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For This Region Of California, Covid-19 ‘Just Isn’t Slowing Down’



The lowest incident of fresh Covid-19 infections in the country is currently being reported from California.

However, the agrarian Central Valley and rural north of the state remain overburdened.

Opposition to vaccinations and community health regulations, along with the spread of the Delta variant, has resulted in a steep rise in fresh infections, straining already overburdened public health systems. In some counties in the state, the case rate per 100,000 inhabitants is currently three or more times the state average rate of infections.

Critically sick patients at certain hospitals have had to wait for days to be moved from the emergency room to the intensive care unit. Since the outset of the pandemic, health facilities within the valley have been complaining of being left with less than 10% of their ICU capacity.

Patients remain queued up outside on ambulance gurneys on a normal day at the Community Regional Medical Center, a hospital in Fresno, according to Dr. Kenny Banh, since there are no hospital beds available. When he enters, the corridor is lined with even more people on gurneys.

Banh, an associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at UCSF Fresno, said, “I’m fatigued and simply sad that we’re here.” Banh has been working extra shifts in the emergency department and intensive care unit, as well as overseeing local immunization clinics and testing facilities, which had mile-long queues earlier this month.

The onslaught of mortality had been especially hard to comprehend since it was “preventable,” according to Banh.

The immunization rate in the region is considerably lower compared to the Bay Area or Los Angeles, and Banh encounters on a regular basis people on ventilators who still refuse to believe that they have Covid-19 .

According to Banh, the great majority of Covid-19 hospitalized patients were unvaccinated, and virtually all of the others were immunocompromised persons – including those with leukemia and other illnesses – for whom vaccinations are less effective.

Across the area, emergency dispatchers have been instructed not to deploy ambulances to patients unless specific conditions are met.

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“We’ve never had anything like that before,” said Dr. Danielle Campagne, the medical director for American Ambulance, the organization responsible for manage ambulances throughout Fresno county.

the instances of ambulance crews having to treat patients in order to keep them stable for hours, as the patients wait for hospital beds to become available in recent weeks.

According to Campagne, the demand for health care facilities and emergency services has also grown with the relaxation of stay-at-home orders and inhabitants have increasingly returned to their pre-pandemic way of life.

“During the previous Covid surges, there were a lot of infections, but there weren’t as many car accidents or shootings,” said Campagne, who is also an associate professor at UCSF Fresno and an ER doctor. “Now that people are going back to their everyday business, they’re getting in car accidents, they’re getting shot, they’re getting heart attacks – so we’re treating all of those people as well as Covid patients.”

Since early September, less than 10% of IC U beds are available in the hospitals throughout the valley. An acute dearth of paramedics along with a surge in Covid-19 cases has put immense pressure on the agency.

“As we approach a year and half of this pandemic, our paramedics – who have been on the front lines, working through this summer in 110-degree heat, seeing so much trauma – are physically, mentally, and emotionally drained,” she said. “And many are leaving the career to do other things.”

The number of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and administrative coordinators has also been reduced in the region.

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Nurses have been forced to work additional shifts or adding four to eight hours to their usual shifts to make up for absent coworkers who had either contacted  Covid-19 or had quit the field completely.

“We’re experiencing burnout and also moral distress – because when we don’t have the resources and staff we need, patients aren’t getting the care they need,” said Rachel Spray, a nurse at the Kaiser hospital in Fresno.

“Your heart gets pounded by death after death after death,” said Mary Lynn Briggs, an ICU nurse at Mercy hospital in the valley town of Bakersfield.

Witnessing so much mortality – especially preventable fatalities among young and reasonably healthy unvaccinated patients – has left her bruised and wondering if she can make it through the year and a half before she can retire.

“At the end of my shift, I just want to be able to go into an office and burst into tears,” she said.

She hoped the blissfully oblivious population outside the hospitals to see inside and know, she continued, “this is what happens when you decide not to receive the vaccination and don’t wear a mask.”

There have been volatile anti-mask protests and outrage against pandemic related business restrictions in the valley and rural northern California and this area is among the areas in the state having one of the highest help for a gubernatorial recall campaign aimed at unseating the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, largely over his public health policies.

At the same time, agricultural laborers have hit the hardest, with many lacking legal standing and access to treatment. According to research published earlier this month in Jama Network Open, the prevalence of Covid-19 test positivity among farmworkers in California was four-folds more than the rest of the country. Throughout the state, Latino and Black citizens continue to be disproportionately affected by the epidemic — in Los Angeles County, Black persons have the highest rate of hospitalization.

However, whereas coastal metropolises have the means and personnel to deal with surges, rural California’s healthcare system is in disarray.

The health officer in northern California’s Placer County, Rob Oldham, informed local officials that the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 in early September had surpassed the winter high. Although the incidence of new illnesses appears to be decreasing, Casey Bell, an emergency room nurse, says hospitals are still overburdened.

The queue of patients seeking emergency care at the Roseville medical facility, where Bell works, had snaked “from the check-in desk to outside the ER and practically around the bend” in recent days, she added. “It appears to be a line for a Disneyland ride.”

The hospital, which is understaffed, has frequently required nurses to work overtime and double hours, according to Bell, and the stress has begun to damage her wellbeing. Bell collapsed during her duty earlier this month following completion of an eight-day working stretch at the outdoor coronavirus treatment tent of the hospital.

“We’ve been dealing with what’s basically been a sprint for the past year and a half,” she said. “And at least over here, it just isn’t slowing down.”


Florida Again Tops List Of Best Places To Retire in US for 2021-2022



Retirees have once again selected Florida more than any other state in the U.S. as the best place to live in, according to a report in Fox Business.

The state has seven of the top 10 places in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the best places to retire for 2021-2022.

