L.A. County paramedics directed not to transport certain patients with low chance of survival

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) —  The agency that oversees emergency medical services in Los Angeles County has issued new directives for paramedics transporting patients in ambulances as the coronavirus pandemic places increasing pressure on Southern California hospitals’ ICU capacity.

The Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency issued multiple directives Monday, telling paramedics to stop transporting patients if they have virtually no chance of surviving, including those whose hearts and breathing have stopped and who couldn’t be resuscitated.

One directive told paramedics to not transfer patients in cardiac arrest to the hospital unless spontaneous circulation can be successfully performed in the field. Meaning, if the patient does not respond within 10 minutes of on-scene interventions, paramedics must determine them dead on the scene and not transport them to the hospital. This applies to blunt traumatic and nontraumatic cardiac arrest.

Another directive ordered ambulance crews to conserve oxygen, effective immediately. Ambulance crews will now only administer oxygen to patients whose oxygen saturation levels are below 90%. Supplies have been strained because of the pandemic.

Some older hospitals in Southern California have oxygen systems that can’t handle the demand, and the state is contracting with the Army Corps of Engineers to upgrade the systems. Giant oxygen containers may also be placed in hospital parking lots as back ups.

County health officials have expressed worry over a possible incoming surge from the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The additional Thanksgiving cases have swamped hospitals, forcing them to treat patients in hallways, ambulances and even gift shops, and forced an oxygen shortage. The California National Guard is contributing freezer trucks to help store bodies as hospitals run out of space.

More than 22,000 were hospitalized across the state, setting another record, according to the COVID Tracking Project. California’s Department of Public Health reported that of those hospitalized, nearly 4,700 were in intensive care units.

Most of the state’s population remains under a broad stay-at-home order as ICU capacity dwindles. In hard-hit Los Angeles County, the total COVID-19 death toll has reached 10,850, and confirmed cases topped 818,000. The county reported more than 7,700 people hospitalized, including 21% in ICUs.

This comes as the state is trying to execute the massive immunization campaign “with a sense of urgency that is required of this moment and the urgency that people demand,” but so far only about 1% of California’s 40 million residents have been vaccinated, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

The 454,000 doses of vaccine that have been administered in California represent just a third of the more than nearly 1.3 million received in the state so far, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Across the country, the pace of immunizations has gone slower than planned due to logistical hurdles and differing approaches across states and counties. On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly 4.6 million shots have been dispensed.

While the state wants to make sure no one is jumping ahead in the line, Newsom said he wants to give providers the flexibility to distribute doses to people not on the priority list if doses are at risk of going to waste.

“We are working hard to make sure that 100% of what we get, we get out as quickly as possible,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said.

Overall, California has more than 2.45 million confirmed coronavirus cases and almost 27,000 deaths, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.

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from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/california/l-a-county-paramedics-directed-not-to-transport-certain-patients-with-low-chance-of-survival/

Evidence reveals if you can get COVID-19 vaccine more than once

If I’ve already had the coronavirus, can I get it again?

It’s possible, but such cases seem to be rare. Evidence is growing that people whose bodies mounted a strong defense to the virus are unlikely to test positive again for at least several months and maybe longer.

It’s not unusual to develop some immunity to a virus after an infection, since our bodies are generally better at recognizing and fighting off bugs they’ve encountered before. And that seems to be the case with the coronavirus as well, though scientists are still trying to figure out how long any protection might last.

Some reinfections have been confirmed, but two new studies suggest that’s very unusual.

In one, only two out of 1,265 health workers in the United Kingdom who were previously infected ended up testing positive again for the coronavirus in the following six months. In another study of people in the U.S., only 0.3% of people who had been infected tested positive for the virus over the next several months – around the same rate of positivity as the U.K study.

The findings bode well for the COVID-19 vaccines that are being rolled out, which trigger the kind of immune responses that the studies found protective.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/evidence-reveals-if-you-can-get-covid-19-vaccine-more-than-once/

H&R Block, TurboTax customers: Why you don’t have your stimulus checks

A number of taxpayers who use tax preparation services, such as H&R Block and TurboTax, say their second relief payments were sent to the incorrect bank account, forcing them to wait longer for their money.

The IRS and the Treasury Department began issuing the Economic Impact Payments last week. The payment is $600 for each eligible adult and dependent for people earning up to $75,000, or $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. Those earning more than that are eligible for a reduced payment.

The IRS said that direct deposit payments would take several days to post to individual accounts but funds were largely available on Monday. Some payments are also being sent via paper check or debit cards during the month of January.

Taxpayers can use the Get My Payment tool on the IRS website to find out about the status of their payment.

However, many people said that they checked the IRS site and found their payments were sent to an account they did not recognize.

Samantha Smith of Dallas said she received her $1,200 relief payment in the spring via direct deposit without any issues. But her payment for this round of economic relief went to an account she did not recognize.

She contacted TurboTax, which prepared her most recent tax filing, and was told if she paid her tax preparation fees with her refund due, rather than paying for it upfront, then the second payment may have been sent to a TurboTax bank. Several other taxpayers who paid their fees the same way also reported delays.

Smith, who was laid off in October, had planned to use the money to pay her rent and is frustrated as her hands tied until the money comes in.

“I would love that money,” she said. “It’s imperative.”

There is no exact measure at this time of how many taxpayers were impacted. The IRS did not have a comment early Tuesday on the scope or cause of the problem.

TurboTax said that the IRS is the “sole party with the ability to determine eligibility and distribute stimulus payments” and that by law, the financial institution must return the payment to the IRS if an account is no longer active.

“We know how important these funds are for so many Americans and that everyone is anxious to get their money,” said company spokeswoman Ashley McMahon. “We are partnering with the IRS to help taxpayers receive their payments as quickly as possible.”

H&R Block said that it “understands stimulus checks are vitally important for millions of Americans” and said if the IRS Get My Payment website displays an account number a customer doesn’t recognize, then its customer service agents are ready to help by phone or online.

The IRS has said that there is no action required by eligible individuals to receive this second payment. The payments are automatic, and people should not contact their financial institutions or the IRS with payment timing questions.

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from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/national/hr-block-turbotax-customers-why-you-dont-have-your-stimulus-checks/

LIVE SOON: San Francisco officials to hold coronavirus briefing

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Dr. Grant Colfax on Tuesday will hold a news conference with an update on the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The press briefing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.

San Francisco has extended both its travel advisory and stay-at-home order.

Here are the latest ICU capacity numbers by California region:

Bay Area 7.9%

Northern California 30.0%

Greater Sacramento 12.1%

San Joaquin Valley 0%

Southern California 0%

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The state’s death toll Monday topped 26,500 and confirmed cases neared 2.4 million since the pandemic began.

More than 22,000 COVID-19 patients are currently in California’s swamped hospitals.

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from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/live-soon-san-francisco-officials-to-hold-coronavirus-briefing/

EXPLAINER: How Congress will count Electoral College votes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wednesday’s congressional joint session to count electoral votes has taken on added importance this year as congressional Republicans allied with President Donald Trump are pledging to try and undo Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

The Republicans — a dozen senators and many more House members — are citing Trump’s baseless charges of widespread fraud. They say they will officially object to the results, forcing votes in the Republican-run Senate and the Democratic-controlled House that will almost certainly fail.

There was no widespread fraud in the election, as has been confirmed by a range of election officials and by William Barr, who stepped down as attorney general last month.

Nearly all of the legal challenges put forth by Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges. The Supreme Court, which includes three Trump-nominated justices, has also denied requests to hear a pair of cases aimed at invalidating the outcome of the election in key battleground states.

The congressional meeting on Jan. 6 is the final step in reaffirming Biden’s win, after the Electoral College officially elected him in December. The meeting is required by the Constitution and includes several distinct steps.

A look at the joint session:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CONGRESS MEETS WEDNESDAY?

Under federal law, Congress must meet Jan. 6 to open sealed certificates from each state that contain a record of their electoral votes. The votes are brought into the chamber in special mahogany boxes used for the occasion.

Bipartisan representatives of both chambers read the results out loud and do an official count. The president of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence, presides over the session and declares the winner. The session begins at 1 p.m. EST.

WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRE?

The Constitution requires Congress to meet and count the electoral votes. If there is a tie, then the House decides the presidency, with each congressional delegation having one vote. That hasn’t happened since the 1800s, and Biden’s electoral win over Trump was decisive, 306-232.

HOW DOES THE SESSION UNFOLD?

The two chambers meet together midday to count the votes. If the vice president cannot preside, there is precedent for the Senate pro-tempore, or the longest-serving senator in the majority party, to lead the session. That’s currently Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

The presiding officer opens and presents the certificates of the electoral votes in alphabetical order of the states. The appointed “tellers” from the House and Senate, members of both parties, then read each certificate out loud and record and count the votes. At the end, the presiding officer announces who has won the majority votes for both president and vice president.

WHAT IF THERE’S AN OBJECTION?

After a teller reads the certificate from a state, any member can stand up and object to that state’s vote on any grounds. But the presiding officer will not hear the objection unless it is in writing and signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate.

If there is such a request, then the joint session suspends and the House and Senate go into separate sessions to consider it. For the objection to be sustained, both chambers must agree to it by a simple majority vote. If they do not both agree, the original electoral votes are counted with no changes.

The last time such an objection was considered was 2005, when Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, both Democrats, objected to Ohio’s electoral votes, claiming there were voting irregularities. Both the House and Senate debated the objection and easily rejected it. It was only the second time such a vote had occurred.

WHO IS EXPECTED TO OBJECT?

Dozens of House Republicans and a smaller group of GOP senators are expected to object to the count from some swing states where Trump has alleged fraud, despite the consensus of nonpartisan election officials and even Trump’s former attorney general that there was none. None of the members have presented detailed evidence and none of them objected to the swearing-in of congressional lawmakers who won election on the same ballots.

In the Senate, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley was the first to say he would join with the House Republicans. On Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced a coalition of 11 additional senators who vowed to vote against unspecified state electors on Wednesday unless Congress appoints an electoral commission to immediately conduct an audit of the election results. Hawley and Cruz are both among potential 2024 presidential contenders.

The challenges have split the party. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has urged his colleagues not to object, saying last month on a private call that the vote would be “terrible.”

Several other Senate Republicans have criticized the effort as well, including Texas Sen. John Cornyn and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican. Thune said last month that any objections will go down “like a shot dog” in the Senate.

On Sunday, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said the challenge is “‘bad for the country and bad for the party.”

WHAT IS PENCE’S ROLE?

Pence’s role is largely ceremonial and he has no power to affect the outcome.

The role of the vice president as presiding officer is often an awkward one, as it will be for Pence, who will be charged with announcing Biden’s victory — and his own defeat — once the electoral votes are counted.

Pence won’t be the first vice president put in an uncomfortable situation. In 2001, Vice President Al Gore presided over the counting of the 2000 presidential election he narrowly lost to Republican George W. Bush. Gore had to gavel several Democrats’ objections out of order. In 2017, Biden presided over the count that declared Trump the winner. Biden also shot down objections from House Democrats that did not have any Senate support.

ONCE CONGRESS COUNTS THE VOTES, WHAT’S NEXT?

The joint session is the last official chance for objections, beyond court cases that have so far proven ineffective for Trump and his team.

“I think there comes a time when you have to realize that, despite your best efforts you’ve been unsuccessful,” Cornyn said earlier this month.

AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report. Trademark and Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/explainer-how-congress-will-count-electoral-college-votes/

Award-winning journalist Ashleigh Banfield to host nightly talk show on WGN America

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Award-winning veteran journalist Ashleigh Banfield is joining WGN America as the host of a new hourlong news and talk show, “Banfield.”

Starting March 1, “Banfield” will air weeknights at 10 p.m. ET, offering in-depth coverage of the day’s top news stories. It’ll also feature Banfield interviewing newsmakers, politicians and celebrities.

“What a thrill it is to be part of a team driving straight down the center lane,” Banfield said.  “We’ve reached a time where Americans are hungry for facts without bias, news without spin, and guests from all perspectives.  I can’t wait to go head-to-head with America’s top newsmakers and celebrities in a talk format that I’ve longed for since Larry King! It’s time to put in-depth interviews back on the cable news landscape.”

WGN America, Nexstar Media Group’s wholly-owned cable network, currently reaches 75 million U.S. television households. The network will also be expanding its programming lineup in the coming weeks, with additional news, talk and current events shows that complement “NewsNation,” the country’s only live nightly prime-time national newscast.

“As WGN America expands its programming and distribution in 2021, Ashleigh’s national appeal, network experience, and unbiased approach to reporting news will help us reach new viewers seeking balance in news reporting and talk programming that offers several points of view,” said Sean Compton, president of networks at Nexstar Media Group.  

WGN America plans to expand its national footprint by about 8.5 million television households later this month, following the completion of recent distribution agreements with streaming, cable and satellite providers.

Before joining WGN America, Banfield, an Emmy, Telly, Iris, Gracie and National Headliner Award winner, served as a legal analyst and host for Court TV, as well as a regular contributor to Investigation Discovery’s ID “Murder Mystery” series.

During her 30-year career, Banfield has served as host of the A+E prime-time series, “Live Rescue,” host of “Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield” on HLN, anchored “Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield” on CNN, and and co-anchored the CNN morning news show, “Early Start.”

She has also served as a correspondent for ABC News, reporting for “Good Morning America,” “20/20,” “ABC World News Tonight,” and “Nightline.” Prior to ABC, Banfield anchored and hosted three programs on TruTV including the daily legal news program, “Banfield and Ford: Courtside,” the weekly evening show, “Hollywood Heat,” and the prime-time special series that she created and co-produced, “Disorder in the Court.” As a correspondent for NBC News, Banfield reported for “The Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” and “Dateline.” During this time, she also anchored several prime-time series on MSNBC, including “A Region in Conflict and Ashleigh Banfield: On Location.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/award-winning-journalist-ashleigh-banfield-to-host-nightly-talk-show-on-wgn-america/

Georgia runoffs key to $2,000 direct payments, Biden says

ATLANTA (NEXSTAR) — While pitching to Georgia voters on Monday, President-elect Joe Biden said if Democrats won those races, $2,000 stimulus checks would likely be on their way to most Americans.

Tuesday’s showdown in Georgia determines whether Democrats or Republicans have control of the Senate. If Democrats win, they’ll have control of the presidency, House and a split 50-50 Senate. With Kamala Harris in line to cast tie-breaking votes, it’s a clear path to approving their key priorities such as stimulus checks.

If incumbent Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler defeat Democratic opponents Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the GOP will retain control of the Senate. To date, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been the primary roadblock to larger stimulus payments.

“If you send Jon and the Reverend to Washington, those $2,000 checks will go out the door,” Biden said Monday in Atlanta. “And if you send Sens. Perdue and Loeffler back to Washington, those checks will never get there. It’s just that simple. The power is literally in your hands.”

It’s worth noting that Loeffler and Perdue supported President Donald Trump’s eleventh-hour proposal to increase the size of stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000. The $600 bipartisan compromise had been considered a done deal and had won sweeping approval in the House and Senate after the White House assured GOP leaders that Trump supported it. After the $2,000 proposal was blocked in the GOP-controlled Senate, Trump signed the deal with smaller checks.

Over the last few weeks, it’s become clear Biden plans to push for a third stimulus check. The amount? That’s definitely up for debate, especially if Republicans control the Senate.

Biden has referred to this most recent $600 check as a “down payment” and is hopeful more relief is on the way. When asked by a reporter if he’d push for additional direct payments and what the amount might be, he wasn’t ready to commit to a price tag.

“Look, that’s a negotiating issue,” Biden said during a news conference before Christmas. “But it will, yes it will.”

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from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/national/georgia-vote-key-to-2000-direct-payments-biden-says/

Larry King, hospitalized with COVID-19, moved out of ICU

Veteran talk show host Larry King, suffering from COVID-19, has been moved out of the intensive care unit at a Los Angeles hospital and is breathing on his own, a spokesman said on Monday.

King was moved to the ICU on New Year’s Eve and was receiving oxygen but is now breathing on his own, said David Theall, a spokesman for Ora Media, a production company formed by King.

The 87-year-old broadcasting legend shared a video phone call with his three sons, Theall said.

King, who spent many years as an overnight radio DJ, is best known as host of the “Larry King Live” interview show that ran in prime time on CNN from 1985 to 2010.

from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/national/larry-king-hospitalized-with-covid-19-moved-out-of-icu/

Berkeley reveals when general public can expect COVID vaccine

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — The city of Berkeley revealed its vaccination plan, and it follows what we’ve already seen around the country: People on the frontlines go first.

Phase 1 vaccinations will be administered to healthcare workers, as well as workers and residents at skilled nursing facilities.

Mayor Jesse Arreguin said “Three of Berkeley’s skilled nursing facilities have or will receive the vaccine this week. The other facilities are likely close to receiving it.”

Here’s how Arreguin further details the vaccination priorities in a Twitter thread:

  • Phase 1A
    • Tier 1: Acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, paramedics/EMTs
    • Tier 2: Intermediate care facilities, home health care, clinics, community health workers
    • Tier 3: Laboratory workers, dental/oral clinics, pharmacy staff
  • Phase 1B
    • Tier 1: People aged 75+, food and agriculture, education/childcare, emergency workers.
    • Tier 2: People aged 65-74 with underlying conditions, incarcerated individuals, transportation, homeless/unhoused
  • Phase 1C: All people aged 65-74, people aged 16-64 with underlying medical conditions, government operations and community services.

“Berkeley has begun receiving its first allocation. The first 975 doses went to Alta Bates for their healthcare workers. Berkeley has received 1,100 doses of the Moderna vaccine, to also be distributed to Phase 1A group,” Arreguin said.

The remainder of the population should be able to get the vaccine by spring, the mayor added, despite having just started vaccinations almost a week into the new year while the country is seeing slower-than-expected vaccinations.

The dragging vaccine rollout is concerning officials nationwide, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

As of this week, just 454,000 doses have been administered in the state. There are about 40 million residents.

Meanwhile, healthcare workers are feeling the dire impacts of growing COVID-19 cases after the winter holidays. Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency said ambulances should no longer bring people to hospitals if they have little chance of surviving.

The Berkeley mayor said as of Dec. 30, 2020, the city is averaging 14 new cases per day, with a 1.3% test positivity rate.

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from KRON4 https://www.kron4.com/news/bay-area/berkeley-details-who-gets-first-covid-vaccines/

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