News Digest | March 26, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 26, 2021

News Digest

State expands vaccine eligibility to ages 50+

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Thursday that all Californians 50 and older will be eligible to be vaccinated on April 1, while everyone 16 and older will qualify two weeks later.

The governor also said that starting Thursday, the state will loosen requirements for doctors and other health care providers to use their discretion to vaccinate anyone they think should get one, regardless of age or medical condition.

The state expects a surge in supply next month: approximately 2.5 million first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccinations per week in the first half of April, and more than 3 million in the second half of the month.

That is a substantial increase from the 1.8 million doses the state receives per week. Health officials have long said supply was the biggest constraint and that the state has capacity to administer about 3 million vaccines per week and should be able to administer up to 4 million by the end of April.

As of Wednesday, California had administered 15.5 million doses. About 5.4 million people have been fully vaccinated.

Even with this expansion in eligibility and supply, it will take several months to vaccinate everyone who wants a vaccine, health officials warn.

—Ana B. Ibarra

Schools to reopen 5 days a week

For the first time in a year, Palo Alto Unified elementary school students will be able to return to school five days a week in person starting in April, Superintendent Don Austin announced on Tuesday evening.

His announcement followed several critical changes driving school reopenings. Santa Clara County moved into the state's orange tier of public health restrictions on Tuesday. The California Department of Public Health adopted over the weekend new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that halved the recommended spacing between masked students in classrooms from 6 to 3 feet, allowing schools to increase capacity. And in the district, 90% of employees are either fully vaccinated or have received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot, Austin said.

Third through fifth graders will return first on April 19 and kindergarten through second graders on April 26. This only applies to students who are already attending school for hybrid learning. Students in full distance learning will continue taking classes remotely for the rest of the school year. A handful of elementary classrooms have since February been piloting a five-days-a-week model.

Currently, about 600 students each are at Palo Alto and Gunn high schools each week, Austin said. He anticipates more students will be interested in coming back to school after spring break and in light of the county moving into the less-restrictive orange tier.

The principals of Palo Alto and Gunn high schools also announced Tuesday that, with Santa Clara County in the orange tier, they will again be open campuses starting this Wednesday, March 24. This means students will be allowed to leave campus during prep periods and lunch.

—Elena Kadvany

Police investigate spray-painted hate message

Police are investigating a spray-painted racial ephithet discovered in Heritage Park on March 21 as a hate crime. Officers found the blue spray paint in several areas of the downtown Palo Alto park, including the bark of a tree.

"Of most concern was a short sentence that included a racial epithet written in about 5-inch-tall letters on a concrete curb set in the ground that separates grass from dirt," police said in a statement on Tuesday.

The racial slur was directed at African Americans. On a nearby wall with decorative tiles, police found images of male genitalia. Two first names were also painted — one on the tile, one on the ground. Police also found 15 to 20 empty cans of alcohol that had been spray painted. They collected the discarded cap of a blue spray-paint can as evidence. A Public Works crew removed the paint, police said.

The crime likely occurred overnight from Saturday into Sunday, police said. Investigators don't have any suspects at this time. The department said the city will not tolerate hate crimes in the city toward any group.

"In the wake of recent national events and increased attention on hate crimes, the personnel of the Palo Alto Police Department continue to show their commitment to thoroughly investigating any reported hate crimes in Palo Alto," the department stated.

The city of Palo Alto strongly is encouraging members of the community to promptly report incidents like these by calling the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413, or 9-1-1 if it is an emergency.

—Sue Dremann


Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2021 at 2:39 pm

Citizen is a registered user.

This is great news. Can someone please provide links to sign ups for vaccinations at local centers like Levi Stadium and Mtn Vw Community center? Are we allowed to sign up now for a vaccination after April 1?

Posted by Whitey McWhiterson
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2021 at 3:02 pm

Whitey McWhiterson is a registered user.

Really? Even if you have the worst medical coverage in the state: Kaiser Permanente? Surely, they will lag behind, probably, maybe, til June? Right? Kaiser needs to make a profit and there is none in just giving out shots for free.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2021 at 10:17 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

The right hand is not talking to the left hand. Gavin is getting nervous about the recall and promising things he cannot guarantee will be followed through.

But then, politicians are always promising things they cannnot follow through.

We can't have more people being eligible for less reliable vaccine availability. We are being taken in yet again.

Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2021 at 1:37 am

Citizen is a registered user.

My spouse over 65 had no problem getting a shot at Levi Stadium. A friend from PV had no trouble getting one at Oakland Coliseum. I just can't remember the search term -- and I'd prefer to go to MVw, where other friends got theirs and had no trouble. For some reason the medical care providers have had trouble getting in supply but there seems to be plenty at the mass vax centers.

Try being active and getting things done yourself if you think politicians are worthless unless they're perfect gods. Roll up your sleeves and help instead of being a bystander/peanut gallery. In case you haven't noticed, it's pretty darned impossible to govern in the current climate, and CA was under constant attack. The current national administration promised 100 million shots in the first 100 days and delivered by day 58. Now it's a 200 million goal.

Posted by Whitey McWhiterson
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 26, 2021 at 5:45 am

Whitey McWhiterson is a registered user.

For what it's worth, my friend in Cleveland, who is years younger than me, while I cannot get it in California yet, told me his theory that if your state has in his words a lot of right wing nuts who don't want it, it's easier to have supply for those who do. Yet I wonder, the awful old TV reality show president is gone. How long before we stop blaming him for things we can't get done in California?

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