By Jondi Gumz
A study by the University of Massachusetts Medical School shows the gut microbiome accurately predicts which patients are at risk of becoming critically ill from the sometimes deadly Covid-19.
Researchers proposed stool samples be used to identify which patients would likely need more interventions to survive, but Dr. Robynn Chutkan, a gastroenterologist and author of the “The Anti-Viral Gut Book,” coming in November, sees something more.
While it’s impossible to alter your age and difficult to alter medical conditions, it is possible to change your microbiome by what you eat, and quickly — within 30 hours of food hitting the gut, she said, citing the study while talking with John Robbins on the Food Revolution Summit.
The January 2021 preprint study of 63 hospitalized patients found an abundance of Entercooccus faecelis in the severely ill, and fewer in the moderately ill.
Ana Maldonado-Contreras, on the research team, wrote, “As a Latina scientist investigating interactions between diet, microbiome and immunity, I must stress the importance of better policies to improve access to healthy foods, which lead to a healthier microbiome.”
The highly contagious but less deadly BA.2 Omicron subvariant now dominates, a change from the initially deadly coronavirus. New signs of normal include the Felton Remembers parade and festival returning and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk bringing back live music Thursdays on the Colonnade and Friday night movies.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates almost 60 percent of the populace — including 76% percent of children — have had Omicron or another coronavirus variant.
Asked about the data, Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president, told PBS, “If you add up the people who’ve been infected, plus the people who’ve been vaccinated and hopefully boosted, you have a rather substantial proportion of the United States population that has some degree of immunity.”
He said 66 percent of the U.S. populace is vaccinated.
Asked if the end of the 2-year-old pandemic is near, Fauci called the question unanswerable.
He said, “We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase. Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.”
He added, “We’re not going to eradicate this virus. If we can keep that level very low, and intermittently vaccinate people — and I don’t know how often that would have to be … That might be every year, that might be longer, in order to keep that level low.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom had announced plans to mandate Covid vaccine for school children in July, but the state will delay until July 2023.
Hospitalizations, which peaked in January from Omicron, have plummeted in California and locally.
The state Department of Public Health reports test positivity, 23% in January, has ticked up from 1.7% to 3.1% and hospitalizations — 20,000 in January —were 950 before rising to 1,025.
In Santa Cruz County, cases are up but hospitalizations are down to two, none in intensive care. Only two deaths were reported in the past month, bringing the total to 261.
On April 25, Cal/OSHA Standards Board adopted new workplace rules.
Unvaccinated and vaccinated workers must be treated the same; no mask mandate for those unvaccinated. Requirements to disinfect surfaces were removed. Requirements for partitions and physical distancing were replaced by requirements for better ventilation. Employees testing positive can return to work masked five days later.
Airline Mask Mandate Voided
Airline masks became optional after a federal judge in Florida on April 18 voided the mask mandate for airlines, trains and buses ordered on Feb. 3, 2021, by the CDC.
The Justice Department appealed at the request of the CDC but the agency did not ask for a stay, which would have reinstated the mandate.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled in favor of Health Freedom Defense Fund and airline travelers Ana Carolina Daza and Sarah Pope, who claimed the CDC failed to provide a 30-day comment public period required for new regulations.
Mizzell provided a 59-page explanation, based on the Public Health Services Act of 1944, which specifies inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, and pest extermination as measures that could be necessary to prevent disease from spreading, but there is no definition of sanitation. Dictionaries from this time define sanitation as cleaning.
“Wearing a mask cleans nothing,” the judge wrote. “At most it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask nor ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance.”
The government interprets “sanitation” to mean “applying of measures for preserving and promoting public health.” The judge disagreed, writing that historically, public health has been regulated at the state level, and the 1944 law has no clear language that Congress intended the CDC to take over.
Secondly, the CDC did not allow public comment although the Administrative Procedures Act requires agencies provide a comment period of at least 30 days on new rules; the agency must consider and respond.
