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California COVID-19 update: Fewer cases, Super Bowl warning and incentivizing vaccine equity

California Department of Public Health


One week after California lifted the restrictive “Regional Stay at Home Order,” new numbers show the state continues to improve in its fight against COVID-19.


California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly reports that California is seeing a drop in –

COVID-19 cases:

  • February 2: 12,064 cases
  • 7-day average: 16,798

14-day positive test rate:

  • January 19: 11.6%
  • February 2: 7.2%

Hospitalizations: Down 28.8% over the last 14 days

ICU admissions: Down 18.9% over the last 14 days

Based on projections, “we predict fewer than half of the people in hospitals today, will be in hospitals 30 days from now,” Dr. Ghaly says.

However, these numbers are still above where things were before the holiday season. Dr. Ghaly, addressing concerns ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, points to what happened after a series of fall events that included Thanksgiving, Halloween and Lakers/Dodgers championships.

“That was the beginning of a surge that led to a lot of death in California. A really hard and dark period."

He later added, “COVID is still abound in our communities. We have to keep our guard up. How likely is it we will see another surge? I think again it comes back to the behaviors and our own sense of personal responsibilities in this. The variants create another wildcard, another unknown.”

All but four counties remain in the most-restrictive "purple" or "widespread" tier of California's reopening guidelines. This includes Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.


California has passed 3.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, with a high of 180,000 doses in a single day last week.

According to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker, California is still low compared to other states, but is improving.

California is 38th for the percentage of received doses used.

  • California: 62.2%
  • US: 65.8%


California is currently vaccinating people in Phase 1B of the state’s rollout. This includes people 65+, emergency responders, and people in education and food industry sectors. However, the state is also working on an “equity” framework. This would include paying providers to bring the vaccine to the hardest hit communities and communities of color, as well as payment for targeted outreach and engagement efforts.

“Really focusing on how do we make sure that we have enough vaccination sites in the hardest hit communities. How do we work with providers that are doing things successfully and in speedy way to have a presence in these communities? How do we use dollars to incentivize the relationships between the traditional vaccination entities and the community-based organizations, the faith-based organizations, that are vital in getting the word out,” Dr. Ghaly said.

When asked if there is a dollar-figure for the financial incentive, Dr. Ghaly said that is still being discussed.

Right now there is also no detailed guidelines for who exactly in the Phase 1B Tier 1 sectors is eligible. For example, what educators and what food industry workers qualify for the vaccine, since not everyone is at the same exposure-level. Ghaly says that is being worked on “actively” and will be released between “now and next week.”

California is also bringing back the possibility of prioritizing people with “severe disabilities” and “severe underlying conditions.” The state is speaking with different stakeholder and advocacy groups about what this plan would look like and when it would start.  

“[We are] beginning those conversations more intensely. That will help us drive the timeline as to when some larger consideration is announced,” Ghaly said.

PREVIOUS STORY: California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly is providing an update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the California Department of Public Health, there are 3.2 million cases statewide, and 41,330 people have died.

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Aaron Groff

Aaron Groff is an evening co-anchor at KION News Channel 5/46.

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.


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