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

Live Blog: CDC advisers back rollout of COVID vaccine boosters from Moderna and J&J

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

CDC advisers back rollout of COVID vaccine boosters from Moderna and J&J
– 5:10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021

A panel of experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously backed the rollout of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine boosters in line with the Food and Drug Administration's authorizations issued Wednesday. The committee's actions also support a mix-and-match approach to booster vaccination.

For Moderna, the panel said a booster should be given to people on the same terms as the Pfizer-BioNTech booster. That would cover people 65 and older, people 18 and older in long-term care settings and people 50 to 64 with relevant underlying medical conditions. The booster may be given to people 18 to 49 years with certain medical conditions and to people 18 to 64 who have COVID-19 risks related to their work or who live in certain institutional settings.

For Johnson & Johnson, the panel's advice was simpler: A booster is recommended for people 18 and older at least two months after their initial immunization.

The next step is for CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to issue a statement on the committee's recommendations and put forth an official position from the public health agency. The director generally goes along with the recommendations of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, but in a rare departure she overruled aspects of the committee's decision on the Pfizer booster.

A CDC presentation and draft voting language said that the same vaccine used for initial immunization should be used as a booster dose but that a mix-and-match approach is OK when the primary vaccine isn't available or a different vaccine is preferred. – Scott Hensley, NPR

US expected to authorize mix-and-match COVID booster shots
– 11:01 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021

Federal regulators are expected to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster shots this week in an effort to provide flexibility for those seeking to maintain protection against the coronavirus.

The upcoming announcement by the Food and Drug Administration is likely to come along with authorization for boosters of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots and follows the authorization of a third dose for the Pfizer vaccine for many Americans last month. The move was previewed Tuesday by a U.S. health official familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of the announcement.

The FDA was expected to say that, especially for the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that have proved most effective against the virus, maintaining consistency in the vaccine course was still preferable. The agency was still finalizing guidance for the single-shot J&J vaccine. – Associated Press

San Diego County reports 275 new COVID-19 cases, 6 new deaths
– 7:07 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 275 new cases of COVID-19 and six virus-related deaths Monday.

Monday's data brought the county's cumulative totals to 364,912 cases and 4,169 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID-19 patients in county hospitals Monday was 266, an increase of six from Sunday, with 81 of them in intensive care — one more from Sunday — according to the latest state figures.

A total of 11,469 tests were reported to the county on Monday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 2.7%.

The latest statistics follow the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency recently reporting that more than 2.2 million San Diegans — or about 80% of those eligible — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, making San Diego among the most-vaccinated counties in the state and the nation.

More than 2.5 million people, or 89.2% of San Diego County residents 12 and older, are partially vaccinated. — City News Service

San Diego County reports 528 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths
– 9:28 a.m., Monday, Oct. 18, 2021

San Diego County has reported 528 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths in its latest data.

Sunday's data brought the county's cumulative totals to 364,634 cases and 4,163 fatalities since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals Sunday was 260, with 80 of them in intensive care, according to the latest state figures.

A total of 19,204 tests were reported to the county on Friday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 2.9%. The county doesn't report lab tests on the weekends. – City News Service

FDA panel endorses booster shot for J&J COVID-19 vaccine
– 10:50 a.m., Friday, Oct. 15, 2021

A panel of U.S. health advisers endorsed booster doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine Friday, saying they should be offered at least two months after immunization.

J&J has asked the Food and Drug Administration for flexibility with its booster, arguing the extra dose adds important protection as early as two months after initial vaccination -- but that it might work better if people wait until six months later.

The FDA’s advisory panel voted unanimously that a booster should be offered without setting a firm time. The advisers cited growing worry that recipients of J&J’s vaccination seem to be less protected than people who got two-dose Pfizer or Moderna options — and that most got that single dose many months ago.

The FDA isn’t bound by the vote but its ultimate decision could help expand the nation’s booster campaign.

The government says all three U.S. vaccines continue to offer strong protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19, and that the priority is getting first shots to the unvaccinated. But there’s a growing push to shore up protection against “breakthrough” infections and the extra-contagious delta variant of the coronavirus.

Booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine began last month for people at high risk of COVID-19, and the FDA advisory panel has recommended the same approach for Moderna recipients. – Associated Press

San Diego County reports 568 new COVID-19 cases, 10 more virus deaths
– 7:06 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021

San Diego County Thursday reported 568 new COVID-19 cases and 10 additional virus deaths.

