Medical / Health

Friday, May 6, 2022

California Democrats Lean into Abortion Rights as ‘Defining Issue’

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2022 at 9:19 AM

Erin Sullivan, wearing a pink glove and waving a coat hanger was one of dozens who turned out to support reproductive health at the courthouse on Tuesday. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Erin Sullivan, wearing a pink glove and waving a coat hanger was one of dozens who turned out to support reproductive health at the courthouse on Tuesday.
When a draft Supreme Court ruling that would overturn the constitutional right to abortion leaked Monday night, Democratic leaders in California reacted swiftly with shock, grief and fury.

It didn’t take long for the personal devastation to turn political.

By Wednesday morning, Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is running for re-election this year, had already cut a new campaign ad about “reproductive freedom under attack.” In a tweet unveiling the ad, he framed defeating “anti-choice Republicans” as the “defining issue of the 2022 election.”

As the stark reality has sunk in that the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is unlikely to make it to its 50th birthday, many Democrats are leaning forcefully into abortion rights as a key election issue. With decades of public polling indicating that a majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, it could be the party’s most potent counterweight in a campaign cycle in which Republicans seem poised to capitalize on voter frustration over inflation and crime.

“Don’t think for a second this is where they stop,” Newsom said Wednesday outside Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, where he raised the alarm that conservatives would also seek to roll back other rights such as same-sex marriage. “Pay attention, America. They’re coming after you next.”

In his remarks, Newsom called for a stronger Democratic counteroffensive on protecting abortion. He slammed Republicans for claiming to be pro-life while opposing policies to provide more support to women and families after a baby is born, previewing a political attack that could soon be coming to swing districts across the country.

“That’s how extreme the Republican Party is in the United States of America. You want extremism? Rape and incest, they don’t even make an exception,” Newsom said. “Wake up, America. Wake up to who you’re electing.”

Democrats, weighed down by sagging approval ratings for President Joe Biden and in danger of losing control of Congress in the November midterm election, have been struggling to find a message that might motivate liberal voters to show up to the polls and persuade moderates to stick with their governance.

Jack Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College, said the reality of a Supreme Court ruling against abortion rights could provide a significant boost. Though warnings about that potential outcome have not historically driven turnout for Democrats while the Roe decision withstood decades of attacks, Pitney said voters are much more alert to loss.

“The issue has moved from the realm of the hypothetical to the realm of the real,” he said.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2022

HumCo Public Health Reports Another COVID Death

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2022 at 6:34 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported today that the county has confirmed another COVID-19 deaths since its last report April 27, a resident in their 60s.

Four new hospitalizations were also reported today but, according to a state database, seven people are currently hospitalized with the virus locally, including two under intensive care, and there is another suspected COVID-19 hospitalization. The death reported today is the 146th in Humboldt County since the pandemic began.

Find the full public health press release, which includes a schedule of upcoming vaccination clinics, here.
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Rally for Reproductive Rights in Eureka

Posted By on Wed, May 4, 2022 at 11:22 AM

Erin Sullivan, wearing a pink glove and waving a coat hanger was one of dozens who turned out to support reproductive health at the courthouse on Tuesday. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Erin Sullivan, wearing a pink glove and waving a coat hanger was one of dozens who turned out to support reproductive health at the courthouse on Tuesday.
A group of about 50 demonstrators gathered at a rally for reproductive rights in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse Tuesday night after a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion indicts the court may overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision, which instilled the legal right to abortion.

As members of the crowd held up signs with various slogans including, "My Body My Choice," "Keep Abortion Legal" and "Abortion Access Saves Lives," several noted they have been demonstrating for women's reproductive health care rights for far too long.

The Eureka rally was one of many held around the nation following the bombshell  Politico report published Monday night on the potential end of those federal protections after securing the preliminary document written by Justice Samuel Alito that was being circulated among the court.
The draft is not the court's final decision on the 1973 case and the language and votes could still change in the months before the U.S. Supreme Court gives its final word, which, if the opinion stands, could lead to abortion access restrictions in at least a half dozen states, according to media reports.

Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft and ordered an investigation into the breach, the first of its kind for the nation's highest court in modern times.
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Friday, April 29, 2022

Who’s Missing from California’s Community Colleges?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2022 at 3:49 PM

California community colleges have seen their enrollment drop by about a fifth during the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 300,000 fewer students enrolled in fall 2021 compared with fall 2019. 

