Patient, Beware: Some States Still Pushing Ineffective Covid Antibody Treatments

The top 12 states using antibody therapies produced by Regeneron and Lilly — which research shows don’t work against the omicron variant — include several Southern states with some of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates, but also California, which ranks among the top 20 for fully vaccinated residents. (JoNel Aleccia,

Los Angeles Times:
Coronavirus Transmission Rates Falling Across California 

After weeks of an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases that challenged hospitals, schools and other institutions, there are growing indications that the surge spawned by the Omicron variant is flattening and, in some parts of California, even beginning to wane. Health officials in San Francisco said Thursday they believe they’ve passed the peak of the latest wave. And elsewhere there’s cautious optimism that the days of exponential growth may be in the rearview mirror. (Money, Lin II and Evans, 1/20)

The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat:
3 More COVID Deaths Reported As North Bay Skilled Nursing Homes Contend With Virus Spread

COVID-19 deaths are on the rise in January, after two months of relatively low pandemic-related fatalities in Sonoma County. Local health officials reported three deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths to 429 since the pandemic began nearly two years ago. All three county residents were over 70 and had underlying health conditions. (Espinoza, 1/20)

Omicron Surge Still Rising In Berkeley; Expected To Peak By End Of January

The omicron variant continues to climb in Berkeley and is expected to rise even higher, but local health officials are hopeful that cases will spike and begin to drop by the end of January. Cases in Berkeley have shot up by nearly 4,000 since the last week of December, with over 1,000 of those cases recorded since Friday, according to Berkeley health department data. (1/20)

Fresno Bee:
Fresno Hospitals Delay Surgeries Amid COVID’s Omicron 

Hospitals in the central San Joaquin Valley are feeling the crush of overwhelmed emergency rooms so much so some of them have begun to stave off non-emergency surgeries while they deal with COVID-19’s omicron variant. On top of the record-breaking number of COVID-19 patients entering hospitals, many staffers are out because they have also contracted the highly infectious omicron variant, hospital officials have said. (Miller, 1/21)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Can You Get Infected With Omicron Twice? Here’s What Bay Area Experts Say

The staggeringly swift spread of the omicron variant across the U.S. has led to many more people getting infected with the coronavirus than ever before, some for the second time. Omicron is so incredibly infectious that some are wondering whether it is possible to catch that specific variant twice — and if so, what implications that could have for the current surge and future spread of the coronavirus. (Hwang, 1/20)

San Francisco Chronicle:
UCSF Scientists Detect Anomalies In People With Post-COVID ‘Brain Fog’

Scientists studying the persistent “brain fog” that plagues many people after a bout with COVID-19 are reporting, for the first time, abnormalities in the clear liquid surrounding the brain and spinal cord of several patients. The discovery of elevated protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid suggests the presence of inflammation, while unexpected antibodies may reveal an abnormally activated immune system, according to small study led by UCSF and published Tuesday in the journal Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. (Asimov, 1/20)

Los Angeles Times:
California Healthcare Providers Get Funding To Combat Staff Burnout 

As front-line healthcare workers continue to be spread thin by the pandemic and high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations, four California healthcare organizations will receive a combined $8.7 million in federal funding to combat burnout and promote mental health among staffers in an attempt to curb attrition. The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, Touro University in Vallejo and the San Diego-based San Ysidro Health system with the grants, which will be distributed over three years. (Martinez, 1/20)

Capitol Weekly:
Nurses Confront State, Hospitals Over COVID Health Care Hazards 

On the front line of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, registered nurse members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United are pushing for more employer accountability tied to a crisis of staffing and unsafe workplaces. In particular, the CNA/NNU wants optimal workplace protections. The union, which represents about 100,000 registered nurses in California, says the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has not adopted such workplace protections. (Sandronsky, 1/20)

Voice of OC:
County Of Orange Workers Protest ‘Petri Dish’ Covid Workplace, Call For Better Protections

