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In California: Twindemic fears, deadly smoke and Berkeley bans candy in check-out lines

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Horse airlifted to safety after falling down a 60 foot ravine

A horse that fell 60 feet down a ravine in an Orange County park was airlifted to safety by the local fire department.

The state is warning that a “twindemic” — the overlapping of the coronavirus pandemic and flu season — could overwhelm hospitals this fall and winter … especially because, as restrictions are lifted and more businesses reopen, more COVID-19 cases are expected. Plus: Wildfire smoke might be killing more people this year than the fires, United Airlines is the first airline to offer coronavirus testing, and Berkeley bans candy (well, from its check-out lines). 

So, now that we know 2020 won’t be getting any easier, I’m Maria Sestito, senior issues reporter for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. Today is Thursday, in case you missed the memo this morning. 

In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.  

‘We are still very vulnerable’: Officials want you to get a flu shot

Good grief! If the practice of having your children take candy from strangers didn’t have you worried enough this fall, California Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly warned us Thursday that hospitals this fall — and winter — could be overwhelmed. Despite progress made across the state in the last few weeks beating back COVID-19, officials are preparing for another surge in coronavirus cases. 

“We are still very vulnerable with so many things coming as we enter winter,” said Ghaly, speaking with the heads of the state’s hospital and medical associations. 

Ghaly is recommending that people get ready for the season by getting vaccinated for the flu, potentially helping keep more hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients. 

But facing a backlash, Shasta County public health officials rescinded an order that required all health care workers to get a flu shot this season. Those opposed to the original order called it “unconstitutional.” 

A county health order from 2013 that requires health workers to either be vaccinated against the flu or wear a mask at all times while at work during the flu season remains in place. 

Officials recommend every Californian six months and older receive a flu shot this year. In past years, less than half of the state’s adult population and less than two-thirds of children have gotten the flu vaccine. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all U.S. health care workers get the flu vaccine each year. That includes doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, therapists and technicians. The only two groups who should not get the flu shot are:

  • Babies who are younger than 6 months.
  • People who have severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine, according to the CDC. Those ingredients might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients.

TSA and a COVID-19 check? United to offer tests at SFO for Hawaii-bound travelers

United Airlines announced Thursday that it will soon be providing COVID-19 tests to some travelers, beginning with those at San Francisco International Airport, reports NBC Bay Area. Passengers traveling from SFO to Hawaii via United will have the option to take a rapid test through GoHealth Urgent Care at the airport or purchase a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip, starting Oct. 15.  

The test administered at the airport will provide results within 15 minutes, the airline said. The mail-in test will be sent out 10 days ahead of flights and samples should be collected 72 hours of a passenger’s flight date.

The airline and Hawaii officials said that any United customer who tests negative, whether they’re visitors or Hawaiian residents returning home, will not be subject to the state’s 14-day quarantine requirement, according to the airline. 

Hawaii currently requires all incoming visitors to self-quarantine for two weeks. However, the islands are planning to reopen Oct. 15, the same day the quarantine restrictions are expected to be lifted. 

Wildfire smoke may be killing more people than wildfires are, study suggests

While firefighters continued to battle 26 major wildfires Thursday, Insider reported that, according to a recent analysis out of Stanford University, smoke from these fires might be killing more people than the actual fires. Poor air quality related to wildfire smoke, the analysis says, likely killed more than 1,200 people — nearly 50 times the number who died in the fires — between Aug. 1 and Sept. 10.

The smoke-related deaths they calculated are among people 65 and older. 

“These are hidden deaths,” Marshall Burke, an associate professor at Stanford who calculated the death toll, told The Mercury News. “These are people who were probably already sick but for whom air pollution made them even sicker.”

Since the beginning of the year, there have been well over 8,000 wildfires that have burned over 3.6 million acres in California. There have been 26 deaths related to the fires since Aug. 15, according to Cal Fire.

Want more details on the fires? Check out this map tracking wildfires across the state.

Berkeley bans sugary snacks from check-out stands

If you’ve got a sweet tooth and live in Berkeley, you may want to stock up on some Halloween candy this year. The Berkeley City Council passed an ordinance this week banning unhealthy food from check-out stands at large retailers in the city, according to Berkeleyside. 

Retailers have until March to replace high sugar content food and drinks, including soda and gum, with healthier options. Supporters of the ordinance say it is the first of its kind in the nation. 

The ordinance is “really good behavioral economics,” Councilmember Kate Harrison said in the meeting. “It facilitates better choices for consumers but does not limit what they can buy.”

Now, instead of having an impulse buy, you’ll need to work off some calories first by finding your unhealthy goods before you get in line. 

‘Government overreach,’ DiFi’s husband under scrutiny, and a mural for Chadwick Boseman

And, finally, the horse you’ve all been waiting for

Lola fell 60 feet down a ravine in an Orange County park and needed to be airlifted to safety by the local fire department. Watch the video of 8-year-old Lola taking to the sky here.

And my favorite headline today comes from the Redding Record Searchlight: 

Goodnight and happy Thursday! 

In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle, The Orange County Register, Berkeleyside, NBC Bay Area, Insider and The Mercury News. 

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