COVID cases in California have gone up, but there are no plans to add restrictions

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California has no plans to impose new restrictions on an epidemic across the state despite an increase in Corona virus cases, largely due to the highly transmitted BA.2 micron variant, the state’s senior health official says.


What you need to know

  • The spike is mainly due to a new version of the highly transferable Omicron
  • Health Minister Mark Galli says the most populous country has seen a much slower rise than in previous waves and other areas in the US
  • He defended California’s latest focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and empowered, wear a mask if necessary and take other precautions to “make good and considerate personal decisions to protect themselves.”
  • Galli also saw no indication that local officials were planning to toughen their approach despite rising portfolio rates

The most populous state has seen “a slow but noticeable increase in our portfolio rates” over the past ten days, said Dr. Mark Galli, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. The slower rise of California contrasts with other parts of the state, especially in the Northeast.

Philadelphia this week became the first major city in the U.S. to return the inner mask mandate. Happy cases jumped more than 50 percent in 10 days and the city’s health commissioner said it wanted to intervene to prevent a wave of hospitalizations and deaths.

“In California, we have not yet seen such an increase in the case rate in the city or county,” Galli told the Associated Press on Thursday, adding that he saw no indication of local officials planning to toughen their approach. Local officials can conduct themselves more aggressively than the state if they choose and some have done so during previous waves.

California removed its mask mandate in mid-February, but the Los Angeles County has waited more than two weeks longer. And just two weeks ago the city of Los Angeles ended its mandate for many internal businesses and large outdoor event operators to make sure customers were vaccinated against COVID-19.

In Los Angeles County, which numbers more than a quarter of California’s nearly 40 million population, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Thursday that cases are on the rise and she expects further increases when students return to school after the spring break. But she is confident that health workers and facilities are ready for any stream of critically ill patients.

“Part of the appropriate response is to ensure we are always well prepared for situations that may require additional safety and mitigation strategies,” Ferrer said.

In mid-February, California became the first state to officially adopt an “endemic” approach to the corona virus. This program emphasizes prevention and rapid response to outbreaks against the background of mandatory masking and business shutdowns.

California continues to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and strengthened, wear a mask if necessary and take other precautions to “make good and considerate personal decisions to protect themselves,” Galli said.

“This is a frequent and rapid situation, as it has been for the past two years, and that is what we are looking at. But at the moment, there are really no changes in our reduction approaches across the country,” Galli said.

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of infectious disease at the University of Southern California, said California’s more personal response, reflecting on the progress made since the outbreak of the plague two years ago, prompted Governor Gavin Newsum to force the entire state’s stay – home booking.

“In 2022 we have a variety of tools that we did not have in 2020, so it makes sense to take a different approach,” Klausner said, the goal is to “use our tools in a more surgical way, instead of as dull devices as we were. Doing in 2020.”

The BA.2 subdivision has in recent weeks become the dominant strain in the United States and California after having already spread rapidly in Europe and Asia. California continued to reassure precautions even as the threat of a new wave intensified.

On Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration delayed for at least a year its first plan in the country to require all school students to receive the vaccine against the virus. Earlier this month, California health officials revoked a recommendation that people shut themselves off for at least five days if they are exposed to COVID-19, even if they have no symptoms.

This is because the virus has evolved for a shorter incubation period of only two to three days, and usually until people learn that they may have been exposed to someone with the virus, it is too late to prevent infection of others by isolation.

They also eased California’s requirement for vaccination verification or proof of negative testing for those attending indoor events with more than 1,000 people, making it a “strong recommendation.”

So far public health officials have not had to make demands on the state’s endemic program to flood resources to areas with outbreaks, Galli said, because there are many virus tests, test sites, masks and other supplies across the state.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are close to record highs and intensive care patients are at their lowest levels since the onset of the epidemic, allowing hospitals to reduce their use of temporary medical staff that was so vital during earlier waves.

“Hospitals are in very good shape to manage even a certain increase in case loads from COVID,” Galli said.

About 75 percent of California residents are considered fully vaccinated, which health officials say is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death, even with widespread groundbreaking infections from recent versions.

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