California Coronavirus Updates: Southern Nevada Officials Advise Mask-Wearing As
Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.
Tuesday, July 20
Masks are back in Las Vegas, where a rising number of coronavirus cases has health officials advising everyone — vaccinated or not — to wear facial coverings in crowds and indoor places.
The recommendation Friday from the Southern Nevada Health District affects casinos, concerts, clubs and supermarkets. However, the masks are not a requirement.
It follows a call this week by the top public health official in Los Angeles for Californians to reconsider traveling to Nevada until COVID-19 case numbers decrease.
Nevada health officials reported 938 new cases on Thursday — the biggest one-day case jump for the state since February. The number of new cases reported Friday was 866.
Amazon said it will stop testing its workers for COVID-19 at its warehouses by the end of July, citing the availability of vaccines and free testing.
According to the Associated Press, the company began testing warehouse workers last year when tests were difficult to find for the average American. Warehouse workers, who were considered essential, went to work to pack and ship orders throughout the pandemic.
In May, the online shopping giant said fully vaccinated warehouse workers could stop wearing face masks inside its facilities as long as the employee uploads a photo of their vaccine cards to an Amazon worker app.
9:54 a.m.: Olympic athletes test positive for COVID-19
Two South African soccer players have become the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated Press.
Other cases connected to the Tokyo Games were also confirmed Sunday to highlight the herculean task organizers face to keep the virus contained while the world’s biggest sports event plays out.
The positive tests came as some of the expected 11,000 athletes and thousands more team officials from across the globe began arriving in the village in Tokyo.
The Olympic Games open on Friday.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said there was “zero” risk of athletes passing the virus to the Japanese populace or other village residents — but it seems that his bold statement is just starting to get tested.
Monday, July 19
Between the first six months of 2019 and the first six months of 2020, California’s chlamydia cases dropped 31% and gonorrhea cases dipped 13%, according to a new study from the California Department of Public Health.
But health advocates worry that sexually transmitted infections are still rampant — they’re just not being tracked.
“The numbers we might see don’t tell the full story,” said Amy Moy of nonprofit group Essential Access Health. “There’s been a huge gap in STI testing. Also during the pandemic, city and county health departments that were conducting STI prevention activities had to really shift.”
The state health department study found that 78% of health departments surveyed had to reassign at least half of their workforce to COVID-19 by the fall of 2020.
They also found the largest declines in STI case reporting were among Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Black residents.
Onyenma Obiekea, a program coordinator with Los Angeles-based nonprofit Black Women for Wellness, says the high rates of congenital syphilis among African American mothers illustrates the need for affordable screening.
“We are concerned that the pandemic has exacerbated the issues Black women face when it comes to access,” Obiekea wrote in an email. “The CDC identified lack of access to healthcare, lack of access to economic mobility and incarceration as some contributing factors to high STI rates, and we know that the pandemic has certainly had deleterious effects on these factors, particularly for Black women.”
Moy says the pandemic has exacerbated the need for more screening and prevention programs. Her organization is pushing a bill to mandate that Medi-Cal and commercial plans cover at-home STI test kits.
Mask-wearing isn’t required for vaccinated people under California’s COVID-19 guidelines. But more and more counties are asking everyone to cover up when they’re indoors because of the spread of the delta variant of the virus.
UC Merced Virology Professor Juris says that’s a good call.
“The virus wasn’t gone, so there are still infection rates going up and we have this new variant,” Juris said. “So now it’s a matter of how we mitigate that situation.”
He says since children can’t be immunized right now, we all have a part to play in preventing public spread. That means masking up anywhere there might be unvaccinated people—like bars, restaurants, stores, or doctors’ offices.
The state says it doesn’t plan to change the current guidance. Instead, they’re putting it in the counties’ hands to make stricter policies.
San Joaquin County’s response to the pandemic fell woefully short according to a new Grand Jury report. Organization and policy issues were the main problems.
The Grand Jury commended the county employees who worked tirelessly to contain the virus.
However, the 15-page report found that there was a lack of training for employees pressed into the roles of disaster service workers.
Jury Foreman Gary Cooper says the pandemic response was hampered by the leadership at the top resulting in departments working independently and not coordinating their efforts.
“The inability of the different departments to work together definitely could have contributed to the lack of the vaccine being readily available to those who need it most,” Cooper said.
County departments named in the report include the Office of Emergency Services, Public Health Services, and the Board of Supervisors among others.
Tiffany Heyer with Emergency Services says all are studying the report.
“All of the county departments take the investigation seriously and we always endeavor to provide the best service to the community and our partners at all times,” Heyer said.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Patti admits to some disconnection among departments early on but says the county identified the problems prior to the vaccine’s arrival.
“When the supply came in, we were ready for almost 40,000 vaccinations a week,” Patti said. “So, I really don’t know that it was fair to say that this county above others was lacking or missing something.”
The Board has 90 days to respond in writing to the findings and recommendations made by the grand jury.
The U.S. surgeon general says he’s worried about what lies ahead with cases of COVID-19 increasing in every state, the millions that are still unvaccinated, and the highly contagious delta variant spreading rapidly.
Dr. Vivek Murthy painted an unsettling picture of the future during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. cases of COVID-19 increased last week by 17,000 nationwide over a 14-day period for the first time since late fall,…