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SFO First Airport U.S. to Require Workers to Be Vaccinated

The mandate takes effect immediately and requires all tenants or contractors to require their onsite employees to be fully vaccinated or to be tested weekly if exempted from getting the shots.

A pair of gloved hands holding two medical vials.
(TNS) - A report by Pfizer and BioNTech that their vaccine is safe and highly effective in young children ages 5 to 11 could help ease months of anxiety among parents and teachers. Booster shots are expected to coincide with authorization of the COVID vaccine for young kids and seasonal flu shots. Public health authorities say they’re ready. Solano County remains the least vaccinated of the Bay Area’s nine counties, and masking is still anything but universal. One of the largest school districts in the Bay Area delayed a vote scheduled for this week on a proposal to require COVID-19 vaccination for staff and eligible students.

Resources on COVID-19 and California’s reopening: For detailed maps and new city-by-city Bay Area data, check out The Chronicle’s Coronavirus Tracker. To get regular updates on our coverage, sign up for our coronavirus newsletter.

Latest updates:

Bay Area surpasses California’s best-in- U.S. status on virus rates: The Bay Area is performing even better on low coronavirus rates than the broader state of California, which has recently distinguished itself as the only U.S. state not in the CDC’s “high” transmission category. State data show the Bay Area’s 7-day average daily case rate per 100,000 was 13 as of Sunday, compared to California’s rate of 22. San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties were below the regional average with a case rate of 11 per 100,000, and Marin County’s was even lower at 10. Read the full story here.

Positive test rate in California drops to lowest since early July: The state’s average 7-day rate of coronavirus infection tests coming back positive has dropped to 2.9%, the lowest since July 9, according to Tuesday’s report by the California health department. The positivity rate had been as low as 0.7% in early June but, fueled by unvaccinated holdouts combined with the rise of the delta variant, climbed to 7.2% by Aug. 3 before starting to drop again. During the winter surge, it had climbed as high as 17.1% in early January before vaccinations started taking hold and drove the infection rates down. Allo Bay Area counties except Solano — it’s rate was 3.3% — did better than the state, with rates at or lower than 2.9%.

Infected inmate’s story lays bare gaps in state prison system: The case of a San Quentin inmate released with a devastating case of COVID-19 and a fear of being deported during the global health crisis reveals preexisting gaps in California’s prison system, ones that widened with the pandemic. The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found itself unable to manage the parallel challenges of a virus tearing through prisons and the accelerated release of inmates to help mitigate the health crisis. Moreover, COVID left no clear path for many immigrant prisoners, whose fate is shaped by complex, conflicting policies of multiple agencies. Read the full story by The Chronicle’s Rachel Swan.

Vaccinated can spread virus, second CDC study confirms: A new study of Texas prison inmates provides more evidence that coronavirus can spread even in groups where most people are vaccinated, the Associated Press reports. A COVID-19 outbreak at a federal prison in July and August infected 172 inmates in two prison housing units, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 80% of inmates in the units had been vaccinated. More than 90% of the unvaccinated were infected, along with 70% of the fully vaccinated prisoners. Severe illness, however, was more common among the unvaccinated. The hospitalization rate was almost 10 times higher for them compared with those who had received the shots.

India says U.K. vaccine policy discriminates: India on Tuesday criticized the British government’s decision not to recognize coronavirus vaccine certificates issued by Indian authorities, calling it a “discriminatory policy” impacting Indian travelers to the U. K. India’s foreign secretary said the rules taking effect next month, could force India to “impose reciprocal measures” if the matter isn’t resolved. The new rules require Indians visiting the U.K. to self-quarantine for 10 days and undergo COVID-19 tests even if they are fully vaccinated with Indian-made AstraZeneca vaccine.

Unvaccinated COVID deceased in Contra Costa County are 13 years younger than vaccinated who die: In Contra Costa County, unvaccinated people dying from COVID are 13 years younger, on average, than vaccinated people dying from COVID, Health Services Director Anna Roth told county supervisors in Tuesday’s COVID update. Deaths overall have declined in the county since the winter surge, dropping into single digits or zero each day, with 53 deaths so far this month, according to The Chronicle’s tracking.