Sarasota is on the top again, the second year in a row even as its scores dropped in categories of housing, health care and happiness, according to the report.

“People are fed up of living at home for a year now. Many are dreaming of retiring to the beaches in Florida,” said Emily Brandon, senior editor for retirement, U.S. News.

Sarasota increased its scores in retiree tax, desirability, and the job market.

Daytona Beach Enters Top 10

At No. 2 is Naples, while Daytona Beach jumped 12 places to reach No. 3.

Daytona’s climb can be attributed to a low crime rate and good air quality, both of which are factors in calculating the overall happiness score of a metropolitan area.

According to Brandon, when it comes to comparing places for retirement it is important to look out for proximity to health care services, affordable housing, and a robust economy, especially if you want to work part-time.

A representational image.

Pennsylvania and Michigan also entered the top 10 list this year. Lancaster and Ann Arbor were ranked 5 and 9, respectively.

Out of the top 25 places to retire, the Pennsylvania metro area occupied seven spots due to access to good-quality health care facilities.

To reach these conclusions, U.S. News examined 150 of the most populated metropolitan areas in the country to see how they lived up to people’s expectations for retirement by evaluating factors such as health care, affordable housing, and overall happiness.

In order to find out what was important for people who had retired, the survey was conducted across the US of individuals between the ages of 45 and 59 and those who were 60 and above.

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Families Of Florida School Massacre Victims Settle Suit With School District



Families of the 17 people who were killed when a lone gunman rampaged through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018 have reached a settlement amounting to $25 million with Broward County school district, US News reported.

Most of the injured and others who were traumatized by the incident are also part of the settlement, the report said, adding that the lawsuit was filed by the victims’ families, who accused the school district of negligence.

52 Families Part Of Settlement

Attorney David Brill, who represented the families, said Monday that 52 families from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Parkland will be part of the settlement. He didn’t say how much each of the families will get but the largest share of the settlement will be given to families of 14 students and three staff who were killed. The share each family gets will be equal.

This development comes after the state Supreme Court decided in favor of the school district in a ruling which would have put a $300,000 limit on total damages without approval from the Legislature.

‘Painful Money’

“The settlement is painful money. It’s hard to talk about money when our daughter was murdered. How could we be happy about the money?” said Andrew Pollack, father of 18-year-old Meadow, who died in the shooting.

Of the 17 injured, 16 will get the money as the family of one seriously wounded student, Anthony Borges, have filed their own lawsuit, contending that his injuries require a lifetime of treatment and larger payment. Borges received serious gunshot wounds on his lungs, abdomen, and legs.

Some of the victims of the massacre.

“Anthony’s physical wounds were healing, but the post-traumatic stress disorder is now manifesting itself and is more troubling,” said their attorney, Alex Arreaza, who expects that a settlement will be reached soon.

Money will also be paid to 19 people who suffered severe trauma because of the incident.

Families of other students have lawsuits pending against the local Sheriff’s Office and former Deputy Scot Peterson.

Pearson, who is also facing criminal charges, was the school’s armed resource officer and has been blamed for his failure to enter the school building and stop the shooter.

He said he didn’t know at that time where the shots were coming from.

The families are also suing two security guards who they say were unable to respond when the gunman reached the campus.

The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

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Florida: Freed Murder Convict Charged With Killing Single Mother



A convicted murderer who was released from jail last year has been charged with killing a South Florida resident whose body was found in a canal, three weeks after she went missing, authorities said.

Sunrise Police charged Eric Pierson, 54, on Oct. 16 with first-degree murder for killing Erika Verdecia, 33, who leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter, hours after her body was fished out of the canal near Fort Lauderdale, ABC News reported.

According to a statement issued by police, Pierson confessed that he stabbed her multiple times with a screwdriver on Sept. 25.

He had served 27 years of a 40-year jail term, before walking out of prison last year, for beating and strangulating to death Kristina Whitaker (17) in 1993. Her death spurred the push for longer sentences.

After her killing, the state of Florida banished parole and made it compulsory for convicts to serve at least 85% of their jail term. But the change couldn’t be applied retroactively leading to Pierson, who was eligible, to be released.

A mugshot of Erika Verdecia.

Back in 1985, he broke into a home and slit a woman’s throat, serving just four years of an 18-year sentence for first-degree attempted murder before getting out on parole.

Speaking to South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Verdecia’s mother Carmen said she fails to understand why such a dangerous criminal was out on the streets and free to attack her daughter.

“Why is he on the streets? Why?” she said. “We will not stop this time. We will ensure that he goes straight to the electric chair.”

A video grab of Erika’s mother Carmen Verdecia speaking to the media.

The slain woman’s family reported her mission on Sept. 27, three days after she left home and didn’t come back.
Carmen then contacted Erika’s friends on social media and was told that she was seen with a man who said his name was Eric Pearson.

When Carmen searched the name on the internet, she was shocked and horrified to see stories of his past crimes.

She went to the police and informed that her daughter was last seen with a murderer but it was too late.

Girlfriend Nails Killer

According to court documents, police said they had stopped Pierson’s truck on Sept. 25 with Erika by his side but she didn’t appear in distress. It was the day when detectives say he killed the woman.

On Oct. 4 when police contacted him again, he told them Erika had walked away when he stopped for gas shortly after the traffic stop on Sept. 25.

He claimed he never saw her again after that though surveillance video showed that the gas stop happened before the traffic stop and she was with him in the vehicle at the gas station.

On Friday, police again questioned him and when he let them search the truck, they found blood stains inside.

Later, on Friday, his girlfriend called police and told them that Pierson stared at the canal behind their house saying, “Damn that bitch stinks.” She also told police that he said, “If they don’t find a body, they don’t have a case.”

Erika’s body was fished out of the canal a few hours later.

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