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Coronavirus

LA at ‘low risk’ for coronavirus but take precautions

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It is precisely at times of national crisis and concern that the public turns to the President of the United States for assurance, accurate information and guidance. But Donald Trump is so self-obsessed, he didn’t grasp that the national news conference about the coronavirus pandemic was about public health, not the stock market and his reelection.

The new virus seemed to come out of nowhere and hit China hard, especially in the Hubei province. By Wednesday, despite the Chinese government initially trying to silence any news about the virus, China had a total of 78,064 infections and 2,715 deaths. And there were significant outbreaks in South Korea and Italy. World health officials started talking about the mysterious new contagious disease with flu-like symptoms as a global pandemic.

“This new virus represents a tremendous public health threat,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said told reporters on a telephonic news briefing Tuesday.

“Ultimately we expect we will see community spread in this country,” she said. “It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses ….We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”

Trump, returning from a two-day trip to India to find the stock market plummeting to losses of more than 1,000 points, disputed the inevitability of the coronavirus hitting the US, said it would likely fade away with the warmer weather in April, blamed Democrats for the stock market, and put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of coordinating a response – a move met with disbelief given Pence’s record as governor of Indiana for enabling the spread of HIV.

“I think that whole situation will start working out. Lot of talent, a lot of brainpower is being put behind it,” Trump said on Tuesday. These are the same “scientists and other public servants that Trump has repeatedly maligned, ignored and jettisoned” as members of the so-called “deep state,” the Washington Post reported.

“It’s going to disappear,” Trump said Thursday.

Meanwhile, a whistleblower revealed that the Department of Health and Human Services “sent more than a dozen workers to receive the first Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, without proper training for infection control or appropriate protective gear,” the Washington Post reported. “The workers did not show symptoms of infection and were not tested for the virus, according to lawyers for the whistleblower, a senior HHS official based in Washington who oversees workers at the Administration for Children and Families, a unit within HHS.”

Out Rep. Mark Takano was furious since those evacuees were sent to March Air Force Base in Southern California. He said in a statement released late Thursday:

“I am extremely concerned and alarmed by the allegations a senior official at HHS has raised in a whistleblower complaint regarding HHS workers who received evacuees from Wuhan, China at March Air Reserve Base and other bases in California. According to the whistleblower complaint, HHS employees were not properly trained on safety procedures prior to engaging with evacuees, and they failed to wear proper safety equipment while monitoring the health of these individuals. These allegations are very serious and must be investigated given the potential consequences this could have on the public health of our community and communities across the country.

 

I have requested an immediate briefing from senior officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense to get more information regarding these allegations and any threats they may pose to public health. I will also be demanding more information from administration officials during a scheduled bipartisan congressional briefing on coronavirus set to take place tomorrow, Friday, February 28.

 

As we learn more, I urge our community to remain calm. No cases of coronavirus have been reported in Riverside County. I will continue to follow any developments closely and will relay any updates.”

At a news conference on Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said there is no coronavirus emergency in the state but 33 people have tested positive, the majority were quarantined travelers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was docked off Japan.

Newsom said that California is monitoring more than 8,4000 people who flew from Asia to California. “This is a very detailed protocol that is well established, that predates this particular virus,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to overextend the anxiety that people naturally face.”

Still of concern is the Solano County  woman who exhibited flu-like symptoms when she went to NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville and was transferred three days later to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento where she tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, five days later. She appears to be the first US case for which there is no known source for the illness.

At the Newsom news conference Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said “there were a number of days that (the woman) was in her community” before she took herself to the hospital.

Two students at two Los Rios Community College District campuses are in isolation after coming into contact with the Vacaville woman. “Both American River College and Cosumnes River College have learned that a student at each college, both who work as medical professionals, were exposed off campus to an individual who has since tested positive for coronavirus and is being treated in Sacramento County,” officials said in a statement Thursday.

