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Most LA Police Are Healthy Again And Ready For Super Bowl: The ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department have rebounded after a massive surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, with the number of officers out sick or quarantining dropping from 1,333 last week to just 362 this week. LAPD Chief Michel Moore says the recovery is a welcome shift ahead of major deployments planned for the upcoming Super Bowl. Read more from the Los Angeles Times.

In related news —

What Are The Covid Rules For Super Bowl LVI?: If you’re coming to Southern California for Super Bowl LVI, here’s what you need to know about covid regulations during your visit. The short version is: Make sure you have your mask on. Read more from the Los Angeles Times.

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


San Francisco Chronicle:
FDA To Consider Pfizer Vaccine For Children 5 And Under


The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday confirmed that an advisory group will meet on Feb. 15 to discuss the request for emergency authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children 6 months up to 5 years old. “Having a safe and effective vaccine available for children in this age group is a priority for the agency and we’re committed to a timely review of the data, which the agency asked Pfizer to submit in light of the recent omicron surge,” Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner said in a statement. (Fracassa, 2/2)


USA Today:
‘Not Typical’: FDA Takes Unusual Step In Urging Pfizer To Seek Approval For Child Vaccine


In a move that highlights rising concerns about the risks of COVID-19 to young children, Pfizer-BioNTech on Tuesday asked for federal authorization for its vaccine for children 6 months to 4 years old. Companies usually make the decision to submit a request to Food and Drug Administration on their own, but in this instance it was made at the urging of the federal agency. “That’s not typically the way the federal government works. Usually, they wait and let the company decide when it wants to submit,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (Weise, 2/2)


Bay Area News Group:
Q&A: What To Know About Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine For Kids Under 5


The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it will consider authorizing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids as young as 6 months, opening the door to immunizing some 23 million American children — 2.4 million in California — for whom vaccines haven’t yet been available. For many parents of young tots, that approval can’t come quick enough. They worry their kids will pick up the virus at day care and bring it home to the whole family, including grandma and grandpa. Others with reservations about the shots view the development with a sense of dread, fearing new mandates, and some health experts question the benefit of vaccinating young children who face the lowest risk from the disease. (Woolfolk, 2/2)


Stat:
Experts Question Authorization Plan For Covid Vaccine For Kids Under 5


The Food and Drug Administration’s willingness to consider authorizing a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for children under the age of 5 — without evidence yet that it would be protective — is raising concerns among some vaccine experts who fear the plan could backfire and undermine vaccine uptake in this group. Pfizer and BioNTech confirmed Tuesday that they had been asked by the FDA to submit an application for the use of a two-dose vaccine in children 6 months to 4 years old. Data on a third shot would be submitted to regulators once they became available in the spring — ostensibly clearing the way for the agency to authorize a three-shot regimen for the youngest children who can get vaccinated. (Branswell, 2/2)


Reuters:
Omicron Subvariant BA.2 Likely To Have Same Severity As ‘Original’ – WHO


The emerging BA.2 form of the Omicron coronavirus variant does not seem to be any more severe than the original BA.1 form, an official of the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. Based on data from Denmark, the first country where BA.2 overtook BA.1, there appears to be no difference in disease severity, although BA.2 has the potential to replace BA.1 globally, said Dr. Boris Pavlin of the WHO’s COVID-19 Response Team. (2/1)


Modesto Bee:
COVID Killed More In January Than Flu In 3 Years, Data Show 


In the first month of 2022, COVID-19 killed more Americans than the flu has in three years, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows. From Jan. 1-30, approximately 55,000 Americans died due to COVID-19, bringing the seven-day death average to the highest point it’s been since last winter, before vaccines were widely available, according to CDC data. (Willetts, 2/1)


Fresno Bee:
COVID-19 Cases In Fresno Hospitals Near Pandemic Peak 


Hospitals in Fresno and surrounding counties in the central San Joaquin Valley continue to face some of the highest demand for inpatient care for coronavirus cases in more than a year. On Monday, hospitals across Fresno County collectively had 601 patients in their beds with confirmed COVID-19 infections, including 98 who were sick enough to require treatment in intensive-care units. Those numbers were down only slightly from late last week. (Sheehan, 2/1)


Los Angeles Times:
Why Southern California Hit Harder By Omicron Than Bay Area 


The Omicron wave took a much greater toll on Southern California compared to the San Francisco Bay Area, where higher vaccination levels contributed to significantly lower death rates, according to a Times data analysis. Southern California’s COVID-19 death rate during January was three times worse than the Bay Area’s, the data show. More than 2,400 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded in Southern California since New Year’s Day, the equivalent of about 11 deaths for every 100,000 residents. In the Bay Area, the death rate was 4 per 100,000 residents, totaling just over 300 deaths. (Lin II and Money, 2/1)


