Tag: coronavirus

Evictions Rise, Tenants Scramble For Help As LA County Protections Expire

By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde | CalMatters

Irma Cervantes could barely afford the $750 monthly rent for the converted garage apartment she lives in with her children in East Los Angeles when she worked full-time at a laundromat.

When the pandemic shut down non-essential businesses, Cervantes was out of a job. Then she got sick with long COVID-19.

Now she owes 10 months rent, she said, and is trying to pay it down. Her three children, ages 19 to 23, are helping by working part-time jobs.

Her landlord has increased demands for payment and wants her out, Cervantes said. And on March 31, L.A. County’s tenant eviction protections are set to expire.

READ MORE: LA Mayor Bass’ first 100 days: As promised, homeless crisis front and center

“I’m left thinking, what will happen when there aren’t any protections,” Cervantes said. “What will I do with my kids? We can’t pay $1,600 rent.”

Across California nearly 600,000 people owe a total of $2.1 billion in back rent, researchers say. In Los Angeles city and county, nearly 200,000 people owe more than half a billion dollars in unpaid rent. 

RELATED: Raising rent 10% is too much, says lawmaker proposing California bill to prevent more homelessness

Many tenants, like Cervantes, are on edge because state protections and rental assistance across the state diminished, and now local protections like L.A. County’s are phasing out. Housing rights advocates and attorneys say eviction lawsuits already are rising in the state’s most populous county; they’re bracing for even greater spikes once county pandemic protections go.

“Because both state and local eviction protections enacted during the pandemic have come to an end, it’s an even bigger crisis,” said state Sen. María Elena Durazo, a Los Angeles Democrat, during a recent press conference.

Protections end California’s statewide tenant relief and protections ended in June 2022. The pandemic-era programs had shielded many tenants harmed by COVID-19 from eviction and offered financial assistance to help them pay back rent.

Since then some city and county local measures kicked in to keep tenants in homes. Los Angeles County protections from evictions stepped in for city residents on Jan. 31.

READ MORE: Tenants facing evictions should get free legal representation, LA councilmembers say

L.A. County’s tenant protections don’t prevent landlords from filing eviction lawsuits, which are called unlawful detainer suits. But the protections do give certain low-income tenants a defense in court if their rent was late between July 2022 and March 31 of this year due to the pandemic.

Beginning April 1, landlords will be able to evict tenants for a variety of reasons, but they’ll have to give tenants 30 days’ notice.

However housing justice groups may be making headway in their push to extend some tenant protections.

County supervisors Lindsey P. Horvath and Hilda Solis are expected to propose a motion today that would protect tenants from no-fault evictions until March 2024.  If it’s approved by a majority of the five supervisors, tenants who are paying rent could not be evicted, even if they had a pet or a person move in during the pandemic in violation of their lease.

Horvath said as a renter she recognizes that thousands would be at risk of losing housing after March 31 without this change, which is in keeping with L.A. Mayor Karen Bass’ efforts to reduce homelessness.

RELATED: New law in LA: Landlords must pay relocation costs if they raise rents too high

“If we are going to solve this crisis, we must stop the inflow of people falling into homelessness by keeping them in the housing they are already in,” Horvath said in a statement. 

Patchwork of protection Solis said it’s the county’s duty, as “the safety net for our most vulnerable,” to protect people from losing their homes.

Once countywide protections expire, tenant protections will return to a patchwork of local measures in some of the county’s 88 cities, leaving many renters without protection.

Already in L.A. County unlawful detainer filings for eviction have surged over the prior two years, when there were more layers of protection for tenants.

In 2020 and 2021, there were 13,796 and 12,646 unlawful detainer filings, respectively — record lows in what had been a steady downward trend in eviction filings since the 2008 recession, said Kyle Nelson, an eviction researcher at UCLA.

But last year there were 34,398 unlawful detainer filings in L.A. County. That’s not quite at 2019 levels, when there were 40,572 eviction filings, but experts expect another jump after the first back-rent deadline.

Even before state protections expired, housing analysts worried about a “tsunami” of evictions. Nelson said he now thinks that was an overestimation, but “we are seeing the wave.”

It could vary by city, though.

“I would expect the spikes to happen when the rental debt is due,” he said, ”because in various moratoria policies there are different windows for when debt for different periods of time is due.”

Rental debt The National Equity Atlas, a collaboration between Oakland research group Policy Link and the USC Equity Research Institute, estimates that 199,520 households in L.A. County are behind on rent, by a total of $542 million.

Its estimates are based on the Census Household Pulse Survey, which measures the pandemic’s impact on families.

Selena Tan, who leads Policy Link’s racial equity data lab, said rental debt estimates are likely lower than reality, partly because the Pulse survey responses represent a single point in time and may leave out renters who drop in and out of debt.

Advocates say the best remedy for evictions are programs that pay down rental debt for tenants, such as the Statewide Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which awarded more than $4.6 billion to renters before it expired in March 2022.

Although the program helped renters and landlords during the pandemic, it also rejected many applicants seemingly without reason. Three community organizations sued the state last year, arguing the rejections were discriminatory and vague. A judge partially agreed.

“There were all kinds of problems with the way it was administered,” said Christina Livingston, executive director of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Institute. “But for the people it helped, it really did keep them from homelessness,”

Alliance leaders had hoped to persuade lawmakers to keep emergency rental assistance going as a way to eliminate tenant debt, Livingston said, but “there isn’t a will for that.”

