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February 2022: Coronavirus Blog Archive

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

Did the pandemic create more income inequality in California?
– 1:28 p.m., Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

Recessions in California tend to widen the gap between rich and poor. The sharp pandemic downturn of 2020 followed this pattern with low-income workers suffering the most. But unprecedented government relief kept millions from falling into poverty, and demand for labor boosted wages when businesses reopened.

Now with federal and state stimulus payments gone, and the recovery still underway, researchers are combing through employment statistics, as well as large-scale survey data, asking whether the pandemic resulted in a deepening of California’s divide. Three out of the last four recessions — excluding the bursting of the internet stock bubble — increased income inequality in California, the Public Policy Institute of California said.

In coming months the institute expects to have its own inequality measure updated with 2020 data. Many Californians already see economic inequality as a facet of life here, with 69% of residents believing the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening, a November poll by the PPIC found. — Alejandro Lazo, CalMatters

San Diego County reports 862 new COVID-19 infections, 14 deaths
– 4:54 p.m., Friday, Feb. 25, 2022

San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency reported 862 new COVID-19 infections and 14 additional deaths in its latest data.

Friday's data increased the county's cumulative totals to 736,368 cases and 5,018 deaths.

An average of 16,300 COVID-19 tests were recorded each day for the past week. Of those, 5.7% returned positive -- down from 6.5% on Tuesday. The county reports this data on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The number of San Diego County patients hospitalized with COVID-19 continued to fall, decreasing to 497 Friday -- down from 532 on Thursday -- according to the latest state data. The number of those patients in intensive care decreased by five to 91. Available ICU beds decreased by 12 to 197.

A total of 1,151,574 — or 54.3% — of San Diego County residents who are fully vaccinated have received a booster shot, according to the HHSA.

More than 2.9 million — or 92.6% — of San Diego County residents age 5 and older are at least partially vaccinated and more than 2.56 million, or 81.4%, are fully vaccinated.

California Gov. Newsom winds down pandemic health orders
– 4:08 p.m., Friday, Feb. 25, 2022

On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the lifting of all but 5% of the provisions of his pandemic-related executive orders, though the state will maintain measures for testing, vaccination and economic recovery efforts.

“California’s early and decisive measures to combat COVID-19 have saved countless lives throughout the pandemic, and as the recent Omicron surge made clear, we must remain prepared to quickly and effectively respond to changing conditions in real time,” Newsom said in a statement. “As we move the state’s recovery forward, we’ll continue to focus on scaling back provisions while maintaining essential testing, vaccination and health care system supports that ensure California has the needed tools and flexibility to strategically adapt our response for what lies ahead.”

Remaining measures will allow California to continue processing 500,000 tests and administering 200,000 doses of vaccines and boosters daily, including through pharmacies and mobile clinics. Eleven other measures will focus on protections for the health care system and vulnerable populations — especially during surges of COVID-19 infections — and let officials bring in medical workers from out of state to ensure sustainable hospital capacities. The other remaining measures will ensure that workplace safety rules remain consistent with current health guidance, and provide flexibility to agencies to carry out emergency response. — KPBS staff

CDC to significantly ease pandemic mask guidelines Friday
4:18 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 24., 2022

The Biden administration will significantly loosen federal mask-wearing guidelines to protect against COVID-19 transmission on Friday, according to two people familiar with the matter, meaning most Americans will no longer be advised to wear masks in indoor public settings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday will announce a change to the metrics it uses to determine whether to recommend face coverings, shifting from looking at COVID-19 case counts to a more holistic view of risk from the coronavirus to a community. Under current guidelines, masks are recommended for people residing in communities of substantial or high transmission — roughly 95% of U.S. counties, according to the latest data.

The new metrics will still consider caseloads, but also take into account hospitalizations and local hospital capacity, which have been markedly improved during the emergence of the omicron variant. That strain is highly transmissible, but indications are that it is less severe than earlier strains, particularly for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted. Under the new guidelines, the vast majority of Americans will no longer live in areas where indoor masking in public is recommended, based on current data. — Associated Press

COVID-19 death toll tops 5,000 as county reports 659 cases, 14 deaths
8:48 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022

San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency reported 659 new COVID-19 infections and 14 additional deaths, bringing the cumulative death toll to 5,002 in it latest data.

