December 14, 2020
Eden Health District COVID-19 Bulletin
“I have seen the alternative, and do not want it for you. I feel like healing is coming. I hope this marks the beginning of the end of a very painful time in our history.
Sandra Lindsay, nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and first clinical recipient of the authorized Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, 12/14/20
Churches join voices to deliver powerful ‘Bay Area blessing’ for Christmas
Linzy Westman was overjoyed with the reaction to “The Bay Area Blessing,” the music video that came out in May — just two months after the pandemic had plunged American life into a new and troubling landscape — and featured contributions from 50-plus local churches.

“People said things kind of the effect of, ‘Oh, it’s so beautiful to see a message of hope in this dark time,’” says Westman, the worship director of Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto.

The quarantine-style recording finds voices from separate locations all over the Bay Area coming together in a cover of the Grammy-nominated song “The Blessing” by contemporary Christian music acts Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes and Elevation Worship. The video has been viewed over a million times across various platforms.

Not bad for a bunch of Bay Area churches, who would likely never see that type of online traffic individually. But what would organizers do for a follow-up?

“We thought, ‘OK, we’ve got this traction now,’” Westman says. “There are all these people who are looking for something positive, unifying, beautiful, hopeful. What would it look like to come together and do that again? Maybe even on a larger scale, maybe with a little bit of a different vision?’”
The answer turned out to be “The Bay Area Blessing — Christmas,” a seasonal sequel, if you will, which recently debuted online. The project is even bigger this time around, featuring more than 140 voices from nearly 70 churches in 25-plus cities around the Bay Area. The video consists of two all-time classics — “Silent Night” and “O Come Let Us Adore Him.”

Organizers hope the video can provide a bit of comfort in 2020, reminding people that — pandemic or not — this is still the “most wonderful time of the year,” says Pitter. “Our hope is that, even though we are living in an unsure and even unprecedented time, the listener will feel a strong sense of hope, love, joy and peace from this song,” said the worship and creative arts pastor at Peninsula Covenant Church.

 “This year has brought about this collaborative passion in all of us,” Westman says. “I think partially because we are figuring things out for the first time. Everyone … wants to reach people and to bless people and help people, because people are struggling.”

Source: Mercury News
By the Numbers
Bay Area: 192,093

California: 1,576,445

U.S.: 16,351,259
Alameda County

Cases: 38,064

Deaths: 542

Adjusted Cases per Day: 15.7

Test Positivity: 4.9%

Hospitalized Patients: 349

ICU Beds Available: 74
Bay Area: 2,102

California: 21,049

U.S.: 299,889
Contra Costa County

Cases: 30,685

Deaths: 279

Adjusted Cases per Day: 26.2

Test Positivity: 7.6%

Hospitalized Patients: 194

ICU Beds Available: 50
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 7-day average. Hospitalized patients refers to patients with confirmed and suspected Covid-19.
Bay Area News
SF Chronicle, December 13, 2020
Available intensive care unit capacity in the Southern California region dropped to 4.2% on Sunday, down from 5.3% a day earlier, and also dropped in the Bay Area from 17.6% on Saturday to 16.7% on Sunday. Available ICU capacity in the hard-hit San Joaquin Valley rose slightly, from 0 on Saturday to 1.5% on Sunday.

UCSF is counting on the arrival of vaccine Monday and will probably begin vaccinating health workers midweek, Dr. Robert Wachter, department of medicine chair, told The Chronicle on Sunday. He said vaccinations will be staggered within clinical units to prevent the possibility of entire departments feeling vaccine side effects at the same time.

Bay Area coronavirus hospitalizations reached a record 1,344 on Saturday, the latest data available — an extraordinary climb from 370 just a month earlier. California hospitalizations topped 13,000 for the first time Saturday, whereas one month earlier they were at 3,399.

Michelle Gaskill-Hames, the senior vice president of hospital operations at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said the health system’s hospitals have added resources to meet a surge of about 35% above their normal capacity. The hospitals, she said, have prepared for a busier-than-normal winter season by securing travel nurses, increasing beds in ICUs and transferring patients to less impacted hospitals. The hospitals have also postponed procedures that require a hospital stay, except for cancer cases and urgent surgeries.

