December 18, 2020
Eden Health District COVID-19 Bulletin
“By every measure, the state of the pandemic in Alameda County is the worst it has ever been. Over the last 10 months, we have learned a lot about how we can protect ourselves and each other from this deadly virus. Now is the time to use every tool we have to ensure the work we’ve done and the months away from our loved ones will have been worth it.”
Dr. Nicholas Moss, Alameda County Health Officer, 12/16/20
Shop with a cop brightens holidays for Livermore students
On Saturday, the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) and the Livermore Police Department (LPD) teamed up for the annual Shop with a Cop program. Thanks to the generosity of many in the community, each student received gifts for themselves and family members as a way to both celebrate and brighten the holiday season.

Operating under a new, socially distanced format, 22 students from the Granada High School Leadership class did the shopping based on ‘wish lists’ prepared by program recipients. Livermore Police Officers then delivered gifts to the homes of the 40 LVJUSD students, by far the most students ever served through this program.
Livermore Police Officer Dan Cabral, who partnered with Avilla to launch the program 12 years ago, said, “This year’s Shop with a Cop program might have been slightly impeded due to Covid-19, however it was probably the most needed and special year of all! Our community, the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, and the Livermore Police Department came together to bless 40 families, a record this year."

By the Numbers
Bay Area: 209,784

California: 1,752,029

U.S.: 17,293,160
Alameda County

Cases: 40,751

Deaths: 574

Adjusted Cases per Day: 19.8

Test Positivity: 9.0%

Hospitalized Patients: 375

ICU Beds Available: 73
Bay Area: 2,225

California: 22,198

U.S.: 311,993
Contra Costa County

Cases: 33,072

Deaths: 290

Adjusted Cases per Day: 26.8

Test Positivity: 9.3%

Hospitalized Patients: 212

ICU Beds Available: 29
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 18, 2020
  • Bay Area: 13.1%
  • Greater Sacramento Region: 11.3%
  • Northern California: 25.8%
  • San Joaquin Valley: 0.7%
  • Southern California: 0.0%

Due to the dwindling supply of hospital beds for patients who need intensive care in the Bay Area, the state's regional stay-at-home order across the nine-county region to slow the spread of Covid-19 and prevent the region's hospitals from becoming overwhelmed is now in effect. It will last at least until January 7, 2021 (the minimum three-week period for the order). At that point the order could be lifted if the region's ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15 percent.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Alameda County Public Health Department observed, "We are at a critical point in Alameda County. The week ending December 12 was the single worst week of the pandemic so far in Alameda County, with more than 5000 new Covid-19 cases reported and over 1000 cases reported on each of the last two days. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 and in intensive care units (ICU) are five times higher than one month ago and increasing daily."

Mercury News, December 18, 2020
As California’s coronavirus cases and deaths surge to new highs, the Bay Area’s supply of ICU beds continued to plummet Thursday, and Southern California joined the San Joaquin region in reaching capacity.
With less than 15% of intensive care unit beds now available in multiple Bay Area counties and just 3% statewide, hospitals are being forced to take emergency measures to meet the needs of patients. As Christmas and New Year’s Eve are right around the corner, raising the potential for super-spreader parties and gatherings, medical professionals worry demand won’t taper off any time soon.

But it’s not just ICU beds that are affected: Emergency room visits are spiking, too. Bay Area emergency rooms are seeing nearly twice as many Covid-related visits each week as they were in mid-October, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The result, doctors and health officials say, is a disruption in care for everyone from Covid-19 patients, to people suffering heart attacks, to car crash victims.

SF Chronicle, December 17, 2020
Mayor London Breed announced on Thursday a public health order that includes a mandatory quarantine for anyone traveling, moving or returning to San Francisco from anywhere outside the Bay Area amid a surge in coronavirus cases. People arriving in the city from outside the Bay Area to stay home and away from others for 10 days.

The order also discourages any non-essential travel within the 10-county Bay Area region. However, people traveling into San Francisco for certain critical jobs, including health care, are exempt from the order. 

