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California faces triple menace of respiratory sicknesses

Forget “twindemic” — California could also be in for a three-headed Cerberus of respiratory sicknesses this winter because the flu, respiratory syncytial virus and COVID-19 collide.

Orange County on Monday declared a local public health emergency over RSV, a typical reason behind pneumonia in infants that’s contributed to a file variety of pediatric hospitalizations and each day emergency room visits within the county.

  • Early phases of RSV can current flu-like signs, and younger kids and seniors are most at risk of issues, in keeping with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

San Diego well being officers warned last week that “a sharp increase of flu and RSV cases” may have “a severe impact on people’s lives and the county’s medical resources this fall and winter.” At one level in October, about 1,000 of 2,600 students at a local high school had been absent attributable to an outbreak of respiratory sicknesses.

CalMatters well being reporter Ana B. Ibarra takes a better take a look at the place California stands on the RSV, flu and COVID fronts:

1. RSV: The state’s surveillance exhibits that 15.3% of specimens examined within the third week of October got here again optimistic for RSV, up from 9.8% during the same period last year.

  • Providers say the uptick may very well be attributable to the truth that kids had been much less uncovered to the conventional circulation of respiratory viruses during the last two years attributable to such pandemic restrictions as faculty closures and masks mandates.
  • Dr. John Mourani, medical director of infectious illness at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center: “School got disrupted, we were social distancing and that means immunity goes down.”

2. Flu: Influenza surveillance data reported by the state beginning the primary week of October exhibits flu circumstances trending up earlier in comparison with the final 5 years. More flu earlier within the 12 months often means a extra extreme season. 

In the third week of October, 6.6% of flu checks got here again optimistic. That’s the next price than the state recorded throughout the identical week of the 2017-18 flu season, which peaked in late December with a 41% positivity rate.

During that flu season, some hospitals had been so overwhelmed they needed to treat patients in tents and rent short-term workers from out of state. About 61,000 people died from the flu nationwide, in keeping with the CDC. The California Department of Public Health tallied 329 deaths, although that’s doubtless a extreme undercount as a result of providers were only required to report deaths for folks underneath 65 and most flu-related deaths are amongst seniors.

So far this season, 5 residents have died of the flu, in keeping with the state’s newest surveillance report printed Friday. 

3. COVID: If the final two years are any indication, COVID infections are likely to creep up quickly after Halloween. 

Health consultants stated that whereas they actually anticipate an uptick in COVID circumstances this winter, it’s much less clear what hospital admissions will appear to be. 

  • Dr. Jess Mandel, a pulmonologist at UC San Diego Health: “I think we’re in a much better position for COVID than we have been in years past. In terms of having more effective therapies, more access to vaccines and more exposure in the community from prior infections.”
  • Still, Mandel recommends that individuals be cautious and protecting of high-risk people.  

California, anticipating a doable winter wave of infections and hospitalizations, plans to attend till Feb. 28, 2023 to end its COVID state of emergency. Hospitals, which have relied on provisions of the emergency order to raised accommodate sufferers throughout surges, are warning that even this finish date could also be too quickly as a result of the flu may have an effect on capability and flu season usually runs by way of May. 

The smartest thing folks can do to maintain their native hospitals from maxing out is to get immunized in opposition to the flu and get an up to date COVID booster shot, Mourani and Mandel stated. There is no vaccine for RSV.

So far, solely about 11% of eligible Californians have acquired the beneficial bivalent COVID booster meant to offer higher safety in opposition to the omicron variant.

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Roundup of California well being information

An indication promoting Covered California well being care in San Ysidro on Oct. 26, 2017. Photo by Mike Blake,

Let’s dive into one other trifecta of California well being information nuggets:

  • Tuesday marked the beginning of open enrollment for Covered California, the state’s well being care insurance coverage market. Among these attending the launch ceremony in Los Angeles: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary (and former California lawyer normal) Xavier Becerra; Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s high well being official; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, who’s working in opposition to billionaire businessman Rick Caruso to exchange Garcetti as mayor. “This is not a political event but there is an election out there, be sure to vote,” Garcetti stated when introducing Bass. “People who have medical knowledge, I think, probably can be great leaders, I’ll just throw that out there too.” (Bass is a former doctor’s assistant.) Although Covered California charges are set to increase by an average of 6% next year, prolonged federal subsidies will assist offset a few of that, officers stated. Around 1.7 million residents are at present enrolled in Covered California, and officials estimate 1 million uninsured people are eligible for coverage both by way of the state market or Medi-Cal, the state’s well being care program for the poor.
  • Sexual assault survivors can now monitor the standing of their rape kits utilizing a new online portal unveiled Tuesday by Attorney General Rob Bonta. The Golden State additionally introduced its first sexual assault proof outreach coordinator, Dr. Sarai Crain, who Bonta said will work with medical amenities, legislation enforcement and different organizations to take away boundaries to testing, monitor and course of sexual assault proof and assist clear rape kit backlogs. “After they have already been sexually assaulted — and after they have bravely endured a long and invasive rape kit exam — it is crucial that we enable survivors to track the status of their rape kit securely whenever they wish,” said Democratic state Sen. Connie Leyva of Chino, who authored the invoice requiring the institution of the portal.
  • San Francisco’s monkeypox (MPX) state of emergency ended Monday, about three months after it was first declared. The rollback was the results of “effective public health” measures corresponding to “strong outreach and education, partnership between public health officials and the community, and a community stepping up to protect itself,” Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco stated in a press release. He added, “We need to remain vigilant, however, and continue the work. Though case rates have lowered significantly, the virus is still with us and still poses risk.” Statewide, California has reported 5,450 MPX cases and 224 hospitalizations, with circumstances falling precipitously in latest months.

How state legal guidelines are impacting youngest, oldest college students

Students make their approach to class for the primary day of faculty at Tustin Ranch Elementary School on Aug. 12, 2021. Photo by Paul Bersebach, The Orange County Register by way of AP Photo

How are training insurance policies crafted in Sacramento shaping up on the bottom for the state’s youngest and oldest college students? Two CalMatters tales dig deeper:

  • This faculty 12 months, extra districts started providing transitional kindergarten as a part of California’s multibillion-dollar, multi-year effort to expand it to all 4-year-olds. The greatest problem to this point: staffing, CalMatters’ Elizabeth Aguilera reports. Although some districts managed to satisfy most of their wants this 12 months by shifting current academics’ roles, many are anxious about discovering certified educators for the subsequent few years of the growth. The scramble for instructors has also strained California’s already understaffed child care programs and preschools, whose academics are perfect candidates for higher-paying roles in transitional kindergarten school rooms. “All of the districts are hiring. We are competing for the same teachers and that is a concern,” stated Noemy Salas, senior director of early childhood education schemes for San Diego County’s Chula Vista Elementary School District.
  • Starting subsequent fall, California schools can be banned from lowering monetary support to sure low-income college students who additionally earn non-public scholarships, a transfer advocates say will assist them cowl such costly non-tuition prices as housing, books, meals and transportation, Alyssa Story reports for CalMatters’ College Journalism Network. The catch: The legislation solely applies to college students who qualify for a federal Pell Grant or state monetary support underneath the California Dream Act. And college students nonetheless should be knowledgeable the legislation exists to allow them to monitor their monetary support packages and guarantee schools are complying. The vital subsequent step is “focusing on the implementation … figuring out if these bills, and these efforts, are actually reaching the students that they were intended to reach,” stated Dixie Samaniego, a Cal State Fullerton pupil who stated she skilled scholarship displacement.

A California staff’ information to coping with wage theft

A prep cook dinner works within the kitchen of a San Francisco restaurant on May 14, 2020. Photo by Jeff Chiu, AP Photo

Does it seem to be the hours you labored and your paychecks aren’t including up? Is your employer taking the tips you earned on the job? Is your boss denying you legally required meal or relaxation breaks? Are you questioning why your boss is paying you with private checks, as an alternative of utilizing a payroll system with the standard paycheck deductions?

If you answered sure to any of these questions, your employer could also be stealing your wages. As CalMatters’ California Divide team has reported in its ongoing collection, “Unpaid Wages: A Waiting Game,” wage theft is frequent in California: Last 12 months, greater than 19,000 staff filed wage theft claims with the state totaling greater than $338 million.

But what must you do if you end up on this scenario? Speaking out about wage theft can really feel intimidating and dangerous — so CalMatters’ Lil Kalish requested staff’ advocates and group organizers for finest practices and recommendation and put collectively a California Workers’ Guide to Wage Theft, full with a useful resource library of employee facilities throughout the state. Check it out.

CalMatters Commentary

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