Mercury News, December 13, 2020
Volunteers at the food line here carry jumper cables. Sometimes, people line up so early to get boxes of free groceries that their cars die. Sometimes, people who have no cars at all walk up open-handed, grateful to carry home whatever they can.

And more often than not, the city of Hayward that has been distributing food in the Chabot College parking lot for months has run out. Organizers routinely turn away 200 cars. “We try our best to stretch out what we get to last as long as we can,” said Zachary Ebadi, who has been running the program for the city since April. “It’s just the need is greater than what we have.”

Second Harvest Silicon Valley and Alameda County Community Food Bank are the two major suppliers that distribute for a network of nonprofits across the region. Each has doubled the number of people they serve, jumping from a quarter-million people a month pre-pandemic to a half a million now.

East Bay Times, December 12, 2020
Get a free flu shot and go home with a free frozen turkey. That’s the win-win deal Alameda County is offering Wednesday, December 16th, at the San Leandro Senior Community Center, 13909 E 14th St..
The county clinic will be open by appointment only between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. To make an appointment, call 510-577-3462. There is no cost for vaccination and no insurance is required. People with appointments can either walk through or drive through to receive a flu shot.

All San Leandro residents are eligible to receive a vaccination, as are residents from nearby communities such as Oakland and Hayward, as well as those who live in the county’s unincorporated areas.
Contra Costa Health Services, December 12, 2020
The vaccine will be in short supply initially and it will take months before it’s available to everyone. The federal and state government will determine which groups of people will be first in line to get vaccinated.
A phased distribution is planned, with health care workers and nursing-home residents likely to be the first to be vaccinated, followed by other frontline workers. The majority of people will be able to get vaccinated in later stages. Contra Costa Health Services has formed an Ethical and Equitable Vaccine Allocation Committee that will review federal and state guidelines in the context of Contra Costa County, and to provide local, technical recommendations based on our specific considerations.

Berekelyside, December 11, 2020
Doctors, nurses and staff at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center will be the first people in Berkeley to get Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. Berkeley, which has its own health department, has submitted its order and the hospital will receive 975 doses of the vaccine upon its approval, said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko. He said all of these doses will go to Alta Bates hospital, which is operated by Sutter Health, and the following round that is expected to arrive toward the end of December will go to residents and staff at the city’s six skilled nursing facilities.
Health News
NY Times, December 14, 2020
Shortly after 9 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, the first known clinically authorized vaccination in the U.S. for Covid-19 took place in Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens. The first shot was given to Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at the center (in photo above). Ms. Lindsay, who has treated patients throughout the pandemic, said that she hoped her public vaccination would instill confidence that the shots were safe.

Kaiser Health News, December 14, 2020
An advisory committee of the CDC has recommended that top priority for the initial 6.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine go to long-term care facilities and front-line health care workers, but the early allocation was always expected to fall far short of the need and require selective screening even among critical hospital workers.

Hospitals in general are advised to target the members of their workforce at highest risk, but the institutions are left on their own to decide exactly who that will be, Colin Milligan, a spokesperson for the American Hospital Association. However, hospital officials say they’re confident that those who want the vaccine won’t have to wait long. Enough doses for roughly 21 million health care personnel should be available by early January, according to CDC officials.

STAT, December 13, 2020
The CDC said on Sunday said people who have experienced severe reactions to prior vaccines or injectable drugs can still get the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19, but should discuss the risks with their doctors and be monitored for 30 minutes afterward.

The guidance is a shift from a prior proposal laid out Saturday that would have recommended against vaccination for that group of people. During a webinar with physicians, CDC officials said patients with a history of severe reactions should take precautions because of two documented cases of anaphylaxis in British health care workers who received the Pfizer vaccine.

USA Today, December 14, 2020
Several polls have shown the ambivalence surrounding the vaccine among people of color. Half of surveyed Black adults aren't planning to take the vaccine, even if it's available free and scientists assure it's safe. Experts and members of these communities aren’t surprised. The country’s history of unethical testing and experimentation on Black men and women colors the community’s lack of trust. But as the coronavirus continues to threaten people of color most, medical experts say dispelling skepticism is essential, and women of color could be the key.

