Spring is officially here, and so is the first anniversary of life in COVID-19 quarantine. Soap, toilet paper, flour, and yeast are back on store shelves. N-95 masks are not. We’ve grown accustomed to Zoom meetings that have expanded beyond work to classes, parties, weddings and memorial services, but there is no way to fully adjust to the strange sense of anxiety and aloneness this year of coronavirus isolation has imposed on all of our lives.
Easter and Passover, the two major Spring holidays in Western tradition, encourage introspection. As we enter this season of miracles and are faced again with the prospect of celebrating without our family and loved ones, the ancient message of giving thanks for deliverance resonates. And for the more than 300 million worldwide who celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year, this is a time of new beginnings.
While parts of Europe are grappling with a “third wave” of coronavirus and implementing new shutdowns, Los Angeles is beginning to open up. The county has now moved out of the highest risk purple tier and into the red for the first time in four months, meaning more businesses and institutions can begin to reopen.
Institutions like the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty Center and Villa have announced plans to reopen in April (see page 13). Disneyland, that icon of California tourism, is also gearing up to reopen, although at greatly reduced capacity and with strict coronavirus safety measures in place.
The optimism over reopening is being tempered by a disorganized vaccine rollout that has left California lagging behind other states. Regional COVID-19 vaccine shortages have made it difficult for the newly eligible to get their first dose, while some recipients of the first dose are facing delays in receiving the follow-up shot. Despite the delays, the county administered a record number of doses so far this month, with 493,412 new vaccinations for the week of March 11-17, of which 158,267 were second doses. Statewide, nearly 13.8 million shots have been administered—nearly 80 percent of the total supply, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Masks and social distancing remain essential, even for those who have had both shots. Outdoor activities are still the best option for now. CDC guidance states that small groups of family and friends who have all received both doses of vaccine can come together. The rest of us should wait, no matter how difficult that continues to be.
We are celebrating Easter at TNT with a look at Topanga’s wild Easter bunnies (page 6) and a special photo treasure hunt devised by TNT contributor Diana Mathur (page 18). We’re calling it “Where in the WUI?” and with the help of our readers, we hope it will become a recurring feature. To participate, spot the treasures and email us the location or a selfie taken at the location. If you have a favorite roadside attraction in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) here in the Santa Monica Mountains send us a photo and a clue that we can use for a future puzzle.
We are entering spring with a record lack of rain this year. The drought conditions are disconcerting and likely to raise both figurative and actual red flags, but things could be worse. TNT historian Jimmy Morgan explores the Little Ice Age (c. 1300-1850) and its impact on the development of Western civilization in a special climate themed column (page 12).
March is Women’s History Month, and we conclude our celebration with a look at some of the courageous and determined women homesteaders who built a life for themselves out of the wilderness in Topanga at the start of the 20th Century (page 10).
No matter what challenges it brings this year, Spring is a season of hope and renewal. May it bring joy and happiness to us all.
Stay safe, be well.