After what felt like a nearly light-free holiday season and the start of the New Year, California officials in recent days have pointed to signs that the state's overwhelming coronavirus blast is finally abating – or at least not getting worse.
“There are some good things to report,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a video message posted late Tuesday night. "We are starting to see some stabilization, both in I.C.U.s and our positivity rate."
And he formally announced that a strict order to stay at home in the Sacramento area would be lifted with immediate effect due to the anticipated improvement in intensive care capacity in the region. That means some businesses, including hair salons and restaurants with alfresco dining, may be able to reopen.
(Track cases of coronavirus and hospitalizations throughout California.)
It was the first of the the four major regions of the state who had been placed under the order to leave.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the Secretary of State for Health and Human Services, said in a virtual press conference on Tuesday that the "biggest signal to me that things are starting to level off and possibly improve" is the flattening number of hospital admissions by the state.
The number of new Covid-19 hospital admissions had dropped from about 3,500 a day around January 5 to 2,500 and 2,600 in the past two days, he said.
Still, hospitals in the vast southern region of California and Central Valley, both of which are still under home care, are full.
And according to a New York Times database on Tuesday, officials reported that more than 720 people died from the virus in California – a daily record.
A vaccine update
The state has also fought a huge battle to roll out vaccines, despite what leaders have described for months as a detailed, equality-driven planning process based on a carefully structured hierarchy of workers and age groups. As of Tuesday, only a quarter of the state's available doses had been administered.
Wednesday, Mr. However, Newsom notes that the state is making the vaccine accessible to anyone 65 and older, and that a new system is being built to alert residents when they are eligible to be vaccinated. That starts next week.
"There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably disseminating these vaccines as soon as possible to those facing the most serious consequences," he said in a statement. & # 39; For those not yet eligible for vaccines, it's your turn. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccine to the state. "
Some cities and counties will also open massive vaccination centers, such as at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium – although Los Angeles County will continue vaccinating health workers only until at least the end of the month.
The move comes not long after the federal government ordered states to start using vaccine doses set aside for second injections.
(Read the latest story on the shifting federal guidelines for vaccine rollout.)
Dr. David Lubarsky, UC Davis Health's chief executive, said on Tuesday that although the governor, Dr. Ghaly and others in the state had done their best to navigate a challenging situation, "perfection is the enemy of good." The top priority should be to shoot in the arms – not spend resources to keep people from cutting the line.
"If you're so determined to get Patient A to come before Patient B to Citizen C, then you can't get people in enough," he said.
He said the state would be better served by allowing health care providers a higher proportion of doses to give to patients, rather than counties.
Health care providers, he said, already have built-in ways to contact regular patients in large groups based on things like their age and mortality risk. And large health systems, in particular, can quickly build algorithms to account for things like zip code, which can indicate whether a patient may be living in a particularly vulnerable community.
Dr. Lubarsky said that as of Tuesday, about 12,000 of the system's 13,000 staff had received at least their first vaccine doses by opening up the process, and that patients' vaccinations would begin soon.
"We said," If someone was going to cross the line, shame on them, "he said." If they showed us their ID and worked in the hospital, that was kind of a system of honor. "
(Read four expert opinion pieces how to solve the rollout of the vaccine.)
As a result, he said, the rate of Covid-19 transfer among workforce has dropped significantly. In recent weeks, an average of 135 employees got Covid and went home. This week, he said, that number is in the 1920s.
Ultimately, Dr. Lubarsky said the opening of massive vaccination centers and other efforts to increase eligibility were positive steps.
“I think they are going 100 percent in the right direction,” he said.
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Wednesday became President Trump the first president in the country's history to be impeached twice.
In a house led by speaker Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, 232 members of Congress voted to accuse the president of inciting violent insurgency against the US government.
That list included all the Democratic representatives and ten members of the president's own party.
Among the Republicans who voted to impeach was Representative David Valadao, who narrowly recaptured the Central Valley seat he lost in 2018 in November.
although he said on Twitter Believing that Ms. Pelosi had turned "what should be a thorough investigation into a hasty political stunt," he had to vote on his conscience.
& # 39; His incendiary rhetoric was un-American, repugnant and an absolutely blameworthy offense, & # 39; said Mr. Valadao. "It's time to put land above politics."
Patches – a calico cat who was believed to be him killed along with her owner in January 2018 when rain showers slipped debris into the hills of Montecito in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire – was recently found alive and reunited with her owner's partner, The Associated Press reported.
"While we don't know exactly what she's been doing with her life for the past three years, we can see that both Patches and Norm are excited to be reunited," said the shelter the cat found in a Facebook post.
That might have been enough heartwarming cat news for one day. But then I came across this reporting by The Sonoma Index-Tribune, about a Glen Ellen woman who was also recently reunited with her cat, Mordecai Jones, who was also lost for about three years after going missing in the 2017 wildfires.
I don't know if this confluence of pet-related happiness makes sense, but I think we'll be taking what we can get this week.
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Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County and graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported statewide including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles, but she always wants to see more. Follow here or further Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.