December 16, 2020
Eden Health District COVID-19 Bulletin
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still in the tunnel. That means we’re going through perhaps the most intense and urgent moment since the beginning of the pandemic.” Gov. Gavin Newsom, 12/15/20
HelpBerkeley brings affordable restaurant meals to seniors and others at-risk
At the outset of the pandemic in March, residents in Michel Thouati’s Berkeley Hills neighborhood would meet up while out on walks, exchanging information and asking after others in the area.

“We started noticing some people weren’t there,” Thouati (in photo below) said. Assuming their fellow neighbors were sick or self-isolating, Thouati and the others wondered how they were feeding themselves, particularly the vulnerable older folks. Realizing food insecurity for certain populations was potentially a widespread problem, they thought about how they could help. Together, the group came up with, a service to get affordable food to people isolating at home, particularly seniors.

“We also wanted to find a way to help local restaurants to survive this difficult moment,” Thouati said.

Within a few weeks, Thouati and what he calls “the collective,” the group that brainstormed the project, had a network of volunteers in place and established partnerships with many small restaurants in Berkeley. For $10 plus tax, residents of Berkeley, Albany or Kensington who are sick, quarantining or over 60 years of age get two meals prepared by local restaurants, delivered free by volunteers.

Nearly 9 months later, Thouati estimates HelpBerkeley has delivered as many as 25,000 meals. There have been challenges to the all-volunteer organization, mainly involving technology. Most participating restaurants don’t have digital systems that allow easy communication and coordination with HelpBerkeley, which manages sign-ups for those needing food, as well as organizing dispatch and delivery.

Thouati estimates the grassroots organization has about 400 volunteers, with about 150 active in the program at any given time. The organization’s different operations groups meet on Zoom and work with various software platforms. Even with all the volunteers, HelpBerkeley wouldn’t operate without participating restaurants. Thouati has approached many of the businesses himself to solicit their involvemen.

Thouati stresses that many restaurant owners are motivated to be involved by more than just their own financial interest. “Restaurant owners want to help people. One said, ‘If someone can’t afford a meal, send them to me.’ Others give more food than the two-meal portion,” said Thouati. “Another said, ‘We’ll help until we can’t afford it. I know the need is there. Besides food, HelpBerkeley is about friends and neighbors who care for their community. Even though we’re physically isolated, we can be together.”

Source: Berkeleyside

By the Numbers
Bay Area: 201,306

California: 1,648,430

U.S.: 16,813,837
Alameda County

Cases: 40,026

Deaths: 558

Adjusted Cases per Day: 19.8

Test Positivity: 9.0%

Hospitalized Patients: 377

ICU Beds Available: 72
Bay Area: 2,161

California: 21,500

U.S.: 305,723
Contra Costa County

Cases: 32,526

Deaths: 290

Adjusted Cases per Day: 26.5

Test Positivity: 9.3%

Hospitalized Patients: 197

ICU Beds Available: 31
Sources: Johns Hopkins UniversitySF Chronicle, and dashboards for California and Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
Adjusted cases per day is per 100,000 residents.Test positivity is based on a 14-day average. Hospitalized patients refers to patients with confirmed and suspected Covid-19.
Bay Area News
State Covid-19 website, December 16, 2020
California is reporting that the Bay Area region ICU capacity stands at 12.9%. As a result, the state's regional stay at home order will go into effect for the Bay Area region on Dec. 17 at 11:59 p.m. The order will primarily impact the counties in the Bay Area region, including San Mateo County, that had not previously adopted the stay at home order.

East Bay Citizen, December 15, 2020
Alameda County’s initial allotment of the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine is expected to arrive this Friday, county health officials said. When the shipment of nearly 14,000 doses of the vaccine finally arrives for frontline health care workers, the county will open a clinic three days later on the grounds of St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, Clanon told the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

All 9-1-1 receiving hospitals in Alameda County will receive the vaccine. Most will be shipped directly to medical facilities, Clanon said. High risk hospital workers will first receive the vaccine, in addition, to Emergency Medical Technicians, paramedics, and firefighters. Nursing home patients and staff will also be among the first to receive the vaccine.

East Bay Times, December 16, 2020
As health care workers line up for the precious COVID-19 vaccine, what matters is not power or privilege – but need. On the long list of eligible employees compiled by every hospital, this is who counts: The janitor who disinfects the emergency room. The aide who strains to lift and move a patient. The critical care nurse who monitors breathing machines. The physician who shuttles between ICU beds. The transport staff who roll bodies to the morgue.

Hospitals are using different strategies to rank vaccine recipients. Almost all facilities are prioritizing workers in four departments: Intensive Care, Emergency Care, Covid-19 Care and Respiratory Therapy. At Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez, employees of these departments received an email with a link to sign up, with questions about risk factors, such as diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases or other conditions. Those at greatest risk moved to the front of the line. Once everyone in those departments is protected, the hospital’s other employees will also be ranked, based on vulnerability.

