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California boosts vaccination effort as part of federal pilot program


California is opening two mass Covid-19 vaccination sites as part of a federal pilot program to quickly boost the number of available doses, as the state continues to see improving numbers in cases, deaths, positivity rate and hospitalizations.

“Everything that should be up in relationship to this virus is up. Everything that should be down is down,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a news conference at Oakland Coliseum, one of the vaccination sites opening soon.

The rolling average of new daily cases in the state has dropped in half in the past two weeks, according to data from California’s Department of Public Health. The state added 10,501 new cases and 481 Covid-19 related deaths Wednesday, and hospitalizations have dropped 30% over the last 14 days.

California State University, Los Angeles will house the other new vaccination site. Both locations are part of the 100 sites planned nationwide in a federal-state partnership. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide personal protective equipment and supplies, according to Newsom.

California is now administering about 1 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine each week, Newsom said, a rate two to three times higher than the initial rollout. The state is trying to speed up inoculations and jump start its economy as it emerges from a regional stay-at-home order that shuttered many nonessential businesses.

The Oakland and Los Angeles sites are expected to begin vaccinations on February 16, and appointments will be available through a newly developed statewide website called MyTurn that will alert users when they are eligible for a Covid-19 shot and present an appointment option.

Each site will be paired with two mobile vaccination clinics that can be deployed to multiple locations, according to a press release from Newsom’s office.

Nearly 3.8 million Californians have been vaccinated thus far, state health department data shows, and about 6.7 million doses have been received. Newsom expects the new mass vaccination sites will administer a minimum of 6,000 doses each day.

“We are just moving forward aggressively and I think you will see those vaccination numbers continue to increase,” Newsom said.

Teachers are next on the priority list in Phase 1B. Newsom says he agrees with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that a vaccine should not stand in the way of reopening schools, though.

“I believe we can safely reopen schools to in-person instruction with the appropriate level of safety and support and accountability in terms of enforcing the rules of the road,” Newsom said.

The Legislature is considering his $6.6 billion proposal to provide additional personal protection equipment and ventilation, along with help for testing and learning loss. Options currently on the table may include extending the school year or school days in order to get students back on track.

Article Topic Follows: National-World

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