California’s cases of COVID-19 continued to descend Tuesday and were coupled with a drop off in deaths from the week before.
With 12,576 new cases, according to data compiled by this news organization, California reported fewer cases Tuesday than any other weekday, excluding holidays, since the middle of November. At approximately 17,170 per day over the past week, California is averaging fewer than half the new cases it was two weeks ago, down 53% in that time, the state’s steepest decrease since its case curve began to bend downward.
Deaths, however, continue to come at a pace closer to California’s peak than any time prior to this winter wave. There were another 484 fatalities reported around the state Tuesday, far fewer than the 700-plus reported last Tuesday but also still 10 times higher than the average day as recently as last fall. More than 41,800 Californians have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic, and the state’s death toll is on pace to surpass New York for the most in the country within the next week.
At approximately 510 per day, California’s average daily death toll over the past week fell Tuesday but remained higher than it was two weeks ago. (New York, which was devastated in the first wave of the pandemic last spring, has accrued about 43,500 casualties and is averaging about 180 per day over the past week.) Another 10,000 Californians are projected to perish by the end of the month, according to the state’s mathematical models; the death toll is forecasted to reach 51,950 by Feb. 27, which would make February its second-deadliest month of the pandemic, following nearly 15,000 fatalities in the first month of the year.
The same models project California’s hospitalizations and intensive-care patients will be cut by more than half by the first week of March. Already, the state’s active hospitalizations have declined 30% in the past two weeks to 14,221, as of Monday, including 3,797 in ICUs, nearly 20% fewer than two weeks ago. By March 5, state models forecast fewer than 6,600 total patients hospitalized and fewer than 1,800 in ICUs, figures in line with the final week of November.
The most substantial improvements are forecasted in Southern California, which has been hit hardest by the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, the region produced the three leading death tolls in the state and five of the top 10 — three in every four of the 484 fatalities statewide. The death toll in Los Angeles County rose over 17,000, more than any other county-level jurisdiction in the nation, with 203 reported on Tuesday, followed by 80 in Riverside County and 53 in Orange County. Ventura County also added 11, and there were 10 reported in San Diego County.
In the Bay Area, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties reported the fourth- and fifth-highest tallies in the state on Tuesday, with 15 and 13 respective fatalities. Alameda County reported nine new deaths, and there were five apiece in Solano and Sonoma counties, en route to 53 across the region on Tuesday, or about 11% of the statewide total — about equal to the region’s share of the cumulative total in California, despite making up approximately 20% of the state’s population.
Select counties in the region have reduced their cases enough that elementary schools could be eligible to reopen, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, said on Tuesday. San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Marin counties were among the 18 around the state with fewer than 25 daily cases per 100,000 residents over the past week. Seven others are located in Northern California, five in Greater Sacramento and two in the San Joaquin Valley. Nowhere in Southern California has lowered its cases to that level. In Southern California, the lowest rates are in sparsely populated Mono and Imperial counties, where there have been just below 40 daily cases per 100,000 residents over the past week.
Statewide, California has lowered its rate of cases per-capita below 20 other states, just weeks removed from topping the national leaderboard for weekly infection rates. Approximately 43.5 in every 100,000 Californians each day tested positive for the virus over the past week, after that rate had topped out at almost 115 per 100,000.
As it approaches New York for the overall lead in fatalities, California has still reported far fewer as a proportion of its population. More than 30 states separate California and New York by per-capita rate of deaths over the course of the pandemic. New York, with less than half California’s population, has recorded deaths at a per-capita rate more than twice that of California.
Nationwide, the U.S. death toll is nearing 450,000, while at least 26.4 million Americans have contracted the virus. That means approximately one in every 735 Americans has lost their lives to COVID-19 and about one in every 12 has had it at some point in the past 11 months. In California, the rate of infection is about equal but only about one in every 950 Californians has died from COVID-19.
Contributed by local news sources