Why California Is One of the Worst COVID-19 Hot Spots and What the Future May Hold


COVID-19 mitigation earlier in the pandemic, has seen its cases steadily rise throughout the summer, culminating in an ongoing crisis.

The state is now seeing case positivity rates of nearly 13 percent, with Los Angeles County seeing as many as 1 in 5 people test positive for the novel coronavirus.

Along with this comes reports of hospitals filling to capacity.

The scene is a severe version of a trend playing out across the country, as COVID-19 deaths nationwide have reached more than 367,000.

How this happened

As with other states and countries, swift business lockdowns and encouraging people to shelter at home helped flatten the curve of the pandemic.

But as states began to reopen, coinciding with the summer and leading into the fall holiday season, cases started to rise sharply again.

“[Lockdown and other restrictions] began in February, and now we’re all the way into [a new year]. People are really fatigued and tired… People just, I think people just got very, very tired, and there really wasn’t enforcement,” said Dr. Bernadette Boden-Albala, DPh, director and founding dean of the program in public health at the University of California, Irvine.

Then there’s the fact that simply sheltering in place isn’t financially sustainable for many people or businesses.

“The solution relied on by the state was having strict adherence to working from home, and minimizing contact was not going to be seriously viable in a long-term sense without sufficient financial support to workers and business owners,” said Dr. Sunny Jha, an anesthesiologist and co-organizer of a currently closed Los Angeles “surge clinic” for COVID-19 cases.

“The folks being infected and dying are predominantly ‘essential’ blue-collar workers who cannot protect themselves adequately due to the nature of their work and their living conditions. The cost of living, among numerous other socioeconomic factors, in California is exorbitantly prohibitive for folks with blue-collar jobs,” Jha said.

These factors have led to COVID-19 cases exploding, particularly burdening population-dense areas like Los Angeles County.

“People are close together. Homes are small and, in many families, multiple generations live in that one small house,” said Dr. Peter Plantes, FACP, a physician executive with hc1, a health company that assembled a coalition of labs and other partners to create the public CV19 Lab Testing Dashboard.

And where the current mega-surge in cases is concerned, “it is a repeated cycle — and the next few weeks will be a further amplification of that cycle,” Plantes told Healthforcast.

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