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COVID-19 By The Numbers
Thursday, September 30
The Los Angeles City Council debated a far-reaching proposal to require people to have proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to enter a wide range of indoor businesses and venues, according to the Associated Press.
Most councilmembers spoke supportively of the plan while acknowledging it had flaws, including questions about the city’s ability to enforce it.
The ordinance is expected to be considered again next week and would greatly expand restrictions by Los Angeles County public health officials. Business groups warned about safety risks for workers tasked with questioning patrons.
However, Los Angeles wouldn’t be the first city in the U.S. to implement something similar. New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans have already implemented rules around vaccine proof.
The proposed rules for Los Angeles would apply to indoor restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms, sports arenas, museums and other locations.
A survey of Americans about President Joe Biden’s plan to require most workers to get either vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19 finds a deep and familiar divide: Democrats are overwhelmingly for it, while most Republicans are against it.
According to a recent poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs and Research, 51% of surveyed adults say they approve of Biden’s requirement, 34% disapprove, and 14% hold neither opinion.
The highly contagious delta variant is driving up to around 2,000 deaths per day in the U.S.
Primetta Giacopini’s life began and ended with life-altering pandemics.
According to the Associated Press, the 105-year-old Californian was two years old when she lost her mother to the 1918 flu while growing up in Connecticut.
A foster family took her back to their familial home in Italy, where she grew up and survived as a seamstress until she was forced to flee in 1941 as Benito Mussolini purged the country of Americans.
During the rest of World War II, she lived in Connecticut and worked in a factory grinding steel for the war effort. She moved to San Jose in the 1970s, where she lived to the age of 105 before she contracted COVID-19 earlier this month.
She struggled with the virus for a week before she died this month.
Wednesday, September 29
Pfizer has submitted research to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the effectiveness of its COVID-19 vaccine in children, but the shots may not be available for kids until November.
According to the Associated Press, the company said it provided health regulators data from a recent study of its vaccine in children 5 to 11 years old. Officials had said previously they would file an application with the FDA to authorize use in the coming weeks.
Once the company files its application, U.S. regulators and public health officials will review the evidence and consult with their advisory committees to determine if the shots are safe and effective enough to recommend use.
A new survey finds that vaccinated older adults are far more worried about COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated, according to the Associated Press.
Vaccinated older adults are far likelier to take precautions despite the protection afforded by their shots. The survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research came out Wednesday.
It also finds that a growing number of unvaccinated people are planning to travel, embracing group gatherings, hitting the gym and attending services at houses of worship. Inversely, the vaccinated are hunkering down as they express growing fears of infection.
10:07 a.m.: YouTube bans users for vaccine misinformation
YouTube announced immediate bans Wednesday on videos making false claims that vaccines are dangerous and cause health issues like autism, cancer or infertility.
According to the Associated Press, the tech giant also deleted the accounts of some of the most notable propagators of vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories.
This misinformation ban isn’t just about COVID-19 vaccines, but all approved vaccines.
“We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general, and we’re now at a point where it’s more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines,” YouTube said in a prepared statement.
The ban comes as the U.S. and other countries struggle to ramp up vaccination rates during the pandemic.
Tuesday, September 28
California will mail all registered voters ballots in future elections under legislation signed yesterday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
According to the Associated Press, his signature makes permanent a change adopted during the pandemic for the 2020 election and the recent recall. California will join other Western states, including Oregon, Washington, Utah and Colorado, that already mail every registered voter a ballot.
The governor signed 10 other voting-related bills. He crafted his signature as a part of a national push by Democrats to expand voting rights and access. Republicans have expressed skepticism about the security of mail-in voting, but there’s no evidence of widespread fraud.
Yolo County will begin administering Pfizer booster shots after last week's authorization byt the Food and Drug Administration.
A booster dose is recommended for these groups at least six months after their last Pfizer dose:
- Residents ages 65 and older
- Residents living in a long-term care facility
- Residents aged 50 through 64 with underlying medical conditions
Booster shots have also been authorized for these groups six months after their last Pfizer vaccine:
- Residents aged 18 through 64 with underlying medical conditions
- Residents aged 18 through 64 who are at an increased risk of COVID-19 through exposure due to occupational or institutional setting including:
- First responders like health care workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff, etc.
- Educational staff, including teachers, support staff, daycare workers
- Food and agriculture workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Corrections workers
- Postal workers
- Public transit workers
- Grocery store workers
"Pfizer boosters are now available, but there is no need for everybody to rush out to get a booster vaccine," said Yolo County Public Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson. "Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine still protect very well against severe disease, hospitalization and death in most people."
Booster shots are currently unavailable for residents who got either the Moderna regiment or Johnson & Johnson's single-dose shot.
Yolo County residents who qualify or are interested in a booster shot can find them in several locations, including retail pharmacies, primary care provider offices and clinics. Appointments can be scheduled using California's MyTurn system.
Individuals who are 65 or older or unable to leave their homes can have a booster vaccine delivered to them through Yolo County's call-to-order vaccine program. To schedule an appointment, residents can call (539) 902-3230.
Para programar una cita en español, puedes llamar (530) 379-3465.
To schedule an appointment in Russian, call (530) 902-0721. The program delivers vaccines between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and will continue beyond September.
