Thursday, April 28, 2022 | California Healthline


California Makes Deal To Increase Payouts In Medical Malpractice Cases: Cash payments in California medical malpractice cases would go up for the first time in nearly five decades under a deal between rival interest groups announced Wednesday that avoids a costly battle at the ballot box in November. The deal needs to be approved by the state Legislature. Read more from the Los Angeles Times, AP, and CalMatters.

Covid Cases Increased After Spring Break: Spring break appears to have sparked a jump in covid cases among L.A. County school students and staff, with both the number of new cases and the rate of positive tests rising, county health officials said Wednesday. Read more from City News Service. Scroll down for more coverage of rising covid cases in California.

Below, check out the roundup of California Healthline’s coverage. For today’s national health news, read KHN’s Morning Briefing.

San Francisco Chronicle:
As COVID Cases ‘Swell’ In The Bay Area, This Time It’s On You To Weigh The Risks

Coronavirus cases are ticking up again across the Bay Area as the region enters a fifth “swell” of the pandemic, but this wave will likely look very different from earlier surges, with far fewer people seriously ill and needing hospital care, health officials say. It also will play out differently in other remarkable ways: Though no one yet knows how high cases will climb before this wave crests, health officials don’t expect to have to put back in place mask mandates and other broad mitigation measures. That shifts the burden of responsible pandemic behavior squarely onto individuals’ shoulders. (Allday, 4/27)

The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat:
COVID-19 Testing On The Rise As Cases Increase In Sonoma County

As a result of an increase in Sonoma County COVID-19 cases, the county has experienced an uptick in the number of people seeking to be tested over the past week. Testing volume countywide has gone from 1,400 tests per day on average last week to 1,600 tests per day on average this week, according to Matt Brown, a Sonoma County communications specialist. The COVID-19 case rate in Sonoma County is now at 14 cases per day per 100,000 people. (Coates, 4/27)

Daily Breeze:
Cruise Industry Weathers COVID-19 Holdovers As Virus Lingers 

A rapidly spreading variant and close, indoor quarters are likely factors that have led to cruise ship passengers testing positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, according to the CDC. A spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said most cases have not been severe. “The vast majority of cases did not have severe outcomes, with only one COVID-19 hospitalization reported” in the outbreak on the Ruby Princess, which is still under investigation, said CDC spokesman Nick Spinelli. (Littlejohn, 4/28)

Los Angeles Times:
Kamala Harris Went To California To Recharge, But Got Infected 

Vice President Kamala Harris can’t seem to catch a break. Every unsettling laugh or awkward monologue becomes a viral video. A buzzy book out next week, “This Will Not Pass,” portrays her role in the Biden administration as slight, despite promises she would be an influential vice president. So last week, she went to California to recharge. She came back a day early only to test positive for the coronavirus. (Bierman, 4/27)

Los Angeles Times:
More Kids Hit By Upper Airway Infections During Omicron Surge 

During the winter Omicron surge, hospitalized coronavirus-positive children were more likely to be hit with COVID-related upper airway infections than at other times of the pandemic, putting them at greater risk of severe disease, new data suggest. One study found that the rate of upper airway infections — such as a type of bronchitis known as croup — among hospitalized coronavirus-infected children nearly tripled during the Omicron era. (Lin II and Money, 4/27)

Covid-19 Cases That Return After Paxlovid Antiviral Treatment Puzzle Doctors

The pink line on Erin Blakeney’s first positive Covid-19 test was so light that she almost didn’t believe it. But there was no denying the fever and sore throat that developed overnight, just a few days after she and her husband attended a large memorial service in late March. The couple wore KN95 masks, but many others in attendance had not, even as the service stretched past 90 minutes. Blakeney, a 43-year-old researcher at the University of Washington’s School of Nursing, is a breast cancer survivor. The Seattle resident says she doesn’t meet any strict definition of being immunocompromised, which can raise someone’s Covid-19 risk. Both Blakeney and her husband are fully vaccinated and boosted. But she didn’t want to take chances, because she’s taking medications to prevent a cancer recurrence and she lost a family member to Covid-19 in November 2020. (Goodman, 4/27)

