Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, Jan. 25. I’m Justin Ray.
Though the pandemic has been devastating to most, there are a few industries that actually have benefited from the crisis. Some examples would be Jeff Bezos, pets with attachment issues, and — surprisingly — plastic surgeons.
Cosmetic professionals tell The Times that a lot of people are undergoing procedures during the pandemic. While that might seem random at first, when you look a little deeper, it makes sense. Plastic surgeons Dr. Jason Litner and Dr. Peyman Solieman, who run Beverly Hills Profiles, located in West Hollywood, say the explanation has a lot to do with problems associated with having cosmetic procedures.
“A lot of people have a lot more time on their hands. Many have been working from home. And so they feel like they don’t have to be as concerned about taking time away from work,” Litner tells The Times. “There’s a lot more opportunity to recover at home away from people and be a little more discreet about it.”
There are also many benefits that come with socially normalized mask wearing.
“With facial procedures, they’re wearing a mask, so it gives them the opportunity to be very discreet,” Solieman says. “They can get their nose done, they can get their face done, they can get their lips done. And during that entire recovery period, they’re largely hidden behind the mask.” He says that “at some point when the mask comes off, they’re seen and they look great and they don’t have to have be seen bruised or swollen.”
Zoom might also play a role. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons notes that “with the switch to online work and meetings, many people went from only looking at themselves while washing their hands during bathroom breaks to suddenly staring at their image on a screen for hours each day.”
Dr. Dino Elyassnia, a San Franciscoplastic surgeon, confirmed this idea to The Times, saying that, “occasionally I heard patients say, ‘I didn’t really notice how much my neck bothered me until I saw it in the camera.’”
The boom was not anticipated by many in the industry because “in moments of crisis, economic crisis or other crises, it’s a time period where people tend to kind of circle the wagons and discretionary spending tends to go down,” Litner says. But by summer 2020, “things really just kind of shot out of a cannon. We got very, very busy, and it really stayed that way all throughout the entire duration of the pandemic.”
“People couldn’t travel,” says Elyassnia. “People are spending money on other things, and one of them is plastic surgery.”
But it hasn’t all been easy during the pandemic. As most procedures are elective, there is a risk that public health officials at any point could make getting plastic surgery harder, or ban it altogether, to prevent the spread of COVID and the added strain on medical personnel and facilities. To that end, the California Department of Public Health reportedly evaluated whether to issue an order to hospitals statewide to suspend elective surgeries.
When contacted by The Times about the report, the department said, in part, “The state is continually evaluating local conditions and looking at all options to ensure that there is adequate hospital capacity to provide care to all Californians.”
Elyassnia emphasizes that while he enjoys being able to change peoples’ lives for the better, he recognizes that his services aren’t vital.
“I recognize that I’m not like this critical thing to the world,” he says.
“When I take somebody, for instance, a teenage girl who’s been teased about her nose, and you eliminate the problem that created the bullying and her confidence increases,” he adds, “I know I’m doing something relatively good for the world.”
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.
