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44% of City Residents Have Received a COVID Vaccine Dose

Los Angeles County residents will soon see more of the normality they were used to before the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year.
The L.A. Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday that the county has met the threshold for the orange tier — indicating moderate infection of the coronavirus — of the state’s blueprint for a safer economy. The next-to-lowest tier loosens restrictions on businesses and allows theme parks to open. The new health order will go into effect this coming Monday, April 5.
“After a year of fear, anxiety and tragic loss, we’re seeing glimmers of hope once more,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a virtual update on Tuesday. “But this didn’t happen just by accident. This was because of our collective hard work.”

Unemployment Dropped Steeply in February

Hundreds of local residents returned to work in February following the lifting of statewide coronavirus restrictions, reversing a steep increase in unemployment reported at the beginning of the year.
The South Pasadena unemployment rate fell from 9% in January to 7.1% in February, according to preliminary data from the state Employment Development Department. The latter figure is tied for the city’s lowest since April 2020; the unemployment rate fell to 7.1% in November before increasing over the following two months.
The decrease likely reflects Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lifting of restrictions in state regions whose intensive care units were overburdened. His lifting of the stay-at-home order in late January, which allowed
in-person dining to resume outdoors and loosened capacity limits for other businesses, accompanied falling COVID-19 hospitalizations and mounting political pressure, including a recall campaign.
About 13,400 South Pasadena residents reported working in February, up from 12,600 in January. The number of unemployed residents also fell from 1,200 to 1,000, while the city’s labor force swelled by about 600 people.
In February 2020, South Pasadena’s unemployment rate was 3.7%, representing about 600 unemployed workers.
Los Angeles County saw a similar decrease in its unemployment rate, from 12.7% in January to 10.9% in February. The county’s rate has historically been higher than South Pasadena’s.
The decrease in L.A. County’s unemployment rate represented a drop in its number of unemployed workers, from about 625,900 residents to 556,900.
California saw a less dramatic decrease, from 9% in January to 8.5% in February. Most of the job gains were in the “leisure and hospitality” industry, which includes hotels and restaurants. Education and health services also saw increases in employment, while the information and government sector reported losses.
The EDD’s data was not seasonally adjusted, meaning it did not compensate for changes in the job market attributable to holidays and other regular periods.

St. James Episcopal Choir Returns in Time For Easter

Photo courtesy Sarah Gonzalez
Sarah Gonzalez, the director of music at St. James Episcopal Church, said it has often felt lonely to sing only into a camera while the church held Zoom sermons throughout the pandemic. The church choir recently sang together again for the first time in a year.

Talk about your signs that happy days may be returning again…I said hopefully.
Just in time for the start of Holy Week, I watched last Sunday as members of the St. James Episcopal choir sang together in person for a service for the first time since last March. And they didn’t care that they were singing in the children’s playground — surrounded by rope ladders and slides.
Socially distanced — and masked — 12 of the choir’s 25 members were just happy to be back together and singing again.
“It’s almost weird. It’s hard to process,” said choir member Aubree Roney prior to the concert.
I’m not saying this is the first choir to perform live before an audience, but those choirs which have can appreciate the experience.
“We have a choir. Yaaay,” one person whispered to her neighbor.

Tigers Edge La Cañada, 36-30, In Season Opener

Photo by Eric Danielson / The Review
Noah Aragon propelled South Pasadena to a 36-30 victory over host La Cañada in their season opener last Friday. The junior quarterback threw for 298 yards, a touchdown and one interception and rushed for three scores.

South Pasadena High School head football coach Jeff Chi knows to not underestimate his friend and adversary Jason Sarceda, who coaches La Cañada.
“Jason and I go way back,” Chi said. “He’s got some big boys out there. I’m thinking he had something up his sleeve and, sure enough, he did.”
La Cañada came out strong with Ivan Ostry behind center, but the Tigers made big plays down the stretch to outlast the host Spartans, 36-30, in the teams’ season opener last Friday.
“It was a really hard-fought game,” said SPHS senior Terrence Sweetman, who led the state with 13 interceptions in 2019. “Our team gave amazing effort. We kept on going and never gave up.”
The unlikely hero of the game was a sophomore who only got on the field because of an injury to a defensive back. Richard Conti stepped in and scored the Tigers’ final two touchdowns.
“He wasn’t even a starter,” Chi said. “But he did a fantastic job. We had some key young players that came out and made some plays.”

