June 18, 2024


Outstanding health & fitness

Friday, May 7, 2021 | California Healthline

Young Latinos, Blacks Lag In Covid Vaccinations: Young Latino and Black people have the lowest rate of covid vaccination among any other age, racial and ethnic group in Los Angeles County, county officials said Thursday. Only 18% of Black men and 20% of Black women ages 16-29 have received at least one dose of the vaccine. For Latinos, it was 24% of men and 31% of women. Read more from the Los Angeles Times.

All California Teens Are Behind, As Well:  Teenagers and young adults statewide are getting coronavirus shots at significantly lower rates than older residents. Statewide, just 32% of those 16 and 17 have gotten at least one shot, data show. Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Below, check out the roundup of California Healthline’s coverage. For today’s national health news, read KHN’s Morning Briefing.

Pfizer And BioNTech Seek Full FDA Approval For Their Covid-19 Vaccine 

Pfizer/BioNTech has initiated its application to the US Food and Drug Administration for full FDA approval of its Covid-19 vaccine for people ages 16 and older, the companies said Friday. This is the first Covid-19 vaccine in the United States to be assessed for full approval from the FDA. Pfizer’s mRNA two-shot vaccine is currently being used in the US under emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA. The companies say 170 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed across the US to date. (Mascarenhas and Firger, 5/7)

Los Angeles Daily News:
LA County’s Mammoth Vaccine Centers Will Remain Open Despite Drop In Demand 

Despite a recent sharp decline in demand for COVID-19 vaccines, Los Angeles County plans to continue operating its large-scale vaccination sites while also stepping up outreach efforts in communities where the inoculations have lagged, the county’s public health director said today. Health officials in Orange County announced Thursday that they will be closing mass-vaccination facilities due to dropping demand. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that while L.A. sites will remain open, they have been slightly downsized to “occupy a smaller footprint.” (5/6)

Los Angeles Times:
O.C., Other California Sites Closing Mass COVID Vaccine Hubs 

Officials in Orange County and elsewhere in California are preparing to close a number of COVID-19 mass vaccination sites as bookings for appointments continue to drop dramatically and authorities look to shift doses to mobile vaccine clinics, pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Orange County officials said the demand for first doses has dropped by over 75% since the end of April. As a result, efforts will be made to boost vaccine clinics in neighborhoods. The county said that on June 6, it will close mass vaccination sites at the Anaheim Convention Center, OC Fair & Event Center, Soka University and Santa Ana College. (Lin II, 5/6)

Orange County Register:
Orange County To Close Its Mass Vaccination Sites In June 

A precipitous drop in COVID-19 vaccination appointments has led Orange County officials to announce they’ll close their three mass vaccination sites as of June 5 and instead shift to smaller mobile clinics. The county’s first big site – known as a POD, or point of dispensing – to open was at Disneyland in January; it closed April 30. Remaining sites at the Anaheim Convention Center, Soka University in Aliso Viejo and the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, as well as a medium-sized operation at Santa Ana College, will all be closing. (Robinson, 5/6)

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
Two Upcoming COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics Open To Sonoma County Students, Their Families

Two upcoming clinics are providing COVID-19 vaccines to Sonoma County students age 16 and older and their families, according to a news release from the Sonoma County Office of Education. One will be held Saturday from 2 – 6 p.m. at Elsie Allen High School, 599 Bellevue Ave. in Santa Rosa. The other is slated for May 12 from 3 – 7 p.m. at Sonoma Valley High School, 20000 Broadway in Sonoma. (Chudwin, 5/6)

Bay Area News Group:
Data Show California Vaccination Rates Growing Slowly In Many Lower-Income Areas 

As California pushes to vaccinate more people and to ensure that the shots are equitably distributed, state data since mid-April show that in the Bay Area’s biggest counties, the number of people getting vaccinated is growing more slowly in poorer areas than in middle and higher-income neighborhoods. Amid a chaotic vaccine rollout that left some hard-hit communities behind, Gov. Gavin Newsom in early March set aside 40% of the state’s vaccine allotment for areas identified as among California’s most vulnerable. In mid-April, the state began releasing weekly data on the percentage of the population vaccinated by ZIP code. (Woolfolk, Kelliher and Rowan, 5/7)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Bay Area Employers More Likely To Require Vaccinations Against Coronavirus Than Other U.S. Regions