Dozens of Orange County Social Service Agency clerical employees on Thursday stood in front of one of the most infected buildings at the County of Orange and publicly called out their managers to do better, protect them and their families from the threat of rising COVID infections at the long troubled, 840 N. Eckhoff Building. The clerical workers, joined by a crowd of about 100 including local and state elected officials, union officials and workers from other county departments, openly discussed their fears about contracting the virus while reminding management and county supervisors that not only does an infection affect their personal health and livelihood, but also slows down the process of helping children and families in need. (Leopo, 1/21)

Community COVID Clinics Fill Crucial Need In Underserved Communities — But Are Strapped For Resources 

Across the country, the spread of omicron has people scrambling to get tested for COVID. The lines are long, appointments get scooped up fast, and rapid antigen tests are hard to find. This problem is hitting essential workers — often people of color — particularly hard. Unlike many office workers, they can’t work from home, and their companies haven’t stockpiled tests. The result is lost wages, or risking infecting co-workers or family members. Renna Khuner-Haber, who coordinates LifeLong Medical’s testing sites in the East Bay, including the Richmond facility, says the people who most need convenient home tests can’t get them. The disparity is glaring, especially in the Bay Area, where tech companies send boxes of rapid antigen tests to workers who have the option to work from home in a surge. (Dillon, 1/21)

Will Omicron Cleave Deeper Divide For Essential Workers?

Essential workers such as supermarket cashier Brittannie Gulley are once again on the front lines of another COVID-19 surge. Only this time, they’re on the job without the initial policies intended to protect them. As the pandemic unfolded, California funneled federal emergency unemployment benefits and tapped a budget surplus to help workers stay at home and weather the virus-induced recession. Sick pay benefits that were extended to 10 days for workers who needed to quarantine expired last year, along with other protections. (Lazo, 1/20)

Walking Out On A Job She Loved: Why One Santa Clara Doctor Left COVID Care Behind

Dr. Molly Phelps was an emergency room physician for nearly two decades until she walked away from her job at Kaiser in Santa Clara County, no longer sleeping and barely eating. Sure, Phelps was burned out — a feeling she shared with many doctors and nurses working the front lines of this pandemic. But this was more than fatigue. She survived the pandemic’s first year, she says, fueled by a sense of purpose. New vaccines brought relief and hope, but these feelings waned. She found herself angry at her patients who had chosen not to get vaccinated. (Stark, 1/20)

San Francisco Subpoenas Unauthorized COVID Testing Operator 

San Francisco’s city attorney has issued subpoenas seeking records from an unauthorized COVID-19 test operator and laboratory suspected of trying to scam people out of money or personal information. City Attorney David Chiu announced the legal action Thursday after the companies missed a Monday deadline to provide valid licenses. (1/20)

Los Angeles Times:
COVID-19 Test Kit Shortage Hits California Child Care 

Child-care providers serving California’s low-income families are scrambling to purchase rapid COVID-19 tests while banking on the state to boost their supply, hoping more frequent testing can prevent closures brought on by exposures to the virus. But what the state has to offer child-care providers — many of whom offer government-subsidized care out of their own homes — is not nearly enough to cover demand in the face of a national shortage. (Mays, 1/20)

CBS News:
Scammers Are Selling Bogus Home COVID-19 Tests. Here’s How To Avoid Fakes. 

With home COVID-19 tests at the top of Americans’ shopping lists as the Omicron variant continues to spread, scammers are trying to cash by taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers. … The scams can take different forms. Some fraudsters pretending to be genuine merchants are hawking unauthorized rapid tests, while others have no merchandise on hand and just want to take your money and run. (Cerullo, 1/20)

The Washington Post:
Can I Use An At-Home Test On A Baby? 

