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Gov. Gavin Newsom details COVID-19 booster requirements and CA's plan amid winter surge

Health care workers will be required to receive a booster shot by Feb. 1 and students in California will be given a free rapid test from the state.

CALIFORNIA, USA — Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke Wednesday about new coronavirus vaccination and booster requirements in California and expanded testing for students in the state.

In a statement posted to Twitter, he cited the rise of the omicron variant in the state. Omicron is now the dominant version of the coronavirus in the country, according to federal health officials.

"With Omicron on the rise, we’re taking immediate actions to protect Californians and ensure our hospitals are prepared," Newsom said in a tweet.

WATCH: Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses CA’s plan to fight COVID-19 this winter (Dec. 22, 2021)

Tests for students

The state will provide one to two rapid COVID tests for each K-12 public school student returning from winter break. Newsom said that the state will order six million tests to be provided to health partners to give to students for free.

Boosters for health care workers

All health care workers in the state of California will now be required to receive a booster shot of the COVID vaccine by Feb. 1, 2022. Newsom said the decision is to percent staffing shortages. 

"We recognize now that just being vaccinated, fully vaccinated, is not enough with this new variant," said Newsom during Wednesday's press conference.

 According to Newsom, the state has contracted with 1,700 staff members to help hospitals with staffing as they prepare for an increase in COVID cases. He said they have also secured 5,000 more individuals who could help if a significant increase happens.

Omicron variant surges

San Diego County public health officials reported 819 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths associated with the virus in their latest data, as UC San Diego announced it was returning to remote instruction in light of surging Omicron cases.

Tuesday's data increased the county's cumulative totals since the pandemic began to 401,475 infections and 4,424 deaths.

The number of coronavirus patients in San Diego County hospitals decreased by eight people to 343, according to the latest state figures. Of those patients, 94 were in intensive care, one more than Monday.

A total of 9,558 new tests were reported to the county on Tuesday. A total of 5.5% of all tests returned positive for the virus over the past week.

As of last Wednesday, more than 5.89 million doses of the three vaccines now available had been administered throughout the San Diego County region.

More than 2.72 million county residents -- around 86.5% of all those eligible -- have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. More than 2.42 million San Diegans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, representing roughly 76.9% of eligible residents.

In addition, 601,951 booster shots have been administered in the region.

UCSD will move its instruction to remote-only from Jan. 3-17. Chancellor Pradeep Khosla made the announcement following a letter from UC President Dr. Michael Drake to the 10 UC chancellors asking them "to design and implement a plan for a January return to campus that mitigates public health impacts, responds to the unique circumstances facing your campus, and maintains our teaching and research operations."

UCSD will close for its winter break on Wednesday. Khosla said that during the break he plans to "incrementally populate the campus using a more comprehensive testing regimen."

UC Riverside and UC Irvine also confirmed a shift to remote learning on Tuesday.

Students and faculty at UCSD, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to complete a COVID-19 test on the day they return to campus for winter quarter. People who are not vaccinated and those who are vaccinated but have not received a booster shot will be required to test for the virus two times per week, between three and five days apart.

Khosla offered a hopeful note before the campus shuttered again.

"Together, we have demonstrated continued resilience, creativity and innovation during the course of the pandemic," he said. "Together, we have achieved both great and small things. And together, we will face the Omicron variant."

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