California will demand that healthcare workers receive a coronavirus vaccine booster, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday, pledging to ensure hospitals are prepared as a new version of the disease begins to unfold. spread throughout the state.
California already requires healthcare workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, a directive that went into effect in September and has since led to the dismissal or suspension of thousands of people. Now it will join New Mexico as at least the second state to require booster shots for healthcare workers.
Newsom made the announcement on his personal Twitter account. His office declined to give more details, including how many workers would be affected, when it would go into effect and whether frequent testing would be allowed as an alternative. Newsom has scheduled a press conference in the San Francisco Bay Area for Wednesday.
“California will require healthcare workers to receive their recall,” Newsom said. “With the rise of Omicron, we are taking immediate action to protect Californians and make sure our hospitals are ready. “
California has done much better so far than many other states facing a wave of coronavirus, with Midwestern and Northeastern regions seeing the largest increase in cases and hospitalizations amid high temperatures freezing temperatures that kept people inside.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies California as a place with “high” transmission of the virus, as well as almost everywhere else in the country. But over the past week, California recorded an average of 114 new cases per 100,000 population, less than half the national rate.
Meanwhile, coronavirus hospitalizations have grown slowly in California, up 15% in the past 11 days to 3,852. That’s less than half of what it was during the peak of late summer and a fifth of a year ago, before vaccines were widely available.
But while hospitals overall have fewer patients than last winter, many have fewer workers to treat the patients than they have. The staff shortage comes as companies struggle to find workers, including hospitals. A recent study from the University of California, San Francisco estimated that the state’s nursing shortage could persist until 2026.
“The staff shortages we are experiencing are worse than ever,” said Kiyomi Burchill, group vice president for policy at the California Hospital Association, in an interview Tuesday before Newsom made its announcement of the booster injections.
California is on the verge of a surge in new infections amid the holiday season and family reunions forced indoors by a series of winter storms.
But experts say the country’s most populous state will likely avoid the worst-case scenario – spikes in hospitalizations and deaths – because most Californians have been vaccinated or have already been infected. This gives a higher level or protection against the omicron variant which, without guaranteeing that people will not get sick, means that they are less likely to need to go to the hospital.
“It’s a highly transmissible respiratory virus and people are going to catch it. And they’re going to have it every winter, ”said Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco. “We have to strive to measure our true success with disease, which is what we do with hospitalizations.”
More than 70% of the state’s nearly 40 million people have been fully immunized while 42% have received a booster. As of Monday, omicron is now the dominant variant of the coronavirus in the United States.
Much of the omicron variant remains unknown, including whether it causes more or less severe disease. Scientists say omicron spreads more easily than other strains of coronavirus, including delta. Early studies suggest that those vaccinated will need a third injection for the best chance of preventing infection, but even without the extra dose, the vaccination should still offer strong protection against serious illness and death.
Computer models used by state officials to predict the virus, hospitalizations will remain stable over the holidays and decline slightly in mid-January.
“I’m a little on the fence about how horrible this is,” said Dr. Brad Pollock, associate dean for public health sciences at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. “We’re going to have more people infected because of the more transmissible variant. It can be a little less virulent, which means it causes fewer symptoms.
In San Diego, researchers recently found the highest levels of coronavirus since February at a wastewater treatment plant that serves about 2.3 million people.
“Every time we’ve seen this kind of increase in sewage, a few weeks later we see an increase in the number of cases,” said Rob Knight, professor at the University of California-San School of Medicine. Diego.
Last week Newsom, which imposed the first statewide shutdown order in March 2020, warned cases would likely increase and reimposed a rule requiring everyone to wear masks during public gatherings interiors. Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest city, has again canceled its in-person New Years celebration.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Tuesday he was not anticipating another lockdown because “I think we are so much better protected than we were”. However, he said he believed restrictions such as masking indoors would continue into February and possibly even March, depending on vaccination, hospitalization and infection rates.
While 70% of Californians have been fully vaccinated, there is still 30% – or about 12 million people – who have not been. The California Department of Public Health says people who are not vaccinated are seven times more likely to be infected, nearly 13 times more likely to be hospitalized, and almost 16 times more likely to die from the coronavirus.
“The problem is that there are counties in California, especially in central and eastern California, where they haven’t had high vaccine coverage and lots of previous infections,” Dr. Jeffrey said. Klausner, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Southern. California Keck School of Medicine. “We can expect in these communities an increase in hospitalizations for those at high risk of serious consequences.”
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