“This raises critical concerns about equitable access to higher education as well as the ability to meet workforce needs,” said Paul Feist, vice chancellor of communications for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. “It is why the entire community college system has mobilized to stabilize and turn back these declines.” 

California lawmakers last year gave the system $120 million to help bring students back. So far, as CalMatters has previously reported, progress has been uneven. At 42 of California’s 116 community colleges, more students left in the fall of 2021 than in fall of 2020.

So who exactly is still missing from the state’s community colleges?

Students who need — or decide — to work full time, for one, the chancellor’s office said. That includes parents, who are not only supporting themselves but their families. And it includes people who decided to take advantage of a labor market in which companies, struggling to find enough workers, are paying well above minimum wage for jobs that don’t require a degree.

One out of four prospective students surveyed in December by the Chancellor’s Office said they didn’t enroll because of full-time work. A big factor holding students back was affordability, with 43 percent of the 400 prospective students surveyed saying that even though the state’s community college tuition is among the lowest in the country, at $46 per unit, it is still too expensive to pursue a degree. 

“People think that community college is affordable, and in some ways it is. That total cost of attending college is more than just fees and tuition,” Feist said. “It involves books, housing, child care, and everything that goes into the total cost of success.” 

College enrollments are down across the country, although community colleges in California saw steeper declines than in many states.

Some of the enrollment declines can be attributed to demographic trends such as birth rates falling, says Jessica Thompson, vice president of The Institute for College Access and Success, a national organization. But the pandemic, she says, also has exacerbated a lot of pre-existing gaps in who is able to access college and who cannot.

“I’m going to college to fill out paperwork? Are you kidding me?”

Jesse Driskill, former City College of San Francisco student

People from lower-income families and people of color are at a higher risk of not being able to attend college, or having to drop out, for a number of reasons including caregiving responsibilities, obligations to work, and trouble accessing the technology they need, Thompson says. 

Here are the stories of some of the Californians who dropped out from community college over the past two years. They were challenged by online learning, financial needs, and mental health. Many intended, or still intend, to re-enroll, although the decision to leave community college sent all of them down new paths:

Turned off by online learning

Jesse Driskill is photographed outside his home in San Francisco on Apr. 7, 2022. - PHOTO BY MARTIN DO NASCIMENTO, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Martin do Nascimento, CalMatters
  • Jesse Driskill is photographed outside his home in San Francisco on Apr. 7, 2022.
Jesse Driskill dropped out of community college before his first course even started. The pandemic stymied the educational plans of many students. For Driskill, it deepened his disillusionment about the entire enterprise.

Attending college was not a certainty for Driskill, 19, who barely made it through high school with passing grades. “I didn’t try at school, and I just didn’t really like school,” he said. “It’s not like I was going to get into a good college. So, my only option was community.”

Driskill waited more than a year after graduating from high school in 2020 to register for classes at City College of San Francisco, at his mother’s encouragement. “You know, she didn’t want a deadbeat son because that kind of sucks,” he joked.

But then he learned that all of his classes would be held online in an asynchronous format. He would only interact with professors and students through Google classroom. “I felt like that was some serious bullshit,” he said. “Like I’m going to college to fill out paperwork? Are you kidding me? I want to talk to people, say hi to people. I want to see faces.”

The lack of in-person interactions made the decision not to attend City College an easy one. He already was unsure about what he wanted to study in college, as most academic subjects seemed obscure and unrelated to his real-life concerns, like making money.

But then, unexpectedly, Driskill found himself back in school late last year when he enrolled in App Academy, a for-profit institution that trains students in software engineering. His mother, a massage therapist, learned about the program from a client and helped her son pay the $17,000 tuition.

Driskill was optimistic that the 16-week, online course would land him a high-paying job in the tech sector of San Francisco. “I’m pretty interested in not staying poor,” he said. “Getting a software engineering job would definitely help with that. I mean coding is fun, which is part of the reason why I want to pursue this. But the main reason is money.”

— Emily Margaretten

Recovering from long COVID

The pandemic made an indelible mark on the life of Becky Langley, a returning student in her 30s.

She was working full-time as an emergency room technician, assessing patients’ needs and monitoring their vital signs, while studying at Lassen Community College to become a surgical technician – a job with a higher salary. 

