Starting today, Sonoma County is banning large gatherings for the next month. Los Angeles County on Tuesday urged residents to postpone non-essential gatherings and avoid certain activities. The state’s prison system on Saturday suspended personal visits among staff and inmates as COVID surges. An increasing number of hospitals are canceling or postponing some surgeries.
Although Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s top health official, Dr. Mark Galley, have both repeatedly stressed that California does not expect further COVID-related shutdowns, they are happening anyway as more people enter quarantine. do – raising questions about how long the state will be able to keep overloaded and under-staffed schools, health care facilities and businesses open if the omicron wave doesn’t peak soon.
Newsom on Tuesday signed an executive order that allows schools to extend the assignment of alternative teachers until March 31, ease the way for retired teachers to return to classes, and accelerate the recruitment 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 took care of their friends, their communities, their lives. … I am very sensitive to this and have lost learning opportunities because children are not safely in school.”
Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest, 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 running. Hayward Unified went online for at least a week on Monday after more than 500 students tested positive and more than half of teachers were absent from classes. Palo Alto managed to avoid shuttering on Monday after only 450 parent volunteers filled positions ranging from mentor to roles in the classroom; Parents have also been asked to help supervise classes at Sacramento City Unified.
Meanwhile, students and teachers at both Oakland and San Francisco Unified are threatening to get sick, saying they will not show up to school without health and safety protocols. West Contra Costa Unified, which reopened Tuesday after being closed for two days without instruction, now requires staff to wear KN95 masks and students to wear surgical masks.
Troy Flint, spokesman for the California School Boards Association, said: “School districts across the state are nearing their breaking point. When you have (teacher) absenteeism rates exceeding 20%, meaningful individual instruction will not always be viable.”
The situation is similarly dire in other workplaces. Chief Michelle Moore said this week more than 800 of the Los Angeles Police Department’s 12,200 employees are sick, and COVID-positive officers are gone for an average of 24 days. Santa Clara County on Monday backed a booster mandate for health care workers at the request of already strained hospitals. And nearly 4,000 prison workers were COVID-positive on Tuesday, a more than 212% increase from the beginning of the month.
Restaurants are also closing across the state, and the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and San Rafael have recently been begging Congress along with 21 others across the country to stop the permanent closures and “devastating” economic impacts. Emergency relief can be provided to prevent