As Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday rescinded California’s stay-at-home order, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state continued to plummet and its average daily cases remained near their lowest point in months.
California’s hospitals are shedding an average net of 300 patients per day since they reached a peak just over two weeks ago and most recently fell to 17,432 active hospitalizations on Sunday, a 20% decline in the past two weeks. The rate of positive tests has also declined drastically, to 8% of all tests in the past week, after that figure had reached 14% two weeks ago. At about 28,180 new cases per day over the past week, California is averaging its fewest infections since the second week of December, according to data compiled by this news organization.
However, California is still in the midst of its deadliest period of the pandemic. With a monthly death toll exceeding 11,500 and still six days to go, January is on pace to be not just California’s deadliest month of the pandemic but do so two times over. On Monday, California’s cumulative death toll grew to 37,499 — more than any state but New York — with 434 newly reported fatalities. That pushed the seven-day total to 3,766, or an average of 538 per day, surpassing a period earlier this month as the state’s deadliest seven days of the pandemic.
Over the course of the pandemic, the Bay Area has been able to fend off the mass fatalities seen in the southern portion of the state. On Monday, though, Santa Clara County recorded the third-highest death toll in the state — 53, which includes delayed data from the weekend — its highest tally reported on any single day of the pandemic. Elsewhere in the region, there were an additional 16 deaths spread between Santa Cruz, Solano, Napa, Marin and Alameda counties.
Although about one in every five Californians resides in the Bay Area, only about one in every 10 deaths from COVID-19 has occurred in the region. Southern California, which makes up just over half the state’s population, has accounted for more than two in every three fatalities in state since the onset of the pandemic — and an even larger portion in the past month, nearly three in every four.
The deaths reported on Monday pushed the total in Santa Clara County over 1,200, the largest death toll in the Bay Area and number six in the state. The five counties ahead of it are all in Southern California, led by Los Angeles County, where more than 15,000 residents have died from COVID-19.
In a rare occurrence, Los Angeles County reported 10 fewer fatalities than Santa Clara County on Monday, but two other counties in Southern California held down the top two spots: Riverside County, where there were 80 deaths reported Monday, and Orange County, where there were 66. Elsewhere in Southern California, Ventura and Imperial counties also ranked among the top 10 statewide, with 18 and 17 deaths, respectively.
In the San Joaquin Valley, three counties reported double-digit death tolls on Monday: San Joaquin, with 27; Fresno, with 24; and Tulare, with 11. The overall death toll in Fresno County ranks seventh in California, just behind Sacramento County, where the death toll grew by 28 on Monday to 1,185.
Nationally, the U.S. is trending similarly to California: Infections are down drastically, and hospitalizations have begun to follow. After spending much of the past month leading the nation, California’s recent reduction in cases has allowed a handful of other states to surpass it in per-capita infections over the past week, but at approximately 65 daily cases per 100,000 residents, California still ranks in the top 10 nationally.
But deaths in the U.S. are still coming in some of their largest numbers of the pandemic. On Monday, the country’s death toll surpassed 420,000, according to data collected by the New York Times, and the virus is still killing an average of more than 3,000 Americans per day.
Contributed by local news sources