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Federal scientists advocate for pandemic control as infection declines

While coronavirus deaths tend to fluctuate more than cases and hospital admissions, Dr Walensky said the most recent seven-day average was slightly above average earlier in the week. The seven-day average of the newly reported deaths was 2,165 as of Thursday.

“We at the CDC see this as a very concerning course change,” she said, adding, “I want to be clear: the cases, hospital admissions and deaths – all remain very high and the recent change in pandemic must be taken very seriously. “

Dr Walensky said part of the increase could be attributed to newer variants of the coronavirus that spread more efficiently and quickly. The so-called variant B.1.1.7, which first appeared in Britain, now accounts for around 10% of all cases in the United States, up from 1% to 4% a few weeks ago, has she declared.

The ability of the United States to follow variants is much less robust than that of Great Britain. Even so, data collected by the CDC shows that the number of cases with the variant in the country rose from 76 in 12 states as of January 13 to more than 2,100 in 45 states as of Thursday. But actual infections can be much higher due to insufficient surveillance efforts.

“I know people are tired; they want to get back to life, to normal, ”said Dr Walensky. “But we are not there yet.”

Dr Walensky’s loud, vocal warnings made it clear that in the Biden administration, unlike the Trump administration, the CDC director had a powerful voice. Under President Donald J. Trump, the agency has been virtually silenced after one of its senior officials, Dr Nancy Messonnier, told reporters almost exactly a year ago that the coronavirus would cause serious disruption in American life.

At the same time, administration officials have tried to highlight their efforts to pull the country out of the pandemic, including stepping up the national coronavirus vaccination campaign, acquiring new therapies and training the private sector. in the battle.

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Video: Biden and Harris honor 500,000 Americans lost in pandemic

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Biden and Harris honor 500,000 Americans lost in pandemic

As the nation passed a “truly dark and heartbreaking milestone on Monday,” President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris observed a moment of silence during a ceremony at the White House.

Today we mark a truly dark and heartbreaking milestone: 500,071 dead. More Americans have died in a year in this pandemic than in WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War combined. This is more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth. We often hear people described as “ordinary Americans”. There is nothing like it. There is nothing ordinary about them. The people we lost were amazing. They have crossed generations. Born in America, immigrated to America. But just like that, many of them took their last breaths on their own in America. As a nation, we cannot accept such a cruel fate. Although we have been fighting this pandemic for so long, we must resist becoming numb with pain. We must resist seeing every life as a statistic or a blur or on the news. We must do this to honor the dead, but just as importantly, take care of the living, those they have left behind.

Recent episodes of Coronavirus pandemic: latest updates

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With vaccination delay, Biden warns of uncertain end of pandemic

WASHINGTON – President Biden, during a visit to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., Said on Friday that the country could “be close to normal” by the end of the year, but warned that new virus variants and potential vaccine production problems slow progress.

“God willing, this Christmas will be different from the last, but I can’t make that commitment to you,” Biden said. “I can’t give you a date when this crisis will end, but I can tell you that we are doing everything we can to make sure that day arrives as soon as possible.”

His plea for patience came hours after the White House appealed to local officials to quickly work on six million doses of vaccine that accumulated during winter storms, which delayed appointments. you and forced vaccination sites across the country to temporarily close.

Andy Slavitt, a White House pandemic adviser, told a press conference on Friday morning that these doses represented about three days of shipping delays and that states had cleared some of the backlog with the existing stock. Of the six million doses, 1.4 million were already in transit on Friday, he said, with the rest expected to be delivered next week.

“We are asking vaccine delivery sites to further extend their hours of operation and offer additional appointments and try to postpone vaccinations over the next few days and weeks as the supply arrives heavily. more, ”Mr. Slavitt said.

The delay was a sign of the interconnection of the country’s vaccine distribution network, vulnerable to major interruptions due to extreme weather conditions. Mr Slavitt said FedEx, UPS and McKesson – the drug distribution giant that manages Moderna’s vaccine – had been hampered as workers fell in the snow and unable to pack and ship the vaccines, including including the accompanying supplies.

FedEx and UPS, which have vaccine shipping centers in Memphis and Louisville, Ky., Would make deliveries on Saturday this week, he said.

Closed roads on delivery routes were also a bottleneck, and more than 2,000 vaccination sites in areas with power failure could not receive doses. This prompted federal officials to delay shipments to areas that may not be able to maintain them at the required freezing temperatures.