Mom-and-pop landlords Assemblymember Kate Sanchez, a Republican from Murietta, said blanket eviction protections and bureaucracy make it difficult for landlords to collect past-due rent. And state and local programs haven’t provided enough support to struggling mom-and-pop landlords.

“My office and my Republican colleagues have been helping these small property owners navigate Sacramento’s horrible bureaucracy to get the payments they need to pay their mortgages and keep their investments,” Sanchez told CalMatters. “The state should not tip the scale in favor of renters without providing adequate support to our mom-and-pop property owners.”

There still are some tenant supports in Los Angeles County.

Tenants at risk for eviction can still tap federal and state funds to pay back rent. But first they need to get an attorney through Stay Housed L.A., a partnership of agencies and legal service providers, said Javier Beltran, deputy director of the Housing Rights Center, which administers the funds.

In L.A. city, new tenant protections impose a threshold on how much a tenant must owe before they can be evicted — one month’s “fair market” rent, which in 2023 is about $1,747 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Landlords who increase rent by more than the state cap, which is now at 10% — 5% plus inflation — will have to pay relocation assistance to the tenant, an L.A. city ordinance states.

Groups representing landlords have sued the city and county over these protections, including the L.A.’s most recent ordinance.

Renters vs. owners Landlords have struggled to collect thousands — or millions — of dollars of rental debt. Tenant protections and regulations limit garnishing wages, said Daniel Yukelson, executive director of the Apartments Association of Greater Los Angeles.

“Over 80% of landlords in California are independent owners, mom and pops,” he said.

“They got crucified the last three years at the hands of the government. The government continues to use landlords as a scapegoat for the unhoused we see on our city sidewalks every day, because they haven’t come up with solutions to that problem.”

Several mom-and-pop landlords said privately that they would prefer to compromise with tenants rather than evict them. But going so long without rental income puts a strain on their finances. Some added that government rental assistance didn’t go far enough to pay the bills.

Tenant advocates countered that lobbying by landlord associations and campaign donations from the real estate industry make it difficult to pass tenant-friendly legislation, such as a law establishing a legal right to counsel for tenants in court.

In L.A., organizers have made progress with the city council. Recently a motion to explore establishing a right to legal counsel in eviction proceedings passed in the city council’s housing and homelessness committee.

The challenge will be finding funding sources, said Pablo Estupiñan, who directs Strategic Actions for a Just Economy’s counsel campaign.

Housing advocates want a recently approved one-time transfer tax to help pay for eviction representation, he said. That tax will be tacked onto real estate sales. It also would pay for affordable housing and renters’ education and outreach.

State help But housing advocates are still focusing on the state to strengthen tenant protections.

The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Institute is prioritizing   Durazo’s placeholder Senate Bill 567, Livingston said.

The bill, when it is complete, would expand the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 by further limiting rent increases, closing some loopholes that allow for abuse of eviction rules, and improving enforcement of housing rights, Durazo said.

“The government response to addressing this crisis has been focused primarily on rehousing people after they lose their housing, and this is important,” Durazo said,  “but it needs to be together with an effort to prevent people from becoming houseless.”

But the existing tenant protections in L.A. city and proposed changes to state law won’t erase the millions of dollars that at-risk renters already owe landlords. L.A. tenant advocates are looking into alternatives, such as creating a mom-and-pop landlord fund, for instance.

But progress is slow and any funds potentially available aren’t enough to cover all of  L.A.’s rental debt, they said.

Faizah Malik, an attorney, said she has concerns about any proposed rental relief programs moving forward. Malik works for Public Counsel, a nonprofit pro bono organization that has sued the state over its rental relief program.

“We do have a ticking clock on rental debt and evictions for that debt in the city of L.A.,” Malik said. “We have a lot of concerns about how rental assistance programs are being set up. The most efficient way to handle the rent debt would be to cancel it. That is the ultimate demand of the tenant movement.”

That remedy could change Cervantes’ life, enabling her to stay in her home.

“The home is the base of life for every human,” she said. “Here we can laugh, we can rest, we can cry. Having a home is a right, it’s not an option.”

Glendale Council Members Jumped COVID Vaccine Line, Lawsuit Alleges

LOS ANGELES — A Glendale Fire Department battalion chief is suing the city, alleging he was subjected to a backlash when he reported that the then-fire chief was ordering him to provide the coronavirus vaccine in the early states of its release to city officials who were not yet eligible by law.

Brian Julian’s Los Angeles Superior Court retaliation suit seeks unspecified damages. A Glendale city official did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Tuesday.

Julian was hired in September 1995 and rose through the ranks until he became a battalion chief in December 2016, then three years later he was promoted again to have the same rank within the GFD’s Emergency Medical Services, the suit states.

In December 2020, Julian was asked to assist the city in administering coronavirus vaccines during a three-phase plan enacted by Los Angeles County, the suit states.

The first phase of the vaccine allocation in the county applied to health care personnel, including personnel in emergency medical services, with the only exception allowed to prevent waste of the vaccine, the suit states.

However, in late December 2020 then-GFD Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas called Julian and told him that a Glendale City Council member and four city department heads would be coming over to receive the vaccine, even though none were qualified to receive the shot during the first phase, the suit states.

Julian reasonably believed that Lanzas’ order violated a federal, state or local regulation, the suit states.

In January 2021, Lanzas again instructed Julian to provide additional vaccine doses to other city department heads and City Council members, prompting the plaintiff to object, the suit states.

