Officials Across California Brace For Community Spread Of Coronavirus: “For San Francisco, it is not a matter of if, but when,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, director of San Francisco’s health department. “We expect to have confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in San Francisco and are preparing for community spread of the virus.” In California, at least 40 cases have been reported. Twenty-four cases were people who caught the virus either on the Diamond Princess cruise ship or in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak was first reported, and were then repatriated to the U.S. and quarantined at California military bases. An additional 19 cases were in returning travelers or, in at least five instances, people who contracted the virus in their community. “It’s important that we don’t panic,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed. “It’s important that we get the right information, and that we work with the public to address this situation. We are focused on trying to make sure that we contain any situation that would occur, and that we protect public health — that’s first and foremost.”
Meanwhile, health officials in Placer County have confirmed their first case of COVID-19. Dr. Aimee Sisson, the health officer for Placer County, said the health care worker, an employee at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital, is in home isolation with what Sisson told The Sacramento Bee were “mild symptoms” of the virus.
Read more from Dominic Fracassa of the San Francisco Chronicle; Alex Wigglesworth, Soumya Karlamangla, and Collee Shalby of the Los Angeles Times; Sammy Caiola and Chris Hagan of Capital Public Radio; Cathie Anderson and Darrell Smith of the Sacramento Bee; and Sam Morgan of The Bakersfield Californian.
Newsom Requests $20M In Emergency Funds: Gov. Gavin Newsom wants lawmakers to make $20 million available for coronavirus response out of the state’s disaster and emergency funds. “Quickly identifying and tracing positive cases is helping us better understand and slow the spread of the virus,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said in a written statement. “As testing and contact tracing continues in the coming days, (the California Department of Public Health) expects there will be more California cases identified.” Read more from Sophia Bollag of the Sacramento Bee.
Bay Area Nursing Homes Step Up Efforts Following Outbreak At Washington State Facility: In the wake of a deadly coronavirus outbreak at a Washington nursing home, Bay Area nursing homes are taking precautions to protect their vulnerable population. Four patients at Life Care, a senior living facility in Washington state, were dead as of Monday after contracting the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, officials said. Charlene Harrington, a nursing professor at UCSF, said she was not surprised by the Washington nursing home outbreak. Nearly 75% of nursing homes are understaffed, according to a 2019 study, which leads to poor sanitation standards and high rates of infection, Harrington said. Read more from Anna Bauman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Meanwhile, California health care workers are worried and frustrated about the spread of the virus. “We’re extremely concerned about the safety of health care workers and patients they’re caring for,” said Sal Rosselli of the National Union of Healthcare Workers. “I’m concerned most hospitals and nursing employers are behind the curve, they’re not on top of this.” Read more from Catherine Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle.
More coverage on California and the coronavirus:
San Francisco Chronicle: Will Coronavirus Kill Prom? Bay Area Schools Brace For Closures And Cancellation Of Events
Los Angeles Times: Twitter Tells Employees To Work From Home As Tech Firms React To Coronavirus
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.
More News From Across The State
The Associated Press:
Supreme Court Will Decide The Fate Of Obama Health Care Law
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide a lawsuit that threatens the Obama-era health care law, a case that will keep health care squarely in front of voters even though a decision won't come until after the 2020 election. The court said it would hear an appeal by 20 mainly Democratic states of a lower-court ruling that declared part of the statute unconstitutional and cast a cloud over the rest. (3/2)
The New York Times:
Supreme Court To Hear Obamacare Appeal
The court granted requests from Democratic state officials and House members who wanted to thrust the fate of the Affordable Care Act into the public eye just as Americans prepare to vote this November. The Supreme Court did not say when it would hear the case, but under its ordinary practices, arguments would be held in the fall and a decision would land in the spring or summer of 2021. Democrats, who consider health care a winning issue and worry about possible changes in the composition of the Supreme Court, had urged the justices to act quickly even though lower courts had not issued definitive rulings. They wanted to focus political attention on the health law’s most popular provisions — like guaranteed coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, emergency care, prescription drugs and maternity care — and to ensure that the case was decided while justices who had rejected earlier challenges to the law remain on the court. (Liptak and Goodnough, 3/2)
The Washington Post:
Supreme Court's Obamacare Review Cheers Democrats With Election Year Health Care Focus
The justices will review a federal appeals court decision that found part of the law, also known as Obamacare, unconstitutional and raised questions about whether the law in its entirety must fall. The Trump administration agreed with the lower court’s decision but said it was premature for the court to join the legal fight now. Trump administration tells Supreme Court no need to rush Obamacare ruling. Democrats seemed delighted that the court had decided to ignore that advice. They said the focus on health care will help their candidates, as polls show it did in 2018 when Democrats won back the House majority, and increase the importance of the Supreme Court with their voters. (Barnes, 3/2)
The Wall Street Journal:
Supreme Court To Review Affordable Care Act Next Term
The timing means the decision is unlikely to come before Election Day, leaving the ACA in legal limbo. The slower timeline also means the Trump administration won’t necessarily be forced to grapple with U.S. health-care policy before voters go to the polls. In weighing the case, the justices could rule on the viability of every provision of the sweeping law. In addition to the mandate that most people carry health insurance, the ACA barred insurers from denying coverage—or charging more—to people with existing health conditions. It also allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until they turned 26 and expanded the availability of Medicaid coverage for limited-income Americans. (Kendall and Armour, 3/2)
California Slams AmerisourceBergen Over Opioid Shipments To Pharmacies
The California Board of Pharmacy reprimanded AmerisourceBergen (ABC) and fined the distributor for shipping “excessive” amounts of opioids and other controlled substances to pharmacies. The company was also cited for failing to report suspicious orders to authorities. (Silverman, 3/2)
Pedestrians At Risk As Deaths Are Increasing In California
Pedestrian deaths in California jumped 12% in the first half of last year, well above the national average increase of 3%, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association released Thursday. And no one has a good answer as to why pedestrians are more and more at risk. “The number of pedestrian fatalities is increasing every year and nobody knows exactly why,” said Richard Retting, a safety researcher who wrote the report. (Lightman, 3/2)
The Bakersfield Californian:
Prostate Cancer Support Group In Tehachapi Has Been Helping Men For 20 Years
The first time you attend a meeting of the Tehachapi Valley Prostate Cancer Information Group, you might wonder how many valued members these men have had to say goodbye to. The number is certainly high. But so is the number of those who have been helped. Just ask Jake Harper, 76."This group has saved lives — mine for sure," he said Thursday. (Mayer, 3/2)
San Jose Mercury News:
'We Are Fed Up:' Housing Activism Forces Change In Oakland
The evidence is everywhere — from people squatting in a house they don’t own, to tenants refusing to pay rent, to shouts of “housing is a human right” ringing across the city. Oaklanders have had enough. Pushed to the breaking point by the city’s staggering rent and housing prices, Oakland residents are responding in ways that are increasingly bold, desperate — and sometimes illegal. (Kendall, 3/3)