Shipping delays have been reported in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Utah and Washington, among other states. In Texas, where millions of people lost power in this week’s powerful storm, a delivery of more than 400,000 first doses and 330,000 second doses had been delayed in anticipation of inclement weather.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in an interview with WNYC that expected shipments of more than 100,000 doses had not fully arrived from factories; he didn’t say when they would come.

“Everything was disrupted by the storm,” said de Blasio.

The city had to delay scheduling 35,000 appointments for the first doses of vaccine due to shipping delays and vaccine shortages, he also said this week. The opening of two new distribution sites on Thursday had also been postponed, one on Staten Island postponed to Friday and another in Queens still delayed.

Mr Biden’s visit to Kalamazoo, where Pfizer produces one of two federally licensed coronavirus vaccines, was based on promising developments that could potentially expand the company’s access to the vaccine at a time when countries around the world are trying to increase vaccinations.

A study in Israel showed the vaccine to be very effective after the first shot, echoing what other research has shown for the AstraZeneca vaccine. He also raised the possibility that regulators in some countries may allow a second dose to be postponed instead of giving both on the strict schedule of three weeks apart, as tested in clinical trials.

Published Thursday in The Lancet and involving a group of 9,100 Israeli health workers, the study showed Pfizer’s vaccine to be 85% effective 15 to 28 days after receiving the first dose. Final stage clinical trials by Pfizer and BioNTech, which enrolled 44,000 people, showed the vaccine to be 95% effective if two doses were given three weeks apart.

But Dr Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert and adviser to Mr Biden, told the White House press conference that the study’s results were not significant enough. to change the recommendations in the United States, where regulators have been steadfast in requiring that people receive two doses of the vaccine three weeks apart.

Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Dr Albert Bourla told CNN on Friday that he didn’t believe a single-dose regimen of his company’s vaccine would work, but said the idea was under consideration.

Pfizer and BioNTech also announced on Friday that their vaccine could be stored at standard freezing temperatures for up to two weeks, potentially increasing the number of smaller pharmacies and doctor’s offices that could administer the vaccine, which must now be stored at ultra cold temperatures.

In a statement, the companies said they have submitted the new temperature data to the Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to approve guidelines to suppliers that would allow them to store vaccines at the new temperatures.

The distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been complicated by the need to store it in freezers that keep the vaccines between minus 112 and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mr Biden’s visit to Michigan came in the shadow of growing pressure to clarify his administration’s message about when his vaccination campaign would be large enough to reach all Americans. More than 40 million people have received a first dose of a vaccine, including about 16 million who have received two, according to recent figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Friday, he called on Americans to be patient while they waited for the vaccine, telling them to take one if offered to them and repeatedly guaranteeing that it would help them rather than harm them.

“I know people want to be sure it’s safe,” he says. “Well, I just toured where it’s done. It takes longer to verify safety than to manufacture the vaccine. This is how tedious they are.

Governors on both sides pressured the Biden administration for a clearer and more consistent message on the timing of the vaccination campaign. Last week, Mr Biden wrote a cautious note, saying he did not expect all Americans to be vaccinated by the end of the summer.

This week, he said there would be enough vaccines available by the end of July to do so.

Also on Friday, Mr Biden virtually joined his fellow Group of 7 Nations leaders and pledged to donate $ 4 billion to an international coronavirus vaccination effort – $ 2 billion now, he said. said, “with the pledge of an additional $ 2 billion to urge others to step up as well.”

“It’s not enough that we find cures for Americans,” the president told Kalamazoo, adding, “You can’t build a wall or a fence high enough to keep a pandemic out.

At home, the situation is more tense. This week, the National Association of Governors sent a letter to Mr Biden, congratulating the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, Jeffrey D. Zients, for “doing a great job,” but also asking for a better coordination between the federal government and the states. Mr. Zients accompanied Mr. Biden to Michigan.

Mr Biden has repeatedly vowed to fire 100 million bullets in the arms of Americans by his 100th day in office. His pledge seemed ambitious when he first made it before election day, but has recently been criticized as not being ambitious enough.

The country currently vaccinates an average of 1.7 million people per day, and Mr Biden said the country was “on track to exceed” the 100 million target, even as delayed doses threatened to lower the daily average.