“In response, Lanzas became very angry with plaintiff and raised his voice …,” the suit states. “Further, Lanzas informed plaintiff that if (the plaintiff) refused to provide the vaccines to the various City Council members and department heads, Lanzas would provide them with the vaccines himself.”

According to another battalion chief, Lanzas was believed to be skirting the county’s COVID-19 vaccine regulations so that he could garner favors with the city of Glendale officials and departments heads, the suit states.

Less than two weeks later, Julian was removed from his assignment as EMS Chief and demoted to battalion chief of operations, a clear demotion in that it resulted in a pay decrease and had a negative impact on his ability to be promoted, the suit states.

Julian reported his concerns to the city’s human resources director, who took no action, the suit alleges.

Julian is still assigned as the battalion chief of operations. His reputation has been damaged and he has experienced financial losses and suffered emotional distress, the suit states.

Lanzas retired last April to take a leadership position in the private sector.

City News Service City News Service is a regional wire service covering Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties. Its reporting and editing staff cover public safety, courts, local government and general assignment stories. Contact the City News Service newsroom at 310-481-0404 or news@socalnews.com.

House Votes To Declassify Info About Origins Of COVID-19

By LISA MASCARO (AP Congressional Correspondent)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted unanimously on Friday to declassify U.S. intelligence information about the origins of COVID-19, a sweeping show of bipartisan support near the third anniversary of the start of the deadly pandemic.

The 419-0 vote was final approval of the bill, sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Debate was brief and to the point: Americans have questions about how the deadly virus started and what can be done to prevent future outbreaks.

“The American public deserves answers to every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

That includes, he said, “how this virus was created and, specifically, whether it was a natural occurrence or was the result of a lab-related event.”

The order to declassify focused on intelligence related to China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, citing “potential links” between the research that was done there and the outbreak of COVID-19, which the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

U.S. intelligence agencies are divided over whether a lab leak or a spillover from animals is the likely source of the deadly virus.

Experts say the true origin of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1 million Americans, may not be known for many years — if ever.

“Transparency is a cornerstone of our democracy,” said Rep. Jim Himes, of Connecticut, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, during the debate.

Led by Republicans, the focus on the virus origins comes as the House launched a select committee with a hearing earlier in the week delving into theories about how the pandemic started.

It offers a rare moment of bipartisanship despite the often heated rhetoric about the origins of the coronavirus and the questions about the response to the virus by U.S. health officials, including former top health adviser Anthony Fauci.

The legislation from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was already approved by the Senate.

If signed into law, the measure would require within 90 days the declassification of “any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the Coronavirus Disease.”

That includes information about research and other activities at the lab and whether any researchers grew ill.

Associated Press The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative, serving member newspapers and broadcasters in the U.S., and other customers around the world. The Southern California News Group is one of them. AP journalists in more than 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting to visual storytelling. Since 1846, AP has been covering the world’s biggest news events, committed to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism. Learn more about policies and standards in AP’s Statement of News Values and Principles. https://www.ap.org/about/news-values-and-principles/

Are Southern California Students And Teachers Breathing Clean Air?

Tina Andres hates the red light. And this time, it’s not even blinking. It’s just solid red, as in, change-the-filter-now red.

The air purifier in teacher Andres’ classroom at MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate School in Santa Ana was installed in 2021. But the first time the light went red no new filters could be found, a result of supply chain woes. Now, about two months after installing a replacement, the warning signal is back.

Andres, a sixth-grade math teacher who’s taught in the same class, Room 7, for 30 years, said the air problem isn’t just about COVID-19.

“We have mold issues,” she said. “There are issues like this all over the county. Some of these schools are old.

“Teachers just want to know that the air quality is good,” she added.

An air filter is seen in a first-grade class on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, at Resurrection School in Los Angeles. Indoor air quality has been an increasing focus for the past three decades, but took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Teachers at MacArthur Intermediate in Santa Ana got new air purifiers during the pandemic. But when their red lights popped up indicating a need to change the filter, there were no replacements to be found. This air purifier in Room 7 at MacArthur saw its filter replaced during the winter holiday. It’s back to red. Photo taken on Friday, Dec. 3, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Tina Andres)

The issue isn’t trivial, or misunderstood. Studies have linked dirty air inside of schools — particularly in communities with dirty air outside of schools — to a variety of health conditions and learning delays. It’s also known that a proven, cost-effective way to clean up school air is to improve a school’s ventilation system.

California has been a leader in recognizing this. Even before COVID-19 prompted everybody to think about ventilation, California imposed rules aimed at making sure new school buildings offered clean air. And on Jan. 1, California became the first state to require every school, regardless of age, to assess and, if feasible, to upgrade their ventilation systems.

The mandate has come after billions of state and federal dollars, mostly related to the pandemic, were made available to schools to improve their air quality. Los Angeles Unified now spends about $20 million a year to inspect and maintain more than 115,000 air filtration systems.

Still, a new national study from the Environmental Law Institute suggests it isn’t enough. California, as with other states, has substantial room for improvement when it comes to making school air safe, the study found.

The study cites many of the issues also raised by Andres, as well as other teachers, parents and environmental advocates.

For starters, there’s no centralized agency to oversee school indoor air quality. State and local air quality districts focus on outdoor air, so questions about indoor air often bounce between various state departments and local agencies. School districts are left to inspect and police themselves.

Also, loopholes in the new state law allow many schools — particularly older campuses, which often serve the neediest students — to avoid meeting the new standards if they don’t have heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or HVAC systems, at all, or if their systems aren’t strong enough to push air through upgraded filters. A number of Southern California school districts reached for comment on this story, from Big Bear to Pomona to East Whitter, either didn’t respond or simply said they had no news to share about work to improve ventilation.

