Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.
Saturday, May 15
The CDC’s new guidance doesn’t have specific advice for vaccinated parents with unvaccinated kids in their households. It says all unvaccinated people age 2 and older “should wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household.”
Infection prevention expert Dr. Emily Landon says data supports the idea that fully vaccinated parents of unvaccinated children can safely take off their own masks—but might want to keep wearing a mask when they’re out with their kids to set a good example.
There aren’t currently any vaccines approved for kids under 12. The Pfizer vaccine is available to those age 12 and up, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently approved only for 18 and older.
Friday, May 14
4:33 p.m.: California reviewing CDC mask mandate update
Gov. Gavin Newsom and his office is weighing issues of enforcement and workplace safety in considering whether and when to adopt the new CDC guidelines on masking, according to the Associated Press.
While the state is planning to relax outdoor mask mandates by June 15 when the state opens up, Newsom isn’t quite sure how far to go. Yesterday’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls for fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks and social distancing in most situations if they want.
For now, Newsom said he doesn’t know how that would play out in classrooms and at workplaces. California is on track to reopen its economy broadly next month, signaling an end to most pandemic restrictions.
UC Berkeley Infectious Disease Professor Dr. Lee Riley the new CDC recommendations are a good sign.
“I think this is an indication of further confidence on the part of the CDC that the vaccination program is really working,” said Riley. “Close to, what, half the population in the U.S. has now received at least one dose of the vaccine.”
He adds that people should still consider wearing masks in confined spaces with minimal ventilation.
San Francisco, San Diego, and Riverside are among the counties saying they expect updated guidance from the state.
10:39 a.m.: Farm-to-Fork week will return later this year
One of Sacramento’s signature events is now scheduled to return later this year after getting canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Farm-to-Fork President and CEO Mike Testa says the events are a big deal because they celebrate the region and bring in more than 100,000 visitors.
“To be able to kind of put that party back on the calendar, to be able to look at an event that is not only outdoor food and music, and kind of the fun stuff that we all enjoy about a festival, I think offers that hope that there’s joy again around the corner for us,” Testa said.
The group began planning the events in January hoping that the pandemic would be under control by the fall, and he says the current outlook seems to be very encouraging.
10:20 a.m.: Tehama County vaccination demand is dropping
Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is diminishing in rural Tehama County, even though only 26% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Michelle Schmidt is a supervising public health nurse of the Tehama County Health Services Agency, and she said there’s a few reasons why demand is dipping. Access is one barrier for people looking to get vaccinated.
Another is the refocusing of efforts on those living in outlying communities away from vaccine locations in the city of Red Bluff.
“It’s difficult for them to try to get down — potentially two different times — just to come get a COVID shot,” Schmidt said. “And so, we’re in the process of really transitioning, kind of moving out of the community center and moving towards having more of a mobile format to trying to get vaccinations out within our community.”
More vaccinations could mean getting closer to herd immunity, or the point at which enough people are immune to disease to stop its spread. However, Schmidt is skeptical that mark can be met through vaccination.
“Reaching herd immunity is not only dependent upon access, it’s also dependent on people’s willingness to receive the vaccination. And because of that, I’m not sure that we will ever get to the 70% rate to get herd immunity,” she said.
For now, educating the public on the benefits of COVID vaccination and providing opportunities closer to home are the priorities, according to Schmidt.
Thursday, May 13
California parents and guardians can now schedule appointments for children aged 12 and up to receive the two-dose Pfizer vaccine by using the statewide MyTurn booking system starting today.
“The more Californians who are able to get vaccinated, the better we can protect our communities and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said. “Having vaccines expanded to teenagers is the next step in California’s path to safely reopening next month.”
The expanded eligibility comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention amended the Emergency Use Authorization to allow vaccination for 12- to 15-year olds after tests revealed non-serious side effects like fatigue and headache.
“Young people have shouldered a significant burden during this pandemic,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “We look forward to now providing protection for this group to return to activities, especially as we look forward to the state fully reopening on June 15.”
Opening up the inoculation for younger people means there are now about 2.1 million Californians who are eligible for this age group. California’s vaccine provider network can administer about 6.6 million doses a week overall.
