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August 2021: Coronavirus Blog Archive

An undated artist rendering of the coronavirus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
An undated artist rendering of the coronavirus.

80% Of Eligible Californians At Least Partially Vaccinated

– 5:35 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021

More than 80% of the people eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine in California have received at least one dose. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the news Tuesday at a vaccine clinic in Oakland.

He said California is now among the top 10 states in vaccination rates. That's despite California having by far the largest population of any state. Newsom said vaccinations have increased steadily in recent weeks after orders requiring state workers and teachers to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

Newsom faces a recall election on Sept. 14. His Republican opponents oppose his vaccine orders. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 1,369 COVID-19 Infections, 3 Deaths

– 5:40 p.m., Tuesday, August 31, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 1,369 new COVID-19 infections, eight hospitalizations and three deaths Tuesday.

Tuesday's data brings the county's cumulative totals to 334,377 cases and 3,888 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus decreased by five to 653, according to state figures. One new patient was admitted to local intensive care units, bringing that total to 182.

One month ago, there were 366 people in local hospitals being treated for the virus, 72 of whom were in ICU beds.

A total of 19,923 tests were reported by the county Tuesday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 7%.

More than 4.5 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.38 million — or around 85% of San Diego County residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number close to 2.09 million, or around 74.4% of the county's eligible population. – City News Service

San Diego County Supervisors OK Federal Pandemic Funds To Help Fire Districts

– 3:17 p.m., Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved transferring $4 million in federal funds to independent fire protection districts to help them combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, which the U.S. Congress passed in March and President Joe Biden signed into law. The fire districts have until 2024 to spend the money on needs such as personal protection equipment and coronavirus testing.

Located in or near unincorporated communities, fire districts receiving money are Alpine, $143,800; Bonita-Sunnyside, $122,800; Borrego Springs, $34,100; Deer Springs, $115,200; Lakeside, $591,300; Lower Sweetwater, $22,400; and North County, $494,100.

Funding amounts are based on the number of residents within each fire district's jurisdiction. – City News Service

Mayor Gloria, Local Leaders Announce COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Center

– 12:39 p.m., Monday, August 30, 2021

A group of civic and health leaders Monday announced the imminent opening of a Monoclonal Antibody Regional Center in the Clairemont area to provide on-site COVID-19 testing and early treatment at no cost for anyone who is medically eligible, regardless of health insurance or immigration status.

"This site is incredibly important for our city, county and region," Mayor Todd Gloria said.

"While vaccinations are the main weapon in the fight against COVID- 19, providing early antibody treatment alongside testing will ensure that those who do test positive receive immediate care," he said. "This site is crucial in the fight against COVID-19, relieving the burden on local hospitals and benefiting nearby schools that rely on regular testing to remain open."

MARC sites are intended to provide early antibody treatment that can help COVID-19 patients fight the virus without having to go to a hospital. The treatment has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat people with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19.

Post-exposure prophylaxis is a preventive treatment started after exposure to prevent illness. However, monoclonal antibodies are not a replacement for vaccination. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 686 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

– 12:38 p.m., Monday, August 30, 2021

San Diego County's latest COVID-19 numbers showed 686 new infections and no new deaths.

Sunday's data increased the county's cumulative case count to 332,014, while the death toll remained at 3,880.

The number of hospitalized patients decreased by five, the state reported Sunday, bringing the region's total to 691. Additionally, one new patient was admitted to local intensive care units, bringing the total to 176.

One month ago, there were 316 people in local hospitals being treated for the virus, 53 of whom were in ICU beds.

A total of 17,208 tests were reported by the county on Sunday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 7.3%.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents was 35.2 in data released Wednesday, compared to last week's 28.7. That number can be further parsed to 9.3 for fully vaccinated people and 66.9 for those not fully vaccinated.

Both of those numbers increased from the previous week — from six and 55.7, respectively — but the rate of not-fully vaccinated people is seven times higher than those fully vaccinated.

Perhaps more tellingly, the hospitalization rate for the unvaccinated is 32 times higher than those fully vaccinated.

The average daily case rate July 20 was 4.2 per 100,000, according to county data. – City News Service

San Diego Mandates Vaccines For City Employees, Still Negotiating With Unions

– 12:37 p.m., Monday, August 30, 2021

San Diego city employees will have to get vaccinated or potentially lose their jobs. City officials say this mandate comes with the pandemic not slowing down and the recent full approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

"I question the timing of it. We’re currently along with the other labor groups negotiating the fine points of this stuff — I think there’s a lot of negotiating left to do," said San Diego Police Officers Association President Jack Schaeffer.

Schaeffer said the city’s vaccination mandate for all employees is leaving some officers worried about their jobs. A city memo says being fully vaccinated will soon be a condition of employment, unlike the county of San Diego where unvaccinated employees need to be regularly tested for the virus.

"If something is done that’s more punitive then let's say the county, I could see some of those people that have really big opposition to it up and leaving and going to another department and I don't want to see that happen — I don't think the city wants to see that happen," Schaeffer said. – Matt Hoffman, KPBS Health Reporter

San Diego Requiring City Employees, Public To Wear Masks Indoors Regardless Of Vaccination Status

– 6:02 p.m., Friday, August 27, 2021

Starting Saturday all city of San Diego employees and visitors to city buildings will have to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The requirement comes as county health officials have been recommending regular mask wearing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A city spokesperson said employees were notified of the policy change Friday afternoon. No more information, including the reason behind the decision, was given.

On Thursday city officials notified more than 11,000 city employees that, as a condition of their employment, they must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 2nd.

– Matt Hoffman, KPBS Health Reporter

San Diego County Reports 1,150 New COVID-19 Cases, 8 Deaths

– 6:00 p.m., Friday, Aug. 27, 2021

As the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus continues to surge, San Diego County's latest COVID-19 numbers Friday showed 1,150 new infections, an increase in hospitalizations and eight additional deaths logged.

Friday's data increased the county's cumulative case count to 328,276, while deaths edged up to 3,877.

The number of patients hospitalized for coronavirus complications increased by 21 from the day before, bringing the region's total to 650, according to state data, though no new patients were admitted to local intensive care units. That total remained unchanged at 169.

One month ago, there were 316 people in local hospitals being treated for the virus, 53 of whom were in ICU beds.

A total of 22,983 tests were reported Friday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 7.7%. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 1,150 New COVID-19 Cases, 10 Deaths, 50 Hospitalized

– 6:45 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 1,150 new COVID-19 infections, 10 deaths and 50 more hospitalizations Thursday, as the spread of the more contagious delta variant of the virus continues.

Thursday's data increased the cumulative case count to 328,276, while deaths increased to 3,869.

The 50 new hospitalizations bring the region's current total to 719, while five new patients admitted to local intensive care units bring the total in ICU beds to 175.

One month ago, there were 260 people in local hospitals with the virus, 52 of which were in ICU beds.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents was 35.2, compared to last week's 28.7. That number can be further parsed to 9.3 for fully vaccinated people and 66.9 for those not fully vaccinated. Both of those numbers have increased from last week — from six and 55.7 respectively — but the rate of not-fully vaccinated people is seven times higher than those fully vaccinated.