Meanwhile, international health groups are calling for indoor air rules even more strict than what’s called for in California’s new law. To get there, districts would need to boost ventilation and add tools, such as portable air purifiers, in all classrooms — something few have done.

Now, as funding and concern about COVID-19 fades, school plans to fix the problem are starting to fall by the wayside.

Some $50 million in federal funding that L.A. Unified School District budgeted for portable air purifiers a couple years ago has been reassigned, according to Rebecca Schenker, who has two kids in the district and helps lead a group called LAUSD Parents for Covid-Safe Schools. She hasn’t been able to find out how that money will now be spent.

Her fear is that, as the COVID-19 emergency declaration ends and people move on, the funding, equipment and knowledge gained over the past three years won’t translate into long-term efforts to clean up school air — despite ongoing problems with absenteeism and air pollution.

“The need to figure out how to move forward in this world, after the trauma of COVID and damage, is real,” Schenker said. “But I think we’re saying in our coalition that we can’t do that by forgetting the lessons we learned during the pandemic. And while we’re not in a pandemic mode, we know more about how to take care of our communities. And we know we have the tools.”

Long-standing need While California has set standards for outdoor air quality since the late 1950s, public policy didn’t expand to include indoor air quality in earnest until the early 1990s. That’s when the Environmental Law Institute started studying classroom ventilation, said Tobie Bernstein, a senior attorney with the group and director of its Indoor Environments Program.

“There was considerable evidence of potential adverse impacts of poor ventilation and indoor air quality,” Bernstein said.

Students and teachers in schools with poor ventilation are more likely to miss school and report health issues related to respiratory and viral infections, asthma symptoms and airborne diseases such as chickenpox and influenza, according to research by Harvard’s Healthy Buildings program. Meanwhile, studies by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and others show that better ventilation in schools also leads to better academic performance.

When Southern California Gas distributed portable air purifiers to all classrooms within five miles of a massive leak at the company’s Aliso Canyon storage in 2015, Michael Gilraine, an economics professor at New York University, saw an opportunity. He launched a study comparing student achievement in schools that didn’t get air filters and those that did, and he found substantial improvements in math and English scores for students breathing cleaner air.

“The results indicate that air filter installation is a highly cost-effective policy to raise student achievement,” Gilraine’s study says. “And, given that underprivileged students attend schools in highly polluted areas, one that can reduce the pervasive test score gaps that plague public education.”

Much of Southern California is plagued by poor outdoor air quality throughout the year, from Inland Empire schools near heavily trafficked freeways to Los Angeles County schools near the busy ports to all schools near airports. When outdoor air quality gets particularly bad, air quality officials recommend keeping kids inside. But Heejung Jung, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Riverside who studies air quality, has seen firsthand how problematic that is in schools without active ventilation systems.

Jung recalled measuring air quality of a classroom in Riverside some years back. Even with doors and windows closed, but no ventilation system, Jung said the concentration of harmful particles was 70% as high inside the classroom as it was outside.

Lower income school districts are most likely to have faulty, failing or nonexistent ventilation systems. At the same time, people of color are more likely to suffer from underlying health conditions, such as asthma, that make them more vulnerable to pollutants in their classrooms, turning ventilation into a social justice issue.

Though fixing school ventilation isn’t cheap, advocates believe the investment of a few dollars per student more than pays for itself.

Schenker cites studies that more than 100,000 absences in LAUSD each year are attributed to asthma symptoms. Since schools get paid based on student attendance, that’s costing the district upwards of $4 million a year, which health research suggests could be improved by improving ventilation. Another California study estimated that poor ventilation was linked to at least 3% of absences, which cost the state $33 million each year.

In 2019, such research prompted California to become the first state to require HVAC filters for all new school construction at a level known as MERV 13, with dense enough filtration to catch at least 75% of particles in the air as small as 1 micron, or about a tenth the size of a droplet of mist.

But in January 2020, researchers published a study in the journal Building and Environment that found that there were problems with even newly installed HVAC equipment in more than half of the classrooms they looked at. Theresa Pistochini, a co-author of the study who helps lead UC Davis’ Energy Efficiency Institute and Western Cooling Efficiency Center, said that while those numbers were very concerning to her team, it was initially tough to get traction because teachers and students weren’t recognizing the effects.

“When you’re in a building that’s underventilated, you can’t really tell,” she said.

Then came spring 2020.

The COVID-19 factor As COVID-19 raged, and protection measures such as mask wearing and vaccinations became divisive, improving ventilation jumped out as relatively simple, non-intrusive way to significantly reduce the risk of transmission. Suddenly, the maintenance problems and other recommendations that Pistochini and her team had raised were getting attention.