72 hours of unpaid work? ‘Unacceptable,’ say dancers and critics of the halftime show at the Super Bowl, which will be Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. “This is another example of the systemic problem in the dance industry where we feel we are being bullied,” said L.A.-based dancer Taja Riley. Fontana News Room
Column: It’s L.A. vs. San Francisco again, only this time a Super Bowl trip is at stake. “Yes, it’s happening again, it’s Los Angeles vs. San Francisco in a playoff matchup for the ages, not to mention the second time in less than four months,” Bill Plaschke writes. Fontana News Room
This article about Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz fame, ruffled feathers. The musician’s comments about Taylor Swift grabbed a lot of attention on Twitter. Fontana News Room
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
A law that took effect Jan. 1 that sharply increases the amount of space that sows, laying hens and calves must be allotted on farms whose pork, eggs or veal are marketed to California is having a big impact on Iowa. The state produces the most pork in the U.S. Consequently, Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has termed the mandate a “war on breakfast.” “We know that consumers vote with their wallets,” says Ron Mardesen, a Niman Ranch producer in western Iowa near Council Bluffs. “The use of [small gestation crates] won’t go away, but it will come under more and more scrutiny.” Christine McCracken, senior protein analyst at Rabobank in New York, said she expects the price hike will hit this summer, when supplies of pork processed before Dec. 31 will be depleted. Des Moines Register
A California lawmaker known for tightening restrictions on school vaccine laws proposed a bill to close a loophole in the state’s requirement that children receive COVID-19 shots. State Sen. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) announced the bill that would add COVID-19 vaccines to California’s list of required inoculations for attending K-12 schools, a move that would override Gov. Gavin Newsom’s scaled-back mandate from last year. “We need to make sure schools are safe so that all parents are comfortable sending their children to school,” said Pan, a pediatrician whose legislation has strengthened oversight of vaccine exemptions in previous years. “And we want to keep schools open.” Fontana News Room
CRIME, COURTS AND POLICING
Two suspects have been arrested by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly stealing catalytic converters from cars parked at Sacramento International Airport. Authorities received reports of suspicious people looking underneath multiple parked cars. Dispatchers at the airport used security cameras to see what appeared to be suspects removing catalytic converters from underneath at least one parked car, according to the sheriff’s office. The suspects were stopped by police in a vehicle, where they found four catalytic converters. ABC 10
HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Nearly one-third of students in West Contra Costa Unified have not been attending school over the last three weeks, creating a crisis for the East Bay school district. Julia McEvoy explains that the district reported 737 student and 70 staff COVID cases from Jan. 11 to 14. But even students who are not positive or quarantining are choosing to remain at home, out of fear they will be the next to get the virus. “This entire week, I feel like I am choosing between my health, the health of my family versus my education. I shouldn’t have to make this decision,” said Justin Trujillo, a senior at Pinole Valley High School. KQED
The tsunami that hit the California coast recently caused an estimated $6 million in damage to Santa Cruz alone — and was a reminder of the importance of preparing for tsunamis along the coast. Some experts said that the latest event, triggered by a South Pacific volcanic eruption, showed that major upgrades to harbors like Santa Cruz‘s can limit the most devastating impacts. “That’s a great indication that their rebuild they did after 2011 did its job,” said Patrick Lynett, a coastal engineer at USC who for the past decade has been helping cities across California bolster their infrastructure for tsunamis. Fontana News Room
Deaths from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County have soared over the last week, with officials saying some of the recent fatalities appear to be from the Omicron variant. Of 102 deaths reported Thursday — the highest single-day tally since March 10, 2021 — 90% involved people who became ill with COVID-19 after Christmas, and 80% were among those who fell ill after New Year’s Day, indicating a high likelihood of Omicron infection, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. Fontana News Room
Sacramento City Unified School District introduced a new district “monitor-liaison” to handle incidents involving race. The appointment follows a Jan. 5 email the district received from Sacramento City Unified teacher Erin Leone, who demanded “demonstrable changes” to address and disrupt “the racist culture within the district.” Leone added that, “it’s an open secret where everyone is aware of it. It’s never been really addressed beyond the statements that our superintendent puts out every time something gets publicized.” Sacramento Bee
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Los Angeles: 69 San Diego: 62 San Francisco: Overcast 56 San Jose: Overcast 63 Fresno: 62 Sacramento: 61 Koala cuteness?
I recently asked readers for the music they listen to when they want some nostalgia in their lives. Here is a response from Lillian Bailey:
Every time I hear the song “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck it transcends me back to the balmy summer of 1976, when I was 14 and went camping across the United States for the first time with my aunt, uncle, and three younger cousins. We’d hear that song on the radio and at the A & W Root Beer restaurants that we’d stop at to eat while on the road. That song reminds me of campfires, starry nights, s’mores, laughter, and simple times.
If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)
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