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‘California Is Eager to Support Your Bold Agenda’

Good morning.

Today’s the day.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. will become president of the United States, and California’s own Kamala Harris will become a barrier-shattering vice president. Women have vowed to wear pearls in solidarity.

The transition will end one of the most turbulent presidential terms in American history. President Trump has said he won’t be there to watch it happen, breaking from tradition.

Crowds of supporters won’t be there, either, as the nation continues to grasp toward the end of a pandemic that, as of Tuesday, has killed more than 400,000 people in the United States — a staggering, incomprehensible loss.

There will be heightened security, both in Washington and in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom authorized the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to protect the Capitol.

And the Golden State will no longer be the center of the resistance to the White House. (Although Attorney General Xavier Becerra still managed to sue the Trump administration nine more times just on Tuesday, according to a CalMatters tracker.)

In a letter to Mr. Biden, Mr. Newsom set a new tone for California’s relationship with the president.

“I offer you my full partnership and support as you take office and inherit the tremendous responsibility to restore our nation’s economy and place of leadership on the global stage,” he wrote. “California is eager to support your bold agenda.”

Here’s what else to know:

  • You’ll be able to stream the inaugural ceremonies starting at 7:30 a.m. Pacific time (10:30 a.m. Eastern) at, or check The Times’s website for full coverage and a livestream.

  • Though Mr. Trump won’t be at the inauguration, George W. Bush and the former first lady Laura Bush are set to head to Washington. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are also expected to attend, along with former first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Read more about the proceedings in The Times’s questions and answers.

(This article is part of the California Today newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox.)

California’s terrifying coronavirus surge, which has overwhelmed hospitals and killed thousands, appears to be subsiding, one of the state’s top health officials said on Tuesday.

Covid-19 hospitalizations have decreased by 8.5 percent over the last two weeks, suggesting that a “surge on top of a surge” following the holidays hasn’t been as severe as was feared. The state’s overall transmission rate has decreased.

[Track coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations across California.]

“These are rays of hope shining through,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary for health and human services, said in a virtual news conference.

But even as the cresting case numbers and hospitalizations started to recede, another variant of the virus — separate from the one found in Britain — was found throughout the state.

Although it is still unknown whether the variant is deadlier or more transmissible than other forms of the virus, it was found in more than half of samples researchers tested last week in Los Angeles, suggesting that it may be a driver of the region’s current crisis.

“We continue to keep our guard up,” Dr. Ghaly said.

[Read the full story about the new California variant.]

The state’s vaccine rollout has also continued to be plagued by widespread confusion.

After Governor Newsom announced last week that the state would expand eligibility to anyone 65 and older, Californians who met the criteria scrambled to find appointments, quickly overwhelming county websites and jamming the phone lines of their health care providers.

In an email to members on Tuesday in response to a crush of inquiries, Kaiser Permanente, one of the state’s biggest health care providers, said that it cares for 1.5 million people who are 65 and older. Last week, the system received “just 20,000 first doses” of the vaccine.

“At the current rate, we’re looking at vaccine distribution much slower than any of us find acceptable,” the email said.

San Francisco officials said they expected to run out of vaccine doses on Thursday after receiving fewer than they asked for.

Dr. Ghaly said that as of Tuesday, at least 1.5 million doses had been administered, including a Friday peak of 110,505.

“We continue picking up the pace,” he said. The goal, he said, is to ensure that “the only limiting factor in California is the supply that we receive.”

He said that going forward, more doses were likely to be shifted to what he called multicounty entities — essentially, larger health care systems, rather than counties themselves.

Experts have said that much of the chaos so far is stemming from the fact that California is relying on already overwhelmed county public health departments to manage much of the distribution of vaccines.

And each county has responded to the challenge with its own evolving guidelines, meant to address the tension between vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible and protecting the most vulnerable populations first.

In Los Angeles County, for example, officials at first said they planned to stick with strict priority rules, vaccinating thousands of health care workers first, before broadening eligibility.

“Politically, it’d be easy to say, open it up to 65-plus,” Los Angeles’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, said in an interview with The Times last week.

[Read more about why experts say California’s vaccine rollout has been so confusing.]

But on Monday, Hilda Solis, chair of the powerful Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, announced she was signing an executive order directing the county’s department of public health to make vaccination appointments available to anyone in the county 65 and older.

Ms. Solis said in an interview on Monday that it would be important in coming weeks to physically bring vaccines to clinics, pharmacies and schools in the county’s hardest-hit communities.

But the most urgent priority now is getting vaccines out the door.

“We learned a lot of these lessons with testing,” she said. “If we can, we’re not going to waste any dose.”

San Diego County also expanded eligibility, to anyone age 75 and older.

Some state lawmakers have asked the governor to develop and implement a “pilot” program aimed specifically at inoculating farmworkers, who have been some of the state’s most critical, and at-risk, residents.

“Farmworkers are the fulcrum of the food chain, ravaged by Covid-19 with no available replacement labor pool,” the lawmakers said in a letter.

Dr. Ghaly emphasized on Tuesday that the state was working to better communicate with counties, as well as residents about when they might be able to sign up for a vaccine.

To Californians who have been confused, he said: “Stay tuned.”

[Find all of The Times’s vaccine coverage here.]

Fierce, unseasonable winds across the state knocked out power to thousands and sparked fires, including at least a dozen in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties. Read more from The Santa Cruz Sentinel and The Weather Channel.

At 16, Amanda Gorman was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. Today, at age 22, she will become the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. She’ll join the likes of Maya Angelou and Robert Frost.

As my colleague reported, Ms. Gorman stayed awake late into the night on Jan. 6, writing the poem she’ll read today. It says in part:

“But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

It can never be permanently defeated.”

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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