Air quality agency allows for more cremations in Orange County

Officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District said on Monday, Jan. 25, it has lifted restrictions on the number of cremations allowed in Orange County as officials try to address a backlog of cremations.

Limitations were previously suspended in Los Angeles County and the order is being extended there.

The order signed Monday by Wayne Nastri, executive officer of South Coast Air Quality Management District, comes as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency confirm the growing backlog of cremation cases within each county constitutes a threat to public health.

As of Jan. 15, there are more than 2,700 bodies being stored at hospitals and coroner’s offices. The order is effective immediately and expires on Feb. 4.

There are 14 permitted crematoriums in Orange County.

The additional emissions that would be emitted are not expected to have a significant impact on regional air quality, Nahal Mogharabi, spokesperson for the district, said. “Although there will be a temporary increase in emissions during the short period of the emergency order, the expected air toxic impacts resulting from increased activity at these facilities are relatively small.”

To qualify, a cremation facility must be reaching or exceeding its limits. Before getting started, the crematorium must send an email notification to the air quality agency.

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Dominion sues Rudy Giuliani for $1.3 billion over ‘Big Lie’ about election fraud

By Katelyn Polantz | CNN

Dominion Voting Systems has sued former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for defamation after he pushed the “Big Lie” about election fraud on his podcast and TV appearances.

Dominion is seeking more than $1.3 billion in damages.

The lawsuit notes that while Giuliani spread falsehoods about Dominion being owned by Venezuelan communists and corrupting the election, he did not make those claims in lawsuits he pushed on behalf of Trump.

This is the second defamation lawsuit Dominion has filed in recent weeks seeking to recoup its losses following the Trump post-election disinformation campaign. The vote auditing company previously sued lawyer Sidney Powell, who pushed similar claims alongside Giuliani. The Powell lawsuit is still in its earliest stage.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Coronavirus: Newsom may lift statewide stay-at-home order Monday

A statement sent in a state business association’s letter to its members Sunday raised speculation that Gov. Gavin Newsom could lift the statewide stay-at-home order Monday that has been in effect since early last month.

According to a copy of the letter, California Restaurant Association members were told that “late this evening, senior officials in the Newsom administration informed us that the Governor will announce tomorrow that the stay-at-home order will be lifted in all regions of the state.”

The letter listed the Bay Area, Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley as under the order, with the Sacramento and Northern California regions not currently under any order. Some north state counties saw their restrictions lifted just before mid-month.

“Again, a formal announcement is expected tomorrow and we will send you further information as soon as it is available,” the letter closes. “For now, we thought you’d like to know the good news.”

BREAKING: I have obtained an email from the California Restaurant Association that says @GavinNewsom will be lifting the stay-at-home order for all regions across the state tomorrow. This includes the San Joaquin Valley Region that contains all Central Valley counties

— Mederios Babb (@mederiosbabb) January 25, 2021

 

No official word on any change came from the governor’s office late Sunday, but local and regional health departments could still impose orders advising closure of businesses.

Although state case counts have trended downward recently, the coronavirus has continued to leave a lethal mark, with the state passing 3 million cases last week and vaccine access running up against supply limits and distribution constraints.

Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.

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UFC 257: Dustin Poirier knocks out Conor McGregor in 2nd round

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Dustin Poirier punches Conor McGregor of Ireland in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Dustin Poirier punches Conor McGregor of Ireland in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (L-R) Conor McGregor of Ireland punches Dustin Poirier in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, Dustin Poirier reacts after his knockout victory over Conor McGregor of Ireland in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Joanne Calderwood of Scotland punches Jessica Eye in a flyweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Michael Chandler punches Dan Hooker of New Zealand in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Amanda Ribas of Brazil punches Marina Rodriguez of Brazil in a strawweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Andrew Sanchez punches Makhmud Muradov of Uzbekistan in a middleweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Arman Tsarukyan of Armenia punches Matt Frevola in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Khalil Rountree kicks Marcin Prachnio of Poland in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Sara McMann punches Julianna Pena in a bantamweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Amir Albazi of Iraq punches Zhalgas Zhumagulov of Kazakhstan in a flyweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Dustin Poirier stopped Conor McGregor with a flurry of punches midway through the second round Sunday (late Saturday night PST), avenging his loss to the Irish superstar with a knockout victory at UFC 257.

