Health/Fitness

GOVERNOR: SOCAL LOCKDOWN LIKELY TO BE EXTENDED AS ICU CAPACITY FALLS TO ZERO

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

Photo:  Gov. Gavin Newsom. Courtesy of the governor’s office

December 22, 2020 (San Diego) - With ICU capacity essentially zero in Southern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday the regional stay-at-home order will almost certainly be extended beyond the current Dec. 28 end date.


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KPBS GETS COUNTY DATA ON OUTBREAKS IN RESTAURANTS, RETAILERS, CASINOS AND MORE: THE NUMBERS MAY SURPRISE YOU

By Miriam Raftery

Image via KPBS, republished under Fair Use Doctrine

December 21, 2020  (San Diego) – It took a lawsuit under the California Public Records Act filed by KPBS, Voice of San Diego and the San Diego Union-Tribune to obtain data previously kept secret on the exact location of COVID-19 outbreaks, including names of businesses affected.

The data reveals many outbreaks at venues such as Walmart, Costco, Target, casinos and manufacturers/businesses. The most outbreaks, however, have been at senior living facilities/nursing homes(214 outbreaks) followed by restaurants and bars with 208 outbreaks from March through November.

The number of outbreaks doesn’t tell the whole story, however.


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CA REPORTS 152 CASES OF RARE BUT SERIOUS COVID COMPLICATIONS IN CHILDREN

Cases impacting people of color disproportionately

By Miriam Raftery

December 20, 2020 (San Diego) – Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) has been reported in 152 children statewide, according to the California Department of Public Health.  The rare inflammatory condition associated with COVID-19 can damage multiple organ systems, and may be life-threatening without early diagnosis and treatment.

The news is troubling given the high number of children back in public school for in-person learning. Cajon Valley Union School District, for instance, has had 297 cases of COVID-19 in students and staff since August 8, yet schools remain open. To date, 2.34% of all students and staff have been infected.


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CAMP CHEF RECALLS PORTABLE GAS STOVES DUE TO GAS LEAKS, FIRE HAZARD

By Miriam Raftery
 
December 19, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Product Safety Commission Wednesday announced a recall on Camp Chef portable outdoor stoves after 26 reports of gas leaks.
 
An internal part of the gas regulator component can have a sharp edge that can wear or tear a hole in the seal causing gas to leak out of the top of the regulator, posing a fire hazard. To date, no injuries have been reported.
 
Remedy: Consumers are urged to stop using the defective products immediately and contact Camp Chef to obtain a free gas regulator replacement kit.
 
Distribution: About 20,000 of the defective camp stoves were sold nationwide at sporting good stores and Walmart from August 2019 through September 2020 from between $150 to $300 depending on the model. The products were made in China and imported by Logan Outdoor Products LLC in Utah (Camp Chef). 

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FDA APPROVES SECOND COVID-19 VACCINE BY MODERNA

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via U.S. Health and Human Services

December 19, 2020 (Washington D.C.) --  On Friday, the U.S.  Food and Drug Administration announced that it has issued an Emergency Use Authorization for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.  This is the second vaccine to win approval, after the approval of a Pfizer vaccine earlier this month.

According to an announcement from the U.S. Health and Human Services agency, more than 5.9 million doses of the vaccine are allocated for jurisdictions to receive in the coming week.


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APPEALS COURT BLOCKS JUDGE’S RULING, ORDERS RESTAURANTS CLOSED AGAIN

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Terra American Bistro, a farm to table eatery in San Diego just west of La Mesa, had moved outdoors but is now back to offering take-out taco Tuesdays and to-go Christmas dinners, among other offerings, as a result of the latest shutdown order.

December 19, 2020 (San Diego) – Beleaguered restaurant owners are once again ordered to shut down, after three justices on the Fourth District Court of Appeals on Friday issued a stay blocking an order issued Wednesday by Superior Court Judge Wohlfiel.  The Appeals Court, responding to an appeal filed by California’s Attorney General, found that Wohlfiel acted too broadly in expanding an order in a case filed by strip clubs to also include restaurants, which were not parties in the case.

