San Francisco Chronicle:
California Courts Will Relax COVID Rules, But Want Lawmakers To Allow Remote Appearances

As California eases some of its COVID-19 restrictions, state courts have started to move in the same direction, tightening timetables for civil trials and criminal court hearings. Judicial leaders are also considering restoring rules for in-person criminal trials, but may ask lawmakers to continue to let defendants appear remotely. After Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted most of the state’s indoor masking requirements Feb. 15, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye said last week she would withdraw, effective April 30, several court emergency orders she imposed in March 2020. (Egelko, 3/7)

The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat:
Relief, Caution From Children And Parents In Sonoma County Over Schools That Will End Mask Mandate

Leave it to a child to express not the political or scientific argument for pro- or anti-mask wearing, but rather the practical from a kid’s point of view: “I’m excited, because I always sweat in them,” said Audri Castro, 9, who goes to Monte Vista Elementary. How will Sonoma County schools respond to the end of the state’s mask mandate? Castro was talking about the upcoming end to in-classroom mask mandates during a family-organized softball game at Magnolia Park in Rohnert Park over the weekend. See more reactions from local children and hear from some parents in the slideshow above. (3/7)

Bay Area News Group:
Santa Clara County Relaxes Controversial Booster Mandate For High-Risk Workers

Citing the continued drop in COVID-19 cases, Santa Clara County announced Monday that it would be relaxing a contentious booster mandate that requires all high-risk workers like nurses and correctional officers to get a shot. Employees with exemptions will now be allowed to remain in their current jobs, though they must test weekly. The county had previously barred those with exemptions from remaining in their positions — an approach that was unique compared to every other county in the state and led to hundreds of county workers being disciplined. (Greschler, 3/7)

Bay Area News Group:
Students Sue Santa Clara University Over Booster Mandate

Two students sued Santa Clara University over its COVID-19 vaccine booster shot requirement Monday. The lawsuit said sophomore Harlow Glenn, 20, agreed to get her first Pfizer COVID-19 shot last year to comply with the university’s vaccine mandate, but alleges she suffered numbing in her legs, severe headaches, menstrual cycle disruptions, bloody urine, body pains and hair loss. The university, she said, denied her requests for religious and medical exemptions from the shots. (Woolfolk, 3/7)

Los Angeles Times:
Going To A Concert? What To Know About The New L.A. COVID Rules

After more than a year of vaccine card checks, rapid antigen testing and ever-evolving mask rules, L.A. County Department of Public Health has done away with most of its restrictions around COVID-19 for music clubs and venues. “The County of Los Angeles continues to experience consistent declines in COVID-19 cases, test positivity rates, and related hospitalizations,” the order said Thursday. “The consistency in the decline of these important metrics in the County and across the State allow for a significant revision of required community-level infection control strategies.” (Brown, 3/7)

Palm Springs Desert Sun:
Coachella Valley Cases Continue To Trend Downward

Various COVID-19 metrics indicate that Riverside County and the Coachella Valley are enjoying continued success with low community transmission levels, just in time for a number of upcoming spring events. The nine Coachella Valley cities added 340 new COVID-19 cases in the week ending Monday. That’s down 36% from the previous week, when there were 535 cases reported for the week ending Feb. 28. (Sasic, 3/7)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego County Shrinks Its COVID-19 Contact Tracing Program

For more than two years, county contact tracers made an effort to interview every resident who tested positive for coronavirus infection. But that changed Friday, with only about one in 10 residents getting calls as the outreach program shifts to a more targeted mode that prioritizes those deemed to be at highest risk of severe COVID-19-related illness. (Sisson, 3/7)

NBC News:
Walensky: Covid Will ‘Probably’ Be A Seasonal Virus, Like The Flu

Even as cases of Covid-19 continue to fall nationwide, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the coronavirus is most likely here to stay — and that it could behave similarly to influenza. “I do anticipate that this is probably going to be a seasonal virus,” said the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. That means it could join the flu and other respiratory viruses that tend to spread during the cold winter months. (Edwards, Snow and Dunn, 3/7)

The Hill:
Congress Nears Deal On Billions In Coronavirus Aid 

Lawmakers say they are close to an agreement to provide billions in new coronavirus relief, set to be tied to a massive government funding bill. Congress is expected to include at least $15 billion in response to the Biden administration’s request for new funding for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and testing. (Carney, 3/7)

