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Gov. Newsom Thanks Californians: More Than 80% of Population Has Taken a COVID Vaccine Shot

Approximately 68.4% of California’s total population (counting those that are ineligible for vaccines) has received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while about 55.4% of the state’s total population are fully vaccinated.

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Nurse Administering Vaccination to Patient, Photo courtesy of California Black Media

On August 31, California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference at a vaccination clinic in Oakland to thank the majority of California’s population for receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

He also urged more Californians to get vaccinated for COVID-19, as he echoed the advice of health experts across the United States that getting the shot is the best way out of this pandemic.

“Thank you to the people of the state of California for being mindful that this pandemic is not behind us, that as we battle this Delta variant, this mutation, which now represents 98% of the genomic tests that we are conducting, that we still have work to do,” Newsom said, announcing that 80% of eligible Californians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“So, I want to encourage everyone in that spirit but with gratitude in my heart, gratitude to all of you that have done the right thing, got that first dose, and I would remind you to take that second dose which is critical,” Newsom said.

The governor’s office also issued a warning the same day via Twitter.

“Now, we’re in a pandemic of the unvaccinated as they fill up hospitals & ICUs. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic,” a part of that tweet reads.

Approximately 68.4% of California’s total population (counting those that are ineligible for vaccines) has received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while about 55.4% of the state’s total population are fully vaccinated.

Those numbers increase with age, with 81.9% of Californians 18 years old or above receiving at least one dose of the vaccine and over 66% of those in the same age range being fully vaccinated, according to the California Health and Human Services Agency’s data.

Newsom spoke optimistically assessing the pandemic’s current impact on California’s health care systems.

“We’re seeing a plateauing in hospitalizations, we’re seeing a modest increase now, not a large increase, in ICUs and we have seen that positivity rate drop from 7.1%. Just a few weeks ago now down to 4.6%. It’s a long-winded way of saying this: thank you,” Newsom said.

Newsom also mentioned the possibility of booster shot access and who might need one.

“And to those that need to avail themselves, the immuno-compromised, to that booster shot, know that California is setting up the protocols and processes to make that as seamless as possible with more sites available to individuals than in any other time in the history of this pandemic,” he said.

In his official column “On the Record,” Newsom reiterated how important it is that Californians remember that we aren’t quite out of the woods yet.

So far in California, there have been 4.51 million COVID-19 cases and 66,388 deaths related to the deadly virus. Los Angeles County accounts for more than a quarter of those fatalities with 25,434 deaths.

As of September 5, there were 9,727 new cases in the state.

“This situation is very real. California is at a critical point with the Delta variant. It is extremely contagious – over 60% more transmissible than the original COVID-19 strain – and has become the dominant strain circulating in the state. The risk for exposure and infection from COVID-19 and its variants will remain until more people get vaccinated,” the governor wrote.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

Community

Many in Black Communities are Choosing Vaccination 

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists. 

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Vaccination/Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

The trail of illness and death left amid the spread of COVID-19 in Black and African American communities should come as no surprise.

Inequities in health outcomes have always been with us. COVID-19 morbidity and mortality rates among African Americans rival or exceed those in heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses. Blacks sit atop most bad lists and at the bottom of most good lists.

COVID-19 vaccinations offer us an opportunity to better balance the scale.

Unfortunately, even with widely available testing, highly effective vaccines, and extraordinary efforts by health departments to educate and encourage people of color to get vaccinated, many Black Californians remain skeptical.

We can only hope that the FDA’s full regulatory approval of the Pfizer vaccine on August 23 for those 16 and up convinces more to get the vaccine.  It’s worth noting that emergency-use authorization also remains in place for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots, as well as Pfizer’s for 12- to 15-year-olds – and that all of these vaccines are safe and effective in protecting against COVID-19 and its highly contagious variants.

Eddie Fairchild and Steph Sanders were skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccine but came to understand why vaccination benefits our entire community.

Fairchild, a Sacramento insurance agent, said he knew of research that found Black and white people are often treated differently for the same health conditions leading to poorer health outcomes.

“I was hesitant,” he said. “I was going to wait and see how it panned out with everyone else.

But when a Black friend in the health care field told him he’d opted to get vaccinated, Fairchild asked him why.

“He said, ‘Risk-reward, and the risk is death.’ At that point I didn’t have to ask him what the reward was.”

With a finance degree and a belief that numbers don’t lie, Fairchild looked at the data. He learned that until 2020 the average number of Americans who died each year was about 2.6 million, but in 2020 that figure was 3.4 million. There was only one possible explanation for the death rate surge, he said.

“COVID is absolutely real,” he said, adding that three of his cousins died from the virus. “Taking all that into consideration, I decided that it’s risky to engage in the world and not be vaccinated. It made sense for me to get it.”

Racial gaps in vaccination have thankfully narrowed in recent weeks. But as of September 1, while Black people account for 6% of the state’s population, they account for 6.6% of COVID-19 deaths, which is 11% higher than the statewide rate, according to state department of public health data. Only about 55% of Black people in California have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Reasons for the discrepancies run the gamut, from conspiracy theories like Black people are getting a less effective vaccine than whites or that the vaccine will eventually be deadly, to challenges in health care access. 

Mostly, it’s based on a lack of trust in medical and scientific institutions, which have a long history of racism and mistreating Black people.

So even when it comes to good things like vaccines, which are scientifically proven to be good for the community, it always comes back to trust.