Delta surge “a different kind of exhausting” for East Bay hospital: “This wave is different,” Dr. Sergio Urcuyo, hospital medical director of Contra Costa Regional Medical Center, said Tuesday during a COVID update to county supervisors. “We watch patients suffer and die all the while knowing we have the tools to prevent it,” he said referring to COVID-19 vaccination. “This is a different kind of exhausting.” Since July 1, 86% of COVID deaths and COVID hospitalizations in the county have been among unvaccinated residents. There are currently 135 people hospitalized with COVID, including 54 in the ICU.

SFO workers must get vaccinated: All workers at San Francisco International Airport are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday. The mandate takes effect immediately and requires all tenants or contractors to require their onsite employees to be fully vaccinated or to be tested weekly if exempted from getting the shots. Breed’s office described the mandate as the first of its kind for an airport in the U.S. Read the story here.

Alameda County official says ‘worst’ of surge is over, but fall uptick looms: The seven-day average of daily coronavirus cases in Alameda County — 12.2 per 100,000 residents as of Tuesday — is now less than half of what it was during the peak of the summer delta COVID surge in late August (30 per 100,000 residents). The county is “clearly through the worst of this summer wave,” Dr. Nicholas Moss, the county’s health director, said Tuesday at a Board of Supervisors meeting. But he cautioned “plenty of people” remain hospitalized, and relaxed attitudes around the virus could well stall progress: “Because some people’s behaviors are different, it could be a little different this time around. We may not see levels drop to low levels with this surge.” Moss also said some projections show that despite high vaccination rates, California could see a repeat of last winter’s surge if restrictions, such as masking, are pulled back. “I don’t think we’re done with this,” he said. “I don’t think that was at the last wave.”

New state rules for “mega events” go into effect: As of Tuesday, California requires attendees of indoor events with 1,000 or more people to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or have received a negative coronavirus test. For outdoor events with 10,000 or more people, the same is recommended. The rules remain in effect through Nov. 1 and the California Department of Public Health will review the measures by Oct. 15. An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the proof is required for outdoor events. It’s recommended.

Move faster against COVID, Biden tells world leaders: President Biden on Tuesday stressed the urgent need to move fast and together globally against COVID-19. “To fight this pandemic, we need a collective act of science and political will,” he told the U.N. General Assembly. “We need to act now to get shots in arms as fast as possible. Expand access to oxygen, tests, treatments, to save lives around the world. And for the future, we need to create a new mechanism to finance global health security.” He added that the U.S. has donated 160 million vaccine doses to 100 other countries.

Pelosi visits COVID memorial on National Mall: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday visited a public art installation on the National Mall commemorating the American lives lost to COVID-19. The installation by artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, which opened on Sept. 17, includes 660,000 white flags planted on the mall. The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is now approaching 677,000.

Bermuda, Barbuda, Antigua (but not Kokomo) added to ‘do not travel’ list: The latest COVID-19 advisory from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Department advises Americans against traveling to Antigua, Barbuda, Bermuda and Guyana due to heightened risk. The tropical destinations were added to the agency’s “Level 4: COVID-19 Very High” list on Monday. The State Department on Tuesday also added the destinations to its “Level 4: Do Not Travel” destinations due to COVID-19, in addition to New Caledonia, Sao Tome and Principe, Kuwait, Colombia, Cambodia, Bonaire, and Zambia.

Biden tells U.N. globe needs unity on COVID-19: President Biden’s maiden address to the U.N. General Assembly included a call Tuesday for global unity on quickly addressing issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and human rights abuses. Before a smaller than usual audience because of the pandemic, he said, “Today, many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed by the force of arms. Bombs and bullets cannot defend against Covid-19 or its future variants.” Biden will host a virtual COVID-19 summit of leaders on Wednesday that will deal with stepping up vaccine-sharing commitments and addressing other global pandemic issues.

Fifth & Mission podcast — Maskless Mayor Breed: Chronicle senior arts and entertainment editor Mariecar Mendoza meant to capture video of an impromptu Tony! Toni! Toné! reunion performance at the Black Cat in the Tenderloin last week. She knew she'd also caught Mayor London Breed happily singing and dancing along with the music, but only later did it dawn on her that the video showed Breed breaking her own health department’s mask rules for indoor venues. After all, Mendoza was maskless at the time too. On this episode of the Fifth & Mission podcast, Mendoza talks to host Cecilia Lei about how her video was not intended as a “gotcha” political piece, and about Breed referring to her indirectly as “the fun police.” Also on the episode, City Hall columnist and Total SF podcast co-host Heather Knight joins Lei to talk about the possible political consequences for Mayor Breed. Listen to the podcast here.