There have been 734,656 infections in San Diego County since the pandemic began.

The number of San Diego County patients hospitalized with COVID-19 continued to fall, decreasing to 562 Wednesday — down from 574 on Tuesday — according to the latest state data. The number of those patients in intensive care decreased by six to 109. Available ICU beds increased by five to 211. — City News Service

California convoy opposing COVID-19 mandates hits the road
2:04 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022

A small convoy of truckers demanding an end to coronavirus mandates began a cross-country drive from California to the Washington, D.C., area on Wednesday.

Several hundred people rallied in a parking lot in the cold, windswept Mojave Desert town of Adelanto before about two dozen trucks and a number of other vehicles hit the road. It wasn't clear how many intended to go all the way. — Associated Press

Omicron continues to wane in San Diego County as deaths approach 5,000
– 6:57 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022

San Diego County reported 728 new COVID-19 infections and 14 additional deaths associated with the coronavirus Tuesday, as the surge in cases and hospitalizations from the omicron variant continues to wane.

The new positive cases, which reflect those counted on Monday, follow a weekend of relatively similar numbers: 616 Sunday, 729 Saturday and 894 Friday. The county Health and Human Services Agency no longer reports data on weekends or holidays.

Tuesday's numbers increased the county's cumulative totals to 734,013 infections and 4,988 deaths since the pandemic began. — City News Service

COVID-19 shots unlikely to prompt rare inflammation in kids
– 4:16 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022

COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to trigger a rare inflammatory condition linked to coronavirus infection in children, according to an analysis of U.S. government data published Tuesday.

The condition, formally known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, involves fever plus symptoms affecting at least two organs and often includes stomach pain, skin rash or bloodshot eyes. It's a rare complication in kids who have had COVID-19, and very rarely affects adults. The condition often leads to hospitalization, but most patients recover.

First reported in the United Kingdom in early 2020, it is sometimes mistaken for Kawasaki disease, which can cause swelling and heart problems. Since February 2020, more than 6,800 cases have been reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. – Associated Press

California's endemic phase: not everyone is ready to live with the virus
– 5:18 p.m., Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

California has entered a new phase in the fight against COVID-19, but not everyone is ready to ease into the new normal just yet under the governor's endemic framework.

"I really don't see a new normal for me yet," said Kearny Mesa resident Bianca Santos.

Santos received a kidney from her cousin a few years ago and has since taken immune-compromising drugs to keep her body from rejecting the organ. It means even the flu or food poisoning can be enough to send her to the hospital. Being high-risk means she has mostly been staying at home during the pandemic. – Matt Hoffman

Teachers caught in the middle as schools wait for next steps on masking
– 3:15 p.m., Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

Last week, California health officials announced they were keeping the statewide school mask mandate in place, with a plan to review the policy on Feb. 28. In the meantime, schools in San Diego County are facing increased resistance to masking, often leaving teachers stuck in the middle.

Keri Avila, president of the Vista Teachers Association, joined Midday Edition Monday to talk more about what teachers are experiencing in the classroom amid the ongoing debates on school masking.

As the pandemic enters its third year, Avila said morale is low for educators. Many teachers are deciding to leave the field altogether. – Andrew Bracken and Cristina Kim

More contagious version of omicron spreads in U.S., fueling worries
– 11:28 a.m., Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

As the omicron surge continues to decline in the U.S., infectious disease experts are keeping a close eye on an even more contagious version of the variant that could once again foil the nation's hopes of getting back to normal.

The virus, known as BA.2, is a strain of the highly contagious omicron variant that appears to spread even more easily — about 30% more easily.

Because BA.2 quickly overtook the original omicron in South Africa and other countries and has even caused a second omicron surge in Denmark, researchers have been bracing for the same thing to happen in the U.S. – Rob Stein, NPR

San Diego County's COVID hospitalizations fall to 589 patients
– 11:05 a.m., Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

The number of San Diego County patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to fall, decreasing to 589 Sunday — down from 628 on Saturday and 648 on Friday — according to the latest state data.