This year started off strong for Langley, but soon she was regularly working 12-hour shifts as emergency rooms were overwhelmed by the pandemic.

She did much of her studying inside the emergency room. Langley would start her shifts at 7 p.m. and stayed busy until about 11:30 p.m. From 12:30 to 3 or 4 a.m. she had enough down time to study. By 5 a.m. the patients would begin to roll back in, and finally at 7 a.m. she could go home.  

The long days soon took their toll. In February, she contracted COVID-19 and was forced to drop out of school to focus on her health. She was diagnosed with COVID pneumonia, or “long COVID,” and is still recovering. 

“I think we’re all just spent.”

Becky Langley, health care worker and former Lassen Community College student

Langley cited the hospital’s crisis staffing as the biggest catalyst for her dropping out of school. If it weren’t for all the overtime, she said, “I still could have been in school and I probably wouldn’t have gotten sick,” Langley said. 

She said she thinks all health care workers are feeling the same burnout that she is. “Everything that’s happened over the past two years has made it so overwhelming and exhausting,” Langley said. “I think we’re just all spent.”

After taking a break from work, Langley returned to a different department in the hospital and is also apprenticing in the surgical department until she can go back to school and get her certification. 

“Healthwise, I’m better,” Langley said. “I’ve just got to find a way to get motivated to get back into school. It’s hard when you quit.”

— Oden Taylor 

Anevay Martinez is photographed outside her home in Indio on April 16, 2022. Photo by Lauren Justice for CalMatters
Anevay Martinez is photographed outside her home in Indio on April 16, 2022. Anxious to start her career, Martinez said she felt like community college was taking too long. Photo by Lauren Justice for CalMatters

Opting for a fast path to work

Anevay Martinez started at College of the Desert in Palm Desert right after graduating from high school in 2020, hoping higher education would kick start a career in medicine. Her plan was to take courses there for two years and then transfer to a four-year university. 

But Martinez struggled to learn without the structure of in-person classes. She started dreading going to school. She didn’t want to sit through general education classes that had nothing to do with her major. Instead, she wanted to jump right into her career. 

 After just a couple of weeks, she dropped out. 

Martinez, 20, said that as the oldest of seven children in a low-income family, she wanted to start working so she could support herself. For her, two years of community college was too long to wait.

“I know if I want to do things by myself,” she said, “it’s gonna cost money.”

Martinez was out of school for a year, and then her mother brought her information about Mayfield College, a private, for-profit college. 

Martinez was drawn to Mayfield’s promises that its program would lead to a career. Being able to get a job right after a nine-month program, she said, was worth the extra cost of Mayfield over a community college.

Through Mayfield, she got an externship at an internal medicine office in Palm Desert, taking patients’ blood pressure and temperature, going over their medications with them, and prepping for X-rays and MRIs. That eventually turned into a full-time job once she got her medical assisting certificate. On the weekends, she works at a retirement home.

Eventually, she said, she wants to return to community college and become an ultrasound technician. But she’s unsure when that might happen.

“I wanted to just start doing something so I can start living on my own and get my life started faster,” she said. “I don’t want to rely on my parents more than I have to.” 

— Emma Hall

Ally Haynes is photographed at their home in Eureka on Apr. 9, 2022. Photo by Patrick Garcia for CalMatters
Ally Haynes is photographed at their home in Eureka on April 9, 2022. The pandemic affected Haynes’ mental health — so much, they said, that they left school. Photo by Patrick Garcia for CalMatters

Taking a break for mental health

Ally Haynes had gotten used to 12-hour days. Before the pandemic, they were studying agriculture at the College of the Redwoods from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., then working from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at an after-school program for kids. Then COVID hit.

“Everything kind of stopped. I went from working every morning … (to) doing nothing, and I was like, what am I doing? I don’t know who I am, I don’t know what my hobbies are, what I’m interested in,” Haynes said.

Haynes is only one semester’s worth of credits away from being able to transfer to a four-year university. But they felt so off-kilter once the pandemic started that they decided they needed to take a break.

Online school had proved challenging. “I have ADHD, so focusing at home is a lot harder for me than focusing in school,” Haynes said.

“For my mental health,” they decided, “I just needed to step back and take care of that rather than worrying about my education.”

