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 1/18/2021 – will be updated periodically (initial publish date: 03.05.2020)
- Starting 1/19/22, the USA Government will provide up to four free testing home kit for each household. They also share information on reimbursement for previous purchases of kits. Sign up here.
- LA County now offers Free Home Test Kit (to be sent to a lab) for anyone who may have symptoms or were exposed to COVID-19 for those living in the county. More details here.
- FDA recently announced emergency use approval for the first viral treatment for COVID-19 called Paxlovid. For more details, read here.
- For more details on omicron variant, read here
- Mask mandate is back in state of California for all indoor public spaces including workplaces. This is in effect until Jan 15, 2022.
- For all information related to proof of vaccination, read it here.
- 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).
Since December 11, 2020, several 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.
On August 23, 2021, the FDA approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 16 and older. This approval means that the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety and effectiveness (FDA, 2021c). The vaccine is still available through EUA for individuals 12-15 years old. As of October 29, 2021, the Pfizer vaccine received EUA for ages 5-11 as well.
For more information on the three COVID-19 vaccines, please read Keiro’s article here. (initially published March 2021).
On October 20, 2021, the FDA expanded the use of booster shot doses for COVID-19 vaccines in eligible populations. On November 19, 2021, FDA and CDC both approved booster shots for Pfizer and Moderna for all individuals over the age of 18 and has been at least 6 months fater the second dose. The updated EUA for vaccines allow for the use of a single booster dose in the following situations (FDA, 2021d):
- The use of a single booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be administered at least 6 months after the second dose to all individuals who are age 18 and above.
- The use of a single booster does of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine may be administered at least two months after receiving the initial single dose of the vaccine to individuals 18 and older
- The use of each of the available COVID-19 vaccines as a “mix and match” booster dose in eligible individuals after the initial vaccine dose(s) of a different available COVID-19 vaccine.
- For example, individuals 18 and older who received the single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine can receive a single booster dose of the Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, or Pfizer vaccines at least two months after the first dose.
- Moderna and Pfizer vaccine recipients who are eligible for boosters (listed above) may receive a booster dose of the Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson and Johnson vaccine at least 6 months after completing primary vaccination.
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.
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).
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:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Muscle pain
- New loss of taste or smell
- Congestion or runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
EUA Oral Treatments
In December 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for two oral antiviral treatments of COVID-19. These post-infection treatments help lower the risk of hospitalization and death.
- Paxlovoid is used for the treatment of mild or moderate COVID-19 in adults and children 12 years or older, weighing at least 88 pounds who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at high risk of severe illness (FDA, 2021e). Paxlovid is administered as three tablets taken together orally twice a day for five days, for a total of 30 tablets.
- Molnupiravir is used for the treatment of mild or moderate COVID-19 in adults 18 years or older (FDA, 2021f). Molnupiravir is administered as four capsules taken orally every 12 hours for five days, for a total of 40 capsules. Molnupiravir is limited to situations where other FDA-authorized treatments for COVID-19 are inaccessible or are not clinically appropriate and will be a useful treatment option for some patients at high risk for severe illness.
Both of these treatments are not authorized for the pre-exposure or post-exposure prevention of COVID-19 or for treatment in those requiring hospitalization due to severe or critical COVID-19. Both treatments are available by prescription only and should be given as soon as possible after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset. Be sure to talk to your doctor about how these treatments may interact with other medications you may take. Additionally, these treatments are not substitutes for COVID-19 vaccines. The best protection against COVID-19 is vaccination and booster shots six months after the second vaccination.
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. Read here if you test positive.
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:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 Website
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Handwashing Website
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s What to Do if You are Sick Website
- Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Coronavirus Website (English & Japanese)
- World Health Organization’s Q&A Website
Myths and Scams
View our articles on COVID-19 myths and scams here:
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
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COVID-19 Testing (2020). Retried from https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/
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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
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Vaccines. (2020). Retrieved from https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/