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Today’s Headlines: Biden’s Independence Day goal

President Biden announced Thursday that all adults in the United States should be able to register for a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1.

President Biden sets up a new vaccination timetable and says the goal is to have the U.S. “closer to normal” by the Fourth of July.

TOP STORIES

Biden’s Independence Day Goal

After a grim winter that saw the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 rise past half a million, President Biden sought to foster — and benefit from — a national surge of optimism about the pandemic, the economy and the country’s condition in a White House speech Thursday evening.

By May 1, restrictions on who can make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment will be lifted nationwide, Biden said. The current limitations no longer will be needed because vaccine supply will be adequate to meet demand. All American adults should be able to get at least a first shot by the end of May, officials said.

The goal is to have a nation “closer to normal” by the Fourth of July, with at least “small gatherings” on Independence Day, Biden said, holding out the prospect of backyard barbecues “when we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.”

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But he prefaced that with an appeal to Americans to “do their part” and get vaccinated when their turn comes and help others to do so.

The White House speech, which ran a bit over 20 minutes, came just hours after Biden had signed into law a $1.9-trillion recovery package that his administration says will speed the pace of vaccinations, help get schools reopened safely and deliver significant financial aid to low- and middle-income families.

His remarks did contain some somber notes — Biden read from a note card he drew from his pocket that 527,726 Americans had died of the disease as of Thursday morning. And he denounced violence against Asian Americans, who have been scapegoated, he said.

Grand Reopening

Restaurants, gyms, museums and movie theaters in Los Angeles County will soon be allowed to reopen for indoor activity, according to a public health announcement that marks the first major reopening of businesses in months.

The county will be eligible as soon as California reaches its goal of administering 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to residents in its most disadvantaged areas — which appears likely to happen today. In short, the reopenings in L.A. could occur as early as Monday.

Under the new health order, private gatherings would also be allowed with up to three households, with masking and distancing required at all times. People who are fully vaccinated could gather in small numbers indoors with others who are fully vaccinated without masks or distancing requirements.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Four days before an estimated 4.4 million Californians with disabilities or underlying health conditions become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, the California Public Health Department released guidance on the verification process. Notably, the state is not requiring that eligible disabled or sick individuals present documentation of their condition.

— About 1 in 5 Americans say they have lost a relative or close friend to COVID-19, highlighting the division between heartache and hope as the country itches to get back to normal a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.

— March 11, 2020, will forever be a historic day for the NBA — the day the league suspended its season. But over the last year, it learned how to adapt and bring the sport back.

— The impact of an 11-month shutdown for youth sports in California changed lives in ways few could imagine, forcing high school athletes to cope with not being able to play.

Note: Sign up for Prep Rally, an upcoming newsletter about high school sports written by the dean of Southland prep coverage, Eric Sondheimer.

Rural California’s Moment

California’s northern counties have long felt overlooked in the famously liberal Golden State. People there chafe at government regulations that they say have hobbled industries such as timber, fishing and mining. Many believe the state’s high taxes and cost of living have quickened the decline of small towns. They say their voices are drowned out in Sacramento by urban Democrats.

But amid a pandemic that has been so tightly intertwined with politics, the movement to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom appears to be a response to their broader frustrations.

Leaders of the Republican-backed recall movement must submit 1,495,709 valid signatures by March 17 to trigger a special election later this year. This week, backers said they had collected 1.95 million signatures. While those still must be verified by the secretary of state, they say they are confident they have more than enough to qualify for the ballot.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On March 12, 1928, the St. Francis Dam collapsed in one of California’s most significant disasters. Some estimates suggest that as many as 600 people were killed.

The dam had only been in place north of Los Angeles for two years and it constantly leaked, according to The Times. It held more than 12 billion gallons — a year’s supply of water for L.A. On March 12, the structure once again sprung a leak. It drew little concern, but this time was different: Hours later, the cracks spread. Three minutes before midnight, it finally broke, unleashing a “10-story avalanche of water.”

It swept through small towns and neighborhoods to the ocean over 5½ hours, washing away neighborhoods and their residents. Read more of The Times’ coverage here.