Perhaps more tellingly, the hospitalization rate for the unvaccinated is 32 times higher than those fully vaccinated.

The average daily case rate July 20 was 4.2 per 100,000, according to county data.

The San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency began recommending all San Diegans wear facial coverings in indoor public settings this week.

While vaccinated people are no longer required to wear a face covering in most settings, the California Department of Public Health updated its guidance for those who are fully vaccinated to strongly encourage the continued use of face coverings indoors.

Additionally, masks are required for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings and businesses, retail, restaurants, theaters, family entertainment centers and state and local government offices serving the public.

More than 4.5 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.38 million — or around 85% of San Diego County residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number close to 2.09 million, or around 74.4% of the county's eligible population.

A total of 25,227 tests were reported Thursday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 7.9%.

Additionally, 41 new community outbreaks were confirmed in the past seven days. – City News Service

Half Of American Workers In Favor Of Vaccine Requirement

– 9:34 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021

Half of American workers are in favor of vaccine requirements at their workplaces.

It comes at a time when such mandates are gaining traction now that the government has given full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

That finding is from a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Overall, 47% of in-person workers are in favor, while 26% are opposed. That compares with 59% of remote workers in support of vaccine mandates for people working in person at their workplace.

The sentiment is similar for workplace mask mandates, with 50% of Americans working in person favoring them and 29% opposed.

About 6 in 10 college graduates, who are more likely to have jobs that can be done remotely, support both mask and vaccine mandates at their workplaces, compared with about 4 in 10 workers without college degrees.

Christopher Messick is an electrical engineer who is mostly working from home in Brunswick, Maryland. He wrote to his company’s human resources department to ask employees get vaccinated before they are recalled to the office.

“I don’t want sit an office for eight hours a day with someone who is not vaccinated,” said Messick, 41. “The people who are anti-vax, I see them as selfish.”

Some 73% of Black workers and 59% of Hispanic workers — who are more likely than white workers to work in front-line jobs — support mask mandates at their workplaces, compared with 42% of white workers. In addition, 53% of Black and Hispanic workers support vaccine mandates at their workplaces, along with 44% of white workers. — Associated Press

Pfizer Seeks FDA OK For Vaccine Booster Dose

– 10 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021

Pfizer is seeking U.S. approval of a booster dose of its two-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

The drugmaker announced Wednesday it has started the approval process for a third dose of its vaccine for Americans ages 16 and older. The company says it expects to complete its application with the Food and Drug Administration by the end of this week.

U.S. health officials announced last week plans to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans to shore up their protection amid the surging delta variant of the coronavirus. Pfizer’s vaccine received full regulatory approval this week.

While health officials say vaccine protection against coronavirus infection wanes over time, the three vaccines used in the U.S. made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still providing strong protection against hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

Earlier this month, U.S. regulators said transplant recipients or others with weakened immune systems can get an extra dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. — Associated Press

Johnson & Johnson Says Booster Shot Appears To Increase Antibodies Against COVID

– 9:47 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021

Johnson & Johnson says a booster shot of its COVID-19 vaccine appears to produce “a rapid and robust” increase in antibodies needed to fight the coronavirus.

The drugmaker says researchers saw an increase in antibodies nine-fold higher than levels seen about a month after the first dose of the vaccination was administered. The company cited early results from studies looking at people who received the booster after getting an initial dose of J&J’s single-shot vaccine.

J&J says researchers saw increases in antibodies in people ages 18 to 55 and in study participants 65 and older who received a lower booster dose.

U.S. health officials announced last week plans to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans to shore up protection amid the surging delta variant of the virus. Officials say the protection against infections wanes over time among various vaccines but remains strong at preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

J&J says it is talking with regulators in both the U.S. and Europe about booster shots. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 1,306 New COVID-19 Cases, 29 Hospitalizations

– 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to surge, San Diego County public health officials reported 1,306 new infections Tuesday, along with 29 new hospitalizations and three deaths.

The data increased the county's cumulative case number from throughout the pandemic to 325,823, while the death toll rose to 3,851.

According to state figures, there were 673 COVID-positive patients in San Diego County hospitals as of Tuesday, with 167 of them being treated in intensive care units.

There were about 200 patients hospitalized one month ago. On July 19, the number of patients in ICU care was 52.

A total of 17,064 tests were reported Tuesday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 8.3%. – City News Service

California Official 'Hopeful' Virus Surge Is Abating

– 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021

A summer coronavirus surge driven by the delta variant is again straining some California hospitals, particularly in rural areas, but the trend shows signs of moderating and experts predict improvement in coming weeks.

The pattern is similar to the infection spikes California experienced last summer and much more severely over the winter, when intensive care units were overflowing. But this time the surge has come without the shutdown orders that previously hobbled California’s economy, businesses and schools.

The state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said Tuesday that “we’re hopeful, definitely.” Pan says the state’s latest projection “does look encouraging that we are plateauing and or peaking.”

More than 8,200 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 across California, with nearly 2,000 in intensive care. Deaths have begun increasing and state models project nearly 2,000 people will die within the next three weeks. — City News Service

Report: Deaths, Hospitalizations More Common In Unvaccinated People

– 11:50 a.m.Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021

A new report from California finds that COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to be far more common in unvaccinated people than those who got the shots.

But it also indicates fully vaccinated people accounted for a higher proportion of hospitalizations and deaths than previous reports.

Health officials looked at about 43,000 reported coronavirus infections in Los Angeles County residents, ages 16 and older, that were reported in May, June and July. They found that about 25% were fully vaccinated people.

Infections tended to be more common and more severe in unvaccinated people, the report concluded. People who were unvaccinated were nearly five times more likely to be infected and 29 times more likely to be hospitalized.

But the report also found about 12% of the infected people who were hospitalized and about 12% who died were fully vaccinated.

The L.A. County report – which the CDC released on Tuesday – found fully vaccinated people who died after infection tended to be older and frailer than the unvaccinated people who died. The median age of the vaccinated people who died was 78, compared with 63 for the unvaccinated people. Also, one-quarter of the 24 fully vaccinated people who died had weakened immune systems.

Last month, federal officials said only about 3% of hospitalized patients and fewer than 1% of deaths were vaccinated. The CDC officials noted the proportion of Americans who are fully vaccinated has been rising, and therefore they expected to see a rise in infections among vaccinated people. — Associated Press

FDA Approves Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine As 961 New Local Infections Reported

– 7:00 p.m., Monday, Aug. 23, 2021

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Monday granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech's cornavirus vaccine for people ages 16 and older, which San Diego leaders hope will remove some doubt from those who have been hesitant to receive a shot.

The vaccine, the first to move beyond emergency use status in the United States, will now be marketed as Comirnaty.

"The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free," said San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher.

"Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reinforced it by granting Pfizer its full approval. To protect our community, we need all San Diegans to get vaccinated."

Approval is still pending for the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna coronavirus vaccines.

With the Delta variant continuing to surge, San Diego County public health officials reported 961 new COVID-19 infections.

The data increased the county's cumulative case number to 324,537. No new deaths were reported, and that number remains 3,848.

There were eight additional coronavirus-related hospitalizations reported Monday

A count of those hospitalized is only released by the county Health and Human Services Administration weekly, on Wednesdays.