SF Chronicle, December 15, 2020
Regional orders are meeting with some very public resistance just as California is beginning its vaccination rollout while the virus is still surging. Officials and experts say the alarming new surge indicates many people went against public health guidelines and gathered over the Thanksgiving holidays.

Why do more Californians seem to be tuning out such messages this time, despite the dire situation?
  1. Confusion over the rules
  2. Motivation cognition
  3. Erosion of trust
  4. Superhero complex
  5. Lack of transparency
  6. Optimism v. fear

Marin Independent Journal, December 16, 2020
“We know that community transmission is accelerating exponentially,” Dr. Matt Willis told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. “Our hospitals are at or near full capacity, and case rates in Marin are four times higher than one month ago.” The county reported Tuesday that all the fully staffed intensive care unit beds at Marin’s hospitals are now in use. Twelve of the 29 beds are occupied by coronavirus patients.

East Bay Times, December 16, 2020
Supervisors in Alameda County on Tuesday voted to extend leases on four hotels sheltering unhoused people, providing a brief reprieve to some residents who had been warned they’d have to vacate “very soon.” With the extensions, the last hotels are set to close at the end of February.

SF Chronicle, December 15, 2020
Hawaii’s appeal for Bay Area transplants with the financial means to move and jobs that allow it goes far beyond sun and surf. Out of all 50 states, it has the lowest death rate due to the coronavirus and the third lowest infection rate.
Health News
Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2020
The FDA said Tuesday that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna was “highly effective,” setting the stage for an emergency authorization later this week that would add a second vaccine to the arsenal against the pandemic. The findings will go before an independent advisory panel that will vote Thursday on whether to recommend FDA authorization.
Barring complications, the FDA is aiming to authorize emergency use of the Moderna vaccine Friday.

Moderna’s analysis, posted by the FDA, also included new data suggesting that the first dose of its vaccine can reduce infections that don’t cause symptoms. If this finding holds up in further analysis — including after the second of the two-dose regimen —it could mean that the vaccine not only protects individuals from disease, but also curbs transmission of the virus from person to person.

LA Times, December 15, 2020
  • How effective are the vaccines overall? The Moderna and Pfizer vaccine were nearly equally effective in preventing Covid-19 among those who were tracked for 7-8 weeks after their second dose.
  • Did the vaccines prevent severe cases of COVID-19? The Moderna vaccine was 100% effective at preventing cases of severe Covid-19. Eleven people in the trial developed severe disease, and all of them were in the group that received the placebo. The Pfizer vaccine was 66.4% effective at preventing cases of severe Covid-19. Of the four study participants who developed severe illnesses after receiving two shots, one had gotten the vaccine and three got the placebo.
  • What about side effects? The most common side effects for both vaccines were fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills and joint pain. However, these were reported more often in the Moderna trial than the Pfizer trial.

Vox, December 15, 2020
How many people need to get vaccinated to end the pandemic that has already killed more than 300,000 Americans and disrupted every facet of daily life has been the subject of some debate for months. The conventional wisdom has been that, at minimum, 60 percent of people would need to be vaccinated in order to start bringing case numbers down to a manageable level. Dr. Anthony Fauci is aiming even higher. “We’ve got to get as many people as we possibly can,” he said in the Vox interview.

STAT, December 15, 2020
Michael Osterholm, the head of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and a member of President-elect Biden’s Covid-19 task force, told STAT he will be watching to see how the government manages the tendency for the general public to attribute unrelated health emergencies to adverse vaccine reactions. “Any time you have an effort like this, people will associate any possible health event that occurs … as likely being vaccine associated,” he said. Osterholm underscored that if 10 million people aged 55-64 were vaccinated today, nearly 800 would have heart attacks and another 700 would have strokes within a week, all unrelated to the vaccine, just based on general statistics for that population.

Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2020
Researchers have yet to begin clinical trials in children under 12; trials in teens have just recently started. It’s not unusual in drug development to test adults first: New drugs and vaccines are often tested on adults before children, whose bodies are still developing and can have different responses to medication. In the case of Covid, adults are also generally more at risk for severe complications.

Covid vaccines for younger children especially may require different dosage levels or formulations than the adult versions. Kids generally can’t get the vaccine until it is authorized for their specific age. The result is a delay in children having access to the vaccine, creating uncertainty over whether kids will be vaccinated before the start of the 2021 school year.

