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Friday, July 30, 2021 | California Healthline

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Vaccinations Slowly Ticking Up In California: The speed of new covid-19 vaccinations is increasing in nearly every part of California, and some of the biggest boosts are coming in counties with low cumulative vaccination rates or where the delta variant’s recent surge has hit hardest. Read more from The Sacramento Bee and Los Angeles Times.

All LAUSD Students, Employees Must Take Weekly Covid Tests: All students and employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District will be required to take weekly coronavirus tests regardless of their vaccinations status, under a new district policy announced Thursday. The district had previously required such testing only for those who are unvaccinated. Read more from the Los Angeles Times.

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

Los Angeles Times:
CDC Document Paints Dire Picture Of Delta Variant Threat 

The highly transmissible Delta variant is a more formidable foe than previously believed, largely due to its ability to infect and be spread by people who are fully vaccinated, according to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A confidential document prepared by the agency cites evidence from a recent outbreak in Massachusetts involving at least 145 people who were infected with the Delta variant, which was first detected in India. In the Massachusetts outbreak, the viral loads of the 80 people who were vaccinated were essentially the same as the viral loads of the 65 people who were not vaccinated. (Kaplan, 7/30)

Sacramento Bee:
COVID Outbreak Follows Music Shows In Felton

Multiple band members and concert goers have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending music shows in California the weekend of July 17. Nearly all band and crew members from the Grateful Dead tribute band Grateful Shred tested positive for the virus after playing two shows in Santa Cruz County on July 17 and July 18, the Los Angeles-based band shared on Instagram July 25. One social media user called the event “Grateful Spread.” (Wegner, 7/29)

Los Angeles Times:
New Alarms Over The Delta Variant As L.A.’s Coronavirus Surge Worsens 

The coronavirus surge fueled by the Delta variant in Los Angeles County continues to worsen, according to new data released Thursday. The Los Angeles County Public Health Department announced 3,248 new cases, adding that the daily average case rate rose to 15.7 per 100,000 people, compared with 12.9 cases per 100,000 people last week. (Money, 7/29)

Southern California News Group:
LA County Reports 3,248 New Coronavirus Cases – Highest Since February – As Hospitalizations Mount 

More than a year and a half after the pandemic began, Los Angeles County once again teetered precariously close to 1,000 coronavirus-related hospitalizations on Thursday, July 29 — showing just how far the region remains from a full-fledged recovery. The county also reported its highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases since February, posting 3,248 new cases and 17 new deaths. All told, the virus has claimed 24,675 lives and infected 1,276,137 people. (Carter and Johnson, 7/29)

Orange County Register:
Coronavirus: Orange County Reported 522 New Cases With 55% Of The County Fully Vaccinated 

The OC Health Care Agency reported 522 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, July 29, increasing the cumulative total in the county to 263,578 cases since tracking began. There have been 4,433 new infections reported in the last 14 days. (Goertzen, 7/29)

Voice of OC:
OC Coastal Cities See Covid Spike

Coronavirus cases across Orange County’s coastal cities are surging, with some areas sitting at more than twice the positivity rate of Santa Ana or Anaheim — which were major hotspots during the last two waves. “Basically northern and central Orange County is below 5% but if you look at Costa Mesa and all beach cities — with no exceptions — they are surging,” said Vladimir Minin, a UC Irvine biostatistician who’s been tracking local virus trends since the pandemic began. (Custodio, 7/29)

The Bakersfield Californian:
Kern Public Health Reports 5 New Coronavirus Deaths, 138 New Cases Thursday 

Kern County Public Health Services reported five new confirmed coronavirus deaths Thursday, and 138 new cases. That brings the county’s deaths since the pandemic began to 1,425, and the cases to 113,071. Thirty-seven delta variant cases have been identified. (7/29)

KQED:
What The Latest Science Shows About Breakthrough Cases 

New data on the delta variant is coming in, and it’s not looking good. The currently authorized vaccines are still very protective, especially against hospitalization and death. But when it comes to getting an asymptomatic or mild case of COVID, they may not be quite as protective as they were against earlier strains. And, here’s the part that really could change your day-to-day life: It seems vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections may be able to transmit the virus, according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. (Stein, 7/29)

