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LA County Now Has 8 Confirmed Cases Of UK Covid-19 Variant 

Los Angeles County recorded another five cases of the UK coronavirus variant this past Tuesday, bringing the total number of variant cases up to eight for the county. Officials are currently expected to enforce measures to prevent citizens from traveling, however, the past month has left residents hopeless after numerous public establishments that promote close contact have remained open despite California being one of the world’s hot spots for Covid-19. 

The variant is scientifically referred to as B117, and the reason its presence is so concerning is because its more transmissible than the standard Covid-19 virus that we’ve been fighting for the past year, which as we know, is already extremely contagious. Health experts do believe that all current vaccines being distributed in America will likely work against B117, however, curbing the spread is top priority so that we can get everyone vaccinated. 

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California was just beginning to recover after a post-holiday increase in cases, but now the presence of this variant and lack of lockdown procedures being enforced is a major cause for concern. 

Statewide about 159 cases of the UK variant have been detected, but those aren’t the only Covid-19 mutation cases that are raising some red flags among healthcare workers. Around 1,200 cases of two different “west coast variants” of Covid-19 have been reported in the state, according to Governor Gavin Newsom.

LA County Health Director Barbara Ferrer also recently spoke with tht media about the South African coronavirus variant, stating that even though California hasn’t reported any cases of that variant, “that doesn’t mean it’s not there. There’s just no way that the state doesn’t have a fair amount of variants circulating, it’s more of a question of how much and will any of them become dominant.” 

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“It’s unlikely LA County’s latest surge was due to the UK variant, it’s possible there were mutations that were circulating in the state that were already more infectious. We know that at least 50% of our samples have shown the ‘California variant’ already.”

LA County Department of Public Health posted a memo regarding the new mutations and the virus response in general: “COVID-19 surged after Thanksgiving and Christmas travel in November and December. The more people travel, the more interactions they have with individuals outside of their household, the greater the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Shared transportation, including travel by air, bus, or rail, can not only put travelers at risk but also all members of the community if infected travelers spread COVID-19 to others after returning to Los Angeles County.”

The B117 variant has been found already in dozens of states; 932 cases have been reported nationwide according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are only weeks away from reducing transmission in L.A. County to a level where elementary schools will be allowed by the state to offer in-class instruction, provided they adhere to all State and County directives… Please do your part to continue to slow the spread so that our recovery journey does not suffer a setback,” Ferrer said in a statement. 

Governor Gavin Newsom To Lift Covid-19 Stay-At-Home Orders In California 

Despite California being one of the most infected Covid-19 hot spots of the entire world, Governor Gavin Newsom is announcing this week that he will lift all regional coronavirus stay-at-home orders for the state. This means establishments that promote close contact such as restaurants, gyms, and bars, will be able to reopen in certain counties. 

All counties in the state will return to the colored tier system that applies local risk levels based on case numbers and rates of positive test results. Most counties are expected to go into the “widespread” risk tier, which “permits hair salons to offer limited services indoors, but restricts many other nonessential indoor business operations. The change is expected to take effect immediately after Newsom’s announcement this Monday,” according to the Los Angeles Times. 

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Los Angeles County has become a national/international hotbed of the coronavirus. Hospitals have been completely overwhelmed by patients, Southern California is reporting close to 0% availability in ICU beds. In less than a month more than 5,000 people have died of Covid-19 in LA County alone. 

Outdoor dining bans and stay-at-home orders, however, have been widely opposed due to the economic impact of having so many local businesses shut down indefinitely. However, critics then just raised the point that the government should be bailing out those businesses and placing every American’s health and safety as the top priority. 

The stay-at-home orders were initially enforced in the beginning of December in an effort to reduce the amount of stress hospitals were under as case numbers continued to rise exponentially due to the holidays. Once ICU beds have a capacity of over 15%, certain regional shutdowns can be lifted, according to Newsom’s office. 

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However, earlier this month Newsom lifted the orders for the Greater Sacramento region despite daily reports of available ICU beds never approaching even close to the 15% threshold which was thought to be a state requirement for lifting the restrictions. 

The Bay area has reported a 23.4% ICU bed capacity, and has on the other hand remained under the stay-at-home order due to a four-week projection of a decrease in hospital bed availability for the area. As of this Saturday Southern California showed literally no ICU availability, and the San Joaquin Valley region reported a 1.3% capacity. These numbers were released two days ago, and Newsom is still moving forward with lifting some of the state’s restrictions. 

Health officials are also expressing major concern over a new and potentially more contagious variant of the virus that has been detected in California. One of the newer variants is thought to be 50% more transmissible than the already extremely contagious standard Covid-19 virus that we’ve been fighting for the past ten months. 

