US may soon reach a tipping point on Covid-19 vaccine demand. Here’s why that’s concerning

By Christina Maxouris | CNN

As US health officials race to get more Covid-19 shots into arms to control the virus, experts now warn the country will run into another challenge in the next few weeks: vaccine supply will likely outstrip demand.

“While timing may differ by state, we estimate that across the U.S. as a whole we will likely reach a tipping point on vaccine enthusiasm in the next 2 to 4 weeks,” the Kaiser Family Foundation said in a new report published Tuesday.

“Once this happens, efforts to encourage vaccination will become much harder, presenting a challenge to reaching the levels of herd immunity that are expected to be needed.”

Health officials — including Dr. Anthony Fauci — estimate that somewhere between 70% to 85% of the country needs to be immune to the virus — either through inoculation or previous infection — to suppress is spread.

So far, roughly 40.1% of the population has gotten at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And about 26% of the population is fully vaccinated, that data shows.

A slowing vaccine demand now, experts say, could give dangerous coronavirus variants the opportunity to continue to mutate, spread and set off new surges — and it could delay the country’s return to a semblance of normalcy.

‘We have slots going unfilled’

Parts of the US are already seeing fewer people sign up for a shot.

Kristy Fryman, the emergency response coordinator and public information officer for the Mercer County Health District in Ohio, told CNN on Tuesday that vaccine demand in the county is “slowing down.”

The county’s younger population isn’t as eager to get vaccinated, Fryman said, and “have the sense that if they get Covid, it may not be as bad.”

Others, she said, are opting to wait “to see how the side effects are.”

“We’ve been going back to the drawing board trying to figure out how to get more people vaccinated but … we can only do so much,” Fryman added.

A little more than 27% of the county’s residents have started their Covid-19 vaccinations, according to Ohio’s Covid-19 vaccine dashboard.

Earlier in the pandemic, Mercer County was among the hardest hit parts of the state. Now, Fryman said, the county is again reporting a rise in Covid-19 cases.

“It’s concerning that we’re seeing an increase and that population does not want to get vaccinated,” she said.

In Spring Lake, Michigan, emergency room physician Dr. Rob Davidson said Tuesday that local officials there are also growing increasingly concerned over the hesitancy they’re seeing.

“We have slots going unfilled, I know in West Michigan and other parts, particularly in rural Michigan,” he said.

Experts recommend people continue mask-wearing post-vaccine

For Americans who are fully vaccinated, experts said it’s best to keep wearing a mask.

“If you are vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and you probably won’t get sick but we don’t know how long the virus is going to live in your respiratory system after you catch it,” Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, internal medicine specialist and CNN medical analyst, said Tuesday. “So therefore, you are potentially contagious to others.”

As for gatherings, Rodriguez said fully vaccinated Americans should be opting to meet only with others who are also vaccinated.

Experts have highlighted that even as vaccinations climb, it will be important for people to keep following Covid-19 safety measures until the country is able to suppress the spread of the virus.

But as more shots are administered, fewer Americans are practicing public health mitigation measures, according to poll results from Axios-Ipsos published Tuesday. The poll was conducted April 16 to 19 and was made up of a representative sample of more than 1,000 US adults.

About 61% of respondents are social distancing, which is down six percentage points from last month and 13 points from two months ago.

The percentage of people wearing a mask at all times when they leave the house — 63% — is the lowest since the summer and down 10 percentage points since two months ago.

And, at a time when Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise, the perceived risk of returning to pre-coronavirus life is the lowest it has ever been — 52%.

Meanwhile, the perceived risks associated with activities like shopping in retail and grocery stores and attending sporting events is also declining.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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The IRS has no plans to bring back a tool that helped low-income Americans get their stimulus checks. Here’s what to do instead

By Katie Lobosco | CNN

About 8 million low-income people were eligible for stimulus payments last year but never received the money, raising concerns about getting the latest round of help to those most in need — yet there’s no sign the Internal Revenue Service plans to restore a tool that would make it easier.

Early in the pandemic, the IRS created a simple online form to allow low-income people who aren’t usually required to file tax returns to provide their contact information to the agency. But that tool has remained offline since November, even after Congress approved two more rounds of stimulus payments.

