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Today’s Headlines: Reasons for optimism, caution in COVID-19 fight

Vials of COVID-19 vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A day later, advisors to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted overwhelmingly to recommend the vaccine.
(Johnson & Johnson)

More COVID-19 vaccine is on the way, but experts worry about a fourth wave of infections if restrictions are relaxed too soon.

TOP STORIES

Reasons for Optimism, Caution in COVID-19 Fight

After a U.S. advisory panel endorsed Johnson & Johnson’s new one-dose COVID-19 vaccine as a third option to bolster the national effort against the pandemic, nearly 4 million doses were to be shipped Sunday night and will be delivered to states for injections starting Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles County, teachers and those who work in child care, food and agriculture and emergency services are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations starting today, though officials warn the pace will be slowed by limited supply. Orange County began earmarking doses of COVID-19 vaccine for workers in education, child care and food and agriculture last week.

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But in the Central Valley there are complications. Efforts to vaccinate farmworkers against COVID-19 have been especially fraught. With the spring harvest coming, there’s more uncertainty, as California tosses out its existing strategy for vaccine distribution — controlled by local governments — and transfers it to a nonprofit insurance company, Blue Shield.

And on a national level, federal officials are expressing worry that the decline in daily new coronavirus cases is starting to flatten as one of the variants, from the U.K., is on the rise. They are warning states against relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, saying the U.S. remains at a precarious point that could tip into a fourth surge before more people get vaccinated.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

Blue Shield of California initially sought an “expansive” amount of medical data from the University of California Health system in exchange for vaccine doses under the state’s revamped allocation plan, a move that has prompted objections from UC and alarm from patient privacy advocates.

— The winter surge of COVID-19 brutalized much of L.A. County, sending case rates and deaths skyrocketing for weeks. But in some neighborhoods, the pandemic’s wrath was barely felt.

— At least three private schools in L.A. County offered their teachers and other staff a way to get COVID-19 vaccinations during a time of limited supplies.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

‘Get Rid of Them All’

Making his first public appearance since leaving office not six weeks ago, former President Trump made clear that he’s focused on revenge.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., he lashed out at President Biden but saved his harshest words for Republicans who he believes didn’t support him. He expressed particular contempt for the 17 Republican lawmakers who joined Democrats voting to impeach and convict him for his role in inciting a mob of supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Get rid of them all,” he said during a fact-challenged and grievance-laden speech in which he teased another presidential run in four years.

More Politics

— Looking beyond the $1.9-trillion COVID-19 relief bill, Biden and lawmakers are laying the groundwork for another top legislative priority — a long-sought boost to the nation’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure that could run into Republican resistance to a hefty price tag.

— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged for the first time that some of his behavior with women had been “misinterpreted as unwanted flirtation” and said he would cooperate with a sexual harassment investigation led by the state’s attorney general.

The Show Went On, but ...

The Golden Globes have long been billed as “Hollywood’s party of the year,” but the 78th edition of the awards telecast proved to be something quite different — and decidedly less festive — amid the COVID-19 pandemic and after a Times investigation into the membership and ethics of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.

The virtual ceremony’s usual razzle-dazzle was dimmed by the pandemic, with the red carpet nearly barren and an abundance of Zoom glitches. (Though there were some must-see moments.)

Facing blistering criticism after The Times highlighted that the organization has no Black members, the HFPA used the occasion to deliver its latest awards — with “Nomadland” and “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” winning the best picture prizes in the drama and comedy or musical categories, respectively — and to acknowledge its failings on the issue of diversity. Several wins by Black artists and a brief pledge to increase Black membership delivered by three representatives of the HPFA during the telecast appear unlikely to calm the firestorm.

Here’s the full list of winners, including Chloé Zhao’s historic victory as director of “Nomadland.”

OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

— Some 80,000 Mexicans have disappeared in the last 15 years and never been found. Many are now thought to be in government custody — among the thousands of corpses that pass through morgues each year without ever being identified and end up in common graves.

