COVID TRACKS — FEB. 16, 2021
February 16, 2021
Editor’s Note: Welcome to the Boiling Point’s bi-weekly column on the Covid-19 pandemic. Compiled by BP science reporter Juliet Wiener from medical journals, official government websites and briefings, national news sources and original reporting, Covid Tracks is published on the opposite weeks from the Covid Tracker, our bi-weekly survey of cases and vaccines reaching the Shalhevet community.
BY THE NUMBERS
Numbers in Los Angeles County (Source: Los Angeles Times)
- Over the last seven days, 20,069 new Covid cases were reported in Los Angeles County, an average of 2,867 per day.
Covid spread per 10,000 residents by neighborhood since the beginning of the pandemic:
- Beverlywood: There have been 601 cases per 10,000 residents.
- Crestview (Pico-Robertson area): There have been 809 cases per 10,000 residents.
- Hancock Park: There have been 555 cases per 10,000 residents.
- Westwood: There have been 433 cases per 10,000 residents.
- Valley Village: There have been 749 cases per 10,000 residents.
- Brentwood: There have been 434 cases per 10,000 residents.
- As of Feb.15, 1,471,587 vaccines have been administered in Los Angeles County. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
- At Shalhevet, 44.9% (53 out of 118) of students and faculty members surveyed said at least one person whom they live with had received either one or both doses of the vaccine as of Feb 10. (Source: Boiling Point Covid Tracker Feb. 9-10)
- California Governor Newsom announced on Feb 8 that California is not receiving nearly enough vaccines to meet the demand, saying, “We’re going to need to see more doses coming into the state of California in order to keep these mass sites operational and to keep things moving.” (Source: kqed.org)
- Today there are 3,092 Covid patients currently in LA County hospitals with 908 of them being in the ICU (intensive care unit). This is a 43.6% decrease from two weeks ago. (Source: LA County Daily Covid-19 Data)
- Many of these hospitals remain at or above their maximum ICU capacity, with Cedars Sinai being the most overcrowded hospital in the county at a 116% occupancy. (Source: Los Angeles Times)
Three main coronavirus variants — mutated Covid-19 strains– have been detected in the US: B117 (British variant), P1 (Brazilian variant), and B1351 (South African variant). Some of these variants are thought to be more contagious and possibly more deadly. The South African variant shows resistance to certain Covid treatments, for example, monoclonal antibodies.
- So far, 186 cases of the B117 and 2 cases of B1351 have been identified in the state of California. (Source: CDC)
Additionally, a new variant emerging in California, CAL.20C, has been detected and is responsible for nearly 50% of Covid-19 cases in Southern California. (Source: Cedars-Sinai)
- On Monday night, Los Angeles County reached its threshold for reopening elementary schools (grades K-6) as the number of Covid cases continues to decline and the daily case rate had declined to 25 cases per 100,000 people. Schools that have already submitted a waiver or a Covid safety plan in advance are allowed to open for in-person learning as soon as tomorrow. However, the Los Angeles teachers union has requested that teachers be vaccinated before in-person learning commences. (Sources: UTLA.net and abc7 Eyewitness News)
- The FDA approved emergency authorization use for a new Covid-19 antibody treatment created by American pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly on Feb. 9. This treatment uses a combination therapy of two antibodies, amlanivimab and etesevimab, and reduces the risk of hospitalization and death in Covid patients by 70%, according to the company’s latest trial in January. (Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
- A new drug against Covid-19 being developed at the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv was administered to 30 patients with moderate to severe cases of Covid-19 and resulted in 29 out of 30 recovering within three to five days. This drug has just completed its first trial phase and works by using exosomes — small carrier sacs that transport materials between cells — to bring a protein called CD24 to the lungs. (Source: Times of Israel)
- After last week’s announcement that a company called Ellume would produce 8.5 million at-home Covid testing kits available in the U.S. by summer, the White House announced on Feb. 5 that they are finalizing contracts with six other companies which together will manufacture 60 million at-home kits by this summer. (Source: White House Covid-19 press briefing on Feb. 5)
- This week, the CDC presented new data regarding mask-wearing which confirmed that a mask protects both the person wearing it and others around them. The research also found that masks not fitted properly to the face are not nearly as effective, suggesting that people start “double masking” — wearing a surgical mask with a cloth one on top of it. Mask fitters, which attach to one’s mask to help it fit better, are available for purchase and recommended by the CDC. (Source: White House Covid-19 press briefing on Feb. 10)
- On Feb.10, Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, which are mRNA vaccines, are safe for people on immunosuppressants or with autoimmune health issues. However, people with suppressed immune systems may not have a response to the vaccine that is as robust as someone in good health, Dr. Fauci said. (Source: White House Covid-19 press briefing on Feb. 10)
- President Joseph Biden’s plan to administer 100 million vaccines in 100 days is on track to be successful. Now, the average number of people being vaccinated daily in the US has reached 1.5 million, and vaccine supply to states has increased by over 20% in the last week. (Source: White House Covid-19 press briefing on Feb. 10)
- On Feb. 3, the federal government announced that it is partnering with California to launch two new major community vaccination centers which will mainly be staffed by federal workers from FEMA and HHS. The first will be located in Oakland and the second in East Los Angeles at California State University. (Source: White House Covid-19 press briefing on Feb. 3)
- The Biden Administration is currently trying to get its American Rescue Plan passed by Congress. This is a $1.9 trillion spending package designed to help America recover from the public health and economic crises resulting from the pandemic, by creating a national vaccination program, aiding school districts so they can reopen schools, supplying working families who are struggling in the pandemic with financial relief, create numerous jobs in public health, supporting small businesses and essential workers, and containing Covid-19. (Source: The White House)
Last Friday Shalhevet completed its first week of on-campus learning offered to two grades at a time, meaning that each grade was allowed on campus for two days a week instead of one. On Monday and Tuesday, ninth and 10th grade attended campus while 11th and 12th grades attended on Wednesday and Thursday.
Shalhevet was planning to host Covid-19 testing on campus for students Wednesday and Thursday mornings of this week. However, Chief Operating Officer Sarah Emerson sent out an email this afternoon (Feb. 16) postponing the testing due to a scheduling conflict. It would have been only the second time school required testing as a condition of attendance in person.
Additionally, at Town Hall last Friday, Principal Daniel Weslow announced that students attending Zoom-only General Studies classes while on campus may not share a computer, as it does not allow for proper social distancing. Students had been doing this partly to cope with unstable internet connections caused by so many people at once following classes on Zoom. School IT Director Mr. Nick Parsons said disconnecting phones from WiFi, physically spreading out, and adding additional outdoor WiFi access points will help with this problem.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn announced last night that K-6 schools would be allowed to reopen.
“LA County has officially reached the State’s threshold for reopening elementary schools. Starting tomorrow, schools can reopen for grades K-6 if they have a waiver or submitted their COVID Safety Plans in advance.
“This is what we have been working towards. Thank you to everyone who has worn your masks and kept your distance. Case rates in LA County are dropping. Now we can continue the work getting our kids and teachers safely back in classrooms where they belong.”