Now, people who missed out must file a 2020 tax return in order to get the money they’re owed from the first two stimulus checks, along with the third one. People who used the non-filer tool before it went offline will automatically receive their third stimulus payment without taking action.

An IRS spokesman told CNN Thursday that there are no plans to bring back the tool but encouraged people to file returns so that they can claim a credit for all three payments as well as claim any other expanded credits they may be eligible for, like the Earned Income Tax Credit or the child tax credit.

Filing a return ensures that families may get other benefits they qualify for, like the Earned Income Tax Credit or the now expanded child tax credit — but it can be a challenging process for someone who hasn’t filed in years.

“The stakes are high with billions of federal dollars not reaching low-income people in California and across the country. The IRS reposting its online non-filers tool immediately would be a good first step,” Aparna Ramesh, senior research manager at the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley, said in a statement.

The group found that at least 1.5 million Californians could potentially miss out on $3.5 billion in stimulus payments. It estimated that about 25% of low-income Californians didn’t get the money automatically last year.

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Still waiting for the latest round

Most Americans had their stimulus payments directly deposited into their bank accounts or sent in the mail without them having to take any action. In the weeks since President Joe Biden signed the most recent stimulus bill, the IRS has swiftly delivered more than 156 million payments — but those who likely need the money the most may still be waiting.

“I think the IRS has limited resources and has to decide how much to devote to its traditional lines of business, like processing tax returns and audits, or becoming more of a customer service agency focused on benefits delivery,” said Elaine Maag, a principal research associate in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “It certainly doesn’t look like that’s the priority when they’re taking down these tools rather than creating them.”

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told lawmakers at a hearing last month that the agency had extended its reach far beyond its normal contacts to try to reach lower-income people, working with “hundreds of local community groups and religious organizations” as well as “thousands of homeless organizations.”

A challenging year for the IRS

It will be a challenging year for the IRS, an agency whose budget has been cut about 20% over the past decade, leaving it with antiquated technology and a smaller staff.

The agency is also grappling with several changes to the tax law made by the Covid relief bills. The one passed in March also directs the IRS to send out periodic payments for an expanded child tax credit, as well as waive income taxes on up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits received in 2020, helping some laid-off workers who faced surprise tax bills on their jobless benefits.

The changes create work for the IRS, tax preparers and taxpayers. Facing pressure from lawmakers, the agency recently extended the tax filing deadline to May 17.

“This has been the most challenging tax seasons I’ve experienced, hands down,” said Courtney O’Reilly, the director of Tax Help Colorado, an IRS-certified tax assistance center.

There’s more need and fewer volunteers due to the pandemic, even though most work is still done remotely. It’s a challenge to help out brand new filers, unfamiliar with the tax system, seeking desperately needed benefits over the phone.

Taxpayers earning less than $72,000 a year can use a tax preparer site for free to file a federal return. But they still need to gather the documents showing their income, have an email address and a phone number. New filers are sometimes hesitant to submit a return at all, fearing they might owe more in back taxes than they are set to receive from the stimulus benefits.

“These new benefits will be really helpful to families, but it’s so hard to make sure people who need it the most get them. It takes time to create the foundation to provide the support,” O’Reilly said.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Trial review board raises concerns about AstraZeneca vaccine data

By Michael Nedelman | CNN

The independent board that reviews data from multiple Covid-19 vaccine candidates has expressed concern over AstraZeneca’s announcements on its latest findings, according to a statement posted early Tuesday by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“Late Monday, the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) notified NIAID, BARDA, and AstraZeneca that it was concerned by information released by AstraZeneca on initial data from its COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial,” the statement says. “The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data.

“We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible.”

AstraZeneca has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.

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Early Monday, AstraZeneca issued a press release saying its Covid-19 vaccine showed 79% efficacy against symptomatic disease and 100% efficacy against severe disease and hospitalization, citing long-awaited US trial data. The latter figure was based on five events in the placebo arm, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a coronavirus briefing Monday.

The DSMB is an independent expert group that sees trial data before the pharmaceutical companies, the doctors running the trials, or even the US Food and Drug Administration. It has the power advise a company of positive interim findings, or to halt a trial over safety concerns. That’s what happened to the AstraZeneca trial in September after a study participant developed neurological symptoms, for example.