Aerial photo of the wrecked St. Francis Dam
Mar. 13, 1928: Aerial photo of the wrecked St. Francis Dam. This photo was published on the front page of the March 14, 1928, Los Angeles Times.
(Harry C. Anderson / Los Angeles Times)

YOUR WEEKEND

— An outdoor gym, a sanctuary, a place to pose and be seen — whatever your goal, there are dozens of reasons to go hiking in L.A.'s mountains and forests.

— Try one or more of L.A.'s new restaurant offerings, from customizable sushi and Goop for delivery.

Nowruz is just around the corner. Here are some sweets for a sweeter Iranian New Year.

— Nineteen weekend culture picks: Liza Minnelli’s 75th birthday celebration is among them.

CALIFORNIA

— The Los Angeles Police Department mishandled the unrest that erupted on L.A. streets after the death of George Floyd, a result of poor planning, inadequate training and a disregard for rules that were established after past failures to manage protests, according to a new report commissioned by the City Council.

Los Angeles Unified School District campuses have a plan to reopen, but the core learning for middle and high school students — and half of it for elementary school children — would still take place online, leading to mixed reviews among parents and advocates.

— A man who drowned his two autistic sons in the L.A. harbor was sentenced to 212 years in prison for murdering his sons and attempting to kill their mother in a plot to collect on insurance policies.

— L.A. is home to heavy industry — and more federal deals not to prosecute polluters than anywhere else.

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NATION-WORLD

— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s grip on power appeared increasingly threatened as a majority of state legislators called for his resignation, Democrats launched an impeachment investigation and police in the state capital said they stood ready to investigate a groping allegation.

— A former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death now faces a third-degree murder change, after a judge granted prosecutors’ request.

China’s political leaders wrapped up meetings at which they flexed Beijing’s power over Hong Kong and laid out plans to compete with the U.S. abroad, saying that “the best is still ahead of us.”

Japan marked the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that hit its northeastern region. Many survivors of the Fukushima catastrophe say their lives are still on hold a decade later.

— Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said it called off his planned historic visit to the United Arab Emirates because of disagreements with the Jordanian government.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— How Selena Gomez embraced her Mexican heritage as “a source of healing” and channeled it into a new direction for her music.

— Netflix’s “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal” shows how the rich got conned. It’s a smooth one-stop retelling of the titular sting, our critic writes.

— $69 million for digital art? An artist named Beeple? Here’s what you need to know about the NFT craze — and what it means for the future of art.

— How NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert became a golden ticket to the Grammys, which are being handed out on Sunday. Plus, here are our predictions for the Oscar nominations on Monday morning.

Pepe Le Pew was cut from “Space Jam: A New Legacy” — but could the footage of his scene with actress Greice Santo still exist? A representative for Santo believes it does and is offering a $100,000 reward for anyone that can provide it.

BUSINESS

— In Alabama, Amazon workers are waging a historic battle to unionize. Success would represent a major challenge to the company.

Car insurers, ordered to make pandemic refunds, shortchanged California drivers, writes columnist David Lazarus.

SPORTS

— In men’s college basketball, No. 24 USC survived Utah in double overtime to advance in the Pac-12 tournament, while UCLA collapsed again in an overtime loss to Oregon State.

— Missing players and too many shots, the Lakers still feel primed to defend their NBA title.

Free online games

Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— A year of grief, loss and COVID-19 has left immeasurable holes in American life, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— California’s kids need quality preschool. A new master plan can make it happen, writes David Kirp, an emeritus professor in public policy at UC Berkeley.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation. Now the man who built the company’s AI algorithms can’t fix the problem. (MIT Technology Review)

Lou Ottens, a Dutch engineer credited with inventing the cassette tape and playing a major role in the development of the first CD, has died at 94. “We were little boys who had fun playing,” he once said. (The Guardian)

ONLY IN L.A.

Ethan Cole and Kellcy Kocinski had just moved in together when they needed a quarantine project and wanted something to accentuate their space that couldn’t be found at Target or Pier 1. So they decided to start making rugs. Their first rug, an X-rated depiction of two Smurfs, was enough to attract an audience online. Before long, their apartment had become a mini textile factory — including a rug version of the Circus Liquor sign in North Hollywood that sold for $1,400.

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


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