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California coronavirus cases drop, CDC says

Coronavirus transmission rates in California are dropping, an encouraging sign amid a summer wave fueled by the Delta variant, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state’s level of coronavirus transmission increased from “high” to “substantial,” the second-highest level as defined by the CDC.

California is now one of only three states, including Connecticut and Vermont, to fall into this category, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The CDC’s Scale for Levels of Coronavirus Transmission ranks conditions into one of four levels: worst – high – is color coded red; followed by substantial (orange), moderate (yellow) and weak (blue).

California is “the only major state to go from red to orange in levels of COVID-19 community transmission,” state epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said in a statement. Tweeter Monday evening. She attributed relatively high vaccination rates, as well as indoor masking practices, to help reduce new coronavirus infections.

Mask orders are in place in counties where a majority of Californians live, but there are no statewide orders requiring the use of indoor masks in public places.

It was not immediately clear whether data processing delays were a factor in the lower rate of community transmission in California. Los Angeles County reported no cases on Saturday or Sunday due to a planned system upgrade.

As a result, it will likely take a few days to determine whether California’s change in status is the result of a data jump or represents a genuine change in conditions. The CDC will update its numbers again on Tuesday evening.

Nonetheless, the trend of new weekly coronavirus cases coming over the past weekend suggests a notable drop in recent weeks, which could bring eventual relief in areas like the Central Valley and rural Northern California, where many hospitals are still overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

California reported a 27% drop in weekly cases on Friday night over the past two weeks, from an average of 13,400 cases per day for the seven-day period that ended Aug. 27 to about 9 800 cases per day for the week that ended. Friday, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of data provided by the State Department of Public Health.

During the same period, the San Francisco Bay Area reported a 36% drop in weekly cases; Southern California, 28%; the Greater Sacramento area, 27%; the San Joaquin Valley, 18%; and rural Northern California, 15%.

The nation as a whole is also seeing new cases of the coronavirus starting to decline on a weekly basis. About 118,000 new cases of coronavirus per day were reported in the United States during the seven-day period that ended on Sunday; the previous week’s average was about 152,000 cases per day.

Hospitals, however, remain under duress in parts of California, particularly in areas like rural Northern California and the Central Valley. The regions have the worst hospitalization rates in the state for COVID-19: per 100,000 population, the San Joaquin Valley has 36 people hospitalized with COVID-19; in rural Northern California, there are 32; and in the Greater Sacramento area, there are 27, according to the Times analysis.

In contrast, the Southern California rate is 15 and the Bay Area rate is 12.

Some experts say that when COVID-19 hospitalizations exceed five hospitalizations per 100,000 residents, it may be prudent to take emergency COVID-19 measures, such as indoor mask orders.

The San Joaquin Valley and rural northern California reported the least relief from COVID-19-related hospitalizations in the past two weeks. COVID-19-related hospitalizations fell only 1% in the San Joaquin Valley, 6% in rural northern California and 11% in the Greater Sacramento area.

In contrast, those hospitalizations fell 23% in Southern California and 24% in the Bay Area during the same period.

In the most populous county of the San Joaquin Valley, Fresno County, officials warned last week that they were so overwhelmed that hospitals were on the verge of being forced to ration healthcare for patients .

Home to more than 4 million people – more populated than 24 other states – the San Joaquin Valley has faced an extreme shortage of staffed intensive care unit beds, so much so that some critically ill patients have had to be transported by plane over 160 km.

Regional ICU availability in the San Joaquin Valley has been below 10% for 13 consecutive days, and state officials have ordered emergency protocols that state acute care general hospitals must accept patients transferred if referred – provided there is room and is considered “clinically appropriate.”

In Del Norte County, on the northern edge of California, more than half of the patients hospitalized at the main Crescent City hospital have COVID-19. In contrast, in Los Angeles County, only 11% of hospital patients have COVID-19, according to the Times’ COVID-19 hospital tracker.

Nationally, new daily COVID-19 hospital admissions have declined. For the seven-day period that ended on Saturday, the country was recording about 11,100 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per day, an 8% reduction from the previous week, according to the CDC.

However, daily deaths from COVID-19 continue to rise. California was reporting about 116 deaths from COVID-19 per day during the seven-day period that ended on Friday.

That’s nearly 50% more than the week ended August 27, when California recorded about 79 deaths a day.

The latest daily death tolls are still significantly lower than in the winter wave, during which most Californians were not fully immunized. At its peak, California recorded nearly 550 deaths from COVID-19 per day.