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Lawmakers Propose Vaccine Mandate For All California Businesses: California would mandate that all businesses require their employees and independent contractors to receive the covid vaccine under legislation announced Friday by Democratic state lawmakers. Republicans immediately criticized the proposal as government overreach. Read more from AP, the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Bay Area News Group. Scroll down for more news about covid mandates.

2021 Was A Profitable Year For Kaiser Permanente: Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente had its most profitable year yet in 2021, drawing $8.1 billion in net income. Expenses grew 7% year-over-year even as revenue increased 5%. The key drivers of higher expenses were hospital and medical services and outpatient pharmacy because more drugs were dispensed from medical offices than hospitals, KP’s treasurer said. Read more from Modern Healthcare.

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


Southern California News Group:
Knott’s, SeaWorld Drop Mask Requirements; Universal, Six Flags Keep Them In Place


A confusing mix of COVID-19 health and safety rules that vary depending on what county you are in will determine whether you need to wear a mask indoors at Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and other Southern California theme parks. California will lift a statewide COVID-19 mandate requiring masks indoors after Tuesday, Feb. 15 as coronavirus cases related to the omicron variant continue to decline. (Macdonald, 2/14)


Dallas Morning News:
Walmart And Sam’s Club Lift Mask Mandate For Vaccinated Employees


Walmart sent a memo to its U.S. workforce Friday afternoon lifting its mask mandate for fully vaccinated employees at Walmart and Sam’s Clubs, unless required by state and local mandate. The decision comes as several states have dropped their indoor mask mandates. Texas hasn’t had an indoor mask mandate since March 2021 when Gov. Greg Abbott lifted it, but “strongly encouraged” the wearing of masks in public. Amazon said on Thursday that fully vaccinated employees no longer had to wear masks inside its warehouses and removed COVID-19 paid leave for unvaccinated employees. Employees have to be vaccinated by March 18 to receive COVID-19 related paid leave in the future, Amazon said. (Halkias, 2/11)


Newsweek:
Most Americans Still Support Mask Mandates As States Relax Rules: Poll


A majority of Americans still support mask mandates even as states continue to relax their rules regarding masking, according to a new poll on Sunday. Masking requirements have long been a point of contention throughout the pandemic. The relaxed rules for indoor venues and schools come as COVID-19 cases in the United States dropped significantly since peaking earlier in the winter during the Omicron surge. But the CBS News-YouGov poll found that most Americans still support mask requirements for indoor venues. (Stanton, 2/13)


Bay Area News Group:
Is It Finally Time To Take Your Mask Off? Here’s How To Decide


Mask rules are about to change, signaling the end of official oversight of our pandemic behavior. But now it’s up to us, not health officials, to decide when masks are needed in most places. A very public act just turned personal. Participation in even the simplest social gatherings – from book clubs to bars – will demand a quick calculation of risk. “That’s tricky to navigate,” said UC San Francisco infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong. “The approach is less of a sledgehammer – ‘everybody has to do the same thing’ – to one that’s more individual.” (Krieger, 2/14)


Modesto Bee:
Stanislaus County Leader To Deliver Speech As Omicron Fades 


Stanislaus County Board Chairman Terry Withrow will deliver the State of the County address Tuesday evening just before the state’s coronavirus mask mandate expires. Withrow’s speech will chart a “new path forward” for the county as the omicron surge is fading and no one is sure what happens next with COVID-19. (Carlson, 2/14)


Politico:
Newsom Wants To End School Masks, But Teachers Say Not Yet 


Blue states are ditching their school mask mandates, but California is stuck as powerful teachers unions push back. The classroom was always going to be the last stand for the mask wars in California. Schools stayed closed longer here than anywhere else in the country as teachers unions made access to vaccines a condition of their return. More recently, teachers have demanded better masks and more testing to guard against the Omicron variant. (Luthi and Colliver, 2/13)


Sacramento Bee:
Elk Grove Schools, Parents Await Student Mask Change 


As Gov. Gavin Newsom prepares to potentially roll back California’s masking mandates in classrooms, Elk Grove parents and school officials are waiting to see what that will mean for students in one of the state’s largest school districts. Newsom told reporters last week that his office was getting “closer and closer” to an announcement regarding school mask mandates. (Smith, 2/14)


City News Service:
COVID Hospitalizations In LA County Drop Again As Folks Gather For Super Bowl 


The number of COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles County hospitals plunged once again Sunday, Feb. 13, down by 125 people from the previous day — continuing a trend that has seen hospitalizations decline by more than half in about a month. There were 2,086 people in LA County hospitals with COVID-19, according to the latest state figures released Sunday. Of those, 439 were in intensive care, down from 461 on Saturday. Hospitalizations had climbed to more than 4,800 in mid-January at the height of the omicron-fueled winter surge. (2/13)


