Rate of new virus infections falling, but deaths remain high
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The rates of new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations are dropping across California, but health officials warn those trends are tempered by very high death rates.
The state reported 593 deaths on Saturday, a day after recording a one-day record of 764, according to the Department of Public Health. California’s death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to 36,361, while total cases reached 3,085,040.
Hospitalizations and newly confirmed cases have been falling, however, and health officials are growing more optimistic that the worst of the latest surge is over.
The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has slipped below 19,000 statewide, a drop of more than 10% in two weeks.
The 22,972 new cases reported Saturday are less than half the mid-December peak of nearly 54,000. In the last week the state averaged about 29,000 new cases per day, more than 6,000 fewer than the prior week.
The positivity rate for people being tested has dropped by 15% statewide in the last week, which means fewer people will end up in hospitals.
A record 79 COVID-19 deaths have been reported by San Diego County public health officials, along with 2,847 new COVID-19 cases and 437 positive intensive care patients.
The previous record of 65 deaths was set on Wednesday, with 62 on New Years Eve the third-highest death toll.
Friday marked the 53rd consecutive day with more than 1,000 cases. It is the 25th time in the past 30 days with more than 2,000 new cases of the virus and snaps a two-day streak of fewer than 2,000 cases. Despite more cases than Thursday, Friday’s data continues a slight downward trend in the percentage of tests returning positive. A total 0f 49,562 tests were reported Monday and just 6% returned positive, bringing the county’s 14-day rolling average from 12% on Thursday down to 10.7% Friday.
The county’s cumulative case total increased to 222,578 and the death toll is now at 2,301.
In Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous, the test positivity rate has plummeted 39% over the past three weeks, health officials said.
“While we have come a long way this week with community transmission, we have a long road to go and must continue to practice infectious control measures: wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when out of your home,” the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said in a statement on Friday.