COVID 2021

COVID PM | BREAKING: Teachers unite, saying vaccine needed before in-person learning can resume

Happy Friday, Santa Cruz people: We learned more today about a growing divide on the national, state and local levels between politicians, health officials and teachers as it pertains to a return to in-person learning.

Here in Santa Cruz County, it’s a breaking story tonight.

Teachers’ unions placed their collective stake in the ground with a co-signed letter to county health officer Gail Newel, making it clear they would not sign off on a return to the classroom until they get vaccinated for COVID-19.

Rewind a day earlier to when Newel strongly spoke about following the science in saying “we work by evidence” and you have a very interesting situation brewing. More on this breaking story below.

A day after a federal mass vaccination site was announced for Oakland, another of the Bay Area’s largest counties is adding one as well. Below we answer the question of whether that means anything for Santa Cruz folks.

Be sure to tell those who should be in the know to sign up for this newsletter and my text alerts here. They can also just text “Covid” to (831) 508-7524.

The headlines...

BREAKING | Teachers put it simply: Vaccinate us

Students at Gateway School wear masks as they work on their computers.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The county has crossed an important threshold, as COVID-19 case rates are now low enough that schools can apply to resume in-person classes for students in grades six and below. But this is unlikely to happen anytime soon, as educators and public health officials are at odds over whether teacher vaccinations should be a condition for a full return to the classroom. Will county health officials find a way to compromise with the teachers? We explore that issue in a special Lookout report here.

Levi’s Stadium among NFL sites set for vaccine

Levi's
(Mark Conley / Lookout Santa Cruz)

VACCINE WATCH: The 49ers will join a number of NFL teams in opening up their stadium as a mass vaccine site, starting “early next week” with the ultimate goal of vaccinating 15,000 people per day when supply allows. They will begin with an allotment of 5,000. Lookout reached out to Santa Clara County to see if there would be opportunities for Santa Cruz residents at Levi’s. The answer is “not many.” According to a county spokesperson: “Santa Cruz residents in Phase 1a (health care workers) who work in Santa Clara County will be eligible. For those eligible because they are age 65 and up, it is limited to Santa Clara County residents. Volunteers at county vaccination sites may be eligible to receive the vaccine if they are in a patient-facing role as a health care worker.”

More from here & elsewhere

In the race to vaccinate, could California see another surge? (CalMatters)
A third COVID-19 vaccine could soon join the U.S. market. Will enough people want it? (LA Times)
San Quentin prison is fined $421,880 over deadly COVID-19 conditions; 28 inmates and an officer died (LA Times)
Plane, train, bus passengers without masks now face fines up to $1,500 (LA Times)

I asked, you answered

Some of you 65-plus who attempted to make vaccine appointments through Sutter Health/PAMF kindly shared your stories, and I think others will benefit from your experience:

  • I’m an over 65 year old who got an appointment for vaccination through Sutter/PAMF. I’m going tomorrow to Modesto. No local availability, but some slots in Davis, Rocklin and Modesto. I ended up with Modesto as there were a large number of open slots. It took several attempts through the portal, but i’m thrilled to have the appointment. — Lorie
  • I’m 72 and a Sutter patient. At a friend’s suggestion, I called Sutter yesterday - friend told me to ignore the phone prompts stating they were offering the vaccine only to those over 75, select option #2, and stay on the line. I was on hold about a half hour. When the representative answered I was told I could make an appointment for a vaccine, they had received a batch of vaccines and opened appointments to people over 65, and that they hadn’t updated their phone prompts or website yet. The representative also encouraged me to tell friends over 65, INCLUDING THOSE WHO AREN’T SUTTER PATIENTS, that they were doing a community outreach. I made an appointment for tomorrow at the flea market site. I notified several friends (between 65 and 74 yrs old) who were also able to make appointments. P.S. I just called the Sutter number again - their message has now been updated stating they’re vaccinating healthcare workers and people over 65. — Susan L
  • Responding to your question about PAMF over 65 vaccinations. My boyfriend heard through a friend yesterday that PAMF was taking appointments for over 65. He went on the website and it still said only 75 and over. So he called instead and was on hold for just under an hour, but he got an appointment for next week! 🎉 — Kim C

Please hit reply and send me your stories good and bad. I’d particularly like to hear some feedback from Kaiser patients in the 1a and 1b tiers. Learning about this crazy, confusing process together is the best chance we’ve got.

Have a great weekend & see you Monday.

Mark Conley
Deputy Managing Editor