May 26, 2024


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Monday, December 14, 2020 | California Healthline

High-Poverty Neighborhoods Bear the Brunt of COVID’s Scourge

COVID infection rates in California are consistently higher in low-income neighborhoods than more affluent areas, according to an analysis by ZIP code. Our findings underscore the heightened risks borne by millions of low-wage workers whose jobs are deemed essential. (Phillip Reese,

COVID Vaccine Approved For Californians: The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech cleared another hurdle in California on Sunday, when a working group of scientists and experts endorsed its safety. The group reviewed the vaccine separately from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which on Friday issued emergency-use authorization. The move paved the way for vaccines to be distributed across California. Read more from the Los Angeles Times and Politico.

4 Million People Sign Up For ‘CA Notify’: About 4 million Californians had signed up for the state’s smartphone-based COVID-19 notification system as of Friday afternoon, according to the California Department of Public Health. The system, dubbed CA Notify, sends smartphone alerts to people who’ve spent prolonged time with someone who later tests positive for the novel coronavirus. Read more from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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

Los Angeles Times:
California Vaccinations Could Start Monday, But It Won’t Slow COVID-19 Crisis Imperiling Hospitals

Medical workers were expected to get the first doses of vaccine through a limited number of hospitals in California that include Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UCLA Health and Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Officials expect to get more doses of the vaccine later this month and again in early January. It’s a welcome glimmer of hope. But it is expected to be months before the vaccine hits the general population in significant numbers. And that leaves health officials struggling with an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 that has swept through California. (Wigglesworth, Karlamangla and Wilkinson, 12/12)

Bay Area News Group:
Bay Area Officials Prepare For First COVID-19 Vaccine Shipments

“We’ve been getting ready for this for a long time,” said Dr. Desi Kotis, chief pharmacy executive at the University of California San Francisco. California is expected to receive 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in its first shipments, with the first shots being administered sometime this week. The state also is expecting to receive about 700,000 doses of a vaccine developed by Moderna by the end of December. The Food and Drug Administration could authorize emergency use of the Moderna vaccine by the end of the week, officials said. The vaccines will be delivered to local public health departments and major hospital groups, such as Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente. UCSF will start vaccinating people by Wednesday, Kotis said; the school’s first responders and high-risk health care workers received vaccination appointments on Saturday. (Almond, 12/13)

Sacramento Bee:
COVID-19 Vaccine To Arrive At UC Davis, Other CA Hospitals

UC Davis officials say they will begin administering shots to front-line hospital workers as soon as they get it, if given the go-ahead. “We are ready and willing,” said Dr. David Lubarsky, UC Davis Health CEO. Lubarsky initially said he expected the vaccine by Monday. UC officials have since said they expect it early this week. His Sacramento medical center is one of a handful designated regional vaccine repositories in California. Lubarsky described it as the official launch of the counter-offensive to the coronavirus pandemic, akin to D-Day during World War II. (Bizjak, 12/13)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego VA Medical Center Won’t Get First COVID-19 Vaccines, Military Hospitals Will

The Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, which serves more than 86,000 veterans, is not among the 37 veterans sites nationwide that will be the first to distribute coronavirus vaccinations, the department announced Thursday. In a news release, the department said the initial allotment of vaccines will go to front-line VA health care workers and veterans living in long-term care units. Those facilities are set to receive the vaccine as soon as next week, according to a San Diego VA spokeswoman. (Dyer, 12/11)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
2,900 Of County’s First COVID-19 Vaccine Doses To Go To UCSD, Rollout To Begin In Days 

After nearly a year spent adjusting to shutdowns and isolation, San Diego will soon have the one tool that could eventually restore life to some semblance of normalcy: a COVID-19 vaccine. “We anticipate that sometime early next week, if not on the weekend even, that we will get vaccines,” said county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten in a press briefing earlier this week. (Wosen and Robbins, 12/11)

Los Angeles Times:
COVID-19 Vaccine Timeline: When Will The Public Get It?

