Health/Fitness

COVID-19 DEATHS REACH 3 MILLION WORLDWIDE

San Diego has among highest vaccine acceptance rate in U.S., survey finds

By Miriam Raftery

April 19, 2021 (San Diego) – More than 3 million people have now died of COVID-19 worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, including over 555,000 deaths in the United States, the most of any nation. The novel coronavirus has infected more than 141 million around the world, including over 37 million U.S. cases.  


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NEARLY HALF OF ALL ADULTS COUNTYWIDE HAVE RECEIVED AT LEAST ONE COVID-19 VACCINE

By Miriam Raftery
 
April 17, 2021 (San Diego) — The County of San Diego is well on its way to meeting its goal of vaccinating at least 75% of all residents age 16 and older. Nearly half (46.6%) of those eligible have received at least one vaccine so far, and 29.2% of those 16 and up have received at least one dose. Over 2.23 million doses have been administered to date.

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'PEOPLE ARE DYING AS WE WAIT'; BID TO TIGHTEN CALIFORNIA NURSING HOME OVERSIGHT SPUTTERS

By Jocelyn Wiener, CalMatters

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters

Photo:  CC v ND

April 16, 2021 (Sacramento) - An effort to fix problems with the oversight of California’s nursing homes has stalled, sparking fears that the bill is doomed — and prompting elder care advocates to warn that even a delay jeopardizes residents’ safety.


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COUNTY PAUSES USE OF JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINES DUE TO RARE BLOOD CLOTTING COMPLICATION

By Miriam Raftery

Creative Commons image by NC via Bing

April 13, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego County today announced that it will immediately pause use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine “out of an abundance of caution.”  

The county’s action comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Calif. Dept. of Public Health advised pausing the vaccine after six women between ages 16 and 48 developed a rare, severe type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis which can cause stroke-like illness, NPR reports.  The clots occurred one to two weeks after receiving the vaccine.

Over 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S., so the serious clotting complication appears to have occurred in approximately one in a million cases.


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HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS


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DEA SAN DIEGO ANNOUNCES 20TH TAKE BACK DAY

On the heels of largest collection to-date, federal, state and local partners prepare for event April 24
 
April 10, 2021 (San Diego) – With opioid overdose deaths increasing during the pandemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced its 20th Take Back Day scheduled for April 24. At its last Take Back Day in October, DEA collected a record-high amount of expired, unused prescription medications, with the public turning in close to 500 tons of unwanted drugs. Over the 10-year span of Take Back Day, DEA has brought in more than 6,800 tons of prescription drugs. With studies indicating a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, clearing out unused medicine is essential.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has seen an increase in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 83,544 Americans overdosing during the 12-month period ending July 1, 2020, the most ever recorded in a 12-month period. The increase in drug overdose deaths appeared to begin prior to the COVID-19 health emergency, but accelerated significantly during the first months of the pandemic.

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GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE HEROES REFLECT ON PANDEMIC

 

Photos, left to right:  Dr. Raed-Al Naser, respiratory therapist Vill Miranda, ICU registered nurse Melissa Stark, and Dr. Al-Janabi

By Miriam Raftery

April 9, 2021 (La Mesa) –Healthcare heroes from Sharp Grossmont Hospital shared their memories and lessons learned during the past year of the global COVID-19 pandemic which began in March 2020 and has killed over a half million Americans. In an exclusive interview with East County Magazine, pulmonary critical care physicians Dr. Raed Al-Naser and Dr. Al-Janabi, as well as respiratory therapist Vill Miranda and registered ICU nurse Melissa Stark shared their knowledge and experiences.

These front-line medical professionals risked their lives to save others, fearing for the safety of their own families as they worked tirelessly to heal and comfort those in their care.

Audio: 


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REP. ISSA INTRODUCES BILL TO ASSIST MEDICARE PROVIDERS DURING PANDEMIC RECOVERY; REP. LEVIN CO-SPONSORS MEASURE

East County News Service

April 9, 2021 (Washington, D.C.)  — This week, San Diego Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-50) introduced the Better Way for Providers to Repay Act, which will delay the Medicare Advanced and Accelerated Payment (AAP) loan program repayment start date by three months. Upon introduction, Issa said:


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VACCINE PASSPORTS IN CALIFORNIA? ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS

By Barbara Feder Ostrov, CalMatters

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.

