Latest From California Healthline:
Even as many states put a moratorium on elective surgeries in a desperate effort to preserve dwindling stocks of protective gear, hospitals in other pockets of the country continue to perform a range of elective procedures. Some staff members and ethicists are voicing concerns. (Jenny Gold, 3/20)
As schools shutter to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, many districts are still offering free meals to their most vulnerable students. In two Southern California districts, families roll through school lunch drive-thrus to grab hot meals. (Anna Almendrala, 3/20)
The states are allowing new enrollments this month to help ease consumers’ concerns about the cost of health care so that the sick will not be deterred from seeking medical attention and inadvertently spread the virus. (Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, 3/20)
Newsom Announces New Plans To Deal With Expected Surge Of Cases As Californians Are Scolded For Not Staying Home: Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans over the weekend to open two new hospitals, and President Donald Trump said the federal government will ship a number of mobile hospital units to the state, pay for National Guard deployments and deploy the San Diego-based naval hospital ship Mercy to Los Angeles. At Newsom’s request, Trump on Sunday declared a “major disaster” in California. The formal declaration will let California — which as of this weekend had 1,468 positive cases and 27 deaths from the coronavirus — offer more emergency aid, unemployment assistance and disaster legal services. Among other provisions, the declaration will allow people like business owners who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance to apply for disaster unemployment insurance.
California is leasing Seton Medical Center in Daly City and St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles for three months, at a total cost of $30 million.
As the number of cases climbed statewide, officials continued to emphasize the need for Californians to practice social distancing. However, crowds of people fleeing cities locked down by coronavirus shelter-in-place orders packed some Northern California beaches over the weekend. “We’re doing everything we can. The next level up is closing public transportation, maybe a couple more draconian levels,” said Dr. George Rutherford, head of the division of infectious disease and epidemiology at UCSF. “But we’ve used our big weapon,” he said of San Francisco’s order for residents to shelter in place.
Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday admonished Angelenos who haven’t taken orders to practice social distancing seriously, announcing the closure of the city’s golf courses, parking lots at Venice Beach and organized group sports at city parks as they have continued to attract throngs of people.
Read more from Alex Wigglesworth, Maria L. La Ganga, Richard Winton and James Queally of the Los Angeles Times; Erin Allday of the San Francisco Chronicle; Don Sweeney of the Sacramento Bee; and Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Ruben Vives and Laura Newberry of the Los Angeles Times.
Below, check out the full round-up of California Healthline original stories, state coverage and the best of the rest of the national news for the day.
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More News From Across The State
Covered California Extends Special Enrollment For Health Coverage Until June 30
As coronavirus cases rise throughout California, health officials announced Friday that Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, would extend its special enrollment period until the end of June in an effort to provide health insurance to more people. “The human and economic impacts of the coronavirus will be far-reaching, long-lasting and impacting many Californians’ health and economic security,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said on a conference call with reporters. “And we as a state and nation must rise to that challenge.” (Hellerstein, 3/20)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Gov. Newsom OKd Releasing Passengers At Travis Before End Of Coronavirus Quarantine, Source Says
Even as positive coronavirus test results came back and other tests had not been returned, Gov. Gavin Newsom approved releasing Grand Princess cruise passengers from California back to their homes over the weekend, days before their 14-day quarantines at Travis Air Force Base were scheduled to end, a source close to the situation told The Chronicle. However, federal health officials charged with overseeing the quarantined cruise ship passengers struggled with making the transportation logistics secure enough, so the idea was scuttled, a federal official familiar with the Travis quarantine and testing said Sunday. (Gafni, 3/23)
San Francisco Chronicle:
California Coronavirus Testing Capability Soars, But Even Nurses Complain They Can’t Get Tested
Testing for coronavirus in California has expanded significantly since midweek, with 23,200 tests completed as the number of cases of COVID-19 grew to more than 1,200, state health officials said Friday. Coronavirus testing increased by more than 84% since Wednesday, when Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state had tested about 12,600 people. (Fracassa and Thadani, 3/21)
Coronavirus Test: Who Can Get It With Fresno’s Short Supply?
Fresno County health officials acknowledge “frustrations” surrounding the availability of test kits for coronavirus and said they’re using their limited resources “judiciously.” In the weeks since COVID-19 first arrived in Fresno, readers have flooded Bee inboxes with anecdotes of being turned away for tests and asking how to get tested. (Calix, 3/20)
San Francisco Chronicle:
The Coronavirus Is Exposing Inequalities In Bay Area Medical Access
Andrea de la Rosa can’t afford to get sick. As the Bay Area sheltered in place, the Oakland bartender lost two jobs and a third she was supposed to start this week. Her husband has been out of work since February. When she got sick this winter, she took unpaid leave. She still has 40 hours of sick time on her next — and last — paycheck. (Moench, Narayan and Said, 3/21)
The San Francisco Chronicle:
Predicting Coronavirus? SF Emergency Workers Wear State-Of-The-Art Rings In New Study
At least 2,000 San Francisco emergency medical workers will begin wearing rings this week that track their body temperature and other vital signs in a first-of-its-kind study to try to identify the early onset of COVID-19 and help curb its spread. In addition to UCSF Medical Center and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital staff wearing the devices, UCSF also started a campaign Monday to ask the Oura Ring’s approximately 150,000 users to share their medical data in hopes that researchers can develop an algorithm that could detect the earliest stages of coronavirus, before symptoms manifest. (Gafni, 3/23)
The San Francisco Chronicle:
The Man Behind The Sequencing Of The Coronavirus Could Have Keys To The Disease
The new NextSeq 550 sequencing machine at UCSF’s clinical lab on Berry Street looks like a microwave with a computer keyboard, but to microbiologist Charles Chiu, it is the key to California’s fight against the deadliest, most invasive virus to strike humanity in decades. The professor of medicine at UCSF will be using the black contraption, installed Friday, to sequence the genomes of the viruses infecting hundreds of COVID-19 patients in the Bay Area during the next few weeks. “We will be running this 24 hours a day,” said Chiu, wearing a white lab coat and purple rubber gloves as he fiddled with the keyboard and opened the door to a compartment where slides holding genetic material are scanned. “I see no reason why we can’t sequence the genomes of every case.” (Fimrite, 3/22)
Los Angeles Times:
California Companies Jump In To Supply Ventilators
Last week, Bloom Energy Chief Executive KR Sridhar realized his fuel-cell business could help alleviate the state’s critical shortage of ventilators. The San Jose company repairs and refurbishes the fuel-cell power generators it sells to large companies and nonprofits, and Sridhar saw similarities with ventilators, which help patients breathe. After speaking with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office, Bloom Energy would embark on refurbishing the state’s supply of 200 older ventilators. (Masunaga, 3/23)
How Solid Are California's Coronavirus Projections?
