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Covid Outbreaks Among Unvaccinated LA County Children Linked To School Sports

Health officials in Los Angeles County are reporting an increased spread of Covid-19 among unvaccinated children. As of right now, the officials are mainly connecting the increase to the start of school sports.

Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s Health Director, held a media briefing last week in which she called the initial increases in infections among unvaccinated children “somewhat sobering.” 

“While coronavirus case rates amongst almost all other age groups in the county declined in recent weeks, cases among unvaccinated children rose from 73 per 100,000 in May to 307 cases per 100,000 by August 14th.”

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“Though it’s still low, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate for unvaccinated children is also much higher than the virtually nonexistent hospitalizations among vaccinated children. We anticipate an upward trend in outbreaks as our schools have reopened, but we’re continuing to work hard to prevent, investigate, and manage them as they happen,” Ferrer said.

Between August 16th and August 22nd there were 3,186 new Covid cases reported at K-12 schools, according to the county health department. A large portion of those cases have come from the LA Unified School District, where children are required to be tested weekly. 

LA County has been reporting three Covid-19 outbreaks a week, and each outbreak impacts dozens of students. Ferrer claims that of the 14 school outbreaks the county saw this month about half could be directly tied to school sports. 

Between July 30th and August 20th there were nine different outbreaks among high school dance and cheerleading teams that involved 131 students. Ferrer says that these outbreaks were tied to multi-day indoor camps “which took place outside L.A. County and brought together students from different schools that each abided by different masking policies,” she added.

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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that LA County cancel all high-risk sports and extracurricular activities, or hold them virtually. However, LA County is seeming to ignore that advice.

As of right now, LA County is relying on masking, quarantine, and testing policies in its schools among students and faculty. Ferrer did say that the county would be changing its guidance to require a negative Covid-19 test from all athletes and staff members within 72 hours of competition. 

“Masks are also required for all participants indoors, regardless of vaccination status. And the county has also been encouraging schools to move practices and games outdoors whenever feasible, and reduce capacity indoors. I do join with you in wishing that it was a lot simpler, and that rules didn’t need to change, but the virus has changed, and we all need some flexibility to adapt to this more dangerous variant,” Ferrer said.

At LAUSD, 6,500 students had to miss school during the first week due to Covid-19 outbreaks. If an unvaccinated student gets infected, the district’s current policy states that the student must quarantine for 10 days, or seven days if they test negative six days after exposure and have no symptoms.  

Currently, only children aged 12 and up can get vaccinated against COVID-19. L.A. County or other city sites make it easier for residents to get the shot without an appointment.

California Wildfires Growing At Rapid Pace, National Forests Close As A Result 

Millions of acres of national forest space in Northern California are being closed due to dangerous conditions created by wildfires that have already destroyed hundreds of homes. The US Forest Service announced this week that it would be closing nine national forests stretching from Lake Tahoe to the Six Rivers National Forest. 

The Eldorado National Forest has already been closed due to the Caldor Fire which greatly damaged over 100 square miles of land. In two days the wildfires in California have grown 10 times their original size. 

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25,000 Californians are currently under evacuation orders due to the fires as well. More than 650 firefighters and 13 helicopters were recently battling a deadly blaze near Lake Tahoe.

“The hope is with the additional resources and personnel on scene, we can really start to build that box around this fire and start the containment,” said Keith Wade of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“The fire wants us bad because it’s made every attempt it can to get out of that canyon and up this way,” Thurman said. “So they keep beating it down. And it’s just … it’s resilient, it’s stubborn, it won’t go away. That’s all we can do,” said Thurman Conroy and his wife, Michele, who stayed behind to protect their house and their business, Conroy General Store. 

Evacuees from the Caldor fire found refuge in places like the Green Valley Community Church in Placerville, where a multitude of tents and trailers have been set up. Over a dozen fires have been threatening thousands of homes, and the recent heat waves in America have forced small communities to evacuate into safer spaces away from the fire’s path. 

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More than 10,000 firefighters have been deployed throughout the state to minimize the damage. Authorities claim the Dixie Fire, which began on July 13th in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades area, has spread over 1,060 square miles and has only been 35% contained. 