During their semester off, they’ve been continuing to pursue their dream career as an agricultural educator by shadowing a bee farmer. College isn’t off the table for them forever, though.

“I have ADHD, so focusing at home is a lot harder for me than focusing in school.”

Ally Haynes, former student at College of the Redwoods

They came into college, they said, without really having much preparation. Neither of their parents attended college. 

“All my life it’s been something that they’re really pushed hard toward: me going to a college and getting a higher education,” they said, “because of how much they struggled not having higher education.”

Haynes is encouraged by the fact that they’re so close to transferring. They now plan to return next semester.

— Emily Forschen

Struggling as a student parent

At just 19 years old, nursing student Brianna Hatfield felt like she was taking on the world alone. 2020 came like a storm to her life: A day after her father passed away, her husband was arrested.  The day after that, she learned about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Hatfield was left raising three children on her own—her youngest, Abigail, was just three weeks old— and commuting 67 miles each way to classes at Lassen Community College. 

Often, she said, she wouldn’t get home until 10 p.m. after finishing her assignments and staying late to study, leaving her children with her mother. The hardest part, she said, was “having time for everything, to do my (school) work, take care of my kids, and do my job.” 

As a breastfeeding mother, Hatfield regularly had to leave her classes to pump. She would often leave a recorder on the desk to capture the lectures, she said, but by the time she got home she was too tired to play them back. 

Taking her children to doctor’s appointments also cut into class time. She failed a test, then was dropped from the program because she fell below a ‘C’ average.

She is now taking one English course just to maintain her on-campus job, which is open only to students.

She plans to go back to the nursing program in fall of 2023, once her husband is released from prison.

“I know if my husband was home during the time I went to nursing school, I most likely would have passed because I would have had that extra help to care for my kids,” Hatfield said. “It would have given me the extra time that I needed to practice and study.”

— Oden Taylor 

Hall, Forschen and Taylor are fellows with the CalMatters College Journalism Network, a collaboration between CalMatters and student journalists from across California. Margaretten is a contributor to the network. This story and other higher education coverage are supported by the College Futures Foundation.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Huffman Introduces Bill to Return Land to the Yurok Tribe

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2022 at 6:23 PM

If passed, the bill will extend the reservation boundary to include the Yurok Tribe’s Old-Growth Forest and Salmon Sanctuary in the lower part of Blue Creek. - YUROK TRIBE
  • Yurok Tribe
  • If passed, the bill will extend the reservation boundary to include the Yurok Tribe’s Old-Growth Forest and Salmon Sanctuary in the lower part of Blue Creek.
North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman on Tuesday introduced legislation known as the "Yurok Lands Act," a bill that seeks clear the way for the transfer of more than 1,000 acres of ancestral lands back to the tribe from the U.S. Forest Service and redraws the reservation boundary line to encompass that area and others acquired by the tribe in recent years. 

“The Yurok lands act will help us reclaim our role as the steward of our land,” Yurok Tribal Chair Joseph L. James said in a release. “The bill will also strengthen our sovereignty as well as our ability to self-govern within our ancestral territory. I would like to thank Congressman Huffman for introducing this important piece of legislation. If passed, the bill will be a game-changer for the Yurok Tribe.”

Over the last decade, the Yurok Tribe has reclaimed more than 70,000 acres but currently only owns about one-fourth of the estimated 500,000 acres of ancestral territory where tribal members lived in some 70 villages for thousands of years prior to contact.

The government-sanctioned attempted genocide of Native people followed amid the infiltration of white settlers to the North Coast during the gold rush and  logging boom that saw the region's natural resources decimated as local tribes were subjected to institutionalized violence and driven from their ancestral lands, their families ripped apart as children were forcibly sent to boarding schools in an attempted to strip them of their culture.

More than 100 years later, the scars remain.

Huffman's legislation, the Yurok Tribe states, is another step forward in bringing healing to the land and the tribe.

“The mental, physical and spiritual health of our people is inextricably linked to the landscape. By healing the land, we are healing ourselves,” said Frankie Myers, the Yurok Tribe’s Vice Chairman. “The loss of our original land base and the destruction of our homeland are injustices that we have had to endure for 150 years, but now we are turning the page. We are recovering our land and developing an economy that revolves around the restoration of the environment. If passed, the Yurok lands act will move us closer to making this long-term goal a reality.”