Photo:  Domingo Comin, an employee at Carefield Assisted Living in Castro Valley, holds his vaccination card. Californa health officials say they have no plans to develop a state vaccination passport. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

April 9, 2021 (San Diego) - Now that more than 7.5 million Californians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Newsom administration has set a goal of reopening the state’s economy by June 15. So what does the state plan to do when it comes to proving that people are vaccinated?


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HHS SECRETARY XAVIER BECERRA ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF COVID-19 VACCINE PROGRAM TO ALL COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY

The number of invited community health centers grows from 950 to more than 1,400

Source:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

April 7, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra today announced that all HRSA-funded health centers and Health Center Program look-alikes (LALs) will now be invited to participate in the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. These health centers will have the opportunity to join the program as soon as they are ready, increasing the total number of health centers that have been invited to 1,470 nationwide. This expansion will be made through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


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GOVERNOR SAYS CALIFORNIA CAN FULLY REOPEN JUNE 15; SAN DIEGO ENTERS 'ORANGE' TIER

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks outside a vaccination site in San Francisco on Tuesday. Image from live feed

April 7, 2021 (San Diego) - Marking a major step in a return to normalcy, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that all COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, gatherings and recreational activities will be lifted June 15, although a statewide mask mandate will remain in place.


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DOCS STARTING TO SEE CAUSES OF COVID-RELATED HEARING LOSS

By Suzanne Potter, Public News Service CA

Photo:  One study from the United Kingdom found one in ten COVID-19 patients reports changes in hearing. Hearing aids can help people improve their listening comprehension. (UnitedHealthcare Hearing)

April 5, 2021 (Sacramento) - If you've noticed some hearing loss after you've had COVID-19, you're not alone.

Experts are starting to see cases pop up, and they advise people with symptoms to ask their doctor to arrange a hearing test right away, because treatments are more effective early on.

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INDOOR EVENTS CAN RESUME IN MOST OF CALIFORNIA WITH CAPACITY LIMITS AND PROOF OF VACCINATION OR NEGATIVE COVID TEST

By Miriam Raftery

April 3, 2021 (Sacramento) – State officials yesterday announced a major rollback of COVID-19 restrictions.  Indoor events can resume in most counties starting April 15, including concerts, plays, indoor sports, conferencesand private receptions.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: EQUITY, PUBLIC HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

By David R. Shorey, East County Program Manager, Institute for Public Strategies

 

March 31, 2021 (San Diego) -- When it comes to adverse mental health conditions related to COVID-19, younger adults, racial and ethnic minorities, essential workers and unpaid adult caregivers report having more increased substance use and mental health issues than others who are not listed in those categories.


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COVID VACCINES AVAILABLE TO AGE 50 AND UP STARTING APRIL 1, ALL CALIFORNIANS AGE 16 AND UP STARTING APRIL 15

By Miriam Raftery

March 28, 2021 (San Diego) – With vaccine supplies increasing, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that starting April 1, all Californians age 50 and up will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. In addition, starting April 15, the vaccine will be available to all Californians age 16 and up.

The state expects to receive 2.5 million doses a week in early April and over 3 million doses a week by the second half of the month, as a result of actions taken by the Biden administration to dramatically boost supplies including forging a deal to have rival pharmaceutical companies team up to increase production and providing funds to state and local governments to expand vaccinations.


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HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS


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VIEJAS ARENA AT SDSU BECOMES NEW COVID-19 VACCINATION SITE OPEN TO ALL ELIGIBLE COUNTY RESIDENTS

By Alexa Oslowski and Angela Kurysh

 

March 24, 2021 (San Diego) - As of yesterday, Viejas Arena at San Diego State University became the county’s newest vaccination site, after the university and San Diego County partnered up to establish a more equitable site for communities within the College area. Although this site is open to the public, Chair of the County Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher, who issued a press conference Monday morning at the arena, announced that 10% of the vaccines have been reserved for San Diego’s ‘hardest-hit communities.’ 


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LOSSES AND LESSONS LEARNED: LOCAL RESIDENTS REFLECT ON A YEAR IN QUARANTINE

By Miriam Raftery

March 23, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – A year ago, in March 2020, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic.  All of our lives changed as a result of COVID-19, which has killed over a half million Americans, caused shutdowns of schools and businesses, and forced residents to quarantine at home.

