State Leaders Call for Teaching Native American History, Culture in Schools

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ ‌ |‌ ‌ California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Assemblymember James C. Ramos (D-Highland) want Californians to have a better understanding of the history and culture of California’s Native American people.

At the State Capitol last week, Thurmond joined Ramos, the only Native American serving in the Legislature as the lawmaker announced that he will introduce a bill encouraging school districts to collaborate with local tribes to increase knowledge about California Native Americans in their communities. 

Ramos, who is the first American Indian ever to be elected to the Legislature, cited a similar effort being made in Washington State.

“When Washington state revamped its Native American curriculum, it began by initiating a relationship between the tribes and schools. Its state’s curriculum, entitled ‘Since Time Immemorial,’ has made a positive difference for students. We can’t reverse 171 years of falsehood and mythology overnight, but we can start,” Ramos said.

Thurmond said he is excited about the initiative and honored to be working along with Ramos to integrate Native American studies into California public education.

“We have the opportunity right now to counter the actions of those who continue to teach harmful and stereotypical messages and create an environment where all students learn about and benefit from the rich history and culture of California’s first People,” said Thurmond. 

Ramos said a deeper understanding of Native American people and their sovereignty would help to get rid of enduring racist stereotypes and misperceptions stuck in the imaginations of some Californians. 

Last fall, a teacher in the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) in Southern California was placed on leave after a student shared a video of her mocking Native Americans while teaching math to students.

In the video, which was shared many times across the internet, the teacher was wearing a headdress made of paper feathers while explaining a math assignment. The student who captured the moment identifies as Native American.

“So few people understand the diversity of California’s first people,” Ramos stated. “They speak different languages, use different musical instruments, practice different customs and traditions. Few know many tribes were wiped out or almost eliminated during the 1800s.”

More than 40,000 students are enrolled in RUSD schools. About 80% of the district’s students identify as Black, Latino or another ethnic minority, and 46% of them are economically disadvantaged, according to U.S News and World Report.

“These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices,” the school district said in a statement. “We are deeply committed to implementing inclusive practices and policies that honor the rich diversity of our district and the greater region. We will be working with our students, families, staff, and community to regain your trust”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 630,000 people identify as American Indian and Alaska Native in California.

In combination with another race, the number of Native Americans increases to about 1.4 million people. Altogether, they make up 3.6% of all Californians, as compared to 1.9% ten years ago, the 2020 census reported.

Ramos said the legislation he plans to introduce will be the first step toward increasing student knowledge about the indigenous tribes residing in the state.

“We are fine-tuning language in the bill and will introduce it soon,” said Ramos. “If we don’t do a better job at encouraging our schools and tribes to work together, we’ll see more classroom episodes such as the one we saw last October.”

Weber’s AB 1655 Would Make Juneteenth a Paid Holiday in California

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ ‌|‌ ‌California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

Last week, Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa) announced the introduction of Assembly Bill (AB) 1655, legislation that would make Juneteenth a paid holiday in California.

AB 1655 is co-authored by Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles) and Mia Bonta (D-Oakland). Weber, Bonta and Jones-Sawyer are all members of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

“It is time that June 19th has the status it deserves in California to honor the significant contributions of Black Americans to our nation and reflect on the long struggle for freedom,” Weber said, speaking during an Assembly session Jan. 15. “By making Juneteenth an official state holiday, California would demonstrate its commitment to celebrating the emancipation of all slaves.”

If the Legislature approves AB 1655 and Gov. Newsom signs it into law, it would amend current statutes to include June 19th as an official state holiday for public schools, community colleges, and California State University systems. It would also grant paid time-off to all state employees. 

Juneteenth commemorates the day American forces declared that enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were freed – more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. 

On June 19th, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger led troops into Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of the Civil War and the institution of slavery. As a result, thousands of enslaved people in Texas were among some of the last to be informed of their liberation.

Historians say that incident captures a broader reality: many enslaved Black people across the South working on plantations did not know about the Emancipation Proclamation – or that they had been freed – until much later. 

Today, the celebration of that joyous occasion in Texas has spread around the nation, with cities and communities in California joining to mark that all-important milestone in the American journey to freedom.