Read the Yurok Tribe's news release below:
“The Yurok lands act will help us reclaim our role as the steward of our land,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “The bill will also strengthen our sovereignty as well as our ability to self-govern within our ancestral territory. I would like to thank Congressman Huffman for introducing this important piece of legislation. If passed, the bill will be a game-changer for the Yurok Tribe.”

The Yurok lands act is one part of the Tribe’s larger plan to achieve two key objectives outlined in the Preamble of the Yurok Constitution. This foundational document was established to guide the Tribe’s recovery from genocide, land theft and many other atrocities. Based on the Tribe’s cultural values, the preamble places upon the Yurok Tribal Council a sacred responsibility to “Reclaim the tribal land base within the Yurok Reservation and enlarge the Reservation boundaries to the maximum extent possible within the ancestral lands of our tribe and Restore, enhance, and manage the tribal fishery, tribal water rights, tribal forests, and all other natural resources.”

At present, the Tribe currently owns less than a quarter of its approximately 500,000-acre ancestral land base, which is currently occupied by timber companies, national and state parks and other land owners. During the last decade, the Yurok Tribe has recovered approximately 70,000 acres of former timber lands on and near the Yurok Reservation, which straddles the lower 44 miles of the Klamath River in Northern California. Most recently, the Tribe regained 2,500 acres adjacent to Ke’-pel Creek, a key Klamath tributary. The acquisition created more than 34,000 acres of contiguous land under Yurok management. The Yurok lands act will redraw the reservation boundary to include recovered lands. Within the reacquired lands, the Tribe is employing an extraordinarily effective blend of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western science to rebuild intricately interconnected forest and aquatic ecosystems that existed in Yurok Country for millennia. The Tribe also set aside a 15,000-acre Old Growth Forest and Salmon Sanctuary in the Blue Creek watershed. Last year, the Tribe launched the Yurok Tribe Construction Corporation, in large part, to accelerate the restoration of tribal lands. Together, the corporation and the Yurok Fisheries Department design and implement large-scale projects to improve fish and wildlife habitat. The Tribe also preforms forest thinning and selective harvest to minimize the fire threat. It will require many decades of hard work to return the landscape to the pristine state it was in prior to the arrival of European “settlers” in Yurok Country.

Before European contact, the Yurok Tribe managed the landscape to maintain optimal conditions for all native species. The carefully cultivated environment sustained more than 70 Yurok villages for many thousands of years, until California’s Gold Rush and the clear-cut logging era that followed. During this difficult time period, the state, with support from the United States government, inflicted a genocide against Native American people, including the Yurok Tribe, to clear the way for industry. Between the mid-1800s and early 1900s, extractive interests in California amassed a tremendous amount of wealth through the often-illegal and unregulated exploitation of natural resources on tribal lands. Even though a century has passed, the damage done by these industries continues to threaten the environment today. Massive mine tailings, salmon-spawning streams buried in sediment and unhealthy, fire-prone forests can be found throughout the Tribe’s territory. The Yurok Tribe is working hard to fix these issues and bring the region’s biologically diverse ecology back into balance.

“The mental, physical and spiritual health of our people is inextricably linked to the landscape. By healing the land, we are healing ourselves,” said Frankie Myers, the Yurok Tribe’s Vice Chairman. “The loss of our original land base and the destruction of our homeland are injustices that we have had to endure for 150 years, but now we are turning the page. We are recovering our land and developing an economy that revolves around the restoration of the environment. If passed, the Yurok lands act will move us closer to making this long-term goal a reality.”

The Yurok lands act accomplishes the following:

· Transfers 1,229 acres of U.S. Forest Service land known as the Yurok Experimental Forest into trust for the tribe

· Redraws the reservation boundary line to encompass the Yurok Experimental Forest, recently purchased fee land and a property in proximity to the Blue Creek watershed, one of the Tribe’s most sacred areas

· Positions the Yurok Tribe to directly participate in federal land management decisions within the revised Yurok Reservation.

