By Jondi Gumz
Dr. Faris Sabbah, Santa Cruz County superintendent of schools, anticipates the first vaccine clinics for kids age 5 to 11 will be Nov. 8.
A Town Hall updating parents is posted on the SantaCruzCOE YouTube channel.
On Oct. 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11, giving parents who want their younger children vaccinated a sense of relief even as new cases in Santa Cruz County are down 31 percent.
The federal Centers for Disease Control’s advisers are meeting Nov. 2 to discuss whether to recommend the vaccine for younger kids.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, makes the final decision.
Locally the Delta variant claimed four more lives in Santa Cruz County — all with underlying conditions — bringing the number of deaths to 220. Hospitalizations have been up and down, from four to seven, then five, with one in intensive care.
The county reports 324 active cases, 20,210 cases since the pandemic began and 610 requiring hospitalization.
Pfizer and BioNTech requested approval Oct. 7 for kids 5 to 11. By Oct. 27, an advisory panel recommended in favor, though several panelists said the data for kids 5 to 11 does not support a mandate.
About 3,000 children took part in clinical trials, which found no cases of myocarditis, heart muscle inflammation. The rare condition often resolves itself but if severe can cause sudden death.
CDC data showed 12.6 cases per one million second doses, more common among men and boys. Researchers estimated that out of a million second doses given to boys ages 12 to 17, vaccines might cause up to 70 myocarditis cases, but would prevent 5,700 COVID cases, 215 hospitalizations and two deaths, The New York Times reported in July.
The number in a clinical trial usually ranges from several hundred to 3,000.
Because this heart condition is rare, increasing the number of participants might not allow regulators to better detect prevalence of the heart problem, Dr. Steven Black, co-director of the Global Vaccine Data Network, a consortium researching vaccine safety, told The New York Times.
Physicians will know to look for it once the vaccine is in use, he added. To reduce the risk of side effects, younger children would get a third of the adult dose.
Enrollment in California’s K-12 public schools dropped 2.6 percent from pre-pandemic to 2020-21 and this year’s decline is projected to be 8.7 percent .
Factors include switching to online instruction in 2020, postponing sports, and restricting popular activities such as theater and singing groups for safety reasons.
At Scotts Valley Unified School District, student numbers dropped from 2,717 in 2019-20 to 2,635 in 2020-21.
Gov. Newsom announced plans to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations required to attend in-person school once the vaccine gets full approval from federal regulators.
The Idaho Statesman and the Deseret News in Utah reported parents are leaving California because of SB 277, the 2015 law banning all but medical exemptions for vaccines. One mom who spoke to the Statesman was quoted by name, but the mom who shared her story with the Deseret News asked her name be withheld to protect the medical privacy of her children.
Some parents worried about long-term side effects do not want to vaccinate their children. In other cases, if the children have had COVID, the parents contend they have natural immunity.
Homeschooling in California is up, based on affidavits filed by homeschooling parents.
The California Globe reported those numbers have nearly tripled — from 14,548 in 2018-2019 to 22,433 in 2019-2020 and a record 34,715 in 2020-2021.
Another 3,215 affidavits for private schools with 6 or more students were filed in 2020-2021.
Dr. Cal Gordon, Santa Cruz County Public Health, reported 229 COVID cases in the last month among children under 19, 202 unvaccinated, one youth hospitalized, and 71% of youths age 12-17 fully vaccinated.
With Inspire Diagnostics, the County Office of Education has conducted more than 38,000 PCR surveillance tests for COVID in two months at no charge to those tested.
Sabbah launched a website, santacruzcoe.org/coviddashboards, to report active cases and test results.
Scotts Valley Unified School District reported two active student cases at Scotts Valley Middle School and one at Brook Knoll Elementary, with no active staff cases.
State guidelines require students and school staff working with them to be masked indoors although Santa Cruz County lifted its indoor mask mandate Sept. 29.
Testing sites are open at Cabrillo’s parking lot K, 2-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; the PVUSD District Office parking lot, open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, and the county Office of Education, 400 Encinal St., Santa Cruz. Students and their families, and staff and their families can use this free service. Those needing a test simply fill out the registration once at http://sccoe.link/inspiresc and go to either site. No appointment is needed.
Booster shots for the Pfizer vaccine for school staff are available at the COVID testing site at Cabrillo College in Aptos, parking lot K, 2-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, according to Dr. Sabbah. Registration is required.
The Pfizer booster shot, granted emergency use authorization by the FDA on Sept. 22, covers people 65 and up, those age 18 to 64 at high risk of severe Covid-19 or whose occupation/institutional exposure puts them at high risk of Covid complications. People can “mix and match” booster shots.
On Oct. 27, dozens of cars lined up at the former drive-in on Soquel Drive, Santa Cruz, where Sutter Health offered the Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot.
The state reports COVID has claimed more than 71,500 lives.
All four Santa Cruz County residents who died had underlying conditions.
Two were white women in their 90s; one fully vaccinated and one not. Two were Latinx, a man in his 60s and a man in his 50s; neither was vaccinated.
As of Oct. 27, there were 19,666 recovered; statistics are updated on Mondays and Thursdays.
Hospitalizations in the county, which had been as high as 21, rose from 4 to 7, including one person in the ICU.
The CDC tracker reports 79 percent of those eligible in Santa Cruz County are fully vaccinated, and a test positivity rate of .9 percent, lower than the statewide rate of 2.4 percent. The state rate has been declining.
For local vaccine information, see www.santacruzhealth.org
Signs of business confidence: Scotts Valley businesses are gearing up for Shop Small on Saturday, Nov. 27, in hopes people will opt out of chain-store shopping on Black Friday, Nov. 26, and choose instead to shop local.
Malone’s Grille, which took second place in the Boardwalk Chili Cook-off, is hosting live music on weekends.
Steel Bonnet Brewing celebrated its anniversary Oct. 2 with live music, with liv music slated through December.
Staff of Life Natural Foods created a new gift shop inside the Santa Cruz market geared for holiday shopping.
Molly Bravo, after catering summer weddings, has reopened Wylder Space in Felton with a lunchbox menu for cooler weather, soup and sandwiches.
Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz has live events scheduled, including TEDx with Merit Academy students.
Numbers posted Oct. 19 show a healthy 105,100 jobs in Santa Cruz County in September, and unemployment down to 5.4 %. Hospitality jobs were up 1,400 from a year ago; professional and business services up 500.
With more people commuting out of the county to work, joblessness dropped from 10,900 a year ago to 7,200 even as the labor force grew.
Delivery jobs on Indeed.com: UPS in Mount Hermon offers $37 an hour for a full-time seasonal personal vehicle package driver. Amazon pays $21.50. The U.S. Postal Service offers $17.78 per hour.
Jobs paying $75,000 or more a year, according to Indeed, include: Scotts Valley Police, $6,987 a month for an entry-level officer, and Housing Matters in Santa Cruz, individual giving officer, $81,120, and Janus of Santa Cruz, perinatal program manager, $75,000.
New on Indeed: A virtual job fair for veterans on Nov. 19.
The New York Times advised people to shop earlier this year because of expected shipping delays due to pandemic-induced supply chain problems.
Shopping local is one way to avoid that problem.
Total cases: 20,106
COVID Deaths: 220
As of Oct. 27
85 and older: 98 • 75-84: 47 • 65-74: 40 • 60-64: 13 • 55-59: 3 • 45-54: 7 • 35-44: 7 • 25-34: 5
Yes: 174 • No: 46
White 122 • Latinx 80 • Asian 15 • Black 1 • Amer Indian/Alaskan native 1
Male: 111 • Female 109
Yes: 105 • No 115