Vaccines in California: 10% will go to educators, winter storm delays dose delivery

Winston Gieseke

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, and I’m looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend of staying home and continuing my quarantine. What about you?

In California brings you top Golden State stories and commentary from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond. Get it free, straight to your inbox.

California will set aside 10% of first vaccine doses for educators, school staff

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that the Golden State plans to set aside 10% of first vaccine doses for educators, school staff and childcare providers starting in March as a way to get children back in classrooms.

The move is aimed at jumpstarting in-person learning after nearly a year of distance classes for most of California’s 6 million K-12 students. The news comes a day after California’s legislative leaders announced a $6.5 billion proposal aimed at reopening schools in the spring. Newsom said that wasn’t fast enough and suggested he could veto it.

“I can’t support something that’s going to delay the safe reopening of schools for our youngest kids,” he said.

Meanwhile, the state’s virus cases, infection rates and hospitalizations have dropped precipitously after reaching record highs in early January. Cases have fallen to 6,700 per day from a peak of more than 40,000, and hospitalizations are a third of what they were six weeks ago.

Winter storm delays more than half of California’s weekly vaccine supply

Approximately 702,000 vaccine doses en route to the Golden State have been stymied by the winter storm ravaging the middle of the country, Newsom said Friday at a news conference.

State officials had anticipated receiving 1.2 million doses this week. As a result of the delay, pharmacies in multiple counties have reported canceling hundreds of first-dose appointments. Others expressed frustration with the lack of resources and information available.

“The vaccine supply coming to San Francisco is limited, inconsistent, and unpredictable, making vaccine planning difficult,” the city’s COVID Command Center said, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

While the governor didn’t know when the doses would arrive, he said after the storm passes he expects a ramp-up of vaccine allotment from the federal government with “modest increases every week.”

In other vaccination news, public health clinics in Riverside County have lost 263 doses of the vaccine, according to county spokesperson Jose Arballo Jr., who had previously told The Desert Sun that the county did not track this information. This week he said he’d been mistaken.

Arballo said vaccinations could be lost in a number of ways, including a syringe breaking either during vaccination or from being dropped, a vial being dropped, or a vial being exposed to too much light or sunshine.

California loosens rules for high school sports

The California Department of Public Health issued new guidelines Friday for youth and high school sports, opening the door for a quicker return to action for several sports, including football

According to the report, “outdoor high-contact sports can be played in counties in the purple or red tier with a case rate at or below 14 per 100,000.” There are currently 27 counties in the state with less than 14 cases per 100,000.

Those sports include football and water polo from the current season. Under the new guidance, those sports can resume once the county reaches that threshold if all players and coaches get tested once per week.

Before Friday, outdoor contact sports would not have been allowed until a county had reached the orange tier, which would’ve meant less than four cases per 100,000.

This new guidance, which not include indoor sports, will go into effect Feb. 26.

Easily digestible bite-sized news bits

For those of you who fear commitment to larger news bits.

  • Thousands of people from around the globe flood Yosemite National Park each February for a chance to see the fleeting “firefall” phenomenon, where a trick of the sunlight appears to send molten lava down the eastern slope of El Capitan. The otherworldly vista can be seen only when conditions are perfect for about 10 minutes at sunset mid-February. Head on over to the Visalia Times Delta to see what park visitors thought of the experience Tuesday.
  • Multiple sources have confirmed that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have filed for divorce after — depending on which news source you read — six-and-a-half or seven years of marriage. And while I have no additional information on this, I will offer up that “Kimye” has never been one of my favorite celebrity portmanteaus. “Garfleck” was a good one, though. So was “Connermeci.”
  • Spit in space: For only $99, LifeShip, a San Francisco-based company, says it will send your DNA to the moon — in the form of a tiny droplet of your saliva. Company founder Ben Haldeman, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “has cut a deal with a commercial spacecraft company to put tiny fragments of human saliva aboard a privately funded United Launch Alliance lunar landing, scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral in the fall.” It will be one giant leap for your saliva.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: San Francisco Chronicle. We’ll be back in your inbox Monday with the latest headlines.

As the philanthropy and special sections editor at The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraising and people who give back in the Coachella Valley. Reach him at [email protected].

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