Fauci: US In ‘A Different Moment’ But Pandemic Not Over 

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday the coronavirus is under better control in the United States. but the pandemic isn’t over — and the challenge is how to keep improving the situation. “We are in a different moment of the pandemic,” said Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, in an interview with The Associated Press. After a brutal winter surge, “we’ve now decelerated and transitioned into more of a controlled phase,” he said. “By no means does that mean the pandemic is over.” (Neergaard, 4/27)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Fauci To Skip Press Dinner While Biden Foregoes The Meal

While President Biden plans to attend the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday, the first time the event has taken place since 2019, he will likely wear a mask and not eat his meal to reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus, according to press secretary Jen Psaki. “He’s made the decision he wants to attend, in a safe way,” she said at a briefing Wednesday, saying the event was an important means for Biden to show his “support for the free press.” He will be present for the awards portion of the evening, hosted by comedian Trevor Noah. Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier Wednesday he would not attend the dinner due to COVID-19 concerns. (Vaziri and Beamish, 4/27)

NBC News:
Moderna Asks FDA To Authorize Covid Vaccine For Children Under 6

Moderna asked the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday to expand the use of its Covid-19 vaccine to children ages 6 months to 5 years. The drugmaker’s request will now be considered by the FDA, which is expected to make a final decision in June. The agency is expected to seek the advice of its advisory committee, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Children under 5 are the only group in the U.S. ineligible to receive a Covid vaccine; the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is available to anyone as young as 5, while Moderna’s and Johnson & Johnson’s shots are only available to adults. (Lovelace Jr., 4/28)

Moderna Seeks To Be 1st With COVID Shots For Littlest Kids

Frustrated families are waiting impatiently for a chance to protect the nation’s littlest kids as all around them people shed masks and other public health precautions — even though highly contagious coronavirus mutants continue to spread. Moderna submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration that it hopes will prove two low-dose shots can protect babies, toddlers and preschoolers — albeit not as effectively during the omicron surge as earlier in the pandemic. (Neergaard, 4/28)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Why Aren’t More Californians Getting Second COVID Booster Shots? It’s Complicated

In the four weeks since U.S. health regulators began allowing Americans 50 and older and adults of any age who are immunocompromised to get a second COVID-19 booster shot, relatively few have done so — a stark contrast to the furious scramble to get first shots last year. In California, only about 15% of the nearly 6.6 million eligible residents 50 and older have gotten their second booster, according to the state Public Health Department. (Ho, 4/28)

San Diego County ID Policy Makes Vaccinating The Undocumented Harder

On a rainy Saturday morning in March, volunteers with Universidad Popular huddle under a tent outside a vaccine clinic in San Marcos serving cafe de olla and handing out masks and COVID-19 test kits. They’re part of a network of community groups partnering with the state health department to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations. Trusted community groups like Universidad Popular bring the people, and the county supplies the vaccines and medical staff. But at vaccine clinics in San Marcos and Escondido, advocates with Universidad Popular said San Diego County has made that goal more difficult – by requiring a photo ID to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. (Mejías-Pascoe, 4/27)

California Lawmakers Retreat From Vaccine Fight 

For weeks in 2019, the shouting of anti-vaccine activists echoed through the halls of the California Capitol. Protesters pounded on the chamber doors, disrupting floor debates, as lawmakers weighed the latest bill to tighten school vaccine rules. On the final night of the session, a protester tossed a menstrual cup from the Senate gallery onto the chamber floor below, splattering lawmakers with blood. “That’s for the dead babies!” she shouted. (Colliver, 4/27)

Sacramento Business Journal:
Bill Requiring Health Plans To Cover IVF Passes Through Assembly Committee

A new bill that would require health plans to cover in vitro fertilization has passed through a state Assembly committee. On Tuesday the Assembly Health Committee approved Assembly Bill 2029. The bill would require that any health plan or disability insurance that covers hospital, medical or surgical expenses also offer coverage of fertility services, including IVF. Plans managed by Medi-Cal and employers that are religious organizations would be exempt. (Hamann, 4/28)

