Coronavirus in the Bay Area: Helpful Links to Local Resources

Updated October 5, 2021

AstraZeneca Asks FDA to Authorize COVID Antibody Treatment

AstraZeneca, the drugmaker that developed one of the first COVID-19 vaccines, has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize the emergency use of a first-of-a-kind antibody treatment to prevent the disease. The Anglo-Swedish company said Tuesday that the treatment, known as AZD7442, would be the first long-acting antibody combination to receive an emergency authorization for COVID-19 prevention. If authorized, the drug would likely be limited to people with compromised immune systems who don’t get sufficient protection from vaccination.

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By the numbers: On October 4, the daily average of newly recorded cases in California was 5,910. The state now has a total of 4,515,715 positive cases. There have been a total of 49,888,739 vaccines administered.

U.S. Has Enough COVID-19 Vaccines for Boosters, Kids’ Shots

With more than 40 million doses of coronavirus vaccines available, U.S. health authorities said they’re confident there will be enough for both qualified older Americans seeking booster shots and the young children for whom initial vaccines are expected to be approved in the not-too-distant future.

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America’s New COVID-19 Rules for International Travel

The Biden administration is rolling out new international travel policies affecting Americans and noncitizens alike who want to fly into the U.S. The goal is to restore more normal air travel after 18 months of disruption caused by COVID-19. The across-the-board rules, which will take effect in November, will replace a hodgepodge of confusing restrictions.

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New Studies Find Evidence of “Superhuman” Immunity to COVID-19 in Some Individuals

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.

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FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine

The vaccine has been known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, and will now be marketed as Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

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U.S. Likely to Authorize COVID Booster Shots

After struggling for months to persuade Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. health officials could soon face a fresh challenge: talking vaccinated people into getting booster shots to gain longer-lasting protection as the delta variant sends infections soaring again. As early as this week, U.S. health authorities are expected to recommend an extra dose of the vaccine for all Americans eight months after they get their second shot, according to two people who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

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CDC Reverses Indoor Mask Policy, Saying Fully Vaccinated People and Kids Should Wear Them Indoors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high Covid-19 transmission rates. The agency is also recommending kids wear masks in schools this fall. Federal health officials still believe fully vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission. Still, some vaccinated people could be carrying higher levels of the virus than previously understood and potentially transmit it to others.

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Surgeon General Urges U.S. Fight Against COVID Misinformation

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Thursday called for a national effort to fight misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines, urging tech companies, health care workers, journalists and everyday Americans to do more to address an “urgent threat” to public health. In a 22-page advisory, his first as President Joe Biden’s surgeon general, Murthy wrote that bogus claims have led people to reject vaccines and public health advice on masks and social distancing, undermining efforts to end the coronavirus pandemic and putting lives at risk.

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FDA Adds Warning About Rare Reaction to Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine

U.S. regulators on Monday added a new warning to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine about links to a rare and potentially dangerous neurological reaction, but said it’s not entirely clear the shot caused the problem. The Food and Drug Administration announced the new warning, flagging reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome, an immune system disorder that can causes muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis. Health officials described the side effect as a “small possible risk” for those getting the shot.

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Biden to Zero in on Delta Variant as U.S. Approaches 160 Million COVID-19 Vaccinations

U.S. President Joe Biden will encourage Americans who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 to get their shots to protect themselves from the widely-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus, the White House said on Tuesday. Biden is scheduled to make remarks on Tuesday afternoon after receiving a briefing from his advisers. A White House official said the country will be “nearing” 160 million people fully vaccinated by the end of the week.

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AstraZeneca, Pfizer Vaccines Effective Against Delta COVID-19 Variants (Study)

COVID-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech alliance remain broadly effective against Delta and Kappa variants of the COVID-19 causing virus, which were first identified in India, according to a scientific study, underpinning a continued push to deliver the shots. The study by Oxford University researchers, published in the journal Cell, investigated the ability of antibodies in the blood from people, who were vaccinated with the two-shot regimens, to neutralize the highly contagious Delta and Kappa variants, a statement said.