Thursday's data brings the county's cumulative totals to 363,169 cases and 4,151 fatalities.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID patients in county hospitals was 275, with 84 of those patients in intensive care — both figures a decrease of one from the day before, according to the latest state figures.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 15.4 overall, including 8.3 for fully vaccinated people and 25.8 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans, health officials said.

A total of 29,302 tests were reported to the county on Thursday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the past week was 2.8%. – City News Service

FDA panel endorses lower-dose Moderna COVID shot for booster
– 2:21 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021

U.S. health advisers said Thursday that some Americans who received Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine should get a half-dose booster to bolster protection against the virus.

The panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously to recommend a booster shot for seniors, adults with other health problems, jobs or living situations that put them at increased risk for COVID-19.

The recommendation is non-binding but it’s a key step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign to millions more Americans. Many people who got their initial Pfizer shots at least six months ago are already getting a booster after the FDA authorized their use last month.

As for the dose, initial Moderna vaccination consists of two 100-microgram shots. But Moderna says a single 50-microgram shot should be enough for a booster.

The agency convened its experts Thursday and Friday to weigh-in on who should get boosters and when for people that received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots earlier this year. – Associated Press

Judge blocks vaccination mandate for California prisons
– 2:20 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021

A judge on Wednesday blocked an order due to take effect this week that required California prison employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Kern County Judge Bernard Barmann issued a temporary restraining order that prevents enforcement of the vaccination mandate for guards and peace officers represented by a powerful union while the court weighs a request for a preliminary injunction, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The public health mandate due to take effect Friday will still apply to other employees who work in prisons that have health care facilities.

It is aimed at heading off another coronavirus outbreak like one that killed 28 inmates and a correctional officer at San Quentin State Prison last year.

In total, the virus has killed 240 inmates and 39 prison employees since the start of the pandemic.

However, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association opposes mandates for its members. The group has a lot of influence with the state's Democratic Party-controlled political structure. It contributed $1.75 million to Gov. Gavin Newsom's successful fight against recall.

Newsom has a reputation as one of the strongest proponents of vaccine mandates among state governors. His administration had ordered all state employees, including those in prisons, to be vaccinated or have regular COVID-19 testing.

Yet Newsom was opposed when last month a federal judge ordered that all employees entering California prisons be vaccinated or have a religious or medical exemption. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar did away with an option for prison employees to avoid vaccination and instead undergo frequent COVID-19 testing. – Associated Press

San Diego County now 80% vaccinated against COVID-19, 89% partially vaccinated
– 7:11 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021

A total of 2,242,203 San Diegans, 80% of those eligible, are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday, placing San Diego among the most vaccinated counties in the state and the nation.

More than 2.5 million people, or 89.2% of San Diegans 12 and older, are partially vaccinated.

Vaccine supplies remain plentiful, county officials said, both for those seeking initial doses and boosters for those who received the Pfizer vaccine and meet the criteria.

The county also reported 333 new cases of COVID-19 and four new virus- related deaths Wednesday, bringing the county's cumulative totals to 362,618 cases and 4,141 deaths since the pandemic began. – City News Service

FDA analysis of J&J COVID vaccine booster sets the stage for public hearing
– 3:48 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021

A Food and Drug Administration analysis of Johnson & Johnson's application for authorization of its COVID vaccine booster tees up deliberations at a public meeting of agency advisers Friday. The document was posted Wednesday.

The questions that will be put before the committee will include whether the data supports the safety and effectiveness of a booster dose of the company's COVID vaccine after at least two months have elapsed since initial immunization with the one-shot vaccine and whether the data shows that there is a stronger response at a six-month interval as well.

J&J has asked for an authorization of a booster for people 18 and older six months after initial immunization, with an option to vaccinate after two months depending on local conditions and the needs of specific groups of people.

The company says its data shows sustained protection against severe COVID, hospitalization and death remain strong for at least six months.

In the case for a booster, the company points to studies that found a booster dose resulted in 94% efficacy against moderate to severe COVID in the U.S. compared with 70% for a single dose. – Scott Hensley, NPR

A study of COVID vaccine boosters suggests Moderna or Pfizer works best
– 3:45 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021

If you got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as your first COVID-19 shot, a booster dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine apparently could produce a stronger immune response than a second dose of J&J's vaccine. That's the finding of a highly anticipated study released Wednesday.