Poirier (26-7) caught McGregor with a series of shots to the head before buckling his knees with two left hands. Poirier then sent McGregor to the canvas with a short right hand and finished it swiftly, setting off stunned excitement among the few thousand screaming fans allowed inside the Etihad Arena on Yas Island.

In his first fight in a year, McGregor (22-5) had a strong first round before he was stopped by punches for the first time in his mixed martial arts career.

McGregor, whose previous four losses all came by submission, stayed on the canvas for several moments afterward, gathering himself after his second loss in three fights since 2016.

“You know, it’s hard to overcome inactivity over long periods of time,” said McGregor, who hadn’t fought since beating Donald Cerrone last January. “I just wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be, but Dustin is some fighter. If you put in the time, you’re going to get cozy in here. I have to dust it off and come back, and that’s what I will do. … I’ll take my licks, but I’m gutted.”

McGregor and Poirier met for the first time in September 2014 as featherweights, and McGregor won by knockout in just 106 seconds during his incredible early-career success. McGregor became the featherweight champion 15 months later, while Poirier rebuilt his career with just one loss in his next 11 fights.

With a second chance to derail McGregor while boosting his own hopes of regaining the lightweight title, Poirier didn’t miss.

Sporting a shaved head and a beard, McGregor pushed the action early against Poirier, who landed an early takedown before getting backed against the cage for stretches of the first round. In the second, Poirier bothered McGregor with leg kicks before throwing the punches that ended it.

In the co-main event at UFC 257, three-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler made a stunning UFC debut with a violent knockout of New Zealand’s Dan Hooker midway through the first round.

Chandler could be the next matchup for Poirier in a fight for the lightweight title apparently vacated by long-reigning 155-pound champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, who announced his retirement after his final victory last fall.

UFC President Dana White so far has been unable to persuade Nurmagomedov to go back on his vow to his mother to quit the sport after his father’s death, not even for a wildly lucrative rematch with McGregor, who repeatedly vowed to fight on after this loss to Poirier.

McGregor has not fought regularly in recent years, but his popularity was undiminished: UFC 257 is expected to be one of the most popular pay-per-view events in the promotion’s history, according to White, and distribution problems in the U.S. early in the PPV portion of the card led fans to bombard social media and ESPN with complaints.

Chandler’s long-anticipated UFC arrival was worth the wait for his 27th professional fight in a career that began in 2009.

After a deliberate start, Chandler (22-5) jabbed to the body as he lunged forward and caught Hooker with a left hand to the face that crumpled his opponent. Chandler finished a dazed Hooker with punches on the ground before climbing atop the cage and doing a full standing backflip into the octagon from atop the fence.

And Chandler was still fired up in his post-fight interview, calling the bout “the greatest moment of my professional life.”

“Conor McGregor! Surprise, surprise, there’s a new king in the lightweight division,” Chandler added. “Dustin Poirier, your time is coming. And Khabib, if you ever do see fit to grace us with your presence back here in the UFC octagon in your quest for 30 (victories), you know you’ve got to beat somebody, so beat me — if you can!”

Marina Rodriguez opened the pay-per-view portion of UFC 257 by upsetting fellow Brazilian strawweight contender Amanda Ribas. Rodriguez got a second-round stoppage with a flurry of punches and a knee in the opening minute.

UFC 257 concluded a run of three shows in eight days with a few thousand fans allowed inside the promotion’s coronavirus bubble in the Middle East. The promotion hadn’t held shows with fans since before the pandemic began last March.

The UFC returns to Las Vegas in two weeks for another run of shows at the fan-free Apex gym on its corporate campus.

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2021 promises a remake of industrial spaces in O.C.

We’ve been blessed with five grandchildren – two of whom live within walking distance. We see them often. It’s AWESOME! Our oldest is obsessed with the history of the Titanic. Go figure. Suffice to say we’ve become quite expert on the pitfalls of icebergs.