More than 70% of San Francisco's regularly staffed ICU beds are now full, according to city data. The order takes effect today and remains in place until January 4, 2021. Santa Clara County issued a similar travel order three weeks ago, requiring anyone traveling into the county from a location more than 150 miles away to quarantine.
Health News
NBC News, December 18, 2020
Vice President Mike Pence received the Covid-19 vaccine in a televised appearance Friday morning in an effort to promote its safety and boost public confidence in its effectiveness. The Pfizer vaccine was also given to his wife, Karen Pence, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the the White House by a medical team from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. "I didn't feel a thing. Well done," Pence said in remarks after receiving the shot in his left arm.

STAT, December 17, 2020
An advisory panel on Thursday recommended that the Food and Drug Administration issue an emergency use authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, all but guaranteeing the agency will do so. The authorization, expected on Friday, will mark the second Covid-19 vaccine cleared by the agency. Both Moderna’s vaccine and the one developed by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, which was granted an EUA last week, use messenger RNA to instruct the body’s cells to produce copies of the spike protein found on the exterior of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Those vaccine-induced proteins teach the immune system to recognize the coronavirus as an invader and attack it when an immunized person is exposed to the virus.

Mercury News, December 18, 2020
As the first vaccine from Pfizer Inc. rolls out this week and the next one from Moderna looks poised to start reaching people on Monday, scientists say minor side effects, such as fever, are a welcomed sign that the vaccine is working. There are only isolated reports of adverse events among people who have had shots.

Californians will receive about 1.8 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this month. Of those, 1.7 million doses will be given to health care workers, and 640,000 doses will be given to residents of nursing homes. Of the tens of thousands of Americans who have already received the vaccines in clinical trials, none of them have reported any life-threatening health problems.

Much more common, say experts, are feelings of fatigue, headache, muscle soreness and warmth or swelling around the site of the injection. At Thursday’s FDA meeting, a federal medical officer reported that three people developed facial or lip swelling after vaccination with the Moderna vaccine that may have been linked to prior cosmetic injections of dermal fillers. Cases of Bell’s palsy, a temporary facial paralysis, were reported in both the Pfizer and Moderna trials.

CNN, December 18, 2020
As the first Covid-19 vaccinations are being administered across the country this week, Black Americans remain among the groups that have the least confidence in the vaccine, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The findings come as the nation's top health leaders urge Black people to trust the vaccine, by hosting live events where Black health professionals are among the first to receive and administer it. The Kaiser study found that 35% of Black Americans would probably or definitely not get the vaccine if it was determined to be safe by scientists and widely available for free.
US and California Data: Last 90 Days
Covid Tracking Project, 12/17/20 (bold lines are 7-day averages)
United States
California News
Mercury News, December 18, 2020
On Thursday, county health departments tallied 51,385 new cases and 273 additional deaths from Covid-19, according to data compiled by this news organization — figures unmatched by any other day of the pandemic prior to Wednesday.

At least 1.75 million Californians have been infected by the virus over the course of the pandemic, including more than 260,000 in the past week, or an average of more than 37,500 per day; and 22,150 Californians have perished from the virus, including 1,513 in the past week, or an average of approximately 216 per day.

California is reporting more new cases and deaths each day, on average, than any other point of the pandemic, and more Californians are also hospitalized with severe cases of the virus than ever before. The active total grew to 15,431 Covid-positive patients, including 3,280 receiving intensive care with only a sliver of ICU beds available.

In the past two weeks, active hospitalizations in California have grown by 75%, while available ICU beds have shrunk by 27%. Average daily cases in the state are 124% higher than two weeks ago, and deaths have soared by 172%. Compared to previous highs from the summer, California is averaging four times as many cases and 50% more fatalities, with more than twice as many patients hospitalized.

NY Times, December 17, 2020
Just two weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Californians that the state’s intensive care beds might be full before Christmas. Now, it appears that dire projection is being borne out.
How bad is the coronavirus surge in California?

In Los Angeles County, officials say, an average of two people are dying every hour. And one in every 80 people there is thought to be infected.
“Our hospitals are under siege and our models show no end in sight,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, the director of health services in Los Angeles County, said Thursday.

