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California Again Allowed To Regulate Air Pollution From Cars: The Biden administration is restoring California’s authority to set its own tailpipe pollution standards for cars, reversing a Trump administration policy and likely ushering in stricter emissions standards for new passenger vehicles nationwide. The waiver reinstates California’s authority for model years 2017 through 2025, effective immediately. Read more from AP, CNN and Politico.

S.F. Will Lift Indoor Vaccine Mandate On Friday: San Francisco, among the first major U.S. cities to require a covid “vaccine passport” to enter restaurants, bars and gyms, will lift it Friday, marking one of the most notable in a series of dropped pandemic mandates around the country as infection rates fall. Read more from the Bay Area News Group. Scroll down for more on the mandates.

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


KQED:
San Francisco And Berkeley Drop Vaccine Mandate For Bars, Restaurants And Gyms


Starting Friday, San Francisco and Berkeley will no longer require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter restaurants, bars or gyms, according to separate statements the cities released on Wednesday. San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to mandate proof of full vaccination for certain indoor activities back in August 2021. Berkeley followed soon after in September 2021 with its own local health order concerning proof of full vaccination to enter these spaces. (Severn, 3/9)


AP:
San Francisco To Nix Vaccination Proof At Gyms, Bars 


San Francisco will stop requiring proof of vaccination to enter some indoor businesses, including restaurants, bars, fitness centers and gyms, officials announced Wednesday. The San Francisco Department of Public Health said that as of Friday it will be up to businesses to require proof of vaccination or a negative test from their staff and customers. (3/9)


Los Angeles Times:
L.A. Moves To Lift Vaccine Verification Mandate At Indoor Businesses


Los Angeles City Council members took the first step Wednesday toward lifting vaccine verification requirements at many indoor businesses, the latest in a slew of rule relaxations as the Omicron surge steadily fades. While not yet final, the move would have a sweeping effect in the City of Angels: removing the mandate that establishments such as restaurants and bars, hair salons, gyms and movie theaters screen whether their indoor patrons are vaccinated against COVID-19. (Money, Lin II, and Reyes, 3/9)


Los Angeles Daily News:
LA City Council Moves To Rescind City’s Public Vaccine Mandate


The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday, March 9, voted to rescind its coronavirus vaccine mandate for public spaces, the first critical first step in leaving behind months of requirements while stopping short of ending a similar directive for City Hall employees. The 12-0 vote arrived with little of the debate that has punctuated the city’s COVID-era policies for months. Formally, it sets the table for the city attorney’s redrafting of the ordinance for final approval by the council. But in effect, in the limbo period between now when the council’s final approval arrives, the current ordinance will likely go unenforced. (Carter, 3/9)


The Mercury News:
Santa Clara County Supervisors Push For Exempted Employees To Get Back To Work As Booster Rule Loosens


With Santa Clara County easing its booster rule for high-risk employees, board supervisors are pushing the county to quickly reinstate workers who have been on unpaid administrative leave for weeks. Citing a drop in COVID-19 cases, Santa Clara County loosened its controversial booster rule this week and now workers in hospitals, jails and skilled nursing facilities without a booster shot can remain in their positions with an exemption — but are required to test weekly — a move that aligns the county with the state. (Greschler, 3/9)


CapRadio:
Sacramento City Unified Will Keep Its Student Mask Mandate For Now, But Sets Benchmarks To Remove It


Masks are staying on in Sacramento City Unified School District classrooms — for now. California will move from requiring to strongly recommending masks in K-12 classrooms on March 12. But SCUSD announced Wednesday that it would not be removing its indoor mask mandate until Sacramento County reached a “low” level of community transmission — as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and stayed there for four consecutive weeks. (Salanga, 3/9)


The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat:
Sonoma County Health And Education Officials Encourage Student Masking After State Mandate Ends Friday


Sonoma County health and education officials on Wednesday said indoor masking for students will be “strongly recommended,” even as the state is scheduled to lift student masking requirements after Friday. On March 1, state health officials urged residents to continue masking indoors even after lifting the requirement that unvaccinated people mask indoors in public settings. The indoor mask rule was lifted for vaccinated residents on Feb. 15. (Espinoza, 3/9)