The CDC asserted Covid-19 caused a public health emergency, without providing supporting data, unlike Medicare, which provided 44 footnotes of sources for mandating vaccination of healthcare staff.
The judge concluded: Process matters. The purpose of notice and comment is to reintroduce public participation and fairness to affected parties after government authority has been delegated to unrepresentative agencies.
Finally, the CDC did not explain mask exemptions for people eating, drinking or taking medication or for children under age 2. By not explaining, the CDC action was arbitrary and capricious, the judge ruled.
Dr. Vinay Prasad, a medical doctor with a master’s in public health, contends the policy did not make sense, as he saw people with their cloth mask lowered for much of the flight. A randomized controlled trial of cloth masks in Bangladesh found no benefit vs. no mask, he said, and the CDC never did a study to generate scientific evidence that wearing cloth masks slows spread on an airplane.
The CDC map of Covid-19 shows most counties green for low transmission. Most of New York State is high transmission and Santa Cruz County is medium.
Santa Cruz County, which updates its dashboard on Monday and Thursday, reports 851 active cases, down from 10,000 at the peak.
Omicron Less Deadly
The Omicron variants are less deadly than the Delta variant, which raged in 2021.
Santa Cruz County reported 36 Covid deaths after Omicron, compared to 225 as of Dec. 15, before Omicron.
One statistic is similar: 79% to 81% of those who died had pre-existing conditions.
Why do people fear Omnicron?
They may have a pre-existing condition (diabetes, obesity, asthma, high blood pressure).
Half of Americans do, so they are at higher risk for severe Covid illness.
So are people 85 and older.
California reports 84.2% of residents age 5 and up have had at least one shot.
On the CDC Covid tracker, Santa Cruz County reports 90.9% of residents age 5 and up have at least one shot and 82.5% fully vaccinated.
California lawmakers face a May 27 deadline to pass legislation; 10 bills deal with Covid-19. Two were set aside — Assembly Bill 1993, to require all employees and independent contractors, public and private, to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to keep their job and Senate Bill 871, to require children 0-17 to get the Covid vaccine to attend day care or school.
Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids, headed by Amy Bohn in Newbury Park, which has filed six lawsuits against vaccine mandates, is watching to see if these measures come back in a budget trailer bill in May — which avoids public hearings. The group is tracking 8 more Covid-19 bills. They include:
- SB 1464: To require law enforcement officers to enforce public health orders, and cut funding if they do not and shift those funds to public health. The California State Sheriffs’ Association and the Peace Officers Research Association of California are opposed. An April 26 committee hearing was postponed.
- SB 866: To allow children 12 and older to get Covid vaccines without parental consent.
- SB 920: To authorize a medical board to inspect a doctor’s office and records without patient consent.
- SB 1479: To mandate Covid testing plans at schools.
- SB 1390: To prohibit a social media platform from amplifying misinformation or disinformation.
- SB 1184: To authorize a health care provider or plan to disclose your child’s medical information to a school-linked services coordinator without parent consent.
- AB 1793: To allow school officials to easily access a state immunization database.
- AB 2098: To classify a physician or surgeon disseminating or promoting misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19 as unprofessional conduct and grounds for discipline. This is supported by Sen. Richard Pan, a physician, and opposed by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
To track these bills, see https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov
Scotts Valley Schools
The Scotts Valley Unified School District reports 30 active student cases and 3 staff cases in April. Scotts Valley High has 17 student cases and 2 staff cases. Scotts Valley Middle has zero cases. Vine Hill Elementary has 12 student cases and zero staff cases. Brook Knoll Elementary has 1 student cases and 1 staff cases.
The state guidance to schools and childcares as of March 11. Masks are not required but strongly recommended.
Santa Cruz County Office of Education, with Inspire Diagnostics, has provided 438,500 tests.