Sanders, a Vallejo school principal, was hesitant because of the Tuskegee syphilis studies in which Black men who had the disease were intentionally not treated with penicillin. And he was dubious that an effective vaccine could be developed so quickly. 

In fact, the science and technology enabling development of the COVID-19 vaccines was in development for a more than decade before the virus emerged in 2020. The FDA authorized three vaccines for emergency use after they underwent a rigorous process and were proven through trials to be safe and effective at preventing severe COVID-19, hospitalization, and death.

He decided to get vaccinated when his school board decided last spring to bring students back into classrooms.

Today, he’s a fervent vaccine advocate. He holds “lunch and learn” forums for educators, encouraging vaccination.

“I’m a leader and people are relying on my knowledge,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t make this about you, but about the people you love and care about. It’s about protecting them.’”

There is still a long way to go before Blacks achieve true health equity, but vaccination against a virus that is taking a terrible toll on our communities is a critical step in the right direction.

 

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Bay Area

Castlemont High Coach Launches “Books Before Balls” Project

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

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Tamikia McCoy/Photo Courtesy of Tanya Dennis

 

Michael Franklin

Tamikia McCoy, an Oakland Athletic League phenomena in 1991 – 1993, dominated girls’ basketball, becoming a walk-on at Grambling to win the Southern Western Conference of 1993-1994.  

For two years, she played with the Running Rebels, an Oakland all-star basketball team.  After earning many degrees, McCoy returned to her beloved Castlemont as Coach in 2019, and quickly realized a responsibility to her students beyond winning games and created Books Before Balls.

Another Castlemont alumni of that same year was not as fortunate as McCoy.  Like McCoy, Michael Franklin was a basketball beast.  He was awarded first team All-City for the Oakland Athletic League 1993-1994 and was Northern California’s All American that same year. 

Franklin continues to hold the record for scoring 43 points in one quarter in a game against McClymonds. Tragically, he was killed Dec. 14, 2016, at a gas station at 98th and Edes in Oakland.

Coach McCoy’s concerns about violence inspired her to create the Books Before Balls Project to address academic and social gaps that are working against student success. 

“For violence and bullying to cease, the underlying reasons have to be addressed,” said McCoy, “Food scarcity may seem unrelated to violence, but it’s a signal that economic opportunities are lacking, which leads to trauma and desperation.”  

McCoy is also concerned that Castlemont’s library was closed and is spearheading a campaign to reopen and revitalize the library.  

She has joined with Oakland Frontline Healers and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkids movement to address issues of food scarcity, lack of economic opportunity, lack of resources and lack of support for students entering college.  

Together, they are creating a model that is duplicatable and hopefully will be adopted at other OUSD schools. Oakland Frontline Healers are a collaborative of 30 nonprofits and doctors offering services, food, and resources to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.  

Players and families will be tested weekly by Umoja Health before games, and the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for those that wish to take it.

With a grant from the Department of Violence Prevention, Building Opportunity for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) and Adamika Village#stopkillingourkidsmovement, are honoring Michael Franklin’s life by hosting a series of “Mike’s Knights” Basketball Tournaments at Castlemont High School beginning the last Friday in November.  

Participants will be paid stipends to participate in the league or cheer squad and will be tutored and mentored during the tournaments, which will include family forums to discuss ending violence in East Oakland.

Books Before Balls invites the community to donate to the organization to support the Lady Knights’ basketball team, the success program that funds first year college students, or join their initiative to reopen the library. 

 For more information contact:  Ladyknights2019@yahoo.com For youth interested in joining the eight-week tournament contact Adamika Village at adamikaadamika@gmail.com 

Together with school leaders and administrators, and with the support of Oakland Frontline Healers, Books Before Balls is staging a “Student’s Against Bullying” event Friday, Sept. 17 from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Youth Uprising, 8711 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Community

California Eviction Protections Remain in Effect Through Sept. 30

CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Program still accepting applications

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Row of Houses, Photo Courtesy of California Black Media

AB 832, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on June 28, extended California’s critical eviction protections through September 30, 2021, giving California the strongest eviction protections in the country. The bill also provided $5.2 billion to help struggling California renters remain housed by covering rent and utilities that date back to April 2020. 

Officials are strongly encouraging both tenants and landlords with unpaid rent to apply as soon as possible to the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program following California’s of eviction protections. Under AB 832, the program now covers up to 100% of unpaid or future rent and may also help low-income renters pay some or all their unpaid utility bills, including gas, electric, water and internet services.   

Landlords and income-eligible renters who have been impacted by COVID-19, and have unpaid rent or utilities, or need help with future rent can apply to the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program at HousingIsKey.com. 

The application process has been streamlined with many improvements that include increasing language access, a shorter application, and less paperwork to upload.  Applicants who have already applied for relief, including those who have already been paid for past due rent or utilities, do not need to reapply to obtain additional assistance for future support.

A notification will go out to tenants and their landlords 60 days after initial payments are received with an invitation to update their current application with additional requests for financial assistance.

Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until funds are exhausted, although applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applicant information is private and won’t be shared between landlord and tenant, and applicants will not be asked about immigration status, or asked to provide proof of citizenship. 

Applicants who need assistance in another language or local assistance filling out an application or uploading paperwork can schedule an appointment with a local community organization in their area by calling 833-687-0967, or by visiting the “Get Help” tab at HousingIsKey.com.

For more information and to apply for the program, visit HousingIsKey.com or call the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief Call Center at 833-430-2122 (toll free) daily between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

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