Businesses mostly have the power to require employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. But while many businesses across the nation are deciding against vaccine mandates — to avoid facing privacy concerns and the potential for a public uproar by defiant employees — those in the Bay Area are more likely to ask their employees to get the shots. Recent data from a U.S. census small business survey done during the second full week in April shows that some local Bay Area businesses have not been deterred from requiring proof of vaccinations. (DiFeliciantonio and Jung, 5/6)

San Francisco Chronicle:
COVID Vaccines, Menstrual Cycles And Misinformation: Here’s What Experts Say Is Really Going On

Myths and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine have circulated on social media that health experts say can discourage some people from getting inoculated — including, recently, claims that vaccines may affect women’s menstrual cycles or fertility. Anecdotally, some women have said they noticed a change in their cycles, like having heavy bleeding or a delayed or absent cycle, after receiving a coronavirus vaccine, according to recent news reports. But several health experts, including in the Bay Area, say there is no evidence the vaccines are to blame. No studies have found that the vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States impact menstrual cycles. (Flores, 5/6)

Los Angeles Times:
COVID-19 Vaccines Prevent Coronavirus Infection, Studies Imply 

The COVID-19 vaccines being administered in the U.S. were authorized for use because they dramatically reduced the risk of getting the disease when tested in clinical trials. However, those trials didn’t test the vaccines’ ability to prevent a coronavirus infection — the first step on the road to COVID-19. Scientists suspect the vaccines do thwart infections to some extent. Two new studies bolster their case. (Kaplan, 5/6)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Just One Bay Area County Is Still Stuck In The Red Tier. Here’s What’s Holding It Back

In recent months, coronavirus case rates have plummeted in much of the Bay Area. Most of the region’s counties are now in California’s “moderate” orange reopening tier, which allows for loosened restrictions, and San Francisco moved to the least restrictive yellow tier on Tuesday. But Solano County, which has continued to struggle with higher case rates than the rest of the Bay Area, is still stuck in the red tier — the second-most-restrictive in the four-tier system. (Hwang, 5/6)

Fresno Bee:
Known Variant Cases Lurch Higher In Fresno County

A week ago, Fresno County health officials knew there were about 50 residents who were confirmed to have been infected with more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus. On Thursday, interim county health officer Dr. Rais Vohra said there are now more than 300 cases of variant strains that have been identified through genomic testing. He said there are likely thousands more undiscovered variant infections in Fresno County and neighboring counties in Central California. (Sheehan, 5/6)

In California, Vaccinations Are Priority But Testing Matters

Los Angeles and San Francisco were able to enter California’s least restrictive coronavirus tier Thursday even though they have more infections per capita than some other populous counties. The reason is they continue to test for the virus more aggressively than other places even as the statewide emphasis is on vaccinations. Under California’s four-tier, colored coded system for resuming business operations and other activities, if a county tests more it gets rewarded by having its virus case rate adjusted down. The lower the case rate, the fewer the restrictions. (Taxin and Dazio, 5/6)

Sacramento Bee:
Sacramento County Finds COVID-19 Cases In Vaccinated People 

Sacramento County recently began providing data on so-called breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated residents, and the early numbers appear to affirm the high efficacy of the jabs. County health officials in an update to their coronavirus data dashboard this week said 152 patients have tested positive this year, out of more than 433,000 considered fully vaccinated through last Friday. That’s about 0.035%, or one in about every 2,850 residents who have received two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. (McGough, 5/6)

Bay Area News Group:
Warriors’ Damion Lee Tested Positive For COVID-19 Despite Receiving Vaccine

