By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media
Last week, speaking at a press conference at the Native American Health Center in Alameda County, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that Californians will have to take booster shots as the state adopts new COVID-19 measures to fight the Omicron variant.
He specified that California healthcare workers will be required to get booster shots by Feb. 1, 2022.
“There is nothing more important when we’re experiencing a surge in growth of case rates than protecting our frontline heroes and employees, and that’s why we led as the first state in the nation to require all healthcare workers to be vaccinated,” Newsom said.
He pointed out, “that led to extraordinarily high vaccination rates for our healthcare workers, kept staff working, kept the morale strong and kept their immunity strong. But we recognize now that just being vaccinated, fully vaccinated, is not enough with this new variant. We believe it is important to extend this requirement to getting that third dose.”
Newsom also announced that the state will be ordering six million free home tests for children in school.
The Governor said the state is also ratcheting up its efforts to keep kids safe and schools open.
“We will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities by making at-home testing kits available to every K-12 public school student as they head back to the classroom from winter break,” Newsom continued.
At the press conference, Newsom made clear his intention to continue in-person schooling.
“After our kids have enjoyed the holiday with family and friends … we want to make sure they come back in as good a shape as they left meaning we want to make sure that we are testing our kids and preparing them to come back to in-person instruction,” Newsom said.
In addition, the governor announced that the state will be extending hours of operations for testing sites.
He said California has over 6,000 testing sites, about 30% of all the nation’s testing sites.
“California continues to lead,” Newsom said. “As of today, we have the lowest positivity rate in America.”
As of Sunday, Dec. 26, California had a 5.4% test positivity rate for the last 8 days. That number is up about 2.4 % from the last week, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
“We continue to lead the nation in terms of administered doses of the vaccine and we continue to do more than most other states in promoting not only the safety and efficacy of our vaccines but promoting boosters,” he continued.
78.9 % of all Californians have been vaccinated, CDPH reports.
California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.