The number of those patients in intensive care decreased by nine to 114 Sunday. Available ICU beds increased by 11 to 202.

The latest numbers came two days after San Diego County reported 1,419 new COVID-19 cases and 16 additional virus-related deaths, bringing its cumulative totals to 731,036 infections and 4,974 deaths. – City News Service

San Diego County reports 939 new COVID-19 cases, 16 deaths
– 10:32 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022

San Diego County reported 939 new COVID-19 cases and 16 additional virus-related deaths in its latest data, while health officials reminded county residents to get boosted.

According to the county Health and Human Services Agency, 1,616 hospitalizations were reported during the 30-day period between Jan. 4 and Feb. 2. Of those, 201, or 12.4%, were fully vaccinated and had received a booster shot.

"COVID-19 vaccine additional doses and boosters offer protection against the Omicron variant, prevent serious illness in most people and keep people out of the hospital," said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer. "San Diegans should get all the recommended vaccine doses as soon as they are eligible."

A total of 1,131,912 — or 53.7% — of San Diego County residents who are fully vaccinated have received a booster shot, according to the HHSA. Boosters are available for everyone 12 years and older. An additional shot is recommended for people ages 5 and up who are moderately and severely immunocompromised. – City News Service

Newsom to announce next phase of pandemic response Thursday
– 10:32 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022

California's indoor mask requirement is officially gone and Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to release his endemic plan Thursday afternoon. The governor said the plan will answer questions about where California is going with the pandemic.

"There’s uncertainty going forward and we need to be prepared," said Dr. Eric Topol from the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla.
Topol was one of the experts Newsom's team shared the plan with ahead of this week's anticipated release.

"It’s good — but it could be even more bold and more comprehensive," Topol said. – Matt Hoffman, KPBS Health Reporter

San Diego Unified to lift outdoor mask policy Wednesday
– 8:25 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022

Effective Wednesday, the San Diego Unified School District will update its outdoor masking policy and lift restrictions on field trips, allowing students, staff and others on SDUSD school grounds the option of no longer wearing masks outdoors.

Field trips will be permitted to resume for both indoor and outdoor venues, with health and safety guidelines followed. Indoor masking will continue to be required for all students and staff on district property, including schools and central offices, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

"Although we are making significant progress, now is not the time to let our guard down when it comes to COVID-19," Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne said. "Through a robust commitment to masking and our vaccination policy, we have made San Diego Unified schools some of the safest places in the community with respect to the virus. We want to keep it that way as we continue navigating out of the pandemic and will adjust accordingly." – City News Service

San Diego County reports 1,072 new COVID-19 cases, 17 deaths
– 8:12 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022

San Diego County reported 1,072 new COVID-19 cases and 17 additional deaths associated with the coronavirus, as hospitalizations decreased by four, according to the latest data.

Tuesday's data brought San Diego County's cumulative totals to 727,348 infections and 4,931 deaths, with a total of 724 COVID-positive patients currently hospitalized.

The number of those patients in intensive care decreased by nine to 135 Tuesday, according to the latest state data. Available ICU beds remained unchanged at 188.

A total of 9,386 new tests were reported Tuesday with a positivity rate over the past seven days of 9.9%, down from 12.1% on Friday. The county reports this statistic every Tuesday and Friday. – City News Service

Masks no longer required indoors for vaccinated people beginning Wednesday
– 6:44 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022

Masks on, masks off. It’s become a familiar back and forth since Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed the first mask mandate back in June of 2020.

This most recent mask mandate was put in place two months ago as omicron surged. Then on Monday, the Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency made this announcement: “To allow the guidance for public indoor settings for vaccinated individuals to move from a requirement to a strong recommendation."

Masks are still required for everyone in a number of public settings, including indoor places for unvaccinated people. They're still required for everyone in all transit facilities, also health care facilities, schools and child care, long-term care settings and in jails and prisons. – John Carroll, KPBS General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

California school mask mandate remains for now, but could lift at month's end
– 2:03 p.m., Monday, Feb. 14, 2022

Despite indications the state was on the verge of lifting its mask-wearing requirement in schools, the state's Health and Human Services secretary said Monday the requirement will remain in place for now, pending a Feb. 28 reassessment of COVID-19 case rates and other pandemic metrics.

