California Moves Out of the Highest COVID Transmission Risk Tier

The Golden State and Puerto Rico are the only places in the country where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is ”substantial” rather than ”high”

Having some of the strictest COVID-19 precautions in the U.S. is paying off for California, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that it’s currently the only state in the U.S. to exit the agency’s top tier transmission risk category.

A new CDC map depicts the entire nation in red for “high” risk of transmission, with the exception of California and Puerto Rico, which are in orange for “substantial” risk, the second-highest tier. So far, no state or territory has gotten down to the yellow “moderate,” or blue “low” risk levels, but California’s state epidemiologist, Dr. Erica Pan, is taking the win.

“CA is one of the few states and the only large state to improve from red to orange COVID-19 Community levels of transmission,” she tweeted. “Thx to strong leadership, hi vaccination rates, and masking indoors in high risk settings.”

The smaller states Pan was referring to are Connecticut and Vermont, which briefly made it to the orange zone but soon went back into the red, along with Washington D.C., the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to Governor Gavin Newsom’s office, as the state with the lowest case rate in the nation California has reported just 97.8 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, with 68 percent of the population fully vaccinated and 82 percent of Californians 12 and older having had at least one jab.

The mutant Delta variant also seems to be helping some Californians to finally come to terms with getting vaxxed. While vaccination rates began to slump in June, the emergence of Delta in late July was followed by 1.6 million people getting their first vaccination shots in August, up from 1.1 million in July, the New York Times reports.

“The question is: What gets you to make a different decision today than you’ve made the last few months?” UC San Francisco epidemiologist Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo asks the paper. “I think fear is somewhat of a motivator, unfortunately.”

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