Los Angeles Times:
Omicron Hit Poor L.A. Communities Of Color Hardest 


The Omicron wave swept through Los Angeles over the last two months with unprecedented speed, but ultimately traced a grim path that is becoming increasingly familiar two years into the pandemic. Cases first exploded in affluent communities, where air travel likely introduced the latest coronavirus variant, which got a head start in places like South Africa, London and New York. (Smith, 2/2)


San Francisco Chronicle:
‘Epidemic Among The Unvaccinated’ In A California COVID ICU


Ten men and women lie sedated in 10 dim, glass-enclosed rooms, most unable to breathe without help from a machine. On the third floor of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, these patients are among more than 2,500 people gravely ill with COVID-19 in California’s intensive-care beds. It’s Thursday morning, and 46 patients are fighting the coronavirus, some battling hard to stay off the third floor. In the era of vaccinations and antiviral treatments — and even the coronavirus’ famously less severe variant, omicron — people aren’t supposed to get so sick from COVID. (Asimov, 2/1)


Sacramento Bee:
COVID-19 Infects 137 Workers In 3 Weeks At State Tax Agency


A wave of COVID-19 infections is shaking up return-to-office plans at the Franchise Tax Board, where 137 employees tested positive for the virus in the last three weeks, according to employee emails. The surge at the agency comes as the omicron variant continues its sweep through California, pushing infection rates to levels that remain above pre-surge peaks. (Venteicher, 2/2)


City News Service:
Scripps Health Predicts Omicron Surge To Wind Down By Early March 


Modeling by Scripps Health predicts that the current surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations should wind down by early March, with a slow decrease in patient volume driven by the omicron variant of the virus over the coming weeks, the health system said Tuesday. However, officials said staffing demands at Scripps facilities will remain high as hospitals stay busy with cases unrelated to COVID-19 and as other patients reschedule procedures that were deferred during the latest wave of virus cases. (2/1)


Sacramento Bee:
When Will California Shift Toward ‘Endemic’ Plan For COVID?


As the calendar flips to February, California’s coronavirus numbers are still improving steadily from sharp peaks during the omicron surge, which took root in mid-December and continued to disrupt businesses, schools and government operations throughout much of January. The state’s COVID-19 infection rate, test positivity percentage and totals for COVID-positive patients in hospital beds and intensive care units are all on the decline, though the figures remain well above pre-omicron levels. (McGough, 2/1)


Modesto Bee:
Is It Time To Accept COVID Is Here To Stay? Most Agree: Poll 


Do you accept life with COVID-19 as the new normal? Most Americans think it’s time to, according to a new poll, as 2022 marks another year dealing with the virus’s spread and its potential to mutate into new variants such as delta and omicron. Specifically, 70% of Americans agree that “it’s time we accept that COVID is here to stay and we just need to get on with our lives,” according to a new poll released Jan. 31 by Monmouth University in New Jersey. (Marnin, 2/1)


San Francisco Chronicle:
Early Signals On Moving Toward Bay Area’s Post-Pandemic Life


A clearer picture of post-pandemic life, one that Bay Area health officials increasingly have hinted at since the omicron wave began slowing a couple of weeks ago, is starting to take shape. Formal public health restrictions like indoor mask requirements and vaccine verification to get into certain indoor spaces will likely ease. Universal contact tracing will be pared back to focus on the highest-risk settings only. (Ho, 2/1)


Capital & Main:
What Good Is COVID Sick Leave If It Doesn’t Aid The Most Vulnerable?


The idea of reviving paid supplemental COVID sick leave in California is tremendously appealing. Among other things, the recently announced agreement between Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leadership to do so comes just as the omicron variant of the virus is ripping through the state, dramatically driving up the number of people who are missing work. Health officials hope the extra paid days off, which could amount to two weeks in all, will encourage employees to stay home while they or family members are sick, thus reducing the likelihood of spreading the virus. A proposal to revive dormant state tax credits, meanwhile, would help employers offset the cost of covering their workers’ sick leave. (Kreidler, 2/1)


Newsweek:
Most Unvaccinated Americans Have Not Requested At-Home COVID Test: Poll