Dr. Mark Ghaly said a lifting of the mandate is inevitable, saying it is just "a question of when." He expressed confidence that the mandate would be lifted after that Feb. 28 reassessment, barring another sudden spike in virus infection rates and hospitalizations.

Ghaly gave a lengthy presentation noting significant downward trends over the past month statewide in COVID case rates, hospitalizations and testing positivity rates. But he said as far as schools are concerned, the state is only "close to a point" where such a move can be made, so no immediate change will be made. – City News Service

CA Health and Human Services Secretary provides update on the state's COVID-19 response
– 1:00 p.m., Monday, Feb. 14, 2022

2/14/2022: CalHHS Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly Provides Update on COVID-19 in California

The FDA postpones a highly anticipated meeting on the Pfizer vaccine for young kids
– 11:15 a.m., Friday, Feb. 11, 2022

A highly anticipated meeting of expert advisers to discuss whether to recommend the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for young children has been postponed.

The Food and Drug Administration said Pfizer told the agency that new data have recently emerged regarding its emergency use authorization request for the Pfizer vaccine in children 6 months through 4 years of age.

The agency said its preliminary assessment and need to allow more time to evaluate additional data led it to postpone the meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 15. – Scott Hensley, NPR

California to soon begin 'endemic' approach to pandemic
– 1:08 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022

California health officials next week will outline a new approach to dealing with the coronavirus that assumes it's here to stay, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday, while condemning organized disinformation efforts that limit vaccinations critical to California entering the next stage.

A disease reaches the endemic stage when the virus still exists in a community but becomes manageable as immunity builds.

“We’re looking back at the last two years — what worked, what didn’t, what we’ve all learned on the journey we’ve been on together,” Newsom said. That includes reviewing the impact on people and businesses from California's rules, regulations and requirements, he said. — City News Service

San Diego County confirms mask mandate will end for vaccinated on Tuesday
– 8:27 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022

Well-fitted masks will continue to be required to be worn indoors by people who are not fully vaccinated following Tuesday's expiration of the indoor mask mandate in San Diego County, the Health and Human Services Agency has announced.

The policy follows California Department of Public Health recommendations. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson immunization.

"People who are not fully vaccinated are more likely to become infected compared to people who have received all the recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, including the booster," said Dr. Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer. — City News Service

WATCH: Gov. Newsom signs legislation extending supplemental paid sick leave
9:55 a.m., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022

Governor Newsom Extends Paid Sick Leave & Small Biz COVID Relief

County reports 1,313 COVID-19 cases, 25 deaths as mask mandate gets end date
6:54 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022

San Diego County on Monday reported 1,313 new COVID-19 cases and 25 additional virus-related deaths — while Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state will lift its indoor mask-wearing requirement for vaccinated people on Feb. 15, but it will remain in effect for unvaccinated people.

The state's move means the requirement will be lifted in San Diego County.
Monday's data, along with 4,954 additional cases recorded over the weekend, increased the county's cumulative totals to 715,076 cases and 4,811 deaths. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency does not release data on weekend. — City News Service

County Supervisors vote to ask state for 'safe' phase-out of school mask mandate
6:52 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022

The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously voted to ask the state Department of Public Health for a "safe and responsible path" toward phasing out pandemic-related mask requirements for school children from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher made the request, saying that since the vaccine has been approved for children, the county needs to continue to plan for next steps as safely as possible.

He added that the vaccine has "put us in a position to begin phasing out those restrictions."— City News Service

If you tested positive and the contact tracer never called, here's why
6:50 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022

When the coronavirus pandemic began, the health department in Teton County, Wyo., went all in on contact tracing. Everyone at the health department stopped their regular jobs to join the effort, and each person who tested positive in the county — home to Jackson and Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks — got a call.

But when the omicron surge hit this winter, "the numbers were just staggering," says health director Jodie Pond. At one point in early January, the county had the highest case rate in the country.

When the health department got too overwhelmed to call everyone, she says, the community noticed right away. — Selena Simmons-Duffin, NPR

Australia will reopen to fully vaccinated travelers in 2 weeks
12:11 p.m., Monday, Feb. 7, 2022

Australia will reopen to fully vaccinated travelers beginning Feb. 21, officials announced Monday.