Last year, the National Institutes of Health appointed a common DSMB to monitor Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials that were being funded by the federal government — including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. This DSMB has 10 to 15 members with specialties including vaccine development, statistics and ethics.

DSMBs sometimes disagree with investigators over the interpretation of trial results, Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said in a statement to the Science Media Centre in the UK. But that’s usually done in private, he said, “so this is unprecedented in my opinion.”

However, he noted, he isn’t concerned unless there’s a safety issue, “which does not appear to be the case.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Mission Viejo football opener vs. La Habra in jeopardy after positive COVID-19 tests in program

The La Habra and Mission Viejo football game scheduled for Friday night was in doubt late Thursday  because of potential exposure to COVID-19 by players in the Mission Viejo program.

Mission Viejo learned Thursday that there had been positive tests for the coronavirus by several players in its program, but perhaps not on the varsity team. Scheduled freshman and junior varsity games between La Habra and Mission Viejo on Thursday afternoon were canceled.

La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta at first thought the varsity game, a matchup between two of the top 10 teams in Orange County, would also be canceled.

The Saddleback Valley Unified School District, which includes Mission Viejo High, convened a board meeting Thursday night to go over the school’s options, which might include more testing and contact tracing. The board was still in its meeting late Thursday night.

The game is the long-awaited season opener for both teams after the coronavirus pandemic delayed the season for several months. The contest is supposed to be streamed live online by Fox Sports Prep Zone.

The CIF-SS just deleted this tweet saying La Habra vs. Mission Viejo would be replaced on the broadcast schedule. CIF-SS assistant commissioner Thom Simmons said it was a mistake and they do no know what will happen between Mission Viejo and La Habra. This is wild. pic.twitter.com/h1c542AA8I

— Fred J. Robledo 👨🏻‍💻 (@SGVNSports) March 12, 2021

Mission Viejo is ranked No. 3 and La Habra is No. 7 in the preseason Orange County rankings.

Mazzotta spent some of Thursday evening looking at potential replacement opponents if the Mission Viejo game is canceled.

Fred Robledo contributed to this report. 

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California could get $150 billion from federal coronavirus relief bill

By ADAM BEAM | The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO  — The massive COVID-19 relief bill Congress approved Wednesday will pump more than $150 billion into California’s economy, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration said Wednesday, including a $26 billion windfall for the state’s already burgeoning budget surplus.

Nearly half of the money will go to Californians directly in the form of $1,400 checks and expanded unemployment benefits. Another $15.9 billion will go to public and private schools while $3.6 billion will boost the state’s vaccination, testing and contact tracing efforts. There’s also money for public transit agencies, airports and child care.

About $16 billion will go to local governments and be split in half between cities and counties. And $26 billion will go directly to state government for services impacted by the pandemic.

Toni Atkins, Democratic president pro tempore of the California Senate, called it the state’s “fair share.”

“California has been a ‘donor state’ for decades, paying more to the federal government than we receive in federal services and investments,” Atkins said. “We’re fortunate that our budget is healthy and balanced, but it’s because we prioritized responsible fiscal planning.”

Like most states, California budget forecasters predicted a steep drop-off in revenue during the pandemic as businesses were forced to close and millions of people lost their jobs. Newsom and the Legislature reacted quickly by raising taxes, cutting spending and pulling from the state’s savings accounts to cover what they expected to be a $54.3 billion shortfall.

Instead, California’s revenues went up, buoyed by taxes paid by a wealthy population that made a lot of money from the surging stock market.

In January, Newsom announced the state had a $15 billion one-time surplus. The state has already spent $7.6 billion of that in the form of a state stimulus package that will, among other things, send $600 payments to millions of low- to moderate-income Californians.

Lawmakers also set aside $6.6 billion to help schools return students to classrooms. And they are preparing another bill that would give $2.3 billion in tax breaks to businesses, bringing the state’s total aid package to more than $16 billion. Despite that, Atkins said “the need is still much greater than the resources we have.”

Now, state leaders are preparing for $26 billion in aid from the federal government with few limits on how they can spend it. Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said Newsom will announce his plans for the money in May when the state updates its budget projections.

The Legislature will have to sign off on whatever Newsom proposes. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said lawmakers are interested in using the federal money to continue direct relief to families and small businesses.

