In California: Will COVID vaccine passports become standard requirements for big events?

Plus: L.A. to pay nearly $1.6 million to settle LAPD lawsuits, Tiger Woods was driving more than 82 mph and there’s a nationwide ketchup shortage.

Happy Wednesday! I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, bringing you some of the latest headlines from California.

But first, a bit of trivia: “The Golden State” is not California’s only nickname. According to, it was first referred to as “The El Dorado State” (“el dorado” means “the golden” in Spanish, which I suppose technically means they were calling it “The The Golden State”). It has also been called “The Land of Milk and Honey” and “The Grape State.” In 1968, the nickname “The Golden State” became official.

In California brings you top stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.

Will COVID vaccine passports become California’s latest trend?

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's Health and Human Services secretary, inoculates California Gov. Gavin Newsom, at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles Thursday, April 1, 2021. Newsom was vaccinated with the new one-dose COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson. (Photo: Damian Dovarganes, AP)

As baseball fans head to San Francisco for the Giants opening game Friday, they will be required to show proof of vaccination or a 72-hours-old (or less) negative COVID test result in order to be admitted.

The Mercury News reports that San Francisco public health officials are behind the mandate — which is the only one of its kind. So far.

“I think it’s more of a one-off,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco. “I think San Francisco is being very cautious right now, but the requirement is probably going to go away. Requiring masking and seating people in small groups is enough. The testing adds little to that.”

In addition to requiring a so-called “vaccine passport,” the Giants will fill the stadium at only 22% capacity early on — which amounts to approximately 8,900 fans per game — and the rules are subject to change as more people are vaccinated.

Gandhi adds that no other California sports team is requiring proof of vaccination.

Despite the lack of widespread use, the requirement has raised questions about privacy, fairness to low-income residents and the role of government interference. 

Both President Joe Biden and Gov. Gavin Newsom said recently they will not require proof of vaccination for people to attend gatherings.

L.A. to pay nearly $1.6 million to settle LAPD lawsuits

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joins pastors and marchers outside LAPD Headquarters during a demonstration demanding justice for George Floyd, Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in Los Angeles, Floyd, a black man, died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (Sarah Reingewirtz/The Orange County Register via AP) (Photo: Sarah Reingewirtz, AP)

The Los Angeles City Council voted 12-1 Wednesday to approve payout settlements of nearly $1.6 million in response to three lawsuits involving alleged wrongdoing by the LAPD.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the police department and the Los Angeles city attorney’s office declined to speak about the settlements, which allow the city to settle the claims without admitting liability.

This is not an isolated situation. The article reports that over roughly the past 5½ years, L.A. has paid out more than $245 million to settle legal claims involving the police department.

In addition, says the report, the LAPD and Los Angeles are facing “a mountain of lawsuits” related to police handlings of protests last summer.

Tiger Woods driving more than 82 mph before crash. Was he conscious?

FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2021, file photo a vehicle rests on its side after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County sheriff says detectives have determined what caused Tiger Woods to crash his SUV last month in Southern California but would not release details on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, citing privacy concerns for the golf star. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) (Photo: The Associated Press)

It has been revealed that golf legend Tiger Woods was driving at an excessive speed before he crashed his vehicle in February, but the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday they’re not sure that he was conscious when he lost control of his vehicle that day.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods was traveling at an estimated speed between 84 to 87 mph at the first area of impact, and there was no evidence of braking during the collision. Instead, there was evidence of acceleration prior to impact, according to data received from the black box recorder of Woods’ loaner Genesis SUV.

“It’s believed that when you panic or have some sort of sudden interruption when you’re driving, your initial thought is to hit the brake,” Capt. Jim Powers said at a news conference in Los Angeles. “And it’s believed that he may have done that but hit the accelerator and didn’t hit the brake. … He doesn’t have any recollection of the incident.”

Woods will not be cited for a traffic violation, said Villanueva, who received permission from Woods to release the crash investigation details.

Ketchup: We have a situation. Just not in the Bay Area

There's a shortage of Heinz tomato ketchup packages. (Photo: Michelle Maltais, USA TODAY)

Remember at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic when it was nearly impossible to buy items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer? It seems America is now facing a shortage of another beloved household item: ketchup.

As restaurants switched from in-person dining to takeout orders, those shared ketchup bottles on tables went away and were replaced with individual packets. As a result, there is now a shortage.

But don’t worry: Heinz confirmed to USA TODAY Tuesday that it is working to increase supplies, such as adding manufacturing lines that will increase production by about 25% for a total of more than 12 billion packets a year.

However, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that eateries and stores in the Bay Area have not bit hit as hard as other places. “We don’t have that problem here, thank God,” an employee at Red’s Java House told The Chronicle. The article also says that local Target and Safeway stores had plenty of the beloved condiment available for purchase.

Bite-sized news bits

The historic Fair Oaks Bridge, circa 1907, crosses the American at Fair Oaks. (Photo: Courtesy of Tim Viall)

There now seems to be some hope of things returning to normalcy (or should that be “normality”? Here’s an interesting article on the history of those two words, one of which involves the goof of a U.S. president). So, you might be thinking about taking a road trip throughout California. Tim Viall’s On the Road column on has plenty of enticing information on “the allure of wildflowers, scenery, historic bridges and Gold Rush history.”

Speaking of California road trips, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park in Northern California may see bigger crowds than usual this year after being labeled a must-see spot in Condé Nast’s Traveler. The Redding Record Searchlight reports that the article, published online Monday, proclaimed Burney Falls to be one of the eight waterfalls in the U.S. worth traveling to. But that’s not all. In March, National Geographic featured the park in a roundup of Northern California’s “most spectacular waterfalls.”

Death and Neglect: California has approximately 1,200 licensed nursing homes, which house around 100,000 patients at any given time. LAist has published a report depicting the harrowing goings-on at one specific nursing home chain affiliated with at least 26 facilities throughout the state. The takeaway is that the organization — and the state-run system designed to regulate it — are failing California’s most vulnerable population. Read more here.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Condé Nast’s Traveler, LAist, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic,, San Francisco Chronicle. We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow with the latest headlines.

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]

Source: Read Full Article