New storm to deliver more snow, rain and wind to Southern California

A storm forming to the north was expected to arrive in Southern California between late Sunday and early Monday, Jan. 25, dropping temperatures far below average, dumping rain, snow and hail, and likely snarling traffic in the region, meteorologists said.

Clouds parted Sunday after leaving more than a foot of fresh powder at Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood over the weekend and puddles across Southern California. Those will be replaced by another wet weather system expected to pass over the area Sunday night through Monday morning.

It will bring highs 20 degrees cooler than normal Monday, and snow at elevations as low as  2,000 feet in parts of Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and Riverside Counties, with “significant amounts” projected to fall in Los Angeles County at elevations above 5,000 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

Traffic is already building. Be prepared for long wait times if heading to the mountains. Bring a full tank of gas and don’t forget your chains. pic.twitter.com/Dphhpm6zef

— Mt Baldy Fire Department (@MtBaldyFire) January 24, 2021

Piles of fresh snow will could potentially wreak havoc for motorists, especially along the 15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass, as well as the 5 Freeway over the Grapevine, meteorologists said. Travelers were advised to monitor traffic conditions and plan for possible closures. Drivers should be wary of rain or snow-slicked roads.

In Van Nuys, temperatures were projected to come down from 61 degrees on Sunday to 55 degrees on Monday. Monday’s highs were forecast at 57 degrees in Santa Ana, 52 degrees in Riverside, 49 degrees in Rancho Cucamonga.

The weather pattern at the start of the workweek will also deliver winds averaging 30-45 mph, with gusts moving as fast as 65 mph, to portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Monday afternoon should be the windiest period of the coming storm.

Meteorologists warned that extended exposure to cold and wind could be life-threatening. Los Angeles County, health officials issued a cold weather alert through Thursday for the mountains and Antelope Valley. Similar guidance will be in effect through Tuesday for the Santa Monica Mountains and the Santa Clarita Valley.

Our next storm remains on track to bring areas of heavy rain and snow, windy conditions, and cold temperatures over the next few days. Big impacts will be felt on the roads, especially the 8 and the 15 (Cajon Pass). Spread the word and stay safe out there! #cawx pic.twitter.com/CzwCcBs7HR

— NWS San Diego (@NWSSanDiego) January 24, 2021

Cold air will contribute to an “unstable environment,” creating the potential for thunderstorms. All areas of Southern California may see rainfall by Monday. However, rainfall totals may prove to be modest, and there is only a mild possibility of flooding in the first half of the week, National Weather Service Meteorologist Adam Roser said.

The risk of deluge grows later in the week, when another, wetter storm was expected to drench Southern California beginning Wednesday and lasting until the weekend. That likely will douse most of the region with at least half an inch of rain, with some foothills and valleys in the Inland Empire, Los Angles County and Northern Orange County receiving between two and three inches, forecasters say.

People living in areas charred by the Bobcat, Ranch2 and Lake fires were advised to look for updates regarding flooding and mudslides.

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Case for a Newsom recall continues to grow

After some fits and starts, the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom appears to be gaining traction. Proponents say they have collected over 1 million signatures.

Media reports of a half-million dollar donation to the effort plus rumors of even more forthcoming are getting the attention of California’s political establishment. If the required 1.5 million valid signatures are submitted before the mid-March deadline and subsequently verified, a special election will be held and California voters will soon thereafter vote on the recall.

That is, unless the California Legislature pulls another fast one as it did in 2017, passing a last-minute change to the rules or the election calendar.

Any such attempt would be extremely unwise, with public confidence in government already low.

On the ballot, the recall question would be accompanied by a separate question of who would replace the incumbent if the recall passed. (In the October 2003 recall election of Gov. Gray Davis, a total of 135 candidates were on the ballot as replacement candidates, including pornographer Larry Flynt and former TV child star Gary Coleman).

Recalls are not easy and are fraught with many unknowns. They are expensive and the complicated politics of multiple replacement candidates, each seeking a plurality of votes, makes the state’s “jungle” primaries seem simple by comparison.

Polling is unreliable in such an environment, and there’s a Wild West atmosphere to the process.  Nonetheless, recalls are a legitimate political remedy when the public loses confidence in an elected official. At least a million Californians have reached that point.

Irrespective of whether support for the recall is broad based or narrow among California voters, it is clear that the effort is being greatly assisted by Gov. Newsom himself.

Where to start? First, the gross mismanagement of the Employment Development Department has been breathtaking. While unemployed Californians have been given the run-around when they seek the benefits to which they are entitled, fraudsters have been allowed to rob the system of more than $8 billion, according to recent estimates.

Second, the state’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has been a disaster. Despite months of advanced notice, the lack of a coherent plan on distribution has put California near or at the bottom relative to other states in the percentage of vaccines that have been delivered to the Californians who are waiting for them.