Now that the federal government has given emergency authorization for the first COVID-19 vaccine, how long will it take to get it to the general public? Many details are still being worked out, and how the vaccine will be distributed across California will depend on state and federal guidance. But experts say it will probably be spring, and possibly summer or even fall, before the vaccine is available to healthy people who are not essential workers or in other high-risk groups. The first batch of doses will go to front-line healthcare workers with direct exposure to the virus and residents of long-term care facilities, followed by other specific at-risk groups. (Nelson, Lau, Cosgrove and Karlamangla, 12/12)

Fresno Bee:
Fresno County To Partner With Nonprofits For COVID Vaccine 

As Fresno County prepares for COVID-19 vaccines to arrive, the public health department will rely heavily on its partnerships with community based organizations to connect, inform and distribute the vaccine to hard-to-reach communities. Paramedics and fire agencies, along with major hospitals such as Community Regional Medical Center, Kaiser, Saint Agnes and Adventist Health will receive the first round of vaccines, according to the plan Fresno health officials submitted to the California Department of Public Health that was obtained by The Sacramento Bee through a public records request. Then other large medical providers including Community Medical Providers, Peachwood Medical Group, United Health Centers and others will vaccinate their employees. (Calix, 12/12)

Bay Area News Group:
How Will California Nursing Home Patients Get The Vaccine?

As the network of federal and state officials, pharmacies and health care facilities prepare for the complex distribution of the first COVID-19 vaccines, plans for giving the life-saving doses to nursing home residents are taking shape, but patient advocates still have concerns about the difficult question of consent and what to do if there is not enough to go around. Under California’s guidelines, staff and the residents of long-term care facilities are among the first groups to get the vaccines, along with workers at hospitals and health care facilities who are most at risk of exposure to the coronavirus. While it’s unclear how many doses will be initially available for the state’s care facilities, the state’s directive spells out a hierarchy of prioritization based on types and locations of facilities, and then individuals’ attributes, including age and underlying medical conditions. (Sciacca and DeRuy, 12/12)

The New York Times:
Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women May Opt To Receive The Vaccine 

In its emergency authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Friday night, the Food and Drug Administration took an unexpected step, leaving open the possibility that pregnant and breastfeeding women may opt for immunization against the coronavirus. The agency authorized the vaccine for anyone 16 and older, and asked Pfizer to file regular reports on the safety of the vaccine, including its use in pregnant women. (Mandavilli, 12/11)

San Francisco Chronicle:
The Coronavirus Vaccine Comes With More Side Effects Than A Flu Shot. Experts Urge People To Get It Anyway

The first coronavirus vaccine authorized in the United States may cause more side effects than the flu vaccine, but the most common reactions — soreness at the injection site, fatigue and headache — are mild or moderate in most people and fade after a few days, according to analyses of clinical trial data. Infectious disease experts say most people can safely get the vaccine, but they should be prepared for some of these potential side effects. “Any robust vaccine may generate some discomfort but it is worth the mild side effects — these side effects are not extraordinary — to be immune against this circulating new pandemic,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease physician at UCSF. (Ho, 12/12)

Los Angeles Times:
Los Angeles, Orange And San Francisco Counties Shatter COVID-19 Records As ICU Space Shrinks

Record numbers of patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized this weekend in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and San Francisco hit a high for new coronavirus cases, as space in intensive care units across the state shrunk to dangerous lows. The figures paint a dire picture just two weeks before Christmas, when holiday travel could ramp up despite warnings from public health officials. There were 1,236 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Orange County on Sunday and 4,203 in Los Angeles on Saturday, according to the latest available numbers — both record highs. San Francisco, which had been a front-runner in coronavirus testing, reported a record of 323 new cases Saturday. (Lau, 12/13)

Bay Area News Group:
San Francisco Records The Most Coronavirus Cases Ever Saturday, Health Officials Report