In June last year, President Biden proclaimed Juneteenth an official federal holiday. It is the first commemoration to become a national holiday since President Ronald Reagan declared Martin Luther King Jr. Day a holiday 39 years ago.

Juneteenth is now a paid state holiday in nine states, including Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, Oregon, and Illinois.

“Juneteenth is an important and special annual celebration for Black culture, resilience, and achievement,” said Weber. “Designating this date as a paid state holiday mirrors the federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.”

Jones-Sawyer said people of all races and backgrounds in the state should commemorate the holiday. 

“This is a significant milestone for African Americans, to have a date recognized by our state that is celebrated by all Californians,” said Jones-Sawyer. “AB 1655 is an inclusive act marking a key point in our nation’s history – one we should never forget or ignore, and one that correctly balances the American scale of freedom from 3/5ths to a whole.” 

Asm. Gipson Demands Probe Into Bomb Threat at California’s Only HBCU Charlene Muhammad | California Black Media

Charlene Muhammad | California Black Media 

Following a racist bomb threat Jan. 11 that disrupted operations and terrified students, faculty and staff at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) in Los Angeles, Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) is calling on state and federal authorities to investigate. 

CDU is the only historically Black college in California. It is also designated a “Minority-Serving Institution” by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. 

“As I heard about the violent threat leveled against California’s current and future doctors, nurses, and first responders, I was utterly enraged and pissed off! How can anyone threaten to take the lives of those who have committed themselves to provide life-saving services? This makes me sick to my stomach,” said Gipson in a statement. 

Located in the Willowbrook community in Los Angeles, CDU prides itself on its high enrollment of minority students. Its student body is 80% students of color. About 71% of its faculty is Black, Latino or another ethnic minority. 

“In light of the seriousness of this threat and the threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the nation, I’ve contacted the Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Department of Justice, and President Biden to take action against this racist attack NOW,” continued Gipson.

Earlier this month, there were bomb threats at least eight historically Black Colleges across the country: Spelman College in Atlanta; Howard University in Washington, DC; the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Florida Memorial University; Norfolk State University in Virginia; North Carolina Central University; Prairie View A&M University in Texas; and Xavier University in Louisiana.

On January 11, CDU officials say they discovered a bomb threat that had been emailed to a generic university email address on Jan. 9.

The sender identified himself as a “Neo Nazi Fascist” and wrote: “…I will detonate all 3 of the Titanium Nitrate Sulfuric bombs.  My reasoning … I want to show the Black Population what the White Man can do, we will take back our land!”

“The threat claimed that explosive devices had been planted on the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science campus in South Los Angeles.  Out of an abundance of caution, CDU immediately closed the entire campus and notified authorities,” read a CDU statement.

CDU Campus Safety and local law enforcement completed a review of the grounds and facilities and determined that the campus is safe. 

The campus reopened for operations January 12th, according to Jonathan Zaleski, CDU Director of Communications.

“We are also encouraging work-from-home until then as part of our COVID safety protocols. We return to those protocols today after completely closing the campus yesterday during the bomb threat,” he told California Black Media via email on January 12.

CDU was already operating under limited services since classes do not start until January 18, and even then, it will be remote/hybrid instruction, said Zaleski.

Meanwhile, Gipson said he stands in solidarity “with our brothers and sisters who are frightened and worried for their loved ones due to these racist threats of violence. Hate can’t win when we stand together!”

Founded in 1966, CDU has trained more than 8,000 health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and public health specialists. 

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell (2nd District) said she is appalled at the bomb threat CDU received, which was motivated by racial prejudice and hatred.

“Like many HBCU’s, it was founded in response to systemic racism that denied Black Americans the ability to attend the same academic institutions as their White peers,” said Mitchell in a press release on January 11.

She noted that, as the only medical school on the West Coast with a substantial number of Black students, CDU continues to play a leading role in training Black doctors, preparing individuals from across the globe to become medical leaders in California and beyond. 

Mitchell thanked the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their diligence and speedy response. 

“I stand with CDU for swiftly taking the necessary precautions to protect its students, faculty and the surrounding Willowbrook community. Acts of violence, even the threat of it, will not be tolerated at our schools or anywhere in our communities,” Mitchell concluded.

Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamarr Among Artists Inspiring Groundbreaking L.A. County Museum of Art Exhibit 

To coincide with the 30th anniversary of Interscope Records, the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA) will display over 50 artworks in an exhibition called Artists Inspired by Music: Interscope Reimagined. The exhibition will feature new works by a diverse group of visual artists responded to the groundbreaking music of some of Interscope’s most influential and iconic recording artists.

Teased as part of the promotion for the exhibit is a rendering inspired by Dr. Dre’s The Chronic from Kehinde Wiley; a work from Cecily Brown inspired by Billie Eilish’s EP don’t smile at me; and Rashid Johnson has created a work inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.A.A.D. City album.

Other musical artists who have inspired works include 2Pac, Eminem, Gwen Stefani, Juice WRLD, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, MGK, Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt, Olivia RodrigoSelena Gomez, Snoop Dogg and U2, while the artists they have paired include Julie Curtiss, Shepard Fairey, Lauren HalseyDamien HirstTakashi MurakamiRichard PrinceEd Ruscha.

Artists Inspired by Music: Interscope Reimagined will be on view Sunday, January 30 through February 13, 2022, in LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion and was organized by Interscope Records Co-founder Jimmy Iovine, current Chairman, John Janick, music executive Josh Abraham, and Interscope Vice Chairman Steve Berman. 

“Interscope’s original mission was to find the most profound artists, empower their creativity and watch what happens,” said Iovine.  “For the 30th, we wanted to continue that vision by assembling the most admired visual artists and empower them with that same creative license to honor the musical artists we have worked with over three decades.”

AHF Hosts Groundbreaking for Its Newest Affordable Housing Site

Kisha Smith

AHF and its Healthy Housing Foundation hosted a groundbreaking and dedication ceremony for its newest facility on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles last week in celebration of their ongoing commitment to eradicate homelessness. 

The new building, the “Renaissance Center” will be comprised of a 216-unit, 15-story modular high-rise when completed, which will serve as housing for extremely-low-income and formerly homeless individuals and sits adjacent from its Madison Hotel; a historic 220 single-room- occupancy hotel which AHF previously purchased and repurposed as affordable housing in 2018.

“Today’s groundbreaking ceremony for the new 216 unit “Renaissance Center”, represents another milestone in the history of AHF,” said Cynthia Davis, Domestic Vice Chair, AHF Board of Directors. “The fact that we are holding this ceremony, while also commemorating Martin Luther King Day, is a testament to AHF’s vision to “Fight For What Is Right”, while working tirelessly to end homelessness in Los Angeles County. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an advocate fighting for the civil and human rights of the disenfranchised, the poor and homeless; AHF is continuing his legacy of advocacy with the construction of the new Renaissance Center.” 

AHF President Michael Weinstein was joined by a host of elected officials and community groups. 

“Right now, we are at ground zero for the largest homeless population in America”, stated L.A. City Councilmember Kevin de Leon.

“Every human being deserves access to quality homes,” he continued. “That’s why we’re here to come together to pick each other up…to back each other up. As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, it’s not lost on us that the largest number of individuals living on Skid Row are African Americans and Latinos. That’s why we need to step up. We’re going to keep on moving until we have housing for every human being in the great city of L.A.”

The Renaissance Center will become the 13th affordable housing site in the Los Angeles area that Healthy Housing Foundation has purchased and will repurpose as homeless or extremely-low-income housing since late 2017 when AHF first kicked off its housing program. Healthy Housing Foundation also has plans to build newly built affordable housing units in the Ft. Lauderdale near its AHF Southern Bureau Headquarters. In addition, many AHF affiliate organizations across the U.S. are also involved in providing affordable housing in their communities. 

“Dr. King shared we must do more to get people to understand the size of the problem,” observed Brotherhood Crusade CEO Charisse Bremond. “This new housing gives me hope that AHF is leading with empathy, compassion and purpose.”

Housing for people of color, more specifically Black Americans, has been an ongoing issue for several decades. To date, more than half of Black Americans don’t own homes. This shows that discriminatory housing laws and practices continue to be a huge challenge. 

Urban League President Michael Lawson said that his group stood shoulder to shoulder with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Healthy Housing, “because they are doing the work that needs to be done. 

