COVID in California: Will the Bay Area's massive outdoor parades and protests spur outbreaks? – San Francisco Chronicle
Elizabeth Goffinet (center) embraces daughter Wesley Goffinett, 16 months, after the child received a COVID-19 vaccine at UCSF Laurel Heights. Many parents are eagerly getting their youngest offspring vaccinated now that children under 5 are eligible for the shots.
With children 6 months to 4 years old now eligible for COVID-19 shots health officials and pediatricians are answering some of the questions they hear most often from parents of young children. The global death toll from COVID-19 after more than two years of pandemic stands at more than 6.3 million. A growing number of health startups are offering “coaching” services to help patients battle chronic conditions.
Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration will debate Tuesday if it’s time to offer new COVID-19 booster shots that are modified to better match recent changes of the shape-shifting coronavirus. That decision could set the stage for similar moves by other countries. Both Moderna and Pfizer have tested updated shots against the super-contagious omicron variant. “This is science at its toughest,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks told The Associated Press, adding that a final decision is expected within days of the advisory panel’s recommendation. Current COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives and current shots still offer strong protection against severe illness and death, especially after a booster dose. The question is whether tweaked boosters would help blunt another surge when there’s no way to predict which mutant will be the main threat.
The success of vaccination campaigns has narrowed disparities in COVID death rates in California, especially for the Latino community, which has been disproportionately affected with coronavirus infection during the pandemic. Since the state began tracking deaths in April 2020, more than 91,000 Californians have died from COVID-19 — approximately 230 deaths per 100,000 people — according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
A spate of massive outdoor crowd events swept through the Bay Area over the past week, with the region still beset by fast-spreading offshoots of the omicron coronavirus variant. Risk of transmission is less outside than indoors, and the region is comparatively highly vaccinated, so it’s not known to if outbreaks might occur such as those tied to some crowded festivals and events elsewhere, San Francisco’s Pride parade on Sunday was estimated at 500,000 celebrants who marched and mingled along Market Street for four hours and ended up at a pulsating party at the Civic Center. That followed numerous protest gatherings with people converging in the streets after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion rights. And the week kicked off with throngs also crowding Market to celebrate the NBA championship of the Golden State Warriors. All involved people in close proximity for extended periods.
The Biden administration, during the omicron wave of the coronavirus, considered public disclosure of data on how prevalent COVID-19 spread was inside individual hospitals, but ultimately chose to keep that information private, Politico reports, citing two people familiar with the discussions. The decision to withhold the names, based partly on concerns about duplicative data and partly on fears of embarrassing hospitals, denies patients the opportunity to steer clear of health systems with poor track records and allows facilities to avoid public scrutiny, patient advocates say. COVID cases and hospitalizations are much lower than they were during the winter surge but many disability-rights advocates are encouraging the government to make the information public, arguing it is necessary to make safe choices, especially for people with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the coronavirus pandemic erased much of the city’s progress made against crime. He said however he believes the city’s police department has made improvements. In his first State of the City address of his second term, Keller also announced Saturday that the Albuquerque Police Department is seeking release from at least some of the federal oversight it has been under since 2015.
The world population now has lost more than 6.3 million lives to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, tracking by Johns Hopkins University researchers shows. In the United States the death toll has grown to 1.016 million new mutations of the virus keep transmission alive, although the rate of deaths has dropped significantly since the advent of vaccinations. In California, at least 91,420 people have died from COVID-19, state data shows.
The World Health Organization said the escalating monkeypox outbreak in more than 50 countries should be closely monitored but does not warrant being declared a global health emergency. In a statement Saturday, a WHO emergency committee said many aspects of the outbreak were “unusual” and acknowledged that monkeypox — which is endemic in some African countries — has been neglected for years. “While a few members expressed differing views, the committee resolved by consensus to advise the WHO director-general that at this stage the outbreak should be determined to not constitute” a global health emergency, WHO said in a statement.
Rita Beamish is The San Francisco Chronicle topic editor.