San Francisco health officials on Saturday reported the most number of new coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic, a sign that the current surge in new cases may not yet have reached its peak. Data compiled by this news organization shows that San Francisco reported 323 new cases of the virus, for a total of 18,201 cases. Once seen as leaders for California on coronavirus response, San Francisco officials are now battling to stop the surge and keep infections down. (Toledo, 12/13)

San Francisco Chronicle:
‘Our Luck Is Beginning To Wear Out’: Bay Area’s Brutal Surge Strains Hospitals Even As Vaccine Arrival Imminent

Available intensive care unit capacity in the Southern California region dropped to 4.2% on Sunday, down from 5.3% a day earlier, and also dropped in the Bay Area from 17.6% on Saturday to 16.7% on Sunday. Available ICU capacity in the hard-hit San Joaquin Valley rose slightly, from 0 on Saturday to 1.5% on Sunday. The dark scenario of death and illness — expected to continue to worsen amid winter weather and holiday gatherings — contrasted with the optimism of Sunday’s first shipments of the newly authorized coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer’s manufacturing site in Michigan. (Arredondo, 12/13)

The Bakersfield Californian:
County Officials Address Dramatic Stats About ICU Capacity In San Joaquin Valley 

State officials announced that the intensive care unit capacity in the San Joaquin Valley had fallen to 1.9 percent on Thursday, far below the 15 percent mark that would allow a stay-at-home order to eventually be lifted on counties including Kern. The San Joaquin Valley is one of three regions to be under a stay-at-home order under recent state guidelines, and the state also reports its ICU capacity is the lowest of the five regions. Southern California’s capacity is reported to be 7.7 percent. (Gallegos, 12/11)

Orange County Register:
Coronavirus: Orange County Surpasses 100,000 Cases, With 3,121 New Ones, 14 New Deaths On Dec. 13

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported 3,121 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, Dec. 13., increasing the cumulative total in the county to 102,513 cases. In the past two days, as an outbreak in the Orange County jail system continues, 216 inmates have tested positive. The county also reported 1,236 patients in local hospitals with the coronavirus on Sunday – up by 86 from Saturday’s report. That surpasses the height of hospitalizations during the first surge of the virus in July when there were 722 people in Orange County hospitals on July 14. (Snibbe, 12/13)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego County Posts New COVID-19 Case Record; ICU Staff Wearing Thin 

San Diego County set a fresh single-day coronavirus case record Friday as it became increasingly clear that local intensive care capacity is stretched much thinner than bed occupancy numbers suggest. The county health department’s daily COVID-19 update includes 2,867 additional cases, besting the previous record set on Dec. 4 by 580. An additional 23 coronavirus-associated deaths appeared in the report, and total hospitalizations hit 965, representing nearly 21 percent of the 4,627 total patients in beds across the region Thursday. (Sisson, 12/11)

LA Daily News:
Coronavirus: ICU Capacity At Southern California Hospitals Continues To Fall, Hits 4.2% 

Intensive-care bed capacity at Southern California hospitals declined for the sixth day in a row on Sunday, Dec. 13, as state officials posted a 4.2% rate, more than a percentage point lower than 5.3% on Saturday. With 30,334 new cases, California now has 1,551,766 confirmed coronavirus infections. The closely watch ICU index triggered a state-mandated stay-at-home order when capacity tumbled to 10.9% on Monday, Dec. 7. And the number has consistently fallen since then. (12/13)

Los Angeles Times:
After Hitting L.A., COVID-19 Wave Now Battering Southern California’s Suburban Counties

When the autumn COVID-19 surge erupted more than a month ago, the epicenter was once again Los Angeles County, where the large population of essential workers and others living in densely populated neighborhoods made the region particularly vulnerable to the rapid spread of infections. But now, Southern California’s more suburban counties are rapidly catching up, fueled by Thanksgiving gatherings that have pushed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations to unprecedented levels and left hospital intensive care units at critical levels. (Money and Lin II, 12/12)

LA Daily News:
With Initial Vaccines On The Way, LA County Tops 4,000 Hospitalizations 