KQED:
COVID Sick Pay In California: How To Claim This New Paid Leave 


Many California workers can once again start claiming COVID sick pay starting Feb. 19. This new option to claim up to 80 hours of paid leave for reasons related to COVID is due to a deal approved by California lawmakers and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Feb. 8 amid the continued omicron surge. According to a California Budget and Policy Center analysis of census data, the number of Californians who were not working in the last month because they or a family member had COVID was up by 320%. (Severn and Cabrera-Lomelí, 2/11)


San Francisco Chronicle:
The Greatest Danger Of COVID During Pregnancy Is Not To Baby But To Mom


Studies show the womb of a mother infected with the coronavirus is generally safe for the fetus because the placenta usually stops the pathogen from entering. That’s different from some other viruses, including zika and rubella, that can cross the barrier and attack the baby in utero. Catching the virus does increase the chance that a woman will deliver a stillborn baby, a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed in November. Although the stillborn rate was higher for women who were infected than for those who were not, it was still low, at less than 1%. The study also identified a jump in the rate of stillborns, to 2.7%, during the period when the delta variant emerged last summer. (Asimov, 2/13)


Bay Area News Group:
Are COVID-19 Vaccines Better With More Time Between Shots?


Did we get the dose schedule of our COVID-19 vaccines a bit wrong? That’s a question experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are asking this month as health officials try to persuade more vaccine-eligible holdouts – about one in five Americans – to go for the shots. While the vaccines as given clearly lower risk of COVID-19 infection, severe illness and death, acceptance has been hampered by their rare but serious heart inflammation side-effect as well as waning protection that’s prompted a push for third booster doses and questions about effectiveness. (Woolfolk, 2/13)


AP:
Study: COVID Booster Effectiveness Wanes But Remains Strong 


An early look at the performance of COVID-19 booster shots during the recent omicron wave in the U.S. hinted at a decline in effectiveness, though the shots still offered strong protection against severe illness. The report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, is considered an early and limited look at the durability of booster protection during the omicron surge that exploded in December and January but has been fading in recent weeks. (Stobbe, 2/11)


CNN:
Covid-19 Vaccine Booster Effectiveness Wanes After Four Months But Still Offers Protection, Study Finds 


Booster doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines are safe, and they offer high levels of protection against severe Covid-19 even though that protection can wane over time, according to two studies published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday. Evidence of waning protection “reinforces the importance of further consideration of additional doses to sustain or improve protection” against Covid-19-linked hospitalizations and emergency department visits, one of the studies says. (Howard, 2/13)


AP:
In Reversal, FDA Puts Brakes On COVID Shots For Kids Under 5


COVID-19 vaccinations for children under 5 hit another monthslong delay Friday as U.S. regulators abruptly put the brakes on their efforts to speed review of the shots that Pfizer is testing for youngsters. The Food and Drug Administration, worried about the omicron variant’s toll on kids, had taken the extraordinary step of urging Pfizer to apply for OK of the extra-low dose vaccine before it’s clear if tots will need two shots or three. The agency’s plan could have allowed vaccinations to begin within weeks. (Neergaard and Perrone, 2/11)


Stat:
Pfizer Pulls Back From Plan To Expedite Review Of Covid Shots In Young Kids


Plans to attempt to authorize the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine for children under 5 before full data are available appear to have run aground. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday canceled a key meeting of its vaccines advisory committee that had been slated for next Tuesday to discuss the submission, saying that the delay “will give the agency time to consider … additional data.” Both the FDA and the companies suggested the application for authorization won’t proceed until there are data showing how well the vaccine works after a third dose. Those data should be available in early April, the companies said. (Herper, Florko and Branswell, 2/11)


Bay Area News Group:
Vaccinating Bay Area Students Of Color Remains An Uphill Challenge


Thousands of Bay Area school kids still don’t have their COVID-19 shots despite looming school vaccine mandates, provoking uncertainty among school leaders and fear in parents about how the requirements could impact long- and short-term learning for unvaccinated students. Despite efforts to boost vaccination numbers across the region since last fall, Black and Latino teens ages 12 and up remain less likely to be vaccinated for the virus than their White and Asian classmates, a Bay Area News Group analysis of data from local school districts and public health departments found. (Jimenez and Rowan, 2/13)


Modesto Bee:
CA Advocates Urge Newsom To Spend More On Domestic Violence 


A coalition of 100-plus crisis intervention agencies is once again appealing to the California Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom to set aside funding in next year’s budget to pay for programming found to prevent sexual and domestic violence prevention. Although California has a budget surplus, Newsom did not set aside money for this work in his January budget proposal, something that did not sit well with coalition leaders. (Anderson, 2/14)


