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Disneyland as a vaccination site? Airports as test centers? The travel industry steps in

Many sectors of the travel industry are looking for a way to help end the pandemic.

More than a dozen U.S. airports are now serving as virus testing sites, including Chicago O’Hare and Chicago Midway, Los Angeles International, Tampa, Newark, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Inside many terminals, XpresSpa has moved from offering massages and manicures at the airport to rapid coronavirus testing.

Vaccines against covid19>

Answers to your questions about vaccines

While the exact order of vaccinees can vary by state, most will likely prioritize medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities. If you want to understand how this decision is made, this article will help you.

Life will only return to normal when society as a whole is sufficiently protected against the coronavirus. Once countries authorize a vaccine, they will only be able to immunize a few percent of their citizens at most in the first two months. The unvaccinated majority will always remain vulnerable to infection. A growing number of coronavirus vaccines show strong protection against the disease. But it is also possible for people to spread the virus without even knowing they are infected, as they have only mild symptoms, if any. Scientists do not yet know if the vaccines also block the transmission of the coronavirus. So for now, even vaccinated people will have to wear masks, avoid crowds inside, etc. Once enough people are vaccinated, it will become very difficult for the coronavirus to find vulnerable people to infect. Depending on how quickly we as a society reach this goal, life may start to move closer to something normal by fall 2021.

Yes, but not forever. The two vaccines that will be potentially authorized this month clearly protect people against Covid-19. But the clinical trials that delivered these results were not designed to determine whether vaccinated people could still spread the coronavirus without developing symptoms. It remains a possibility. We know that people naturally infected with the coronavirus can spread it without feeling a cough or other symptoms. Researchers will study this question intensely as the vaccines are rolled out. In the meantime, even vaccinated people will have to consider themselves as possible spreaders.

The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is given by injection into the arm, like other typical vaccines. The injection will be no different from any you received before. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines and none of them have reported serious health problems. But some of them experienced short-lived discomfort, including aches and pains and flu-like symptoms that usually last for a day. People may need to plan a day off or school after the second shot. While these experiences are not pleasant, they are a good sign: they are the result of your own immune system encountering the vaccine and building a powerful response that will provide long-lasting immunity.

No. Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use a genetic molecule to stimulate the immune system. This molecule, known as mRNA, is ultimately destroyed by the body. The mRNA is packaged in an oily bubble that can fuse with a cell, allowing the molecule to slip inside. The cell uses mRNA to make proteins from the coronavirus, which can stimulate the immune system. At any given time, each of our cells can contain hundreds of thousands of mRNA molecules, which they produce to make their own proteins. Once these proteins are made, our cells then shred the mRNA with special enzymes. The mRNA molecules made by our cells can only survive for a few minutes. The mRNA in vaccines is designed to resist the enzymes in the cell for a bit longer, so that the cells can make additional viral proteins and elicit a stronger immune response. But mRNA can only last a few days at most before being destroyed.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif., Has been closed to visitors since March; in December, they loaned one of their ultra-cold freezers to a hospital in nearby Salinas; the special freezer can maintain temperatures of minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, which are needed to safely store some coronavirus vaccines.

In the first few weeks of the pandemic, the State Fair of West Virginia signed an agreement with the Greenbrier County Health Department, committing to use their facilities for testing, vaccination and even a state-of-the-art hospital, though necessary. Closed in 2020, their grounds have since been the site of three free drive-thru testing clinics, and now function as a vaccination center for local residents.

Many Orange County residents who get their shots at Disneyland will have gone for coronavirus tests at the Anaheim Convention Center, which, like convention centers across the country, saw traffic stop in March. Jay Burress, president and CEO of Visit Anaheim, estimates the freeze cost the city $ 1.9 billion in lost revenue. He responded by donating unused supplies to local nonprofits. In July, the parking lot of the convention center was transformed into a site for mass testing.

“How to reopen safely? This has always been our goal, ”said Mr. Burress. “Promoting our destination, whether as a leisure destination or as a convention destination when hotels are not even open to leisure travel, is to turn the wheels.

Sharon Decker is president of the Tryon Resort in North Carolina, which features 250 rooms and an equestrian center, as well as a 300,000 square foot indoor arena, on 1,600 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She was not surprised in October when officials in Polk County, North Carolina, asked if she would be willing to donate the arena as a vaccination site, even though she knew it would present logistical challenges. The site opened in mid-December.