Third, the ever shifting and arbitrary metrics that have prohibited the safe reopening of businesses and schools have caused unnecessary confusion in both the private and public sectors.

Fourth, property owners were profoundly and rightfully disappointed that the governor refused to consider suspension of costly penalties for delayed payments of property taxes, even as job losses mounted, housing providers struggled to pay their bills without rental income, and commercial property owners saw their tenants shut down by state orders.

Fifth, Newsom refused to consider a deferment of the scheduled minimum-wage increase while so many service and hospitality businesses were desperately trying to keep their employees working in compliance with the state’s limitations on their ability to operate.

Sixth, property owners were stunned to see his endorsement of Proposition 15, the most significant attack on Proposition 13 in its 42-year history. The $12-billion “split roll” initiative was defeated in November, notwithstanding his support.

Finally, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s personal behavior has revealed little sensitivity to the struggles of Californians who have been asked to make extraordinary sacrifices. The infamous dinner at the French Laundry restaurant is but one example of his perceived hypocrisy.

Citizens bristle when politicians say “do as I say, not as I do.”

It would be foolish to venture a prediction about the recall effort’s success or failure.

But the outcome may well be determined by the governor’s own actions if they continue to raise legitimate questions about his competence.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

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Rams’ offseason questions include QBs, coaches, cash

Who will be the Rams’ quarterback when training camp opens in six months?

We already had 10 offseason questions in mind for the Rams, but then coach Sean McVay added that new one, because of what he said and didn’t say about Jared Goff’s future.

So now the volume for this offseason’s questions goes to 11:

1. Goff: What did McVay have in mind after the playoff loss to Green Bay when he declined to say anything more enthusiastic about Goff than “yeah, he’s the quarterback,” and said he hopes to create more “competition” for starting jobs at all positions?

Have the Rams given up on Goff’s ability to win a Super Bowl? Will they bring in a veteran quarterback to compete with Goff? Seek a quarterback more mobile than Goff to expand McVay’s playbook? Try to move on from Goff, as hard as his big contract makes that? What is backup John Wolford’s future?

The next chapter in this mystery could come Tuesday, when general manager Les Snead is scheduled to hold his first offseason press session, and Goff questions could dominate.

2. Aaron Donald: Will the defensive tackle join Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt as the only three-time winners of the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award when it’s announced Feb. 6?

Believe Donald when he says he’d just as soon have a Super Bowl ring.

3. Salary cap: How much tighter will the salary-cap squeeze get for the Rams, who already have less room to maneuver than most teams?

With NFL revenue down in the pandemic, the salary cap is projected to fall from $198.2 million in 2020 to $176 million in 2021, according to Overthecap.com.

4. Free agents to keep: With affordability an issue, who are the Rams determined to keep among their 13 unrestricted free agents when the signing period begins March 17?

Those free agents include safety (and captain) John Johnson, cornerback Troy Hill and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd from the league’s top-ranked defense, and center Austin Blythe, tight end Gerald Everett and wide receiver Josh Reynolds.

5. Free agents to sign: Which positions will they prioritize?

The answer depends a lot on the answer to No. 4, but we can guess McVay wants to add a deep threat to the receiving corps and a known quantity in a punt and kick returner.

6. Draft: Might the Rams draft a quarterback for the first time since taking Goff first overall five years ago? Having clicked with 2020 picks Cam Akers (running back), Van Jefferson (wide receiver) and Jordan Fuller (safety), what other positions need young talent? This answer might depend on the answers to Nos. 4 and 5.

The draft is April 29-March 1.

7. McVay’s focus: What will occupy most of the head coach’s attention this offseason?

It’s natural to picture McVay spending all day and night in the Ramcave inventing necessary gadgets for the offense, and preparing to be even more hands-on in offensive practice next season while new defensive coordinator Raheem Morris controls that side of things.

8. Defense: Speaking of Morris, what changes can he bring to the defense when improvement is scarcely an option?

If the secondary is shaken up in free agency, Morris will be well equipped to handle it, having coached defensive backs for much of his career.

9. Andrew Whitworth: Will the two-time All-Pro left tackle be back for a 16th NFL season, playing past his 40th birthday next December?

After the playoff loss at Green Bay, Whitworth sounded as if he’d like to keep going, but he said it depended on conversations with his family and Rams management. If not, Joe Noteboom is heir apparent. Bobby Evans is the other young tackle in waiting.

10. NFC West: Will the division champion Seahawks deal with their salary-cap issues, the Cardinals keep improving, and the 49ers get healthy?

If so, the Rams could be playing in the NFL’s best division in 2021, as they were expected to in 2020. (With the 49ers’ slide, the NFC West averaged 9 wins, second to the AFC North’s 9.5.)