STAT, December 14, 2020
The coronavirus behind the pandemic presents some vexing dualities.
It’s dangerous enough that it dispatches patients to hospitals in droves and has killed more than 1.6 million people, but mild enough that most people shrug it off. It blocks one arm of the immune system from responding as it takes hold, but lures other parts into dangerous hyperdrive. It homes in on cells high up in the airway — think the nose and throat — but also burrows deeper into the lungs, maximizing infectiousness without ceding how sick it can make people.

Nature, December 14, 2020
One event dominated in 2020: a deadly and previously unknown virus wreaked havoc across the globe, killing more than 1.5 million people, infecting many more and causing economic devastation. And although there were other newsworthy research developments in 2020, the pandemic set the course of science to an extraordinary degree.

The speed of the coronavirus’s spread has been matched only by the pace of scientific insights. Almost as soon as SARS-CoV-2 was discovered, research groups worldwide started probing its biology, while others developed diagnostic tests or investigated public-health measures to control it. Scientists also raced to find treatments and create vaccines that could bring the pandemic under control. “We’ve never progressed so fast with any other infectious agent,” says virologist Theodora Hatziioannou at the Rockefeller University in New York City.

NY Times, December 13, 2020
Despite the horrifying surge of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the United States right now, one bit of good epidemiology news is emerging this winter: It now looks unlikely that the country will endure a “twindemic” of flu and the coronavirus hitting at the same time. “Overall flu activity is low, and lower than we usually see at this time of year,” said Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I don’t think we can definitively say there will be no twindemic; I’ve been working with flu for a long time, and I’ve been burned. But flu is atypically low.”
US and California Data: Last 90 Days
Covid Tracking Project, 12/13/20 (bold lines are 7-day averages)
United States
California News
Mercury News, December 14, 2020
On Sunday night, California received 327,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in its initial shipment, which are now being distributed to hospitals and health departments throughout the state. By the end of the year, it expects another 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and another 627,000 from Moderna, whose vaccine is still awaiting final approval in the U.S. but has been shown to be similarly effective to Pfizer’s.

Newsom and other leaders, as well as health experts, have cautioned that it will take months before the vaccine is available to much of the general population. Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are first in line. State officials said they hope to vaccinate 2.16 million people by the end of the year. However, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines each requires a second dose, and the initial batch doesn’t cover all of the 2.4 million health care workers in the state.

Associated Press, December 14, 2020
Statewide, more than 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported Sunday, making California’s total at 1,551,766. Millions of Californians in the majority of the state are under stay-at-home orders.

In Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous, more than 4,000 people were hospitalized for Covid-19, according to figures released Sunday afternoon. More than one-fifth of hospitalized patients are in intensive care units. The county’s new figures break the previous record set only the day before, with 3,850 patients in a hospital, and follows the trend of hospitalizations increasing nearly every day since Nov. 1.

LA Times, December 13, 2020
The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech cleared another hurdle in California on Sunday, when a working group of scientists and experts endorsed its safety. The group, representing California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, reviewed the vaccine separately from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which on Friday issued emergency use authorization. The group made its recommendation to the governors of the four states Sunday morning, officials said in a news release.

LA Times, December 14, 2020
Like little flowers emerging from a charred landscape, some promising pandemic relief bills are sprouting in a California Legislature devastated by Covid-19. Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) introduced AB 62, which would allow small businesses and those deemed essential — such as healthcare facilities, emergency services and food processing — to take a dollar-for-dollar tax credit on virus-protection expenses required by the state.

State Sen. Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno) introduced SB 74, which would require the state to spend 10% of its surplus — whatever the size — on grants to small businesses. Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) introduced AB 61, which would allow local governments to permit restaurants to expand outdoor dining — once it’s legal again.

Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced AB 10, which would require public schools to reopen once infection rates drop. Local districts would have less control over when they resume classroom teaching.

LA Times, December 13, 2020
Hospitals in much of the San Joaquin Valley are crowded with Covid-19 patients. As of noon Saturday, availability of ICU beds in the region was zero. Fresno, a metro area with more than 1 million people, hit that dubious marker two days earlier. The valley is a diverse place, with complex opinions on the pandemic. Farmworkers and other essential Latino workers have been hit hard and are scared that the coming months will be even tougher. But with many lacking legal immigration status and unable to receive state aid, they must work to put food on the table.