USA Today:
Even Mild COVID-19 Can Cause Brain Damage, For How Long Isn’t Known

A new study provides the most conclusive evidence yet that COVID-19 can damage the brain, even in people who weren’t severely ill. The study, published Monday in Nature, used before-and-after brain images of 785 British people, ages 51 to 81, to look for any changes. About half the participants contracted COVID-19 between the scans – mostly when the alpha variant was circulating – which left many people at least temporarily without a sense of smell. Analysis of the “before” and “after” images from the UK Biobank showed that people infected with COVID-19 had a greater reduction in their brain volumes overall and performed worse on cognitive tests than those who had not been infected. (Weintraub, 3/7)

Bay Area News Group:
Long COVID Mysteries Studied Using Lab-Grown Heart Cells

The attack of the COVID-19 virus on the human heart is completely hidden from view, revealed only by the damage that’s left behind. But San Francisco scientists have designed a way to witness the assault. In lab-grown globules of throbbing heart cells, they can watch signs of distress, then death. (Krieger, 3/8)

COVID Patients With Heart Defects May Be At Higher Risk For Severe Disease

Hospitalized COVID-19 patients with congenital heart defects (CHDs) were more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), require invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV), and die than those without CHDs in the first 11 months of the pandemic, suggests a study published today in Circulation. Congenital heart defects, the most common birth defect in the world, occurs when the heart or blood vessels near the heart don’t develop normally in utero. (3/7)

Crain’s Chicago Business:
Long COVID Linked To Symptoms Of Anxiety: Northwestern Medicine Researchers

The puzzling neurologic symptoms some COVID-19 patients develop as part of long COVID can be connected with symptoms of anxiety and are related to damage to neurons and activation of glial cells, a sign of brain inflammation, a new study by Northwestern Medicine finds. The study of biomarkers that identify brain inflammation may help determine what diagnostic tests and treatments will work best on long-COVID patients, a Northwestern Medicine statement said. It may also go a long way to further the study of the mechanics of long COVID and, perhaps, even the biomechanics of anxiety in general, the statement said. (Asplund, 3/7)

Los Angeles Times:
Are COVID-19 Vaccinations Effective For Kids Age 5 To 11?

So how effective are COVID-19 vaccinations for children age 5 to 11? There are emerging data suggesting that protection against infection wanes for vaccinated children in this age group. But that shouldn’t be a surprise, some experts say, as vaccination series without a booster shot generally have been less effective in protecting against infection from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus than earlier strains, and children in this age group aren’t eligible for a booster. (Lin II, 3/7)

USA Today:
White House COVID Plan Aims To Get More Young People Of Color Boosted

Many young people of color are not getting the COVID-19 booster shot at the same rate as young white Americans. The Biden administration said it is determined to close that gap by tapping churches, community health centers and medical professionals in communities of color to get more people vaccinated and boosted. “We need to do better and we all recognize that with equity in boosters,’’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden. “Equity remains an important part of any of our plans.” (Barfield Berry, 3/8)

USA Today:
Huge Study Finds Most COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects Were Mild For Pfizer-BioNTech And Moderna

A new study involving millions of participants has found most side effects from mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were mild and faded substantially after one day. The findings, published Monday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, should reassure Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccine recipients that the shots, which were granted U.S. Food and Drug Administration emergency authorization in late 2020, are safe, experts said. “These data are reassuring that reactions to both mRNA vaccines are generally mild and subside after one or two days – confirming reports from clinical trials and post-authorization monitoring,” said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tom Shimabukuro, one of the authors of the large-scale study. (Thornton, 3/7)

Upbeat Gov. Newsom To Deliver California State Of The State 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will give his annual State of the State address on Tuesday, a statewide platform to share his increasingly optimistic message for the nation’s most populous state in a year he will face voters for reelection. After two years of mask mandates, lockdowns and wildfires, Newsom has been setting a sunny, upbeat tone in recent weeks as he prepares for what looks to be a relatively easy campaign. (Beam, 3/8)

How To Watch Newsom’s State Of The State & GOP Response 

California Governor Gavin Newsom will be delivering his annual State of the State address at 5 p.m. today in Sacramento. The event will be livestreamed on the governor’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages. Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (Santa Clarita) and Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) will be giving a response upon the conclusion of Newsom’s speech from the California Natural Resources Agency at 715 P Street. A livestream will be available on the Facebook page of the Senate Republican Caucus. (Ferrannini, 3/8)

