By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media
On Jan. 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he is proposing a $2.7 billion investment to boost the state’s COVID-19 response efforts.
The request is included in the state budget Gov. Newsom is sending to the State Legislature this week. He is asking lawmakers to take action on it immediately.
The emergency response package includes money for more testing, more vaccinations, including boosters, and support for health care professionals.
“From day one, California has taken swift and direct action to battle COVID-19 with policies that have saved tens of thousands of lives, but there’s more work to be done,” Newsom said.
“Our proposed COVID-19 Emergency Response Package will support our testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers and health care systems and battle misinformation, with a focus on the hardest-hit communities,” the governor added.
Michelle Gibbons, Executive Director of the County Health Executives Association of California, said the new influx of cash comes at a “pivotal time” when the state and country are confronting a new surge in Omicron variant cases.
Currently, California has a positivity rate of 21.7%, according to the California Department of Public Health. Omicron variant infections accounts for 80 % of those cases. And over the last seven days, there has been an average of 124.5 cases per 100,000 people.
“We commend the Governor for taking these decisive actions to help protect the health and well-being of local communities through the expansion of vaccines, testing, and booster shots and efforts to combat misinformation that has caused unnecessary deaths and illness, Gibbons said. “These actions will ultimately help save lives, which remains a top priority for local public health.
This weekend, Gov. Newsom also deployed 200 California National Guardsman at testing sites to assist with the state’s response.
“California is deploying the National Guard to testing sites to help expand capacity. If you’re feeling sick, don’t hesitate to get tested,” Newsom tweeted.
Last Monday, the FDA approved booster eligibility for children ages 12 to 15.
Newsom expressed support for this expansion on Twitter.
“Great news — more protection for more people. Boosters are our best defense against Omicron. If you’re eligible, get yours today,” the California governor tweeted.
As people experience COVID-19 home test kit shortages across California, the state has announced plans to remedy the situation.
“California is expanding access to testing for students by providing 1–2 rapid tests for each K–12 public school student to keep our schools safe and open,” tweeted Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Surgeon General of California.
Harris emphasized that, “Testing is a critical part of California’s pandemic response and a key reason our cumulative COVID-19 death rate is the lowest of the large states.”
Newsom’s office said the tests are already on their way.
“More tests are enroute for California’s students! These at-home test kits arrived last night at our warehouse and will immediately be sent to counties for distribution through county offices of education,” Newsom’s office tweeted.
The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) responded to this claim with anticipation.
“Great news! Our county offices are ready to have the torch passed so we can get these important test kits out to our students,” The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) tweeted. “We pledged to help keep schools open and having these kits distributed quickly is another way our county office teams are stepping up to make this happen.”