As yet another documentary was consumed last night, my thoughts veered – sorry – to commercial real estate. Not the disaster part but the iceberg part. You see, what’s happening currently with industrial real estate is akin to those floating behemoths of frozen H2O – if you can’t see below the surface – you’ll miss 80% of the market’s activity.

If we take a look at north Orange County, which includes Anaheim, Placentia, Yorba Linda, Brea, Fullerton and Orange – and throw in East Yorba Linda, AKA Corona – for good measure – you will find a startling lack of available Class A buildings. And by Class A, I’m referring to those constructed since 2010. Many of these cities have ZERO availabilities above 100,000 square feet.

What’s special about Class A you may be wondering? Well, new inventory comes equipped with several goodies – such as taller ceilings, more powerful fire suppression and greater truck access. Might I mention ALL of these goodies are needed for the e-commerce occupants that stack and ship things.

One of the advantages enjoyed by the Inland Empire? There are still large swaths of land to be developed into concrete monsters and the existing buildings are newer. So what? Inland Empire lease rates are quickly surpassing those of north Orange County — especially if it’s a Class A building in Ontario vs. a Class C in Anaheim.

Occupants are paying for image and quality. So what if they drive a bit farther? Their business runs so much more efficiently.

So, how about what’s happening beneath the waves, so to speak?

Developers are voraciously gobbling campuses of industrial buildings formerly housing manufacturing entities. We saw this begin around 2003 and continue with a vengeance through 2008. Oops! Then came that minor reset! It started up again around 2014. Panattoni Development’s re-tool of the Boeing campus in East Anaheim was spectacular. It’s now a wonderful mix of quality manufacturing and logistics buildings delivered over several phases. Even Disney relocated its costume operation to the project.

Beckman Coulter in Fullerton must also be mentioned. If you’re ever in the neighborhood of Harbor and Lambert, take a look. You’ll be impressed! Western Realco created a masterful layout of logistics spaces that engendered great appeal and demand.

But over the last six months, acquisition activity has been turbo-charged! A former National Oilwell Varco site in Brea will soon house a gorgeous 108,000-square-foot development. Part of the former Mitsubishi holdings in Cypress will be re-developed by scraping some existing buildings and leaving some more on the 22-acre parcel.

Kimberly Clark’s operation – formerly located on Orangethorpe in Fullerton – could very soon be the home of your favorite warehouse operation. Planned are several large boxes for that site. Finally, that location you pass on the 91 Freeway – Universal Alloys? Yep, it’s also slated for a new development.

The landscape of available Class A inventory should change dramatically over the next 12 months. It will be curious to see if any of the buildings actually hit the market, or if they are simply pre-leased. I’m betting on the latter.

Allen C. Buchanan, SIOR, is a principal with Lee & Associates Commercial Real Estate Services in Orange. He can be reached at abuchanan@lee-associates.com or 714.564.7104.

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Fraud keeps some valid recipients of unemployment benefits from receiving funds

For Dara Haenel, work has been scarce.

The 34-year-old tax preparer and single mother, like millions of others statewide, saw her livelihood dry up shortly after the coronavirus pandemic hit early last year.

So Haenel, a Compton resident, joined more than 8 million others in turning to the California Employment Development Department for help — enrolling, for the first time in her life for unemployment benefits.

For months, Haenel received money on a debit card issued by Bank of America, the designated distributor of roughly $120 billion in state unemployment benefits since the pandemic’s onset, amounting to about $4 million a week.

But the system, officials say, has also been a target of fraud — rife with stolen debit cards and identity theft, among other issues. EDD officials have responded, the agency said in a Jan. 15 press release, by strengthening the screening process on 9.7 million unemployment claims filed since the pandemic began. That has resulted, the department said, in more than 1.4 million unemployment claims identified as fraudulent.

Bank of America, for its part, has identified more than 640,000 accounts for suspicious activity, according to a recent letter from the company to state leaders. That includes 76,000 cards sent to beneficiaries out of state and numerous cases of multiple cards sent to a single mailing address, the letter said.

Bank of America, together with EDD, froze 345,000 accounts in September, the company’s letter said, comprising an estimated $2 billion in fraudulent activity. Another 62,000 accounts were also frozen by the bank for various other fraud alerts. Most of the cases involved people falsely applying for benefits or identity theft.

