues to rise in the ranks. The Appeal


Bay Area ICU availability is nearly double Sacramento’s. Why is it still locked down while Sacramento is not? San Francisco Chronicle



The women who called out Burger Records: In July, the Southern California indie label shut down after female fans and musicians accused some of its bands of sexual misconduct. Los Angeles Times

California exodus, the sequel: Like quite a few others as of late, this California man picked up and moved to Texas. But the weather sucked, he didn’t like the politics and he grew tired of what he described as a “monoculture that doesn’t seem to be aware of its own blandness.” The man has since returned to California. Houston Chronicle

Sigrid Stokes’ mother Kristine Berg Mueller volunteered in hospitals as a young teen during the Spanish flu pandemic. More than a century later, Mueller’s daughter — a nurse in her 70s — wears her mother’s jewelry while administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Monterey County Weekly

A poem to to start your week: “The Lovers” by Timothy Liu. Poetry Foundation

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Los Angeles: sunny, 55. San Diego: thunderstorms, 54. San Francisco: lots of wind, 52. San Jose: more wind, 54. Fresno: might rain, 48. Sacramento: sunny, 55. More weather is here.



This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra (Jan. 26, 1958), former L.A. Kings star Wayne Gretzky (Jan. 26, 1961), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Jan. 26, 1965), Rep. Linda Sánchez (Jan. 28, 1969), Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren (Jan. 28, 1954) and Oprah Winfrey (Jan. 29, 1954).

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.