LA Times, December 13, 2020
California’s smartphone-based Covid-19 exposure alert system had racked up 4 million signups by Friday afternoon, but needs more residents to opt in to be effective. The system, dubbed CA Notify, officially launched Thursday and builds off of traditional contact tracing methods by sending smartphone alerts to people who’ve spent prolonged time with someone who later tests positive for the novel coronavirus.
US News
USA Today, December 14, 2020
As the U.S. approaches the once-unthinkable threshold of 300,000 Covid-19 deaths Sunday, experts fear the country is hurtling nonstop toward the next milestone of surpassing the total of American fatalities in World War II – even as vaccines are on the way.

A weeks-long surge in coronavirus transmission, leading to an average of more than 210,000 new infections and nearly 2,500 deaths a day this month, has public health experts considering the next major round number practically inevitable. According to Johns Hopkins University data, the USA had recorded more than 299,000 coronavirus deaths as of 5 a.m. EST on Monday. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned the country could reach 450,000 fatalities before Feb. 1, days short of the one-year anniversary of the first known Covid-19 death in the U.S. By comparison, about 405,000 American service members perished in World War II over nearly four years.

Associated Press, December 14, 2020
After 110,000 deaths ravaged the nation’s nursing homes and pushed them to the front of the vaccine line, they now face a vexing problem: Skeptical residents and workers balking at getting the shots.

Being first has come with persistent fears that the places hit hardest in the pandemic — accounting for nearly 40% of the nation’s death toll — could be put at risk again by vaccines sped into development in months rather than years. Some who live and work in homes question if enough testing was done on the elderly, if enough is known of side effects and if the shots could do more harm than good.

Vox, December 14 2020
The development and authorization of a vaccine don’t mean that the US is guaranteed to get people inoculated quickly, or even that the country is on a certain path to conquer the coronavirus. Experts caution, instead, that the country still faces two major challenges in its vaccination efforts.

First, the US has to manufacture and distribute a vaccine to more than 300 million people. As Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security senior scholar Crystal Watson said, “This is going to be the largest mass vaccination campaign that the US has ever attempted.”

The logistical challenge isn’t just to produce all the vaccine doses required, it’s also shipping and storing them around the US at cold temperatures, and then administering them to people. If each person needs two doses (as is true for the vaccine authorized so far, although one-shot vaccines are in development), the difficulties are doubled.

But even if the US is able to pull off a feat of logistics, a second challenge looms: People will need to be persuaded to get a vaccine. That this will happen is not guaranteed.

Vox, December 14, 2020
Through the CARES Act in March, local agencies received $25 billion in aid — bailout money that was crucial to keep networks operating through the summer despite steep declines in revenue from riders, advertisers, and taxes as people stayed home.

The good news for mass transit is that the next round of coronavirus relief is probably coming. Under the latest bipartisan Senate proposal, the transportation industry would receive $45 billion in aid, distributed between airlines, airports, private buses, and transit agencies, for whom $15 billion has been earmarked. The bad news is, according to transportation experts and transit advocates, $15 billion won’t be nearly enough. Agencies will still have to reduce service, eliminate routes, and lay off employees to make ends meet.

NY Times, December 13, 2020
President Trump said on Sunday night that he would delay a plan for senior White House staff members to receive the coronavirus vaccine in the coming days, hours after The New York Times reported that the administration was planning to rapidly distribute the vaccine to its staff at a time when the first doses are generally being reserved for high-risk health care workers.
Mr. Trump, who tested positive for the coronavirus in October and recovered after being hospitalized, also implied that he would get the vaccine himself at some point in the future, but said he had no immediate plans to do so. It was not immediately clear why the president decided to change the policy, or whether he had even been aware of it ahead of time. But White House staff members who work in close quarters with him had been told that they were scheduled to receive injections of the coronavirus vaccine soon, two people familiar with the distribution plans said.
CA Education News
SF Chronicle, December 14, 2020
California teachers facing pressure to support school reopenings have a request for state health officials: Put educators near the front of the line for coronavirus vaccinations.

