President Joe Biden said Monday that states should pause their reopening efforts amid a new surge in coronavirus cases, creating a potential political liability for Gov. Gavin Newsom as he ushers California into its fastest reopening yet.
Biden’s comments came the same day that Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expressed a sense of “impending doom” about a fourth coronavirus wave. Over the past two weeks, positive cases have skyrocketed 133% in Michigan, 62% in Connecticut and 42% in New York, according to a New York Times database. Although California’s seven-day case rate is at an all-time low of 1.6%, health experts warn transmission levels could increase as people gather for Passover and Easter and travel for spring break.
- Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer: “We do not yet have enough vaccine protection … to prevent more transmission if we’re not extraordinarily careful in these next few weeks.”
Meanwhile, new coronavirus variants continue to pop up throughout California. The Brazilian variant, which appears to be more infectious and to reduce the effectiveness of some antibody treatments, showed up last week in San Diego and the Bay Area for the first time. The state Department of Public Health is tracking five “known variants of concern” and three “known variants of interest,” which together account for more than 9,000 cases statewide.
Today, some of the state’s largest counties — including Orange and Los Angeles — are expected to progress into the second-least restrictive reopening tier, paving the way for more businesses to reopen at fuller capacity. And some amusement parks will reopen this week after Newsom gave them the green light to welcome customers back starting April 1.
- Dr. Chip Schooley, an infectious disease expert at UC San Diego: “We just don’t want to be in a situation where we have a variant emerge that we can’t control with the vaccines that we have available. We don’t want to have to start over.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 3,564,468 confirmed cases (+0.1% from previous day) and 57,778 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to a CalMatters tracker.
California has administered 17,356,911 vaccine doses.