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LA County Pushes Back Against Sheriff Who Won’t Enforce Vax Mandate: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday moved to take covid-19 vaccine mandate enforcement responsibilities away from Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who has repeatedly said he would not fire deputies who refuse to get vaccinated. Read more from the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Rare Heat Warning Issued for Super Bowl: The National Weather Service is warning of “dangerously hot conditions” in parts of Southern California this week, an unusual measure that may be a first of its kind for February. The Weather Service noted that visitors from other states who are attending the Super Bowl this weekend in Inglewood may be unaccustomed to the heat and at greater risk for heat-related illnesses. Read more from KVVU and The Washington Post.

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


San Francisco Chronicle:
‘Explosion Of People Dying’ Has Led To Huge Backlog Of Bodies At The Alameda County Coroner’s Office


A growing backlog of bodies awaiting autopsies has reached a critical point in Alameda County, making it more difficult to close cases amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 deaths, a regional overdose crisis and surging homicides in Oakland. The bureau’s once-empty dock has become a triage area, with coroner vans wedged between the overflow containers. Alameda County sheriff’s spokesperson Lt. Ray Kelly said he’d never seen it this bad. (Swan, 2/8)


Sacramento Bee:
Sacramento County Jail Unvaccinated Inmate With COVID Dies 


An unvaccinated inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 died Monday while in custody at Sacramento County Main Jail, deputies announced Tuesday afternoon. The 51-year-old man who died had been in custody for nearly five years, suffering from mental illness and awaiting trial on an assault charge as COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb amid a jail outbreak that began last month. (Ahumada, 2/8)


Napa Valley Register:
Napa Reports Two More Deaths From COVID-19, Bringing Pandemic Total To 118 


Two Napa city residents died in the first week of February after contracting the coronavirus, bringing Napa County’s pandemic death toll to 118, the county announced Tuesday afternoon. The latest residents to lose their lives to COVID-19 were a man in his 80s who died Feb. 2 and a woman in her 90s who died Monday, according to Napa County spokesperson Leah Greenbaum, who said both patients were unvaccinated and died in the county. (Yune, 2/8)


KQED:
Have You Felt ‘COVID Shame?’ It’s Not Just You 


Way more people gotten sick with COVID-19 during these past few weeks. If you’ve tested positive, you may have felt a range of emotions: Surprise, fear…even anger. There’s also another emotion members of KQED’s audience are reporting: shame. For some, it’s a gut feeling upon seeing that “positive” result. Others also fear being judged by their peers after being careful for so long. (Watt, Severn and Montecillo, 2/9)


CapRadio:
Sacramento City School Bus Drivers Accuse District Of Allowing Unsafe Working Conditions During Omicron Surge


Dozens of Sacramento City Unified transportation workers gathered in front of the school district’s headquarters on Friday morning, carrying purple-bordered signs from their union and their frustration with the district. The workers, represented by SEIU Local 1021, were joined by teachers association members, labor leaders and school board members, among others. The group circled the parking lot, chanting “What do we want? Safety. When do we want it? Now.” After, several bus drivers with decades of experience said they loved their jobs but faced unsafe working conditions during the pandemic and omicron surge. They also said they earned low wages and experienced a lack of communication from the district. (Salanga, 2/8)


Sacramento Bee:
Sacramento County To Give COVID Bonuses To Essential Workers 


Sacramento County plans to give a one-time bonus of $1,500 or 40 hours of administrative time off to thousands of public employees as a form of hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money comes from a federal coronavirus relief package President Joe Biden signed last year, which authorized government agencies to distribute special pay to essential workers. (McGough, 2/8)


CBS News:
Chinese Scientists Say They’ve Developed A New, Highly Accurate COVID Test That Gives Results In 4 Minutes 


Chinese scientists say they have developed a new coronavirus test that is as accurate as a PCR lab test but gives results within four minutes. … In a peer-reviewed article published Monday in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, the team said their sensor — which uses microelectronics to analyze genetic material from swabs — is quick and accurate at spotting SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. (2/8)


San Francisco Chronicle:
Indoor Mask Mandates In Each Bay Area County: What Will Happen Next?


Bay Area health officials on Tuesday said they were evaluating their own counties’ COVID-19 situations in deciding whether to adjust local mask requirements when the statewide indoor mask mandate ends next week. On Monday, California health officials confirmed that the statewide mandate, which requires everyone to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination statues, will be lifted on Feb. 16. The announcement came as cases and COVID hospitalizations have dropped since the peak of the omicron surge last month. (Flores, 2/8)


San Francisco Chronicle:
Bay Area Looks To Regional Approach When California Mask Mandate Ends


Bay Area health officials are expected to announce regional masking guidance in the coming days that would go into effect next week, when the statewide universal mask mandate meant to curb coronavirus transmission expires. It’s not clear what the local guidance will look like and to what degree some counties may keep mandates in place even after the state’s mask requirement is lifted next Wednesday. At least two counties — Marin and Solano — have said they will go along with the state and no longer require vaccinated people to wear face coverings in indoor spaces. (Allday, 2/8)


Bay Area News Group:
What Will Change With California’s Mask Rules?


