While California’s active hospitalizations from COVID-19 fell to their lowest point since the calendar turned to 2021, the state on Tuesday recorded its most deaths and its fourth-most new cases on any single day of the pandemic, as many counties caught up on reporting from the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
The large tallies on Tuesday had little effect on the daily averages over the past week, which remained lower than their respective peaks but still substantially higher than any time prior to December.
With 57,397 new cases and 700 fatalities reported Tuesday, according to data compiled by this news organization, California is averaging approximately 36,600 cases and 473 deaths per day over the past week. But the state is trending in the right direction, with fewer cases than two weeks ago and its lowest weekly positivity rate since the beginning of December, falling to 9.9% Tuesday.
Hospitals are also treating the fewest Californians with severe cases of COVID-19 in more than three weeks — since Dec. 27 — though there were still 20,062 COVID-positive patients in hospitals around the state on Monday. The active total has declined about 8.5% since its peak nearly two weeks ago but remains higher than any time prior to Christmas.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, said there was “good news, demonstrating we are seeing some reduction in transmission.” While there may be a small increase in hospitalizations from its low on Monday, Ghaly said, “recognizing we did see some increase in cases, but by the end of the month we’re hoping we’re at a humber even lower than where we are now.”
Still, hospitals remain squeezed for space. In Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, hospitals have been operating in surge capacity for over a month.In the Bay Area, intensive-care capacity increased to 7.4% on Tuesday, but that was still well below the state-mandated 15% threshold to exit the regional stay-at-home order.
In the past two weeks, the average daily death counts in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have grown by 35% and 65%, respectively, while deaths have remained flat or fallen in the state’s other three regions.
While a small sample of counties in Southern California continued to account for an outsized portion of the fatalities on Tuesday, it was a deadly day in many parts of the state. Of the 700 deaths reported Tuesday, 186 came in Los Angeles County, 128 in Riverside County and 110 in Orange County — 60% of the statewide total between three counties.
But 29 of the state’s 58 counties added to their death tolls Tuesday, including seven in the Bay Area, led by Santa Clara County, which reported 33 fatalities, pushing its cumulative total over 1,100. In San Mateo County, the cumulative death toll grew over 300 with 15 new fatalities on Tuesday, while Alameda and Sonoma counties reported six apiece. Marin, Napa and Solano also added to their death tolls.
The 700 deaths reported in California on Tuesday were its most of any single day of the pandemic but represents multiple days of reporting for many counties. Nonetheless, California’s five deadliest reporting days have all come since the new year, and January has already been its deadliest month of the pandemic.
The Daily Democrat contributed to this report.
Source: Orange County Register