The fire completely gutted the town of Greenville two weeks ago, destroying over 1,200 buildings, including 649 homes, according to ongoing damage assessments from the state. 

So far no deaths have been reported in these fires but a handful of injuries have come up. One small but destructive fire completely burned through a mobile home park, destroying about 50 homes. 

Climate change in general has made the West coast much warmer and drier within the past couple of decades, which makes it much easier for these fires to start and spread uncontrollably. Scientists claim the weather will only continue to become more destructive as climate change continues to worsen and be ignored by our government. 

The US Forest Service has contacted Canada, Mexico, and Australia for wildfire assistance, however, all of their services are currently being occupied by their own climate disasters and wildfires.

Mattel Family Barbie Penthouse On The Market In Los Angeles For $10 Million

A 3,200-square-foot Century City residence formerly owned by Mattel founders Ruth and Eliot Handler has just been listed for $10 million. The property was initially acquired from the Handler’s in 2012 by developer and designer Nicole Sassaman for $3 million.

“Technically, I bought the home from the real Barbie, Barbara Handler Segal. Ruth and Elliot passed away. Her brother, Kenneth, was deceased as well. So everything was left to Barbara. But don’t call her ‘Barbie.’ If you call her ‘Barbie,’ she will correct you and say, ‘It’s Barbara.’ She is a lovely woman. But few people know that Ken and Barbie were the inspiration behind the iconic dolls,” Sassaman says of the penthouse.

Sassaman went on to explain how the original penthouse didn’t have a Mattel feel to it. “It felt like a 1960s time warp. The only thing in the home related to Barbie was the Barbie and Ken dolls in a glass case. I only wish that I had asked Barbara for them, but I didn’t have the heart. Basically we tore out all the electricity, the plumbing and the framing and the windows. We came down to nothing. The whole place was one room. We started all over again,” she said.

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Sassaman is no stranger to flipping famous properties and reselling them. She’s mainly known for buying and selling the Greta Garbo estate, which she claims helped her when it came to designing the Barbie Penthouse.

“One of my favorite properties that I flipped was a house that quite a few celebrities lived in, including Greta Garbo and Gloria Vanderbilt and Tab Hunter. The house got a lot of press, but when I sold it, the people largely bought it because Greta Garbo had lived there; it was called the Greta Garbo estate. And I thought, ‘Wow.’ If I ever buy a house or a property where someone famous has lived, I will pay respect to the iconic aspect and document everything from the beginning. So I took this approach with the Barbie penthouse. Also, I never got to redesign a penthouse, so this was such a fun opportunity to do something on a different scale,” she explains.

The house has an immaculate view of the Pacific Ocean and the Hollywood Sign.

“Every room you go into has something unexpected, whether it’s the library shelves that are actually a secret door or the little room with a loft. The penthouse has a lot of interesting things you don’t see every day.” The property has three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms. The office space has a queen-sized bed loft as well as a 350-square-foot balcony.

“I am always so touched by the relationship people have with Barbie. I also had Barbie’s when I was a little girl. I loved Barbie. But the most fun thing for me when I was a child was building and designing Barbie’s houses.”

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Sassaman explained why now was the right time to sell after all the work and love they put into the property:

“When I finished the penthouse in the early days, I was offered $10 million from quite a famous hotelier. It was a terrific offer. But I just wasn’t ready to sell at that time. If I don’t sell it, I get to continue to live here. And all my friends are dying that I’m selling. But I just thought it was a good time to let go and a great lesson to teach my 15-year-old daughter not to get too attached to things. Nothing lasts forever, and it is good to move on and try something new, not get stuck in a certain thing in one place. Also, it’s important to share this home. It’s a beautiful place. I have created so many amazing memories here. Even last night, all my friends were over. Everyone wants to celebrate here as long as we have it, so it seems like every night is a party. But I think it’s time to pass the torch and let someone else enjoy it,” she says.

