California seeing decrease in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

Dr. Mark Ghaly has the latest on the state’s infection rates, the vaccine rollout and more.
4:34 | 01/21/21

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Transcript for California seeing decrease in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations
This week, California became the first state in the nation to reach 3 million cases of covid-19, with nearly 35,000 lives now lost to the virus. We want to bring in now, and hear about the latest in the state's efforts to fight this pandemic from the secretary of California health and human services, Dr. Mark ghaly. Sir, thank you so much for being here. We know you have all been going through it out there but it looks like, we saw at least some numbers in terms of hospitalizations starting to at least get stable and maybe go down a little bit. Can you give us the latest, and what do you attribute that to? Any kind of decrease in some of those numbers? Actually for the first day, we're seeing less than 20,000 cases reported today, statewide. That's the first time in a while. Indeed, our hospital numbers are coming down. Those icu numbers, the last number to come down, starting to come down as well. I think attributed to the ongoing work of californians to pay attention to the virus, after what was a hard Thanksgiving holiday. I think the regional stay-at-home order that the governor put in place made a difference over the winter holidays of Christmas and new year's and we're starting to see that pay off now. Dr. Ghaly, obviously the key to ending this pandemic is getting all of your residents vaccinated. How is the vaccine rollout going in your state so far? I think the beginning happened right during the worst of our surge. So I think the health care providers who were busy taking care of patients at the bedside, we didn't do as much, during those last couple of weeks, as we had hoped. It started out a little bit slowly. But the governor gave us a million vaccine challenge over ten days, and that ended last week. We saw a radical increase going from about 40,000, 47,000 vaccines, given in a day, at the beginning of that challenge, to over 110,000 vaccines given in a day, across the state. So we need to keep picking up that pace, led by equity, led by safety, but aying close attention to the speed of getting people vaccinated across our state. And, Dr. Ghaly, it is just day one, the first full day of the new administration. But having a new administration, are you expecting there to be a change in how you're able to combat the pandemic, for better or worse? Do you expect something to be different? We certainly hope so. I think federal leadership will be a benefit to all californians, all Americans, a consistent message, a consistent focus on how we end this pandemic, a focus on vaccinations, making sure states like ours know what we're going to be getting. Even if it isn't as big of an increase as we all hoped, at least being able to plan how to do that well. The support, the support from staffing, the data, all of that is going to be key, and I think the team, the new administration has brought in, is really a strong one. Looking forward to working with them and getting to the other side of this difficult challenge. In the meantime, Dr. Ghaly, we all know that stopping the spread is the key here, and so I know last month, California banned outdoor dining. But I'm curious, do you believe that there may have been an unintended consequence to doing that, that it pushed people more into the private gatherings where we're really seeing that spread happen? Well, you know, it's always hard to tell what happened exactly, but I'll point to the fact that we put together this regional stay-at-home order, and then almost to the day, three weeks after putting it into place, in some of the hardest-hit areas, we started to see the numbers come down. So it wasn't just outdoor dining. It was many other things. The focus on the message, that we needed to protect our hospitals. And we believe californians paid attention, made some different decisions, that have helped us faster than other places. People point to, well, was this California's Italy moment or new I'd say we got this as the numbers begin to come down faster, and hopefully with less impact on our population. And frankly, focused on saving lives, which we have continued to do throughout this pandemic. So I would say the decisions around some of those restrictions have paid off in the data that we've seen over the last, you know, week to ten days. Our hearts continue to go out to you and all of our brothers and sisters out there in California. I know you've been going through it. Continue with the work you've been doing it. Thanks for spending time with us and giving us updates. California health and human services secretary, Dr. Mark thank you so much. Thank you. Up next on "Gma3," when we

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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