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California is Moving Beyond the Blueprint to Safely and Fully Reopen the Economy

As of June 15, 2021, the Governor terminated the executive orders that put into place the Stay Home Order and the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. He also phased out the vast majority of executive actions put in place since March 2020 as part of the pandemic response, leaving a subset of provisions that facilitate the ongoing recovery. The new public health order effective June 15 supersedes all prior health orders. The order has limited restrictions, only related to masking and mega-events, as well as settings serving children and youth pending an expected update to the K-12 schools guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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CDC COVID-19 Study Shows mRNA Vaccines Reduce Risk of Infection by 91 Percent for Fully Vaccinated People

A new CDC study finds the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) reduce the risk of infection by 91 percent for fully vaccinated people. This adds to the growing body of real-world evidence of their effectiveness. Importantly, this study also is among the first to show that mRNA vaccination benefits people who get COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated (14 or more days after dose 2) or partially vaccinated (14 or more days after dose 1 to 13 days after dose 2).

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WHO Will Turn to the Greek Alphabet to Help Avoid Stigma Around Coronavirus Variants

The World Health Organization is hoping to simplify the way the public talks about the growing number of variants of the coronavirus. It will start assigning different letters of the Greek alphabet to each new mutation of the virus. The new system takes the names of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 and moves them away from what can be sometimes confusing scientific nomenclature, or shorthand that puts heavy emphasis on where the variants were first discovered.

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COVID Testing’s Value Shrinks as Vaccines Beat Back Virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that most people who have received the full course of shots and have no COVID-19 symptoms don’t need to be screened for the virus, even if exposed to someone infected. The change represents a new phase in the epidemic after nearly a year in which testing was the primary weapon against the virus. Vaccines are now central to the response and have driven down hospitalizations and deaths dramatically.

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Largest CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Study in Health Workers Shows mRNA Vaccines 94% Effective

A new CDC study adds to the growing body of real-world evidence (outside of a clinical trial setting) showing that COVID-19 mRNA vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protect health care personnel (HCP) against COVID-19. mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) reduced the risk of getting sick with COVID-19 by 94% among HCP who were fully vaccinated.

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Younger Adolescents Get Ready to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Parents, schools and vaccine clinics rushed to begin inoculating younger adolescents Tuesday after U.S. regulators endorsed Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 12, a decision seen as a breakthrough in allowing classroom instruction to resume safely around the country.

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U.S. to Reallocate COVID Shots to States With Greater Interest

The change away from a strict by-population allocation comes as demand for the coronavirus vaccines has dropped nationwide, but especially precipitously in some areas, with some states turning down part or all of their weekly dose allotments. The federal government will now shift some of those doses to areas with higher demand, in an effort to speed shots in those areas.

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CDC Says Many Americans Can Now Go Outside Without a Mask

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidelines Tuesday on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers. And those who are unvaccinated can go outside without masks in some cases, too.

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White House Offers New Tax Credit to Help Spur Vaccinations

The White House is trying to overcome diminishing demand for COVID-19 shots by offering businesses a tax incentive to give employees paid leave to get vaccinated. The move comes as the United States is set to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of administering 200 million coronavirus doses in his first 100 days in office.

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President Biden to Move COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Date to April 19

President Joe Biden was announcing Tuesday that he’s bumping up his deadline for states to make all adults in the U.S. eligible for coronavirus vaccines. With states gradually expanding eligibility beyond such priority groups as older people and essential, front-line workers, the president will announce that every adult will be eligible by April 19 to sign up and get in a virtual line to be vaccinated, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

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CDC Real-World Study Confirms Protective Benefits of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

A new CDC study provides strong evidence that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections in real-world conditions among health care personnel, first responders, and other essential workers.  These groups are more likely than the general population to be exposed to the virus because of their occupations.

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CDC Updates Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools to Reflect New Evidence on Physical Distance in Classrooms

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is updating K–12 school guidance to reflect the latest science on physical distance between students in classrooms. CDC now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings.

