Just a few months ago, California was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in American hospitals in Los Angeles drowned by patients, and ambulances were running outside with people struggling to breathe, waiting for beds to open.
The death toll was staggering – so much so that morgues full and cool trucks were brought in to handle the overflow.
Now that cases have spiked in other parts of the country, California has gone from worst to first with the lowest infection rate in the US, even though it has moved quickly to reopen more businesses with larger customer counts and larger meetings .
A struggle to get COVID-19 vaccinations has made room for an open invitation in many places. Where people had lined up for hours and struggled to get doses, many of the shootings now appear in many locations.
“It’s been a success story for California to be one of us, if you will, viral tsunamis that happened after the back-to-back holiday season to where we are now,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health.
At the height of California’s winter flood that followed the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays, the state registered 40,000 new cases daily and well over 500 deaths per day. Those numbers have disappeared daily to 2,300 new cases and 68 deaths.
The state surpassed Hawaii 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 every 2,416 people in California tested positive last week. At the other end of the spectrum, one in every 223 people in Michigan is diagnosed with the virus.
Kim-Farley said it has been like turning a massive tanker to reach the current level of improvement. He wrote government and public health agencies with clear guidelines that companies, schools and individuals follow for the most part, including mask mandates and social distancing.
Govin Gavin Newsom has allowed businesses and schools to reopen by province based on business levels. At various points in the pandemic, he has faced heavy criticism for being too restrictive, and now he is making sure he moves too fast.
All counties have improved enough to move out of the strictest of four levels, and 38 of the 58 counties – accounting for 87% of the state’s population – are now in the second least restrictive level. Newsom said it would lift most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions by June 15.
The pandemic has been unleashed in the US
Cases were low a year ago in California, compared to New York, where hospitals were overwhelmed last spring. When California was in the throes of a second winter peak in mid-January, Michigan cases fell to a low point in February before hitting the highest current infection in the U.S.
Kim-Farley said the rise of California had put fear in more people to wear masks, a rule still in place that he said he had helped prevent a recurrence.
“Some states in the United States that have lifted mask mandates are suffering the consequences with increasing numbers of cases, while we continue to see reduction,” he said.
California struggled with its invasion like other states, and limited doses for health care workers and seniors who were more at risk of becoming hospitalized or dying. Doses are increased as cases are tapered, and the high number of infections over the winter also leads to a certain level of natural immunity.
Only weeks ago, provinces struggled to get doses. The state limited eligibility for the expensive vaccine, and stories abounded from cheaters who jumped the line to get a shot.
The Vaccine Spotter website that helps nominate books on Thursday showed a state map in green dots, indicating available appointments. Many were available the same day, and on some sites people were able to view without appointments.
Los Angeles County opened places in Palmdale and Lancaster for walk-ups. The largest mass vaccination clinic in Napa County saw demand fall from a flood to an onion just days after California last week expanded the vaccine qualification for anyone 16 and older. It also allows walk-ins.
“We definitely have the capacity,” said county spokeswoman Janet Upton. “But now what we are missing is apparently public interest.”
California has about 40 million inhabitants, and just over half of the 32 million eligible for faxing have received at least one shot.
A combination of worrying about reports of rare complications along with misinformation and collusion theories and a feeling among some that the danger has decreased has led to hesitation in vaccination.
Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer tried to persuade more people to put the vaccine aside, noting that the chance of a serious side effect is the same as dying in a 200-mile road trip. t most people would not hesitate,
“The risk of a serious side effect of COVID vaccine is about one in a million,” she said. “We take these small risks every day as we go on with our lives because we know what’s on the other hand, it’s so worth it. However, it’s returning to normal that on the other hand is worth vaccinating. . “
With the release of the vaccine, mortuaries that were on the run are back to normal.
“It’s the difference between night and day,” said Todd Beckley, general manager of Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary. “There was a time when we had nine dead a day, and they were all COVID. We did not have a COVID death in four days.”
Associated Press writer Robert Jablon contributed to this report.