· Mandates federal land management agencies to consult with the tribe before major actions on federal land that may affect the amended Yurok Reservation boundary

· Affirms the Yurok's governing documents to strengthen tribal governance and sovereignty

· Preserves the rights of neighboring tribes and local interests by ensuring there is no delegation of federal authority to the Yurok beyond the expanded reservation, and specifying that nothing in it affects any other federally recognized tribe 
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Medical Malpractice Deal Could Replace Ballot Measure, Still Raise Monetary Awards

Posted By and on Wed, Apr 27, 2022 at 2:11 PM

Legislators and advocacy groups reach a deal to keep a medical malpractice measure off the ballot. - PHOTO BY ANNE WERNIKOFF FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
  • Legislators and advocacy groups reach a deal to keep a medical malpractice measure off the ballot.
A measure slated for California’s November ballot that sought to raise the cap on medical malpractice awards could be pulled, under an agreement announced today.

Instead, a bill will seek to raise the cap for a patient’s “non-economic damages,” or pain and suffering, although in a more incremental approach than the ballot measure would have. The bill would eliminate the need for a ballot measure.

Under the legislative deal announced today, starting Jan. 1, 2023, cases not involving a patient death will have a new limit of $350,000, with an increase over the next 10 years to $750,000 and a 2 percent annual adjustment for inflation after that. Meanwhile, cases involving a death will have an increased limit of $500,000 that will grow over the next 10 years to $1 million with a 2 percent annual increase thereafter.

The California Medical Association sent a letter to its members detailing the deal.

“The two sides of the ballot measure campaign have committed to putting patients first, to prioritizing the stability of affordable access to health care, and to set aside differences to do what’s right for all Californians,” the letter signed by Dr. Robert E. Wailes, president of the California Medical Association.

In the letter, Wailes said his organization is working with the Newsom administration and the Legislature to turn this new arrangement into law. “Under the agreement, the initiative will be withdrawn from the ballot and this watershed agreement will preclude another costly fight,”

The ballot measure known as the “Fairness for Injured Patients Act” was brought by families of injured patients and backed by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog and trial lawyers. It sought to increase the compensation cap for non-economic damages to about $1.2 million. The current cap is set at $250,000 and has been since 1975.

The ballot measure would have allowed a judge to exceed that cap if a patient died or suffered a “catastrophic injury,” meaning an injury that left them permanently disabled or disfigured.

Nick Rowley, a trial attorney that helped author and contributed funding in support of the measure, said taking the legislative route through Assembly Bill 35 secures a cap increase for patients and their families. The legislation would allow for multiple caps — one for a medical institution and for a provider, for example. That means that in a case not involving a death, a patient could potentially hold multiple parties liable and receive more than $350,000, Rowley said.

“That’s a big change and that number is going to go up,” Rowley said.

Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, which led the support of the measure, said the bill will fundamentally change patients’ access to justice when they are harmed by medical negligence. “The reason it was on the ballot is because families are locked out of the courtroom; they have no access to accountability because of how low this cap is. What this deal does is restore patient’s access to justice,” she said.

In opposition to the measure, a coalition of health providers, including the California Medical Association, argued that the measure would essentially have eliminated the cap and significantly increased the number of lawsuits filed in the state. They argued it would result in less resources for patient care and ultimately drive up the cost of health care.

The ballot measure — now turning into a bill — is the latest attempt to change the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1975. The law establishes that while Calilfornians who suffer from medical malpractice can recover as much as they need for medical bills and expenses, what they can receive for non-economic damages is limited to $250,000.

In 2014 a similar ballot measure failed.


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Sunday, April 24, 2022

APD Investigating Rash of Possible Overdose Deaths

Posted By on Sun, Apr 24, 2022 at 12:20 PM

The Arcata Police Department is investigating the city's fourth possible overdose death since Wednesday.

APD issued a press release at noon today with information about the deaths, saying it was intended "to inform community members of recent deaths in Arcata that could be related to the ingestion of dangerous drugs to include fentanyl."

At 4 p.m. Wednesday, the department responded to a call of two people — a 45-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman — found dead in a tent at Carson Park. About 10 minutes later, the department got a report of a 54-year-old man "overdosing" on Samoa Boulevard, and the man later died at a local hospital.

Then, at 3:39 a.m. today, the department was notified of a dead body inside a hotel room and responded to find a 45-year-old woman who was not breathing and had no pulse. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Toxicology tests on all four people are pending, according to APD, which added "there were no obvious signs of trauma, no signs of a struggle and no indications of foul play."

"This investigation, the scope of which could change with new information, is on-going," APD's press release states. "Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Chris Ortega at cortega@arcatapd.org or (707) 822-2428 x1142."

