• The Star Staff

For now, many mixed signals with the virus in California

By Jill Cowan

If you’re confused about the state of the coronavirus in California, you’re not alone.

While California’s overall case numbers have been on the decline, hospitals in Southern California are still overwhelmed, and experts worry that new variants of the virus — including one that researchers recently found in more than half of samples collected in Los Angeles — could threaten progress curbing COVID-19’s rampant spread.

In the Bay Area, intensive care unit capacity has risen to 23.4%, according to the state as of Sunday — well above the 15% threshold that triggered the stay-at-home order for the region. Yet the Sacramento area has just 11.9% intensive care unit capacity and was allowed to exit the strict order more than a week ago.

Although The San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday that officials in the region were feeling hopeful that the order would be lifted soon, the state’s department of public health reported Sunday that the Bay Area wasn’t eligible to have restrictions loosened based on its projections.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to make an announcement about lifting some restrictions in the state Monday.

The Associated Press reported that Newsom’s administration has refused to disclose key data that would help explain the difference in approaches between the Bay Area and Sacramento.

In any case, the state hinted in a news release Sunday that Sacramento may be required to reenter the stay-at-home order, which would force many businesses to shut back down. (We can expect to get an update from state officials in coming days.)

And even after President Joe Biden unveiled what experts have long said is a desperately needed national strategy for finally controlling the pandemic, there are still major hurdles in the vaccine rollout, which in California has contributed to continuing chaos, in which vaccine eligibility rules have been implemented differently county by county.

As CalMatters reported, the state quietly rolled out a promised clearinghouse website to help people find vaccination appointments. But it’s still a work in progress.

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