CapRadio:
UC Davis Health Doctor Explains Why Masking Again Is Important 

California’s public health agency is recommending people wear masks indoors again. The announcement follows the CDC’s guideline update, which recommends face coverings for areas where transmission is high or substantial. In California, 90% of the population is affected by the new CDC guidelines, though the state’s recommendation covers all residents. Dr. Dean Blumberg is the Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Health. He says guidelines are changing day-to-day and can understand why some may be confused. But, he says, that’s the nature of the virus and how it mutates. (7/29)

Sacramento Bee:
Answers To Questions About CA COVID-19 Mask, Vaccine Rules 

In the last week, both the state and federal government have released new guidelines and mandates in response to the growing number of delta variant cases of COVID-19. With so much change in such a short period of time, it can be easy to lose track of what the rules are right now. Here are the answers to some questions you might have. (Sheeler, 7/29)

Sacramento Bee:
CA Union Challenge To Newsom Vaccine Order Splits Workers 

The newly elected president of California’s largest state worker union acted on his own this week when he sent a letter challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order directing public employees to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Facing criticism from California state workers who favor Newsom’s order, SEIU Local 1000 President Richard Louis Brown said at a meeting this week that he did not consult the union’s board of directors before drafting the cease-and-desist letter the union sent to the California Department of Human Resources on Tuesday. (Sheeler, 7/29)

AP:
US Judge May Require Vaccines For California Prison Staff 

A federal judge on Thursday said he will consider ordering all California prison employees and inmate firefighters to be vaccinated as the state tries to head off another coronavirus infection surge driven by the more contagious delta variant. Efforts to encourage voluntary vaccinations among staff haven’t been enough to reach the rate needed to avoid new outbreaks, federal receiver J. Clark Kelso told U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar. (Thompson, 7/29)

Fox Business:
Uber Delays Office Return, Makes Vaccination Mandatory For US Employees 

Uber Technologies Inc. is pushing back its back-to-office date to late October globally, and all employees in the United States will have to be fully vaccinated before returning to office, a spokesperson said on Thursday. The news comes a day after major tech companies including Twitter Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc said all U.S. employees must get vaccinated to step into offices, as the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant drives a resurgence in cases. (7/29)

Bay Area News Group:
Where Are Workers Required To Get The COVID-19 Vaccine?

President Biden on Thursday added the federal workforce to a growing number of government and private workplaces that are requiring their employees to get vaccinated, often with frequent COVID-19 testing as an alternative, as infections driven by the highly contagious delta variant soar and immunizations have slowed. (Woolfolk and Baron, 7/29)

Voice of San Diego:
San Diego City And County Pursuing Employee Vaccine Mandates Or Testing

The two largest local governments in San Diego are preparing to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, or face regular required testing. Officials for both San Diego County and the city of San Diego confirmed to Voice of San Diego that mandates are in the works, and will be announced soon. (Keatts, 7/29)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Bay Area Residents In Their 20s Are Lagging In COVID Vaccinations. Here’s Why, And How It’s Changing

As health officials race to once again quell new cases of the coronavirus, which are growing at a particularly fast clip among young adults, Booker is squarely in the demographic they want to reach for vaccination. Today’s actions by young people — getting vaccinated or not — could shape the next stage of the pandemic. Nationwide, and in most Bay Area counties that report vaccination data by age group, young adults — generally defined as ages 18 to 34 — are lagging behind people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and older in getting vaccinated. Nationwide, just 43% of 18- to 24-year-olds have been fully vaccinated — compared with 82% of those ages 65 to 74, and 78% of those 75 and older, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Ho, 7/29)

KQED:
Study: COVID Infections, Deaths Increase When Eviction Moratoriums End 

The number of COVID-19 infections and deaths “increased dramatically” after states lifted eviction moratoriums last year, according to a new study from UCLA. Most states banned evictions at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to help those unable to pay rent due to lost wages. But last summer, many renters across the country who were still out of work were forced to move out when those rental protections expired. (7/29)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Foreign Visitors Are Coming Back To The U.S. But Not Many Are Coming To S.F.

