California has come a long way in the battle against COVID-19. But maybe not as far as many think.

Case rates have risen enough in recent weeks that if the state’s old four-color tier system were still in place, Los Angeles County could have just moved into the most restrictive purple tier, where Southern California spent the darkest days of the pandemic, while Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties would likely now be in the second-most restrictive red tier, according to state data updated Wednesday, July 21.

Hospitalizations are on the rise as well, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients undergoing hospital treatment statewide doubling in just the past 16 days to more than 2,400 and the number requiring intensive care doubling in the past 17 days to 575. The last time the numbers rose that quickly was in November and December, as the devastating winter surge was building.

Since the state reopened June 15 and the tier-based restrictions were lifted, California has tried to crawl back to something closer to pre-COVID-19 normalcy. Battered by the human and economic toll of the pandemic, Californians suddenly could enjoy unrestricted gatherings on Independence Day while returning to old favorites such as live sports, bars and theme parks.

Delta variant fuels rise

Now, as the delta variant of the virus fuels the new rise in cases, health officials are seeing now-familiar surge patterns that followed past holiday periods. Los Angeles County is once again requiring people to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status, and about one-third of California’s counties are recommending but not requiring it.

But could the state ever return to more widespread restrictions like those in place under the tier system if the situation continues to get worse?

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Marcia Godwin, a professor of public administration at the University of La Verne, doesn’t believe so, especially considering Gov. Gavin Newsom’s fight to avoid recall in a Sept. 14 election in which his handling of the pandemic looms large.

“Politically, while there’s a recall on the horizon, there’s not going to be the same sentiment for statewide action,” Godwin said. “Really, now it’s about nudging, encouraging, begging people to get vaccinated as an alternative to additional mandates.”

Jamie McDonough, RN, left, and Nurses Assistant Vanessa Gutierrez, check on a COVID-19 patient in the COVID ICU at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. COVID-19 cases have risen in recent weeks due, in part, to the delta variant. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The vaccinations have been shown to be highly effective at preventing severe disease. In the past two weeks, more than 95% of the COVID-19 patients coming to Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange have been unvaccinated, said Dr. Brian Lee, medical director of the emergency care center.

Moreover, while unvaccinated patients are having just as severe symptoms as ever, “The few patients that do come in that are fully vaccinated tend to have a less severe course” of illness, Lee said. He also said has not seen any significant numbers …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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