SACRAMENTO, Calif. – More states are reaching the 70% vaccination threshold and California is now removing most COVID restrictions, even amid new concerns being raised about that highly contagious “delta” variant of the coronavirus.
Tuesday morning, as health experts warn the delta variant will likely become the dominant strain in the US, new data from the UK suggests COVID vaccines help block the mutation from leading to severe outcomes.
Researchers found Pfizer’s vaccine is 96% effective in preventing hospitalization after two doses and 92% for AstraZeneca. The study is reinforcing the push to immunize more people.
University of San Francisco Department of Medicine Chairman Dr. Bob Wachter said, “If you’re not vaccinated all of the bad things about that virus kick in. You are more likely to get sick, more likely to need to go to the hospital, and probably more likely to die.”
This comes as the first state in the country to impose a COVID lockdown has officially removed restrictions. Overnight, California is dropping capacity limits and physical distancing requirements for businesses. This means bars, restaurants, theme parks and stadiums are all allowed to fully reopen at max capacity.
But rules on masking are less clear. While the unvaccinated are still required to wear masks indoors, the fully-inoculated can go maskless in most places, likely even in the workplace as soon as this week. Still, companies are allowed to set their own rules.
Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) said, “Businesses can require verification, businesses can require mask-wearing, businesses have the freedom of choice across the spectrum.”
A similar rollback may soon come in New York where 70% of adults are at least partially vaccinated, one of 14 states crossing that threshold including Vermont, the first state to administer at least one dose to 80% of its eligible population.
As the nation reopens, there was a reminder of what we’ve lost with lawmakers gathering at the Capitol to observe a moment of silence for the over 600,000 lives cut short by COVID.