Tuesday, May 10, 2022 | California Healthline

Cedars-Sinai Workers Go On Strike: Hundreds of Cedars-Sinai workers walked off the job and went on strike in Beverly Grove on Monday morning, citing employee and patient safety concerns, short-staffing and low wages. The employees, clad in their hospital scrubs, carried signs reading, “I could earn more at Target,” “Healthcare heroes need safe staffing” and “Healthcare workers are not expendable.” Read more from KTLA, the Los Angeles Times, and San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Nearly 90,000 Californians Have Died Of Covid: California’s covid-19 death toll is on the cusp of 90,000. As of Friday, California had reported 89,851 cumulative deaths since the start of the pandemic, up 269 from the previous week. At this pace, the state is likely to surpass 90,000 fatalities this week. No state has suffered more total pandemic-related deaths than California. Read more from the Los Angeles Times.

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

Orange County Register:
L.A. County Reported 7,709 New Cases And Five More Deaths Since Saturday 

Los Angeles County public health officials reported 7,709 new cases of the coronavirus since Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 2,895,400 as of Monday, May 9. Officials reported five more deaths linked to the coronavirus, for a total of 31,996 deaths since tracking began. There three more hospitalizations reported since Saturday, bringing the total count of people hospitalized with coronavirus to 242. (Goertzen, 5/9)

San Francisco Chronicle:
UCSF’s Bob Wachter Was Traveling With His Wife When She Tested Positive For COVID. Here’s How They Handled It

After more than two years of diligently following COVID-19 safety measures, avoiding high-risk situations, and sharing pointers with his legion of social media followers, Dr. Bob Wachter, UCSF’s chair of medicine, found the pandemic hitting close to home over the weekend. His wife, journalist and author Katie Hafner, tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday morning, Wachter said. She had recently returned from a teaching at a weeklong writers’ workshop with about 50 other people. The couple — both 64 years old, double vaccinated and double boosted — had then flown to Palm Springs to visit with some older friends when she started feeling ill. (Vaziri, 5/9)

COVID Study: Omicron Patients Shed More Live Virus Than Those With Delta

Hospitalized South Korean patients infected with the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant shed more live virus 8 days after illness onset than those with the Delta variant, finds a study published today in Open Forum Infectious Diseases. … The authors said that the study, using culture positivity as a proxy for infectivity, may help explain the recent global Omicron surge. (5/9)

Study: Dogs Can Sniff Out COVID-19 Infections With High Success Rates

In a study published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, researchers showed canine olfaction—or dog sniffing—was both highly sensitive and specific when it came to identifying patients with COVID-19, even those who were asymptomatic or presymptomatic. The researchers, based in Hawaii, exposed dogs to sweat samples from 584 participants (ages 6 to 97 years; 24% positive SARS CoV-2 samples and 76% negative SARS CoV-2 samples). Samples were collected from cotton pads runs cross the necks of participants, and the dogs had no prior history of scent training. During the first part of the study, the testing phase, the dogs detected SARS-CoV-2 from cotton pad samples with a diagnostic sensitivity of 98% and a specificity of 92%. (5/9)

U.S. To Ask World For More On Global Covid Fight As Its Own Cash Dwindles

The White House is hosting a global Covid response summit this week — but the U.S. isn’t currently prepared to bring significant new money to fight the virus worldwide, according to two people familiar with the preparations. Some senior administration officials and health advocates said they fear the world will see the lack of renewed financial assistance by the U.S. as a retreat from the global efforts, and that could affect the Biden administration’s ability to drum up support from other countries. (Payne, Banco and Paun, 5/9)

Los Angeles Times:
Company Used Laws On COVID Tests To Cash In, Officials Allege

Katy Strouk said she was puzzled last year when, after getting her nose swabbed for her coronavirus test, she was pointed to a woman seated at a table in the parking lot. The Brentwood resident walked over and answered a few questions about how she was feeling, then headed off to work in the Fairfax district, she said. Strouk was even more puzzled when she got the paperwork from her insurance company, which listed more than $600 in charges from “Jeff Toll Md Inc.” (Reyes and Peterson, 5/10)

The Mercury News:
San Jose Reinstates Mask Mandate For City Workers As COVID-19 Cases Rise