And if you started out with either Pfizer or Moderna, it probably doesn't matter that much, the research suggests, as long as you get one of the two mRNA vaccines as a booster.

The study, which was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, involved 458 volunteers. They were divided into nine groups with roughly 50 volunteers in each group. Those who initially got the two-dose Moderna vaccine got either another Moderna shot, a Pfizer shot or a Johnson & Johnson shot as a booster four to six months after their primary immunization.

People who got the two-dose Pfizer vaccine got either another Pfizer shot or a Moderna or J&J booster. And people who got the one-shot J&J vaccine either got another J&J shot or a Moderna or Pfizer booster.

The researchers then measured antibody levels in all of those people two weeks and four weeks after the boost. The results were very interesting. – Rob Stein, NPR

San Diego County reports 683 new COVID-19 cases, 11 new deaths
– 5:35 p.m., Monday, Oct. 11, 2021

San Diego County Monday reported 683 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 new virus-related deaths.

Monday's COVID numbers brought the county's cumulative totals to 361,719 cases and 4,124 deaths since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals decreased from 288 on Sunday to 268, with 80 of those patients in intensive care, down from 85 the day before, according to the latest state figures.

A total of 27,010 tests were reported to the county on Monday, and the percentage of new positive cases over the last week is 2.9%. – City News Service

California coronavirus death count tops 70,000 as cases fall
– 5:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 11, 2021

California's coronavirus death toll reached another once-unfathomable milestone — 70,000 people — on Monday as the state emerges from the latest infection surge with the lowest rate of new cases among all states.

Last year at this time, cases in the state started ticking up and by January California was in the throes of the worst spike of the pandemic and was the nation’s epicenter for the virus. Daily deaths approached 700.

The latest surge started in summer and was driven by the delta variant that primarily targeted the unvaccinated. At its worst during this spike, California’s average daily death count was in the low 100s.

Data collected by Johns Hopkins University showed the state with 70,132 deaths by midday Monday. It's the most in the nation, surpassing Texas by about 3,000 and Florida by 13,000, although California’s per capita fatality rate of 177 per 100,000 people ranks in the bottom third for the U.S. – Associated Press

San Diego County reports 528 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths
– 10:10 a.m., Monday, Oct. 11, 2021

San Diego County has reported 528 new cases of COVID-19 and no new virus-related deaths, one day after the county Health and Human Services Agency announced that an unvaccinated woman was the first pregnant San Diego person to die from the virus.

Also on Saturday, the number of COVID patients in county hospitals increased from 284 on Friday to 288, with 85 of those patients in intensive care, up from 83 the day before, according to the latest state figures.

The pregnant woman died last week after being hospitalized, as did her unborn child. Her age and other details about her death and pregnancy were not being reported to protect her family's privacy.

"This is a very unfortunate death, and our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of the deceased," said Dr. Seema Shah, medical director of HHSA's Epidemiology and Immunization Services branch. "Contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy puts you at greater risk of having serious complications and death.

"We urge anyone who is pregnant and unvaccinated to get immunized to protect themselves and their babies," Shah said. – City News Service

Merck asks US FDA to authorize promising anti-COVID pill
– 10:08 a.m., Monday, Oct. 11, 2021
Drugmaker Merck asked U.S. regulators Monday to authorize its pill against COVID-19 in what would add an entirely new and easy-to-use weapon to the world's arsenal against the pandemic.

If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration — a decision that could come in a matter of weeks — it would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19. All other FDA-backed treatments against the disease require an IV or injection.

An antiviral pill that people could take at home to reduce their symptoms and speed recovery could prove groundbreaking, easing the crushing caseload on U.S. hospitals and helping to curb outbreaks in poorer countries with weak health care systems. It would also bolster the two-pronged approach to the pandemic: treatment, by way of medication, and prevention, primarily through vaccinations. – Associated Press

First COVID-related death in a pregnant San Diegan reported
– 2:46 p.m., Friday, Oct. 8, 2021

A San Diego woman is the first pregnant resident to die from COVID-19, the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced Friday.

The woman and her unborn child died earlier this week after being hospitalized. She had not received a coronavirus vaccine, the agency said.

The HHSA put out a health alert to the medical community Oct. 6 about a reported rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among unvaccinated pregnant people.

