California Reinstating Paid Covid-19 Sick Leave: Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers said Tuesday they have worked out a deal to bring back paid covid-19 sick leave. The agreement would provide up two weeks of leave to full-time workers at businesses with at least 26 employees. It would cover workers who are sick as well as those caring for loved ones with covid. The agreement will be retroactive to Jan. 1 and extend through Sept. 30. Read more from the Bay Area News Group, CalMatters, San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times.

‘Stealth’ Omicron Now In California: Santa Clara County health officials Tuesday said they have identified two cases of a worrisome mutation of the fast-spreading omicron variant. Health officials had little information about the cases of BA.2, which has been dubbed “stealth” omicron and might be more transmissible than the original variant. Read more from the Bay Area News Group.

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

California Appears To Pass Peak Of Omicron Variant Wave

California showed signs it turned the corner on the omicron wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with infection rates falling and hospitalizations well short of the overwhelming deluge officials feared a few weeks ago. Over 15,000 people are hospitalized with coronavirus, a huge figure but well short of last January’s peak of about 22,000 and half of what officials had feared. Positivity rates are down 15% from earlier this month and the state’s projection model shows the number of hospitalizations falling by half, to less than 7,700, in another month. (Thompson, 1/26)

City News Service:
Omicron Has ‘Passed The Peak’ In LA County, Ferrer Says, But Transmission Rate Still Worrisome

Local COVID-19 daily case numbers and the testing-positivity rate are trending downward, indicating Los Angeles County appears to have “passed the peak” of the omicron variant surge, but virus transmission remains at one of the highest points of the pandemic, the public health director said on Tuesday, Jan. 25. “Over the past two weeks, fortunately, we’ve seen a downward trend in cases and the test-positivity rate,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors. (1/25)

Modesto Bee:
What Is The Omicron BA.2 Coronavirus Sub-Variant? 

A mutation of the omicron coronavirus variant has prompted calls for more research by the World Health Organization. But the BA.2 sub-variant is not now considered a variant of concern, and it’s unclear whether the mutations alter the transmission or severity of the virus, experts say. (Sweeney, 1/25)

San Diego Sailor Has One Of The Worst Cases Of COVID In The Navy 

One San Diego sailor is fighting for his life after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Petty Officer First Class Ryan Denny is on life support in San Diego after testing positive for Covid-19 in late December. His wife Tammy says he deteriorated quickly and is now in a medically induced coma. (Walsh, 1/25)

For The Medically Vulnerable, ‘Living With COVID’ Is A Big Risk 

We’ve all had to weigh the risks of leaving our homes during this pandemic that has lasted for nearly 2 years. For lots of people, the risk of getting severely ill from the coronavirus is currently very low, even amid the Omicron surge of the past few weeks. But for many disabled, immunocompromised, and medically vulnerable people, the stakes of getting COVID-19 are still very high. Many also feel that public discussions about the future of the virus are not taking their health into consideration. (Guevara, McClurg and Montecillo, 1/26)

Los Angeles Times:
Movie Theater Safety During COVID, The Sequel 

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and a year after The Times asked public health experts and film exhibition industry leaders about its effect on attending movies safely, what has changed? We have seen new, more contagious variants. We have seen more incidents of resistance to protocols, keeping the behavior of strangers the most troubling of wild cards. But we also have seen a massive accumulation of knowledge about the disease and how it spreads — and the introduction of a key element making cinema attendance safer: the vaccines. (Ordoña, 1/25)

The New York Times:
New Research Hints At 4 Factors That May Increase Chances Of Long Covid

It is one of many mysteries about long Covid: Who is more prone to developing it? Are some people more likely than others to experience physical, neurological or cognitive symptoms than can emerge, or linger for, months after their coronavirus infections have cleared? Now, a team of researchers who followed more than 200 patients for two to three months after their Covid diagnoses report that they have identified biological factors that might help predict if a person will develop long Covid. (Belluck, 1/25)