Statewide, California reported 3 percent availability of I.C.U. beds on Thursday. But the problem is most severe in the southern part of the state. Within the month, Dr. Ghaly said, the number of patients requiring I.C.U. care in Los Angeles County “could easily exceed” the 2,500 licensed adult beds by a thousand or more.

LA Times, December 17, 2020
The availability of intensive care unit beds throughout Southern California hit 0% Thursday, and officials warned that conditions in hospitals are expected to erode further if the coronavirus continues to spread unchecked. With ICUs filled, hospitals will step up measures to ensure the sickest patients still get the highest levels of care possible. That often means moving some patients who would typically be in the intensive care unit to other areas of the hospital, such as a recovery area, or keeping them in the emergency room for longer than normal.

The patients are still getting intensive care, and that strategy can work to a point. But eventually, there may be too many critically ill patients for the limited numbers of ICU doctors and nurses available, leading to greater chances of patients not getting the specialized care they need. And that can lead to increases in mortality.

LA Times, December 17, 2020
The virus can be found in human stool and detected in people who are not showing signs of illness, and scientists have investigated whether testing wastewater can reveal trends about how common the coronavirus is in the community. The levels of virus in recent weeks in Santa Clara County is far greater than seen in either of the prior two waves of the pandemic. “In early November, you can see it really skyrocketed. It has taken off, which indicates widespread infections in the community,” Michael Balliet, director of the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, told the county’s Board of Supervisors this week. Some of the highest virus levels were detected on Thanksgiving Day and in more recent days, he said.

Sacramento Bee, December 17, 2020
Groups representing small businesses sued California’s workplace regulator this week, saying the agency exceeded its authority and overburdened companies when it passed new Covid-19 rules a month ago. California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health approved strict emergency regulations on Nov. 19. The regulations require companies to test employees at no cost during Covid-19 outbreaks, provide protective equipment and preserve workers’ pay and benefits when they miss work because of the virus. Those rules, along with requirements to exclude employees from work after virus exposures, could cost California companies millions of dollars, according to the lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court.

CapRadio, December 17, 2020
Some renters who have economic hardships due to Covid-19 have been given rent relief through an eviction moratorium enacted by AB 3088, as long as they continue to pay at least 25% of their total monthly rent. By the end of January, this moratorium ends unless state lawmakers can come together and draft up a solution. Assemblymember David Chiu
has introduced a bill in the California Legislature that would extend the eviction moratorium, set to expire Jan. 31, through 2021.

Orange County Register, December 17, 2020
A Chapman University study says California would have had roughly one-third fewer job losses this year if its pandemic restrictions had been more accommodating to the business community. The same study also says the state’s strict business limitation saved 6,600 lives. Researchers found the state mandates designed to curb the coronavirus cost 500,000 more workers their jobs. In total, California is down 1.4 million jobs in the year ended in October. The findings were released Thursday along with the school’s annual economic forecast.

Sacramento Bee, December 17, 2020
California’s next shipment of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine will be about 40% smaller than expected, Gov. Newsom’s office said Thursday. Newsom had said Tuesday that California expected to receive 393,000 vaccine doses in a shipment early next week. But the federal government has since told California to expect just 233,000 doses.
US News
The Hill, December 18, 2020
Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious diseases expert, called on Americans to "step to the plate" and get vaccinated against the coronavirus as Vice President Mike Pence became the highest ranking U.S. official to do so on Friday morning. Fauci was on hand to watch Pence, second lady Karen Pence and surgeon general Jerome Adams get the shot. In remarks afterward, Fauci sought to reassure the public of the safety of the vaccine, reiterating that the speed with which it was developed did not compromise scientific integrity.

Covid Tracking Report, The Atlantic, December 17, 2020
Hospitalizations continue to climb, and deaths are rising across the country, reflecting the high cases and hospitalizations we’ve seen since early November. For the second week in a row, more Covid-19 deaths were reported in the United States than at any other time in the pandemic. Yesterday alone, states and territories reported 3,448 Covid-19 deaths, 25 percent more than were reported on the worst day of the spring surge.

