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Tracking Covid 19

Live Blog: Biden Urges COVID-19 Booster Shots For Those Now Eligible

A girls receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Family Health Centers of ...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: A girls receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Family Health Centers of San Diego in Barrio Logan, May 13, 2021.

This is a breaking news blog for all of the latest updates about the coronavirus pandemic. Get our complete coronavirus coverage here →


Biden Urges COVID-19 Booster Shots For Those Now Eligible

– 12:45 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

President Joe Biden on Friday urged those now eligible for COVID-19 booster shots to get the added protection a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the doses for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans.

Opening a major new phase in the U.S vaccination drive against COVID-19, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from a panel of advisers late Thursday. Biden praised the decision and aimed to set aside any unease about the vaccination, saying that he would get his own booster soon.

“It’s hard to acknowledge I’m over 65, but I’ll be getting my booster shot," Biden said. "It’s a bear, isn’t it?”

The advisers said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.

However, Walensky decided to make one recommendation that the panel had rejected.

The panel on Thursday voted against saying that people can get a booster if they are ages 18 to 64 years and are health-care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of being exposed to the virus. But Walensky disagreed and put that recommendation back in, noting that such a move aligns with an FDA booster authorization decision earlier this week. The category she included covers people who live in institutional settings that increase their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters, as well as health care workers. – Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 894 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths

– 12:44 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

San Diego County reported 894 new COVID-19 infections and 12 new deaths Thursday.

The numbers include batch tests and cases that would have been reported Sept. 14 through Tuesday, but were not due to a reporting error between the county and medical providers.

Thursday's data brought the county's cumulative totals to 352,019 cases and 4,039 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals decreased from 456 on Thursday to 414, with 136 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures. Also Thursday, Riverside County surpassed San Diego County for the second-most hospital patients in a county in the state. Los Angeles County has 991 COVID-19 hospital patients, more than double the next highest county. – City News Service

CDC Leader Adds People With Risky Jobs To COVID Booster List

– 12:43 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday endorsed booster shots for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans, opening a major new phase in the U.S vaccination drive against COVID-19.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off on a series of recommendations from a panel of advisers late Thursday.

The advisers said boosters should be offered to people 65 and older, nursing home residents and those ages 50 to 64 who have risky underlying health problems. The extra dose would be given once they are at least six months past their last Pfizer shot.

However, Walensky decided to make one recommendation that the panel had rejected.

The panel on Thursday voted against saying that people can get a booster if they are ages 18 to 64 years and are health-care workers or have another job that puts them at increased risk of being exposed to the virus. – Associated Press

EXPLAINER: California Making Plans To Give COVID-19 Boosters

– 12:40 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

California is preparing to administer third “booster” vaccine shots against COVID-19 for older people and immunocompromised adults as well as initial shots for students under 12 once the federal government approves them for children. On Thursday, state officials released a vaccine action plan. It still depends on direction that is expected to come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved third shots of the Pfizer formula for people who are 65 and older, people at high risk of severe illness, and health care workers and others in danger of becoming infected on the job. CDC advisers were set to vote Thursday on who is eligible. The U.S. has already authorized third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for certain people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients and transplant recipients.

California, with nearly 40 million residents, has the lowest transmission rate of any state and nearly 70% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated. Still, inoculation rates vary widely by region and the focus remains on getting unvaccinated people protected against the disease, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's secretary of health and human services said. – Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 851 New COVID-19 Cases, 6 Deaths

– 3:46 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021

San Diego County reported 851 new COVID-19 infections and six new deaths in the latest data, as the region's hospitals continue to prepare for a "fifth surge" of the virus.

Wednesday's data brought the county's cumulative totals to 351,134 cases and 4,027 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals increased from 446 on Wednesday to 456, with 145 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

A total of 23,238 new tests were logged, and the percentage of positive cases over the past seven days was 3.9%.

Christopher Longhurst, chief information officer and associate chief medical officer at UC San Diego Health, said Tuesday medical professionals were burned out and relief was not on the way.

"It is absolutely clear there will be a fifth surge — period," Longhurst said. "So we are expecting a winter surge and unfortunately we talked about this last year about being concerned about a `twindemic' of both flu and COVID. – City News Service

A CDC Panel Backs Booster Shots For Older Adults, A Step Toward Making Them Available

– 3:46 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021

Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended a third dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 and older, as well as others at a high risk of severe illness.

The committee's unanimous vote to allow older adults receive an extra dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was announced after two days of presentations reviewing scientific evidence on the safety and effectiveness of a third vaccine dose.

The committee also recommended that people aged 50-64 years old with underlying medical conditions get a third shot, in a 13-2 vote.

It also endorsed people aged 18 to 49 who have an underlying medical risk access to another dose, based on individual benefit and risk.

The CDC itself has yet to offer guidance on the use of COVID-19 boosters for fully vaccinated Americans. The influential federal public health agency usually follows the advice of its advisory committees although it's not required to do so. – Emma Bowman, NPR

San Diego Charter School Issues Vaccination Mandate

– 3:46 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021

The COVID pandemic has caused many parents to reconsider education options for their children. A new study by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools reports a 7-percent increase in charter school enrollment across the U.S. in the last school year.

Public charter schools are independent, public, and tuition-free schools that are given the freedom to be more innovative and accountable for student achievement.

Urban Discovery School is the textbook example of a charter school with a middle and high school campus and a K-5th grade campus in Downtown San Diego. Combined, both campuses have 600 students. UDS has taken the lead in COVID-19 safety protocols. Now the charter becomes the first public school system in San Diego County to institute mandatory vaccinations for eligible students 12 years of age and older. – M.G. Perez, KPBS Education Reporter

FDA Approves Pfizer COVID-19 Boosters For Seniors, High-Risk Adults

– 5:15 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021

The U.S. has moved a step closer to offering booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to seniors and others at high risk from the virus.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday signed off on such shots as a way to shore up protection in people with underlying health conditions and high-risk jobs.