California’s eviction moratorium ends Friday, according to the Associated Press.
However, tenants with unpaid rent can still stay in their homes beyond that date if they apply for assistance from the state. California is using billions of federal dollars to pay off up to 18 months of most people’s rent dating back to April 2020.
That was the first full month of the state’s stay-at-home order in response to the pandemic. As of Monday, more than 309,000 households have asked for nearly $3 billion in rental assistance. The state has paid nearly $650 million to about 55,000 households and has approved another $950 million.
Monday, September 27
Public health officials have identified more than 200 coronavirus outbreaks at police or fire agencies throughout Los Angeles County since the start of the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.
The Los Angeles Times obtained data that shows the outbreaks have continued regularly even as vaccination rates increased among police and fire personnel. Overall, more than half of the outbreaks occurred at the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Some employees have recently filed lawsuits challenging a new rule requiring them to be vaccinated by next month. Critics have accused police officers and firefighters of ignoring public safety by refusing to get their shots.
Billions more in profits are in the works for some vaccine makers as the U.S. moves toward dispensing COVID-19 booster shots to shore up Americans’ protections against the persistent virus, as reported by the Associated Press.
How much the manufacturers stand to gain depends on how broad the rollout proves to be. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended boosters for:
- People 65 and older
- Nursing home residents
- People aged 50 to 64 with chronic health problems
Those 18 and older with health problems can decide for themselves if they want a booster. Still, some top U.S. health officials expect boosters to become more broadly available in the coming weeks or months.
With more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available, U.S. health authorities said they’re confident there will be enough for every American who qualifies, according to the Associated Press.
A spike in demand is expected after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed boosters of the Pfizer vaccine for all Americans 65 and older.
The CDC said younger people who are at high risk of severe illness from the coronavirus or are in a job that may dangerously expose them would also qualify. Meanwhile, more than 70 million Americans remain unvaccinated, despite the enticement of lottery prizes, free food, gifts and pleas from exhausted health care workers.
The average number of deaths per day has climbed to more than 1,900 in recent weeks.
Sunday, September 26
Under a new federal mandate, hospitals will soon have to require their staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19. But in rural areas, vaccination rates are low and hiring is already difficult, so hospital directors are worried there could be staffing shortages that force them to turn patients away.
Saturday, September 25
Two groups will benefit the most from getting another vaccine dose.
People who are immunocompromised or can’t mount a strong response to the vaccine need to get a third shot of the mRNA vaccines to protect against severe disease or hospitalization.
"This group of people might not have mounted an appropriate immune response after the first two doses of the vaccine,” said Dr. Boghuma Titanji, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University. “So they will benefit from a third shot."
The second group are people over 65.
"People over 65 have an increased risk of developing severe infections, which would land them in the hospital," Titanji says. "The farther out they are from their second dose, the larger this risk grows. So this group also stands to benefit from an additional dose."
Friday, September 24
Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans, opening up a major new phase in the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine drive, according to the Associated Press.
California is getting ready to start administering the boosters when possible. Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, is already shaping up a plan.
“We could see up to 250,000 Californians in these different categories coming forward to get that additional shot,” Ghaly said. “We’re working hard to make sure, not only are we prepared to provide it, but those who are eligible know that they’re eligible and know when the time is right to come in.”
He said the state’s MyTurn website is ready to launch a booster eligibility screening and appointment finder connecting people to walk-in vaccine locations near them. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer booster shot, but only for people 65 and older, those at risk of severe disease and health care workers.
The CDC panel stressed that its recommendations will be changed if new evidence shows more people need a booster.
Meanwhile, Ghaly said the state is preparing to administer vaccines to Californians under the age of 12 once Pfizer gets emergency-use authorization from the FDA. The company announced earlier this week that lower doses of it’s COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11.
President Joe Biden is urging Americans who are now eligible for a Pfizer COVID-19 booster shot to go out and get one. He said he’ll get his booster shot soon too.
According to the Associated Press, Biden’s plea comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed boosters for millions who got their last shot at least six months ago.
On the list are older and medically vulnerable adults. People whose jobs put them at risk of infection also qualify after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky overruled her own advisers who balked at the broader use.
Thursday, September 23
The Oakland Board of Education has voted to require students 12 and up to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend in-person schooling.
According to the Associated Press, this latest move makes Oakland Unified the first school district in Northern California to adopt a vaccine requirement. Wednesday’s vote comes after Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest school district, and the smaller Southern California district of Culver City imposed similar policies for their students earlier this month.
Several other school boards in the San Francisco Bay Area are considering similar measures as schools try to navigate in-person instruction during the pandemic.
The U.S. has moved a step closer to offering booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to older adults and others at high risk from the virus, according to the Associated Press.
The Food and Drug Administration Wednesday signed off on such shots as a way to shore up protection in people with underlying health conditions and high-risk jobs.
It’s not a done deal just yet — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to weigh in. A panel of advisers to the agency will make more specific recommendations about who should get the extra shots and when.
Schools have welcomed students back to classrooms but face a new challenge: a shortage of teachers and staff, the likes of which some districts say they have never seen.
According to the Associated Press, public schools have struggled for years with teacher shortages, but the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem. A school district in California’s west Contra Costa County is considering hiring out-of-state math teachers to teach online while a substitute monitors students in person.