Scott Segall is a real estate agent who’s responsible for the Malibu Barbie beach house listing in California who recently spoke about how unique the Penthouse property was in comparison.

“If you’re going to buy your daughter a Barbie Penthouse, and that Barbie Penthouse was a toy, it would look like this. It’s the live version of what Barbie would have had. There’s always been this idea that Barbie likes the finer things in life and we are delivering that.”

“This penthouse is a little more understated and low-key, so it’s not in your face. And I think a lot of people with high profiles love that. Beyond that, the history of having the Handlers who invented Ken and Barbie having lived there gives it some sort of cache. Nicole has completely reimagined the space. And I think it’s always fun when you have some kind of history associated with a remarkable property,” he adds.

Wildfires

 California Sheriff’s Office Issues Intense Wildfire Warning For Northern Residents

Thousands of residents in Northern California were forced to evacuate their homes this week as US Fire officials continue to fight around 96 large and active fires raging through 2 million acres of forest land. 

The River Fire is what officials are calling the fire that has now raged in Nevada and Placer counties in California. An estimated 40 building structures have been damaged or completely destroyed since Wednesday, when the fires initially began. CalFire Deputy Chief Jim Hudson claimed that the fire has already torn through 1,400 acres of land and was uncontainable Wednesday evening. 

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Nearly 2,400 residents are under evacuation in Placer County alone, and in Nevada County 4,200 residents have now been placed under an evacuation order, according to Sheriff Shannan Moon. 

California’s largest active wildfire — the Dixie Fire — has already torn through Greenville, a town in Plumas County, also in the state’s northern region. “The Dixie Fire pushed into Greenville Wednesday and early indications are there has been significant damage,” California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services spokesman Brian Ferguson said. 

“Right now, there are still a lot of people unfortunately in Greenville that did not evacuate. And so, we are having to deal with that … and get all those folks out,” said Jake Cagle, the operations sections chief for California’s Incident Management Team.

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Currently there are 11 large active fires throughout California and over 420,000 acres of land have been destroyed. Wildfires throughout the US have been fueled by extreme drought, global warming, and low humidity. 

The US Forest Service recently announced it will no longer be using the “let it burn” strategy when it comes to wildfires. Even Governor Gavin Newsom recently spoke out against this strategy in a call to President Joe Biden where he claimed the Forest Service has “a culture that too often is wait and see.”

“We need your help to change the culture in terms of the suppression strategies in this climate literally and figuratively to be more aggressive on these federal fires,” Newsom told Biden.

“The 2021 fire year is different from any before. In short, we are in a national crisis. At times like these, we must anchor to our core values, particularly safety,” said US Forest Service Fire Chief Randy Moore.

“We are in a ‘triage mode’ where our primary focus must be on fires that threaten communities and infrastructure. There is a finite amount of firefighting resources available that must be prioritized and fires will not always get the resources that might be requested,” Moore wrote. 

Medical Face Masks

Los Angeles Reinstates Mask Mandate As Delta Variant Cases Continue To Rise 

Los Angeles County has reinstated its indoor mask mandate this weekend due to the continued spreading of the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus. The reinstatement also comes just one year after Governor Gavin Newsom initially instated an order that closed down most schools in LA County. 

On July 17th 2020, Newsom issued health and safety guidelines that closed down all schools unless a certain list of criteria were met for in-person learning. Exactly one year later on the same date, he reinstated the mask mandate. 

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A majority of California’s public and private k-12 schools had to close, and many critics called out the government for neglecting families that rely on support provided by schools; specifically working parents. 

Reopen California Schools is a social media movement that has spoken out about the disruptions to social development that these children are enduring due to a lack of organization from the government in regards to schooling during the pandemic. 

“Newsom’s decision to close our schools will go down as one of the darkest times in California and U.S. history, as other ‘special interests’ were taken into consideration over children.”

Republican assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who is running in the recall election to replace Newsom this fall, said that Newsom’s school shutdowns did a lot of harm that many don’t even realize. 

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“Today is the one year anniversary of Gavin Newsom’s school shutdown order. You’d be hard-pressed to find any action by any governor that did more harm or for worse reasons.”

