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California inches closer to normalcy as COVID vaccinations increase

U.S. coronavirus cases hit 7-month low
U.S. coronavirus cases hit 7-month low 03:29

Coronavirus cases and deaths across the country have plummeted to the lowest point in months as reopenings soar. In some areas that were once overwhelmed by COVID-19, like California, vaccinations are up and cases are down. 

Los Angeles County now has the fewest restrictions since the pandemic began. Just four months ago, hospitals were overwhelmed. In early January, L.A. County averaged more than 16,000 cases a day. On Wednesday, there were less than 300 — a 98% drop. 

California now has the lowest rate in the nation of new COVID-19 cases. San Francisco could be on the verge of herd immunity. 

"It means that hopefully, we'll be the city that keeps on easing our restrictions," said Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco. "Come to San Francisco. Let's go to an inside restaurant. It really is a very safe city for COVID-19 with such low cases, and high rates of vaccination." 

While 41% of the nation's adults are fully vaccinated, in San Francisco it's 51% for those 16 and older, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Almost three-quarters of adults in the city have received at least one dose. 

"Even though we're opening up and mingling, our cases are still staying low. That's what vaccination immunity to a pathogen does," Gandhi said. "It's working. And it's going to work in the rest of the country too." 

There are other hopeful signs the country is turning the corner. A new study found Pfizer's vaccine in 90% effective against the variant first discovered in the U.K. and now dominant in the U.S. On Wednesday, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel could recommend Pfizer's vaccine for use in kids ages 12-15

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