“This is the most acute shortage of labor we have ever had,” Associate Superintendent Tony Wold said. “We opened this year with 50 — that’s five-zero — teaching positions open. That means students are going to 50 classrooms that do not have a permanent teacher.”
Similar scenarios are playing out across the country as schools cope with a spike in retirements and the need to hire more teachers, counselors, tutors and aids to help children recover and make up for learning losses.
Wednesday, September 22
San Francisco is requiring all workers at San Francisco International Airport get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.
Exempt employees must undergo weekly testing. The recently announced mandate applies to roughly 46,000 on-site personnel, including employees of contractors and retail tenants.
Mayor London Breed’s office said the mandate is the first for a U.S. airport and goes into effect immediately. Some airlines have already announced vaccination mandates for employees.
The city also requires its municipal workers to be inoculated. Hawaii requires workers at state facilities, including airports, to show proof of vaccination or provide weekly verification that they’ve been tested weekly.
San Francisco’s public defender has sued the San Francisco Superior Court on behalf of nearly 400 people languishing in jail after being denied a speedy trial due to COVID-19 restrictions.
According to the Associated Press, the county’s public defender, Mano Raju, said he filed the lawsuit in the Superior Court against the court, its presiding judge and its CEO. The number of jailed people awaiting trial continues to grow.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports the suit says that by Aug. 30, the court had 388 cases still awaiting trial past the 60-day legal deadline. A court spokesperson said the court continues to give criminal trials “the highest priority.”
President Joe Biden recently announced that the U.S. is doubling its purchase of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 shots to share with the world.
According to the Associated Press, at a virtual vaccine summit on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Biden embraced a goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population within the next year.
Biden also encouraged other well-off nations to do more to get the coronavirus under control around the world. World leaders, aid groups and global health organizations are growing increasingly vocal about the slow pace of global vaccinations and the inequity of shot access.
The U.S. purchase of another 500 million shots brings the total U.S. vaccination commitment to more than 1.1 billion doses.
Tuesday, September 21
Shasta County hospitals are having difficulty keeping up with the rising number of COVID-19 cases. The local hospitals serve a number of other rural counties in the surrounding area, such as Siskiyou and Trinity counties.
Mercy Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Robert Folden says the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations is impacting treatment for those with other conditions.
“We have many routine surgeries that we’re having to postpone, so part of the challenge as we go through this are for those people that have another medical condition that are having to postpone their care,” Folden said.
According to the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, 78 people in the county are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 17 of them in the ICU.
California currently has the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate in the country right now, according to the state’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard.
The state now has a 3.4% positivity rate, compared with the 7.1% positivity rate California had back in early August.
Dr. Dean Blumberg, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, warns that while our positivity rate is low, it’s very possible it could spike back up again.
“We’re entering the winter, and this is a virus that is transmitted more in the winter, so we will probably have an increase in the rate in California starting sometime in November and December,” Blumberg said on CapRadio’s Insight.
Nationwide, the coronavirus has now killed approximately 675,000 people, just as many who died during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.
Experts say the virus may never entirely disappear and instead may become a seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection.
One step to getting to that possible theoretical future includes vaccinations.
Pfizer announced on Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11. The vaccine maker said it plans to seek authorization for that age group from the FDA.
“Generally, the turnaround time after submission to the FDA is about a month, so we could have the vaccine available sometime next month,” Blumberg said.
He said Pfizer studied a lower dose of its two-dose vaccine in more than 2,200 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids.
“Children have different immune systems compared to adults, so they generally have a more robust immune response compared to adults,” Blumberg said. “So you want to make sure you get the dose correct. The dose that was found to be good for these children is a third of the dose given to adults.”
Vaccination outcomes for children came out just the same as in teenagers and adults. Pfizer still needs emergency-use authorization from the FDA before children can receive the shots.
Johnson and Johnson recently announced that a booster dose to its one-shot coronavirus vaccine provides a robust immune response months after people received the first dose, according to the Associated Press.
The company said that an extra dose — given two or six months after the initial shot — revved up protection. The results haven’t yet been published or vetted by other scientists.
The J&J vaccine was considered an essential tool in fighting the pandemic because it requires only one show, however, even as rollout began, the company was already running a global test of whether a two-dose course might be more effective.
Monday, September 20
COVID-19 has reached a grim milestone — the virus has now killed about as many Americans as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, approximately 675,000.
And similar to the worldwide scourge of a century ago, the coronavirus may never entirely disappear. Instead, scientists hope the virus that causes COVID-19 becomes a mild seasonal bug as human immunity strengthens through vaccination and repeated infection, according to the Associated Press.
For now, the pandemic still has the U.S. and other parts of the world in its tight grip. U.S. deaths are running at over 1,900 a day on average, and the country’s overall toll has topped 673,000.
The 1918 flu pandemic killed 675,000 people in the U.S. when it had a population one-third of the size of what it is today.
Pfizer recently announced that its COVID-19 vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it plans to seek authorization for this age group soon in the U.S, Britain, and Europe, according to the Associated Press.
The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is already available for anyone 12 and older in the U.S., however many parents with younger children have been anxiously awaiting vaccinations for their families.
Pfizer studied a lower dose of its two-shot vaccine in more than 2,200 kindergartners and elementary school-aged kids. They ended up developing coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults.