See the full release copied below:


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Friday, April 22, 2022

COVID Outbreak Strands NoHum Students in Rome, Milan

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2022 at 6:43 PM

A rapid antigen COVID-19 test is used on patients at Canal Alliance’s test site in San Rafael. - PHOTO BY PENNI GLADSTONE FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Penni Gladstone for CalMatters
  • A rapid antigen COVID-19 test is used on patients at Canal Alliance’s test site in San Rafael.
A Northern Humboldt Unified High School District trip to Europe has been derailed by COVID-19 outbreaks, leaving some students in locked quarantine facilities overseas and parents scrambling for information amid rising frustrations.

“It’s a fucking nightmare,” said Rae Robison, whose son, an Arcata High School student, is on the trip and is currently being held in a hotel that’s been converted into an Italian government-run quarantine center in Rome.

According to Robison and other parents, the trip, planned by the educational travel company EF Tours, included 68 students from multiple schools’ AP Europe classes and about 10 chaperones, and set out during the schools' springs breaks. The group landed around 11 a.m. on April 12 in London, where it spent three days, before moving on to three days in France and then Italy.

According to parents’ Facebook posts and interviews with the Journal, some students quickly began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

“Immediately upon arrival in London, kids were sick — runny noses, sore throats — and a chaperone was coughing,” said Angelina Torres, whose 17-year-old daughter, a student of Arcata High School, is on the trip. She added that as students increasingly became symptomatic in the ensuing days, some expressed concerns but were told they were likely just struggling with jet lag and adjusting to a new climate.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2022

HumCo Public Health Reports Two More COVID-19 Deaths

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2022 at 3:51 PM

Humboldt County Public Health reported today that the county has confirmed two COVID-19 deaths since its last report April 13: One was a resident age 80 or older and the other an individual in their 70s.

Two new hospitalizations were also reported today but, according to a state database, five people are currently hospitalized with the virus locally, including two under intensive care, and there is another suspected COVID-19 hospitalization. The deaths reported today are the 144th and 145th in Humboldt County since the pandemic began.

Find the full public health press release, which includes a schedule of upcoming vaccination clinics, here.
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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Clean-car Rules: California Unveils Proposed Measure to Ban New Gasoline-fueled Cars

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2022 at 1:57 PM

Electric cars at Niello BMV dealership in Sacramento on September 12, 2019. - PHOTO BY ANNE WERNIKOFF FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
  • Electric cars at Niello BMV dealership in Sacramento on September 12, 2019.
California’s clean-air regulators this week unveiled a far-reaching proposal requiring a ramp-up in sales of zero-emission cars, culminating in a ban on new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. 

The rules to force Californians to end their dependence on conventional cars are a critical component to California’s goals to tackle climate change and poor air quality.

If adopted by the California Air Resources Board this summer, the regulations would be the first in the world and could pave the way for nationwide standards. At least 15 other states pledged to follow California’s lead on car standards on previous clean-car rules, and the federal government usually follows.

Carrying out Gov. Gavin Newsom 2020 executive order ordering the board to end the sale of gas-powered cars in California by 2035, the new proposal sets in motion the public regulatory process. Public comments will be collected for 45 days, then a hearing will be held on June 9 and the board is expected to vote in August.

Automakers did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the draft rules. But many major manufacturers, including General Motors, have already announced goals to ramp up clean-car models on a similar timeframe.

“This is a hugely important inflection point. This rule finally, definitively puts us on the path to 100 percent zero-emission vehicles,” said Daniel Sperling, a member of the Air Resources Board and founding director of the University of California, Davis Institute of Transportation Studies.

Vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel fuel are the state’s biggest sources of planet-warming greenhouse gases, smog and dangerous particles. Under the rule proposed today, about 384 million fewer metric tons of greenhouse gases will be emitted between 2026 and 2040, according to air board staff — more than the total amount that the state emitted in 2019 across its economy. 

“This is a hugely important inflection point. This rule finally, definitively puts us on the path to 100 percent zero-emission vehicles.”

Daniel Sperling, air resources board member and UC Davis

Under the new proposed mandate, 35 percent of new cars, SUVs and small pickups sold in the state will need to be zero-emission starting in 2026, increasing to 68 percent in 2030 and 100 percent in 2035. Of those, 20 percent can be plug-in hybrids. 