Los Angeles County Officials announced last week that they would be reviving the requirement to wear masks in all public settings regardless of vaccination status due to a “rapid rise in Delta variant cases.” 

According to LA County data, the 7-day daily average positivity rate is at 3.17%; about 1,000 new cases a day. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that Delta variant cases were on the rise all throughout the US, and that more serious mask mandates should be enforced nationally. 

The CDC reported that the most recent seven-day moving average of daily new cases for the Delta variant in the US is 26,306. This marks a nearly 70% increase when compared to the previous seven-day average (15,541).

Facebook Is Entering Into The World Of Real Estate 

Facebook is currently planning to develop a community near its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The property is set to have a supermarket, restaurants, shops, and a 193-room hotel. 

The company town will be known as Willow Village, and will contain over 1,700 apartments on site, including 320 more affordable units and 120 that will be set aside specifically for senior citizens. 

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Willow Village is being developed on a 59-acre site which currently stands as an industrial and research complex. Facebook is collaborating with Signature Development Group to create the space; the group is a Bay Area real estate developer known for creating spaces that combine commercial and residential spaces. 

The design for Willow Village is projected to be very community oriented and pedestrian friendly. It will have numerous bike trails, sidewalk space, and numerous public park spaces; including a quarter-mile elevated park meant to emulate the High Line in Manhattan, NYC.

The development will also contain a 1.25-million-square-foot office building that will include a massive glass-dome area known as the “collaboration area.” 

Facebook initially filed paperwork to redevelop the 59-acre site back in 2017, but were met with major resistance from residents in nearby neighborhoods who were worried about the traffic and housing prices that would be impacted. 

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In order to accommodate, Facebook created a blueprint that made Willow Village have 30% less office space to make room for 200 more apartments. It also agreed to prioritize construction of grocery stores and other retail options that any citizen can use, not just employees. 

“We’re deeply committed to being a good neighbor in Menlo Park. We listened to a wide range of feedback and the updated plan directly responds to community input,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP of real estate.

Willow Village will not just be for Facebook employees. The City of Menlo Park is still currently reviewing Facebook’s proposal that would allow for prime residential access to the spaces in Willow Village, but it’s expected that the proposal will be approved in the coming weeks. 

The goal is to have as many Facebook employees as possible living in the village to allow for optimal business. The public aspect will also help the social media giant further grow because they now will have direct access to the individuals who use the platform every day. 

L.A. County Reports Rise In Covid-19 Cases, 99% Of Which Are Among The Unvaccinated 

Los Angeles County health officials reported that Monday marked the fourth consecutive day in which 1,000 new Covid-19 cases have emerged. The officials also claimed that these cases were all appearing among unvaccinated individuals almost exclusively. 

The Department of Public Health for LA County reported 1,059 new cases this Monday. Last Friday they reported 1,044 cases, followed by 1,069 on Saturday, and 1,113 more on Sunday. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer released a statement this week on the increase in cases. 

“Over 99% of the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths we are seeing are among unvaccinated individuals.”

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These new cases are worrying many experts due to the fact that before this point, the county was doing relatively well in their fight against Covid-19. The week before June 26th, LA county reported an average of less than 250 new cases a day, consecutively. That number has now more than tripled in just two short weeks.

State data has shown that 376 patients had to be hospitalized due to their symptoms; the highest number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients the county has seen since May. Reported deaths still remain low, however, health officials noted that it can take weeks for an increase in viral transmission to reflect in the number of fatalities. 

Areas in LA county where the percentage of fully vaccinated people is high continue to have lower rates of new Covid-19 cases. Throughout the past week the entire state of California has reported an average of 2,100 new cases a day; this is a 124% rise when compared to two weeks ago. 

More than 59% of Californians have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while millions have still neglected to receive their vaccine; either because they’re too young, or have chosen not to get it. 

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Health experts are now labelling the Covid-19 crisis as a “tale of two pandemics,” one in which vaccinated people can enjoy a higher degree of protection, while unvaccinated individuals remain vulnerable and exposed. Dr. Tomás Aragón, state public health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health, recently gave a statement on the importance of getting vaccinated. 