“It’s important to remember that young people need protection against the severity and ongoing threat of COVID-19,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan. “California has more than 500 cases of serious health outcomes among young people resulting from the virus, and cases are increasing among younger Americans and Californians who have not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated.”
The Nevada website the public uses to get information on coronavirus vaccines is packed with more ad trackers and third-party cookies than any state vaccination website in the country, according to the Associated Press.
An investigation by technology publication The Markup found Immunize Nevada’s website implants third-party cookies and trackers that can potentially be used to track how visitors navigate the internet, collect data on them and sell it for any number of purposes.
The state says most trackers are used to optimize user experience and evaluate their outreach efforts. Privacy experts say the number of trackers on Nevada’s site compared to other states goes beyond data-gathering applicable to outreach.
As interest dwindles in mass coronavirus vaccination sites across the U.S., local health officials and other providers are ramping up efforts to find and reach homebound people who can’t travel for a shot.
According to The Associated Press, while the effort is happening in many states, experts say California has one of the most robust at-home vaccination programs. Last week, state officials announced residents could go online or call a number to request a ride or an at-home vaccination appointment.
So far, there have been more than 5,000 requests for help in the state, according to California public health spokesperson Sami Gallegos.
National advocates for seniors and people with disabilities say there should be more robust plans to inoculate the millions of people in those groups.
11:39 a.m.: California to relax face masks rules by June 15
Gov. Gavin Newsom says California will likely relax face mask requirements in outdoor settings on June 15, when many business restrictions are set to be lifted.
Until then, indoor mask requirements are still active.
“For indoor activities, we will still have likely some mask guidelines and mandates,” Newsom said. “But we hope, sooner than later, that those will be lifted as well.”
The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, says federal mask guidance may ease as more people are vaccinated. Newsom says California will continue to conform its mask rules with federal guidelines.
Experts say it could be 2023 or later before COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in some countries, according to the Associated Press.
The U.S. and Israel are among the nations where about half or more of the population have gotten at least one shot, but less than 1% of people have been vaccinated in countries such as Pakistan and Venezuela.
The differences reflect factors including purchasing power and domestic production capacity. COVAX, a coalition working to ensure global vaccine access is behind schedule due partly to export bans and stockpiling by some countries.
One Georgetown University policy expert says the U.S., E.U., and other wealthy nations had already pre-ordered nearly all of the vaccine doses from several companies, causing the stock to dwindle so much that even other countries with money to buy vaccines are at the back of the line waiting their turn.
China and Russia are among those committed to donating vaccines to other nations, while countries like the U.S. and U.K. aren’t yet sharing their stockpiles, though they’re committed to doing so.
In April, Duke University researchers said many countries would not reach 60% coverage until 2023 or later, meaning global scarcity is expected to continue for years to come.
Ty and Charlene Bollinger are part of an ecosystem of for-profit companies, nonprofit groups, YouTube channels and other social media accounts that stoke fear and distrust of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Medical experts say the Bollingers are resorting to what is often misleading and false information. An investigation by The Associated Press has found that the couple works closely with others prominent in the anti-vaccine movement — including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his Children’s Health Defense — to drive sales through affiliate marketing relationships.
University of California, Hastings College of Law professor Droit Reiss explains that unlike other multi-level marketing businesses, where products are sold through low-level sellers, the anti-vaccination industry is sustained by grassroots activists.
“This is a disinformation industry,” Reiss said.
The Bollingers have said that they have sold tens of millions of dollars worth of products through various ventures and paid out $12 million to affiliates.
“They have many, many passionate believers that serve as sales people of the misinformation on the ground,” Reiss said. “For the top, it’s a product. For the people below, they passionately believe it. They’re very sincere. And it comes across.”
Wednesday, May 12
Problems continue to plague California’s Employment Development Department. The agency has been inundated with unemployment claims since the pandemic started.
More than a million people still have unresolved claims, and the EDD’s “work-sharing” layoff-prevention program is also running into some problems. It’s a program where employers reduce workers’ hours, and the state pays for some lost wages.
Some residents have been trying to get their claims resolved to no avail.
“These folks cannot get access to the program,” said employment lawyer Jennifer Shaw. “They register, they’re not getting the documentation, their employees are not getting their pay. It’s a significant failure of the system.”