11: COVID-19: The pandemic’s course will determine what events like the draft look like, whether official team workouts are held, and if there will be crowds next season at SoFi Stadium, the only NFL stadium that has yet to seat a fan.

Meanwhile, sit back and watch what should be an eventful Rams offseason.

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‘On the cusp of great things’: Dozens of other COVID vaccines working their way to public

Move over, Pfizer and Moderna. You won’t be the only games in town too much longer.

COVID-19 has existed for barely more than a year, but 64 vaccines are in clinical development and another 173 in preclinical development worldwide nonetheless, according to the World Health Organization. Dozens of hopefuls are in clinical trials in the U.S., including several by California researchers.

But the two inching closest to the finish line here — by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — could win emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as soon as this spring, which would instantly increase supply and deliver a much-needed jolt to the nation’s maddeningly sluggish mass vaccination campaign.


Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigational pharmacy technician Sara Berech prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for a clinical trial on December 15, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be submitted for emergency use by late January and is the only vaccine among leading candidates given as a single dose. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

“In science, we often say we’re on the cusp of great things — but now, really, we’re on the cusp of great things,” said Bali Pulendran, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University.

“There’s a bubbling cauldron of vaccine ideas out there. It’s unprecedented. When have we ever seen so many candidates developed in such a short amount of time?” Pulendran said. “This virus has energized every dimension of vaccinology, and we should parlay some of that energy into transforming the field as we know it. We should talk not only about targeting cancer, HIV and influenza, but a whole host of other diseases for which we don’t yet have effective vaccines.”

The breakneck pace of scientific advancement over the past year — fueled by extraordinary cooperation between researchers worldwide, unprecedented financial investment from governments, and technology that harnesses the body’s own cellular factories to produce viral proteins, rather than manufacturing them in brick-and-mortar factories — promises an end to a deadly pandemic that has infected nearly 100 million people, killed more than 2 million and paralyzed much of the world.

On the near horizon: a COVID vaccine that can protect after just one shot, rather than two. Vaccines that can be stored in regular refrigerators rather than in expensive, ultra-cold freezers. Vaccines that employ a sci-fi smorgasbord of advanced technologies to do their work.

The efficacy of these up-and-comers, however, remains to be seen — will they be as good as Moderna and Pfizer, at a stunning 95% after two shots? It seems clear that many will eclipse the low 50% bar originally set by the FDA for emergency use authorization. A more serious threat, perhaps, is the mutating virus itself: Will it evolve to evade the snares these flotillas have laid to catch it?

Time will tell. Still, more vaccines mean less disease, and less disease means fewer deaths.

The near horizon

Essentially, all vaccines work the same way, by triggering the body’s immune system so it can recognize and fight the invading disease if and when it arrives. How that’s accomplished, though, differs from vaccine to vaccine.

While the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a single strand of delicate messenger RNA, wrapped in a fatty package, to deliver instructions to human cells on how to manufacture the virus’ spike protein, both Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca use adenoviruses, of the sort that cause runny noses and common colds, to deliver more rugged, double-stranded bits of coronavirus DNA to the same end.

Johnson & Johnson uses an adenovirus that’s been modified so it can enter cells, but can’t reproduce or cause illness. Some scientists worry that this might be less effective in people who’ve been exposed to similar adenoviruses, meaning the immune system would attack before the vaccine gets to do its work. AstraZeneca tries to work around this by using a modified adenovirus from chimpanzees, which the human immune system won’t recognize.

Both of these candidates are “non-replicating viral vector vaccines,” and there are 10 using this technology in trials worldwide, according to the WHO.

The single-dose COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos., the Belgium-based branch of behemoth Johnson & Johnson, is expected to release critical data from late-stage trials in the next week or two, with emergency use authorization coming as soon as March. Vastly simpler than the two-dose regimens, the candidate appears to work.


Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Oxford BioMedica where the Oxford/Astrazeneca Covid-19 vaccine is being manufactured in Oxford on January 18, 2021. (Photo by HEATHCLIFF O’MALLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Epidemiologist and population health scientist Andrew Noymer at UC Irvine says the single-dose feature is “huge, absolutely huge.” He’s been watching with consternation as people who have received their first Pfizer and Moderna shots struggle to get appointments for the required second doses. “Two shots is more than twice as complicated as one,” he said.

Storage is vastly simpler as well. Rather than having to be frozen at very low or sub-arctic temperatures, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine can be kept in refrigerators for months. And the company’s sheer size could go a long way toward easing supply strangleholds: Johnson & Johnson has said it hopes to manufacture a billion doses by the end of the year.

AstraZeneca’s version, meanwhile, is more cumbersome, requiring two shots spaced four weeks apart. But storage is similarly simple, requiring just refrigeration rather than freezing. And while it already has emergency approval in the United Kingdom — and has been injected into arms for weeks — its path forward in the U.S. is a bit more fraught.

