In California: Beyoncé makes Grammy history, COVID vaccine eligibility opens up

Winston Gieseke here, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. I hope you’ve adjusted to Daylight Saving Time. I tried setting my clock ahead six months, but unfortunately it didn’t work. Here are some of the latest headlines from this great state of ours.

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.

Beyoncé makes Grammy history, Oscar nominations announced

Beyonce looked fierce in black leather at Sunday's Grammy show.

It’s been a big few days in entertainment. Sunday night the Grammys were held in Los Angeles … and around the world from people’s living rooms. Beyoncé made history by breaking the record for the most Grammys won by a woman — and by any singer, male or female — with a whopping 28 awards. That also ties her with producer Quincy Jones as the living person with the most Grammy awards in history.

Other winners included Harry Styles (Best Pop Solo Performance), Billie Eilish (Record of the Year), Taylor Swift (Album of the Year), Dua Lipa (Best Pop Vocal Album), Megan Thee Stallion (Best New Artist), John Legend (Best R&B Album) and 9-year-old Blue Ivy Carter, daughter of Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who appeared in the video for “Brown Skin Girl,” which was awarded Best Music Video.

Who were the best dressed at the event? Here are the top 10.

And if that weren’t enough excitement to start our week, the Academy Award nominations were announced Monday. And you’ve got your work cut out for you if you want to be prepared by the April 25 ceremony. Here are 10 movies USA TODAY writer Brian Truitt recommends you see before tuning in to watch what will likely be the most unpredictable Oscar race ever.

And before we leave the entertainment section and move on to heavier stuff, “Three’s Company” turns 44 today. The sitcom, which was set in Santa Monica, premiered March 15, 1977, and ran for eight seasons. In its original review of the pilot, The Hollywood Reporter called it “terribly coy.”

COVID-19: More than 90% of Californians may be out of purple tier this week

A patient receives a vaccine at his doctor's office. (Photo: Getty Images)

With vaccinations accelerating and COVID-19 case rates dropping, more than 90% of California’s population of nearly 40 million residents could be out of the most restrictive color-coded tier by Wednesday.

On Sunday, 13 counties — Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Amador, Colusa, Contra Costa, Mendocino, Mono, Placer, San Benito, Siskiyou, Sonoma and Tuolumne — moved from the purple (widespread) tier to the red (substantial) tier, following reassessments using new thresholds due to the state meeting its goal of 2 million vaccines administered in the state’s hardest-hit communities.

Of the state’s 58 counties, 21 remained in the purple tier on Sunday. But some of these could move out of that category as soon as Tuesday.

Thirty-three counties are now in the red tier, three are in the orange (moderate) tier and one is in the yellow (minimal) tier.

12 million shots given

Providers have reported administering a total of 12,172,948 doses as of Monday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 15,702,230 doses have been delivered to entities within California, and 16,361,975 doses (including the first and second dose), have been shipped.

On Monday, the state opened up vaccine eligibility to people with certain significant, high-risk medical conditions or disabilities. An estimated 4.4 million Californians meet the state criteria, which includes more essential workers, people who work or live in jails, homeless shelters and other congregant places, and those with disabilities and health conditions that put them at risk of severe COVID-19. More than 4 million Californians — over 10% of the population — has been fully vaccinated.

Your BMI may qualify you for a vaccine in San Francisco: Severe obesity is considered one of the high-risk conditions that would allow an individual to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday. The California Department of Public Health says that means a person with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 40.

Almost half of adults in the United States are projected to be obese, not just overweight, by 2030, according to estimates published in December 2019 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Nearly one in four people will be morbidly obese, meaning carrying about 100 pounds over one's normal body weight. In the age of […]

The San Francisco Chronicle, however, reports that the City by the Bay is allowing people with a BMI higher than 30 to get vaccinated, so long as they’re between the ages of 16 and 64.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BMI is a measure of a person’s weight category (underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obesity) based on their height and weight. While it is used as a screening tool, “it does not diagnose the bodyfatness or health of an individual.”

The Los Angeles Times offered up five things to know as millions of new people have become eligible for the vaccine. One especially important thing to know is that many vaccinations are being done on the honor system. “We don’t feel that our frontline staff are in a position to screen and make decisions about who or who is not eligible,” said Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “We urge people not to take advantage of that.”

Brazil variant detected in San Bernardino County

A physician assistant carries a nasal swab sample using a grabber at a COVID-19 drive-through testing site set up at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, July 16, 2020.

In not-so-great COVID news, KTLA 5 is reporting that one case of the coronavirus variant first detected in Brazil has been reported in San Bernardino County. This is the first confirmed case of this strain in California.

While the variant, which was first detected in January, is believed to be more contagious than the most common strain, it isn’t known whether or not it is resistant to current vaccines.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, when tested in Brazil, showed 0% mortality and 85% success in preventing hospitalizations and severe infections.

Will California succeed in setting guidelines on microplastics in drinking water?

Powerful magnification allowed researchers to count and identify microplastic beads and fragments that were collected in 11 western national parks and wilderness areas over 14 months of sampling.

Did you know there might be tiny — and we’re talking only-seen-with-a-microscope tiny — bits of plastic in your drinking water?

Microplastics have contaminated the environment and the bodies of animals and humans around the world. In 2018, the Golden State passed a law requiring four years of testing for microplastics in drinking water before coming up with guidelines to help water providers and consumers determine what levels were safe to drink.

Now the state Water Resources Control Board is moving forward to issue a preliminary health-based threshold and testing methods by July 1. The idea is to take a precautionary approach, moving to tackle there potential threats posed by microplastics.

But Rachel Becker, writing for CalMatters, questions if this is wise: “Research into the consequences of ingesting tiny plastic fragments is still in its infancy. No one knows how widespread microplastics in California’s drinking water really are. There isn’t even a standardized method to test for them. And no one knows what dose may be ‘safe’ to consume, since the human health effects are largely unknown.

Read the full article.

That’s all for this Monday. Stay safe, everyone. It’s not over yet.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: The Hollywood Reporter, KTLA 5, Los Angeles Times, 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

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