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by Joyia Emard

Let’s face it: 2020 hasn’t been the greatest year to date. OK, maybe close to in all of modern history.

California has had more than its share of disasters this year: COVID, unemployment, drought, extreme heat, wildfires … everything but locusts, it seems.

But we are still here. And we need to be counted.


Because of representation. And money. If the federal government cannot get an accurate count of the California population—as in how many people there are and where they live in the state—we miss out. YOU miss out. Because that count determines how much state and federal funding your area gets; it also determines how well you are represented in government. It’s all related.

The Census is nothing new: The U.S. has counted its population every 10 years since 1790. It’s mandated by law.

The numbers collected by the Census every 10 years are used by local, state, and federal offices to decide everything from where to put new sewer systems and fire departments right down to things such as how many first-grade teachers should be hired in your school district.

We are talking hundreds of billions of dollars here.

The count determines how much of those hundreds of billions will flow into to more than 100 vital programs, including:

  • Assistance to Seniors
  • Crime Victim Assistance
  • Federal Pell Grants
  • Head Start
  • Medicaid
  • National School Lunch Program
  • Rural Education
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Wildlife Restoration

The count also determines how many seats each state gets in Congress.

On August 11, Census takers started going into neighborhoods and knocking on doors at homes that have not responded yet.

You don’t have to wait for someone to come to your home. You can access the Census two other ways:

Call it in: (844) 330-2020 is the number to call to answer Census questions over the phone; assistance is available in multiple languages; other types of support are also available.

Go online: You can take the Census online at my2020census.gov or census.ca.gov.

There are 121 million households in the United States; 13 million of those are in California.

Ten minutes every 10 years. That’s 1 minute per year. Your time is worth it.

Let’s get out the count!


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A walk in the park lately has been, well—no walk in the park. Finding ways to keep a six-foot distance from others out in public has been quite a challenge, as many outdoor spaces aren’t configured with physical distancing in mind.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we interact, landscape architects have been rethinking design for both physical distancing and public engagement.

“I think the importance of public spaces that allow for social distancing will be more popular than ever, once things settle down,” said California landscape architect Keith Wilson.

Attending virtual meetings has been the protocol for Wilson when it comes to public projects that require community input. Working remotely has been challenging for Wilson and his staff while they tackle a new platform for creative design.

“The pandemic has heightened the need for well-designed outdoor spaces, and I expect we will actually see more work because of it,” he said.

Here are some ideas landscape architects have come up with that address changes needed to promote physical distancing:

  • Parc de la Distance—Landscape architects in Austria have created an outdoor park plan that incorporates a maze-like pattern lined with shrubs that wrap around in a circle. The hedges along the path have different heights. “Sometimes, visitors are fully immersed by nature, [and] other times they emerge over the hedge and can see across the garden. But at all times, they keep a safe physical distance to each other,” designer Chris Precht told Travel and Leisure.

  • The Farmer’s Market—For many years, farmer’s markets have been a big hit, drawing big crowds that create a bit of some elbow-to-elbow confusion. With some organization, including designated order and pick-up areas using a specified traffic pattern, people can still enjoy produce from their local growers. Check out an example of a farmer’s market design posted in Dezeen.
  • The City Vibe—Many California city streets were already going through a makeover to deal with conflict points between cars, pedestrians, bikes, and scooters. With overcrowded streets, meeting the physical-distancing challenge could have an impact on cities. Calling it a “road diet,” many local governments have already removed parking and driving lanes to expand sidewalks. Wi-Fi hubs and charging stations are being proposed in public parks so people can use the outdoors as an office space or study area. Many California cities are also closing streets and sidewalks to allow for outdoor restaurant seating.

With more people spending time outdoors, our community infrastructure and private properties could soon go through some significant changes to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are looking for a professional to handle a project, check out the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Landscape Architects Technical Committee’s “Consumer’s Guide to Hiring a Landscape Architect.” You can verify a professional’s license by visiting search.dca.ca.gov.

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Get more information at www.AnchorIt.gov.

Graphic courtesy of CPSC/AnchorIt! See free tips and materials at www.AnchorIt.gov.

Children 5 years old and younger most at risk

A dresser. A television. A free-standing bookcase. And so many more common items around the house. These everyday things are not inherently dangerous, but when a child climbs them they can be.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

  • There is an estimated annual average of 27,100 tip-over injuries that resulted in emergency-room visits.
  • There were 556 reported fatalities between 2000 and 2018.
  • A child is injured approximately every half-hour by tipping or falling furniture, and the majority of these children are 5 years old or younger.

