Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

County Health Officer rolls back restaurants, theaters, churches, cardrooms to 25% capacity or 100 people whichever is less, again

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020

With data from the past week showing a marked increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Contra Costa County, health officials are taking steps to protect the community with modest changes to local health orders.

Contra Costa entered the orange tier of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy on Oct. 27, triggering an expansion of community reopening activities in the county. But since that date, the average daily number of new cases in the county has grown substantially higher.

If the trend continues, the county is at risk of moving backward into the more-restrictive red tier of the state’s reopening plan as soon as next week. In the meantime, Contra Costa has amended its health orders to rein in some of the riskier indoor activities permitted under the orange tier in hopes of preventing outbreaks and keeping the county out of the red.

Contra Costa County’s health officer issued new orders today limiting the number of spectators allowed at professional and collegiate sporting events, while also reimposing restrictions on other high-risk activities.

The health order on sporting events limits the number of spectators at pro or college games to 25 people from no more than three different households. This is consistent with the County’s guidance on private social gatherings, said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the County’s health officer.

The health officer also issued another order restoring stricter limitations on high-risk activities, such as prolonged indoor gatherings and gatherings involving eating and drinking where masks must be removed. Wearing face coverings when around others from outside your household is one of the most effective ways people can stop the spread of COVID, Dr. Farnitano said.

Under the new order, select high-risk activities must be modified:

  • Outdoor bars prohibited (except where allowed under restaurant guidance with drinks as part of a meal)
  • Indoor dining allowed at a maximum of 25% occupancy or 100 people, whichever is fewer (down from 50% occupancy and 200 people)
  • Indoor movie theaters can operate at a maximum 25% of occupancy or 100 people, whichever is fewer (down from 50% occupancy or 200 people)
  • Religious services indoors allowed at a maximum 25% occupancy or 100 people, whichever is fewer (down from 50% occupancy or 200 people)
  • Cardrooms and satellite wagering sites can’t operate indoors (they previously could operate indoors at 25% capacity)

“We believe these measures are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID in our community,” Dr. Farnitano said.

The state allows counties to impose stricter standards so local health departments can respond to circumstances in their communities. The order in Contra Costa will go into effect Friday, Nov. 6. Over the past months, the Bay Area counties have made the decisions they’ve felt best around opening or not opening businesses and activities. San Francisco pulled back on their timeline for opening last week. Alameda and Santa Clara have all taken a slower pace than the state tier system allows. All three of these counties are essentially operating at red tier level restrictions even though they are in orange or yellow tiers.

Contra Costa County is still in the orange tier, but case rates are increasing again into the more restrictive red-tier level. The most recent data show an adjusted rate of 4.9 daily cases per 100,000 people in Contra Costa – above the orange-tier benchmark of fewer than 4 per 100,000 people.

If those numbers hold for another week or increase, Contra Costa will move back into the more restrictive red tier.

In addition, there were 40 people hospitalized on Nov. 2 due to COVID in local hospitals, compared to a low point of 17 in mid-October.

For now, other activities not cited in the new order will still be allowed under orange-tier criteria, including indoor swimming pools and indoor family entertainment centers can continue “naturally distanced” activities, such as bowling alleys, escape rooms and climbing-wall gyms, at 25% occupancy.

For more information, visit cchealth.org/coronavirus.

 

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County health officials offer guidance on celebrating Halloween and Día de Los Muertos safely

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Joint Statement by Bay Area Health Officers to prevent spreading COVID-19 among family and friends

Bay Area health officials remind residents that many commonly celebrated Halloween and Día de Los Muertos activities carry high risk for spreading COVID-19. Focusing on decorations, limiting activities to the people you live with, and virtual costume parties or contests will help keep our communities safe this season, especially our children. Together, we all need to do as much as we can to protect ourselves and those around us.

For instance, trick-or-treating is a high-risk activity, because it increases contact with people outside of your household who may not be as careful about COVID-19 prevention. Parties are high-risk because mixing among people who don’t live in the same home introduces more opportunities for the virus to pass from one person to another. Bay Area contact tracing has shown that gathering and mixing are key contributors to infection.

These holidays are no different than the rest of the year when it comes to reducing the spread of COVID-19. Stay home if you feel sick or have come into close contact with someone who has COVID-19; wear a face covering whenever you leave home; and keep your distance from others (even relatives) who don’t live in your household, and remember that being outside is safer than being inside, especially in combination with face covering and keeping your distance. Consider using a themed cloth mask, as a costume mask is not a substitute. Avoid wearing a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe.