Additionally, three UC Davis roommates are under 14-day isolation “out of an abundance of caution” after one showed mild symptoms, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The LA County Department of Public Health is getting the word out that  that the novel coronavirus has not yet shown up in LA:

“The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is cooperating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to respond to recent reports of a novel (new) coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others that circulate mostly among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Common symptoms in an infected person include a fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

 

Since December 2019, mainland Chinese authorities identified thousands human infections, resulting in dozens of deaths, associated with this novel (new) coronavirus in an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, in mainland China. In addition, novel coronavirus infections have been confirmed in numerous travelers who traveled to or came from Wuhan City, including 15 travelers in the United States.

 

Despite this case in Los Angeles County, there is no immediate threat to the general public, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness. Los Angeles County residents, students, workers, and visitors should continue to engage in their regular activities and practice good public health hygiene as this is the height of flu season across the County. The risk from the novel coronavirus 2019 to spread in Los Angeles County residents is deemed to be low at this time.” (Bold from editor)

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Coronavirus

CDC: 85% of gay & lesbian adults in U.S. are vaccinated against COVID

Data on COVID-19 vaccination among LGBTQ persons limited because of the lack of routine SOGI data collection at the national & state levels

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Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/GSA

ATLANTA – A new study report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), found that found 85.4% of gay and lesbian Americans above age 18 had received at least one vaccine dose as of October 2021.

The study, conducted from August 29 until October 30, 2021, also found that by comparison, only 76.3% of heterosexuals reported receiving at least an initial dose by the same date.

The report noted that Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations have higher prevalence of health conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness compared with non-LGBT populations.

The potential for low vaccine confidence and coverage among LGBT populations is of concern because these persons historically experience challenges accessing, trusting, and receiving health care services

Data on COVID-19 vaccination among LGBT persons are limited, in part because of the lack of routine data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity at the national and state levels.

In March of 2021, the Blade reported the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed deep-seated inequities in health care for communities of color and amplifies social and economic factors that have contributed to those communities being hit hardest, and Mega-vaccination centers set up by California health officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been addressing and tracking the issue- the LGBTQ communities are still not being tracked.

This lack of data collection has frustrated and angered California State Senator Scott Wiener who authored a bill last year that passed through the legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last Fall that mandates gathering sexual orientation and gender identity data related to the COVID testing in California.

“We’re one year into the pandemic, and LGBTQ people continue to be erased in our public health response to COVID-19 — similar to our invisibility throughout history. No government is successfully tracking COVID-19 cases in the LGBTQ community, despite a law I wrote mandating that California do so,” Weiner told the Blade. “And, we now know that LGBTQ people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. We’ve also just learned that vaccination demographic data doesn’t include LGBTQ data. It simply shocking that in 2021, progressive health agencies continue to forget about our community,” he added.

The CDC also noted that gay and lesbian adults were more likely to be concerned about COVID-19 and to believe in the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

“We know that the prevalence of certain health conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness, such as cancer, smoking, and obesity, are higher in LGBT populations, and access to health care continues to be an issue for some people in the LGBT community,” Dr. A.D. McNaghten, a member of the CDC’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Team and corresponding author of the study, told ABC News. “We wanted to see if vaccination coverage among LGBT persons was the same as non-LGBT persons.”

The CDC data recorded that bisexual and transgender adults had similar vaccination rates to heterosexual adults with 72.6% of bisexual adults fully vaccinated by the end of October, as were 71.4% of transgender adults. The numbers however for Black and Hispanic lesbian women had lower rates of vaccination at 57.9% and 72.6%, respectively, compared to Black and Hispanic heterosexual women at 75.6% and 80.5%, respectively.

Higher percentages of gay or lesbian adults and bisexual adults reported that they thought COVID-19 vaccine was very or somewhat important to protect oneself (90.8% and 86.8%, respectively) compared with heterosexual adults (80.4%), and higher percentages of adults who identified as transgender or nonbinary reported they thought COVID-19 vaccine was very or somewhat important to protect oneself (83.2%) compared with those who did not identify as transgender or nonbinary (80.7%).