“Although California’s vaccination rates are among the highest in the country, we must stay vigilant against COVID-19 and its variants. That means motivating the remaining Californians to get vaccinated, and encouraging our friends and families too.”

Ferrer added that “the work in front of us is to improve confidence in these vaccines among people who are not yet vaccinated, and we will try lots and lots of different strategies with all of our partners.”

“The most successful strategy to date is making sure that people are getting their information from other people that they trust, and working to build out those teams of folks that are in the neighborhoods that can be trusted and have good information remains one of the most important strategies. So we’ll continue to do that while we make sure that access remains as easy as possible,” she explained.

Positive Coronavirus

LA County Now Has 8 Confirmed Cases Of UK Covid-19 Variant 

Los Angeles County recorded another five cases of the UK coronavirus variant this past Tuesday, bringing the total number of variant cases up to eight for the county. Officials are currently expected to enforce measures to prevent citizens from traveling, however, the past month has left residents hopeless after numerous public establishments that promote close contact have remained open despite California being one of the world’s hot spots for Covid-19. 

The variant is scientifically referred to as B117, and the reason its presence is so concerning is because its more transmissible than the standard Covid-19 virus that we’ve been fighting for the past year, which as we know, is already extremely contagious. Health experts do believe that all current vaccines being distributed in America will likely work against B117, however, curbing the spread is top priority so that we can get everyone vaccinated. 

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California was just beginning to recover after a post-holiday increase in cases, but now the presence of this variant and lack of lockdown procedures being enforced is a major cause for concern. 

Statewide about 159 cases of the UK variant have been detected, but those aren’t the only Covid-19 mutation cases that are raising some red flags among healthcare workers. Around 1,200 cases of two different “west coast variants” of Covid-19 have been reported in the state, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.

LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer also recently spoke with tht media about the South African coronavirus variant, stating that even though California hasn’t reported any cases of that variant, “that doesn’t mean it’s not there. There’s just no way that the state doesn’t have a fair amount of variants circulating, it’s more of a question of how much and will any of them become dominant.” 

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“It’s unlikely LA County’s latest surge was due to the UK variant, it’s possible there were mutations that were circulating in the state that were already more infectious. We know that at least 50% of our samples have shown the ‘California variant’ already.”

LA County Department of Public Health posted a memo regarding the new mutations and the virus response in general: “COVID-19 surged after Thanksgiving and Christmas travel in November and December. The more people travel, the more interactions they have with individuals outside of their household, the greater the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Shared transportation, including travel by air, bus, or rail, can not only put travelers at risk but also all members of the community if infected travelers spread COVID-19 to others after returning to Los Angeles County.”

The B117 variant has been found already in dozens of states; 932 cases have been reported nationwide according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are only weeks away from reducing transmission in L.A. County to a level where elementary schools will be allowed by the state to offer in-class instruction, provided they adhere to all State and County directives… Please do your part to continue to slow the spread so that our recovery journey does not suffer a setback,” Ferrer said in a statement. 

Governor Gavin Newsom To Lift Covid-19 Stay-At-Home Orders In California 

Despite California being one of the most infected Covid-19 hot spots of the entire world, Governor Gavin Newsom is announcing this week that he will lift all regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders for the state. This means establishments that promote close contact such as restaurants, gyms, and bars, will be able to reopen in certain counties. 

All counties in the state will return to the colored tier system that applies local risk levels based on case numbers and rates of positive test results. Most counties are expected to go into the “widespread” risk tier, which “permits hair salons to offer limited services indoors, but restricts many other nonessential indoor business operations. The change is expected to take effect immediately after Newsom’s announcement this Monday,” according to the Los Angeles Times. 

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Los Angeles County has become a national/international hotbed of the coronavirus. Hospitals have been completely overwhelmed by patients, Southern California is reporting close to 0% availability in ICU beds. In less than a month more than 5,000 people have died of Covid-19 in LA County alone. 