But the anti-fraud efforts have led to an unintended consequence: Some valid recipients, such as Haenel, have been flagged erroneously — their money denied and their accounts frozen. That’s according to Haenel and Bank of America officials, and hinted at in the EDD’s letter.

The EDD responded to requests for comment about eligible recipients having their accounts frozen — as well as Haenel’s case specifically — by sending its recent press release to the Southern California News Group.

That release did not directly address why some eligible claims get flagged as potentially fraudulent.

But it did say the department sent out requests earlier this month to verify the identities of flagged claimants, in an effort to distinguish legitimate recipients from fraudulent ones.

“As claimants have their identity verified,” the department said in the release, “EDD is removing barriers on claims so payments can continue for eligible claimants – something that can occur in a matter days.”

But Haenel said she has not found the process so simple. Despite multiple attempts to satisfy the EDD, Haenel said in a recent interview, her unemployment account has remained frozen for more than a month.

“It feels pretty bad,” Haenel said, “because I am doing the best I can to keep a roof over my and my daughter’s head on top of putting her through school, not being able to work and then wondering how I will come up with my rent.”

Types of fraud

Generally, there are two main types of fraud EDD and Bank of America deal with: false unemployment claims and transaction fraud.

The former type, for which EDD has strengthened its protocols, comprises the vast majority of cases and occurs when someone files for unemployment but either is not eligible or uses a false name, said William Halldin, a spokesman for Bank of America.

Both EDD and the bank can flag potentially false claims, preventing the money from going into someone’s account. But the bank is charged with investigating potential fraud if EDD’s attempts to verify a person’s identity do not quell concerns.

But the EDD’s procedures also mean that eligible recipients who get flagged will go without much-needed cash until the problem gets fixed.

“EDD requires additional information to validate identity or eligibility,” the department’s press release said, “so payments can resume for eligible claimants.”

And make no mistake: Eligible claimants do, in fact, get mistakenly flagged, Halldin said — an unfortunate, but inevitable result of preventing actual fraud.

The second type of fraud, meanwhile, involves unemployment debit cards.

That occurs when online hackers steal a claimant’s identity or are able to obtain debit card information.

In those cases, Bank of America is in charge of identifying the fraud and stopping it, much like the company would if a regular client’s debit card was hacked.

The bank, though, also deals with the reverse of online hackers: People who spend the money they received but later say they didn’t.

Investigating either type of transaction fraud, Halldin said, can be difficult, particularly with EDD cases since the bank often does not have relationships with recipients in the same way it does with regular clients.

“We review any claim, Halldin said, “and restore the money to the debit cards when appropriate.”

But not everyone is pleased with the bank’s ability to protect clients from transaction fraud.

A recently filed federal class-action lawsuit argues Bank of America exposed unemployed California workers to fraud and suspended jobless payments after it failed to properly safeguard their benefits account.

Halldin did not directly respond to the allegations in the lawsuit. But in an official Bank of American statement, the company did say it works with the state every day to prevent criminals from getting money and ensuring legitimate recipients get their benefits.

“When fraudulent transactions occur on benefit cards,” the statement said, “we review those claims and restore money to legitimate recipients.”

The lawsuit’s arguments, though, hint at how the two types of fraud — false claims and stolen debit cards — can compound problems for those legitimately needing unemployment insurance:

A hacked account can also lead to a person’s overall unemployment claim being flagged as potentially fraudulent.

From victim to suspect

That’s exactly what happened to Haenel, the Compton tax preparer.

The single mother had her identity stolen by online hackers in October. They stole $3,000 total from her account over three separate transactions, Haenel said.

She initially tried to deal with the bank directly, Haenel said, but her efforts failed.

So Haenel hired an attorney to write a letter to Bank of America, stating she was the victim of identity theft and demanding the funds be returned to her account. The letter, however, went unanswered, Haenel said.

Last month, a reporter from Southern California News Group contacted Halldin about the situation. Then, two days before the end of the year, Haenel said, her money was back.