Associated Press, December 18, 2020
One in every five state and federal prisoners in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus, a rate more than four times as high as the general population. In some states, more than half of prisoners have been infected.

As the pandemic enters its 10th month — and as the first Americans begin to receive a long-awaited Covid-19 vaccine — at least 275,000 prisoners have been infected, more than 1,700 have died and the spread of the virus behind bars shows no sign of slowing. New cases in prisons this week reached their highest level since testing began in the spring, far outstripping previous peaks in April and August.
“That number is a vast undercount,” said Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer at New York’s Rikers Island jail complex.

Associated Press, December 18, 2020
Tens of millions of people are expected to travel to family gatherings or winter vacations over Christmas, despite pleas by public health experts who fear the result could be another surge in Covid-19 cases. AAA predicts that about 85 million people will travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, most of them by car. If true, that would be a drop of nearly one-third from a year ago, but still a massive movement of people in the middle of a pandemic.
The CDC says “postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19.” People who insist on travel should consider getting tested for the virus before and after their trip and to limit non-essential activities for seven days after travel with a negative test result and 10 days if they don’t get tested.

LA Times, December 18, 2020
Outside of the immigrants who held a bulk of factory jobs, Covid-19 for months seemed to barely touch Sioux Falls, SD, a mostly white, largely conservative city of 188,000. As much of the nation turned to masks and shutdowns, packed bars, indoor rodeos and concerts went on in Sioux Falls. Testing sites closed.

The governor became a hero among the right for resisting stay-at-home orders. It seemed a strange and surreal tale of two cities. South Dakota’s coronavirus rates are now among the worst in the world. One in 10 people in this sparsely populated state have had the virus, with many more of the untested likely infected. In a country that has struggled to curtail the virus even as vaccines now arrive, this windy city, where the Plains and Midwest meet, faces more acute challenges and a reckoning over what it did and didn’t do.

“We’ve been a guinea pig of this pandemic, every chapter in it,” said the city’s Republican mayor, Paul TenHaken, who admitted he once doubted how bad it would get. “We had a huge community outbreak that hit immigrants. We saw racism, with businesses saying you were a bigger risk if you were a refugee. We didn’t wear masks for months and carried on. Now we’re in this surge and fatigue.”

Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2020
After months of reopening delays, Hawaii relaxed travel rules in October to slowly restart tourism, the state’s main economic engine. If you’re tempted to jet off to the Aloha State, however, be wary. The road to Paradise comes with a few hurdles:
·     Visitors must have trusted test results in hand 72 hours in advance of the final leg of their trip.
·     Before flying, travelers must upload a PDF of their Covid test results to Hawaii’s Safe Travels portal and take a health questionnaire. Once it’s completed, travelers are emailed or texted a QR code which is scanned at the airport upon arrival and at hotels. And since every island has slightly different requirements in place, visitors might want to constrain their vacation to one island.
·     Visitors should be prepared to face pandemic rules stricter than most states’ are. Violators of the statewide mask mandate risk a fine up to $5,000 or a year in jail, tricky since the details of the mandate itself change frequently. 

Reuters, December 18, 2020
Not a single rural hospital in this state that prides itself on its country roots received any doses of the vaccine this week, despite such medical outposts serving around 20% of the state’s population, or 3 million people.
Even before the pandemic, rural hospitals in Texas and many other states were operating on “skin and bones” staffing and budgets. “We’re all exposed all the time,” Dr. Eileen Sprys said. “We don’t have an isolated Covid wing or staff only dedicated to Covid unlike in larger hospitals. To not be included in the first shipment of vaccines is just so upsetting.”

Washington Post, December 17, 2020
The Supreme Court on Thursday denied a Kentucky Christian academy’s plea that it should be exempt from the governor’s order requiring all K-12 institutions to temporarily cease in-person classes because of rising coronavirus cases.