Teachers unions, led by the powerful California Teachers Association, say it’s one of the most important steps needed before the state can safely and fully return to in-person instruction for students who have been out of the classroom for nearly a year. Educators and labor leaders have used their clout with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration to push for teachers to be vaccinated soon, right after health care workers.

Berkeleyside, December 11, 2020
Students with disabilities have long been on the margins of this country’s education system, less likely to graduate from high school than their peers in general education. Protections for students were hard-won: in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) ensured students with disabilities would receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible. Now, the pandemic threatens those protections.

While many parents at Berkeley Unified say distance learning is going relatively well, 40% who have a student with a disability say that Zoom classes are not working, according to an October survey conducted by the school district.
US & International Education News
NY Times, December 13, 2020
As coronavirus deaths soar across the country, deaths in communities that are home to colleges have risen faster than the rest of the nation. In late August and early September, as college students returned to campus and some institutions put into place rigorous testing programsthe number of reported infections surged. Yet because serious illness and death are rare among young coronavirus patients, it was unclear at the time whether the growth of infections on campus would translate into a major health crisis. But since the end of August, deaths from the coronavirus have doubled in counties with a large college population, compared with a 58 percent increase in the rest of the nation. Few of the victims were college students, but rather older people and others living and working in the community.

The Guardian, December 14, 2020
Dozens of schools in London and Essex are closing to most pupils and moving lessons online amid mounting concerns about a rise in Covid infections. The capital’s schools have been identified as a key factor in the spread of the virus, which now looks set to tip London into tier 3 measures. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has urged the prime minister to consider letting schools across the city close early this week and remain shut for longer after Christmas to slow infection rates.
Survivor reflects on his battle with Covid-19 after flatlining twice
If you ask Bob Ratley Jr. what he thought of the coronavirus a few months ago, he will admit he didn’t think it was a big deal.
“I was one of those that thought it was a political thing, and then I thought well it’s just a common cold thing. Until it hit me,” Ratley said.

The Kansas resident has been in hospitals battling Covid-19 for 2 months, the majority of that time on a ventilator and the virus almost winning twice.

“I ended up dying here at the Hutch hospital and they revived me and then in Wichita the same thing. I coded and they revived me there, too,” he said.

Ratley says his time in the hospital is a blur. However, he didn’t lose sight of what was waiting for him at home.

“I didn’t realize how bad off I was, and I think what brought me back is I hadn’t seen my wife, my grandkids or my other kids, and I was thinking about them,” he said.
Ratley is now off the ventilator and Covid free. “I’m a miracle and not too many people survive what I’ve gone through,” the Covid survivor said.

He is still on the road to recovery, relearning the basics in rehab. “The walking, talking, I get short breath, just everyday living things that you take for granted.”

Ratley said the support from his community was extraordinary. “Everybody pulls together and it’s like a huge massive pay it forward. I’ll get all choked up, they have done so much for me and my family.” He hopes his experience will inspire people to be proactive and not take risks that could expose them to Covid-19.

Source: KSN TV News
International News
LA Times, December 13, 2020
Unwelcome in many countries as the virus surges worldwide, U.S. tourists are fleeing lockdowns at home and flocking to Mexico. Nearly half a million Americans flew to Mexico in October — the most recent month for which data is available — mainly to beaches on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

The influx of Americans is a ray of hope for the country’s battered tourism sector, which has hemorrhaged more than $11 billion this year. At the same time, travel from the United States appears to have contributed to an uptick in coronavirus cases and deaths in many tourism hot spots. Mexico’s official death toll last week surpassed 113,000 — the fourth highest in the world — although officials say that many cases have gone undetected and that the true tally is likely double that.

Associated Press, December 14, 2020
Many countries had made progress against such traditional and transactional marriages of girls in recent decades, but Covid-19’s economic havoc has caused significant backsliding: The United Nations estimates that hardships resulting from Covid-19 will drive 13 million more girls to marry before the age of 18.

Though most such marriages take place in secret, Save the Children estimates that this year alone, nearly half a million more girls under 18 are at risk of being married off worldwide, most in Africa and Asia, but also in the Middle East. One aid organization said staffers in a remote corner of Sierra Leone overheard a relative offering up a girl as young as 8 for marriage earlier this year. When chastised, the grandmother later denied doing so.

