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Coronavirus: California could still stop the ‘third wave’

While California has begun to see an increase in coronavirus infections, the rate of increase is still much lighter than the rest of the United States, and experts say there is still time to halt “ third wave ”.

There are clear warning signs, including a worrying daily increase in Los Angeles County. But statewide, the increase – for now – is at a rate that is still considered relatively slow, and top health officials say there are no conclusive signs of what kind of spike in California enters. this summer.

Dr Robert Kim-Farley, medical epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Fielding UCLA School of Public Health said: “We are fortunate that we have a much more silent rise is starting to happen. “And I think that̵

7;s because we’re still complying, for the most part, with this tiered approach of gradual opening of the economy and schools.”

California’s slow reopening has sparked criticism from a number of businesses, such as some of the state’s biggest theme parks executives, which are still ordered to close. door. In-house bars that do not serve meals remain largely closed statewide. And in the most impacted counties, including Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino, indoor dining rooms at restaurants are required to be closed, as well as indoor gyms and indoor worship houses. home.

But while that slow reopening strategy may still disappoint some, health experts and officials still take note of this framework to keep California’s hospitals from being overwhelmed by a large number of new cases.

California’s first attempt to reopen its economy in late spring ended in disaster, with state officials, facing political pressure, agreeing to hasten progress without responding. the criteria have been set earlier. That led to a surge in the summer in the cases that brought California’s deadliest pandemic season.

Coronavirus infections in California have increased, but not to the extent that nationally severe.

Coronavirus infections in California have increased, but not to the extent that nationally severe.

(Time LA)

Kim-Farley says the milder situation in California can be seen as “a modest success story relative to the rest of the nation”.

While California’s COVID-19 cumulative death toll was more than 17,900, far worse than some countries – Japan, for example, which recorded only 1,800 deaths – Golden State still has about half of the total. death toll in New York, the state most reported to have died with nearly 34,000 deaths.

The number of weekly coronavirus infections that California recently recorded is still far below its worst week. During the seven-day period that ended Thursday, California recorded nearly 34,000 cases. That’s about half of California’s worst week, July 17 to 23, when 66,341 cases were diagnosed.

By contrast, the country recorded more than 662,000 cases last week – the second time in two weeks it has published a new weekly record.

“Part of California’s success is because we have been slow to reopen; that we have allowed ourselves time to see how our reopening efforts impact our healthcare delivery system, ”said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary California Department of Human Services and Health said.

Ghaly said he also believes California has been helped in places with high levels of compliance with the state’s mandatory masking order, which he calls “one of the most valuable tools to reduce transmission. . ”

By contrast, some of the states that have seen the worst per capita coronavirus infections have residents with the majority not wearing a mask.

Nationwide, newly diagnosed coronavirus infections for the first time have exceeded 100,000 per day in recent days – exceeding the highest number of viral infections per day to date. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the United States has recorded the highest coronavirus cases and deaths of any country worldwide, with more than 236,000 deaths and more than 9.8 million people infected. .

The pandemic is rapidly worsening in most states, except the West Coast, Hawaii, New York, Louisiana and parts of New England, Dr. George Rutherford, epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist at UC San Francisco, said Friday.

On a per capita basis, coronavirus infections were highest in the past week in the Midwest, where there is much controversy about pandemic management. In Wisconsin, the governors of the Democrats and the Republican-dominated Legislature and the conservative Supreme Court contested the control measures.

Texas on Halloween overtook California as the state with the highest number of coronavirus infections, and by Saturday more than 977,000 cumulative coronavirus infections were reported in Lone Star State; Golden State is over 964,000.

Texas – which currently has more than 19,000 COVID-19 deaths – is currently the state with the second highest cumulative COVID-19 deaths, replacing California’s No. 2 in mid-September.

During the last week, Texas, Illinois and Wisconsin reported more new coronavirus infections than California, Rutherford said.

“It’s remarkable,” said Rutherford, the infection density is in places like Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota and is scattered in the metro areas of the Mountain West. In contrast, the West Coast was “relatively unaffected,” Rutherford said, and “here in California, we continue to have a somewhat lucky share.”

