Mayor Garcetti urges booster shot, frequent testing as UC schools issues new mandate for booster

Mayor Eric Garcetti held a press conference Tuesday urging residents to get the booster shot and to undergo frequent testing to ensure they're safe from COVID-19 as the omicron variant spreads.

"In the past we said wait six months for a booster but most of the research is showing that's a pretty arbitrary month date. Three to five months after your second shot, it's OK, it's fine, and it's actually probably smart to get your booster," said Garcetti.

Garcetti pointed to recent data as part of the reason for the booster shot.

"In fact, if you look at the omicron variant, if you are boosted, y have a 55 to 80% greater chance of not getting infected. With just two shots, that can be as low as 0 to 20 percent especially after those first six months. Do it [get vaccinated] and do it now and make sure those who have been riding the fence, who have been hesitant can now see the evidence of just how effective this is. It might not 100 percent keep you from getting COVID-19. I'm evidence of that, but it certainly will keep you from a hospital and keep you from death," he said.

Garcetti said case numbers globally and nationally can indicate what is to come locally.

"While we're better protected now, I have no doubt that what happens in other places like New York and the northeast eventually comes to LA as we saw last year when our surge was later than them. That means we probably will have the second if not the first biggest number of cases on a daily basis soon from omicron," he said.

UC Schools issued a new mandate Tuesday saying eligible students and staff at UCLA, UC Irvine and other University of California campuses will be required to obtain COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, the system's president said Tuesday, while indicating some campuses could temporarily shift to remote courses in January.

Luis Cuevas, a senior at UC Irvine majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, spoke with FOX 11 about the announcement.

"I'm willing to comply with whatever UCI has. It's all understandable and makes sense. My concern mostly was having to do with remote learning. That stuff is kinda hard because I came specifically to UCI for lab experience in particular, fields and that stuff is best done in person. The last classes I have are actually lab classes so that's what frustrates me even more," said Cuevas.

Cuevas said it has been difficult to be a student under pandemic circumstances.

"It's really tough. You never know what's to come throughout the season and COVID isn't going anywhere. It seems to be just mutating and it's created a big multimillion-dollar industry of whoever has the best booster," he said.

In a letter sent to chancellors at the 10 UC schools statewide, Dr. Michael Drake called for each campus to develop "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."

Drake stressed that "evidence is clear that receiving a booster is essential to protecting yourself and those around you from Omicron and other variants."

"Under existing UC policy, students, faculty, and staff are required to keep their vaccination status up to date," Drake wrote. "The policy mandates COVID-19 boosters for those who are eligible."

He also wrote that campuses should not be holding any large gatherings.