Data from the EDD shows that in the last week of April, the agency answered less than 6% of the calls that ran through its call center.
“I tell our clients when they call, ‘tell your employees keep calling, use every system available. Fax, mail, phone, email, chat, you name it, you use it,'” Shaw said. “And you will eventually get through.”
Tax filing day is coming up on May 17 after federal and California officials extended the deadline for the 2020 year because of the pandemic.
Lower-income Californians earning less than $30,000 — or in some cases, less than $75,000 — are eligible for new tax credits this year through the Golden State Stimulus program. United Way California advocate Mandy Irvine says the incoming stimulus can help some low-income families.
“We live in a very expensive state, and we’ve also been dealing with the pandemic the last year,” Irvine said. “We know it’s been really tough for families. So go claim that money, it belongs to you, you can use that money for whatever you want.”
Irvine said families could receive up to $1,200 through the return, and there are about a million families in California who have yet to claim the credit. In Sacramento County, it’s estimated 100,000 that still haven’t claimed their credit.
“This money, it belongs to families. They worked for it, they worked really hard for it,” Irvine said. “By not filing your taxes, you’re essentially leaving money sitting out on the table, unclaimed.”
Some California residents without a social security number may also be eligible.
Now that children ages 12 and older can get COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S., parents and schools have a chance to relax their pandemic precautions.
According to the Associated Press, a government advisory committee recommended Pfizer’s vaccine for children 12 and older on Wednesday after the Food and Drug Administration expanded authorization of the shots to the age group earlier in the week.
Locations already offering the Pfizer vaccine should be able to give the shots to all authorized ages in most cases. School districts are also preparing to host vaccination clinics, and health officials are working to make the shots more widely available at the doctor’s offices.
Consumer prices surged 4.2% in April from the depressed levels of a year earlier when the global economy was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Labor Department.
This was the most significant 12-month increase since a 4.9% jump in September 2008 in the depths of the global financial crisis.
The accelerating inflation comes as companies have been forced to pay more to secure critical materials such as lumber and steel amid continued disruptions to the global supply chain. The government has also pumped trillions of dollars into the economy to blunt the impact from the pandemic, contributing to inflation.
Price increases affected an extensive range of goods, from big-ticket items like cars to kitchen staples like bacon. Airfares and hotel prices also jumped as rapid vaccine rollouts are encouraging Americans to travel again.
“Everything you can think of is going up,” says William Lee, chief economist at the Milken Institute.
10:09 a.m.: Nine MGM Casinos get OK to open at 100% capacity
Gambling giant MGM Resorts International is opening nine more of its Las Vegas Strip casinos at 100% capacity with no person-to-person distancing requirement.
According to the Associated Press, the company said the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved the move at the Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur and Park MGM.
Three-foot distancing and 80% occupancy restrictions remain in effect at restaurants, swimming pools and other non-gambling areas. Masks are also still required.
Other Las Vegas casinos open at 100% capacity include Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, the Cosmopolitan and the Strat.
COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have dropped to an average of about 600 per day — the lowest level in 10 months, according to the Associated Press.
The last time deaths were this low was in early July, nearly a year ago. COVID-19 deaths in the country topped out in mid-January, at an average of more than 3,400 a day, just a month into the biggest vaccination drive in the nation’s history.
The number of lives lost per day has now dropped to single digits on average in over half the states, and has even hit zero on some days.
Confirmed infections, meanwhile, have fallen to about 38,000 per day on average, their lowest mark since mid-September. While that is still cause for concern, they have plummeted 85% from a peak of more than a quarter-million cases per day in early January.
Tuesday, May 11
The city of Long Beach is offering tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific as an incentive to overcome resistance to COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the Associated Press.
Long Beach will give two tickets to anyone receiving their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at city-run vaccination sites. The city said Tuesday that the offer runs through May 15.
Mayor Robert Garcia says Long Beach has vaccinated 60% of eligible residents, but the vaccine hesitancy is real for some people, and the city’s efforts will include incentives. The aquarium’s regular adult general admission ticket costs $36.95.
Medicare says it will require nursing homes to report COVID-19 vaccination rates for residents and staff, according to the Associated Press.
