President Biden moves to take a more assertive federal role in countering the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden’s National Pandemic Response
After months of watching from the sidelines as the coronavirus crisis worsened, President Biden is moving swiftly to try to assert control over the nation’s pandemic response — a marked shift from how former President Trump forced individual states to set their own courses.
On Biden’s first full day in office, he signed 10 executive orders, including directives to boost the production of vaccines, ensure they reach hard-hit communities and set up more locations where Americans can receive shots. He also charged his administration with developing guidelines for reopening schools and improving data collection to track the battle against COVID-19.
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Some of his initiatives are already in place in various forms. For example, he ordered federal agencies to require masks on airplanes and other public transportation, policies that are being enforced by airlines and transit agencies.
Biden has cautioned that things will get worse before they get better. On Inauguration Day, the U.S. recorded a single-day record of 4,409 deaths, and it’s been averaging about 3,000 deaths a day for the last week. Projections show that the COVID-19 death toll, at roughly 410,000, could reach 500,000 next month.
However, some signs of improvement are evident: The number of daily cases and hospitalizations dropped in recent days.
The Chaos at the Border
On Inauguration Day, Biden unveiled a comprehensive immigration reform proposal offering an eight-year path to citizenship for some 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally and green cards to upwards of 1 million DACA recipients, people with temporary protected status and farmworkers.
But how he plans to deal with those wanting to come to the U.S. is less clear. Few along the border, from asylum seekers to U.S. agents, have answers for how Biden will confront the chaos there that he inherited from Trump: How to deal with about 30,000 migrants waiting in limbo, as well as thousands more heading north, amid a pandemic that Trump used to close the border.
Biden has yet to answer himself. But the longer such uncertainty remains, the more the dangers for those involved grow.
More From Washington
— Trump’s Senate impeachment trial is unlikely to get started for days if not weeks as Republicans try to give Trump time to put together a legal team to defend himself against a charge of inciting an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol.
— Seven Democratic senators asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the actions of Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley “to fully understand their role” in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
— Retired Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin appears likely to be confirmed soon as secretary of Defense, as Congress waived a law prohibiting recently retired officers from holding the post, in anticipation of a Senate vote on his nomination.
— Dr. Anthony Fauci, who had fallen out of favor with Trump, now speaks with the authority of the White House again. He called it “liberating” to be backed by a science-friendly administration that has embraced his recommendations to battle COVID-19.
Vaccines in Short Supply
In the days since California opened up COVID-19 vaccinations beyond healthcare workers and first responders to residents 65 and older, a deluge of people trying to get their shots has overwhelmed supplies and left officials warning they could run out of doses soon.
Health leaders in counties across the state say they are getting only a fraction of the vaccines they are requesting from the federal government, and that is going to leave those eager to get inoculated disappointed.
Los Angeles County, for example, needs more than 4 million doses to provide the two-dose vaccine protocol to all healthcare workers and residents 65 and older, but to date it has received only 853,650 doses.
Some areas are doing better than others. The city of Long Beach was among the first to allow vaccinations of older people last week, and it is now expanding its distribution to food workers.
More Top Coronavirus Headlines
— The probability that a person hospitalized for COVID-19 will die in Los Angeles County has doubled in recent months, from about 1 in 8 in September and October to roughly 1 in 4 since early November, according to an analysis released by the county’s Department of Health Services.
— A strain of the coronavirus first identified in Denmark is becoming increasingly common in hospitals and jails in Northern California and the Bay Area, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
— Schools can be used as COVID-19 vaccine centers under new California guidelines, but does it help given the vaccine shortage?
For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Tom Petty was not originally from Los Angeles. But it became his home base and the launchpad for his career.
So when he played with his band, the Heartbreakers, at the Inglewood Forum on Jan. 20, 1980, it wasn’t a surprise that the show sold out. “From the enthusiasm in the arena, you’d have thought that the Rams had won the Super Bowl,” Times music critic Robert Hilburn wrote in a Jan. 22 column.
In a few years, Petty had gone from opening act to headliner, thrilling Los Angeles fans who considered him one of their own. He had a new album, a few hits on the radio and an upcoming Rolling Stone cover. He would go on to become an industry giant, selling out many more shows before he died in 2017.