Seventh-grade students at Pacific Pathways Prep Middle School in Sacramento, Calif. work on CR-Box filters that will go to low-income patients at the COPD clinic at UC Davis in collaboration with Dr. Brooks Kuhn. The outreach on Friday, March 3, 2023 was part of an ongoing effort to teach air quality principles and build awareness about ventilation. (Photos by Paul Fortunato of UC Davis)

Seventh-grade students at Pacific Pathways Prep Middle School in Sacramento, Calif. work on CR-Box filters that will go to low-income patients at the COPD clinic at UC Davis in collaboration with Dr. Brooks Kuhn. The outreach on Friday, March 3, 2023 was part of an ongoing effort to teach air quality principles and build awareness about ventilation. (Photos by Paul Fortunato of UC Davis)

Seventh-grade students at Pacific Pathways Prep Middle School in Sacramento, Calif. work on CR-Box filters that will go to low-income patients at the COPD clinic at UC Davis in collaboration with Dr. Brooks Kuhn. The outreach on Friday, March 3, 2023 was part of an ongoing effort to teach air quality principles and build awareness about ventilation. (Photos by Paul Fortunato of UC Davis)

The simplest way to improve air quality in classrooms, of course, is to open doors and windows. But there are classes across Southern California where that’s not possible. Also, everything from temperature to noise to public safety make the open-door-and-window policy less than ideal.

The second fix is to install stand-alone air cleaners, like the one in Andres’ class, in all classrooms and gathering spaces. Such devices can work, Pistochini said, because they can filter the smallest particles. But for portable air cleaners to be effective, they need to be sized right for the space, filters need to be regularly changed and they need to be turned on each day. That leaves a lot of room for user error.

That’s why the third fix is the one Pistochini focuses on — installing solid HVAC systems that bring in outdoor air, condition and filter it, and expel poor air out of the classroom.

There are schools in districts across Southern California, including in Torrance Unified and Westminster, that don’t have full HVAC systems in place. Westminster recently tapped a $76 million bond measure to start to tackle that issue. Manuel Cardoso, assistant superintendent for business services, said five of the district’s 16 schools now have new air HVAC systems, while nine others are nearly done or scheduled for similar upgrades in the summer. Two others, he said, have temporary HVAC systems.

For districts with existing HVAC systems, most had been running MERV 6 or 8 filters, which don’t work well against COVID-19 transmission. That’s why Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, last year introduced Assembly Bill 2232. The bill, which took effect Jan. 1, requires all California schools to evaluate their ventilation systems and upgrade to MERV 13 filtration if “feasible.” Otherwise, they have to install the highest MERV level filtration their systems can take.

While that law does give districts wiggle room to decide whether their systems can handle MERV 13 filtration, Pistochini said most HVAC systems can pivot to MERV 13.

But Jesse Chavarria, assistant superintendent of administrative services for Anaheim Elementary School District, said not only were MERV 13 hard to find at one point during the pandemic, he said they also didn’t work in older HVAC units in the district.

“In those situations, the law says we have to find ways to find the same air quality,” Chavarria said. “So we used three-ply filters and sprayed them with an antimicrobial agent used by hospitals.”

Orange Unified also is treating all its HVAC units, which have MERV 8 filters, with an antimicrobial solution — in addition to buying portable air purifiers with HEPA filters, said district spokeswoman Hanna Brake.

Paying for progress While some districts already were working to upgrade their HVAC systems and filtration, both AB 2232 and the recent flood of state and federal funding for improvements kicked those efforts into high gear.

“Covid was a bad thing but getting the Covid funds did help out in terms of improving the ventilation systems,” said Chavarria, from the Anaheim Elementary district.

Most California schools now have access to a pool of money specifically designated for HVAC work. Through a program called CalSHAPE, created in 2020 by Assembly Bill 814, schools can apply for a share of $584 million in grants. To date, about $382 million has been doled out for ventilation projects, with applications for the latest round of funding open through March 31.

That’s on top of $190.5 billion in federal funds approved by Congress to help schools cope with the pandemic. The California Department of Education said that as of Feb. 15, school districts in the state were planning to use $1.6 billion of that money for 951 approved HVAC projects.

L.A. Unified installed MERV 13 filters across 80 million square feet of buildings and classrooms. At the onset of COVID-19, the district also programmed HVAC systems to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even when heating or cooling is not required. And they used $2.4 million to buy 2,750 portable HEPA air-cleaning devices, which can be deployed during COVID-19 surges or if an HVAC system goes down.

Riverside Unified School District used ESSER funds to do HVAC replacement at two high schools, four middle schools and nine elementary schools, according to district spokesperson Diana Meza. The district also added MERV 13 filters in all classrooms and now changes them quarterly.

In Capistrano Unified, Orange County’s largest school district, spokesman Ryan Burris said ESSER funds were used to upgrade all HVAC systems to MERV 13 rated filters. In cases where ventilation still was not meeting minimum standards, he said the district purchased stand-alone units to supplement ventilation rates. The district also received CalSHAPE funds to assess HVAC systems at all sites and plans to apply for additional grant money through that program to replace systems that were found deficient.

San Bernardino City Unified School District used a combination of ESSER and district general funds to purchase HEPA filter units, assess HVAC systems and upgrade the HVAC filters, spokesperson Corina Borsuk said. As a result of those efforts, she said many of the district’s classrooms now exceed the international ventilation exchange rate guidelines.

“It’s not enough to just purchase equipment and leave it at that,” Borsuk said. “We want to make sure we are making a measurable difference for our students’ health and make sure that the investment of public funds is getting results.” So she said the district also contracted with an industrial hygienist to perform pre- and post-tests on air samples for all classrooms.

More work needed Air sampling and circulation testing is key, according to Michael Bailey with the national parent group Indoor Air Care Advocates. When asked what they’re doing to improve air quality in schools, he said many districts focus on upgrades they’ve made to HVAC filtration or how many air purifiers they’ve added.

But, Bailey said, knowing that doesn’t indicate “how much clean air they’re providing.”