There were errors in AstraZeneca’s late-stage trials that the FDA frowns upon. Researchers mistakenly gave some participants just a half-dose for the first shot, and this mistake actually turned out to provide far more protection than did two full doses. The error — a half-dose, followed by a full dose — proved 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, while two full doses were just 62 percent effective.

The FDA wants more data before considering emergency use authorization for its use here, but that could happen as soon as April. The company hopes to produce up to 3 billion doses globally this year.

The farther horizon

Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong is in the early phases of testing a nonreplicating viral vector vaccine, developed by his NantKwest Inc./ImmunityBio companies, at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach.


Chen Cao, patient No. 1, gets the first shot in Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian’s Phase 1 trial of the vaccine by NantKwest, Inc. and ImmunityBio. Laura Heim, RN and clinical research coordinator, giver her the shot, while Philip Robinson, medical director of infection prevention and principal investigator for the vaccine trial, looks on. (Courtesy of Hoag)

Another California candidate, by City of Hope in Duarte, is moving out of first phase trials as well. Arcturus Therapeutics of San Diego is in second phase trials with its RNA-based vaccine. Novavax, based in Maryland, is in late-stage clinical trials and well, and dozens of other vaccine candidates are moving forward in China, Russia, Italy, Germany, Japan, the U.K., Israel and several other nations.

“My personal favorite candidate is the Indian vaccine Covaxin, which is still being tested and may be co-developed in the USA with the biotech company Ocugen,” said Egest J. Pone, project scientist in UC Irvine’s Vaccine Research & Development Center. It’s a traditional, whole, inactivated coronavirus, supplemented with common immune-response boosters.

Scientists are poring over vital variables to understand how the different vaccines perform: What is the strength of the antibody response after the first vaccine? After the second? Is a boost necessary for some and not others? Does response wane over time? Which vaccines are more durable? If a person was already exposed to the novel coronavirus, does it impact a vaccine’s efficacy, durability or side effects?

“We’re starting to collect data of that kind now,” said Philip L. Felgner, director of UC Irvine’s Vaccine Research and Development Center and Protein Microarray Laboratory and Training Facility.

At UC Irvine’s Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, director Lbachir BenMohamed is pushing the next frontier — a preemptive, “pan-coronavirus” vaccine designed to squash everything from COVID-19 to the common cold. It’s being tested in mice, with hopes of starting clinical trials in people this year.

“In the past 20 years, there have been several deadly coronaviruses, and there’s no reason to think there won’t be another in the coming years — 2025? 2028? 2030?” BenMohamed said. “The only unknown is how bad it will be. We must learn lessons from what’s happened in 2020.”

By mapping the proteins common to a variety of human and animal coronaviruses — and designing a vaccine to combat them — a pandemic could be stopped before it even starts. His lab targets the virus’ spike protein as well as about 10 others.

At Stanford, Pulendran is working on novel ways to take the guesswork out of vaccine trials altogether.

“It can take years to develop a vaccine, and most of that time is spent on testing in humans to see if it induces immunity,” he said. “What if there was some way you could tell very quickly — in smaller phase 1 trials of 50 or 100 people — whether it’s likely to work or not? You wouldn’t have to wait a year to know the likelihood of long-term responses. You could predict it in a few days.”

Pulendran’s lab is using immune-monitoring methods to do just that. By taking blood from vaccine trial volunteers, peering deeply at the genetic changes that occur — or don’t occur — in their cells, it’s possible to use computational analysis to predict how they’ll respond over time. “I feel that sort of thing is going to play an increasingly important role in testing vaccines in humans,” he said.

Again, all this means more vaccines, and more vaccines mean less disease, and less disease means less death. But that’s just part of the bigger picture, said Richard Carpiano, a public health scientist and medical sociologist at UC Riverside.

“We will still need to address supply chain and coordination issues that exist, from manufacturers all the way to the local level where the vaccines are being administered,” he said. “New vaccines will be an important asset for achieving vaccination goals, but will not be an automatic fix to the problems we have been currently experiencing with rollout.”

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First doses of COVID vaccine given at Soka University, OC’s second mass vaccination site

On Saturday’s cold and showery morning, some light broke through in Orange County’s battle with the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The county opened its second Super Point-of-Dispensing, or POD, vaccination site at Soka University in Aliso Viejo.

