San Antonio among the worst cities for allergies, report says

A recent report from an air filter brand listed San Antonio as one of the worst cities in the country to live in for allergy sufferers.

In a report last week, Filterbuy ranked the Alamo City as the seventh-worst city for allergies out the top 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. On a 100-point scale in which a higher score will land a city among the worst, San Antonio received a score of 87.21.

Researchers ranked the cities based on three key factors: pollen counts, allergy medicine use, and the number of allergists in the area. In the report, the data also ranked which city had the worst allergy season during the spring and fall.

READ ALSO: Can this graphic help you determine if you have coronavirus, a cold or allergies?

According to the report, San Antonio is the fourth-worst city for allergies during the fall and the 12th-worst for spring.

Overall, the report listed Richmond, Virginia as the worst city in the country for people with allergies. Scranton, Pennsylvania followed in second, Springfield, Massachusetts claimed the third spot and Hartford, Connecticut was No. 4. McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley and New Haven, Connecticut, were No. 5 and No. 6, respectively.

Filterbuy used data from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2020 Allergy Capitals report, which also listed San Antonio as the seventh-worst city for allergies in March. Researchers also used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the report.

For more information on the report, visit

Priscilla Aguirre is a general assignment reporter for | [email protected] | @CillaAguirre

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Dozens of inmates test positive for virus at San Diego federal jail, defense attorneys say

Petco Park anchors downtown San Diego.
Downtown San Diego. (K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

At least 56 inmates tested positive for the coronavirus last week at a privately run federal jail in downtown San Diego that houses mostly pretrial inmates, according to defense attorneys briefed on the matter.

The GEO Group, which contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service to operate the Western Region Detention Facility, is in the process of testing all inmates there “whether or not they are showing any symptoms,” according to Kathy Nester, executive director of Federal Defenders of San Diego.

“Today we received confirmation of a large number of positive tests arising from that ongoing testing,” Nester wrote in an email Friday.

She said 286 inmates were tested Thursday, and of those, 56 tests came back positive, 114 were negative and 116 were pending.

Another 221 tests were submitted Friday, with all of those results still pending, according to Nester.

She said information about the apparent coronavirus outbreak was provided in a Friday phone call with the Marshals Service, which gives Federal Defenders regular updates “advising us of our clients who have tested positive and when there are ongoing quarantines” at its facilities.

“We are extremely worried about the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading through our detention facilities and the impact that will have on our clients and the community at large,” Nester wrote.

A spokesperson for the GEO Group referred a request for comment to the marshals. Calls to the San Diego-area office of the marshals were not answered Friday.

According to the GEO Group, the Western Region Detention Facility can house up to 770 inmates and is accredited by two national correctional organizations.

In April, Voice of San Diego reported that inmates at the facility reported cramped conditions at the jail that did not allow for social distancing. According to the declaration cited in the report, written by Federal Defenders senior litigator Joshua Jones and signed March 31, inmates at the facility reported several other safety concerns, including a lack of hand sanitizer in housing units and a scarcity of soap.

A study published last month in the Annals of Epidemiology found that “jails are epicenters of COVID-19 transmission in the United States.”

The study’s authors wrote that jails “present an ideal setting for infections to spread” because “incarcerated individuals are at higher risk for infection due to unsanitary living conditions and inability to socially distance.” Additionally, the authors wrote that “correctional officers rarely have public health training, and correctional health systems are chronically underfunded.”

Two of the study’s authors, from Stanford University, said an outbreak inside a jail threatens the community outside because “the people who work there enter and leave every day. They can take the virus out into the community when they go home at night.”

The apparent outbreak at the Western Region Detention Facility follows an outbreak at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, another federal jail in downtown San Diego.

As of Friday, there were three confirmed COVID-19 cases among inmates at

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San Mateo County Reports 63 New Coronavirus Cases, 2 Deaths

SAN MATEO COUNTY, CA — San Mateo County Health reported 63 additional coronavirus cases Friday.

The latest report brings the countywide case count to 11,341.

The county reported two additional coronavirus-related fatalities Friday, bringing its COVID-19 death toll to 161.

There were 18 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in San Mateo County as of Friday, of which three were being treated in intensive care units.

