A roundup of the biggest news stories in California this week, including signs of hope amid the worsening coronavirus crisis.
Governor Launches “Vaccinate All 58 Campaign” as Vaccines Arrive in California
On December 13, following its independent review of the FDA’s actions related to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup confirmed the vaccine is safe and effective. The group issued its approval to the Governors of California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom launched the “Vaccinate All 58” campaign in California. The campaign promises safe, fair and equitable access to vaccines to all 58 counties of California. With limited availability of initial supplies, vaccines will be administered in phases by prioritizing groups according to risk and level of exposure. Essential health care workers and those in long-term care settings will be the first to receive the vaccine, with the first doses already administered to hospital staff this week.
The state’s first batch of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday evening. The initial shipment includes 327,000 doses. Next week, California expects another 300,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine plus 627,000 doses of the newly FDA-approved Moderna vaccine.
Visit https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines/ more information on the Vaccinate All 58 campaign.
Covid-19 Cases Surge Statewide
Covid-19 cases across California continue to break records for new cases and deaths, pushing the state’s healthcare system to its limits. ICU capacity has dropped to 0.0% in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. On Wednesday the regional stay-at-home order was triggered in the Bay Area, where ICU capacity has now dropped to 12.8%. Northern California is the only region yet to reach the 15% metric.
Total confirmed Covid-19 cases in California have reached 1,764,374, of which 41,012 are newly recorded cases confirmed yesterday. The seven-day positivity rate is 12.8% and the 14-day positivity rate is 11.8%, both higher than last week. Since the start of the pandemic, 22,160 Californians have died due to Covid-19.
State officials reported a series of national records for new cases this week, including 300 deaths and 41,012 new cases today. The Washington Post called California the latest coronavirus epicenter, reporting more new cases in the state than India, Britain and Germany. Southern California is experiencing the greatest numbers of cases, with Los Angeles County reporting 96 new deaths and 16,504 new cases today. The county’s Public Health Department also reports four new cases of children with MIS-C, an inflammatory condition associated with the virus.
“Mothers” Advertising Campaign Urges Families to Stay Home for the Holidays
The California Department of Public Health this week launched its new “Mothers” advertising campaign featuring real California moms urging people to stay home this holiday season. The goal is to encourage Californians to pause plans to gather with family and friends for the holidays. The campaign will run statewide in English and Spanish throughout December, with additional ads through January. Campaign components include TV, radio, social media and digital platform spots.
“Tragically, more than 20,000 families will have an empty seat at their holiday tables this year… the only way we can end this heartbreak is to protect one another by staying apart and finding alternative ways to show our love…”Dr. Erica Pan, Acting State Public Health Officer
“We have lost more than 20,000 people in California to COVID-19 and are reporting record numbers of new cases again today, which makes every gathering more risky than ever before in this pandemic,” said Dr. Erica Pan, Acting State Public Health Officer. “Tragically, more than 20,000 families will have an empty seat at their holiday tables this year. As a mom and a daughter, I know how painful it will be to miss out on holiday celebrations, but the only way we can end this heartbreak is to protect one another by staying apart and finding alternative ways to show our love this year.”
The campaign website is LoveMeansStayingAway.org.
Protest by Stanford Medical Residents Results in Changes to Hospital’s Vaccine Plan
This morning, hundreds of residents, fellows, nurses and other medical workers at Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto protested a plan by the hospital to exclude nearly 1,300 front-line doctors from its first round of coronavirus vaccinations. That initial vaccine distribution plan released by administrators earlier this week included many health care workers who do not have contact with Covid-19 patients, but left out others who directly treat infected patients. Stanford Health Care apologized this afternoon and promised an immediate revision of its plan that would include residents in the first wave of vaccinations.
California Experiencing Net Population Loss
The State Department of Finance released new population estimates on Wednesday that show California has recorded its third consecutive year of net migration loss, and its third-largest loss in history. The estimate shows that 135,600 more people left California than moved to the state between July 2019 and July 2020. An examination of the trend in the Christian Science Monitor suggests high taxes, fewer births, a shift to remote work associated with the pandemic, and challenges to potential international immigrations under the Trump administration as potential causes.
Western Monarch Butterfly Population at All-time Low
Teams of biologists and community scientists supported by San Diego Zoo Global are sounding the alarm for the bright orange butterflies that are iconic images of Coastal California. Already at dangerously low levels of fewer than 30,000 butterflies for the past two years, preliminary results from the 2020 Western Monarch November Count are indicating a total of less than 2,000 migratory monarchs present in all of the overwintering sites in the state of California, their primary winter refuge.
Once numbering more than 4 million butterflies in the 1980s, the number of monarchs observed in the Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count this year has dropped 99% of historical numbers. These individuals are the source for the migratory population for the following year. Both North American monarch populations are currently under consideration for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act, with a decision expected on December 15th.