Wednesday, September 14, 2022 | Sacramento, CA
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COVID-19 By The Numbers
Wednesday, September 14
Sacramento County officials will host career fairs on Thursday and Friday to hire more behavioral health professionals. The county has experienced a severe shortage of behavioral health workers as demand for their services has increased during the pandemic.
The county is looking for qualified candidates to serve as mental health counselors, psychiatric nurses and therapists, among other positions, officials announced in a news release. County managers are expected to interview and hire people on the spot.
The career fairs on both Thursday and Friday will be held at 9310 Tech Center Drive in Sacramento. Thursday’s fair will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday’s fair will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To better align state COVID-19 guidance with the most current federal recommendations, the California Department of Public Health is ending COVID-19 policies that require weekly testing for unvaccinated persons in high-risk workplaces and schools.
In a press release, they detailed that workers at health care facilities, schools and other congregate settings will no longer be required to get those weekly tests done.
The changes take effect on Sept. 17.
However, the state’s vaccination and booster requirements for employees in health care, correctional health and adult residential settings remain in effect. In addition, changes to the vaccine-or-test policy regarding state workers will be announced separately by CalHR.
State public health leaders still urge all individuals to say up-to-date on the COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves from severe illness and slow the spread of the virus.
Omicron subvariants are still emerging, meaning an updated booster shot is an essential tool against severe illness, hospitalization, long COVID and death.
California expects to receive more than 1 million doses of the updated booster and will have ample supply to meet demand.
The state has also distributed another round of 10 million at-home tests to K-12 schools. It continues to support additional testing resources for schools, including school and community testing sites, some of which offer COVID-19 treatments.
The monkeypox outbreak is subsiding in Europe and parts of North America, as reported by the Associated Press.
Many scientists are now calling for resources to be redirected to stopping epidemics in Africa, where the once-rare disease has been established for decades.
The U.N. health agency designated monkeypox as a global emergency in July and appealed to the world to support African countries so that the catastrophic vaccine inequity that plagued the COVID-19 outbreak wouldn’t be repeated.
However, little has changed on the continent months later.
No rich countries have shared vaccines or treatments with Africa. Some experts fear interest in funding critical questions like the search for monkeypox’s animal reservoir may soon evaporate.
Tuesday, September 13
The question of whether the Biden administration can require federal employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has been argued in an appeals court in New Orleans for a second time.
As reported by the Associated Press, earlier this year, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Biden requirement.
But the full appeals court decided to rehear the case. The administration argued Tuesday that the president has the same authority as the CEO of a private corporation to require that employees be vaccinated.
Opponents say the policy is an unconstitutional encroachment on federal workers’ lives and that Biden lacks the authority to impose it.
A hospitalized Los Angeles County resident with a compromised immune system has died from monkeypox.
According to the Associated Press, it’s believed to be the first U.S. fatality from the disease.
LA County health officials announced the cause of death on Monday and said it was confirmed via autopsy. No other information on the patient was released.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks monkeypox cases and has not confirmed any U.S. deaths.
LA County officials said they worked with the CDC on their case. A CDC spokesperson confirmed the cooperation but did not immediately respond when asked if this was the first U.S. death.
Monkeypox is spread through close skin-to-skin contact and prolonged exposure to respiratory droplets. It is not a sexually transmitted disease.
Monday, September 12
A majority of adults in the U.S. say health care is not handled well in the county, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The poll reveals public satisfaction with the U.S. health care system is remarkably low, with fewer than half of Americans saying it’s handled well in general.
Only 12% say it’s handled extremely or very well. Americans have similar views about health care for older adults.
Overall, the public gives even lower marks for the handling of prescription drug costs, the quality of care at nursing homes and mental health care.
A majority of Americans, roughly two-thirds, were happy to see the government step in to provide free COVID-19 testing, vaccines and treatment. Roughly 2 in 10 were neutral about the government’s response.
The government’s funding for free COVID-19 tests dried up at the beginning of the month. And while the White House said the latest batch of recommended COVID-19 boosters will be free to anyone who wants one, it doesn’t have money on hand to buy any future rounds of booster shots for every American.
Everywhere, it seems, the return to school has been shadowed by worries of a teacher shortage.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. education secretary, has called for investment to keep teachers from quitting. A teachers union leader has described it as a five-alarm crisis.
In reality, there is little evidence to suggest that educators are leaving in droves.
Certainly, many schools have struggled to find enough educators, but the challenges are related more to hiring, especially for non-teaching staff positions.
Schools flush with federal pandemic relief money are creating new positions and struggling to fill them at a time of low unemployment and stiff competition.
Friday, September 9
It’s the new school year for just about everyone attending school in the U.S.
Maybe you’re one of the millions of Americans who have started mingling with peers in the doors and suddenly find yourself sniffling and wondering if you have COVID-19.
Or maybe you’re just getting back from summer vacation, and the back of your throat at a worrisome itch.
You consider taking an at-home rapid test but have many questions, such as — how many times should you test for a definitive result? How infectious are you if the positive line is faint?
NPR posed these questions to some experts: Dr. Abraar Karan, infectious disease researcher at Stanford; Meriem Bekliz, virologist at the University of Geneva; and Dr. Preeti Malani, professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have resumed knocking on doors again after a 30-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, from coast to coast, members of the Christian denomination fanned out in cities and towns last week to share literature and converse about God for the first time since March 2020.
