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O.C. health officials report 46 cases of monkeypox, vaccine stock remains limited

People line up Tuesday to get a monkeypox vaccination at a new walk-up vaccination site in Hollywood.
People line up Tuesday to get a monkeypox vaccination at a new walk-up vaccination site at Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood. In Orange County, one local health official said, “We have kept less than 100 doses here so that if we identify people who are at really high risk ... we can make sure they get vaccinated.”
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Aug. 10. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you today’s TimesOC newsletter with the latest roundup of news and events.

A week after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a state of emergency over recent monkeypox outbreaks statewide, at least 46 probable or confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in Orange County, according to officials with the Orange County Health Care Agency. My colleague Lilly Nguyen reported on the virtual Zoom meeting that convened to the public an update on monkeypox numbers.

According to Nguyen’s reporting, the medical director of the county’s communicable disease control division, Dr. Matthew Zahn, said monkeypox cases are climbing here. He noted that all cases identified in the county so far have been in men who have sex with other men but that nationally other populations have been affected as well. No pediatric cases have been identified in the county to date.

“As vaccines are coming into our agency, it is moving out very quickly. We have kept less than 100 doses here so that if we identify people who are at really high risk ... we can make sure they get vaccinated,” Zahn said. “Otherwise, we are distributing it through our community partners and through Othena. We are offering a limited number of slots.”

Also yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that due to the shortage of the vaccine to fight the quickly spreading virus among high-risk people, they will allow healthcare providers to dilute the vaccine to one-fifth of its recommended dosage. This will effectively stretch the supplies to reach the arms of five times as many individuals.

“In recent weeks, the monkeypox virus has continued to spread at a rate that has made it clear our current vaccine supply will not meet the current demand,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said in a statement that was reported in the L.A. Times by my colleagues Rong-Gong Lin II and Luke Money. “The FDA quickly explored other scientifically appropriate options to facilitate access to the vaccine for all impacted individuals. By increasing the number of available doses, more individuals who want to be vaccinated against monkeypox will now have the opportunity to do so.”

Nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 9,492 cases had been reported as of Tuesday. Of those, 1,310 were in California.

“Casual contact poses virtually no risk,” Zahn told those watching the O.C. virtual meeting this week, adding that the disease is unlike chickenpox.

“So the worry that I’m going to run into somebody at the grocery store who has monkeypox or I’m going to give somebody a hug, that’s really, really low risk,” he said.

For more information, visit ochealthinfo.com/monkeypox.

MORE NEWS

Aerial view of the 91 Freeway.
Aerial view of the 91 Freeway in May 2021 after more cars had their windows shot out on 91 Freeway in Corona, and dozens of similar incidents were under investigation. An Anaheim man accepted a plea agreement and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
(KTLA)

— Anaheim resident Jesse Leal Rodriguez, accused of a series of shootings during which he fired a BB gun at passing cars on roads and freeways in Southern California last year, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison Monday after pleading guilty to three felony charges. The 35-year-old Rodriguez accepted the Riverside County district attorney’s office plea agreement, admitting to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

— A Southwest Airlines flight attendant suffered a compression fracture to a vertebra in her upper back during a hard landing last month at O.C.'s John Wayne Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board said the impact of landing was so hard that the flight attendant thought the plane had crashed. She felt pain in her back and neck and could not move, and was taken to a hospital where she was diagnosed with the fracture. According to the Associated Press story on the incident, none of the other 141 people on board the flight suffered an injury.

— Friday’s jobs numbers from the Labor Department showed unemployment fell to 3.5% in the U.S., the lowest rate since the pandemic struck in early 2020. It’s even lower in the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine region, as shown on this report issued by the U.S. Labor Bureau of Statistics, where unemployment dropped from 4.9% in January of this year to 2.9% in June. Perhaps not surprisingly as pandemic restrictions were relaxed, Orange County saw its biggest employment gains since January in the leisure and hospitality category.

— In Friday’s newsletter I wrote about the proposed anti-abortion resolution written by a member of the San Clemente City Council that aimed to declare the city a “Sanctuary for Life.” At a hastily called meeting Saturday covered by my colleague Anh Do, the City Council voted 3 to 1 Saturday to withdraw the proposal from the agenda of an upcoming meeting. The lone dissenting voice in that vote came from the man who drafted the document, Councilman Steven Knoblock, who is seeking reelection on the November ballot.

— Irvine police arrested 45-year-old Yue Yu after her husband reported he was sick for a month and suspected his wife was poisoning him. On Thursday evening police interviewed Yu, a dermatologist who has an office in Mission Viejo, and served a search warrant at the couple’s Irvine home before booking her into Orange County Jail. Her husband “sustained significant internal injuries but is expected to recover,” police said.

— Orange County supervisors on Tuesday approved a new three-year contract for Orange County CEO Frank Kim. The contract runs through May 2025 and includes a $376,000 annual salary with total compensation valued at $590,234 when including all benefits.

LIFE & LEISURE

Shane Kern, 38, left, and Drew Davis, 34, in a warrior pose with a recent Low Tide Aliens public art piece.
Shane Kern, 38, left, of Newport Beach, and Drew Davis, 34, of Costa Mesa, in their warrior pose with their Low Tide Aliens large-scale public art piece at Newport Beach Pier at the end of July.
(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

— One of the more interesting feature stories I’ve read in the last few days is this one about a couple of O.C. guys, Shane Kern and Drew Davis, who call themselves the Low Tide Aliens. You may have seen their intricate artwork carved into the sands near the Newport Beach Pier and wondered why they labor on art that disappears as the tide rises. The story reveals all.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa, a parish staffed by Norbertine priests from St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, recently became the recipient of an exact replica of Michelangelo’s renowned Pietà sculpture. The piece installed in the local church was created by artists in a foundry in Mexico operated by Arte Divine. The goal of the Pietà Legacy Gift Mission is to install one in each state in the U.S. and 50 more in countries across the globe so that people who cannot afford to visit the original masterpiece can see it closer to home.

SPORTS

Ezekiel Lau competes at the US Open of Surfing on Saturday.
Ezekiel Lau competes at the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach on Saturday. On Sunday, Lau claimed the men’s division in the main event while Bettylou Sakura Johnson captured the women’s crown. Both champions are from Hawaii.
(Raul Roa)

— Hawaiian surfers swept the men’s and women’s finals in the main event on the south side of the Huntington Beach Pier on Sunday, Ezekiel Lau taking the men’s crown and Bettylou Sakura Johnson winning in the
women’s division in the U.S. Open of Surfing.

— In motorsport action, 44-year-old Tony Axton of Fountain Valley won the demolition derby event dubbed Motorhome Madness at this year’s Orange County fair. Reporter Andrew Turner captured the “carnival carnage,” (as he called it) and interviewed Axton. “I love the place, everything about it, and I love doing this redneck stuff,” Axton told Turner. “It’s the ultimate adventure, and I have fun doing it.”

CALENDAR THIS

Vehicles lined up at a classic car show.
American Legion Huntington Beach Post 133 is planning a classic car show for Saturday, Aug. 13.
(File Photo)

— American Legion Huntington Beach Post 133 is planning its inaugural car show for this Saturday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Huntington Beach Sports Complex, 18100 Goldenwest St. Funds raised will benefit the Veterans Resource Center. Music by the Slimtones, food, opportunity drawings. For more details, or to learn how to register your vintage wheels for the show, email woody@carshowhb.com.

KEEP IN TOUCH

If you have a memory or story about Orange County, I would love to read and share it in this space (please keep your submission to 100 words or less).

I’d appreciate your help in making this the best newsletter it can be. Please send news tips, your memory of life in O.C., or comments to carol.cormaci@latimes.com.