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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives since March 19, 2020. As businesses reopen and normalcy slowly returns here in Southern California, we should continue to stay informed and up to date with COVID-19 news and changes. With information flooding across multiple media platforms, it can be difficult to navigate through the constant updates and be best prepared on how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

As of 9/24/2021 – will be updated periodically (initial publish date: 03.05.2020)
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Latest news

  • CDC made an announcement to allow booster shots for certain individuals for Pfizer. Scroll below for details (9/24/21)
  • LA County announced they will require showing proof of vaccination in certain indoor settings such as bars, and night clubs. They will require employees and customers to have at least the first shot by October 7, and second by November 4(announced 9/15/21).
  • FDA officially approved the Pfizer vaccine. (8/23/21)
  • Click here for the vaccine information from the Health and Human Services Department

COVID Vaccines

Since December 11, 2020, a number of vaccines have been granted Emergency Use Approval (EUA):

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (initially granted EUA on 12/11/20 for 16+, then EUA updated for 12+ on 5/10/21). (2-dose vaccine)
  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (initially granted on 12/18/20 for 18+) (2-dose vaccine)
  • Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson and Johnson; initially granted 2/27/21 for 18+) (1 dose vaccine)

The EUA allows faster access to medical products during a health emergency when no other approved options are available (Treatment, 2020). California formed a Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to assess the safety in the vaccines and has confirmed that it is safe and effective (Food and Drug Administration, 2020c). In California, since April 15, 2021, all individuals 12 and over are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

For more information on the three COVID-19 vaccines, please read Keiro’s article here. (initially published March 2021).

Booster Shots

The FDA announced EUA for moderate to severely immunocompromised people to receive a third booster shot for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (8/12/21). CDC then updated their recommendations as well (8/16).

The CDC announced on September 24 that the following people should receive booster shots six months after the second shot for those who received the Pfizer vaccines:

  • Those who are age 65 and over
  • Those living in long-term care settings
  • Those who are age 50-64 with certain medical conditions (those who have been receiving active cancer treatment, those who received an organ transplant who is taking a medicine to suppress the immune system, and more. For more information, read the CDC guidelines here.)

The following people may receive booster shots six months after the second shot for those who received the Pfizer vaccines:

  • Those who are age 18-49 with underlying medical conditions (link above)
  • Those who are age 18-64 who work in conditions where they have increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission.

Other things to note:

  • No announcement has been made regarding mixing vaccines.
  • No official announcement regarding those who received Johnson and Johnson or Moderna vaccines.
  • Those who are not in the above categories should NOT and do not need to receive a third booster shot, as their current vaccines protect from severe conditions at this time.
  • For the full statement released by CDC on 9/24, click here.

Breakthrough Cases of COVID-19

The COVID-19 vaccines do not provide 100% protection against contracting COVID-19. A person is fully vaccinated if they received the vaccine dose(s) and have waited two weeks past the second or final dose. Breakthrough cases occur when vaccinated individuals still contract the virus. As of April 20, 2021, over 87 million Americans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Of those 87 million, there have been 7,157 breakthrough cases. Even though breakthrough cases occur, being vaccinated against COVID-19 can decrease the severity of the illness.

Vaccine Resources by County

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine in your county, view the links below.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 spreads easily and rapidly in these ways:

Person-to-person (primary form of transmission)

The virus can spread through close contact with an infected person though exposure to droplets from coughs or exhales (Q&A on Coronaviruses, 2020).

Infected surfaces

The virus can also spread after touching an object or surface that has infected droplets on it. Touching an object or surface and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth can spread COVID-19 (Q&A on Coronaviruses, 2020).

Symptoms of COVID-19 have ranged from mild to severe and can be similar to the symptoms of the common cold and flu. As of February 22, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported the symptoms for the virus include:

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

These known symptoms have shown to appear between 2-14 days after initial exposure. If you think you are experiencing symptoms of the virus, please contact your health care provider over the phone for medical advice before going to their office (Symptoms of COVID-19, 2021).