There have been 253 laboratory-confirmed cases among pregnant people from June 1 to Sept. 30. Two hundred and three were not fully vaccinated while 50 were fully vaccinated. Thirty-one individuals required hospitalization; 30 of those hospitalized were not fully vaccinated.

In a health advisory sent late September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends COVID-19 vaccines for those expecting before, during or after pregnancy. – Lara McCaffrey, KPBS Web Producer

San Diego County reports 415 new COVID-19 cases, 7 virus deaths as flu season looms
– 6:53 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021

San Diego County reported 415 new cases of COVID-19 and seven virus-related deaths Thursday, as the public health community prepares for the double threat of coronavirus and influenza.

During the first day of operation of the new Scripps Health vaccination station at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on Wednesday, 1,000 Pfizer COVID- 19 vaccine booster shots and 500 influenza vaccine were provided to Scripps patients and employees.

A report from the county released this week found 167 influenza cases have been recorded so far in the community, well above the prior three-year average of 102 cases at the same time. Last year, only five flu cases had been reported at this point. This week's figure puts the current flu season more in line with busier seasons recorded in 2017-18 and 2019-2020.

Meanwhile, Thursday's COVID numbers brought the county's cumulative totals to 359,883 cases and 4,111 deaths since the pandemic began.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals decreased from 327 on Wednesday to 310 Thursday, with 88 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures. – City News Service

Pfizer officially asks the FDA to authorize its COVID vaccine for kids aged 5-11
– 2:57 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021

Pfizer and BioNTech are officially asking the Biden administration to authorize the use of their COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

Pfizer tweeted on Thursday that the companies had submitted their formal request for Emergency Use Authorization of the vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration.

"With new cases in children in the U.S. continuing to be at a high level, this submission is an important step in our ongoing effort against #COVID19," the pharmaceutical giant said.

The submission is the latest development in the push to expand use of the vaccine to younger children, a process being closely watched by many anxious parents as the new school year gets underway.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has full FDA approval for people ages 16 and older, and those between the ages of 12 and 15 can get the shot under the current emergency use authorization.

The application was widely expected after Pfizer and BioNTech submitted data to the government last month showing that their vaccine produced a "robust" antibody response in kids from 5-11 and had "favorable" safety outcomes.

The FDA has scheduled a meeting with an independent advisory committee for Oct. 26 to discuss Pfizer's request to authorize its vaccine for children aged 5-11. – Joe Hernandez, NPR

San Diego County reports 387 new COVID-19 cases, 12 deaths
– 12:32p.m., Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021

San Diego County reported 387 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths in its latest data as the fully vaccinated rate approached 80% of eligible residents.

More than 4.82 million vaccine doses have been administered in San Diego County, with 2.48 million people — or 88.7% of eligible county residents — having received at least one dose. Fully vaccinated county residents number more than 2.23 million, or around 79.4% of the county's eligible population in reports released Wednesday.

Wednesday's numbers brought the county's cumulative totals to 359,537 cases and 4,104 deaths since the pandemic began.

In the past 30 days, there were 293 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Of these, 285 people were not fully vaccinated and eight were fully vaccinated.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals decreased from 338 on Tuesday to 327 Wednesday, with 82 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

A total of 22,455 tests were reported to the county, and the percentage of new positive cases was 1.7%. The 14-day rolling percentage of positive cases among tests is 2.5%. – City News Service

The White House will spend an additional $1 billion on rapid at-home COVID tests
– 3:52 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021

The White House is allocating an additional $1 billion to purchase millions of rapid at-home tests for COVID-19, in response to an ongoing national shortage of these tests. The announcement was made by White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients at a briefing on Wednesday.

The money follows a $2 billion investment in September to supply rapid tests to community health centers, food banks and schools.

These are over-the-counter swab tests people can purchase at the pharmacy and take at home. They test for antigens, or proteins on the surface of the virus, and can provide fairly reliable results in 15 minutes, especially in people who are symptomatic. – Joe Neel, Pien Huang, NPR

San Diego City Council establishes tenant legal defense fund for COVID-19 impact
– 7:05 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021

The San Diego City Council Tuesday approved Mayor Todd Gloria's proposal to establish a $5 million legal defense fund to help struggling tenants potentially facing eviction due to non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legal aid program is intended to use $5 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds to provide eviction- prevention education and legal assistance. It will be administered by the San Diego Housing Commission and open to undocumented residents.