We asked our readers and followers on social media to reflect on what they learned from these historic times. What was the hardest part of the past year?  Were there any silver linings? What changes in your life do you think will be permanent?

Here are their responses.


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COUNTY RECAPS A YEAR FIGHTING COVID-19

By Anita Lightfoot, County of San Diego Communications Office

March 24, 2021 (San Diego) - On March 19, 2020, California became the first state in the country to issue a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The months since have been filled with challenges, fear and grief, innovation and historic breakthroughs. Here is a look back at a year that San Diego was seized by a deadly threat and how the County fought back.


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COUNTY COVID-19 OUTLOOK CONTINUES TO IMPROVE

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: cc via Bing
 
March 23, 2021 (San Diego) – Over a half million San Diego County residents, or 18.8% of the population age 16 and up, are now fully vaccinated – and 30.6% of those eligible have received at least one vaccine, as of yesterday. As the number of people vaccinated ramps up, the number of cases, outbreaks, and testing positivity rates are continuing to drop.

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COUNTY MOVES TO RED TIER: MOVIE THEATERS, INDOOR DINING AND MORE CAN REOPEN WITH CAPACITY LIMITS

By Miriam Raftery

March 16, 2021 (San Diego) – San Diego County will move from the purple tier into the less restrictive red tier starting tomorrow. The state notified county officials today of the change, which allows many businesses to reopen or expand capacity, though masks and social distancing are still required. Here are some of the changes:


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CALIFORNIA HITS KEY VACCINATION BENCHMARK, MOVING SAN DIEGO COUNTY CLOSER TO 'RED' TIER

By Ana B. Ibarra and Rachel Becker | CalMatters

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.

Photo:  a woman is vaccinated at the Sharp super station in Chula Vista. Courtesy County News Center

March 14, 2021 (San Diego) - California on Friday hit a benchmark of delivering 2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to underserved communities, triggering a big change that will transform the state’s reopening map from purple to mostly red.


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SAN DIEGO FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES $250,000 IN AVAILABLE GRANTS FOR NONPROFITS INCREASING ACCESS TO CHILDCARE

 
East County News Service
 
March 13, 2021 (San Diego) - The San Diego Foundation yesterday announced grant funding is available for nonprofit organizations working to support children ages 0-5 and their families with increased access to childcare, a service critical to pandemic and economic recovery in San Diego County.
 
The 2021 Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) Responsive Grant supports nonprofit organizations addressing emerging needs in the San Diego region. According to the December 2020 report, Roadmap for Resilience: The California Surgeon General’s Report on Adverse Childhood Experiences, Toxic Stress, and Health, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma represent an urgent public health crisis with wide-reaching health and societal impacts. Grant application criteria is informed by this report, as well as by regional data and local stakeholders, and reflects that ACEs is an important issue impacting many children, families and service providers that deliver care in San Diego County.

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COUNTY OFFICIALS HIGHLIGHT EARLY SUCCESS OF MOBILE CRISIS RESPONSE TEAM PROGRAM

By José A. Álvarez, County of San Diego Communications Office

March 13, 2021 (San Diego) - County officials Monday discussed the debut of a new County program designed to help people experiencing mental health or substance use crises by dispatching behavioral health experts to emergency calls instead of law enforcement when appropriate.

Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, County District Attorney Summer Stephan, County behavioral health officials and representatives from Exodus Recovery, Inc. held a socially distanced event outside the County Administration Center to share information about the Mobile Crisis Response Team program (MCRT) that was launched in January.


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COUNTY EXPANDS LIST OF HEALTH CONDITIONS ELIGIBLE FOR VACCINE, ALSO ADDS HOMELESS AND THOSE IN JAIL OR DETENTION CENTERS

By Miriam Raftery

March 13, 2021 (San Diego) – Starting Monday, March 15, people ages 16 and up in Tier 1C will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, if they live or work in San Diego County and have certain serious health conditions. The County has sharply expanded the number of health conditions, disabilities, and illnesses on the list that put people at higher risk for COVID-19 serious illness.

In addition, the County has added homeless people and those in congregate living situations such as jails, mental health facilities, or detention centers to the list.