“We have forged a real partnership with public health officials,” she said. “It took a real public-private partnership to achieve this. But when you have common goals for a healthy economy and healthy businesses, you can figure it out. “

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In elite medical centers, even unskilled workers are vaccinated

About twenty years working on computers. A young researcher studying cancer. Technicians from basic research laboratories.

These are just a few of the thousands of people who have been immunized against the coronavirus at hospitals affiliated with Columbia University, New York University, Harvard and Vanderbilt, even as millions of frontline workers and older Americans are waiting their turn.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued recommendations to ensure the country’s vaccines reach people most at risk first: health workers who interact with Covid-19 patients, residents and staff. nursing homes, followed by 75-year-olds and older workers and some essential workers.

Each state has established its own version of the guidelines, but with the deployment at an icy pace, the pressure has grown for a more flexible approach. Officials at the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration recently suggested that it might be wiser to simply relax the criteria and distribute the vaccine as widely as possible.

Yet those officials did not envision that vaccines would be given to healthy people between the ages of 20 and 30 before the elderly, essential workers or others at high risk. States should always prioritize groups that “make sense,” FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn told reporters on Friday.

But a handful of the country’s most prestigious teaching hospitals have already taken the notion much further. Workers who have nothing to do with patient care and who are not 75 years of age or older have been offered the vaccines. Some of the institutions were among the earliest beneficiaries of limited supplies in the United States.

“Cronyism and relationships have no place in the deployment of this vaccine,” said Ruth Faden, bioethicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “If we don’t do this right the consequences could be pretty dire, so it’s really essential that people are hypersensitive to the rules of the game here.”

The CDC never intended to include workers who do not interact with patients, such as administrators and graduate students, in the first tier of priority vaccinations, said Dr Stanley Perlman, immunologist at the University of Iowa and member of the committee that issued the recommendations.

“It has all become so confusing,” he says. “In retrospect, I think we probably needed to be a little more specific about what we thought, because we never thought about the hospital administrators.

In Nashville, Vanderbilt University Medical Center has asked all staff, whether or not caring for patients, to sign up for the vaccination. Vaccinations began in December, when the Tennessee Hospital Association authorized vaccination for all hospital workers, regardless of their role.

On January 6, the medical center announced plans to begin vaccinating its high-risk patients, but only after “administering the initial dose of vaccine to more than 15,000 people working at the medical center,” according to an email. ‘he sent his patients.

“We continue to follow the advice we receive from the Tennessee Department of Health as we immunize staff at Vanderbilt Health and other priority groups of patients, staff and community health workers,” John Howser, director communications from the medical center, said in a statement.

But the Tennessee Department of Health sees it differently. “Hospitals have been encouraged from the start of the integration process to use any remaining vaccine to immunize high priority populations,” said Bill Christian, a spokesperson for the department.

“Some hospitals have interpreted their ‘staff’ broadly,” he added.

The Tennessee Department, he said, “continues to applaud hospitals that have prioritized only their high-risk frontline staff for immunization and made any remaining immunizations available to help meet the needs of the community by vaccinating »high priority groups.

“I wish our elderly parents had received the vaccine before I did,” said a young Vanderbilt employee who has no contact with patients and asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

In Boston, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, both affiliated with Harvard University, have immunized more than 26,000 employees, including those involved in patient care, researchers who may come in contact with coronavirus samples and those engaged in clinical trials, according to Rich Copp, a spokesperson for hospitals.

The reason? Some lab scientists may be needed in hospitals as the coronavirus reappears. “Our first wave experience demonstrated that some members of the research community may need to be redeployed to support work in patient care settings with Covid,” said Copp.

Still, the medical centers have announced their intention to vaccinate the rest of their workers from Monday.

In New York State, only a fraction of the estimated 2.1 million frontline workers have been vaccinated. Governor Andrew Cuomo has threatened to impose fines of up to $ 100,000 on hospitals that do not vaccinate quickly enough to use their doses.

At Columbia University, the word quickly spread in research labs far removed from patient care: If you showed up at Millstein Hospital, the university’s main medical center, you could get the shot. – it doesn’t matter if your job had something to do with patients.

Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and researchers were soon lining up at the hospital auditorium, according to several university employees. Almost everyone at a cancer research center affiliated with the hospital has received the vaccine.

Hospital officials said they eventually saw emails directing people to the auditorium, but anyone who did not need the vaccine was fired.

“We have worked to vaccinate tens of thousands of employees to date, starting with patient-contact staff, and we are constantly striving to improve our vaccination process,” said Kate Spaziani, vice president hospital communications.

She added, “We will continue to do this until everyone receives a vaccine. We follow all New York State Department of Health guidelines on vaccine priority. “

But some beneficiaries were upset to learn they did not qualify for state guidelines.

“I understand now that it was not our turn, and I feel bad about going out of my turn,” said a young researcher whose work has no impact on Covid-19. “I’m also frankly a little angry with the hospital and the university for not controlling it properly.”

At NYU’s Langone Medical Center, outreach to staff members who have no contact with patients was more deliberate.

“We are currently only offering the Covid-19 vaccine to frontline workers,” the centre’s website says. “We will send a message to our patients as soon as the vaccine is available to patients.”

But in an email to staff on December 28, Dr Anil Rustgi, dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine, said the center has completed vaccinating its 15,000 staff who interact with patients and would start immunizing all other staff. There was no mention of the elderly or other priority groups specified by New York State.

An email Tuesday to NYU Medical Center staff who had not yet registered for immunization said, “As an employee of a healthcare facility, you have the option of receiving a vaccine only. millions of people across the country want – and you can have it, now. “

In an unspoken admission that these employees would not otherwise be qualified for the vaccine so soon, the email warned that once the state expanded the eligibility criteria, “You may have to wait weeks. , even months, to receive it depending on demand and availability. “

State officials were dismayed that the NYU and Colombia opened up vaccines to low-risk staff before millions of state residents who needed vaccines.

New York on Friday expanded its immunization guidelines to include essential workers and people over 75.

Yet the guidelines “do not give carte blanche to vaccinate all employees of a hospital entity, regardless of their function,” said Gary Holmes, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health. “While we don’t know all of the facts here, as long as there is a violation the DOH will investigate.”

Privately, some state officials were furious. Rather, institutions should have asked the state what to do next as soon as they finished vaccinating frontline staff, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he did not was not allowed to discuss the matter.

“The only reason they have as many vaccines as they have is because they were the vaccine keepers – because they have cold rooms,” the official said. “This was not the NYU vaccine to use for NYU”

The problem is not limited to academic medical centers. Some hospitals have so few controls in place that many people have been able to bypass the line with false claims about vaccines.

In Maricopa County, Arizona, for example, an online form recommends that applicants use a personal email address, rather than a hospital-affiliated address, and does not require business identification numbers. employees.

“Yes, we want people to be vaccinated, but we need to make sure that high-risk groups have access to it,” said Saskia Popescu, hospital epidemiologist at the University of Arizona. The fact that the process is so disorganized “undermines confidence in the public health process, and I think it’s really heartbreaking.”

Several university workers, including a few who unknowingly accepted the vaccine offline, were also baffled by what they saw as an unfair and unfair process.

“It’s such a show of privilege, you know?” said a Columbia faculty member who did not receive the vaccine and asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal from administrators. “It’s because we’re at elite universities and medical centers.”

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Our digital lives are driving a brick and mortar boom in data centers

Goldman Sachs announced an investment of up to $ 500 million in data center infrastructure in October, and private equity firms Blackstone and KKR recently announced investments in data centers.

Data center-focused real estate investment trusts generated 19% returns in the first half of 2020, according to a recent report from JLL – one of only two REIT sectors to have seen growth. (The other sector, industrials, produced a modest return of 2%.) By comparison, returns for hotel and resort REITs fell 49%, retailers fell 37%, and floor space fell 49%. office space by 25%.

“It’s recognition that this is no longer a niche real estate market,” Lynch said.

Data centers have become an essential part of the digital infrastructure that connects people and businesses to each other and to the rest of the world, said Jon Lin, president for the Americas region at Equinix, one of the largest global data center companies.

“We are the basis, in many ways, of this digital infrastructure,” he said.

This infrastructure is no longer the sole responsibility of technology companies. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 prompted many companies in various industries in New York City, such as finance and media, to rethink their information technology as protection against disaster or damage. future. Today, office closures and remote working arrangements brought on by a pandemic are prompting companies to reassess where and how they house their central nervous system.