The move comes nearly two years after it first closed its international borders to slow the spread of COVID-19, and several months after beginning a gradual reopening that allowed certain tourists and foreign workers to enter the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted at a news conference that Australia has progressively opened its borders through programs with New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and South Korea, and also began welcoming international students and economic migrants late last year. That welcome will soon be extended to visa holders and international tourists, on one condition. — Rachel Treisman, NPR

CDC study says wearing masks puts Californians at lower risk of COVID infection
12:07 p.m., Monday, Feb. 7, 2022

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that was done in California has confirmed what we know about wearing masks inside public places: It helps contain the spread of COVID-19.

The study looked at randomly selected people throughout California who had received a test result for COVID-19. Some tested positive and some negative. The bottom line? Always using a face mask or respirator in an indoor public setting gave you lower odds of a positive test result, compared with never wearing protection in those settings.

Dr. Francesa Torianni is an infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego. She said the study was a real-world assessment of the risk to people inside public places. — Thomas Fudge, KPBS Science and Technology Reporter

Law proposed to keep schools open and safe from COVID-19
12:00 p.m., Monday, Feb. 7, 2022

A San Diego lawmaker is proposing a new bill to keep schools open and safe as the pandemic continues. Dr. Akilah Weber is the San Diego assemblymember sponsoring new legislation. The proposal would infuse the California Immunization Registry with COVID-19 data from across the state. Right now, only a fraction of counties voluntarily report their data, compromising the accuracy and efficiency of the registry.

Weber announced her proposal Friday on the campus of Lincoln High School. “It would create this requirement that every provider who gives out vaccines would have to put that information into this registry, and it would give all the schools access to all that information,” she said.

In fact, school districts do not currently have access to any of the state’s registry. — M.G. Perez, KPBS Education Reporter

San Diego County reports 2,736 COVID-19 cases, 29 deaths as omicron declines
11:57 a.m., Monday, Feb. 7, 2022

San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency reported 2,736 new COVID-19 infections and 29 deaths Friday as hospitalizations dropped by 91 patients.

Friday's data increases the cumulative case and death totals to 708,770 infections and 4,786 deaths. The latest state data for hospitalizations showed 1,014 patients in area hospitals with COVID-19, a decrease of 8.2% from Thursday.

The patients in intensive care beds decreased by seven to 199, and total ICU beds available declined by 14 to 157. — City News Service

Study released on a COVID and flu combo vaccine
11:55 a.m., Monday, Feb. 7, 2022

A recent study is bringing the idea of a combined flu and COVID vaccine one step closer to reality.

Just like the start of the flu season brings on the annual reminders for a flu shot, that could be the case for the COVID vaccine, amid talk of an annual COVID booster.

"The data from earlier this week, really are part of that data stream and it's good news to be getting to see these sorts of things moving toward availability," said Dr. Robert Schooley with UC San Diego Health. — Tania Thorne, KPBS North County Reporter

900,000 Americans have died of COVID in 2 years of the global pandemic
1:57 p.m., Friday, Feb. 4, 2022

The U.S. has crossed yet another tragic landmark in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. On Friday, the country surpassed 900,000 deaths from the disease, two years after the first COVID-19 cluster was reported in Wuhan, China. Public health experts say coming close to the 1 million death mark from the virus is "inevitable."

"It's absolutely staggering," said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, which has tracked the number of COVID-19 deaths during the pandemic. "It's unreal, frankly. And what makes it an even ... greater heartbreak — as if the loss of 900,000 souls weren't enough of a heartbreak — is the fact that it's probably an undercount of the number of people that we've lost."

University of Texas at Austin professor and epidemiologist Lauren Ancel Meyers told NPR's Rob Stein that the "horrible milestone" didn't have to happen. – Jonathan Franklin, NPR

Americans get sicker as omicron stalls everything from heart surgeries to cancer care
– 2:01 a.m., Friday, Feb. 4, 2022

After every shift in his Seattle emergency department, Dr. Matt Beecroft comes away with some new story of how the omicron surge is making his patients sicker.

