Amid the anticipated post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases, Alameda County elected to extend the State’s Regional Stay at Home Order indefinitely. The order for the Bay Area was set to expire on January 8th but was extended after ICU capacity fell to 3%. The order first went into effect on Dec. 17.
Meanwhile, California has gotten off to a rather sluggish start administering vaccines to the state’s nearly 40 million residents.
Post Holiday Surge: “We might be through the worst”
ICU bed capacity had steadily declined over the past several weeks and dipped below 1% in some counties. In the Bay Area region, ICU bed capacity fell to as low as .7%
Alameda County’s ICU capacity has stayed relatively stable at around 20%. “We’re doing better than the state overall and better than the region,” noted Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. Moss expressed optimism that the post-holiday surge had “stabilized” after new daily cases have gradually fallen from a high of 1,296 new cases on Thursday, January 7th. “We might be through the worst,” he added.
For the stay at home order to be lifted, the State’s projections must show that our region is expected to meet or exceed 15% ICU capacity in the next four weeks.
Vaccines Now Available Statewide For Residents Age 65 And Older
So far, the state has rolled out the vaccine in phases, targeting the most at-risk demographics like health care workers and nursing home staff and residents first. About 145,000 people in the county are eligible to be vaccinated in this initial phase and about 53,000 first doses of the vaccine have been received in the county.
On January 13, the state announced that all California residents 65 and older are now eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine. The state expanded its vaccination plan shown below following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Prioritizing individuals age 65 and older will reduce hospitalizations and save lives,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, the state’s public health officer.
State’s Lackluster Vaccine Rollout
As of Monday, January 11, 816,673 coronavirus vaccine doses had been administered, according to state officials.
State officials have grappled with the state’s lackluster vaccination rate, which lags behind many other states (ranked 49th out of 50 states as of Jan. 15). The biggest hurdle, Gov. Newsom and other state officials have argued, is demand for vaccine doses simply outpacing supply so far.
As of January 13th, nearly 2.5 million vaccine doses have been shipped to California’s local health departments and health care systems. Alameda County has received more than 85,000 of these. Nearly 100,000 state residents have received both doses of the vaccine required to build immunity.
Meanwhile, vaccination in the county is moving forward with more than 4,000 expected to be vaccinated this week, Colleen Chawla, director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency told supervisors.
To administer the vaccines as more become available, the state is recruiting more than 100,000 additional medical practitioners such as pharmacists and dentists, as well as the National Guard.
State officials plan to launch a notification system in the next week that will alert residents via text or email when they are eligible for the vaccine.
Oakland Coliseum Eyed as “Mass Vaccination” site for County
The Oakland Coliseum could soon become a mass coronavirus vaccination site following a meeting of the governing joint-powers authority that oversees the property.
The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority’s Board of Commissioners chose to create a task force that will oversee the Coliseum’s temporary conversion into a coronavirus mass-vaccination center.
Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval said the facility could be vaccinating residents as soon as February, while Coliseum Authority Executive Director Henry Gardner said he has already received requests from multiple health care providers to temporarily convert the property’s parking lot.