Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.
COVID-19 By The Numbers
Friday, March 10
11:47 a.m.: Moderna hikes COVID-19 vaccine price
The U.S. government paid around $10 billion in the early years of the pandemic to develop and purchase Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine as a part of Operation Warp Speed.
So far, any American who wants the shot has paid nothing out-of-pocket for it — the federal government has footed the bill.
However, according to NPR, once it’s time to switch to the next version of the vaccine (which will be tailored to whatever dominant strain is in circulation later this year), individual patients will have to pay for the shot if their health insurance doesn’t cover it.
That proposed price? Roughly $130 per dose.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, for one, said he was outraged.
“How is the CE of this company thanking the taxpayers of this country who are responsible for making him and his colleagues incredibly rich?” Sanders asked rhetorically on the Senate floor. “He is thanking them by proposing to quadruple the price.”
Moderna has said it would provide the vaccine to uninsured or underinsured patients at no cost, with the patient assistance program set to begin in May.
Patient assistance programs have long been part of the drug industry playbook. They allow companies to maintain high prices while diffusing some of the criticism.
The hitch is that patients have to jump through hoops to get these free or discounted pharmaceutical products.
NPR asked CVS and Walgreens whether they had plans to help patients navigate the Moderna patient assistance program — since a lot of people get vaccinated at pharmacies. CVS said it didn’t have anything to share right now. Walgreens did not respond.
Thursday, March 9
11:13 a.m.: Gov. Gavin Newsom tests positive for COVID-19
California Governor Gavin Newsom tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday after showing mild symptoms.
His office reports he will isolate himself for at least five days but will continue to work from home.
This isn’t the first time Newsom has tested positive for COVID-19. In May 2022, the governor first tested positive and received the antiviral drug, Paxlovid.
At a virtual press conference today, he confirmed that he’s still planning on doing the upcoming State of the State tour.
Wednesday, March 8
COVID-19 eviction protections ended several months ago and Yolo County says it’s seeing a big jump in people seeking to help people stay in their homes.
The Director of Health and Human Services Nolan Sullivan said that previously, applicants had about $3,000 to $4,000 in back rent, but now they’re “seeing $15,000, $17,000, $20,000” requests.
“We’re seeing massive amounts of back rent that’s a lot harder to cover. It is certainly kind of a looming crisis,” he said.
Sullivan said that many people asking for help are often in tough positions.
“We’re seeing folks that are very vulnerable, older folks with lots of medical issues. We’re just starting to see anecdotal these issues really start to rise to the top of our pile of priority lists,” he said.
County staff will come back to the board with recommendations on how to address the issue. One possible solution would be to use funding from the American Rescue Plan to help people pay their rent.
“If you let the evictions go through, you’d probably have a death on the street or something horrendous,” Sullivan said. “It’s folks with congenital heart failure or elderly folks with state three cancer … really, really terrible situations that we’re seeing anecdotally come through the doors.”
Tuesday, March 7
The California Department of Public Health recently announced updates to several state public health orders related to vaccination, masking, isolation and quarantine.
CDPH stressed that getting vaccinated and wearing masks are still the best ways to protect yourself. Here are some of the incoming changes to existing COVID-19 guidance:
- Masking in high-risk and health care settings: Starting April 3, masks will no longer be required in indoor high-risk and health care settings.
- Vaccine requirements for health care workers: Starting April 3, the state will no longer quire vaccination for health care workers, including those in adult care, direct care, correctional facilities and detention centers.
- Reduced isolation time after positive COVID-19 test: Starting March 13, a COVID-19-positive person may end isolation after five days if they are feeling well, have improving symptoms and are fever-free for 24 hours.
In recent weeks, California has begun to wind down some underutilized emergency COVID-19 support across California. This includes state-funded testing and test-to-treat sites, vaccine staff, outbreak response teams, mobile vaccine units and pop-up vaccination events.
Monday, March 6
Since the pandemic started, people receiving CalFresh benefits in California have gotten the maximum benefit for their household size, meaning that those already receiving that highest amount became eligible or at least another $95 a month.
However, those extra payments end this month. The last installment will be deposited in household EBT accounts on March 26.
CalFresh benefits are one of the many things changing as the country inches toward the expiry of the federal COVID-19 emergency declaration, which expires May 11. With hundreds of thousands of people impacted, food banks and mutual aid groups in the Sacramento area re preparing for increased need.
Friday, March 3
Online speculation about the origins of COVID-19 is soaring after a new report from the Energy Department concluding the coronavirus that caused the disease leaked from a China lab.
According to the Associated Press, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Fox News the virus’ origins are “most likely a potential lab incident.”
The report has not been made public, and officials in Washington stressed that a variety of U.S. agencies are not in agreement on the origin.
Many scientists believe the likeliest explanation is that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 jumped from animals to humans, possibly at Wuhan’s Huanan market, a scenario backed up by multiple studies and reports.
While the World Health Organization says this is the most likely reason, the possibility of a lab leak must be instigated further before it can be ruled out.
Thursday, March 2
Since the coronavirus pandemic, originally named SARS-CoV-2, began three years ago, its origin has been a topic of much scientific and political debate.
Two main theories exist: the virus spilled over from an animal into people, most likely in a market in Wuhan, China, or the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and spread due to some laboratory accident, NPR reports.
The Wall Street Journal added to that debate this week when they reported that the U.S. Department of Energy shifted its stance on the origin of COVID. It now concludes with “low confidence” that the pandemic arose from a laboratory leak.
The agency based its conclusion on classified evidence that isn’t available to the public.
And at this point, the U.S. intelligence community still has no consensus about the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Four of the eight intelligence agencies lean toward a natural origin for the virus — meaning hopped from animal to person — with “low confidence,” while two of them, the DOE and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, support a lab origin with “moderate confidence.”
However, at the end of the day, the origin of the pandemic is also a scientific question.
Virologists who study pandemic origins are much less divided than the U.S. intelligence community. They say there is “very convincing” data and “overwhelming evidence” pointing to an animal origin, most likely from a market in Wuhan.
Wednesday, March 1
Millions of Americans will have less to spend on groceries as emergency food assistance that Congress enacted early in the pandemic has ended, according to NPR.
On average, individuals will get back $90 less this month in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Some households will see a cut of $250 a month or more, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research institute.
About 40 million people in the U.S. use SNAP, so the cut in benefits coinciding with food prices rising might feel like a shock to many.
At the start of the pandemic, nearly 9.5 million older adults ages 50 and up were considered “food insecure,” meaning they sometimes struggled to afford all the food they needed. In addition, an estimated 9 million children live in food-insecure homes, according to nonprofit group No Kid Hungry. Overall, about 10% of U.S. households experienced food insecurity at some point in 2021.
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