After what appeared to be a near-lightless holiday season and the start of the New Year, California officials in recent days have pointed to signs that the overwhelming coronavirus outbreak in the state is finally easing – or at least not. not get worse.
“There are good things to report,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a video message posted Tuesday evening. “We are starting to see some stabilization in both the ICUs and our positivity rate.”
And he officially announced that a strict home support order affecting the Sacramento area would be lifted, with immediate effect, due to the expected improvement in the capacity of the area’s intensive care unit. This means that some businesses, including hair salons and restaurants with outdoor dining, may be able to reopen.
[Track coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across California.]
It was the first of the four major regions of the state that had been placed under the exit order.
Dr Mark Ghaly, Secretary of State for Health and Human Services, told a virtual press conference on Tuesday that “the biggest signal to me that things are starting to stabilize and potentially improve” is the flattening rate of hospital admissions.
New Covid-19-related hospitalizations increased from around 3,500 per day around Jan.5 to 2,500 and 2,600 in the previous two days, he said.
Still, hospitals in the vast Southern California and Central Valley region, both of which are still on stay-at-home orders, are full.
And according to a New York Times database on Tuesday, officials reported that more than 720 people have died from the virus in California – a daily record.
An update on vaccines
The state has also fought relentlessly to deploy vaccines, despite what leaders have described for months as a detailed and “fairness-driven” planning process, based on a carefully structured hierarchy of workers and managers. age groups. As of Tuesday, only a quarter of the state’s available doses had been administered.
On Wednesday, however, Mr Newsom announced that the state was opening vaccine eligibility to anyone aged 65 and over, as well as building a new system to alert residents when they were eligible to be vaccinated. . It should start next week.
“There is no higher priority than effectively and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those facing the most serious consequences,” he said in a statement. “For those who are not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccines to the state. “
Some cities and counties are also expected to open mass vaccination centers, such as at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles – although Los Angeles County is set to continue immunizing only healthcare workers at least until the end of the day. end of the month.
The move comes shortly after the federal government ordered states to begin using reserved doses of vaccine for second injections.
[Read the latest story about the shifting federal vaccine rollout guidance.]
Dr David Lubarsky, executive director of UC Davis Health, said on Tuesday that while Governor, Dr Ghaly and others in the state had done their best to navigate a difficult situation, “perfection is there. ‘enemy of good’. The top priority should be getting gunfire – not spending resources to keep people from crossing the line.
“If you are so determined to make sure that Patient A has to come before Patient B before Citizen C, you can’t get people to the door enough,” he said.
He said the state would be better served by allowing healthcare providers a greater share of doses to be administered to patients rather than counties.
Healthcare providers, he said, already have built-in ways to contact regular patients in large groups based on factors such as their age and risk of death. And large healthcare systems, in particular, can quickly create algorithms to factor in things like zip code, which can indicate whether a patient may live in a particularly vulnerable community.
Dr Lubarsky said that as of Tuesday, about 12,000 of the system’s 13,000 staff received at least their first doses of the vaccine by opening the process, and patient vaccinations were due to begin soon.
“We said, ‘If someone skipped the line, shame on them,’ he said. “If they showed us their ID cards and worked in the hospital, it was a bit of an honor system.”
[Read four opinion pieces by experts about how to fix the vaccine rollout.]
As a result, he said, the rate of transmission of Covid-19 among staff has dropped significantly. In recent weeks, an average of 135 employees “were getting Covid and going home.” This week, he says, that number is in the 1920s.
Ultimately, Dr Lubarsky said opening mass vaccination centers and other efforts to expand eligibility were positive steps.
“I think they are 100% moving in the right direction,” he said.
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President Trump on Wednesday became the first president in the country’s history to be impeached twice.
In a chamber led by President Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from San Francisco, 232 members of Congress voted to accuse the president of inciting a violent insurgency against the US government.
This list included each Democratic representative, as well as 10 members of the president’s own party.
Among the Republicans who voted for impeachment was Representative David Valadao, who narrowly took over the Central Valley siege he lost in 2018 in November.
Although he said on twitter that he believed Ms Pelosi had turned “what should be a full investigation into a hasty political coup,” he had to vote his conscience.
“Its inciting rhetoric was anti-American, odious and absolutely unforgivable,” Mr. Valadao said. “It’s time to put the country above politics.”
Patches – a calico cat believed to have been killed alongside his owner in January 2018 when rainstorms sent debris sliding down the Montecito hills in the aftermath of Thomas’ fire – was recently found alive and reunited with its owner’s partner, the Associated Press reported.
“While we don’t know exactly what she’s been doing with her life for the past three years, we can see that Patches and Norm are thrilled to be reunited,” the shelter who found the feline said in a Facebook post.
Maybe that would have been enough heartwarming cat news for a day. But then I came across this report from the Sonoma Index-Tribune, about a woman from Glen Ellen who also recently tracked down her cat, Mordecai Jones, who was also lost for about three years, after missing during the 2017 forest fires.
I’m not sure if this confluence of pet-related good fortune is meaningful, but I think this week we’ll take what we can get.
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Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley and has reported statewide, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.