Cases in schools peaked at 4,407 on Jan. 27, dropped to 44 on April 1, then rose to 215 on April 29. The 14-day positivity rate, 12.25% on January, dropped to .79%, then rose to 1.68%.
Renz Law, representing military whistleblowers, has sued the federal government to lift the vaccine mandate for military personnel and appeals for passage of legislation repealing immunity for vaccine manufacturers.
“If vaccines are truly safe and effective no one should oppose this,” the lawsuit reads.
After mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were mandated for the military in 2021, cases of heart attack, pulmonary embolism, cancers, and myocarditis spiked dramatically, according to the Defense Military Epidemiological Database queries by the whistleblowers.
The Department of Defense’s response was that a glitch in the database affected the data from 2016-2020.
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart, which can lead to clots, a stroke or heart attack.
Dr. Pamela Popper, whose group supported the lawsuit, posts updates at https://makeamericansfreeagain.com/
In a 2022 report in the Journal of American Medical Association online, Dr. Matthew Oster of the CDC reported the government’s VAERS database received 1,991 reports of myocarditis after one dose of mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine and 1,626 met the CDC’s definition for probable or confirmed myocarditis.
Oster’s conclusion: “The risk of myocarditis after receiving mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines was increased across multiple age and sex strata and was highest after the second vaccination dose in adolescent males and young men. This risk should be considered.”
NBA legend and Gonzaga alum John Stockton co-founded Athletes for Medical Freedom, with former Packers lineman Ken Ruettgers and Australian pro surfer Barton Lynch to advocate personalized medical treatment, body autonomy and open dialogue.
Public health officials say the scientific consensus is that Covid vaccines are safe, but some are skeptical about relying on science from drug-makers, which saw profits rise in 2021. They point to the U.S. government database, https://vaers.hhs.gov/, where health care providers are to report adverse events after a vaccine.
The reporting site was created after Congress passed a law in 1986 protecting vaccine manufacturers from civil personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits resulting from vaccine injuries.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar invoked the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, a 2005 law allowing him to provide legal protection to companies making or distributing critical medical supplies such as vaccines unless there’s “willful misconduct” by the company. This protection lasts until 2024.
Fully vaccinated means having two shots (Pfizer or Moderna) or one Johnson & Johnson shot. All were developed for the initial Wuhan Covid-19 strain.
For Omicron, a booster shot is needed after the Pfizer vaccine, because protection against hospitalization wanes after three months, a Kaiser Permanente study of 11,000 hospital admissions and emergency room visits found.
On April 28, Moderna applied to federal regulators for emergency use authorization of low doses of its vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old.
The Pajaro Valley Health Care District Project must raise $15 million by Aug. 31 to buy Watsonville Community Hospital, bring it out of bankruptcy, and fund the first-year operations under the new ownership. Updates at https://www.pvhdp.org/
The hospital has 620 employees and shares the treatment of Covid-19 patients with Dominican Hospital.
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education offers drive-though testing for students, staff and families at:
Cabrillo College, Aptos, Parking Lot K, Mon. to Fri. 9 am to 5 pm and Sat. 9 am to 3 pm.
Santa Cruz County Office of Education, 399 Encinal St., Santa Cruz, Mon. to Fri., 9 to 5 pm Sat., 9 am to 3 pm.
cruz. The isolation time for those testing positive is five days.
Booster shots: https://myturn.ca.gov/
Vaccine providers: www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirusvaccine.
Local information: www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus or (831) 454-4242 between 8 am and 5 pm Mon. through Fri.
Total COVID cases: 851
COVID Deaths: 261
As of April 27
85 and older: 112 • 75-84: 61 • 65-74: 46 • 60-64: 15 • 55-59: 4 • 45-54: 10 • 35-44: 8 • 25-34: 5
Yes: 211 • No: 50
White 149 • Latinx 89 • Asian 16 • Black 3 • Amer Indian 1 • Hawaiian 1 • Another 2
Men: 135 • Women: 126
At facility for aged: 115 • Not at a facility: 146