Dr Bourla said that in the next few weeks Pfizer expects to increase the number of doses for the United States to more than 10 million a week from five million, and that it will provide the government with a total of 200 million doses by the end. May, two months earlier than expected.

The White House also announced Friday the opening of four new federally supported community vaccination sites in Florida – in Orlando, Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville – which together would be able to immunize 12,000 people every day. Another new site in Philadelphia would have the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 people per day. All sites would be up and running within two weeks, White House adviser Mr. Slavitt said.

Noah weiland and Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported from Washington and Katie Thomas from Chicago. Troy Closson and Remy Tumin contributed reporting from New York.

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Watch live: Biden delivers remarks in Michigan on pandemic.

Watch Live: Biden and world leaders speak at Munich Security Conference.

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How pandemic lunches gave me hope for the planet

Leftovers. Leftovers can be the key to saving the planet.

During the pandemic, there were a lot of chicken. Chicken thighs with skin and bones and chicken thighs free of both. There is a rotisserie, bought pre-cooked at the store, and whole raw chicken roasted with onions, carrots and potatoes. It’s almost all dinners. But dinner is not the solution to climate change. It’s lunch.

My kids, Max, who just turned 11, and Zoe, who is 15, have lunch in my kitchen with me every day now. In the Before Times, they cooked their own meals, took them to school, and ate in the privacy of their own cafeteria. And before that, I packed their breakfasts with cheese sticks or yogurt tubes, berries, pretzels, granola bars, tiny nut Tupperwares, goldfish crackers, carrots.

But now I work from home while they are homeschooled, and between Zoom meetings we each make our own breakfasts. Yesterday I ate slices of chicken breast with avocado on it. Max made himself some sliced ​​apples and some sharp cheddar cheese. Zoe did what she always does: mixed greens, a red pepper, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, nutritional yeast, pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, and sliced ​​chicken breast. She tries to get nine colors on her salad. She remembers the game we played when she was 3 years old. Nine colors of vegetables are hard to touch, but it comes close. Sometimes she adds corn.

This is all very healthy on his part. Compared to Max and I, it’s a walking multivitamin. But her pandemic accomplishment is that she doesn’t let food go to waste. She remembers her half-cut red pepper from yesterday. She roasts four sweet potatoes on Monday and eats half of them every day. For breakfast, she made Gen Z breakfast famous: avocado toast. She only uses half of an avocado, saving the other half for the next day. Max, though less invested in consuming color, makes cheese rice from last night’s dinner topped with leftover cheddar cheese and leftover baked potato topped with a bunch of lettuce.

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Another first for an impeachment trial: meeting during a pandemic

Outside the room, Capitol workers not only brought back velvet candlesticks to keep reporters away from senators, but also carefully spaced clear dots printed with footprints to provide a visual guide. for the distance.

While more than 100 journalists had been accredited in 2020, there are less than half this time, to ensure that social distancing is maintained. A year ago, videos of reporters moving like penguin jogs in the Senate basement after undecided senators went viral – and have since been shared again as a blatant reminder of how standards closeness changed during the pandemic.

Even with most lawmakers and some staff advisers now vaccinated to ensure the continuity of government, the nine impeachment officials and their assistants have deliberated on how to ensure that the proceedings do not become a widespread occurrence among those still awaiting vaccination.

Congressional leaders have made an effort to ensure that everyone who would be on the floor for the trial, including staff members, have the opportunity to be vaccinated before it begins, people familiar with it say. with planning. At one point, impeachment officials discussed the request to hold the trial in a space larger than the Senate Chamber, such as the auditorium of the Capitol Visitor Center or even the Kennedy Center, to allow participants to move further away.

Ultimately, House Directors sharply reduced the number of physical aides on campus during the trial and closely monitored who could enter and exit rooms off the Senate floor reserved for managers and key personnel. of the trial, according to a Democratic official involved in Planning.

Senators, generally required by trial rules to remain seated at their desks for the duration of each day’s oral arguments and presentations, were allowed to watch from a room directly next to the Senate or the visitors’ gallery above. A pair of larger TV screens have also been installed in the balcony, to complement the Senate screens for lawmakers and gallery journalists.

Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley was one of the few lawmakers to take advantage of the bird’s eye view, later telling reporters he “had a better view” of his seat in the United States. corner of the Senate Chamber.