With omicron exploding throughout the United States, many of the questions that have bedeviled caregivers for the length of the pandemic are taking on a new urgency. If we want our children to stay healthy, and not infect other friends, families and strangers, what should we be doing right now? What shouldn’t we be doing? Because omicron appears to cause less severe illness, does it even matter if a healthy kid catches covid? (Rogers and Joyce, 1/20)

Los Angeles Times:
L.A. Student COVID-19 Infections Amid Omicron Show Decline 

Campuses in the Los Angeles school district have lower coronavirus rates and improved attendance in their second week since returning from winter break. But infections remain near record levels, and the extent of exposure to the virus at school is difficult to determine because health officials have temporarily abandoned contact tracing, calling it too burdensome to mandate during the explosive surge. Senior administrators said they are encouraged by the numbers, which come amid signs that cases from the Omicron variant could be peaking. (Blume, 1/20)

Bay Area News Group:
Oakland Educators Association Threatens To Strike If District Doesn’t Reach New COVID Agreement

The president of Oakland Unified School District’s teachers union has given the district 48 hours to come to an agreement about an updated COVID safety plan for schools across the district, saying that without an agreement the union will vote on whether to strike. In an email to union members, Oakland Educators Association president Keith Brown said that 72 percent of OEA members voted yes to participate in a strike if their bargaining demands aren’t met. (Lin, 1/20)

Berkeley Schools Rely On Testing, Not Contact Tracing, To Battle Omicron Surge

As the omicron variant rips through the Bay Area, the Berkeley school district is shifting its strategy to keep its doors open, offering twice-weekly testing to every K-12 student, ordering batches of KN95 masks, and largely leaving contact tracing behind. The district plans to deploy 18,000 rapid antigen tests per week and is providing, to start, two KN95 masks to all students and staff. Intended to last two weeks, more KN95s are expected soon. (Markovich, 1/20)

Voice of OC:
Capistrano School District Struggles To Get Substitute Teachers During Omicron Wave

Capistrano Unified School District officials are scrambling to get substitute teachers during Orange County’s fourth COVID surge, which is causing staff shortages throughout the country. At Wednesday’s meeting, Capistrano Unified Trustees unanimously passed a resolution stating their temporary staffing needs amid the Omicron surge, which enables officials to use Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order that makes it easier for districts to hire substitute teachers in an effort to keep classrooms open. (Elattar, 1/20)

Bay Area News Group:
Bay Area Families Choose Independent Learning During COVID Surge

Bay Area families worried about the surge of COVID-19 omicron cases are clamoring for remote learning options for their children, but school leaders can’t easily or legally pivot back to the same online models they used last year without losing state funds. Last year, California lawmakers allowed an exception for school districts to offer online classes and still receive state funds for student attendance as a way to avoid mass outbreaks, but that option has expired. (Jimenez, 1/20)

‘Please, Daddy, No More Zoom School.’: California Leaders Reject Distance Learning

The Omicron surge is depleting California teachers and keeping students home in unprecedented numbers, but political leaders aren’t yet willing to broach the most obvious alternative: distance learning. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders who allowed school shutdowns early in the pandemic are holding firm on keeping classrooms open. They’ve had support from the California Teachers Association despite some educators on the ground saying that working conditions are untenable due to staff shortages. And school districts are going to extreme lengths to keep students in classrooms, pulling retired teachers off the sidelines and recruiting office staff — at times even superintendents — to teach lessons. (Nieves, 1/20)

Orange County Register:
Placentia-Yorba Linda School Board Meeting Ends At The Beginning — Again 

For the second time in two weeks, the president of the Placentia-Yorba Linda School Board abruptly shut down a meeting minutes after it began because people in the audience were not wearing face masks. School staff and most board members walked out. But Trustees Leandra Blades and Shawn Youngblood remained and held an unofficial “town hall” with some 70 residents in the auditorium. (Kopetman, 1/20)

California Nursing Homes: Why Poor Residents Can’t Go Home

The vast majority of people admitted to California skilled nursing facilities stay for less than three months to rehabilitate a broken limb or recover from a stroke or other ailment, according to the California Association of Health Facilities, an industry trade group.  But for thousands of poor nursing home residents, a temporary stay can become indefinite. Saddled with hefty Medicare copayments that can reach $5,000 a month – and later stripped of Social Security income, diverted to pay ongoing nursing home costs – they are often unable to hang onto their former housing. They become effectively stranded, with Medi-Cal and Social Security paying for housing and daily living in the facility. (Bedayn, 1/20)

