California coronavirus updates: Bill would require California schools have plans for COVID-19 testing


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Latest Updates

Bill would require California schools have plans for COVID-19 testing

Health care centers are stretching out monkeypox vaccines to cover low supplies

Biden’s latest bill to avoid a significant increase in health care costs

CDC director announces shake-up, citing COVID mistakes

World coronavirus cases fall 24%, WHO says

COVID-19 By The Numbers

Friday, August 19

11:45 a.m.: Bill would require California schools have plans for COVID-19 testing

A bill moving through the California legislature would require school districts to come up with COVID-19 testing plans in case of positive cases in the classroom.

The measure passed the state Assembly Thursday. Democratic Assembly member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry made the case for its approval:

“Without a plan in place, some school districts leave parents in the dark,” she said. “Parents have a right to know if their children have been exposed to serious disease.”

A number of GOP lawmakers voted against it, including Rocklin Republican Kevin Kiley.

“This state has had the most onerous school shutdowns and mandates and testing regime of any state in the country, and we have done inestimable harm to our students as a result,” Kiley said.

The bill requires a final procedural vote in the Senate before going to the governor’s desk.

10:08 a.m.: Health care centers are stretching out monkeypox vaccines to cover low supplies

After a bumpy start, the Biden administration is trying to smooth out the vaccination campaign aimed at controlling the country’s growing monkeypox outbreak, according to NPR.

The effort now rests on a new and untested strategy of dividing up what were previously full doses in order to stretch the limited stockpile of vaccines in the U.S.

This comes as monkeypox cases have climbed well above 14,000 in the U.S. — a case count higher than any other country in the world — and yet many local health departments still report not having enough vaccines to reach all those who are considered high risk of contracting the disease.

9:52 a.m.: Biden’s latest bill to avoid a significant increase in health care costs

Millions of people in the United States will be spared from big increases in health care costs next year after President Joe Biden signed legislation extending generous subsidies for those who buy plans through federal and state marketplaces.

As reported by the Associated Press, the climate, tax and health care bill sets aside $70 billion over the next three years to keep out-of-pocket premium costs low for roughly 13 million people.

That money comes just before the reduced prices were set to expire in a year beset by record-high inflation.

The bill will extend subsidies temporarily offered last year in a coronavirus relief bill that significantly lowered premiums and out-of-pocket costs for customers buying plans through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace.

Thursday, August 18

1:44 p.m.: CDC director announces shake-up, citing COVID mistakes

The head of the nation’s top public health agency is shaking up the organization with the goal of making it more nimble. 

According to the Associated Press, the planned changes at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention come after amid criticism of the agency’s response to COVID-19, monkeypox and other public health threats. 

CDC leaders are calling it a “reset.” The changes include internal staffing moves and steps to speed up data releases. 

The CDC’s director told the agency’s staff about the changes on Wednesday. She says it’s a CDC initiative, and was not directed by the White House or other administration officials.

12:37 p.m.: World coronavirus cases fall 24%, WHO says

New coronavirus cases reported globally in the last week dropped by nearly a quarter while deaths fell by 6%, the Associated Press reports.

That’s according to the latest report on the pandemic released Thursday by the World Health Organization. The U.N. health agency reported 5.4 million new COVID-19 cases last week, a decline of 24% from the previous week. 

Infections fell everywhere in the world, including by nearly 40% in Africa and Europe and by a third in the Middle East. Still, the number of COVID deaths rose in the Western Pacific by 31% and in Southeast Asia by 12% while falling or remaining stable everywhere else.

Wednesday, August 17

11:45 a.m.: WHO renames monkeypox subvariants away from regional signifiers

The World Health Organization has renamed two monkeypox variants that were named after countries and regions in order to align with “current best practices,” NPR reports.

The new names, Clade I and Clade II, replace the names Congo Basin clade and West African clade, respectively.

Subsequent variants will be named using Roman numerals for the clade and lowercase letters for the subclade.

This comes after calls to rename the poxvirus to something else failed. Critics have called the name “monkeypox” racist and incorrect.

“Monkeypox should be renamed for two major reasons,” said Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, a global health equality advocate and senior New Voices fellow at the Aspen Insitute. “First, there’s a long history of referring to Blacks and monkeys. Therefore, ‘monkeypox’ is racist and stigmatizes Blacks.”

