Study: Asian residents more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than others in Bay Area
Asian residents in the Bay Area were more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 in 2020 than any other racial or ethnic group, and the heightened risk cannot be fully explained by socioeconomic factors or medical conditions. Read more here about the newly published research.
COVID-19 emergency order in U.S. extended
Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has extended the COVID-19 public health emergency order in the U.S. for three more months, as the nation’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise on the backs of the coronavirus’ BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants of the omicron strain. This marks the tenth time the declaration has been renewed since it went into effect on Jan. 31, 2020. Becerra reissued the order Friday.
Judge in Musk v. Twitter trial tests positive for COVID-19
The judge overseeing Twitter’s trial against Elon Musk on Monday announced that she has tested positive for COVID-19. Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick, chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery, added that the hearing would proceed as scheduled virtually by Zoom on Tuesday.
CDC ends program help cruise ships report COVID outbreaks
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday ended its COVID-19 monitoring program for cruise ships. The agency will no longer provide operators with surveillance and reporting tools for cases onboard ships in U.S. waters. “CDC has worked closely with the cruise industry, state, territorial, and local health authorities, and federal and seaport partners to provide a safer and healthier environment for cruise passengers and crew,” the agency said in a website update. “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs.” The CDC said it will offer updated guidance for cruise ships in the coming days. As to how passengers can know if a cruise line has outbreaks, the agency stated, “Cruise travelers have the option of contacting their cruise line directly regarding outbreaks occurring on board their ship.”
Nearly 90% of Californians live in areas with high COVID levels
About 9 in 10 California residents live in an area designated to have high COVID-19 community levels by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Monday, 42 of the state’s 58 counties fell under the tier in which universal indoor masking is recommended by federal health officials — that includes population centers such as Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as all 9 Bay Area counties. That marks a sharp increase from a week ago when a little more than 40% of Californians were considered to live in an area with high community levels.
UC campus reinstates indoor mask mandates
UC Irvine said Monday it would require all students and staff to wear masks inside campus buildings, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the state. It becomes the latest school in the UC system to bring back universal indoor masking for its summer programs. UCLA and UC Riverside reinstated their mask policies a few weeks ago. UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz follow CDC guidelines and strongly recommend but do not require that masks be worn indoors. UC Davis and UCSF currently require masks in health care and other specific settings, with the latter additionally requiring unvaccinated people to mask in all indoor spaces.
About 4% of triple-vaccinated adults see long COVID symptoms after omicron case
Vaccinated adults infected with the omicron BA.1 or BA.2 variants experienced slightly lower rates of long COVID compared with those infected with the delta variant, according U.K. data from the Office of National Statistics. Of double-vaccinated adults, 4% self-reported long COVID 12 to 16 weeks after a first infection with the BA.1 variant, compared with 9.2% for those who had been infected with the delta variant. Among triple-vaccinated adults, 4.2% of those infected with BA.2 had long COVID symptoms, compared to 4.5% of BA.1-infected people and 5% for infections compatible with delta. “Today’s findings show that approximately 4% of adults who are triple-vaccinated against COVID-19 will report experiencing long COVID 12 weeks after being infected for the first time with the omicron BA.1 or BA.2 variants. This represents a similar risk to the delta variant,” ONS expert Daniel Ayoubkhani said of the report published Monday. “However, these findings may not apply to people who have previously had COVID-19 and have been reinfected with the omicron variant, and we cannot say what the implications are for any future variants in terms of long COVID risk.”
CDC pushes older adults to improve rate of booster uptake
The CDC says only about 28% of adults 50 and older have received a second booster of coronavirus vaccine, in addition to their initial shots and booster, and that rate of uptake needs to improve. “This means that millions of people are now six or seven months past their first booster and could be more vulnerable to BA.4 and BA.5, the newest lineages of Omicron,” CDC officials said in their most recent update. CDC recommends the second booster shots for older people and those over 12 who have weakened immune systems. BA.4 and BA.5 are spreading more easily than previous omicron strains, the agency notes, with BA.5 now dominant nationally. COVID hospitalization and death rates have risen among older adults. CDC officials note research showing second boosters can restore vaccine protection against hospitalization that might have dropped over time and help protect against COVID-19 death for older adults.
Fauci says he plans to retire at end of Biden’s term
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said he will retire at the end of President Biden’s term, CNN reported. Fauci, one of the most recognizable faces linked to the country’s pandemic response, said he had no specific date in mind from his retirement from government, but said it would be before January 2025, when Biden’s first term ends.
BART mask mandate expires
A requirement to wear face coverings on BART trains and stations expired Monday, but the transit agency’s board of directors may vote to reinstate the mandate at a meeting later this month. “BART strongly encourages riders to wear masks in the system,” a BART spokesperson said Monday. “Free masks will continue to be made available at station agent booths as well as from safety personnel.”
People are getting COVID again and again. Is this the new normal?
Increasingly, experts fear, the answer is yes. Read more about repeat coronavirus infections here.
California’s public health tax ballot initiative is dead for the year
A ballot initiative that would have raised taxes on California millionaires and billionaires to fund public health programs and pandemic prevention is dead — at least for this year.
The Silicon Valley tech executives who bankrolled the measure, which had been targeted for the November ballot, said they aren’t giving up on their goal of creating the strongest state public health system in the country. But they acknowledge COVID-19 is no longer top of mind for most Americans.
Bay Area wastewater surveys suggest COVID surge could be biggest yet
Surveys of coronavirus levels in Bay Area wastewater suggest that the region’s relentless spring COVID surge probably rivals the winter omicron wave in terms of the number of people currently infected — in fact, this surge may be the largest yet in some places.
But capturing the scale of disease, and conveying to the public the relative risk of getting sick, is becoming increasingly tricky, health experts say.