After a dismal pandemic year, cities and industries are optimistic about a rebound in international travelers visiting the U.S. Already, more people are traveling from abroad to U.S. cities like Miami and New York. But one city that has yet to see substantially more overseas travelers is San Francisco. The number of overseas visitors entering the U.S. through San Francisco was down 93% in June, according to preliminary data from the International Trade Administration. The agency tracks visitation through I-94s, which are forms completed by overseas visitors when entering the United States by air, land or sea. Nearly all of San Francisco’s I-94s are collected at the San Francisco International Airport. (Sumida, 7/30)

CalMatters:
Payday Loan Usage Dropped During Pandemic, But Will Rebound

Pandemic government assistance may have helped some Californians avoid using expensive payday loans last year, but some experts say it might be too early to celebrate. A new report found that in 2020, California saw a 40% decline in payday loans taken out compared to 2019, a drop equivalent to $1.1 billion. Almost half a million fewer people didn’t rely on payday loans, a 30% drop compared to 2019. (Paz, 7/29)

NPR:
5 Year Plan To Halt HIV/AIDS Epidemic Meets None Of Its Goals

In 2015, global groups set ambitious goals to stem the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They aimed to bring down the number of new cases, particularly among children, teens and young women, by 2020 – and to bring up the number of people on HIV treatment. On July 21, the final report came out. No targets were met. (Wu, 7/29)

NPR:
The Feds Are Making PrEP Free. But You May Still Have To Pay To Get It

The federal government is making it much easier for Americans to get their hands on a potentially life saving treatment, if you have health insurance. It’s called PrEP, a once-daily pill that is 99% effective at preventing HIV infections. PrEP has been around for nearly a decade, and health officials have long advocated for high risk people to take it, but usage has been limited due to the costs. Truvada, one of the medications authorized for PrEP, recently went generic, but used to cost upwards of $1,800 a month. The doctor’s visits and lab tests can cost hundreds more. (Saloway and Benk, 7/29)

Southern California News Group:
Health Department Issues New Advisory For El Segundo Beaches Near Hyperion Sewage Spill 

Several beaches near the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant were under health advisories Thursday, July 29, because bacteria levels exceeded state standards, though the reason is unknown. There’s currently no sewage flowing from that plant, near El Segundo, into the oceans, the Los Angeles County Department of Health said in a Wednesday night advisory announcing the elevated levels. And there are several reasons why water testing on Tuesday revealed the elevated levels, the department said. (Jacobs and Haire, 7/29)

Los Angeles Times:
Bacteria Increase At Beaches Near Hyperion Sewage Discharge Triggers A Warning 

High bacteria levels at beaches near the site of a massive sewage discharge in Playa del Rey have prompted Los Angeles County health officials to issue a warning about going in the water. The L.A. County Department of Public Health did not rule out a link between the 17-million-gallon sewage release from the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant on July 11 and the rise in bacteria. (Seidman, 7/29)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Herbicide Roundup To Be Pulled From U.S. Store Shelves In Response To Lawsuits

Facing billions of dollars in potential liability to cancer victims, Monsanto’s parent company said Thursday it would stop selling the current version of Roundup, the world’s most widely used herbicide, for U.S. home and garden use in 2023. The forthcoming version of the weed-killer will replace its current active ingredient, glyphosate, with “new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients,” subject to approval by the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators, said Bayer AG, the German pharmaceutical giant that purchased Monsanto for $63 billion in 2018. (Egelko, 7/29)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego County Counters Heat Waves With Free Fans And Rides To Cool Zones 

The county is mounting new defenses against summer heat, with free electric fans and transportation to public “cool zones” where residents can sit out heat waves. “There are a lot of San Diegans who don’t have access to air conditioning, and when it gets to extreme heat conditions they need a place to go for their health and safety and cool zones are that,” Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday at a news conference at Spring Valley Community Center, in one of the hotter areas of the region. Summer high temperatures have risen in recent decades, posing risks to vulnerable people including the elderly, homeless and those with heart and respiratory conditions. (Brennan, 7/29)

Berkeleyside:
Berkeleyside’s Guide To The 2021 Wildfire Season

The threat of catastrophic wildfire is nothing new in the Berkeley Hills. But hotter, drier weather linked to climate change means fires are more common and more destructive. Berkeleyside has created this guide to help you prepare, stay informed and keep safe during the 2021 fire season. (Rauch and Krans, 7/29)

