For three weeks, almost every day they have brought a record number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in California. Now, after consecutive days of record death tolls, the state has experienced its deadliest seven-day period of the pandemic.
Another 135 Californians died from the virus on Thursday, according to data compiled by this news organization, just below the record set Wednesday, but more than any previous day. With him, the seven-day average rose to 84 deaths per day, up 29% from a week ago and the highest in history. The previous peak occurred in mid-April, when an average of 80 people died per day from April 18 to 24.
New cases and hospitalizations are not slowing down either. The state added another 9,769 confirmed cases Thursday, raising the seven-day average to 7,909, also a new high. The number of hospitalized patients in California reached a minimum of 3,092 on June 13; in the month since then, it has almost doubled to 6,126, hitting a new high on Wednesday. The test’s positivity rate, which the World Health Organization recommends keeping below 5%, rose to 7.6% from 4.9% just over two weeks ago.
Health officials warned that deaths are a lagging indicator and wondered when, or if, states with increasing numbers of cases would begin to see a proportional increase in deaths. Earlier this week, a WHO official said, “We can see that deaths are starting to rise again because we’ve only really experienced this rapid increase in cases in the past five to six weeks.”
In other states where cases and hospitalizations have increased, deaths begin to follow. Texas and Florida also reported a record number of deaths from the virus on Thursday. Texas has reported 203 deaths from the virus in the past two days after not having a day over 60 before this week; the seven-day average is 72% higher than a week ago. In Florida, more than 400 new patients were admitted to hospitals on Thursday and 120 people died from the virus, both new records for the state.
While California has hit new highs for infections and deaths, the Bay Area has so far avoided the worst of the virus. Cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in the region, but its 10 counties (population: 8 million) accounted for seven of the 135 deaths (5%) statewide on Thursday. Los Angeles (47), Orange (26), Riverside (18) and San Bernardino (11) accounted for the majority of the deaths on Thursday.
The six southernmost counties in California have the highest death rates during the past week, when they represent the population: Los Angeles (23.5 deaths per 1 million in the last week), Orange (15.1 deaths per 1 million), Riverside ( 27.5 deaths per 1 million), San Bernardino (17.7 per 1 million), San Diego (11.3 per 1 million) and Imperial (149 per 1 million). In the Bay Area, the death rate was 4.9 per 1 million residents during the past week.
The 554 patients in Bay Area hospitals are the most part of any pandemic point, 72% more than two weeks ago, while the average number of cases rose to 734 per day, 63% more than it did two weeks. However, per capita adds fewer cases per day than central and southern California counties.
In the four counties between Los Angeles and the Arizona-Mexico borders – Imperial, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego (population: 9.1 million) – cases increased 92% in two weeks, from 12.3 per 100,000 residents per day to 23.7 per 100,000 . In seven Central Valley counties: Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare (population: 3.4 million), the number of cases increases even faster: 110% more than two weeks ago (15, 7 per 100,000 residents per day to 33). The per capita case rate in the Bay Area (population: 8 million) remains lower than in both regions, even before recent spikes, at 9.2 cases per 100,000 residents per day.
The per capita case map from the Harvard Institute of Global Health seems to indicate a deteriorating situation. A week ago, Arizona and Florida were the only states designated as red or “high risk”, with more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents per day in the past week; Now Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas and Georgia join them.
All six states also have increasing positivity rates, according to the COVID Monitoring Project: Louisiana, at 9.3%, is the only one below 10%. The percentage of positive tests in the country has almost doubled in less than a month and now stands at 8.4%. Most states have positive rates above the WHO recommended 5% threshold.
In California, three counties were considered high risk a week ago. There are now 11 red shades on the Harvard map: Marin, Colusa, San Joaquin, Merced, Madera, Kings, Tulare, Santa Barbara, Orange, San Bernardino, and Imperial. In the Bay Area, Contra Costa, Solano and Napa have also moved to the second highest-risk designation with at least 12 new cases per day per 100,000 residents.
As a state, California has reported the twelfth highest number of cases per capita in the past week: 19.6 per 100,000 residents, one of 20 states that Harvard scientists considered red or orange risk levels. The state crossed the 300,000 case mark on Thursday, a day after the Bay Area case count crossed 30,000. In all, 6,850 Californians have died from COVID-19, including 632 Bay Area residents. In the United States, the death toll reached 133,000 on Thursday, while the number of cases rose to 3.1 million, more than triple that of any county other than Brazil, which had 1.7 million cases, according to Johns University. Hopkins.