No link between Sonoma teen’s death and COVID-19 vaccine: The death of a 15-year-old Santa Rosa boy who died within 48 hours after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in June is unrelated to getting the shot, Sonoma County officials said Wednesday during a COVID-19 briefing. After an investigation by the county health department and officials from the California Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it was determined that the boy died from a heart attack. “The only correlation between the vaccination and the death was the timing,” said Paul Gullixson, the county’s communications manager, emphasizing that the vaccines are safe and effective. “This was a very rare and tragic and complicated case.”
Marin becomes only California county to fall to ‘moderate’ transmission: While the rest of the Bay Area remains at “substantial” or “high” levels of coronavirus transmission, Marin County has fallen to the yellow, or “moderate” tier of transmission, according to the CDC. Most of California as a whole remains in the “high,” or red tier.
S.F. health officials urge residents to get flu shots: The San Francisco’s Department of Public Health is asking city residents ages 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine, warning that the holiday season will bring the combined circulation of flu and the coronavirus. “Vaccines are our best defense against COVID-19, and they are our best defense against influenza,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, the city’s health director. “We urge every eligible San Franciscan to get vaccinated against both viruses so we have a healthier holiday season where we can be together safely. After all we have been through this past year and a half, we deserve it.”
United Airlines terminating 232 unvaccinated employees: 232 of the airline’s 67,000 U.S. employees who have chosen not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 will be terminated, CEO Scott Kirby told CBS Mornings. “I wish we would have gotten to 100% but out of our 67,000 US employees, there are 232 who haven’t been vaccinated and they are going through the termination process now,” Kirby said on Wednesday. He said 99.7% of United employees have been vaccinated ahead of the company’s Oct. 25 deadline.
Mixing and matching on boosters is effective for Johnson & Johnson recipients, study finds: People who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will receive increased protection from a supplemental dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, compared to a booster produced by Johnson & Johnson, according to a study published Wednesday by the National Institutes of Health. The report, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, found that mixing and matching vaccines is safe and effective in producing a strong antibody response. Those who received either of the two-shot mRNA vaccines will also benefit from a third dose. The findings of the report will be reviewed Friday by the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee charged with recommending boosters.
Only 25% of Marin County residents 65 and older who received the Pfizer vaccine have gotten boosters: Just 25% of Marin County residents 65 and older who are eligible for a Pfizer booster shot have gotten one, public health officer Dr. Matt Willis told county supervisors Tuesday. Health officials are urging older residents to get boosters because they are at higher risk for post-vaccination infection, and have set a goal to increase booster uptake in this group to 50% by Nov. 12. Currently, 77% of breakthrough hospitalizations in the county — 20 out of 26 people — are people over 65. “This substantiates what we’ve seen nationally, that unique vulnerability based on age,” Willis said.
Southern California ports will double operations under Biden plan: As pandemic-related supply chain issues continue to cause bottlenecks at the world’s ports, the Biden administration is stepping in to help alleviate some of the pressure. Vice President Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese met with operators at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — as well as representatives from Target, Walmart and Home Depot — on Wednesday to help facilitate 24/7 operations, according to a White House memo. “Participants discussed how the movement of cargo during less congested times will allow trucks to move more quickly on highways during less crowded nighttime hours, and truckers at the ports can drop off and pick up loads more quickly,” it said.
FDA stumped by incomplete Johnson & Johnson booster data: Scientists with the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that data submitted by the pharmaceutical company did not present clear evidence for the need of booster shots, or when recipients of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine need another dose — two months or six months after receiving their initial dose. The FDA group said the company offered little information that showed its vaccine offered protection against the delta variant of the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press. An advisory panel will meet Thursday and Friday to decide whether to recommend booster doses of both the J&J and Moderna vaccines. During a roundtable of COVID experts on Tuesday hosted by the California health department, Dr. Kristian Andersen, an immunology expert with Scripps Research said J&J recipients should receive supplemental doses of an mRNA vaccine because they “provide stronger protection. Those are the ones we should use for boosters.”