Warriors guard Damion Lee tested positive for COVID-19 despite receiving a vaccine, he said before Thursday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. There is no timetable for his return. Lee tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in early March. According to Lee, he was told he was one of 6,000 “breakthrough” cases among the more than 100 million Americans vaccinated to test positive post-vaccine. (Goldberg, 5/6)

Sacramento Bee:
Regal Cinemas Reopening Most Sacramento Area Theaters 

Regal Cinemas this month will reopen most of its Sacramento-area theaters that have been closed for the past year due to coronavirus restrictions, the company announced. Regal’s El Dorado, Natomas Marketplace and United Artist Laguna Village theaters will reopen Friday, joining the Delta Shores & IMAX location, which resumed showings in late April, according to the Regal website. (McGough, 5/6)

Los Angeles Times:
Bar Owner Charged With Selling Fake COVID-19 Vaccine Cards 

The owner of a San Joaquin County bar was arrested and charged this week with selling fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards, authorities said. The arrest Tuesday of Todd Anderson, 59, followed an investigation by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which began in April after the agency received complaints that fake cards were being sold at the Old Corner Saloon in Clements. (Smith, 5/6)

Modesto Bee:
Do Temperature Checks Really Catch COVID Infections? 

Many businesses, offices and events are still depending on temperature checks to detect coronavirus infections among the seemingly healthy. But fevers aren’t always a part of the COVID-19 package, especially among older adults.A better alternative: measuring oxygen levels in the blood with a noninvasive, painless and inexpensive device called a pulse oximeter, according to two nursing professors from Washington State University. The pair highlights scientific evidence that shows older adults have lower core body temperatures than younger adults. They also note that common signs of COVID-19, such as body aches or fatigue, may be blamed on age rather than potential sickness, increasing the likelihood a real infection will be dangerously dismissed. (Camero, 5/6)

Bay Area News Group:
21 Students Test Positive In East Bay High School Outbreak Linked To Gathering

Twenty-one high school students tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak that health officials are linking to a gathering in a private home. An additional 100 students quarantined after potential contact with the positive cases, but the “vast majority” of them are now out of quarantine, the superintendent of the high school’s district said in an interview Thursday. The students who tested positive have also resumed instruction. (Mukherjee, 5/6)

Sacramento Bee:
California Schools Start Virtual Academies For Fall 2021 

The pandemic sent thousands of public school students in the Sacramento region home. And some will choose to stay there in the fall, even as schools prepare for more robust in-person instruction. Virtual academies are beginning to pop up across the state, establishing full online campuses with schedules that resemble a traditional school day, along with live, daily interactions with teachers .About 40 school districts in California have applied to register virtual academies with the California Department of Education. Locally, Rocklin, Natomas, Folsom Cordova, Washington Unified in West Sacramento and the Dry Creek Joint Elementary school districts have applications that have been approved. (Morrar, 5/7)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Should California Allow Distance Learning In Fall? Lawmakers, Educators Battle Over How Education Should Work

Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have been emphatic that public schools in California must reopen for full-time, in-person learning this fall. But that push has inspired a new debate in Sacramento: Should they create an exception for students who prefer to stay remote or who learn better outside the classroom? (Gardiner and Tucker, 5/6)

Los Angeles Times:
As COVID Wanes, Graduation 2021 Disappoints Hopeful Students 

It all seemed so promising a month ago when Cal State L.A. announced its plans for graduation. An event at the landmark Rose Bowl, not only for the class of 2021, but also the forgotten class of 2020. Speeches. Music. Congratulations galore from family and friends. Maybe even some jumbotron action. But this week, Cal State L.A. made clear what was actually in store for the Rose Bowl ceremony: No guests. No names read aloud. No walk across the stage. (Agrawal, 5/7)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego Biotech Offers Coronavirus Testing To California Community Colleges 

San Diego biotech Biocept is bringing coronavirus testing to community colleges throughout California in a bid to help schools eyeing a return to in-person classes. The company recently announced a testing partnership with the Foundation for California Community Colleges, a nonprofit supporting 116 community colleges that serves 2.1 million students. These schools will be able to administer COVID-19 tests to students and staff, send samples to Biocept’s local lab and receive results within 48 hours. (Wosen, 5/6)