He also suggested using some of the money to increase access to high-speed internet and to make up shortfalls in the state’s cap and trade program that requires big polluters to purchase credits to let them pollute. The state uses that money to pay for various climate-related programs, including wildfire prevention and drinking water.

Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, said priorities include restoring previous spending cuts and doing more to help small businesses and the unemployed. He also said the state could spend the money on construction projects that include expanding access to high-speed internet and create jobs that last for years.

In January, state lawmakers agreed to use $2.6 billion in prior federal relief funding to pay off up to 80% of some tenants unpaid rent. Ting said he’d like the state to also help pay off unpaid commercial rents to prevent evictions of small businesses.

“The one thing we’ve learned about this year is the environment constantly shifts, the virus kind of moves and the impact constantly changes every day,” Ting said. “We have to keep monitoring how Californians and all the different small businesses are doing.”

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday. The U.S. Treasury Department has told state governments they can’t cut taxes and use the federal money to make up the money. But they can use the money to respond to the public health emergency, provide government services or invest in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

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CIF State offers interpretations of new CDPH guidelines to help coaches, athletic directors

CIF State executive director Ron Nocetti knows keeping up with the latest guidance for high school sports is challenging for coaches and athletic directors, and it may seem to be getting tougher.

“There’s no question that it’s a difficult experience for them,” he said Friday, March 5. “That’s why we’re trying to at least provide them some of the most basic interpretations so at least they have a sense of where they stand on what they can do now with outdoor versus indoor sports.”

It was in that spirit that the state office issued its interpretations on the latest guidelines from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which on Thursday, March 4 created a path for indoor sports to begin if they follow a college-style testing program.

Nocetti covered a few other areas in a memo sent statewide, and a more with the Southern California News Group. Here are some of the takeaways:

There appears to be different routes to play indoor sports

Indoor sports such as basketball, volleyball and wrestling remain classified in the yellow tier (minimal risk for the virus) in the state’s guidance. Most counties in the state are in the purple tier (widespread risk), but the state adjusted its rules on Thursday to allow teams, starting March 5, to play indoor sports earlier than the yellow tier if they follow stricter, college-style testing.

But Nocetti said he believes teams also could start their seasons under that college-style testing format, and transition to the non-testing, yellow tier format once their county reaches that optimal tier. Teams also could decide to wait to play until their county reaches the yellow tier, which requires a daily case rate of less than 1 per 100,000 people.

“That is how we read it,” Nocetti said of the different paths. “The exact answer to that question would have to come from the CDPH.”

Wresting was scheduled to begin Friday while basketball and boys volleyball can start March 12-13, respectively.

College-style testing needs more clarification

The college-style testing for indoor sports ask teams to to conduct either “daily antigen testingand periodic PCR testing” until their county reaches the yellow tier. The CIF State said it is seeking clarification from the CDPH on the meaning of “periodic” PCR testing.

“Does mean you have to test PCR once a week? Twice a week?” Nocetti said. “We are waiting for an answer for that.”

Nocetti believes the state will issue a “Frequently Asked Questions” section soon.

All outdoor sports are currently cleared to play

On Feb.19, all outdoor sports were allowed in counties with an adjusted case rate of 14 or less per 100,000 people. This applied to the high-contact sports such as football, water polo, soccer and lacrosse, plus baseball, softball and outdoor volleyball.

All of the counties in Southern California, and 54 of the 58 counties in the state, currently meet this 14 threshold.

The extra condition is that football and water polo players and coaches need to test weekly if the county’s case rate falls between 7 and 14.

LAWSUIT UPDATE

As expected, lawyers for two San Diego football players who won a temporary injunction against the state’s guidelines essentially dropped their lawsuit Friday because of their settlement agreement with the state Thursday over the updated guidelines released on Thursday night.

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CIF State offers interpretations of new guidelines to help coaches, athletic directors

CIF State executive director Ron Nocetti knows keeping up with the latest guidance for high school sports is challenging for coaches and athletic directors, and may seem to be getting tougher.

“There’s no question that it’s a difficult experience for them,” he said Friday, March 5. “That’s why we’re trying at least provide them some of the most basic interpretations so at least they have a sense of where they stand on what they can do now with outdoor versus indoor sports.”