NY Times, December 15, 2020
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday issued an emergency authorization for the country’s first coronavirus test that can run from start to finish at home without the need for a prescription. People as young as 2 years old are cleared to use the test, which takes just 15 to 20 minutes to deliver a result. The test is authorized for people with or without symptoms. Each kit, which tests a single swab sample, is expected to cost about $30 or less, said Bella Zabinofsky, a spokeswoman for the company.
US and California Data: Last 90 Days
Covid Tracking Project, 12/15/20 (bold lines are 7-day averages)
United States
California News
Mercury News, December 16, 2020
California has moved on from record case numbers to record fatalities from Covid-19. On Tuesday, county health departments combined to report 31,394 new cases and 255 new victims of the virus, California’s largest single-day death toll of the pandemic, coming one day after the state reported a record number of new infections. All the while, medical resources continue to dwindle to dangerous levels around the state.
The cumulative death toll in California rose to 21,449, including 1,183 reported in the past week — an average of 169 per day — more than any other seven-day period of the pandemic.

The Bay Area combined to report 17 deaths on Tuesday, including a record five in Santa Cruz County, where 31 of its 60 fatalities from COVID-19 have occurred in the past two weeks. In Alameda County, the death toll grew by four to 546, the largest in the region, while San Mateo also reported four new fatalities; Sonoma and Marin counties added two apiece.

More than 1.6 million Californians have been infected over the course of the pandemic — or about one in every 24 residents of the state — including an average of about 32,260 per day over the past week.

Just in the past two weeks, since the calendar turned to December, California’s average daily infections have more than doubled: from about 14,000 per day to more than 32,000, a 130% increase. Santa Clara and Alameda county on Tuesday each recorded another day of a thousand new cases apiece. 

LA Times, December 16, 2020
With intensive care units in Southern California and the Central Valley lurching perilously close to full capacity Tuesday, officials are turning to increasingly desperate measures to prevent the state’s coronavirus surge from killing more patients.

Hospitalizations are continuing to rise at unprecedented levels, and officials have limited options for boosting capacity. Among the tools: Canceling scheduled surgeries; keeping critically ill patients in emergency rooms; sending ICU patients into step-down units earlier; training nurses from elsewhere in hospitals to help with intensive care; and increasing the numbers of patients an ICU nurse can treat.

On Tuesday, the California Department of Public Health said available ICU capacity in Southern California was just 1.7%, down from 2.7% a day earlier. The situation was particularly grim in Riverside County, which was at zero available ICU capacity as of Tuesday. Available ICU capacity in the San Joaquin Valley was also effectively maxed out and has been fluctuating between zero and 1.6% since Saturday.

NY Times, December 16, 2020
With spiking coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths all shattering records in recent weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said the state was preparing for bleak days to come: The state has ordered an extra 5,000 body bags, activated a mutual aid network for morgues and coroner’s offices, and stationed 60 refrigerated storage units in counties around the state to handle remains.

The governor heralded the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine in his state as the starting gun for a final sprint to the end of the pandemic, but he underscored the danger the nation’s most populous state faces in the next few weeks. The governor said he didn’t want the news of those preparations to cause panic, “but I think I have an obligation to share it.”

NPR, December 16, 2020
California health officials have made clear they want equity and transparency to be among the main priorities in deciding how to allocate the first scarce supplies of a vaccine. The state asked more than 70 organizations to join the Community Vaccine Advisory Committee to help develop an equitable vaccine distribution plan.

Rather than defining equity as everyone having a "fair opportunity to attain their full potential," as the World Health Organization does, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the state's surgeon general and a co-chair of the committee, instead proposed adopting a definition from the U.S. Office of Minority Health, which says achieving health equity requires "efforts to address avoidable inequalities and historical and contemporary injustices."

CalMatters, December 15, 2020
In the 5 years before the pandemic, low-income Californians had begun to see substantial wage gains, chipping away at the income inequality gap between California’s haves and have-nots that has widened over the past 40 years. But the coronavirus pandemic is “likely stripping away many of these gains,” researchers at the Public Policy Institute of California found in a new report.

The current coronavirus-induced recession has hit low-income workers the hardest, while higher income workers, largely able to work from home, have escaped relatively unscathed. And those acute job losses among low-wage workers — particularly African Americans, Latinos, workers without college degrees and women — have stayed worryingly high through the fall, the researchers found. 

LA Times, December 15, 2020
California is scrambling to find enough nurses, doctors and other medical staff for the increasing demands of the unrelenting pandemic, with the state having so far acquired just one in 10 temporary contracted positions needed to treat surging caseloads. To address the shortage, Gov. Newsom said Tuesday that California is “looking overseas” for additional staffing because other states are “in a similar predicament” to California and can’t spare their own healthcare workers.

Sacramento Bee, December 15, 2020
Since April 1, under the federal law, employees working at private firms with fewer than 500 workers (but more than 50) have been eligible for up to 10 days of paid sick leave if they are quarantined because of a government order or medical professional, or are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms. Millions of workers in the state stand to lose two weeks of paid sick leave and additional weeks of paid family leave by the end of the year.

