Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.
WHO estimates nearly 15 million excess deaths during with COVID-19 pandemic
Pfizer is trying to get their young children’s vaccine approved by the FDA
COVID-19 health care coverage dries up despite US still being in the pandemic phase
Shasta County Board of Supervisors fires county health officer
CDC restates recommendation for masks on public transportation
COVID-19 By The Numbers
Thursday, May 5
10:13 a.m.: WHO estimates nearly 15 million excess deaths during with COVID-19 pandemic
The World Health Organization is estimating that nearly 15 million people were killed either by the coronavirus or by its impact on overwhelmed health systems in the first two years of the pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, that’s more than double the current official death toll.
In a report released on Thursday, the U.N. health agency said that most of the fatalities were in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Accurately counting COVID-19 deaths have been problematic as reports of confirmed cases represent only a fraction of the devastation wrought by the virus. This could be attributed to limited testing and global differences in how countries count COVID-19 deaths.
9:56 a.m.: Pfizer is trying to get their young children’s vaccine approved by the FDA
Pfizer now hopes to tell U.S. regulators how well its COVID-19 vaccine works in children under 5 by early June, according to the Associated Press.
Currently, only children ages 5 or older can be vaccinated in the U.S. using Pfizer’s vaccine.
Rival Moderna hopes to be the first to offer vaccinations to the youngest children and began filling its own data with the Food and Drug Administration last week.
The FDA has set tentative meetings in June to review data from one or both companies.
9:47 a.m.: COVID-19 health care coverage dries up despite US still being in the pandemic phase
For the first time, the U.S. came close to providing health care for alll for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, but just for one condition — COVID-19.
Now, things are reverting to how they were as federal money for the uninsured dries up, as reported by the Associated Press.
Lack of an insurance card could become a barrier to timely care for COVID. A $20 billion government program that paid the pandemic bills of uninsured people has been shut down.
Special Medicaid COVID coverage likely faces its last months, even though the virus is not yet contained. To exacerbate matters, safety-net hospitals and clinics are seeing sharply higher operating costs. They fear they won’t be prepared if there’s another surge.
Wednesday, May 4
9:52 a.m.: Shasta County Board of Supervisors fires county health officer
The Shasta County Board of Supervisors voted to terminate county Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom by a 3-2 vote during its closed session on Tuesday, and the announcement was made public soon after.
In a letter addressed to the community and published in A News Cafe on Friday, Ramstrom wrote that she believed the board would consider her termination during this week’s meeting but that she had been given no notice that her performance was unsatisfactory.
“My performance review did not mention anything suggesting that my job was in jeopardy, and I have no specific information from the Board that my job performance was unsatisfactory in any way,” she wrote.
Ramstrom has frequently come under fire by some members of the community during board meetings for upholding COVID-19 safety measures and mandates. In her letter, she wrote that she and her colleagues had been no more restrictive than the state required.
9:37 a.m.: CDC restates recommendation for masks on public transportation
Despite a court ruling last month that struck down a national mask mandate on public transportation, U.S. health officials are restarting their recommendation that Americans wear masks on planes, trains, and buses.
As reported by the Associated Press, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday issued a statement saying people age 2 and older should wear a well-fitting mask when traveling in public spaces, like buses.
Last month, a federal judge in Florida struck down a government requirement for masking in public transportation. The Justice Department is appealing the decision.
9:25 a.m.: Despite COVID-19 cases increasing, mask mandates still seem off the table
As mask mandates and vaccination rules kept falling across the U.S., infections from the latest COVID variants have quietly taken hold in some places, sparking concern among public health officials.
According to the Associated Press, more cities are now in a new high-risk category that is supposed to trigger indoor mask-wearing, but there’s been little appetite to do so.
Nationally, hospitalizations are up slightly but still as low as at any point in the pandemic. Deaths have steadily decreased to nearly the lowest numbers in the last three months.
The muted response reflects the country’s exhaustion after two years of restrictions and the new challenges that health leaders are facing at this phase of the pandemic.
An abundance of at-home virus test kits has led to a steep undercount of COVID-19 cases, which is an important benchmark.
Tuesday, May 3
9:39 a.m.: Kamala Harris tests negative for COVID-19 six days after testing positive
Vice President Kamala Harris tested negative on Monday for COVID-19, six days after she tested positive for the virus, according to the Associated Press.
She has been cleared to return to the White House on Tuesday. Harris press secretary Kirsten Allen said Harris, who was prescribed the antiviral treatment Paxlovid last week, was negative on a rapid antigen test.
Allen said Harris would continue to wear a “well-fitting mask while around others” in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines until her tenth day after her positive test.
9:31 a.m.: California’s population shrank second year in a row
Officials have announced that California’s population shrank in 2021 for the second year in a row, according to a new estimate from the California Department of Finance.
As reported by the Associated Press, state officials say California lost 117,552 people in 2021, giving it a population of just over 39 million residents.
California is still far ahead of Texas, which is No. 2 for population size in the U.S.
State officials blame the loss on a declining birth rate and more deaths because of the pandemic. Also, fewer people are moving from other states to California.
9:13 a.m.: Beijing shuts indoor dining during holiday to stem COVID-19 infections
Restaurants in Beijing have been ordered to close dine-in services over the May holidays as the Chinese capital grapples with a COVID-19 outbreak, according to the Associated Press.
Authorities said at a recent news conference that dining in restaurants has become an infection risk, cting virus transmissions between diners and staff.
Restaurants have been ordered to only provide takeout services from Sunday to Wednesday, during China’s Labor Day holidays.
Beijing began mass testing millions of residents earlier this week. Parks and entertainment venue are allowed to operate only at half capacity.
The stakes are high as the ruling Communist Party prepares for a major congress this fall at which President XI Jinping is seeking a third five-year term as the country’s leader.
Monday, May 2
9:22 a.m.: CDC says 60% of US adults have previously been infected with COVID-19
Most people in the U.S., including most children, have now been infected with COVID-19 during the omicron surge, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NPR reports that at a briefing for reporters last Tuesday, the CDC’s Dr. Kristie Clarke said so many people caught omicron over the winter that almost 60% of everyone in the country now has antibodies to the virus in their blood.
That number is even higher for children — almost 75% of kids 11 and younger have antibodies to the virus.
Clarke said the finding means many people have at least some immunity to the virus but stresses that people should still get vaccinated since it still provides the strongest, broadest protection against getting seriously ill.
Immunity provided solely by a previous infection may or may not be as protective against severe disease.
9:18 a.m.: Here’s what to do if you test positive for COVID-19 while traveling
COVID-19 rules for travelers will vary depending on the destination, but testing positive for the virus could result in an unexpected change in plans, such as being required to stay isolated in a hotel.
As reported by the Associated Press, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that travelers going overseas should make contingency plans since they may have to stay longer than planned if they test positive.
Travel companies suggest getting insurance that covers the cost of recovery or isolation.
Those who do end up needing medical treatment are advised to check with their embassy for suggested health care providers.
8:55 a.m.: COVID-19 pandemic has changed office fashion
After working remotely in sweats and yoga pants for two years, many Americans are rethinking their wardrobes to balance comfort and professionalism as some offices reopen.
According to the Associated Press, they’re dropping structured suits, zip-front pants and pencil skirts worn before the pandemic and are experimenting with new looks.
Retailers and brands are rushing to meet workers’ fashion needs for the future of work with blazers in knit fabrics, pants with drawstrings or elastic bands, and casual twists on the button-down dress shirt.
Find older coronavirus updates on our previous blog page here
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