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Pandemic love: couples who found romance in a tragic year

The last time someone celebrated Valentine’s Day, most of the world went on like any other year: couples met in cinemas, bars were full of dates, and restaurants were teeming with sweethearts sharing dinner parties. candles.

Twelve months later, the most celebrated date night of the year is radically different in the shadow of a pandemic that has killed millions of people, squeezed savings and disrupted daily life. The theaters are closed. Most restaurants have limited capacity, if applicable. Many people are more reluctant to meet strangers or engage in informal conversations.

But glimmers of hope have persisted – for the vaccine rollout, for the end of a painful winter and for new relationships between all manner of couples, some of whom have found themselves in traumatic circumstances. These four couples managed to fall in love and, in some cases, get married, despite the odds against them.

A few months before the emergence of new coronavirus cases, a trip to the Red Sea and a taxi brought together Maria Saavedra, 37, a Luxembourg lawyer, and Abdala Ahmed, 27, a businessman from Alexandria, Egypt. .

In October 2019, Ms Saavedra, feeling sad and frustrated with dating, decided to join her friends on a trip to Dahab, an Egyptian coastal city known for diving. Ms Saavedra said she was sitting alone by the water, pondering her problems, when Mr Ahmed suddenly appeared.

Like Ms Saavedra’s friends, Mr Ahmed had dived nearby, and the two shared a taxi back to an area near his hotel and dive center. On this journey, Mr. Ahmed struck up a brief conversation – and when they passed each other again in the same area the next day, he asked for his contact details.

“Since that day, we haven’t missed a day of conversation or chatting,” Ahmed said.

In December, they were a couple and Ms Saavedra visited Mr Ahmed in Alexandria that month. The couple had planned to reunite in the spring, but were derailed by the pandemic. They spent the next nine months apart but in near constant communication, Mr Ahmed said, consoling one another through the hardships, confinement and home schooling of Ms Saavedra’s two children.

“I don’t know how I would have done if I hadn’t met him,” Ms. Saavedra said in a video interview. She turned to Mr. Ahmed, saying, “You saw me at the bottom of my life, you really did.”

In September, Ms. Saavedra was able to join Mr. Ahmed in Egypt. He proposed to Dahab, and they were married in Alexandria in December. While currently living on separate continents, Mr Ahmed plans to move to Luxembourg, Ms Saavedra said, adding that they would end up having a second marriage in Europe. “I think the reason we lasted was because we always tried to be grateful that we met, instead of questioning the fact that we were apart,” she said. .

Although Greg Marshall and Jade Phan met as college students near Seattle in 2018, they didn’t know each other until March 2020, when the pandemic forced them to take distance education, separated by thousands of people. kilometers.

Mr Marshall, 20, and Ms Phan, 22, had both transferred from Everett Community College to Washington State University, and found themselves taking classes, doing classwork and socializing online. With Mr. Marshall in Seattle and Ms. Phan in Can Tho, Vietnam, they first bonded on social media, in a photo of a miniature pool table he shared on Instagram, in connection with his interest in miniature models.

The post started a relationship based on daily FaceTime calls, texts, and snapchats between them, they said.

“Due to the jet lag, I would stay up all night just to talk to him,” Marshall said. “I felt like Jade was there with me all the time.

They were hopeful that despite the pandemic, travel would resume. In July, Ms. Phan was able to catch a flight back to the United States to begin class and be with Mr. Marshall. Their meeting at the airport was also shared online – the video of their very first kiss has been viewed over 150,000 times.

“The more I know about him, the more I know he’s right for me,” Ms. Phan said.

Standing against the cherry blossoms in Central Park in April, Carolina Morales pulled down her mask so that her date Joe Weel could see her face. It was an important moment for the Manhattan couple, who met on Bumble two weeks earlier and decided to honestly try dating during the first wave of the pandemic.

Before meeting in person, Ms. Morales, 29, a lawyer, and Mr. Weel, 27, a software engineer, got to know each other by phone and video conference, and the couple realized that their values ​​were aligned. , Mrs. Morales told me. The pandemic had kept them cautious, speaking only from a distance, but Mr Weel said he could hear something special in Ms Morales’ voice.

“I really like the voice of a woman who means a lot to me because you have to hear her all your life,” he said. “This one is good.”