Early Treatment Could Tame Peanut Allergies In Small Kids

Young children might be able to overcome their peanut allergies if treated at an early enough age, according to a study published Thursday. The researchers gave increasing amounts of peanut protein powder to a group of toddlers to build up their tolerance for peanuts. After 2 1/2 years, close to three-quarters could tolerate the equivalent of 16 peanuts without an allergic reaction. Six months after treatment stopped, one-fifth still had the same tolerance. (Choi, 1/20)

Modesto Bee:
Limited Staff, Donors Cause National Blood Shortage

The American Red Cross is calling on the community for help as it tackles its first nationwide blood shortage — what it has referred to as a crisis — amid declining donations. The Red Cross is no exception to the challenges the pandemic has brought forth, with limited blood drives and staffing exacerbating the supply shortage. As a result, the organization has been unable to meet hospital needs, putting doctors in the difficult position of deciding who can wait until there’s more product, said Cari Dighton, regional communications director at the American Red Cross. (Briseño, 1/20)

Sacramento Bee:
UCSF: Tailor Hypertension Drugs To Patients, Not Their Race

In an attempt to help Black patients better control their high blood pressure, eminent medical societies from around the world instituted race-based guidelines that have long limited the range of medications Blacks can access when diagnosed with the condition. Their recommendations were based on clinical trials that have since come under scrutiny, but they were drilled into the heads of a generation of primary care physicians during medical school and continue to influence who gets access to different medications for hypertension, say researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, in a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. (Anderson, 1/21)

Bay Area News Group:
COVID Outbreak: Oakland Homeless Shelter Forced To Close

A COVID outbreak has forced an Oakland homeless shelter to close temporarily as the omicron variant continues to buffet the region’s unhoused community. Twenty-five clients at St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County — which provides a shelter, free meals and a community center in West Oakland — tested positive for the virus, according to city of Oakland spokeswoman Karen Boyd. Nine employees — including half of the staff working at the shelter — also caught the virus, said Blase Bova, executive director of the nonprofit. The shelter has been closed since last Saturday, and won’t reopen until Monday. (Kendall, 1/20)

The Mercury News:
Should COVID-Positive Doctors Still Be Treating Patients?

It’s a rock and a hard place numbers game as omicron knocks health care workers out by the thousands — at a time when staffing is already a big problem. Combined with burnout, retirement and higher paying “travel” jobs to COVID hot spots, this wave has put us in a perfect storm. Lately, we are seeing patients as if practicing for a disaster that has already arrived. In my hospital and so many others, sick patients clog the ER because there is nowhere to put them. (Mark Morocco, 1/20)

Orange County Register:
California Can’t Afford A Costly Experiment In Health Care 

California is still knee deep in the pandemic, with our health care system working overtime to serve patients. But even though California residents, businesses and health care workers are struggling to stay afloat, Capitol Democrats are rushing forward with a complete takeover of our health care system. Their proposal, Assembly Bill 1400, introduced by Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a Democrat from San Jose, will force all Californians onto an untried state-run program administered by unaccountable bureaucrats. (Marie Waldron, 1/20)

Sacramento Bee:
Biden’s Four Free COVID Tests Not Enough For Many Families

The Biden Administration’s offer of four rapid COVID tests to every household in America is a good start to mitigate the recent surge of coronavirus cases, albeit one that is many months, many transmissions and hospitalizations, and so many deaths late. But limiting households to just four tests favors well-heeled property owners over poor people and people of color who don’t have the means to live in single-family households or don’t have internet access. The program rolled out this week, and millions rushed to get their four free tests, which will be mailed out via the U.S. Postal Service sometime “in late January.” But the program’s limitations aren’t a design flaw; they’re purposeful. Four-per-household is a hard and fast rule. Meanwhile, renters across the nation are already reporting system denials because the government’s distribution system doesn’t recognize differing apartment numbers at each address. (Robin Epley, 1/21)

