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Today’s Headlines: Looking for a shot of confidence

A nurse gives a shot to the shoulder of a person.
A nurse administers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London on Tuesday.
(Frank Augstein / Associated Press)

As a COVID-19 vaccine is on the verge of becoming available, a new challenge emerges: persuading people to get it.

TOP STORIES

Looking for a Shot of Confidence

The first COVID-19 vaccine expected to reach Americans — manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer — is under review by the Food and Drug Administration and is likely to receive regulatory approval this week. As soon as this weekend, the drugmaker plans to begin shipping doses across the country so states can begin implementing their immunization plans. L.A. County could get 84,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses by next week. And in Britain, vaccinations are already underway.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has warned that the pandemic will continue to disrupt lives unless the “overwhelming majority” of Americans get vaccinated. While the process of creating vaccines has happened with extraordinary speed, he said, it has not been “at the expense of safety and scientific integrity.”

But one big question in the U.S. remains: How many people will take a COVID-19 vaccine?

Public health leaders say an all-out national effort will be necessary to persuade people — including a majority of Republicans, according to polls — to sign up and get shots when they become more widely available, most likely in the spring. Former presidents including Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have publicly committed to taking a vaccine, though President Trump has not.

The question might prove especially pivotal for groups that have seen the highest casualty rates from COVID-19, including Latino and Black people.

In California, Latino residents make up about 40% of the state’s population but represent 58% of its COVID-19 cases and 48% of its deaths from the virus. About half of the state’s Latino population said they would probably or definitely take a COVID-19 vaccine, according to an October survey. Fewer than 30% of Black people said the same, given a lack of trust in the healthcare system.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Some California counties on Tuesday saw intensive care units hit full capacity, and others were getting close to that level as COVID-19 cases continued to surge.

— California coronavirus cases again hit a new daily high. “This is the start of the Thanksgiving bump,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

President-elect Joe Biden called for urgent action on the COVID-19 pandemic as he introduced his healthcare team.

— A judge has limited L.A. County’s outdoor dining ban to three weeks, even as a state order will keep the restrictions in place past Christmas.

A Slippery Slope?

The tradition of civilian control of the military in the U.S. is reflected in the Constitution and rooted in Colonial Americans’ revolt against Britain.

But now, for the second time in four years, a former career military officer is up to lead the Pentagon, and that is not sitting well with lawmakers from both major parties, including several top Democrats on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

Biden’s pick, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, would be the first Black Defense secretary if confirmed by the Senate. But he would require a waiver from Congress to be allowed to take the job, and after having given one for Trump’s first Defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, some senators are wary of granting another.

Though the threat to Austin’s chances is unclear, Biden’s selection did suggest an early misstep after having campaigned on a promise to restore norms Trump disregarded and to respect traditions.

More Politics

— Without comment or dissent, the Supreme Court turned away the first election appeal from Trump supporters to reach the high court, a claim by several Pennsylvania Republicans who said the state’s election results should not be certified. It may be the last appeal too.

— A federal judge dismissed the criminal case against former Trump administration national security advisor Michael Flynn but pointedly noted that a pardon Flynn received from the president last month does not mean that he is innocent.

A Dream Denied

Hayley Hodson came to Stanford as the country’s top volleyball recruit and an Olympic hopeful from Newport Beach.

Instead of pursuing that Olympic dream, she retired from the sport with a diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome, the result of what the family would claim were brain injuries suffered after being hit in the head with volleyballs near the end of her freshman season.

Hodson filed a lawsuit in 2018 against Stanford and the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. for failing to provide proper medical care for those injuries, allegations the school and the NCAA deny.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” premiered — and it has been shown on TV every year since. But bringing it to the screen wasn’t easy.

First, producer Lee Mendelson had to sell “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz on the idea. Schulz, who was publicity-shy, had turned down many other offers of TV shows before. As recounted in a 2015 Times article on the show’s 50th anniversary, a Mendelson documentary about Willie Mays, the baseball great whom Schulz idolized, helped change his mind.

After completing the show, Mendelson and others began to have their doubts. “We just thought it was a little slow, and it was certainly not a traditional Christmas show,” he said.

Then, the week before its premiere, it was screened in New York for two CBS executives, who gave it an icy reception. One told Mendelson: “Well, you gave it a good try.”

A scene from "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
Charlie Brown and Linus in a scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
(1965 United Feature Syndicate Inc. / ABC / Associated Press)

CALIFORNIA

— The L.A. City Council made its first move toward eliminating hundreds of jobs at the Police Department and other city agencies, while stopping short of a more sweeping plan that would have targeted nearly 1,900 workers.

— A state law protecting tenants from evictions in California expires in two months, but lawmakers are seeking an extension until the end of next year.

— L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva touted his agency’s bust of a “massive underground party” in Palmdale. But according to law enforcement sources and an internal department record reviewed by The Times, commanders knew about plans for the party hours in advance and chose not to stop it from happening.

— Above Santa Cruz, residents fear devastating mudslides in the aftermath of wildfire.

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NATION-WORLD

— Civil rights and FBI investigators will help look into the fatal shooting by an Ohio sheriff’s deputy of a Black man whose family says that he was holding not a gun, but a sandwich, and that he was shot in front of two toddlers and his grandmother while inside his home, not outside it, as authorities assert.

— In India, health officials and experts are still baffled by a mysterious illness that has left more than 500 people hospitalized and one person dead.

Mt. Everest is even taller than you thought: China and Nepal have announced a new height for the peak.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— The new FX on Hulu series “A Teacher” confronts a taboo head-on. But that choice has divided critics.

— After years of turmoil, author Marcelo Hernandez Castillo — whose lyrical memoir, “Children of the Land,” describes an upbringing lived in the shadows as part of a family of immigrants — is proud to put down California roots.

— The acclaimed Cuban American sitcom “One Day at a Time” is officially over, its showrunners say.

BUSINESS

Viacom appears to be gaining the upper hand in its fight with Netflix over the streaming giant’s hiring of its executives.

— Tesla called automotive engineer Cristina Balan a criminal. Now a federal appeals court is about to hear her defamation case in a legal battle that could be a milestone for employees’ rights.

— Yes, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, who recently became the world’s second-richest person, has actually moved to Texas, which has no personal income tax.

SPORTS

— This weekend, former Rams running back Todd Gurley will finally get to play in the stadium he says he “helped create” — albeit as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.

— Because of the pandemic, junior colleges are about to have an amazing football recruiting year.

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OPINION

— California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra‘s work defending the Affordable Care Act positions him well to advance Biden’s goal of not just repairing what Trump has done but of building on the law too, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— Looking for an issue to unite a divided nation? That would be marijuana, which the House voted just last week to decriminalize, writes columnist Robin Abcarian.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Businesses in America’s Chinatowns face an especially harsh pandemic winter. (Bloomberg CityLab)

— Why do people love to hate sweatpants, even in a pandemic? (The Atlantic)

ONLY IN L.A.

With the USC and UCLA football teams set to play against each other on Saturday, this is rivalry week. But like so many other traditions this year, it looks a lot different. The Blood Bowl flag football game between the UCLA and USC student newspapers is off and no fans will be permitted to attend the game between the Bruins and the Trojans. About the only nod to rivalry week on UCLA’s campus in recent days was the covering of the Bruin statue to protect it from vandalism. Likewise Tommy Trojan at USC.

Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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