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COVID cases may have peaked, but hospitals still face a torrent of patients -- This winter’s omicron surge — the most explosive wave yet of the 2-year-old coronavirus pandemic — may be cresting in the Bay Area, but hospitals expect more challenging weeks ahead as the astonishingly high case counts continue to translate into a torrent of patients. Erin Allday in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/23/22

For L.A. ‘battlefield hospital,’ latest COVID surge comes with a familiar rhythm -- A man with painfully swollen legs from congestive heart failure lies on a gurney outside the emergency room, looking up at a leaden sky that is threatening rain. A wife helps her husband into a triage tent, after his dialysis center refused to admit him after a positive coronavirus test. Joe Mozingo in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/23/22

COVID: How one person’s cells led to our only antibody treatment for omicron -- The donation – a blood sample holding infection-fighting cells from the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak – is the basis of a new Bay Area-designed therapy that is now the sole monoclonal antibody that can fend off the omicron variant, preventing serious illness or death, as traditional treatments fail. Lisa M. Krieger in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/23/22

Policy and Politics  

Does L.A. want a billionaire mayor? Rick Caruso is trying to find out -- It wouldn’t be a Los Angeles mayoral election without Rick Caruso flirting with a run for the city’s top job. Over the last two decades, the billionaire developer’s dalliances with public office have become something of a cottage industry for the political consultant class. Benjamin Oreskes, Julia Wick in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/23/22

East Bay Assembly candidates’ big statement: No corporate contributions accepted -- What is believed to be a national first is happening in an East Bay Assembly race: Two of the top candidates are refusing to take corporate campaign contributions. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/23/22

Politicians use COVID-19 to raise cash. Is that healthy? -- If you’re trying to guess the hottest issue in American political fundraising – and you picked the pandemic and the health measures aimed at vanquishing it – you’re probably right. While nobody tracks how much money any one topic can raise for any one candidate, a quick scan of recent solicitations from nationally known Republicans and Democrats shows many seem to see COVID-19 as the cash cow of the 2022 election cycle. Andre Mouchard in the Orange County Register -- 1/23/22

Thousands march in LA against abortion on anniversary of Roe v. Wade -- OneLife LA came as the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 decision, with abortion-rights advocates worrying about the fallout. The item is in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/23/22

Phillips: California paved the way for reparations conversation. Will America ever follow? -- Redress for historical injustices was a focus during Rep. Barbara Lee’s panel discussion on racial healing and reparations on Jan. 18, which is why the Oakland Democrat also talked about her House bill to create a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Commission to study slavery’s legacy in the U.S. Justin Phillips in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/23/22

Rooftop Solar   

Rooftop solar war intensifies as regulators pull reform proposal -- Regulators want to destroy rooftop solar to protect the obscene profits of utility companies, one side charges. The other side claims rooftop solar owners are circling the wagons to protect their own profits — the over-market amount they’re paid for exporting power to their neighbors — and to avoid paying their fair share to maintain the electric grid. Teri Sforza in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/23/22


Train Robberies Are a Problem in Los Angeles, and a Blame Game Has Ensued -- Michelle Wilde bought a piece of sand art during a visit to Jerome, Ariz., earlier this month. Rather than carry it home, she had the shopkeeper ship the $145 frame to her. Instead of arriving at her home in Everett, Wash., the package ended up next to a railroad track in East Los Angeles. The frame was gone. The box remained. Paul Ziobro and Ian Lovett in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 1/23/22


Colorado Fire: Winds expected to ease on Sunday as containment increases slightly to 25% -- Decreasing winds are expected to aid firefighters battling the Colorado Fire near the Big Sur coast on Sunday — a welcome change after gusty conditions the past couple days sent hundreds of people fleeing their homes ahead of flames that also threatened the area’s famed Bixby Bridge. Jakob Rodgers in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/23/22


After concerns of racism in home appraisals, what will it take to fix the $156 billion racial housing gap? -- Late last year, members of a Black family from the North Bay alleged that an appraiser lowballed them by hundreds of thousands of dollars before they “whitewashed” their home. It was only after they removed personal items and asked a white friend to stand in for a second appraisal, according to the family’s lawsuit, that the home’s perceived value shot up by $487,500. Lauren Hepler in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/23/22

Also . . .   

How Sacramento’s Democratic Tsakopoulos family landed pro-Trump college for campus project -- Republican political strategist Karl Rove was delivering a speech about the economy, but Kyriakos Tsakopoulos was preoccupied with a different business concern: His family’s painstaking quest to bring a college campus to the Sacramento suburbs was on the verge of collapsing yet again. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/23/22




California Policy and Politics Sunday Morning  

COVID-19 still spreading widely in L.A. County, though signs of decline continue -- Health officials on Saturday reported more encouraging signs that the Omicron wave may be past its peak in Los Angeles County, though the coronavirus is still circulating widely and a large number of people are becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/23/22

LAUSD to require students to wear non-cloth face masks starting Monday -- Starting Monday, students must wear “well-fitted, non-cloth masks with a nose wire” at all times, including outdoors. District officials said surgical masks or higher-grade masks were acceptable, and that such masks would be available to students upon request. Matt Hamilton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/23/22


Rare, ‘terrifying’ winter Big Sur fire burns down to iconic Highway 1 bridge -- A rare winter wildfire that started near the Big Sur coast burned to the edge of the famed Bixby Bridge early Saturday, closing California’s scenic Highway 1 and forcing people living in rugged back canyons to flee. Julia Prodis Sulek, Shomik Mukherjee, Jason Green in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/23/22

