As California reopens, state leaders warn of spring surge, variants


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — After the CDC director warned of “impending doom” with COVID-19 cases increasing across the country, California leaders are weighing in on the possibility of a spring surge.

The state is currently tracking seven different strains of COVID-19, and while excitement grows over expanded eligibility, the governor is urging caution.

“Now is not the time to spike the ball. Now is not the time to announce ‘Mission accomplished,'” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

With one of the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates in the country and more than 18 million vaccine doses distributed, California leaders said they see a bright light up ahead. But there is a lingering concern.

“These variants having an impact on states large and small,” Newsom said.

State leaders said California is seeing several cases of four concerning variants of COVID-19, including 854 cases of UK, 35 Brazilian, 10 South African and about 9,300 West Coast variants.

After getting his vaccine in Los Angeles on Thursday, Newsom pointed back to the variants when asked about the possibility of a spring surge.

“We’re very mindful. We’re very concerned about these mutations,” he said.

The governor’s warning comes as the majority of California further reopens for business, a move prompted by overall low COVID-19 case rates and increased vaccine distribution.

But if the variants become problematic for the state’s progress, Newsom noted California’s blueprint for reopening includes rules to roll back.

“We have the capacity — not on whim, not on political considerations — but on the basis of serosurveillance, transmission rates, case positivity rates broadly defined with an equity component to move in whatever direction is necessary.”

California leaders are optimistic as they still expect larger shipments of the vaccine between this week and the next, with about 5 million more doses coming into the state. Newsom said the manufacturing issue that halted shipments of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is not affecting California’s supply, for now.

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