August 15, 2022

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Today’s Headlines: How California’s vaccine rollout faltered

8 min read

Supply shortages, data problems and a fragmented system all contributed to California’s lagging vaccination rate.

TOP STORIES

How California’s Vaccine Rollout Faltered

Among California’s many problems with the COVID-19 crisis, the early vaccine rollout has been one of the more perplexing.

Some twentysomethings with social media jobs are getting COVID-19 vaccines before senior citizens. More than a third of the Pfizer and Moderna doses in California appear to be unused, but health officials say they can’t give out shots more quickly.

California has administered more than 3.45 million injections, by far the most in the country, but for weeks ranked among the slowest per capita in vaccinating its population and in using up the doses allocated by federal officials, data show.

Recently, the numbers have been improving amid a series of changes. By Monday, about 7.2% of California residents had received a first dose, and 60.9% of the state’s vaccine supply had been administered — a dramatic improvement from a week ago, but still behind other big states such as Texas, Illinois and New York, and only slightly ahead of Florida.

So, what went wrong? Lots of things.

For weeks, vaccine access was limited to only health workers and nursing homes. Data snafus complicated the picture, as did the structural barriers of such a large, decentralized state that leaned heavily on 61 local health departments. But the biggest and most persistent problem has been beyond the state’s control: Officials have been hamstrung by vaccine supply shortages and lack of predictability from the federal government and the manufacturers.

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— Despite a downward trend in cases and hospitalizations, COVID-19 killed more people in California in January than any other month of the pandemic, data from The Times’ tracker show.

— The growing numbers of cases of the highly contagious variant first identified in Britain are sparking worry about a future surge in Southern California, one of the nation’s two hot spots of the worrisome new strain.

— The Los Angeles Unified School District will delay in-person student classes and services of any kind while coronavirus infection rates remain high in local communities and teachers remain unvaccinated, Supt. Austin Beutner said.

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

The Perils of Falling Behind on Rent

Millions of Americans unable to pay their rent during the pandemic face a snowballing financial burden that threatens to deplete their savings, ruin their credit and drive them from their homes.

A patchwork of government action is protecting many of the most financially strapped tenants for now. But it could take these renters — especially low-income ones — years to recover, even as the rest of the economy begins to rebound.

Some renters have kept up with their payments but turned to credit cards and high-interest loans. Others owe mounting bills directly to landlords that must be paid back when eviction moratoriums expire, opening the possibility — if the debt goes unpaid — for evictions and court orders for back rent. That could erode credit scores and lead to wage garnishments and more.

They Agreed to … Talk

As President Biden met with 10 Republican senators Monday to test the waters of bipartisanship on coronavirus relief, Democrats on Capitol Hill took the first step toward fast-tracking the administration’s $1.9-trillion proposal through a legislative procedure that wouldn’t require GOP support.

Although the Oval Office meeting, Biden’s first with lawmakers, appeared cordial, it may amount to a token demonstration by both sides — an opportunity to hear each other out rather than a negotiation to bridge the massive gulf between them.

Emerging from the West Wing after a longer-than-expected two-hour conversation, the group’s leader, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), expressed appreciation that Biden “chose to spend so much time with us” and called the meeting “excellent,” declining to offer details — or criticism — even as she acknowledged the impasse.

More Politics

— Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell denounced Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, calling her embrace of conspiracy theories and “loony lies” a “cancer for the Republican Party,” as House Democrats mount an effort to formally rebuke her.

— Backers of an effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom are still collecting signatures, but rivals are already announcing their intention to run. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials are investigating escalating threats of death and violence against Newsom, his family and the wineries, shops and other businesses he’s founded.

A Dangerous Political Bargain Ends

With her detention amid a military coup in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi’s dizzying journey on the world stage — from democracy icon to leader of an elected government and then a stalwart defender of the slaughter of Rohingya Muslims — returned to a familiar place.

The 75-year-old is a political prisoner again, held along with dozens of allies and political leaders as the army retook power barely five years after elections that ended half a century of military rule. (That it unfolded on video as an aerobics instructor did a workout routine made it all the stranger.)

Though she heads a political party that has won two consecutive landslide victories in parliamentary elections, most recently in November, she shared power in a delicate and not always discernible dance with her former jailers in the army, which kept control over security affairs and veto power over constitutional changes.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1979, President Carter commuted the sentence of Patty Hearst, leading to her release from prison after serving 22 months.