And not just from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Instead, it's the delays and disruptions in medical care — a consequence of overcrowded and short-staffed hospitals — that are leading to, at times, life-threatening complications.

"It can be just heartbreaking," says Beecroft, who recalls one recent patient of his who had a heart attack. "She had been scheduled for a cardiac bypass," a procedure done to improve blood flow when there's an obstructed or partially blocked artery, "but that surgery had been canceled."

Beecroft, who's affiliated with the American College of Emergency Physicians, told two other doctors about the patient. That's when it became clear to him that this was far from an isolated event: "Between the three of us, we had seen four patients who had cardiac complications from not being able to get a cardiac surgery."

There's no way to quantify how many Americans are now suffering serious, if not irreversible, harm to their health because hospitals are buckling under the weight of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. But doctors say the consequences are far-reaching, given how many procedures have been postponed. – Will Stone, NPR

Over-the-counter COVID tests will soon be free for Medicare recipients
– 4:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022

Medicare and Medicare Advantage recipients will be eligible for free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests beginning in early spring, the Biden administration announced on Thursday.

The plan will allow for up to eight tests a month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said in a media release Thursday.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for Americans aged 65 and older, some younger Americans with disabilities and those with certain illnesses. – Alana Wise, NPR

San Diego County COVID cases cross 700,000 mark, but new cases trending downward
– 12:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022

San Diego County is seeing a decrease in positive COVID-19 tests, but a rising death toll had public health officials Thursday remind residents vaccines can save lives as the county reported 2,925 new infections and 25 deaths.

Hospitalizations and deaths are considered a lagging factor, so the above-average deaths due to the virus may be a result of the Omicron spike in December and January. Additionally, actual case counts may be higher due to the increasing popularity and availability of home antigen tests, results of which are not reported to the county.

In the past week, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency, a total of 29,508 lab-confirmed cases were reported in the region, around half of the COVID-19 cases the week prior — 60,548. – City News Service

Pandemic milestone: 700k COVID-19 total cases reported in San Diego
– 5:16 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022

San Diego County passed another pandemic milestone, reaching more than 700,000 cases since the pandemic was declared. The milestone happened at the same time that cases of omicron have been declining.

"Which is good," said Dr. Eric Topol with the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla. "Whether it will go way down isn’t entirely clear, but at least it’s reducing the toll on our medical resources and not spreading like it was. So these are really good signs."

The first reported U.S. coronavirus case came back in February of 2020 when Americans were being evacuated from Wuhan, China. The first San Diego County resident tested positive in early March of 2020. – Matt Hoffman, KPBS health reporter

Scripps Health predicts omicron surge to wind down by early March
– 12:16 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022

Modeling by Scripps Health predicts that the current surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations should wind down by early March, with a slow decrease in patient volume driven by the omicron variant of the virus over the coming weeks, the health system said Tuesday.

However, officials said staffing demands at Scripps facilities will remain high as hospitals stay busy with cases unrelated to COVID-19 and as other patients reschedule procedures that were deferred during the latest wave of virus cases.

"We are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel for the Omicron surge, but this pandemic likely isn't ending," Scripps president and CEO Chris Van Gorder said. "COVID vaccination continues to play an important role in reducing the severity of surges and offsetting the potential effects of new coronavirus variants that might spread through the population in the future. – City News Service

COVID-19 vaccine for young kids could be ready this month
– 7:42 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022

The last age group of the population unable to get a Covid-19 vaccine may soon be able to do so — and much earlier than anticipated.

Pfizer-BioNTech is expected to file a submission for emergency use to the Food and Drug Administration for a vaccine regimen designed for use in children aged six months to five years, according to a person familiar with the plan. The companies could file for the authorization as early as Tuesday.

Clinical trials last fall showed that the low doses of the vaccine generated protection in children up to 2 years old but failed to do so in kids aged 2-5. The companies announced in December they'd add a third dose to its trials, which would delay the submission to the FDA.

Emergency use authorization could allow children to begin a two-dose regimen, which would prepare children between 2-5 years old to receive a third shot when the data demonstrates its effective. – Peter Granitz and Rob Stein, NPR