Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state has reached the milestone of having 80% of all eligible California residents receiving at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
“We still have work to do but this is a momentous occasion to be able to announce at a statewide level — a state of 40 million people, a state that has a population of 21 state populations combined — that we have broken now 80% of all eligible Californians having received at least one dose,” Newsom said during an appearance in Oakland Aug. 31. “That’s top 10 in the United States.
“We continue to be mindful of our responsibility to do more and do better, particularly for diverse communities,” Newsom said, noting that the Latino and Black communities still have generally lower vaccination rates across the state.
Newsom said the state has been averaging more than 600,000 doses administered each of the last two weeks, and over 500,000 for five consecutive weeks.
“As of this week, we’re 44% higher in our vaccine doses being administered than we were after the Fourth of July holiday weekend,” he said.
“We’re seeing progress. We’re seeing incremental increase in total number of vaccine doses. But again, 80% is not where we need to go. We still need to reach out to those that are on the fence.”
He noted that the state is working “to deal with the misinformation and the intentional disinformation” circulating about the vaccines, particularly on social media.
According to the governor, the state’s average rate of people testing positive for the virus has fallen to 4.6%, down from 7.1% a few weeks ago. He said by comparison, the positivity rate in Florida is 18.7%, and in Texas it’s 16%.
Despite the good news on the vaccination front, the number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in Los Angeles County has climbed back above 1,700, while county officials have reported six more virus-related deaths and 2,339 new positive cases.
Hospitalizations had fallen to 1,687 Aug. 29, but according to state figures, the number rose back to 1,709 the next day, with 452 of those people in intensive care.
With 39 new deaths reported Aug. 30 and 31, the overall death toll from the pandemic rose to to 25,284 in the county, while the cumulative number of infections rose to 1,405,387.
The rolling daily average rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county was 2.4% as of Aug. 30.
Meanwhile, the county announced another change to its evolving COVID guidelines for participants and coaches in youth sports, including school-based athletic programs. Under the previously released rules, which were set to take effect Aug. 31, the county was mandating weekly COVID testing for all players and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
The revised rules, however, remove the weekly testing requirement for fully vaccinated youth taking part in outdoor sports, unless there is a positive case among players, coaches and/or staff. If there is a positive case, all players, coaches, staff and volunteers will be required to have a weekly negative test for two weeks following exposure.
Weekly testing will still be mandated for all youth, staff, coaches and volunteers who are not fully vaccinated and are involved in “moderate” or “high” risk indoor sports. For “moderate” or “high” risk outdoor sports, testing will be required for all youth aged 12 and older, staff, coaches and volunteers who are not vaccinated. No weekly testing will be required for children under 12 involved in outdoor sports.
Health officials said the rules could be modified further based on availability of testing, and will be reassessed when overall community transmission of the virus diminishes.
“We are grateful to the schools, districts, youth sport programs and parents who have worked so hard in ensuring the safety of students, teachers, athletes, and the many staff,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “It is very important for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to isolate from others and that masks are worn properly in all indoor settings, which includes spectators, coaches and employees of youth sports regardless of vaccination status. The best protection for all student athletes 12 years and over, and for all coaches and team staff is to get vaccinated.”
Over the weekend, Ferrer stressed the need to protect children under age 12, who are ineligible to be vaccinated.
“During this period of high transmission, protecting those younger than 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, is of utmost importance and we can all take as many precautions as feasible to limit risk of transmission,” she said.
Ferrer provided a list of safety precautions, including: moving activities outdoors whenever possible, distancing and avoiding crowds, masking always when indoors and outdoors if distancing isn’t possible and carefully assessing nonessential activities that carry more risk of transmission.
The Los Angeles Unified School District introduced school-based coronavirus vaccine clinics beginning Aug. 30, offering shots on campus to any eligible students and employees.
Ferrer said that during the week of Aug. 16-22, 3,186 new cases were confirmed in schools, with the highest percentage involving LAUSD campuses, where weekly testing is required.
According to Ferrer, 74% of eligible L.A. County residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 64% are fully vaccinated. Of the county’s overall population of about 10.3 million people — including those under age 12 who aren’t eligible for the shots — 63% have received at least one dose, and 55% are fully vaccinated.