“Many companies had previously switched to cloud-based services, but the lockdown forced them to move to the cloud much faster,” said Keith Snyder, equity analyst at CFRA Research, an investment research firm.

The demand for space in data centers is also being fueled by the growing number of businesses that use cloud services to manage their operations without having to purchase, maintain and update hardware and software. Many providers of these services want to have electronic outposts close to their customers’ servers.

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Polling centers open after a week of forest fires

Hello.

The Blue Ridge and Silverado fires that started this week in Orange County have prompted tens of thousands of residents to flee their homes and seriously injured two firefighters. Evacuation orders were lifted Thursday and the fires are both more than 30% contained, according to CalFire.

Voting centers will be open for in-person voting starting Friday morning. I spoke with Neal Kelley, chief electoral officer for Orange County, about how the vote was affected by the two large active fires.

Have any ballot papers been damaged by the fires?

Mr Kelley said the ballot boxes that had been closed because they were in evacuation areas were then emptied. “I had to go in with the escorts from the Sheriff’s Department to be able to retrieve the ballots that were there,” he told me. “We were able to get them out safely.”

Although the boxes were not completely unscathed, they are made of solid steel and were able to withstand high temperatures.

Are certain places where the ballot papers are dropped off?

The ballot box played a huge role in this year’s elections. According to Mr. Kelley, more than 700,000 ballots have already been returned with an equal number of people using drop boxes and the postal service.

“Voters are embracing our secure drop boxes and using them in large quantities,” he said.

Earlier this week, authorities had to close four boxes, which were in evacuation areas. But as of Thursday, they have all been reopened since the evacuation orders were lifted.

You can go to the county voting website to search for drop-off locations.

Have some polling centers been closed?

As the fires drew dangerously close to residential communities, officials shut down two polling centers, the Foothill Ranch Library in Irvine and the Canyons Library in Silverado Canyon. Both will be open to receive voters on Friday morning.

Thanks to the California model of the Voter’s Choice Act, residents of Orange County are not tied to a particular polling place. They can vote at any polling center in the county.

Can you still vote if you left your ballot at home during your evacuation?

Voters who could have fled their homes without their mail-in ballot can still vote without them.

“They can go to one of our polling centers and we can print them out a replacement mail ballot if that’s what they choose to use,” Kelley said. “If you do not wish to use your postal ballot, we will provide you with a ballot upon request and allow you to vote in person.”

[Read our guide to the California races to watch.]

What is the plan to replace the drop boxes and voting centers that have been affected by the fires?

Even with all voting centers open as planned, Orange County will deploy four mobile voting centers on Saturday near the affected areas.

Mobile voting centers are trailers that can be deployed anywhere in the county and serve as portable voting centers. Mr. Kelley describes them essentially as a “desk on wheels,” with full on-demand voting and recording capabilities.

“These mobile solutions give people the opportunity to have additional locations on top of what we have already planned,he said.

Learn more about the elections:

  • If you are hospitalized in California, you may be able to vote without leaving your bed. [Los Angeles Times]

  • Verification of the signature of ballots is imperfect, which can result in the rejection or contestation of huge amounts of votes this year. [Los Angeles Times]

  • Ballots mailed to the Bay Area are pouring in and the amount is “staggering”, according to election officials. [San Francisco Chronicle]


  • Tiny homes would help solve Sacramento’s homeless crisis. Almost three years after the first call to action, there are a few small houses used by the city to shelter the homeless. [The Sacramento Bee]

  • Officials have suggested that the success of two Los Angeles sports teams, the Lakers and Dodgers, may be the source of the spread of coronavirus in the region. [Politico]

  • Tech executives appearing on Capitol Hill have become a routine. Wednesday’s Senate hearing with the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google was the fifth time Mark Zuckerberg has testified before Congress since April 2018. [The New York Times]

  • Disneyland is recalling hundreds of employees on leave after announcing the reopening of part of California Adventure in November. [The Hollywood Reporter]

  • Hotels and tourism organizations offer nearby locals and leisure travelers low rates and additional perks. Here’s how to stay in six US cities. [The New York Times]


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you received this email? Sign up for California Today here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at UC Berkeley, and has reported statewide, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she still wants see more. Follow us here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.