SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A month ago, the coronavirus appeared to be dozing off in masked and well-vaccinated California. Gov. Gavin Newsom boasted that California “continues to lead the nation” as the only state to reach the yellow “moderate” tier of community virus transmission established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.COVID-In California, 19 cases are no longer being reported. As the highly contagious delta variant continues to wreak havoc, they have returned to the CDC’s blood-red “high” level of virus transmission.
Meanwhile, the virus has died down in states in the Deep South that abandoned mask orders, opposed vaccine mandates, had lower vaccination rates, and experienced larger outbreaks over the summer. California’s case rate is now significantly higher than Texas’ and more than double Florida’s, which, along with the rest of the Gulf Coast, has reached the CDC’s orange “substantial” transmission level.
He and other health experts argue that it isn’t because the health advice isn’t sound. Outbreaks end when the virus runs out of new people to infect who lack immunity.
Immunity can be gained through infection recovery as well as vaccinations.California, which has higher vaccination rates than the Southeast, saw a smaller wave of cases this summer as the delta variant swept through the country, mostly infecting those who had not been vaccinated. They have immunity now that they have recovered, cutting off avenues for the virus to spread.”
High prior infection rates are now protecting these regions,” said Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the medical department at the University of California-San Francisco.
“However, these people whose immunity is derived from COVID-19 are not well protected, and their immunity will wane over time.”While California’s vaccination rate is higher than in many other states, it is still insufficient to prevent outbreaks. Currently, 62 percent of California’s total population is fully vaccinated, compared to 60% in Florida, 54% in Texas, 49% in Georgia, 48% in Louisiana, 46% in Mississippi, and 45% in Alabama. More than one-third of Californians are still unvaccinated.Indoor face mask orders imposed over the summer for schools statewide as well as other public buildings in the Bay Area and Los Angeles also aided in keeping the virus at bay.
Unvaccinated people in the state, particularly those who have not been infected, are still at risk. States in the Southeast that were hit hard by large summer case surges are now faring better simply because, thanks to a combination of vaccinations and infections, they have fewer people left who are susceptible to the virus than California, according to Mokdad. But “they paid a high price to get there.”Other factors are also at work. The hot, humid summers in the Southeast drive people indoors, where the virus spreads easily, whereas Californians enjoy moderate weather out in the surf and sand. However, the autumn chill is also bringing Californians indoors.Furthermore, immunity gained through vaccination or infection deteriorates over time. Californians who rushed to get vaccines early in the spring are now wondering how long their immunity will last.
Booster shots have been approved primarily for older adults, people with weakened immunity, or those at high risk of infection, to increase their protection against infection. Only 30% of those 65 and older in California received the extra shot, compared to 29 percent in Texas and 27 percent in Florida.Mokdad believes that immunising newly eligible children and unvaccinated adults, as well as providing booster shots and encouraging or requiring mask use, can help to mitigate the expected winter increase in infections. Will people respond to the call?”California has done very well in recent months,” Wachter said, “but we still have too many unvaccinated people.” “People are spending less time outside and more time inside, and masking is decreasing.” “The end result, both nationally and in California, is that we’ve plateaued in our improvements, and it’s likely we’ll soon see some significant upticks,” he said, citing waning immunity and low booster uptake.
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