Over the next several months, the couple replaced virtual dates with outings to Governors Island, Roosevelt Island and other city parks, and often cooked for each other. In a year where relationships have been pushed to their limits, Ms Morales and Mr Weel said they were grateful to have found each other. “We feel terrible about all the tragedy that has happened this year, but for us it has truly been the best year of our lives,” Ms. Morales said.

When lockdowns began last March, Vickie Green began making masks and gifting them to senior members of his church in Elizabethtown, Ky.

One was Garry Knight. They had known each other for 16 years, but the small gesture led to texts and phone calls, and for weeks Ms. Green, 67, and Mr. Knight, 74, bonded over their love of gospel quartets and trips. Mr Knight asked her on a socially distant date, and the couple met at Chick-fil-A, where they parked their car and talked for three hours, Ms Green said. By this time, she said, her granddaughter had noticed a new boost in her walk.

Mr Knight and Mrs Green had lost their spouses over the past few years and found they could overcome grief together and share a newfound joy. “After a few weeks, I realized that I wasn’t crying myself to sleep every night,” Ms. Green said. “Losing a 48-year-old spouse is a difficult thing to live with. And Garry had been married for 49 and a half years. Together we have around 100 years of experience.

In June, Mr. Knight proposed. Two months later, they tied the knot in a social distancing ceremony. Mr Knight said the couple had learned a new lesson from the pandemic. “He could be found anytime, anywhere,” he said. “Nothing should stop love.”

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Retreating pandemic

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The number of new coronavirus cases continues to fall, as does the number of Americans hospitalized with symptoms. Deaths have also started to decline. And the number of daily vaccines has almost tripled in the past month.

It had been a long time since the news about the virus was as encouraging as it is now.

The general situation is still bad. The virus is spreading faster in the United States than in almost any other major country, and more than 2,500 Americans die every day. Newly contagious variants can create future epidemics. For now, however, things are improving – and a combination of vaccinations, mask wear and social distancing has the potential to support recent progress.

Here’s The Morning’s latest virus report, with the help of five charts – and with a focus on what will shape the next few weeks.

The recent drop in new virus cases is larger than any of the declines in the past year:

Since peaking on January 8 – linked to holiday gatherings – the number of new daily confirmed cases has fallen by almost 60%. The drop in actual cases is likely a bit smaller, as the volume of testing has also declined in recent weeks. Fewer tests lead to fewer reported cases.

But most of the decline in the graph above is real. We know this because the percentage of tests that came back positive also dropped sharply (to 7%, down from 14% on January 8). The number of people hospitalized with symptoms of Covid-19 is also decreasing:

More importantly, the deaths started to decrease:

And deaths are expected to decrease further. Trends in mortality typically lag behind trends in diagnosed cases by around three weeks – meaning the recent sharp drop in cases is only starting to affect the number of deaths. Over the next two weeks, the number of daily deaths is likely to fall below 2,000, Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health, predicts, and it could drop below 1,000 by next month.

The main cause of this decline appears to be that a significant portion of the population now has at least some immunity to the virus. It also helps explain the global decline in newly diagnosed cases:

In the United States, around 110 million people have likely had the virus (including unconfirmed cases), researchers say. An additional 33 million received at least one vaccine injection.

Together, these two groups make up about 43% of all Americans, which appears to be enough to slow the spread. “While it’s difficult to know for sure,” Andrew Brouwer, a University of Michigan epidemiologist, told the Wall Street Journal, “we may be getting close to protecting the herd.”

However, this protection does not guarantee a continued decline in cases. Most Americans still haven’t had the virus.

The first thing to watch out for in the coming days is whether the Super Bowl parties have turned into mass-market events that have sparked new epidemics.

The next question will be whether the recent decline is causing Americans to become lax again, as happened last summer and last fall. New York, Massachusetts and other states have started lifting some restrictions, and many public experts fear politicians will go too far in that direction. Doing so in the coming weeks would be particularly dangerous due to the increasing spread of more contagious virus variants.

“These new contagious variants really increase the risk,” Apoorva Mandavilli, science reporter for The Times, told me. “The good news is we know what to do: wear a mask or maybe two, stay as far away from others as possible, meet people only outside or at least open the windows and wash often. hands.” Failure to follow this advice could be more damaging with variants than with the original version of the virus.

Adding to the risk is the possibility that some people who have previously had the virus remain vulnerable to reinfection of any of the variants. If that turns out to be the case – as early research suggests – vaccination will become even more important.