Members have continued evangelizing during the pandemic through letters and phone calls, but they missed in-person interactions. Some say it’s a more effective way of getting their message out.
In the words of one Witness, door-knocking evangelizing “feels Christ-like.”
Thursday, September 8
A Silicon Valley executive who prosecutors said lied to investors about inventing technology that tested for allergies and COVID-19 using only a few drops of blood was found guilty of health care fraud.
According to the Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Justice said that a federal jury convicted Mark Schena of Los Altos of defrauding the government after his company billed Medicare $77 million for fraudulent coronavirus and allergy tests.
Prosecutors say the 59-year-old touted that his Sunnyvale-based company, Arrayit Corporation, had the only laboratory in the world that offered “revolutionary microarray technology” that allowed it to test for allergies and coronavirus with the same finger-stick test kit.
India and China have cleared two needle-free options for COVID-19 vaccinations, as reported by the Associated Press.
India says people who haven’t yet been vaccinated can try a squirt in the nose to fight the virus where it enters the body.
It’s not clear how well it works because Indian vaccine maker Bharat Biotech hasn’t released study results. In China, Can Sino Biologics says an inhaled version of its COVID-19 shot has been cleared as a booster and cites preliminary study results that the puff revved up immune defenses.
While COVID-19 shots still offer protection against severe illness and death, scientists are exploring new strategies to better fight infection.
Wednesday, September 7
New COVID-19 boosters targeting today’s most common omicron strains should be arriving within days, as reported by the Associated Press.
The new shots offer Americans a chance to get the most up-to-date protection at yet another critical period in the pandemic — but health officials recommend waiting at least three months after their last booster or a COVID-19 infection before getting the new booster to ensure the best results.
They’re a combination or “bivalent” shots that contain half of the original vaccine that’s been used since December 2020 and half protection against today’s dominant omicron versions, BA.4 and BA.5.
It’s the first update to COVID-19 vaccines ever cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.
United Airlines is raising its estimate of third-quarter revenue because of strong demand for tickets over the summer vacation season.
According to the Associated Press, the airline giant said that revenue will be 12% higher than in the same quarter of 2019 before the pandemic. That’s one percentage point better than previously forecast.
Meanwhile, United says it will suspend its limited service at New York’s JFK Airport unless it can get more takeoff and landing rights there.
Tuesday, September 6
The Biden administration hopes to make getting a COVID-19 booster as routine as going in for the yearly flu shot — that’s at the heart of its campaign to sell the newly authorized shot to an American public that’s widely rejected COVID-19 boosters since they first became available last fall.
Shots of the newest boosters could start within days, and Pfizer and Moderna specifically designed them to respond to the omicron strain.
The federal government has purchased 170 million doses and is emphasizing that anyone who wants a COVID-19 booster will get one for free.
As some children struggled to keep up with school in the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states saw significant increases in the number of students held back to repeat grades.
Twenty-two of the 26 states that provided data for the recent academic years, as well as Washington D.C., saw an increase in the number of students were held back, according to an Associated Press analysis.
Experts have cautioned about risks to students’ social lives and academic futures, but many parents have asked for do-overs to help their children recover.
Research in the education world has been critical of making students repeat grades. The risk is students who’ve been retained in a previous grease have a two-fold increased risk of dropping out, according to a University of Minnesota professor.
Generally, parents can ask for children to be held back, but the final decision is up to principals, who make decisions based on factors including academic progress.
California and New Jersey have passed laws that make it easier for parents to demand their children repeat a grade — but the option was only available last year.
Friday, September 2
A new national study finds math and reading scores for America’s 9-year-old students fell sharply during the pandemic, underscoring the impact of two years of learning disruptions.
According to the Associated Press, reading scores saw their largest decrease in 30 years, while math scores had their first decrease in the history of the testing regimen done by the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the federal government. A federal official said students are performing “at a level last seen two decades ago.”
In math, the average score for 9-year-old students fell 7 percentage points between 2020 and 2022. The average reading score fell 5 points.
President Joe Biden is asking Congress to provide more than $47 billion in emergency dollars that would go toward the war in Ukraine, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing monkeypox outbreak and help for recent natural disasters in Kentucky and other states.
The request comes as lawmakers are preparing to return to Washington and fund the government. It includes $13.7 billion related to Ukraine, including money for equipment, intelligence support and direct budgetary support, the Associated Press reports.
White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young said that more than three-fourths of the $40 billion approved earlier this year for Ukraine has already been disbursed or committed.
Thursday, September 1
California lawmakers on Wednesday approved an extension to the state’s COVID-19 supplemental sick leave until the end of the year.
Originally, the leave was set to expire on Sept. 30.
Workers can use the sick leave if they are infected with COVID-19 to care for a sick family member or to receive a vaccination/booster.
The bill would also allocate an additional $70 million — on top of the $250 million approved earlier this year — to aid small businesses in paying for the supplemental leave.
U.S. regulators have authorized updated COVID-19 boosters, the first to directly target today’s most common omicron strain.
According to the Associated Press, the move by the Food and Drug Administration tweaks the recipe of shots made by Pfizer and rival Moderna that already have saved millions of lives.
The hope is that the modified boosters will blunt yet another winter surge. Until now, COVID-19 vaccines given in the U.S. have targeted the original coronavirus strain.
The new boosters are half the original recipe and half protection against the newest, super-contagious omicron versions.
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