Despite at-home COVID-19 testing being available through the U.S. government, many unvaccinated Americans have not filed requests for them. According to a new poll from YouGov, around 70 percent of Americans who have no plans to get a COVID-19 vaccine have not attempted to request at-home testing kits. The poll comes as a new strain of the Omicron variant entitled Stealth has been detected in 30 states, prompting an increase in the need for testing. The Stealth strain has currently been found in over 200 cases across the United States. (Brady, 2/1)


Fox News:
Lockdowns Only Reduced COVID-19 Mortality By .2%, Study Finds: ‘Lockdowns Should Be Rejected Out Of Hand’


The researchers – Johns Hopkins University economics professor Steve Hanke, Lund University economics professor Lars Jonung, and special advisor at Copenhagen’s Center for Political Studies Jonas Herby – analyzed the effects of lockdown measures such as school shutdowns, business closures, and mask mandates on COVID-19 deaths. “We find little to no evidence that mandated lockdowns in Europe and the United States had a noticeable effect on COVID-19 mortality rates,” the researchers wrote. The researchers also examined shelter-in-place orders, finding that they reduced COVID-19 mortality by 2.9%. (Best, 2/1)


American Homefront Project:
Moving From ‘Draconian’ Health Measures, The Navy Is Hoping To Manage COVID For The Long Term


The Navy is trying to figure out what the “new normal” will be after two years of battling COVID-19. In the opening months of the pandemic, the Navy was caught off guard. In April 2020, it was forced to sideline the USS Roosevelt in Guam for more than a month to try to stop a quickly spreading COVID-19 outbreak on board. Eventually, more than a third of the sailors were infected. One sailor on the carrier died. The Navy relieved the Roosevelt’s commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, after a letter leaked in which he complained the Navy wasn’t doing enough to get sailors off the ship. The situation became a case study on how not to handle COVID-19. (Walsh, 2/1)


San Francisco Chronicle:
California’s First Surgeon General Resigns


Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, who was appointed as California’s first-ever surgeon general in 2019, has resigned, governor’s officials said on Tuesday. In a statement provided to The Chronicle, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that Harris’ “expertise and leadership in championing equity, mental health and early childhood development have been instrumental in advancing the health and well-being of Californians.” (Hernandez, 2/1)


Bay Area News Group:
Bay Area Lawmaker Plans For New Single-Payer Health Care Battle Next Year


The powerful nurses’ union claims he “chose to just give up on patients.” Fellow Democrats blamed him for setting off a potential fight within the party during an election year. But Assemblymember Ash Kalra on Tuesday pledged he is not walking away from pushing for single-payer health care in California. He even called out Gov. Gavin Newsom for pulling back his support of the idea. (DeRuy, 2/1)


Modesto Bee:
Stanislaus County Is Forming In-House EMS Agency And Breaking From Mountain Valley


Stanislaus County is creating an in-house emergency medical services agency, ending years of dissatisfaction with a joint powers authority that has watched over EMS in Stanislaus and four smaller counties. County supervisors unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday to establish the Local Emergency Medical Services Agency (LEMSA) within the Sheriff Department’s emergency services division. (Carlson, 2/1)


Voice Of San Diego:
Family Relieved South Park Doctor Can No Longer Prescribe Painkillers  


Rhonda and Gordon Dutson don’t necessarily believe Dr. Tara Zandvliet is responsible for their son’s opiate addiction. But they believe she is complicit. Trevor, their son, and his then-girlfriend both went to Zandvliet for the sole purpose of getting opioids, the Dutsons said. And, according to the Medical Board of California, they were not alone. Zandvliet – who, Voice of San Diego revealed in 2019, helped hundreds of local families avoid vaccinations for their children – over-prescribed opioids to at least four of her patients, according to accusations filed by the Medical Board. In one case, she prescribed a woman 10 times the recommended daily dose of opioids for almost six years. (Huntsberry, 2/2)


Forbes:
City Of Hope To Broaden Research And Care Nationally With Close Of Cancer Treatment Centers Deal


City Of Hope is looking to expand its “research, innovation and specialized cancer care” to more patients nationally now that its $390 million purchase of Cancer Treatment Centers of America acquisition has closed, the health system’s chief executive says. The deal, which closed Wednesday, combines two big providers of cancer treatment that will now bring City of Hope’s expertise as a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer research and treatment organization in southern California to Cancer Treatment Centers (CTCA) markets across the country. CTCA has hospitals in the Chicago, Phoenix and Atlanta markets, but draws patients to these inpatient facilities and its outpatient centers from across the country. (Japsen, 2/2)


