A rapid antigen COVID-19 test at Canal Alliance in San Rafael on Sept. 25, 2021. Photo by Penni Gladstone for CalMatters

(CALMATTERS) – California appears to have settled on a new strategy to combat COVID-19: Instead of instituting lockdowns in response to the omicron variant, which has helped push the statewide testing positivity rate to nearly 16% and prompted a spike in hospitalizations, state and local leaders are mandating stronger safety measures to keep businesses and schools open. Some key examples:

But there’s one key exception when it comes to tougher COVID rules: prisons. Newsom’s administration is continuing to fight a federal judge’s order mandating vaccines for prison guards, saying increased testing is sufficient. But attorneys representing inmates contend that many prison workers are failing to get tested twice a week as required — and note that prisoners must be fully vaccinated by today if they want to have in-person or family visits.