Officials hope it will be an incentive for facilities to keep giving shots even as the worst ravages of the pandemic ease. The agency expects to start receiving vaccination numbers from nursing homes in the coming weeks and plans to post the information on the internet so residents and families can easily access the details.
People living in long-term care facilities have borne a heavy toll from the pandemic, but cases and deaths plummeted after the government launched a concerted effort to vaccinate residents and staff.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that children 12 to 15 years old are now eligible to receive a key COVID-19 vaccine as the agency expands its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Until now, the Pfizer vaccine had been authorized for only people ages 16 and older. Pfizer asked the FDA to broaden its emergency use authorization for the vaccine after announcing in late March that the clinical trials found “100% efficacy and robust antibody responses” in study participants who were 12 to 15.
The pharmaceutical giant got federal approval to include children as young as 12 in its vaccine trial in October of last year.
All three makers of U.S.-authorized vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — are studying the safety and effectiveness of their vaccines in children, including as young as 6 months.
A screenshot of a tweet by Chuck Callesto, a former candidate for Florida’s 3rd congressional district, was shared more than 42,000 times on Instagram, falsely claiming that the death rate for fully vaccinated people who contact COVID-19 is “significantly higher” compared to unvaccinated people. That’s false, according to a PolitiFact California fact-check.
The tweet reads, “Breaking report: according to the CDC 7,157 fully vaccinated Americans have contracted COVID-19, 88 have died.” It appears the incorrect and misleading tweet has been deleted from Callesto’s Twitter.
Public health experts agree that Callesto most likely miscalculated the death rate among fully vaccinated adults. Furthermore, experts say it’s flawed and misleading to use these figures to calculate a death rate and compare it to the unvaccinated population.
As of May 4, more than 105 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the CDC. Around that same time, the public health office received 9,245 reports of vaccine breakthrough infections. That’s less than .01% of fully vaccinated Americans.
Also, vaccine breakthrough cases are expected. None of the vaccines were 100% effective in the original clinical trials, nor have they ever claimed to be. No vaccine is 100% effective at preventing illness, according to public health experts and the CDC.
While there have been more than 7,000 cases where vaccinated people contacted COVID-19, resulting in 132 deaths, it is still widely misleading to use these numbers as evidence that vaccines are dangerous and ineffective, especially as the post leaves out crucial facts about breakthrough infections.
Fewer Americans are reluctant to get a COVID-19 vaccine than just a few months ago, but questions about side effects and how the shots were tested still hold some people back.
That’s according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The new data highlights the challenges at a pivotal moment in the U.S. vaccination campaign. Just 11% of people who remain unvaccinated say they definitely will get the shot, while 34% say they definitely won’t.
Getting as many people vaccinated as fast as possible is critical to protecting citizens. More than 150 million people — about 58% of all adults — have received at least one dose, according to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to a poll by CapRadio and Valley Vision, about 40% of people in the Greater Sacramento region say they won’t be getting vaccinated.
There’s a glimmer of hope, though. As that number grows, the reluctance is inching down. Overall, the AP-NORC poll found about 1 in 5 American adults say they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated, compared to about a third in January, when the shots were just rolling out.
This leaves a large swath of Americans in the middle who might still roll up their sleeves, or maybe not.
U.S. employers posted a record number of available jobs in March, illustrating some industries’ desperation to find new workers as the economy expands and changes, according to the Associated Press.
Job postings rose in many industries, including restaurants, bars and hotels; manufacturing, construction and retail. However, they fell in health care, transportation and warehousing.
While job openings skyrocketed, the total job gains increased only modestly, according to a Labor Department report issued on Tuesday. The figures come after the April jobs report last week that fell far short of economist expectations, largely because companies appear unable to find the workers they need, despite the elevated unemployment rate at 6.1%.
Job openings rose nearly 8%, to 8.1 million in March, the most on records dating back to December 2000.
Monday, May 10
Millions of California workers and families may get another stimulus check this year — but this one is from the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed an expansion of his “Golden State Stimulus” plan on Monday. The program put $600 checks in the pockets of low-wage workers and undocumented families earlier this year.
Now, with a record budget surplus, Newsom wants to send stimulus checks to families with children and workers who earn up to $75,000 a year.
“That tax rebate will impact just shy of 80% of all tax filers — will get a direct stimulus check, will get a direct relief payment because of this announcement,” Newsom said.
