Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: Vaccination efforts grow more urgent

A worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine
A worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine during a clinic held at the Long Beach City College, Pacific Coast Campus on July 6
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, July 17.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week:

Vaccination efforts grow more urgent. California has tried prizes and game-show-style events. But 41% of Californians of all ages have yet to be inoculated and there is growing belief in some public health circles that more aggressive tactics are needed.

Emmy nominations are in. There were stars. There were snubs. But mostly, this year’s Emmy voters praised a list of shows that went down like one giant bowl of mac and cheese.

How will a post-Garcetti L.A. look? As Mayor Eric Garcetti prepares for a possible role with the Biden administration, Angelenos must again look to the future and consider a new mayor whose agenda will be more urgent and complicated than ever before.

Hospital standards in flux. A magnitude 6.0 earthquake last week has drawn attention to a proposal circulating in the state Capitol that would weaken seismic standards at hospitals amid an effort to delay legally required upgrades.

Illegal pot farms in the desert. The hot, dry, unforgiving climate of California’s newest illegal growing haven has attracted more than a thousand marijuana plantations — as well as violence, fear and ecological destruction.

Why the delay? There are growing questions about why it took so long to alert the public to a massive sewage spill into Santa Monica Bay — and whether officials handled the crisis properly.

More money is on the way. Another round of the Golden State Stimulus is set to be distributed. State leaders have approved a $100-billion plan to spur the recovery. Find out if you qualify.

Watchdog failures. While collecting a salary as a watchdog for the public, Tom Layton spent work hours advancing the interests and political connections of a lawyer with a long record of misconduct complaints: the now-disgraced trial attorney Tom Girardi, emails obtained by the Los Angeles Times show.


L.A. County will require masks indoors. Just a month ago, Los Angeles County and the rest of California celebrated a long-awaited reopening. Now, the coronavirus is resurgent (mainly due to the Delta variant) and starting Saturday night, residents will again be required to wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of their vaccination status.

How the California Medical Board keeps negligent doctors in business. The Times uncovered a pattern of lenient discipline imposed by the board, which has long battled allegations by patients, consumer advocates and others that it goes easy on negligent doctors and fails to protect patients.

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1. The very peculiar society tucked away in a teeny NorCal town. San Francisco Chronicle

2. The rise, fall and uncertain future of Desert Center. Desert Sun

3. Death Valley hits 130 degrees as heat wave sweeps the West. The New York Times


4. Botched surgeries and death: How the California Medical Board keeps negligent doctors in business. Los Angeles Times

5. Video shows scary behavior of California’s raging Beckwourth fire. San Francisco Chronicle

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Juicy Couture Cannabis. In the 1990s and 2000s, Juicy Couture leveraged a love of velour track pants into a celebrity-embraced, L.A.-defining global lifestyle brand. So where does one go after shaping Southern California style? Cofounder Gela Nash-Taylor and her 32-year-old son are turning to another popular-in-L.A. industry: marijuana. And yes, there’s matching loungewear.

Quantifying greatness. Katie Ledecky is the world’s most dominant freestyle swimmer as she heads to the Tokyo Olympics. What fuels her talent — genetics? An iron will? Nature versus nurture? It’s not an easy question to answer.

The ending of a riddle in the California desert? Some archaeologists came to believe that a site along Interstate 15 east of Barstow was an ancient workshop for manufacturing tools as old as 200,000 years. But pending permits and approvals, the Bureau of Land Management next year will fill all but five of the primary excavation pits with dirt and polyurethane foam in the central Mojave Desert location.


Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Seth Liss, Laura Blasey and Daric L. Cottingham. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to