One way California is working on that is by requiring schools that receive money through CalSHAPE to install carbon dioxide monitors in all classrooms, which will alert staff and students if CO2 levels go above 1,100 parts per million. And if that happens more than once a week, the school will have to adjust ventilation rates. (The 2022 law, AB 2232, also requires new and altered school buildings to install CO2 monitors.)

Pistochini praised those efforts, since it gives teachers and students and parents hard data. Otherwise, districts are left to police themselves.

“What’s at stake here is exposure to respiratory infectious disease, exposure to indoor chemical sources, and exposure to outdoor pollution. And children are our most sensitive population. So if there’s ever a place we’re gonna get this right, let’s do it in a school and through a third-party inspection system.”

Other states already do that. West Virginia, for example, hires HVAC technicians to conduct inspections, per the Environmental Law Institute report. And if we can have regular inspections for every restaurant in the state, Pistochini said surely we can do the same for schools.

At Santa Ana Unified, teacher Andres said she and her colleagues want to see more information from the district.

“I want to see regular testing and reports of air quality given to teachers about their rooms, and we want some assurances that these air purifiers are working and that they’re going to be regularly maintained,” said Andres, a member of the school’s safety committee.

Otherwise, she said, “There’s this big huge thing in your room that’s worthless.”

California Quietly Abandons COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate For School Kids

With the pandemic emergency quickly winding down, California officials appear to have quietly backed away from plans to require COVID-19 vaccinations for K-12 school students, a move that avoids the prospect of barring tens of thousands of unvaccinated children from the classroom.

The shift comes 14 months after Gov. Gavin Newsom visited a San Francisco middle school to declare plans to make California the first state to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for its more than 6 million students.

The vaccine mandate, initially expected to kick in last summer, was put off another 12 months amid flagging youth vaccination rates that opened a debate over how the requirement would disproportionately punish disadvantaged students already struggling to recover academically and emotionally from pandemic school lockdowns.

Now, with no announcement or explanation, the administration appears to be quietly dropping the COVID-19 immunization mandate altogether. The education news site EdSource reported Feb. 1 that the state would no longer pursue it, citing unnamed officials. When the Bay Area News Group asked whether the state was dropping plans for the mandate, the California Department of Public Health would not directly answer but did not dispute the EdSource report, noting that “emergency regulations are not being pursued.”

“The legislature considered this issue last year and did not enact legislation mandating COVID-19 vaccines for K-12 students,” the CDPH said in a statement. “The state’s COVID-19 state of emergency will terminate later this month, and per the recent announcement by the federal government, the federal public health emergency will end in May.”

Newsom’s office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

But school officials like Superintendent Eric Volta of Contra Costa County’s Liberty Union High School District weren’t surprised and didn’t expect the mandate would ever materialize for logistical and practical reasons.

“I would have been shocked had they kept pressing forward with it,” Volta said.

Most childhood immunizations, Volta noted, involve a shot or two and that’s it. But with the COVID-19 vaccines, whose protection has proven to be temporary, health officials have been urging boosters at least annually, if not more often.

“I don’t know how we’d be able to track a vaccine that’s given yearly, that’s what it comes down to,” Volta said. “It’s one thing to have vaccinations by 8th grade, but a yearly vaccination? Oh, that would be a challenge to follow up on. And not to mention families being told they can’t come to school because you don’t have this vaccination?”

Newsom in October 2021 said his plan was for the mandate to begin with grades 7-12 in July 2022, assuming the Food and Drug Administration by then had granted full approval of the vaccines for ages of students enrolled in those grades. Mandates for K-6 students would follow once the vaccine was fully approved for those ages as well.

The FDA granted full approval for Pfizer’s original formula COVID-19 shots for ages 16 and older in August 2021 and for ages 12 and older in July 2022. But primary vaccines for those under 12 and booster shots are still given under expedited emergency use authorization.

In April 2022, the CDPH announced that the mandate would not be enforced for the 2022-23 school year. It was the Newsom administration’s last announcement on the subject. That same day, state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, announced he was pulling his bill that would have not only mandated COVID-19 vaccination to attend K-12 schools but eliminated personal belief exemptions, as he’d done in 2015 for other required immunizations.

SAN JOSE, CA – NOVEMBER 4: Alejandra Luna, 10, receives a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine dose from Registered Nurse Shari Hamrick, as her mother Maria Resendiz and sister Paola Luna, 9, look on at a clinic on the campus of Katherine R. Smith Elementary School in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. The County of Santa Clara and the Santa Clara County Office of Education is launching school-based vaccination clinics for children ages 5-11. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) At the time, thousands of middle and high school students were still unvaccinated and in jeopardy of being disenrolled. And vaccination rates among school-aged children haven’t improved much since. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 25% of California kids ages 12-17 and 60% of those 5-11 have not been fully vaccinated against the virus.

Pan has since left office, and there are no other COVID-19 immunization mandate bills for school kids in the legislative hopper.

Either way, the bills proved problematic. In cases where parents successfully sued to block district-level COVID-19 vaccine mandates, courts have ruled that the Legislature vested the CDPH, not local school boards, with that authority.

In light of recent court decisions, several large districts that had moved to impose their own mandates, including those in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and West Contra Costa counties, have said they are following the state’s lead.

Some school officials are frustrated with the administration’s silence on a mandate that would require significant time to prepare for. “If it’s over, just say it,” Lucerne Valley Unified Superintendent Peter Livingston in San Bernardino County told EdSource.

