California set to require health care workers to get COVID-19 boosters


Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday via social media that, with the Omicron variant on the rise, California will require health care workers to get their COVID-19 booster.

“We’re taking immediate actions to protect Californians and ensure our hospitals are prepared,” Newsom said in a tweet, adding that more details are set to come during an official announcement Wednesday.

The news comes as Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials are continuing to urge residents to take precautions as the county enters its winter surge in COVID-19 cases.

Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer updated the county Board of Supervisors during Tuesday’s regular meeting on case rates and the Omicron variant, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said now accounts for 73% of new cases across the country.

As of Tuesday, L.A. County has identified 102 cases of Omicron, none of which have been known to have been hospitalized or died, Ferrer said.

Omicron has shown to be about three times as likely to cause infection than the Delta variant. However, mRNA vaccines and boosters (Pfizer and Moderna) have been shown in early studies to still be effective at preventing illness and hospitalization, according to Ferrer.

“It’s critically important to know that vaccination and booster doses continue to make a significant difference in health outcome,” Ferrer said, noting that cases remain highest among those who are unvaccinated. “As we see these worrisome increases in cases, it’s clear we urgently need to get more people protected by vaccines.”

The core Public Health rationale for vaccination is to protect not the health of the person getting vaccinated, but the health of everyone else around them, added Health Services Director Christina Ghaly.

“The vaccines and boosters, when needed, reduce transmission of the virus, reduce infections, and in doing so reduce the risk that that virus will continue to mutate — and mutate potentially into a form that’s more virulent and put everyone’s life at risk — that is what we’re trying to avoid,” Ghaly said. “So ultimately, getting vaccinated isn’t just about protecting one’s own personal health.”

L.A. County reported more than 3,000 COVID-19 cases Tuesday for the fifth day in a row when just last Tuesday only 1,138 cases were reported, per Public Health data.

“The greatest gift you can give during this holiday season is to take seriously, get vaccinated and wear the mask,” said county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley.

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital also reported another death related to COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the hospital’s total since the onset of the pandemic to 190, according to spokesman Patrick Moody.

In the SCV, 123 COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday, which is the first time the valley has reported more than 100 cases since Dec. 2, according to Public Health data.

Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Tuesday:

Countywide COVID-19 cases reported in the past 24 hours: 3,052

Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,570,230

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the past 24 hours: 25

Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 27,473

Hospitalizations countywide: 741

Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of Dec. 21: 24, with 1,690 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 123, 85 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita.

Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 40,364

Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV as of Dec. 20: 371

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the city of Santa Clarita as of Dec. 16: 77.9%*

Percentage of vaccinated people (at least one dose) in the SCV as of Dec. 16: 74.5%*

*These figures now include all eligible Los Angeles County residents ages 5 and older.

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