Should California be concerned about another COVID-19 spike in the winter? – Community News

Should California be concerned about another COVID-19 spike in the winter?

There are ongoing concerns that California could experience a resurgence of COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months.

What that might look like, and how serious it could ultimately be, remains an open question.

Officials and experts largely agree that California is unlikely to see a wave reaching the stark heights of last winter — which overloaded hospitals with COVID-19 patients and killed tens of thousands statewide — largely because many residents have already been vaccinated.

But a spike in cases during the winter months, when temperatures drop and a crowded holiday calendar could tempt residents to travel and mingle without taking appropriate precautions, is still a real possibility.

“With cases increasing in most parts of the state, we can’t be wary, and we can’t underestimate this deadly virus,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, director of the California Department of Public Health and the state’s public health officer, issued a statement Monday.

Here’s an overview of where we are.

What is the care during the winter holidays?

Health officials have warned of a possible new surge in COVID-19 cases in California, as seniors who received their injections — and didn’t get a booster shot — last winter could see their immunity wane, exposing them to a greater risk of developing cancer. infection and hospitalization, and as people gather more indoors with cool weather and approaching holidays.

Demand for booster shots has fallen below expectations in California. And each Californian infected continues to spread the coronavirus to more people.

As of Saturday, computer models estimate that every Californian infected spread the virus to an average of 0.96 other people. If that number exceeds 1, the way will be cleared for further growth of the pandemic.

Officials hope strict vaccination requirements in some of California’s most populous areas will help slow the spread of cases over the winter. In Los Angeles, a new city rule went into effect Monday requiring customers to show proof of full vaccination to enter venues such as indoor restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and hair and nail salons, but it won’t be applied until after Thanksgiving.

What is the situation on site?

Statewide, infections and COVID-19 hospitalizations have stalled after months of decline.

But in some areas with lower vaccination rates, hospital admissions for COVID-19 have risen significantly since mid-October: by 35% in San Bernardino County and 27% in Fresno County. Even in Orange County, where vaccination coverage is relatively high, the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 has increased by 29% over the same period.

The San Joaquin Valley reports the highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state; for every 100,000 residents, the region has 25 people hospitalized with COVID-19, compared with 15 per 100,000 in rural Northern California, 14 in the greater Sacramento area, eight in Southern California, and four in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Some experts say a percentage of five or more is worrisome.

In Southern California, San Bernardino and Riverside counties report the worst hospitalizations per 100,000 residents: 15 and 10, respectively. San Diego County is eight, Orange County seven, LA County six, and Ventura County four.

How do we compare to 2020?

As of November 8, 2020, California reported a seven-day average of 6,200 new coronavirus cases per day. A month later, the state reported 26,000 new cases per day. At the beginning of January, the number rose to more than 45,000. Daily reported caseloads did not consistently fall below 10,000 until mid-February.

The current number of cases around this time is about the same as last year. For the seven-day period ending Monday, California reported 5,720 new coronavirus cases per day, according to data collected by The Times.

Where is California with vaccinations?

Nearly 62% of Californians are fully vaccinated.

However, there are millions of residents statewide who have less protection from the coronavirus. Given the evidence that vaccine immunity may wane over time, officials stress it’s important for everyone who qualify — especially those at high risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms — to get a booster get an injection.

Unvaccinated Californians continue to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic, state data shows. Unvaccinated individuals are about seven times more likely to get COVID-19, nearly 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 18 times more likely to die than those who have been vaccinated.

What is the national picture?

The greatest concentration of coronavirus cases has expanded from Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming and is spreading further south, through Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

States with low vaccination rates, such as Wyoming, where only 44.5% of residents are fully vaccinated, are among the highest rates in the country, as are several states with vaccination rates comparable to California’s 61.9%, such as Colorado with 62. .1%, New Mexico at 62.6% and Minnesota at 61.6%, Rutherford said.

“Even in highly vaccinated places like New Hampshire and Vermont, you can see these northernmost layers of counties breaking out and starting to develop more transmission, just like Alaska,” Dr. George Rutherford, a UC San Francisco epidemiologist and infectious disease expert, said recently at a campus forum.

That’s why Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota could be warning signs for California’s future, Rutherford said. Those three states have weekly coronavirus cases that are three times what California is now reporting. Wyoming’s is more than 3½ times worse than California’s.

Rutherford said that relatively speaking, LA, Orange and Ventura counties are doing well. But he warned that San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties have quite a high number of cases.

These factors all suggest that unvaccinated people should get their injections, including children ages 5 to 11 who just qualified last week, Rutherford said.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 also still need to be vaccinated. A study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that unvaccinated COVID-19 survivors were five times more likely to develop a new coronavirus infection compared to fully vaccinated people who had never been infected.

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