Two weeks ago certain officials were in talks to close down the state’s malls and outdoor gyms, however, no action was taken, and those establishments continue to stay open. Only time will tell if more federal action from the Biden administration is taken to give these states the opportunity to recover.

Stressed Out Nurse

CDC Warns That US Is Expected To Have 500,000 Covid-19 Deaths By February

The US is about to hit 400,000 Covid-19 related deaths as it endures the worst phase of the pandemic yet. With the rollout of multiple vaccines and a new administration entering the White House, who’s promising that future coronavirus protocols will be based on science and have nothing to do with politics, many Americans are hopeful, however the CDC is warning that the damage has been done, and the nation should expect to hit half a million deaths within the next month. 

“By the middle of February, we expect half a million coronavirus deaths in America.” 

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UCLA epidemiologist Dr. Anne Rimoin recently spoke with the media about the news of a new Covid-19 variant discovered in Los Angeles that is thought to be much more transmissible than the already extremely contagious Covid-19 virus that we’ve been battling for the past ten months. California currently leads the entire world in coronavirus cases with over 3 million residents currently infected. 

Rimoin discussed how she suspects there are more variants active throughout the population, and compared searching for these variants to “shining a flashlight in the dark, because you’re going to see something if you start to look, we just haven’t been looking.” It’s expected that with the Biden administration promising to lead future Covid procedures based on the panel of healthcare experts and scientists – who are being sworn to lead without any political bias – that these variants will be easier to find, which will help lead to containment efforts. 

Nationwide rollouts of the vaccine’s have led to some major confusion as well. Initially the US wanted to have 20 million people vaccinated with their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, and as of five days ago the CDC reported only 6 million Americans have received their first dose so far.

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Florida, which is another US hot spot for Covid-19 due to a complete lack of enforcement of policy in regard to keeping bars and restaurants open, has been struggling greatly in terms of vaccine rollouts. According to immunocompromised Palm Beach resident Elizabeth Johnson, “you can’t get an appointment, you can’t buy an appointment, it’s all very unclear so what are we supposed to do?”

That level of confusion has been relatively common throughout the US in terms of vaccinations. Florida’s department of health has claims that more than 40,000 individuals are already overdue to receive their second dose of the vaccine. The timing of this new science-led administrative response to the pandemic couldn’t have come at a better time for this country. In LA County current data shows that one person is dying every six minutes; meanwhile all malls and gyms in LA remain open. 

Coroner office’s are so overwhelmed by the influx of bodies that LA County has eased up on their air pollution and quality rules to allow for more cremations to occur, and they’re not alone. Metropolitan hospitals all throughout the US are overwhelmed to a degree that is so much exponentially worse than where we were at even a few months ago. Only time will tell how much this new administration is able to get this pandemic finally under control.

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LA County Ambulance Crews Told Not To Transport Patients With ‘Little Chance Of Survival’ 

Los Angeles County has been a hot spot for Covid-19 within the past six months, and now, it’s the worst it’s ever been. About one in five residents in the county are now testing positive for Covid-19, meaning within one month the county doubled its number of infections; around 40,000 cases on November 30th to more than 800,000 on January 2nd. 

The amount of new infections appearing is causing hospitals to be completely overwhelmed. In fact, all intensive care units throughout the region are now at maximum capacity. 7,600 residents of LA county are currently hospitalized and battling the virus, and 21% of those residents are in the ICU.

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With no hospital beds available, ambulance crews in LA county have been given guidance to not transport patients with little chance of survival, as the patients who are transported often have to wait hours before a bed can be made available. Hospital supervisor Hilda Solis recently spoke with the media about the current situation, calling it a “human disaster.” 

“Hospitals are declaring internal disasters and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units, we have people dying from this virus every 15 minutes.” 

Officials are also extremely worried because they know it’s about to get so much worse with new cases appearing from the holidays due to an excess in travel that still occurred despite all of the warnings against it. 

“The increases in cases are likely to continue for weeks to come as a result of holiday and New Year’s Eve parties and returning travelers. We’re likely to experience the worst conditions in January that we’ve faced the entire pandemic, and that’s hard to imagine,” said Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer.

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Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMS) specifically directed ambulance crews not to transport patients with little to no chance of survival due to the need to conserve oxygen supplies. Los Angeles hospitals are at a capacity they never thought possible in the past. The county EMS said patients whose hearts have stopped despite efforts of resuscitation should no longer be transported to hospitals. 

