California teetering on the brink of more COVID stops

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As of today, Sonoma County is banning large gatherings for next month. Los Angeles County on Tuesday urged residents to postpone non-essential gatherings and to avoid certain activities. The state prison system suspended in-person visits on Saturday as COVID rises among staff and inmates. A growing number of hospitals are canceling or postponing certain surgeries.

Seems familiar?

Although Gov. Gavin Newsom and Dr Mark Ghaly, the state’s top health official, have repeatedly pointed out that California is not planning other COVID-related shutdowns, they are happening anyway so as more people are entering quarantine – raising questions about how long The state will be able to keep overworked and understaffed schools, health facilities and businesses open if the omicron wave does not not soon reach its peak.

Newsom on Tuesday signed an executive order allowing schools until March 31 to extend substitute teacher assignments, facilitate the return of retired educators to classrooms and speed up the hiring of short-term substitute teachers.

  • Newsom: “I think the surgeon general under the Obama administration said that the most important preventable disease in this country is loneliness, social isolation. My God, that was before COVID. And our children have lost touch with their friends, their
    community, to the normal pace of life. … I am very, very sensitive to this and the learning opportunities that are lost because children are not safe in school.

Los Angeles Unified, the largest in the state, reopened on Tuesday – but, with more than 62,000 students and staff testing positive for COVID, nearly 2,000 district employees had to step in to keep things working . Hayward Unified Monday went online for at least a week after more than 500 students tested positive and teachers were absent from more than half of the classrooms. Palo Alto only managed to avoid closure on Monday after 450 parent volunteers took on positions ranging from babysitters to classroom roles; parents have also been asked to help supervise the Sacramento City Unified classrooms.

Meanwhile, students and teachers at Oakland and San Francisco Unified are threatening to be ill, saying they will not show up to school without reinforced health and safety protocols. West Contra Costa Unified, which reopened on Tuesday after shutting down for two uneducated days, now requires employees to wear KN95 masks and students to wear surgical masks.

The situation is just as dire in other workplaces. More than 800 of the 12,200 Los Angeles Police Department employees are sick this week, and COVID-positive officers tend to be away for an average of 24 days, Chief Michel Moore said. Santa Clara County on Monday withdrew from a recall warrant for healthcare workers at the behest of already overburdened hospitals. And nearly 4,000 prison officers tested positive for COVID on Tuesday, an increase of more than 212% from the start of the month.

Restaurants are also closing statewide, and the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and San Rafael recently joined 21 others across the country to urge Congress to provide emergency relief to avoid permanent closures and “catastrophic” economic impacts.

Copyright 2022, CalMatters

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