Orange County Breeze:
Senator Tom Umberg Introduces Fentanyl Awareness Day 

Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana) announces that he has introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 100 to declare May 10th, 2022 as Fentanyl Awareness Day in California. “As the former Deputy Drug Czar under President Clinton, I know first-hand the extent to which substance abuse destroys the lives of individuals and their families,” said Senator Umberg. “This anguish is only amplified with the inclusion of fentanyl-laced substances in our drug stream. It is with a mixture of emotions (sadness, empathy, hope) that I am authoring SCR 100 to proclaim Fentanyl Awareness Day in California. It’s time to raise awareness about this epidemic so we can save lives.” (4/27)

Sacramento Bee:
Consumers Could Buy Pot Directly From Farmers Under New California Legislation 

Consumers would be able to buy cannabis directly from cultivators at farmers markets just like they do for produce, under legislation approved Tuesday by the state Assembly Committee on Business and Professions. The push to allow small farmers to sell directly comes as the cultivators are seeing their most daunting financial challenges since the legalization of cannabis in 2018. (Diamond, 4/27)

Ban On Menthol Cigarettes And Flavored Cigars Could Save Hundreds Of Thousands Of Lives, Experts Say 

The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce a proposed rule this week to ban menthol from cigarettes, as well as to ban flavored cigars. It’s a step that public health officials say is essential to protect public health. “I’m really excited about the possibility. At our foundation, we’ve cared about issues of smoking and preventable deaths for so long,” said Dr. Richard Besser, a former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now serves as the president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a public health advocacy organization. (Christensen, 4/27)

The Hill:
Biden’s Planned Ban On Menthol Cigarettes Divides Black Americans

The Biden administration’s move to ban menthol cigarettes has the Black community split, with the ban’s supporters arguing it promotes a healthier lifestyle and its critics arguing it unfairly targets Black Americans and could lead to injustices and policing issues.  … While its proponents say the ban will save lives, opponents warn of its potential impact on Black smokers who overwhelmingly prefer menthol cigarettes and include law enforcement members who warn it could put undue pressure on police grappling with higher crime rates. (Gangitano and Manchester, 4/28)

Yahoo News:
Ben Crump Warns Of Racial Bias In Proposed Menthol Cigarette Ban

The Biden administration has indicated that it is planning on banning menthol-flavored cigarettes as part of a larger effort to prohibit flavored tobacco products. While these measures are intended to protect children, who are often enticed to become smokers through the availability of products like flavored e-cigarettes, the inclusion of menthol cigarettes is also expected to have a racialized impact, as 85 percent of Black smokers favor these over non-menthol cigarettes. Despite the potential for positive health benefits for Black people, some scholars and activists have warned that this proposed ban could have negative unintended consequences for the Black community. As we get closer to the ban being put in place, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump has joined the voices warning against the ban, and the famed lawyer sat down with Blavity News to explain his opposition to the new regulation. (Rhodes, 4/25)

Sacramento Bee:
Sutter Health Nets 2022 Operating Income Of $199 Million 

Sacramento-based Sutter Health reported $199 million in income from operations for 2021, rebounding from an operating loss of $321 million in the prior year. “We’re making significant progress on our path to recovery, but we continue to face strong financial and inflationary headwinds,” said James Conforti, Sutter’s interim chief executive officer. “We must stay focused on efforts that help our integrated network reduce costs and streamline our operations as these are integral to our affordability and to serving our communities well into the future.” (Anderson, 4/28)

San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego’s Concert Health Pulls In $42M To Help Doctors Deliver Behavioral As Well As Physical Health Care

San Diego’s Concert Health said Wednesday that it has raised $42 million in a second round of financing to drive expansion of its behavioral health services platform into more primary care, pediatric care and women’s health clinics. The company, which has 275 employees, estimates that 50 million people need behavioral health support, though many don’t get it. (Freeman, 4/27)

Orange County Register:
Real Estate News: MemorialCare Signs 10-Year Lease At University Park In Irvine 

MemorialCare Medical Foundation has signed a 10-year lease for the retail spot once occupied by Crown Ace Hardware at University Park in Irvine, according to CBRE. Financial terms of the lease were not disclosed, but CBRE said in a statement that the foundation signed a 9,460-square-foot lease at the retail center at 18102 Culver Drive. Tenants at University Park include Wholesome Choice, Rite Aid, Wells Fargo and Carl’s Jr. (Gowan, 4/28)