The were 599 people hospitalized with the coronavirus in San Diego County Wednesday when the latest figures were released. More than 150 additional patients have been hospitalized since then.

There were 200 patients hospitalized one month ago. – City News Service

Old Globe Theatre Requires COVID-19 Vaccine Proof Beginning Tuesday

– 10:43 a.m., Monday, Aug. 23, 2021

Beginning Tuesday, people who attend an event or performance at The Old Globe will be required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.

"The health and safety of audiences, artists, staff, and the entire community are the highest priority for The Old Globe, especially as circumstances surrounding COVID-19 continue to evolve," Globe officials said. "Through close consultation with medical and public health officials, we are announcing a new set of policies for attending a play or event at The Old Globe."

"Fully vaccinated" is defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being at least 14 days after the receipt of the second dose of a two-dose vaccine — either the Pfizer-BioNtech or Moderna vaccine — or one dose of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

To gain admittance to the Globe theatres, attendees must present a photo ID and proof of vaccination status. Acceptable proof of vaccination is the COVID-19 vaccination record card issued at the time of inoculation, a photograph of the patron's vaccination record card, or a digital vaccination record.

California residents may request a digital vaccination record at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov. – City News Service

Despite State Rules, North County Day Care Adopts ‘Mask Choice’ Approach

– 10:41 a.m., Monday, Aug. 23, 2021

Children’s Paradise Preschool and Infant Centers has five locations throughout North County.

The centers offer day care and before and after school programs for children ages six weeks to 12 years old.

Last week, the owner Julie Lowen sent out an email to parents and staff with an update on mask rules.

"Children's Paradise strives to remain a neutral party in the debates swirling around COVID-19 including masking, and for the reasons stated below, has chosen to adopt a 'Parent-Choice' 'Staff-Choice' approach in determining how we will engage further masking," the email said.

Marissa DeLuca's children were at Children's Paradise in Oceanside when she got the email.

"I was disturbed enough to pull them out of the day care the same day. That day that I got the email ended up being their last day in care," she said.

Lowen declined an interview with KPBS but sent a statement that said her child care centers are prioritizing personal rights for children and their parents.

"Pursuant to these rights, Children's Paradise cannot force a child to wear a mask, or even wearing shoes, if a child refuses or the parent directs the child not to wear a mask or shoes. We respect the rights of all children and parents to determine the practices they will engage and those which they will not," she said. – Tania Thorne, KPBS North County Reporter

San Diego County Reports 979 New COVID-19 Cases, Uptick In Hospitalizations

– 10:39 a.m., Monday, Aug. 23, 2021

With the Delta variant of the coronavirus continuing to surge, San Diego County's latest COVID-19 numbers show 979 new cases and seven more hospitalizations but no additional deaths.

According to data released Sunday by the county Health and Human Services Agency, patients in intensive care increased by three to 148, but that still marked an increase of nearly 100 people since July 19, when 52 people were in ICU beds with COVID-19.

The total number of people hospitalized with the virus stands at more than 750. One month ago, that number was 200.

Sunday's data brought the county's totals to 323,591 cases and 3,848 fatalities since the pandemic began.

A total of 14,722 tests were reported Sunday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 8.5%.

Meanwhile, Scripps Health announced Friday that it was facing "significant" workforce shortages amid the latest surge, with more open positions available than before the pandemic. – City News Service

Pfizer's COVID Vaccine Gets Full Approval From The FDA

– 10:37 a.m., Monday, Aug. 23, 2021

The Food and Drug Administration has formally approved Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. The widely anticipated decision replaces the emergency use authorization granted by the agency last December.

This is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be subject to a full review by the U.S. regulator and to get an approval that puts the vaccine on par with other marketed vaccines.

The full approval could make it easier for employers, the military and universities to mandate vaccination and may reassure some people who are hesitant about the vaccine.

"While this and other vaccines have met the FDA's rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product," acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement.

A June poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 31% of unvaccinated people said they would be more likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine once one receives full approval from the FDA. – Scott Hensley, NPR

1,495 COVID-19 Cases, 7 Deaths, 75 Hospitalizations As Delta Variant Surges

– 6:45 p.m., Friday, Aug. 20, 2021

As the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to surge, San Diego County health officials Friday reported another 1,495 COVID-19 cases, seven deaths and 75 hospitalizations.

Friday's data from the county Health and Human Services Agency increased the total number of people hospitalized with the virus to more than 750. One month ago, that number was 200.

Patients in intensive care increased by two to top 145, but that still marked an increase of nearly 100 people since July 19, when 52 people were in ICU beds with COVID-19.

Friday's data also raised the cumulative infection count to 321,102, while coronavirus-related deaths increased to 3,846.

A total of 20,871 tests were reported Friday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 8.7%.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 28.7 for the general population, but that can be parsed further to just 6 for fully vaccinated residents and 55.7 for those not fully vaccinated, data shows.

That figure has multiplied more than tenfold since as recently as July 7, when the average daily case rate was just 2.7 per 100,000.

Officials expect the number of reported cases to keep increasing as more schools and businesses are requiring COVID testing.

– City News Service

US Keeps Ban On Nonessential Border Crossings To Slow COVID

– 2:46 p.m., Friday, Aug. 20, 2021

The U.S. government on Friday extended a ban on nonessential travel along the borders with Canada and Mexico to slow the spread of COVID-19 despite increasing pressure to lift the restriction.

U.S. border communities that are dependent on shoppers from Mexico and Canada and their political representatives have urged the Biden administration to lift the ban. In addition, Canada recently began letting fully vaccinated U.S. citizens enter the country.

But the Department of Homeland Security said in a tweet Friday that the restrictions on nonessential travel were still needed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and the delta variant. It extended the ban until at least Sept. 21. – Associated Press

Delta Variant Continues Surge As Over 100 Admitted To San Diego County Hospitals

– 2:45 p.m., Friday, Aug. 20, 2021

San Diego County public health officials Thursday reported 1,400 new COVID-19 cases, five deaths and 104 new hospitalizations — discouraging news as the Delta variant continues to surge.

The newly hospitalized patients bump the county total to more than 700 people currently in the hospital with the illness. One month ago, that number was 179. Patients in intensive care units increased by one to 143, but that still marks a increase of nearly 100 people since July 19, when 45 people were in ICU beds with COVID-19.

Thursday's data from the county Human Health and Services Agency increases the cumulative infection count to 319,582, while coronavirus-related deaths increased to 3,839.

A total of 21,989 tests were reported Thursday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 8.7%. – City News Service

UCSD Researchers Find SARS-CoV-2 Gate That Opens to Allow COVID Infection

– 10:23 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021

In a study published Thursday, a team led by researchers at UC San Diego have discovered how glycans — molecules that make up a sugary residue around the edges of the spike protein — act as infection gateways for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, which may be a key to countering the virus.

Since the early days of the COVID pandemic, scientists have aggressively pursued the secrets of the mechanisms that allow the virus to enter and infect healthy human cells.

Early in the pandemic, UCSD's Rommie Amaro, a computational biophysical chemist, helped develop a detailed visualization of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that efficiently latches onto our cell receptors.

