California prepares for possible winter pandemic surge

California prepares for possible winter pandemic surge


California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday that California has begun to place equipment and sign contracts with temporary medical staff to prepare for the possible surge in new coronavirus cases in the winter.

In terms of the number of cases and hospitalization rates, this most populous state in the United States and the rest of the United States are still relatively good. But Newsom warned that Californians should prepare for another severe pandemic winter, even though the state is one of the nation’s leading states, with 74% of eligible people receiving at least one dose of the vaccine.

Although the number of hospitalizations across the state has fallen by about half since the summer peak at the end of August, in some areas, especially the Central Valley and parts of Southern California, including Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, this number has already begun. rise.

“We have seen some signs of concern,” Newsom said.

He said California had the lowest case rate in the country earlier this fall, but is now ranked 16th, and after it fell below 1% in June, the positive rate of people tested was 2.3%.

Newsom signed an executive order until March 31 that will continue to allow out-of-state medical staff to treat patients in California, and allow emergency medical technicians and other personnel to continue to vaccinate and provide other related services. It also provides flexibility for healthcare facilities, such as allowing parking lots to be used as vaccination points.

In addition to the upward trend in certain areas of the state, state health officials said they are generally concerned because cold weather keeps people indoors. When the vaccines and natural immunity obtained a few months ago begin to weaken, there will be more holidays mixed together unless more people receive booster shots.

Newsom’s health department said in a statement: “In the past two years, we have learned that COVID-19 will come into play when we relax our vigilance.”

The state’s own model still predicts the overall decline in hospitalization and intensive care cases next month. The statewide R effective value, which measures the infection rate, also continues to decline, and is now 0.85. Any value below 1 means that the number of infections will decrease.

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, said that the worry is that even those who have been vaccinated may be more susceptible to the highly contagious delta variant unless more people are vaccinated. Vaccines, the current situation is lagging behind. San Francisco.

In addition, California’s vast territory, large geography and population, and the “different conditions” have also affected the state’s modeling, because many people are tired of wearing masks and quarantine and other preventive measures, she said.

Bibbins-Domingo said: “There are many local models that do show that we have started to see the increase in hospitalizations in the local environment.” “It’s a bit like a game, and it depends in part on a decline in immunity. Will we win, or will we provide boosters for people.”

Dr. Lee Riley, head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Vaccines at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, said this increase may be due to the reopening of businesses and the relaxation of vigilance and complacency, although the number of cases is far less than the surge in the summer.

He said: “I think it’s a good idea to be prepared because we’ve been burned several times when we didn’t do this before, (though) I do feel more optimistic now than before.”

Newsom visited a COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine clinic in Los Angeles and urged residents, including newly eligible children aged 5 to 11, to get vaccinated. He also urged bolster injections for eligible people.

Newsom received the booster on October 27. He said that from the experience of other states in Europe and the United States, it is clear that the coronavirus has a seasonal factor that may lead to an increase in infections.

He used the doomsday reminder that surged last winter, officials bought body bags and brought mobile morgues to Southern California, because infections had soared tenfold in eight weeks, and many hospitals were overwhelmed.

He said: “Thousands of people have lost their lives. Thousands of people are living on the verge of death.” This is why state officials are “doing all they can to prepare.”

Brian Ferguson, a spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said that since the pandemic began, the state’s preparations “put the state in a better position to withstand any surges that occur this winter.”

Ferguson said the state “has all the expansion capabilities of mobile field hospitals and supply depots acquired during the pandemic, as well as previously signed contracts to bring in nursing and medical personnel.”

Stephanie Roberson, director of government relations for the California Nurses Association, said the Department of Health and Human Services “has been working closely with hospitals to ensure they can find staff.”

This includes extending the out-of-state staffing exemption and the exemption for the work of the nurse team in the state. Robertson predicts that the state will soon start spending money to help hire temporary employees, just as the hospital reached a tipping point last winter.

Spokesperson Jan Emerson-Shea said that with the increase in cases in parts of California, the California Hospital Association is communicating and cooperating with state health officials on a regular basis.

Bibbins-Domingo said that in some areas, hospital staff shortages have become a problem.

She said: “The challenge is that the least vaccinated areas are also the least able to withstand the surge. These areas are usually our rural areas” and densely populated and impoverished urban areas. “It is wise to plan for this to some extent, because we are more likely to see it happen in the areas where it is the least able to bear it.”

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