Here we go again. California health officials this week announced a slew of changes to the Golden State’s COVID-19 safety mandates and recommendations, including those involving masks and proof of vaccination for large events. After two years of on-again, off-again restrictions, it’s tough keeping track. Here’s the latest on how the California Department of Public Health says things will change: (Woolfolk, 2/8)


Los Angeles Times:
L.A. County Keeps Mask Mandate Even As O.C., Others Drop It 


Los Angeles County is probably weeks away from lifting its indoor mask mandate, and at the latest could ease the order by the end of April — unless a new coronavirus variant poses a threat. There are two triggers that could result in L.A. County easing its indoor mask mandate, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced Tuesday. (Lin II and Money, 2/8)


Bay Area News Group:
Santa Clara County Won’t Be Loosening Mask Rules Just Yet


Santa Clara County won’t be making any changes to its mask rules for now, despite a decision Monday by the state to loosen its order. During a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody said that her office was still reviewing figures before they change any policies. (Greschler and Mukherjee, 2/8)


San Francisco Chronicle:
With California’s Mask Mandate Set To End, Should You Go Maskless? Here’s What UCSF’s Dr. Wachter Says


As states across the country – including California – announce plans to lift mask mandates for people who are vaccinated, will you take off yours? UCSF’s Dr. Bob Wachter took to Twitter to explain that the decision should depend on your personal risk factors and the specifics of the situation. In his view, deciding to keep the mask or ditch it as omicron subsides are both “reasonable decisions.” (Echeverria, 2/8)


Los Angeles Times:
As California Mask Mandate Lifts, Should Schools Be Next?


Educators and families are bracing for another round of pandemic policy shifts as California officials weigh when to lift mask mandates for schools — with some eagerly calling for students and staff to unmask and others urging caution. A general easing of rules is set for Feb. 15 — when California is poised to lift mask mandates for vaccinated residents in indoor public places. The rules would not immediately affect counties with local health orders that are more strict than state guidelines, unless officials modify their local rules. (Blume, 2/8)


CalMatters:
California Mask Mandate: Will School Rules Change?


California appears to be on the brink of what could be one of its most dramatic shifts in COVID policy since the pandemic began nearly two years ago: changing school masking rules. State health officials announced Monday that they are working with “education, public health and community leaders to update masking requirements at schools to adapt to changing conditions and ensure the safety of kids, teachers and staff.” (Hoeven, 2/8)


City News Service:
County Supervisors Vote To Ask State For ‘Safe’ Phase-Out Of School Mask Mandate 


The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously voted to ask the state Department of Public Health for a “safe and responsible path” toward phasing out pandemic-related mask requirements for school children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher made the request, saying that since the vaccine has been approved for children, the county needs to continue to plan for next steps as safely as possible. (2/8)


San Francisco Chronicle:
Mask Benefits In Schools Outweigh Inconvenience, State Epidemiologist Says


Benefits of keeping mask requirements in schools, even as California moves to loosen them for vaccinated people in most indoor settings next week, outweigh the alternatives, said Dr. Erica Pan, the state epidemiologist. “What we really all want is our kids to be in school and mitigate transmission,” she said during a Grand Rounds discussion with medical professionals on Tuesday. (Vaziri, Fracassa and Beamish, 2/9)


The Hill:
Air Force Gives 9 Religious Exemption For Vaccine Mandate 


The Air Force on Tuesday said it has granted nine service members religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, making it the second military service to say it has approved such accommodations. Eight of the exemptions were granted after being requested, the Air Force said in its weekly COVID-19 update. One exemption was granted on appeal, meaning that it was originally turned down. (Williams, 2/8)


EdSource:
Failing To Enforce California’s Covid-19 Vaccine Mandate May Put School Districts In Financial Peril 


Gov. Gavin Newsom’s school vaccine mandate is at least five months away, but some school boards, particularly those in small, rural, mostly conservative areas of California, are already saying they won’t enforce it. The vaccine mandate, meant to slow the spread of Covid-19, will prohibit unvaccinated staff and students from coming onto school campuses for in-person instruction, although students can enroll in independent study. The executive order is expected to go into effect July 1. (Lambert and Tadayon, 2/9)


Modesto Bee:
Search CA State Worker Vaccination Rates By Department 


Vaccination rates vary greatly from department to department in California state government, according to data provided by the Human Resources Department. The rates as of the end of January may be searched by department below. CalHR provided data for 111 departments, agencies, commissions and offices covering about 209,000 of the state’s roughly 230,000 employees. Some are missing, including the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which posts vaccination rates on its own COVID-19 website. (Venteicher, 2/9)