Published Thursday in the journal "Nature Chemistry," a research study led by Amaro, co-senior author Lillian Chong at the University of Pittsburgh, first author and UCSD graduate student Terra Sztain and co-first author and UCSD postdoctoral scholar Surl-Hee Ahn, describes the discovery of glycan "gates" that open to allow SARS-CoV-2 entry. – City News Service

San Diego County Residents With Compromised Immune Systems Can Get COVID Booster Shot

– 10:22 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021

San Diego County residents with moderately to severely compromised immune systems can get a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine to fight waning immunity, it was announced Wednesday, as federal health officials recommended all vaccinated Americans get the booster shots.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the recommendation late last week because immunocompromised people are more susceptible to severe disease from the virus. When making the recommendation, the CDC provided a very specific list of conditions for people who should receive the additional dose.

"San Diegans who are immunocompromised should speak with their doctor to determine the best course of action," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "The best protection against COVID-19 is the vaccine and a third dose will help most people with compromised immune systems from developing severe illness from the virus."

The county Health and Human Services Agency estimates the immunocompromised population in the county is around 26,000. – City News Service

State Mandates Proof Of Vaccination Or Negative COVID Test For Indoor Events

– 10:21 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021

All attendees at California indoor events with more than 1,000 people in attendance will have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event, according to rules announced Wednesday by the state Department of Public Health.

The state previously allowed people to simply "self-attest" to being vaccinated or having tested negative, but the new rules — which take effect Sept. 20 — require attendees to show proof. The previous guidelines also applied only to events with 5,000 or more people, but the new rules lower the threshold to 1,000.

"The Delta variant has proven to be highly transmissible, making it easier to spread in large crowds where people are near each other for long periods of time," said Dr. Tomas Aragon, the state public health officer. "By requiring individuals to be vaccinated, or test negative for COVID-19 at large events, we are decreasing the risk of infection, hospitalization and death."

The announcement is the latest in a series of vaccination or testing mandates imposed in a variety of sectors. The state already requires all school workers to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing. All workers at health-care facilities in the state must be vaccinated by Sept. 30. – City News Service

Biden Says Booster Shots Could Begin Next Month

– 2:20 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021

President Joe Biden said that coronavirus booster shots will be available starting the week of September 20, pending approval by the FDA.

The shots will be free and will be provided to people eight months after they received their second shot of the vaccine, the president said.

The president downplayed criticism that Americans would be getting additional protection against COVID-19 while much of the world still waits for their first vaccination shots.

“There’s some world leaders who say America shouldn’t get a third shot until other countries got their first shot--I disagree,” Biden said in Wednesday remarks at the White House. “We can take care of America and help the world at the same time.” — Associated Press

Biden To Require COVID Vaccine For Nursing Home Staff

– 2:17 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021

The Biden administration will require that nursing home staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition for those facilities to continue receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.

Biden will announce the move Wednesday afternoon in a White House address. A senior administration official confirmed the announcement on the condition of anonymity to preview the news before Biden’s remarks.

The administration continues to look for ways to use mandates to encourage vaccine holdouts to get shots. The new mandate, in the form of a regulation to be issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, could take effect as soon as next month.

Hundreds of thousands of nursing home workers are not vaccinated, according to federal data. That’s despite those facilities bearing the brunt of the early COVID-19 outbreak and their workers being among the first in the country eligible for shots. — Associated Press

WHO: Warns Against Boosters Before 1st Vaccines

– 2:15 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021

The chief scientist of the World Health Organization is warning of “even more dire situations” worldwide in the coronavirus pandemic if high-income countries start administering vaccine boosters ahead of poorer countries without vaccines.

With the U.S. health officials recommending booster shots for all Americans who have already been vaccinated, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan expressed concern that leaving billions of people in the developing world unvaccinated could foster emergence of new variants, like the delta variant, that is driving new cases in the United States and beyond.

“We believe clearly that the data does not indicate that boosters are needed,” Swaminathan said at a news conference in Geneva. She expressed more understanding for a recent U.S. decision to administer boosters to people with weaker immune systems.

WHO officials have repeatedly expressed concerns that variants will continue to crop up in areas where the virus goes unchecked and called for vaccine equity and “solidarity” among countries.

Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, said: “If we think about this in terms of an analogy, we’re planning to hand out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets, while we’re leaving other people to drown without a single life jacket.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, says 10 countries have administered 75% of all vaccine supply, while low-income countries have vaccinated “barely 2 percent of their people.” He says, "vaccine injustice is a shame on all humanity." — Associated Press

US Health Officials Call For Booster Shots Against COVID-19

– 10:27 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021

U.S. health officials Wednesday recommended all Americans get COVID-19 booster shots to shore up their protection amid the surging delta variant and evidence that the vaccines' effectiveness is falling.

The plan, as outlined by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other top authorities, calls for an extra dose eight months after people get their second shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The doses could begin the week of Sept. 20.

Health officials said people who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also probably need extra shots. But they said they are awaiting more data and have yet to work out the details.

The overall plan is awaiting a Food and Drug Administration evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of a third dose, the officials said. – Associated Press

Encinitas To Require COVID-19 Vaccine Or Negative Tests For City Employees

– 10:54 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021

The city of Encinitas is the latest entity to require COVID-19 vaccines or regular negative tests for employees, bringing the North County city in step with the city and county of San Diego, which have installed similar policies, it was announced Tuesday.

Beginning Monday, all Encinitas employees will need to either provide documentation confirming they are fully vaccinated or be required to show negative COVID-19 tests each week. Should case numbers continue to rise throughout the county, the city may require additional testing of unvaccinated employees. Further, COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for all employees within 45 days of full FDA approval. Masks are already required for all employees and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

"The city of Encinitas is firmly committed to the health and safety of its employees and the public they serve," City Manager Pamela Antil said. "Many city employees work with the public and have regular contact with persons who could be classified as vulnerable to COVID-19. It is our responsibility to do our part to keep our employees and our community as safe as possible." – City News Service

Sewage Sampling Key To Controlling COVID-19 At UCSD

– 10:52 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021

The unassuming grey robots basically just sit on top of manhole covers on the UC San Diego campus.

The automated wonders are about the size of an upside-down 10-gallon bucket. Think of a small R2-D2 unit without wheels.

Researchers are using a system of these unassuming robots to monitor sewage on campus. It is a key part of a sophisticated COVID-19 monitoring system that will help officials identify and contain outbreaks this fall when the campus is full of students for the first time in more than a year.

Inside the unit, there’s a simple computer that can schedule samples throughout the day. A half-inch rubber tube on the side of the device snakes into the manhole cover then directly into a sewer line.

Under a second lid inside is a plastic water bottle that holds all of the samples taken in the past 24 hours. – Erik Anderson, KPBS Environment Reporter

The Biden Administration May Recommend COVID Boosters After 8 Months

– 10:43 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021

Fully vaccinated Americans could be rolling up their sleeves for another dose of the coronavirus vaccine as soon as next month.

The Biden administration is close to advising fully vaccinated Americans get COVID-19 booster shots eight months after their last vaccine. A source familiar with the discussions among administration health experts said this recommendation could come as soon as this week.

The plan was first reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

The boosters would be intended to protect against the highly contagious delta variant, which has caused caseloads in the U.S. to surge. A third shot for those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines would also help with any waning effectiveness of the current shots.