It was in that spirit that the state office issued its interpretations on the latest guidelines by the California Department of Public Health, which on Thursday, March 4 created a path for indoor sports to begin if they follow a college-style testing program.

Nocetti covered a few other areas in a state-wide memo, and a few more with the Southern California News Group. Here’s some of the takeaways:

There appear to be different routes to play indoor sports

Indoor sports such as basketball, volleyball and wrestling remain classified in the yellow tier (minimal risk for the virus) in the state’s guidance. Most counties in the state are in the purple tier (widespread risk) but the state adjusted its rules on March 4 to allow teams, starting on March 5, to play indoor sports earlier than the yellow tier if they follow stricter, college-style testing.

But Nocetti said he believes teams also could start their seasons under that college-style testing format, and transition to a non-testing, yellow tier format once their county reaches that optimal tier. Teams also could decide to wait to play until their county reaches the yellow tier, which feature a daily case rate of less than 1 per 100,000.

“That is how we read it,” Nocetti said of the different paths. “The exact answer to that question would have to come from the CDPH.”

Wresting was scheduled to begin March 5 while basketball and boys volleyball to follow on March 12-13, respectively.

College-style testing needs more clarification

The college-style guidelines for indoor sports ask teams to to conduct either “daily antigen testingand periodic PCR testing” until their county reaches the yellow tier. The CIF State said it is seeking clarification from the CDPH on the meaning of “periodic” PCR testing.

“Does mean you have to test PCR once a week? Twice a week?” Nocetti said. “We are waiting for an answer for that.”

Nocetti believes the state will issue a “Frequently Asked Questions” section soon.

All outdoor sports are currently cleared to play

On Feb.19, all outdoor sports were allowed in counties with an adjusted case rate of 14 or less per 100,000. This applied to the high-contact sports such as football, water polo, soccer and lacrosse, plus baseball, softball and outdoor volleyball.

All of the counties in Southern California, and 54 of the 58 counties in the state, currently meet this 14 threshold.

The extra condition is that football and water polo need to test weekly if the county’s rate falls between 7 and 14.

LAWSUIT UPDATE

As expected, lawyers for two San Diego football players who won a temporary injunction against the state’s guidelines essentially dropped their lawsuit Friday because of their settlement agreement with the state Thursday over the updated guidelines released on Thursday, March 4.

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Gov. Newsom recall proponents gather more than a million signatures

By Maeve Reston | CNN

Leaders of the campaign to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom have now gathered more than a million signatures, according to a new report from the California secretary of state’s office that suggests the effort is still on track as they inch toward a March deadline to qualify for the ballot.

Capitalizing on the frustration and anger among California Republicans and small business owners about Newsom’s restrictive stay-at-home orders last year, which were intended to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus, as well as the high case numbers that the state experienced over the holiday months, recall proponents say they have actually gathered 1.7 million signatures so far and are continuing to turn those in to the county registrars around the state for verification.

The most recent report from the secretary of state is a lagging indicator of the progress toward ballot qualification, because it only tallies signatures that California counties had received as of February 5. And of those nearly 1.1 million signatures, the counties have only verified a portion so far.

The report shows that of the 798,310 signatures verified, nearly 84% were valid. Longtime recall observers in California say that high percentage is a strong indicator that the recall will ultimately qualify for the ballot if recall proponents stay on track with that validation percentage as they turn in additional signatures. Under the California Constitution, the leaders of the recall must turn in 1,495,709 valid signatures by March 17, which is equivalent to 12% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

If the recall effort qualifies, it is unclear what month it would land on California’s ballot, because there are a series of bureaucratic steps that must take place at various levels of state government before the state’s lieutenant governor could formally call the recall election.

CNN has reached out to Newsom’s office for comment.

Newsom, a Democrat, has largely brushed off the threat of a recall as he has traveled around the state in recent days visiting vaccination sites and trying to speed up the efficiency of the state’s vaccination program after it initially got off to a shaky start. Two community vaccination sites were opened in partnership with the Biden administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Oakland and Los Angeles last week, creating greater access to shots in some of the state’s most vulnerable communities — a partnership Newsom hailed as a critical expansion of California’s vaccine supply.

