LOS ANGELES (CNS) – While the state began handing out $50,000 checks as part of a COVID-19 vaccination incentive program, Los Angeles County was dangling a carrot of its own, with season tickets up for grabs to the Dodgers and Los Angeles Football Club.
Between Friday and next Thursday, anyone who gets a first-dose vaccine at a county- or city-run vaccination site, or at a St. John’s Well Child and Family Center site, will be entered for a chance to win season tickets to the Dodgers or LAFC. The contest is open to anyone receiving a first dose, or people receiving a second dose who bring another person with them to be vaccinated.
The state of California, meanwhile, is offering financial motivation to encourage people to get vaccinated. On Friday, the state held the first of two planned drawings, awarding $50,000 in cash to 15 people who have been vaccinated. A second drawing will be held next Friday to pick another 15 winners.
On June 15, the date the state is scheduled to lift the majority of its COVID-19 restrictions, the state will draw the names of 10 vaccinated residents, each of whom will receive $1.5 million.
While most restrictions will go away on June 15, county health officials stressed that workplaces will still be subject to rules imposed by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A Cal-OSHA board on Thursday approved recommendations that would continue to mandate masks for everyone at worksites, unless everyone in the room is vaccinated. If anyone in the room is not vaccinated, masks will be required for everyone, regardless of vaccine status.
The new rules, which still need final state approval, would allow businesses to do away with physical distancing and partitions/barriers, if employers make respirators such as N95 masks available to unvaccinated workers.
The workplace rules have drawn criticism for running counter to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has proclaimed that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most situations. If given final state approval, however, the Cal-OSHA rules will take precedence.
“Businesses following required safety modifications at worksites remains an important strategy to keep COVID-19 transmission low as we increase the number of people vaccinated,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “A fully vaccinated workplace is the safest worksite to prevent COVID-19 infection and will allow for the fewest worksite requirements. We urge employers to make it easy for all workers to get vaccinated by bringing vaccines to the worksite or offering paid time off for staff to get vaccinated. Ensuring worker safety is essential.”
Demand for vaccines has been falling, prompting the county to announce plans to phase out its large-scale vaccination clinics in coming weeks, shifting the operations to smaller community locations.
The closures will begin Monday, when the county-run site at Cal State Northridge will shut down, with operations shifting to a smaller location at the Balboa Sports Complex in Encino. According to the county, people who received their first dose at CSUN will get their second dose at the Balboa site. Residents in need of transportation to the site can call 833-540-0473 to arrange a free ride.
The other large-scale sites run by the county — at the Forum in Inglewood, the Pomona Fairplex and the county Office of Education in Downey — will close at the end of the day June 13. Beginning June 15, smaller sites will be opened at:
— Ted Watkins Memorial Park, 1335 E. 103rd St., Los Angeles;
— Commerce Senior Citizens Center, 2555 Commerce Way; and
— Norwalk Arts & Sports Complex, 13000 Clarkdale Ave.
Those three sites will operate from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Ferrer said Wednesday that the slowed pace of vaccinations means it will take the county until late August to reach the target of getting 80% of the population at least partially vaccinated. About 100,000 vaccine doses are being administered in the county each week, down from a peak of about 500,000 per week.
According to figures released by Ferrer, roughly 64% of county residents age 16 and older have received at least one dose so far, while roughly 53% of residents in that age bracket are fully vaccinated.
The county on Friday reported 14 more COVID-19 deaths, lifting the overall death toll to 24,378.
Another 234 infections were announced by the county, pushing the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,244,662.
According to state figures, there were 263 people hospitalized in the county due to COVID, up from 253 on Thursday, with 43 people in intensive care, the same number as a day ago.
Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.