The state argued that Wohlfiel’s order jeopardized the health of county residents by undermining public health orders aimed at curtailing spread of the disease at a time when the Southern California intensitve care units are full, with zero percent capacity.

Wohfiel has issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the state and county from enforcing COVID-19 shutdown orders at restaurants and strip clubs.  Many local restaurants swiftly responded by reopening for outdoor and in some cases, indoor dining.  But the reprieve proved short-lived; the Appeals Court action means that restaurants are once again ordered to shut down except for take-out and delivery services.


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HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS


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DANGEROUS BACTERIA OUTBREAK REPORTED IN LOCAL DOGS: VACCINE FOR LEPTOSPIROSIS IS AVAILABLE

East County News Service

Photo: Creative Commons by NC-ND via Bing

 

December 17, 2020 (San Diego) -- An outbreak of leptospirosis, a contagious bacterial disease, has been reported in dogs in our region, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced today.

 


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COUNTY PAUSES ENFORCEMENT OF RESTAURANT CLOSURES AND LIVE ENTERTAINMENT VENUES PENDING APPEAL OF JUDICIAL RULING

 

By Miriam Raftery

Image: CC-by-SA-NC

December 17, 2020 (San Diego) – The County has temporarily halted enforcement of COVID-19 closure orders on restaurants and strip-clubs following a judicial order, which Supervisors have voted 3-2 to appeal.  

In a ruling yesterday, Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil ordered the state and county to cease enforcement of California’s regional stay-home order against strip clubs, until trial. Wohlfeil’s decision states that the state and county failed to provide evidence tying spread of COVID-19 or lack of intensive care beds to live adult entertainment. 

The case arose out of a challenge against closure orders filed by two strip clubs, Cheetah’s Gentlemen’s Club and Pacers Showgirls International. The order includes strip clubs but the broad wording covers “San Diego County businesses with restaurant service” though it’s unclear if his ruling is meant to apply to all food service establishments, or only strip clubs serving food.


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SIX TIPS FOR BEATING THE BLUES AND MANAGING YOUR DEPRESSION

By Stanley Popovich

December 17, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in increased stress, anxiety and fear, it can be challenging to manage your depression and other mental health issues.  

As the shutdowns and quarantines drag on, many people are at the end of their rope and do not know what to do. Nowadays, depression and fear is the norm.

Here are some techniques that a person can use to help manage their depression and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

1. Challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking: When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or depressed, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense. Focus on the reality of your situation and not on your thoughts.

 


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5,000 BODY BAGS SENT TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COUNTIES INCLUDING SAN DIEGO AS REGIONAL ICU CAPACITY DROPS TO JUST 1.7%

UPDATE DEC. 18, 2020:  The ICU capacity for Southern California has dropped to zero, meaning ICU beds are 100% full as some local hospitals are diverting ambulances, delaying treatment for critically ill patients.

 

Grim news offsets relief over arrival of first 28,000 vaccine doses locally

By Miriam Raftery

Photo via Governor’s office:  These medical workers are among the first in California to be vaccinated with the newly arrived COVID-19 vaccine. 

December 15, 2020 (San Diego) – With the COVID-19 death toll spiking and hospital ICU capacity dropping to just 1.7% in Southern California, the state has ordered 60 refrigerated storage units to use as makeshift morgues. In addition, 5,000 body bags have been distributed to San Diego, Los Angeles and Inyo Counties, Governor Gavin Newsom announced today.