The Washington Post:
CDC Is Asked To Release Race And Gender Data On Long Covid

A pair of Democratic House members asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a letter Tuesday to release data on the number of Americans who suffer lingering symptoms of coronavirus infection, including breakdowns along race, gender and age. The National Institutes of Health and the CDC have launched detailed studies of long-term covid, often shortened to “long covid,” but those examinations are expected to take years. In the meantime, policymakers lack good information about how many people in the United States and worldwide suffer from long-term, debilitating effects of the disease. (Rowland, 1/25)

Modesto Bee:
Why FDA Is Restricting 2 Monoclonal Antibody Drugs For COVID 

Two monoclonal antibody therapies used to treat COVID-19 are now restricted for use throughout the U.S. and its territories by the Food and Drug Administration after the agency revised its authorizations for the two drugs. The reason is the infectious omicron variant, which makes up an estimated 99.5% of positive coronavirus cases across the county as of Jan. 15, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Monoclonal antibodies, which are made in a laboratory and act similar to a person’s natural antibodies, make it difficult for the coronavirus to replicate. (Marnin, 1/25)

CBS Los Angeles:
Highly Touted COVID-19 Antiviral Treatments In Short Supply

New drugs to treat COVID-19 symptoms have been touted as much needed weapons to help control the pandemic, but some doctors and medical centers are wondering why they haven’t yet received them. “I have better luck asking my patients to go out there and find Cryptonite than finding these medications at this point,” said. Dr. Thomas Yadegar, a pulmonary critical care physician in Tarzana. (1/25)

NBC News:
Biden Administration Withdraws Vaccine-Or-Test Mandate For Large Employers

The Biden administration is withdrawing its Covid vaccination-or-test requirement for large employers, citing the Supreme Court’s recent decision to block the rule. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, said Tuesday that the withdrawal of the emergency mandate would be effective Wednesday. The Supreme Court this month blocked the mandate, which required larger businesses to ensure that workers are vaccinated against Covid-19 or wear masks and get tested weekly. The court’s conservative majority said the administration had gone too far in imposing such a sweeping requirement on the country’s businesses. (Finn, 1/25)

Los Angeles Times:
Super Bowl Guests To Get KN95 Masks At SoFi Stadium 

Face masks will be given to spectators watching the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, officials announced Tuesday, to ensure COVID-19 protocols are met at the event, which is a little more than two weeks away. The masks — KN95 varieties — will be handed out as part of health and safety plans ahead of the Feb. 13 game. (Lin II, Money and Alpert Reyes, 1/25)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Bay Area Officials Begin To Plot When To Ease Mask Mandates And Other COVID Restrictions As Cases Slow

Two weeks after the omicron surge appears to have crested in the Bay Area, coronavirus hospitalizations also are leveling off, and health officials said Tuesday that they are starting to plan for what pandemic life might look like on the other side of the winter wave. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations remain very high across the region, with nearly 15,000 new cases reported each day on average and 2,014 people hospitalized with COVID in the Bay Area as of Monday — just shy of last winter’s peak patient loads. Health officials said they anticipate at least three more weeks of high case rates and tremendous pressure on hospitals as the omicron surge wanes. (Allday, 1/25)

California Vaccine Mandate: Lawmakers Go All In

This week is shaping up to be a particularly consequential — and controversial — one in Sacramento. Setting the stage Monday was state Sen. Richard Pan’s introduction of a bill that would supersede Gov. Gavin Newsom’s student COVID-19 vaccine mandate by eliminating the personal belief exemption — and requiring all kids in kindergarten to 12th grade to get the shot by Jan. 1, 2023. Under the Sacramento Democrat’s proposal, only students with rare medical exemptions could opt out. (Hoeven, 1/25)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Why Struggling Sonoma County Has Bay Area’s Toughest COVID Restrictions

The seven-day average for Sonoma County was 233 new cases per 100,000 people as of Monday, a Chronicle analysis of California Department of Public Health figures shows. Solano and Santa Clara counties followed with 208 and 202 cases, respectively, compared with 190 cases per 100,000 for the Bay Area as a whole. These case rates differ somewhat from those posted by Sonoma County due to time lags and differences in how the state and counties record positive test results. (Johnson, 1/25)