The source familiar with these discussions said administering the boosters could begin as early as mid to late September, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. – Barbara Campbell, NPR

Immunocompromised San Diegans Can Begin Getting Booster Shots

– 4:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

San Diego County health officials say residents who are immunocompromised and received Moderna or Pfizer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine can now begin getting booster shots.

The news comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FDA officials gave approval for the third dose last week to further protect those most at risk.

According to the CDC, data suggests that, "[s]ome people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity compared to people who are not immunocompromised."

The federal health agency added immunocompromised individuals make up about 3% of the population.

Monday is the first day immunocompromised individuals can request the shot, said Dr. Eric McDonald, chief medical officer for San Diego County. McDonald said that for now people just need to self-attest that they need the third dose and added more information about boosters is set to be released in the coming days. — Matt Hoffman, KPBS health reporter

San Diego County Urging Employers To Require COVID Vaccine Proof

– 12:09 p.m., Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

San Diego County leaders and public health officials Monday recommended that all employers in the county begin requiring COVID-19 vaccines for their employees or require weekly testing for the virus.

The recommendation comes a day before the county will begin collecting vaccination proof from its 18,000 employees before the requirement goes into effect next Monday. County employees unwilling or unable to receive the vaccine will be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing and are required to wear masks while indoors.

Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher mentioned the possibility of penalties attached to fraudulent proof, but said the county is still in negotiations as to what that might be.

The Delta variant of the virus is considerably more contagious than previous strains and now comprises 95% of the virus' genome, Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said at a news conference Monday.

"We are in the middle of the surge right now," she said, referring to a spike in coronavirus infections in recent weeks far outpacing last summer's surge and matching the early trajectory of last fall and winter's spike.

"It will get worse before it gets better," Wooten said. — City News Service

Unvaccinated San Diegans 9 Times More Likely To Be Infected

– 9:48 a.m., Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

San Diego County is reporting 642 new COVID-19 cases and four additional hospitalizations, but no new virus-related deaths.

Sunday's data bring the county's total case count to 314,247 since the pandemic began. The death toll remained at 3,824.

No additional patients were in intensive care as a result of the virus, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

A total of 16,089 tests were reported Sunday, and the percentage of new positive tests over the past week was 8.6%.

The county's case rate reported during Wednesday's weekly data per 100,000 residents was 21.5 overall. People who are not vaccinated are seeing case rates nine times those of people who are — 41.1 to 4.5 per 100,000 residents, data show.

The rate of hospitalization for the unvaccinated is about 51 times higher than for those fully vaccinated — 1.01 average daily hospitalizations compared to .02, according to the data. — City News Service

Virus Claims More Young Victims As Deaths Climb Yet Again

– 9:39 a.m., Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

As coronavirus infections rise among young Americans, so too have deaths in a population once thought to be largely shielded from the worst of the pandemic.

It marks a sharp contrast to the elderly and frail, many living in nursing homes, who succumbed to the virus a year ago before states made seniors a priority to get inoculated first.

It’s still not clear whether the delta variant leads to more severe illness in younger people but health experts say one thing is certain: The more contagious strain is causing more cases among people age 50 and under. Most of those who have died were unvaccinated. — Associated Press

US Mulls COVID Vaccine Boosters For Elderly As Early As Fall

– 9:38 a.m., Monday, Aug. 16, 2021

The director of the National Institutes of Health is warning of tough days ahead amid surging COVID-19 infections.

Dr. Francis Collins says the U.S. could decide in the next few weeks whether to offer coronavirus booster shots to more Americans this fall. Among the first to receive them could be health care workers, nursing home residents and other older Americans.

No U.S. decision has been made because cases so far still indicate that people remain highly protected.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Collins also pleaded anew for unvaccinated Americans to get their shots. — Associated Press

CDC: 1M In US Got Extra Coronavirus Shots

– 11:45 a.m. Friday, Aug. 13, 2021

U.S. health officials have acknowledged more than 1 million Americans got extra coronavirus vaccine doses before it was authorized for people with weakened immune systems.

About 1.1 million people who received the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines got at least one additional dose on their own. About 90,000 people who got the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine received at least one more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

It’s not known how many of the people who got extra doses are immune-compromised. The Food and Drug Administration this week authorized an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in people with weakened immune systems to better protect them from the virus. — Associated Press

FEMA: Paid $1B To Help Cover Virus Funerals

– 8:45 a.m., Friday, Aug. 13, 2021

Matthew Redding, FEMA’s Deputy Director of Individual Assistance, says the agency has paid more than $1 billion to 150,000 people who have applied for help covering coronavirus funeral expenses.

The government provides a maximum of $9,000 per deceased individual and up to $35,000 per application for U.S. citizens who can provide proof their family member died of COVID-19 and had qualified expenses not covered by some other source.

Redding says the U.S. government has no projected end date for the funeral assistance. “FEMA has sufficient resources to continue this mission as the nation continues to grapple with so much loss,” he said.

In some cases, there’s been assistance for multiple family members since the program launched nearly three months ago. FEMA has provided funeral assistance in the past but never on this scale.

More than 619,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. — Associated Press

Extra COVID Vaccine OK'd For Those With Weak Immune Systems

– 8:38 a.m., Friday, Aug. 13, 2021

Federal officials are poised to OK an additional dose of coronavirus vaccine for people with weakened immune systems, according to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering allowing another dose for cancer patients, organ transplants recipients and other conditions.

A CDC expert advisory committee is scheduled to discuss the matter Friday, “following FDA’s decision,” according to Walensky.

Growing evidence suggests a benefit of an additional dose of vaccine for vulnerable people who have already received the two recommended doses of the Pfizer and Moderna shots. The FDA is working with the two companies to allow third shots for those patients who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, she says.

She stressed a small proportion of people would be eligible for the extra doses -- less than 3% of adults. — Associated Press

San Francisco Mandates Vaccination If Indoors

– 2:36 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021

San Francisco will require proof of full vaccination against coronavirus for indoor activities, including restaurants, bars and gyms.

Mayor London Breed made the announcement Thursday, saying it is needed to protect the health of workers, customers and the city overall. The move is more stringent than the requirement announced by New York City’s mayor last week. San Francisco will require proof of full vaccination for all customers and staff, while New York is requiring proof of at least one shot for indoor activities.

It will take effect next Friday, but businesses will have two months to verify employees’ vaccination status “to preserve jobs while giving time for compliance.” It doesn’t apply to people ineligible for vaccines, including kids under 12. — Associated Press

Vaccinating During Pregnancy Has Become Even More Urgent As ICU Beds Fill Up

– 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug.12, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is doubling down on its recommendation that people who are pregnant get the COVID-19 vaccine following new data underscoring its safety and effectiveness throughout pregnancy.

This recommendation is coming at a time when doctors across the country are reporting an uptick in the number of unvaccinated pregnant people getting hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19.

The low vaccination rate in this group is striking, doctors note. As of July 31, only 23% of those who are pregnant had received at least one dose of vaccine against the coronavirus, according to CDC statistics.

"CDC recommends that pregnant people should be vaccinated against COVID-19, based on new evidence about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines," the agency said in updated guidance that echoes the urgent recommendation of leading medical societies. "COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future."