Congress has yet to extend those leave programs past Dec. 31. California earlier this year created its own sick leave program, but it is written in a way that it will expire at the same time the federal programs end. If all of those programs expire, some California workers will be left with three days of paid sick leave and eight weeks of paid family leave a year.
US News
Reuters, December 16, 2020
Daily U.S. deaths from Covid-19 surpassed 3,000 for the third time in a week as the country expanded its vaccination program and the U.S. Congress progressed toward approving financial relief for the pandemic-stricken country.

The death toll of 3,102 on Tuesday, the third highest total since the pandemic began, increased the cumulative number of U.S. fatalities to 304,187, according to a Reuters tally. The case load of 16.7 million infections represented roughly 5% of the U.S. population. Inoculations of the newly approved Covid-19 vaccine entered their third day on Wednesday, set aside for doctors, nurses and other frontline medical workers, along with residents and staff of nursing homes.

NY Times, December 16, 2020
The Trump administration is negotiating a deal to use its power to free up supplies of raw materials to help Pfizer produce tens of millions of additional doses of its Covid-19 vaccine for Americans in the first half of next year, people familiar with the situation said.

Should an agreement be struck, it could at least partially remedy a looming shortage that the administration itself arguably helped create by not pre-ordering more doses of the vaccine Pfizer developed with its German partner, BioNTech. Pfizer agreed this summer to provide the United States with 100 million doses by the end of March, enough to inoculate 50 million people since its vaccine requires two shots.

Politico, December 15, 2020
As Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the nation, it is exacerbating long-existing racial disparities in housing — and those disparities mean that ultimately, even more people could get sick. The expiration of the federal eviction ban at the end of the month will disproportionately hurt Black and Latino tenants, financially hobbling them for years and ensuring that the United States’ staggering racial wealth gap won’t narrow anytime soon. Black and Latino people are twice as likely to rent as white people, so a wave of evictions would hit them hardest, adding to the unequal toll of a pandemic that is already ravaging the health and finances of minority communities.

CNN, December 16, 2020
Dodge City, KS, Mayor Joyce Warshaw submitted her letter of resignation Tuesday. It was effective immediately and it cited concerns for her safety. The Dodge City commission voted in favor of a mask mandate on November 16 following a spike in coronavirus cases in the western Kansas city which has a population of nearly 30,000 people.

USA Today, December 16, 2020
A report out Wednesday documents the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on LGTBQ households, and the findings are sobering: greater economic upheaval, higher unemployment rates and deeper challenges in accessing health care.

Some of the report’s findings:
• 64% of LGBTQ households have experienced job losses vs. 45% of non-LGBTQ households.
• 38% of LGBTQ households have been unable to get medical care or delayed going to a doctor for a serious problem vs. 19% of non-LGBTQ households.
• Specific groups within the community face even greater challenges: Nearly all, or 95%, of Black LGBTQ respondents and 70% of Latinos indicated they or someone in their household experienced one or more serious financial problems.

NY Times, December 16, 2020
This spring, the Fort Bragg Y.M.C.A.— which started a food pantry last year to respond to the growing food insecurity among military families — saw a 40% increase in requests for groceries. During the same period, grocery requests to AmericaServes, a network that helps military families, jumped to the biggest service request in the organization’s history.

The story is much the same around the country, hunger groups say, for the lowest-income families in the military, who have a specific set of challenges, and different from civilians whose economic fortunes have also been damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
Spouses of active-duty troops have lost jobs, the same as thousands of other Americans, but are often the least likely to be able to find new ones. Children who rely on free or reduced meals at school no longer are receiving them, and military families often have more children than the national average.

Washington Post, December 16, 2020
With few exceptions, big businesses are having a very different year from most of the country. Between April and September, one of the most tumultuous economic stretches in modern history, 45 of the 50 most valuable publicly traded U.S. companies turned a profit, a Washington Post analysis found.
Despite their success, at least 27 of the 50 largest firms held layoffs this year, collectively cutting more than 100,000 workers, The Post found.

The data reveals a split screen inside many big companies this year. On one side, corporate leaders are touting their success and casting themselves as leaders on the road to economic recovery. On the other, many of their firms have put Americans out of work and used their profits to increase the wealth of shareholders.

NPR, December 16, 2020
Today, amid the pandemic, a third of U.S. adults say they are having difficulty covering everyday costs such as food, rent or car payments. While people with the lowest incomes face the biggest challenges, even some households making above $200,000 are straining to pay basic expenses.

For many families, walking the tightrope of financial stress, with little to no savings, is hardly a pandemic-specific condition. Over a year ago, more than a third of Americans said they could not cover an unexpected $400 home repair or hospital bill without going into debt — or at all.
Indeed, the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle has long been a widespread affliction. Single mothers live it. Young professionals live it. Even college professors and retired tech workers live it.