International Students Face Vaccine Hurdles 

More California colleges are planning to require students to get COVID-19 vaccinations. For international students, that often means only vaccines approved by the World Health Organization will be accepted, even though not all students have access to those. (Zinshteyn, West and Shao, 5/6)

Almost A Million People Signed Up For Obamacare Coverage Through April After Biden Reopened Exchanges

Almost a million people signed up for 2021 health insurance coverage on the federal Affordable Care Act exchange during the first 10 weeks of President Joe Biden’s special enrollment period, according to data released Thursday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That’s well over double the number who turned to the exchange in the same period over the past two years, when enrollment was limited to those losing job-based policies and experiencing other major life events, such as divorce. (Luhby, 5/6)

1 In 6 Workers Say Health Benefits Are Stopping Them From Leaving Their Job 

One in six U.S. workers with employer insurance are staying in a job they may otherwise leave because they’re afraid of losing their health benefits, according to a new West Health-Gallup survey. Black and low-income workers are particularly likely to say they’re staying at their job for the health benefits it provides. More than half of respondents said they were concerned that the costs of health care services and prescription drugs will continue to rise until they’re unaffordable. (Owens, 5/6)

Bay Area News Group:
COVID: California Unemployment Claims Improve — Backlog Worsens

California workers filed fewer unemployment claims last week — but the state’s labor agency is falling behind again in its uneven efforts to whittle down a mountain of backlogged jobless applications. Workers statewide filed 71,200 first-time claims for unemployment during the week that ended on May 1, which was down 7,400 from the claims that were filed in the week ending on April 24, the federal Department of Labor reported Thursday. (Avalos, 5/6)

Los Angeles Times:
Will California Women Bounce Back From COVID Unemployment? 

Before the virus took hold, Californians of both sexes enjoyed the same low unemployment rate, 4.1%. But in the last year, women have suffered more: 12% have lost jobs statewide, compared with 10.4% of men. And as the nation struggles to reopen, many women are grappling with troubling questions: Is it safe to return to work? Can I find a comparable position? What about my unvaccinated children? Do I really want to do what I was doing before? (Roosevelt, 5/7)

Bay Area News Group:
Why The Bay Area Still Hasn’t Spent $1.7 Billion In COVID Stimulus Money

Nearly two months after President Joe Biden signed a COVID stimulus bill directing $1.7 billion in relief funds to the Bay Area’s public transportation agencies, that money has not yet been spent — even as many transit systems keep pandemic-related service cuts in place. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which is responsible for distributing the funds to BART, Caltrain and two-dozen other bus, train and ferry operators, is still determining how it wants to divvy that money up and ensure the various agencies’ long-term health. (Savidge, 5/6)

San Francisco Chronicle:
S.F. Man Accused Of Stabbing Two Older Asian Women Charged With Attempted Murder

The man accused of stabbing two older women in San Francisco on Tuesday has been charged with two counts of premeditated attempted murder and various other felonies, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. Prosecutors will also ask that suspect, 54-year-old Patrick Thompson, be held in jail while he awaits trial, officials said. District Attorney Chesa Boudin plans to personally represent the prosecution at Thompson’s arraignment Friday. (Cassidy, 5/6)

ABC News:
Man Charged With Premeditated Attempted Murder In Stabbing Of 2 Asian American Women 

The man who allegedly stabbed two elderly Asian women in San Francisco earlier this week is now facing multiple charges, including premeditated attempted murder, prosecutors announced Thursday. Patrick Thompson, 54, was charged with two counts of premeditated attempted murder and two counts of elder abuse, with enhancements for great bodily injury, great bodily injury on elders and personal use of a deadly weapon, in the “brutal” knife attack, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin said. (Shapiro and Deliso, 5/6)

The Hill:
House To Consider Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill, Protections For Pregnant Workers This Month 

