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Cali allows indoor sports and entertainment as COVID-19 cases drop

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Cali allows indoor sports and entertainment as COVID-19 cases drop

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sports, theater and music fans will be able to take their seats again in California as the state’s coronavirus cases plummet and vaccinations jump.

After a year-long ban on most indoor seating, the state Friday set the stage for a literal stage-setting that could see resumption of NBA games and live entertainment performances in most counties beginning April 15.

Most of the state’s 58 counties will be permitted to allow at least some indoor seating because they fall into the lower three levels of California’s four-tiered COVID-19 restriction plan. Big population centers like San Francisco, Santa Clara County and Los Angeles County are in the second-least restrictive orange tier. Only three counties — San Joaquin, Merced and Inyo — remain in the highest purple tier, indicating “widespread” COVID-19 risk.

The others will be permitted some indoor seating “with capacity limits and modifications including physical distancing, advance ticket purchases, designated areas for eating and drinking, and attendance limited to in-state visitors,” according to a state public health announcement.

In the red tier, venues of up to 1,500 people can operate at 10% capacity and grow to 25% if all guests provide evidence of vaccination or a negative test. Venues of 1,501 people or more can operate at 20% capacity in the red tier, but guests must show proof of vaccination or a negative test. Capacity increases for tiers where the virus is less widespread.

State officials won’t require testing or proof of vaccination for some of those events. Events that do require testing and vaccinations will be allowed to have more paying customers than those that don’t. Only people who live in California can attend these live performances.

The Los Angeles Lakers announced that fans will be allowed back into Staples Center for an April 15 game against the Boston Celtics.

“Obviously we don’t know exactly how many fans will be there yet, but just having some in there will bring us great energy,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “It’s one of everybody’s favorite things to do is go to Lakers games, and they haven’t been able to do that during this pandemic.”

Ben Bleiman, a San Francisco nightlife activist and chairman of the California Music and Culture Association, said venues need full capacity to make any money — but members will take the change, albeit with trepidation.

“On the one side you have the thrill and the joy of reopening,” he said, adding on the other, “there’s some dread that something’s going to go wrong.”

California has been easing COVID-19 restrictions as it recovers from a deadly winter surge, although public health officials still urge people to follow social distancing and mask-wearing protocols. Rates of hospitalizations and deaths have plunged, and the rate of people testing positive for the virus is at a near-record low.

California’s rules are different for private indoor gatherings, including weddings, meetings or conferences. Those are only to be allowed if all guests test negative for the coronavirus at least 72 hours in advance or show proof of full vaccination. The changes do not mention requiring proof of vaccination and put much of the enforcement on business owners and operators.

“Allowing some of these activities and opportunities to vaccinated individuals is an incentive,” said Dee Dee Myers, director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. “If they can return to some of their favorite activities because they’re vaccinated, then hopefully a few more people will go and get vaccinated.”

The new rules seem to nudge California toward a system of vaccine verification, a hotly debated issue across the country. New York has launched a digital pass residents can use to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test that is accepted at major entertainment venues. But Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on Friday banning businesses from requiring so-called “vaccine passports.”

President Joe Biden’s administration has said the federal government won’t come up with a national vaccine passport app, leaving that to the private sector. But the federal government is devising regulations for how and when those passports can be used. 

California Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás Aragón said Friday the state will follow the federal government’s lead but said vaccinations won’t be required for essential services.

California’s new rules come as the state has administered nearly 19 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. Nearly 6.9 million people are fully vaccinated in a state with close to 40 million residents. Only people 50 and over are eligible statewide to get the vaccine now, followed by those 16 and older on April 15.

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Prison sentence for man in fatal shooting of elephant seal in California

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Prison sentence for man in fatal shooting of elephant seal in California

A former California resident has been sentenced to three months in federal prison for gunning down a protected elephant seal in the state, authorities said.

Jordan Gerbich, 30, was sentenced on Monday for killing the marine mammal in September 2019 at an elephant seal viewing area near the Piedras Blancas State Marine Reserve in San Simeon, federal prosecutors said.

Gerbich, who now lives in Utah, pleaded guilty last December to one count of illegally taking a marine mammal.

He used a .45-caliber pistol to shoot and kill the seal resting on the beach in the Piedras Blancas rookery, according to his plea agreement.

Northern elephant seals — a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act — live up and down the Pacific coast, usually gathering in areas on land called rookeries to breed.

The main threats that the mammals face include getting tangled in fishing gear and being hit by ships, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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San Diego Zoo worker bitten by snake with no antivenom

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San Diego Zoo worker bitten by snake with no antivenom

A San Diego Zoo employee was hospitalized Monday afternoon after being bitten by a venomous snake, according to reports.

The incident occurred as the wildlife care specialist was caring for the African bush viper, scientifically known as Atheris squamigera, in a non-public area, the zoo said.

The zoo added, “In keeping with our protocols, the staff member was immediately taken to a hospital for evaluation and medical care, and we remain in close contact.”

The staff member is currently in unknown condition, 10 News reported.