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging individuals to be aware of emergency warning signs including:

Emergency Warning Signs

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

If you are experiencing any emergency warning signs, please seek medical help immediately.
It is also important to keep in mind about different symptoms compared to others. Read more here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Other COVID-19 Related Articles:

Testing for the Virus 

There are several public health laboratories that offer COVID-19 testing (Testing, 2020). If you suspect you have the virus and/or are displaying symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath), call your primary care physician first. They can help determine if you need to be tested and can help direct you to the correct testing location (Testing, 2020). If your doctor is not providing testing, you can call your local urgent care. However, it is not advised to go to the emergency room just for a test. In addition, the residents in Los Angeles County can call 211, the Los Angeles County information line, to find providers with tests (Becker & Ibarra, 2020).

Testing in California

In the state of California, there are multiple testing locations now available. The California Department of Public Health has set four priority categories for who should get tested.

On May 7, 2020, Governor Newsom released a new website that allows California residents to search for nearby test centers: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Nearby/index.html?appid=43118dc0d5d348d8ab20a81967a15401

Testing in Los Angeles County (COVID-19: Testing, 2020).

Free COVID-19 testing is available to LA County residents. LA County and LA City have drive-up testing available. To register for an appointment, click here. LA County residents can also register with a state testing site such as OptumServe or Verily.

Testing in Orange County (COVID-19 Testing, 2020)

There are over 50 testing sites available in Orange County. Visit their website here: https://coronavirus.egovoc.com/covid-19-testing

Residents or those working in Orange County are eligible; they are advised to first ask their health care provider if testing is available before seeking other options listed on the site.

Testing in Ventura County (COVID-19 Health Care)

Testing in Ventura County are for essential workers and residents who have symptoms of the virus. The test is free, and you do not need to have health insurance or a doctor’s referral. Those with symptoms or have had known exposure to someone with COVID-19, call OptumServe at 888.634.1123 or visit https://lhi.care/covidtesting. Residents can also call the County of Ventura Testing Hotline at 805.652.7660

Residents will answer questions to determine the need for the test. If a test is needed, an appointment will be given at one of the State testing sites or County Urgent Care locations. If you do not have symptoms or close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and would like to be tested, contact OptumServe.

Costs

  • Medicare – Medicare Part B covers COVID-19 testing. This test is used to see if you have the virus. The test is covered when your doctor or other health care provider orders one (Coronavirus Test, 2020). Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital care when all of the following are true (Inpatient Hospital Care, n.d.). You are admitted to the hospital as an inpatient after an official doctor’s order, which says you need inpatient hospital care to treat your illness or injury. The hospital accepts Medicare. In certain cases, the Utilization Review Committee of the hospital approves your stay while you’re in the hospital.
  • Uninsured (US. Department of Health and Human Services, 2021)- The testing is free for those are without insurance.

Treatment

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted approval and emergency use authorization (EUA) for a number of treatments, after concluding that the potential benefits of these treatments outweigh the known and potential risks of using these drugs.

Veklury (Remdesivir)

On October 22, 2020, the FDA granted approval for the use of the antiviral drug Veklury, also called remdesivir, for the treatment of COVID-19. This treatment, since August of 2020, is approved use for all hospitalized patients. Currently, this treatment has been granted approval following several clinical trials of the drug testing its effectiveness. The drug is approved for use in patients over the age of 12 and weighing over 88 pounds. This drug is only authorized to be used in hospitals or health care settings that offer similar care.(Food and Drug Administration, 2021a)

Other EUA treatments

There are a number of treatments that have received Emergency Use Authorization to treat COVID-19 cases, ranging from mild to severe symptoms. All of these treatments have been granted emergency approval because the potential benefits of using these treatments outweigh the potential risks of using it. Some are listed here (FDA, 2021b):