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Fully Vaccinated People Can Gather Without Masks, CDC Says

Fully vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing, according to long-awaited guidance from federal health officials.

The recommendations also say that vaccinated people can come together in the same way — in a single household — with people considered at low-risk for severe disease, such as in the case of vaccinated grandparents visiting healthy children and grandchildren.

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Merck Will Help Manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine

Pharmaceutical giant Merck will help manufacture Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced, calling it “an unprecedented historic step,” considering that the two companies are normally competitors.

Merck will produce the drug substance at the heart of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine as well as work on filling vaccine vials and getting them ready for distribution.

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FDA Says Single-Dose Shot From J&J Prevents Severe COVID

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19, according to an analysis released Wednesday by U.S. regulators that sets the stage for a final decision on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic.

The long-anticipated shot could offer the nation a third vaccine option and help speed vaccinations by requiring just one dose instead of two. Food and Drug Administration scientists confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, and about 85% effective against the most serious illness. The agency also said J&J’s shot is safe.

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Schools Plan for Potential of Remote Learning Into the Fall

Parents of schoolchildren learning from home shouldn’t necessarily count on reclaiming the dining room table any time soon. After seeing two academic years thrown off course by the pandemic, school leaders around the country are planning for the possibility of more distance learning next fall at the start of yet another school year.

“We have no illusions that COVID will be eradicated by the time the start of the school year comes up,” said William “Chip” Sudderth III, a spokesperson for Durham, North Carolina schools, whose students have been out of school buildings since March.

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“Simple is Beautiful”: One-Shot Vaccine Proves Effective

The first one-shot COVID-19 vaccine provides good protection against the illness, Johnson & Johnson reported in a key study released Friday, offering the world a potentially important new tool as it races to stay ahead of the rapidly mutating virus.

The pharmaceutical giant’s preliminary findings suggest the single-dose option may not be as strong as Pfizer’s or Moderna’s two-dose formula, and was markedly weaker against a worrisome mutated version of the virus in South Africa.

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California Lifts Virus Stay-at-Home Orders, Curfew Statewide

California lifted regional stay-at-home orders across the state Monday in response to improving coronavirus conditions, returning the state to a system of county-by-county restrictions, state health officials announced.

The order had been in place in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, covering the majority of the state’s counties. The change will allow businesses such as restaurants to resume outdoor operations in many areas, though local officials could choose to continue stricter rules. The state is also lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

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Quick Treatment With Antibody-Laden Blood Cuts Risk of Severe COVID

A clinical trial in older adults with COVID-19 shows that an early dose of blood plasma from recovered people helps to prevent the progression to severe disease.

The plasma of people who have recovered from COVID-19 contains antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. But treatment with such plasma has had mixed results, and some scientists have suggested that plasma needs to be given early in the disease course to be effective. Fernando Polack at Fundación INFANT in Buenos Aires and his colleagues conducted a rigorous clinical trial to assess the effect of treatment with plasma within 72 hours of symptom onset. Participants included people over the age of 75 and those between 65 and 74 with at least one pre-existing condition such as diabetes. Read More

By the numbers: On January 11, there were 39,839 newly recorded confirmed cases in California. The state now has a total of 2,710,801 positive cases. There have been a total of 29,965 deaths in the state.

The Data on Coronavirus and Public Holidays

As worldwide coronavirus cases continue to surge, countries are grappling with how to manage big public holidays such as Christmas and Lunar New Year, which researchers are warning could become superspreader events.

“We’re already at a high level of community spread, and we’re about to see a lot of people traveling and gathering indoors,” says Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “It’s hard to see any way that this is going to go well.”

Nature examines what scientists have already learned about the spread of COVID-19 during holidays. Read More

California Rolls Out New App to Alert People of Potential COVID-19 Exposure

As California’s latest coronavirus surge spreads at a record-setting pace, state officials on Monday unveiled a new cell phone app aimed at helping Californians track their exposure to the virus.

Starting Thursday, December 10, Californians will be able to opt into the new app — dubbed CA Notify — and receive notifications on their cell phones informing them if they have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for the virus.