The San Diego City Council Tuesday approved Mayor Todd Gloria's proposal to establish a $5 million legal defense fund to help struggling tenants potentially facing eviction due to non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legal aid program is intended to use $5 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds to provide eviction- prevention education and legal assistance. It will be administered by the San Diego Housing Commission and open to undocumented residents. – City News Service

San Diego County reports 658 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
– 5:53 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021

San Diego County reported 658 new cases of COVID-19 and two new virus-related deaths Tuesday.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals increased from 329 on Monday to 338, with 87 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

Tuesday's numbers brought the county's cumulative totals to 359,167 cases and 4,092 deaths since the pandemic began.

A total of 18,805 new tests were logged by the county on Tuesday, and the percentage of positive cases over the past 14 days was 3.6%. – City News Service

J&J seeks US clearance for COVID-19 vaccine booster doses
– 2:31 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021

Johnson & Johnson asked the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to allow extra shots of its COVID-19 vaccine as the U.S. government moves toward expanding its booster campaign to millions more vaccinated Americans.

J&J said it filed a request with the FDA to authorize boosters for people 18 and older who previously received the company's one-shot vaccine. While the company said it submitted data on several different booster intervals, ranging from two to six months, it did not formally recommend one to regulators.

Last month, the FDA authorized booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine for older Americans and other groups with heightened vulnerability to COVID-19. It’s part of a sweeping effort by the Biden administration to shore up protection amid the delta variant and potential waning vaccine immunity. – Matthew Perrone, Associated Press

San Diego County reports 390 new COVID-19 cases, 9 deaths
– 6:51 p.m., Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

San Diego County reported 390 new cases of COVID-19 and nine new virus-related deaths Monday.

A total of 12,378 new tests were logged by the county on Monday, and the percentage of positive cases over the past 14 days was 3.6%.

Boosters are now available for those who qualify at about 400 locations countywide. Fully vaccinated people who contract "breakthrough" infections were advised to talk with their doctor about boosters. – City News Service

San Diego County reports 343 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths
– 11:01 a.m., Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

San Diego County reported 343 new cases of COVID-19 today, but no new virus-related deaths in its most recent data.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals decreased from 337 on Saturday to 325, with 99 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

Sunday's numbers brought the county's cumulative totals to 358,126 cases and 4,081 deaths since the pandemic began.

A total of 38,100 new tests were logged by the county on Friday, and the percentage of positive cases over the past 14 days was 3.5%. The county does not report the number of new lab tests on weekends. – City News Service

San Diego County reports 756 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
– 6:40 p.m., Friday, Oct. 1, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 756 new COVID-19 cases and three additional virus-related deaths Friday.

Friday's report brought the county's cumulative totals to 357,254 cases since the pandemic began, while fatalities increased to 4,081.

A total of 38,100 new tests were logged by the county Friday, and the percentage of positive cases over the past 14 days was 3.5%. – City News Service

California pushes 1st US vaccine mandate for schoolchildren
– 1:15 p.m., Friday, Oct. 1, 2021

California has announced it will enact the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine mandate for schoolchildren.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that the state aims to have all students in seventh through 12th grades vaccinated by next fall once the shots gain final federal approval for everyone 12 and over.

The Democratic governor says he expects the U.S. government to give that final sign-off sometime next year. Now, the shots have emergency authorization for those 12 to 15.

Newsom has been one of the most aggressive governors on coronavirus restrictions. He seems to have been emboldened after easily defeating a recall effort last month fueled by anger over his handling of the pandemic. — Associated Press

Encinitas City Workers Get Cash Incentive For COVID-19 Vaccine
– 6:33 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021

The City of Encinitas and the San Dieguito Water District are offering a cash incentive for their employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The "Wellness Incentive" is $2,500 for front line workers, and $2,000 for other employees.

Encinitas mayor, Catherine Blakespear, said this incentive is not only to get people vaccinated, but also to recognize the staff's hard work over the pandemic.

Employees must submit proof of vaccination by Oct. 7th to be eligible for the wellness incentive.

It will be paid as lump sum direct deposits. – Tania Thorne, KPBS North County Reporter

San Diego County Reports 572 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths
– 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 572 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional virus-related deaths Thursday.
Thursday's report brought the county's cumulative totals to 356,427 cases since the pandemic began, while fatalities increased to 4,078.

A total of 49,096 new tests were logged by the county Thursday, and the percentage of positive cases over the past 14 days was 3.7%.

