SANTA MONICA, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — As the number of cases of the coronavirus continues to rise daily, California, the nation’s most populous state, now has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the U.S.
Health officials in California credit mitigation and the fact that more than 75% of the state’s population is vaccinated, one of the country’s highest vaccination rates, for the decrease in hospital cases. However, they stress that the pandemic is hardly over, and winter is coming.
As of Tuesday, the number of COVID-19 patients in California hospitals is down,
“It’s great that we’re seeing cases go down, but even more importantly than cases going down, we’re seeing hospitalizations and deaths go down, as well,” said Dr. Russell Buhr, with UCLA Health.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention data, California is the only state with a seven-day case rate below 100 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the state’s seven-day positivity rate is currently below 3 percent, according to the California Department of Public Health.
No state other than California currently has a case rate below 100. In fact, the neighboring states of Arizona, Nevada and Oregon are seeing dire cases, with positivity rates at least three times higher than California’s, according to CDC data.
West Virginia has the worst infection rate with more than 715 cases per 100,000 and a testing positivity rate between 10 percent and 15 percent.
That data prompted a recent plea from West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice: “We’re gonna run to the fire and get vaccinated right now, or we’re gonna pile the body bags up.”
Across the country, ICUs are full, and ambulance backups are common.
“I tried to fight through it as much as I could. I know that somewhere out there, there’s somebody else that needs this bed,” said Joe Gammon, a COVID-19 patient in Nashville.
In California, doctors credit health officials for being proactive as well as reactive. Many communities have reimposed an indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status, and vaccination is required in many workplaces, including health care facilities.
Mandates are also in place at schools; Los Angeles County requires all students older than 12 to be vaccinated by January.
Meanwhile, vaccine holdouts have experts fearing another surging mutation.
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“What we’re concerned about is that our circulating virus may be resistant to vaccine and may be more deadly, then we’re really right back where we started in March of 2020,” Buhr said.
California’s improved coronavirus situation has led to a shortage of monoclonal antibodies in the state. The treatment is known to prevent critical illness in COVID-19 patients, but HHS is sending higher rations to hard-hit areas such as West Virginia and Kentucky.
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