Sacramento City Unified School District Board approves vaccine mandate for students and staff: The board on Tuesday voted to set a deadline for students and staff in the district to get vaccinated against COVID-19, KCRA reports. The move comes ahead of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide requirement, which will most likely go into effect July 1. Students ages 12 and older who are currently available for vaccination under the FDA’s emergency authorization will need to show proof that they have received at least their first dose of vaccine before the start of the second semester. Teachers and administrators will need to get verify that they have received their shots by Nov. 30.
COVID was the leading killer of police officers in the U.S. in 2020: At least 62% of law enforcement deaths in the line of duty in 2020 were from COVID-19, according to a report released Tuesday by the Fraternal Order of Police. As of Wednesday, there have been 731 virus deaths nationwide among officers since the start of the pandemic, with 60 of those lives lost in California. Those who died will be honored Thursday at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund annual candlelight vigil on the National Mall, which will be led by Attorney General Merck Garland.
U.S. to open borders: The U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported, citing senior administration officials. Vehicle, rail and ferry travel between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel, such as trade, since the earliest days of the pandemic. The new rules will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason for travel starting in early November, when a similar easing of restrictions is set to kick in for air travel into the country. By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the U.S., such as truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated.
‘COVID is never going to go away,’ California scientist says, even as case numbers improve: Even as the rate of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continues trending downward in California, health experts on Tuesday cautioned that the hard times may not be over. Read the full story here.
California to launch more than 100 school vaccine clinics: The state will open more than 100 school-located vaccination clinics this fall in vulnerable neighborhoods, officials announced Tuesday. The clinics will offer shots to students and staff at K-8 schools in low socioeconomic zip codes, in an effort to increase access and lower illness-specific school absences. “This is bringing vaccine to where people are,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan. “It’s so much more convenient to go where they are so no family has to be make a special trip to a clinic.” The clinics will offer the COVID-19 vaccine, with some also offering the flu vaccine. Pan anticipated that all schoolchildren in California will be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by July 1.
California testing out COVID-sniffing dogs in schools: The state’s health department recently received federal funding for a pilot program to introduce COVID-sniffing dogs into schools, starting this month. State epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan offered a sneak peek at the project during a meeting with other medical experts Tuesday and said more details would be announced shortly. Scientists say the coronavirus, like other diseases, has a distinct scent and several research centers across the U.S. have been working on training dogs to detect the presence of the disease.
Contra Costa County considering mask-free sectors: When asked about San Francisco and Marin County’s plan to lift indoor masking Oct. 15 at gyms, indoor offices where everyone is vaccinated, Contra Costa County health officer Chris Farnitano said he was “considering similar action” for Contra Costa. “We’re reviewing it now and hope to make some announcement about that in the next week or so,” he told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Southwest Airlines to comply with federal vaccine mandate, ignoring Gov. Abbot’s pushback: Southwest Airlines will comply with President Biden’s mandate requiring vaccination against COVID-19 for its employees, despite the Texas governor’s executive order that blocks employers from issuing such rules. “According to the president’s executive order, federal action supersedes any state mandate or law, and we would be expected to comply with the president’s order to remain compliant as a federal contractor,” the Dallas-based airline said in a statement.
Contra Costa County supervisors label vaccine misinformation a public health crisis: Two county supervisors on Tuesday backed a resolution labeling COVID-19 misinformation as a public health crisis. “It is incumbent on us to call it out,” said Supervisor Karen Mitchoff during a board meeting. “We are seeing it in our hospitalizations and our deaths. The misinformation out there is leading to some individuals choosing not to get vaccinated.” Supervisor John Gioia, who codrafted the resolution, said that despite Contra Costa County’s high vaccination rate, misinformation is preventing the holdouts from getting their shots. “Reaching the last 13% in our county to be vaccinated is a lot harder than the first 13%,” Gioia said. He added, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but they are not entitled to their own facts.”
States with colder climates see a rise in cases: Even though COVID-19 cases are on a downward trend nationally, handful of states with high vaccination rates saw coronavirus case rates rise over the past month and temperatures dropped. You’re starting to see an uptick in cases in the colder parts of the country and as people are driven indoors without masks on,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former director of the US Food and Drug Administration, told CNN on Monday. Among those states, Michigan recorded a 91% jump in new cases; Montana, 83%; Minnesota, 76%; New Hampshire, 54%; Vermont, 43%; and Colorado and Idaho, both 22%. “