  • Convalescent Plasma – This treatment, given EUA initially on August 23, 2020, is for COVID-19 patients who have been hospitalized (FDA, 2020b). Plasma is the part of the blood that contains antibodies, or proteins made in response to infections (FDA, 2020b). Thus, plasma from patients who have had COVID-19 may contain antibodies that can fight against the disease.
  • Monoclonal antibody treatments – There are a number of treatments (Ex. Bamlanivimab, Sotrovimab, etc.) that have been given EUA in early 2021 as treatments for mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients for those who are age 12 and above who weigh at least 88 lbs who are at risk for getting severe symptoms from COVID-19. Monoclonal antibodies are lab made molecules that acts as antibodies to help respond to the virus more effectively.

Ways to Stay Safe

The most effective way to protect yourself and others against the virus is to be prepared and practice good self-management techniques. The safety guidelines differ for those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

For those vaccinated (CDC, 2021a):

  • Continue to follow any guidance given at workplace and local businesses
  • Observe your health, and if you see any symptoms of COVID-19, should get tested and stay home
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Wear masks in public transportation areas or when required.

For those unvaccinated(CDC, 2021b):

  • Getting vaccinated
    • Look for a nearby place where you can get vaccinated here.
  • Wearing a facemask when in public (over your nose and mouth)
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Keeping social distance – at least six feet apart
    • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces (indoors especially)
  • Staying home if you are experiencing any symptoms
  • Wash your hands often (20 seconds) for situations like
    • When you prepare food or before you eat
    • Before you touch your face
    • After using the restroom, or leaving a public space
    • When you wear your mask
  • Use hand sanitizers that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash. If you do not have access to a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces (i.e. phones, doorknobs, etc.)

Government Resources and Health Orders

Refer to our fact sheet on, Lifestyle During COVID-19 for updates on Health Orders. Here are other websites that may be helpful:

Myths and Scams

View our articles on COVID-19 myths and scams here:

Resources

Becker, R., Ibarra, A. (2020). Where California Stands with Coronavirus Testing Right Now. Retrieved from https://calmatters.org/health/coronavirus/2020/03/california-coronavirus-testing-insurance-locations-rules/

CDC, (2021a). When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html

CDC, (2021b). Protecting Yourself. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Joint Statement from HHS Public Health and Medical Experts on COVID-19 Booster Shots. (August 18, 2021). Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s0818-covid-19-booster-shots.html

Coronavirus Test. (2020). Retrieved from. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/coronavirus-test

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Potential COVID-19 Treatment. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-issues-emergency-use-authorization-potential-covid-19-treatment

COVID-19 Testing (2020). Retried from https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/

Food and Drug Administration. (2020a). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/media/137564/download

Food and Drug Administration. (2020b). Donate COIVD-19 Plasma. Retrieved on August 27, 2020 from https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/donate-covid-19-plasma

Food and Drug Administration. (2020c). Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/media/144414/download

Food & Drug Administration. (2021a). FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Third COVID-19 Vaccine. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-issues-emergency-use-authorization-third-covid-19-vaccine

Food & Drug Administration. (2021b). Know Your Treatment Options for COVID-19. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/know-your-treatment-options-covid-19

Inpatient Hospital Care. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/inpatient-hospital-care

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine

Q&A on Coronaviruses (COVID-2019). (2020). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Schedule a COVID-19 Test. (2020). Retrieved from https://lacovidprod.service-now.com/rrs

Symptoms of COVID-19. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Testing. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html

Treatment. (2020). Retrieved from https://covid19.ca.gov/treatment-for-covid-19/

US. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). COVID-19 Care for Uninsured Individuals. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-care-uninsured-individuals/index.html

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2020). FDA Approves First Treatment for COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-treatment-covid-19

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (August 12, 2021). Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes Additional Vaccine Dose for Certain Immunocompromised Individuals. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-authorizes-additional-vaccine-dose-certain-immunocompromised

Vaccines. (2020). Retrieved from https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/