“Effective immediately, due to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on EMS and 9-1-1 Receiving Hospitals, adult patients (18 years of age or older) in blunt traumatic and non-traumatic out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) shall not be transported [if]return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) is not achieved in the field,” the agency said in a memo sent to ambulance workers.

If there are no signs of breathing or a pulse, EMS will continue to perform resuscitation for at least 20 minutes, and if the patient becomes stabilized after that period of resuscitation, they would be taken to the hospital. If a patient is declared dead at the scene or no pulse is able to be restored, paramedics will no longer be able to transport the body to the hospital. 

Some EMT’s told the press that even when they are able to bring patients into the hospitals they can be waiting between two to four hours almost every time. While these ambulances and crew members are waiting at hospitals, there are fewer healthcare employees and resources available to respond to other 911 calls. For now, no further lockdown efforts have been made to curb this spread in LA.

Young Boy Playing Sports with Mask

How California Is Continuing Youth Sports During A Statewide Shutdown 

Popular high school sports such as football, volleyball, basketball, etc. are indefinitely on hold until at least January 25th as Covid-19 cases reach record-highs in California, prompting another statewide shutdown. According to new guidelines released by the California Department of Public Health, the state’s four-tier coronavirus tracking system is being used to determine when certain youth and recreational adult sports can resume. 

Sports that are considered to be “high-contact” in an outdoor setting are able to be played in counties that are in the orange tier; this includes sports such as football, soccer, or basketball. The orange tier is known as the “moderate tier” and as of right now one county is on that low level. The next level up from that is the red tier, or “substantial tier,” which currently has three counties included in it. Next up is the purple tier, also known as the “widespread tier”, which currently has 54 counties included in it; all nine counties that make up the Bay Area are in the purple tier. 

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These guidelines define all high-contact sports as “team sports with frequent or sustained close contact between participants and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants; moderate-contact sports as team sports that can be played with only incidental or intermittent close contact between participants; and low-contact sports as individual or small group sports where contact within six feet of other participants can be avoided.”

All inter-team sport competitions are on hold until at least January 25th, and that date is pending based on how much worse the pandemic gets in California. Justin Alumbaugh is the head football coach at De La Salle High School, who recently spoke with the press about how he wasn’t surprised by the new guidelines at all because “a lot of it makes sense.” 

“It’s going to be a challenge, but at least it’s doable. Now we’re given something we can work with, that was something that we really really needed.” 

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Indoor sports such as basketball face an obvious challenge when it comes to resuming activity. Basketball as a sport is placed in the yellow, or minimal, tier, as the guidance states that all indoor sports are much higher risk than outdoor sports because of the reduced ventilation. Sports in the purple tier that are able to be played throughout California currently are golf, diving/swimming, tennis, cross country, and track and field. 

The guidelines also have strict requirements for wearing facial coverings, remaining six feet apart as much as possible, and consistent sanitation for all sports equipment between every use. Preliminary sports practices such as physical conditioning, general practicing, skill building, and training are all still allowed to occur in outdoor settings in a socially distanced manner. David Grissmom is the commissioner for the Central Coast sector of California’s Interscholastic Federation who recently spoke with the press about these new, highly-anticipated, guidelines.

“I’m glad we have them, that’s a positive step. We need to keep wearing masks and socially distancing and doing the right things so our kids can have their sports back.” 

When California’s Interscholastic Federation announced their initial high school sports guidelines in the summer, many were delayed until at least December; which has held true. Those guidelines, however, remained in place even though the pandemic worsened and a multitude of other systemic policies were being adjusted to cope. Now, youth sports leaders across the state have a much clearer picture as to when they may be able to return to the field.

California Shutdown Is Causing Restaurants And Other Businesses To Struggle Greatly

After an intense second-wave of Covid-19 infections, California Governor Gavin Newsom shutdown the state with measures that yet again restricted a multitude of businesses and restaurants from making an income.

California Quarantine

California Reinstates Covid-19 Restrictions As Cases Continue To Spike Throughout State

California was one of the many states that began to transition towards less restrictive measures for its residents as Covid-19 cases showed signs of slowing down some five months ago.

California Real Estate

California’s Real Estate Market Is ‘Surging’ According To Experts 

Mark McLaughlin is the president of San Francisco-based real estate company Compass California, and Selma Hepp is the Deputy Chief Economist at Corelogic, both recently spoke with the press about the current state of California’s real estate market and why it’s seeing such an unexpected curve in sales. 

According to McLaughlin, the recent “surge” in home buying that California is experiencing is due to three main variables. The delay of the traditional spring home-buying market, the Covid-19 pandemic inspiring investors to search for larger properties to quarantine in, and record low interest rates all across the country.