San Francisco Chronicle:
COVID-19 Has Roared Back In California. Essential Worker Protections Have Not

The omicron variant continues its rapid spread in California, tearing through vaccinated and unvaccinated populations alike and sending hospitalizations spiking. An unprecedented number of essential workers, including doctors and nurses, have been exposed and are becoming ill from COVID-19 — more than ever before during the pandemic. This rash of infections has left California’s hospitals once again in crisis. While they are not currently facing shortages of personal protective equipment or ventilators, like they were early in the pandemic, hospitals are staring down an even more dire resource strain: health care providers. (Michael Losak and Christian Rose, 1/19)

Sacramento Bee:
Court Upholds COVID Denial In Voting Down Vaccine Mandate 

The Supreme Court’s decision Friday striking down a federal requirement of vaccination or testing in the workplace makes no sense as a matter of law or of public health. Many more people will needlessly become sick and die because of it. The only way to understand the court’s ruling is to see it as six conservative justices reflecting misguided conservative denial about COVID and vaccines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted a rule mandating that employers in workplaces with at least 100 employees require them to be vaccinated or take weekly COVID tests. The federal statute allows OSHA to adopt emergency temporary standards if it determines that “employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards.” (Erwin Chemerinsky, 1/19)

Los Angeles Times:
 How To Persuade The Unvaccinated? Follow The French 

In the city of Los Angeles, where I live, you can’t enter a restaurant, a government building, a gym, a bar, or a coffee shop without showing proof of vaccination. I know some establishments are less apt to check than others, but each time I walk past a “no vaccination, no service” sign, my heart skips a beat. The few times I’ve entered a restaurant lately, I’ve joyfully whipped out my proof-of-vaccination card. I enjoy doing my part. Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is not any kind of sacrifice. (Robin Abcarian, 1/19)

Los Angeles Times:
Anti-Vaccine Patients Vent Anger On Healthcare Workers Like Me. It Takes A Toll On Care 

As a pulmonary and critical care physician in Southern California treating hospitalized patients with COVID-19, I am noticing a rising tension. Beyond just being overwhelmed, we are now part of the collateral damage. I recently asked a security guard to accompany me and an ICU nurse to meet the family of an unvaccinated 42-year-old firefighter who refused to accept that COVID-19 caused his respiratory failure. Adamantly refusing intubation despite worsening over weeks, it was only when his oxygen levels precipitously dropped and he complained of excruciating breathlessness that he accepted a breathing tube. (Venktesh Ramnath, 1/20)

Modesto Bee:
Stanislaus Doctors Recommend COVID Vaccines During Pregnancy 

Unfortunately, pregnant people are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. If they get sick, they are more likely to have severe disease requiring hospitalization, supplemental oxygen, assistance with breathing from a machine and death. There is also an increased risk of early delivery and a possible increased risk of death of the unborn baby. Pregnant women are also at higher risk of long-term symptoms after COVID that may last eight or more weeks. Although children less than one year old seem to be at lower risk from COVID, they still can get sick and potentially spread COVID to other family members or friends. (Lauren Kendall Brown-Berchtold and Shani Hanh Truong, 1/16)

Sacramento Bee:
Gov. Newsom Should Help Single-Payer Health Care Proposal 

Gov. Gavin Newsom made guaranteed health care a central piece of his gubernatorial campaign some four years ago, promising specifically to deliver a single-payer system that would give every resident free access to comprehensive treatment. In an April 2018 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, however, Newsom did what he’s done on numerous issues throughout his tenure as governor: He muddied his position by telling the newspaper’s editorial board that “it is not an act that would occur by the signature of the next governor. There’s a lot of mythology about that.” (1/21)

Los Angeles Times:
Could Roe V. Wade Be Overturned After 49 Years? 

Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade that guaranteed the right to an abortion. Will it be the last? Since 1973, when the court ruled that there was a right to abortion, derived from the Constitution, up to the point of viability of the fetus outside the womb, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed its decision again and again — and again. Now, that right appears to be under assault from the court that protected it all these years. (Carla Hall, 1/21)


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