Ambulances Waiting Hours To Transfer Patients: Emergency health workers in California on Wednesday blasted hours-long waits to transfer patients from ambulances to hospital emergency rooms. During a legislative hearing, Sacramento Assistant Fire Chief Eric Saylors described how a patient stopped breathing last week near a hospital where two ambulances were waiting with other patients for more than an hour. “This is nothing short of criminal,” Saylors said. Read more from AP.

3,900 Californians May Have Received Wrong Dose Of Covid Vaccine: About 3,900 people who got their jab at Kaiser Permanente’s Walnut Creek Medical Center between Oct. 25 and Dec. 10 may have received a slightly smaller dose than is recommended, the health care provider said. Read more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

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

Los Angeles Times:
California Nears Pandemic Record For All Hospitalizations 

In a stunning sign of the heavy burden facing California’s healthcare system, the total number of people hospitalized statewide is approaching the peak of last winter’s COVID-19 surge, even as there are indications that the rise in coronavirus-positive patients may be starting to ebb. Late last week, California averaged 52,000 people daily in its hospitals for all reasons — more than was seen during any seven-day period during the summer Delta surge. California’s pandemic record of 55,000 people hospitalized daily was set last winter, according to state Department of Public Health data reviewed by The Times. (Lin II, Money and Alpert Reyes, 1/19)

 UC Davis Medical Center Sets New Record For COVID-19 Patients Admitted

With the highly contagious omicron variant surging in California, UC Davis Medical Center is reporting a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Providers are caring for more COVID-19 patients now than at any other time during the pandemic, with 126 hospitalized patients with active COVID-19 cases at the medical center. The number surpasses last winter’s peak of 125 patients. (1/19)

Daily Pilot:
Orange County Reports Highest Number Of Child COVID Patients 

As coronavirus cases continue to increase, public health officials report there are 15 patients battling COVID-19 at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, the “highest number ever” of children being treated there during the pandemic. Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, said during a news conference Tuesday that 14 of the children are in the intensive care unit of the hospital. (Vega, 1/19)

Fresno Bee:
Fresno County Hospitals Beg Residents To Get COVID-19 Vaccine 

Fresno County and central San Joaquin Valley health care providers are “preparing for the worst” as COVID-19 infections continue to climb Wednesday and area hospitals overflow with patients. “We’re ready for war,” Dan Lynch, emergency medical services director for Fresno County, said Tuesday. “The hospitals are preparing for the worst.” (Miller, 1/19)

Los Angeles Times:
Growing Signs Omicron Is Leveling Off In California 

While California continues to see disturbing rises in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, there are some early signs the unprecedented Omicron wave is slowing. The shift is uneven across the state, but the numbers suggest California could be reaching a crest in the latest surge. States on the East Coast that were hit earlier by the Omicron wave have already started to see a sustained decline in infections. (Lin II and Money, 1/19)

Los Angeles Times:
COVID-19 Sidelines Over 2,000 Personnel At LAPD, Sheriff’s Department 

More than 2,000 employees of the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are at home sick or quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus, officials said Wednesday. LAPD Det. Meghan Aguilar said that some 1,134 personnel out of 12,200 are currently at home, including 898 sworn officers. Those numbers are up 42% from the 803 personnel who were out Jan. 11. (Winton, 1/19)

Prior Infection, Vaccines Provide Best Protection From COVID

A new study in two states that compares coronavirus protection from prior infection and vaccination concludes getting the shots is still the safest way to prevent COVID-19. The study examined infections in New York and California last summer and fall and found people who were both vaccinated and had survived a prior bout of COVID-19 had the most protection. (Stobbe, 1/19)

Los Angeles Times:
How The Body’s Immune System Tries To Fight Off COVID-19 

Vaccines have shown themselves to be the best defense against a serious case of COVID-19: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unvaccinated adults were about 13 times more likely to be hospitalized with the disease than vaccinated adults as of late November. But vaccines and the antibodies they generate are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to fighting off the coronavirus. The immune system has other sets of defenders that find and kill infected cells, then preserve a living record of the virus, bacteria or other infectious agent so the body can respond faster the next time it’s under assault. (Healey, 1/19)

Study Finds No Evidence Of Live Virus In Breast Milk Of Moms With COVID-19

A small University of California study finds no evidence that breast milk from mothers infected with SARS-CoV-2 transmits the virus to their babies. The study, published today in Pediatrics Research, involved polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of 285 samples and viral culture of 160 samples of breast milk from 110 women with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. (1/19)

The New York Times:
Can Omicron Cause Long Covid? 