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Coronavirus

White House orders distribution of 400 million free N95 masks

Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator; “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks”

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President Joe Biden (Blade file photo/screenshot)

WASHINGTON – As the latest surge of the highly contagious and easily transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to cause a rise in hospitalizations, especially among unvaccinated adults and children, the White House announced Wednesday it is making 400 million N95 masks available for free at thousands of locations across the nation.

The plan an admkistartion official said, is to start shipping the nonsurgical masks to pharmacies and community health centers to distribute this week, which will come from the Strategic National Stockpile.

In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator, said, “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks.”

The N95 masks will be made available to everybody, and recipients will not be prioritized based on vulnerability to Covid, income or other criteria. Inglesby said the administration was “confident that people who want to access them will be able to access them,” but it was not immediately clear how many masks a person could receive at one time.

On January 13, President Joe Biden had announced a plan to have the government distribute 1 billion rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests free to Americans, along with the N95 masks, as the administration works to fight the spiraling upward spike in coronavirus cases.

The White House website to order free at-home Covid tests went live Tuesday. The website says: “Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.”

A White House official said Wednesday that the distribution of 400 million masks would be the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history.

Inglesby told NBC News that the administration was “absolutely preparing for the possibility of additional variants in the future” and that people could expect the government to make N95 masks “more and more available.”

Biden announces free masks, tests to fight omicron:

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Cases increase by nearly 10 times in one month

While hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID

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Graphic courtesy of UCLA/Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

LOS ANGELES – A total of 31,576 new COVID-19 cases were documented on Monday — up ten times the number of cases reported on Dec. 17, 2021, when there were 3,360 new cases recorded the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported Monday.

There are  4,564 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, nearly 6 times the number from one month ago when 772 people were hospitalized. The daily positivity rate is 16.5%, more than 8 times the 2% daily positivity rate on December 17th.

Just one week ago, the county surpassed 2 million total COVID-19 cases, with the figure reaching 2,289,045 cases as of Monday.

“On this national holiday where we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, we remember his deep commitment to health equity.  As Reverend King memorably said, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death,’ ” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“Tragically, we have seen this play out in real life and very clearly over the past two years with the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color. From the onset of the pandemic, communities of color have experienced the greatest devastation from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation,” she added.

“The good news is that while hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID but, are identified with COVID when tested for COVID upon hospital admission,” the health department said in a statement released last week.

As of Friday, more than 80% of all adult ICU beds in the county were occupied.

There are also 27 new deaths due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and 31,576 new positive cases.

The public health department also noted that while the number of children hospitalized with the virus remains low, the number of them admitted to L.A. County hospitals “significantly increased” over the past month, with the largest increase among children younger than 5 years old.

The increase mirrors trends seen nationwide for the age group — the only one not yet eligible for the vaccine.

The county also saw its highest coronavirus death rate in nearly 10 months over this past week, with an average of 40 COVID-19 deaths a day.

“From the onset of the pandemic, communities of color have experienced the greatest devastation from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation. As we continue to implement strategies – enforcing worker protections through our Health Officer Orders, providing resources needed by many to survive the impact of the pandemic, funding community-based organizations in hard hit areas to serve as trusted public health messengers, and increasing vaccination access in under-sourced neighborhoods – we also need to come together to address the impact that racism, historical disinvestment, and social marginalization have on COVID-19 outcomes,” Ferrer said.

“While these conditions predate the pandemic, without deliberate collective actions to address the root causes of health inequities, we are unlikely to close the gaps we have documented for 2 long years,” she added.

California has recorded more than 7 million coronavirus cases after its fastest accumulation of reported infections in the history of the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The unprecedented count, recorded in California’s databases late Monday, comes one week after the state tallied its 6 millionth coronavirus case.

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