— Our easiest pantry recipes for making no-sweat dinners.
— No yard? No problem. With hydroponics, aeroponics and more, you can grow food at home.
— For real estate looky-loos, the wildest, weirdest and most wonderful of Zillow can be found on this Instagram account.
— A new blanket of snow fell at ski resorts on many Southern California mountains this week, with more expected in the coming days.
— The Southern Californians charged so far with joining the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol are an oddball crew. Among them: a model, a concierge doctor and a salon owner.
— The California Supreme Court has rejected a petition filed by two children’s advocacy groups that sought to require the Los Angeles Unified School District to partially reopen in-person instruction for students experiencing the greatest need.
— Federal prosecutors had accused Robert Zangrillo, a Miami developer, of a costly and criminal effort to secure his daughter’s entry to USC. But in his final hours as president, Trump pardoned Zangrillo, unleashing finger-pointing and outrage.
— For the last half-century, civilian boaters who wanted access to the Pacific Ocean through Huntington Harbour have had to pass through a Navy base in Seal Beach. They now have their own dedicated lane, part of a $154-million U.S. Navy project designed to reconfigure Anaheim Bay.
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— For years, QAnon adherents encouraged one another to “trust the plan” as they waited for the day when Trump would orchestrate mass arrests, military tribunals and executions of his Satan-worshiping, child-sacrificing enemies. It hasn’t arrived, and some are starting to grapple with the idea that it won’t ever.
— Biden has proposed to Russia a five-year extension of a nuclear arms treaty that is otherwise set to expire in February, the White House said.
— A pair of suicide bombers hit a crowded market in Baghdad, Iraq’s civil defense agency said, killing at least 32 people, injuring more than 100 others and reigniting fears of a return to the days when such attacks were daily.
— Amid crippling sanctions, Iranian traders are looking for a lifeline in northern Iraq.
HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS
— Brian Eno has spent a lot of time on Zoom lately, and he’s taking steps to create a better solution to group video communication.
— Some theater companies have pivoted to Zoom. The Shine On Collective, a small experimental theater group, decided to go in a different direction: designing games.
— “Bridgerton,” the Regency-era period piece based on the novels of Julia Quinn, is coming back for a second season on Netflix.
— The Netflix drama “The White Tiger” is a sharp-clawed satire of upward mobility, film critic Justin Chang writes.
— The Trump administration left Biden a dilemma in the California desert: a plan to remove protections from millions of acres of public lands and open vast areas to solar and wind farms.
— The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 900,000, but it’s still a historically high level that points to ongoing job cuts.
— The Standard hotel on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood is scheduled to close today, 22 years after opening with the financial support of such celebrities as Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Benicio del Toro.
— The New York Mets fired general manager Jared Porter after learning he had sent unsolicited and sexually explicit text messages and lewd photos to a female reporter while he was the Chicago Cubs’ director of professional scouting. Columnist Helene Elliott writes that Porter was driven by the dangerous combination of entitlement and stupidity.
— International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and local organizers are pushing back against reports that the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be canceled. Now set to open July 23, the Tokyo Games were postponed 10 months ago at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the event appears threatened again.
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— Congress has to seize the moment Biden has given it to fix immigration, The Times’ editorial board writes. Here’s why.
— Trump is no longer president, but for four years, he inflicted a form of trauma on the nation, the board also writes. How do we recover?
WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING
— Thousands of National Guard troops were allowed back into the Capitol after U.S. Capitol Police officials sent them outdoors or to nearby parking garages, where they slept on the ground. (Politico)
— A look inside the Oval Office with Biden’s touches. (Washington Post)
ONLY IN L.A.
These days we have drive-in movies, theater and dance performances, so why not a drive-through tour of the Mesozoic Era’s inhabitants? “Jurassic Quest,” now in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, lets kids see dinosaurs while remaining socially distanced. And it involves quite a bit of waiting in line. But as Times reporter Jessica Gelt writes, “My family has spent the last 308 days together in the house. What’s another 60 minutes in the car?”
Comments or ideas? Email us at [email protected]
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