The White House says President Joe Biden will be easing foreign travel restrictions for travelers to the country beginning in November, according to the Associated Press.
Foreign citizens will be allowed into the country by plane if they have proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. The new rules will replace a hodgepodge of restrictions that had barred non-citizens who had been in certain countries in the prior 14 days from entering the U.S.
Families who have been separated by the travel restrictions for the past 18 months may be able to plan for long-awaited reunifications.
The new rules will require all foreign travelers flying to the U.S. to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of flight.
Sunday, September 19
San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton is among the growing number of colleges mandating vaccinations for returning students. The growing number of COVID-19 cases prompted the change.
Some 18,000 students attend Delta College.
Returning students for the fall semester were offered incentives to get the vaccine including free textbooks, free parking, and the use of laptops.
Alex Breitler with Delta says the rising cases of COVID-19 in the past two months have prompted the school to require students to show proof of vaccination before registering for the spring semester for in-person instruction.
He says those unvaccinated students will still have opportunities for learning online.
“In the fall about 60% of our courses are online,” he said. “I’m not sure what the percentage will be in the spring, but safe to say, students who are not vaccinated will have many online courses to choose from in the spring as well. We want to make sure there’s a path forward for everyone.”
Breitler says students must submit proof of vaccination by October 15th to register for the spring semester.
Although many are going back to work, the pandemic cost a lot of people lost jobs and wages.
The City of Stockton is offering $40 million dollars to help low-income families pay past due rent and utilities.
Stockton accepted 40 million dollars in state and federal funding to help renters who have fallen behind in their payments.
About half the money came in February, and the other half this August.
Connie Cochran with the city says, so far, Stockton has approved more than 3,500 applications. For example, a family of four making less than 59,000 annually would be eligible, she explains.
“And even if you are back to work, once you are behind, it takes time to recover,” said Cochran. “This program is to help with past due rent and utilities and some of the other costs related to renting.”
Cochran says people can go to the Stockton city website to apply online or contact the local organization El Concilio to sign up.
Only Stockton residents are eligible but people in other California communities can find rental help by Google searching “Housing Is Key”.
Saturday, September 18
Food and Drug Administration advisors voted 16-2 against approving Pfizer-BioNTech booster dose for people 16 years and older.
The panel then voted 18-0 in support of the FDA authorizing a booster shot of the vaccine for people 65 and older or at high risk of severe COVID-19.
The agency typically follows the advice of its advisory committees, but it isn't required to.
Friday, September 17
President Joe Biden entered the White House promising to stop the twin health and economic crises caused by COVID-19, but $1.9 trillion and countless initiatives later, he’s hitting some roadblocks.
According to the Associated Press, the administration has to confront the limits of what Washington can achieve when some state and local governments are unable or simply unwilling to step up and protect their constituents.
Six months after Congress passed the massive rescue plan, administration records show that more than $550 billion has yet to be disbursed. The sum could help provide a key economic backstop as the coronavirus’ delta variant continues to pose an unyielding threat.
The lack of funds has led to frustration for groups such as renters awaiting their long-promised help. In some cases, testing and vaccines go unused, wasting investment and funding, despite mass outreach campaigns.
Government advisers are debating whether to recommend extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine, a key step toward the Biden administration’s plan to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to most Americans, according to the Associated Press.
Scientists inside and outside the U.S. government have been divided in recent days over the need for boosters and who should get them.
A panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers will vote Friday on the safety and effectiveness of boosters. If the FDA approves the extra doses a separate committee convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will debate who should get the booster shot and when.
As coronavirus outbreaks driven by the delta variant lead school districts around the U.S. to cycle between opening and closing, many children find themselves again doing at-home learning.
According to the Associated Press, some students are finding that they’re getting minimal schooling at home, despite the billions of dollars in federal money at their disposal to prepare for new outbreaks and develop a contingency plan.
Some governors, education departments, and local school boards have found themselves unprepared. Some school systems have had their hands tied by state laws or policies to keep students in classrooms and strongly discourage or restrict a return to remote learning.
Thursday, September 16
Public health officials in Los Angeles County will begin requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for patrons and workers at indoor bars, wineries, breweries, lounges, and nightclubs next month.
The new initiative in the nation’s most populous county begins on Oct. 7 with proof of at least one vaccine dose required, as reported by the Associated Press.
According to the county’s Department of Public Health, proof of full vaccination will be mandatory by Nov. 4. Health officials strongly recommend the same precautions for indoor restaurants but have not chosen to mandate proof of vaccination for them.
The new restrictions come ahead of the holiday season, which brought a massive surge to L.A. last year.
Experts say there’s no scientific evidence showing that masks cause harm to kids’ health despite claims to the contrary on social media and elsewhere, according to the Associated Press.
The unfounded claims started circulating just as virus outbreaks are hitting many reopened U.S. schools, particularly those without mask mandates. Among the baseless claims is that masks can cause unhealthy carbon dioxide levels and can sicken kids if they become moist with germs.
This isn’t true. Experts say cleaning masks regularly keeps them safe and clean. They also note that there’s strong evidence showing that masking children in school can reduce COVID-19 transmission to other kids and adults.
Religious objections were once used only sparingly around the country to get exempted from various required vaccines, but they are becoming a much more widely used loophole against the COVID-19 shot.