  • People receive their COVID-19 vaccination in the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, a mass vaccination center and the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A woman receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second mass vaccination center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A sign on the street outside of Soka University in Aliso Viejo, a mass COVID-19 vaccination center and the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People stand in line as they enter the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, a COVID-19 mass vaccination center and the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People stand in line for their COVID-19 vaccination in the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, a mass vaccination center and the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People carry their umbrellas as they arrive at the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, back center, a COVID-19 mass vaccination center and the second center in Orange County, which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People carry their umbrellas as they arrive at the COVID-19 mass vaccination center at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • An older gentleman receives his COVID-19 vaccination at the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second mass vaccination center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mike Franco with the OC Health Care Agency, stands outside of the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second mass COVID-19 vaccination center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People arrive at the COVID-19 mass vaccination center at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A woman receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second mass vaccination center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People carry their umbrellas as they arrive at the COVID-19 mass vaccination center at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People stand in line as they enter the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, a COVID-19 mass vaccination center and the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A man receives his COVID-19 vaccination in the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second mass vaccination center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People stand in line for their COVID-19 vaccination in the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, a mass vaccination center and the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People stand in line as they enter the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, a COVID-19 mass vaccination center and the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A woman receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second mass vaccination center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People arrive at the COVID-19 mass vaccination center at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • A woman receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the gymnasium at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second mass vaccination center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Despite the rain, a woman arrives at the COVID-19 mass vaccination center at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People stand under tents as they arrive at the COVID-19 mass vaccination center at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • People leave the COVID-19 mass vaccination center at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, the second center in Orange County which opened on Saturday, January, 23, 2021. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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With 1,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on hand, the inoculations began. Eventually officials hope to ramp up to delivering 3,000 to 4,000 doses a day at the site, seven days a week, as long as supplies are available.

Currently the county has about 66,000 doses of vaccine, which are being delivered at the super PODs and smaller mobile sites. Disneyland was the first large site to open.

The county receives only about 20% of the overall supply designated for Orange County, with the rest going to hospitals and private health care providers. And officials have said supplies from the state and federal government have been slower to come than anticipated.

Since the Disneyland site began dispensing vaccines on Jan. 13, more than 21,000 doses have been distributed – the recent windstorm closed down the operation for two days.

However, even if it was going full tilt with adequate supplies, the county would have a long way to go to fill demand. According to Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, Orange County has more than 600,000 residents currently eligible, which includes those 65 and older and frontline health and emergency workers.

The county is considering opening as many as three more Super PODs countywide, once it is receiving enough vaccines to keep them going.

South County need

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, whose Orange County Board of Supervisors fifth district includes the Soka campus, said having a large site in the southern part of the county is crucial, with more than 140,000 seniors in the district, including at the large nearby Laguna Woods senior community.

“It’s absolutely critical to get the most vulnerable vaccinated,” she said.

With a large number of volunteers available, Bartlett said the county has the “bandwidth” to meet demand quickly, but adds, “we can only use the vaccine available. Every dose is being shot into arms as quickly as possible.”

Aliso Viejo Mayor Tiffany Ackley said she has a personal stake in having her city host a large site. She has first-hand experience with the virus.

“My mother had COVID twice,” she said, of Ann Keith, 77, who had to be hospitalized and undergo ventilation both times before recovering. “I had to stand outside not knowing what was going on.”

For that reason, she said she is particularly gratified to have the Soka University site now in operation.

County officials have set July 4 as a target date to finish vaccinating 3.2 million O.C. residents.

Smooth sailing on Day 1

Celia Lugo, 65, and her daughter, Lauren, ducked out of the Soka University gymnasium between the showers.

“Yay, we did it,” Lauren Lugo said, stopping to take a selfie with her mom.

The Laguna Niguel residents were grateful to have the site open so close to their home.

“It went smoothly,” Celia Lugo said. “I expected it to be worse.”

Despite reports of glitches in the reservation system, Othena, the county is using and shortages in doses, attendees at the event reported no problems upon arriving.

Registering on-site was usually completed within 20 minutes and the entire process was completed in less than an hour.

“It was very fast. The shot was nice and easy,” Kathy Aliman, 67, said of the process. “I waited maybe 15 minutes.”

After sitting for another 15 minutes to make sure there were no adverse side effects, Aliman was ready to drive back to her Santa Ana home.

Signing on to register and secure the appointments for their vaccination time slot was more problematic for many, and the newly inoculated were glad to put that behind them.

County officials said this week improvements have been made to the system and there is help available through a hotline for navigating its use, but they also ask for people’s patience.

Lauren Lugo said the online website to register crashed several times.

Aliman registered on Christmas, but only received notice the day before her appointment that a dose was available to her.

Richard Sklar, 77, and his wife, Mary, 67, of Huntington Beach, registered within a day of each other, but only Richard received an email to make an appointment.

Although Mary expects it may be several weeks before her vaccine, she said, “It’s a small price to pay.”

“Once we got here it was smooth,” Richard Sklar said, although he did suffer a flat tire on the drive to Soka University.

Supervisor Doug Chafee, vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors, continued during a press conference at Soka University on Saturday to urge patience, noting that when the county receives doses for all those interested is out of its control.

“People want to get their lives back to normal,” he said. “We’re working to make sure (vaccines) get in the right arms at the right times. This is a long term process.”

