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California waits for Memorial Day weekend 2021 as COVID rolls back

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, many Californians are enjoying newfound freedom as advances in the fight against the coronavirus have reopened large swathes of the state.

Seems familiar?

California found itself in roughly the same position last year, and for many, the allure of newly reopened businesses and restaurants, along with the tempting normality of backyard barbecues, proved too tempting to resist after weeks of life under the strict stay of the State. house rules.

It was that fateful holiday weekend that helped sow the seeds for what would become the state’s summer wave – when infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 soared without precedent, prompting authorities to reimpose sweeping restrictions in hopes of alleviating the pandemic. inflate.

This year, however, the arrival of the long weekend elicits a different reaction, not of anxiety and fear, but of hopeful reflection and recognition of how California is now forging a more promising course.

Change is not lost for those who have long been at the heart of the fight against COVID-19.

“We are all so happy that this Memorial Day is so different from the last Memorial Day, and it is a relief for so many of us that we will be able to reunite with our family and friends again,” said the director of Los Angeles County Public Health Barbara Ferrer said Thursday.

But with that optimism always comes a core of caution, and officials warn Californians should continue to take common-sense measures to protect themselves, their friends and loved ones.

“This disease has not gone away,” Governor Gavin Newsom said Thursday. “It’s not off Memorial Day weekend.”

In much of the state, however, this holiday will be the first in a long time that appears close to normal before the pandemic.

The beaches and trails are open. Crowds can again flock to the state’s theme parks or enjoy a meal in an air-conditioned restaurant. Crowds of baseball fans are back at Dodger and Angel Stadiums.

Fifteen of California’s 58 counties – including LA, Orange, San Francisco, and Santa Clara – are in the mildest yellow tier of the state’s plan to reopen, allowing many businesses to operate indoors with Some modifications.

Thirty-five more counties are in the next least restrictive orange level, which also allows a bunch of sectors to ramp up.

The state’s strictest restrictions on private gatherings have also been lifted, although officials point out that outdoor environments remain safer than indoors and those not yet vaccinated against COVID-19. must always exercise caution.

“I know that for many it will be a relief to be able to come together with other families and friends to honor those who have served us, and also to enjoy the long holiday weekend again,” said Ferrer.

The biggest difference between this year and last year is undoubtedly the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, which demonstrate enormous power not only to avoid the worst health effects of the disease, but also to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

Almost two-thirds of all eligible Californians – those who are at least 12 years old – have received at least one dose, according to data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While a smaller share of this cohort, 49.5%, is considered fully immunized, having such a large slice of the overall population, even partially protected, means the state is quite well armed against the possibility of another coronavirus spike.

Between January 1 and May 12, only 4,270 cases of post-vaccination coronavirus were reported statewide – about 0.03% of the more than 14.8 million people who had been fully vaccinated by that date, according to figures from the California Department of Public Health.

As of Monday, 2,298 cases of a fully vaccinated person hospitalized with coronavirus-related illness had been reported to the CDC nationwide, along with 439 deaths. Federal health officials said 23% of those hospitalizations and 16% of deaths were “reported as asymptomatic or unrelated to COVID-19.”

More than 130 million Americans had been fully immunized earlier this week.

Many officials and experts attribute California’s vaccine rollout to helping fend off COVID-19.

Over the past week, an average of 1,655 new coronavirus cases have been reported per day, according to data compiled by The Times, and CDC figures show California continues to have the lowest case rate of all states.

The state hospital system, once overwhelmed by an overwhelming deluge of patients, is now caring for fewer people with coronavirus than at virtually any time during the pandemic.

And with so many Californians at least partially vaccinated, there’s growing confidence the state will avert a future peak like the one that hit last summer, and then again throughout the fall and winter.

“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, medical epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, told The Times. “We will never have a wave like the one we had in the post-vacation viral tsunami, just because now we have so many people vaccinated, and so many people have natural immunity after having the disease. “

Despite these advances, the pace of vaccination in California has slowed – the average number of doses administered statewide from a peak of around 400,000 per day to over 200,000.

In an effort to stop the slide, Newsom on Thursday announced a $ 116.5 million vaccine incentive program called “Vax for the Win.”

“We’re starting to see a drop in the total number of doses given on a weekly basis – not as steep as some other states, but we realize that if we continue on this path and trend, we’re not going to go where we are. all must be, ”he said.

As part of this effort, all Californians who have received at least one dose of vaccine will automatically be entered into a raffle series in June for a chance to win one of 10 prizes of $ 1.5 million, or one of 30 prizes of $ 50,000.

The following 2 million people who started their COVID-19 vaccine series as of Thursday and received all required vaccines will also be eligible for a $ 50 prepaid gift card or $ 50 grocery card.

Memorial Day can finally be an appetizer for an even more robust summer vacation season.

On June 15, California expects to fully reopen – lifting coronavirus capacity restrictions and physical distancing requirements for attendees, customers, and guests at nearly all businesses and other institutions, and allowing people who have been fully vaccinated to do without masks in most situations.

Father’s Day road trips? Fireworks on July 4th? All of this is on the table, provided the state continues to move in the right direction.

“The best way to prepare for a safe vacation, whether it’s Memorial Day or July 4, is to get vaccinated,” Ferrer said.





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