California joins more than a dozen states, including New York, Michigan and Washington, to launch exposure notification apps in recent months. Read More

COVID-19 Travel Health Notice Levels and Testing for International Travelers

On November 21, CDC revised the Travel Health Notice system for COVID-19 and released new recommendations for testing before and after international air travel to help the public make informed decisions for safer, healthier, and more responsible travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CDC’s Travel Health Notices inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues in destinations around the world. For most diseases, the Travel Health Notices have 3 levels. This new 4-level travel health notice system is specific to COVID-19 and details the level of COVID-19 in international destinations and U.S. territories. The COVID-19 Travel Health Notices now indicate low, moderate, high, and very high levels of COVID-19 for each destination and are based primarily on incidence rate (or new case counts in destinations with populations of 200,000 or less) and trajectory of new cases (whether new cases over the past 28 days are increasing, decreasing, or stable). Read More

Pfizer Says its Coronavirus Vaccine is 90% Effective in a Large Trial

Today, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their experimental vaccine against the novel coronavirus is more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease COVID-19, based on initial analysis of results from their large phase III trial. The two companies also report that no serious safety concerns have arisen thus far. To create the vaccine, researchers genetically engineered SARS-CoV-2 genes, captured their blueprint, embedded that blueprint into an RNA molecule in solution and injected the solution into the bodies of trial participants. The trial’s data have not yet been submitted for peer-review publication. If the results hold up, Pfizer and BioNTech say they could manufacture large quantities of the genetically engineered vaccine quickly. Read More

New “Close Contact” Guidelines (10.21.20)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) this week broadened its definition of a “close contact” with an infected person, thereby expanding “the pool of people considered at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus,” writes Lena H. Sun at The Washington Post (10/21/20). To be considered a “close contact,” the 15-minute exposure time for individuals within six feet is now cumulative or total time during a 24-hour period, not sequential, consecutive time. State and county health departments use the definition for contract tracing efforts, the story states. The CDC’s change “is likely to have its biggest impact in schools, workplaces, and other group settings where people are in contact with others for long periods of time,” Sun writes.

New Reopening Guidelines (8.28.20)

On August 28th, Governor Newsom released a new reopening framework with four tiers with colors attached to them to indicate severity. Case rates and test positivity rates will be the metrics that determine movement within the tiers which run from purple (the most restrictive) to red to orange to yellow (the least restrictive). These categories replace the state watchlist that had previously dictated whether counties could reopen or would need to close.

reopening guidelines california

Reopening rollback (7.13.20)

On July 13, Gov. Newsom ordered a rollback of the state’s reopening plan in an attempt to curb the recent resurgence of COVID-19. The rollback mandates closure of restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and cardrooms throughout the state. Newsom ordered even more business sectors to close in counties that are on the state’s monitoring list for more than three days; these include gyms, hair salons and barbershops, nail salons, indoor malls, non-essential offices, and places of worship. To keep track of where your county stands on reopening, take a look at this interactive map.

 

Around the House

We just wrapped up a team meeting on Zoom. I learned that we all spent the majority of the weekend cleaning and organizing. We assume that many people in the Bay Area are doing the same. To help, we have put together some of our favorite articles on cleaning and organizing for you:

Home With the Kids

Beware of Scammers

We are hearing reports that scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation. Over the years, our research team has produced several articles on how to keep your family safe from scammers. Here are links to a few of these articles:

Mental Health

Updated Information by County

Alameda County Public Health Department

Contra Costa Health Services

Marin Health & Human Services

Monterey County Health Department

Napa County – Coronavirus

Sacramento County – Coronavirus

San Benito County Health & Human Services Agency

San Francisco Department of Public Health

San Mateo County Health

Santa Clara County Public Health

Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency

Solano County Public Health Department

Sonoma County Emergency

Resources for California Workers and Employers

If you’re a worker or an employer whose livelihood or business has been affected by coronavirus, refer to the following resources.

California Employment Development Department

California Labor & Workforce Development Agency

What is an essential business?