Danville Christian Academy, joined by Kentucky’s attorney general, said it should not be compared to other schools, but to businesses that have been allowed to remain open with reduced capacities, and doing otherwise was a violation of religious rights. But the court, in an unsigned order, noted that schools are about to begin their holiday breaks, and Gov. Beshear’s mandate expires before schools reopen Jan. 4. If Beshear reissues the restriction, the court said, the plaintiffs could return to court.
CA Education News
Oaklandside, December 17, 2020
With Oakland Unified School District officials making plans to reopen school buildings in spring 2021, many parents are faced with a tough decision. They are weighing safety concerns against the shortcomings of distance learning, doubts about whether schools will be able to enforce safety precautions, and the toll that isolation has had on their children for the past nine months. 

But for other Oakland families, watching their students regress in school and struggle with virtual learning is a big reason to return to in-person schooling. Some parents, including those in a parent group formed this fall, point to research showing that schools are not big spreaders of coronavirus, and that kids have lower transmission rates.

EdSource, December 18, 2020
School districts say they now have another reason to be skittish about planning to reopen schools in the spring: new statewide emergency temporary regulations on protecting workers from exposure to Covid-19.
School officials are complaining that the new rules, which went into effect Nov. 30 after adoption by Cal/OSHA earlier in the month, are creating confusion and could significantly raise school districts’ costs. This applies particularly to Covid testing expenses, which districts and county offices of education are responsible for. And they view the imposition of the regulations, with Cal/OSHA’s exacting demands for detailed reporting and documentation, as one more burden in an already taxing year.

LA Times, December 18, 2020
Applications to UC’s 9 undergraduate campuses soared to a record 250,000 — a 15% increase over last year, including significant rises among California Latino and Black freshmen applicants, according to preliminary data. Campus-specific data will not be released until early next year. At Cal State, however, applications declined by 5% with wide variation among the system’s 23 campuses. Cal State Dominguez Hills, which primarily serves disadvantaged students, saw a 17% plunge in applications.

Mercury News, December 17, 2020
As pupils at some schools take their socially distanced seats for the last time this week before their winter break, there’s more than the upcoming holidays to lift spirits. Those that reopened classrooms have remained largely virus-free even as Covid-19 surged all around this fall, with record infections, hospitalizations and deaths and a new round of restrictions imposed across the Bay Area this week.

For most school districts, the current case surge puts tentative plans to reopen after the break in January on ice. State restrictions allow only those now open or about to open to continue until outbreaks subside, which may take weeks. And the handful of school-based outbreaks so far, along with rapidly rising case rates, have given districts that could reopen pause. The 32,000-student San Ramon Valley Unified School District this week shelved a broader January classroom reopening after an outbreak involving five staff members and three students at a high school for developmentally disabled adults.

Politico, December 16, 2020
California teachers unions are demanding that the Legislature maintain pandemic restrictions on school reopenings and have begun mobilizing against a Democratic bill introduced last week that could force schools to reopen in March. In separate letters to legislative leaders, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers urge lawmakers to avoid rushing to reopen K-12 schools as Capitol momentum builds to address learning loss and education inequities..
US Education News
Washington Post, December 18, 2020
Under federal law, students with a disability are entitled to special-education services to help them learn. With an IEP, students can get accommodations, such as sitting close to a teacher or having more time on a test, based on their needs. IEPs can also protect students with disabilities who may otherwise be disciplined or graded harshly. But in some school districts across the country, the pandemic has halted the proceedings that determine whether students are eligible for these services.

Thousands of children are in limbo, without the support and accommodations they need, parents and advocates say. The districts say they’re limited in what they can do. The process of assessing students for special education can be lengthy and often requires a barrage of assessments, including classroom observations, a psychological evaluation and academic tests. Performing these tests safely has often been difficult, if not impossible, during the pandemic.

Axios, December 18, 2020
Seven out of 10 college students have experienced anxiety, 53% have experienced depression and 29% have considered dropping out since the pandemic began, according to a new Generation Lab/Axios poll.