The House is set to vote this month on bills to ensure workplace protections for pregnant employees, reform debt collection practices and combat a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Thursday. … The House will take up bills next week to bolster mental health services, particularly for underserved and high-poverty communities, as well as a package to reform the debt collection industry. (Marcos, 5/6)

Los Angeles Times:
Report Shows Breadth Of Anti-Asian Racism With Attacks From Alhambra To Michigan, In Schools, Restaurants 

A report from Stop AAPI Hate released Thursday shows the breadth of anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. Racist attacks, some verbal and some physical, were reported in cities like Alhambra and New York with large Asian populations and Muskegon with few Asian residents. The attacks took place in schools, restaurants, stores, subways, sidewalks, fitness classes and Zoom meetings. Some involved allegations about the coronavirus, while other perpetrators used age-old racial slurs like “ching chong.” (Do, 5/7)

Los Angeles Times:
Survey: Californians Agree Asians Often Discriminated Against

In a sign of shifting views on the Asian American experience in California, state residents are more willing to acknowledge that Asian Americans encounter discrimination, and Asian Americans are increasingly fearful of being victims of a hate crime, even more so than Black or Latino residents, according to a new statewide poll. The recognition in the past year of growing animus toward Asian Americans is one of the key findings of the survey, which was commissioned by community groups and conducted in consultation with The Times. The shift in attitudes spans the time period since George Floyd’s death and the spate of attacks targeting Asian Americans nationwide. (Vega, 5/7)

CBS News:
The Asian American Foundation Launches New Campaign To Fight Anti-Asian Hate 

The Asian American Foundation is launching a new campaign in an effort to fight anti-Asian bias and “expand support” for the Asian community. The “See Us Unite” campaign will use culture and history to help educate about what it means to be Asian American. The campaign’s messaging will be launched on social media, featuring Asian American celebrities such as actor Daniel Dae Kim, tennis star Naomi Osaka and Olympian skater Michelle Kwan. MTV, a division of ViacomCBS, will also air a special exploring the historic contributions Asian Americans have made to the country. The special, which airs May 21, will include performances from rapper Saweetie and singers Jhene Aiko and Sting. (Jones, 5/6)

Rates Of Suicide Rose During The Pandemic For Black Americans 

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month across the country, and with the pandemic slowly improving in California, now is an excellent time to start taking stock of your personal experiences and mental health. After a tumultuous period where over 570,000 Americans lost their lives to a virus, health experts have yet to figure out how many more lives were lost in connection to, but not from, COVID-19. Some health experts have already been working on a little bit of research to find out. (Manata and Gonzalez, 5/6)

Los Angeles Times:
San Francisco Tests Campsites As A Homelessness Solution 

Cities up and down the West Coast, including Seattle, Sacramento and San Francisco, confronted by the high cost and slow progress of building housing for homeless people, have turned to these permitted tent encampments. They offer services such as toilets, meals and help finding a permanent place to stay. These efforts, once anathema among some homeless service providers, are becoming more widely accepted as unsheltered homelessness has grown and government officials reckon with a pandemic that has made placing people in large shelters dangerous. The Times spoke with more than two dozen people who either have stayed or currently stay in these sites. Many wished for a room in a hotel or an apartment to call their own. Still, a majority said that they appreciate these lots, some of which will eventually have supportive housing built on them. (Oreskes, 5/7)

The Bakersfield Californian:
Air Pollution Control District Issues Health Caution Going Into Weekend 

A health caution has been implemented through Saturday in the San Joaquin Valley, according to a news release from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The news release states that strong northwesterly winds may cause blowing dust throughout the valley into the weekend, with winds particularly gusty beginning Friday into Saturday. The District recommends that residents use caution and avoid exposure to blowing dust caused by windy conditions, the news release states. (5/6)

Modesto Bee:
122 People Died From Drug Overdoses, Opioids Played A Big Part 

Deaths from drug overdoses jumped 47 percent in Stanislaus County last year, an increase that officials attribute at least partially to the COVID pandemic. In 2020, 122 people lost their lives to overdoses of illicit or prescription drugs, compared to 83 in 2019. “We (know we) have more fatalities, because we track those trends.” said Dr. Bernardo Mora, medical director of Stanislaus County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. (Mink, 5/7)

