Coronavirus Today: Preventing one health crisis from spawning another

Coronavirus Today: Preventing one health crisis from spawning another


12/8/2021 3:17:00 PM

Coronavirus Today: Preventing one health crisis from spawning another

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who attended a wedding in Wisconsin over Thanksgiving weekend. Seven other wedding guests from Alameda County also came down with coronavirus infections, but officials haven’t yet announced which variant was responsible for their cases.One of the 12 wedding guests had recently returned from an international trip, county health officials said. All 12 of them were vaccinated, and most had received booster shots. The five with confirmed Omicron infections experienced mild symptoms of COVID-19.

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Los Angeles County announced its second and third Omicron caseson Monday. One of them was a student at USC who had just returned from the East Coast; the other had recently traveled to western Africa.Both patients were vaccinatedand had mild COVID-19 symptoms.

So far, none of the three L.A. County residents with Omicron appear to have spread it to others.Officials in California arepreparing for a possible second winter surge— one thatmay come from Omicron, the still-overwhelmingly-dominant Delta variant, or a combination of the two.

In L.A. County, for example, residents of skilled nursing facilities will have to be tested for coronavirus infections once a week between Dec. 15 and Jan. 31, regardless of their vaccination status. The same applies to employees and contractors who come into contact with residents.

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Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, a deputy health officer for Orange County, urged people to get vaccinated, get their booster shot and get tested regularly. She also suggested that peoplegive serious thought to downsizing their plans for holiday celebrations

and to think about holding them outdoors to reduce the risk further.“It is important for all of us to take precaution,” Chinsio-Kwong said, “as we see other states see a rise in cases, and we want to protect our loved ones.”The San Joaquin Valley is finally getting a bit of a breather, with hospitalizations there now 30% lower than they were in mid-November. Even so,

the hospitalization rate in Fresno County is more than triple the rate in L.A. County, and officials are expecting things to get worse this winter.Unlike last year, there are no plans to set up cots in the Fresno convention center or any other alternative care sites, said Dr. Rais Vohra, the county’s interim health officer. Instead, if hospitals become overwhelmed, doctors may be forced to implement crisis standards of care, which could involve rationing care and prioritizing patients who are most likely to survive.

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In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is hoping to head off a winter surge witha new vaccine mandate for employees of private businesses.“We in New York City have decided to use a preemptive strike to reallydo something bold to stop the further growth of COVID

and the dangers it’s causing to all of us,”De Blasio said Mondayon MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”The Big Apple already has mandates in place for city employees including teachers, police officers and firefighters, as well as for employees of hospitals, nursing homes, and private and religious schools. The new rule, which applies to about 184,000 businesses, will take effect Dec. 27 — if it survives expected legal challenges. De Blasio expressed confidence that it would.

He may need to temper his optimism.,a federal appeals court put a temporary hold on a similar vaccine mandate from the Biden administration. The federal mandate requires employees of businesses with at least 100 workers to be vaccinated by Jan. 4 ; those who don’t will have to get tested weekly and follow mask rules.

The appeals court in New Orleans said it was delaying the vaccine requirement becauseits critics had raised potentially “grave statutory and constitutional issues.”, a federal district court in Augusta, Ga., issued a stay to prevent the vaccine mandate from being enforced anywhere in the country.

The order applies nationwidebecause one of the challengers is a trade group that represents builders and contractors around the country.At least 27 states have challenged the vaccine mandate in federal courts around the country, some of which are more conservative than others. Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Labor remain confident the agency has the authority to issue the vaccination rules, which were set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Back in L.A. County, more than one-quarter of Metro employees have missed a deadline to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated, raising questions about how the agency will be able to maintain crucial services without putting transit riders at risk.Overall,

72% of Metro employees have shown that they’re vaccinated. Some categories of workers have complied better than others; among operators and schedule checkers, only 58% have provided proof of vaccination.“Metro has an obligation to provide and maintain a safe workplace,” Dave Sotero, the agency’s communications director, said in a statement. “We adopted a mandatory vaccination policy to safeguard the health of our employees and their families, our customers and the community at large from infectious diseases that vaccinations may reduce.”

John M. Ellis, a general chairman with the SMART transportation union that represents Metro bus and train operators, said the union was “knee-deep in negotiations” over how the vaccination rules would play out. “I’m sure we’ll be reaching some kind of alternative to satisfy the requirement,” he said.

Just how far will some people go to avoid a COVID-19 shot?

Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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