This is not a done deal yet: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to weigh in on who it believes should get boosters and when.

A panel of advisers to the agency will make more specific recommendations about who should get the extra shots and when. — Associated Press

Doctors Encouraging Flu Vaccinations, Warn Of Double-Punch With COVID-19

– 3:11 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021

We are just about to head into flu season and even though COVID-19 cases are trending down, experts are warning about a potential double-punch with influenza.

"We learned last year that if you don't mix with a lot of other people — the flu has nowhere to go," said Dr. Heidi Meyer, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente.

Last season was mild. There were not a lot of influenza cases, credited to pandemic isolation and social distancing measures, but with many COVID-19 restrictions gone and people mixing again — this year could be a different story.

"The range of the seriousness is quite wide and I really hope we hit the low end of seriousness, but the potential is quite large," Meyer said. "And it’s concerning because right now our hospitals are pretty close to capacity — but there’s no flu yet."

Meyer is telling her patients to get the flu vaccine by the end of October to be ready for a potentially early influenza season. – Matt Hoffman, KPBS Health Reporter

Is The Worst Over? Modelers Predict A Steady Decline In COVID Cases Through March

– 3:05 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021

Americans may be able to breathe a tentative sigh of relief soon, according to researchers studying the trajectory of the pandemic.

The delta surge appears to be peaking nationally, and cases and deaths will likely decline steadily now through the spring without a significant winter surge, according to a new analysis shared with NPR by a consortium of researchers advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For its latest update, which it will release Wednesday, the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub combined nine different mathematical models from different research groups to get an outlook for the pandemic for the next six months.

"Any of us who have been following this closely, given what happened with delta, are going to be really cautious about too much optimism," says Justin Lessler at the University of North Carolina, who helps run the hub. "But I do think that the trajectory is towards improvement for most of the country," he says.

The modelers developed four potential scenarios, taking into account whether or not childhood vaccinations take off and whether a more infectious new variant should emerge. – Rob Stein, NPR

CDC Panel Considers Who Needs Booster Shots

– 9:29 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021

Influential government advisers are debating which Americans should get an extra dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine once regulators clear the booster shots.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to rule soon on Pfizer’s bid for extra doses, after its advisers last week dramatically scaled back the Biden administration's plans for boosters for everyone. Instead, that panel backed booster shots for seniors and others at high risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the final word on who would qualify and convened its own advisers Wednesday to start deliberations.

The priority remains to vaccinate the unvaccinated, who the CDC says account for the vast majority of COVID-19 cases, now soaring to levels not seen since last winter. About 182 million Americans are fully vaccinated, nearly 55% of the total population.

The government will decide later whether to allow extra doses of Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 685 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths

– 6:58 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

San Diego County reported 685 new COVID-19 infections and 12 new deaths Tuesday, as the region's hospitals continue to prepare for a possible "fifth surge" of the virus.

Tuesday's data brought the county's cumulative totals to 350,267 cases and 4,021 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals decreased from 456 on Monday to 446, with 148 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

A total of 17,312 new tests were logged, and the percentage of positive cases over the past seven days was 3.6%.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 33.6 overall, 13.9 for fully vaccinated people and 59.3 for those not fully vaccinated.

Nearly 4.67 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with around 2.44 million — or 87.1% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.16 million, or around 77.2% of the county's eligible population. — City News Service

California Coronavirus Spread Lower Than Other States

– 4:44 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

California is seeing lower coronavirus transmission than other U.S. states as virus cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 decline following a summer surge.

The state is currently the only one experiencing “substantial” coronavirus transmission, the second-highest level on the CDC’s color-coded map. So is Puerto Rico. In all other U.S. states, virus transmission is rated as “high.”

State health experts say relatively high vaccination rates in California ahead of the arrival of the delta variant of the coronavirus made a difference. They say additional measures, such as masking, also helped stem the surge.

State data say nearly 70% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated. — Associated Press

CDC Study Says COVID-19 Can Spread In Vaccinated

– 1:57 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

A new study of Texas prison inmates provides more evidence that coronavirus can spread even in groups where most people are vaccinated.

A COVID-19 outbreak at a federal prison in July and August infected 172 male inmates in two prison housing units, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Tuesday.

About 80% of the inmates in the units had been vaccinated. More than 90% of the unvaccinated inmates wound up being infected, as did 70% of the fully vaccinated prisoners.

Severe illness, however, was more common among the unvaccinated. The hospitalization rate was almost 10 times higher for them compared with those who got the shots.

It echoes research into a July outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where several hundred people were infected -- about three-quarters of whom were fully vaccinated.

Such reports have prompted a renewed push by health officials for even vaccinated people to wear masks and take other precautions. They believe the delta variant, a version of coronavirus that spreads more easily, and possibly waning immunity may be playing a role.

The authors did not identify the prison, but media reports in July detailed a similar-sized outbreak at the federal prison in Texarkana. — Associated Press

San Francisco Mandates Vaccines For All Airport Workers

– 1:43 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

San Francisco is requiring all workers at San Francisco International Airport to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Employees who are exempt must undergo weekly testing.

The mandate announced Tuesday applies to roughly 46,000 on-site personnel, including employees of contractors and retail tenants.

Mayor London Breed’s office said the mandate is the first for a U.S. airport and goes into effect immediately.

Some airlines have already announced vaccination mandates for employees.

San Francisco also requires its municipal workers to be inoculated. — Associated Press

President Biden Bets Rapid COVID Tests To Curb Virus Surge, But They're Hard To Find

– 10:05 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.

President Joe Biden is betting on millions more rapid, at-home tests to help curb the latest deadly wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surging infections are overloading hospitals and threatening to shutter classrooms around the country. But the tests have already disappeared from pharmacy shelves in many parts of the U.S., and manufacturers warn it will take them weeks to ramp up production. That production was slashed after demand for the tests plummeted over the summer.

The latest shortage is another painful reminder that the U.S. has yet to successfully manage its testing supplies, let alone deploy them in the type of systematic way that could quickly crush outbreaks in schools, workplaces and communities. — Associated Press

COVID Vaccine For Kids Ages 5 To 11 Is Safe And Effective, Pfizer Says

– 10:22 a.m., Monday Sept. 20, 2021

The first results from the highly anticipated trial studying the effectiveness and safety of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 showed promising results.

The pharmaceutical companies said early results of their trial indicate the vaccine is safe for children and establishes a strong antibody response against the virus.

Giving a two-dose regimen of 10 μg (micrograms) administered 21 days apart for children between 5 and 11 years old was well tolerated, according to Pfizer and BioNTech. Side effects were also generally comparable to those of people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old who received the vaccine.

This trial used a smaller vaccine dosage, 10 micrograms, rather than the 30 microgram dose used for people 12 and older. The dosage was selected as the preferred dose for safety and effectiveness in young children.

News of the results come as pediatric cases of COVID-19 are increasing amid a nationwide surge of infections. – Jaclyn Diaz, NPR

Biden Easing Foreign Travel Restrictions, Requiring Vaccines

– 10:21 a.m., Monday Sept. 20, 2021

President Joe Biden will ease foreign travel restrictions into the U.S. beginning in November, when his administration will require all foreign nationals flying into the country to be fully vaccinated.

All foreign travelers flying to the U.S. will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination before boarding, as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of flight, said White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients, who announced the new policy on Monday. Biden will also tighten testing rules for unvaccinated American citizens, who will need to be tested within a day before returning to the U.S., as well as after they arrive home.

Fully vaccinated passengers will not be required to quarantine, Zeints said.

The new policy replaces a patchwork of travel restrictions first instituted by President Donald Trump last year and tightened by Biden earlier this year that restrict travel by non-citizens who have in the prior 14 days been in the United Kingdom, European Union, China, India, Iran, Republic of Ireland, Brazil and South Africa.

“This is based on individuals rather than a country based approach, so it’s a stronger system," Zients said. – Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 378 New Cases Of COVID-19, No New Deaths

– 10:19 a.m., Monday Sept. 20, 2021

San Diego County reported 378 new COVID-19 infections and no new deaths, released in its latest data, and also cited a slight decrease in coronavirus-related hospital admissions.

Sunday's data brought the county's cumulative totals to 349,227 cases and 4,006 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals decreased from 471 on Saturday to 462, with 150 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

A total of 8,989 new tests were logged, and the percentage of positive cases over the past seven days was 3.9%.

According to the county Health and Human Services Agency COVID-19 Watch report released Wednesday, since March 1, more than 96% of hospitalizations — 2,150 — and nearly 89% of deaths — 208 — have occurred in people who are not fully vaccinated. The report, which covers data through Sept. 11, shows that 75 fully vaccinated San Diegans have required hospitalization and 26 have died. – City News Service

8-Year-Old Hospitalized With Rare Disease Triggered By Coronavirus Infection

– 5:10 p.m., Friday Sept. 17, 2021

Eduardo Cortes, 8, has been receiving care at Rady Children’s Hospital for nearly a week after coming down with a rare disease triggered by coronavirus infections called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

"I thought it was just a normal fever but everything was increasing more and more and more," said Eduardo's dad, Leo Cortes.

Eduardo's parents had COVID-19 in August and and it was not until recently that the second grader started experiencing symptoms. His condition got worse, prompting his parents to take him the emergency room where Eduardo had a 105 degree fever.

"It was something scary for me," his dad Leo said, adding he felt helpless in the situation.

Eduardo’s mom was partially vaccinated but his dad was not at all, saying he did not think he would get the virus. Now he says that was a mistake.

"It is really hard — it is really, really hard," Leo said. "It already happened to me, I don't want it to happen to anyone else — especially for the kids." – Matt Hoffman, KPBS Health Reporter

Number Of COVID-19 Deaths In San Diego County Passes 4,000

– 5:10 p.m., Friday Sept. 17, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 611 new COVID-19 infections and eight deaths Friday, bringing the death toll for the county to more than 4,000.

Friday's data increased the cumulative totals to 348,100 cases and 4,002 deaths.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals, meanwhile, decreased from 478 on Thursday to 460 on Friday, with 166 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

A total of 15,897 new tests were logged, and the percentage of positive cases over the past seven days was 4.1%.

According to the county Health and Human Services Agency COVID-19 Watch report released Wednesday, since March 1, more than 96% of hospitalizations — 2,150 — and nearly 89% of deaths — 208 — have occurred in people who are not fully vaccinated. In comparison, the report, which covers data through Sept. 11, shows that 75 fully vaccinated San Diegans have required hospitalization and 26 have died.

Furthermore, 81.3% — or 65,635 — of the COVID-19 cases in that time frame have occurred in San Diegans who are not fully vaccinated compared to 19.7% — or 15,138 — cases in people who were fully vaccinated.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 33.6 overall, 13.9 for fully vaccinated people and 59.3 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans.

Nearly 4.7 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with around 2.5 million — or 87.1% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.16 million, or around 77.2% of the county's eligible population. – City News Service

US Panel Backs COVID-19 Boosters Only For Elderly, High-Risk

– 5:05 p.m., Friday Sept. 17, 2021

An influential federal advisory panel has overwhelmingly rejected a plan to give Pfizer booster shots against COVID-19 to most Americans, but it endorsed the extra shots for those who are 65 or older or run a high risk of severe disease.

The twin votes Friday represented a heavy blow to the Biden administration's sweeping effort to shore up nearly all Americans' protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

The decision was made by a committee of outside experts who advise the Food and Drug Administration. – Associated Press

Number Of COVID-19 Deaths In San Diego County Nears 4,000

– 7:25 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 530 new COVID-19 infections and 11 deaths Thursday, saying it remains a "pandemic of the unvaccinated," as the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths have occurred amongst the less-than-fully vaccinated population.

Thursday's data increases the totals to 347,474 cases and 3,994 deaths.

According to the latest county Health and Human Services Agency COVID- 19 Watch report, since March 1, more than 96% of hospitalizations — 2,150 — and nearly 89% of deaths — 208 — have occurred in people who are not fully vaccinated. In comparison, the report, which covers data through Sept. 11, shows that 75 fully vaccinated San Diegans have required hospitalization and 26 have died.

Furthermore, 81.3% — or 65,635 — of the COVID-19 cases in that time frame have occurred in San Diegans who are not fully vaccinated compared to 19.7% — or 15,138 — cases in people who were fully vaccinated.

As of Wednesday, 21,741 cases and 548 hospitalizations have occurred in those not fully vaccinated, in the last 30 days, compared with 5,587 cases and nine hospitalizations for those fully vaccinated.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 33.6 overall, 13.9 for fully vaccinated people and 59.3 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans.

A total of 57 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the past week, the highest weekly total during this current surge of the pandemic — more than triple the 18 COVID-19 deaths reported the previous seven days and more than the 49 announced the week before that.

The new deaths occurred between Aug. 19 and Sept. 13, and 11 of the 57 people who died were fully vaccinated. The deceased were 34 men and 23 women; 54 had underlying medical conditions, one did not and two had medical history pending. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 742 New COVID-19 Cases, 17 More Deaths

– 1:42 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 742 new coronavirus infections and 17 additional deaths, according to the latest reports.

The number of COVID-19 patients in county hospitals, meanwhile, increased from 520 on Tuesday to 570 on Wednesday, with 180 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

The latest numbers brought the county's totals to 346,934 cases and 3,983 fatalities since the pandemic began, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.

A total of 17,728 new tests were logged, and the percentage of positive cases over the past seven days was 4.4%.

Nearly 4.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.42 million — or 86.5% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.13 million, or around 76.1% of the county's eligible population. – City News Service

FDA Strikes Cautious Tone Ahead Of Vaccine Booster Meeting

– 3:08 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021

U.S. government advisers will debate Friday if there’s enough proof that a booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.

It’s the first public step toward deciding which Americans may get an extra dose and when. The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday posted much of the evidence that it will ask outside experts to consider at Friday’s meeting.

But the agency struck a neutral tone in reviewing the data and discussing the rationale for boosters. That careful approach is notable given that White House officials have been previewing a booster campaign that they hoped to begin next week.

Pfizer is making the argument that while protection against severe disease is holding strong in the U.S., immunity against milder infection wanes somewhere around six to eight months after the second dose. The drugmaker is pointing to data from Israel, which began offering boosters over the summer.

The U.S. already offers an extra dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to people with severely weakened immune systems. — Associated Press

Los Angeles To Require COVID-19 Vaccinations At Bars

– 3:03 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021

Public health officials in Los Angeles County will begin requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for patrons and workers at indoor bars, wineries, breweries and nightclubs next month.

The new initiative in the nation’s most populous county begins Oct. 7, with proof of at least one vaccine dose required. According to the county’s Department of Public Health, proof of full vaccination will be mandatory by Nov. 4.

Health officials strongly recommend the same precautions for indoor restaurants but have not chosen to mandate proof of vaccination for them.

The new restrictions come ahead of the holiday season, which brought a massive surge in infections to Los Angeles last year. — Associated Press

Largest Colleges Offer Mix Of Vaccine Requirements

– 10:57 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021

There’s been a mix of coronavirus requirements at universities and colleges in the U.S.

At most of the largest public universities, students aren’t obligated to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Some schools do require vaccines, but with leniency for those who opt-out. Still, others have expelled students who don’t comply.

An analysis by The Associated Press shows 26 of the nation’s 50 largest public universities aren’t requiring the vaccination.

Universities with vaccine mandates are concentrated in the Northeast and California. Most without mandates are in states that restricted the ability to implement vaccine requirements, including Florida, Texas and Arizona.

As a new semester begins amid a resurgence of the coronavirus, administrators and faculty nationwide see high vaccination rates as key to bringing some normalcy back to campus. Where mandates face political opposition, schools are relying on incentives and outreach to get more students vaccinated. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 593 New COVID-19 Cases, 5 New Deaths

– 6:20 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 593 new coronavirus infections and five additional deaths Tuesday.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals, meanwhile, increased from 517 on Monday to 520, with 176 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures released Tuesday.

The latest numbers brought the county's totals to 346,205 cases and 3,966 fatalities since the pandemic began, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.

A total of 19,770 new tests were logged, and the percentage of positive cases over the past seven days was 4.6%.

Nearly 4.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.42 million — or 86.5% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.13 million, or around 76.1% of the county's eligible population.

The COVID-19 positive case rate is 37.1 per 100,000 people for San Diego County, which can be further parsed as 61.9 for unvaccinated and 17.7 for vaccinated residents.

Daily hospitalizations are more than 47 times higher for the unvaccinated — at 1.9 new daily hospitalizations per 100,000 people — than for the vaccinated at .04 daily hospitalizations per 100,000.

Among Unvaccinated, Coronavirus Cases Climb In US

– 1:16 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

The number of COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have returned to levels reached last winter, potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s argument for sweeping new vaccination requirements.

The U.S. is averaging more than 1,800 COVID-19 deaths and 170,000 new cases per day. That’s still well below the peak of about 3,400 deaths and 250,000 cases per day in January. But it’s frustrating health care leaders, who witness it nine months into the nation’s vaccination drive, as hospitals fill up with unvaccinated patients.