These tragic, yet preventable injuries and deaths are why CPSC launched its nationwide Anchor It! public-awareness campaign. The campaign reminds Americans to implement six simple, inexpensive steps to help protect kids and all family members against tip-overs:

  1. Use sturdy furniture designed to hold TVs, such as television stands or media centers.
  2. Mount flat-screen TVs to the wall or furniture to prevent them from falling over.
  3. Secure TVs, even if they are not wall-mounted, with an anti-tip device, which can be purchased for a few dollars at hardware stores.
  4. Follow included manufacturer’s instructions to secure TVs and other furniture properly.
  5. Secure top-heavy furniture with anti-tip devices, whether it’s old or new.
  6. Remove items that might tempt kids to climb, such as toys and remote controls, from the tops of TVs and furniture.

Anchor It! also has helpful how-to videos as well as free materials in both English and Spanish on its website.

And if you need assistance implementing these and any other safety updates around your home, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional: Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board licensees are happy to help. Find out more about their many specialties and services at www.cslb.ca.gov, and check a professional’s license at search.dca.ca.gov.

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Tens of thousands of youth sports leagues across the country have canceled their seasons, leaving millions of kids trying to fill that outdoor-activity void. More young people than ever are hopping on bikes, scooters, and skateboards, and cooling off in a pool or with another water activity.

But accidents happen. Each year, U.S. emergency rooms treat more than 200,000 children age 14 and under for playground-related injuries alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and drownings are the leading cause of injury death for young children 4 and under. Three children die every day from drowning.

Safety is always important, and parents should keep in mind these basic guidelines from the CDC and kidshealth.org to reduce the chance of an injury or even more serious tragedy.

Protection on pavement

  • Be sure your child wears a helmet that fits properly. Stress the importance of protecting their head in case of a fall so they don’t view a helmet as a nuisance (it’s the law in California for those 17 and under).
  • When riding a skateboard or using inline skates, falls can be common. Protective gear like knee and elbow pads and wrist guards is important (in addition to a snug-fitting helmet).
  • Educate your son or daughter about basic rules of the road, particularly the dangers of traffic and the importance of walking a bike across intersections using the crosswalk and following traffic signals.
  • Kids should be using bike lanes whenever possible and riding on the right side of the street, in the same direction a traffic.

Be wary of water

  • Always supervise children when they’re in and around water. Young children should be watched constantly—even a few inches of water can be deadly for very young children.
  • Teach children to swim as early as possible: Formal swimming lessons can prevent a large percentage of drownings.
  • If kids are on a boat or other watercraft, they should always wear a life jacket that fits properly.
  • Be aware if younger kids are swimming with teens who may be strong swimmers or risk-takers. This can lead to children trying to “keep up” and trying things they aren’t capable of.

If your child suffers an injury, consult your physician or call 911. The Department of Consumer Affairs licenses hundreds of thousands of medical professionals statewide, and their licenses can be verified at https://search.dca.ca.gov.

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Citizens of the Golden State, we have done it—we made it to level 9 in the game called 2020.

And, if nothing else, this anything-that-can-go-wrong year has made us think about being prepared. Now it’s time to actually do it. When disaster strikes, emergency crews will be busy; they may not have time to get to you immediately. That’s why you need a plan.

Admittedly, there will always be instances, such as in the Paradise fire and the latest lightning-strike fires, in which there is no time to prepare; we just have to grab and go. But if something happens, do you know where to meet the rest of your family if you can’t get home? Who will get the pets, or be in charge of the “go” bag? Who knows where the important documents are?

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and this year’s theme is appropriate: “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) offers California-specific resources on their site, in English and Spanish, on not only how to prepare before a disaster but also how to recover after a disaster has occurred. Cal OES also has a ten-step plan to get you ready, that includes the following tasks:

  1. Identify your risk. What are the hazards where you live or work? Find out what natural or human caused disasters pose a risk for you.
  2. Create a family disaster plan. Your family needs a plan that tells everyone where to meet if you have to evacuate.
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Once you have a plan, practice it. Have family members meet at a designated spot. Know whether to stay put indoors, or whether to evacuate your neighborhood by car.
  4. Build a Kit. Gather supplies you may need if stranded in your car or at home. It may be awhile before help arrives.
  5. Learn CPR and First Aid. Get trained on basic first aid and CPR; you can save the life of a loved one or neighbor.