Gov. Gavin Newsom has said more than half the state could become infected by the novel coronavirus. To make sense of the state's numbers, CalMatters' Rachel Becker spoke with Lee Riley, a professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and chair of the division of infectious diseases and vaccinology. (Becker, 3/21)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Coronavirus Outbreak Behind Bars: Advocates Fear Inmates Will Hide Symptoms
Adnan Khan recalled the hot and cold flashes, the relentless shivering, and the pain so excruciating that he struggled getting out of his bunk.He refused to tell the staff at San Quentin State Prison how sick he was. “Instead of going to medical because of fear of being sent to solitary confinement and having my stuff taken away and no TV — to be punished for being sick — I chose to just be in my cell,” he said. (Taylor Jr., 3/23)
Inmate At A California Prison Facility Has Coronavirus
Coronavirus continues to spread inside California’s sprawling prison system, as officials confirmed the first case Sunday night involving an inmate and said at least five employees have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. State corrections officials say an inmate at California State Prison, Los Angeles, near Lancaster has tested positive, as well as two workers at CSP Sacramento, also called New Folsom; another at the next-door Folsom State Prison; and two more at the California Institution for Men in Chino. (Stanton, 3/22)
2 More California Prison Workers Test Positive For Coronavirus
As concerns mount about the possibility of the coronavirus spreading through California prisons, officials say two more employees have tested positive but no inmates have yet been found to have the virus that causes COVID-19. State corrections officials say two workers at the California Institution for Men in Chino in San Bernardino County tested positive for the disease, joining a third employee at California State Prison, Sacramento, near Folsom as having testing positive. (Stanton, 3/22)
Who Is An "Essential" Worker During The California Coronavirus Lockdown?
Cities and counties were already issuing shelter-in-place orders in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Newsom's stay-at-home directive initially had fewer details than many of the local bans. Which should people follow? Details are starting to come in. (Christopher, 3/20)
Coronavirus: CA Braces For Two Economic Shocks From Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic already has wiped out tens of thousands of jobs in California. And that’s just the first act. Even after the “stay at home” orders are eased and life starts getting back to normal, COVID-19 will likely inflict a second wave of economic misery on the state. (Kasler, 3/23)
Coronavirus CA: Domestic Violence Victims Isolated By Quarantine
Widespread closures to slow the spread of the coronavirus are already having sweeping implications for Californians. Lost wages and added financial stress. Schools closed and the unexpected task of child care and homeschooling. But for people already isolated in violent or abusive relationships, stay-at-home orders are isolating them even more. (Sullivan, 3/23)
With Coronavirus, California's Economy Is In Uncharted Territory
COVID-19 is almost certain to cause the first pandemic-induced recession of the postwar era. For millions of Californians and their families, that may mean less work, lower income and more financial stress. (Christopher, 3/22)
San Francisco Chronicle:
Coronavirus Leads Bay Area Residents To Fill Little Libraries With Food, Toilet Paper
Little Free Libraries in the Bay Area, once a charming home for dog-eared Tom Clancy novels or an extra copy of “Goodnight Moon,” are turning into coronavirus supply stations — filling with food, soap and rolls of that most sought-after item: toilet paper. The local libraries reflect a national trend, according to officials from the nonprofit that started the program, who noticed a shift beginning more than a week ago. (Hartlaub, 3/22)
Coronavirus Has Californians Asking: Who'll Watch The Kids?
In the week since California began shutting down for the coronavirus crisis, Elena Ramirez has spent her days deep cleaning at her Happy Face Family Preschool. Her doors have remained open, even though none of the 14 kids she usually cares for in San Francisco’s Sunnyside district have shown up for a week now and both her teachers have stopped coming to work. (Aguilera, 3/21)
Coronavirus: Madera County CA Patient Recovers, Officials Say
Madera County’s first resident who tested positive for the coronavirus has recovered and was released from isolation, Madera County Department of Public Health said. According to Stephanie Nathan, assistant Public Health director, the patient no longer has the virus in his system and is no longer contagious. He has been released from isolation. (Valenzuela, 3/22)
Four More Cases Of Coronavirus Confirmed In Tulare County CA
The coronavirus continued to spread in the central San Joaquin Valley with the Tulare County Public Health branch on Friday evening announcing four new cases of positive COVID-19 tests, including someone in the age range of 0 to 17 years old. That brings Tulare County’s total to 11 people. And the county added: “Through the process of contact investigation, we can expect to find more cases.” (Anteola, 3/20)
PG&E To Plead Guilty To Criminal Charges For Paradise CA Fire
PG&E Corp. said Monday it will plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California history. The utility announced, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, that it will admit to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and a single count of unlawfully starting a fire. (Kasler, 3/23)