California went from worst to first in the rate of coronavirus infections
LOS ANGELES – Just a few months ago, California was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the USA. Hospitals in Los Angeles were drowning in patients and ambulances standing outside with people struggling to breathe, waiting for the beds to open.
The death count was impressive – so many that full morgues and refrigerated trucks were brought in to deal with the overflow.
Now, as cases increase in other parts of the country, California has gone from the worst to the first with the lowest infection rate in the United States, although it has moved quickly to reopen more companies with a larger number of customers and allow larger meetings.
The struggle to obtain COVID-19 vaccines has given rise to an open invitation in many places. Where people lined up for hours and counties struggled to get the doses, now there seems to be an excess of injections in many places.
“It has been a success story for California to move past our viral tsunami that happened after the consecutive vacation season to where we are now,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health. Angeles.
At the height of California’s winter wave following Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays, the state was registering 40,000 new cases daily and well over 500 deaths per day. These numbers have dropped to 2,300 new cases and 68 daily deaths.
The state overtook Hawaii on Thursday with the lowest average number of cases per capita in the past two weeks, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. One in 2,416 people in California tested positive last week. At the other end of the spectrum, one in 223 people in Michigan have been diagnosed with the virus.
Kim-Farley said it’s like turning a huge tanker around to achieve today’s level of improvement. He credited the government and public health agencies with providing clear guidelines that companies, schools and individuals largely followed, including masking mandates and social detachment.
Governor Gavin Newsom has allowed businesses and schools to reopen by county based on case levels. At different points in the pandemic, he faced strong criticism for being too restrictive, and now some fear he is acting too fast.
All counties have improved enough to move out of the strictest level of four, and 38 out of 58 counties – accounting for 87% of the state’s population – are now at the second least restrictive level. Newsom said he plans to lift most of the remaining restrictions on the coronavirus until June 15.
The pandemic has increased unevenly in the USA.
Cases were low in California a year ago, compared to New York, where hospitals were filled to capacity last spring. When California was experiencing a second winter peak in mid-January, Michigan’s cases were declining to a low point in February before reaching the current highest infection rate in the United States.
Kim-Farley said the California surge put more people in fear of wearing masks, a rule he said helped prevent a resurgence.
“Some states in the United States that have removed mandates from the masks are suffering the consequences of this with the increase in the number of cases, while we continue to see decreases,” he said.
California struggled with vaccine implantation like other states, limiting doses to healthcare professionals and the elderly who were most at risk of being hospitalized or dying. The doses increased as the cases decreased, and the high number of infections during the winter also led to a certain level of natural immunity.
Just a few weeks ago, counties were struggling to get the doses. The state limited eligibility for the precious vaccine and stories of cheaters who skipped the line to get an injection abounded.
The Vaccine Spotter website, which helps to schedule appointments, showed a map of the state on Thursday filled with green dots, indicating the available appointments. Many were available on the same day and some websites allowed people to attend without an appointment.
Los Angeles County has opened sites in Palmdale and Lancaster for occasional visits. The largest mass vaccination clinic in Napa County saw demand drop from a flood to a drip a few days after California last week expanded the vaccine’s eligibility to all 16 years and older. It is also allowing for walk-ins.
“We definitely have the capacity,” said county spokeswoman Janet Upton. “But now what we lack is, apparently, the public interest.”
California has about 40 million residents and just over half of the 32 million eligible for vaccines have received at least one injection.
A combination of concern over reports of rare complications with misinformation and conspiracy theories and a feeling among some that the danger has diminished has led to the vaccine’s hesitation.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer tried to persuade more people to put aside concerns about the vaccine, noting that the chance of a serious side effect is the same as dying on a 320km trip that most people would not hesitate to do.
“The risk of having a serious side effect with the COVID vaccine is about one in a million,” she said. “We take these tiny risks every day while we live because we know what’s on the other side is worth it. Likewise, the return to normal that occurs on the other side of the vaccination is worthwhile. “
With the implantation of the vaccine, the morgues that ran out of space returned to normal.
“It’s the difference between night and day,” said Todd Beckley, general manager of Inglewood Mortuary Cemetery. “There was a time when we had nine deaths a day and they were all COVID. We haven’t had a COVID death in four days. “