Sacramento Bee:
California Bill Would Let Bicyclists Roll Through Stop Signs 

For bicyclists, there are few places more dangerous than an intersection. Nearly a third of bicycle-related fatalities occur at one, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. California lawmakers are advancing a bill that seeks to make intersections safer for bicyclists by allowing them to roll through stop signs. Its backers say it’ll work by giving cyclists enough momentum to get through an intersection quickly, while it creates predictable behavior for drivers to follow. (Sheeler, 5/6)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego County Unveils $7 Billion Budget Proposal 

The County of San Diego released a $7 billion budget Thursday that increases funding for public safety and health and human services for the next fiscal year starting July 1. The plan increases spending by $480 million, or 7.3 percent, over the current year, with behavioral health, sheriff and public assistance programs accounting for the biggest expenses. (Brennan, 5/6)

Long Beach Press-Telegram:
Elected Officials Tour Temporary Migrant Shelter In Long Beach, Vouch For Kids’ Well-Being 

The 729 migrant children being housed at the Long Beach Convention Center are being well cared for and appear to be in good spirits, according to local officials. Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-San Pedro, along with Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, toured the temporary shelter on Thursday, May 6, and said in a briefing following the visit that they were pleased with what they saw. (Munguia, 5/6)

The Bakersfield Californian:
Art In The Park Event To Highlight Mental Health Awareness 

The public is invited to check out art highlighting important mental health issues at Art in the Park at the Bluffs at Panorama Park this Friday through Sunday. Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services is partnering with local art group Creative Crossing Co-Create for the event, which goes from sunrise to sunset each day as part of Mental Health Awareness Month. (5/6)

Orange County Register:
Let’s Keep What Worked In Health Care During Pandemic, Change What Didn’t

The coronavirus pandemic flipped the U.S. inside-out. Too many Americans passed away, even more became violently ill and alarmism brought the economy to a virtual standstill. But every cloud, or in this case more of a category five hurricane, has a silver lining. The experience acts as yet another case study showing the superiority of the U.S. healthcare system and the power of the free market when government steps out of the way. Policymakers should be careful to keep it that way. Although not perfect, the U.S. healthcare system offers the best medical services and treatments in the world. Countries like the U.K. and Canada, which have fallen for the trap of government-run healthcare, are plagued with service rationing and long wait times. According to one think tank report, tens of thousands of Canadians leave the country annually to receive non-emergency medical treatment—partly to “seek out superior quality care” and avoid long waits. (Elaine Parker and CL Gray, 5/4)

Los Angeles Times:
To End COVID, Californians Can’t Ignore Anti-Maskers Forever

Blaine D. Pope didn’t plan to go viral. He had just planned to go home and make a peanut butter sandwich. But that was before the mild-mannered professor arrived at his daughter’s school in Santa Monica one afternoon this week and found a group of anti-maskers waving signs and shouting conspiracy theories at parents and students. You know the type. Those who claim — falsely — that COVID-19 is “the same as the flu” and that anyone who wears a mask or agrees to get vaccinated has been “indoctrinated” by a mysterious “they.” (Erika D. Smith, 5/7)

No, California Gov. Newsom Did Not ‘Just Let 76,000 Inmates Out Of Jail,’ As Recall Candidate John Cox Falsely Claimed 

Republican recall election candidate John Cox cozied up with a live, 1,000-pound Kodiak bear and branded himself as “a beast” at his campaign kick-off event in Sacramento on Tuesday, before criticizing Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom over his handling of the pandemic, power blackouts and housing crisis. But Cox also made a wild — and beastly — falsehood: He claimed Newsom had just released tens of thousands of inmates onto the streets. That’s simply not the case. (Nichols, 5/6)

Fresno Bee:
Fresno Uses Gift Cards To Help Increase COVID Vaccinations

Life feels a bit more normal in Fresno County these days, now that the region is in the orange tier of the state’s pandemic plan. People can eat indoors and go to gyms. Many schoolkids are finishing out this strange year back on campus, at least part of the time. Plans are being made for outdoor, in person high school graduations. But now there is news that disrupts the upward path to normalcy: When it comes to getting fully vaccinated, just 27% of county residents have met that mark. Less than 37% have gotten at least one shot. (5/7)

Los Angeles Times:
Will Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ Take Care Of The Baby Bust Too? 