Students this fall had to decide whether a college experience largely stripped of football games, learning in classrooms and partying was worthwhile. Despite the challenges, more than two-thirds said that it was at least somewhat worth the tuition, but nearly a third said it wasn't worth it. Students are still in for a cold, isolated second semester. The incoming spring semester could see more of the same challenges in educating and keeping students safe with serial testing. A majority of college leaders are recognizing the growing concern about the stressors on students’ mental health

NPR, December 18, 2020
Case numbers have shot up lately in rural America, which skews older and tends to have huge inequality gaps in health care. Across the country, many schools that have stayed open require students and staff to wear masks.

Yet there's still resistance in places like Bruno, Idaho, which has a population of 500. Here, there's also a pervasive sense in the community that kids need to be physically in classrooms for their education and well-being, yet stiff opposition to rules that are intended to slow the spread, like mask wearing.
This truth got even sharper in recent weeks, even as Covid-19 began to spread in the two Snake River farming towns that make up the joint Bruneau-Grandview School District. As more teachers and students got the virus, administrators had to shut down some classes and move them online temporarily, which, while not hoped for, had always been part of the contingency plan.

NY Times, December 18, 2020
In late September, Community School 55 in the Bronx, a public elementary school, brought back students for the first time since March, as part of the overall reopening of the New York City system, the nation’s largest, with 1.1 million children.

For seven weeks, the school allowed a documentary filmmaker to chronicle every step of the reopening. The principal, Luis Torres, said he wanted to show the vital role that his school plays in the neighborhood and to provide insights into the kinds of resources that schools like his need to help a generation of children. In “Reopening,” The New York Times goes inside C.S. 55 to meet children like Kasiyah Daley, a first grader who has a breakthrough in Vanessa Veerasammy’s class, delighting in learning how to read.
Pushing 100, married couple survive Covid-19
Rachel Smith, a physician with the CDC in Atlanta, knew the prognosis was not promising when she learned her grandparents in San Diego had contracted COVID-19 last month.

“I told my grandfather when he went into the hospital that if he recovered, I’d tell everybody about it,” she said. That was Nov. 30. Today, she’s thrilled that she was able to make good on her promise.

Her grandparents appear to have beaten the odds, and both are back home and well after recovering from a virus that has been especially lethal for older people.
Norman Mann will be 99 in March. Sivia Mann, his wife of 76 years, is 96. They have lived in San Diego since 1953.

Smith, who lives in Atlanta, said her grandparents might have contracted Covid-19 from a caretaker. She knew immediately that their lives were in danger because of their advanced age. The family was prepared for the worst, especially for Norman, who was briefly hospitalized.

But the effects of Covid-19 have been hard to predict. In the case of the Manns, Smith said her grandmother believed she only had a cold, while her grandfather developed a nasty cough soon after his diagnosis and had to be hospitalized and placed on oxygen.
Norman Mann was eventually hospitalized, but he never felt too ill. He came home from the hospital Dec. 2 after a couple of days.

Norman and Sivia were not available to
be interviewed, but their daughter, Stacy Mann, said she had a conversation over the phone with her dad last week. “I asked him how he felt when he found out he had Covid-19,” she wrote in an email. “He said he wasn’t really sure that that is what he had. He didn’t realize that it was a deadly virus and thought perhaps it was a different virus. He was surprised when I explained to him that it was deadly, as he was feeling pretty much normal for him.”

While her father said he never felt too bad while he had the disease, she wrote that he did feel pretty bad being briefly separated from his wife of 76 years.

Source: LA Times
International News
US News and World Report, December 17, 2020
As cities along the Texas border and across the U.S. report surging cases, the Matamoros tent camp has – seemingly miraculously – avoided the devastation predicted in the early days of the pandemic, with only a few dozen mild cases reported since June. Meanwhile, the border state of Tamaulipas – where Matamoros is located – has reported more than 37,000 cases. Aid workers and health officials working in the Matamoros tent camp say early preparations, listening to the community, and adapting to their needs were some of the keys to their success.

Time, December 18, 2020
It took weeks of record Covid-19 infections and pleas from experts for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government to finally suspend its controversial Go To Travel campaign, which encouraged domestic travel in an effort to support the economy. Then, just hours after the announcement on Monday, Suga was spotted attending a year-end steak dinner party with celebrities and political bosses in the ritzy Ginza district of Tokyo.