“Is this going to solve all the problems? No,” Lawson stated, “but it is one step toward giving us the economic equality that we need.” 

AHF launched Healthy Housing Foundation in 2017 to address the rampant affordable housing crisis sweeping the nation by providing fast, easy, and compassionate access to affordable housing with a focus on addressing the needs of low-income individuals, struggling families, youth, and those living with chronic illness. 

Sharon Logan knows first-hand the benefits of programs like the Heathy Housing Foundation.

“Thanks to projects like these that helped me and my family, I’m now in a good place,” said Logan. “I’m a grandmother, my kids went to college and they have their own homes now. Without this steppingstone, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”

The Congressional Black Caucus Vows to Continue Fight for Key Voting Rights Legislation


Members of the Congressional Black Congress are vowing to continue the fight for landmark voting rights, despite the defeat suffered on Wednesday (January 19) when the John R. Lewis Act fell short in what was also a major defeat for President Joe Biden.

As expected, Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin voted against the filibuster rules change that would have made it easier to pass the bill, instead siding with Republican senators in a 52-48 victory for the GOP.

In a statement, President Biden said he was profoundly disappointed, but for Congressional Black Caucus members, the fight was far from over.

“I want everybody to know…we want this Senate to act today in a favorable way,” Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina said hours before the vote. “But if it don’t, we ain’t givin’ up and I’m too young to give out.

“Let me remind you that when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was first written, they did not get it through the Congress. They couldn’t get it. Everett Dirksen, one of my favorites of all times, finally worked with Lyndon Johnson, another one of my favorites of all times, and they took voting out in order to get it passed.”

For Caucus Chair Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), the attempt to pass the legislation was just the first step. 

“Certainly, you will remember when Martin and John and Fannie Lou Hamer, and so many others, went to cross that bridge with all the intentions on that first march to cross it. But if it wasn’t meant to be and it wasn’t the right time, they turned around, but they didn’t give up,” Beatty reflected. “It was just another step in progress. So, we come in that same light today, of when the hour of the vote to tell you that our plan is that we will continue to come back. And like in history, we will get progress.”

The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act would significantly expand voting access while also standardizing election laws nationwide and restore provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that have been weakened by the Supreme Court. It would also make Election Day a federal holiday and provide a minimum of 15 days of early voting.

Bass for Mayor Campaign Surges Ahead as Year-End Fundraising Nears $2 Million

Chez Hadley

A surge of 3,755 donors is fueling the momentum and fundraising for Karen Bass’ mayoral campaign, which has raised nearly $2 million since the Congresswoman launched her bid for L.A. Mayor in October.

Campaign manager Jamarah Hayner reported that donations have totaled $1,928,751 thus far, with the average contribution being $528.

Karen Bass is the leader that this city is calling for and the support she is receiving from every part of this city is proof,” said Jamarah Hayner, campaign manager for Karen Bass For Mayor. “Her deep relationships spanning this entire city are generating excitement at a local level that hasn’t been seen in more than a decade. The people of this city are demanding solutions to our problems with homelessness and public safety. They are rallying behind the decisive leadership Karen Bass has always demonstrated. That’s why we’re seeing this momentum and it’s only going to grow.”

By most accounts, Bass is the frontrunner in a field that includes Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, former California state Senate leader Kevin de León and City Councilman Joe Buscaino. 

Her growing list of endorsements includes Senator Cory Booker, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Labor and Civil Rights Leader Dolores Huerta, Congressman Ted Lieu, Congressman Adam Schiff, Los Angeles County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly Mitchell, State Senators Steven Bradford and Sydney Kamlager, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Assemblymembers Autumn Burke, Mike Gipson, Isaac Bryan, Chris Holden and Reggie Jones-Sawyer.

The primary is scheduled for June 7 with the general election set for November 8.

Local Black Media in California Will Benefit from New Funding

Tanu Henry | California Black Media 

Two organizations have made commitments to invest in local Black-owned media in California.

Last year, The California Endowment, a foundation dedicated to promoting environments that support healthy living in the state, committed $300,000 to California Black Media (CBM) for the next two years. The money will be used to expand a program that provides direct grants to support the local news reporting capacity of Black media news outlets across the states. 

