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By City New Service, Press-Telegram
A community coalition in Long Beach is using the promise of a free marijuana joint to encourage folks to get the coronavirus vaccine as case numbers in Los Angeles County surge upward.
The groups plan to lawfully distribute tokens that are redeemable for one free pre-rolled joint on Saturday, July 24, to the first 150 Long Beach residents who are at least 21 years olf get vaccinated at the one-day pop-up clinic at Houghton Park.
“We all want to have a safe summer and enjoy one another’s company,” said James Suazo, executive director of local community organization Long Beach Forward, “even as the pandemic continues on and recreation opens up.
“Cannabis is part of our Long Beach culture, and to safely share a joint without contributing to the spread of COVID-19, we must all do our part to get vaccinated,” Suazo said. “With the ‘Delta’ variant becoming the dominant COVID-19 strain in Los Angeles County, we want our unvaccinated neighbors to catch a free marijuana strain instead so we can protect each other.”
In LA County, 69% of those at least 16 years old have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 61% are fully vaccinated, according to the most recent figures from the Department of Public Health. The rate among Black residents, however, is only 45% with at least one dose, compared to 54% for Latino residents, 65% for White residents and 76% for Asian residents. Vaccination rates continue to be especially low among younger Black residents, with only 28% of those aged 18 to 29 vaccinated.
Long Beach’s numbers are better overall than the county’s, with nearly 70% of those at least 16 years old having received at least one dose, as of Tuesday, July 13. Among those at least 12 years old, 67% have at least one dose. But, like in LA County, vaccinations lag among young people and Black residents: 52% of those 18 to 34 years old have had at least one dose, and 43% of Black people in the city who are at least 18 years old have had one dose or are fully vaccinated.
Among Latino residents at least 18 years old, about 55% were vaccinated, as of Tuesday, while 68% of both White and Asian residents aged 18 and older have had at least one dose.
The Long Beach Collective Association, in a Long Beach Forward news release, said supporting vaccinations aligns with its overall promotion of healthy living.
“The LBCA supports public health efforts,” the association said. “Cannabis products provide safe access to alternative medicine. Supporting vaccination efforts for our communities falls in line with LBCA stance on promoting healthy living and prevention. The LBCA is excited to be a part of this community campaign.”
The “Joints for Jabs” effort comes amid an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County.
The county on Tuesday, July 13, reported 1,103 new coronavirus cases — the fifth straight day the number topped 1,000. That lifted the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,259,772. The county also reported 12 new coronavirus-related deaths, increasing the total to 24,554.
And the rolling seven-day average rate of people testing positive for the virus was 2.9% as of Tuesday, up from 2.8% on Monday and well above the 0.3% rate from mid-June.
Long Beach, meanwhile, has seen 54,105 total cases and 947 deaths from the virus as of Tuesday. There were 13 Long Beach residents hospitalized with the virus that day, and a total of 33 people being treated for the virus in the area’s hospitals.
State figures showed that hospitalizations related to the coronavirus in L.A. County were pushing the 400 mark, increasing by two on Tuesday from the 376 reported on Monday. There were 94 people in intensive care, up from 85 a day earlier.
While the hospitalization numbers are still relatively low compared to the patient totals during the winter surge that reached 8,000, the slow and steady increase in recent weeks is sparking concern among health officials — who say the increase highlights the importance of vaccinations.
Long Beach’s one-day clinic is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 24 at Houghton Park, 6301 Myrtle Ave. Vaccinations and tokens will be distributed to the first 150 Long Beach residents in attendance while supplies last. Children and young people age 12 to 20 can also receive vaccinations but will not be eligible for tokens.
“Joints for Jabs” is just the latest effort to incentivize people to get vaccinated.
The county is also continuing to offer incentives.
Through Thursday, anyone who gets vaccinated at sites operated by the county, the city of Los Angeles or St. John’s Well Child and Family Center will be entered for a chance to win one of seven concert ticket prizes, including box seats at the Hollywood Bowl and tickets to Staples Center concerts, including Celine Dion, Grupo Firma, Luke Bryan, Kane Brown and Dan+Shay.
Information on the Long Beach event: lbforward.org/healthylb.
Staff writer Hayley Munguia contributed to this report.
Original Source: [https://www.presstelegram.com/2021/07/14/in-long-beach-get-a-free-marijuana-joint-with-your-covid-vaccine/]
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