As Hearst celebrated her release, Los Angeles Times staff photographer Rick Meyer took this image and others at her mother’s home in Hillsborough, Calif., on the morning of Feb. 1.

Hearst had been kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army on Feb. 4, 1974, when she was 19. But she later participated as the group robbed banks. Hearst said she’d been “brainwashed,” but was still convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for armed robbery. After her release, she married her bodyguard, Bernard Shaw.

Patty Hearst wears a shirt that says "pardon me" and holds the hand of Bernard Shaw

Feb. 1, 1979: After her release, Patty Hearst and her bodyguard, Bernard Shaw, stand outside her mother’s home in Hillsborough, Calif.

(Rick Meyer / Los Angeles Times)

CALIFORNIA

— State corrections officials ignored the warnings of front-line health workers and pressured them to hastily transfer 189 potentially coronavirus-infected inmates from a Chino men’s prison in May, triggering a deadly outbreak of COVID-19 at San Quentin State Prison, the state watchdog reported.

Kroger, which owns several supermarket chains, said it would close two stores in Long Beach in response to city rules mandating an extra $4 an hour in “hero pay” for grocery workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SeaWorld San Diego has announced that it will reopen Saturday under the state’s operating rules for zoos and aquariums.

— When wildfires roar through a forest and bulldozers dig into the earth to stop advancing flames, they may churning “mind-bending” amounts of fungi and bacteria into the air, scientists say.

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NATION-WORLD

— The influential anti-Trump group Lincoln Project is denouncing one of its co-founders after multiple reports that over several years he sexually harassed young men looking to break into politics.

— An audit of hate groups found fewer active organizations. But experts say they’re moving deeper online, making them harder to track as their views spread.

Deborah Archer, a professor at New York University School of Law with expertise in civil rights and racial justice, has become the first Black person in the 101-year history of the American Civil Liberties Union to be elected its president.

— Thousands of Hong Kong residents have already made the decision to flee the city and move to Britain since Beijing imposed a strict national security law. More are expected to follow.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler is developing a series for Disney+ set in the world of Wakanda.

— Black creatives and hip-hop tastemakers helped turn live-audio-chat platform Clubhouse into the next tech unicorn. But who stands to gain?

Dustin Diamond has died at age 44. The former child star played Samuel “Screech” Powers on NBC’s “Saved by the Bell” and then became infamous for a number of post-show scandals.

Marilyn Manson has been dropped by his record label after Evan Rachel Wood and other women accused the musician and actor of abuse.

— It was only a matter of time before Hollywood moved to adapt the GameStop stock market drama into a feature film — a matter of about a week, to be exact.

BUSINESS

— With the Super Bowl scheduled for SoFi Stadium next year, L.A. small businesses are hoping to benefit through a league program that promotes diversity as corporate dollars surrounding the game are spent.

— The Congressional Budget Office expects the U.S. economy will grow at a 4.6% annual rate in Biden’s first year, with employment returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2024.

SpaceX plans to launch a crew of only private astronauts into orbit — the world’s first such mission.

SPORTS

— Chiefs coach Andy Reid is heading to the Super Bowl. But before he was a big name in Kansas City, he was just Andy — a hulking kid with the broad shoulders and even broader smile in L.A.

Major League Baseball players rejected the league’s proposal to delay the season by a month and shorten it by eight games. Here’s why.

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OPINION

— After they got attention for shutting down one of the nation’s largest vaccination sites, it’s clear L.A.’s COVID-19 deniers aren’t going away. The city needs a plan to combat them, The Times’ editorial board writes.

— The U.S. and its allies should respond to Myanmar’s military coup with swift, definitive and coordinated actions, the editorial board also says.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— Top Trump officials actively lobbied to deny states money for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the fall, despite warnings that states didn’t have the money they needed, congressional aides in both parties and one Trump official say. (STAT News)

— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offered a deeply personal account of the Capitol insurrection on Instagram Live. (Politico)

ONLY IN L.A.

It began as the Hollywoodland sign, then lost its last four letters and became a symbol of L.A. — and a repeated target for what one might politely call “edits” to its name. Over the years, the Hollywood sign has been changed to read, among other things, “Ollywood” (for Oliver North during the Iran-Contra hearings), “Caltech” (a senior prank) and “Raffeysod” (a rock band took credit). Now, six people have been arrested after strategically changing the sign to convey what they said was a breast cancer awareness message.

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