Elsewhere in the Bay Area and beyond, state officials celebrated the opening of a laboratory Friday that they said will help expand California’s capacity to test for the novel coronavirus.

Speaking from the testing laboratory in Valencia, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the facility is the first step of the state’s testing agreement with the Massachusetts-based diagnostics company PerkinElmer.

Newsom praised state officials for their efforts to expedite the launch of the laboratory at a time when coronavirus cases are on the rise across the country and the annual flu season has begun.

“We were able to take something that, I quite literally am not exaggerating, typically takes three years to get done, and they got it done in eight weeks, under budget,” Newsom said.

Newsom first announced the agreement with PerkinElmer in late August, touting that it will add the capacity to process 150,000 coronavirus tests per day on top of the state’s current daily testing capacity, which is averaging around 120,000 per day.

The contract also includes a requirement that PerkinElmer process and disperse test results in 24 to 48 hours. Newsom has claimed test prices will fall as low as $30.78 as testing capacity expands.

The state has conducted nearly 18.5 million tests at around $150 per test, a cost Newsom said was unsustainable as the pandemic drags on.

Although the city of San Francisco remains on California’s yellow tier, Mayor London Breed announced Friday the city will scale back on the reopening of some activities amid a slight increase in new daily COVID-19 cases.

As new cases continue to rise in California and other parts of the country, city officials have also reported an increase in new cases and hospitalizations locally, forcing them to make changes to the reopening plans set for this Tuesday.

“We are starting to see an uptick in the number of hospitalizations, which puts us in a situation where things could possibly get worse than what they are,” Breed said, speaking from City Hall.

“The rest of the world is looking at restrictions, and it’s not just about what’s happening here in the U.S., it’s still challenging all over the world and it’s just a reminder that we’re still in the midst of this pandemic.”

Earlier this month, city officials announced indoor pools and indoor locker rooms at gyms could reopen on Tuesday, as well as family entertainment venues like blowing alleys, but those activities have now been put on hold.

Additionally, expanded capacity from 25 percent to 50 percent for indoor restaurants, movie theaters, places of worship and indoor museums, aquariums and zoos has also been

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San Francisco’s go-slow approach toward reopening amid the pandemic is paying off

SAN FRANCISCO CA - OCT. 22, 2020. Musicians play at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2020. San Francisco has done an excellent job following public health guidance and made a huge leap from the coronavirus orange tier to the less restrictive yellow tier, providing a pathway for more businesses and activities to reopen. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Musicians play at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Aug. 22. The city is moving to the least restrictive yellow tier under the state’s coronavirus reopening guidelines. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Much of San Francisco looked like a ghost town during late April. All but essential services were closed. Few roamed the streets. The mood seemed as grim as the gray skies overhead.

Now life has returned. Restaurants and stores are open. Clad in masks, pedestrians last week clutched bags from stores where they had just shopped. Diners sat at tables outside restaurants and cafes. People strolled along the bay on the Embarcadero, and a huge Ferris wheel opened for business at Golden Gate Park.

After cautiously approaching the pandemic for months, with a go-slow attitude toward reopening, San Francisco has become the first urban center in California to enter the least restrictive tier for reopening. Risk of infection, according to the state’s color-coded tiers, is considered minimal, even though San Francisco is the second-densest city in the country after New York.

“We have, at least so far, done everything right,” said Dr. Robert Wachter, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco.

City officials still are not declaring victory. Characteristically, they warn, the virus still lurks around the corner. And as they have before, they will follow local metrics rather than reopen just becomes the state allows it.

A salesperson wears a mask in City Lights Books in the North Beach area of San Francisco on Aug. 22.
A salesperson wears a mask in City Lights Books in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Experts credit San Francisco’s success to a long partnership between public health officers and universities, most notably during the AIDS crisis. San Francisco is not monolithic, but its residents largely followed health guidelines. Unlike other counties, which may have dozens of mayors and city councils, San Francisco is also a city with only one mayor and a Board of Supervisors, and both have largely deferred to the judgment of health officials.

The tech industry, which has a prominent presence in San Francisco, played a role too. Companies ordered their employees to work from home two weeks before San Francisco and other Bay Area counties shut down, Wachter said. That not only kept more people off the streets but signaled to the rest of the region that industry giants were taking the threat of the coronavirus seriously.