Much has changed since October 2021. Though children continue to be least at risk from the virus, current omicron variants have largely been mild for adults as well. Most Americans, vaccinated or not, have been infected with some version of the virus. Mask and social distancing requirements have been dropped.

And the state has ended its requirement that unvaccinated school teachers be regularly tested to come to campus, effectively eliminating the teacher vaccine mandate.

Health officials meanwhile are unsure how many additional vaccine boosters will be needed and what formula. Variants of the virus that were prevalent last year — and that the latest updated vaccine booster was based on — are giving way to newer strains. All of which complicates implementing any mandate.

“If this was going to be something they were trying to push,” Volta said, “it would be interesting how they’d handle it.”

Vaccino Altro Errore, Somministrate 4 Dosi Insieme. Donna Sotto Osservazione.

Vaccino, altro errore: somministrata dose quattro volte superiore alla normale. Donna di sessant’anni sotto osservazione, aperta inchiesta interna. Vaccino, altro errore di somministrazione. Succede a Livorno a meno di dieci giorni dall’evento di Massa.

Al Modigliani Forum un donna di sessant’anni in buono stato di salute riceve una dose non diluita, pari quindi a quattro volte quella necessaria. Ad accorgersene e dare l’allarme è stato direttamente il personale somministratore.

Subito trasferita al Pronto Soccorso della città amaranto, l’Azienda USL Toscana Nord-Ovest fa sapere che la donna è monitorata ma sta bene e che è stata aperta un’inchiesta interna.

Il caso emerge proprio nel giorno della visita di Figliuolo alla Regione Toscana.

RSA. Operatori Non Vaccinati Contro Il Covid Saranno Licenziati: Il Tribunale Respinge Ricorso.

Le dirigenze delle RSA hanno ragione. Operatori non vaccinati contro il Covid saranno licenziati: il tribunale respinge ricorso. Egr. Direttore di AssoCareNews.it, volevo segnalarvi un servizio uscito pochi giorni fa su Repubblica e firmato da Enrico Ferro. Nel pezzo si fa riferimento alla decisione del Tribunale del Lavoro di Belluno di “assolvere” le direzioni delle Residenze Sanitarie Assistenziali e delle case di riposo venete relativamente alla possibilità di licenziare Medici, Infermieri, OSS, Professioni Sanitarie e altri operatori non vaccinati contro il Coronavirus.

Si tratta di una decisione che per molti può sembrare assurda, ma che a mio avviso è giusta. Se noi lavoriamo in ambito sanitario dobbiamo essere i primi a tutelarci e a tutelare i nostri Assistiti contro le Pandemia, come quella da Covid-19.

Ecco il pezzo in questione.

Il diritto alla salute dei soggetti fragili che entrano in contatto con chi esercita le professioni sanitarie e il diritto alla salute della collettività, prevalgono sulla libertà di chi non intende sottoporsi alla vaccinazione contro il Covid. Quindi non solo le ferie forzate erano legittime ma, d’ora in poi, o i lavoratori delle Rsa si vaccinano o devono cambiare lavoro. Con queste motivazioni il Tribunale di Belluno ha dichiarato inammissibile il reclamo presentato dagli otto operatori socio sanitari delle case di riposo di Belluno e di Sedico, che chiedevano il riconoscimento del diritto a non vaccinarsi senza dover incorrere in ferie forzate o sospensioni.

Per la seconda volta la sezione Lavoro del Tribunale, riunita in forma collegiale (Umberto Giacomelli presidente, Paolo Velo giudice e Chiara Sandini giudice relatore) ha rigettato il reclamo dei lavoratori contro l’ordinanza del 19 marzo scorso che aveva respinto l’azione legale contro Sersa e Sedico Servizi, valorizzando l’obbligo del datore di lavoro di tutelare la salute sul luogo di lavoro (ai sensi dell’articolo 2087 del codice civile). I lavoratori, rappresentati dall’avvocato Andrea Colle, avevano provato a ribadire il loro diritto a scegliere se vaccinarsi o meno, al di là del decreto 44/2021, senza dover subire sospensioni non retribuite o peggio il loro licenziamento. Inoltre avevano chiesto al tribunale di sollevare una questione di legittimità costituzionale in merito all’articolo 4 del Dl 44/2021, ritenendolo in contrasto con l’articolo 32 della Costituzione nella parte in cui prevede l’obbligo di vaccinazione per chi esercita le professioni sanitarie.

Sersa Srl e Sedico Servizi avevano parlato di inammissibilità del reclamo, visto la presenza del nuovo decreto legge. Tesi sposata dal tribunale. I lavoratori sono stati quindi condannati a rifondere le spese pari a 2.500 euro. Degli otto dipendenti iniziali ne sono rimasti cinque: uno si è vaccinato e due hanno rassegnato le dimissioni. “È un dispositivo che conferma l’approccio che abbiamo seguito fin qui: la supremazia della tutela della salute pubblica rispetto alla libertà di scelta privata sul vaccino” dice Paolo Santesso, amministratore unico di Sersa, al Corriere delle Alpi. “Libertà che comunque può essere esercitata, scegliendo altre collocazioni professionali”.

Negli ultimi giorni in Veneto era scoppiato anche il caso denunciato dalla Cisl Funzione pubblica, circa l’isolamento di alcuni dipendenti no vax delle case di riposo. In particolare, in una struttura della provincia di Venezia sono stati ricavati spogliatoi dedicati e anche spazi per la pausa caffè solo per chi non è vaccinato. Una situazione nota ai sindacati, consapevoli però delle difficoltà vissute da molti dirigenti delle Rsa nella gestione della quota renitente alla vaccinazione in questa fase di transizione tra l’approvazione del decreto legge e l’entrata in vigore della legge vera e propria.