Maybe we should have seen it coming last spring. That’s when the Mayo Clinic laid down the law for singles in the dating game. Avoid kissing. Masks always. Oh, also: No being in a room together outside your pod. If you absolutely had to have sex during the pandemic, the clinic allowed, “You might also consider engaging in sexual activity with partners via text, photos or videos, ideally using an encrypted platform to provide privacy protection.” Ack. Encrypted sexting might do the trick for some people. But it’s not tops at generating babies — or the relationships that lead to them. (Virginia Heffernan, 5/7)

The Mercury News:
San Jose Must Invest In Residents Hit Hardest By Pandemic

The global pandemic has further highlighted the systemic inequality and structural racism that our communities of color have been facing for years. Our community has shared our pain. The city now has an opportunity to prioritize our community needs with a budget that invests in us. San Jose must be bold and commit to making change to help our residents hit hardest and suffering from the consequences of the pandemic. (Elizabeth Kamya, 5/7)

The Mercury News and East Bay Times:
Addictive, Deadly Nitrous Oxide Meets Legislative Inaction

In a commentary we published earlier this week, a Bay Area doctor describes finding his partner dead a few feet away from hundreds of empty nitrous oxide cartridges. For the uninitiated, nitrous oxide is commonly known as laughing gas. It’s used for anesthesia in childbirth, diagnostic procedures and dentistry. It’s also used in cooking as the propellant for whipped cream. And it’s an addictive party drug that provides short bursts of euphoria but can kill you. Also known as Whip-Its, Noz or N20, nitrous oxide is easily accessible because of a provision in California law allowing its sale to adults as long as it’s not going to be inhaled. Smoke shops regularly ignore that restriction in the law. (5/7)

Orange County Register:
Reject AB 268, An Unjustified Restriction On Access To Autopsy Records 

Assembly Bill 268, introduced by Asm. Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, is motivated by the best of intentions. Last year, relatives of many of the dozen victims of the tragic 2018 mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill filed a lawsuit to the block release of records pertaining to the incident, citing privacy concerns.AB 268, sponsored by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, would require the sealing of “the autopsy report and any evidence associated with the examination” of someone killed as a result of a criminal act upon the request of a relative. The bill would also require such records to be sealed  “when a prosecutorial agency has concluded all persons who could have been prosecuted for the criminal act have died.” (5/4)

Orange County Register:
Expect Ban On Menthol Cigarettes To Worsen Inequities In Criminal Justice 

The Food and Drug Administration announced  plans to ban menthol and other flavored cigarettes within a year. Menthol cigarettes are especially popular among young adults and in Black and Brown communities. It doesn’t take a vivid imagination for anyone slightly familiar with this country’s disastrous alcohol prohibition experiment, or the catastrophic effect of the war on drugs, to see where this will lead. And, as usual, minority communities will be the hardest hit. We can already get a glimpse of what to expect. To discourage tobacco use, New York City imposed exorbitant taxes on packaged cigarettes. This created a vibrant black market in the sale of untaxed cigarettes, many sold individually and unpackaged, called “loosies.”  New York City is now the “cigarette smuggling capital of America.” (Jeffrey A. Singer, 5/6)

Fresno Bee:
Fresno Should Remain Home For Veterans Affairs Hospital

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in central Fresno opened in 1950, and today serves more than 31,000 former military members in the Central California region. It is understandable that the hospital and associated services have grown tight on space at the location at East Clinton Avenue and North Fresno Street. Parking for staff and patients is at a premium, for example, and when their vehicles spill over into surrounding residential neighborhoods, some friction results. (5/5)