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A nurse at Pasadena City College draws another dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Caleigh Wells/KCRW

Hi there, 

Reporting on the pandemic in 2020 was tough. But in 2021, I’ve gotten to poke my head out of the literal closet where I record my stories and go back out into the world. Five months later, I’m so moved by what I’ve found while reporting on our new normal.

I was assigned the COVID vaccine beat in January. At the time, I really didn’t know where that would take me.

Turns out it took me to the community health center in South LA that saved dozens of expiring vaccine doses every day for months. It took me to school campuses that have brought the classroom outdoors. I spent a day with the volunteers at a mobile clinic in Watts, who fought hesitancy, language barriers, and gang lines to vaccinate residents there. I got to meet the health care workers who shared countless heartfelt stories from their long days at vaccination centers, and I spoke with dozens of listeners who flooded my inbox with questions about the vaccine when it was all still so new.

Perhaps the most moving story of all was about the residents of the tiny city of Hawaiian Gardens, who had to drive dozens of miles to get a COVID shot. That story inspired local leaders to put a vaccination site right there in southeast LA County.

It is such a privilege to share Southern California’s stories of hope that 2021 has to offer. It’s humbling to know that they can help people, and in the case of Hawaiian Gardens, even save lives. It’s because you’re still here — listening, asking questions, and supporting us.

If you are able, please become a $20 monthly member, or at any level you are able, to support KCRW’s important journalism. You’ll be automatically entered to win an annual membership to the Academy Museum and an exclusive merch pack. 

Thank you,

Caleigh Wells
KCRW Reporter & Producer

P.S. If you donate before midnight tonight, a portion of your donation will go to our community partner working for equitable health care in LA County.