Here’s an assignment from Ready.Gov for the month of September: Four tasks, one per week, and you’ll be set to go:

  • Week 1 September 1-5: Make aA Plan. Talk to your friends and family about how you will communicate before, during, and after a disaster. Make sure to update your plan based on the Centers for Disease Control recommendations due to the coronavirus.
  • Week 2 September 6-12: Build a Kit. Gather supplies that will last for several days after a disaster for everyone living in your home—including pets, and keep them updated.
  • Week 3 September 13-19: Prepare for Disasters. Know the risk of disasters in your area and check your insurance coverage. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards and act fast if you receive a local warning or alert.
  • Week 4 September 20-26: Teach Youth About Preparedness. Talk to your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Get them involved in the process.

Sound like too much to do, especially at the start of the school year? Put it on your calendar for next month; or make a goal—how about by the end of the year? You don’t have to wait for next year’s National Emergency Preparedness Month to come around again; preparing for a disaster can be done anytime of the year. And the sooner you do it, the better off you’ll be if disaster strikes.

More Ways to Get Ready

Watch it:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers several how-to videos on their YouTube channel:
CalOES’ offers state-specific information on their YouTube channel
Download it:
FEMA Mobile App
Set Up Text Alerts:
Sign up at Cal Alerts to receive California Earthquake Warnings and Wireless Emergency Alert texts.

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A bridge is lit in purple, the official color of International Overdose Awareness Day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States.
  • Of those deaths, 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
  • On average, 130 Americans die every day from a drug overdose.

And those overdose numbers not only are rising through the years, but are even spiking during the current COVID-19 crisis, creating a growing and deadly epidemic within a crushing global pandemic: The American Medical Association has released an urgent call to action to all U.S. governors and legislatures following documented overdose increases in 40 states in the past few months.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to remember all those loved ones lost to drug overdoses and to commit to prevent future losses of mothers, fathers, siblings, children, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, an annual day of remembrance, education, and engagement. The day was created by one person—Australian crisis worker S.J. Finn—in 2001, and now is observed throughout the world.

“Overdose Awareness Day is, at its heart, an opportunity to commemorate the death of someone loved, with pride,” Finn writes on her website, where she discusses her inspiration for the day and also notes the occasion’s embrace of those struggling with the lingering effects and injuries of non-fatal overdoses. “Whether the person had been a friend, a family member, or a life partner, the shock and sadness when someone dies of overdose is equal to any loss felt when a loved one passes away. It is, however, a grief that in today’s world is complicated by the stigma of drug use, by the isolation and shame that stigma generates.

“And as we reach out, the hand we extend must be one of understanding and compassion to all who have been affected, because this will be the key to our actions as we try to lower the harms in regard to drug use, including death.”

Today and every day, hundreds of thousands of Department of Consumer Affairs medical, nursing, mental-health, and pharmaceutical licensees are trained and ready to provide stigma-free answers to your questions about overdose prevention, drug addiction, safe use of medications, counseling and support, and much more. If you need advice or assistance, do not hesitate to reach out to one of these many dedicated professionals, and to check a professional’s license, visit search.dca.ca.gov.

DON’T WAIT—GET HELP: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7/365 treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

1-800-662-HELP (4357)

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Feline skeleton shows proof of medical—and loving—care
A striped cat sits outside in a field of flowers.

Just as they do today, cats appear to have captured the heart of at least one household that existed more than 1,000 years ago.

Are you a cat person? Do you tussle with calico Charlie and his catnip toys, hustle home to hear Luna’s happy purr, or comfort shy Shadow on a dark and stormy night? Well, you’re not alone: According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a quarter of U.S. households—nearly 32 million—are home to at least one cat.

And now there’s proof of at least one millennium-old household that shared your cat fandom. According to research out of Germany’s Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, a nearly complete cat skeleton found at the site of a pastoral community along the former Silk Road in southern Kazakhstan reflects the loving care its owners provided more than 1,000 years ago.

Portions of a well-preserved cat skeleton bear evidence of human care.

Portions of a well-preserved cat skeleton bear evidence of human care; photo courtesy of Martin Luther University at Halle-Wittenberg press release.

