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Newsom touts Long Beach as COVID model for vaccines, schools

Despite wavering supplies and glaring racial and geographic inequities plaguing Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday praised the region’s distribution efforts and touted the city of Long Beach as a model for the rest of the state.

Speaking from a vaccination site at the Long Beach Convention Center, Newsom vowed to press forward with plans to vaccinate educators, reopen schools and refocus on hard-hit communities.

Long Beach, which has its own public health department, separate from L.A. County’s, began vaccinating teachers in January and has to reopen schools for its youngest students March 29.

“I want to encourage that to be replicated all throughout the state of California,” Newsom said, noting that vaccinating teachers and getting kids back into schools are essential to reopening the economy.

On Friday, he announced that the of first doses of vaccine it receives for educators and child-care workers.

“We’re moving in that direction with clarity, with determination,” he said.

In addition to educators, Long Beach last month began vaccinating food and grocery store workers, along with healthcare workers, firefighters, police officers and “100% of its nursing home residents,” Mayor Robert Garcia said Monday.

The state is administering an average of nearly 200,000 doses each day and will be close to providing 7.5 million people with at least one dose by the end of Monday, the governor said.

But there is not enough supply to vaccinate everyone who is eligible. California receives, on average, about 1.3 million doses per week, Newsom said, but has the capacity to build out a system that could administer as many as 4 million per week.

“Sites all across the state of California are toggling back based upon limited supply,” he said, adding that the Long Beach site is running at about one-third of its capacity. “That’s a manufacturing issue.… It’s simply not what we’re capable of administering, meaning we can do exponentially more.”

Adding to supply concerns were delivery issues caused by inclement weather across the nation. The main manufacturing sites for vaccine producers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are in Massachusetts and Michigan, respectively; at least two scheduled shipments did not make it to L.A. last week. City-run sites that were forced to close amid the delays are slated to reopen Tuesday.

Despite the uneven rollout, Newsom said California is in a “much better place” as the number of coronavirus cases continues to drop. Case rates plunged from 8% a month ago to 3% on Monday, a figure not seen since Nov. 1. Hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions are down 41% and 39%, respectively, over the last two weeks. Read from source….