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ADVANCING HEALTHY COMMUNITIES: METH STRIKE FORCE REPORT CARD ASSIGNS FAILING GRADE

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

 

December 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- East County’s reputation is pretty solid when it comes to open space, small town living and friendly people. But when it comes to methamphetamine use, it’s a different story. San Diego County was identified as the “meth capital of the world” in the 1980s and 1990s in large part due to the proliferation of meth producing labs across the East County. Local elected officials and law enforcement struggled to keep up with the fallout. They established the Meth Strike Force in 1996 to address the problem. And while San Diego County is no longer the meth capital, the problem still persists in East County.


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NO ROOM IN THE ICU FOR CENTRAL CALIFORNIANS; SOUTHERN CA ICU AVAILABILITY DROPS TO 5.3%

By Jonathan Goetz

Photo: ICU medical worker, via Bing

December 13, 2020 (California) – The San Joaquin Valley region in Central California, comprised of Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, and Tuolumne counties, had zero available ICU beds, as of Saturday, 16 days after Thanksgiving. Only one day prior, according to the California Department of Public Health, that figure had been 4.5%.

The Southern California region's ICU availability is at 5.3%, according to ECM News Partner 10News.

At this rate, San Diego and Los Angeles may have no ICU availability as early as Tuesday.


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REGION’S ICU CAPACITY DROPS TO 7.7%; SOME LOCAL HOSPITALS ARE NEARLY FULL

By Miriam Raftery

December 11, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego County reported 2,040 cases on Dec. 9, as the availability of ICU beds (ICU capacity) in the Southern California region dropped to just 7.7%.  While San Diego still has just over 20% of ICU beds available, Orange and Imperial Counties are at or near capacity, meaning patients may be turned away or diverted to hospitals in adjacent counties, further stressing San Diego’s medical care system.

Nationwide, at least 200 hospitals are at full capacity and a third are nearly out of ICU beds, with over 90% of ICU beds occupied, CNN reported Dec. 10, based on data from the  US Department of Health and Human Services.

A database now available to the public now shows capacity of all hospitals in San Diego County. Although it does not list ICU beds, it does reveal that some hospitals are filling up. Sharp Hospital in Chula Vista has 93% of its adult inpatient beds in use (just 7% available); Palomar Medical Center has 91% in use, Sharp Grossmont Hospital and UCSD Medical Center each have 85% of all beds for adult inpatients occupied.


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COUNTY HAS ABOUT $4 MILLION FOR NON-PROFITS SERVING PEOPLE IMPACTED BY COVID-19

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

Photo credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Do you run a non-profit organization which serves low and moderate-income people who’ve been impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic?

If so, you may qualify for a share of about $4 million from the County Housing and Community Development Services’ Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

The funds are available for projects in the following areas:


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NEW CA LAW MAY NOT GO FAR ENOUGH TO PROTECT AGAINST DANGEROUS CHEMICALS USED IN FIREFIGHTING

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Stock Photo courtesy of Pixaboy on Stockvault.net) 

December 10, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Amazon Prime announced on Dec. 8 that it will ban products that contain “forever toxics” or PFAS/PFOS in their Amazon Kitchen Products. But the same banned chemicals remain in many products – including foam used to fight industrial and airport fires, as well as in firefighting gear and more.

The movie “Dark Waters” illustrates the dangers of these chemicals, which are contained in many consumer products, have been linked to cancer and never break down in the environment.

Senate Bill (SB)1044 makes changes to the PFAS levels allowed in fire-fighting foam, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022 in California. 

John “Jack” Sexton, with Pyrocool Technologies, alleges that the bill does not go far enough in protecting firefighters from the toxins in competitors’ firefighting foams. His company produces firefighting foams without PFAS/PFOS, but though he contends the products are effective, they have not been authorized by federal authorities.  


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COUNTY REPORTS 2,104 NEW VIRUS CASES AND 15 DEATHS AS PANDEMIC SURGES

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

December 10, 2020 (San Diego) - San Diego County public health officials reported the second highest daily increase in coronavirus cases on Wednesday and pleaded with residents to follow the stay-at-home order to avoid overwhelming the health system.

