After weeks of urging all Californians to get vaccinated, state public health officials rolled out a requirement on Tuesday that all state and healthcare workers provide proof of vaccination or undergo regular Covid testing. Then they rolled out some eye-popping Covid-19 numbers that demonstrate just why that decision was taken.
Cases on Wednesday were surging in the state. According to Public Health Department data, the 7-day average test positivity rate has nearly tripled since July 4th, from 2.0% to 5.9%. In that same window, daily cases have surged even more, from 1,509 to 6,849. But the most telling figure may be the 7-day average number of cases per 100,000, a reliable measure of infection spread because it is an average.
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On July 4, the 7-day average of cases per 100,000 was 4.6. On Wednesday, that number had risen to 12.7. The average was much, much higher for the unvaccinated.
For the week of July 14-20, the average case rate among unvaccinated Californians was 20.7 per 100,000 per day and the average case rate among vaccinated Californians was significantly lower at 3.5 per 100,000 per day.
Put another way, the vast majority of new cases in the state are among the unvaccinated. Their case rates are 600% higher than those of the vaccinated. What’s more, less than 90% of the patients hospitalized with Covid in the state are unvaccinated.
This would explain Governor Gavin Newsom’s push to get residents inoculated. He and state officials have plead, cajoled and even bribed Californians to get jabbed in the past few weeks. And for the first time, last week there was progress. Vaccinations were up 16% according to the California Department of Public Health. That growth in vaccinations, however, was outstripped by the growth in cases, which were up over 35% in the same timeframe.
The state has a long way to go. Even with the recent 16% growth in weekly vaccinations, just 62% of its eligible residents are fully vaccinated. When the portion of the state’s population that cannot get vaccinated — those under 12 — are factored in, the vaccination rate falls to just 54%. More concerning is that the age group currently being hit hardest by the virus is those between 18 and 29 years old.
In the state’s most-populous county, Los Angeles, where one-quarter of California’s population lives, the 7-day case rate for residents between 18 and 29 as of July 15, 2021 was 24 per 100,000 — see chart below. Among those 50-64 years old the case rate was 7.76 per 100,000, as many more of those Californians are vaccinated. With the current all-ages case rate at 12.7 per 100,000, it’s not hard to see which population is driving the surge and so most at risk.