Many public health officials have taken heart in early evidence that suggests infections from the Omicron variant tend to cause less severe illness than other versions of the coronavirus. But another important question looms: whether infection with Omicron, including breakthrough cases in vaccinated people, can result in long Covid — the constellation of physical, neurological and cognitive symptoms that can last for months and impair people’s daily lives. It is too early for scientists to know much about the relationship between Omicron, vaccination and long Covid. (Belluck, 1/19)

Bay Area News Group:
Biden: COVID Outlook ‘Clearly Better Than A Year Ago’

President Joe Biden, who campaigned to “shut down the virus” that’s still infecting and killing Americans at a horrific pace, acknowledged on Wednesday there had been some setbacks but said the U.S. has made great progress in the fight against COVID-19.“Some people may call what’s happening now a new normal. I call it a job not yet finished,” Biden said in an hours-long news conference that marked his first year in office. “The bottom line on COVID-19 is that we’re in a better place than we’ve been and have been thus far, clearly better than a year ago. We’re not going back to lockdowns. We’re not going back to closing schools.” (Woolfolk and Rowan, 1/19)

CBS News:
Biden Takes Defiant Tone In Press Conference Marking First Year In Office And Says He Didn’t Overpromise

President Biden was adamant he hadn’t “overpromised” in his first year in office as he held his first press conference of 2022 on Wednesday, but he acknowledged that one of his signature pieces of legislation, Build Back Better, must be downsized  in order to get parts of it through Congress. “It’s pretty clear to me that we will need to break it up,” Mr. Biden said.  (Linton, Brewster and Watson, 1/19)

AP FACT CHECK: Biden Puffs Up Claims Of Virus, Job Gains 

In a self-appraisal that didn’t always fit with the facts, President Joe Biden on Wednesday made the dubious assertion that he’s outperformed all expectations on the pandemic in his first year and inflated his contribution to COVID-era economic growth. A look at some of Biden’s comments in a news conference that stretched for nearly two hours. (Seitz and Rugaber, 1/20)

Sacramento Bee:
California Lawmakers To Discuss New Policies For Vaccines

California lawmakers want stronger policies when it comes to vaccine requirements, but just what those policies will look like is still up for debate. Democrats for months have said they want to increase the state’s COVID-19 vaccination rates, especially among schoolchildren. But given the quickly changing nature of the virus and new information about how variants interact with vaccines, writing legislation is a complicated task. (Korte and Bollag, 1/20)

How Many Health Care Workers Are Vaccinated? It’s Anyone’s Guess.

U.S. officials still don’t know exactly how many hospital workers remain unvaccinated, a blind spot that makes it difficult for public health officials to predict and assess vulnerabilities at facilities already facing staffing crises. The lack of reliable immunization data, more than a year after vaccines were first made available to health care workers, could most immediately complicate Biden administration efforts to get ahead of a surge, or assess how many federal personnel might be needed in a region and prop up overwhelmed hospital systems. (Levy, 1/19)

Some California Schools Pursuing Their Own Vaccine Mandates 

As omicron rages throughout California, some schools have already added another layer of defense: At least 40 California districts are or soon will require vaccinations for staff or students, or both. Some of these policies are stricter than Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plans to require vaccination for all K-12 staff and students before the next school year, according to a CalMatters investigation. While large districts like San Diego Unified and Los Angeles Unified have garnered national attention for their independent mandates, several dozen have gone largely unnoticed by state and national media. (Haque, Newcomb and Ghisolfi, 1/19)

Los Angeles Times:
Stanford’s COVID-19 Booster Mandate Draws Opposition 

More than 1,700 people have signed a petition calling on administrators at Stanford University to repeal their COVID-19 booster vaccine mandate for students. The petition, created last week by 23-year-old PhD student Monte Fischer, quickly gained the attention of students, alumni and professors opposed to the university’s Dec. 16 order, which requires that all students provide proof of a booster dose by the end of the month, exempting only those with approved religious or medical exemptions. (Smith, 1/19)