The researchers found:

  • The animal was a domestic type of cat, not a wild local species.
  • The cat’s skeleton exhibited healed fractures, pointing to medical assistance received from human friends.
  • Bone analysis noted the cat had been fed a very high-protein diet, showing it had been fed by humans, even when it lost almost all of its teeth later in life.
  • The cat was carefully buried and not abandoned, allowing for the unique archaeological find.

“The Oghuz were people who only kept animals when they were essential to their lives—dogs, for example, can watch over the herd,” said Dr. Ashley Haruda. “They had no obvious use for cats back then.”

There is no obvious use for cats today, either, but cat people across the centuries know of their many benefits. For 21st century health and wellness care for your feline family members, turn to Department of Consumer Affairs’ Veterinary Medical Board licensees. Find out more about their education, licensure, and services at www.vmb.ca.gov, and check vets’ licenses at search.dca.ca.gov.

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Photo: FDA

Hand sanitizer is a big, big deal right now. And a lot of new manufacturers have jumped on the sanitizer bandwagon, hoping to scoop up some of the revenue. Good for them. But in their attempts to claim their piece of the sanitizer gold rush, something they’re doing is poisoning people instead of protecting them.

It’s the packaging; hand sanitizer is being packaged in containers resembling water bottles, vodka bottles, beer cans, snack bags, and other food and drink products. Some even have raspberry or chocolate flavors—some containers are plastered with fun cartoons and nice, bright color labels.

In other words, these products don’t look like hand sanitizer at all.

And people are being poisoned.

“It’s dangerous to add scents with food flavors to hand sanitizers which children could think smells like food, eat and get alcohol poisoning,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn. “Manufacturers should be vigilant about packaging and marketing their hand sanitizers in food or drink packages in an effort to mitigate any potential inadvertent use by consumers.”

Ingesting even a small amount of hand sanitizer can be lethal—especially for children.

The FDA has just issued a press release warning consumers to beware of hand sanitizers sold in packages resembling food and drink containers.

Hand sanitizer poisoning can cause cardiac events, affect the central nervous system, require hospitalization, and even cause death. The FDA is asking health care professionals and consumers who are affected by these products to report them to its MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

On July 17, the FDA issued a list of nearly 60 brands of hand sanitizer on the shelves that contained the toxic ingredient methanol; on August 4, the list expanded to 100 brands. On August 12, the agency updated the list to include products manufactured in Mexico containing another toxic substance, 1-propanol. The FDA is continuously updating the list. “The FDA continues to monitor [hand sanitizers] and we’ll take appropriate actions as needed to protect the health of Americans,” the agency stated.

The FDA is working with manufacturers and retailers to get these products off store shelves—but consumers need to pay attention, read the labels, and keep these and other dangerous products up and out of the reach of children.

GET HELP: If you or someone you know is poisoned, call the American Association of Poison Control Center’s Poison Control Hotline immediately: (800) 222-1222.

Read “Kill the Virus But Don’t Kill Yourself: Read the Label!”
FDA Guidelines: “Safely Using Hand Sanitizer”
Bonus: Do You Use Hand Sanitizer the Right Way? Take this Test From the FDA!



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In March 2020, many household dogs rejoiced when their owners started working from home. It didn’t take much for pet owners to read what was on their minds.

“Oh, boy! Scratches behind my ears and walks to the park all day long!” That’s what Fido was probably thinking while standing in your home office doorway, leash in mouth, every day at 10 a.m.

But for many dogs, the excitement may have already worn off. Like their owners, they are trying to adjust to this new life. Much to a pet’s surprise, an owner still has to work and can’t always give them the attention they crave. Also, an overabundance of scratches behind the ears might be too much of a good thing for them.

New interactions between pet and owner might be too demanding as both try to tread through uncharted waters at home. The owner is not used to interruptions like barking dogs and slobbery kisses during a conference call. At the same time, a dog might be annoyed that he or she is no longer in charge of the household during work hours. Watch for these signs that your dog is annoyed with you:

The eye-roll—Yes, it’s a real thing! If your dog rolls his eyes, yup, your pup is probably annoyed—with you! When you get the stink eye from your dog, something is going on that he or she doesn’t like. According to University of California, Davis, animal behavioralist Liz Stelow, DVM, DACV, a dog’s “lack of ability to rest due to increased noise activity during the day … or the owner being physically home but not available for the attention” could be some reasons why.