 

Learn more

Vaccines at the county-operated Super PODs are available for registered individuals who meet criteria. Appointments are available through Othena.com, and appointments are scheduled based on vaccine availability. People can also contact their health care providers.

Identification and proof of eligibility at the Super PODs are required.

To view a list of those who are eligible to receive a vaccine, visit the OC Health Care Agency’s website: occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/phased-approach-vaccine-distribution.

For questions related to COVID-19, visit ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus, or follow the HCA on Facebook (@ochealthinfo) and Twitter (@ochealth).

For those needing assistance, there is a COVID-19 hotline at 714-834-2000;  Medical questions: Health Referral Line: 800-564-8448.

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Knicks Go jumps out early to win $3M Pegasus World Cup

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Knicks Go went to the lead right out of the gate and dared the other 11 runners in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational to catch him.

Nobody came close.

Picking up by far the biggest purse of his career, and doing so with ease, the heavily favored Knicks Go won the fifth running of the Pegasus on Saturday – his fourth consecutive victory, one that pushed his lifetime winnings to about $3 million.

“Great horses do great things,” trainer Brad Cox said. “And he just did something great.”

Jesus’ Team was second and 25-1 longshot Independence Hall was third. Knicks Go finished the 1 1/8 miles over the dirt at Gulfstream Park in 1:47.89 and paid $4.60, $3.60 and $3.

Jesus’ Team paid $8.60 and $4.80. Independence Hall paid $10 to show.

Knicks Go is owned by the Korea Racing Authority, and the plan is to keep him running throughout the rest of the year – even though his future stud fee surely went up a bit after he added the Pegasus win to a résumé that already included last year’s Breeders’ Cup dirt mile victory.

For now, retirement will wait until 2022.

“Outstanding performance. … We’re honored to be here, to win the race,” said Jun Park, who was at Gulfstream representing the Korea group.

Starting from the No. 4 post, Knicks Go was guided to the rail early by jockey Joel Rosario. Before long, he was in the clear and simply stayed there.

“Joel has a lot of confidence in the horse and the horse has a lot of confidence in him,” Cox said.

Rosario has been aboard Knicks Go in each of his last three wins.

“A very special horse,” Rosario said. “He just goes faster and faster. What a training job by Brad Cox, and thank you to the racing authority for the opportunity.”

Pegasus Day was a big day for Knicks Go’s connections, and also for Gulfstream, which had horseplayers trackside for the first time in more than 10 months. Pegasus Day always brings out celebrities as well; former NBA player Amar’e Stoudemire was at Gulfstream to give the call of “Rider’s Up!” moments before the race.

Attendance at Gulfstream was capped at 1,800, or about one-sixth of what the capacity was for the four previous editions of Pegasus Day. Masks were mandatory and social distancing was required, along with other protocols.

“We want people to have a good time in a safe way,” said Belinda Stronach, the Chairman and President of The Stronach Group, which oversees Gulfstream and many other tracks and training facilities.

Gulfstream has kept its normal racing schedule, even during the pandemic, even without fans.

“We’ve been so fortunate here at Gulfstream to pretty much be able to keep racing the entire year,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “It’s meant a lot to a lot of people.”

And he enjoyed Pegasus day more than most.

Pletcher had horses grab first and second in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, the race that preceded the $3 million main event, with 5-2 favorite Colonel Liam getting loose in the stretch to get a narrow win over Largent.

Colonel Liam returned $7, $4.20 and $3.20. Largent paid $5 and $3.80, while Cross Border paid $6.40 to show. It was the second Pegasus Turf victory for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who got Bricks and Mortar across the line first in the inaugural running of the grass event in 2019.

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Ducks’ Adam Henrique and linemates respond to benching and criticism

Adam Henrique was skating but going nowhere in particular for far too long.

Ducks coach Dallas Eakins had seen enough during Wednesday’s loss to the Minnesota Wild, so he benched Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg and Danton Heinen for several shifts. Eakins then called them out publicly after a 3-2 loss, saying he expected a great deal more from their line.

After all, Henrique led the Ducks with 26 goals and 43 points last season, and Silfverberg had 21 goals and 39 points. Heinen had three goals and four points in nine games after a trade from the Boston Bruins. They combined for zero goals and zero points through Wednesday’s game.

Naming names is often tricky. The players might get offended and shut down all together, rebelling against an authority figure. The general manager might call the coach into his office to remind him to keep such criticism private and within the confines of the dressing room.

Eakins certainly got the attention of his players, though, and they responded.

Henrique scored a third-period goal Friday – his first point of the season – that enabled the Ducks to send their game against the Colorado Avalanche to overtime. He also had five shots on goal, another season best. He also was credited with 10 wins in 20 faceoffs in 17 minutes of ice time.

Silfverberg also had a season-best five shots and assisted on Henrique’s goal, also his first point.