‘Pretty surreal’ January wildfire continues near Big Sur, photos show flames along coast -- A wildfire that broke out along the Big Sur coast Friday night and prompted evacuations in Monterey County remained active overnight and through Saturday amid “extremely challenging” weather, officials said. The blaze, dubbed the Colorado Fire, had burned 1,050 acres and was 20% contained as of Saturday afternoon, Cal Fire officials told The Chronicle. Lauren Hernández, Danielle Echeverria in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/23/22

Review: decision to defend fire station nearly cost lives -- A firefighting crew’s decision to stay and defend its beloved station on California’s central coast nearly cost the lives of 14 firefighters who were overrun by flames, according to a report released Friday by an organization that promotes firefighter safety. Daisy Nguyen Associated Press -- 1/23/22

Policy and Politics  

‘Won’t go back’: Bay Area leaders mark abortion rights anniversary with defiance -- On the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade, as in most years past, activists from both sides again gathered in the Bay Area and across the country to hold competing events and rallies celebrating or denouncing the decision. But this year was different because the stakes have never been higher. Jill Tucker, Danielle Echeverria in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/23/22

Walters: Will California’s new school data system really work? -- Gov. Gavin Newsom habitually oversells the policies and programs he advocates, claiming that they are groundbreaking and will have transformative and positive impacts on Californians’ lives. Dan Walters CalMatters -- 1/23/22

Also . . .   

How a woman who was assaulted by a federal agent sought justice against her abuser -- John Olivas’ explosive temper frightened his girlfriend. In fits of rage, the federal agent would slam her into a wall and choke her, she recently testified. The madness reached new heights one night in September 2012 when she drove him home from a Riverside bar where he had been drinking heavily, she said. Michael Finnegan in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/23/22


Saturday Updates   

‘Pretty surreal’ January wildfire continues along Big Sur coast, only 5% contained -- The blaze, dubbed the Colorado Fire, had burned 1,500 acres and was 5% contained as of Saturday morning, according to a Cal Fire incident report. Evacuation orders remained in place and Highway 1 remained closed in both directions between Big Sur and Carmel-by-the-Sea, according to Caltrans and emergency officials. Lauren Hernández, Danielle Echeverria in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Shomik Mukherjee, Jason Green in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/22/22

Thousands of Bay Area customers lose power as high winds approach 100 mph -- Thousands of people in Sonoma and Alameda counties lost power heading into the weekend thanks to anticipated high winds that reached nearly 100 mph in parts of the North Bay. An unconfirmed report from NBC Bay Area said the number of customers without power could be nearly 30,000. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/22/22

High winds topple trees onto homes, cars, continue to roar through Southern California on Saturday -- In Ontario, a big tree crashed into a duplex, sending residents climbing through a window to escape. The winds, which began Friday afternoon, left a trail of toppled trees in the San Gabriel Valley in places like Arcadia, Sierra Madre, Pasadena and Altadena. Power outages affected thousands of people. Nathaniel Percy, Will Lester in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/22/22


Can you get long COVID if you’re vaccinated? Early studies offer clues -- Early research suggests that vaccination is not a surefire way to prevent long COVID. But it seems to help. One preliminary study of more than 240,000 patients also suggests that the timing of when people get vaccinated can influence whether they win or lose the long COVID lottery. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/22/22

With 2nd anniversary looming, LA County’s COVID future may be about staying nimble – and humble -- The realization appears to be setting in that a coronavirus future isn't about defeating the virus, but rather minimizing it. But are we ready? Some say not quite yet. Ryan Carter in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/22/22

‘I felt like Superman,’ then came omicron: How people in the Bay Area are handling testing positive -- Last year around this time, as the winter crush of COVID-19 cases pushed people indoors, Freddie Chavia only heard through friends about people catching the virus, like the disease was at a distance. That’s all changed with the omicron wave, said Chavia, 44, a behavior analyst who lives in Oakland. Ryan Kost in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/22/22

OpenTable data shows San Francisco restaurants are starting their comeback from Omicron -- After a downturn due to the Omicron coronavirus surge, restaurant reservations in San Francisco are beginning to rebound despite continuing high case rates. Amy Coval in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/22/22

Latina mothers carry extra burden during COVID era -- Maria Vega made the financially tough choice to leave her fast-food job and become a stay-at-home mother in October 2020, in the middle of a global health pandemic and the parallel economic crises it unleashed. The fact that Vega was pregnant with her third child helped make her decision a little easier. Shwanika Narayan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/22/22


The tsunami that battered Santa Cruz highlights the threat facing California’s coast -- When harbor officials warned Kenneth Stagnaro of a tsunami heading from Tonga for the Santa Cruz Harbor last weekend, he decided to take his two boats out to sea. Out there, Stagnaro, who runs a whale watching and charter fishing business, felt he could ride out the worst of the tsunami. Jonah Valdez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/22/22

Kitty Hawk’s last voyage: Aircraft carrier long based in San Diego heads to scrapyard -- The aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk steamed into San Diego in the fall of 1961 with fanfare usually enjoyed by royalty, wrote the San Diego Union’s Lester Bell in a story announcing the warship’s arrival. A swing band on a barge at the mouth of the newly dredged harbor channel played “California, Here I Come,” and fire boats spraying plumes of water escorted it to North Island. Andrew Dyer in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/22/22


Amid housing crunch, officials want Orange County to stay the way it is -- The argument is about how many units of new housing each city should be required to accommodate. It is also about the essence of Orange County, which is becoming more racially diverse, more politically liberal — and more crowded. Hannah Fry in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/22/22


Lopez: A question for D.A. Gascón: How do you balance criminal justice reform and public safety? -- About the time Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón held a conference last month touting criminal justice reforms in his first year in office, the headlines were full of sensational crime. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/22/22