“Second, ‘monkeypox’ gives a wrong impression that the disease is only transmitted by monkeys. This is also wrong,” he said.

Despite growing criticism of the name, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses said that even if the name is changed in a year or two, “monkey” will still likely be part of any revamped name.

While WHO names diseases, the ICTV determines the formal names of viruses.

Tuesday, August 16

11:51 a.m.: First Lady Jill Biden tests positive for COVID-19

First Lady Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing “mild symptoms,” as reported by the Associated Press.

The White House announced it on Tuesday.

The first lady has been vacationing with President Joe Biden in South Carolina and began experiencing symptoms on Monday. She’s been prescribed the antiviral drug Paxlovid and will isolate at the vacation home for at least five days,

Joe Biden tested negative for the virus on Tuesday morning but will wear a mask indoors for 10 days in line with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance. The president recovered from a rebound case of the virus on Aug. 7.

The Bidens have been twice-vaccinated and twice-boosted with the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

11:19 a.m.: EU could soon approve combined COVID-19 vaccine for general population

Germany’s health minister says European Union drug regulators may authorize the use of vaccines that are effective against two variants of the coronavirus.

According to the Associated Press, German Health minister Karl Lauterbach said he expected the European Medicines Agency to meet on Sept. 1 to consider a vaccine that would protect against the original virus and the omicron variant.

He says the EU agency would likely meet again on Sept. 27 to review a combined vaccine against the original virus and omicron offshoot, BA.5, which is responsible for the latest global surge in COVID-19 cases.

Germany has procured sufficient amounts of both vaccines and would be able to start rolling them out a day after they received authorization, he said.

Monday, August 15

10:47 a.m.: CDC drops quarantine, distancing guidelines

The nation’s top public health agency is relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines and dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.

As reported by the Associated Press, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said that people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others.

The changes come more than 2 ½ years after the start of the pandemic. They are driven by a recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected.

10:33 a.m.: Johnson & Johnson has to trash 400 million COVID-19 vaccines due to quality problems — again

Congressional panel leaders say an additional 135 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine from a troubled Baltimore factory will have to be destroyed due to quality problems.

The announcement Thursday follows a May report detailing how more than 400 million vaccine doses made at Emergent BioSolutions plant would have to be trashed, according to the Associated Press.

The latest round of doses slated for destruction were made between August 2021 and February 2022. Johnson & Johnson says that no doses produced at the site since the factory restarted have reached the market.

Friday, August 12

10:29 a.m.: LA County moves out of high COVID-19 infection tier

Los Angeles County has dropped out of the high COVID-19 community level under federal guidelines, as infections and rates of hospitalizations continue to fall, according to the Associated Press.

The move to the medium tier under criteria set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes two weeks after LA County dropped a plan to impose a new mask mandate as the latest coronavirus surge eased.

LA County health director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday that the trends are encouraging — but she reminded residents that face covering remains an effective tool to reduce spread.

10:03 a.m.: Polio detected in NYC’s sewer system, indicating spread

Health officials say it’s possible that hundreds of people in New York state have gotten polio and don’t know it.

As reported by the Associated Press, the pronouncement came Friday after they said the virus that causes the potentially deadly disease has been detected in New York City’s wastewater.

Authorities say the presence of the virus in wastewater suggests that it’s circulating locally.

They are urging parents to get their children vaccinated.

One person suffered paralysis weeks ago because of a polio infection north of the city. Most people infected with polio have no symptoms but can still give the virus to others for days or weeks.

Thursday, August 11

10:59 a.m.: Can the monkeypox outbreak be stopped? Experts believe it’s possible

Since May, barely 90 countries have reported more than 31,000 cases of monkeypox, as reported by the Associated Press.

The World Health Organization classified the escalating outbreak of the once-rare disease as an international emergency last month.

The U.S. declared it a national emergency just last week, but that doesn’t mean the monkeypox is the next global pandemic.

Since it doesn’t spread as easily as COVID-19, it’s not spreading into every country. Outside of African nations, 98% of cases have been reported in men who have sex with men.