Halldin, who ultimately helped Haenel get the money back in her account, said he was unable to comment specifically on her case. But in general, he said, the bank works to resolve conflicts.

But Haenel’s story does not end there.

Almost immediately after hackers stole $3,000 from her, Haenel said, EDD froze her account.

The department did not confirm to the Daily Breeze that her account was frozen. But Haenel said she received a letter from the department explaining her account was flagged for possible fraudulent activity. The letter, Haenel said, informed her that to reactivate her account, she needed to verify her identity with the state agency.

But she has been unable to do so — despite multiple attempts.

Haenel, for example, tried twice to verify her identity through the department’s online system. Each time she finished, she said, the system responded by saying her information was under review.

Haenel, who has been out of work for nearly a year now, has not received unemployment payments since Dec. 14, Haenel said. And, on Friday, Jan. 22, Haenel said she still lacked access to her account.

And the EDD letters have kept coming — and have become, Haenel said, increasingly intimidating. They have made her feel, she said, as if she’s being accused of fraud.

“The letters they are sending now,” she said, “make it sound like I did something wrong.”

‘Riddled’ with fraud

Halldin, for his part, said the bank has been tasked with a mammoth job and there were bound to be recipients whose accounts were flagged in error. When investigators can sort it out, Halldin said, they do.

“If we have denied a claim, we encourage legitimate unemployment recipients to contact us and ask for reconsideration of the claim,” he said, “and we can certainly take another look at the circumstances.”

Still, Halldin said, fraud has hit unemployment programs hard — and EDD and Bank of America are doing what they can to prevent it.

“Unfortunately, unemployment programs have been riddled with billions of dollars in fraud, including California’s,” the spokesman said. “Criminals have found ways to steal money from the state and the debit cards of legitimate unemployment recipients.

But Bank of America, he added, has “helped stop billions of dollars in tax dollars from getting into the hands of criminals.”

For folks like Haenel, however, having their legitimate claims frozen remains frustrating — no matter the reason.

“Unemployment is the only way for people to survive under” the pandemic, Haenel said, “and now they are ripping it away from people.

“It’s aggravating,” she added, “especially when you are just trying to get answers.”

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Ducks work overtime, earn a point, but fall to Avalanche

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog (92) celebrates after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks in overtime of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) vies for the puck against Colorado Avalanche forwards Mikko Rantanen (96) and Nathan MacKinnon (29) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche players, including Samuel Girard (49) and J.T. Compher, celebrate a goal against Anaheim Ducks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) and Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (29) vie for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) stops a shot in front of Colorado Avalanche forwards Nazem Kadri (91) and Valeri Nichushkin (13) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, left, and Ducks forward Carter Rowney chase the puck during the first period of Friday’s game at Honda Center. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forwards Tyson Jost (17) controls the puck as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41) defends against Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jacob Larsson (32) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks forward Carter Rowney (24) falls over Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (96) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (96) controls the puck while defended by Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm (47) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) works between Colorado Avalanche forwards Valeri Nichushkin (13) and Gabriel Landeskog (92) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert (11) gets caught between an official and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jacob Larsson (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) blocks a shot as Devon Toews (7) defends against Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones (49) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones (49) works against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews (7) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) stops a shot by Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert (11) controls the puck next to Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones (49) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) and forward Nathan MacKinnon (29) defend as Anaheim Ducks forward Derek Grant (38) shoots during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri (91) falls as he chases the puck in front of Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard (49) works with the puck next to Anaheim Ducks forward Maxime Comtois (53) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique (14) celebrates Jakob Silfverberg (33) after scoring against the Colorado Avalanche during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog celebrates after scoring against Anaheim Ducks in overtime of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche players celebrate after an overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks in an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

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ANAHEIM — The man atop the Ducks’ most-wanted list remained in trade limbo on Friday.

No, not top prospect Trevor Zegras. He continued to hone his craft with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

The Ducks were said to be among the most aggressive teams pursuing a deal for Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Columbus Blue Jackets, increasing their offer for the 22-year-old center. The Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets reportedly were the other teams in the mix.

A deal was expected to be completed by the end of the weekend.