The governor also wants to double the state’s rental assistance program and put up $2 billion to help people pay utility bills.
The spending proposal requires legislative approval.
About 4 in 10 people in the Sacramento region have experienced some level of income loss during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest COVID-19 Resilience Poll released today.
The poll is the third in a series that began in May of 2020. The CapRadio-Valley Vision project was done in partnership with the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State. Valley Vision CEO Evan Schmidt says that the survey also found a spike in people working remotely from home.
“But then when we asked questions about ‘What do you want to do coming back from the pandemic,’ a lot of people would lie to stay remote,” Schmidt said. “So I think it’s going to be interesting to see what happens as we go back to normal and will workplaces stay more remote.”
The poll also finds about 40% of the respondents who have yet to be vaccinated said that they either will probably not or definitely not get a vaccine.
California is shifting away from mass vaccination sites after administering more than 30 million doses.
Instead, the state will target hard-to-reach populations and people hesitant about the vaccine.
“We know when we stand up clinics in partnership with trusted locations in communities like churches and schools, we know that builds confidence in people to get vaccinated,” said Sami Gallegos, spokesperson for the state’s Vaccinate all 58 campaign.
“And we also know that there are access barriers to traveling to those large vaccination sites. So the state’s really been making this transition to community clinics over the last month or so,” Gallegos said.
California will spend more than $85 million on grants for community organizations to help with outreach. The state is also working on expanding at-home vaccination services for home-bound residents.
Fairfield’s Travis Air Force Base is supporting the delivery of medical supplies to India where COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing.
California is donating more than a-thousand oxygen-related pieces of equipment. On CapRadio’s Insight, California’s Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis said the federal government is coordinating the operation.
“It includes not just the oxygen equipment that we are giving, but it includes 15 million N95 masks, one million rapid COVID tests, 20,000 treatments of Remdesivir and the actual airlift is coming out of Travis Air Force Base,” Kounalakis said.
The COVID-19 crisis is getting worse in India and hospitals are stretched beyond capacity. New cases are staying well over 300,000 every day.
The Biden administration’s call to lift patent protections on COVID-19 vaccines to help distribute more globally has drawn praise from countries and health advocates.
But, according to the Associated Press, the plan has run into some resistance from the pharmaceutical industry and others who say that it will “hurt innovation.”
Patents are to prevent competitors from emulating a company’s discovery and launching a rival product. In the U.S., patents on medicines last about 20 years from when they are filed, which happens once a drugmaker thinks it has a lucrative drug. Since it takes about a decade to get a drug approved, companies enjoy nearly a dozen years of competition-free sales.
However, drugmakers often find ways to change the product or widen its use to secure additional patents to extend their monopoly for many more years.
Drugmakers and their trade groups spend millions every year lobbying governments to maintain the status quo on patents. Why? In a word, money. In the U.S., pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever they want for their medicines. They typically raise prices twice a year, often doubling or tripling them during a drug’s patent-protected years.
If the patents are lifted, there’s no precedent for vaccines. Two decades ago, World Trade organization members passed a temporary waiver allowing less wealthy countries to import affordable generic drugs for HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria amid health crises. Eventually, that waiver was made permanent.
Drugmakers say that waiving patents won’t get life-saving vaccines into developing countries faster since creating the vaccines is more complex than following a cooking recipe. There’s little specialized factory space, equipment, and highly trained employees to produce the inoculations in many of the countries asking for vaccine assistance.
Friday, May 7
Sacramento is one of just a dozen California counties remaining in the red, or second-most restrictive, COVID-19 reopening tier. Health officials said Thursday that they’re hopeful the county can move up to the orange tier by June 15, the same day California is set to reopen and end the tier system.
Less restrictive tiers allow more businesses to open at greater capacity. But in Sacramento the case rate is still a concern — 7.5 cases per 100,000 people, as compared to 4.2 cases per 100,000 people statewide. To move to the orange tier, Sacramento County must bring its case rate down to somewhere between 2 and 6 cases per 100,000 people.
Dr. Olivia Kasirye, public health officer for Sacramento County, says new, more infectious variants “could be contributing to the stagnation in cases.”
She also says people are not getting tested for COVID-19 as often as they used to, which affects tier status.