However, this does not mean it couldn’t spread to any person regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Scientists say stopping the outbreak among vulnerable groups could halt the disease’s transmission in Europe and North America.

10:27 a.m.: North Korea blames South Korea for COVID-19 outbreak in their country

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister says he suffered a fever while guiding the country to victory over the coronavirus.

According to the Associated Press, in a speech before thousands of North Koreans, she blamed rival South Korea for the country’s outbreak and vowed “deadly” retaliation.

Kim Yo Jong, a powerful official in charge of inter-Korean relations, glorified her brother’s leadership during the outbreak as he jubilantly described the country’s widely disputed success over the virus as an “amazing miracle” in global public health.

Experts believe the victory announcement signals Kim Jong Un’s intention to move to other priorities and are concerned his sister’s remarks potent a possible nuclear or missile provocation.

Wednesday, August 10

11:02 a.m.: COVID-19 deaths fall by 9% globally

The World Health Organization says in its latest weekly pandemic report that the number of coronavirus deaths fell by 9% in the last week while new cases remained relatively stable.

According to the Associated Press, the U.N. health agency said there were more than 14,000 COVID-19 deaths last week and nearly 7 million new infections.

The Western Pacific reported a 30% jump in cases, while Africa reported a 46% drop.

The WHO said that the omicron sub-variant BA.5 remains dominant globally, accounting for nearly 70% of all virus sequences shared with the world’s biggest publicly available virus database.

10:31 a.m.: Pandemic restrictions encourage Chinese residents to take up cycling

Cycling is growing in popularity in China as a sport, not just a way to get to work.

A coronavirus outbreak that shut down indoor sports facilities in Beijing earlier this year encouraged people to try outdoor sports, including cycling, according to the Associated Press.

Organized rides in the Chinese capital take cyclists to outlying suburbs or city landmarks. The sport’s rising popularity has boosted sales of bicycles and signals growing public awareness of environmental protection and low-carbon lifestyles.

Tuesday, August 9

5:55 p.m.: Sacramento declares monkeypox a local public health emergency

Sacramento County declared monkeypox a local public health emergency Tuesday afternoon, allowing the county to access funding and be more proactive in its response to the outbreak

The county’s board of supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of the declaration, with District 4 supervisor Sue Frost the “no” vote. The emergency declaration allows. 

“The proclamation of the state of local emergency, and local public health emergency does not signify an increase in risk to the residents,” said the county’s public health officer, Dr. Olivia Kasirye, at the meeting. 

California state health officials announced a state of emergency on Aug. 2. 

The county was notified of its first monkeypox case on May 21. As of Tuesday, the county reports 80 monkeypox cases.

Along with a vaccine, there is a treatment for monkeypox — a two-week series of pills known as TPOXX. But it is currently only being offered at UC Davis Medical Center and Kaiser. 

Click here for more information about monkeypox signs and symptoms and where you can get a vaccine in Sacramento County. 

11:26 a.m.: Incoming college students turn to bridge programs to prepare after COVID-19 disruptions

After the disruption of online learning, first-year college students are arriving on campuses unprepared for the demands of college-level work, experts say.

The Associated Press reports that colleges from New Jersey to California have expanded summer bridge programs aiming to get students up to speed in math and English before they arrive this fall.

Experts say it’s clear that for some, remote instruction caused learning setbacks, most sharply among Black and Hispanic students.

The stakes are high — research shows that students who start college a step behind are less likely to graduate.

11:10 a.m.: 80,000 tourists stranded at a beach resort town in China due to COVID-19 outbreak

Some 80,000 tourists are stranded in the southern Chinese Beach resort of Sanya after authorities declared it a COVID-19 hot spot and imposed a lockdown.

According to the Associated Press, the restrictions came into force on Saturday morning as authorities sought to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the city on tropical Hainan Island.

There were 229 confirmed cases on Friday and an additional 129 on Saturday.

Railway authorities banned all ticket sales and all flights were also canceled. Tourists wanting to depart Sanya have to test negative for the coronavirus on five PCR tests over seven days.

China sticks steadfastly to a “zero-COVID” approach. A recent outbreak in Shanghai spread so widely that authorities locked down the entire city for two months, trapping millions of people.