“Information is as important as the air that we breathe and the water we drink,” says Regina Wilson, Executive Director of California Black Media. “Supporting our Black Media Sustainability Initiative (BMSI) helps our partners across the state continue the work we do to empower the public with information and news that are vital to the decisions Black Californians make and it determines how – and how well — we live,” said Regina Wilson, Executive Director of CBM. 

Last week, Experian, one of the country’s top credit and information services companies, also donated 75,000 to CBM to support the program. The gift is part of a broader global initiative the company is undertaking to “empower vulnerable people to improve their financial health through education and action.” 

Experian supported three other nonprofit organizations that serve Black communities across the United States: The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the National Newspaper Publisher Association (NNPA), and the LaGrant Foundation (TLF).

Experian donated a total of $375,000 to the organizations. 

“Nonprofits have been a critical resource for underserved communities and continue to be resilient in the face of the health and financial crises caused by the pandemic,” said Abigail Lovell, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility at Experian. Globally, the company employs 20,000 people in 44 countries. 

“In addition to our work together and reaching out with the message of financial inclusion for all, this is an opportunity to provide real support with their general operating expenses. We hope the funds will enable them to strengthen their impact in the communities that need help the most and lessen the wealth gap in society,” Lovell said. 

Experian says the company’s donation to the four nonprofit organizations will directly support African American communities at a time when so many people are recovering from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will be used to cover operating expenses and to contribute to the development of innovative programs that improve the lives of people in those communities. 

CBM’s BMSI program currently supports local news reporting at four Black-owned-and-operated news publishers across the state, including the Sacramento Observer, San Diego Voice & Viewpoint, Inglewood Today and the Inland Valley News. Over the last six months, local news reporting at media outlets participating in the program has increased by more than 90 %. More than 130 original news stories have been published. 

Wilson says this year she expects to regrant money to more news publishers to support their local news reporting. 

“When we began raising money to support the Black Press about 10 years ago, pitching the idea of how important it is to help sustain strong and accountable local media — and Black local media in particular — was a much harder sell than it is today,” says Wilson. 

“There is so much more interest and understanding of how critical those things are to the strength of our communities and democracy now,” Wilson added. “We look forward to working with more organizations to continue to do this work to strengthen journalism that serves the public interest.”

Assemblymember Gipson Teams with California Lawmakers On Bill Aimed at Gunmakers

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ ‌|‌ ‌California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson), a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, joined forces with two other legislators to craft a bill that holds gunmakers liable for injuries or death caused by weapons they manufactured.

On Jan. 4, Gipson, Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and Chris Ward (D-San Diego) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1594. The legislators are hinging the passage of their bill on a loophole in a 2005 federal law that otherwise protects gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits.

“This is absolutely personal to me,” Gipson said, referring to AB 1594. “I will not rest until we put an end to senseless gun violence. Part of the solution is focused on how particular guns are manufactured and distributed in California.”

Congress passed the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)” in 2005. The law shields gun manufacturers and dealers from civil suits when crimes are committed using guns they make. 

Ting said that AB 1594 exposes a loophole in PLCAA, which does not give impunity to gun makers or sellers when a state law is violated.

Ting stated that companies manufacturing, selling, distributing, and marketing of firearms can be held accountable under state law when such activities create a public nuisance — defined as contributing to conditions that endanger the health or safety of others or engaging in unfair business practices.

“We must make our communities safer. Almost every industry in the United States can be held liable for what their products do, but the gun industry is not held to the same standard,” Ting stated. “Financial repercussions may finally push them to be more responsible by improving their practices and adhering to California’s strict gun laws.”

Ting, Ward, and Gipson expect to finalize the bill language later this month with hearings likely to start in the spring. AB 1594 is co-sponsored by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Brady Campaign. Brady is one of America’s oldest and boldest gun violence prevention groups.

“Nearly 40,000 lives are lost to gun violence every year. That’s an average of 100 people shot and killed in the United States every day,” Assemblymember Ward said. “Until the gun industry decides to play a larger role in reducing gun violence in our communities, it is vital that California takes action now to stem what has become a worsening public health crisis.”

In December, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that his administration is working with the California lawmakers to propose a nation-leading law that would allow private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells unlawful assault weapons, as well as “ghost guns,” ghost gun kits or their component parts.