Outdoor dining bans and stay-at-home orders, however, have been widely opposed due to the economic impact of having so many local businesses shut down indefinitely. However, critics then just raised the point that the government should be bailing out those businesses and placing every American’s health and safety as the top priority. 

The stay-at-home orders were initially enforced in the beginning of December in an effort to reduce the amount of stress hospitals were under as case numbers continued to rise exponentially due to the holidays. Once ICU beds have a capacity of over 15%, certain regional shutdowns can be lifted, according to Newsom’s office. 

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However, earlier this month Newsom lifted the orders for the Greater Sacramento region despite daily reports of available ICU beds never approaching even close to the 15% threshold which was thought to be a state requirement for lifting the restrictions. 

The Bay area has reported a 23.4% ICU bed capacity, and has on the other hand remained under the stay-at-home order due to a four-week projection of a decrease in hospital bed availability for the area. As of this Saturday Southern California showed literally no ICU availability, and the San Joaquin Valley region reported a 1.3% capacity. These numbers were released two days ago, and Newsom is still moving forward with lifting some of the state’s restrictions. 

Health officials are also expressing major concern over a new and potentially more contagious variant of the virus that has been detected in California. One of the newer variants is thought to be 50% more transmissible than the already extremely contagious standard Covid-19 virus that we’ve been fighting for the past ten months. 

Two weeks ago certain officials were in talks to close down the state’s malls and outdoor gyms, however, no action was taken, and those establishments continue to stay open. Only time will tell if more federal action from the Biden administration is taken to give these states the opportunity to recover.

Stressed Out Nurse

CDC Warns That US Is Expected To Have 500,000 Covid-19 Deaths By February

The US is about to hit 400,000 Covid-19 related deaths as it endures the worst phase of the pandemic yet. With the rollout of multiple vaccines and a new administration entering the White House, who’s promising that future coronavirus protocols will be based on science and have nothing to do with politics, many Americans are hopeful, however the CDC is warning that the damage has been done, and the nation should expect to hit half a million deaths within the next month. 

“By the middle of February, we expect half a million coronavirus deaths in America.” 

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UCLA epidemiologist Dr. Anne Rimoin recently spoke with the media about the news of a new Covid-19 variant discovered in Los Angeles that is thought to be much more transmissible than the already extremely contagious Covid-19 virus that we’ve been battling for the past ten months. California currently leads the entire world in coronavirus cases with over 3 million residents currently infected. 

Rimoin discussed how she suspects there are more variants active throughout the population, and compared searching for these variants to “shining a flashlight in the dark, because you’re going to see something if you start to look, we just haven’t been looking.” It’s expected that with the Biden administration promising to lead future Covid procedures based on the panel of healthcare experts and scientists – who are being sworn to lead without any political bias – that these variants will be easier to find, which will help lead to containment efforts. 

Nationwide rollouts of the vaccine’s have led to some major confusion as well. Initially the US wanted to have 20 million people vaccinated with their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, and as of five days ago the CDC reported only 6 million Americans have received their first dose so far.

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Florida, which is another US hot spot for Covid-19 due to a complete lack of enforcement of policy in regard to keeping bars and restaurants open, has been struggling greatly in terms of vaccine rollouts. According to immunocompromised Palm Beach resident Elizabeth Johnson, “you can’t get an appointment, you can’t buy an appointment, it’s all very unclear so what are we supposed to do?”

That level of confusion has been relatively common throughout the US in terms of vaccinations. Florida’s department of health has claims that more than 40,000 individuals are already overdue to receive their second dose of the vaccine. The timing of this new science-led administrative response to the pandemic couldn’t have come at a better time for this country. In LA County current data shows that one person is dying every six minutes; meanwhile all malls and gyms in LA remain open. 

Coroner office’s are so overwhelmed by the influx of bodies that LA County has eased up on their air pollution and quality rules to allow for more cremations to occur, and they’re not alone. Metropolitan hospitals all throughout the US are overwhelmed to a degree that is so much exponentially worse than where we were at even a few months ago. Only time will tell how much this new administration is able to get this pandemic finally under control.