Johnson & Johnson says second vaccine dose offers added protection against COVID:

The company said Tuesday that a second dose of its COVID-19 vaccine was 94% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID in the U.S., according to the results of a clinical trial. That’s up from the 74% efficacy rates associated with a single J&J shot. In San Francisco, city-run clinics started providing an mRNA booster shot as an option for recipients of J&J’s single-dose vaccine after research showed that J&J recipients might need a booster. Mayor London Breed and other high-profile politicians, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, are among those who were vaccinated with J&J’s single shot.

One Bay Area county is approaching 100% of eligible residents with one COVID vaccine dose: Marin County has marked a new pandemic-fighting milestone, with more than 90% of its eligible population now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to county data, 90.7% of residents 12 and older were fully vaccinated as of Monday. A whopping 97.3% of Marin’s eligible population has received at least one vaccine dose. Read the story here.

Dreamforce tech extravaganza returns to S.F. with daily COVID tests, masks and the Foo Fighters: San Francisco’s Howard Street has been transformed once again into a high-tech summer camp, as Dreamforce returns after a year of being virtual due to the pandemic. Read the story here.

A ‘huge relief’ for Bay Area parents as Pfizer says COVID vaccine is safe for kids 5 to 11: The vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech is safe and highly effective in young children ages 5 to 11 years, the companies announced Monday. The report could help ease months of anxiety among parents and teachers about when children, and their close contacts, might be able to get protection from the coronavirus. Read the story here.

Nearly 1 million children infected in past month: There were 225,978 child COVID-19 cases reported in the United States for the week ending Sept. 16, according to data published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatricians. The number represents a 9% increase over two weeks in the cumulated number of child COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. It amounts to close to 1 million cases over the past four weeks. Children represented 25.7% of the overall weekly reported cases in the nation. In the states reporting, children ranged from 1.6%-4.2% of their total cumulated hospitalizations.

Official action expected this week on Pfizer booster: Following the recommendation of its key advisory committee on Friday, the FDA is likely to authorize Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots this week for many Americans at high risk of falling seriously ill from the coronavirus, the New York Times reported. The agency, which often follows the committee’s advice but is not required to, is expected to decide early this week. An advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday to discuss booster shots before that agency — which sets vaccine policy — issues its recommendations

Napa County cases jumped 27% in a week: The Bay Area may be seeing the impact of Labor Day activities as coronavirus case rates that had been dropping have once again started to level off in places like San Francisco, or creep back up in other regions. Napa County, site of the BottleRock Napa Valley Festival over the three-day holiday weekend, on Monday reported a 27% increase in COVID-19 infections Sept. 10-16. County data shows 247 new cases reported during that time, with the average age of those infected dropping from 41 to 37 years old. Those under 18 represented the largest proportion of new cases (25%), followed by those in their 30s (21%). About half of those infected identified as white. Neighboring Sonoma County also saw a rise in active cases, going from 2,875 on Sept. 6, the Thursday before Labor Day, to 3,111 on Sept. 11, the most recent reporting date on the county dashboard. Napa’s average weekly case count per 100,000 people declined over the weekend, according to The Chronicle’s tracker.

East Bay school district cancels meeting to vote on vaccine mandate: The superintendent of West Contra Costa Unified School District canceled a special Tuesday board meeting that was to feature a vote on whether to require COVID-19 vaccination for eligible staff and students. He cited the need for more time to work out specifics. Read the story here.

California again the only state to escape federal “high” transmission category: A map of the United States, updated daily, shows that California is the only state that is not recording “high” rates of COVID transmission, according to the CDC. Transmission in the state is “substantial,” meaning that California is orange in a sea of worse red. Numbers change daily; California has previously fallen out of the red zone in the delta age, only to climb back in a day or two later. This article explains why the state has the nation’s lowest COVID case rate.

Vacaville requires masks in city facilities: People in Vacaville, including those who are vaccinated, now are required to wear face masks “in any indoor city facility and when participating in city programs or events outdoors where it is not possible to maintain a distance of six feet from every other person.” The City Council last week ratified the city manager’s emergency order imposing the requirement. Elsewhere in Solano County, the cities of Benicia and Vallejo both have enacted mask mandates for everyone in all indoor public spaces.

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