The cases, driven by the delta variant and resistance among some Americans to get vaccinated, are concentrated mostly in the South.

While hot spots such as Florida and Louisiana are improving, infection rates are soaring in Kentucky, Georgia and Tennessee, fueled by children back in school, loose mask requirements and low vaccination rates.

“Now in Kentucky, one-third of new cases are under age 18,” says Dr. Ryan Stanton, an emergency room physician in Lexington. He says some children brought it home from summer camp and spread it to the rest of the family, and “between day care and schools and school activities, and friends getting together, there are just so many exposures.” — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 591 New COVID-19 Cases, 19 New Deaths

– 6:03 p.m., Monday, Sept. 13, 2021

San Diego County reported 592 new coronavirus infections and 19 new deaths Monday.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals, meanwhile, declined from 531 on Sunday to 517, with 175 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

Monday's numbers brought the county's totals to 345,648 cases, with cumulative fatalities increasing to 3,961, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.

A total of 12,072 new tests were logged, and the percentage of positive cases over the past seven days was 4.7%.

Nearly 4.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.42 million — or 86.5% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.13 million, or around 76.1% of the county's eligible population.

The COVID-19 positive case rate is 37.1 per 100,000 people for San Diego County, which can be further parsed as 61.9 for unvaccinated and 17.7 for vaccinated residents.

Daily hospitalizations are more than 47 times higher for the unvaccinated — at 1.9 new daily hospitalizations per 100,000 people — than for the vaccinated at .04 daily hospitalizations per 100,000.

San Diego County Reports 705 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths

– 4:02 p.m., Monday, Sept. 13, 2021

San Diego County reported 705 new coronavirus infections and no new deaths Sunday.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals, meanwhile, declined from 550 on Saturday to 531, with 178 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

Sunday's numbers brought the county's totals to 345,059 cases, with fatalities remaining at 3,942 since the pandemic began, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.

A total of 15,579 new tests were logged, and the percentage of positive cases over the past seven days was 4.8%.

Nearly 4.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.42 million — or 86.5% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.13 million, or around 76.1% of the county's eligible population.

The COVID-19 positive case rate is 37.1 per 100,000 people for San Diego County, which can be further parsed as 61.9 for unvaccinated and 17.7 for vaccinated residents. – City News Service

DA Experts Among Group Opposing US Booster Shot Plan

– 10:18 a.m., Monday, Sept. 13, 2021

An international group of scientists is arguing the average person doesn't need a COVID-19 booster yet — an opinion that highlights the intense scientific divide over the question.

Two of those scientists are top U.S. vaccine regulators, raising questions about whether White House plans for booster doses are getting ahead of the government's own experts.

The group analyzed a long list of worldwide studies and concluded the shots still work well despite the extra-contagious delta variant. Their opinion piece was published Monday in The Lancet. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 1,031 COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths, 174 Hospitalizations

– 6:18 p.m., Friday, Sept. 10, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 1,031 new coronavirus infections and 12 deaths Friday, while county figures show an increase of 174 hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

The figures brought the cumulative number of infections in San Diego County since the pandemic began to 343,173, the number of fatalities to 3,941 and hospitalizations to 17,253.

The number of COVID patients in local intensive care units increased by 13, the county Health and Human Services Agency reported.

A total of 26,271 new tests were reported, and the percentage of positive cases over the last seven days was 5.2%.

Nearly 4.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.42 million — or 86.5% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.13 million, or around 76.1% of the county's eligible population.

The COVID-19 positive case rate is 37.1 per 100,000 people for San Diego County, which can be further parsed as 61.9 for unvaccinated and 17.7 for vaccinated residents.

More striking is daily hospitalizations, which are more than 47 times higher for the unvaccinated — at 1.9 new daily hospitalizations per 100,000 people — than for the vaccinated at .04 daily hospitalizations per 100,000.

San Diego County Reports 720 New COVID-19 Cases, 3 New Deaths

– 6:55 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021

San Diego County public health officials Thursday reported 720 new coronavirus infections and three deaths, and state figures show a decrease in the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19.

The latest figures bring the cumulative number of infections in San Diego County since the pandemic began to 342,149, and the number of fatalities to 3,929.

The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus decreased to 581, down 12 from Wednesday, according to state data. The number of COVID patients in local intensive care units increased by one to 180.

A total of 21,758 new tests were reported, and the percentage of positive cases over the last seven days was 5.3%.

Nearly 4.6 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.42 million — or 86.5% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.13 million, or around 76.1% of the county's eligible population.

The COVID-19 positive case rate is 37.1 per 100,000 people for San Diego County, which can be further parsed as 61.9 for unvaccinated and 17.7 for vaccinated residents.

More striking is daily hospitalizations which are more than 47 times higher for the unvaccinated — at 1.9 new daily hospitalizations per 100,000 people — than for the vaccinated at .04 daily hospitalizations per 100,000.

Los Angeles To Require Vaccine For All Students 12 And Up

– 6:45 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021

The Los Angeles board of education has voted to require students 12 and older to be vaccinated against the coronavirus if they attend in-person classes in the nation’s second-largest school district.

The board’s vote Thursday makes Los Angeles by far the largest of a very small number of districts with a vaccine requirement. Nearby Culver City imposed a similar policy last month for its 7,000 students. LA has about 630,000 students.

Under the plan for Los Angeles, students 12 and up who participate in sports and other extracurricular activities need to be fully vaccinated by the end of October. Others would have until Dec. 19.

The Los Angeles Unified School District was among the last of the nation’s largest districts to reopen to classroom instruction last spring. The teachers union opposed the move for months, citing health concerns.

LA’s student population is nearly three-quarters Latino and many are poor. Among adults, poor Latinos are vaccinated at a lower rate than the state average.

Sweeping New Vaccine Mandates For 100 Million Americans

– 6:27 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021

In his most forceful pandemic actions and words, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.