San Francisco Chronicle:
S.F. Spends Big To Tackle Homelessness, Safety, Drug Crisis In Final $13.2 Billion Budget

Mayor London Breed signed San Francisco’s $13.2 billion budget Thursday, a massive spending plan boosted by federal aid and higher taxes despite the economic impacts of the pandemic. San Francisco, both a city and county, has a $13.25 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year and $12.75 billion for the following year. That is less than last year’s $13.6 billion budget, as big departments like the San Francisco International Airport generated less revenue amid the pandemic. (Moench, 7/29)

Fierce Healthcare:
Kaiser Health Plan Files ‘Pay For Delay’ Suit Against Merck Over Cholesterol Drugs 

Kaiser Permanente’s health plan has filed suit against Merck and the company manufacturing generics of two of its popular products over delays in the launch of those generics. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan’s suit claims that the insurer paid hundreds of millions more for cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin because the companies agreed to delay the launch of generic competitors. (Minemyer, 7/29)

Capital & Main:
Patient Stories: The High Cost Of Kaiser Permanente’s Mental Health Care

Victor Gomez, a 53-year-old former respiratory therapist, has spent his life learning to cope with the symptoms of his mental health disorders. His diagnoses are varied, and include anxiety, depression, insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder. The many symptoms of his layered conditions manifest in different ways, but for Victor, one of the most common was uncontrollable emotional outbursts. By 2016, he’d reached a breaking point: He needed help, or he would never get better. (Hutchings, 7/29)

Los Angeles Times:
The Unvaccinated Must Be Held Accountable 

The Delta variant is spreading rapidly in California and nationwide, but happily so are crackdowns by public and private employers aimed at limiting the ability of their unvaccinated workers to infect others with COVID-19. On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new rules requiring vaccination or regular testing and masking for the 246,000 state government employees; the rules will apply as well to workers at both private and public healthcare and long-term care facilities. Similar workforce rules have popped up around the nation, including in the city of Los Angeles. (7/29)

The Mercury News:
Bay Area Children, Teachers Should Be Back In Classrooms This Fall

For more than a year and a half, children throughout the Bay Area have missed out on in-person instruction from their teachers and the many benefits of in-person schooling.While this distressing disruption in children’s lives may have been necessary earlier in the pandemic, it is now time to get children of all grade levels back into their classrooms. This fall, we must bring students back to their teachers, their coaches and their friends. The latest science proves that in-person instruction is not only safe, it’s the right thing to do for our community. (Sarah Rudman and Mary Ann Dewan, 7/29)

Orange County Register:
If The FDA Is Serious About Vaccine Hesitancy, It Should Fully Approve Vaccines Now 

As the Delta inferno spreads across the country, epidemiologists worry that, although its victims are overwhelmingly the unvaccinated, continued viral replication will produce a new mutant strain that can evade natural or vaccine-induced immunity, affecting everyone. We can wind up back where we were in March 2020, with hospital ICUs overflowing and politicians re-issuing emergency orders that would place a good number of us back under house arrest. To snuff out the fire before it is too late requires getting as many people vaccinated as possible. (Jeffrey Singer, 7/28)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Newsom’s Vaccine Mandate Makes Sense. He Should Follow The Bay Area’s Lead On Masks, Too

Gov. Gavin Newsom was right to follow the lead of San Francisco, Santa Clara County and other jurisdictions Monday in tightening COVID vaccine requirements for public employees. Now he should join them in encouraging Californians to wear masks indoors, one of several rules his administration hastily abandoned as part of a campaign-style grand reopening of the state last month. With vaccine uptake flagging and infections climbing, Newsom announced that nearly a quarter-million Californians who work for the state will have to show proof of vaccination or be tested for COVID at least weekly. Despite an array of public education and outreach programs as well as cash giveaways, nearly half of Californians have yet to be fully vaccinated, which puts the state behind 17 others. (7/26)

San Francisco Chronicle:
California Needs To Open Schools, Not The Debate Over Masks