The rule does not apply to sales of pre-owned cars, and it wouldn’t do anything to force the millions of existing gasoline-powered cars off roads. Only about 2 percent of cars on California’s roads were zero emissions in 2020.

California has already enacted standards that will require roughly 8 percent of new cars sold in the state to be zero emission in 2025, according to air board staff. That goal already has been exceeded: About 12  percent of California’s 2021 new vehicle sales were clean cars, according to state data. But the pace would have to triple in just five years to reach the new target.

One of the biggest roadblocks could be the lack of charging stations for electric cars. Nearly 1.2 million chargers will be needed for the 8 million zero-emission vehicles expected in California by 2030, according to a state report. Right now, there are only about 70,000 with another 123,000 on the way, falling far short. 

Another obstacle is the cost of the vehicles. “The cost to manufacturers will be high per vehicle in the early years, but significantly decrease over time by 2035,” the air board’s staff report says.

The economic benefits of the mandate are expected to exceed the costs: The costs could run $289 billion over the lifetime of the rule while the economic benefits could reach at least $338 billion — a net benefit of $48 billion, according to air board staff.

Electric cars now cost more to purchase, but price drops plus savings on gas and maintenance would add up, saving consumers an estimated $3,200 over 10 years for a 2026 car and $7,500 for a 2035 car, the air board calculated. 

In an effort to address consumer reluctance, manufacturers would be required to meet minimum performance, durability and warranty requirements for zero-emission vehicles. Cars must be able to drive at least 150 miles on a single charge, up from the current 50-mile mandate, and batteries will need to last longer and carry a manufacturer’s warranty.

The goal is to ensure that new and used zero-emission vehicles “can serve as full replacement vehicles for conventional vehicles in every household in California,” the air board says.

Electric cars now cost more, but price drops plus savings on gas and maintenance would save consumers an estimated $3,200 for a 2026 car and $7,500 for a 2035 car.

Environmental advocates had raised concerns about previous drafts, saying they ramped up too slowly, allowing millions of cars powered by fossil fuels to remain on the roads since the average car is driven for 12 years. 

Starting at a sales requirement of 35 percent is “a marked improvement,” said Don Anair, research and deputy director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ clean transportation program. Still, he said, “It’s kind of the bare minimum. So we really see that as a floor, not a ceiling, to get started.”  

Car manufacturers may meet a small portion of the sales targets through 2031 with credits aimed at helping low-income residents who are disproportionately harmed by pollution. For instance, they could earn credits for selling less-expensive new zero-emission cars costing less than $20,000 or ensure that vehicles are offered up for resale in the state. 

Last year Newsom approved a $3.9 zero-emission vehicle budget that included about $1.2 billion to bolster rebates and other clean-car incentives, particularly for low-income and disadvantaged communities. Another $300 million will go toward building charging and fueling infrastructure. This year, Newsom proposed another $10 billion zero-emission funding package in his January budget blueprint.

The state auditor has warned the Air Resources Board, however, that it “has generally not determined the effects its incentive programs have on consumers’ behavior and thus, has overstated (greenhouse gas) emissions reductions its incentive programs achieve.”

While battery-powered cars emit no pollutants, the generation of the power that runs them does. However, air-quality regulators say emissions from electricity generation are far lower than from vehicles. Much of California’s electricity comes from natural gas, solar, wind and hydropower. 

Other nations are on similar paths toward phasing out fossil fuel-powered vehicles, but no state or nation has adopted a rule that bans them. However, the European Union is considering a large package of climate change laws that would, in effect, prohibit fossil fuel cars by requiring a 100 percent cut in all carbon dioxide emissions by 2035.

California’s proposal comes as gas prices soar to more than $5 per gallon in the state. Critics say the Newsom administration is sending mixed messages about gasoline-powered cars by proposing rebates for car owners.

The zero-emission vehicle proposal will require approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for implementation. Since the 1960s, the state has led the country in cleaning up the exhaust that creates California’s choking smog. The federal Clean Air Act gave California authority to set its own tailpipe emissions standards.

The Trump administration acted to eliminate that authority but President Joe Biden’s EPA overturned the decision in March. Newsom called it “a major victory for the environment, our economy, and the health of families across the country” and said the state “looks forward to partnering with the Biden Administration to make a zero-emission future a reality for all Americans.”

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