While City of Turlock offices are set to reopen on a modified schedule, the Stanislaus County Jail is on lockdown and the County Clerk offices are closed as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the new year.
Stanislaus County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Luke Schwartz said that parts of the county jail are on lockdown to keep the number of COVID-19 cases from spreading. There are also a large number of court continuances being issued because of inmates and jurors testing positive for COVID-19.
Due to the increased number of COVID-19 cases and resulting staff shortages, the Stanislaus County Clerk Offices are closed to the public from Jan. 24 through Feb. 4.
The City of Turlock offices were completely closed to the public from Jan. 10 through 21, but will reopen Monday with modified hours. The City’s Utility Payment/Finance Department will be open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. All other City offices will be open by appointment only from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. To make an appointment at one of the City’s departments, call (209) 668-5542.
The next Turlock City Council meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday will be held solely through the Zoom remote meeting application. Although the meeting will be closed to in-person appearances, the public can still participate by going to the Zoom website at: https://zoom.us/join and entering webinar ID number 84924629186 or by calling in by phone at: 669-900-6833 and entering the webinar ID number.
Positive cases are also on the rise in the schools, with Turlock Unified School District reporting a total of 535 students and staff having tested positive for COVID-19 as of Jan. 14, a stark increase from the 153 testing positive on Jan. 7. Many high school activities and athletic events have been cancelled due to the number of students testing positive.
Gov. Gavin Newsom in October announced the nation's first coronavirus vaccine mandate for schoolchildren. But it likely won't take effect until later this year and allows exemptions for medical reasons, religious and personal beliefs — though lawmakers may try to limit non-medical reasons.
California would allow children age 12 and up to be vaccinated without their parents’ consent under a proposal introduced Friday by a state senator who said youngsters “deserve the right to protect themselves” against infectious disease.
Currently in California, minors ages 12 to 17 cannot be vaccinated without permission from their parents or guardians, unless the vaccine is specifically to prevent a sexually transmitted disease. Parental consent laws for vaccinations vary by state and region, and a few places such as Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., allow kids 11 and up, and in San Francisco 12 and older, to consent to their own COVID-19 vaccines.
The bill by Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener would lift the parental requirement for that age group for any vaccine that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the bill passes, California would allow the youngest age of any state to be vaccinated without parental permission.
That includes immunizations against the coronavirus, but Wiener said vaccine hesitancy and misinformation has also deterred vaccinations against measles and other contagious diseases that can then spread among youths whose parents won't agree to have them vaccinated.
“You have parents who are blocking their kids from getting the vaccines or ... they may not be anti-vaccine but they just aren’t prioritizing it,” Wiener told reporters at a news conference at San Francisco's Everett Middle School. “Those kids deserve the right to protect themselves.”
Responding to criticism that the bill would limit parents' oversight of their children's health, Wiener said that California state law already allows people 12 and older to consent to the Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines and to treatments for sexually transmitted infections, substance abuse and mental health disorders.
“This is not a new or radical idea, it's very consistent with existing law,” he said.
Alabama allows such decisions for children starting at age 14, Oregon at 15 and Rhode Island and South Carolina at 16, Wiener said.
There were 1,816 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Stanislaus County from Thursday to Friday. As of Friday, there are 103,289 total positive cases of COVID-19, 12,363 probable cases and 1,517 deaths since the pandemic began.
In Turlock, there have been 2,000 total cases of COVID-19 and 219 deaths.
Health officials have said hospitalizations won't likely peak until the end of the month, and hospitals are bracing for even more strain as their own workers have also been sidelined by coronavirus infections.
The omicron variant spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains, but early studies show it is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant and vaccination and a booster still offer strong protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.