There were 2,104 new cases and 15 deaths, with 8.4% of the latest tests coming back positive.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher told a media briefing that projections showed all county ICU beds would have been occupied before Christmas without the regional lockdown, which is now in its third day.

“When you have as many cases as we have, and it is spreading as fast as it is, there are very few settings that are safe,” warned Fletcher.


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JAMUL INDIAN VILLAGE OF CALIFORNIA'S CHAIRWOMAN, ERICA M. PINTO, ELECTED CHAIR OF SOUTHERN INDIAN HEALTH COUNCIL, INC.

Chairwoman expands efforts to improve lives of Native peoples

East County News Service

December 10, 2020 (Jamul) - On Monday, November 30, Erica M. Pinto, Chairwoman of The Jamul Indian Village of California (JIV), was elected Chair of the Southern Indian Health Council, Inc. (SIHC).  The SIHC, founded in 1982, is a Native American organization which aims to protect and improve the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the Native American community.  Having intermittently served on the 14-member SIHC board since 2004, Ms. Pinto will begin her two-year term as Chair in January 2021.  The Chairwoman, who was honored last month with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California’s highest honor, the Warrior Award, has become a recognized leader in the effort to improve the lives of Native peoples.


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GROSSMONT HEALTHCARE DISTRICT ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $210,000 IN SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THOSE WORKING IN OR ENTERING THE HEALTHCARE FIELD

Source: Grossmont Healthcare District
 
Photo: The district’s pledge to award these scholarships assists students and professionals in their educational and professional focus on hands-on healthcare field studies.
 
December 9, 2020 (La Mesa) – The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD) recently announced new scholarship opportunities worth more than $210,000 for local students and professionals working in or entering the healthcare field.
 
Each year, a portion of the overall agency grants and sponsorships budget has been allocated for scholarship programs offered to local students living, working, or attending school within GHD boundaries.
 
The programs are designed to meet the demand to maintain a robust and diverse local healthcare workforce, particularly in professions where shortages have been projected in the coming decade even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The application deadline for all programs is February 12, 2021.

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PHARMACIST EXPLAINS HOW DRUGS CAN MITIGATE MENTAL ILLNESS

By Dr. Michael Mantell, San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

December 8, 2020 (San Diego) - One of the many benefits of being a long-time weekly writer for this publication/website, is the opportunity to review books that hold special meaning for me. So when Don Harrison, our beloved editor, inquires if I’d like to review a new book, the title, the content, or the author will interest me, or not. When it came to our friend Ben Dishman, Pharm.D., BCPP and his new book, "I Can Treat That...Well Maybe?” there was no question but that I wanted to read and review this book.


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BOOKS BY LOCAL CHILD AUTHOR BENEFIT COVID-19 FUND

East County News Service

December 8, 2020 (San Diego) - San Diego native Arden Pala, who was recently awarded “Best Child Actor” by the Los Angeles Film Awards, writes about celebrating cultures and similarities in his new book series benefiting San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund.  


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COVID CASES CONTINUE TO CLIMB, ICU BED AVAILIBILITY DROPS

By Miriam Raftery

December 8, 2020 (San Diego) – Nearly 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 (1,998) were reported yesterday in San Diego County, two days after an all-time record of 2,287 cases were found.  A month ago, cases hovered around 500 cases a day.  Equally concerning, the region’s ICU bed capacity has dropped to just 10.9% across all Southern California counties.

In San Diego County, intensive care unit (ICU ) bed capacity in hospitals is 24%, above the state’s 15% threshold for regions to shut down. That’s prompted objections from many San Diego County business owners and politicians over state health officials lumping our county in with others that have lower ICU availability and may be doing less to contain the virus, such as not enforcing masking and social distancing mandates.