No question, the Ducks could have used all of Dubois’ many skills with the puck as they struggled to score again during a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center. The goal-starved Ducks’ overall play was vastly improved over their first four games of the season.

But they didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard and they fell to 1-2-2.

The Ducks have only eight goals in five games.

Gabriel Landeskog scored 1:38 into OT to lift the Avalanche (3-2-0), chasing down his own rebound and slipping the puck into the net from near the right goal post. Ducks goalie John Gibson made a spectacular initial save, but couldn’t reset himself in time to stop the second bid.

“That’s the best game we’ve played,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought our guys played hard. We had lots of chances to score. We had lots of looks at their net. Some guys who maybe hadn’t had a lot of attempts on net, a lot of shots, woke up.”

The Ducks rallied from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to force the game to OT and earn a point.

They wanted the second one, too.

“It’s so disappointing not to get the points when you play well like that,” said Eakins, who was every bit as encouraged by his team’s play Friday as he was upset about it after Wednesday’s loss to the Minnesota Wild. “We’ll let it hurt for a little bit, but we are going to take some good out of this game.”

Mikko Rantanen gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead at 6:20 of the third period, chipping home a centering pass from rookie defenseman Bowen Byram. Adam Henrique then answered for the Ducks 1:22 later, set up by Danton Heinen for his first goal of the season.

Gibson then saved Nathan MacKinnon’s penalty shot 47 seconds later to preserve the 2-2 tie at 8:31 of the third. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm was whistled for covering the puck with his hand while it was in the crease during a goalmouth scramble.

“That’s a dangerous player (MacKinnon) and ‘Gibby’ handled it like it was nothing,” Eakins said of Gibson, who made 29 saves in his return to the net after sitting out Wednesday. “That’s a massive save at an absolutely critical part of the game. But that’s what ‘Gibby’ brings.”

Jakob Silfverberg nearly produced the tying goal, after Joonas Donskoi scored a power-play goal to put Colorado ahead 1-0 only 2:56 into the game. Philipp Grubauer denied Silfverberg’s initial try with a toe save and then sprawled to deflect the rebound attempt and keep it out of the net.

Silfverberg was one of the names Eakins named after the Ducks’ listless 3-2 loss to the Wild on Wednesday. In fact, Silfverberg was benched for several shifts in the second period, along with linemates Henrique and Heinen as Eakins tried to jump-start his team.

On

Friday, Eakins started fourth-line grinders Nicolas Deslauriers, Derek Grant and Carter Rowney, not to send a message to his more gifted skaters and playmakers but simply to get the Ducks off to a better start than in their first four games of the season.

It didn’t work.

Lindholm was penalized for holding 59 seconds into the opening period, and Donskoi made the Ducks pay with a shot from the lower portion of the right faceoff circle that ricocheted off the right goal post and past Gibson for Colorado’s 10th power-play goal in 22 chances this season.

Lindholm redeemed himself with a wicked shot off Grubauer’s outstretched glove 47 seconds into the second period, tying the score 1-1 by converting from the left wing after a clever pass from Rickard Rakell. Ryan Getzlaf also assisted, moving him within seven of 700 for his career.

“We definitely had some steps moving in the right direction, I think, but if you want to be a winning team you have to win these types of games, too,” Lindholm said. “It’s a long season and we’ve only played five games. If we can keep taking strides like we’ve been doing, it’s going to be a fun year.”

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Help is coming to I-5 commuters at the OC-LA border

Q. What is the status of the huge construction project on the I-5 Freeway, from just beyond the Orange Curtain to the I-605 Freeway? Orange County used Measure M money many years ago to upgrade the I-5. But going north, traffic screeches to a halt as the freeway bottlenecks down to three lanes. Going south, it’s always been a sigh of relief to reach the “home” side of the Orange County line and have the freeway gloriously open up and be free-flowing. We were warned at the outset of this long-awaited improvement that it would be a long-term project. I recall something about five years. It seems to have dragged on forever, and no newspaper ever seems to mention it or update the status.

– Roger Gregston, Lake Forest

A. Roger, you came to the right place for an answer.

Help, in the form of a $1.9 billion project that began construction in late 2011, is on the way. Many improvements are being made on the I-5 from the Orange County line to the I-605, a six-mile stretch.