These mixed messages from the prime minister, who took over in September following the resignation of Shinzo Abe, drew public anger. But there’s also evidence that they’re taking hold in the wider public—resulting in increasing complacency and confusion among a population that had been credited with helping to make Japan a Covid-19 success story.

Over a month into Japan’s third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, things are looking grimmer than ever. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government raised its healthcare alert to the highest level for the first time as an all-time high 822 new infections were confirmed in a single day in the capital. Nationally, Japan’s daily Covid-19 figures have been consistently hitting records since mid-November. While vaccinations have begun in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and elsewhere, immunizations in Japan may still be months away—even though the Tokyo summer Olympics are set to begin in July.

Axios, December 18, 2020
Global travel could begin to see a comeback later in 2021 as people get vaccinated and international borders reopen. But the healthiest people — those most likely to travel — will be vaccinated last. In a partially vaccinated world, passengers will still need to wear masks and get tested before, during and after their journey.

"For the next two to four years, different people will have different vaccines but not everyone will have a vaccine. What that means is everyone on the flight still has to be tested," says Simplifying CEO Shashank Nigam.

Delta Air Lines is offering "Covid-free" flights for essential travel between the U.S. and Europe. But passengers must have three negative Covid tests — two before departure and one upon arrival in Amsterdam or Rome — in order to avoid the usual 14-day quarantine.
Entry requirements are evolving since it's the individual governments — not the airlines — that set the rules depending on the course of the virus.

Bloomberg, December 18, 2020
Nine months after recording its first coronavirus case, Uruguay is seeing an outbreak in what President Luis Lacalle Pou has called the “first wave,” threatening to undo the hard-fought gains throughout the pandemic.
The government is taking a heavy-handed approach to beat back infections including tighter border restrictions and a bill sent to Congress seeking fast track approval to breakup gatherings deemed a threat to public health.

To be sure, Uruguay still boasts the lowest infection and mortality rates on the continent thanks to the initial success of a strategy that relied on voluntary prevention measures that Lacalle Pou dubbed “the responsible exercise of liberty.” Now infections are soaring with a record 547 new cases reported Thursday as pandemic-weary Uruguayans welcome summer with parties and big family gatherings.

Bloomberg, December 18, 2020
Spain must react right away to stop the expansion of the coronavirus pandemic given a recent change in infection trends, according to the country’s health minister.

“Spain is facing a very concerning situation with the pandemic” as the trend of infections changes in many of the country’s regions, Health Minister Salvador Illa said in a press conference Friday. On Dec. 16, daily infections reached the highest in almost a month and this week the tally of deaths from coronavirus since the start of the pandemic surpassed 48,000.
Gil Duran, Sacramento Bee, December 18, 2020
Last spring, Dr. Alex Schmalz volunteered to go to New York City to help confront a Covid-19 surge that killed thousands of New Yorkers. So many people died of Covid-19 during the first wave of the coronavirus in New York City that funeral homes couldn’t keep up with the demand. Many of those who succumbed to the virus were buried in mass graves.

For Schmalz, a young doctor new to his medical practice, it was a horrifying experience. Now he’s back in Sacramento and fears California’s winter surge of Covid-19 could result in similar carnage if Californians don’t remain vigilant against the threat.

Schmalz fears that Californians may learn the hard way, as New Yorkers did, that “this virus is real and it is very scary.” “I see, every day, people who are surprised that they got Covid because they went to these gatherings,” Schmalz said of what he’s now seeing in Sacramento during Covid-19’s third wave. “And I see people who are coming in with their loved ones that they went to those gatherings with, and their loved ones might be really sick. Sometimes they really are. And then there’s this crazy amount of guilt that people have because ... you don’t know if you gave that to them.”

Zeynep Tufekci, The Atlantic, December 17, 2020
Hunkering down to wait out the coronavirus isn’t easy. The costs of isolation are steep. Quarantine fatigue is real. The chance to gather with extended family and friends this holiday season is particularly alluring to those of us battling loneliness. Ritual is the bedrock of human society, and forsaking it feels even more destabilizing in a year that has already thrown us all off-kilter.

