Health

Mushroom foraging becomes ‘a spiritual journey with nature’

Tony Alvarez pulled his SUV into the deserted parking lot before sunrise on a chilly January morning and unloaded two grocery bags, a jar and a backpack from his trunk as he waited for others to arrive.  It was 6:30 a.m. and he was expecting 15 people to join him for mushroom foraging in Tilden Park, an excursion people pay $100 to experience with Shroomy Walkabouts, a business  he started four years ago in the Bay Area. Participants arrived slowly,…

Mental health team will now handle some 911 calls in Contra Costa County

Mental health emergencies account for more than 1 in 10 of the 911 medical calls in Contra Costa County. A new program will now address those calls with crisis teams that include behavioral health professionals. This week, Contra Costa Health Services unveiled the Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime program, which will get clinicians involved in accessing medical calls and determining when a crisis response team is needed. The county is now hiring for the A3 pilot program, with plans to have the…

High absences prompt WCCUSD to close schools for two days

With a flare in COVID-19 cases keeping many students and teachers out of school this week, the West Contra Costa Unified School District has decided to shut down on Friday and Monday. The district will take two “smoke days” that the state allows superintendents to use at their discretion, to deep clean its buildings, Superintendent Kenneth “Chris” Hurst said in a news release Wednesday. Hurst attributed the high absentee rate to the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is raging…

WCCUSD adds COVID-19 test sites to keep kids safe at school

Three more COVID-19 testing sites opened up this week for students and staff in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, which resumed in-person classes on Monday amid a coronavirus spike propelled by the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus. The district already was offering tests at most schools and on Tuesday, added the Alvarado Adult School in Richmond, the Ohlone Elementary School campus in Hercules, and the district central office in Richmond to that list. Those sites are…

New rule: Appointments needed for rapid tests at Contra Costa County sites

Contra Costa Health Services is now requiring appointments for COVID-19 rapid tests at its Richmond and San Ramon sites until further notice, as demand for the tests brought lines to testing centers this week. With the winter holidays coinciding with the arrival of the omicron variant in Contra Costa County, people have been flocking to Health Services test sites at 25th Street and Nevin Avenue in Richmond and at 2600 Camino Ramon in San Ramon, hoping to get tested ahead…

Three people test positive for omicron in Contra Costa County

Contra Costa Health Services reported Monday that it has identified the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 in three people in Contra Costa County. “We knew it was just a matter of time before the omicron variant appeared in Contra Costa County,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County health officer, said in a news release. “We’ve been encouraging anyone who is eligible to get a booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to do so. With today’s news…

Q&A: What WCCUSD parents want to know about the COVID-19 vaccine for young kids

Vaccine appointments for children ages 5 to 11 were booked at all Contra Costa County Health Services sites this week, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month.  As of Friday, more than 18,000 young children in the county had received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine, according to Health Services — about 1 in 5 children. While the CDC recommends kids to be vaccinated, some parents are still hesitant about it….

‘It goes quick.’ Young kids roll up their sleeves for vaccines in Contra Costa

What 9-year-old Ashbey Asuncion was looking forward to the most after getting her COVID-19 vaccination, was going outside without wearing a mask and teaching her younger brother how to do a cartwheel.  She and her brother, Avery, 6, got their first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Nystrom Elementary School in Richmond on Tuesday, one of the first Contra Costa Health Services’ clinics open to children ages 5 to 11. Health Services has partnered with a…

Vaccines for young kids now in Contra Costa but not mandated yet for school

A pediatric COVID-19 vaccine has been approved and Contra Costa County is preparing to vaccinate children between the ages of 5 and 11. On Tuesday, following the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency clearance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously approved a pediatric dose of the Pfizer vaccination for younger children. The FDA has approved the vaccine for older children in May. The news comes just a few weeks after West Contra Costa Unified, Oakland Unified and other California…