Tag Archives: California

COVID-19 “test positivity rates” in California, U.S.

Coronavirus: California continues troubling trend upward in COVID-19 metrics

With the weekend delays accounted for, the 7-day average of new cases climbed to its highest point of the pandemic
Vallejo Times-Herald, by Evan Webeck, July 7, 2020

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in California soared as Los Angeles County reported three days’ worth of test results Monday.

The raw number of cases reported around the state Monday obliterated the previous record but comes with an enormous caveat: a number of counties, including L.A., which itself accounts for nearly half the state’s confirmed cases, had backlogs of test results of up to three days because of the long holiday weekend. In total, the statewide case count grew by 16,637, including 8,903 in Los Angeles, to 271,889, according to data compiled by this news organization. Another 109 Californians succumbed to the virus — 81 in Los Angeles — raising the death toll to 6,446.

With the weekend delays accounted for, the average number of new cases reported around the state each day for the past week climbed to its highest point of the pandemic. For the first time, California is adding more 7,000 new cases per day — 7,041, 28.6% more than a week ago — while the average daily death count reached its highest level in more than a month: 67 lives taken by the virus each day over the past week.

Hospitalizations and test-positivity rate, two metrics frequently cited by Gov. Gavin Newsom and local health officials, also continued to slope upward. There were 5,790 patients hospitalized statewide Sunday, including 504 in the Bay Area. In the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital beds has doubled in the Bay Area while rising 56% statewide.

Even as some counties near capacity, there remain plenty of open hospital and ICU beds around the state. Riverside County’s ICUs were 94% full Sunday — down from 99% last week, though more were COVID-19 patients (9.5% of ICU beds on June 27; 13.9% on July 5) — while hospitals in the Bay Area are accepting transfers from other counties. Statewide, COVID-19 patients continue to take up about 8% of the state’s hospital beds.

The percentage of tests to come back positive over the past seven days also crossed the 7% threshold for the first time since the end of April. In two weeks, it has risen from 4.9% to 7.5% even as the state conducts more tests. Labs around the state reported 25% more positive tests in the past week than the one before (6,826 per day vs. 5,499), despite conducting 12.5% more tests (104,523 per day vs. 92,848).

Newsom has previously said “each decimal point is profoundly impactful” when it comes to positivity rate. But California’s still lags many other states, despite recording among the most cases. Its 7.5% rate ranks 18th among all 50 states, well behind Arizona (25.3%) and Florida (18.7%). The country’s rate has seen a similar spike: below the 5% threshold three weeks ago, to 7.8% now.

The World Health Organization has said positivity rates should remain at 5% or below for 14 days before beginning to reopen. Currently, only 23 states meet that metric, according to Johns Hopkins University and the COVID Tracking Project.

As cases and hospitalizations climb, California scrambles to tamp down the surge

San Francisco Chronicle, Catherine Ho, Alexei Koseff, July 6, 2020
People at Dolores Park on Saturday, July 4, 2020, in San Francisco, Calif.
People at Dolores Park on Saturday, July 4, 2020, in San Francisco, Calif. Photo: Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle

Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations continued to climb in California and many parts of the Bay Area over the weekend, as the state that found early success in containing the virus is now scrambling to tamp down outbreaks in prisons and spiking new cases among young people.

Statewide, the average number of new cases per day doubled from just under 2,000 in May to 4,000 in June. That number jumped to a daily average of 6,700 new cases the first four days of July alone, according to Chronicle data.

“The damage that COVID-19 can do — this pandemic — is still in front of us,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday. “It continues to spread at rates we have not experienced here in the state of California since the beginning of this pandemic.”

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in California hit a record high, 5,690, for the 17th consecutive day. As of July 5, according to Chronicle data, the Bay Area had 494 patients hospitalized, down from its all-time high of 508 on July 3. Prior to the recent spike in cases, the Bay Area had reached a high of 471 hospitalizations on April 7.

The rate of positive tests has also climbed to 6.8% — up from 5.6% last week. It had been holding steady at 4.9% the previous several weeks, and its steady climb indicates the infection is spreading more quickly now than before.

Deaths, however, are declining statewide and in the Bay Area — from an average of 69 per day in May to 64 per day in June in California. The average number of deaths went from 4.8 to 4.5 in the Bay Area during the same period. That may be because more young people are getting diagnosed and hospitalized, but the severity of disease among younger patients is not as acute as it is in older patients, Newsom said.

People line up to buy fireworks from a stand in San Bruno on Friday, July 3, 2020.
People line up to buy fireworks from a stand in San Bruno on Friday, July 3, 2020. Photo: Nick Otto / Special to The Chronicle

People line up to buy fireworks from a stand in San Bruno on Friday, July 3, 2020.Photo: Nick Otto / Special to The Chronicle
In the Bay Area, the average number of new cases per day spiked 114%, from 182 in May to 390 in June, and 800 the first four days of July. The Bay Area reported a record-high 1,010 new cases Thursday — the first time the region has surpassed 1,000 new cases a day since the pandemic began.

As of Monday evening, there were 2.9 million confirmed cases in the United States, including 130,284 deaths. California reported 273,303 cases, including 6,450 deaths.

Much of the recent increase has come from large clusters of infections at prisons and nursing homes, as well as community transmission among members of the public as counties have reopened restaurants and businesses over the last several weeks.

Marin County on Sunday said it will suspend indoor dining for at least three weeks, after previously allowing it. Marin is one of 23 counties on a state watch list of counties that are showing warning signs of coronavirus spreading at concerning rates.

The outbreak at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, where nearly 1,400 inmates have tested positive for the coronavirus, is putting new strain on hospitals that are admitting the patients — in particular at nearby Marin General, Newsom said. The prison is now also sending inmates to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco and Seton Medical Center in Daly City so those hospitals can help share the responsibility of caring for the patients, Newsom said.

The San Quentin outbreak accounts for more than half of the 2,445 cases that have emerged inside state prisons.

The state over the weekend rejected Santa Clara County’s application to move faster toward reopening. A July 2 county order that allows some activities to resume — including outdoor gatherings of up to 60 people and indoor gatherings of up to 20 people, with some restrictions — is scheduled to take effect on July 13 or when the county gets state approval, whichever date comes later.

Over the holiday weekend, state regulators visited nearly 6,000 bars and restaurants and issued just 52 citations for violations of coronavirus safety guidelines. Newsom said it was an encouraging sign that most Californians are doing the right thing as the state struggles to reopen amid a surging caseload.

After ordering bars and indoor dining closed in most of the state last week, Newsom said that agents with the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control stepped up their enforcement during the Fourth of July weekend out of concern that more people would be out celebrating and visited 5,986 businesses between Thursday and Sunday.

The governor said his administration sent enforcement teams to six key regions across the state with known violators or high-risk workplaces, though he did not specify where those were. He said the effort was more about educating business owners, and state regulators cited only those who were unwilling or unable to make changes to their operations.

“There were only a handful of citations because the overwhelming majority of people were doing the right thing,” Newsom said at a news conference. “I was very encouraged by the team that came back and said that even if people were out of compliance, the engagement got people back into compliance very quickly.”

California is trying to control a coronavirus outbreak that has taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks, following a loosening of restrictions on businesses and public life.

The state is closely monitoring 23 of California’s 58 counties, including Contra Costa, Marin and  Solano in the Bay Area, because of their high rate of new infections, positive tests or increasing hospitalizations. Of the 20 most populous counties in the state, all but five — Alameda, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma — are on the watch list. Napa County is also not being monitored.

Santa Clara County, which was previously flagged for an accelerating rise in hospitalizations, fell off the list over the weekend. After being removed late last week, Contra Costa County was added back.

Counties that have been on the list for three consecutive days must close bars and indoor dining, wineries, tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, movie theaters, museums, zoos and card rooms for at least three weeks.

Solano County wake up! Gov. Newsom threatens counties that don’t order mandatory masks

Newsom threatens California counties that defy coronavirus rules as cases spike

San Francisco Chronicle, by Alexei Koseff June 24, 2020 
Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference in Sacramento on June 5.
Gov. Gavin Newsom at a news conference in Sacramento on June 5. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom could withhold financial relief from local governments in the upcoming state budget if they do not follow guidelines that he says are necessary to tamp down the spike in coronavirus cases in California.

The budget deal with legislative leaders announced this week ties $750 million in funding to replace lost tax revenue for county services, as well as $1.3 billion for counties and $500 million for cities from the federal bailout package, to local governments’ compliance with the stay-at-home order and other state requirements on the coronavirus response.

Newsom, through his Department of Finance, could order state officials not to send local governments their portion of the money if they do not certify they are following the rules, which include a new mandate for Californians to wear masks nearly everywhere outside the home.

At a news conference Wednesday, the governor said that authority would give him leverage over those who “simply thumb their nose” at state guidelines. He did not specify how cities and counties would be expected to prove their compliance, though he added that he was trying to encourage good behavior rather than punish bad behavior.

“We give an enormous amount of power, control and authority to local government, but what we’re now looking for is accountability,” Newsom said.

Since the state rolled out its requirement for face coverings last week, county sheriffs and local police chiefs from Orange County to Sacramento have announced that they do not plan to enforce the order. The mayor of Nevada City, in Nevada County, encouraged residents to defy the mandate to “prevent all of us from slipping down the nasty slope of tyranny.”

Newsom, who has previously used state regulatory agencies to pressure businesses and local governments that defied his lockdown measures, said Wednesday that the “power of the purse” would give him another tool.

“If counties that have submitted that they need more state money to address this pandemic but are unwilling to enforce the rules and laws related to mitigate that pandemic, it seems not only counterintuitive that you would continue to provide those resources, but actually harmful to the broader effort,” he said.

California reported a record 7,149 new cases of the coronavirus Tuesday, Newsom said, which he attributed not only to an increase in testing but also a rising rate of positive tests. The state has recorded more than 12,000 cases in the past two days.

Hospitalizations of coronavirus patients have grown by 29% over the past two weeks, to 4,095, though the governor noted that is only a fraction of the state’s capacity.

Newsom blamed the spread on more Californians venturing out of their homes to visit family and friends, which he suggested was threatening the ability of the state to continue reopening its economy.

“Many of us, understandably, developed a little cabin fever. Some, I would argue, have developed a little amnesia. Others have just, frankly, taken down their guard,” he said. “It is our behaviors that are leading to these numbers, and we are putting people’s lives at risk.”

Earlier this week, Newsom acknowledged that he might have to shut down businesses again if the state loses control of its coronavirus outbreak. He released a video with former governors Jerry Brown, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson encouraging the public to wear masks.

On Wednesday, Newsom pleaded with the public to continue washing their hands, wearing face coverings and avoiding large crowds and intimate gatherings.

“Consider others in your life and strangers. Love thy neighbors like yourself,” he said. “If you cannot practice physical distancing, then are you practicing love?”

Face Coverings Now Mandatory In CA, State Says

Californians must now wear face coverings in public spaces, no matter the county you live in.

Gov. Gavin Newsom now says face coverings are mandatory in the state of California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom now says face coverings are mandatory in the state of California.
Patch, by Renee Schiavone, June 18, 2020

CALIFORNIA — The debate at the county level about whether face coverings should be mandatory or not appears to be over for now, as California officials announced Thursday that the masks are now required in all public places. The requirement is effective immediately.

Click to view the 18 June 2020 CA Guidance order requiring Face Coverings

“Californians are now required to wear face coverings in public spaces – particularly indoors or when physical distancing is not possible,” the governor’s office said in a tweet.

The state’s health and human services agency said cloth face coverings “help reduce the spread of coronavirus especially when combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing.”

There are some exemptions, including for those under 2 years old, those who need to communicate via sign language and those seated at a restaurant.

The state’s 58 counties had previously been allowed to make the decision on face covering requirements locally. Orange County had been in the headlines most recently, downgrading their requirement to a “recommendation.” Other counties in the Bay Area have had a face covering mandate in place for months.

The state’s 58 counties had previously been allowed to make the decision on face covering requirements locally. Orange County had been in the headlines most recently, downgrading their requirement to a “recommendation.” Other counties in the Bay Area have had a face covering mandate in place for months.  [Editor: CORRECTION – Solano County is the one Bay Area County that does NOT have a mandatory face covering order. – R.S.]

The state listed certain “high risk” situations where the coverings are mandatory:

  • Inside of, or in line to enter, any indoor public space;
  • Obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings including, but not limited to, a hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank;
  • Waiting for or riding on public transportation or paratransit or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle;
  • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:
    • Interacting in-person with any member of the public;
    • Working in any space visited by members of the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
    • Working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
    • Working in or walking through common areas, such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
    • In any room or enclosed area where other people (except for members of the person’s own household or residence) are present when unable to physically distance.
  • Driving or operating any public transportation or paratransit vehicle, taxi, or private car service or ride-sharing vehicle when passengers are present. When no passengers are present, face coverings are strongly recommended.
  • While outdoors in public spaces when maintaining a physical distance of six feet from persons who are not members of the same household or residence is not feasible.

The following individuals are exempt from wearing a face covering, according to the state:

  • Children aged two and under;
  • Persons with a medical, mental health, or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering;
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;
  • Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service;
  • Persons who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence;
  • Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others;
  • Persons who are incarcerated. Prisons and jails, as part of their mitigation plans, will have specific guidance on the wearing of face coverings of masks for both inmates and staff.

Learn more about the guidance and limited exceptions here.

Click to view the 18 June 2020 CA Guidance order requiring Face Coverings