Even so, I have a simple suggestion for anyone contemplating a large gathering this month: Wait until March.

I recognize that’s not a small sacrifice. For most Americans, the Covid-19 restrictions began last March, when schools shut down and toilet paper was nowhere to be found, and the toll has only mounted over time. It’s been a long year. Human connection is no luxury, not something we can easily forgo. Socializing is one of the most important contributors to our health and well-being. Social isolation predicts mortality at similar levels to smoking. It’s a greater risk than obesity, elevated blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

But this Christmas will be a particularly terrible time to catch the coronavirus. Hospitals nationwide are already overwhelmed, ICUs stretched to their limit. A surge of cases tied to the holidays could further challenge hospitals’ capacity to provide lifesaving care. Meanwhile, treatments are improving, testing is expanding, and vaccines are arriving. If your loved ones can stay healthy a few months longer, they might be much likelier to survive the disease—or to avoid contracting it entirely.

Amanda Seitz and Beatrice Dupuy, Associated Press, December 17, 2020
From speculation that the coronavirus was created in a lab to hoax cures, an overwhelming amount of false information clung to Covid-19 as it circled the globe in 2020. Public health officials, fact checkers and doctors tried to quash hundreds of rumors in myriad ways. But misinformation around the pandemic has endured as vexingly as the virus itself. And with the U.S., U.K. and Canada rolling out vaccinations this month, many falsehoods are seeing a resurgence online.

A look at five stubborn myths around Covid-19 that were shared this year and continue to travel:
·     Masks don’t offer protection from the virus
·     The virus was man-made
·     Covid-19 is similar to the flu
·     Officials are exaggerating covid-19’s toll
·     The virus is a ploy to force global vaccinations

Tami Luhby, CNN, December 18, 2020
As the coronavirus surges again across the nation, the fragile economic recovery is showing more cracks. The pace of job growth has slowed and more people are filing for unemployment for the first time. This instability comes as Congress continues to struggle over extending some of the relief provisions it approved in March, when the pandemic initially upended the economy.

Lawmakers are looking at providing another round of stimulus checks, temporarily boosting jobless payments again and extending two key pandemic unemployment programs.

Here's how things are getting tougher for Americans.
·     More people in poverty
·     Going hungry
·     Trouble paying the bills
·     Falling behind on rent or mortgage
·     Unemployment fears loom
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 12/17/20
by day as of 12/17/20
Over the last seven days, Alameda County officials have reported 5,382 new coronavirus cases, which amounts to 327 cases per 100,000 residents.
Over the last seven days, Contra Costa County officials have reported 4,585 new coronavirus cases, which amounts to 405 cases per 100,000 residents.
Top 10 Locations of Cases in Alameda County, as of 12/17/20. Alameda County does not publish cases per 100,000 in the last 14 days by city.
Oakland: 13,643

Hayward: 6,206

Fremont: 3,351

Eden MAC: 2,614

San Leandro: 2,344

Livermore: 1,966

Union City: 1,695

Berkeley: 1,610

Castro Valley: 1,180

Newark: 1,151
Top 10 Locations of Cases in Contra Costa County plus (in parentheses) cases per 100,000 in last 14 days, as of 12/17/20
Richmond: 5,688 (854)

Antioch: 4,171 (5614)

Concord: 3,939 (482)

Pittsburgh: 3,348 (719)

San Pablo: 2,785 (1,792)

Brentwood: 1,539 (567)

Bay Point: 1,385 (795)

Walnut Creek: 1,262 (380)

Oakley: 1,200 (669)

San Ramon: 998 (296)
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 17, 2020, podcast, Dr. Michael Osterholm and host Chris Dall discuss discuss Covid-19 vaccines becoming vaccinations, forthcoming research related to the safety of vaccinating pregnant women, continued surges throughout much of the US, and guidance for having safe holidays.
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 Varsha Chauhan. 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.