Anti-Asian Discrimination Is Not Tolerable

By Congresswoman Judy Chu
Special to The Review

Congresswoman Judy Chu

Matthew Leung was sitting at a Rosemead bus stop when a man grabbed his cane and beat his hand and head, causing Leung to lose the tip of one of his fingers. This horrific attack should be unthinkable. Instead, it is just one of a recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents happening all across the nation.
What worries so many is that many of the recent victims have been older and more vulnerable. In San Francisco, Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man, was killed in an unprovoked assault while on his morning walk. In New York, a 61-year-old Filipino man’s face was slashed from ear to ear with a box cutter in the subway. In Oakland’s Chinatown, a camera captured a 91-year-old man being thrown to the ground by an assailant, who then went to assault two more victims. This is becoming almost a daily tragedy.

SPUSD To Use ‘Hybrid’ Model For Students Grades 6-12

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

With South Pasadena Unified School District elementary schools back on campus for in-person instruction, the Board of Education decided on hybrid learning models for both the middle school and high school at a special meeting last week.
“Everybody was concerned about learning loss,” said board member Suzie Abajian at the meeting last Friday. “So I think you have to balance different things and make sure that whatever model we’re picking is not so disruptive that it just creates even more of a learning gap for the rest of the year, especially in secondary and high school where grades are really important and count for college.”

City Council Discusses ADU Requirements at Meeting

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

Accessory dwelling units have been popping up around Southern California increasingly, including in South Pasadena. Applications for the small, independent homes have increased more than five times in the city since 2017.
As residents’ interest in ADUs continues to grow, the City Council last week unanimously approved the introduction of an ordinance amending its zoning code to accommodate the units within the city’s typical land use framework. Without these ordinances, the state wields the authority to override local zoning codes deemed too restrictive.
“This proposed revision contains a number of important improvements,” Mayor Diana Mahmud said at the council’s March 17 meeting. “And, as I recall, there were some recent changes to ADU law and to the Housing and Community Development ADU handbook, which are incorporated into this revision.”

Haggadah ‘a Guide to Today’s Problems’ on Passover

Photo courtesy Jill Wright
As a self-described life-long learner, longtime teacher Jill Wright has relished her rabbinical studies that she began at around 50. Those who know her have said her decision does not surprise them.

Who better to seek an answer to why this Passover is different than prior Passovers than a teacher, who at 50 years old, finds herself back as a student — seeking ordination as a rabbi.
For those who are unfamiliar, the word “why” is the first word in each of the Four Questions asked at the traditional Passover meal — or Seder. This year, the first night of the holiday is this Saturday; the tradition lasts for eight days.
And there are a lot of reasons to ask, and answer questions, starting with “why” this year.
Is Zoom a good thing to have in the Jewish religion and will it continue to be so in coming years?
Yes and yes, answered Jill Wright, who began teaching at age 23 and is currently a professor at Mount St. Antonio College in Walnut while she studies at the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles.

Will CIF Spring Sports Have a Postseason?

With fall sports soon coming to a close under the California Interscholastic Federation’s revised calendar, the question now is whether the second season of athletics will have a postseason.
The CIF Southern Section — the largest section in the state — has not made the decision to cancel playoffs for spring sports, but Commissioner Rob Wigod expects an announcement about the status of section championships no later than April 13.
According to a statement from CIF, viable league play and travel restrictions will heavily influence their decision.
Wigod said there is a “strong possibility” that championships for outdoor sports such as swimming, baseball and softball can be accomplished. The same could not be said for indoor sports such as basketball, but Wigod hopes “the [COVID-19] situation will improve in the time ahead and allow for those sports to compete league play.”

Huntington Hospital Achieves Magnet Recognition

Dr. Lori J. Morgan

Huntington Hospital attained Magnet recognition again in March, a testament to its continued dedication to high-quality nursing practice. The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program distinguishes health care organizations that meet rigorous standards for nursing excellence. This credential is the highest national honor for professional nursing practice.
Receiving Magnet recognition for the third time is an achievement for Huntington Hospital, as it continues to belong to the global Magnet community — a small, select group of domestic health care organizations and hospitals in the U.S.
“Magnet recognition is a tremendous honor and reflects our commitment to delivering the highest quality of care to this community,” said Dr. Lori J. Morgan, Huntington Hospital’s president and CEO. “To earn Magnet recognition once was a great accomplishment and an incredible source of pride for our nurses. Our repeated achievement of this credential underscores the foundation of excellence and values that drive our entire staff to strive harder each day to meet the health care needs of the people we serve.”