Plus: Public school enrollment drops amid pandemic; CSU and UC systems to require that students get vaccines; and how is your zip code doing on giving out shots?
But first, the Oscars are just around the corner. Haven’t made the picks in your office pool yet? The L.A. Times breaks down all the odds on films including “Nomadland,” “Soul” and “The Sound of Metal.” The Academy Awards will be held Sunday in Los Angeles’ historic Union Station, where the Ticketing Hall will serve as the main setting. It’s the latest of many film and TV appearances since the iconic building opened in 1939. Learn more about this classic train station that’s still in use today in this photo gallery at USA Today.
Know someone who cares about the Golden State? Let them know they can sign up for the In California newsletter via this link. I’m Julie Makinen, California editor for the USA Today Network, bringing you Thursday’s key headlines.
In narrow vote, California Senate OKs supervised sites for drug users in 3 urban areas
Instead of putting opioid users in jail, a proposal moving through the California Legislature would give them a place to inject drugs while trained staff watch them to make sure they don’t die from an overdose.
The state Senate passed a bill on Thursday by just one vote that would allow the programs in Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles County, the Associated Press reports. But the bill must still pass the state Assembly before it can go to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who would decide whether to sign it into law.
Supervised injection sites have emerged around the world in recent years, part of a movement to rethink treatment for people addicted to powerful opioids — including heroin, fentanyl and some prescription pain killers.
Addicts get very sick when they try to stop taking the drugs, making it hard to stop using them. Overdose deaths have surged nationwide in recent years, prompting debates in state Legislatures about how best to tackle a problem that is rooted in public health and public safety.
These sites are legal in Canada, but illegal in the U.S. The former Trump administration sued to block a proposed injection site in Philadelphia and a federal appeals court sided with the government in January. But supporters are appealing that decision, hoping new President Joe Biden’s administration might drop the lawsuit.
California and Texas took different paths on vaccine. Who’s ahead?
California and Texas have taken sharply divergent tacks to the pandemic and the vaccination campaign to end it.
In Texas, official messaging has stressed individual rights and protecting the economy. Elected leaders have often ignored public health warnings yet encouraged vaccination — all the while calling it a personal choice. California leaders, meanwhile, have trumpeted their reliance on science. It’s emphasized that its policies are aimed at improving social equity.
So who’s ahead? It’s complicated. Overall, California’s pandemic metrics have been better. As it opened vaccine eligibility to all ages on April 15, 49% of Californians 16 and older were either partially or fully vaccinated, compared with 43% of Texans, California Healthline reported.
Despite California’s commitment to equity, it’s not really ahead of Texas in vaccinating Latinos, who make up roughly 40% of the population in both states. Latinos have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19 because the poorest tend to live in crowded housing, get less quality health care and are more likely to work outside the home.
In California, 22% of Hispanics had been vaccinated as of April 12; in Texas, 21%. Texas, in general, has done better than California at reaching highly vulnerable groups during the first months of vaccine distribution, according to a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Texas was seventh on the list; California was fifth from last.
Wondering how your zip code is doing? The state has released data; see how your community stacks up in this summary by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Biden administration reversing gear on Trump-era tailpipe standards for Golden State
The Biden administration said Thursday it was beginning the process to drop a Trump-era federal vehicle emissions rule that barred California from setting its own standards that were more stringent than those from the U.S. government.
Thirteen other states and Washington, D.C., had previously signed onto California’s tougher standards, meaning Thursday’s decision carries implications for the country’s entire auto manufacturing industry. The move came from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration andnow goes out for public comment for 30 days.
The Trump administration’s emissions standard was a rollback of an Obama-era standard. With transportation having grown into the largest segment of greenhouse gas emissions in California, the state was fighting to preserve its Clean Air Act waiver that allowed it to set its own rules. The state has been regulating tailpipe emissions since 1966, before the federal act was passed.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California’s senior senator and a Democrat, applauded the move to hand the state back its waiver.
“The Trump administration should never have challenged California’s legal authority to set our own vehicle emission standards,” she said in a statement. “The Clean Air Act clearly gives us the right to protect the air Californians breathe, and I want to thank the Biden administration for dropping this frivolous challenge.”
Public school enrollment plummets amid pandemic; CSU and UC systems to require vaccine
California public schools have experienced a sharp decline in enrollment this year as the pandemic forced millions into online school, according to data made public Thursday.
The drop came as the state’s school districts dawdled in bringing children back to the classroom, making California one of the slowest in the country to reopen schools.
The California Department of Education data shows that the number of students at K-12 schools dropped by more than 160,000 this academic year, most of them at the K-6 level, to a total of 6 million, Associated Press reported.
The drop is by far the biggest decline in years and represents the clearest picture yet of the pandemic’s devastating toll on California public schools.
“The annual snapshot of fall enrollment shows a sharp one-year decline as the state and nation grappled with a deadly pandemic that disrupted all aspects of public education,” the education department said in a statement.
In other education-related news, the California State University and University of California systems have jointly announced that they will both require all students and staff returning for on-campus classes and activities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The requirement, however, will not take effect until one or more of the COVID-19 vaccines receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Current vaccines are being administered under emergency-use authorizations from the FDA; however, use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine paused April 13 due to reports of rare blood clots.
The universities’ planned vaccination requirement will take effect upon “full approval” or the beginning of the fall semester, whichever is later. Vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna are both in what is known as Phase 3 Efficacy Trials and could apply to the FDA for full approval of the vaccines at any time.
Stanford is going to have a requirement too, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, California Healthline. Julie Makinen is California editor for the USA Today Network. Follow her on Twitter at @Julie_Makinen