SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON/AP) – During a press conference Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new COVID-19 strain, considered the New York variant, was discovered in Southern California in two cases.
Newsom urged Californians to be mindful when taking COVID-19 precautions considering “the virus does not take spring break off.”
The new variant first appeared in the New York area in late November and has since cropped up in neighboring states, according to researchers at the California Institute of Technology.
Governor Newsom says his administration is likely going to add vaccination rates into the equation that allows counties to move through the state’s blueprint to reopen the economy.
“That will allow people to move more quickly though the tiers but we’re not resetting the ties and recalibrating and eliminating a purple tier.”
Next week about a dozen counties could be moved from the state’s most restrictive tier into the Red tier, allowing indoor operations at restaurants, gyms, etc to resume.
However, this will all depend on the rate of transmission and data. The state has 5,500 cases of the West Coast variants, Newsom confirmed.
The governor is encouraged by the state’s 2% positivity rate and expected boost in vaccines.
Between this week and next, California is expecting shipments of about 3 million doses, about 340,000 of them from newcomer Johnson & Johnson.
As some local health providers risk thousands of canceled or postponed appointments because of short supply, the governor pointed to the vaccine manufacturers.
“Our only constraint of us providing more vaccine to more people in a much quicker and expedited manner is manufactured supply,” Newsom explained.
This week, Blue Shield took over the state’s distribution system. California is expecting to have the capability to distribute 3 million doses a week by the end of the month.
Newsom addressed transparency and equity issues raised with the company so far in its first week on the job.
“We talked to them directly, we didn’t wait to formalize a formal written response. We called the supervisors directly and we’re working through those issues,” he said.
Newsom said more details on how the state’s reopening system will change will be made public in the coming days.