Despite implementing some of the strictest public health measures in the country, California’s COVID-19 rate is now twice that of Florida.
"You're paying for your success, which is weird," Ali H. Mokdad, professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington, told Mercury News when asked why Californians aren't "reaping more reward for their adherence to health guidance."
"You succeed in controlling the virus, and now you're having infections."
California has seen its infection rate climb up, with the state overall being placed into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's red "high" level of transmission. Most Bay Area counties remain stuck in the orange, with the exception of San Francisco, which is at yellow, according to Mercury News.
Southern Gulf Coast states now make up some of the lowest transmission states in the country. Texas and Florida are part of the block of states with an orange transmission level, where leaders have pushed against instituting large-scale containment efforts in recent months.
Despite California's higher vaccination rates, that still hasn't stopped outbreaks seen recently. 62 percent of Californians are fully vaccinated, compared to Florida's 60 percent and Texas' 54 percent.
California Governor Gavin Newsom and other local leaders have implemented some of the country's strictest COVID-19 measures over the duration of the pandemic, in an attempt to stop another outbreak from occurring.
In the Bay Area, health officials reimposed indoor face mask orders and won't lift the measures until the area falls below the CDC's orange transmission level for three weeks or more. In Los Angeles, officials there announced a vaccine mandate that requires proof of full vaccination to enter most indoor businesses.
According to Mercury News, California's spike in cases, and the south's decline in cases, is attributed to vaccination rates and outbreaks experienced by the respective areas over the summer.
California saw a smaller outbreak of the delta variant over the summer due to high vaccination rates protecting the public. The south and gulf coast, which saw a large spike in cases, now has a portion of the population protected by natural immunity, as well as those protected by the virus.
“These regions are now being partly protected by high prior infection rates,” said Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of the medical department at the University of California-San Francisco. “But these people whose immunity comes from COVID-19 are not very well protected, and their immunity will wane with time.”
Watcher noted that with low booster shot rates and waning immunity, "the end result is that we've plateaued in our improvements, both nationally and in California, and it's likely we'll soon see some significant upticks."
"California has done very well over the past few months, but we still have too many unvaccinated people," he added. "People are spending more time inside and being more active, and masking is going down."
Florida has marked another milestone this week in regards to COVID-19 cases. According to Fox News, the first hospital in the state to treat a COVID-19 patient last year, Doctor's Hospital, has announced that for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, no virus patients are currently in their care.
"This is great news! For two weeks and counting, Florida has had the lowest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the entire country – with no mandates, vaccine passports, or lockdowns. Overall, COVID hospitalizations have been declining for more than 70 days straight, and we're at an all time low in terms of the number of COVID patients hospitalized statewide," Gov. Ron DeSantis' press secretary, Christina Pushaw, told Fox News on Monday.
"Gov. DeSantis is proud of Florida's success with launching monoclonal antibody treatment sites throughout the state, which made a huge impact on lowering hospitalizations and saving lives. Early treatment – getting the monoclonal antibodies as soon as possible after testing positive or experiencing symptoms – cuts the risk of hospitalization by 70 percent or more," Pushaw continued.