Improvement even in worst parts of California


New cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations from the virus in California continued to nosedive Wednesday in the latest data released by state and local health departments, and even the hardest-hit regions appeared to be on the mend.

Both numbers reached lows not seen since the final week of June: a seven-day average of 5,887 new cases per day, the lowest since June 30, with 4,424 patients currently hospitalized, the fewest since June 25, according to data compiled by this news organization.

The average daily cases hit a high of 9,856 on July 12 and sat at or around 9,000 per day for about the next month, as the state’s worst outbreaks shifted from Southern California to the Central Valley. Since accounting for nearly 300,000 unreported tests, the daily average has fallen 24% just in the past week and 31% from two weeks ago.

Although those Central Valley counties continue to report the highest per-capita cases and hospitalizations in the state, both numbers are down from their respective peaks. In fact, the eight-county San Joaquin Valley has cut its case rate in half, from more than 378 per 100,000 in the week that ended Aug. 15 to 188.5 per 100,000 over the past seven days.

At its peak three weeks ago, nearly one in every 3,200 residents of the San Joaquin Valley were hospitalized with COVID-19. Since then, hospitalizations have fallen 37%, to a total of 825 on Monday, or about one in every 5,200.

The decrease in hospitalizations there has only been outpaced by Los Angeles and the surrounding Southern California counties.

In Los Angeles County, there were fewer patients hospitalized Monday than at nearly any point of the pandemic. There hadn’t been fewer than 1,200 patients with the virus in LA hospitals since April 6 until that number reached 1,186 on Monday — a 32% decline from three weeks ago and nearly half its peak, which came July 18. There, about one in every 4,500 residents was hospitalized at its peak, compared to about one in every 8,500 now.

In Orange County, metrics had declined enough to come off the state watch list — something many Bay Area counties have yet to accomplish.

Statewide, the number of patients hospitalized and in intensive care units has been on a steady decline for about a month, but deaths continue to come at the stubborn pace of about 130 per day. There were another 146 victims of the coronavirus reported Tuesday, keeping that seven-day average about where it has been for the past month.

Los Angeles reported the most fatalities of any county Tuesday with 49, followed by 15 in Orange County, 13 in Fresno County and 11 in Kern County.

The nine deaths reported in Santa Clara County were the fourth-most in the state Tuesday and the most in the Bay Area, followed by two in Contra Costa and San Mateo counties, and one each in Marin and Sonoma counties, for a total of 15 in the region.

Although the Bay Area hasn’t seen the dramatic decline in cases or hospitalizations of Southern California and the Central Valley, its per-capita rates remain lower than either region. With about 85 cases per 100,000 over the past week, the Bay Area’s rate was still less than half that of the San Joaquin Valley and about 12% lower than LA’s (after a gap of over 300% at its peak in mid-July).

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