Workplace Rights For California Workers Navigating The Omicron Surge 

With Sacramento County leaving businesses to figure out policies to deal with the latest COVID-19 surge on their own, COVID-19 protection measures and policies can vary by employer, though there are still some measures in place for workers to protect themselves in the workplace. California has let some worker protection laws that the state implemented at the start of the pandemic lapse. That’s complicated workers’ ability to take sick leave if they or another member of their household tests positive for COVID-19. (Salanga, 1/25)

Modesto Bee:
Cold, Heat Can Cause Inaccurate At-Home COVID Test Results

If you’re expecting at-home COVID-19 antigen tests in the mail, try to make sure you’re around when they arrive — or there could be problems. With hundreds of millions of free at-home COVID tests available to order through a recently launched White House initiative, the U.S. Postal Service is delivering the FDA-approved kits to mailboxes across the country, McClatchy News reported. But in the dead of winter, it’s important not to let those tests sit outside in the mailbox for too long, experts say. (Willetts, 1/26)

Pop-Up COVID-Testing Sites Are Appearing In Berkeley. Are They Legit?

Getting a COVID test during the omicron spike has been difficult, to say the least. Rapid tests have been hard to find on store shelves. Polymerase chain reaction, or PCR lab tests, are more accurate than rapid tests but hard to come by, with appointments unavailable for a week or more at many sites that require online reservations. Testing sites that take walk-up appointments often have long lines. In the midst of these challenges, a smattering of new testing sites, advertised under the name “Stop. Swab. Go.,” have begun to pop up in the East Bay, promising free PCR tests with no appointment necessary. But multiple readers of Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside have reached out with concerns about how these testing sites are being run and handling test results. We decided to follow up on their tips by visiting the sites ourselves. (Krans, 1/25)

Marin Independent Journal:
Marin Eases COVID-19 Rules On Indoor School Assemblies, Sporting Events

Marin officials on Tuesday announced they were relaxing COVID-19 limits on attendance at large indoor school gatherings, assemblies and sporting events, effective immediately. Dr. Matt Willis, Marin public health officer, said in appearances before the county Board of Supervisors and a webinar for school staff on Tuesday that the previous 50-person limit on indoor spectators at school sporting events has been dropped. Outdoor events attendance is still not set at any maximum number, he said. (Brenner and Halstead, 1/26)

Los Angeles Times:
What We Know: California’s Student COVID Vaccine Proposal 

California once again finds itself at the center of the national debate about COVID-19 safety, with new proposals that would, among other things, require that California students be immunized. The plans are generating intense debate about the best ways to keep schools open, parent rights and the role of the government. (Gutierrez and Blume, 1/25)

Los Angeles Times:
Man Goes On Anti-Mask Tirade Against Glendale Unified Students 

While a coronavirus surge continues in Los Angeles County, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, parents say a man has repeatedly harassed their middle school children for wearing masks as they walk to and from school in La Crescenta-Montrose. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a recent tirade directed at a group of Glendale Unified School District students was caught on video. (Solis, 1/25)

Voice of OC:
Santa Ana Unified Suspends Reporting New COVID-19 Cases In Classrooms

Santa Ana Unified School District dashboard quietly disappeared from the district website last week amid Orange County’s fourth COVID-19 surge and as other districts are reporting less cases compared to earlier this month. District Spokesperson Fermin Leal said the dashboard was taken down in the middle of last week because the district wanted to create a more up to date version of the dashboard. (Elattar, 1/25)

Sacramento City Unified Appoints The School District’s First Race And Equity Liaison

After racist incidents at two schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District in 2021, officials have hired a race and equity liaison to oversee the ongoing investigations. Long-time civil rights attorney Mark Harris was chosen last week to look into racist incidents at Kit Carson Academy and West Campus High School. Harris will seek to increase accountability in the process and serve as an investigator for any new incidents that have previously gone unreported. (Mizes-Tan, 1/25)

Sacramento Bee:
Covered California 2022 Health Insurance Deadline Is Monday 

Chances are good that you can get health insurance for $10 or less a month, according to Covered California, because two out of three Golden State residents qualify for premiums in that range in 2022. Those rates are good through Monday, when open enrollment will end in California. After this, consumers can only sign up for insurance if they have a qualifying event such as a job loss, new baby or a marriage. (Anderson, 1/26)

Why Do So Many Doctors Oppose Single-Payer Health Care?