NY Times, December 16, 2020
Across the U.S.,Canada and much of Europe, consumers have been snapping up trees, leading in many cases to record sales. Some people are first-time buyers, while others are buying earlier than usual, making it challenging to keep fresh trees in stock.
CA Education News
Mercury News, December 16, 2020
California health officials rolled out new guidance on youth and high school sports Monday evening, giving athletes, parents and coaches hope that they could see games before the end of the school year. But even as vaccine shots make their way into the arms of some Californians, the coronavirus rages on, breaking new case and death records multiple times per week.

Gov. Gavin Newsom tried to split the difference between those two realities Tuesday morning. Whether high-profile sports like football and basketball will be allowed within the state before high school seniors graduate without a final season remains to be seen, Newsom said.

San Diego Tribune, December 15, 2020
Sweetwater Union High School District has created a “no credit pandemic” grade option and is encouraging teachers to use it instead of failing students during the pandemic. It is joining a growing number of districts adopting alternative ways of grading to help students struggling because schools are closed and they are learning remotely.

Teachers will assign the “no credit pandemic” grade to students who are facing pandemic-related learning challenges, such as a lack of internet access or a computer, and students who have not participated in online school for a significant period of time.
The grade will give students a chance to make up the class later on and will not be factored into a student’s grade point average, said Ana Maria Alvarez, Sweetwater’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, in a board meeting Monday. It will not become an F grade if the student fails to complete the course later on.
US Education News
NY Times, December 16, 2020
Teachers are near the front of the line to receive vaccines. Does that mean schools are close to returning to a pre-Covid normality? Not exactly.

Our colleagues Eliza Shapiro and Shawn Hubler reported this week that it’s probably too early for parents to get their hopes up that public schools will throw open their doors anytime soon. Beyond health care workers, who are first in line, there are an estimated 87 million Americans working in essential sectors like food and agriculture, manufacturing and law enforcement. That includes the country’s three million teachers, but the exact pecking order will vary from state to state — and may not account for the school nurses, janitors, cafeteria workers and other people who are also crucial to reopening classrooms.

LA Times, December 15, 2020
Even with counselors’ efforts to aggressively meet online with students and follow up by text, phone and email to check that their applications are on track, for many seniors, especially the underserved, virtual counseling has been no match for the drop-in, hub-of-activity role that high school college counseling offices provide. Throughout Los Angeles, counselors have had a hard time reaching many of their students. The lack of reliable technology continues to be an issue. Most troubling, counselors said, some students are unmotivated amid their families’ pandemic hardships.

Seattle Times, December 11, 2020
Students in the MBA class of 2021 have been hit particularly hard. They began their program in the fall of 2019, and all went as usual until midway through the spring semester, when classes went virtual and the long-planned international trips that typically populate the semester were canceled.
107-year-old woman beats Covid-19
If you ask Tillie Dybing about the pandemic, she might reply, ‘which one?’
She was not yet 5 years old when the 1918 flu pandemic hit her dirt floor North Dakota farm home.

“My folks got sick and they were in bed, and I’d run into the bed and my dad said, ‘Can’t you find another place to run,’” Tillie recalled on a Zoom call from her Detroit Lakes, Minnesota community home.

It was the first of many trials Dybing would endure.

She lost several siblings in their infancy. She survived three major floods in Minot, N.D., lost her husband in her 80s, and beat uterine cancer at 95 years old. This summer, she turned 107, celebrating the occasion with nurses while isolated from family to keep the coronavirus from hitting the nursing home.

And it worked, until one day in November.
“I tried to call her Saturday morning, and I tried calling all day and the nurse said she’s sleeping,” said Dybing's daughter, Susan Berke. “We were really concerned and thought, well, this is probably it.” After that long rest, Dybing awoke feeling fine, she said.
“Didn’t even know I had it. I didn’t know I had it,” she said.

It wasn’t until the following week that Dybing tested positive for Covid-19, still feeling no other symptoms except being tired. “Nothing in her lungs. They said she doesn’t have a fever. She just slept all the time,” said Susan.

Two weeks passed, and Dybing has since moved back into her regular room at the facility, feeling healthy. Now, at 107 years old, a survivor of not one but two viral pandemics.

“I thought, well, if the time has come that I have to leave, then I will go, but I’m still here.”

Source: KSN TV News
International News
STAT, December 15, 2020
As wealthy governments race to lock in supplies of Covid-19 vaccines, nearly a quarter of the world’s population — mostly in low and middle-income countries — will not have access to a shot until 2022, according to a new analysis.

As of mid-November, high income countries, including the European Union bloc, reserved 51% of nearly 7.5 billion doses of different Covid-19 vaccines, although these countries comprise just 14% of the world’s population. Meanwhile, only six of the 13 manufacturers working on Covid-19 vaccine candidates have reached agreements to sell their shots to low and middle-income countries.