According to the Associated Press, about 2,600 Los Angeles Police Department employees are citing religious objections to try and get out of the required COVID-19 vaccination. In Washington state, hundreds of state workers are seeking similar exemptions.
Exemptions are likely to grow following President Joe Biden’s sweeping new vaccine mandates covering more than 100 million Americans, including executive branch employees and workers at businesses with more than 100 people on the payroll.
The administration acknowledges that a small minority of Americans will use, and may seek to exploit, religious exemptions. However, they believe that even marginal improvements in vaccination rates will save lives.
It’s not yet clear how many federal employees have asked for a religious exemption, though union officials say there will be many requests. The Labor Department has said an accommodation could be denied if it causes an undue burden on the employer.
Wednesday, September 15
President Joe Biden has invited CEOs and business leaders to the White House to discuss COVID-19 mandates, according to the Associated Press.
Today’s meeting follows Biden’s announcement last week that the Labor Department is working to require that businesses with 100 or more employees order their workers to be fully vaccinated or submit a negative COVID-19 test at least weekly.
Biden said 100 million workers would be subject to the requirement. After he announced the mandate last week, his administration also took several other steps as a part of a new effort to curb the surging delta variant of the coronavirus.
Massive government relief passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic moved millions of Americans out of poverty last year, even as the official poverty rate increased slightly, according to the latest Census Bureau report.
The Associated Press reports that the official poverty measure showed an increase of 1 percentage point in 2020, with 11.4% of Americans living in poverty, or more than 37 million people.
It was the first increase in poverty after five consecutive annual declines. However, the Census Bureau’s supplemental measure of poverty, which takes into account government benefit programs and stimulus payments, showed that the share of people in poverty dropped significantly after the aid was factored in.
A review of hundreds of pieces of legislation across the U.S. shows that Republican legislators in more than half of the states are taking away the powers state and local officials use to protect the public against infectious diseases.
According to the Associated Press, the review conducted by Kaiser Health News, or KHN, also found that in all 50 states, legislators have proposed bills to curb such public health powers since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
While some governors vetoed bills that passed, at least 26 states pushed through laws that permanently weakened government authority to protect public health.
Tuesday, September 14
The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors is considering a resolution denouncing health misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The resolution would affirm generally accepted facts regarding COVID-19 and will also call any misinformation or disinformation a dangerous threat to the health and well-being of county residents.
The six-page resolution follows a similar action by county supervisors in San Diego. Its language isn't enforceable, but Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna said the board needs to take a strong stance.
"I find it very unfortunate, quite frankly, that I feel compelled to bring forth this type of resolution," Serna said. "I never thought in a million years I'd have to spend time on a resolution to be that explicit about the truth — but that's where we are right now, not just in Sacramento County, but unfortunately across the country when it comes to misinformation and disinformation."
While it doesn't mention her by name, vaccine-skepticism expressed by Supervisor Sue Frost is a subtext to the resolution. She recently spoke at an anti-vaccine rally in August and has repeatedly debunked claims about the vaccine, touted alternative treatments, and expressed unfounded concerns about mask usage.
Serna, the resolution's co-author, said he's hoping the board will put political differences aside and approve it unanimously.
The number of COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have returned to levels reached last winter, potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s argument for sweeping new vaccination requirements.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. is now averaging more than 1,800 COVID-19 deaths and 170,000 new cases per day — still, that’s well below the 3,400 deaths and 250,000 cases per day in January.
However, health care leaders are frustrated as we’re already nine months into the nation’s vaccination drive, and hospitals are still being filled to capacity with unvaccinated patients.
While the increase in cases is mostly concentrated in the South, counties in Northern California are also seeing an increase in caseload.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Sacramento County’s 7-day rolling average for new cases is 26.05 per 100,000 residents. Shasta County currently has the highest 7-day rolling average in the state, with 93.01 cases per 100,000 residents.
The U.S. is vaccinating about 900,000 people per day, down from the high of 3.4 million in mid-April.
An international group of scientists are arguing the average person doesn’t need a COVID-19 booster shot yet — an opinion that highlights the intense scientific divide over the questions.
According to the Associated Press, two of those scientists are top U.S. vaccine regulators, raising questions about whether White House plans for booster doses are getting ahead of the government’s own experts.
The group analyzed a long list of worldwide studies and concluded the shots still work well despite the extra-contagious delta variant. Their opinion piece was published Monday in the weekly peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet.
Monday, September 13
The Food and Drug Administration's vaccine chief is pledging to rapidly evaluate COVID-19 vaccines for younger kids — as soon as the studies are in.
Dr. Peter Marks tells The Associated Press he is "very, very hopeful" that vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by the year's end.
One company, Pfizer, is expected to turn over its study results by the end of September, and Marks said the FDA hopes to analyze the data in a matter of weeks.
He affirmed that the agency wouldn't cut corners in the possible vaccine approval.
President Joe Biden’s administration is gearing up for another major clash between federal and state rules over its sweeping new vaccine requirements that have Republican governors threatening lawsuits, according to the Associated Press.
But while many details about the rules remain unknown, some experts say Biden appears to be on firm legal ground to issue the directive in the name of protecting employee safety.