As the Bay Area braces for yet another COVID-19 surge, a few cities and agencies are reinstating indoor mask mandates as the region continues debating the worth of a patchwork of coronavirus-related health orders. Since late March, California’s case rate has nearly tripled and the Bay Area — which historically experienced a lower case rate than the rest of the state — has emerged as a COVID hotspot. (Hase, 5/9)

Bay Area News Group:
COVID: VTA Vaccination Rate Jumps To 90% As Holdouts Face Firings

The chances of hopping on a VTA bus with an unvaccinated driver are increasingly slim as the agency reports a 90% COVID vaccination rate after threatening to fire employees who didn’t get the jab by the end of April. Still, nearly 100 holdouts have yet to report their vaccine status or receive an exemption and could soon face pink slips. (Kamisher, 5/9)

Covid Vaccine Boosters: Fourth MRNA Shot Adds Covid Protection In U.K. Trial

Fourth doses of messenger RNA vaccines added to the protection received from a third shot in a U.K. trial that underscores the benefits of boosters for the most vulnerable people. The research, published Monday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found that fourth doses of mRNA vaccines can provide a significant increase in antibody levels in people who received Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine as a third dose. They’re also effective at raising protection potentially above peak levels seen after third doses, according to the latest findings from the trial. (Paton, 5/9)

San Francisco Chronicle:
If Roe Is Overturned, It Might Mark The First Time The Supreme Court Declared An Individual Right, Then Took It Back

The Supreme Court denied a right to racial integration in 1896, then granted it 58 years later. The court upheld a state ban on interracial marriage in 1883 and, after an even longer interval, recognized a right to marriage between races in 1967, in the aptly named case of Loving v. Virginia. The justices rejected a right to gay and lesbian sexual relations in 1986 and reversed themselves in 2003.In the other direction, the court has weakened rights granted by Congress, notably in 2013, when it struck down a key enforcement provision of the Voting Rights Act. A 1990 ruling allowed the government to prosecute religious observers whose practices violated criminal law — in that case, a ban on peyote — as long as the law applied generally and did not target religious practices. Congress later narrowed the scope of that ruling, and several justices have advocated overturning it. (Egelko, 5/9)

ABC News:
Democrats Ready Vote To Legalize Abortion After McConnell Says National Ban ‘Possible’ 

A critical week in the battle over abortion rights — what activists are calling the “fight of a generation” — kicked off in the U.S. Senate on Monday, with Democrats preparing to force a vote seeking to enshrine abortion rights into federal law, following last week’s bombshell leak showing the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ready to overturn Roe versus Wade. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer filed cloture on Monday on a motion to start debate on the Women’s Health Protection Act, setting up the bill for a roll call vote on Wednesday — but without 60 votes needed to overcome the Senate filibuster, the legislation is poised to fail, as a similar version did in February. Republicans are united against both the bill and lowering the threshold to break the Senate filibuster. (Cathey, 5/9)

The Hill:
Abortion Fight Could Cap Pelosi’s Long, Historic Career 

The explosive fight over the fate of Roe v. Wade has thrust Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) into the national spotlight in the familiar role of defending abortion rights — a lifelong battle for the veteran liberal lawmaker that might also prove among her last on Capitol Hill. Pelosi, the nation’s first female Speaker, is well-versed in the divisive fight, having been a champion of women’s reproductive rights since long before her arrival in Congress more than three decades ago. (Lillis, 5/10)

Republicans Splinter On How To Handle A Post-Roe World 

As Roe vs. Wade teeters, Republicans are fractured about what to do next. The split may turn into a chasm if they take back full control of Washington in 2025. Some in the GOP now acknowledge they may eventually pursue national abortion restrictions should a majority of the Supreme Court follow through on its draft opinion overturning Roe, after spending several days trying to deflect by focusing on the document’s unauthorized disclosure. And there’s a range of opinions among Hill Republicans about what comes next: leave abortion policy to the states, pursue more modest restrictions or go all-out to install a ban nationwide. (Levine and Everett, 5/9)

Orange County Register:
CSUF’s Nursing Program Prepares Students To Serve Diverse Populations

When the COVID-19 pandemic exposed disparities in health among different populations in Southern California, advocacy groups and politicians insisted that gaps in care must be closed. Nursing is critical in addressing these gaps, according to “The Future of Nursing 2020–2030,” a report from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. “Nurses live and work at the intersection of health, education, and communities,” according to the report. It went on to say that nurses must be trained and prepared to meet the needs of a diverse population. (Gregory, 5/9)

