Good morning! Here’s a look at what’s going on with California and the coronavirus that has officially been named by WHO as COVID-19.
Nearly 200 American Evacuees Released From Quarantine In California: Following a series of final screenings, all 195 Americans quarantined amid the coronavirus outbreak were cleared to leave March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, where they had been confined the last 14 days. Everyone in the group, which arrived at the base aboard a charter plane on Jan. 29, tested negative for the virus in the final screenings shortly before 9:30 a.m. The evacuees, which included American diplomats who had fled Wuhan, China, with their families, were then free to leave. But before goodbyes were said, a group photo was in order. Like students flinging graduation caps, the Americans triumphantly tossed their face masks into the air. Read more from Colleen Shalby of the Los Angeles Times and Bill Chappell of NPR.
With Misinformation Spreading Faster Than The Virus Itself, Experts Try To Counter Some Myths: Panelists from UC Irvine joined Orange County officials in discussing the virus. The disease has been found in more than two dozen countries, including 13 cases in the United States — seven of them in California. “The thing I think for all of us to realize is when we’re thinking through the epidemiology of this is an awful lot of the initial data is for people who have had the most severe disease,” said Matthew Zahn, of the Orange County Health Care Agency. “We’ve learned an awful lot very quickly, but we still have a lot to learn about people who have more mild disease who did not need to be admitted to the hospital and what populations are affected that way.” Read more from Lilly Nguyen of the Daily Pilot.
Bay Area’s Strong Ties To China Means It’s Been Effected More By COVID-19 Outbreak: the impact of the coronavirus spreading out of China goes well beyond a health scare in the Bay Area. Last year, Chinese visitors spent $1.3 billion in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties. Shuttered factories in China, vanished customers from local Chinatown restaurants and stores, and canceled flights all have bruised this region’s tourist attractions and scrambled family plans. “We’re checking the news every hour” for virus updates, said San Francisco resident Edith Kwong, 41, whose uncle lost his chance to visit the Bay Area after airport officials in Hong Kong repeatedly canceled his flights. Read more from Tatiana Sanchez and Anna Bauman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
In related news from the Los Angeles Times: This California Goggle Maker Is Helping China Fight Coronavirus. Here’s How.
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
The Associated Press:
Tenet Healthcare To Pay $1.4M To Settle Cardiac Lawsuit
Tenet Healthcare Corporation and its Southern California hospital Desert Regional Medical Center will pay $1.41 million to resolve allegations that they knowingly charged Medicare for implanting unnecessary cardiac monitors in patients, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by former hospital employee Michael Grace saying that Tenet and Desert Regional violated the federal False Claims Act, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release. (2/11)
U.S. Judge Drops Some Charges Against Theranos's Holmes, Leaves Wire Fraud
A federal judge late on Tuesday dismissed some charges against Theranos Inc founder Elizabeth Holmes, but let stand wire fraud charges accusing her and an associate of misleading patients about the abilities of her company's blood tests. The court ruled that since the tests were paid by their medical insurance companies the patients were not deprived of any money or property in taking Theranos blood testing services. (2/12)
The Associated Press:
Death Toll In Camp Fire Probably Includes 50 More People, Report Says
Doctors and other experts say at least 50 more people, many of them elderly or ill, probably died as a result of the 2018 wildfire that devastated the town of Paradise, Calif., but were not counted in the official death toll, an investigation by the Chico Enterprise-Record found. Authorities have said the deadliest wildfire in California history killed 86 people. But the newspaper reported Tuesday that it had identified at least 50 more people whose deaths were linked to the fire but not attributed to it. (2/11)
California Weather Stays Dry As Rain And Snow Come Up Short