Legislation that would help create a single-payer health care system in California, the first of its kind in the nation, faces a crucial test in the next week. The bill — AB 1400, which would create a universal health care system called CalCare — must pass the full Assembly by Jan. 31, or it’s dead. The California Nurses Association, the state’s nurses union, is leading the effort to pass AB 1400. But the state’s largest association of doctors, the California Medical Association, opposes the bill. (Dembosky, 1/26)

Los Angeles Daily News:
LA County Hospitals Scramble To Deal With Dangerous Blood Shortage Amid Enduring Pandemic 

For weeks now, local hospitals have been in the grip of what many specialists call the worst shortage they’ve seen in their careers. Fueled by what was the explosive growth of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, Los Angeles County’s local blood supplies have been depleted, as donors stay away from sites, mobile blood drives shut down and the staff to gather the blood called in sick. Blood supplies have fallen to their lowest levels in more than a decade. The American Red Cross calls it a national blood crisis. “California, along with the rest of the nation, is experiencing the most severe blood shortage in the last 10 years,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, the secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency, said in a statement. (Carter and Jacpbs, 1/25)

Orange County Register:
80% Surveyed Want A New Hospital Built In San Clemente 

A city survey of residents released this week highlights a key deficit in what makes living in the Spanish village-by-the-sea a great life for so many. While 95% said their quality of life is good or even excellent, barely half felt the city has the access needed to health care. Since San Clemente’s community hospital closed in 2016, there has not been an emergency room closer than 20 or 30 minutes, at best. (Ritchie, 1/24)

UC San Diego Doctor’s TMS Clinics Face Setback In Indiana Court

An Indiana judge’s findings are being used to bolster UC San Diego’s lawsuit against a prominent doctor accused of fraud and misuse of a massive $10 million research donation. The Indiana court order concluded that former UCSD program vice chairman Kevin Murphy misused his businesses to shield himself from debt, noting the doctor made misleading statements about his controversial brain stimulation clinics in the process. (Castellano, 1/26)

Interview: California State Sen. Toni Atkins On Abortion Access 

California state Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, one of the most powerful women in California politics, is pushing for greater access to abortion services for all women — both inside and outside the state. Atkins, a Democrat, has a lot of experience when it comes to the issue. She ran two women’s reproductive health clinics before seeking public office. She spoke with Insight’s Vicki Gonzalez on the eve of the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the U.S. The landmark case is now facing new challenges, but Atkins says she’ll fight to keep those rights in place. (Gonzalez, 1/25)

The Bakersfield Californian:
TScan Therapeutics Announces FDA Clearance Of Investigational New Drug Application For TSC-100 

TScan Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of T-cell receptor (TCR) engineered T cell therapies (TCR-T) for the treatment of patients with cancer, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared its investigational new drug (IND) application to evaluate TSC-100 for the treatment of patients with hematologic malignancies who are undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). The target of TSC-100 is the minor histocompatibility antigen HA-1, which is a lineage-specific antigen found on blood cells. The Company will now submit the clinical protocol to Institutional Review Boards (IRB) for the initial study sites and expects to begin dosing patients in the first half of 2022. (1/24)

Voice of OC:
Irvine Asphalt Company Receives Two Odor Violations In Two Days

An asphalt factory in Irvine residents have protested for years received two odor violations in two days from state regulators this month. Residents say they weren’t told about the factory before moving in, and now can’t escape a nearly daily barrage of chemicals in the air near their homes and schools.  (Biesiada, 1/25)

Bay Area News Group:
San Jose Mandates Gun Owner Insurance, Annual Fee

San Jose firearm owners will soon be subject to new gun control laws that no U.S. citizen has faced before. In two separate votes, the San Jose City Council on Tuesday night passed a first-of-its-kind ordinance requiring residents who own a gun to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee aimed at reducing gun violence — a divisive move that is sure to set off a series of legal challenges. (Angst, 1/25)


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