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    Amid New COVID Surge, Confusing Mix Of Rules

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    By Emily Hoeven

    Another month, another COVID surge.

    As the highly contagious omicron subvariant BA.5 spreads across California and the country — pushing the Golden State’s seven-day test positivity rate to 16.7% as of Thursday — all levels of government seem to be sending mixed messages about how we should respond.

    Case in point: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Friday extended the country’s COVID public health emergency order for the tenth time. But on Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended its COVID monitoring program for cruise ships, noting, “Cruise ships have access to guidance and tools to manage their own COVID-19 mitigation programs. Additionally, cruise travelers have access to recommendations that allow them to make informed decisions about cruise ship travel.”

    But rarely are COVID recommendations consistent — even within the same state.

    Take California, which at the state level has been slowly dismantling its emergency pandemic response and leaving many details to the counties: Although the CDC categorizes 42 of 58 counties as having high levels of COVID community transmission — at which point it recommends universal masking in indoor public spaces — only Los Angeles County appears poised to reinstate an indoor mask mandate, a move it could make as soon as July 29.

    In the Bay Area, where wastewater surveys suggest there is more COVID circulating than there was at the height of the winter omicron surge, county health officials told the San Francisco Chronicle they have no plans to bring back restrictions such as mask mandates. Indeed, the mask mandate for riders of BART — the Bay Area’s public transit system — expired Monday.

    By contrast, masks once again became mandatory Monday at a host of locations, including San Diego Unified schools, UC Irvine and San Diego military bases. Face coverings are also required at UCLA, UC Riverside and Los Angeles film sets, and are a precondition — along with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test — to attending the massive Comic-Con International convention in San Diego later this week.

    Despite California’s uptick in positive cases — which is almost certainly an undercount, given how many people don’t report at-home test results or don’t test at all — and a surge in reinfections and hospitalizations, the threat of serious illness and death appears to have tapered off for most vaccinated and boosted patients.

    • One key example: Of the 30 COVID-positive patients currently receiving care at LAC+USC Medical Center in Los Angeles County, just 3 were admitted due to “illness caused by COVID,” the hospital said Monday, adding that none are in the ICU and no one has been intubated in several months.
    • But, the hospital added, “These facts should not negate the importance of vaccination and other COVID-19 safety measures, nor should they be used to promote baseless political arguments against such measures. … The pandemic is still ongoing and unpredictable.”



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    Jeff Schwartz
    Jeff Schwartz
    18 days ago

    The Ventura County Board of Supervisors, and the municipal city councils, such as the Thousand Oaks City Council, must never again threaten to shut down churches and businesses in the name of public health. To do so is a clear violation of the First Amendment and our most basic civil rights. The Bill of Rights clearly explains that individual citizens should be in charge of deciding whether or not they want to peaceably assemble with one another, not governments. The Thousand Oaks City Council has declared the city to be in a perpetual “state of emergency” for more than two years, since March 17, 2020. The Council has been in violation of California law since they have not been consistently reassessing the need for their “state of emergency” every 30 days like they are required to by law. We must call for them to immediately repeal their “state of emergency.” Our city and county officials should stop pretending that they have any legitimate authority to infringe upon our rights protected by the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. Learn more by searching for “Jeff Schwartz Thousand Oaks.”

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