The Washington Examiner:
Los Angeles Charter School Quarantines Unvaccinated Students, Bars Them From Campus 

A Los Angeles area charter school barred a group of unvaccinated students from attending class Tuesday and cordoned off the area where the students were with tape barriers, videos of the incident showed. New West Charter School in Los Angeles confirmed Tuesday that management had implemented a vaccine and negative-test mandate for students and that a group of unvaccinated students had staged “a sit-in” on campus and refused to leave the school. (Poff, 1/19)

COVID School Closings: California Desperate For Teachers 

Last week at Simi Valley Unified School District, northwest of Los Angeles, there were only enough substitutes to cover about half the teachers who stayed at home after testing positive for COVID-19. “It’s untenable,” Superintendent Jason Peplinski said last week. “It is so bad.” The good news is that public health experts across California expect the omicron surge to be over by March. But the consequences of the highly transmissible variant and the acute school staffing crisis it has caused could long outlast the spike in case numbers. The teacher shortages and unprecedented absenteeism are disrupting learning, extending the long-term academic fallout of COVID-19. (Hong, 1/19)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
New San Diego Firm Nabs $75M For Specialized Microscopes That Could Aid In Treatment Of Diseases 

ONI, a spin-out of Oxford University that recently moved its headquarters to San Diego, has raised $75 million in a second round of venture funding for technology that allows drug developers to observe single molecules on living cells. The company makes the Nanoimager microscopy platform. It helps academic researchers, pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms create more effective and targeted therapies by allowing them to zoom in on complex cell structures down to 10 nanometers. (Freeman, 1/20)

Bay Area News Group:
Walnut Creek: Planned Parenthood Protests Need Buffer Zones

The city is on the verge of requiring anti-abortion protesters to stand eight feet away from anyone entering the local Planned Parenthood clinic, where twice-a-week demonstrations have prompted many patients to say they don’t feel safe seeking services. While there are many such clinics in the Bay Area, officials say Walnut Creek has emerged as the Bay Area’s ground zero for the longstanding abortion debate, with protests often leading to heated confrontations and even violence. (Mukherjee, 1/19)

Modesto Bee:
Modesto Life Expectancy Among The Lowest In California

Most Californians are living longer, earning degrees at higher rates and making higher wages than the average American. Yet when taking into account demographics and geography, a new study shows inequities persist. It can be seen across California, where more than 12 years separate the life expectancies in the shortest- and longest-lived communities, according to the report “A Portrait of California.” (Briseño, 1/19)

Los Angeles Times:
How To Help A Stranger On The Street In A Mental Health Crisis 

It’s not an easy situation to confront. And yet, how to help someone in mental health distress — whether a stranger or a friend — is an essential question in California. Around 20% of adults in this state have a mental illness, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, although not every person with a mental illness goes through a crisis, and some people with no previously diagnosed illnesses experience breakdowns. The incidence of mental health problems is considerably higher among unhoused Angelenos — 51% of whom have a mental illness, according to a Times analysis of data from the city’s homeless population count in January 2019. (Pinho, 1/19)

California May Limit Conservatorships, Promote Alternatives

Disability rights activists and advocates for Britney Spears backed a California proposal Wednesday to provide more protections for those under court-ordered conservatorships, while promoting less-restrictive alternatives. What are known as probate conservatorships are overused and misused in California, say groups including Disability Voices United, Disability Rights California, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and Free Britney L.A. (Thompson, 1/19)

Orange County Register:
Mosquitoes Carrying Dog Heartworm Found In Three OC Cities, Vector Control Agency Warns 

The lab that tests mosquitoes, fleas and such countywide for West Nile virus and other transmissible diseases was recently able to add dog heartworm to its screenings and found mosquitoes carrying the potentially fatal parasite in at least three Orange County cities. Mosquitoes screened positive for dog heartworm in Fullerton, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, though not at the levels yet that would prompt consideration of spraying or other measures to reduce the mosquito population, said Heather Hyland, spokeswoman for the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District. (McCrea, 1/19)

The New York Times:
Survey Of Americans Who Attempted Suicide Finds Many Aren’t Getting Care 