Bay Area News Group:
A Renewed Push For A CA Health Equity And Racial Justice Fund


Nonprofit health clinics, tribal organizations and other community groups are renewing their push for a $100 million per year health equity and racial justice fund after Gov. Gavin Newsom left it out of the state budget last year. Democratic lawmakers had included the fund in their version of the state budget last year as part of a broader public health package focused on reducing racial disparities. Supporters noted how COVID-19 has exacerbated long-standing health inequities with a disproportionate number of Black and Latino residents experiencing higher rates of illness and death. (Bedayn, 2/14)


EdSource:
Health Care Benefits Key Battleground For California’s Adjunct Community College Faculty 


Health care benefits have emerged as a battleground for adjunct instructors, who are critical to the mission of California’s community colleges to educate about 1.5 million of the state’s most vulnerable students. The 72 local districts that govern the colleges and the state have virtually ignored a nagging issue: There is little funding to cover health benefits for two-thirds of their academic workforce. (Peele, 2/14)


Los Angeles Times:
Climate Crisis And Systemic Inequities Drive Push To Reform California Water Laws


California’s mountain snowpack is shrinking, and climate change is intensifying the severe drought. Streams have dwindled and reservoirs have declined as vast quantities of water are diverted for farms and cities. Endangered fish are struggling to survive. And in farming areas in the Central Valley, hundreds of families are struggling with dry wells as groundwater levels continue to drop. (James, 2/13)


The Washington Post:
Experts Offer Guidelines For Safely Reviving Drowning Victims During Pandemic 


Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation can save a life. But in the era of covid-19, it can also put lives at risk. That’s the odd dilemma faced by people who respond to drownings. Giving the air that is so necessary to drowning victims could also result in the transmission of the coronavirus. Now, an international group of resuscitation and drowning experts has weighed in on how to safely revive a drowned person. (Blakemore, 2/13)


Reveal:
A Strike At The Heart Of Roe 


To see what the future of abortion could be in the United States, look to Texas. Across the country, conservative foes of abortion rights have pushed “heartbeat bills” that would ban abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, when an embryo’s cardiac activity can be detected. Journalist Amy Littlefield and a team of law and journalism students from UC Berkeley investigate how this law went from being dismissed as a fringe idea, even by traditional right-to-life groups, to getting enforced in Texas. (2/12)


Fresno Bee:
Fresno Allocates Nearly $6.2 Million For Affordable Housing 


The Fresno City Council has conditionally approved a nearly $6.2 million loan for a proposal by developers Ed Kashian and Sal Gonzales to bring new affordable housing units to the Fancher Creek area. FCTC Family LP — represented by Gonzales and Kashian, according to city documents — proposed building 120 multifamily apartment units in southeast Fresno, called Sarah’s Court Apartments, that would be dedicated affordable housing for at least 55 years, through the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. (Garibay, 2/12)


Sacramento Bee:
Placer County To Vote On Anti-Camping Ordinance For Homeless 


Placer County has a growing homeless population on its government campus and the community is conflicted about how to deal with it. The county for the past month has been embroiled in a controversy over a proposed ordinance that would make it illegal for homeless individuals to set up camps on county property or in fire-prone areas while it has available beds in its shelters. (Sullivan, 2/14)


Modesto Bee:
Turlock Homeless Emergency: Has City Helped Unsheltered? 


As Turlock passed the seven-month mark of its declared unsheltered homeless crisis, community members from shelter providers and business owners to people living on the streets shared varying perspectives on the issue. Some of the unsheltered called on the city to change its strategy, while shelter providers said they have not reached capacity since the city began the local emergency July 9. (Lam, 2/13)


Modesto Bee:
Turlock Council Faces Opposition On Housing Program Change 


The Turlock City Council’s recent vote to remove the city as lead of a housing partnership and hand responsibility to the county does not mean the issue is set in stone, said Angela Freitas, Stanislaus County’s director of planning and community development. The program, called the HOME Consortium, provides funding for First Time Home Buyer (FTHB) loans and property acquisition for seniors, low income households, transitional housing, domestic violence victims and affordable units for the homeless. (Briseño, 2/13)


San Francisco Chronicle:
Moms 4 Housing Took A Stand Against Oakland’s Housing Crisis. Now Their Home Has Its First Residents


Two years ago, a group of young homeless mothers and their children won a battle over a vacant home in Oakland, catapulting the group Moms 4 Housing to international attention and shining a light on the city’s skyrocketing homeless crisis.I n late December, the first official tenants — a mother and her toddler son — moved into the West Oakland home on Magnolia Street where sheriff’s deputies had arrived two years ago in armored vehicles to break down the doors and forcibly remove several families living illegally in the property. (Ravani, 2/12)

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