Speaking at the White House, Biden sharply criticized the roughly 80 million Americans who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.

“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us," he said, all but biting off his words. The unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”

Republican leaders — and some union chiefs, too — said Biden was going too way too far in trying to muscle private companies and workers, a certain sign of legal challenges to come.

Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina said in a statement that “Biden and the radical Democrats ... have declared war against capitalism (and) thumbed their noses at the Constitution.”

AFL-CIO National President Everett Kelley insisted that “changes like this should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate.”

In San Diego, legal analyst Dan Eaton said the vaccine orders will receive close legal scrutiny.

“The scope of the executive order concerning vaccination mandates is going to be carefully parsed to see if it overreaches,” Eaton said.

The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.

Biden is also signing an executive order to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. That covers several million more workers.

Biden announced the new requirements in a Thursday afternoon address from the White House as part of a new “action plan” to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnating pace of COVID-19 shots that has raised doubts among the public over his handling of the pandemic.

In addition to the vaccination requirements, Biden moved to double federal fines for airline passengers who refuse to wear masks on flights or to maintain face covering requirements on federal property in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Biden announced that the federal government will work to increase the supply of virus tests, and that the White House has secured concessions from retailers including Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger to sell at-home testing kits at cost beginning this week.

The administration was also sending additional federal support to assist schools in safely operating, including additional funding for testing. And Biden will call for large entertainment venues and arenas to require vaccinations or proof of a negative test for entry.

The requirement for large companies to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for employees will be enacted through a forthcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that carries penalties of $14,000 per violation, an administration official said. The White House did not immediately say when it would take effect, but said workers would have sufficient time to get vaccinated.

The rule would also require that large companies provide paid time off for vaccination.

Calif. Lawmakers Drop Worker Vaccination Mandate

– 5:22 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021

California lawmakers have shelved bills aimed at requiring workers to either be vaccinated against the coronavirus or get weekly virus tests to keep their jobs.

One measure by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks would have required all workers to either get the coronavirus vaccine or submit to weekly testing. Another bill by Assemblyman Evan Low sought to make sure state law protected businesses that choose to require their workers to be vaccinated.

Neither bill will advance this year.

On Wednesday, more than a thousand people gathered at the state Capitol to protest vaccine mandates. Organizers say they wanted to let lawmakers know they oppose the bills. — Associated Press

As Summer Ends, Virus Cases, Deaths Surge In US

10:56 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021

The summer was supposed to mark America’s independence from COVID-19 but its ending with the U.S. firmly under the command of the coronavirus, with deaths per day back up to levels in March.

The delta variant is filling hospitals, sickening alarming numbers of children and driving coronavirus deaths in some places to the highest levels of the entire pandemic. School systems that reopened their classrooms are abruptly switching back to remote learning because of outbreaks.

The U.S. recorded 26,800 deaths and more than 4.2 million infections in August. The number of monthly positive cases was the fourth-highest total since the start of the pandemic.

The U.S. is averaging over 150,000 new cases per day, levels not seen since January. Deaths are close to 1,500 per day, up more than a third since late August. Overall, the outbreak is still well below the all-time peaks reached over the winter when deaths topped out at 3,400 a day and new cases at 250,000 per day.

The U.S. death toll stands at more than 650,000, with one major forecast model projecting it will top 750,000 by Dec. 1. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 519 New COVID-19 Cases, Fewest Since July

– 5:35 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 519 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, the fewest in more than a month.

The cumulative number of infections since the pandemic began increased to 340,709. No new deaths were reported and that number remains 3,922.

The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus decreased to 599, down 35 from Monday's update, according to state data. The number of COVID patients in local intensive care units increased by two to 179.

A total of 16,201 tests were reported, and the percentage of positive cases over the last seven days was 5.6%.

Nearly 4.56 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.41 million — or 85.9% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.11 million, or around 75.4% of the county's eligible population. – City News Service

New Studies Find Evidence Of 'Superhuman' Immunity To COVID-19 In Some Individuals

– 10:27 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021

Some scientists have called it "superhuman immunity" or "bulletproof." But immunologist Shane Crotty prefers "hybrid immunity."

"Overall, hybrid immunity to SARS-CoV-2 appears to be impressively potent," Crotty wrote in commentary in Science back in June.

No matter what you call it, this type of immunity offers much needed good news in what seems like an endless array of bad news regarding COVID-19.

Over the past several months, a series of studies has found that some people mount an extraordinarily powerful immune response against SARS-CoV-2. Their bodies produce very high levels of antibodies, but they also make antibodies with great flexibility — likely capable of fighting off the variants of coronavirus circulating in the world but also likely effective against variants that may emerge in the future.

"One could reasonably predict that these people will be quite well-protected against most — and perhaps all of — the SARS-CoV-2 variants that we are likely to see in the foreseeable future," says Paul Bieniasz, a virologist at the Rockefeller University who helped to lead several of the studies.

In a study published online last month, Bieniasz and his colleagues found antibodies in these individuals that can strongly neutralize the six variants of concern tested, including delta and beta, as well as several other viruses related to SARS-CoV-2, including one in bats, two in pangolins and the one that caused the first coronavirus pandemic, SARS-CoV-1. – Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR

San Diego County Reports 814 New COVID-19 Cases, 8 Deaths

– 10:25 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021

San Diego County has reported 814 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional virus-related deaths, according to the most recent data released.

Monday's numbers, with data through Sunday, increased the county's cumulative totals to 340,222 cases, with the death toll increasing to 3,922 since the pandemic began, according to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency.

The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus increased to 649, up 11 from Sunday's update. The number of COVID patients in local intensive care units increased by two to 174.

A total of 10,621 tests were reported, and the percentage of positive cases over the last seven days was 5.8%.

