East Bay Getting to Zero
SARS-CoV-2 scanning electron microscope image from NIAID
The SARS-CoV-2 virus (NIAID)

Below are this week’s East Bay COVID-19 and HIV updates. This page is usually updated on Wednesday evenings with data and resources gathered from many collaborators in Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Solano County, CA state.

Click on these links for vaccines, masks, guidance on prevention, testing and wellness, resources and links, archived weekly updates and the weekly PDF summary. East Bay HIV service organizations are providing services by phone, video with some in-person visits available.

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East Bay COVID-19 updates 

COVID-19 daily case and hospitalization rates have decreased over the past two weeks but are still at high levels in the Bay Area. Death rates are at the highest levels of the pandemic. The high number of deaths reported now reflect the high numbers of people infected in November and December. Estimated transmission rates in the Bay Area are lower and hovering around 0.9. Bay Area ICU capacity is 8.2% as of January 25.

The Bay Area regional shelter-in-place order based on ICU capacity was lifted on January 25 because the 4-week ICU capacity projection is above 15%. Bay Area counties have returned to their purple tier restrictions. Outdoor dining, hair salons, wineries. However, don’t let down your guard. We are still at very high case and hospital rates and will continue to see-saw in trends until we have more widespread vaccinations. 

Vaccinations are available now for health care workers, nursing home residents and elders! When enough vaccines are available, people ages 75+ and 65+ as well as essential workers in education/child care, emergency services and food/agriculture will be eligible for vaccines under Phase 1b Tier 1.

California state announced on January 25 that after these groups, the state will shift to an entirely age-based priority framework afterwards. This means CA will prioritize vaccines by age only rather than by occupation or underlying condition. Under the previous framework, people living with HIV would have been included in group of people with underlying conditions that put them at greater risk. This will be the case despite emerging data that people living with HIV and CD4 counts less than 200 are at greater risk for hospitalizations and death. 

With more infectious variants circulating, this continues to be the most important time to wear masks, stay home or outdoors, avoid gatherings and get vaccinated as soon as we can! The better we do now, the sooner we can get back together later this year.

People needing medical care for any condition are still encouraged to seek care as our clinics and hospitals remain open with strict safety protocols to take care of all people.

Community Vaccine Spotlight

Amber Taylor, Case Manager at WORLD, says: “I got the vaccine due to working in the public, with a large number of people who are susceptible to catching the virus. Myself having asthma I am at a greater risk of catching COVID, so getting the vaccine I am protecting myself and the ones I love. I am always around my child, my father who is 65, my grandmother who is 70+, they are all at a greater risk of not recovering fully from this virus, so being around them I need to make sure they are protected at all times.”

Providers are encouraged to talk with patients and clients about vaccinations to combat misinformation and address concerns. Local clinics report that people are declining vaccines due to misinformation that vaccines cause sterility and/or COVID and fear of feeling sick, like after the flu shot. Communities of color continue to turn to their trusted health providers for counsel, and providers are changing minds about vaccinations. The ICD-10 code Z71.89 (other specified counseling) may be used for vaccine counseling done in medical provider visits. We are currently researching whether this code alone is sufficient for medical visit billing purposes.

Vaccine eligibility and access

California has released a new COVID-19 vaccine dashboard to track the number of vaccines distributed and administered to people by county of residence. 

As of January 27, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and Solano County are prioritizing vaccinations for health care workers, people in nursing homes and people over the age of 75. In the coming weeks and when vaccine supply allows (estimated to be in early February), people ages 65+ and essential workers in education/child care, emergency services and food/agriculture will be eligible for vaccines under Phase 1b Tier 1. Please see the infographic below.

To access vaccines, we recommend the following steps:

  1. Check with your health plan and/or county for when vaccine is available for your age or occupation group. See links below.
  2. When vaccine is available for your group:
    • Check if you can get a vaccine through your health plan first.
    • If you cannot get a vaccine through your health plan, check if you can get a vaccine through a public (county) vaccination site.

Vaccines through health plans:

Vaccines through county vaccination sites:

Who is eligible for vaccines now?

Bay Area counties are following CA state guidelines on vaccine prioritization, which were revised on January 25:

People living with HIV and COVID-19 vaccines

Currently all people living with HIV (PLWH) are recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine once eligible so long as they don’t have severe allergic reactions to components of the vaccines.

On January 25, the state of California removed prioritization of people with underlying conditions. PLWH will no longer be eligible due to their diagnosis and instead will become eligible for vaccines based on occupation or age, despite emerging data that people living with HIV and CD4 counts less than 200 are at greater risk for hospitalizations and death.

The Moderna vaccine trial included 179 PLWH but data on this specific group has not been reported separately yet. There is currently no recommendation to check antibody levels for people living with HIV after completing vaccination. We don’t know yet if commercially available SARS-CoV2 antibody tests such as at Quest and LabCorp check for the spike antibodies generated by the vaccines, but providers and patients may consider checking for antibody response while we await more data.

Help the vaccine roll-out effort!

Transmission rates (Re) have improved to 0.91 in Alameda County, 0.86 in Contra Costa and 0.87 in Solano County, compared to 0.81 statewide. Our goal is to support the vaccine roll-out and community measures around masking, distancing, staying outdoors and avoiding gatherings to keep transmission rates less than 1.

Alameda County as of January 27:

 Contra Costa County as of January 27:

Solano County as of January 27:

SF Chronicle, 1/27/20: COVID-19 daily cases and deaths in the Bay Area. 
CDPH CA State COVID-19 dashboard 1/27/20: Latinx and Black/African American Californians continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 

In Alameda County, Latinx people are 4.3 times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 and Black/African American people are 1.8 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to their white neighbors.  

Black Americans are getting vaccinated at lower rates than white Americans: Black people have been vaccinated at 2-3 times lower rates compared to white people, including in the first health care workers group. “Access issues and mistrust rooted in structural racism appear to be the major factors leaving Black health care workers behind in the quest to vaccinate the nation.” (Kaiser Health News)

Other new HIV and COVID-19 studies and updates

HIV updates:

  • The FDA approved the first extended-release, injectable HIV antiretroviral therapy regimen (cabotegravir and rilpivirine injectable formulation, brand name Cabenuva) on January 11, 2021. The FDA also approved the oral formulation which should be taken for one month prior to using the injectable formulation to ensure the medications are well-tolerated first.   
  • The CDC published a commentary titled “HIV Criminalization Laws and Ending the HIV Epidemic in the United States,” calling for rescinding or revising HIV-specific criminal exposure laws as integral to addressing stigma, disparities and discrimination. 
  • A new review of studies on COVID-19 outcomes among people living with HIV “When Epidemics Collide: Why People with HIV May Have Worse COVID-19 Outcomes and Implications for Vaccination” describes increased hospitalization, ICU and death rates among people with CD4 counts less than 200 and makes a case for vaccination prioritization, just as California removes this priority grouping. 

National COVID-19 updates:

  • President Biden unveiled “The Biden-Harris plan to beat COVID-19on January 21, including access to free testing, clear and consistent evidence-based prevention guidance, equitable distribution of treatment and vaccines, protecting older people and those at high risk, rebuilding pandemic defense infrastructure, and implementing mask mandates. The 200-page plan can be downloaded here
  • President Biden’s top coronavirus advisors, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky (new CDC director and renowned HIV researcher) held their first public briefing on January 27. Dr. Walensky shared that while there are hopeful signs that new case and hospitalization numbers have declined 4.9% in the past week, the CDC still forecasts that there will be 479,000 to 514,000 deaths from COVID-19 by February 20. She said that expanding “vaccination is key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”
  • The spread of new variants was also highlighted in the briefing. The more contagious UK variant may become the dominant variant in the US by March. The P.1 variant from Brazil has been detected in Minnesota in a person who traveled to Brazil. Dr. Fauci presented on how the CDC and NIH plan to adapt vaccines to “neutralize these mutants.”
  • Moderna researchers posted a preprint study on January 25 demonstrating that the Moderna mRNA vaccine remains effective against the UK variant (full efficacy) and the South African variant (6-fold less neutralizing antibody titers but still at protective levels). Moderna is making a booster shot that will be active against the South African strain. 

Harm reduction resources

Table summarizing COVID-19 harm reduction strategies
Our summary of COVID prevention research is constantly updated with new studies. 

Our COVID-19 prevention and harm reduction infographic is available in English and Spanish! Please download them here in English and here in Spanish and share with your clients, coworkers, friends and family! To download printable PDF versions, click here for the PDF in English and click here for the PDF in Spanish

Free COVID testing sites: Click here for Alameda County, Contra Costa County and Solano County testing sites.

To slow the COVID-19 surge, we all need to stay home as much as we can and when we go out:

  • Wear masks and glasses,
  • Stay outdoors whenever possible,
  • Avoid crowds and maintain at least six feet distance from others,
  • Sanitize or wash hands frequently, and
  • Stay home when sick.

Other updates and opportunities:

Trainings and webinars:

  • January 28 @ 12:00 pm (PST): Colliding Pandemics: HIV, COVID-19 and Structural Racism​​​, by Monica Hahn, MD, MPH, AAHIVS, Clinical Director, Pacific AETC, Associate Medical Director, HIVE Clinic, and Associate Professor, Family and Community Medicine, UCSF. To register, please CLICK HERE.

Funding Opportunities:

  • The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of Health Equity (OHE) will be administering $5M from the Centers for Disease and Control Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Grant to approximately 16-30 community based organizations led by and serving communities facing inequities in COVID-19 impacts and infection. The COVID-19 Health Equity Pilot Projects RFA is now live and available here.
  • The AIDS Institute’s Women Informing Now (WIN) Micro-Grant Funding Opportunity, made possible through grant funding provided to The AIDS Institute (TAI) by ViiV Healthcare, is a micro-grant that supports grassroots community organizations and leaders conducting innovative approaches that break down isolation and stigma for women of color living with HIV across the gender spectrum living with HIV, include those living in “resource deserts” and/or rural areas. Learn more about the opportunities here

Job opportunities:

  • ARTogether is an Oakland-based non-profit organization that provides art programs that foster compassionate communities where refugees and immigrants can flourish. They are looking for a Program Manager to oversee projects that support refugee and immigrant artists. To learn more or apply, email leva@artogether.org 
  • Cal-PEP is looking to fill two positions: Case Manager: and HIV Outreach & Testing Specialist. To learn more, check on the links above. 
  • BARHII is seeking a Communications Officer and an Administrative Specialist to join their team. Learn more about the organization and positions here

Community resources:

  • San Diego county has put together a series of videos geared towards Black community members to provide accurate information about COVID-19 and the vaccines to prevent it. Watch them here
  • Oakland LGBTQ Center’s new Glenn Burke Wellness Clinic is open. Learn more and schedule and appointment here.
  • Positive Women’s Network Policy Fellowship is a year–long program structured to increase participant’s ability to engage effectively in federal, state and local policy and advocacy. Applications are due by February 12, 2021. Register here to join an informational webinar on Thursday 1/21. More information and application can be found here
  • The CDPH Office of AIDS’s monthly newsletter for January is available here.
  • Oakland LGBTQ Center is helping community members access emergency rent and housing assistance. If you or someone you know, is living in Oakland or Alameda County and in need of emergency rental assistance, you can access more information here

HIV services during COVID-19: Click here for Contra Costa HIV services and see our online directory for Alameda County HIV services.

If your organization is in Alameda County and needs COVID-related supplies or staffing, please go to the Emergency Medical Services website to request PPE and testing supplies and request staffing.

Please follow and share our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.  

A note about this webpage: COVID data updates will be posted to this page on Wednesdays in the late afternoon during non-holiday weeks. New studies will be continuously added to our summary of COVID-19 harm reduction strategies. The emailed HIV+COVID-19 update newsletters are now on a bi-weekly schedule of 1st and 3rd Wednesdays.

Official Alameda County COVID-19 weekly updates are accessible on the county website and will not longer be posted on this page. You can sign up to receive the Alameda County weekly COVID-19 newsletter by emailing Jamie.Yee@acgov.org

Opportunities to help:

  • California Health Corps – Use this link to register for the California Health Corps which is a State program for trained medical and healthcare workers to sign up and provide availability to assist in the COVID-19 response. 
  • Medical Surge Volunteer Sign Up – Use this link to register as a volunteer with the County of Alameda to assist with the COVID-19 response. Medically and non-medically trained volunteers will be needed. Click here for more information. 

Top links:

Alameda County guidance:

Click here for all current approved businesses and activities.

Download links for Alameda County community or business guidance on: Face coverings, social bubbles, childcare and camps for all children,  graduations, vehicular gatherings, construction, curbside retail pickups, manufacturing and warehousing, personal services, youth extracurricular and general outdoor recreation activities.

Download links for Alameda County clinical guidance on: COVID-19 testing, antigen testing, isolation orders in 7 languages for all people getting tested, reporting COVID-19 cases, Project Roomkey isolation housing, home health agencies, remdesivir allocations, routine vaccines , reporting pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, resumption of non-urgent medical services, testing in Skilled Nursing Facilities and COVID-19 vaccinations.

If your organization is in Alameda County and needs COVID-related supplies or staffing, please go to the Emergency Medical Services website to request testing supplies, antigen test kits and/or PPE, and request staffing.

Looking for COVID-19 testing?

  • Alameda County COVID testing sites: This webpage includes community-based sites offering free testing for anyone with symptoms, including people without health insurance.
  • Contra Costa County free drive-through or walk-in COVID testing
  • Solano County free testing sites
  • Please check the listing for updates and call the testing site before you leave your home/shelter/camp/car to make sure they are open for testing, you are eligible, and register if needed.
  • If you don’t have a provider and have COVID symptoms: In Alameda County, call Alameda Health System 510-437-8500 for a phone screen and guidance. In Contra Costa County, call 844-729-8410. In Solano County, the county COVID warmline is 707-784-8988.
  • If you’re having difficulty breathing and unstable, please go to your nearest emergency room.