Most notably, in each direction it will go from three to five lanes.

“We’ll match the Orange County side,” said Marc Bischoff, a spokesman for Caltrans in Los Angeles County.

The fourth lane is partially in use now and most of it will be open by late February, Bischoff said. The fifth lane, for carpools, will open in mid-2022 when the project is completely finished.

In addition to more lanes, on- and offramps will be lengthen, traffic signals at the base of the offramps synchronized, and some off-freeway improvements tossed in as well.

Honkin’ update: A couple of weeks ago, a Department of Motor Vehicles official said in Honk that getting personalized plates has been slowed down to four to six months because of pandemic-related delays in production and delivery. Reader Robyn Banks of Anaheim had been told when he ordered them back in May it would take six to eight weeks. He finally got them after months and months of waiting.

But why the delay exactly? The DMV official wasn’t sure, so Honk told you he would get out his shovel and dig.

Well, Michele Kane, an assistant general manager with the California Prison Industry Authority, told him the inmates in the license-plate factory at Folsom State Prison typically churn out 48,000 license plates a day. They have been making California’s plates since 1947.

“The number has been reduced by the pandemic, and the number fluctuates daily,” she said. “We still try to target 48,000 a day.”

The prison prioritizes “the health and safety of our workforce,” she said, so “we have seen a reduction of approximately 25% (in the workforce) to meet health and safety guidelines.”

In regard to standard-issue license plates, the DMV does seem to have enough on hand.

Honkin’ fact: Doesn’t take long to get personalized license plates in Washington, D.C. – at least for the country’s leader. During Wednesday’s inauguration celebration, President Joe Biden rode in the presidential Cadillac limo, affectionately called “The Beast.” The license-plate number? “46,” as in he is the United States’ 46th president. President Donald Trump was the first president to ride in this version of The Beast, in 2018.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at honk@ocregister.com. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk. Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

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Adrian Kempe helps Kings rally past Avalanche for first win

  • Kings center Gabriel Vilardi falls next to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves during the third period of Thursday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) scores against Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche players celebrate after a goal by right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) against the Kings during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon shoots and scores during the first period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Kings on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) defends against Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher, left, and Kings center Michael Amadio (10) fight during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings center Gabriel Vilardi (13) scores against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • The puck shot by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, not seen, flies past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska (32) for a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • The Kings celebrate a goal by defenseman Drew Doughty (8) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska (32) dives to catch the puck during the second period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Kings on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) blocks a shot by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves, center, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. Kings’ Olli Maatta (6) defends. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings center Trevor Moore (12) and center Blake Lizotte (46) defend against Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska blocks a shot by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (8) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings right wing Adrian Kempe, second from right, celebrates with center Anze Kopitar (11) after scoring a goal during the third period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings players celebrate after right wing Adrian Kempe (9) scored a goal during the third period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska is at left. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) trips Colorado Avalanche left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. Brown was penalized for tripping. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick makes a save during the second period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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The Kings earned their first victory of the season Thursday with a 4-2 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center.

The game saw them rebound from a 2-0 deficit and turn in a domineering effort in the second half of a meeting with the Stanley Cup favorite.

After three one-goal losses to start the season, including two in which the Kings were up by two going into the third period, Coach Todd McLellan was pleased that his team was able to pull one out.

“It wasn’t a Picasso but we don’t need perfection right now,” McLellan said. “It was a happy night at the end, but it was stressful throughout.”

Defenseman Drew Doughty and forward Gabe Vilardi both scored power-play goals for the Kings (1-1-2). Winger Adrian Kempe, who skated on the top line, scored the game-winner and center Blake Lizotte added an empty-net goal. Center Anze Kopitar contributed two assists. Jonathan Quick returned to his net and made 24 of 26 saves on his 35th birthday.

Center Nathan MacKinnon and right winger Mikko Rantanen scored for the Avalanche (2-2-0). Hunter Miska made his first career start in net and stopped 23 shots while allowing three goals.

