3 facts revealed by California’s COVID-19 numbers

By The Health News Team | October 6, 2021
Man getting COVID-19 vaccine

We’ve learned a lot about COVID-19 over the past 18 months. For example, we now know that we no longer need to sanitize our groceries, we do need to wear a face covering, and vaccines are highly effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization and death.

How do we know these things? Time, experience and many studies have given us the data we need.

“We now have the benefit of vast amounts of research, as well as experience, to guide us in our current COVID-19 prevention and treatment methods,” says Dr. Kaveh Bahmanpour, a board-certified family medicine and geriatric medicine doctor affiliated with Sharp Community Medical Group. “We have witnessed the development of three highly safe and effective vaccines and seen the effect they can have at slowing the spread of COVID-19. Now, it is up to the public to help us by trusting the data and science and acting accordingly.”

Here are three important California COVID-19 facts the latest numbers have revealed:

FACT #1: People who are unvaccinated are exponentially more likely to get COVID-19 than those who received a COVID-19 vaccine.

California has had more than 4.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March 1, 2020.

  • Of the more than 24 million fully vaccinated Californians, about 171,000 “breakthrough” cases have been identified — representing less than 1% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state and accounting for approximately 0.1% of hospitalizations, proving the vaccines are highly effective.

  • People ages 18 to 49 make up just over 43% of the total California population, but account for more than 57% of the cases. Kids age 17 and under now represent nearly 15% of all cases in California. Increased vaccination among these groups would lead to a decrease in cases.

FACT #2: The average age of Californians who die from COVID-related complications trends younger each month, and certain races have an increased risk of death due to COVID-19.

Of the more than 4.5 million cases in California, there have been approximately 69,000 deaths.

  • People age 65 and older account for nearly 72% of COVID-related deaths in California but make up approximately 15.5% of the state population. Until April 2021, the average age of someone who died from COVID-19 was 73; it is now 66 — another reason why younger people and people of all ages should get vaccinated if they have not already done so.

  • Hispanic residents account for approximately 46% of COVID-19 deaths but only 39% of the total population, revealing that the death rate for Hispanic people is 19% higher than the statewide rate. And while Black Californians account for approximately 6.7% of the deaths, they make up only 6% of the state population, which means their death rate is 14% higher than the statewide rate. The state continues to monitor and address these disparities in death rates among minority populations.

FACT #3: In California, older adults are more likely than younger people to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and Asian Americans are more likely to be vaccinated than any other race.

Nearly 50 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in California and over 78% of the state’s population is partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to The New York Times, California ranks 10th among all U.S. states in vaccinating its residents.

  • While more than 88% of Asian American residents are fully vaccinated, just over 64% of white residents and more than 50% of both Black and Latino residents are fully vaccinated. The state continues to work toward equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines and increased access to vaccines in communities at highest risk.

  • Nearly 75% of people age 65 or older are fully vaccinated, but just 55% of individuals ages 12 to 17 have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Children age 11 and under are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Experts continue to encourage all people age 12 and over who are able to get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.

“The most important thing we’ve learned through review of the data and research of the past year or so is that the vaccines work,” Dr. Bahmanpour says. “Vaccinating the majority of Californians — especially populations that are at greatest risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death — is what it will take to stop the further spread of COVID-19 and return us to the lifestyle we have missed for more than 18 months. We can do this, but it has to be done together. Please get vaccinated.”

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