Suicide attempts in the United States showed a “substantial and alarming increase” over the last decade, but one number remained the same, a new study has found: Year in and year out, about 40 percent of people who had recently tried suicide said they were not receiving mental health services. The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday, traces a rise in the incidence of suicide attempts, defined as “self-reported attempts to kill one’s self in the last 12 months,” from 2008 to 2019. During that period, the incidence rose to 564 in every 100,000 adults from 481. (Barry, 1/19)

San Francisco Chronicle:
S.F. Opioid Epidemic: Fewer People Died Of Overdoses In 2021 Than 2020, But Crisis Still Unprecedented

In 2021, 650 people died of drug overdoses in San Francisco, a nearly 9% dip over the prior year, according to new data released Wednesday by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. It’s the first time the number of lives lost to drugs in the city fell year-over-year in a decade, but it follows an unprecedented spike in deaths the year before — from 441 in 2019 to 711 in 2020. Officials, advocates and residents agree that the death toll is an unacceptable public health crisis and that the city needs more strategies to address it, including treatment and prevention. (Moench and Jung, 1/19)

San Francisco Chronicle:
‘Last Resort To Seek Justice:’ Stanford VP And Professor Sue University In Fentanyl Overdose Death Of Their Son

Two parents who have dedicated nearly 30 years of their lives to Stanford University have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university and the on-campus fraternity where their son died from an accidental fentanyl overdose in 2020. Julia Erwin-Weiner, the associate vice president for Stanford Medical Center Development, and her husband, Amir Weiner, a Stanford associate professor of history and director of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, joined the university in 1995 and have considered the university a home since, sending two of their adult children there. (Hernandez, 1/19)

Bay Area News Group:
‘Straight A’s From Stanford’ Kept Rob Lowe’s Son In Denial

In a new interview with People, Rob Lowe’s son, John Owen Lowe, gives his father a lot of credit for helping him to accept that he had a substance abuse problem and needed to get help. In the same interview, Rob Lowe said he recognized a lot of himself in his 26-year-old son, who graduated from Stanford University and now works as a writer on “9-1-1: Lone Star,” Rob Lowe’s series about a veteran Manhattan firefighter, the lone survivor of his fire station in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, who starts anew Texas. (Ross, 1/19)

Los Angeles Times:
L.A. Mayoral Candidate Jessica Lall Issues Homelessness Plan

Mayoral candidate Jessica Lall says that when she looks at the system that dispenses aid and care to homeless people in Los Angeles, she sees a “maddening refrain of ‘it’s not my responsibility.’” To improve the situation, Lall said Wednesday that if elected she would create a city department of homelessness to coordinate the response to the crisis. (Oreskes, 1/19)

Bay Area News Group:
Newsom Wants To Clear California’s Homeless Camps. Will It Work?

After pouring an unprecedented $12 billion into homeless housing and services last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom now is turning to the massive tent camps, shanty-towns and make-shift RV parks that have taken over California’s streets, parks and open spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a never-before-seen effort, the governor is doling out $50 million this winter to help cities and counties clear out camps and house people living outside. San Jose, Richmond and Santa Cruz are among those that might benefit. Newsom hopes to increase that investment 10-fold in the coming year’s budget and add $1.5 billion to house people with behavioral health conditions. In charge of it all will be Newsom’s new state homelessness council, co-chaired by none other than the face of California’s COVID response — Dr. Mark Ghaly. (Kendall, 1/20)

Daily Pilot:
Orange County Delays Homeless Count Amid COVID-19 Surge 

Orange County is postponing its biannual homeless count until the end of February in light of the COVID-19 surge, officials said. “The county of Orange is among several Continuums of Care in Southern California that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to reschedule the 2022 Point in Time to the last 10 days of February due to the impacts of COVID-19,” according to a statement issued by the county last week. (Vega, 1/19)

Bay Area News Group:
Elizabeth Holmes Signals Bid To Get Verdicts Tossed

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has filed a motion indicating her legal team is looking for problems in the jury that convicted her in an attempt to get her guilty verdicts for fraud thrown out. The motion, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court here, was written by an appeals specialist on Holmes’ 10-lawyer team, and seeks to keep the original versions of juror questionnaires sealed from public view because “the content of those questionnaires may be the subject of further litigation.” (Baron, 1/19)


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