Though the Kings began the game aggressively and drew a penalty, they gave up the game’s first goal soon after their power play. MacKinnon took the puck to the net for a backhand shot. That generated a rebound for Rantanen, who pushed the puck home for his third goal of the season and his second in as many games against the Kings.

The Kings have surrendered the first goal in each of their four games in 2021.

Just under seven minutes into the first period, Jeff Carter sent Andreas Athanasiou into the offensive zone with speed, where he left a drop pass for Lizotte. Lizotte’s shot was the second Kings attempt to hit the post in the first seven minutes Thursday.

The next goal also went to Colorado, when MacKinnon fired a laser to the far side for a power-play goal with 45 seconds left in the opening period. It was perhaps the only significant blemish on the Kings’ penalty killers, who along with Quick helped shift momentum in the Kings’ favor as the game continued.

The Kings got on the board during an extended five-on-three power play. Miska beat back some sustained pressure, but the Kings regrouped. Kopitar’s pass from the goal line to the high slot found Doughty with a clear shooting angle. Doughty’s blast – his first goal of the season – halved the Avs’ lead.

“Having extended five-on-three time is big, and nowadays you’ve got to score or else you’re behind,” Kopitar said.

Kopitar played in career game No. 1,077, all of them with the Kings. That mark tied him with team president and former left wing Luc Robitaille for the third-most in team history. They trail only Dave Taylor (1,111), who drafted Kopitar as the Kings’ general manager, and Kopitar’s teammate Dustin Brown.

“We’ve played together for the better part of 15 years and he’s like a brother to me,” Kopitar said of Brown. “To be able to have him alongside is very special to me, and hopefully we can keep this thing rolling.”

The second power-play unit also converted for the Kings, knotting the score at two. A decisive pass to Vilardi at the right-wing wall allowed him to skate into the faceoff circle and let fly with a rising wrist shot from a sharp angle that banked off Miska’s mask and into the net.

The Kings trailed in shots on goal 17-7 but were tied at 23 midway through the third period as they carried the play later in the game.

“We just kept going. We just kept playing. We got down early and then we just kept battling. We had lots of penalties but other than that we played good five-on-five and the (power play) came up big,” Vilardi said.

The Kings took a lead in shots and goals simultaneously with a hair under four minutes remaining.

Kopitar received the puck down low and spun away from the net to sweep the puck to Kempe for a redirection that gave the Kings their first lead. It was Kempe’s second goal in his last two games, and if not for two scoring changes he might have ended up with a goal in each of his first four outings.

Kopitar said he knew Kempe was in front and tried to fool the defense by turning away from the net. He backhanded the puck to Kempe, who had boxed out his defender in a way that would have made Dennis Rodman proud.

Colorado pulled its goalie with more than two minutes to play and applied pressure six-on-five. Left wing Gabriel Landeskog dinged the post from point-blank range in Colorado’s best chance late in the game.

Doughty and Mikey Anderson, a pairing the Kings might deploy more frequently, were caught on the ice for a shift of more than two minutes as time wound down. But the Kings were no worse for wear as they forced a turnover and Lizotte lofted the puck into the open net to secure the 4-2 victory.

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Coronavirus: California passed 3 million cases, 34,000 deaths on Jan. 19

California’s case count has hit the 3 million milestone.

According to data gleaned from local public health departments across the state, there were 57,307 new cases and 700 new deaths reported from Tuesday, Jan. 19.

And, of the 3.2 million vaccinations distributed throughout the state, 1.39 million have been administered, tracking showed.

 

California regions and ICU capacity for Jan. 19

As ICU capacity dwindles in Southern California the percentages in this graphic have been adjusted by state public health officials to represent the high levels of COVID-19 patients among all ICU patients. More actual beds may be available.

Vaccines administered as of Jan. 17

The California Department of Public Health site shows a total of 3,226,775 vaccine doses, which includes the first and second dose, have been shipped to local health departments and health care systems as of Jan. 17.

The totals of vaccines administered across six different regions are in the maps below. As of Jan. 17, a total of 1,393,224 vaccine doses have been administered statewide.That’s up 609,748 from the Jan. 11 report. The state cautions that the numbers do not represent true day-to-day change as reporting may be delayed.

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