Digital First Media:
Exposure To Wildfire Smoke May Impact Your DNA, UC Davis Study

Take a seat, chin to the sky. Insert the swab, rotate slowly and switch nostrils — we know the drill. Only this time, it’s not a COVID test. And the nose is attached to a monkey. Three years ago, researchers in Davis swabbed the nasal cavities of 22 captive rhesus macaque monkeys that were born just before and after the horrific 2008 wildfire season. Alterations in their DNA showed, for the first time, that exposure to wildfire smoke can create long-term changes in the way that genes are expressed in primates, they reported in January. (3/8)

The New York Times:
In A First, California Plans To Clean Up Microplastics

They are in your gut. They are in the ocean. They are even floating through the air in the most remote regions of the West. Microplastics — fragments of broken-down plastic no larger than a fraction of an inch — have become a colossal global problem. California wants to fix that. Last month, the state became the first in the nation to adopt a strategy addressing the scourge of tiny detritus. “We need to eliminate our addiction to single-use plastics,” said Mark Gold, the executive director of the Ocean Protection Council, the governmental body that approved the plan. (Albeck-Ripka, 3/7)

NBC News:
Lead In Gasoline Blunted IQ Of Half The U.S. Population, Study Says

Exposure to leaded gasoline lowered the IQ of about half the population of the United States, a new study estimates. The peer-reviewed study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on people born before 1996 — the year the U.S. banned gas containing lead. Overall, the researchers from Florida State University and Duke University found, childhood lead exposure cost America an estimated 824 million points, or 2.6 points per person on average. (Chuck, 3/7)

The Wall Street Journal:
EPA Aims To Cut Toxic Emissions From Commercial Trucks 

EPA officials said the proposed rules are ambitious but feasible, and would benefit the public by reducing asthma and other health problems. “These new standards will drastically cut dangerous pollution by harnessing recent advancements in vehicle technologies from across the trucking industry as it advances toward a zero-emissions transportation future,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said. (Ferek, 3/7)

The Washington Post:
Pentagon To Shutter Pearl Harbor Fuel-Storage Facility That Contaminated Drinking Water

The Pentagon announced Monday it is shutting down a World War II-era underground fuel-storage facility that caused severe contamination last year of the drinking water used by thousands of military families stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. “After close consultation with senior civilian and military leaders, I have decided to defuel and permanently close the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. Doing so will force the Pentagon to dramatically alter how it conducts operations in the Indo-Pacific region, where China’s growing influence has become a top strategic challenge for successive administrations. Even so, Austin added, “It’s the right thing to do.” (Demirjian and Horton, 3/7)

Cincinnati Enquirer:
Kroger Sued For Lead Contamination In Salads, Baked Goods

A California advocacy group is suing Kroger in that state, charging several food items it makes under its store brands contain “dangerous” levels of lead. The lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court seeks to eliminate the sale of these products in California. Under California consumer protection law, Kroger could also reduce the lead content or simply add a prominent health warning to the packaging. “Kroger is betraying the American public by selling over a dozen products tainted with extraordinarily high amounts of lead,” said Vineet Dubey, the Los Angeles environmental attorney who filed the lawsuit, in a statement. (Coolidge, 3/8)

Gene-Edited Beef Cattle Get Regulatory Clearance In US 

U.S. regulators on Monday cleared the way for the sale of beef from gene-edited cattle in coming years after the Food and Drug Administration concluded the animals do not raise any safety concerns. The cattle by Recombinetics are the third genetically altered animals given the green light for human consumption in the U.S. after salmon and pigs. Many other foods already are made with genetically modified ingredients from crops like soybeans and corn. (Choi, 3/7)

Fresno Bee:
Valley Children’s Hospital Gene-Testing Program 

On a recent visit to Valley Children’s Hospital, Angelica Hernandez was keeping a watchful eye on her 15-month-old daughter, Willow Vander Laan, as she ran and jumped. She needed to make sure the bubbly girl didn’t take a hard tumble. Willow has found joy in moving and even picks up on sounds from TV commercials and quickly gets to dancing, her mother says. (Valenzuela, 3/8)