Insomma, o ci vacciniamo o siamo a rischio di licenziamento. I lettori di AssoCareNews.it sicuramente non se la prenderanno a male per questa mia posizione, ma credo che la stragrande maggioranza di loro la pensi come me.

Buon lavoro e vaccinatevi!

Riccardo S., Infermiere

Coronavirus, “possibile Incidente Di Laboratorio”. I Virologi Confermano, Roberto Burioni Pubblica I Documenti

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Bollettino Coronavirus Oggi 17 Maggio Italia: Morti, Contagiati, Guariti.

Coronavirus Italia: la situazione aggiornata relativa a morti, nuovi contagiati e guariti. Focus anche sul numero dei ricoveri. Questo il Bollettino di oggi, 17 Maggio. Coronavirus, ecco il bollettino ufficiale della Protezione Civile per il giorno 17 Maggio (tra parentesi i numeri di ieri):

(ieri 328.882) Contagiati. (ieri 124.156) Deceduti. I numeri dei ricoveri.

Secondo gli ultimi dati comunicati dalle regioni ed elaborati dalla protezione civile, questa la situazione dei ricoverati.

(ieri 1.779) i ricoverati in terapia intensiva; (ieri 13.913) i ricoveri totali comprese persone con sintomi lievi e moderati. Le cifre indicano quindi un’evidente frenata, favorita dalla campagna vaccinale che va avanti senza sosta.

Covid: Sintomi e Segni del Coronavirus.

Il mondo prosegue la sua campagna di vaccinazioni mentre sono ormai milioni i morti da inizio 2020.

Intanto il piano delle “riaperture” sta portando un progressivo ritorno alla semi-normalità, fino all’estate, quando si potranno godere nuovamente di tante libertà che abbiamo accantonato per contrastare l’epidemia.

Questo comporterà inevitabilmente un aumento dell’esposizione al contagio ma si conta sui numeri della campagna vaccinale e sull’educazione sanitaria della popolazione per evitare una nuova ondata.

Se all’inizio le terapie intensive e le cure a bassa intensità sono stati i due livelli di setting a soffrire maggiormente, adesso il problema è dal punto di vista di presa in carico territoriale.

Questo il bollettino di oggi. La redazione di AssoCareNews.it raccomanda tutti di rispettare le restrizioni vigenti.  E manda i suoi più sentiti ringraziamenti a Personale Sanitario, Forze dell’Ordine, Volontari e tutti coloro che si stanno adoperando in prima linea contro questa epidemia mondiale. Leggi anche: Speciale Coronavirus. Tutti i giorni le ultime notizie dal fronte del COVID-19.

Nuovo Report Iss Vaccini. Brusaferro: “dati Confermano L’efficacia Delle Vaccinazioni”

È stato pubblico dall’Istituto Superiore di Sanità il primo studio nazionale sull’impatto della vaccinazione anti Covid-19. Il risultato più evidente riportato è che dopo il vaccino crollano sia il rischio di infezione che quello di decesso e ricovero.

L’analisi congiunta dell’anagrafe nazionale vaccini e della sorveglianza integrata COVID-19 è in un report, a cura del Gruppo di lavoro ISS e Ministero della Salute “Sorveglianza vaccini COVID-19” in collaborazione con i referenti regionali della sorveglianza integrata COVID-19 e con i Referenti regionali della anagrafe nazionale vaccini.

Il report presenta i dati a partire dal 27 dicembre 2020 (giorno di avvio della campagna vaccinale in Italia) al 3 maggio 2021, relativi a 13,7 milioni di persone vaccinate. Dai dati emerge che il 95% delle persone vaccinate con vaccino Comirnaty o Moderna ha completato il ciclo vaccinale, ricevendo due dosi nei tempi indicati dal calendario vaccinale mentre per il vaccino AstraZeneca nessuna delle persone incluse nello studio aveva ricevuto il ciclo completo.

L’analisi congiunta ha evidenziato che il rischio di infezione da SARS-CoV-2, ricovero e decesso diminuisce progressivamente dopo le prime due settimane. A partire dai 35 giorni dall’inizio del ciclo vaccinale si osserva una riduzione dell’80% delle infezioni, del 90% dei ricoveri e del 95% dei decessi; questi effetti sono simili sia negli uomini che nelle donne e in persone di diverse fasce di età. “Questi dati – commenta il Presidente dell’Iss Silvio Brusaferro – confermano l’efficacia delle vaccinazioni e della campagna vaccinale, e la necessità di raggiungere presto alte coperture in tutta la popolazione per uscire dall’emergenza grazie a questo strumento fondamentale”.

Riduzione del rischio di infezione a diversi intervalli di tempo dalla somministrazione a partire dall’inizio del ciclo vaccinale rispetto al periodo 0-14 giorni dalla prima dose (periodo di riferimento)

Riduzione del rischio di diagnosi con successivo ricovero a diversi intervalli di tempo dalla somministrazione a partire dall’inizio del ciclo vaccinale rispetto al periodo 0-14 giorni dalla prima dose (periodo di riferimento)

Riduzione del rischio di diagnosi e successivo decesso a diversi intervalli di tempo dalla somministrazione a partire dall’inizio del ciclo vaccinale rispetto al periodo 0-14 giorni dalla prima dose (periodo di riferimento)