SF Gate:
In Shift, Hawaii Will Not Require Tourists Be Boosted


Tourists looking to visit Hawaii will not need to receive the COVID-19 booster shot to count as fully vaccinated, Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday. “In making this decision, we considered declining COVID-19 case counts in Hawaii, the continental U.S. and Europe,” Ige said in a statement. “Hospitalizations have also dropped.” (Bote, 2/8)


The Washington Post:
Hawaii In Talks To Drop Covid Travel Restrictions By Spring 


Hawaii’s strict travel program for domestic visitors may be a piece of pandemic history by the spring, the state’s lieutenant governor said Tuesday. Lt. Gov. Josh Green (D) said in a phone interview that discussions are ongoing about eliminating all restrictions on travel in the coming months — barring any more covid surges. (Sampson, 2/8)


San Diego Union-Tribune:
New Option Arrives To Protect Most Vulnerable From COVID-19, But There’s Not Enough For Everyone 


Devan McGirr of Lemon Grove didn’t mind spending an hour sitting in the waiting room of a Hillcrest dental clinic after receiving a hard-to-get shot Tuesday morning. “It feels like I won the lottery,” McGirr said. “It’s completely unreal. ”The wait was to ensure she had no negative reactions after receiving Evusheld, the new and long-lasting medication that studies have shown can provide significant protection against COVID-19 for those with compromised immune systems. (Sisson, 2/8)


The New York Times:
J.&J. Pauses Production Of Its Covid Vaccine Despite Persistent Need 


Johnson & Johnson’s easy-to-deliver Covid-19 shot is the vaccine of choice for much of the developing world. Yet the American company, which has already fallen far behind on its deliveries to poorer countries, late last year quietly shut down the only plant making usable batches of the vaccine, according to people familiar with the decision. The facility, in the Dutch city of Leiden, has instead been making an experimental but potentially more profitable vaccine to protect against an unrelated virus. (Robbins, Nolen, LaFraniere and Weiland, 2/8)


CIDRAP:
Babies Born To COVID-Vaccinated Moms Have Antibodies At 6 Months


A small Massachusetts General Hospital–based study in JAMA shows more lasting antibodies in infants after COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, compared with infants whose mothers had natural COVID-19 infections during pregnancy but were not vaccinated. The study looked at 77 vaccinated pregnant mothers, and 12 who had symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy; all vaccination series with mRNA vaccines were completed between weeks 20 and 32 in pregnancy. The babies of vaccinated women had significantly higher immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies in both umbilical cord blood at delivery, and at blood draws at 2 and 6 months postpartum. (2/8)


San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego’s Endeavor BioMedicines Nets $101M To Hunt Down Genetic Culprits Of Cancer 


Endeavor BioMedicines, a precision therapy startup targeting the root drivers of cancer and other ailments, has raised $101 million in a second round of venture capital financing. The money will be used to advance certain therapies in San Diego-based Endeavor’s pipeline, including a small molecule inhibitor for the treatment of cancer and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, as well as a second small molecule inhibitor aimed at cancers with high fatality rates that are difficult to treat with drugs. (Freeman, 2/8)


City News Service:
Sherman Oaks Woman Pleads Guilty In $20 Million Healthcare Fraud


A Sherman Oaks woman pleaded guilty Tuesday, Feb. 8, to federal charges for her leadership role in a scheme in which more than $20 million in bogus claims authorities say were submitted to insurance companies. Roshanak “Roxanne” Khadem, 54, and four others — including a former fraud investigator at Anthem Blue Cross — were charged in a multiyear conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud against at least eight companies, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. (2/8)


CalMatters:
New COVID Sick Leave Would Exempt 1 In 4 California Workers


A bill on its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom would require large employers in California to offer workers up to 80 hours of COVID-related paid sick leave. But there’s a catch: The bill, which the Legislature passed Monday, doesn’t apply to small employers with 25 or fewer workers. That exemption — which California’s 2021 COVID sick leave law also included — applies to more than 90% of companies in California and leaves at least 1 in 4 workers without access to the new paid leave, according to data from California’s Employment Development Department. (Gedye, 2/8)


Modesto Bee:
Single-Payer Health Care Died In CA Without Hurting Newsom


When an effort to create government-run universal health care died in California died last week, finger-pointing immediately began. The California Nurses Association and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon criticized the bill author, Assemblyman Ash Kalra, for not bringing the bill up for a vote. Progressive activists blamed powerful health care groups for scuttling the effort. And some political pundits blamed those progressives for threatening to pull endorsements from lawmakers who didn’t support it, putting pressure on Kalra to not bring the bill up at all for fear of alienating his colleagues. (Bollag, 2/9)

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