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.