Find an updated count of COVID-19 cases in California and by county on our tracker here.
Friday, April 2
As most California counties move into less restrictive tiers under the state’s reopening system, San Joaquin County is one of just three remaining in the most severe purple category.
Ginger Manss is chief nursing officer for Community Medical Centers, a network of health clinics serving low-income and uninsured patients in the Central Valley. She says there are two things holding San Joaquin County back.
“One is our testing rates — our positivity rates are just over where they need to be in order to move to the next tier,” she said. “The second one is our health equity, getting our vaccines to the people most in need.”
Health officials say people haven’t been seeking tests as often since the vaccine roll-out began.
When people aren’t getting tested after travel or potential exposures, they may be unknowingly spreading the virus to others.
County representatives say this is happening more in a handful of low-income ZIP codes. The county health department says they’ve added testing and vaccination sites in 10 of these areas where they’re seeing high case numbers. They hope this will slow the spread, and help them meet the state’s new vaccine distribution rules.
They’re hoping to change tiers later this month. In the meantime, they’re asking everyone to continue wearing masks and avoiding indoor gatherings.
A day after being inoculated with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Gavin Newsom was in San Diego Friday urging people eligible for COVID shots to get them.
“These vaccines are safe,” he said. “I took the vaccine 24 hours ago, honestly slept like a baby, feel great, no impacts whatsoever and I can’t honestly … I was trying to figure out, was it my left arm or my right arm? … I can’t even feel where the vaccine was administered.”
With Easter two days away, Newsom also asked the public to stay vigilant in preventing the spread of COVID.
“Let’s not run the 90-yard dash, let’s not put down our guard, let’s not drop these masks, let’s continue to be mindful as we move into this very important holiday weekend,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state public health department Thursday lifted a travel recommendation for Californians to stick close to home.
Latinos make up less than 40% of California’s population but account for more than half of the state’s COVID-19 cases.
Large immigrant and agricultural communities in counties like Merced have found their residents hit especially hard. Now, California is hoping that allocating 40% of doses to underserved communities can make an impact.
But to reach the people most in need, local clinics and residents are left to do much of the legwork. At Castle Family Health in Merced, workers are sending out organized social media campaigns to the community to answer their questions about the vaccine and correct misinformation. The health center has also been organizing large vaccination pop-ups in the county for teachers and other essential workers, along with outreach to local farms.
Other local clinics rely on what they call “promotoras” — people with deep connections in the Latino community who can broker connections between residents and the health care system.
While state officials acknowledge the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on Latinos and other communities of color, efforts towards vaccine equality over the past year have barely moved the needle.
The death rate for Latinos is 22% higher than the statewide average. While vaccines are allocated to neighborhoods and counties in need, supply still remains an issue.
The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a big part of the ramp-up and could help immunize transient populations, like migrant farmworkers.
Another Las Vegas casino operator says it will offer on-site coronavirus vaccinations to hospitality workers, according to the Associated Press.
Station Casinos said that it will host clinics starting on Tuesday at six of its properties in Las Vegas and suburban Henderson. American Medical Response will administer COVID-19 vaccines by appointment for workers and family members.
Station joins MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, the Cosmopolitan and Wynn Resorts with programs to inoculate employees on-site. Nevada state health officials reported 350 additional COVID-19 cases on Thursday, pushing the total number of state cases past 304,000 since March 2020. Including seven new deaths brings the death total to 5,256.
Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can enjoy again, according to the Associated Press.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on Friday to announce that fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting a COVID-19 test or going into quarantine. The agency previously cautioned against unnecessary travel, even for vaccinated people.
According to the CDC, nearly 100 million people in the U.S. — about 30% of the population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, a person is only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose.
Fully vaccinated people should still wear a mask and socially distance when traveling. For international travel, vaccinated people should still get a COVID-19 test before flying to the U.S. and be tested soon after returning. Travelers do not need to quarantine.
It should be noted that traveling could potentially introduce virus variants, and due to differences in vaccine coverage around the world, the CDC still urges caution on overseas travel.
Unvaccinated people are still advised to avoid any unnecessary travel.
Thursday, April 1
California has updated its coronavirus travel advisory to remove the recommendation that Californians not travel more than 120 miles from home.
The state still advises that postponing travel and staying home are the best ways to protect yourself and others from the virus.
The update to the travel advisory comes the same day the state opened vaccine eligibility to all those 50 and older.
The state has issued the following guidance for travelers:
- All travelers arriving in or returning to California from other states or countries should follow CDC travel guidance.
- All travelers should get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before travel.
- All travelers who test positive or develop symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate and follow public health recommendations.
To date, more than 18.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in California.
The state auditor released a report Thursday that found the California Department of Public Health’s pandemic spending has had mixed results.
The department has exceeded its testing expectations — doubling its target goal at the end of last year.
But it struggled in other areas. The state and its local counterparts have less than half the number of contact tracers it originally planned to hire.
And oversight of spending by local health departments has been lacking. The auditor found the state failed to collect progress reports from all counties and didn’t conduct proper evaluations of its data systems.
The Department of Public Health says it will revise its plan for hiring contact tracers and will work with counties to ensure they file necessary updates.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has received his dose of the one-shot Johnson-and-Johnson COVID vaccine. He got it Thursday, the same day people 50 and older in California became eligible for inoculations.
“Today’s an important day obviously with the opportunity now for people my age that have been waiting,” said Newsom, who is 53.
Afterward, Newsom urged Californians to remain vigilant in wearing masks and social distancing.
“The disease is not taking Easter weekend off. This disease is not taking spring break off. This disease remains as deadly as it’s ever been,” he said.
California has administered more than 18 million doses so far and 6.7 million people are fully vaccinated. The Democratic governor likely will face a recall election stemming partly from his handling of the pandemic.
Elk Grove Unified School District is welcoming back middle and high school students to in-person instruction on Thursday.
Students have the option of coming back to campus two days a week while wearing masks and sitting six feet apart. EGUSD Spokesperson Xanthi Soriano said some elementary school students have already been back in classrooms for the past couple of weeks and are following safety guidelines.
“On campus, we’re still maintaining six feet apart, starting or effective April 13, we will be changing that to reconfigure desks to three feet apart, with few exceptions,” Soriano said.
Soon older students will also be able to return for four days-a-week in-person instruction with desks spaced three feet apart, as per federal health guidelines.
“We’re going to see another wave of students being able to access the resources that we have at our schools,” Soriano said. “It will be just a great opportunity for them to have access to a routine and all of the school sites, including nutrition.”
While the district has had to deal with COVID-19 exposures since reopening, Soriano said the school is prepared to control transmission through quarantine and contact tracing.
AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin
Experts are still studying how good COVID-19 vaccines are at preventing people from spreading the virus, but they believe the risk is low, according to the Associated Press.
The current vaccines are highly effective at preventing people from getting seriously sick with the coronavirus but even vaccinated people could get asymptomatically infected and spread it to others.
Given the uncertainty, experts say fully vaccinated people should continue to wear masks, social distance in public, and when visiting unvaccinated and high-risk friends and family.
The Biden administration is unveiling a coalition of community, religious and celebrity partners to promote COVID-19 shots as it seeks to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
According to the Associated Press, the Department of Health and Human Services’ new “We Can Do This” campaign features television and social media ads.
The campaign relies on a community corps of public health, athletic, faith, and other groups to spread the word about the three approved coronavirus vaccines’ safety and efficacy.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy met Thursday with more than 275 inaugural community corps members to kick off the effort.
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