San Francisco followed the “hammer and dance” approach, made famous by San Francisco author Tomas Pueyo on the website Medium, Wachter said. The city hit the hammer by shutting down early in the pandemic. The dance has been more complicated. The city has reopened slowly, making adjustments when cases rose and backtracking when necessary.

Of the 20 most populous cities in the U.S., San Francisco has the lowest death rate per capita from COVID-19. If the entire country had followed the city’s approach, Wachter said, there would be 50,000 dead from the pandemic instead of more than 220,000.

To be sure, San Francisco

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San Antonio mayor to discuss Space Force, military medicine in Pentagon visit

Mayor Ron Nurenberg will spend Thursday in Washington talking with top Pentagon officials about bolstering the military’s many medical assets here, as well as the city’s hope to serve as the new home of U.S. Space Command.

Ron Nirenberg et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Mayor-elect Ron Nirenberg attends the basic military training graduation of 526 airmen at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in 2017.

© Bob Owen /San Antonio Express-News

Mayor-elect Ron Nirenberg attends the basic military training graduation of 526 airmen at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in 2017.

He’ll meet with the Air Force’s chief of staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., as well as Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, U.S. Space Force’s chief of space operations, and the head of the Defense Health Agency, Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place.


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The goal: Convince those leaders that San Antonio, “Military City, U.S.A.,” is ready to host Space Command, support other new Air Force operations here and help expand military medicine missions.

“I wanted them to know San Antonio is going to show up, even when the world’s on pause,” Nirenberg said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike the annual SA to DC lobbying trip to Washington, this one will be a small affair, with Nirenberg bringing only two others with him. Nirenberg called this trip a “precision exercise.”

“If SA to DC is sending in the cavalry, this trip is the air strike,” he said.

In setting up the meetings, Pentagon officials asked that the mayor keep the group to just three people because they were to meet with major decision-makers. The others with him retired Marine Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, director of the city’s Office of Military and Veteran Affairs, and Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, president/CEO of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.

The big-ticket items on the agenda include Space Command and the Defense Health Agency, but there will be other stops. Nirenberg will talk with the undersecretary of the Army, and the Department of Defense’s office for Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support to Civil Authorities.

The mayor’s office said Nirenberg will have specific “asks” or points of information for ongoing or future initiatives from the city or local military community that add value to Joint Base San Antonio, the largest joint base in the Department of Defense. The trip will encourage senior Pentagon leaders to consider keeping San Antonio at the top of their list to either relocate missions or activate new ones.

San Antonio made it through the initial cut as the Air Force seeks a permanent headquarters for the Space Command, now based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Governors from 26 states nominated 100 cities to be the command’s new home.

It was established as the 11th combat command in August 2019 and the Air Force is now in the evaluation phase of a selection process that aims to pick finalists in mid-to late-November. A decision is expected in January, and the new headquarters will take about six years to put in place.

Nirenberg has said San Antonio is a natural fit for Space Command because of its quality of life, a

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Stanford Medicine launches home COVID-19 testing study covering greater San Francisco

Stanford University and its school of medicine have launched plans to survey the population of greater San Francisco for COVID-19, in an effort to build an early warning system for future outbreaks.

Using a combination of self-collection testing kits and online reporting, the Community Alliance to Test Coronavirus at Home, or CATCH Study, aims to estimate the true prevalence of the disease among the 8.5 million people living in the Bay Area.

Ultimately, the study hopes to scale up a diagnostic infrastructure that can provide fast remote testing to a broad and representative sample of the population, including among the underserved and vulnerable across 12 counties. 

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The program is currently seeking to enroll participants, who will report their exposures and symptoms daily through an online portal. 

RELATED: Stanford team deploys CRISPR gene editing to fight COVID-19

Home test kits—developed in collaboration with the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, which is also helping to fund the study—will be delivered through the mail within 24 hours at no cost, and will contain a gentle nasal swab for self-collection. Samples will then be processed at Stanford’s laboratories.

“Our main objective is to learn where and how the virus is spreading—whether people are displaying symptoms or not—and which communities are most vulnerable,” said co-lead researcher Yvonne Maldonado, an associate professor of health research and policy at Stanford Medicine. 

