In California: Newsom pledges more vaccines for Central Valley farmworkers

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Winston Gieseke, USA TODAY
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A volunteer rescued this emaciated sea lion pup from a beach in Ventura County last week. It is now a patient at the CIMWI animal hospital.
A volunteer rescued this emaciated sea lion pup from a beach in Ventura County last week. It is now a patient at the CIMWI animal hospital.

Plus: Golden State's new COVID-19 cases down 32%, emaciated sea lions are showing up in Ventura County, and $600 state-issued stimulus checks approved for low-income households.

It's the start of a new week, and I'm Winston Gieseke, philanthropy and special sections editor for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, bringing you the latest headlines on this Monday.

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.

A COVID-19 vaccine update

Registered nurse Patrice Holley prepares a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a Riverside County run clinic in Indio, Calif., on February 10, 2021.
Registered nurse Patrice Holley prepares a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a Riverside County run clinic in Indio, Calif., on February 10, 2021.

Let's get this party started with some of Monday's vaccination numbers: California has administered 7.3 million COVID-19 doses of the 8.8 million that have been delivered statewide. The state has shipped 9.3 million doses. According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, about 2 million of the 6 million doses delayed by last week’s winter weather were delivered over the weekend. As for the rest, “We expect to rapidly catch up this week,” Psaki said on ABC.

Newsom pledges more shots for Central Valley farmworkers

More vaccines are headed to California's vast Central Valley, an agricultural region whose workers and residents have been hard hit by the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.

The multi-county region, which includes the cities of Fresno and Bakersfield, will get significantly more vaccines this week dedicated to farmworkers. The governor has made equitable access to the coronavirus vaccine a priority, and the change in allocation formula comes as the state moves to inoculate others beyond health care employees in essential jobs, including food and farmworkers and teachers.

“These are the folks that never took a day off, these are the folks that never complained, these are the folks that wake up every single day and (are) there for the rest of us so we can go about our lives," Newsom said. “It's not just Californians who benefit, it's the folks all across this country and around the world."

It wasn't immediately clear what the state's decision to send more doses to the valley will mean for other regions. California on Sunday began transitioning to a distribution system run by insurance giant Blue Shield, starting in the Central Valley. Vaccine providers will now have to use a state website called My Turn to schedule vaccination appointments. Newsom acknowledged that “invariably there will be bumps along the road."

Governor again pushes for schools to reopen

Many teachers' unions believe vaccines should be required and that the state should reach a lower case-transmission rate before in-person classes can resume.
Many teachers' unions believe vaccines should be required and that the state should reach a lower case-transmission rate before in-person classes can resume.

Pointing to the City of Long Beach as a "demonstrable leader" in COVID-19 vaccination efforts, particularly for inoculating teachers, Newsom on Monday again pressured authorities across the state to accelerate all measures necessary to get students back to in-person classes.

Newsom has advanced measures to prioritize vaccinations for teachers — announcing recently that 10% of the all first-dose vaccines the state receives will be set aside for educators and childcare workers — but he insists schools can reopen before all those workers are inoculated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also said vaccinations are not a prerequisite for schools to open.

But many teachers' unions — including United Teachers Los Angeles — have balked at that idea, suggesting the shots should be required and the state should reach a lower case-transmission rate before in-person classes resume.

Newsom has been pushing a $6 billion school-reopening plan in Sacramento, but negotiations with state legislators have stalled. The governor balked at a plan announced last week by legislative leaders, saying it would actually slow the pace of school re-openings.

California's new COVID-19 cases down 32% compared to previous week

However, there is some encouraging news: The Golden State reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Sunday, adding 46,005 new cases. That's down 32.2% from the previous week's toll of 67,859 new cases.

A USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows that California ranked 26th among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis. In the latest week, the United States added 489,902 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of 23% from the week before. Across the country, six states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

But across California, new cases fell in 48 of 58 counties, with the steepest declines in Los Angeles, Riverside and Orange counties.

Emaciated sea lion pups showing up in Ventura, Santa Barbara

This is a sea lion pup dubbed No. 12. It was the 12th pup rescued by CIMWI in 2021.
This is a sea lion pup dubbed No. 12. It was the 12th pup rescued by CIMWI in 2021.

Last week, a woman spotted a small, skinny sea lion pup lying near some rocks at a Ventura County beach. Emaciated and lethargic, the animal was taken to Channel Islands Marine & Wildlife Institute (CIMWI), a center that rescues and rehabilitates stranded marine mammals found in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

The pup weighed in at 37 pounds. Born in May and June, a healthy pup would weigh about 55 to 65 pounds this time of year. Undernourished pups may have weaned too early or had trouble foraging on their own. Weather conditions also could be to blame.

So far in 2021, 15 animals have been rescued by CIMWI — 13 were found along the Ventura County coast. All were California sea lion pups, and all were malnourished.

What to do if you spot a stranded marine mammal? Give the animal its space and call a rescue center. Do not try to put it back in the water; they come out of the water for a reason. Sick marine mammals often are agitated, disoriented and confused. They are wild animals and may respond aggressively or bite if they are approached. For more information, visit cimwi.org or fisheries.noaa.gov/report.

Bite-sized news bits

Because someone invented TL;DR for a reason.

The $600 payments from the state of California could reach more than 5 million households this spring.
The $600 payments from the state of California could reach more than 5 million households this spring.
  • This just in: Under a plan approved Monday by the state Legislature, millions of low-income Golden State residents will receive $600 stimulus payments this spring, in addition to stimulus checks issued by the federal government. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that help is also on the way for small businesses, which will be offered grants and tax deductions to keep them afloat. “Our small businesses are dying, and we simply cannot let that happen,” said Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach. Newsom was expected to sign the measures Tuesday.

  • Northern California resident Edie Ceccarelli has outlived six younger siblings, two husbands, a daughter and three grandchildren. She has also experienced 21 presidential administrations and two once-in-a-century pandemics. And at 113, she’s believed to be California’s oldest living native. The Los Angeles Times reports that Ceccarelli has attributed her longevity to having red wine with dinner, long walkabouts and "good Italian genes.”

  • An entire California school board in the Bay Area town of Oakley has resigned after members were heard disparaging parents during a meeting, not realizing their comments were being broadcast. According to a kiro7.com report, comments included one from a woman saying she would "(expletive) up” a parent who called her out on social media. Another said parents were picking on the school board “because they want their babysitters back.” And yet another suggested that parents wanted their kids back in school so they — the parents — could stay home and smoke marijuana. The Contra Costa County education board says school board members will be replaced on an interim basis.

In California is a roundup of news from across USA Today network newsrooms. Also contributing: kiro7.com, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle. We'll be back in your inbox tomorrow 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 winston.gieseke@desertsun.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Newsom pledges more vaccines for Central Valley farmworkers