More than 4.76 million vaccine doses have been administered in San Diego County, with 2.47 million people — or 88.2% of eligible county residents — having received at least one dose, according to the latest data. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.21 million, or around 78.8% of the county's eligible population.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 21.9 overall, down from 27.6 last week. The number averages the rates of 10.3 per 100,000 for fully vaccinated people and 37.9 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans.

In the past 30 days, there were 378 COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county. Of these, 370 people were not fully vaccinated and eight were fully vaccinated, officials said. – City News Service

Judge Denies Request For Restraining Order On School Mask Mandates
– 6:25 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021

A judge in Vista has denied a request for a temporary restraining order against California’s mask mandate for schools.

In denying the request Thursday morning, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Freeland said, “Here we are, Sept. 30th, school has started, kids have been in school with masks and the protocols have been in place. So I'm not seeing an emergency today that would warrant issuing an emergency restraining order.”

The request for a restraining order was part of lawsuit filed against the state and Governor Gavin Newsom by Let Them Breathe and Reopen California Schools.

The groups claim masking, testing, and quarantine protocols in schools are not supported by science and are doing more harm than good, claims the state denies.

Judge Freeland scheduled a full hearing on the suit for November 8th. She said this extension will allow both parties to review and submit their supporting arguments, which she noted have been extensive in length, with the state submitting a 1600 page report and Let Them Breathe using various links and articles. – Tania Thorne, KPBS North County Reporter

The City Of San Diego Extends Vaccine Mandate Deadline For Its Employees
– 5:03 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021

San Diego was the first major city in the county to issue a vaccine mandate for its workers. City officials announced on Tuesday that the deadline has been extended until December 1, 2021, but the vaccine mandate is still in place. The original deadline was November 2, 2021.

The City of San Diego currently employs over 11,300 workers, including police, firefighters, white and blue collar jobs. – Melissa Mae, KPBS Freelance Reporter

San Diego County Reports 515 New COVID-19 Cases, 12 Deaths
– 4:31 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021

San Diego County public health officials reported 515 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths Wednesday.

Wednesday's report brought the county's cumulative totals to 355,872 cases since the pandemic began, while fatalities increased to 4,066.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals decreased from 375 on Tuesday to 367, with 124 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

A total of 25,017 new tests were logged by the county Wednesday, and the percentage of positive cases over the past 14 days was 3.4%.

More than 4.76 million vaccine doses have been administered in San Diego County, with 2.47 million people — or 88.2% of eligible county residents — having received at least one dose, according to the latest data. Fully vaccinated county residents now number more than 2.21 million, or around 78.8% of the county's eligible population.

San Diego County's case rate per 100,000 residents is 21.9 overall, down from 27.6 last week. This number averages the rates of 10.3 per 100,000 for fully vaccinated people and 37.9 for not fully vaccinated San Diegans. – City News Service

Los Angeles Considers Wide-Ranging Vaccination Requirement
– 3:09 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021

The Los Angeles City Council will vote Wednesday on a proposed ordinance to require people to have proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to enter a wide range of businesses and venues.

The ordinance would greatly expand restrictions ordered by Los Angeles County public health officials that are set to take effect next month.

Under the city ordinance, people eligible for inoculation would be required to be vaccinated to enter indoor public spaces including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms, sports arenas, museums, spas, nail salons, indoor city facilities and other locations. Current eligibility includes people age 12 and up. – Associated Press

School Board Approves Vaccine Mandates For Students, Staff
– 3:07 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday voted unanimously to recommend mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for all eligible students and district employees.

After hearing from medical professionals and the public, both pro and con, board members approved two recommendations:

— requiring district employees, partners, contractors and other adults who work directly with students and district employees on district property to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 20. The mandate would be a condition of employment and a requirement for contracted services. – City News Service

San Diego County Reports 611 New COVID-19 Cases, No New Deaths
– 5:07 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021
San Diego County public health officials Tuesday reported 611 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths.

Tuesday's data brought the county's cumulative totals to 355,346 cases, while fatalities remained 4,054.

The number of COVID patients in county hospitals decreased from 387 on Monday to 375, with 126 of those patients in intensive care, according to state figures.

Even with the decrease, San Diego County leapfrogged Riverside County to record the second-most COVID-19 hospitalizations behind only Los Angeles County, which reported 892 patients Tuesday. – City News Service

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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