The American vaccination campaign got off to a bad start. The Trump administration has pledged to shoot 20 million people by the end of 2020 – and has hit less than three million. But the pace picked up in the final weeks of the administration, and the Biden administration accelerated it even further:

The bottom line: The pandemic is receding. What happens next will depend primarily on three factors: 1) how many Americans wear masks and remain socially distant; 2) how contagious the new variants are; and 3) how quickly vaccines – which have virtually eliminated the worst symptoms of Covid – get into people’s arms.

Other virus developments:

A morning reading: As states debate whether to reopen schools, a city district that has kept students in classrooms shows it can work – mostly.

From the review: Aliens are almost certainly there. Let’s look for them, says Farhad Manjoo.

Lives lived: Although an injury derailed her career before she could reach the Olympics, Dianne Durham became a trailblazer among black gymnasts by winning the 1983 national championship. She died at age 52.

Larry Flynt, the self-proclaimed pornographer and free speech champion, was a ninth grade dropout who built an empire of “adult” publications, strip clubs and shops around his sexually explicit magazine Hustler. Flynt died at 78.

Amazon dominates retail and is a growing force in streaming. But there is one big industry where its efforts have repeatedly failed: video games. Despite about a decade of investment, the company hasn’t made a single successful game, as Wired magazine and Bloomberg News recently documented.

Among the possible reasons: Amazon’s bureaucratic, data-driven approach hinders the creativity that game development demands. The original director of Amazon Game Studios was an executive who had never created a video game. (In contrast, Amazon Studios director Jennifer Salke had spent seven years at NBC.)

One of Amazon’s significant gaming successes so far has been its 2014 acquisition of Twitch, a popular live streaming platform that also provides a powerful marketing channel for Amazon products.

Nonetheless, the company’s efforts are a warning to other tech companies interested in the gaming market. “Successful video games are a combination of art, entertainment, technology and huge budgets,” Jason Schreier and Priya Anand write in Bloomberg. “Big tech companies only really understood the last two.”

The late night hosts got serious.

Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangram was scratch. Here is today’s puzzle – or you can play it online.

Here are today’s mini-crosswords and a hint: Emmy or Grammy (five letters).

If you want to play more, find all of our games here.


Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. – David

PS Jia Lynn Yang, associate national editor at The Times who previously covered business, politics and national security at the Washington Post, will become the next national editor of The Times.

You can see the first printed page of the day here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” deals with abuse charges against the head of a network of homeless shelters. On the latest “Sway”, Fran Lebowitz talks about his resistance to technology.

Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can join the team at themorning@nytimes.com.

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The results of the pandemic on Los Angeles museums

Hello.

(This article is part of California today newsletter. Register to have it delivered to your inbox.)

Throughout the pandemic, cultural institutions of all kinds have been hit with an ever-changing set of closures and aggravated losses.

This was especially true in Los Angeles, by some measures the most affected metropolis in the country, or many indoor activities have been restricted for almost a year.

My colleague Robin pogrebin, who reports on cultural institutions, wrote about the Los Angeles pandemic toll museums in this room. She told us a bit more about how she approached the story:

Before the pandemic, I had arranged with my editors to spend a few months a year in Los Angeles, doing stories about the art world and creating sources to better integrate the West Coast news into my regular cultural coverage.

In recent years, Los Angeles has been a hotbed of activity, with more artists settling there, more galleries open, the creation of the Frieze LA art fair and more activity among museums, including plans for two new ones – the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

[Catch up on California’s reopening process.]

When the pandemic hit, I decided to stick to my Los Angeles plan, even though it would clearly be more difficult in a Covid environment. I had no idea my arrival in January would put me in the middle of the epicenter of the virus, with about one in three of the estimated 10 million people in Los Angeles County infected since the start of the pandemic.

Nonetheless, I contacted sources by phone and conducted in-person interviews with hidden sources. On one such visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, director Michael Govan highlighted the frustration his institution and others have felt at the shutdown since March.

[The director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art stepped down following a bumpy year.]

Ever since I had covered reopening museums in places like New York and Houston, the fact that Los Angeles museums were never allowed to reopen struck me. I then spoke with the directors of other museums in the county, including the Hammer, the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Autry Museum of the American West.

I also interviewed artists affected by the shutdown and asked California Governor Gavin Newsom for an explanation. The reporting process allowed me to connect with different actors in the art world of the city. I can’t wait to keep telling their stories.

