The emergence of new cases of coronavirus in California continued on Friday as calls grew for the state to reconsider its approach to reopening the economy, and some Bay Area counties said they would suspend plans to allow certain companies closed begin serving customers again.
According to data compiled by this news organization, California public health departments reported 5,624 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, bringing the state total to 206,100 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.
That’s lower than the surprising figures from earlier in the week, when authorities reported 6,500 new cases on both Monday and Tuesday. Still, after those two days, it represents the third-highest number of cases California has seen in a single day.
As a result, the state’s seven-day average of new cases shot up to 5,053, compared to 3,059 two weeks ago, an increase of 65.2 percent.
California has expanded access to testing in recent months. However, increased testing alone does not explain why the number of new cases is increasing so rapidly: The percentage of people who tested positive for coronavirus has also increased, and more people are hospitalized with the virus.
Statewide, authorities reported that 61 people died from COVID-19 on Friday. Overall, the virus has claimed 5,865 lives in California.
The number of coronavirus deaths so far has not increased: The seven-day average of deaths in California has decreased slightly in the past two weeks, from 64.4 to 63.3.
Epidemiologists warn that deaths are a lagging indicator of the spread of the virus, which means it could take longer to reflect increasing cases. Health data also shows that an increasing proportion of those who test positive for the virus are young, less likely to die from COVID-19.
The increasing number of cases has prompted three counties in the Bay Area to reconsider their reopening strategies.
San Francisco has postponed a plan to allow salons, hair salons, tattoo parlors to open and select other businesses. Marin County removed certain industries, including hotels and gyms, from the list it is allowing to reopen. And Contra Costa county officials said they are “similarly evaluating whether the county should continue its current reopening schedule.”
California is not alone in seeing alarming increases in new coronavirus cases; There are also other states this week leading officials in Texas and Florida to reverse course and once again close the bars.
While California has moved more conservatively than other states to reopen businesses, health experts argue that the increasing cases should prompt leaders to slow down or even reverse that process.
Governor Gavin Newsom has urged officials at Imperial County’s coronavirus hotspot, which has the highest case rate in the state, to reimpose orders to stay home. Still, Newsom has rejected calls to reverse reopens across the state.
“Our governor said we were going to follow the data. The idea of following the data is that if we start liberalizing things and we see cases not going up, we can continue to liberalize things, “said John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert and professor emeritus at the University of Berkeley.” But if the percentage starts to go up, we need to at least pause and reevaluate where we are. He is not following that plan at the moment. “
Editors Robert Salonga and Evan Webeck contributed to the reports.