In most cases, needy parents receive a dowry for their daughter — a bit of land or livestock that can provide income, or cash and a promise to take over financial responsibility for the young bride. The girl, in turn, takes on the household chores of her husband’s family and often farm work too.

Associated Press, December 14, 2020
Singapore has approved the use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, and the first shipment will arrive by the end of this month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Monday. Lee said Singapore, with a budget of over 1 billion Singapore dollars ($750 million) for vaccines, has “placed multiple bets” by signing advance purchase agreements with vaccine makers including Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, Moderna Inc. and China’s Sinovac.

Reuters, December 14, 2020
Japan and South Korea grappled with surging coronavirus cases and growing public frustration on Monday, with Japan suspending a contentious travel subsidy program and South Korea closing some schools and considering its toughest curbs yet.

Japan reported more than 3,000 new cases on Saturday, yet another record as winter set in, with infections worsening in Tokyo, the northern island of Hokkaido and the city of Osaka. But Japan, with a focus on the economic costs, has steered clear of tough lockdowns. It tackled its first wave of infections in the spring by asking people to refrain from going out and for businesses to close or curtail operating hours. Across the sea in South Korea, President Moon Jae-in also faces sliding ratings as clusters of new infections fuel criticism over what many see as slack containment. Moon has warned of the possibility more stringent curbs.

The Economist, December 12, 2020
In total 2,487 people have died of the coronavirus in Japan, just over half the number in China and fewer people than on a single day in America several times over the past week. Japan has suffered just 18 deaths per million people, a higher rate than in China, but by far the lowest in the g7, a club of big, industrialized democracies. (Germany comes in second, at 239.) Most strikingly, Japan has achieved this success without strict lockdowns or mass testing—the main weapons in the battle against covid-19 elsewhere.

The Guardian, December 14, 2020
Italy and the Netherlands are set to impose tough new anti-coronavirus measures before the holidays as Germany, already facing a hard Christmas lockdown, warned their restrictions were unlikely to ease early in the new year.

Italian media reported that the government could place the whole country under so-called “red-zone” lockdown from Christmas Eve until at least 2 January amid mounting fears of a possible surge in infections over the festive period. Italy’s expected move follows a similar step by Germany, which on Sunday said it would close all except essential shops such as supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as hair and beauty salons, from Wednesday until at least 10 January as it battles “exponential growth” in infections.

The Netherlands, too, is set to announce strict anti-coronavirus measures in the runup to Christmas, with the prime minister, Mark Rutte, due to address the nation at 7pm and widely expected to announce restrictions including possibly including closing all non-essential shops, theatres and museums. The expected tightening follows a cabinet crisis meeting over the weekend to discuss the country’s rapidly rising figures, with almost 10,000 new infections reported on Sunday.
Ed Yong, The Atlantic, December 14, 2020
New diagnostic tests can detect the virus within minutes. Massive open data sets of viral genomes and COVID‑19 cases have produced the most detailed picture yet of a new disease’s evolution. Vaccines are being developed with record-breaking speed. SARS‑CoV‑2 will be one of the most thoroughly characterized of all pathogens, and the secrets it yields will deepen our understanding of other viruses, leaving the world better prepared to face the next pandemic.

But the COVID‑19 pivot has also revealed the all-too-human frailties of the scientific enterprise. Flawed research made the pandemic more confusing, influencing misguided policies. Clinicians wasted millions of dollars on trials that were so sloppy as to be pointless. Overconfident poseurs published misleading work on topics in which they had no expertise. Racial and gender inequalities in the scientific field widened.

Nicholas Kristof, NY Times, December 11, 2020
This should be a season of hope: We will shortly be getting a highly effective coronavirus vaccine, and the pandemic should wind down in the coming months. Yet this is the most wretched holiday season of my life. If American states were treated as countries, the places with the highest per capita coronavirus death rates would be: Slovenia, South Dakota, North Dakota, Bulgaria, Iowa, Bosnia, Hungary, Croatia, Illinois, North Macedonia, Rhode Island, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, San Marino.

