Local News

State and Local COVID-19 Updates

by Adrian Meza

Mask Mandate Update

The state of California will be lifting its indoor mask requirement that was set December last year amid the soaring COVID cases on February 15. This will move the guidelines back to what they were previously, which mandates face coverings for the unvaccinated in all public settings such as gyms, shops, and bars. Masks will still be required at high density areas such as bus/train stations and hospitals.

Local public officials still have the authority to retain restrictions such as with neighboring LA county, who said they are intending to keep the mask mandate.

Dr. Clayton Chau, OC Health Care Agency Director and County Health Officer released a statement on February 10 recommending continued indoor masking for all individuals.

“We are seeing cases and hospitalizations decrease, which is a positive sign that our most recent surge is slowing down,” Dr. Chau said. “The consistent masking efforts by our residents has contributed to the declines in cases. To protect those at high risk, we are recommending that OC residents continue masking in public, indoor settings, especially those who are at high risk or living with loved ones who have comorbidities, are immunocompromised or are prone to getting sick.”

“Mega Event” changes

With the updated mandate comes updates to what constitutes a “mega event.” Previously a mega event was classified as 500 people for an indoor event, and 5,000 people for an outdoor event, but starting on the 15th it will now be 1,000 for an indoor event, and 10,000 for an outdoor event. With mega events come regulations such as proof of being fully vaccinated or having received a negative COVID test result; the major difference between the two is with outdoor events masks must be worn when entering indoor areas such as bathrooms, restaurants, and gift shops. While attending indoor events, everyone must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status or negative test result.

COVID-19 Sick Leave

California legislature signed a bill that will require employers (with 26 or more employees) to give workers up to two weeks paid time off (PTO) if infected with COVID-19. Eligible workers will receive up to 40 hours of PTO if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, caring for a relative who tested positive, or are compelled to follow quarantine/isolation orders. Additionally, eligible employees can qualify for an additional 40 hours if they or a member in the household are sick with COVID-19. Lastly, workers may also get paid time off to recover from any side effects that may occur from getting the vaccine or booster, but businesses may limit this to 24 hours. These benefits will expire September 30.

Statistics

Between January 26 and February 1, the seven-day average COVID-19 case rate in Orange County decreased from 177 to 126 per 100,000 people, average number of daily COVID-19 cases from 5,728 to 4,082, and positivity rate from 24.6 to 17.9 percent.

With numbers taken from OC Health Agency on Feb 10, hospitalizations remain high at 581. ICU admissions remain high at 118, 84% of Hospitalized Persons are unvaccinated, and 86% of ICU admits are unvaccinated.

February 10 data from OC Health Care Agency dashboard.

Moderna

On January 31, the FDA announced it has given the Moderna Vaccine full FDA approval and will now be marketed as Spike Vax. Moderna was previously given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and has recently been approved for the Biologics License Application (BLA). The main difference between the two is that volunteers are observed for a longer period of time to see if there are rare adverse effects that could occur. On average to get an EUA, volunteers will be observed for two months for a safety follow up while a BLA roughly is a 6-month period (Moderna applied to be FDA approved late August 2021).

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