Gov. Gavin Newsom urged health officials across the state to prioritize vaccinating educators against the coronavirus so they can quicken when schools can reopen for in-person learning, touting Long Beach on Monday morning, Feb. 22, with being a model for the rest of California.
The governor visited the Long Beach Convention Center to tout that city’s ability to vaccinate teachers and set a target for getting students back on campus.
Long Beach Unified School District, which operates separately from Long Beach’s city government but has worked closely with city officials throughout the pandemic, plans to bring students in fifth grade and below back on campus at the end of March — a time frame meant to ensure that all teachers get second doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
Long Beach, Newsom said, has been a model for both vaccinating and testing that other health jurisdictions have followed. He did not detail the ways in which other jurisdictions have followed the city.
“They’ve done an exceptional job,” Newsom said. No other agencies have been vaccinating people “on the scale of Long Beach.”
Long Beach, which has its own health department and is allowed to operate somewhat autonomously from Los Angeles County, began vaccinating teachers about a month ago — when state officials first allowed health agencies to do so — and is expected to give booster shots to about 1,000 educators Monday, Mayor Robert Garcia said.
LBUSD announced last week that elementary students will go back to school March 29. The district also set a target schedule for getting other grade levels on campus, with the last cohort potentially returning April 26.
LBUSD is the fourth-largest school district in California.
“Almost to the day the governor said you can start vaccinating teachers,” Garcia said before introducing Newsom, “Long Beach moved and started vaccinating teachers.”
That, Garcia added, allowed the city to create a plan for getting students back on campus.
Newsom, meanwhile, also gave an overview of the state’s vaccination efforts and how the fight against the coronavirus pandemic is going — saying there are reasons to be hopeful while also lamenting a shortage of doses.
By the end of Monday, Newsom said, the state will be close to vaccinating 7.5 million people.
“Only a few countries in the world,” he said, “have vaccinated more people than the state of California.
“But,” Newsom added, “there aren’t enough vaccines to meet demand.”
The Long Beach Convention Center, Newsom said, illustrates that problem, with the mass site operating at only one-third of capacity. The governor called that a manufacturing problem.
Last week, the state received 1.3 million doses and is expected to get 1.4 million this week. Next week, Newsom said, the state should get 1.5 million.
But, Newsom said, “it’s simply not what we’re capable of administering.”
There are, however, other positives. Hospitalizations and ICU admissions have dropped 41% and 39%, respectively, over the last two weeks, Newsom said, as the state moves further from the winter holidays. A month ago, the state reported 23,000 new cases in a single day. On Monday, the state reported “just shy” of 4,700.
And the positivity rate, Newsom said, has dropped by one-third in a month — hitting 3% on Monday.