Nearly 4.56 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.41 million — or 85.9% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.11 million, or around 75.4% of the county's eligible population.

No-cost COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the region. They can be found at medical providers, pharmacies, community clinics and county public health centers for people who do not have a medical provider. A list of locations and more information is available at coronavirus-sd.com/vaccine. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 697 New COVID-19 Cases, No Deaths

– 4:00 p.m., Monday, Sept. 6, 2021

San Diego County reported 697 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths, according to the most recent data released.

Sunday's numbers increased the county's cumulative totals to 339,427 cases, with the death toll remaining at 3,914 since the pandemic began, according to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency.

The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus decreased from 660 on Saturday to 638 Sunday, according to state figures. The number of COVID patients in local intensive care units dropped from 176 to 172.

A total of 14,545 tests were reported by the county Sunday, and the percentage of new positive cases was 6.1%.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents was 38.7 overall as of Wednesday, 15.2 for fully vaccinated people and 68 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans.

Nearly 4.56 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.41 million — or 85.9% of county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.11 million, or around 75.4% of the county's eligible population. — City News Service

Virus Pushes Some California Hospitals Near ICU Capacity

– 3:45 p.m., Monday, Sept. 6, 2021

Hospitals in the heart of California’s Central Valley are running out of beds in their intensive care units, state officials announced Friday, as a more contagious version of the coronavirus continues to spread primarily among the unvaccinated population.

Hospitals in the 12-county San Joaquin Valley region have had fewer than 10% of staffed adult ICU beds for three consecutive days. State officials labeled it a “surge,” triggering special rules announced last month that require nearby hospitals to accept transfer patients.

In Fresno County and neighboring counties, the number of confirmed and suspected coronavirus patients in hospitals is more than double what it was four weeks ago, the Fresno Bee reported.

In San Joaquin County, new virus cases and the number of people admitted to hospitals has surpassed the peak numbers of cases and patients during last summer's surge, according to the county health officer. But a spokeswoman for the county's Office of Emergency Services said the county had enough hospital beds to avoid transferring patients out of the county as of Friday.

If the problem gets worse and ICU capacity falls to zero, the state says hospitals across California must also accept transfer patients.

Statewide, new coronavirus cases have declined following a surge attributed to the delta variant, a more contagious and dangerous version of the virus. Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced more than 80% of Californians 12 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine — putting California among the highest vaccine rates in the country.

But coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the state have continued to climb. As of Thursday, 8,630 people were hospitalized because of the coronavirus across the state, more than five times higher the number of people hospitalized on July 1.

“This is still primarily, overwhelmingly, a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Newsom said Tuesday. — Associated Press

San Diego County Reports 1,228 New COVID-19 Cases, 2 Deaths

– 5:23 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3, 2021

San Diego County public health officials Friday reported 1,228 new COVID-19 infections and two deaths.

Friday's data increased the county's cumulative totals to 337,627 cases and 3,911 deaths.

Nearly 4.56 million vaccine doses have been administered in the county, with 2.41 million -- or 85.9% of San Diego County residents -- having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.11 million, or around 75.4% of the county's eligible population.

No-cost COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the region. They can be found at medical providers, pharmacies, community clinics and county public health centers for people who do not have a medical provider. A list of locations and more information is available at coronavirus-sd.com/vaccine.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 38.7 overall, as reported Wednesday, 15.2 for fully vaccinated people and 68 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans.

A total of 19,783 tests were reported by the county Friday, and the percentage of new positive cases was 6.3%.

The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus increased by 1 to 671 from Thursday, according to state figures. One new patient was admitted to a local intensive care unit, increasing that number to 177. — City News Service

Spain Wants Vaccination Proof From US Tourists

– 4:09 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3, 2021

Spain is tweaking its travel entry rules from next week to require vaccination certificates from U.S. tourists, adjusting to recent European Union advice on stricter rules due to growing anxiety over coronavirus contagion in the U.S.

The European Council’s decision earlier this week to remove the U.S. from a safe list of countries for nonessential travel also came amid unanswered calls from European officials for “reciprocity” in travel rules. Despite the EU’s move to open its borders to U.S. citizens in June, the U.S. didn’t allow EU tourists in.

Spain, a major tourism destination, is among a handful of EU countries that has announced steps to adjust its entry rules to the Council’s recommendation.

The country published Friday the new guidelines on its official gazette, also removing Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia from the safe list.

Under the rules, U.S. tourists will no longer be admitted from Monday, Sept. 6, unless they can show proof of being fully vaccinated at least 14 days before their trip. Unvaccinated children under 12 traveling with vaccinated adults are also allowed in the country. — Associated Press

US Booster Plan Faces Possible Delay By Sept. 20

– 12:39 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3, 2021

President Joe Biden’s plan to start delivery of booster shots by Sept. 20 for most Americans who received COVID-19 vaccines is facing complications that could delay the availability for those who received the Moderna vaccine, administration officials said Friday.

Biden announced last month that his administration was preparing to administer boosters to provide more enduring protection against the coronavirus, pending approvals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. He recommended boosters eight months after the second shot.

However, those agencies are awaiting critical data before signing off on the third doses, with Moderna’s vaccine increasingly seen as unlikely to make the Sept. 20 date.

According to one official, Moderna produced inadequate data for the FDA and CDC to approve the third dose of its vaccine. The FDA has requested additional data that is likely to delay those boosters into October. Pfizer is further along in the review process, with an FDA panel review on boosters on Sept. 17.

Data for boosters on Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine won’t be available for months, since that shot wasn’t approved until February, officials say. — Associated Press

Moderna Has Asked The FDA To Authorize A Booster Of Its COVID-19 Vaccine

– 10:51 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021

A third dose of the Moderna vaccine — given six months after the initial two doses — significantly boosts immunity, according to data the company submitted to the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday.