During a visit to a mobile vaccination site in Inglewood Sunday, Newsom highlighted the fact that Covid-19 hospitalizations are down by 41% in California in the past two weeks and said the state is building out a system that could allow them to administer 4 million vaccinations a week.

“Our only constraint now in terms of more vaccines into the community — meeting people where they are, where we are here in Inglewood and elsewhere — is supply limitations,” Newsom said, noting that some 702,000 doses were affected by the extreme weather last week.

Responding to the frustration about the inability to reopen many schools in California — a central theme of the recall — Newsom recently announced that 10% of the first-dose vaccine shipments allocated to California will be made available to teachers — setting a goal of providing more than 300,000 doses to educators over the next month.

But Newsom is also still taking heat from some teachers’ groups for stating during an interview with the Association of California School Administrators last month that “if we wait for the perfect, we might as well just pack it up and just be honest with folks — that we’re not going to open for in-person instruction this school year.”

“There’s an old thing my mom taught me that says, ‘You find whatever you look for,’” Newsom said during the January meeting. “So if we want to find reasons not to open, we’ll find plenty of reasons. If we want to start building on ways to strategize to find ways of getting to where we all want to go, we’ll figure that out as well.”

He added that he has witnessed first-hand how Zoom classes are not working well for younger students, including his 4-year-old son, as well as for children who are homeless, in foster care, English learners or those struggling with disabilities.

President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten responded to Newsom’s comments about finding “reasons not to open” Sunday morning during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” by suggesting that Newsom was not doing enough to prioritize teachers in the areas where viral transmission is the highest in California, referencing the state’s color-coded system.

“When I hear politicians — when I hear Governor Newsom saying we are always going to find a way out, well, why is he not actually prioritizing the teachers in LA,” she said, noting they were in “purple zones,” or the areas of highest viral transmission.

“If the NFL could figure out how to do this in terms of testing and protocols, if the schools are that important, let’s do it, and my members want it,” she said.

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Air quality agency allows for more cremations in Orange County

Officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District said on Monday, Jan. 25, it has lifted restrictions on the number of cremations allowed in Orange County as officials try to address a backlog of cremations.

Limitations were previously suspended in Los Angeles County and the order is being extended there.

The order signed Monday by Wayne Nastri, executive officer of South Coast Air Quality Management District, comes as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency confirm the growing backlog of cremation cases within each county constitutes a threat to public health.

As of Jan. 15, there are more than 2,700 bodies being stored at hospitals and coroner’s offices. The order is effective immediately and expires on Feb. 4.

There are 14 permitted crematoriums in Orange County.

The additional emissions that would be emitted are not expected to have a significant impact on regional air quality, Nahal Mogharabi, spokesperson for the district, said. “Although there will be a temporary increase in emissions during the short period of the emergency order, the expected air toxic impacts resulting from increased activity at these facilities are relatively small.”

To qualify, a cremation facility must be reaching or exceeding its limits. Before getting started, the crematorium must send an email notification to the air quality agency.

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Coronavirus: Newsom may lift statewide stay-at-home order Monday

A statement sent in a state business association’s letter to its members Sunday raised speculation that Gov. Gavin Newsom could lift the statewide stay-at-home order Monday that has been in effect since early last month.

According to a copy of the letter, California Restaurant Association members were told that “late this evening, senior officials in the Newsom administration informed us that the Governor will announce tomorrow that the stay-at-home order will be lifted in all regions of the state.”

The letter listed the Bay Area, Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley as under the order, with the Sacramento and Northern California regions not currently under any order. Some north state counties saw their restrictions lifted just before mid-month.

“Again, a formal announcement is expected tomorrow and we will send you further information as soon as it is available,” the letter closes. “For now, we thought you’d like to know the good news.”

BREAKING: I have obtained an email from the California Restaurant Association that says @GavinNewsom will be lifting the stay-at-home order for all regions across the state tomorrow. This includes the San Joaquin Valley Region that contains all Central Valley counties

— Mederios Babb (@mederiosbabb) January 25, 2021

 

No official word on any change came from the governor’s office late Sunday, but local and regional health departments could still impose orders advising closure of businesses.

Although state case counts have trended downward recently, the coronavirus has continued to leave a lethal mark, with the state passing 3 million cases last week and vaccine access running up against supply limits and distribution constraints.

Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.

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