The Guardian, December 16, 2020
Europeans gathering for Christmas with their friends or families should try to celebrate outside or wear masks indoors in a well-ventilated space, according to an advisory issued by the World Health Organization.

The advice covers a variety of issues relating to winter recreation and holidays, including whether to take a skiing break and seasonal celebrations. It comes amid soul-searching across Europe over how to celebrate the holidays, including whether to continue with loosened restrictions in the UK’s devolved areas – against the recommendation of some scientists – or to introduce stricter lockdowns, as some countries are contemplating.

Politico, December 16, 2020
New Zealand’s response to the virus has been among the most successful, together with actions taken by China, Taiwan and Thailand early on in the pandemic. The country of 5 million has counted just 25 deaths and managed to stamp out the spread of Covid-19, allowing people to return to workplaces, schools and packed sports stadiums without restrictions.

When the virus began hitting Europe early in the year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, the only two options countries were considering were herd immunity or flattening the curve. She opted for the latter. Ardern said she didn’t worry that elimination might prove impossible, because even if New Zealand didn’t get there, the approach still would have saved lives.

Financial Times, December 15, 2020
Asia has led the world in controlling the spread of Covid-19, but that very success has set the region behind the US and Europe in the race to vaccinate against the disease. In countries with limited coronavirus outbreaks, regulators have been happy to let westerners act as guinea pigs for quickly approved jabs, while in others, the low level of Covid-19 cases means that locally developed vaccines have struggled to complete clinical trials.

Asia’s vaccine caution contrasts with fervent enthusiasm in the US and Europe, where coronavirus infection is raging and authorities have made it a point of pride to grant approvals quickly. The differing approaches raise the prospect of a world where some nations are vaccinated and others are not, which could affect the speed of economic recovery and hinder international travel.

NY Times, December 16, 2020
With ski lifts, restaurants and bars all remaining open, Sweden’s tougher restrictions pale in comparison to the rest of Europe and there are mounting concerns that not enough is being done. Intensive-care beds in hospitals in the Stockholm region are all currently occupied. Infection numbers and deaths have been rising steadily since October. By Tuesday, Sweden had reached a total of 320,098 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, while its neighbor Finland, with a population about half of Sweden’s, has 31,110 cases, less than 10% of Sweden’s.

On Monday, the Swedish prime minister, Stefan Lofven, said the country’s experts had underestimated the likelihood of a second wave. It was the first time an official criticized, even obliquely, the Public Health Agency of Sweden, the expert group tasked with making coronavirus policies, and the epidemiologist who leads it, Anders Tegnell.

Aljazeera, December 15, 2020
Long queues for intensive care beds are forming outside public healthcare systems across Rio de Janeiro with wait times of more than 15 days for some Covid-19 patients. Even in the private healthcare centers, 98% of the Covid-19 intensive care beds had been occupied for two consecutive weeks, said the Association of Private Hospitals of Rio state. The number jumped from 81% to 98% during the first week of December.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been at odds with health officials over how to respond to the pandemic. He has consistently downplayed the novel coronavirus as a “little flu” and said on Thursday Brazil was at the “tail end of the pandemic.” Yet hospital admissions are growing in the population centers of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. In Rio,1,460 patients with Covid-19 were admitted to hospital last weekend. Of the 273 patients in critical condition, there were not Covid-19 beds for 222 of them according to government data.
Adam Geller, Associated Press, December 16, 2020
By mid-December, five in every 100 Americans — more than 16 million — had been infected by Covid-19. Those numbers testify to a historic tragedy. But they don’t fully capture the multitude of ways, large and small, that the virus has upended and reconfigured everyday life in the U.S.
For that, there are a host of other numbers. Some may be less familiar than others, yet all are just as telling in calculating the pandemic’s sweeping impact.

  • Employment rate of low-wage workers as the year nears its end, compared to January: down 20.3 percent
  • Employment rate of high-wage workers compared to January: up 0.2 percent
  • Share of small businesses that are still closed even as the U.S. economy has reopened: 28.8 percent

Sarah Finefrock, Washington Post, December 15, 2020
Think of someone you love unconditionally. Choose the person who makes your heart fill with joy at a thought: Is it your child, your parent, your partner, your closest friend? Say their name to yourself, take a slow deep breath and close your eyes.

Now picture that person in a hospital bed. Machines are beeping. Your person is unconscious, on a ventilator. The machine is forcing air into their chest, making it rise and fall steadily. The nurse tells you your person spends 21 hours a day on their stomach, but they are upright today because today is their day.

You realize the staff is telling you how to prepare for your person’s “transition.” That’s a nice way of saying your person is going to die. My experience was on Friday, Nov. 13. My person was my dad.