Contra Costa County residents are reminded that local and State Health Officer Orders are still in effect. Halloween gatherings, Día de los Muertos celebrations, events or parties with non-household members are not permitted unless they are conducted in compliance with local and State Health Orders.

Local health officials highly recommend community members participate in lower risk activities to celebrate Halloween and Día de Los Muertos this year:

LOWER RISK: Stay home, keep it small

  • Celebrating Halloween traditions like carving pumpkins or a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in your home.
  • Visiting an outdoor pumpkin patch, while wearing a mask and maintaining distance from others.
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at least 6 feet apart while wearing masks, with a very small group of neighbors or friends. Fewer people with more distance is safer.
  • Having a virtual costume contest.
  • Dressing up your house, apartment, living space, yard or car with Halloween decoration or decorating homes with images and objects to honor deceased loved ones.
  • Preparing traditional family recipes with members of your household.
  • Playing music in your home that your deceased loved ones enjoyed.
  • Making and decorating masks or making an altar for the deceased.
  • Participating in vehicle-based gatherings that comply with state and local guidance like drive-in movies and drive-through attractions, or car/bike parades where participants do not leave their vehicles.
  • Avoid driving in areas where there are many pedestrians.
  • Spectators should watch from their homes or yards and not gather with people they do not live with.

MODERATE RISK: If you must

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to physically distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard).
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Ensure everyone is wearing an appropriate face covering and maintaining a physical distance from others.
  • Everyone participating should bring hand sanitizer and use it frequently AND wash their hands immediately after coming home.
  • Candy shouldn’t be eaten while outside the home because that would require both removing the face mask and touching wrappers.
  • Having a very small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade or movie night where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart and are wearing masks. Fewer people with more distance is safer.
  • Enjoying themed outdoor dining that complies with state and local guidance or takeout.

HIGHER RISK: Please avoid

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door-to-door. Although this activity is outdoors, it is higher risk because it brings multiple people from different households together.
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19. Doing so can bring COVID-19 into the area and threaten the residents’ lives.
  • If trick-or-treating is occurring in your neighborhood and you are at home and do not want to be disturbed, you may want to post a sign or turn off your porch light.

VERY HIGH RISK: Not permitted by State and Local Orders

  • Attending a crowded party held indoors or outdoors. Large gatherings, even if they are outdoors, are high risk for spreading COVID-19 and are associated with many cases throughout the Bay Area.
  • Sharing, eating, drinking, speaking loudly or singing amongst others outside of your household.
  • Haunted houses or indoor mazes
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.

To further protect yourself and your loved ones, be sure to monitor yourself during the 14 days after these holidays and pay particular attention from days 3 – 7 after the holidays when you are most likely to develop symptoms. If you don’t feel well or you learn someone you had close contact with tested positive, get tested immediately and stay home until your appointment and while you wait for your results.

To learn more about symptoms and testing, visit cchealth.org/coronavirus.

 

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County’s Public Health Nursing Car Seat Project awarded grant for child safety program

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Contra Costa Health Services’ Public Health Nursing Car Seat Project will help parents and caregivers keep their children as safe as possible in the car thanks to a $83,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).

The one-year grant from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021 funds a car seat education program that encourages the proper installation and use of child safety seats.

The grant funds the following activities:

  • One-on-one/virtual appointments to inspect and install car seats.
  • Child safety seat education classes for parents and caregivers.
  • Child safety seats at no-cost to nursing case management clients and low-income families following education classes.
  • Promote safety seat recycling and importance of discarding used and expired car seats
  • Work with community partners to promote child passenger safety education.

“The Public Health Nursing Program in Contra Costa County serves vulnerable, low-income families who are impacted daily by health inequities,” said Program Manager Michelle Rivero, Program. “Our families struggle with meeting the basic needs of the children. Rent, food, clothing all become priorities over car seats, and many of our families use old, expired car seats. This program is a much-needed resource to help keep children safe.”

From CA Office of Traffic Safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 46% of car seats are misused.

“Car seats save lives,” OTS Director Barbara Rooney said. “Keeping children safe in a vehicle is as important as ever, and funding for car seat programs play a vital role in ensuring the proper use of child safety seats.”

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To find the right car seat for your child, click here.

For more information contact Rivero at (925) 608-5119 or Child Passenger Safety Technician, Jessica Recinos, at (925) 532-2152.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Contra Costa advances in COVID-19 Reopening Plan – churches, indoor dining now at 50% capacity

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Indoor swimming pools can reopen; bars can reopen outdoors; live entertainment for up to 50 people (requires pre-approval), more

By Contra Costa Health Services

More businesses and community activities can reopen beginning today in Contra Costa after the county’s data indicators for COVID-19 transmission showed improvement in October.

