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As COVID Cases Drop, Complacency Grows

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By Jorge Casuso

August 9, 2022 -- As the School Board prepares to debate COVID policies on Thursday, a lack of interest, and even skepticism, about the dangers the virus poses appears to be growing.

On Tuesday, days after Los Angeles County Health officials announced the new Novavax vaccine was available, its maker's shares tumbled after only 7,381 doses were administered in the U.S. since the drug was authorized for use last month.

The new vaccine -- which is being touted as using technology employed in vaccines for the last 30 years -- "was expected to be preferred by the skeptics of messenger RNA-based shots from Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc.," according to a report in Reuters.

The news comes one week after the NorthShore University Health System based in Evanston, Illinois agreed to pay $10.3 million in a COVID-19 vaccine lawsuit being hailed as a "first of its kind settlement."

The lawsuit was filed by 14 health care workers -- 11 nurses, a pharmacy technician, a patient access representative and a senior application analyst -- who were denied religious exemptions for vaccinations.

Closer to home, an opinion piece was published this week by the Southern California News Group, which includes the Daily News and Orange County Register, titled "The fear-mongering fraud of L.A. County’s COVID death totals."

Penned by Susan Shelley, a columnist and member of the News group's editorial board, the piece questioned the accuracy of data released by County Health officials reporting deaths "due to COVID."

"To use that phrase ('due to') in a news release misleads the public, perhaps intentionally, if the meaning of 'due to' is anything other than 'caused by,'” Shelley wrote.

"In fact," she notes, “'due to' is not a phrase that appears in the cited guidelines established by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, which is a non-governmental, nonprofit organization," which uses instead the term "COVID-19-associated Deaths."

“'Associated' deaths, according to the CSTE, include deaths from any cause as long as there is some connection to COVID, even if it’s just a positive PCR test or 'epidemiologic linkage' with 'clinical criteria,' such as fatigue and a runny nose."

According to County data released Tuesday, there have been a total of 32,869 deaths due to COVID since the coronavirus emergency was declared 29 months ago.

Public Health has reported a total of 3,338,352 positive cases of COVID-19 across the county of more than 10 million.

There were 1,151 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized on Tuesday according to health officials.

On Tuesday, the Daily News noted that "County officials have said that roughly 43 percent of the patients were actually admitted for COVID-related illness, while the others were admitted for other reasons."

Some only learned they were infected "when they were tested at the hospital," according to the news article

Last week County Health officials reported that COVID-19 cases "continue their recent decline, while hospitalization and hospital admissions appear to have plateaued."

"Los Angeles County remains at the high community level on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 framework this week, but Public Health is monitoring metrics that may move the county to the medium community level," County officials said in a press release.

"The County’s 7-day case rate, which while still appreciably elevated at 376 cases per week per 100,000 people, represents a considerable decline from the case rate of 426 a week ago," officials said.

LA County reported declines in five of its "Early Alert signals," including the percentage of Emergency Department visits that are COVID-related and the case rate in the lowest income areas.

Other signals that showed declines were the number of new outbreaks opened per week in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and "in settings for people experiencing homelessness," as well as the number of "worksite case clusters per week."

In Santa Monica there have been 518 cases reported over the past two weeks, down from 870 over the prior two weeks.

Four coronavirus-related deaths were reported over the past two weeks after three deaths were reported over the previous month. It typically takes about two weeks to report a death.

A total of 23,019 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Santa Monica since a health emergency was declared in March 2020. A total of 255 residents have died with the virus.

On Thursday, the School Board is expected to make a final decision on testing and masking policies ("District Announces COVID Policies for Upcoming School Year," August 5, 2022).

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