As the number of Los Angeles County residents hospitalized with the coronavirus surpassed 4,000 for the first time, local health officials anticipated the arrival of the first wave of coronavirus vaccines, shipped Sunday, Dec. 13, from Pfizer’s Michigan complex. Confirmation that Southland health-care workers were likely to get their shots in the next couple of days helped blunt the latest rash of unnerving statistics — including 12,731 new COVID-19 cases and 29 new deaths — from the county’s Department of Public Health. Statewide, with 30,334 new cases, California now has 1,551,766 confirmed infections. (12/13)

Fresno Bee:
Nursing Home COVID-19 Outbreaks In Fresno Add Hundreds Of Cases 

Two Fresno nursing homes are experiencing large coronavirus outbreaks, recently adding nearly 300 new COVID-19 cases between them as the virus continues to spread in skilled nursing facilities across the central San Joaquin Valley. Pacific Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in southeast Fresno added 101 new patient COVID-19 cases (142 total) and 69 new health care worker cases (114 total) since The Bee’s last nursing home report late last month. The state continues to report less than 11 patient deaths there. (George, 12/11)

LA Daily News:
New Laws Aim To Better Protect Nursing Home Residents, Essential Workers From Infectious Outbreak

When the coronavirus pandemic struck, some health care workers resorted to wearing trash bags over their clothes and bandanas around their faces in a desperate effort to protect themselves. And as the unfamiliar virus ravaged nursing homes, it became clear these facilities needed all the infection control guidance they could get. The pandemic has spawned a couple of new California laws that aim to better prepare the state and health care facilities, including nursing homes, for future infectious disease outbreaks. But as the state faces a new surge of infections, some of the provisions of these laws won’t go into effect for nearly a year or longer. (Gazzar, 12/14)

LA Daily News:
Can California Nursing Homes Avoid The Next ‘Humanitarian Crisis?’ 

Marisela Muñoz never wanted to see the woman who raised her since birth land in a nursing home. But Evangelina C. Martinez, who was Munoz’s aunt but whom she considered her mother, had Alzheimer’s and needed around-the-clock care that Muñoz and her siblings could no longer provide. So eight years ago, they placed the elderly woman at Astoria Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles’ Sylmar community. (Gazzar, 12/13)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Dozens Defy Government Orders And Worship, Mostly Maskless, Inside San Jose Church

Dozens of worshipers, almost none wearing masks, filed into San Jose’s Calvary Chapel for a 9 a.m. service Sunday in defiance of a Santa Clara County health order and a judge’s contempt-of-court ruling and fine against the chapel and its pastor. Some congregants greeted each other with handshakes and affable laughter, and calls of “God bless you!” across the lobby. An unmasked band struck up worship songs and congregants lustily sang along. People did appear to maintain distance from each other in the pews. (DiFeliciantonio, 12/13)

LA Daily News:
Some Cities Struggle With How Best To Enforce Mask Rules, As Coronavirus Worsens 

Whether it’s through citation or education, some communities around Southern California are struggling with how to put some enforcement heft behind their efforts to get citizens to abide by orders requiring them to wear masks in public during the coronavirus pandemic. When non-uniformed staff or volunteers are tasked, some have have faced pushback, even threats. But officials have grappled with whether it’s appropriate to devote law enforcement’s time, resource and personnel to the effort. (Bermont and Jacobs, 12/11)

The Guardian:
‘Autoantibodies’ May Be Driving Severe Covid Cases, Study Shows

Dramatic levels of “friendly fire” from the immune system may drive severe Covid-19 disease and leave patients with “long Covid” – when medical problems persist for a significant time after the virus has been beaten – scientists have said. Researchers at Yale University found that Covid-19 patients had large numbers of misguided antibodies in their blood that targeted the organs, tissues and the immune system itself, rather than fighting off the invading virus. (Sample, 12/13)

San Francisco Chronicle:
California Teachers Push To Be Near Front Of COVID Vaccine Line