Los Angeles Times:
Biden To Announce Relaunch Of Federal Effort To Reduce Cancer Deaths 


President Biden is expected Wednesday to relaunch his cancer “moonshot,” a federal effort to help the scientific community accelerate its quest to reduce the disease’s deadly toll over the next quarter-century, the White House says. A White House official said the goal was to cut cancer’s death rates by at least 50% and to improve the experiences of those battling it. Such ambitious goals may be within reach thanks to technology developed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, including cutting-edge vaccines that may have applications in warding off cancer, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity before the announcement. (Logan and Kaur, 2/2)


Press Telegram:
Some Beaches In Long Beach Closed Due To Latest Sewage Spill 


A sewage spill closed all swimming areas at beaches west of Belmont Pier in Long Beach, the city’s Health and Human Services Department said Tuesday, Feb. 1. A grease blockage in neighboring Compton caused 12,000 gallons of sewage to flow into beach waters on Monday, Jan. 31. According to the Health Department, the city learned from Los Angeles County Public Health and the state’s Office of Emergency Services that sewage overflowed from a manhole into the Los Angeles River late Monday night. (Singgih, 2/1)


CalMatters:
In The Shadows Of Industry: LA County’s Port Communities 


Wilmington and two of its neighbors in southwestern Los Angeles County— West Long Beach and Carson — have been designated for clean-air priority under California’s landmark environmental justice law. About 300,000 people live there, exposed to tons of smog-forming gases and toxic fumes as well as noxious odors that permeate their homes. More than half are Latino, and more than a third are Asian American or African American. The imbalance between the plight of people in these communities and the industries that thrive there is a hallmark of environmental injustice. (Unzueta, 2/1)


CalMatters:
A Hot Spot For Polluted Air: By The Numbers 


In Wilmington, Carson and West Long Beach, people live with major sources of pollution almost in their backyards: the two busiest ports in the nation, five oil refineries, nine rail yards, four major freeways, several chemical facilities and the third largest oilfield in the contiguous U.S. Located in southwestern Los Angeles County, these communities were among the first designated for California’s landmark environmental justice program, which aims to clean up air pollution in the state’s hot spots. About 300,000 people live there, mostly people of color. (Yee and Getahun, 2/1)


Sacramento Bee:
FAQ: What Would A California Ban On Cigarette Filters Mean? 


California lawmakers are weighing a bill that would ban sales of cigarette filters and other single-use tobacco and cannabis products — such as single-use vape pods or cigarillo tips. Supporters of the bill point to the damage that such products do to both human health and to the environment, with cigarette butts accounting for nearly a third of the trash picked up by volunteers during the annual Coastal Cleanup Day. (Sheeler, 2/1)


Bay Area News Group:
BART Reopens Powell Street Station Bathroom After 20 Years


For over 20 years, the restroom at BART’s Powell Street station in downtown San Francisco remained shuttered. That changes on Wednesday when BART unveils a fully remolded bathroom adorned with white tiles and two stainless steel toilets – to the relief of passengers who have been scrambling for somewhere to go at one of BART’s busiest stations. (Kamisher, 2/2)


AP:
Minority Women Most Affected If Abortion Is Banned, Limited


If you are Black or Hispanic in a conservative state that already limits access to abortions, you are far more likely than a white woman to have one. And if the U.S. Supreme Court allows states to further restrict or even ban abortions, minority women will bear the brunt of it, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press. (Pettus and Willingham, 2/1)


Axios:
Drug Overdose Deaths Claim Over 1 Million Years Of Life 


Adolescents and young adults lost an estimated 1.2 million years of life due to unintentional drug overdoses over five years, according to a study published in JAMA. About 3,300 adolescents ages 10–19 years old died of an unintentional drug overdose in the U.S. between 2015 and 2019, representing about 187,078 years of life lost, researchers from Ohio State University said. That number rises to nearly 22,000 young people when expanding the age group to overdose deaths among those among 10–24 years old. Males collectively lost more years of life, the researchers said. (Reed, 2/1)


Axios:
Over-Reliance On Medicine Increases Suffering In Death, Study Finds 


The process of dying has become over-medicalized, resulting in increased suffering, loss of dignity and inefficient use of resources at the end of life, according to a report released Monday by a new Lancet Commission. Technological and medical advances fueled the idea that science can defeat death, increasing the over-reliance on medical interventions, the authors say. Deaths during the COVID pandemic, in which individuals have had to be isolated from family members in ICUs, even in their final moments, were an example of this trend. (Reed, 2/1)

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