Gov. Gavin Newsom visits San Bernardino coronavirus vaccination site

Gov. Gavin Newsom visits San Bernardino coronavirus vaccination site

Gov. Gavin Newsom visited a coronavirus vaccination site in San Bernardino’s Westside — one of the most impoverished parts of the state — on Friday, April 2, to encourage eligible Californians to get vaccinated and highlight efforts to vaccinate people in the state’s most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.

Areas such as the Westside have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, which has a death rate 6% higher for Black people 22% higher for Latinos and 37% higher for communities with a median annual income below $40,000, according to the California Department of Public Health.

As a result, Newsom said, state officials are working with trusted community leaders — such as the pastors who partnered for Friday’s clinic — to vaccinate as many as possible in the most disadvantaged parts of the state.

Part of that effort was identifying the most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas of the state, and — after recognizing that they weren’t getting as many vaccines — setting a target to distribute 4 million vaccine doses to people in those ZIP Codes or Census Blocks.

The state expects to reach that milestone early next week, Newsom said, which would loosen the reopening standards and allow many California counties to enter the less-restrictive orange tier — including Riverside County and San Bernardino County, if they don’t first reach the tier based on coronavirus numbers.

“This is a pre-existing condition of the state,” he said. “This is life or death. We’re quite literally saving people’s lives. The folks that are in line, the 500 individuals that are going to get the vaccine today, those are individuals whose lives quite literally are being saved today.”

The pop-up vaccine clinic at Sixteenth Street Seventh-day Adventist Church was scheduled to give 500 people the Johnson & Johnson vaccine through a partnership between Loma Linda University Health and C.O.P.E — Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, a network of churches focused on Black people in the Inland Empire.

The first of the 500 was Sonya Gray-Hunn, 52, a housing organizer with C.O.P.E.

Any Californian aged 50 or older became eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Thursday, April 1, and anyone 16 or older will be eligible starting April 15.

She had been hesitant to get the vaccine, unsure how it would interact with her multiple sclerosis, but she grew more confident as more and more people were vaccinated without problems, she said.

Joking with Newsom, who told her he had no side effects after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 1, she said she was further reassured.

“I can’t even tell which arm I got it in,” Newsom said with a laugh.

San Bernardino County’s coronavirus numbers put it on track to move to a less-restrictive stage of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan — the orange tier — by Tuesday, April 6. It could enter earlier if the state hits 4 million doses in disadvantaged areas before then.

San Bernardino County residents had received 718,463 vaccine doses, with 209,686 people partially vaccinated and 259,508 people fully vaccinated, as of Wednesday, March 31.

But the race is on between more contagious variants of the disease and vaccination efforts, Newsom said.

“One hundred seventy-nine people lost their lives in the last 24 hours because of this pandemic,” he said. “It’s not taking Good Friday off, it’s not taking Easter weekend off, it’s certainly not taking spring break off. This disease is as deadly as it’s ever been.”

By RYAN HAGEN | | The Sun
PUBLISHED: April 2, 2021 at 12:50 p.m. | UPDATED: April 3, 2021 at 10:10 a.m.


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