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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:
Changes in vaccine deployment
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.
The challenges of restrictions
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.