Monday, August 8

12:14 p.m.: Flushed with cash from COVID-19 treatments, Pfizer buys another drug maker

Pfizer is buying sickle cell drug maker Global Blood Therapeutics in an approximately $5.4 billion deal as it looks to accelerate growth after its revenue soared during the pandemic, according to the Associated Press.

Pfizer said that its latest acquisition will boost its work in rare hematology.

Global Therapeutics produces Oxybryta tablets for treating sickle cell disease. The pharma giant Pfizer has been flush with cash since its COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, and treatment, Paxlovid, have hit the market.

It has now announced deals valued at a total of nearly $19 billion, counting debt, since late last year.

12:07 p.m.: Texas man sentenced to 25 years in prison for attacking an Asian family over COVID-19

Federal prosecutors say a Texas man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for attacking an Asian family because he thought they were Chinese and therefore responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Associated Press reports that court records show 21-year-old Jose Gomez III of Midland, Texas was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime.

Gomez admitted that he used a knife to slash the man and his 6-and 2-year-old sons inside a Sam’s Club in Midland because he believed they were Chinese and spreading the coronavirus.

The man Gomez attacked is from Myanmar.

The March 2020 attack occurred as Asians faced verbal harassment and physical assaults across the U.S. after the virus began to spread nationwide.

11:28 a.m.: Spain struggles to limit monkeypox infections

Spain is struggling to curtail Europe’s leading monkeypox outbreak since the disease spread beyond the continent of Africa.

According to the Associated Press, the southern European nation counts 4,942 cases and two men have died from the disease.

Authorities and groups in the LGBTQ community are honing their campaigns to get vaccines to the neediest members of the demographic so far.

In the U.S. and Europe, the vast majority of monkeypox infections have happened in men who have sex with men.

However, health experts warn that if cases continue to rise, they will inevitably spread to other groups, similar to HIV/AIDS.

Given the dearth of vaccines, the focus is now on getting out the message that reducing sexual partners is critical.

Friday, August 5

1:27 p.m.: How many animal species have been infected with COVID-19? Scientists are still trying to find out.

Minks, hamsters, cats and dogs have all been recorded developing COVID-19, which leads to the question — how many species have been affected? How many cases have been there in the animal kingdom?

NPR reports that those are difficult questions to answer — just as it’s hard to come up with an accurate total for human cases since many people don’t report a positive test to health authorities.

Researchers say it’s an essential task because of the possibility that the virus could mutate into a more transmissible or virulent strain in animals that then passes back to humans.

More Learn more about animals and COVID with Scientific Data’s data tracking dashboard.

12:03 p.m.: Polio samples found in New York state wastewater

New York state health officials have issued a more urgent call for unvaccinated children and adults to get inoculated against polio, citing new evidence of possible “community spread” of the virus.

According to the Associated Press, health officials said that the polio virus has now been found in seven different wastewater samples in two adjacent counties north of New York City.

So far, only one person has tested positive for polio — an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County who suffered paralysis.

But based on earlier polio outbreaks, Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said there may be hundreds of other people who have been infected but have no symptoms yet.

Thursday, August 4

1:02 p.m.: US has declared monkeypox public health emergency

The U.S. has declared monkeypox as public health emergency after it infected over 6,600 Americans, as reported by NPR.

A public health emergency can trigger grant funding and open up more resources for various aspects of a federal response.

It also allows the Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, to enter into contracts for treatments and other necessary medical supplies and equipment and more.

Public health emergencies last for 90 days but can be extended by the Secretary.

11:32 a.m.: Las Vegas-based rental property management company faces probe over pandemic evictions

A Las Vegas-based corporate owner of thousands of residential rental properties in several U.S. states is investigating whether it improperly evicted tenants during the coronavirus pandemic while receiving millions of federal dollars to keep people in their homes.

The Associated Press reports probes of the Siegel Group announced by Nevada state Attorney General Aaron Ford and Clark County officials followed findings last week by a congressional oversight panel that company executives used deception, harassment and “potentially unlawful” tactics last year to force tenants out.

Siegel Group says it wasn’t called or interviewed by the U.S. House committee that produced the report. The company says it operates lawfully.