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced this week that he and his wife had pulled their children from a summer camp after the group Reopen California Schools drew attention to photos of one of them unmasked and indoors with fellow campers. “Why can his kid be maskless, but not ours?” the group griped in reference to the state’s school mask mandate, arguing that the camp’s mask-optional policy is appropriate. But if Reopen California Schools really wants to, well, reopen California schools, it shouldn’t be harping on the distracting and counterproductive question of masks. Particularly with children under 12 still ineligible for vaccination against the coronavirus, masks are a sensible precaution in classrooms and other indoor spaces. The Newsoms shouldn’t be sending their children into crowds of other unmasked, unvaccinated children, and neither should anyone else. (7/28)

San Francisco Chronicle:
The Delta Variant Is Surging And Companies Still Want Workers Back In The Office. What Are They Thinking?

With a recent study from Israel showing vaccine effectiveness against the delta variant dropping to 39% in preventing breakthrough infections, it’s pure folly to pursue a normal office return. After all, in-depth surveys of employee preferences on returning to the office — even before the delta surge — showed that about half were willing to quit if not given their preferred work arrangements. The surveys revealed that between a quarter to a third of employees wanted full-time remote work, while over half wanted a hybrid schedule of a day or two in the office. (Gleb Tsipursky, 7/28)

Orange County Register:
How The Left Has Used COVID-19 To Bankrupt The United States

I have never bought the conspiracy theories that COVID-19 was a diabolical political plot to undermine the country. But what is apparent with each passing week is that the virus has been the springboard for the left’s agenda to transform America in a way that Sen. Bernie Sanders, Michael Moore or Rachel Maddow could have never imagined. Without COVID-19, President Joe Biden would never have been elected, of course. So, for the left, the virus defeated former President Donald Trump. COVID-19 is now the gateway to the left’s utopian agenda of multitrillion-dollar climate policies, hyperregulation of the economy, the rebirth of the welfare state and a radical redistribution of income. (Stephen Moore, 7/29)

The Mercury News:
The Life-Threatening Superbug Crisis Is Already Here

This year, more than 3,000 Californians will die from bacterial infections caused by antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” Superbugs can defeat even the most advanced and newest antibiotics. That’s because every time someone uses an antibiotic, bacteria have a chance to adapt and become resistant. If we don’t use antibiotics more carefully to preserve their effectiveness, and also develop new antibiotics soon, everyday procedures can become potentially life-threatening. Already, some patients are becoming seriously ill, facing amputation and even death, due to antibiotic resistant infections. (Dr. Henry F. “Chip” Chambers, 7/24)

Sacramento Bee:
California Must Deliver On Climate Law’s Equity Commitments 

In late 2019, air quality advocates from Fresno encouraged the Catholic Charities Diocese of Stockton and Little Manila Rising, a civil rights non-profit, to campaign for Stockton to receive funding under Assembly Bill 617. The law directs air districts to create and implement Community Emissions Reduction Plans (CERPs) to monitor, report, and reduce emissions in identified disadvantaged communities. The goal is to clean up our toxic air, cut our emissions and reduce our exposure to chronic respiratory irritants caused by things like factories, warehouses, freeways, and refineries. (Dillon Delvo and Ector Olivares, 7/28)

Los Angeles Times:
Medical Students Must Be Taught Critical Race Theory 

The hint of an education on race and racism I received in medical school involved a historical overview of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and retired eugenics practices. As I rotated on the wards, race came up again as a vague tool to help narrow a diagnosis. New Black patient with severe headache, blurry vision? Think hypertensive crisis. I wasn’t taught why hypertension might be more prevalent in the Black American population. (Hint: Genetics is not the answer.) (Trisha Pasricha, 7/28)

Los Angeles Times:
Simone Biles’ Mental Health Message Leaves A Powerful Mark 

When Simone Biles withdrew from the Olympic women’s gymnastics team final earlier this week because of her mental health, I couldn’t help but think of another Olympian — Canadian sports legend Hayley Wickenheiser — and what happens when culture tries to eat champions for breakfast. Wickenheiser is a five-time Olympic medalist — four golds, one silver — in women’s hockey. As a trailblazer in a male-dominated sport, she knows something about challenging stereotypes and changing culture. Several years ago, in a career full of surprises, she unleashed the biggest one of all: She went to medical school. (Jillian Horton, 7/29)

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