In Texas Trip, Biden To Call For More Health Care For Vets

President Joe Biden’s trip Tuesday to Fort Worth, Texas, is personal — a chance to talk with veterans and their caregivers and push for more help for members of the military who face health problems after exposure to burn pits. In last week’s State of the Union address, Biden raised the prospect of whether being near the chemicals from burn pits in Iraq led to the death of his son, Beau. (Boak, 3/8)

Finding Help For Teens Who Grow Up Caregiving For Their Disabled Military Parents

The Elizabeth Dole Foundation recently commissioned a first-of-its-kind study on military caregiver children. It found that they often suffer from stress and anxiety, and many reported social isolation. Others were hesitant to leave the house or have friends visit. Sometimes, their relationship with their healthy parent suffered as well. (Frame, 3/7)

Fresno Bee:
Clovis University Pharmacy Program Denied Accreditation 

California Health Sciences University has suspended a pharmacy doctorate program at its for-profit school in Clovis after failing to obtain pre-accreditation. The program welcomed its first cohort of students in 2014, but never gained accreditation and will now close after 2024. CHSU is owned by the Assemi family whose members are major developers in Fresno. (Amaro, 3/7)

SF Students Are Still Pushing For A Reckoning With Sexual Abuse

Since the summer of 2020, SFUSD has seen waves of protests against sexual harassment and assault. Students say a familiar pattern has emerged: survivors share experiences of sexual abuse on Instagram, more people pay attention and talk about it, and then the conversation dies down for a few months. But the issue is still on many students’ minds. And while some changes have been made — including some student-led efforts at accountability — many students feel that administrators and district officials haven’t done enough. (Guevarra, McDede, Esquinca, and Montecillo, 3/7)

San Francisco Chronicle:
San Francisco’s First Tiny Home Village For Unsheltered People Opens. At $15,000 A Pop, City Says It’s Cost-Effective

One week ago, Ryan Bauer was living in a tent on the hard pavement on Gough Street south of Market. Now he’s living on the same pavement with a dramatic upgrade: He’s moved into his own tiny home, with a mattress, desk, chair and — most luxurious of all — a heater that quickly warms his 64-square-foot abode. That’s almost as crucial as a front door that locks from the inside and by a combination lock on the outside. “It’s definitely a lot warmer, and I don’t have to worry about my stuff being taken,” said Bauer, 45, who is known on the street as “Nobody.” “I haven’t had a locked area where I could leave my stuff and not have it stolen for who knows how long.” (Whiting, 3/7)

Bay Area News Group:
East Bay Landlords Sue To Overturn COVID Eviction Bans

A group of East Bay landlords is suing Alameda County and the city of Oakland, hoping to overturn two of California’s strongest remaining eviction bans. The city and the county, like many others throughout the state, placed a moratorium on most evictions early in the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to prevent people from ending up homeless as the economy floundered and many tenants struggled to pay rent. Now, two years into the pandemic, tenants’ rights groups argue those protections are still just as important as ever. But a collection of landlords, who filed suit this week in federal court, say the eviction bans have outlived their purpose and are being abused by tenants. (Kendall, 3/4)

Bay Area News Group:
San Jose: Mayor Focused On “Cost-Effective” Solutions To Homelessness, SJPD Staffing In New Budget Message 

Despite a projected $27.7 million surplus, Mayor Sam Liccardo warns the city is facing a “constrained budget,” as it continues to provide residents with extra services as the coronavirus pandemic enters its third year. Liccardo delivered the sobering news in his annual March budget message ahead of the San Jose City Council’s budget deliberations. (Hase, 3/7)

Orange County Register:
More Motel Conversion Projects May Help Ease OC’s Housing Crunch

Within the next few years, Orange County may learn the outcome of a vital experiment: whether converting motels into permanent apartments is one of the fastest, cheapest and most effective ways to create new affordable housing and get people off the streets. The county, working with several cities and home developers, already has been approved for $40 million in funding from the state’s Homekey program, more applications are in the pipeline, and several projects could be under construction by this fall. (Robinson, 3/7)

Power In The Courts: When Tenants Fight Back

When it comes to eviction court, tenants are far less likely than property owners to be represented by an attorney. That makes it especially difficult for them to understand their rights and navigate the complex system. The right to counsel is something that tenant advocates are pushing for across the country, and more cities and states are considering it, especially in light of the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Solomon and Baldassari, 3/7)