The Year We Lost
The Atlantic, December 15, 2020
For all its eventfulness, 2020 has for many been a lost year, in several senses of the word: On top of an enormous loss of human lives, the pandemic paused many people’s progress on long-plotted family and career goals. It forced countless celebrations and holiday gatherings either onto Zoom or out of existence. And it warped many people’s sense of time, causing months-long stretches to seem interminable in the moment but like they passed in a blip in retrospect.

NY Times, December 16, 2020
Kyle McGowan, a former chief of staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and his deputy, Amanda Campbell, were installed in 2018 as two of the youngest political appointees in the history of the world’s premier public health agency, young Republicans returning to their native Georgia to dream jobs.

But what they witnessed during the coronavirus pandemic this year in the C.D.C.’s leadership suite on the 12-floor headquarters here shook them: Washington’s dismissal of science, the White House’s slow suffocation of the agency’s voice, the meddling in its messages and the siphoning of its budget.

By Daniel Funke and Katie Sanders, Kaiser Health News, December 16, 2020      
Lies infected America in 2020. The very worst were not just damaging, but deadly.  President Trump fueled confusion and conspiracies from the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic. He embraced theories that Covid-19 accounted for only a small fraction of the thousands upon thousands of deaths. He undermined public health guidance for wearing masks and cast Dr. Anthony Fauci as an unreliable flip-flopper. 

But the infodemic was not the work of a single person. Anonymous bad actors offered up junk science. Online skeptics made bogus accusations that hospitals padded their coronavirus case numbers to generate bonus payments. Influential TV and radio opinion hosts told millions of viewers that physical distancing was a joke and that states had all of the personal protective equipment they needed (when they didn’t). It was a symphony of counter-narrative, and Trump was the conductor, if not the composer.

Charisse Jones, USA Today, December 16, 2020
With the first Covid-19 vaccine rolling out across the country, life may soon return to some semblance of normal as parents who worked from home because their workplaces or children's schools were shuttered increasingly go back to the office.

But some dads who took on a bigger share of chores and childcare during the pandemic, and enjoyed more quality time with their kids, may not want to return to their old routines.
"I'm sure some dads will take the first train back to their former lives,'' says Richard Weissbourd, a senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. "But my guess is that at least some dads, because they have found real and deep gratification in their relationships with their kids during this time will work hard to preserve this closeness."
We are proud to partner with the East Bay Community Foundation in publishing this bulletin. Through donations to its Covid-19 Response Fund, the EBCF provides grants to East Bay nonprofit organizations delivering essential services to those most impacted by the economic fallout from the pandemic.
East Bay Focus
by day as of 12/15/20
by day as of 12/15/20
Over the last seven days, Alameda County officials have reported 5,235 new coronavirus cases, which amounts to 318 cases per 100,000 residents.
Over the last seven days, Contra Costa County officials have reported 3,428 new coronavirus cases, which amounts to 302 cases per 100,000 residents.
Top 10 Locations of Cases in Alameda County, as of 12/15/20. Alameda County does not publish cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days by city.
Oakland: 13,338

Hayward: 6,010

Fremont: 3,209

Eden MAC: 2,518

San Leandro: 2,274

Livermore: 1,905

Union City: 1,635

Berkeley: 1,550

Castro Valley: 1,146

Newark: 1,103
Top 10 Locations of Cases in Contra Costa County plus (in parentheses) cases per 100,000 in last 14 days, as of 12/16/20
Richmond: 5,688 (854)

Antioch: 4,100 (582)

Concord: 3,882 (443)

Pittsburgh: 3,304 (702)

San Pablo: 2,751 (1,747)

Brentwood: 1,506 (531)

Bay Point: 1,365 (716)

Walnut Creek: 1,235 (347)

Oakley: 1,177 (622)

San Ramon: 977 (297)
East Bay Resources

California's Regional Stay At Home Order
California's recent stay at home order - linked to ICU bed capacity within 5 separate regions - seeks to prevent the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in California from overwhelming hospitals. Here answers to common questions about the order:

What triggers the new stay-at-home order?
The order goes into effect within 24 hours in regions with less than 15% ICU availability. If and until this occurs, each county within the region is governed by the state four tier, color-code restrictions, called "Blueprint for a Safer Economy." Counties, however, can impose their own restrictions earlier then required by the state, as has occurred in the Bay Area.

How long does the order last?
The order will remain in effect for at least 3 weeks and, after that period, will be lifted when a region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15%. This will be assessed on a weekly basis after the initial 3 week period.

What counties fall within each region?

  • Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma
  • Northern California: Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity
  • Greater Sacramento: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba
  • San Joaquin Valley: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne
  • Southern California: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura

What does the order prohibit?
The order prohibits gatherings of any size, non essential travel, closes operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, and requires 100% masking and physical distancing. Specifically, the following activities and businesses must close:

  • Indoor playgrounds
  • Indoor recreational facilities and live audience sports
  • Hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and other personal care services
  • Museums, zoos, and aquariums
  • Movie theaters, family entertainment centers, amusement parks
  • Wineries, bars, breweries, and distilleries

What is allowed under the order?
The order allows access to critical services and outdoor activities to preserve physical and mental health. For example, you may leave your home to obtain healthcare at medical and dental offices, work at any business or other entity that is allowed to open, to engage in worship and protest activities consistent with public health directives, to patronize local businesses, or to care for friends or family members who require assistance.

