In California: Disneyland reopens, and Rite Aid administers in-store COVID vaccines

In California: Disneyland reopens, and Rite Aid administers
in-store COVID vaccines 1

Plus: Dodger Stadium vaccine site to close by end of May and a Japanese fire truck enchants San Francisco

I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, saying “TGIF!” It looks like it’s going to be a hot weekend here in the desert. Let’s distract ourselves from the heat by taking a look at some of today’s headlines from the Golden State. 

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‘We have waited so long for this’: Disneyland reopens

It’s been 412 days, but the magic of Disneyland is finally back.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park reopened at 8 a.m. local time Friday with the first guests cheering, clapping and waving as they came through the gates. At this time, the Anaheim parks are only open to California residents at limited capacity.

Cast members monitored lines and enforced distancing rules, and guests were spread out except when coming through the entrance. Concrete benches in front of King Arthur Carousel had signs to keep people distanced, allowing just one person to sit.

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Disneyland has always been known for cleanliness. That is now stepped-up with cast members constantly wiping down handrails, tops of walls and areas where people may lean or randomly touch as they walk by. Additional safety features also included plexiglass around cashier areas of kiosks.

Despite some differences in the Disneyland experience, however, enthusiasm remained high, and guests were thrilled to be back.

Rite Aid is now administering COVID-19 vaccines at 500+ stores in California

Sean Snider, paraprofessional educator at Cabot Yerxa Elementary School in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., receives a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from Rite Aid pharmacy manger Louie Gironella at a Palm Springs Unified School District vaccine clinic on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.

Retail pharmacy Rite Aid announced Friday it is now administering COVID-19 vaccines at all of its locations, spanning more than 2,500 stores in 17 states, including more than 500 stores in California.

All Californians ages 16 or older are now eligible for vaccination. Rite Aid encourages people to schedule an appointment as soon as possible using the Rite Aid scheduling tool found at; however, the retail pharmacy said it is accommodating walk-ins on a limited basis in every store.

Individuals ages 18 and over can schedule appointments. Those ages 16 and 17 can schedule an appointment with guardian consent at any store administering the Pfizer vaccine by contacting that pharmacy directly.

“The availability of vaccines in every Rite Aid location is a major milestone in our ongoing effort to fight COVID-19.” Rite Aid COO Jim Peters said. A list of stores can be found here.   

Dodger Stadium vaccine site to close by end of May

Los Angeles residents wait in line in their cars to receive a covid-19 vaccine at Dodger Stadium, on Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. California is revamping its vaccine delivery system to give the state more control over who gets the shots following intense criticism of a slow and scattered rollout by counties.

While we’re on the subject of vaccinations, if you’ve been wanting to get yours at Dodger Stadium but have been procrastinating, you’d better hurry.

The Los Angeles Times reports that L.A. city officials announced Friday it will close the mass vaccination site — which is among the country’s largest — by the end of May.

The decision comes on the heels of an announcement made Thursday by county health officials that appointments for the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at county-run clinics have decreased by about 50%.

According to Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell, the city has also seen a large reduction in appointment slots at city-run clinics. By closing the Dodger Stadium site, officials hope that those who are unable to set a specific appointment time will have more flexibility to get a shot.

“The process that will allow us to demobilize Dodger Stadium will allow us to maintain vaccine capacity and spread it out city-wide,” Gorell said.

In addition, the city will begin an appointment-free vaccination system on Friday and Saturday, starting with Pierce College in Woodland Hills and in Lincoln Park. Sites run by the county have been appointment-free for two weeks and will continue to do so through at least next week, according to L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

Thousands of barrels discovered on sea floor off California may contain DDT

In this 2011 image provided by the University of California Santa Barbara, a barrel sits on the seafloor near the coast of Catalina Island, Calif. Marine scientists say they have found what they believe to be as many as 25,000 barrels that possibly contain DDT dumped off the Southern California coast near Catalina Island.

Elsewhere in SoCal, researchers mapping the ocean floor between Catalina and Long Beach have discovered that a massive toxic dumpsite previously discovered on the seafloor is much bigger than previously thought. Watch a video here.

A tiny Japanese fire truck named Kiri brings joy to San Francisco

Two San Francisco landmarks, The Golden Gate Bridge and Kiri, make for a great photo op.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make us happy. And in San Francisco, people are currently crushing on Kiri the Japanese Fire Truck as a way of shaking away their pandemic blues.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Kiri, a 1990 Daihatsu fire truck approximately one-sixth the size of an American fire truck and two feet shorter than a Mazda Miata, arrived in The Golden City during the fifth month of the pandemic, “when the city needed joy more than ever.”

Kiri, which can actually put out fires, has made quite an impression on residents, who enjoy getting photos taken with it — some of which end up on the tiny truck’s Instagram page, @teenytinyfiretruck.

In a Q&A in The Chronicle with the vehicle’s owner, Todd Lappin, a local content designer, we learn that Kiri served for almost 30 years in the tiny mountain town of Kirigamine, Japan — estimated population, 200 — and at the volunteer fire department lodge, it was the town’s volunteer fire department truck.

Read the full article here.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle. We’ll be back in your inbox Mond 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, like these two ladies whose WWII-era baseball careers inspired a hit movie. Reach him at [email protected].

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