Natasha Singer, NY Times, December 13, 2020
Just as the United States is preparing to distribute the first vaccines for the virus, the entry ticket to the nation’s reopening is set to come largely in the form of a digital health credential. In the coming weeks, major airlines plan to introduce a health passport app, called CommonPass, that aims to verify passengers’ virus test results — and soon, vaccinations. The app will then issue confirmation codes enabling passengers to board certain international flights.

It is just the start of a push for digital Covid-19 credentials that could soon be embraced by employers, schools, summer camps and entertainment venues. The digital passes raise the specter of a society split into health pass haves and have-nots, particularly if venues begin requiring the apps as entry tickets.

Howard Berkes, NPR, December 13, 2020
When I heard about the Covid-19 vaccine trial taking place where I live in Salt Lake City, I didn't hesitate. I already knew the research team because I'd been through two unrelated vaccine trials in the last year. I was familiar with the pin pricks, protocols, clinic visits, informed consent forms and piles of paperwork. I already knew the trial's doctor, nurses and medical assistants. Friends asked us why we did this. That got me thinking about my people and their history, and my own long experience with vaccines.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, NY Times, December 11, 2020
The possibility that large swaths of the population may refuse — or simply delay — getting vaccinated presents a perilous challenge to the health of the nation and the economy. Widespread coronavirus vaccinations are not only the best way to keep people from dying, they will also help revive business and the economy. There is a way to get greater compliance: Businesses, which have spent the past several years championing their social responsibility, can require vaccination of employees and, in many cases, customers.

Rachel Feintzeig, Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2020
We’re getting our work done, but we feel pretty miserable. In a September survey of 330 human resources leaders by the Conference Board, 47% of respondents reported an increase in productivity at their companies, while only 13% reported a drop. But 60% said their employees are working more hours and 63% said their employees are spending more time in meetings. Four out of 10 reported more mental health problems among workers.

Part of it is surely the work itself—we’re exhausted from back-to-back video calls. We’re scared of losing our livelihoods. And then there’s the health crisis: 78% of participants in an American Psychological Association survey of 3,409 adults said the pandemic was a significant source of stress, so it’s no surprise that’s bleeding into our work lives.

What might help? Some employers say they’re planning to discount mental health services next year. And some employees say it’s time for a change. A November survey by public relations firm Weber Shandwick finds that 66% of people polled were planning to make a shift like switching jobs, moving out of town or cutting their hours to part-time as the pandemic wears on.

Washington Post, December 14, 2020
Across the country, families are finding the normally jolly holiday season feels anywhere from boring to a bummer, with parties, large shared meals, travel and busy religious services off the table because of coronavirus risks. Gone for many is the chance to sit on Santa’s lap, bake with grandparents and take part in other beloved traditions that have been canceled amid a surge of new virus cases across the country. As if parenting during a pandemic weren’t already hard enough, now you can add in the pressure that comes with managing the loss of these treasured traditions.
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 12/13/20
by day as of 12/13/20
Over the last seven days, Alameda County officials have reported 3,640 new coronavirus cases, which amounts to 221 cases per 100,000 residents.
Over the last seven days, Contra Costa County officials have reported 3,057 new coronavirus cases, which amounts to 270 cases per 100,000 residents.
Top 10 Locations of Cases in Alameda County, as of 12/13/20. Alameda County does not publish cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days by city.
Oakland: 12,842

Hayward: 5,686

Fremont: 3,027

Eden MAC: 2,4123

San Leandro: 2,135

Livermore: 1,790

Union City: 1,548

Berkeley: 1,435

Castro Valley: 1,102

Newark: 1,050
Top 10 Locations of Cases in Contra Costa County plus (in parentheses) cases per 100,000 in last 14 days, as of 12/14/20
Richmond: 5,400 (751)

Antioch: 3,862 (499)

Concord: 3,679 (375)

Pittsburgh: 3,113 (648)

San Pablo: 2,623 (1,458)

Brentwood: 1,388 (478)

Bay Point: 1,305 (645)

Walnut Creek: 1,164 (325)

Oakley: 1,093 (523)

San Ramon: 928 (277)
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.

Please share our bulletin with your contacts. Please click here to subscribe.

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