Inside California’s stunning COVID reversal
–By Emily Hoeven
How the tables have turned for California.
The state’s seven-day coronavirus positivity rate fell to 1.2% on Tuesday, the lowest rate in the country. Just four months ago, California’s positivity rate was a staggering 17.1% and hospitalizations were surging to record levels, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a regional stay-at-home order. Contrast that with Tuesday, when another four counties moved into less restrictive reopening tiers and Newsom eased the state’s mask mandate to exempt fully vaccinated Californians from wearing a mask outdoors in accordance with revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Newsom: “We need to remain vigilant and continue public health prevention measures — like wearing masks when appropriate and getting vaccinated — but the light at the end of this tunnel has never been brighter.”
In another major milestone, Disneyland is set to reopen Friday after being closed for more than a year. Los Angeles, the state’s largest county and former virus epicenter, is poised to enter the least restrictive yellow tier as early as next week along with San Francisco, Marin and Trinity counties — a sign the state is on track to fully reopen the economy by June 15.
Newsom also announced plans late Monday to send oxygen equipment to India, which is currently experiencing the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak. Though California has sent supplies elsewhere before — notably, hundreds of ventilators to the federal government — the move underscores how quickly conditions have changed. A few months ago, the Golden State was recruiting health workers from overseas to help overwhelmed hospitals.
Still, California isn’t entirely out of the woods. Rural Humboldt County is seeing a spike in coronavirus cases apparently linked to superspreader events. And state health officials released data on “breakthrough cases” for the first time Tuesday showing that at least 1,379 fully vaccinated people contracted COVID-19. Nearly 12 million Californians are fully vaccinated.
- Dr. Catherine Blish, a Stanford infectious disease expert: “It’s important to recognize that we don’t expect perfection, but we are preventing a lot of illness and death. If anything, the vaccines are performing even better than we would have anticipated.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Tuesday, California had 3,633,185 confirmed cases (+0% from previous day) and 60,208 deaths (+0% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.
Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.