Republicans swiftly denounced the mandate that could impact 100 million Americans as “government overreach” and vowed to sue. If they follow through, it would become another test of state power versus federal power over rules not meant to be enforced daily, but rather to have its intended effect by threat.
The United Nations chief has issued a dire warning that the world is moving in the wrong direction and faces “a pivotal moment.”
According to the Associated Press, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that continuing “business as usual” could lead to a breakdown of global order and a future of perpetual crises.
He says that the world is under “enormous stress” on almost every front and that the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call that highlighted the failure of nations to come together and take joint decisions to help all people in the face of a life-threatening global emergency.
Guterres also said that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed deficiencies in the global financial system. During the pandemic, he noted that the 10 richest men in the world saw their combined wealth increase by half a trillion dollars since the COVID-19 pandemic began while 55% of the world’s population, or about 4 billion people, “are one step away from destitution, with no social protection whatsoever.”
To address the threats of social instability, the U.N. chief recommended a series of measures “to provide universal health coverage, education, housing, decent work and income protection for everyone, everywhere.”
Sunday, September 12
On Saturday afternoon, Mayor Darrell Steinberg announced on Twitter that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He said he received a positive test on Friday. The mayor, who turns 62 in October, is fully vaccinated.
“I am experiencing a fever and cold-like symptoms. I will be fine as I quarantine at home and refrain from public events until doctors tell me it’s safe for me to go out,” Steinberg said on Twitter. "Please everybody get vaccinated. The Delta variant is highly contagious, and if you’re not vaccinated there’s a much higher chance of serious illness or death. Please take good care, Sacramento.”
Saturday, September 11
Unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those fully vaccinated, according to new studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The studies, which were released Friday and analyzed data from 600,000 Americans between April 4 and July 17, also found that vaccinated people were nearly five times less likely to get infected and 10 times less likely to get so sick they ended up in the hospital.
However, the studies suggest that the effectiveness of the vaccines may have dropped as the delta variant became dominant.
Friday, September 10
The Los Angeles board of education has voted to require students 12 and older to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to attend in-person classes in the nation’s second-largest school district.
The board’s Thursday vote makes LA by far the largest of a very small number of school districts with a vaccine requirement.
Nearby Culver City imposed a similar policy last month for its 7,000 students. For comparison, LA has more than 600,000 students.
Under the LA plan, students 12 and up who participate in sports and other extracurricular activities need to get both of the two shots by the end of October. Other students have until Dec. 19.
Symptoms that persist, recur, or begin a month or more after a COVID-19 infection can affect children and teens as well as adults, according to the Associated Press.
Estimates vary on how often these “long COVID” symptoms occur in kids. A recently published U.K. study found that about 4% had COVID-19 symptoms more than a month after getting infected.
Fatigue, headaches and loss of smell were among the most common complaints and most were gone by two months.
Coughing, chest pain and brain fog also have been seen in affected kids. Long COVID-19 can occur even when the initial infection was mild or had no symptoms.
Larger U.S. businesses won’t have to decide whether to require their employees to get COVID-19 vaccines — it’s now federal policy, although some important details remain to be worked out.
According to the Associated Press, President Joe Biden announced sweeping new orders on Thursday requiring employers with more than 100 workers to mandate immunizations or offer weekly testing.
Large swaths of the private sector have already stepped in to mandate vaccinations for at least some of their employees. However, the U.S. is still struggling to curb the surging delta variant that is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery.
Thursday, September 9
California lawmakers have shelved bills aimed at requiring state workers to either be vaccinated or get tested weekly for coronavirus to keep their jobs, according to the Associated Press.
One bill by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks would have required all workers to either receive the coronavirus vaccine or submit to weekly testing. Another bill by Assemblyman Evan Low sought to make sure state law protected businesses that chose to require their workers to be vaccinated.
Neither bill will advance this year. Wednesday, more than a thousand people gathered at the state Capitol to protest vaccine mandates. Organizers said they wanted to let lawmakers know they oppose the bills, which could return next year.
President Joe Biden is toughening COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal workers and contractors. He aims to boost vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant that is killing thousands each week and jeopardizes the nation’s economic recovery.
Biden will sign a new executive order to require vaccination for executive branch employees and contractors who do business with the federal government, as reported by the Associated Press.
The step comes in advance of a speech Thursday afternoon outlining a six-pronged plan to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnating pace of COVID-19 vaccination.
A person familiar with the plan discussed details on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on the record.
The mu variant of the coronavirus was first identified in Colombia in January, and has since caused isolated outbreaks in South America, Europe and the U.S.
According to the Associated Press, last month, the World Health Organization listed it as a “variant of interest” because of concerns that it may make vaccines and treatments less effective, but evidence is needed.
So far, the mu variant doesn’t seem to be spreading quickly. Most countries remain concerned about the highly contagious delta variant — the dominant variant in almost all of the 174 countries where it’s been detected.
Wednesday, September 8
Butte County residents could see the return of an indoor mask mandate as local coronavirus cases continue to surge.
Public Health Director Danette York said the county’s health officer has the authority to issue mask mandates but said health officials have chosen to discuss the matter with the Board of Supervisors and health care providers before deciding.
“It may come. It may not, in the long run,” York said. “As of right now, though, we are following all state guidance.”
California health officials recommend universal mask use for public settings regardless of vaccination status. New numbers from the state show more than 100 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Butte County as of Monday. Those figures rival the surge last winter.