A masked woman votes at the polling station, with her two masked children watching.

Dyana Elam, in the middle, along with her children Jackson Love, 11, left and Jordan Love, 11, vote at Union Station in Los Angeles.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Rutherford said he worries that the surge in cases that started about two weeks ago in California is the start of a significant increase in cases, of which California will record 8,000 new cases per day, up from about 3,200 shifts a day earlier in October.

But the catastrophic scenario has yet to happen. In the last week, on average, there were about 5,050 cases per day.

“Just because we’ve seen other parts of the country go through a surge, it’s not a clear conclusion that we’ll see it later,” Ghaly said. “Our choices are important.”

Like California as a whole, Los Angeles County has started to see an increase in the number of cases in recent weeks, but it is not at the level of the increase that is imminently expected to cause stress. for local hospitals.

“There is certainly an increase happening across the country. We haven’t seen that in LA County, ”said Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer at the LA County Department of Public Health. During the seven-day period ending Thursday, 10,490 cases were reported, down slightly from last week’s 10,987, but still higher than the previous three-week figure, at 7,921.

These numbers are still lower than the worst week of the summer, when more than 22,000 cases were reported between July 10 and 16.

“At this point, we’re pretty convinced that these smaller gatherings – where people feel pretty safe because they’re with friends and extended family – are in fact driving a lot of family. Health increases, ”says Barbara Ferrer, LA County public director. “They’re not as safe as we’d like to believe.”

It seems that healthy meals or parties where people are eating and drinking can easily spread the virus.

“Please don’t bring non-family members into your home, because that will continue to accelerate the number of cases,” said Ferrer. “We, like everyone else, don’t want to be where we feel like the only steps opening up before our eyes are dramatic closures,” such as the match England played. out recently.

Social gatherings are also an issue in the Bay Area, where in Solano County, most cases from a recent surge “come from family and social gatherings,” Dr. Bela Matyas Solano County public health staff, said at a public meeting meeting.

“And some of them were reportedly clearly violating common sense: We held a funeral with 300 people and no one was wearing a mask. We had a wedding at one person’s home with 40 people – no one wore a mask, ”Matyas said.

Other Southern California counties are reporting weekly increases, but at still well below the summer spike. During the seven-day period ending Thursday, San Diego County reported 2,738 cases, up from 2,400 last week, but well below the mid-summer high of 3,753.

Area 5 counties including LA, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties reported 18,558 cases last week, up from 17,704 cases last week. This is only half of what was seen in the summer, where nearly 39,000 cases were reported in a week in mid-July.

The increase in cases is still a worrisome sign, and Kim-Farley suspects the increase in reported cases on Thursday and Friday may be related to gatherings around Halloween. If a spike in Halloween-related cases does occur, that would make the region worse off entering sequential vacations like Thanksgiving, Christmas and winter breaks. otherwise, this raises the risk of a pandemic.

“We are in a pivotal moment where we have many long-standing cultural family traditions of gathering and celebrating,” said Kim-Farley. “That really couldn’t be the same as last year.”

The state generally prohibits crowded gatherings and has put in place the following requirements on how private small social gatherings can take place: outside, no more than three households are allowed, with guests from Different households are located 6 feet apart, wear masks when not eating or drinking, serve food and drinks in disposable containers, and limit time to no more than two hours.

“This is not the year to party with large crowds, especially inside,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco public health director. “We want to stay here for the next holiday season. We want us all to be here ”.

Much of concern across the country is that transmission occurs mainly in small groups of friends and family. Health experts are advising people not to organize or attend large gatherings and say that it’s safest to celebrate in person with just your family members and spend time together. phone or web video services.

“Except for some big protests, it seems smaller groups of people are gathering together, where most of the transmission is going,” Rutherford said. “And so the concern is Thanksgiving, in and of itself – because that’s the moment when people get together with their masks so they can eat and drink – will be a set major amplification ”of the pandemic.

LA County officials are also watching the disparity in coronavirus infection rates worsen among Latino residents compared to other racial and ethnic groups. The disparity improved during August and early September, but started to get worse in October.

Lin reports from San Francisco, Lee from Los Angeles, and Greene from Thousand Oaks.

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