Governor Gavin Newsom | Credit: Courtesy

Somewhere in the tri-counties, two lucky, COVID-vaccinated people will be hearing from California’s “Vax for the Win” officials that their number came up during the state’s $1.5 million drawing on Tuesday morning. Held at Universal Studios amid cheesy gameshow music and a coterie of Minions in 98-degree heat, the drawing would dole out a total of $15 million, but not before Governor Gavin Newsom took the opportunity to praise residents and health officials statewide for following the data and the science, with Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis adding that they still needed to reach more Latinx and Black Californians and that the vaccine saves lives.

With the help of Helen Cordova, an ICU nurse with Kaiser Permanente who was the first to be vaccinated in the state and who recounted the sorrows of the past 14 months — “We held way too many hands because families could not come to the unit. It does a number on you.” — and Scott Evan of Access Hollywood, 10 numbered balls rolled from the barrel. Newsom explained that of the 22 million Californians vaccinated, 200 names had been selected — he did not explain how — which were further reduced to the 50 numbers bouncing around in the clear, plastic sphere.

Among the winners, who were only identified by their home county, were four from Los Angeles, and one each from Stanislaus, Riverside, Sacramento, Marin, Ventura, and Santa Barbara. As the event concluded, Newsom iterated that the pandemic had not ended: “We’re not spiking the ball today. It’s a day to reconnect with friends, families, loved ones, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. “But we will come roaring back. California is open again. California has turned the page.”

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