America’s summer of hope was supposed to get residents vaccinated against COVID-19 and save lives. Instead, hope has deflated as the delta variant is causing as many deaths as back in March 2021.
According to the Associated Press, the delta variant is filling hospitals and sickening an alarming number of children — so much so, that the total coronavirus-related deaths in some places has reached the highest levels since the start of the pandemic back in 2020.
School systems that reopened their classrooms are abruptly switching back to remote learning because of outbreaks. Legal disputes, threats and violence have erupted over mask and vaccine requirements.
The country’s death toll stands at more than 650,000, with one major forecast model projecting it will top 750,000 by Dec. 1.
The head of the World Health Organization is calling on rich countries with large supplies of coronavirus vaccines to refrain from offering booster shots through the end of the year, expanding a call that has been largely ignored.
According to the Associated Press, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said he was “appalled” at comments by pharmaceutical manufacturers who said vaccine supplies are high enough to allow for both booster shots and vaccines in countries in dire need of vaccinations but are facing shortages.
The WHO chief says, “I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers.”
The U.S. and other nations have already begun to administer booster shots for some vulnerable groups of residents.
Tuesday, September 7
Several unemployment benefits expired this week for thousands of Californians, including an additional $300-a-week in supplemental income and also benefits for gig workers.
Daniela Urban at the Center for Workers Rights in Sacramento says she’s been hearing from many people who are now panicked.
“Certainly the loss of the extra $300 a week of benefits, which there doesn’t seem to be any replacement for, impacts claimants’ day-to-day personal finances and will continue to make it a struggle for them to provide for their basic needs,” she said.
Unemployment numbers have improved for white and Asian American workers, according to Urban, but Black and Latino workers continue to see the highest rates of unemployment and will be disproportionately impacted.
But there is still time to help these workers, she says, especially as the pandemic continues and the Delta variant is surging.
“A lot depends on whether the state or government responds with additional support for workers who continue to be unemployed. This does not have to be the hard-stop end for unemployment benefits,” she said.
More than 50,000 people in Sacramento remain unemployed.
Nevada hospitals are seeing a severe shortage of nurses, and some northern Nevada hospitals are nearly out of staffed beds for patients.
According to the Associated Press, state and health officials recently said that Nevada is grappling with a nursing shortage like much of the country.
While the state already had a shortage of nurses even before the COVID-19 pandemic, each wave of the virus drove some to leave the profession altogether.
Dr. Chris Lake with the Nevada Hospital Association says a few concurrent events compound the issue:
- The number of unvaccinated people ending up in the hospital needing treatment
- Wildfire evacuees from another northern Nevada hospital are being moved around due to overcrowding
The resurgence of COVID-19 this summer and the national debate over vaccine requirements have created a fraught situation for U.S. first responders, who are dying in larger numbers but pushing back against mandates.
It’s a stark contrast from the beginning of the vaccine rollout when first responders were prioritized for shots.
According to the Associated Press, the mandates affect tens of thousands of police officers, firefighters, and others on the front lines across the country, many of whom are spurning the vaccine. Despite implementing consequences that range from weekly testing to suspension or termination, COVID-19 deaths are the leading cause of U.S. law enforcement line-of-duty deaths.
No national statistics show the vaccination rate for America’s entire population of first responders, but individual police and fire departments across the country report figures far below the national rate of 74% of adults who have had at least one dose.
COVID-19 booster shots may be coming for at least some Americans, but there’s still important science to be worked out over who really needs them and when.
According to the Associated Press, the Biden administration’s initial plan was to offer Pfizer or Moderna boosters starting Sept. 20.
While real-world data shows the vaccines used in the U.S. remain strongly protective against severe disease and death, their ability to prevent milder infection is dropping for reasons that are not fully understood.
Scientific advisers will publicly debate Pfizer’s evidence on Sept. 17. Officials say regulators want more data about Moderna’s boosters as well.
Monday, September 6
Children are making up a higher percentage of COVID-19 cases in Sacramento County, though health officials say some of the transmission is happening in the community and not just within schools.
Children are accounting for around 20% of new cases, Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said Thursday, compared to around 16% since the start of the pandemic.
“As schools open, we are seeing an increase in cases among children,” Kasirye said. “Most of them are mild and do not require hospitalizations, but still we are seeing an increase.”
Health officials said many cases being detected in schools were of children who caught COVID-19 at home or in the community, not of direct transmission in schools. Kasirye said the county has a team working with schools to identify cases, and encouraged everyone to continue wearing masks in school settings.
Kasirye said the county’s COVID-19 cases appear to be plateauing, despite the release of data from a backlog of cases from the Kaiser Permanente health system. Still, she said the county was nearing hospital capacity, though no patients have yet had to be transferred outside the county.
Saturday, September 4
Hospitals in the San Joaquin Valley are close to running out of beds in their intensive care units, triggering new rules from state health officials.
The region — which includes Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne counties — has less than 10% of its staffed adult ICU beds available for three consecutive days, according to the state Department of Public Health.
For the next week, hospitals with ICU beds available in the region are required to accept certain transfer patients, and other hospitals in the state can be required to accept transfers from the San Joaquin Valley. Health officials will reevaluate the order on Sept. 9.