At another press conference on Tuesday at another new mass vaccination site – this time it was Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara – Governor Gavin Newsom once again asked for the patience of Californians still anxious to be vaccinate and promised more updates in the days to come.

“The only limiting factor will be the supply,” he said.

He said incomplete early demographic data on people who had already been vaccinated was a “cause for concern” but said data would be available nonetheless.

And he addressed difficult and looming questions about whether students across the state would be able to return to class, even if not all teachers were vaccinated. It’s a live debate happening across the country, and across the vast California statewide standards are elusive.

“I want to vaccinate our teachers,” he said. “But when you get less than 600,000 first doses per week, we have to be honest with people and parents that it is very unlikely that we will be able to achieve this very idealistic goal before the end of the school year. .

Still, he said, negotiations were ongoing. And – you guessed it – there would be more announcements soon.

[Track California coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.]

Read more:

  • Colleges have promised a safer spring. But then came the variants – and the students. [The New York Times]

  • Uber and Lyft drivers have been on a roller coaster over the past year. And fall was another dip, as drivers had to choose between protecting themselves or spending their days in cars with strangers. [The New York Times]

If you missed it, read “The Primal Scream,” a series that explores how working mothers have been pushed to the breaking point of the pandemic and what it says about our society. [The New York Times]

  • Where do we see coronavirus variants and mutations? And which should we be most worried about? Learn more with this tracker. [The New York Times]

  • And learn more about the possibility a single vaccine that would work against all coronaviruses, present and future. [The New York Times]

Also: Help us to know the results of the pandemic by share the memories of someone you have lost.


  • Thieves Across The Country Sweep Catalytic Converters From Cars. They are critical emission control devices that contain traces of precious metals. [The New York Times]

  • Investigators said on Tuesday that the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others, was probably caused by the pilot’s decision to fly in the clouds, in violation of federal rules. [The New York Times]

  • A revived state bill limit the ability of national and local law enforcement authorities to purchase military-type equipment. Supporters say protesters were encountered frequently last summer with excessive force – facilitated by police departments’ access to such equipment – and police groups say such legislation would interfere with their operations. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

  • Meet LeRonne Armstrong, the new Oakland Police Chief. He has a difficult job ahead of him: the department has been under federal supervision for 18 years. [Oaklandside]

  • There are five candidates spread over one big question – managing the pandemic to revive the region’s economy – in the race to become the Supervisor of District 2 of Orange County. They will replace Rep. Michelle Steel, a Republican who was narrowly elected to the House, after opposing public health guidelines as chair of the board. [The Orange County Register]

  • Fifty years ago, the Sylmar earthquake rocked Los Angeles awakened to what had been a largely unrecognized danger. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • Birria’s Internet Hype it is complicated. Eating delicious birria is not. [The New York Times]

  • Looking for a creative and more lasting Valentine’s Day gesture? Make your loved one a bouquet of dried flowers. [The New York Times]


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley and has reported statewide, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.

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Travel News

What to watch out for this week in the event of a pandemic

(This article is part of California today newsletter. Register to have it delivered to your inbox.)

Hello.

The good news? Coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations have seen a steady and steep decline in California, suggesting that a combination of inoculations and emergency restrictions implemented during the holidays helped the state get through the worst of its most terrifying wave.

[Track coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths across California.]

But as Californians adjust to reopened life and grapple with a massive vaccination campaign that readers have described as confusing and inconsistent – despite efforts to do otherwise – there are many unanswered questions as to how which we will move forward.

This week may shed some light on our direction. Here’s what to watch:

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a partnership with the federal government to accelerate efforts to immunize millions of Californians.

Standing outside the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on Wednesday, the governor said the Biden administration would send additional supplies and personnel to help set up the stadium as a mass vaccination site that would open on February 16 and be in able to dispense approximately 6,000 doses. per day. A second mass vaccination site is expected to open under the same partnership in Cal State Los Angeles.

But while these will certainly come in handy, two other partnerships with states have the potential to further transform vaccine deployment in California.

These would be the blanket agreements with Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente, two of the state’s largest health care insurers.

[Read more about the challenges in the state’s vaccine rollout.]