California today reassigned Contra Costa to the less-restrictive orange tier of its Blueprint for a Safer Economy, allowing for larger local gatherings for indoor worship services and dining, and the reopening of indoor pools, bars and bowling alleys.

But health officials caution that it is now more important than ever to follow the state health guidance for physical distancing and use of face coverings, to keep everyone safe and healthy during the holiday season and to avoid a return to the red tier.

Contra Costa’s adjusted per-capita case rate – the average daily number of new COVID-19 cases identified in the county per 100,000 population – stood at 3.7 on Tuesday, just qualifying the county to move into the orange tier.

The average daily percentage of COVID-19 tests that return positive in the county is 1.9%, with 4.9% or lower qualifying for the orange tier. That number for census tracts identified by the state’s health equity metric was 3.9% today, with 5.2% required for the orange tier.

Counties in the orange tier can allow:

  • Worship services and other cultural activities indoors at 50% occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Indoor dining at 50% occupancy or 200 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Indoor swimming pools;
  • Bars and other businesses that sell alcohol without meals to open for outdoor operation;
  • Family entertainment centers to open indoors for “naturally distanced” activities, such as bowling alleys, escape rooms and climbing-wall gyms, at 25% occupancy;
  • Cardrooms to open indoors at 25% occupancy;
  • Small amusement parks to open at 25% of occupancy or 500 people, whichever is fewer;
  • Professional sports venues to open at 20% occupancy;
  • Live entertainment to open with no more than 50 people, if approved by the Health Officer.

The county will remain in the orange tier for at least two weeks. The state could move Contra Costa into the less-restrictive yellow tier, or the more restrictive red tier, if its metrics qualify for one of those tiers for two consecutive weeks. The state updates the official numbers every Tuesday.

To reduce the spread of the virus in Contra Costa County, and to continue its progress toward reopening, county leaders urge the public to get tested for COVID-19 regularly, including people who have no symptoms of illness.

Contra Costa would not have qualified for the orange tier this week had it not tested more residents than the state average. California adjusts the case rates of high-testing counties downward to reflect their work controlling the virus. Without that adjustment, Contra Costa’s per-capita case rate this week would have been 4.1, which would not qualify for the orange tier.

Following the heath guidance for physical distancing and face coverings, practicing good hand hygiene and staying home when you feel sick are also key to continuing Contra Costa’s progress against the pandemic.

About 3,500 people get tested every day for COVID-19 in Contra Costa. By ramping up to test at least 4,500 daily, the county can more quickly notify those infected – particularly people with the virus who do not have symptoms – to prevent outbreaks and better protect community members at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 because of their age or health.

Contra Costa recommends that workers in jobs that bring them in frequent contact with the public, including all essential workers, consider a COVID-19 test every 30 days. Anyone who has symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing should also consider a test.

Call 1-844-421-0804 to schedule a fast, free COVID-19 test in Contra Costa, or visit cchealth.org/coronavirus to schedule online.

 

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National Prescription Drug TAKE BACK Day Saturday, October 24

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

By Jimmy Lee, Director of Public Affairs, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would like to invite you to take part in a national effort to keep our communities safe. The DEA and the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff hold Take Back Days aimed to provide a safe, convenient, and ecologically responsible method of prescription medication disposal while also focusing on prevention and education.

Take Back Day is this Saturday, October 24, 2020, from 10 AM to 2 PM,

Bring your pills for disposal at the following sites. The DEA cannot accept needles or sharps, only pills, patches, and liquids sealed in their original container. Vaping cartridges and devices with batteries removed can be accepted at Take Back collection sites. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Take Back Collection Sites:

-Office of the Sheriff Muir Station, 1980 Muir Road, Martinez (Field Operations Building)

-Office of the Sheriff Bay Station, 5555 Giant Highway, Richmond (West County Detention Facility)

-Office of the Sheriff Delta Station, 9100 Brentwood Blvd., Brentwood

-Danville Police Department, 510 La Gonda Way, Danville

-Orinda Police Department, 22 Orinda Way, Orinda

The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. The DEA’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the Take Back event, go to the DEA Office of Diversion Control website at: www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov.

 

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2021 Medicare Open Enrollment in a virtual world

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Tips for navigating plan options during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Rick Beavin, Desert Pacific Medicare President, Humana

The annual Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plan open enrollment period is traditionally a time for educational events, classes and one on one meetings, but this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some new and different ways to learn about Medicare. October 15 to December 7 is the time when millions of people eligible for Medicare can access the latest information about available health plans for 2021. In California alone, more than 6.4 million people are enrolled in Medicare including more than 2.9 million with Medicare Advantage

There are resources to help you choose the plan that’s right for you without having to leave home, including informational websites, virtual educational events and one-on-one virtual meetings with sales agents. At the same time, it’s important to safely access Medicare information online while protecting your personal information and avoiding fake offers and other scams.

