I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, and I’ve been waiting all day for this storm to hit SoCal. We sure could use a little rain here in the desert. In the meantime, here are some the latest headlines from the Golden State.
Fun fact: According to california.com, this great state of ours was actually an independent country — known as the independent California Republic — for one month in 1846.
In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.
California reopening plan is getting a green tier
When Kermit the Frog sang “It’s not easy being green,” he probably wasn’t predicting the COVID-19 pandemic, but his words seem highly prescient in light of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s news Wednesday about adding a new tier to the color-coded reopening blueprint: green.
“We are working, quite literally, on a green tier,” Newsom said from a Southern California vaccination site, “and have been now for a number of months, in anticipation of this bright light at the end of this tunnel.”
The colored labels are assigned to counties based on how widespread the virus is and what kinds of activities are allowed as a result.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports when the tier system was presented in August, the color green was intentionally left out. “We don’t believe that there’s a green light that says, ‘Go back to the way things were or back to a pre-pandemic mind-set,’” Newsom said at the time.
“We are in a completely different place than we were six and eight weeks ago,” Newsom said Wednesday, citing declining case numbers and hospitalizations while also asking people to remain vigilant. “We are still seeing too many lives lost. This disease continues to be deadly. This disease continues to be ubiquitous. It is not taking spring break off. This disease is not going to take the summer off.”
In other Newsom news … um … cbs8.com reports the governor also announced that Southern California will likely meet new metrics on Friday and over the next few weeks. As a result, there will be “more loosening of tiers,” as Gov. Newsom said.
COVID vaccine now available at in-store CVS locations at select Target stores
The COVID-19 vaccine is now available in more than 600 CVS in-store pharmacies at Target stores across 17 states, including California.
Target announced the rollout of vaccines Wednesday, saying it also would make its fitting rooms at select stores available to CVS for appointments, which are booked through the drug store chain. The retailer closed fitting rooms in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our top priority since the onset of the pandemic: the health and safety of our team members, guests and the communities we serve,” Target said in a blog post. “Now, with COVID-19 vaccines becoming more widely available, Target’s continuing to support our team and communities during the pandemic by partnering with 600-plus CVS locations within Target stores to offer vaccines to eligible guests and team members.”
CVS Health acquired pharmacies in Target stores for $1.9 billion in 2015.
“In the coming months, Target will continue to work with CVS to offer vaccines to guests and team members within stores, and further support vaccine education efforts focused on reaching communities of color hit particularly hard during the pandemic,” Target said in its blog post.
Not so fast … put down your phone … as of Wednesday afternoon, all appointments were booked at CVS locations across California.
Vaccine altruists find appointments for those who can’t
OK, you can pick your phone back up. There actually are people you can call if you qualify for the vaccine and you’re having trouble getting an appointment.
Grassroots volunteer corps — run by people with time, tech savvy and a computer at their fingertips — are popping up in major metropolitan areas where thousands of people are competing for appointment slots. Their altruism offers an antidote to the actions of vaccine line jumpers.
“I would like to take away the stigma that appointments are not available and that they are impossible to get,” said Rhea Hoffman, a 34-year-old former Coachella Valley teacher who has been helping people get vaccinated. “I can probably get you one within 48 hours if you qualify, and it’s not a problem — just give me a second.”
It seems the most skilled vaccine bookers have memorized the days and times certain sites release a new batch of appointments and stay up to date on new developments through Facebook groups or other social media.
LeBron James says vaccine decision is ‘private’
To vaccinate or not vaccinate. That is the question. And for L.A. Lakers star LeBron James, the answer to the question is none of your business.
CBS Los Angeles reports that during a conference call Sunday, James told reporters he considered the decision a “private thing.”
“That’s a conversation that, you know, my family and I will have,” James said. “And pretty much probably keep that to a private thing. Obviously I’ve seen Adam (Silver) had his comments about the vaccination and what not. But, you know, things like that, when you decide to do something, that’s a conversation between you and your family and not for everybody.”
The previous day, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had said the league was not requiring players or fans to get the vaccine.
“We have no plans to mandate that players get vaccinated — for any large scale required vaccinations to take place, that can only happen with the player’s association,” Silver said.
Cars in OC trapped due to mudslides, evacuations ordered
A mandatory evacuation was issued Wednesday morning for Silverado Canyon due to mudslides, reports weather.com. Modjeska and Williams canyons were later added the evacuation list.
The orders were the result of a number of vehicles getting caught in a mudslide in Silverado Canyon near Irvine.
According to abc7.com, the evacuated areas were all burned by the Bond Fire in December. The devastating wildfire destroyed more 6,000 acres, leaving the areas in prime condition for mudslides.
During heavy rainstorms after the fires, locals had kept an eye on the barren hillsides. By Wednesday, however, it seemed many thought enough time had passed that they were in the clear. They were wrong.
“Mud came down the first two storms, but the third storm, we didn’t have anything. So… everybody kind of felt like what whatever has come down has come down and that’s about it, but (at) 7 a.m. this morning it just went crazy,” said Silverado Canyon resident Chris Ashton.
No injuries or serious damage have been reported.
And in random fish news:
Record-setting trout caught in Northern California
Any fin is possible: A fisherman caught a record-setting rainbow trout Saturday at Lake Amador in Northern California. Richard Bartoni must have had the fish gods smiling on him as he was top-line trolling from a boat at the mouth of Jackson Creek and a monster fish weighing almost 20 pounds hit his lure. If the kid from “Jerry Maguire” was correct, that’s just under the weight of three human heads!
That’s all for today. We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with the latest headlines.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: abc.com, california.com, cbs8.com, CBS Los Angeles, San Francisco Chronicle, weather.com.
As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at [email protected]