Good morning and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Thursday, April 8th, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.
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Why, one might ask, did the Central Valley town of Bakersfield develop for hours on Monday night on Twitter?
As with most questions dominating our late-stage pandemic days, the answer to that question has something to do with vaccines. In particular, how to get them.
Thousands of Southern California residents dragged north by word of mouth and electric buzz across all the usual social media platforms have arrived at Kern County’s crown jewel in search of a shot in the arm. And an open house policy that wouldn’t require those otherwise ineligible to circumvent the rules to get that shot.
As my colleague Laura Nelson reports, Cal State Bakersfield has been the go-to place for young and healthy people in Los Angeles County for more than a week, ever since it became known that the facility had more doses than patients – thousands more – and no age restrictions, Eligibility or Country of Residence.
[Read the story: “L.A.’s young and healthy head to Bakersfield for COVID-19 vaccine” in the Los Angeles Times]
Many of Southern California’s vaccine seekers will be eligible for the shot at home in about a week when the state extends vaccination eligibility to all Californians 16 and over on April 15. However, there is no guarantee that appointments will be available immediately after the vaccine 15th, especially as demand from the newly eligible individuals increases next week.
Bakersfield officials told Nelson that it is true that the website vaccinates anyone aged 16 and over, but they stopped encouraging visitors outside of the city. They warned that the clinic is intended to serve Kern County’s residents and that the appointment system is reserved for locals. But they were also determined to get shots in the arms.
“We have the capacity, we have the vaccine – it would be a crime to turn people away,” David Womack, senior vice president of Kaiser Permanente in Kern County, who helps operate the site, told Nelson.
Kaiser officials also told her that the site’s overcapacity was at least partially due to a relatively high rate of vaccine reluctance in Kern County. Local officials assessed the level of vaccine reluctance among black residents, Latino immigrants, and white evangelicals and how to deal with it. According to the Los Angeles Times Vaccine Tracker, 24.6% of Kern County’s residents received at least one dose of vaccine, compared with 33.9% of Los Angeles County’s residents and 34.5% of nationwide residents.
Emma Gallegos wrote for Bakersfield, California, reporting on some efforts by Kern County Public Health Services to ensure residents know they are eligible to receive the vaccine. These efforts included door-to-door sourcing, information booths at local grocery stores, and scheduling assistance.
Operations management for the Cal State Bakersfield site said to Gallegos that they hoped news of the opening of eligibility in the area would “help increase our immunization rates here in Kern”.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California and beyond:
Biden takes executive action to reduce gun violence: President Biden, who has made his first attempt to control gun violence since taking office, plans on Thursday to announce an effort to limit so-called ghost weapons – weapons that are sold without a serial number or other identifying information – and nominate one person from a major gun control group to be the director of the federal agency that regulates firearms. Los Angeles times
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Seventy-two years ago today, a three-year-old girl named Kathy Fiscus fell into a well in San Marino. The multi-day rescue operation was the first major event to be televised live, along with rental lights from Twentieth Century Fox. The incident pierced the nation and changed the way Americans consume news, according to Bill Deverell, one of the great historians of the American West. Deverell’s new book on the Fiscus tragedy and its far-reaching impact on American culture is fascinating and engaging read. Alta
The front page of the Los Angeles Times April 9, 1949.
(Los Angeles times)
The next Aliso Canyon could be on the west side of LA: SoCalGas’ Playa del Rey camp field could pose a far greater threat than Aliso Canyon, the site of a record-breaking gas leak. Los Angeles times
“The HR person left in an ambulance due to a panic attack. That was the environment. “An amazing array of accounts from former employees of the notoriously abusive boss and Hollywood mega-producer Scott Rudin. The Hollywood Reporter
POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) said he was making donations from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) to a domestic violence shelter in Fresno. The Florida congressman and Trump protégé is reportedly under investigation as part of a federal sex trafficking investigation involving a 17-year-old. Bakersfield Californians
Huntington Beach City Council condemned hate speech and white supremacy less than 48 hours after Ku Klux Klan leaflets were found downtown. The aviators were promoting a “White Lives Matter” rally to be held this weekend at Huntington Beach Pier. Los Angeles times
COPS, CRIME AND COURTS
Los Angeles is ready to pay nearly $ 1.6 million to settle three lawsuits in which the Los Angeles Police Department has committed alleged wrongdoing, including a $ 1.15 million payout for the shooting of a man from a LAPD helicopter. Los Angeles times
Tiger Woods was traveling as fast as 87 mph, nearly twice the speed limit, when it hit a sharp corner and crashed on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in February, the Los Angeles County Sheriff said. Los Angeles times
Covert stakeout, DNA evidence, and aerial surveillance: did state rangers go too far in bringing proceedings against two elite deer hunters for hunting violations? Sacramento Bee
HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
Far fewer California seniors are vaccinated in “red” counties than in urban areas. Overall, nearly 56% of California seniors have received the full course of a COVID-19 vaccine, but vaccination rates for seniors vary widely across the state’s 58 counties. Los Angeles times
CBS ousted two powerful television station executives on allegations of racist and abusive behavior. The move comes following an investigation by Times of TV Group President Peter Dunn and Senior VP of News David Friend. Los Angeles times
A formerly homeless grandmother competes against one of California’s biggest real estate speculators in an early test of new state law. KQED
No, the restaurants in the Bay Area never run out of ketchup. However, as more and more restaurants switched to take-away and shared ketchup bottles were exchanged for individual packets, it has become more difficult to find those individual packets in some states. San Francisco Chronicle
A poem for your Thursday: “I never found out how to become free” by Donika Kelly. Poets.org
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Los Angeles: morning clouds, 75th San Diego: sunny, 70th San Francisco: sunny, 61st San Jose: sunny, 66th Fresno: sunny, 77th Sacramento: sunny, 75th.
Today’s California memory is from Kristen Breck:
My father grew up in Taft and we drove out of the Bay Area several times a year to visit my grandparents there. My mother bought us lifesavers and chiclets for the long drive, and we looked out the window at the rows and rows of crops. We stopped for a picnic in Los Banos, where the dry heat reminded us that we were far from home. But the smell of oil in the air told us we had made it to Taft. As soon as I got out of the car, the tangy, deep smell of oil and the lively, tight hugs of my grandparents struck me.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas, and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.