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California Health Secretary Dr. Ghaly touts the state's decisions on stay-at-home orders

Dr. Ghaly addressed concerns of getting people vaccinated quickly and his thoughts on working with the Biden Administration on combatting the pandemic.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2020 file photo, California Health, and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly speaks at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. California has not seen a link between the reopening of K-12 schools for in-person learning and increased coronavirus transmission. Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's top public health official, says Tuesday it can take time for trends to emerge but so far the results are encouraging. California requires counties to report coronavirus levels and infection rates below certain thresholds before they can allow K-12 schools to broadly reopen for in-person instruction. On Tuesday, 32 of the state's 58 counties were deemed eligible to do so, up from 28 a week earlier. The state has seen a broad decline in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. (AP Photo/Randall Benton, File)

CALIFORNIA, USA — California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly appeared on Good Morning America to address California's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Ghaly talked about a range of topics from the state's hospitalization numbers to the vaccine rollout and working with the new Biden Administration.

"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 an increase as we hope," Dr. Ghaly said about working with the new administration. He mentioned that at least knowing how much the state will get, so they can plan for it will be key.

While the vaccine rollout has not been as fast as California hoped, the first part of the rollout happened during the worst of the state's surge, according to Dr. Ghaly. Many health care providers were prioritizing patient care before getting themselves vaccinated. When Gov. Gavin Newsom gave the million vaccine challenge, vaccinations went up by more than double.

"We need to keep picking up that pace led by equity, led by safety, but paying close attention to the speed of getting people vaccinated across our state," Dr. Ghaly said.

He also addressed how California has been criticized for the strict restrictions on outdoor dining during the stay-at-home orders, possibly having unintended consequences of encouraging more private gatherings. Dr. Ghaly said that while it is hard to tell what happens and what causes case increases, case numbers did go down in the harder hit areas in California when the regional stay-at-home orders were put in place.

"Frankly, we’re focused on saving lives, which we have continued to do throughout this pandemic," Dr. Ghaly said. "So I would say the decisions around some of those restrictions have paid off in the data from the last week to 10 days."

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