Essentially, the companies have agreed to help streamline vaccine distribution statewide, with a special focus on vulnerable communities, and they have agreed to do so without making a profit, Newsom said Wednesday. Beyond that, however, state officials have provided few details on how these partnerships will work.

How much could this help hand over the reins of vaccine distribution to Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente?

Dr. David Lubarsky, executive director of UC Davis Health, told me that, given that the two have existing relationships with most of the state’s health systems, he thinks that “this is a shift. in the right direction ”.

[Track how the vaccine rollout is going across the country.]

The key, he said, will be figuring out how to assign more doses to healthcare providers who can quickly identify patients who should be prioritized for vaccines based on factors such as their age, chronic disease and if they live in a particularly affected community. .

Then, these trusted doctors or clinicians will be in a better position to convince reluctant or worried patients to get vaccinated.

“Right now we are talking about vaccine supply, but in mid-February we will be talking about vaccine acceptance,” Dr Lubarsky said. “We need to get the vaccines in the hands of the providers because that is what patients want to hear.”

[Read more about how far-right and anti-vaccination activists have been emboldened in California.]

On Sunday, the San Francisco Public School District and unions representing employees announced a tentative agreement to allow students to return to class.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the deal requires a return to in-person education only after the city is moved to the second most restrictive (or red) reopening level, and vaccines are made available to workers. on the spot. The move has been hailed as desperately needed progress.

“This is a major step forward towards a goal we share with so many parents: the safe reopening of school buildings for students and staff”, unions said in a statement.

[If you missed it, catch up on the debate over reopening California schools.]

But, as The Chronicle reported, the deal also immediately drew criticism from some experts, who said the process should go faster, highlighting federal guidelines suggesting schools can safely reopen with precautions. .

And the deal comes after months of tension between city leaders and the school board, which the Mayor of London Breed and others have criticized for focusing more attention on a controversial effort to rename schools instead. than to reopen them.

Last week, the city made the extraordinary decision to sue the neighborhood in the hopes of forcing an outcome.

Across the state, such tense debates are unfolding over how to reopen schools safely without putting educators at risk.

In Los Angeles, the school principal and the head of the teachers’ union expressed their joint outrage over a city councilor’s plan to sue the district in a similar effort, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The policy adds an extra layer of complication: the former mayor of San Diego, Kevin faulconer, has made the reopening of schools a centerpiece of his preventive campaign for governorship.

Was a decision to restrict indoor worship a misguided “foray into chair epidemiology”? Or was it the correction of an unconstitutional restriction on religion, when secular businesses, such as shopping malls, factories and warehouses, are allowed to be opened indoors?

Either way, the busted Supreme Court ruling on Friday was one of the biggest legal victories for challengers of California’s strict Covid-19 rules.

The court partially supported California’s ban on indoor worship, lifting the ban entirely but allowing capacity restrictions. The move, my colleague Adam Liptak reported, followed a similar ruling in a New York case, further strengthening a new direction for the court.

[Read the full story about the ruling.]

The governor’s office on Saturday released revised guidelines in response to the decision and promised more detailed guidelines, according to the Associated Press.

Yet Mr Newsom said last week that the threat of legal battles had not shaped his administration’s pandemic policies.

“If I was concerned about legal action, I would have collapsed a year ago,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.


  • Football fans know what old quarterbacks look like. It’s not like Tom Brady, 43 year old cyborg from Bay Area, that led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory on Sunday. [The New York Times]

  • UC Berkeley graduate Aaron Rodgers and beloved son of Chico has been named league MVP for the third time in his career. In his acceptance speech, he also casually thanked his “fiancee,” who naturally sparked much speculation. [CBS]

    If you missed it, read everything that happened at the Super Bowl. [The New York Times]


When Los Angeles-raised poet Amanda Gorman recited “The Hill We Climb,” at the presidential inauguration last month, it was immediately obvious we would see her more. (About a week later, IMG Models, a large talent agency, announced that they would represent her.)

On Sunday, she performed another poem, “Chorus of the Captains,” in a pre-recorded segment before the Super Bowl. The piece honored the three honorary captains, chosen to enter the raffle for their frontline service during the pandemic.

The trio included Trimaine Davis, a teacher from Los Angeles who helped his students obtain laptops for distance education.

“They took the lead,” she says in the poem. “Exceed all expectations and limits.”

Ms. Gorman, 22, was the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl, one of the biggest stages for an artist.


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley, and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.