According to the agency, concerns among some people that the messenger RNA vaccines might increase the risk of miscarriage when given early in a pregnancy, are not borne out by the data. Officials say miscarriage rates after the vaccine were similar to the expected rate of miscarriage in any group of pregnant people. The vaccine is also safe later in a pregnancy and while breastfeeding, the agency's new analysis indicates. – Ashley Lopez / NPR

Fauci: Expect More Children With Coronavirus

– 10:55 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci says Americans can expect to see more children infected with the coronavirus as the highly transmissible delta variant extends its hold across the country.

“Quantitatively, you will see more children in the hospital,” the government’s top infectious disease expert said at Thursday’s coronavirus briefing. Fauci said at least 117 countries around the world are facing the delta variant, which is more than twice as transmissible than the previous strain of coronavirus. However, it’s still not clear whether the delta variant leads to more severe illness in children, Fauci said.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the best way to protect young children not yet eligible for vaccines is for their parents to get shots. The CDC is also studying so-called “long COVID” in children. Early data suggests those lingering symptoms are not nearly as prevalent among children as adults, but Walensky said more study is needed. — City News Service

New COVID Testing Sites Open Amid Surge In Cases

– 10:54 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021

Due to an increased demand for COVID-19 testing, San Diego County has opened several new sites this week, including one Thursday at North County Lifeline in Vista.

On Tuesday, a site opened at Lemon Grove Senior Center, 8235 Mount Vernon St., open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., while on Wednesday, a site at Northgate Market San Diego, 5403 University Ave., opened and will be available for testing on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Vista site is located at 200 Michigan Ave. and will be open Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A fourth site, at Border View YMCA, 3601 Arey Drive, will open Sunday and be open Sundays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

All of these sites are in response to a striking surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the county, the vast majority of which have occurred in the unvaccinated. — City News Services

San Diego Reports 1,134 New COVID Cases, Mostly From Unvaccinated

– 10:45 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021

San Diego County's latest COVID-19 numbers on Wednesday show 1,134 new cases and three additional deaths, along with 56 more hospitalizations.

Wednesday's data increased the county's cumulative totals to 309,406 cases and 3,818 deaths since the pandemic began.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 21.5 overall, but people who are not fully vaccinated are seeing case rates nearly 10 times of those fully vaccinated, 41.1 to 4.5 per 100,000 residents respectively.

A total of 12,103 tests were reported Wednesday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week is 8.7%.

A total of 47 new community outbreaks were confirmed in the past seven days: 18 in restaurant/bar settings, 11 in business settings, three in daycare/preschool/childcare settings, three in retail settings, three in hotel/resort/spa settings, two in faith-based settings, two in TK-12 school settings, one in a health care setting, one in a government setting, one in a grocery setting, one in a restaurant setting and one in a distribution warehouse setting. — City News Service

HHS Joins Vaccine Trend, Orders Shots For Its Health Workers

– 10:20 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021

The federal Department of Health and Human Services is requiring employees who provide care for patients to get their COVID-19 shots.

The order from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra will affect more than 25,000 clinicians, researchers, contractors, trainees and volunteers with the National Institutes of Health, the Indian Health Service, and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

It applies to employees who regularly interact with patients, or whose duties could put them in contact with patients. Government agencies and private companies are issuing vaccine mandates as the aggressive delta variant sweeps across the country.

The decision by HHS follows the Veterans Affairs order last month that its health care workers get vaccinated, and the recent announcement by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that U.S. service members will be required to get their COVID-19 shots to maintain military readiness. — Associated Press

Fauci Reccomends COVID-19 Booster Shot For Immunocompromised Individuals

– 10:14 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci says an additional COVID-19 booster shot will be recommended for previously vaccinated people with weakened immune systems.

He told NBC’s ”Today” show on Thursday that he expects the booster recommendation to come “imminently.”

People have compromised immune systems for a variety of reasons, including organ transplants, cancer or other conditions. Any authorization for an additional booster shot would come from the Federal Drug Administration.

Fauci says for other vaccinated groups, such as the elderly, data is being collected to determine if or when their protection goes “below a critical level” and “that’s when you’re going to be hearing about the implementation of boosters” for others.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert says “at this moment, other than the immune-compromised, we’re not going to be giving boosters.”

Fauci says “inevitably there will be a time when we’ll have to get boosts” because ”no vaccine, at least not within this category, is going to have an indefinite amount of protection.” — Associated Press

Regional Police Academy Classes Suspended Due To COVID-19 Cases

– 5:25 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021

Two police academy courses at a Miramar College- based law enforcement training institute were on hold Wednesday due to more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 among its students and staffers.

As of Tuesday, 25 of 215 recruits in the San Diego Regional Public Safety Training Institute and four of its 22 staff members had tested positive for the virus, according to a joint statement from the academy and San Diego Community College District.

On the weekend of July 24-25, two recruits from the 127th Regional Academy and a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. Two additional staff members later developed coronavirus symptoms and were awaiting tests results.

As a precaution, administrators decided to suspend the academy course for two weeks. It had been scheduled to resume Monday, but was postponed another week after officials discovered that "many of those ... who had tested positive were still dealing with the (effects)," according to the statement.

Meanwhile, the 128th Regional Academy, which began July 26, was suspended after two recruits and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, with another awaiting test results. It is tentatively slated to resume Tuesday.

The academy trains law enforcement recruits from various state, county and municipal agencies in the San Diego region, as well as from agencies in neighboring counties. – City News Service

California To Require COVID-19 Vaccine Or Test For Teachers

– 11:20 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021

California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the new policy Wednesday as he visited a San Francisco Bay Area school that has already reopened after summer break. Many California schools are back in session, with others starting in the coming weeks.

Several large school districts in the state have issued similar requirements in recent days, including San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and the Long Beach Unified school districts. — Associated Press

Nearly 94,000 Kids Got COVID-19 Last Week. They Were 15% Of All New Cases

– 2:22 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021

Coronavirus cases among children are rising at a time when the highly infectious delta variant is advancing across the United States at a rapid clip.

New state-level data analyzed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association shows that children accounted for roughly 15% of all newly reported COVID-19 cases across the nation for the week ending on Aug. 5.

Nearly 94,000 child cases of COVID-19 were recorded during that period, a 31% increase over the roughly 72,000 cases reported a week earlier. In the week before then, there were 39,000 new child cases.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association said that new coronavirus cases in children have been increasing since July after a period of decline in the early summer.

"This virus is really tracking the unvaccinated," said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at Stanford University. "Because children under 12 are not able to be vaccinated, we're just seeing the same increase in infections in that group because [the delta variant] is so infectious." – Joe Hernandez, NPR

County Reports 869 New COVID-19 Cases As Military Prepares For Vaccinations

– 7:11 p.m., Monday, Aug. 9, 2021

San Diego County's public health officials reported 869 new COVID-19 cases as a surge in infections in the county continues to increase dramatically and the military prepares to require servicemembers get the vaccine.

San Diego-area members of the military who have been reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine may no longer have a choice, following U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's announcement Monday that he is seeking approval from President Joe Biden to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all service members by Sept. 15.