The data comes from 344 volunteers who got an additional dose of the vaccine as part of a clinical study. Antibodies had waned six months after vaccination, the company said, but the third shot boosted antibodies to an even higher point than was seen after the initial shots, even though the booster was just half the original dose. The increased protection was "achieved across age groups, notably in older adults (ages 65 and above)," the company said.

Moderna made the announcement in a press release, but the research has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Pfizer-BioNTech has also asked for authorization for a booster dose of its vaccine. The FDA has scheduled a meeting for September 17th to discuss the need for boosters for the general population.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already recommended a third dose of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for some immunocompromised people. – Jane Greenhalgh, NPR

If You’re Unvaccinated, The CDC Wants You To Stay Home This Labor Day Weekend

– 10:50 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021

If you're not vaccinated, you shouldn't travel over the long Labor Day weekend.

That's the bottom line, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

"First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling," Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday.

Since the start of the pandemic, holiday weekends, when many Americans traditionally travel, have been a special concern for health officials because they increase the chances that the virus can spread widely and quickly.

Last year, before vaccines were available to the public, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened more than 3 million airline passengers over the Labor Day holiday.

However, despite the wide availability of vaccines this year, the coronavirus delta variant and an unwillingness on the part of many Americans to get vaccinated has caused a major spike in infections and hospitalizations. – Scott Neuman, NPR

Weekly COVID-19 Deaths Nearly Double As Delta Variant Continues Surge

– 10:48 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021

The 49 COVID-19 deaths reported in the past week nearly doubled the previous week's 25, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday.

There were 37 men who died and 12 women. Most of the deaths occurred in late August. Forty-one had underlying medical conditions, four did not and four had medical history pending.

Of the 49 deaths, 12 were 80 years of age or older, 13 were in their 70s, 12 were in their 60s, seven were in their 50s and five were in their 40s.

"These deaths are very tragic because they could have been prevented," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. "We now have very safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19. These deaths should not have occurred."

Most of the deaths being reported now have been San Diegans who were not vaccinated. – City News Service

Decline In Vaccine Effectiveness Tied To Repealed Mask Mandates, Delta Variant

– 4:42 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021

A team of researchers at UC San Diego Wednesday published a letter stating that the effectiveness of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have significantly waned over time, partially due to the ending of mask mandates and the highly contagious delta variant.

The letter, which appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine, was written by an interdisciplinary team of physicians and public health experts at UCSD. They measured the effectiveness of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines among health workers at UCSD Health, most notably during the emergence of the highly transmissible delta virus variant and coincident with the end of the state's mask mandate — allowing fully vaccinated people to forgo face coverings in most places.

The authors noted that from March through June, vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infection was estimated to exceed 90%. By July, however, it had fallen to around 65%.

Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last December, with vaccinations of the UCSD Health workforce beginning the same month for employees with direct, patient-facing duties. — City News Service

Millions Of People Are Missing From CDC COVID Data As States Fail To Report Cases

– 3:32 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021

Colorful maps on the new online Health Equity Tracker reveal how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected different races and age groups across the United States, but you can tell something is not quite right.

A handful of states are grayed out, and that's not because they've escaped the pandemic.

"There's no data coming out of Texas," points out software engineer Josh Zarrabi of Atlanta's Morehouse School of Medicine, which recently rolled out the tracking portal. "A lot of Americans should be unhappy about that. And they should say, like, 'Wow, like, we need the data, right, because we're missing a huge piece of the puzzle here.' "

And it's not just a search for jigsaw pieces from Texas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tallied over 39 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., but if you want to know more detailed information, such as where patients live, whether patients were hospitalized or died, demographic details like race, gender and age, that information is gathered separately. – Austin Fast, NPR

San Diego County Supervisors Declare COVID-19 Misinformation A Public Health Crisis

– 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021

A divided San Diego County Board of Supervisors has voted to adopt what is believed to be a first-in-the-nation policy of declaring COVID-19 misinformation a public health crisis and adopt a series of recommendations to actively combat it.

"Combating health misinformation needs to start on the ground, in counties and cities across our nation," said Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher, who authored the policy. "San Diego County took the first step by becoming the first local jurisdiction in the country to align its policies with the U.S. surgeon general's recommendations to fight health misinformation. Health misinformation is a national crisis and it requires all of us to fight against it together."

Tuesday night's vote was 3-2, with Supervisors Jim Desmond and Joel Anderson voting no. The final result came after hours of debate featuring testimony from hundreds of residents, many who opposed the measure. Fletcher characterized them as "mostly right-wing, anti-vaxxers."

Addressing opponents during the meeting, Fletcher said: "Nothing in this measure will take away anyone's right to free speech. But this will empower medical experts to lend their knowledge to provide people with info about what they may be hearing. Our efforts today are to help us in the cause to get beyond COVID-19. I can promise you that no one ever ran for public office saying, `I want to close businesses, I want to wear masks.' We want to get out of this pandemic without any closures or further mandates." – City News Service

WHO Leader Opposes 'Widespread' Use Of Boosters

– 2:55 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021

The head of the World Health Organization says he opposes “widespread use of boosters” for healthy people for now, underscoring the need to get doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to poorer countries.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke in Berlin on Wednesday. He says the U.N. health agency last week witnessed the first decline in new global cases in more than two months.

He says, “this is obviously very welcome but it doesn’t mean much,” since many countries are still seeing steep increases and “shocking inequities” in access to vaccines.

Tedros says he’s called for a moratorium on booster shots at least until the end of September “to allow those countries that are furthest behind to catch up.”

He says “third doses may be necessary for the most at-risk populations, where there is evidence of waning immunity against severe disease and death.” He cites the “very small group” of immunocompromised people who didn’t respond sufficiently to their original shots or are no longer producing antibodies.

Tedros adds: “But for now, we do not want to see widespread use of boosters for healthy people who are fully vaccinated.” — Associated Press

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