Why Covid-19 Looks So Different Across California Right Now – The New York Times

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California Today
There is a growing divide between regions with high and low vaccination rates.

If you’ve been following the news on the coronavirus in California this week, you may have noticed a stark contrast in how the pandemic is playing out across the state.
While hospitals in Central and Northern California called in National Guard troops to help staff Covid-19 wards, officials in Los Angeles and the Bay Area began publicly discussing lifting mask mandates as transmission in their regions plummeted.
Sure, this disparity reflects the vastness of our state, but there’s another takeaway here: a widening gulf in how different parts of California are handling the pandemic.
For the first year that we lived with the coronavirus, many decisions about whom we interacted with and what precautions we took were handed down from the state. (Remember stay-at-home orders?)
But as control has increasingly shifted to the local level, there’s far less uniformity in the restrictions we face and in our behaviors — and therefore in our experiences of the pandemic.
Take vaccinations. Seventy percent of Californians eligible for the vaccines have received both doses, and there are statewide requirements for teachers, health care workers and state employees.
Yet there is huge variation across counties. In Marin County, 87 percent of Californians ages 12 and over have had both their shots. In Lassen County, 35 percent have.
To put this in context, the nation’s least vaccinated state is West Virginia, where 47 percent of residents who are 12 and over have had both their shots. Lassen and a handful of other California counties have lower vaccination rates.
This has major consequences: Unvaccinated Californians are eight times more likely to contract the coronavirus and 16 times more likely to die from it than those who got their shots, state data shows.
Much like the states with low coverage levels, the parts of California with low vaccination rates are also those that have experienced the worst of this summer’s Delta surge.
There’s also evidence that people who aren’t vaccinated are less likely to take other precautions, such as wearing masks and staying away from crowded indoor spaces.
As Kevin Malotte, professor emeritus of epidemiology at Cal State Long Beach, explained to me, “They have low vaccination rates because they don’t believe it’s that serious, so they’re not doing other mitigation measures either.”
But the trend doesn’t stop there. In recent months, highly vaccinated counties in California have also been quicker to insist on masks, testing in schools and vaccines for students and government employees.
On Wednesday, the city of Los Angeles voted to require proof of vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters and salons starting next month. The measure is one of the strictest in the nation.
With these rules, it joins San Francisco, Berkeley and Contra Costa County — places that also already have high levels of vaccination.
For more:
Look up your county’s vaccination and case rates.
A new vaccine strategy for children is to give just one dose, for now.
This patient had a choice: get vaccinated or miss out on a kidney transplant.
A North-South showdown: The Los Angeles Dodgers won a thrilling National League wild-card game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night and will face the San Francisco Giants in a divisional playoff series.
Protection for delivery drivers: Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a law that will give tip protections to drivers for DoorDash and other food delivery apps, MarketWatch reports.
Paid signature gathering: Newsom vetoed a bill that would have barred paid signature gatherers for recall elections or other ballot initiatives, The Associated Press reports.
Nobel winners: Two scientists whose careers included research in California were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday.
Drought: Some Californians are buying machines that make water from air, The Associated Press reports.
Unemployment fraud: Newsom has signed new laws to tighten security in the state’s unemployment system, The Associated Press reports.
Needle exchange: Opponents of California’s free needle programs will no longer be able to sue over environmental concerns under a new law signed by Newsom, California Healthline reports.
Prescribed fires: A new law adds legal protections for landowners who use smaller, intentional burning to prevent large-scale wildfires, The Associated Press reports.
Oil spill: Damage from a recent oil spill may permanently harm critical habitats for migratory birds, shorebirds and several endangered species, The Guardian reports.
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures: A big Hollywood premiere was a long time coming.
Investigation: Sheriff deputies in the Antelope Valley who patrol school campuses disproportionately cite Black students, LAist reports.
Albert Pujols: After an unceremonious exit from the Los Angeles Angels, the Dodgers signed Pujols in May, near the end of his career. He’s flourishing.
Weather warning: Rain and high-elevation snow are possible on Thursday and Friday in the eastern Sierra and surrounding areas.
Vaccine mandate results: San Francisco’s rule for city workers appears to have compelled about 1,000 to get their shots, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Fawn fire suspect: The woman charged with setting a fire last month near Lake Shasta will be examined by psychiatrists to determine her mental stability before court proceedings continue, The Associated Press reports.
Elizabeth Holmes trial: The founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos is facing 12 counts of fraud. Here are some key takeaways from the fifth week of her trial.

Eggplant caponata pasta with ricotta and basil.
Today’s travel tip comes from Aimee Wyatt, who recommends the seaside village of Cambria in San Luis Obispo County:
October is one of the best month’s on the Central Coast, with the least fog and generally lower winds.
Cambria is almost exactly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles (making it a great place for families to meet up). It’s also the host of the annual Scarecrow Festival, with both lighthearted and scary designs to please all.
And there are always sea bluff trails and plenty of less-traveled walks through the forest, like the one-mile route up Bridge Street past Linn’s Restaurant up to the Cambria Cemetery. This literal and figurative “dead end” is just right for October.
Watch these nine movies and shows before they leave Netflix in October.
For a day job, Alicia Tapia works as a librarian at a private high school in San Francisco.
But on her off-hours, she rides her bicycle around the city — and drags behind her a bookshelf on wheels from which kids and adults can take home something free to read.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Pollution portmanteau (4 letters).
Steven Moity and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.
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