Modesto Bee:
Tenet Nurses Decry Short Staffing At Modesto-Area Hospitals 

Nurses gathered outside Doctors Medical Center in Modesto on Wednesday to urge their employer to deal with understaffing that isn’t safe for patients. The California Nurses Association held informational pickets and public actions at nine hospitals in California that are owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp., including Doctors of Modesto, Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock and Doctors Hospital of Manteca. (Carlson, 4/27)

Palm Springs Desert Sun:
Tenet Nurses Picket, Allege Unsafe Working Conditions At Desert Regional

Stretching several feet along North Indian Canyon Drive on Wednesday, around 20 registered nurses held up a poster filled with complaints about their workplace. The 90 “Assignment Despite Objection” forms, which have been filled out over the past four months, detail tasks that were assigned to them and that they completed even though they did not think they were safe to do. Most were related to staff-to-patient ratios. (Ema Sasic, 4/27)

Los Angeles Daily News:
Funding Will Help Seal Thousands Of Abandoned Oil Wells In Southern California And Statewide 

California is home to thousands of oil and gas wells abandoned years ago and never  properly sealed — many of them sitting near homes, schools and businesses from the coast to the Inland Empire. With no legally responsible party to clean them up, environmental leaders say that 5,356 abandoned and deserted wells now sprawl across Southern California and the state, polluting drinking water and leaking methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. (Grigoryants, 4/27)

Voice Of San Diego:
National City Resident Tested Their Tap’s Yellowed Water, Here’s What It Said

National City resident Ramel Wallace wanted to know what was in the apple juice-colored water that poured from his tap earlier this month, so he tested it and sent me the results. While a water quality test purchased from Walmart is not as detailed as one taken by a hydrologic specialist at a lab, Wallace’s tests didn’t seem to show anything out of the ordinary, said Justin Brazil, Sweetwater’s director of water quality, after hearing the results read to him by a reporter. (Elmer, 4/25)

Bay Area News Group:
Labor Woes Hit Harry’s San Francisco Mental Health Startup

While Prince Harry likely enjoys lucrative compensation for serving as “chief impact officer” for San Francisco-based startup, BetterUp, the company, which provides “mental fitness” services to corporate clients, faced a revolt among its coaches over pay cuts and other professional issues, the Daily Beast reported. The revolt had to do with modifications the company is making to the coaches’ contracts, which would basically result in “sneaky” pay cuts, as six BetterUp coaches told the Daily Beast. The coaches said the company reportedly planned to cut a stipend that they use to help prepare for meetings and assignments with clients, the Daily Beast reported. (Ross, 4/27)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Women In Homes With Handguns Are At 50% Higher Risk For Suicide, Study Finds

Women who live with handgun owners are nearly 50% more likely to die by suicide than those living in gun-free households, a new study from researchers at Stanford and Northwestern universities shows. The study, published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, followed 9.5 million adult women in California over 12 years who were not gun owners. At the start of the study period, all of the women lived with at least one other adult in a handgun-free household. But over the course of 12 years, the circumstances for more than 330,000 of them changed as someone they lived with became a lawful handgun owner. (Echeverria, 4/27)

Sacramento Bee:
UC Davis Research Details Microplastics In Ocean Food Chain 

Germs are hitching rides around the world’s waterways on the tiniest of rafts — microscopic plastic fibers from human clothing and fishing nets — and contaminate the shellfish that consume them, according to research published Tuesday by scientists at the University of California, Davis. These researchers hope to see further study on how the pathogens in these contaminated fish affect the humans and other animals eating them. (Anderson, 4/28)

San Francisco Chronicle:
Appeals Court Says Caltrans Can Clear Berkeley Homeless Encampments, Citing ‘Critical Safety Concerns’

The state Department of Transportation is entitled to clear homeless encampments near Interstate 80 in Berkeley and Emeryville and is not required to provide other housing for the residents, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, overturning a judge’s order that had halted the removal. The decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may not have an immediate impact on the 27 camp residents protected against eviction by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen’s injunction, which was issued in September and is due to expire on Saturday. But the appeals court noted that the injunction, originally scheduled to lapse on March 23, has already been extended once by Chen and, before Wednesday’s ruling, might have been renewed again — although a lawyer for the residents said Chen had ruled out any further extensions. (Egelko, 4/27)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *