Omicron variant in California: LA County reports new omicron case, in college student returning from East Coast – San Francisco Chronicle

Latest updates:

CDC underscores holiday testing and quarantine rules for air travel: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday re-emphasized, amid concerns over the new omicron coronavirus variant, that international travelers arriving in the United States must be tested for the coronavirus no more than one day before they travel and show proof of negative results to the airline. CDC recommends also that international travelers get a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after arrival, and that unvaccinated travelers quarantine for seven days after travel.

Pandemic stress hits young hardest: A new poll finds that teens and young adults have faced some of the heaviest pandemic-era stress as they come of age during a time of extreme turmoil. Overall, more than a third of Americans ages 13 to 56 cite the pandemic as a major source of stress, and many say it has made certain parts of their lives harder, according to a new survey from MTV Entertainment Group and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. But when it comes to education, friendships and dating, the disruption has had a pronounced impact among Generation Z, ages 13 to 24. Of that group, 46% said the pandemic has made it harder to pursue their education or career goals, compared with 36% of Millennials and 31% in Generation X. There was a similar gap when it came to dating and romantic relationships, with 40% of Gen Z saying it became harder.

Another omicron case in L.A. County: The Los Angeles County health department on Monday announced confirmation of a new coronavirus case involving the omicron variant. The variant was found in a fully vaccinated college student who returned to the county after travel on the East Coast. The person had mild symptoms and is self-isolating, county officials said. “Public Health has identified close contacts in Los Angeles County, all of whom are quarantining and being tested,” the department said. “Based on travel history, it is likely that the infection was acquired outside of Los Angeles County.” The county also reported an omicron infection case last week, saying it too was likely related to travel, in that case to South Africa where the omicron variant first emerged.

Has the pandemic put college further out of reach for Californians?: Enrollment in California community colleges declined by nearly 15% last year. As colleges of all kinds grapple with how to come back from a pandemic that deepened existing educational inequities, some students are wondering if they can. Read the full story here.

New York City mayor announces vax mandates for private sector employers: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that private employers will have to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for their employees. During an appearance on MSNBC, de Blasio called the move a “preemptive strike” in the face of the omicron variant and the coming winter season.

Early reports on new variant encouraging, Fauci says: Despite the rapid spread of the omicron coronavirus through the U.S., federal health officials say early signs indicate it may not be as dangerous as the dominant delta variant, which is responsible for a rise in hospitalizations. Top White House infectious disease adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that hospitalization rates in South Africa, where omicron emerged and is becoming the dominant strain, have not increased to concerning levels. “Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” Fauci said, according to the Associated Press. “But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to delta.” Fauci said the Biden administration is considering lifting the travel restrictions on several African countries imposed when omicron spread rapidly across the region.

Should we change up our masks? Although Bay Area counties so far have not signaled any changes in their mask policies, the arrival of the omicron variant has many people wondering whether it’s time to double down on their masking habits — and upgrade their face coverings. Read what Bay Area experts advise on how to protect yourself here.

Tear gas used to disperse Belgian protest against restrictions: Belgian police used water cannon and tear gas Sunday to disperse some rowdy protesters in Brussels after thousands marched mostly peacefully to protest tightened COVID-19 restrictions against a surge of coronavirus infections. Some demonstrators were reported to throw stones at police and attempt to dismantle barricades. Demonstrators rejected new measures announced Friday, the third week in a row that the government has tightened its rules as an avalanche of new cases strains the country’s health services, depriving people with other life-threatening diseases of treatment. Shouting “Freedom! Freedom!” some marchers carried signs critical of vaccines and against making vaccine shots mandatory.

Marin school sees COVID-19 outbreak after parents sent sick child to class: Corte Madera school officials have vowed to take “corrective action” after the parents of an elementary school student knowingly sent the child and a sibling to class despite the child’s having tested positive for COVID-19, spurring a spate of other infections. As of Friday, school officials said eight children at Neil Cummins Elementary School had contracted the virus and 75 had been quarantined since the family, which has not been identified, allowed its two kids to attend school even after being notified by public health officials the week of Nov. 8 that one of the children was infected. The sibling later tested positive as well, the AP reported. Read the full story.

J&J booster appears fine for Pfizer vaccine recipients, study finds: People who received Pfizer vaccines against the coronavirus may get as much benefit from a Johnson & Johnson booster shot as a Pfizer one, according to a small study released on Sunday. The study, which is not yet peer-reviewed, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston looked at 65 people fully vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNtech’s two-dose vaccine. For booster shots, 24 were given the Pfizer vaccine and 41 got a Johnson & Johnson shot. Both groups experienced a boost in COVID-fighting T-cells. But the T-cell increase from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was significantly higher than Pfizer’s. “The durability of these immune responses remains to be determined,” the authors wrote.