Officials also said there are no Sacramento ZIP codes that are close to reaching herd immunity, or having about 70% of residents immunized. In certain north and south Sacramento neighborhoods, less than 20% of people have been fully vaccinated.
Thursday, May 6
Cal Expo officials said Wednesday it’ll remain a mass vaccination site through the summer with the hope of allowing events to open with larger capacity later this year.
“The more people we can get vaccinated the more the event business can come back,” Cal Expo CEO Rick Pickering said. He said this year’s state fair will be delayed and likely slimmed down.
Since March 2020, health officials at the site have vaccinated a quarter-million people.
“That would be the equivalent of half of the population of Sacramento or 16% of the county of Sacramento,” Pickering said.
While demand for the vaccine is dropping across the country, Pickering said there is more work to be done as the county’s focus shifts to inoculating school-age children.
Face-to-face meetings are creeping back into our lives after more than a year of social-distancing. A steep decline in coronavirus transmission rates plus an increasing number of vaccinations are just two of the biggest reasons why.
But how comfortable will you or others be with this shift back to in-person social interaction?
Researchers say that the personal-space boundary in the U.S. before the pandemic was about 3 feet with strangers and a little more than 2 feet with an acquaintance. But now, a year of staying 6 feet apart could have you feeling crowded — even if others are maintaining what used to be considered an acceptable distance.
CapRadio’s Randol White spoke with Cal State Northridge Communications Studies Professor Kathryn Sorrells to see how the pandemic may have changed what we consider comfortable.
“I know a number of people I’ve talked to, even as we open up,” Sorrells said. “There’s a little hesitancy, like ‘Do I remember how to engage with people in that way?’ I think that probably if it’s a year or a year and half … we’ll shift back into the old patterns because those are much more deeply ingrained.”
It’s not yet known if COVID-19 vaccines can affect your period, but researchers are starting to study the issue.
According to the Associated Press, vaccines are designed to activate your immune system, and some experts wonder if that could temporarily disrupt menstrual cycles. So far, reports of irregular bleeding have been anecdotal. It’s difficult to draw any links to the vaccines since anything from stress, diet and exercise could affect periods.
There’s also a lack of data tracking changes to menstrual cycles after vaccinations in general.
Dr. Jen Gunter, an obstetrician and gynecologist in the San Francisco Bay area, says a link is possible since the uterine lining, which is shed during a period, contains immune cells that help protect the uterus.
Even if scientists do eventually find a link between the COVID-19 vaccines and short-term changes in bleeding, experts say that would be no reason to avoid getting inoculated.
“The benefits of taking the vaccine certainly way outweigh putting up with one heavy period, if indeed they’re related,” said Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a gynecologist and professor at the Yale University School of Medicine.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 498,000, according to the Associated Press.
It’s at the lowest point since the pandemic struck 14 months ago and a sign of the job market’s growing strength as businesses reopen and consumers step up spending.
Applications declined 92,000 from a revised 590,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly jobless claims — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has declined significantly from a peak of 900,000 in January as employers have ramped up hiring.
However, the pace of applications is still well above the roughly 230,000 level that was common before the COVID-19 outbreak ran through the economy in March of last year.
Wednesday, May 5
A California appeals court has upheld Gov. Gavin Newsom’s emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Three judges from the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento today overturned a lower court saying Newsom overstepped his authority. The case emerged from a lawsuit by two Northern California state lawmakers.
Republican Assemblymembers Kevin Kiley and James Gallager said Newsom issued emergency orders in what amounted to a one-man rule. Newsom did everything from halt evictions to allow marriages to be conducted by video or teleconference.
The appeals court agreed that the governor acted within the broad emergency authority granted him amid the crisis.
Kiley and Gallagher said they would appeal to the state Supreme Court.
Teams of experts are projecting that COVID-19′s toll on the U.S. will wane dramatically by the end of July, according to research released by the government today.
But they also warn a “substantial increase” in hospitalizations and deaths is possible if unvaccinated people do not follow basic public health guidelines such as wearing a mask and social distancing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paper included projections from six different research groups.
The Biden administration is throwing its support behind efforts to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines to speed up to the end of the pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the government’s position in a Wednesday statement amid World Trade Organizations talks over easing global trade rules. This would enable more countries to produce more life-saving vaccines.