Heinen had two shots and an assist for his first point.

The Ducks lost 3-2 in overtime to fall to 1-2-2, but there were unmistakable signs of improvement. Scoring chances were not few and far between, as they were in the season’s first four games. Their power play looked dangerous, although it failed to produce a goal.

Above all, they gave themselves a chance to win.

“A lot of those little things made a difference for us, especially as a line,” Henrique said Saturday. “We were getting pucks to the net, getting opportunities and turning that into a goal later in the game was big for us. Maybe we weren’t even doing the right things before.”

Henrique then attempted to explain what had gone haywire in the first four games.

“We were in between,” he said. “If you’re in between, you’re just kind of chasing around everywhere rather than driving plays and forcing them (the opposition) into hurried plays or making things tough on them and making them make tough plays to get out of their zone.”

Henrique and his linemates got their feet moving and dictated the pace of the game at times, which was exactly what Eakins wanted and expected from them. Silfverberg nearly scored a first-period goal, but he was robbed on two tries by sprawling goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

Heinen’s cross-ice pass to Henrique for the tying goal in the third was superb.

“You’re just skating around not accomplishing what you set out to accomplish,” Henrique said of his frustration going into Friday’s game. “(Friday), we changed that. We played with more pace more consistently, but we were all on the same page, so rather than slow it down in the neutral zone, we were just up and back in, up and back in. If we were back, we changed from offense to defense quick.”

What’s next for the Ducks, who host the Avalanche again Sunday?

“I think just getting on the board, getting opportunities. You hope it snowballs, really, and then you just keep reinforcing those same things you’re doing to create those opportunities,” Henrique said. “Now I think we just keep building and keep progressing in the right direction.”

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Promoter auctions off rock star guitars to keep Canyon Clubs open

Promoter Lance Stirling has an impressive guitar collection, with instruments signed by the likes of B.B. King, and he used some of them to decorate the walls of his chain of Canyon Clubs around Southern California.

Now he’s hoping his collection of 500-plus guitars will keep the venues’ doors open amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Sterling’s supper clubs are in Southern California suburbs: the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, the Canyon Santa Clarita, and the Canyon Montclair, which are still booking events in the hopes of reopening. Another club, The Rose in Pasadena, is closed. He also runs the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, and the Libbey Bowl in Ojai.

Sterling said he has lost 97.5% of his income since mid-March 2020, when live entertainment venues were shut down, and faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in license fees to the state on top such expenses as rent and utilities.

Still, he is hopeful for his business.

“I have a feeling we’re going to get through it. But it’s coming up on a year now.”

He said that he has heard from venues in states where they are allowed to be open and believes there is an appetite for live entertainment, although initially the experience won’t be the same.

“People are coming back. I don’t know if you are ever going to see thousands of people coming back to Staples, and stuff like that.

“Are you ever going to cram 1,300 people into a Canyon Club? No, I think it’s probably going to be half that.”

Auctioning off his prized guitars, each holding a memory of a rock star, provides Sterling with a way to retain some of his staff.

He is offering the instruments online, two or three at a time, in the hopes that fans will enjoy them.

“It was important to me not to just sell them to some company,” he said in a phone interview. “I’m trying to keep them local, so that people who come to the Canyon Club, it means something to them.”

He built up the collection over decades through his career as a promoter and club operator.

“Every guitar I look at, I think about Marilyn Manson and having a conversation and he signed the guitar, or Michael McDonald. These guitars mean a lot to me, but they don’t necessarily mean anything to my kids.”

“I’ve never sold them out of respect,” he added. “But a lot of my friends, like Neil (Giraldo) and Pat Benatar, they understand.”

Currently available are signed guitars from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Terri Nunn and Berlin, and the Wailers, with starting bids ranging from $1,500 to $2,000.

One of the earliest guitars in his collection, autographed by the rock band Tesla, sold for the highest bid so far, $5,750.

It dates from his years working with the House of Blues. He said Tesla played Atlanta, where a Baptist tabernacle had been transformed by Sterling into a House of Blues in 60 days back in 1996.

“When I was running House of Blues, that’s when the guitar fetish started,” he said. “The Tesla guys thought it was pretty funny they were literally signing a guitar.”

His Styx guitar sold $3,750. And a B.B. King guitar went for $3,500.

With the theme “where the music meets soul,” Sterling’s clubs are intended to bring headliners to where concertgoers live rather than make them drive to large venues in Hollywood.

Sterling fears that local entertainment venues will be lost and their business will be picked up by major venue operators like Live Nation and AEG that have resources to ride out the pandemic.

The clubs have restaurants and full bars and, before the pandemic, Canyon nightclubs brought in rockers such as Vince Neil and the Tubes; nostalgia acts including Herman’s Hermits with Peter Noone; vocalists like Don McLean; and a host of tributes to artists such as Neil Diamond.