California’s alarmingly dry winter continues, with no meaningful snow or rain in sight. Although it’s far too soon to predict a drought, experts said wildfire risks could worsen this summer as a result of the shortage of precipitation. And while the rainy season still has more than two months left, a persistent high-pressure ridge over the Pacific is keeping wet weather at bay, just as it did during the five-year drought, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. Swain said it’s possible parts of Northern California “could go completely dry in the month of February.” (Kasler, 2/11)
Los Angeles Times:
Newport Beach-Based CurieMD Seeks To Treat The Often-Ignored Medical Needs Of Menopausal Women
The medical needs of menopausal women are often left untreated due to a lack of understanding and training in the medical field, according to Newport Beach‘s Dr. Leslie Meserve. Meserve recently founded the company, CurieMD, which is the first telemedicine website to offer menopause treatment and consultations. (Brazil, 2/11)
San Francisco Chronicle:
In Rare Appearances, Prominent Survivors Of Assault, Violence Gather In A Call For Action
In the deeply trying months that preceded Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s decision to deliver her historical testimony that a U.S. Supreme Court justice to-be had allegedly assaulted her at a high school party, it was a conversation with her eldest son that persuaded her to come forward. “I said, ‘The president of the United States is hiring someone for a job and it’s a very important job and mommy knows him and mommy knew him when I was your age, and he did something very bad to me, so I need to let the president know that in case the president wants to consider that when he’s making this decision,” Blasey Ford told a crowd gathered by a nonprofit working to address violence against women and children.
Deceit, Disrepair And Death Inside A Southern California Rental Empire
At a Pomona trailer park owned by a Nijjar entity since 2005, typhus broke out in 2015. The medieval, flea-borne disease can kill if left untreated. Public health officials came in, trapping feral cats and opossums. On one opossum, they counted 1,087 fleas. It was L.A. County's first typhus outbreak since 2009.Since the outbreak, the state has twice suspended PAMA Management's permit to operate the Pomona park, citing electrical hazards and sewage leaks. At another PAMA property, a manager testified that rats would swim in garbage water, walls would "bubble up" with mold and roaches "would fall over your body." At a third property, a lawsuit said a cockroach infestation was so severe that one of the insects climbed into a girl's ear, requiring surgery for the bug to be removed. At yet another complex, crime was so rampant that LAPD officers were afraid to patrol the property, leading the city attorney to file a lawsuit. (Mendelson, 2/12)
The Mercury News:
Rape Kit Processing Sped Up, Backlog Gone In Santa Clara Co.
After a loud call two years ago to drive down a backlog of untested rape kits in Santa Clara County, officials here announced that they have not only eliminated the backlog, but are now typically processing rape-kit evidence within two weeks — twice as fast as the one-month turnaround goal they initially set. The 269 untested sexual-assault evidence kits — collected from victims, suspects, or both following a reported crime — that had been sitting in the county crime lab as of May 2018 have all been examined, according to a report from the county District Attorney’s Office presented Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors. (Salonga, 2/11)
The New York Times:
Coronavirus Live Updates: The Illness Now Has A Name: COVID-19
The World Health Organization on Tuesday proposed an official name for the illness caused by the new coronavirus: COVID-19. The acronym stands for coronavirus disease 2019, as the illness was first detected toward the end of last year. (2/11)
Coronavirus Cases Fall, Experts Disagree Whether Peak Is Near
China reported on Wednesday its lowest number of new coronavirus cases since late January, lending weight to a prediction by its senior medical adviser that the outbreak could end by April. Global markets took heart from the outlook but other international experts are alarmed at the spread of the flu-like virus, which has killed more than 1,100 people, all but two in mainland China, and said optimism could be premature. (2/12)
The New York Times:
Huge Shelters For Coronavirus Patients Pose New Risks, Experts Fear
As the new coronavirus continued to spread unabated within the city of Wuhan, China, government officials last week imposed draconian measures. Workers in protective gear were instructed to go to every home in the city, removing infected residents to immense isolation wards built hastily in a sports stadium, an exhibition center and a building complex. (Rabin, 2/11)