“These insights will help our scientists and local public officials gain a deeper understanding of the distribution of COVID-19 throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area so that they can stop its spread,” Maldonado said.

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Stanford Medicine Launches Study Of Greater San Francisco Bay Area Using Safe, Convenient COVID-19 Testing From Home

STANFORD, Calif., Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Stanford University School of Medicine today announced the launch of the Community Alliance to Test Coronavirus at Home (CATCH) Study, an effort that seeks to estimate the true population prevalence of COVID-19 across the 8.5 million population of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and ultimately aid in the effort to reopen schools, workplaces and communities.

The CATCH Study is now seeking participants. A key aim of the CATCH Study is to scale a simple, safe, convenient, and population-scale early diagnostic system to help stop further undetected spread of COVID-19. CATCH utilizes online surveys and home delivered self-collection kits that are able to be rapidly deployed to carry out remote testing in a broad and representative sample of the population, including those underserved and vulnerable populations that might otherwise not be reached or tested. The study is enabled by the Vera Cloud Testing Platform including its novel Vera Home Test Kit, a gentle nasal swab self-collection kit that can be delivered directly to the homes of study participants by existing couriers and package delivery services.

There is no cost to CATCH Study participation, and all residents in the San Francisco Bay Area are welcome to enroll. Every participant joins online, reports their symptoms and exposures to COVID-19 daily, and may also be offered a home test kit at no cost upon reporting. If accepted, within 24 hours a home test kit will be delivered safely and conveniently by express courier to their home, where they can self-collect a sample, which is then delivered to the Stanford Health Care laboratory and tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection. All tested participants are informed of their results privately and securely online via their personal password-protected account within the CATCH website. The unique approach removes any requirement to leave home or shelter-in-place. 

The study is being led by Stanford Medicine researchers Yvonne Maldonado, MD, professor of pediatric infectious diseases and of health research and policy, Lorene Nelson, MD, associate professor of health research and policy, as well as Dr. Stephen Quake, professor of bioengineering and of applied physics and co-president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

“We encourage as many Bay Area residents as possible to sign-up for the CATCH Study to help increase our knowledge of a virus that has had significant impacts on our communities,” said Dr. Maldonado. “Our main objective is to learn where and how the virus is spreading — whether people are displaying symptoms or not — and which communities are most vulnerable. These insights will help our scientists and local public officials gain a deeper understanding of the distribution of COVID-19 throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area so that they can stop its spread.”

With the effects of COVID-19 disproportionately affecting minority and vulnerable communities throughout the country, and specifically in the Bay Area, one of the key intentions of the study is to address inequities in testing by researching underserved populations. The testing kits will provide

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Assumption School Reopens On-Site Kindergarten In San Leandro

SAN LEANDRO, CA — Assumption School in San Leandro reopened Monday for in-person learning for its transitional-kindergarten and kindergarten classes in a hybrid format for half-day classes.

Parents wishing to keep their children enrolled in distance-learning still have that option, school officials said.

Assumption is taking a “measured approach” to its return to in-person teaching and will phase in the return of first- through fifth-grades over the next few months, officials said.

Assumption’s reopening for TK and K students follows Alameda County hitting the state’s Orange Tier category, which allows elementary schools to hold in-class instruction providing COVID-19 health plans are in place and submitted to Alameda County’s Office of Education and Public Health Department.

Assumption’s reopening plan covers procedures for physical distancing, routine testing of staff, daily cleaning and disinfecting of learning spaces and increased ventilation, Principal Lana Rocheford said. The reopening is another step in supporting students in this “new normal,” with staggered attendance and the boost in digital-education, along with a maintenance routine of health and safety practices to help prevent coronavirus spread.

“Whether before the pandemic or now, and whether we are distance-learning or in-person, it has always been about how we can create a place where students will feel safe, nurtured, respected and treasured,” Rocheford said.

The parent of one kindergartner said her son is thrilled to return to the classroom.

“It has been a balancing act trying to manage work and both of my sons’ distance learning, all while trying to keep my family safe and healthy during this pandemic,” said Erica Marr. “We are thankful that Israel can return back to the classroom and experience kindergarten in-person this school year. The school has worked hard to get to this point.”

This article originally appeared on the San Leandro Patch

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