The silent treatment or the opposite—Depending on a dog’s level of annoyance, it will try to stay out of the owner’s reach to another room, under a bed, or stay outdoors. A dog could “settle in places he usually wouldn’t if he’s feeling displaced from his usual resting spots by the owner,” said Stelow. On the flip side, she says a dog’s favorite time to bark or whine is when an owner is on a video call and focused on work. “The dog thinks the owner should be paying attention to him.”

Refusing walks—Dogs will put on the brakes if they’ve had too many walks or refuse to go so they can be left alone.

Physical and Emotional Signs—Dogs can send off stress signals like whale eye, a crouched head, looking away from an owner, a sigh, reluctance to move or play, pace, pant, whine, less interest in food, and less affection.

Aggression—According to Stelow, dogs can snap or bite if an owner starts to touch a dog when it’s trying to rest or is stressed. The same thing can happen to another dog in the household, especially if the owner is paying more attention to the other dog. Stelow said most of the patients she’s seen lately have been dealing with increased aggression. When a dog receives more attention than they are used to, it can cause stress. All the commotion requires them to get more rest.

“I have some advice for all pet owners during ‘these unprecedented times’: work on your own stress/anxiety … acknowledge the impact of that stress on your pets and seek help if you think your pet is anxious,” said Stelow.

If the issues persist and you need help, Stelow says, your first stop should be your veterinarian: Find out more about the Department of Consumer Affairs Veterinary Medical Board professionals at www.vmb.ca.gov. If you wish to see a mental health professional for yourself, visit the Board of Psychology at www.psychology.ca.gov or the Board of Behavioral Sciences at www.bbs.ca.gov. You can check professionals’ licenses by visiting https://search.dca.ca.gov.

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DCA Issues Waiver to Expand Access to Tests and Ensure the Timely and Accurate Reporting of Test Results

SACRAMENTO – The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) issued a new waiver today to expand COVID-19 testing in California and allow for timely and accurate reporting of COVID-19 test results. DCA Waiver DCA-20-45 would allow pharmacists and pharmacists technicians to collect specimens for, administer, and interpret results for authorized COVID 19 tests. This waiver supersedes DCA waiver DCA-20-14, which only allowed pharmacists to order and collect specimens necessary to perform tests for the virus.

“Allowing additional healthcare personnel to perform tests, allowing tests at pharmacies, and getting test results quickly are crucial steps to help manage the spread of COVID-19,” said Kimberly Kirchmeyer, Director of DCA. “Allowing pharmacists and pharmacists technicians to perform tests was a natural fit in finding ways to help slow the spread and keep consumers safe.”

Prior to the waiver, COVID-19 tests classified as waived under the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) could not be performed by pharmacists or pharmacy technicians at pharmacies. Now, a pharmacy, pharmacist or pharmacy technician can perform on individual patients point-of-care clinical laboratory tests or examinations for the presence of the virus that are deemed or classified as CLIA waived.

The waiver is subject to the following conditions:

  • Testing is limited to waived COVID 19 tests authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is performed consistent with the provisions of an Emergency Use Authorization issued by the FDA.
  • The pharmacy complies with applicable federal requirements, including CLIA certificate of waiver requirements.
  • The pharmacy is registered by the California Department of Public Health.
  • Pharmacists must comply with disease reporting requirements applicable to health care providers ordering COVID 19 tests.
  • Pharmacies must comply with the disease reporting requirements applicable to laboratories testing for COVID 19.
  • The pharmacist or pharmacy technician is competent and trained to collect the specimen and perform the test, and the specimen is collected and the test is performed consistent with the provisions of an Emergency Use Authorization issued by the FDA.
  • The pharmacy, pharmacist or pharmacy technician complies with such other requirements as the California Department of Public Health, in consultation with the Department of Consumer Affairs, may impose that are not inconsistent with this Order.

The full waiver can be read on the DCA website along with other waivers issued.

The waiver is issued as the Director exercises the authority under Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-75-20, which authorized the Director of DCA, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, to amend scopes of practice to allow pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to conduct any aspect of any point-of-care test for the presence of COVID-19 that is deemed or classified as waived under CLIA.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is a consumer protection department under the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency and has been working closely with other state departments and stakeholders to respond to and protect all Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Click here to view a printer-friendly version of this news release.


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