Thursday, August 20, 2020 | California Healthline

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COVID Plans Put to Test as Firefighters Crowd Camps for Peak Wildfire Season

Thousands of firefighters from across the U.S. have converged on California and the West as the wildfire season enters its peak. The inherently dangerous job now carries the additional risk of COVID-19 transmission, and fire managers are adapting their plans for crowded fire camps in the hope of preventing outbreaks that could sideline crews and weaken the nation’s firefighting infrastructure. (Matt Volz,
8/20)

Thousands Flee Wildfires As Smoke And Ash Choke The Air: Evacuations widened in the San Francisco Bay Area overnight as wildfires ringing the region scorched hundreds of square miles of land, edged toward San Jose and produced perhaps the world’s worst air quality. In all, more than 349,000 acres have burned in Northern and Central California. The largest cluster of fires overnight was in wine country, the LNU Lightning Complex fire, which triggered the evacuation of nonessential personnel from Travis Air Force Base in Solano County and patients from Adventist Health St. Helena hospital in Napa County. According to the website PurpleAir, the Bay Area was home to the world’s worst air quality overnight Thursday. Read more from Rong-Gong Lin II, Leila Miller, Luke Money and Joseph Serna of the Los Angeles Times and Michael Cabanatuan, Matthias Gafni, Jill Tucker and Dustin Gardiner of the San Francisco Chronicle.

‘Everybody Should Be Ready To Go’: Calls for evacuations continued throughout Wednesday, with fire officials pleading with residents from Felton to Fairfield to leave before it’s too late. “My recommendation is that all the citizens in California be ready to go if there is a wildfire,” Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynnette Round said Wednesday. “Residents have to have their bags packed up with your nose facing out your driveway so you can leave quickly. Everybody should be ready to go, especially if you’re in a wildfire area.” Scotts Valley firefighter Jeff McNeil added: “The state is on fire. We’re stretched very thin.” Read more from Julia Prodis Suled, Ethan Baron, David Debolt and Maggie Angst of The Mercury News.

In related news: ‘I’m glad I woke up’: Vacaville residents recall terrifying late-night flight from wildfire
Also: Genentech waits, watches as fire nears Vacaville site key to new Covid manufacturing deal

Below, check out the roundup of California Healthline’s coverage and the best of the rest of the news.


San Francisco Chronicle:
Bay Area’s COVID Death Toll Reaches 1,000 As Coronavirus Pandemic Marches On 


The Bay Area passed 1,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 on Wednesday, a grim benchmark of the unrelenting pandemic that illustrates both the relative success of the region and the staggering depth of loss. The first death was on Feb. 6 in San Jose, but went unreported for several months. The latest — but certainly not the last — were recorded Wednesday, 11 victims in five counties. As of Wednesday evening, and just over six months into the pandemic that had killed 784,000 people worldwide, 1,006 people had died in the nine Bay Area counties. (Allday, 8/19)


Orange County Register:
Orange County Records First Death Of A Child From COVID-19


The Orange County Health Care Agency reported the first local death of someone under 18 to COVID-19 — a teenage girl. A news release issued late Wednesday, Aug. 19, said the Health Care Agency confirmed what it described as a “pediatric death related to COVID-19.” The agency said the case involved a female in her teens “with significant underlying medical conditions.” (Walker, 8/19)


The Desert Sun:
Newsom: New Reopening Protocols To Come Next Week


New protocols for reopening sectors of the economy during the coronavirus pandemic are coming next week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. The changes are being made as Riverside County seeks permission from the California Department of Public Health to adopt a timeline for more reopenings beginning in September, despite its presence on the state’s targeted engagement list for having elevated disease transmission. (Daniels, 19)


The Bakersfield Californian:
Dentists Reassure Patients Despite WHO Warning


Worried their patients may be needlessly putting off important checkups and cleanings, local dentists are trying to clear up confusion about cautionary guidance issued earlier this month by the World Health Organization. WHO’s missive, reported by news organizations across the United States, advised delaying non-essential dental care — but only in places where community transmission of COVID-19 is elevated or at the recommendation of local, regional or national officials. (Cox, 8/19)


San Francisco Chronicle:
What If ‘Nothing Ever Goes Back To Normal’? Depression, Anxiety Mount In Bay Area 


In San Francisco, calls for high-risk suicide situations rose 25% on average from May through July 2020 compared to February through April, according to data from the Felton Institute-SF Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit that handles crisis calls for the city. Behavioral health calls doubled in that same period, with more than 5,500 callers expressing mental health concerns from May through July, according to the same report. (Kramer, 8/19)


Sacramento Bee:
Coronavirus CA: Folsom Prison Reports 223 Active Inmate Cases 


A coronavirus outbreak at Folsom State Prison has more than doubled in size in the past week, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, now representing the largest current outbreak among the state’s nearly three dozen prisons. Folsom had 223 inmates with active COVID-19 infections in its custody as of Wednesday afternoon, according to a COVID-19 tracker on the CDCR website. All tested positive in the past two weeks. (McGough, 8/19)


LA Daily News:
Southern California Parents Demonstrate For Sooner School Reopening 


Dozens of parents rallied outside the headquarters for United Teachers Los Angeles on Wednesday, Aug. 19, to demand the union representing 35,000 teachers in L.A. Unified switch positions and support reopening campuses for those students who want to attend. By about 5:30 p.m., more than 65 people, many from Orange County, gathered in front of the UTLA Plaza near Wilshire Center holding signs and chanting. (Rosenfeld, 8/19)


Los Angeles Times:
L.A. Orders Power Shut Off At TikTok Influencer House 


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered the power cut at a swanky Hollywood Hills residence that police say held parties in violation of public health orders aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus and is the home of several TikTok stars, including Bryce Hall. The house on Appian Way was the site of at least two large gatherings in recent weeks, police said. (Smith, 8/19)


LA Daily News:
Families Of Cancer Patients Sue Children’s Hospital LA After Faulty Freezer Destroys Stored Stem Cells


Families of five young cancer patients sued Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug. 19, over the 2019 malfunction of a cryogenic freezer that destroyed stem cells from dozens of children. The suits, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, allege the 1988-era freezer began breaking down decades ago and that staff recently deactivated an alarm on the device that was supposed to alert them when it was becoming unstable. (Saavedra, 8/19)


Fresno Bee:
Fentanyl Crisis In Fresno County Is Growing, Officials Say


Parents were urged Wednesday to talk to their children ASAP about the dangers of fentanyl manufactured by drug cartels and sold on Valley streets, federal and local officials said during a news conference at the Fresno County Sheriff’s Ofice. U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott called the issue a public health crisis, and warned that the synthetic opioid, often disguised on the street as Xanax or Oxycodone, is in fact fentanyl — 50 times more powerful than morphine. (Guy, 8/19)


CIDRAP:
Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Onions Grows By More Than 200 Cases


A multistate Salmonella Newport outbreak linked to onions grew in the past week, with 229 new cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, officials have confirmed 869 cases in 47 states, including 116 hospitalizations. No deaths have been recorded. Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, California, is the likely source of potentially contaminated red onions, which were used in a variety of food products, according to a list of recalled produces from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition to onions, cheese dips, salsa, and pre-diced onions have all been recalled. The products have been sold at retailers throughout the country, including Aldi, Public Super Market, Walmart, and Kroger. (8/19)



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