— Government officials say critically endangered California condors are at risk of being killed by spinning turbine blades. So they’re helping a wind energy company breed condors in captivity, hoping to replace any birds lost.

— Why not use pandemic-emptied buildings as homeless shelters? One woman is trying, writes columnist Erika D. Smith.

Tiger Woods’ car accident is a reminder of what Ben Hogan achieved after a near-fatal crash in 1949.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On this date in 1936, it was 85 degrees and sunny, inspiring thousands of people to spend a Sunday at the beach.

A caption for the photo below in the next day’s Times read: “This is a scene at State Beach on Roosevelt Highway at the mouth of Santa Monica Canyon, where thousands enjoyed the surf yesterday as a result of the summer-like Southland weather.”

The Roosevelt Highway would later be renamed the Pacific Coast Highway.

Cars look for parking along a highway
March 1, 1936: Cars look for parking on Roosevelt Highway — now Pacific Coast Highway — near the mouth of Santa Monica Canyon.
(Los Angeles Times )

CALIFORNIA

— Victims rights advocates have kicked off a recall campaign against newly elected L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón, who has vowed sweeping criminal justice reforms to the nation’s largest prosecutor’s office.

— As the recall threat to Gov. Gavin Newsom grows, he’s shifted his governing style. Getting children back to class — and stemming growing frustration among parents — has emerged as a top priority.

— Two years after Newsom ordered a moratorium on executions, he is preparing to appoint a state attorney general from a field of potential candidates that includes some of the state’s leading critics of the death penalty.

Fresno is divided over a church’s bid to buy the Tower Theatre, a bohemian landmark.

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NATION-WORLD

— The Biden administration said it remains open to talks with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal despite Tehran’s rejection of a European Union invitation to join a meeting with the U.S. and the other original participants in the agreement.

— How a Guatemalan asylum seeker who may lose both hands to frostbite after crossing into Texas is testing Biden’s immigration policy.

— A United Nations humanitarian agency warned that more than 16 million people in Yemen would go hungry this year, with half a million people in the war-torn country already living in famine-like conditions.

Spacewalking astronauts ventured out to install support frames for new high-efficiency solar panels arriving at the International Space Station later this year.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— A woman returned Lady Gaga’s stolen dogs to the L.A. Police Department, but the mystery over their kidnapping and the shooting of their dog walker only intensified.

— What really happened when the FBI persecuted Billie Holiday? A new Lee Daniels-directed movie examines the years-long battle. (Star Andra Day won the Golden Globe for actress in a motion picture, drama, for her performance.)

— Former NFL football player Emmanuel Acho will host the special episode capping this season’s “The Bachelor,” after host Chris Harrison temporarily stepped down after defending a contestant’s racist behavior.

— Artist Judy Chicago discusses her latest smoke sculpture for the Desert X exhibition and feminizing the male-dominated world of land art.

BUSINESS

— Wall Street’s most bullish economic forecasts hang on a simple prediction about the service sector: Everybody will flood back soon to their local gyms, bars and yoga studios as if the pandemic were in the past.

— How the debate over holding internet platforms accountable is changing under Biden.

SPORTS

— Jockey Mario Gutierrez was injured when his mount, Squeaky Cheeky, broke down after running a race at Santa Anita. The horse was euthanized.

Major League Soccer is back, with a new team in the mix.

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OPINION

— To save the planet from climate change, gas guzzlers have to die, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— The dumbest thing Sen. Ted Cruz said last week wasn’t about his Mexico trip, columnist Doyle McManus contends.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Black women are shaping the footwear industry, whether as athletes, designers, executives or creative minds. (The Undefeated)

— A golden statue of Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference was made in Mexico. (The Guardian)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

When Mark Kelegian was looking for a business he might run with his wife and three daughters back in 2015, he came across a listing for what turned out to be Randy’s Donuts. Since then they’ve gone beyond the single storefront in Inglewood to expand the customer base (and waistlines) around Southern California and with overseas franchisees. A new Costa Mesa location even got a rooftop doughnut that was made in San Pedro.

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


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