Wednesday, August 3

11:44 a.m.: Federal coronavirus relief funding local tourism projects

Hundreds of tourism projects nationwide are collectively getting about $2.4 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding, as reported by the Associated Press.

The money has aided everything from a gas station expansion in California to new sports facilities in Georgia and culturally diverse music in Nashville, Tennessee. Portland, Oregon, has categorized the purchase of 200 graffiti-resistant trash cans as a tourism project.

All the money comes from the American Rescue Plan, signed by President Joe Biden last year.

The flexible aid program for governments lists tourism as one of its eligible purposes, along such things as health care and housing.

11:03 a.m.: Germany announces COVID-19 measures will remain for fall and winter

The German government says basic coronavirus requirements will remain in place during the coming fall and winter when experts expect COVID-19 cases to rise again as people spend more time indoors.

According to the Associated Press, under rules recently announced, face masks and presenting proof of a negative coronavirus test will be mandatory from October until early April at hospitals, nursing homes and other locations with vulnerable people.

Passengers on airplanes and making long-distance trips by train and bus also will have to wear masks during that period, as they do now.

However, Germany’s 16 states have the authority to adopt their own rules. State governments could decide to require masks and adopt regular testing at schools.

Tuesday, August 2

2:46 p.m.: Newsom declares California in state of emergency over monkeypox

Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency to speed efforts to combat the monkeypox outbreak.

It makes California the second state in three days to take the step — nearly 800 cases have been reported in the state, according to the Associated Press.

Gov. Newsom said his Monday declaration will help California coordinate a government-wide response. He says the state will continue to work with the federal government to secure more vaccines, raise awareness about reducing risk and stand with the LGBTQ community in fighting stigmatization.

The move came after a similar declaration in New York state on Saturday and in San Francisco on Thursday.

2:37 p.m.: President Biden tests positive for COVID-19 for the second day

President Joe Biden’s “loose cough” has returned as he faces a rebound case of COVID-19, his doctor said, though he “continues to feel well.”

According to the Associated Press, White House physician Kevin O’Connor provided an update on the president’s condition as he continues to test positive for the virus.

He said Biden “remains fever-free” and that his temperature, pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation “remain entirely normal.”

Still, Biden is required to remain in isolation through at least Thursday under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines — and perhaps longer under tougher White House protocols if he continues to test positive.

Monday, August 1

11:41 a.m.: In the race to acquire monkeypox vaccines, lower-income countries lose

Public health officials warn that moves by rich countries to buy large quantities of monkeypox vaccine could leave millions of people in African nations unprotected against a more dangerous version of the disease.

As reported by the Associated Press, scientists say that, unlike campaigns to stop COVID-19, mass vaccinations won’t be necessary to curb monkeypox outbreaks. Targeted vaccinations and other measures could be enough to shut down the multiple outbreaks.

Monkeypox is much harder to spread than coronavirus, but experts warn that the need for vaccines could intensify if the disease spills over into the general population.

Brazil and Spain have just reported monkeypox deaths, the first in their nations.

11:38 a.m.: President Biden tests positive again in COVID-19 rebound case

President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19 for the second straight day, in what appears to be a rare case of “rebound” following treatment with an anti-viral drug.

According to the Associated Press, White House Physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said in a letter that the president “continues to feel well” and will keep on working from the executive residence.

After Biden tested positive on Sunday, he canceled upcoming plans to travel and hold in-person events. He’s isolating for at least five days per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

The 79-year-old Biden first tested positive on July 21. He was treated with the anti-viral drug Paxlovid, and he had ended his isolation on Wednesday.

11:27 a.m.: Florida man accused of selling bleach as COVID-19 cure, is arrested abroad

A man accused of selling a toxic industrial bleach as a coronavirus cure through his Florida-based church has been returned to the United States after being arrested in Colombia.

According to the Associated Press, records show 64-year-old Mark Grenon made his initial court appearance Thursday in Miami federal court.

Grenon and his three adult sons were indicted last year on one count each of conspiracy to commit fraud and two counts each of criminal contempt. He is the archbishop of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing in Bradenton, Florida.

Officials say the church sold chlorine dioxide and claimed the toxic solution can cure a vast variety of illnesses.

Find older coronavirus updates on our previous blog page here.

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