San Diego County has nearly 72% of all eligible residents vaccinated — more than two million. That number does include members of the military, but excludes some vaccinations given by tribal authorities or federal detention centers.

According to the Department of Defense, there are more than 110,000 active-duty military personnel in San Diego County.

Monday's data brought the county's cumulative totals to 306,855 cases since the pandemic began, with the death toll remaining at 3,811.

Additionally, another two people were hospitalized, according to San Diego County Public Health Services.

A total of 12,977 new tests were recorded in Monday's data, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 8.7%. – City News Service

California To Offer Vaccine Incentive To Medicaid Population

– 4:18 p.m, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021

California announced another round of coronavirus vaccine incentives on Friday, offering up to $50 apiece to more than 11 million people in the state who get their health insurance through Medicaid.

The money is part of a new $350 million plan to get more of the state's Medicaid population vaccinated as the state is seeing a surge of new cases attributed to the delta variant, a more contagious and dangerous version of the coronavirus. Medicaid is the joint state and federal health insurance program for people who are disabled or have low incomes.

Many states have used tax dollars to entice people to get the coronavirus vaccine. States like Massachusetts, Michigan and Ohio offered up to $1 million in a lottery-style drawing among those who had received the vaccine. – Associated Press

Pentagon To Require COVID Vaccine For All Troops By Sept. 15

– 12:11 p.m, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021

The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. That deadline could be pushed up if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise.

“I will seek the president’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon" licensure by the Food and Drug Administration "whichever comes first,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says in the memo to troops, warning them to prepare for the requirement. "I will not hesitate to act sooner or recommend a different course to the President if l feel the need to do so.”

The memo is expected to go out Monday.

Austin's decision comes a bit more than a week after President Joe Biden told defense officials to develop a plan requiring troops to get shots as part of a broader campaign to increase vaccinations in the federal workforce. It reflects similar decisions by governments and companies around the world, as nations struggle with the highly contagious delta variant that has sent new U.S. cases, hospitalizations and deaths surging to heights not see since the peaks last winter. – Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 1,387 New Cases of COVID-19

– 9:53 a.m, Monday, Aug. 9, 2021

San Diego County's latest COVID-19 numbers show 1,387 new cases and no additional deaths, as the number of infections in the county continues to increase dramatically.

Sunday's data brought the county's cumulative totals to 305,983 cases since the pandemic began, with the death toll remaining at 3,811.

Additionally, another four people were hospitalized and one put into an intensive care unit, according to San Diego County Public Health Services.

A total of 15,551 new tests were recorded in Sunday's data, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 8.5%.

While the county continues to see rising COVID-19 cases, more than 2 million residents are fully vaccinated — bringing the region closer to its goal of vaccinating 75% of the 2.8 million residents eligible to get the shots, health officials announced.

In the weekly data updated on Wednesdays, a total of 2,015,700, or 71.9%, of residents 12 and older had received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

The county's goal equates to 2,101,936 people. Around 86,000 more San Diegans are needed to reach that 75% target, which is 5% higher than the state and national goal. – City News Service

Study: Shots Give Virus Survivors Immune Boost

– 1:12 p.m, Friday, Aug. 6, 2021

Even people who have recovered from COVID-19 are urged to get vaccinated, and a new study shows survivors who ignored that advice had twice the risk of getting reinfected.

The report Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes as scientists urge people to get vaccinated because of the highly contagious delta variant. That includes people who had a prior infection.

The report out of Kentucky adds to growing laboratory evidence that vaccines offer an important boost to natural immunity, including broader protection against new variants.

“If you have had COVID-19 before, please still get vaccinated,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious delta variant spreads around the country.”

There’s little information yet on reinfections with the newer delta variant. But U.S. health officials point to early data from Britain that the reinfection risk appears greater with delta than with the common alpha variant, once people are six months past their prior infection.

“There’s no doubt” that vaccinating a COVID-19 survivor enhances both the amount and breadth of immunity “so that you cover not only the original (virus) but the variants,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert, said at a recent White House briefing. — Associated Press

San Diego County Records 1,159 COVID-19 Infections As Surge Continues

– 12:22 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, 2021

A surge in COVID-19 cases in San Diego County continued Thursday, as county public health officials reported another 1,159 cases of the virus and one death.

The data reported Thursday increases the county's cumulative tally to 302,220 cases and 3,806 deaths.

While San Diego County continues to see rising COVID-19 cases, more than 2 million residents are now fully vaccinated, bringing the region closer to its vaccination goal, health officials announced.

The county reached the milestone over the weekend, and by Wednesday, a total of 2,015,700, or 71.9%, of residents 12 and older, had received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

San Diego County's case rate was 20.4 cases per 100,000 residents as of this week's report and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 8.7%. – City News Service

San Diego Seeing Steady Rise In COVID Hospitalizations

– 12:18 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, 2021

COVID-19-related hospitalizations are steadily rising, both in San Diego and across the nation.

The county has reported nearly 300 hospitalizations in the past 30 days, with unvaccinated individuals making up the bulk of those affected.

As ICUs continue to fill up, health officials are urging increased preventative measures to limit the growing spread of the virus.

Dr. Ghazala Sharieff is the chief medical officer for Scripps Health.

"We're seeing a trend, not just in the breakthrough cases, but in the younger age groups," Sharieff said. "Which means that we do have to get that vaccination rate up again."

Sharieff joined Midday Edition on Thursday to discuss the growing trend. – Jade Hindman, KPBS Midday Edition Co-Host and Harrison Patiño, KPBS Midday Edition Producer

California To Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines For Health Workers

– 3:48 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021

California will require all of its roughly 2.2 million health care and long term care workers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Sept. 30.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said last month he would require health care workers to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

But the new order issued Thursday by the California Department of Public Health does not give health care workers a choice. It says all must be fully vaccinated by the end of September.

California is averaging 18.3 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people per day. The delta variant is causing most of the new infections. – Associated Press

SDSU Report On County COVID-19 Hotels: ‘Employees Treat Us Like Animals.’

– 12:53 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021

San Diego County awarded a $30 million contract for operating COVID-19 hotels to an unqualified company with poorly trained staff, who forced residents to suffer through long delays for much-needed medication and who allowed for gaps in services that may have led to overdoses and suicide.

Those are among the findings outlined in a 154-page report released Tuesday from San Diego State University.

The school’s Institute for Public Health evaluated the county’s COVID-19 hotel sheltering program, which was meant to isolate people with the virus who had nowhere else to go.

The County Board of Supervisors ordered the review of the program in early March, eight days after an inewsource investigation uncovered poor care and oversight issues at the Crowne Plaza in Mission Valley — the main hotel used in the program. – Cody Dulaney and Jill Castellano, inewsource

Why WHO Is Calling For A Moratorium On COVID Vaccine Boosters

– 12:52 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, is now calling for a moratorium – for at least the next two months – on COVID booster shots.

"We should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines, using even more of it," he says, "while the world's most vulnerable people remain unprotected."

WHO is saying that people who are fully immunized against COVID should hold off on getting a third shot until more people around the world can get their first dose of a vaccine.

It's a controversial stand in some quarters. White House press secretary Jen Psaki dismissed the call for a booster moratorium, saying that WHO is setting up a "false choice."

