Santa Barbara County ‘Close’ to Reaching Testing Agreement with Unvaccinated Deputies

This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.

By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

Three months after Santa Barbara County’s vaccine-or-test mandate for its workforce went into effect, officials say they are close to reaching an agreement with approximately 100 Sheriff’s deputies who remain both unvaccinated and untested

“The good news is, we’re close to a resolution,” said Joe Pisano with the county’s Human Resources Department, explaining that tentatively switching from a national testing provider to a local one seems to have mollified the patrol deputies’ concerns over their medical privacy. But when the process can actually begin remains to be seen. “Unfortunately, the Omicron surge has narrowed the bandwidth of all the parties,” Pisano said, “so I cannot say for sure when a potential contract might be in place.”

The holdup, Pisano said, has hinged on an agreement clause within registration materials used by the county’s original provider, Color, a Bay Area–based health technology firm that conducts large-scale COVID-19 testing for private companies and public agencies across the country. It reads: “I understand that my personal and health-related information (including my results) will be shared with clinical and other staff at the testing site, as well as the California Department of Public Health, for treatment and follow-up care purposes.”

The deputies took that language to mean any and all of their medical information, including information unrelated to their COVID tests, could be disseminated, despite assurances from county officials. “I do not believe Color would have access to any medical information aside from the test results,” Pisano said. 

But to assuage any lingering worries, the county is now in talks with Aptitude, a Goleta biotech company that, unlike Color, does all its sample collecting and processing in-house. “The deputies like that it’s local,” Pisano said, “and they like that it’s one-stop shopping.” Aptitude is currently providing its services to Santa Barbara schools. A representative said because a contract was not yet in place, he could not provide even a rough timeline of when their work with the deputies might begin.

The Deputy Sheriff’s Association has led the negotiations with the county. The union’s president, Sgt. Neil Gowing, said of the pending compromise, “We are happy that we were able to find a solution that was acceptable to both parties and also to keep our business local.


Written by Tyler Hayden

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    As a complement to vaccines, small-molecule therapeutic agents are needed to treat or prevent infections by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants, which cause COVID-19. Affinity selection-mass spectrometry was used for the discovery of botanical ligands to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Cannabinoid acids from hemp (Cannabis sativa) were found to be allosteric as well as orthosteric ligands with micromolar affinity for the spike protein. In follow-up virus neutralization assays, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid prevented infection of human epithelial cells by a pseudovirus expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and prevented entry of live SARS-CoV-2 into cells. Importantly, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid were equally effective against the SARS-CoV-2 alpha variant B.1.1.7 and the beta variant B.1.351. Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.
    Could cannabis help fight Covid? New study reveals two chemicals that may block infection
    The two compounds that worked best were cannabigerolic acid, known as CBG-A, and cannabidiolic acid, known as CBD-A, both precursors to the better-known chemicals in cannabis drugs.
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  2. Using all the tools we have to fight covid-19 helps….
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    The rapid spread of COVID-19 underscores the need for new treatments. Here we report that cannabidiol (CBD), a compound produced by the cannabis plant, inhibits SARS-CoV-2 infection. CBD and its metabolite, 7-OH-CBD, but not congeneric cannabinoids, potently block SARS-CoV-2 replication in lung epithelial cells. CBD acts after cellular infection, inhibiting viral gene expression and reversing many effects of SARS-CoV-2 on host gene transcription. CBD induces interferon expression and up-regulates its antiviral signaling pathway. A cohort of human patients previously taking CBD had significantly lower SARSCoV-2 infection incidence of up to an order of magnitude relative to matched pairs or the general population. This study highlights CBD, and its active metabolite, 7-OH-CBD, as potential preventative agents and therapeutic treatments for SARS-CoV-2 at early stages of infection.

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