Gipson, who is the chair for the Select Committee on Police Reform, also said he plans to introduce another bill soon that goes after assault weapons and “ghost gun” distributors through private legal action.

According to the Brady Campaign, ghost guns are un-serialized and untraceable firearms that can be bought online and assembled at home. They are often sold through “ghost gun kits,” which include all of the parts and often the equipment necessary to build these weapons at home.

In response to Newsom’s plans, The California Rifle and Pistol Association said in a statement, “The latest attack on law-abiding California gun owners is Newsom’s response to a recent Supreme Court ruling reacting to a Texas law prohibiting abortion. Law-abiding gun owners and businesses are not the cause of criminal misuse of firearms. Yet, Newsom and other anti-gun politicians seem to believe the threat of frivolous lawsuits will somehow address their own failures.” 

Organized in 1875, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, based in Fullerton, is the official and only state affiliate of the National Rifle Association.

In 2019, the governor signed Gipson’s AB 879 into law. It requires a state background check for purchases of unfinished firearm frames and receivers, and mandates that all purchases happen through a licensed gun dealer.

Gipson’s 32-year-old son Devon and his fiancée were shot almost two years ago in the Gramercy Park area of South Los Angeles. The couple survived the shooting, but a 55-year-old man was killed, and another person was injured.

“I am proud to team up with and look forward to working with my colleague, Assemblymember Ting, to pass tangible, commonsense legislation to protect our families from those who would do them harm,” Gipson said.

Gov. Newsom Proposes $2.7 Billion for COVID Response; Activates National Guard

Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media 

On Jan. 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he is proposing a $2.7 billion investment to boost the state’s COVID-19 response efforts.

The request is included in the state budget Gov. Newsom is sending to the State Legislature this week. He is asking lawmakers to take action on it immediately. 

The emergency response package includes money for more testing, more vaccinations, including boosters, and support for health care professionals.

“From day one, California has taken swift and direct action to battle COVID-19 with policies that have saved tens of thousands of lives, but there’s more work to be done,” Newsom said. 

“Our proposed COVID-19 Emergency Response Package will support our testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers and health care systems and battle misinformation, with a focus on the hardest-hit communities,” the governor added. 

Michelle Gibbons, Executive Director of the County Health Executives Association of California, said the new influx of cash comes at a “pivotal time” when the state and country are confronting a new surge in Omicron variant cases.  

Currently, California has a positivity rate of 21.7%, according to the California Department of Public Health. Omicron variant infections accounts for 80 % of those cases. And over the last seven days, there has been an average of 124.5 cases per 100,000 people. 

“We commend the Governor for taking these decisive actions to help protect the health and well-being of local communities through the expansion of vaccines, testing, and booster shots and efforts to combat misinformation that has caused unnecessary deaths and illness, Gibbons said. “These actions will ultimately help save lives, which remains a top priority for local public health.

This weekend, Gov. Newsom also deployed 200 California National Guardsman at testing sites to assist with the state’s response.

“California is deploying the National Guard to testing sites to help expand capacity. If you’re feeling sick, don’t hesitate to get tested,” Newsom tweeted.

Last Monday, the FDA approved booster eligibility for children ages 12 to 15.

Newsom expressed support for this expansion on Twitter.

“Great news — more protection for more people. Boosters are our best defense against Omicron. If you’re eligible, get yours today,” the California governor tweeted.

As people experience COVID-19 home test kit shortages across California, the state has announced plans to remedy the situation. 

“California is expanding access to testing for students by providing 1–2 rapid tests for each K–12 public school student to keep our schools safe and open,” tweeted Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Surgeon General of California.

Harris emphasized that, “Testing is a critical part of California’s pandemic response and a key reason our cumulative COVID-19 death rate is the lowest of the large states.” 

Newsom’s office said the tests are already on their way.

“More tests are enroute for California’s students! These at-home test kits arrived last night at our warehouse and will immediately be sent to counties for distribution through county offices of education,” Newsom’s office tweeted.

The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) responded to this claim with anticipation.

“Great news! Our county offices are ready to have the torch passed so we can get these important test kits out to our students,” The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) tweeted. “We pledged to help keep schools open and having these kits distributed quickly is another way our county office teams are stepping up to make this happen.” 

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