Tai says, “The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines.”
She cautions that it will take time to reach the required global “consensus” to waive the protections under WTO rules.
11:14 a.m.: Sacramento County stays in red tier
As state officials announced COVID-19 tier changes Tuesday, Sacramento County remained in the state’s red coronavirus risk tier.
Sacramento moved out of the state’s most restrictive purple tier into the red tier on March 16, where it has stayed since.
As of Tuesday, the county had 7.7 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, a 2.8% test positivity rate over the past 7 days and a 4% test positivity rate for the state’s health equity quartile. In order to move into the less restrictive orange tier, counties need to have less than 5.9 new cases a day per 100,000 residents, a test positivity rate below 4.9% for the whole county, and a test positivity rate below 5.3% for the health equity quartile.
Yolo and El Dorado counties are currently in the less restrictive orange tier, while Placer County is also in the red tier.
Nearly a third of Californians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of May 4, according to NPR’s state vaccine tracker.
In California, 32.1% of all residents have either received one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Additionally, 49.9% of the state’s population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Currently, not all Californians are eligible to get the vaccines, as the shots are not approved for people under age 16 yet. But that may change soon, as Pfizer expects the FDA to approve its vaccine for use in children ages 12-15, according to NPR.
According to the California Department of Public Health, 31,027,617 vaccines have been administered in the state.
Tuesday, May 4
California tourism leaders are urging residents to spend their pent-up travel dollars exploring their home state as coronavirus case numbers stay low.
The tourism industry is reeling from a steep decline in revenue, plummeting from $145 billion in 2019 to $65 billion last year.
The state of nearly 40 million people has been among the most conservative in the U.S. with strict restrictions in place to curb the pandemic. It’s gradually reopening but tourism revenue is not expected to top pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
Tourism officials are calling on Californians to do their patriotic duty and vacation within the state to bolster the industry.
If you’re in the market for a new bike, you may have to wait a while. There’s a nationwide shortage because of the pandemic and predominantly shipping out of China and Asia.
The Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, or SABA, has launched a program called Sac-Bike-Match. They’re asking people to donate old bikes. SABA will then match those bikes with essential workers once they’ve been reconditioned at the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen repair site in midtown.
“We’re in partnership with them and we wrench those bikes, make sure that they’re in great working order and then we match them up with somebody else and get them on the road,” said Debra Banks.
May is National Bike Month. It’s mostly virtual in Sacramento again this year because of the pandemic, but SABA is hoping to host a few rides in small groups.
All of Nevada’s 17 counties have been granted local authority over COVID-19 restrictions.
The latest addition came yesterday when Washoe County commissioners approved a revised plan for the Reno-Sparks area and successfully submitted the necessary endorsements to the state’s mitigation task force.
Masks remain mandatory. Control over all other COVID-19 measures began May 1 in all of Nevada’s other counties under local plans.
Washoe County’s new plan eliminates capacity limits effective June 1, unless there’s a big spike in the new cases. In the meantime it allows full capacity in businesses with enough space to still comply with six-feet social-distancing.
During the first 10 months of the coronavirus pandemic, California saw a 30% increase in the deaths of essential workers in 10 industries, according to a new study by U.C. Merced’s Community and Labor Center.
The U.C. study found that overall deaths among Californians aged 18-65 increased by 25% in 2020. Workers accounted for 87% — or more than 14,000 — of those additional deaths.
Dr. Edward Flores, who helped direct the study, said that the pandemic just exposed previously existing inequalities in the workplace.
“There’s a need for better awareness for the rights that workers have, of their ability to take sick leave, to file a complaint in regards to health and safety conditions,” said Flores.
The most affected groups of workers came from industries such as warehouses, agriculture, restaurants and food services, and grocery stores. Among the 10 industries with the highest death increases were nursing care, landscaping, and building services like janitorial and security work.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15 by next week, setting up shots for many before the start of the next school year.
According to the Associated Press, the update comes from a federal official and a person familiar with the vaccine approval process.
The FDA action would be followed by a federal vaccine advisory committee meeting to discuss whether to recommend the shot for 12- to 15-year olds. Then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would act on the committee’s recommendation. Those steps could be completed in a matter of days.
