Sunday, August 9, 2020

Why is this story coming out now?

From the LA Times: In a college football season on the brink before the opening kickoff,... Chip Kelly can point to all the ways things can go wrong despite the best of intentions. He can tell his own story about how he mysteriously contracted the virus that is threatening to wipe the 2020 season off the books. The UCLA football coach tested positive for the novel coronavirus in late March after campus was shut down, according to multiple people close to the football team who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss a private health issue.

Kelly does not know how he contracted the virus, the people close to the team said. He was tested after experiencing mild symptoms and having followed all public health recommendations, including physical distancing, wearing a mask outside his home and not socializing or going anywhere except to obtain essentials such as groceries. His wife, Jill, also tested positive and recovered at home.

Kelly and UCLA athletic department officials declined to comment on his positive test.

The coach immediately informed athletic department officials, staff and coaches as well as players and their families of his positive test. No one associated with the team or athletic department had to quarantine as a result of Kelly’s positive test. UCLA held only four spring practices, including one indoors because of poor weather, before canceling the rest on March 12 as sports leagues across the country began to shut down.

Kelly shared his ordeal with his team to demonstrate how players should take the virus seriously.

Full story at

Saturday, August 8, 2020

What Can Be Said About the 34-Page Coronavirus Guidelines on Higher Ed

We posted yesterday about the new guidelines from the California Dept. of Public Health that run 34 pages.* Presumably, they have an impact on planning for fall semesters and quarters at UC. To yours truly, they look like a situation in which almost everything is online and those students allowed in dorms are isolated with few-to-none activities other than sitting in their rooms alone doing online courses. Not clear what the legal liability will be if someone gets sick and all 34 pages of rules haven't been followed to the letter.

Here is what UC has said so far in response:

It would be premature for us to comment immediately, as we need some time to carefully assess the guidelines and their implications,” said UC spokeswoman Claire Doan.**



Remember when all we had to worry about was the flu? We still do have the flu.

Email received from UCOP late yesterday afternoon:

New Flu Vaccination Requirement for UC Students, Faculty and Staff
To support the health and well-being of UC students, faculty and staff and our communities, the University of California, in consultation with UC Health leadership, has issued a systemwide executive order (PDF) requiring all members of the UC community to receive an influenza immunization before Nov. 1, 2020.
The executive order is an important proactive measure to help protect members of the UC community — and the public at large — and to ameliorate the severe burdens on health care systems anticipated during the coming fall and winter from influenza and COVID-19 illnesses.
In addition to protecting those on campuses and the surrounding communities, this requirement is designed to avoid a surge of flu cases at health care facilities across the state during the unprecedented public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent millions of illnesses and thousands of related medical visits every year. In recent years, flu vaccinations have reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among older adults on average by about 40 percent. Flu vaccinations also protect those around us, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.
The executive order requires the vaccination for all faculty and staff who are working at a UC location. The university already has a clear policy on immunizations for students, and this action adds influenza to existing vaccination requirements for them, and extends the requirement to faculty and staff beyond those which presently exist for all UC health care workers.
A process will be put in place for faculty and staff to request medical exemptions. Requests for disability or religious accommodations will be handled through the interactive process consistent with existing location policies and procedures.
All UC medical plans which cover faculty, staff and students include coverage for flu vaccinations at no cost to those covered by the plan. In addition, for those without group health care coverage, all ACA-compliant health plans also cover flu vaccinations as part of a preventive care package that includes no copay.
The CDC is the best source for information on this year’s flu vaccinations and when it [sic] would be available.
More information about the implementation of UC’s requirement, and when the flu vaccination for 2020-21 is available, will be shared in the coming weeks.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Coronavirus Guidelines for Higher Ed

NOTE: As we have noted in prior posts, people are using the UCLA campus as a park. The guidelines below from the California Dept. of Public Health call for limiting access to visitors. How is that to be done at public universities such as UCLA which are open to anyone?

California Public Health Officials Release Guidance on Higher Education 

 Institutions of Higher Education Must Make Modifications to Reduce Risk of COVID-19 Transmission for In-Person Instruction  
Collegiate Athletics Must Follow Vigorous Testing Procedures  
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health today released statewide interim guidance for institutions of higher education (IHE). The guidance is intended to help institutions and their communities plan and prepare to resume in-person instruction when appropriate based on local conditions. IHE must take steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission on campus and to protect students, faculty, workers, and families.
“As colleges and other institutions of higher education plan to resume in-person instruction, it’s critical that campuses make modifications to reduce risk,” said Dr. Erica Pan, State Epidemiologist. “This guidance aims to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our students, families, and the communities where they study.”
A phased reopening of higher education institutions will depend on local conditions including epidemiologic trends, availability of IHE and community testing resources, and adequate IHE preparedness and public health capacity to respond to case and outbreak investigations. Implementation of this guidance should be tailored for each setting, including adequate consideration of programs operating at each institution and the needs of students and staff.
The guidance identifies areas IHE must address as they consider resumption of in-person instruction. This includes:
  • Complying with Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings.
  • Establishing a campus-specific COVID-19 prevention plan.
  • Implementing distancing on campus. Space seating/desks at least six feet apart.
  • For counties on the County Data Monitoring list for three consecutive days, indoor lectures are currently prohibited. Courses offered in specialized indoor settings (e.g., labs, studio arts), whose design imposes substantial physical distancing on participants based on the nature of work performed in the space, are permitted.
  • Limit nonessential visitors and campus activities.
  • Closing nonessential shared spaces, such as game rooms and lounges.
  • Providing grab-and-go meal options or serve individually plated meals.
  • Prioritizing single room occupancy for housing, except for family housing.
  • Training faculty, staff and students on COVID-19 prevention.
  • Encouraging telework for as many faculty and staff as possible, especially workers at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • When a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and has exposed others, the IHE must conduct initial assessments then consult with local public health officials to determine potential follow-up actions needed including potential total or partial closure and other measures to protect the community.
The IHE guidance also outlines conditions under which collegiate athletics may return. This includes:

  • Teams must require masks for coaches, staff, media and any players not engaged in play at each match.
  • Practice may resume, only if regular periodic COVID-19 testing of athletes and support staff must be established and implemented by the IHE. Isolation and quarantine will be required upon a positive test.
  • Competition between teams without spectators can begin only if:
    • IHE can provide COVID-19 testing and results within 72 hours of competition in high contact risk sports.
    • Athletics departments should consider how to share testing results and related safety assurances to opposing teams before the start of an event in a manner consistent with applicable health information and education privacy laws.
    • In conjunction with local public health officials and contact tracers, schools must in place a mechanism for notifying other schools should an athlete from one team test positive within 48 hours after competition with another team.
  • Teams must follow the college athletic association (e.g., NCAA), conference-specific, and institutions of higher education-specific “return to play” safety plans.
Due to the higher risks associated with play, IHEs are expected to ensure full compliance with the state guidelines for college athletics. The state expects campus leaders to strictly adhere to these guidelines and to ensure player protections, including the preservation of scholarships and prohibition of requiring players to sign waivers of liability. In addition, the state will be actively monitoring decisions by IHEs and the NCAA, regarding protections to preserve eligibility through medical redshirts for players who exercise their right under the guidelines to opt-out for the season, and will take further action as necessary.
“California will consider further action if the NCAA or other sport institutions fail to meet these requirements and prioritize their economic interests over the health and well-being of players – and their families,” added Governor Gavin Newsom.
The institutions of higher education guidance is available here.
California will continue to update and issue guidance based on the best available public health data and the best practices currently employed. More information about the state’s COVID-19 guidance is on the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance web page.
More information about reopening California and what individuals can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) in California.

Looking Backward

We noted in past blog posts that the economic recovery shifted from end-of-the-beginning to stall and (maybe) back to end-of-the beginning. Today, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly labor market survey which refers to conditions in mid-July, so a backward look. It is also a look which remains affected by methodological issues resulting from the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The release refers to the U.S. as a whole and does not include a state breakdown, which will come later.

Basically, the two surveys included - household (which produces the unemployment rate) and payroll - show the situation as somewhere between our stall and end-of-the-beginning statuses.

Unemployment dropped but remains very high. Employment rose but more slowly than before - likely a result of the spread of infection and varying degrees of lockdown or return to lockdown-type steps.

[Click on image to clarify and enlarge.]
Of interest in the coming week will be the revenue collection for California from the state controller's office for July. The due date for income taxes was postponed from April to July. Preliminary reports indicate that revenue may have been above projections made for the June budget which would take some pressure off the state budget. Note that income taxes due in April and then postponed refer to the pre-coronavirus calendar year 2019. We will see.

The latest labor market release is at:

Thursday, August 6, 2020

End of the Beginning - Part 10 (Maybe)

We have been looking at the weekly new claims for unemployment insurance that seemed to suggest over the past few weeks that the economy's recovery had stalled out. The latest data through the week ending August 1 does suggests a drop in new claims, so maybe we can revert to our end-of-the-beginning title.

Below are the latest charts:
[Click on image to clarify.]
New weekly claims fell from 1.4 million to 1.2 million, seasonally adjusted. Without adjustment, they dropped from 1.2 million to 1 million. The total number collecting unemployment insurance lags by a week. California remains disproportionately represented in the total. (And, if you have been following the news, you will know that there are increasing complaints that the processing of claims in California has overwhelmed the system and many claimants are either having difficulties in filing or in actual receipt of benefits.)

The latest release is always at

Is the outlook positive?

From the Bruin, 8-5-20: At least eight UCLA football players have tested positive for COVID-19, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health director told reporters WednesdayDuring her daily coronavirus briefing, Barbara Ferrer mentioned UCLA football as the source of one of the many coronavirus outbreaks at colleges and universities in LA.

“At UCLA, we’ve seen a number of football players who returned to campus and tested positive,” Ferrer said, before elaborating and claiming there were at least eight cases.

Any student-athletes who tested positive after returning to campus were required to quarantine for 10 days from the date of the test, while anyone who came in contact with someone who tested positive was required to quarantine for 14 days from the date of last contact. UCLA Athletics said in a statement that no student-athletes are currently in isolation...

Something seems backwards here: