Mask orders go into effect in some counties as deaths, new cases rise around the state
Vallejo Times-Herald, by Evan Webeck, April 22, 2020
Cases spiked Tuesday for a second straight day and California reported the third-most deaths in a single 24-hour period since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The deadly respiratory illness, caused by the new coronavirus, claimed another 93 lives in the state Tuesday as California’s death toll climbed to 1,316, according to data compiled by the Bay Area News Group.
The state has seen its largest increase in cases the past two days, adding nearly 2,000 on Tuesday alone to bring its total to 35,802. Patients in acute hospital beds, as well as intensive care units, rose by about 3% to 3,365 and 1,241, respectively. Statewide, the case count has grown by nearly 15% since the week began.
Those numbers would seem to indicate California has not yet turned the corner in its fight against the virus.
One widely cited model predicted the state passed its peak late last week. But there have been five days on which the state has reported more fatalities than the model projected on its deadliest day, and two since the projected peak. Researchers revised their projections Tuesday to show the state’s final death occurring May 12, with a final death toll of 1,743 (with a confidence interval from 1,340 to 2,701) — about 400 more than its total as of Tuesday.
But a lack of widespread testing has made it difficult to gauge what stage the outbreak is in. Labs in the state conducted their 300,000th test Monday, the most recent day for which data was available, but that still amounts to less than 1% of the state’s total population. Gov. Gavin Newsom set a goal of performing 25,000 tests per day, but on Tuesday, he admitted that wouldn’t be enough.
Another variable was thrown into the equation Tuesday. Officials in Santa Clara County discovered new deaths from from COVID-19 as far back as Feb. 6, a whole month before what was believed to be the first coronavirus fatality in the county and weeks before what had been thought to be the first death in the nation on Feb. 29 in the state of Washington.
“To have at least three people right around the beginning of February and late January already have the infection and two of them pass away means the virus has been around for a while,” County Executive Jeff Smith said. “It’s a much more dangerous virus than we initially recognized because we had limited testing.”
Residents in several California counties will now be required to cover their faces in most public settings, or risk possible fines or misdemeanor charges.