Requirement part of California's counterattack against surge in COVID-19 cases
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Gov. Gavin Newsom, (D-Calif.), on Wednesday announced new booster requirements and testing measures to protect Californians from a surge in coronavirus cases.
Healthcare workers and all employees in high-risk congregate settings, like nursing homes will be required to get a booster shot by February 1, 2022. Between now and then, healthcare staffers who don't have their third shot will have to test for COVID twice a week until they get it.
Gov. Newsom set that deadline during a press conference at a vaccine clinic in Alameda County. He went on to outline the state's plan for handling its recent rise in cases, and the influx of the Omicron variant . Newsom said the spike in cases is concerning.
"In just one week last week, we had 5,400 cases identified. Today just shy of 11,000 cases of COVID identified, so almost a doubling of cases in one week and a positivity rate that increased substantially from two point three to three point three percent," he said. "
Newsom said the state will also ramp up testing in response to the surge. He says he's ordered health officials to increase the availability of at-home testing kits to ensure public school students can be cleared before returning to the classroom after the holiday break.
"We want to make sure they come back in as good a shape as they left," said the governor.
The California Department of Public Health (CPHD) sent out around two million tests earlier this month for the same purpose. Now it's doubling down on that plan by providing two rapid tests per student.
Antigen testing will also become easier to get. Newsom says all of the state's nearly 6,300 testing sites will expand their hours of operation. The state has purchased more than 12-million over-the-counter tests. Health officials will send out 10 million to community partners and local health departments.
The governor continued to push Californians to get vaccinated and boosted. Newsom says the shots become even more important after the emergency of the Omicron variant.
"There is some conflicting data that not only is the Omicron variant more transmissible, but it seems for those that have been vaccinated, and particularly those that have been boosted to be substantially less severe than the Delta variant," said Newsom. "But the caveat is for those that have been vaccinated and in particular those that have been boosted, and so our goal is to continue to get people vaccinated."
Californians who need to find a clinic, or sign up for an appointment, can visit the CPHD's vaccine website.