“Although the San Diego Zoo cares for a number of venomous reptiles, incidents like this are very rare, and the snake was contained at all times with no risk of an escape,” the zoo added in a statement.

National Geographic states about the viper native to parts of western and central Africa: “Their venom typically kills within days.”

The symptoms from a bite from the reptile include “serious kidney damage and disrupt blood clotting and flow” and “severe inflammation, hemorrhaging, and tissue death.”

The snake “can cause fevers or internal bleeding, which can be fatal,” a study from the American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT) reported.

There is no known antivenom for an African bush viper’s poison, according to the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Chet Hanks’ ex Kiana Parker sues him for $1M over alleged abuse

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chet hanks kiana parker2

The ex-girlfriend of Hollywood scion Chet Hanks is suing him for $1 million, claiming he physically and verbally abused her during their relationship.

Attorneys for Kiana Parker charged that Hanks — the 30-year-old son of actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson — had shown “an ever-escalating pattern of domestic abuse,” as they announced the lawsuit during a press conference in Texas on Tuesday.

“This is about violence within the confines of a relationship between a man and a woman, a man who mentally and physically and psychologically battered, Kiana Parker,” lawyer Kevin Murray said.

The suit, filed Monday in Fort Bend County, details several alleged incidents of abuse, including a Jan. 8 fight that led Parker to file a restraining order against Hanks, which was granted later that month.

The two began dating in March 2019 and moved in together about a year later, the court documents say.

Kiana Parker seen during a video of an alleged altercation between her and ex Chet Hanks.

Chet Hanks

chet hanks kiana parker5

Kiana Parker in a screengrab from Chet Hanks’ video.

Chet Hanks

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On Oct. 18, 2020, Parker claims Hanks became enraged when she wanted to leave their hotel room in New Orleans, where he was filming for the Showtime series “Your Honor.”

Later that night, he allegedly “became aggressive and hostile.” When she tried to leave, Hanks “grabbed her with great force, by her right arm causing instant pain,” the suit alleges.

“Defendant Hanks refused to release the grip, and as Parker sought to get out of the violent situation, Defendant Hanks pushed her with such force that Parker knocked over tables in the room,” the court docs say.

As she tried to get away again, Hanks allegedly pushed her, called her a “ghetto black bitch” and smashed her phone into pieces, according to the lawsuit.

Chet Hanks’ ex-girlfriend Kiana Parker sues him for $1M over alleged abuse
Chet Hanks shows his bloodied head after an alleged altercation with ex Kiana Parker.
Chet Hanks

He then allegedly warned her not to report the incident, saying that she should remember he was “Chet Hanks and she wasn’t shit, no one would believe her, she was just a ghetto black bitch.”

The next month, in Sugar Land, Texas, Hanks allegedly “threatened to “blow [Parker’s] brains out” in a murder-suicide, the lawsuit claims. The conversation allegedly took place while Parker’s 9-year-old twins were in the house.

The couple finally agreed to split on Jan. 6, but two days later, when Parker went to move her stuff out of the Sugar Land house, Hanks allegedly “became extremely aggressive.”

She claims he came at her with a knife — and that she defended herself by swinging a pot at his head.

Chet Hanks’ ex-girlfriend Kiana Parker sues him for $1M over alleged abuse
Hanks seen with Parker in a screengrab from the video of their alleged altercation.
Chet Hanks

Footage published by TMZ last month showed Hanks accusing Parker of threatening him with a knife, not the other way around.

The video showed Parker lunging at Hanks with a pot, leaving him with a gushing head wound. He also accused her of stealing his money and credit cards.

Hanks subsequently sued Parker for assault and battery, theft and return of the money she allegedly stole from him.

He didn’t immediately respond to Parker’s lawsuit on Tuesday, but about an hour after the press conference, announced he would be dropping his “White Boy Summer” music video early.

Chet Hanks’ ex-girlfriend Kiana Parker sues him for $1M over alleged abuse
Hanks and Parker in another screengrab from the video.
Chet Hanks

“F–k it,” he wrote on Instagram. “I was gonna wait til Friday but I see y’all really ready for this. ‘White Boy Summer’ dropping 6 p.m. today.”

Parker’s lawyers, Murray and D’Angelo Lowe, said they had reached out to Hanks’ and his famous parents about Parker’s accusations “multiple times” in January and February, but never heard back.

“I’m sorry, Chet Hanks would have been charged by now,” Lowe added. “Instead, he has not been charged and has made a mockery of black women in the criminal justice system by proclaiming that it’s going to be a ‘white boy summer,’ and a ‘black queen summer’ while knowing he mentally and physically abused a black queen.”

Hanks’ attorney, Marty Singer, told The Post in statement that, “We consider the claims filed by Kiana Parker to be a shakedown.”

Singer noted that his client was suing Parker over the January incident, claiming that “while Ms. Parker was accompanied by a huge male carrying a gun she viciously attacked Chet which caused him to profusely bleed.”

“Her claims are completely false, fabricated and fictional,” Singer added.

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