But it’s also possible that a combination of booster shot rates among seniors and masking practices might be playing a role and that California could reasonably hold out hope for a less severe spring and summer wave than New York.
About 67% of seniors in L.A. County and more than 80% of seniors in San Francisco have received a booster shot, compared with 58% of seniors in New York City.
The elderly are at highest risk of dying from COVID-19. Among those seniors who have been vaccinated but are still dying of COVID-19, most haven’t received a booster shot, Chin-Hong said.
Broader use of masks in parts of California, especially among older people, might also be keeping a lid on the kinds of infections that can send people to the hospital.
L.A. County and the Bay Area implemented local universal indoor masking orders for at least six months since last summer’s delta wave, while New York City declined to do so last summer and was under a statewide masking order for only two months during the fall and winter.
A longer duration of masking rules in L.A. County and the Bay Area may have influenced more people to continue wearing masks even after universal mask mandates ended in the state.
A greater use of masks among vulnerable people can reduce the number of people who need hospitalization, and even if a masked person gets infected, the mask can reduce the amount of virus that enters the body and thereby reduce the severity of the illness.
“And of course, California has a little bit of better weather. But it’s still decent in New York now, so it’s not like a huge difference,” Chin-Hong said.
In L.A. County, so far, the oldest residents have had among the lowest coronavirus case rates, while younger adults and teenagers have the highest case rates. Those trends could change; but that could be one explanation for why hospitals are not seeing signs of strain locally for now.
Even if case rates worsen dramatically in California, having a later spring wave than New York may be beneficial given that anti-COVID drugs like Paxlovid are now widely available — which wasn’t the case earlier this year — and healthcare providers and the public are more aware about getting them.
Paxlovid, a five-day course of pills manufactured by Pfizer, needs to be taken within a few days of symptom onset. It reduces the risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by 89% among higher-risk adults who haven’t been hospitalized.©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.