But ICU beds aren’t the only measurement.  It takes specially trained nurses to staff an ICU unit, where critically ill patients may be placed on ventilators  and must be closely monitored.  Across the U.S., there is a shortage of medical personnel including ICU nurses, a shortfall compounded by medical personnel taking time off to quarantine or in some cases, ill after contracting COVID-19 themselves. That's resulting in some patients in critical condition from other illnesses or accidents being transferred hundreds of miles for care and has led to triaging of patients in some areas to determine who may receive ICU beds or ventilators, putting some vulnerable patients at higher risk.


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BUSINESS OWNERS, HEALTHCARE AND POLITICAL LEADERS SHARE VIEWS ON NEW COVID-19 SHUTDOWNS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Prete-a-Porter Salon & Spa in La Mesa moved outside during the last shutdown, but this time, salons are ordered to close completely. 

December 6, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Healthcare leaders, business owners and public officials are offering mixed reactions to the state’s latest stay-home order and business shutdowns prompted by Southern California dropping below 15% ICU bed availability. 


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STAY HOME ORDER ISSUED AS REGION'S ICU CAPACITY DROPS BELOW 15%


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HEALTH AND SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS


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STAY-AT-HOME ORDER LOOMS FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SUNDAY AS ICU CAPACITY FALLS

Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo: ICU unit, creative commons image via Bing

December 5, 2020 (San Diego) -- Stay-at-home will likely go into effect at midnight Sunday in San Diego County and Southern California after available beds in intensive care units, as expected, dropped below 15%.

The region’s ICU capacity measured 13.1% on Friday because of the growing number of coronavirus cases, the California Department of Public Health announced Friday night.

Under the order issued Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, if ICU capacity remains under 15% on Saturday afternoon, then the lockdown would begin  the following day, which is Sunday.


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REGIONAL STAY-HOME ORDERS TO BE TRIGGERED BY HOSPITAL ICU CAPACITY DROPPING BELOW 15%

Southern California expected to reach that threshold in early December

By Miriam Raftery

View Governor’s press conference:  https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1ynJOBbXEdZGR

December 3, 2020 (San Diego) – California is running out of beds in intensive care units (ICU) needed for the most critically ill patients as COVID-19 surges. Statewide, demand for ICU beds is expected to exceed capacity by mid-December, while Southern California may exceed ICU capacity even sooner.

To save lives and prevent a crisis in our healthcare system, Governor Gavin Newsom announced new restrictions including regional stay-home orders and some business shut-downs once a region dips below 15% ICU bed capacity.


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REPORT: COVID SOARS IN NURSING HOMES WITH MORE PATIENTS OF COLOR

By Suzanne Potter, California News Service
 
December 2, 2020 (Sacramento) - A new report pinpoints why COVID-19 spread so fast this summer in California nursing homes.
 
The study found skilled nursing facilities that meet recommended staffing levels for Registered Nurses had half the infections compared to those that don't meet the standards. And the novel coronavirus infection rates are three times higher at facilities with large numbers of African-American patients.
 
That's according to Kristof Stremekis, director of market analysis and insight with the California Health Care Foundation, which commissioned the report.
 
"Black and Latinx people in California are disproportionately impacted by this virus," said Stremekis. "And we need to make sure that those facilities which are serving Black and Latinx patients have the resources that they need to keep people safe."

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SAN DIEGO COUNTY EXPECTS INITIAL ALLOCATION OF 28,000 VACCINE DOSES IN DECEMBER

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

Photo:  Creative Commons via Bing

December 2, 2020 (San Diego) - San Diego County will get 28,000 doses of the new Pfizer vaccine in the next week or two, but it will be March or April before coronavirus vaccines are widely available, public health officials said Wednesday.


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PEOPLE AT HOLIDAY GATHERINGS URGED TO GET TESTED FOR COVID-19

Source: County News Service

Photo credit:  Shutterstock

November 30, 2020 (San Diego) - If you traveled or gathered with people outside your household over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, you were at higher risk of having contracted COVID-19 and could inadvertently be spreading it.


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