Monday, May 3
The number of children contracting COVID-19 in the U.S. is much lower than the record highs set at the start of the new year, but children now account for more than a fifth of new coronavirus cases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
This number is based on states that release their data by age, but still, it’s a statistic that’s surprised many — just one year ago, child COVID-19 cases only made up around 3% of the U.S. total.
Now, children represent 22.4% of the new cases reported in the past week as of this Monday. The cases account for 71,659 out of 319,691 cases. The latest report, drawn from data collected through April 29, illustrates how children’s share of coronavirus infections has grown in recent weeks.
There seems to be several factors why — particularly high vaccination rates among older Americans lowers the number of adults getting sick. But other dynamics are also in play, from new COVID-19 variants to the loosening of restrictions on school activities.
It’s also worth noting that for the vast majority of the pandemic, the age group with the highest case rates has been 18 to 24 year-olds in the U.S.
Health officials say they hope to administer more than 1,000 doses a day of coronavirus vaccines to Las Vegas-area residents once the first big drive-thru COVID-19 shot clinic opens Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
According to the Associated Press, the Southern Nevada Health District on Monday said the goal is for 60% of the eligible population to receive at least one dose. If they reach that goal, that would meet a goal the Clark County Commission set for fully reopening casinos and businesses without social distancing rules. However, masks would still be required.
To date, the percentage of state residents who have gotten at least one shot is 47%.
Moderna and vaccine promoter Gavi have announced a deal by which the pharmaceutical company will provide up to 500 million coronavirus vaccines, according to the Associated Press.
The U.N.-backed program will ship the doses to clinics and vaccination centers in low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2022.
The advance purchase agreement comes just days after the World Health Organization announced the emergency approval for the Moderna vaccine that will pave the way for its rollout in the U.N.-backed COVAX program.
However, deliveries of the vaccines are not set to begin until the fourth quarter of this year, and the vast majority of the doses in the deal — 466 million — are planned for only next year.
Las Vegas has been jammed lately with pandemic-weary tourists looking for excitement and entertainment.
According to the Associated Press, on Saturday, casino capacity limits on the Strip increased again to 80%, while person-to-person distancing drops to 3 feet. However, masks are still required.
The boom began as casino occupancy went from 35% to 50% on March 15 under state health guidelines. Analysts point to pent-up demand, available rooms and federal coronavirus relief checks.
Economic markers are now ringing up a revival on the neon resort corridor that was ghostly quite a year ago. Casinos have also reported four slot jackpots worth upward of $1 million in the last week.
9:15 a.m.: Public transit tries to woo back riders
As President Joe Biden urges more federal spending on public transportation, transit agencies decimated by COVID-19 are struggling to figure out how to win back passengers.
According to the Associated Press, commuting patterns are changing as work-from-home arrangements show signs of becoming a longer-term trend, and riders are still hesitant to return to potentially crowded spaces on buses and trains.
Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan would provide $85 billion over eight years to update and replace subway cars and repair aging tracks and stations. Of that amount, $25 billion would go to expanding bus routes and rail lines. Another $25 billion would pay to convert gasoline- and diesel-powered mass transit buses to zero-emission electric vehicles.
Even with the country slowly opening up again, transportation officials say it could take years to get riders back. Transit agencies are trying different approaches to win over riders, from reduced fares to shiny new bus stops and even shifting transit schedules around to accommodate more passengers due to the pandemic shift away from 9-to-5 work.
Two White House officials say the U.S. trade representative will begin talks on COVID-19 vaccine distribution around the world, according to The Associated Press.
The trade representative will begin talks in the world Trade Organization on ways to overcome intellectual property issues that are keeping poorer countries from making their own generic version of critically needed COVID-19 vaccines.
White House chief of staff Ron Klan said trade representative Katherine Tai will be starting talks with the trade organization to get the vaccine more widely distributed, licensed and shared.
Klain and national security advisor Jake Sullivan said the Biden administration will have more to say on the matter in the coming days.
Sunday, May 2
Americans’ personal incomes jumped 21.1% in March, according to the Commerce Department. This is the biggest increase on record as the government sent out $1,400 relief payments as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue effort.
Personal spending also jumped by 4.2%, and wealthier Americans are also increasing spending.
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