The Wall Street Journal:
At Outbreak’s Center, Wuhan Residents Question Accuracy Of Virus Tests
Medical experts around the globe have expressed fears that the scale of the outbreak could be much larger than Chinese data suggests—in large part because of concerns about potential flaws in testing. Independent experts say many tens of thousands of Wuhan residents are likely infected by the coronavirus, while the city’s government puts the tally at less than 20,000. Only one in 19 infected people in Wuhan was being tested and confirmed, according to an estimate by Imperial College London as of Jan. 31. (Deng, 2/11)
The Washington Post:
Global Experts Study Promising Drugs, Vaccines For New Virus
The World Health Organization convened outside experts Tuesday to try to speed the development of tests, treatments and vaccines against the new coronavirus, as doctors on the front lines experiment on patients with various drugs in hopes of saving lives in the meantime. The 400 scientists participating in the two-day meeting — many remotely — will try to determine which approaches seem promising enough to advance to the next step: studies in people to prove if they really work. (Keaten and Cheng, 2/11)
Japan Cruise Ship Coronavirus Cases Climb To 175, Including Quarantine Officer
Another 39 people have tested positive for the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined in Japan, with one quarantine officer also infected, bringing the total to 175, the health ministry said on Wednesday. The Diamond Princess was placed in quarantine for two weeks upon arriving in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, on Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus. (2/12)
The New York Times:
A Store, A Chalet, An Unsealed Pipe: Coronavirus Hot Spots Flare Far From Wuhan
An apartment building in Hong Kong, its units linked by pipes. A department store in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin, where more than 11,000 shoppers and employees mingled. A ski chalet in France, home base for a group of British citizens on vacation. These sites, scattered around the world, have become linked by a grim commonality: They are places where pockets of new coronavirus cases have emerged in recent days, raising fears about the virus’s ability to spread quickly and far beyond its origins in central China. (Wang, Ramzy and Specia, 2/11)
The New York Times:
How Amy Klobuchar Pulled Off The Big Surprise Of The New Hampshire Primary
Senator Amy Klobuchar knew she might have an opportunity in New Hampshire’s presidential primary. As a fiscally moderate Democrat who opposes the “Medicare for all” and free four-year college plans of her liberal rivals, Ms. Klobuchar was in sync with the smaller-government tilt of plenty of Democrats in the state. Her emphasis on bipartisanship and pragmatism was a fit with New Hampshire’s large number of unaffiliated voters, or independents, who could participate in the Democratic primary. (Corasaniti, 2/12)
The Wall Street Journal:
New Hampshire Democratic Primary: Top Takeaways
Just a few months ago, Ms. Warren was competing with Mr. Sanders for the lead in New Hampshire as the other New Englander in the race. But as results poured in on Tuesday, she struggled to break double-digits in what looked to be a distant fourth-place finish. Ms. Warren has seen a steady decline recently after surging last summer and through most of the fall, as attacks on how she would pay for her Medicare-for-All health-care plan appeared to pay dividends for her rivals. (Siddiqui, 2/12)
House Panel Advances Bipartisan Surprise Billing Legislation Despite Divisions
The House Education and Labor Committee on Tuesday approved a bill to protect patients from massive “surprise” medical bills, but not before a vigorous debate that showed the divides within both parties on the issue. The vote of 32-13 sent the measure to the full House. But competing proposals must be reconciled before the chamber can vote on the issue, which is a rare area of possible bipartisan action this year. (Sullivan, 2/11)
The Associated Press:
US Survey Finds Smaller Decline In Medical Bill Worries
The proportion of people in families struggling to pay medical bills is down, but the number isn't dropping like it used to, according to a big government study. In a 2018 national survey, just over 14 percent of people said they belonged to a family struggling with those bills, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday. That’s a big drop from nearly 20 percent in 2011 but only slightly less than the proportion who reported the problem in 2016 and 2017. (2/12)