California lays forth a long-term strategy for dealing with Covid, including how to fight future outbreaks and new variants.
- The state of California's initiative intends to detect growing viral transmission early and sequence novel variants quickly to see if vaccinations and medicines are still effective.
- In the event of an outbreak, the state plans to quickly send additional testing and hospital personnel to affected areas.
- The state may reimpose mask mandates depending on the dominant kind and the amount of disruption it causes.
California announced a plan on Thursday to handle Covid as a permanent part of life, anticipating future outbreaks and new varieties that may necessitate temporary public health measures such as facemasks, depending on the virus's impact on economic and social activity.
California's governor, Gavin Newsom, said the state's economy is moving away from the crisis mentality that has typified the epidemic response for the past two years. Newsom stated that the Golden State must learn to live with the virus by preparing as much as possible for an unpredictable future utilising tools established in the last two years.
"What was not recognised at the start of this crisis is that there is no end date, that there is no moment where we declare triumph," Newsom stated at a press conference on Thursday.
California's response strategy intends to use wastewater surveillance to detect increased viral transmission early on, allowing the state to quickly identify new variants as they evolve and establish whether vaccines, diagnostics, and therapies are effective against the strain within 45 days. According to the plan, the state would next immediately deploy additional testing and health-care personnel to places afflicted by increased transmission.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's health secretary, said the state's response will be determined by the dominant Covid variant circulating at the moment, the amount of disease the variant is causing, and the number of persons hospitalised by the strain.
Ghaly did not provide any specific triggers that might result in public health measures being imposed. He believes that a more lethal variety would necessitate a focus on infection counts, whereas a less virulent strain would necessitate a focus on hospitalisation numbers.
California will likely see seasonal Covid increases in the fall and winter, according to Ghaly, and the state will closely monitor if the surges are driven by new or familiar variations of concern. If the Covid strain is creating major difficulties in hospitals and companies, the state could impose temporary, targeted restrictions such as masks, according to the health secretary.
"There may come a moment when we all have to wear masks to go through certain scenarios so we don't overrun our health-care delivery system or damage our enterprises," Ghaly said during a teleconference with media on Thursday.
If an outbreak occurs, California expects to increase its health-care workforce by 3,000 people in three weeks. In addition, the state will keep its capacity to conduct at least 500,000 Covid tests and 200,000 immunizations per day. According to Ghaly, California plans to stockpile 75 million high-quality masks, thousands of ventilators, and another 30 million over-the-counter Covid tests.
Ghaly said California will also focus on keeping people informed about their immunizations, particularly youngsters who have only recently become eligible, the elderly, and those with impaired immune systems.
The omicron variation surprised federal and state officials as it swept through the United States in December and January, generating an unprecedented amount of infection due to the variant's ability to evade vaccination and prior infection immunity. Hospitals encountered staffing difficulties as waiting rooms swelled with new patients, while the general people struggled to get tested as pharmacy shelves emptied due to the rapid surge in demand.
As the omicron wave fades, state governments are reducing public health regulations and looking for methods to restore some sense of normalcy to the public while planning for the future.
On Tuesday, California's universal indoor mask law expired. Inside, vaccinated people are no longer forced to wear masks, though state health officials highly advise them to do so. Unvaccinated people, on the other hand, must still wear masks when entering indoor public spaces such as shops, restaurants, and theatres.
The California school mask mandate is still in effect. Ghaly said earlier this week that state health experts will assess the pandemic in California at the end of the month and propose a timeline for when the school mask mandate will become a recommendation.
California has reported a seven-day average of around 13,800 new Covid cases every day, down 61 percent from the previous week, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University. On Jan. 16, the state's average daily cases reached a pandemic high of more over 123,000.
About 8,500 patients are now in California hospitals receiving Covid, according to a seven-day average of statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services as of Thursday. This is down 22% in the last week and around half of the late-January high omicron levels. On Jan. 14, 2021, the state's pandemic high of more over 23,600 hospitalised Covid patients was set.