Below is the full list of everyone who is eligible for vaccinations, starting Monday:

Phase 1C – Effective March 15

Eligible High-Risk Medical Conditions and DisabilitiesEffective March 15

  • Cancer, current with weakened immune system­­
  • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
  • Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen dependent
  • Down syndrome
  • Solid organ transplant, leading to a weakened immune system
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (but not hypertension)
  • Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2, but < 30 kg/m2)
  • Obese (BMI > 30 kg/m2, but < 40 kg/m2)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)

In addition, people over age 16 can get the vaccine if, as a result of a developmental or other significant, high-risk disability, one or more of the following criteria applies**:

  • A COVID-19 infection is likely to result in severe life-threatening illness or death; OR
  • Acquiring COVID-19 will limit the individual’s ability to receive ongoing care or services vital to their well-being and survival; OR
  • Providing adequate and timely COVID care will be particularly challenging as a result of the individual’s disability.

Additional Eligible Groups - Effective March 15

  • Congregate residential settings, such as an incarceratio­n/detention facilities, homeless shelters, or behavioral health facilities
    • Includes people experiencing homelessness, who may transition into congregate settings at short notice­­­

The County is also continuing to vaccinate people n phases 1A and 1B:


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SERVING SENIORS PROVIDES PROVIDES 1.7 MILLION MEALS TO FIGHT FOOD INSECURITY ONE YEAR SINCE COVID-19 SHUTDOWN ORDER

Source: Serving Seniors

March 11, 2021 (San Diego) -- One year ago, on March 12, 2020, Serving Seniors was ordered to shut down one of its core services to impoverished San Diego county seniors. As the largest provider of meals to San Diego County’s older adults, it could no longer keep its 11 congregate meal sites open due to the public health crisis.


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COVID CASES DROP, JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINES ARRIVE IN SAN DIEGO

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: San Diego County

March 9, 2021 (San Diego) – The COVID-19 scenario is improving in San Diego County. On March 7, the county reported 307 new cases, no deaths, and a positive testing rate of just 3 percent – all significantly lower than in recent weeks.

That drop is no doubt due in part to the fact that 12.7% of San Diegans age 16 and up are now fully immunized, and nearly 24% of those eligible have received at least one shot. 

Now, arrival of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine in our region will make it easier to get more people vaccinated. The J&J vaccine requires just one shot and can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, unlike Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require two shots and very cold storage.


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HEALTHCARE DISTRICT AWARDS $1.3 MILLION IN GRANTS IN 2020-2021 TO PRIORITIZE EAST COUNTY'S HEALTH NEEDS

Source: Grossmont Healthcare District

March 8, 2021 (La Mesa) - To further advance the foundations of healthcare in East County, the Grossmont Healthcare District awarded over $1.3 million in grants and sponsorships to local nonprofits and health organizations during the fiscal year of 2020-21.


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STIMULUS BILL PASSES SENATE, IS EXPECTED TO BE SIGNED BY BIDEN THIS WEEK: HERE’S WHAT’S IN IT

Update March 11, 2021:  President Biden has signed this measure into law.

Read full text of the American Recovery Act 2021

By Miriam Raftery

March 8, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – By a 50-49 margin without a single Republican vote, Senate Democrats passed a COVID-19 relief measure that now heads back to the House to approve changes. The House is expected to approve the bill as early as Tuesday, which President Joe Biden has said he will sign into law immediately.

The measure includes a new round of stimulus checks for most Americans and extension of unemployment benefits, but also many less-publicized forms of aid ranging from expansion of child tax credits to relief for restaurants, event venues, and other businesses hardest hit by the pandemic and much more.

One major element removed in the Senate version of the bill is a minimum wage increase, which the Senate Parliamentarian ruled did not fit the rules required to pass the stimulus bill by a simple majority vote needed to avoid a filibuster. The Biden administration is expected to propose a separate bill to address the minimum wage issue in the future.

Here are highlights of what the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill includes:


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COVID VACCINES APPROVED FOR COURT WORKERS, PROSECUTORS, PUBLIC DEFENDERS AND SOME DEFENSE LAWYERS

East County News Service

Photo: Scales of justice, cc via Bing

March 6, 2021 (San Diego) –The County of San Diego has approved COVID-19 vaccines for judges, prosecutors, public defender attorneys, and court employees. Also covered are criminal defense lawyers representing poor defendants in federal court.

These individuals regularly come in contact with people who have been in prison or county jail, congregate facilities with a high risk of COVID-19.  The County has included them under the “emergency services” category along with police, firefighters, animal control workers and security guards at public facilities.


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