The Wall Street Journal:
United Airlines To Let Unvaccinated Workers Return 


United Airlines Holdings Inc. will allow workers who haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 for religious or medical reasons to return at the end of this month, according to people familiar with the decision. The move permits staffers with exemptions from the carrier’s vaccination requirement for its U.S. employees to return from unpaid leave or from the noncustomer-facing roles they were allowed to apply for as an alternative to their regular jobs, the people said. (Sider, 3/9)


San Diego Union-Tribune:
Pandemic Numbers Continue To Fall In San Diego County 


COVID-19 trends in San Diego County continued to show an improving trajectory in the county health department’s weekly report released Wednesday. For the first time since late November, cumulative confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations fell below 300, reaching 283 Tuesday. The number of new cases reported to the county epidemiology department also seems to have found a new equilibrium, with five of the past seven days falling below 500. A total of 3,599 new cases were reported over the past week compared to 4,601 the previous week. (Sisson, 3/9)


Fresno Bee:
CA Labor Advocates Want Stronger Enforcement Of Labor Laws 


The central San Joaquin Valley’s top labor organizations say they want to see stricter enforcement of the COVID-19 paid sick leave law and other labor regulations. Worker advocates also say they want to see better outreach about labor rights to rural farmworkers, as well as people who don’t speak English or Spanish, such as those who speak Punjabi, Hmong and Indigenous languages. Some say that few of the Central Valley’s rural workers even know they are entitled to retroactive COVID-19 paid sick leave. (Montalvo, 3/10)


KQED:
It’s Not Just Doctors And Nurses. Veterinarians Are Burning Out, Too


The overwork and short staffing of the pandemic has affected veterinarians as much as it has other doctors and nurses, and dealing with the constant moral dilemmas and emotional output is driving many to burn out. At the SPCA on Fillmore Street in San Francisco, so many vets and technicians were leaving that they had to cut back their clinic hours, says veterinarian Kathy Gervais. (Dembosky, 3/9)


Politico:
Health Experts Plead With Biden To ‘Reverse Course’ In Global Pandemic Response 


Over 100 public health, medical and epidemiology experts and advocates sent the Biden administration a letter on Wednesday begging it to do more to control the pandemic around the world, saying America’s current global efforts have failed. The authors asked the administration to share Covid-19 vaccine technology and increase manufacturing around the world, ask for more funding from Congress to support distribution in low- and middle-income countries and increase access to Covid therapeutics and rapid tests around the world, according to the letter obtained by POLITICO. (Payne, 3/9)


The Hill:
Democrats Yank COVID Relief After Revolt By Own Members 


Facing a revolt from rank-and-file Democrats, party leaders on Wednesday yanked billions of dollars in emergency funding from a $1.5 trillion government funding package — a move that will allow for passage of the larger package but leaves the fate of the pandemic relief up in the air. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) confirmed the news in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Wednesday afternoon, largely blaming Republicans for the impasse that sparked the stunning last-minute revision to the larger spending package. (Lillis and Folley, 3/9)


The Hill:
Pelosi Says Separate Coronavirus Relief Bill Will Be Put On The Floor ‘Hopefully Today’ 


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday that a separate coronavirus relief bill would be put on the House floor “hopefully today” after she informed House members earlier that day that COVID-19 funding would be removed from a $1.5 trillion government funding package. “We have a bill that’s going to be on the floor, hopefully today, just depends. We have a bill that I mentioned, that will be on the floor today. And it will be — really contain what the administration says that we need. It’s a separate funding package to continue the battle against coronavirus largely focusing on the new therapies that are there,” Pelosi said during her weekly news conference. (Vakil and Sullivan, 3/9)


Los Angeles Daily News:
Cedars-Sinai And UCLA Scientists Discover Potential New COVID-19 Treatment 


Scientists from Cedars-Sinai have reported research findings that have opened the possibility to a new therapy for COVID-19 patients, a discovery made in a biologic substance created by re-engineered human skin cells. The substance stopped SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from reproducing and protected cells when tested in human lung cells, scientists reported. The research is in the early stages. (3/9)


NBC News:
Covid Pill: Pfizer Launches Kids Trial To Test Antiviral


Pfizer announced Wednesday that it has started a clinical trial testing its Covid-19 antiviral pill in children as young as 6. The drugmaker said it aims to enroll approximately 140 participants in the trial, which will look at whether the drug, called Paxlovid, can safely treat Covid in children who are at risk of becoming severely ill. (Lovelace Jr., 3/9)


NBC News:
School Meal Programs In ‘Financial Peril’ After Spending Bill Snub, Advocates Say


A sprawling $1.5 trillion spending bill that would fund the federal government beyond Friday doesn’t include special benefits put in place at the start of the pandemic for schools to ensure that every student is fed. The exclusion means child nutrition waivers would expire on June 30, potentially cutting off access to breakfast and lunch for millions of schoolchildren at a time of rising food costs, school nutrition advocates warn. (Ortiz, 3/9)


The New York Times:
House Passes Bill To Bolster Protections For Women Facing Violence


The House on Wednesday voted to renew a lapsed law aimed at preventing domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, approving the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a top priority of President Biden. The measure was included in a sprawling $1.5 trillion spending package to fund the government through September. First written by Mr. Biden in 1994 when he was in the Senate, the law expired in 2019 under President Donald J. Trump and has languished since, even as Mr. Biden has pressed for Congress to strengthen and renew it. The legislation goes next to the Senate, where it is expected to pass. (Karni, 3/9)


The Washington Post:
Congress Weighs Permanent Daylight Saving Time In A Debate As Regular As Clockwork 


A congressional panel on Wednesday debated whether to end the nation’s “spring forward” and “fall back” daylight saving policy, citing the health effects of shifting the clock twice per year. Most agreed it was about time. On Sunday, people in most parts of the United States will set their clocks ahead one hour so that darkness falls later in the day, a seasonal shift that is enforced by the federal government and will be reversed on Nov. 6. But more than 40 states, including Maryland, are considering changes to end the shifting, and federal lawmakers are weighing legislation that could make daylight saving time permanent. (Diamond, 3/9)


AP:
Limits On Insulin Costs Revived In Push For Senate Action


Legislation to limit insulin costs for people with diabetes is getting revived in the Senate. Democrats say they want to move quickly, but they’ll need Republican support to get anything through an evenly divided chamber — and they’re not there yet. Curbs on insulin costs have the backing of President Joe Biden, and before that, even enjoyed support from his Republican predecessor Donald Trump. The goal reemerged this week after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote colleagues that “negotiations are underway with Senate Republicans on legislation to lower the cost of insulin,” part of an urgent push to address economic pain points for American families. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 3/9)


San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego’s New Ambulance Provider Criticized For Lack Of Ambulances, Challenging City Officials 


San Diego officials say the city’s new ambulance provider is not deploying enough ambulances, refusing to provide information, overworking its staff and ignoring advice on ways to improve. However, officials say it’s too soon to consider imposing penalties on the provider, Falck USA, or to explore how the city could declare the company in default on its contract with San Diego. (Garrick, 3/9)


NBC Bay Area:
Stanford Nurses Hold Rally For ‘Fair Contracts’ After Rampant Burnout During Pandemic 


Nurses with Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital rallied Wednesday morning, calling for “fair contracts” that they say would make nursing a more sustainable profession and improve patient care at top hospitals. After what they called “a grueling two years” of dealing with COVID-19 on top of everyday patient care, the nurses are proposing staffing procedures that reflect patient acuity, time to rest and recover and competitive wages and benefits. (3/9)


Los Angeles Times:
Two Arrested In $30 Million California Hospice Fraud Scheme 


A Ventura County doctor and a marketer from Lancaster were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of carrying out a hospice fraud scheme that netted more than $30 million from Medicare, federal authorities said. Dr. Victor Contreras, 66, of Santa Paula, and Callie Jean Black, 63, of Lancaster were arraigned Tuesday and pleaded not guilty, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California. (Yee, 3/9)


Orange County Register:
HHS Secretary Becerra Visits Orange County To Talk Mental Health


With state and federal leaders placing a renewed focus on mental health care, Orange County officials are showing off the year-old Be Well OC campus in Orange – but they also acknowledge there’s more to be done to meet residents’ needs for services. U.S Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visited Orange County on Wednesday to meet with local leaders and health professionals in Orange and Irvine, where a second, larger Be Well OC campus will be built starting later this year. His OC stops are part of a national tour he’s making to learn how to improve mental health services and crisis care. (Robinson and Sheets, 3/9)


Voice of OC:
Are Cannabis Shops Coming To Huntington Beach? Voters To Decide On A Special Tax In June


Voters in Surf City may soon decide if they want to let cannabis businesses set up shop on their shores depending on whether attempts to get legalization on a future ballot are successful or the council puts the question before voters themselves. A majority of Huntington Beach City Council members decided to ask voters in June if they want to tax cannabis shops in the city – opening the door for a potential vote to formally legalize the shops, if one of two ballot measure efforts are successful or if the council takes its own action after the June election. (Elattar, 3/8)


NBC News:
Americans Are Besieged By Stress, Poll Finds


Financial woes, coupled with a barrage of horrifying scenes from Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion, have pushed a majority of Americans to unprecedented levels of stress, according to a new report from the American Psychological Association. The association’s annual “Stress in America” poll, published Thursday, found that U.S. adults — already weary from two years of the Covid-19 pandemic — are now overwhelmingly troubled by inflation and the war in Ukraine. (Edwards, 3/10)


Berkeleyside:
City, University To Lease Rodeway Inn As Housing For Displaced People’s Park Residents


The city of Berkeley and UC Berkeley will begin leasing the Rodeway Inn on University Avenue to house people who are currently living in People’s Park and will be displaced when Cal begins building student housing there this summer, the two groups announced Wednesday. The city and Cal are partnering on the 18-month lease of the property at 1461 University Avenue for supportive housing. Berkeley will use a $4.7 million grant from the state’s Encampment Resolution Fund to pay the lease for 12 months and contract with Abode Services, and Cal will contribute $2.2 million for the remaining six months. (Yelimeli, 3/9)


Bay Area News Group:
Berkeley Reveals Plans To House Homeless People’s Park Occupants


Following a protracted fight over the future of historic People’s Park, city officials on Wednesday announced plans to house dozens of homeless people living there, clear their encampments and make way for student housing. Thanks to a new $4.7 million state grant, city officials, in partnership with UC Berkeley and local nonprofits, will move park residents into the Rodeway Inn on University Avenue, and then work with them to find permanent housing. At the same time, the city, university and First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley will build a new daytime drop-in center for unhoused people on the church’s property a block from the park. (Kendall, 3/9)


San Francisco Chronicle:
UC Berkeley To Relocate Homeless Community At People’s Park To Make Way For Student Housing


The unhoused residents who have been camping in Berkeley’s People’s Park will be offered interim housing in a city motel, a deal that will allow UC Berkeley to move forward with plans to build housing for 1,100 students on the 2.8-acre parcel of open space. The deal — a partnership between the university and the city — calls for the roughly 55 people currently living in tents in the park to be given the opportunity to move into the Rodeway Inn on University Avenue in North Berkeley. In addition, the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley will work with the city and the university to build a new daytime drop-in center on the church’s grounds, where services will be provided. (Dineen, 3/9)


CapRadio:
Newsom Touts Response To Homelessness In State Of The State. Here’s Context For His Claims.


Gov. Gavin Newsom claimed during his State of the State address on Tuesday that his administration has confronted California’s homelessness crisis and made significant progress. Local government officials and community advocates have praised Newsom for making homelessness a top state priority. But they also say more progress is needed to help the tens of thousands of Californians living without a permanent home. PolitiFact California examined Newsom’s claims and added important context. (Nichols, 3/9)


The Guardian:
Sunny Balwani Trial Starts Two Months After Elizabeth Holmes’s Guilty Verdict 


Two months after Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of defrauding Theranos investors, her former business and romantic partner, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, began his own trial on Wednesday. The trial of Balwani, who served as the blood testing startup’s co-president, shares several parallels with Holmes’s. The businessman is accused of similar crimes, including wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud investors, and will appear in the same San Jose, California, courthouse where Holmes spent more than 12 weeks defending herself. (Paul, 3/9)


The New York Times:
Elizabeth Holmes’s Ex-Boyfriend Set To Go On Trial In Theranos Case 


Elizabeth Holmes was a star entrepreneur whose trial for defrauding investors in her blood-testing start-up became one of the biggest Silicon Valley spectacles since the introduction of the iPhone. Her conviction in January marked a rare moment in the boastful history of technology: A chief executive was held criminally responsible for lying. For much of her trial, Ms. Holmes sought to blame her deputy and former boyfriend, Ramesh Balwani, for what went wrong at her company, Theranos. Now Mr. Balwani, who is known as Sunny, will have the opportunity to respond in his own fraud trial. Jury selection began on Wednesday in the same federal courtroom in San Jose, Calif., where Ms. Holmes’s fate was determined. (Streitfeld and Woo, 3/9)

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