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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This week we celebrated MLK Day and the inauguration of a new administration at the White House. This new era brings the possibility of progress and change. We hope our new leaders are continually guided by love and justice. 

“If we merged mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.” Amanda Gorman, Youth Poet Laureate & 2021 Presidential Inaugural Poet

East Bay COVID-19 updates 

COVID-19 daily case rates have slowly decreased in the past week and hospitalization rates remain at high levels in the Bay Area. The US has surpassed 400,000 deaths. Estimated transmission rates in the Bay Area continue to hover around 1 and Bay Area ICU capacity is 7.4% as of January 19, higher than last week and a hopeful sign. 

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden is taking action on the pandemic with these executive orders:

  • Mask and distancing requirements in all federal buildings, federal lands and by federal employees and contractors. He is also challenging all people in the US to wear a mask for the next 100 days as he pushes to get out 100 million vaccine shots in 100 days.  
  • Rejoining the World Health Organization (WHO), with Dr. Anthony Fauci leading the US delegation and scheduled to present the US plan on supporting the pandemic response and global health.  

Vaccinations are rolling out for health care workers, nursing home residents and elders! There are glimmers of hope as we get more vaccines out and into the arms of people in our communities despite the confusion and fragmentation of our health care system. With the new Biden-Harris administration pushing for increased production and a more coordinated distribution effort, we hope to turn the tide of this devastating pandemic.  

With more infectious variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus 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

Shirley Mychelle Gainey – Case Manager at CAL-PEP

Shirley Mychelle Gainey with her son Theo
Shirley Gainey getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Shirley Gainey received her vaccine last week and here is what she said about why she chose to do it: 

“The reason I got vaccinated is that I miss hugging my baby boy. I haven’t hugged him tight since Mother’s day. When it comes to HIV or STI’s, he is well informed and asks questions. (Thank you CAL-PEP and APEB.) I want him to be just as informed about COVID-19. My landlord is 83 years old. I don’t want to place him in harm’s way. I miss going to campus. I am so over virtual everything! I understand that the masks will be with us through the next 100 days. At Least. If you and I and 100 people we know also get the vaccine, maybe the 100 days will seem more like 80.”

Dr. Sami Lubega of EBGTZ getting the vaccine from Dr. Maggie Edmonds, Deputy CMO at LifeLong. “I got the vaccine because I trust it to help me protect my patients, family, and community. For me, getting the vaccine is an important step in the movement to fight COVID-19 and to bring healing and togetherness into our lives again!”
Dr. Sophy Wong getting the vaccine from DL Poole, PA and COO at LifeLong. “Getting the vaccine is a pivotal moment in the pandemic for me. It feels like we’re finally starting to dig our way out of this crisis. I’m grateful to get such a highly effective vaccine to protect not only my own health but the health of loved ones and our communities. I look forward to working with everyone to get more vaccines out to more people more quickly!”

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 roll-out updates

California has administered nearly 1.4 million vaccine doses as of January 17th out of the 3.2 million doses distributed of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, including 357,437 in the Bay Area region, primarily to health care workers, first responders and nursing home residents (Phase 1a) and have started vaccinating people over the age of 65 (Phase 1b), though 

We still await trial data from the AstraZeneca vaccine (using a non-infectious adenovirus vector), the Johnson and Johnson vaccine (using an adenovirus 26 vector), and the Novavax protein-based vaccine, which are easier to make, store and administer compared to the mRNA vaccines.    

Contra Costa County has been administering vaccines for health care workers, first responders and nursing home residents (Phase 1a) since December 15 and started vaccinating people 65 and over (Phase 1b’s first group). 

Alameda County administered its first Phase 1a vaccines on December 18 and has received 102,750 doses as of January 22. There are an estimated 145,000 people in Phase 1a in Alameda County. Reports from health care and nursing home vaccinations so far describe mixed acceptance rates and no unusual vaccine reactions. 

On January 17, a small cluster of 6 people getting Moderna vaccine doses from Lot 41L20A in San Diego had allergic reactions was reported requiring medical attention. Due to this unusual cluster, Dr. Erica Pan of CDPH recommended that providers pause administration of this particular lot while it gets investigated. The risk of serious adverse reactions to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines remains very small (about 1 in 100,000 people). 

On January 22, the state investigation and summary of the findings reports that all people impacted have recovered, no other unusual reactions were found at other vaccination sites, and that vaccinations with this Lot of vaccines may resume.

Alameda County health care workers should try to get vaccines through their workplace or primary care provider first. If they cannot get vaccinated through those means, to get an appointment with the county vaccine clinic, health care workers must be added to the county notification list through their organizations via this link. If you signed up for notifications as an Alameda County resident working in health care but were not on a health care provider list from one of these organizations, you probably did not receive an appointment notification for this reason. 

Alameda County is asking health care workers who have Kaiser or receive care from a Sutter affiliate to ask their healthcare provider to vaccinate them. If you find that that this option is not available to you or your staff, please fill out this form for Health Care Providers to receive notifications when vaccine is available.  

Alameda County notifications for when vaccine might be available for you, your organization or business: 

If you provide direct services to clients or patients in your usual job, you count as a health care worker in Alameda County’s Phase 1a definition. Housing navigators, peer navigators, support group facilitators, etc. count as health care workers because they provide direct support services for patients.  

All Alameda County health care providers to enroll in CalVax to become vaccinators.

Who is eligible for vaccines now?

Bay Area counties are following CA state guidelines on vaccine prioritization, which were revised on January 13 and will be revised again soon:

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. For PLWH not otherwise eligible in Phase 1, all PLWH will be eligible in Phase 2. We don’t know yet when there will be enough vaccines for Phase 2 but it will hopefully be in the early spring. 

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.

County public health department vaccine updates:

Bay Area Shelter-in-Place order and ICU status

The Bay Area has implemented the State’s Regional Stay Home Order

On January 19, the Bay Area region had 7.4% ICU capacity (up from 4.7% last week) and must continue to follow the State’s Stay Home Order. Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano Counties remain in the highest purple tier (for “widespread” risk) in the statewide Blueprint to Safer Reopening.

The New York Times has an ICU capacity dashboard using hospital capacity data released by the Department of Health and Human Services showing the ICU status at specific hospitals searchable by zip code. 

Current estimated transmission rates (Re) are 0.99 in Alameda County, 0.99 in Contra Costa and 0.93 in Solano County, compared to 0.92 statewide. Our goal is to support the vaccine roll-out and community measures around masking, staying outdoors and avoiding gatherings to keep transmission rates less than 1.

The LEMMA hospitalization prediction for Alameda County using data through January 18 is that if Alameda County’s transmission rate stays the same (LEMMA’s current estimated Rt is 0.95, down from a high of 1.52 at the end of November), the median projection is for hospital and ICU rates to continue trending downward from our highest hospitalization levels in early January. 

Alameda County as of January 20:

 Contra Costa County as of January 20:

Solano County as of January 20:

SF Chronicle, 1/20/20: COVID-19 daily cases and deaths in the Bay Area. 
CDPH CA State COVID-19 dashboard 1/20/20: 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.  

Other new HIV and COVID-19 reports and studies

A randomized trial of long-acting injectable cabotegravir and rilpivirine found that 8-week dosing had similar virologic suppression rates as 4-week dosing. Patients (unsurprisingly) preferred the longer dosing interval. Real-world studies and data are needed to help guide implementation.  

The L452R variant of COVID-19 is increasingly identified in multiple counties across California sending samples for genomic sequencing. In mid-December the L452R variant was 3.8% of samples sequenced at UCSF and by early January, it was more than 25% of samples sequenced. We don’t have enough data yet to know if this variant is more infectious, but Santa Clara County has sequenced this variant from several large outbreaks where high proportions of exposed people became infected (including one at the Kaiser San Jose ER), so there is concern for greater infectiousness.  

Since genomic sequencing is not done systematically in the US or in California, we don’t know how widespread the L452R variant is. These findings emphasize the importance of masking, distancing, avoiding gatherings, hand hygiene and vaccinations to prevent spread.      

A pre-print lab study (not done in humans) found that that the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is effective against the N501Y mutation present in the UK and South African variants. The N501Y mutation is seen in experiments to allow the virus to bind to cells more tightly. However, there are other mutations, including the worrisome E484K mutation in the South African variant, that are still being investigated. 

Public Health England released a new study of the B.1.1.7 UK variant in which researchers estimated that the variant is 30-50% more transmissible than the original strain. Another pre-print study from Imperial College London estimates that the UK variant is 40-70% more transmissible than the original virus, even while high levels of distancing measures were in place.    

A recent study of memory T and B cell responses to COVID-19 after infection suggests that long-term immune memory occurs after either natural infection or vaccination for SARS-CoV-2.

Two new studies on the use of convalescent plasma (a randomized trial in Argentina and a second registry study in the US) demonstrate that high-doses of convalescent plasma may offer benefit to elderly and high-risk patients admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 within 72 hours of symptom onset.

A new study of COVID-19 transmissions during air travel used seat maps and genetic analysis to determine that one passenger initiated a chain of infection that spread to 7 people despite pre-flight testing. Two of the people infected acknowledged that they did not wear masks during the entire flight, and the airline did not require mask-wearing in the lobby before boarding. 

A new study on transmissions from people without symptoms using meta-analysis data found that 59% of all transmission came from asymptomatic transmission, including 35% from presymptomatic individuals and 24% from individuals who never develop symptoms. These findings again emphasize how masking, distancing, avoiding gatherings are critical for slowing the spread of COVID-19 until we achieve widespread vaccinations.  

Kaiser Health News is documenting the more than 2,900 health care workers who have died of COVID-19 in their “Lost on the Frontline” project, including the outsized toll on health workers of color.  

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.