You may also leave your home with or without a specific destination in mind (for example, to walk your dog, to engage in physical recreation, or simply to get some fresh air) as long as you wear a mask, maintain physical distancing and comply with any other applicable public health directives.

The following activities and business may operate with additional restrictions and 100% masking and physical distancing:

  • Outdoor areas like beaches, parks and hiking trails: overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted.

  • Recreational facilities: outdoor operation allowed only without any food, drink or alcohol sales.

  • Retail: indoor operation permitted at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems. 

  • Shopping centers: indoor operation allowed at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores. Additionally, special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.

  • Hotels and lodging: Open only for critical infrastructure support only.

  • Restaurants: Open only for take-out, pick-up, or delivery.

  • Offices: remote only permitted except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible. Medical and dental offices remain open.

  • Places of worship and political expression: Outdoor services only.

  • Entertainment production including professional sports: Allowed without live audiences. Additionally, testing protocol and “bubbles” are highly encouraged.

What are critical infrastructure sectors?
These are sectors of the economy determined to be critical to protect the health and well-being of Californians. The list is lengthy, including workers in healthcare, food, agriculture, energy, utilities, transportation, communications, government operations, manufacturing, financial services and the entertainment industry.

How does the order impact schools?
The order does not modify existing state guidance for K-12 schools. Child care, pre-kindergarten and K-12 schools already open for in-person learning may remain open with masking and social distancing protocols.

What are the restrictions on travel?
In November, California issued a travel advisory that urged against nonessential out-of state trips and asked people to quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country.

Under the new regional stay at home order, when triggered, the state is asking people to stay at home and not mix and move around. The order prohibits hotel use for tourism, leisure and other nonessential reasons, like nonessential travel, whether it be a vacation or a road trip to see family or friends.

Travel to access (or work at) critical services is permitted.

How does the new order relate to the state's March lockdown?
As reported by the Mercury News, the March stay-home order applied to all California residents, rather than regionally. It was of indefinite duration, and was modified in May with a multi-stage reopening plan, which was replaced in August with the color-coded “Blueprint for a Safer Economy.” The March order did not exempt schools or churches or allow non-essential retail to remain open at limited capacity.
In their December 10, 2020, podcast, Dr. Michael Osterholm and host Chris Dall discuss discuss COVID-19 trends in the US and globally, the last mile and the critical last inch of the vaccine journey, and what we've learned about schools to this point.
Mask On Eden Area
Working in collaboration with the Alameda County Public Health Department, the Cities of Hayward and San Leandro, and the Castro Valley and Eden Area Municipal Advisory Councils, the District has printed “Mask On” posters for each city and community in the Eden Health District area. The posters are free and intended for businesses, health clinics, schools, churches, public agencies and nonprofit organizations to display in their entrances.

“Wearing masks in public or any gatherings, including events with friends and extended families, is essential for slowing the spread of the virus,” stated Eden Health District Director Pam Russo. “While we are seeing signs of progress in California, Alameda County remains a Covid-19 'hot spot' in the Bay Area. Please wear a mask to protect yourself while protecting others.”
The public is welcome to download and print or share “Mask On” posters from the District’s website. Posters are available in English, Spanish and Chinese languages.

Posters may also be retrieved during business hours from the lobby of the Eden Health District office building located at 20400 Lake Chabot Road, Castro Valley. Posters for the City of Hayward are also available from the Hayward Chamber of Commerce located at 22561 Main Street, Hayward.
Eden Area Food Pantries
We have posted information on food pantries and food services in the cities of Hayward and San Leandro and unincorporated Alameda County including Castro Valley and San Lorenzo. You can access the information here on our website. Alameda County has also released an interactive map listing food distributions and other social services. 
Your feedback is welcome. Please share the Bulletin.
The Eden Health District Board of Directors are Gordon Galvan, Chair, Mariellen Faria, Vice Chair, Roxann Lewis, Pam Russo and Thomas Lorentzen. The Chief Executive Officer is Mark Friedman.

The Eden Health District is committed to ensuring that policy makers and community members receive accurate and timely information to help make the best policy and personal choices to meet and overcome the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each bulletin includes a summary of the top health, Bay Area, California, national, education and international news on the pandemic plus links to a diverse range of commentary and analysis. We publish the Bulletin on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, unless the day fall on a public holiday.

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We welcome your feedback on our bulletin. Please contact editor Stephen Cassidy.