Well, the moment many of us have been waiting for has arrived: Californians age 50 and older will be eligible to get vaccinated starting April 1, and residents age 16 and older will be eligible starting April 15, state officials announced on Thursday, in an effort to reflect on the growing supply of doses from the federal government.
“This is made possible by the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration and the countless public health officials across the state who have stepped up to take up arms,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
Newsom told a news conference that the state, effective immediately, would also allow healthcare providers to use their discretion to vaccinate family members of those who are eligible to be vaccinated.
[Track the vaccine rollout state by state.]
According to current estimates, state officials expect California to receive 2.5 million doses per week in the first part of April, a number that will rise to more than three million in the second half.
Currently, the state receives about 1.8 million doses per week. So far, some 15.7 million doses of vaccines have been administered in California, according to The New York Times tracker, far more than in any other state. But on a per capita basis, that falls somewhere in the middle of the states.
According to The Times Vaccine Tracker, an average of about 2.5 million doses are administered per day nationwide.
The announcement follows weeks of intense pressure on Newsom to accelerate the launch of the vaccine in the state, amid an effort to withdraw it. Experts have said its ability to defend itself against that campaign hinges on vaccinating millions of residents and lifting the remaining restrictions, so that once residents are asked to vote in a possible recall election later this year, the state will be closer to returning to normal.
Newsom has repeatedly blamed a limited and unpredictable supply for what has been criticized as a confusing and chaotic process that left many poorer communities of color behind.
Earlier this month, in response to those criticisms, state officials abruptly announced that 40 percent of vaccine doses would go to communities designated as vulnerable according to a state index. The state also released an expedited reopening plan that was tied to those targeted vaccines.
[Read more about the state’s reopening process.]
But that move frustrated local officials in the Bay Area, where almost none of the prioritized communities were located.
Santa Clara County Executive Dr. Jeffrey V. Smith recently described the program as “a bogus equity plan.”
Newsom’s decision to essentially outsource the allocation of dosages to counties and healthcare providers to an insurer, Blue Shield of California, has also been criticized by numerous local officials, who have said it adds an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the process.
On Thursday, along with the governor at a press conference, Mayor Vicente Sarmiento of Santa Ana, the seat of Orange County and home to many low-income Latinos, praised the equity plan.
“We are eternally grateful,” he said, adding that it is a mistake to think that Orange County is homogeneous, white and rich.
[President Biden said that 200 million vaccines in 100 days is the new goal.]
Newsom also defended his plan.
“We needed to do more and we had to do better,” he said at the press conference. “We needed to do justice to our North Star, which is fairness.”
Some experts worried that the measure would simply flood already taxed vaccine delivery systems with more people desperately trying to sign up for vaccines.
“I predict continued frustration as more people become eligible, but supply is not available to meet demand,” Dr. Christopher Longhurst, UC San Diego Health chief information officer, told me in an email.
The state’s MyTurn online appointment system has been widely dismissed as another hurdle for healthcare providers who already have effective ways to reach patients.
Still, Andrew Noymer, a professor of population health and disease prevention at the University of California, Irvine, told me the announcement was good news.
“I think given the state of the administration, they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t have the doses,” he said. “I think they are wary of excessive promises.”
Mr. Noymer said that while it was laudable “to try to remedy centuries of health inequalities,” it had been somewhat epidemiologically counterproductive to focus so much on who is eligible and when.
“Nobody has to feel like they are cutting the line,” he said. “If there is no line to cut, it is best for everyone.”
Still, Ms. Walter is most likely remembered for her particular genius in portraying emotionally repressed matriarchs, and especially Newport Beach’s Lucille Bluth herself.
As my colleague James Poniewozik wrote, that genius has been immortalized in the form of dozens of GIFs, and we are fortunate to have them: “Every sharp, withered, and heartbreaking image of Lucille that Walter left us came from an actor who knew her character so well. and his trade that he could speak of a complete reality in two seconds. “
So if you’ve ever sent someone a Lucille meme or asked how much a banana could cost, serve up a martini this weekend for an icon.
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Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley and has worked across the state including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles, but she always wants to see more. Follow here or in Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.