California teachers facing pressure to support school reopenings have a request for state health officials: Put educators near the front of the line for coronavirus vaccinations. Teachers unions, led by the powerful California Teachers Association, say it’s one of the most important steps needed before the state can safely and fully return to in-person instruction for students who have been out of the classroom for nearly a year. (Gardiner, 12/14)

LA Daily News:
LAUSD Sued Over Level Of In-Person Instruction For Highest-Needs Students

Two children’s advocacy groups are asking the state’s highest court to compel the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide instruction and other services in person to students who have suffered the greatest learning loss during distance learning. LAUSD should have to provide in-person services to students with disabilities, English learners and others who can’t participate in their education online the same way as most other students, attorneys for the L.A.-based Alliance for Children’s Rights and the Learning Rights Law Center argued in a petition filed with the California Supreme Court on Friday, Dec. 11. (Tat, 12/11)

The Bakersfield Californian:
Schools Are Allowed To Stay Open When COVID-19 Surges, But Have Trouble Staffing Them 

Rosedale Union School District is the biggest district in Kern County that brought general education students of all grade levels onto campus this fall. It has vocal support from its families, administration and board to bring students on campus as quickly as possible. So the moment the district could, it welcomed students to campuses in person. The gradual rollout over the last six weeks was completed last week when the oldest students returned. But it didn’t last long. (Gallegos, 12/12)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
Scholarships From Healthcare Organization For Students Now Available 

The Grossmont Healthcare District has set a deadline of Feb. 12 for scholarship opportunities worth more than $200,000, going to local students and professionals working in or entering the healthcare field. Among the available scholarships are two non-renewable scholarships in amounts of $5,000 and $3,000 to be awarded to registered nursing students, based on community involvement. There are also five scholarships in the amount of $3,500 each for students in a healthcare related technical program. (Pearlman, 12/11)

Congressional Investigation Finds Many Booster Seat Makers “Endangered” Children’s Lives After Review Of “Meaningless Safety Testing” 

In an unusually harsh and pointed report, a U.S. House subcommittee, responding to a ProPublica investigation, found widespread evidence that the nation’s largest manufacturers of car seats “endangered the lives of millions of American children and misled consumers about the safety of booster seats” in crashes that can kill or paralyze children. On Friday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy upped the ante, formally requesting that federal highway safety regulators, as well as the Federal Trade Commission, investigate “unfair and deceptive marketing and unreasonable risks to safety” by the makers of booster seats. Separately, the subcommittee urged state attorneys general to look for violations of consumer protection laws by these companies. (Callahan, 12/11)

CBS News:
Congressional Probe Raises Safety Concerns About Booster Seats 

A congressional investigation is raising new questions about the safety of some popular children’s car booster seats. The probe began after a ProPublica investigation aired on “CBS This Morning” in February which showed how some booster seats got a passing grade, despite disturbing video of crash test dummies being violently tossed around during safety testing. That video was originally obtained by ProPublica. New videos obtained by “CBS This Morning” show child-size dummies flailing violently in car booster seats during side-impact crash tests. In each case, the booster seats passed the tests. Because there are no federal standards for such side-impact crash tests, the companies decide what qualifies as passing.  (Van Cleave, 12/10)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
Despite Increased Food Distribution, Thousands Still Going Hungry 

Charities, nonprofits and service providers throughout the county have expanded food programs this year to help people in need during the pandemic, but leaders in those organization say people still are going hungry despite their efforts. Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages, said the service provider has expanded its meal service at its downtown campus to three-a-day to include breakfast, lunch and dinner to meet a growing need. (Warth and Sisson, 12/13)

Bay Area News Group:
COVID-19: Hayward Food Line Routinely Turns Away 200 Cars, Rations Food To Last Longer 

Volunteers at the food line here carry jumper cables. Sometimes, people line up so early to get boxes of free groceries that their cars die. Sometimes, people who have no cars at all walk up open-handed, grateful to carry home whatever they can. And more often than not, the city of Hayward that has been distributing food in the Chabot College parking lot for months has run out. Organizers routinely turn away 200 cars. (Sulek, 12/13)