Sterling said that due to various restrictions he hasn’t qualified for government assistance and that it’s too soon to tell how the federal government’s latest attempt to help performing arts, the Shuttered Venue Operations Grant, will play out.

Meanwhile, he said he’s he’s on the hook for major expenses like rent, utilities and hundreds of thousands of dollars in license fees to the state.

“I don’t think one hand knows what the other hand is doing,” he observed of state and federal government actions.

So far, Sterling has auctioned off 16 guitars.

A desire to downsize is also a factor in his decision to sell his guitars. He said the collection had gotten a little out of control.

He had three signed guitars by B.B. King. He sold one, and one was stolen out of The Rose by a thief who took off King’s autograph with nail polish remover, Sterling said, thinking that it couldn’t be traced when he tried to sell it.

That leaves Sterling with one.

But, he asked, “How many B.B. King guitars do you need?”

Canyon Club auction

Information: wheremusicmeetsthesoul.com/online-guitar-auction

 

 

 

 

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OC nixes prohibition on commuter jet operations at John Wayne Airport

While the long-term future of commuter flights at John Wayne Airport is unclear, they’re no longer banned in contracts with companies that serve small planes and private jets.

Commuter carrier JSX (formerly Jet Suite X) has developed a following in the two and a half years it’s flown out of JWA, but some airport activists and residents have complained about noise and air pollution from a service that isn’t covered by the legal agreement that governs commercial airlines using the airport.

Residents and hobby pilots lobbied for several years to ensure more profitable commuter jets wouldn’t squeeze Cessnas and other personal aircraft out of the JWA airfield. Their efforts culminated in a ban on commuter operations in new leases with fixed-base operators, which provide hangar space, maintenance, fuel and other services to the non-commercial side of the airport.

Late last year, JSX went to court to challenge the ban that would have ended its tenure at John Wayne on Jan. 1. After a federal judge granted the company a temporary restraining order so it could continue to operate, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted Jan. 12 to strike that provision from the leases, effectively ending the ban.

“The court has determined that provision of the lease is not consistent with federal law,” Supervisor Don Wagner, who proposed getting rid of it, said ahead of the Jan. 12 meeting. “It isn’t worth us spending any more tax dollars trying to defend.”

JSX advertises itself as being fast and easy for travelers – it’s based on the small plane side of the airport, so passengers don’t have to go through the main terminal, instead the company has its own security process – and flying to destinations neglected by major airlines. Destinations on the company’s website include Concord, Oakland and Reno-Tahoe.

In the long term, any commuter service would need to sign a contract, either directly with the airport or as a sub-tenant of one of the fixed-base operators, to run regular flights out of Orange County.

JSX CEO Alex Wilcox said he’s pleased the supervisors nixed the ban on commuter fliers, and he’s talking with airport officials about what’s next.

“It obviously means we can continue to operate at Orange County airport without interference and we look forward to working with the airport to find a permanent home for JSX,” he said.

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The story of a song that’s been stuck in my head nearly all my life

You know how sometimes a song gets stuck in your head? Even one that you haven’t heard in a very long time? Yesterday, while I was picnicking in a nearby park, “The Wayward Wind,” by Gogi Grant, traveled out of my head and into the air as a light breeze ruffled the edges of the purple comforter I was sitting on.

Although I had fled to the park in the midst of a quarantine cabin fever attack, there was something about the breeze, the restless wind, that eased my mind.

The song was a favorite of my brother Peter when he was a young boy. I don’t remember his actual age but he was still young enough for his big sister to babysit him. He would beg me to call into the radio station we listened to and request the song over and over. Sometimes I even changed my name so they wouldn’t know it was the same person calling so many times in one day. At least that’s what I told myself.


The song “The Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant was a favorite of my brother Peter when we were kids. (Archive photo)

Peter assured me that I was so good at changing my voice that no one would ever know.

“Sometimes you even sound like a boy.”

As life played out, a wayward wind blew me from Virginia to New York to Montreal and finally California. And that is where I met her. When I read in the paper that Gogi Grant was performing locally, I told George the story about Peter and said, “I have to go see her.”

“Let’s do it,” said George. One of the things I loved best about my late husband was his enthusiasm for my enthusiasm.

I called Gogi’s press contact and told her my story. She arranged for me to see the show and meet the singer after for an interview. I reserved an extra ticket for George and we were off.

“I’m going to meet ‘The Wayward Wind,’” I emailed Peter.

Gogi did not disappoint. On stage, she sounded just like she did on the radio all those years ago. It was as though her voice never aged. She laughed that we were probably responsible for her recording topping the charts with all the phone requests to the radio station. Peter and I like to think that we contributed just a little.

The song is still stuck in my head. And I’m happy with the company.

Email patriciabunin@sbcglobal.net follow her on Twitter @patriciabunin

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