Fierce Healthcare:
Watchdog: Hospital Patient Experience Declines During Pandemic

The latest batch of hospital patient safety ratings from the Leapfrog Group shows a general decline among “several” hospital safety measures concurrent with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the healthcare safety watchdog. Released Tuesday, the scores are accompanied by a report from Leapfrog that highlights a “significant” decline in the experiences of adult inpatients at acute care hospitals during the pandemic, with many areas “already in dire need” prior to the pandemic deteriorating even further. (Muoio, 5/10)

Yahoo Finance:
New Hospital Safety Grades From The Leapfrog Group Highlight Pandemic-Era Declines In Patient Experience

The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers focused on health care safety, today released the spring 2022 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, which assigns a letter grade to nearly 3,000 U.S. general hospitals based on over 30 measures of patient safety. The Safety Grade is the only rating solely focused on a hospital’s ability to protect patients from preventable errors, accidents, injuries, and infections. The latest grades provide a look at the impact of COVID-19 on patient safety, with several measures included in the grade showing a significant decline. (5/10)

How safe is your hospital? Check the rankings here: https://www.hospitalsafetygrade.org/

3 Convicted In $20M California Drug Treatment Fraud Scheme

Three people were convicted Monday in a scheme to bilk California’s Medi-Cal system out of nearly $20 million by submitting phony claims for drug and alcohol treatment for school students, federal prosecutors said. They were the latest among 19 people convicted of federal charges involving a Long Beach-based non-profit called Atlantic Recovery Services, later called Atlantic Health Services. The organization provided treatment for substance abuse to students at local high school and middle schools, a U.S. Department of Justice statement said. (5/9)

Orange County Register:
Jurors Find UCI Medical Center Nurse Was Wrongfully Fired, Award Him $2.1 Million In Damages

UC Irvine Medical Center has lost a more than $2 million disability discrimination lawsuit after a jury last week determined that a psychiatric nurse who was injured while protecting students from a violent patient was later wrongly fired. An Orange County Superior Court jury ordered the medical center to pay Peter Albrecht about $1 million in economic damages for past and future lost wages and $1.15 million for emotional distress, court records show. (Emery, 5/9)

Napa Valley Register:
Napa Valley Teens Develop Programs That Boost Mental Health 

The Teen Council, which serves as mental health advocates in their schools and communities, is accepting applications for new members until May 15, with interviews set for June and acceptances for July. Members hold discussions about mental health issues and organize wellness events for Teens Connect, a program of Mentis for youth ages 12 through 20. Both groups are organized under the umbrella of Mentis, a nonprofit organization dedicated to mental health that serves Napa Valley residents. (Zimmer, 5/9)

Palm Springs Desert Sun:
Unreasonable High Heat On The Way: Temperatures Expected To Reach 110 Degrees By Next Week

The Coachella Valley is about to go from one weather extreme to another this week when strong winds return mid-week and then give way to extreme heat. Wind battered the Coachella Valley on Sunday with measured gusts of 67 mph at Whitewater, 60 mph in Desert Hot Springs and 57 mph at the Palm Springs International Airport. (Albani-Burgio, 5/9)

Los Angeles Times:
It’s Not Even Summer, And California’s Two Largest Reservoirs Are At ‘Critically Low’ Levels

At a point in the year when California’s water storage should be at its highest, the state’s two largest reservoirs have already dropped to critically low levels — a sobering outlook for the hotter and drier months ahead. Shasta Lake, which rises more than 1,000 feet above sea level when filled to the brim, is at less than half of where it usually should be in early May — the driest it has been at this time of year since record-keeping first began in 1976. Lake Oroville, the largest reservoir in the State Water Project, a roughly 700-mile lifeline that pumps and ferries water all the way to Southern California, is currently at 55% of total capacity. (Xia, 5/9)

Voice Of San Diego:
Gloria Pledges Not To Wind Down Homeless Housing Aid After Kerfuffle

Days after the San Diego Housing Commissioners learned of a city plan to end three programs that help house homeless San Diegans, Mayor Todd Gloria’s office is promising the city won’t wind down those contracts.  After learning from Housing Commission officials last week that the Gloria administration was directing the agency to wind down three programs dedicated to helping homeless San Diegans move into housing, commissioners for the city’s housing agency didn’t mince words. (Halverstadt, 5/9)

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