California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference Tueday to tout a milestone: 80% of the state’s eligible residents have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine. He called it “a momentous occasion.” The governor sought to contrast the accomplishment with the pandemic plans of his recall rivals.
“I want to remind people that we have a choice in the state of California,” he said, “whether to walk down the path where we’re ideological and political about our approach to keeping healthcare safe, or continuing down the path that we’re on here in the state of California that is proving itself.”
He observed that that the state has a 4.6% test positivity rate. “That’s the seventh lowest in the nation,” said Newsom, before continuing, “We are not being ideological in any way, shape or form. Florida today is at 18.7%. Texas at 16%. We have a case rate in California that’s a fifth (of that in) the state of Texas – or rather the state of Florida,” he corrected himself.
Newsom then used those comparisons as an argument against his chief Republican opponent Larry Elder, and the recall election itself.
“Vote no if for no other reason than this: The starkest contrast between myself and all the folks on the other side — who all supported Trump and support Trumpism — is their support to end the mask mandates and to end the vaccine requirements ‘before their first cup of tea. The leading candidate, Larry Elder,” said Newsom, “wants to end mask mandate requirements and vaccine requirements.
“I hope people pause and just consider the life and death consequences of that decision: We have among the lowest positivity rates in the nation. They have the highest positivity rates in America…There is no more consequential decision to the health and safety of the people of the state of California than voting no on this Republican-backed recall.”
Elder, for his part, states on his campaign website that “vaccines are effective” and should be encouraged, but “Californians who assume the risk of not wearing a mask or not getting vaccinated should not be forced to do so.”
Newsom also ticked off the state’s (mostly) improving numbers.
“We’re seeing a plateauing of hospitalizations,” observed Newsom. “We’re seeing a modest increase now — not a large increase — in ICUs. And we have seen that positivity rate drop down from 7.1%, now down to 4.6%.”
One metric Newsom failed to mention was the raw number of new cases. While today’s 24-hour total was a relatively low 9,606, yesterday saw a new daily high for the state’s current summer’s surge. The 14,968 new cases reported on Monday is the highest number of new infections the state has seen since January 31, and well above the 2020 summer surge peak of 12,614 on August 14 of that year.
Newsom also failed to cite the number of Californians fully vaccinated against Covid. It’s an important data point, since two shots of the mRNA vaccines is far more effective than one and should be the target the state is aiming at. The number of eligible California residents who are fully vaccinated is significantly lower than 80%. It’s 66.5%, according to the state’s dashboard.
One further point of clarification: There are millions of California residents who are not included in that 66.5%. Those are the roughly 5 million kids under the age of 12 in the state who are not yet eligible to be inoculated. But they can get still get sick, and many of them have just gone back to school.
When kids under 12 are factored in, the percentage of all Californians vaccinated is just about 60%. A little over a month ago that number was 54%. That’s up just 6% in one month and a long way from herd immunity.
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