The global inequity in vaccine availability cited by Tedros has been stark. More than 80% of COVID vaccines have been administered in high-income and upper-middle income nations. The United Kingdom, for example, has vaccinated nearly 65% of its population while just 7% of Filipinos are immunized. The U.S. is vaccinating teenagers at low risk of contracting COVID while front-line health-care workers in Nigeria are still awaiting their shots. – Jason Beaubien, NPR

Family End of Summer Palooza Provides Free COVID-19 Vaccines

– 12:51 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021

The Grossmont Healthcare District hosted an "Family End of Summer Palooza" in La Mesa on Wednesday in an effort to prepare East County families for a return to in-person schooling.

The three-day event, which began Tuesday, included a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic hosted by Family Health Centers of San Diego.

Erica Salcuni, director of programs and outreach at the Grossmont Healthcare District, said activities such as face painting and balloon animals were meant to draw families in — but that the real focus of the event was getting more people vaccinated.

"The best way to strengthen our community’s defense against this virus and get back to normal is to get vaccinated," Salcuni said.

Wednesday's event had health care tents, giveaways, arts and crafts and a storytime with volunteers and dogs from the nonprofit Love On A Leash. – Melissa Mae, KPBS Freelance Reporter

‘Back To Work SD’ To Provide $10 Million In COVID Relief For Businesses

– 12:48 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021

Some much-needed COVID-19 relief money is coming to small businesses in the county.

It’s part of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s goal to get businesses back on track and people back to work.

“Back to Work SD” will provide $10 million to nonprofit organizations and small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic.

“With the City Council’s approval of this contract, we are now able to thoughtfully and effectively distribute millions of dollars to help small businesses that need it most,” Gloria said in a press release. “This aid is coming at a critical time when many family-owned local businesses are trying to figure out how to recover from the pandemic. With the San Diego Foundation’s partnership, we can give small businesses and nonprofits the lifeline they need to keep their doors open." – Alexandra Rangel, KPBS Freelance Reporter

San Deigo County Marks Milestone Of 2 Million Fully Vaccinated

– 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021

While San Diego County continues to see rising COVID- 19 cases, more than two million residents are now fully vaccinated, bringing the region closer to its vaccination goal, it was announced Wednesday.

The county reached the milestone over the weekend, and by Wednesday, a total of 2,015,700, or 71.9%, of residents 12 and older, had received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

"Great job, San Diegans," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "The more people who get vaccinated the closer we will be to achieving our vaccination goal."

While public health officials celebrated the achievement, the region also crossed another milestone this week. With 1,204 new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday and 908 reported on Wednesday, the cumulative number of cases now exceeds 300,000. As of Wednesday, the number was 301,100.

San Diego County's case rate is 20.4 cases per 100,000 residents as of Tuesday, when a total of 11,748 tests were reported to the county, and the percentage of new positive cases was 7.7%. — City News Services

Surge Tents Return To Scripps Encinitas

– 11:58 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021

A rise in hospitalizations made Scripps in Encinitas reinstall surge tents outside their emergency room.

“The tents are back up for a couple of reasons," said Dr. Ghazala Sharieff, the Chief Medical Officer for Scripps Health. "Today we have 101 patients in-house who have active COVID. Nineteen of those are in the intensive care unit right now. We only have six ICU beds available and 37 medical surgical beds, so volume is getting bigger.”

She said the recent COVID case numbers are raising concerns again. “We only had 13 patients at Scripps before the state mandate was lifted and now we're up to 100. Thirteen patients is not very much and now we're back to where we are again.”

Dr. Sharieff said the growing delta variant cases are making the need for the tents even more urgent.

“For us it's very sad to see these tents going back up again, when this is all preventable. Had we gotten the vaccines and the herd immunity up, we wouldn't have this delta variant that is now looming in front of us,” she said. “And there's going to be more variants that come, unless we can get that vaccination rate up." – Tania Thorne, KPBS North County Reporter

US Hits 70% Vaccination Rate — A Month Late, Amid A Surge

– 1:55 p.m., Monday, Aug. 2, 2021

The U.S. on Monday finally reached President Joe Biden’s goal of getting at least one COVID-19 shot in the arms of 70% of American adults — a month late and amid a fierce surge by the delta variant that is swamping hospitals and leading to new mask rules and mandatory vaccinations around the country.

Louisiana ordered nearly everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear masks again in all indoor public settings, including schools and colleges, and other cities and states likewise moved to reinstate precautions to counter a crisis blamed on the fast-spreading variant and stubborn resistance to getting the vaccine.

“As fast as we are opening up units, they’re being filled with COVID patients,” lamented Dr. Sergio Segarra, chief medical officer of Baptist Hospital Miami, where the Florida chain reported an increase of well over 140% in the past two weeks in the number of people now hospitalized with the virus. “As quickly as we can discharge them they’re coming in and they’re coming in very sick. We started seeing entire families come down.”

Biden had set a goal of reaching the 70% threshold by the Fourth of July. But that target was set well before the highly contagious delta variant enabled the virus to come storming back and undermined the assumptions that were used to arrive at that figure. – Associated Press

Mask Mandate Reinstated In San Francisco Bay Area Amid Surge

– 1:36 p.m., Monday, Aug. 2, 2021

Health officials in San Francisco and six other Bay Area counties announced Monday that they are reinstating a mask mandate for all indoor settings as COVID-19 infections surge because of the highly contagious delta variant.

The new mandate — which applies to everyone, regardless of their vaccination status — will take effect on Tuesday in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma counties and in the city of Berkeley.

The health officers also recommended that people gather outdoors if they have that option.

“The virus doesn’t care what type of indoor space you’re in," said Dr. George Han, deputy health officer in Santa Clara. “There is a risk that you could get in contact with the virus that causes COVID-19."

In line with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, California last week recommended that everyone wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, but officials stopped short of requiring it.

Indoor mask mandates are already in effect in Los Angeles, Yolo and Sacramento counties.

The San Francisco Bay Area's health officers were the first in the nation to announce a shutdown at the start of the pandemic. – Associated Press

Reopen San Diego Urges Restaurant Owners Say No To Vaccine Policies

– 1:33 p.m., Monday, Aug. 2, 2021

Reopen San Diego is a local group advocating for the full reopening of schools and businesses. It’s now asking restaurants to adopt their proclamation.

Supporters rallied outside of City Hall on Friday, asking businesses not to discriminate against unvaccinated customers.

Restaurant owner Alondra Ruiz says everyone is welcomed at her restaurant regardless of vaccine status. She’s urging other restaurants to do the same.

“No business, no politician, nor the government has any business requiring or pushing the agenda for vaccination identification,” said Ruiz, who owns The Village restaurant.

Jerry Sanders, president of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he’s in favor of asking workers for vaccine verification.

“We know that this can still be very deadly with people who have not been vaccinated," he said. "I don't think it’s too much to ask someone to wear a mask."

As of now, there are no county-wide vaccine mandates. San Diego County said it would require vaccine verification for its employees starting mid-August.

Those who are unvaccinated will have to undergo weekly testing.

The county is the latest to adopt a vaccine policy, with universities and other businesses following suit. – Alexandra Rangel, KPBS Freelance Reporter