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The combination of these three varying factors has created a “velocity in the market we have not seen since 2006, pre-Great recession.”

According to Hepp, in August California saw a 15% increase in year-over-year sales activity, and while she believes that activity will still be down for the year overall due to the current economic crisis, it will still be a “solid year in sales and prices.” Inventory in California has been down by 50% which has an obvious impact on sales. 

The major difference that’s fueling the current demand, despite the lack of supply, is the fact that mortgage rates are so low and sellers have been spending their time in quarantine making changes to their homes that better fit the stay-at-home lifestyle we’ve all adopted throughout the past six months. 

“I would say home buyers have a unique opportunity to lock in the record lowest mortgage rates which will help offset some of the affordability challenges seen in the last few years.”

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Both experts also have mixed feelings on the November elections impact on the future of the real estate market. McLaughlin believes that another round of federally funded stimulus checks need to be distributed to Americans for the economy in general. These stimulus payments also helped individuals pay their rents and mortgages, so without them, the beginning of the 2021 market year could see a major decline in housing payments all across the country.

Hepp on the other hand isn’t as convinced the election will have an impact on the market, as in general she’s seen a slowdown in transactions before any election season. She claims that with the beginning of every year after a November election, the market sees a new surge in purchases, so she’s still projecting that will occur in California. 

“Homebuyers have a possibility to expand their search geographically and entertain areas that they haven’t thought of in the past. These are unique breaks that buyers in the past may have not had.”

When it comes to giving advice to homebuyers, both believe that prospective buyers should focus on the feeling of “home” more than anything else. Be conservative when it comes to spending, as the economy has proven to be unpredictable, however, real estate is almost always worth the investment overtime, so if you’re in a position to make the sale, go for it. 

California Wildfire

California Wildfires Update: Hospitals And Hundreds Of Homes Evacuated

Wind-driven fires that have erupted in the Napa Valley have forced hundreds of residents and all patients at St Helena Hospital to evacuate.

House Fire

How To Better Protect Your Home From Wildfires

As we’ve all seen, wildfire season has been devastating within the past year alone. The frequency and severity of these wildfires in the US have grown exponentially to a place we’ve never seen before. According to the US Forest Service’s 2019 Wildfire Risk Analysis, more than 4.5 million homes in the western US are currently at high or extreme risk of wildfire exposure. Now more than ever it’s important for all homeowners to take necessary precautions in protecting their homes as much as possible from the potential threat of wildfires, here are some measures one can take: 

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Clear Your Rook and Deck: Burning embers from smaller fires that float down from the plumes of smoke in the sky are a major threat to homes and other structures that aren’t protected. It only takes one ember to ignite a pile of dead leaves on a roof or deck that can prompt the entire house to then go up in flames. In the warmer wildfire season especially, one should be keeping their deck/porch swept of all dirt and debris as well as their rook. If you live in a wildfire prone area, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends getting asphalt shingles, clay or concrete tiles, metal, and/or slate roofing as all of those are fire resistant. 

Keep Embers Out Of Vents: Open eaves, vents, and other areas of exposure can also be extremely vulnerable to ember exposure, so make sure you have all openings from the outside of your home screened/sealed off. If your home has a pet door make sure it has a proper seal that can keep it closed during fire season/when it’s not in use. 

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Create A Plan For Emergency Responder Access: In case of emergency, you need to ensure that firefighters and other law enforcement employees are able to gain access to your home should you and your loved ones need help. Make sure your street names and numbers are clearly marked and legible from a distance. Make your specific address number prominently known on the outside of your property. If you have a driveway, try to keep it as cleared out and open as possible should a firetruck need access, as well as other areas of access into the home. 

Collaborate With Neighbors: If you’re in a wildfire prone area on the west coast of the US you should be talking to your neighbors about what the plan is should your neighborhood need to evacuate or respond to an emergency situation. There’s a multitude of online resources wildfire-prone communities can access to keep them better prepared for the future. Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is a company whose main purpose is literally creating guides for communities to keep them prepared. 

Firewise USA is a program run by the NFPA that empowers homeowners and residents all across the country to increase their ignition risks in their homes and communities. Currently the program has over 1,500 active sites in 42 states that they run out of. 

The NFPA also created a prep day to raise community awareness on wildfire risk that they call the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. This day is full of useful information, techniques, drills, supplies, etc. that can better prepare any homeowner for future wildfires. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of this day’s activities and information workshops aren’t able to occur in person, however, the NFPA created an online toolkit that anyone can access at any time to give themselves a refresher on wildfire prevention.