Here are some tips for how to prepare for the Medicare fall open enrollment period:

  1. Use an online tool

Go to the Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov to compare plans, benefits and an estimated cost for each plan based on an average member.

If you are interested in Medicare Part D, which helps cover the cost of prescription medications, you can also enter the names of prescription medications you take to ensure those medications are covered by the plan you are considering. You can enroll directly on Medicare.gov.

On Medicare.gov, you can also learn about and enroll in Medicare Advantage plans, sometimes called Part C or MA Plans, and you can also visit an insurance company’s website to learn more about what they offer. Insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans can provide you with detailed information about their plans and services, plus prescription pricing information and other benefits. You can also check to see if your primary care physician or other providers are in-network with the Medicare Advantage plan.

  1. Sign up for a virtual education workshop

Many insurance companies are offering online workshops to review 2021 Medicare Advantage plan options. Also, check to see if you can set up a virtual one-on-one meeting with an insurance company sales agent – meaning, by phone or video chat. Before you attend a virtual event or meeting, find out in advance how to log on to the meeting to avoid technical issues.  It’s a good idea to also prepare a list of questions so that you can ensure you get the information you need. Does the plan include vision, hearing and dental coverage? Will telehealth services be covered? Is transportation to your medical appointments included?

  1. Protect yourself against Medicare scams

The federal Medicare agency has warned that scammers may try to use the pandemic to steal Medicare beneficiaries’ Medicare numbers, banking information or other personal data. Scammers may try to reach out to you by phone, email, text message, social media or by visiting your home. Only give your Medicare number to your doctor, pharmacist, hospital, health insurer or other trusted health care provider. Do not click links in text messages and emails about COVID-19 from unknown sources, and hang up on unsolicited phone calls offering COVID-19 tests or supplies.

If you are not comfortable accessing plan information online, Medicare.gov has an option for setting up a phone call

For more information, go to Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).

For more information about Humana plans, you can visit www.Humana.com/Medicare or speak with a licensed Humana sales agent by calling 1-800-213-5286 (TTY: 711) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Rick Beavin is Desert Pacific Medicare President at Humana in California.

 

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Contra Costa County now offers free flu shots at COVID testing sites

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Starting today, October 1, the County will begin offering free flu shots to people who come in for COVID testing at several testing sites in Contra Costa.

Making flu shots available at COVID testing sites is part of the County’s larger effort to get more people vaccinated before flu season arrives. Contra Costa Health Services will also be hosting a series of free one-day flu vaccination clinics in October.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to get their flu shots this year,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer. “Offering flu vaccine at COVID testing sites will let people cross two things off their to-do list at once.”

With COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season overlapping, county health officials say it’s more important than ever to get vaccinated against influenza this year.

Health officials are worried about a so-called “twindemic” or “double surge” in the coming months where hospitals are overwhelmed by having to care for both flu patients and COVID-19 patients.

Flu vaccination is the best protection against influenza. Another reason to get vaccinated: people can get sick with COVID and the flu at the same time, which may increase the risk they will need hospitalization.

Flu season in the Bay Area tends to peak in January or February, but it can be unpredictable – which is why it’s best to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Getting a flu shot is one thing we all can do to ease our minds during COVID,” said Dr. Farnitano. “Getting vaccinated this year means having one less thing to worry about.”

Influenza and COVID are respiratory illnesses with similar symptoms, such as congestion, cough and fever. People who have these symptoms when flu season arrives should be tested for COVID to help ensure a correct medical diagnosis. The County offers free COVID testing to residents.

There is currently no vaccine for COVID. The best way to prevent the spread of COVID is to practice physical distancing, wear face coverings when around people who don’t live with you, wash your hands regularly and stay home if you’re sick. These measures also help reduce the spread of the flu as well.

County health officials also recommend that essential workers and others with frequent close contact with people outside their own household get tested once a month for COVID, even if they don’t have symptoms.

A list of testing site offering free flu shots can be found on our Get Tested page. There are currently five testing locations offering flu vaccine: Antioch, two in Concord, Richmond and San Ramon. We expect to make flu shots available at more testing sites in the near future.

For more information about influenza, visit cchealth.org/flu.

 

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Go take a hike or 5 in the Antioch Trails Challenge

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Visit www.antiochca.gov/trails-challenge

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