While COVID-19 case counts in the state have slowed recently, rates of hospitalizations and deaths have continued to increase over the past two weeks. As of Saturday, 8,221 Californians were hospitalized with COVID-19, and 29% of all hospital patients in the San Joaquin Valley have tested positive.
Friday, September 3
10:55 a.m.: Nevada hospitals facing severe nursing shortages
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a nurse staffing crisis that is forcing many U.S. hospitals to pay top dollar to get the help they need to handle the crush of patients this summer, according to the Associated Press.
The problem, health leaders say, is twofold: nurses are quitting or retiring, exhausted or demoralized by the crisis. Many are leaving for lucrative temporary jobs with traveling nurse agencies that pay $5,000 or more a week.
Nevada hospitals are seeing a severe shortage of nurses as the northern part of the state’s hospitals are nearly out of staffed beds for patients.
Despite much of the country hitting critical nurse shortages, Nevada had a shortage before the pandemic even hit. Each wave of COVID-19 ended up driving some nurses to leave the profession entirely.
Dr. Chris Lake with the Nevada Hospital Association said the issue has been compounded by the unyielding number of unvaccinated people that end up in the hospital. Northern Nevada hospitals have also had to contend with evacuations due to the wildfires that have pushed patients off into other already-crowded hospitals.
The sharp shock of the coronavirus recession pushed Social Security a year closer to insolvency but left Medicare’s exhaustion date unchanged, according to the Associated Press.
It’s a counterintuitive assessment that deepens the uncertainty around the nation’s bedrock retirement programs. Social Security’s massive trust fund will be unable to pay full benefits in 2034 instead of last year’s estimated exhaustion date of 2035.
The depletion date for Medicare’s trust fund for inpatient care remained unchanged from last year, estimated in 2026. The full impact of the coronavirus pandemic will take several more years to play out.
Health investigators across the U.S. are finding it nearly impossible to keep up with the deluge of new COVID-19 infections, according to the Associated Press.
The tidal wave of infections is hampering the contact tracing efforts that were once seen as a pillar in the nation’s pandemic response.
States are hiring new staff and seeking volunteers to bolster the ranks of contact tracers that have been completely overwhelmed by surging coronavirus cases.
Some health departments have just a few dozen investigators to respond to thousands of cases each day. Some states trimmed their tracing teams when virus numbers dropped — now they're scrambling to train new investigators.
Others have triaged their teams to focus on the most vulnerable, such as cases involving schools.
Thursday, September 2
A Los Angeles couple who were convicted of helping steal $18 million in COVID-19 relief funds are on the lam after cutting off their ankle monitors, according to the Associated Press.
The FBI announced that Richard Ayvazyan and Marietta Terabelian are considered fugitives. The couple was convicted of fraud and conspiracy in June and were potentially facing decades in prison.
The couple, Ayvazyan’s brother and a Glendale man, were convicted in June of submitting phony loan applications for federal business relief funds.
Prosecutors said they actually spent the money to buy expensive homes, gold coins, diamonds, jewelry and other luxuries.
More companies are requiring COVID-19 vaccines and taking actions to motivate employees into getting their shots. So much so that many may fire workers who don’t comply or charge them more for their health insurance, according to the Associated Press.
Employers also might limit business travel or perks like access to the company gym only to the vaccinated. Many businesses also have been offering cash, gift cards, and other incentives to workers who get shots.
But since Pfizer’s vaccine recently got full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, more employers have started taking a harder stance on vaccination.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 340,000, a pandemic low, another sign that the job market is steadily rebounding from the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, jobless claims dropped by 14,000. Vaccinations for COVID-19 have supported the job market by encouraging businesses to reopen or expand hours for consumers to return to restaurants, bars and shops.
In response, employers across the country have been boosting hiring to meet a surge in consumer demand. Still, a resurgence of cases tied to the highly contagious delta variant has clouded the economic outlook.
Wednesday, September 1
More than 80% of the people eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine in California have received at least one dose, according to the Associated Press.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the news yesterday at an Oakland vaccine clinic. He said California is now among the top 10 states in vaccination rates, despite California having by far the largest population of any state in the U.S.
Newsom said vaccinations have increased steadily in recent weeks after orders requiring state workers and teachers to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
Newsom faces a recall election on Sept. 14. His Republican opponents oppose his vaccine orders.
A growing number of school board members across the U.S. are resigning or questioning their willingness to serve. Many have pointed to the reality that meetings have devolved into shouting contests over contentious issues like masking and vaccinations in schools.
According to the Associated Press, board members are largely unpaid volunteers, often former educators and parents who step forward to shape school policy and choose a superintendent.
School districts in Nevada, Wisconsin, and elsewhere have seen multiple departures in recent weeks, some saying they fear for their safety. Board members say the charged political climate that has seeped from the national stage into their meetings has made a difficult job even more challenging.
Black farmers and farmers of color are battling in the courts to save a $4 billion debt relief program approved by Congress, according to the Associated Press.
Congress approved this debt relief for 16,000 farmers of color in March as a part of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package. The funding was intended to remedy past discrimination in U.S. Department of Agriculture loan programs.
White farmers have sued, arguing that the relief is discriminatory. The USDA’s history of discrimination is so pervasive that many Black farmers call the government agency “the last plantation.” They’re now fighting with the USDA to defend the debt relief program.
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