There are more new cases of COVID-19 in California than any other point of the pandemic, and hospitalization levels are at their highest mark since the outbreak began.
Before this week, California had experienced two days during the COVID-19 pandemic with 4,000 or more new cases around the state. After shattering the daily record Monday, the state came close to that number again Tuesday — more than 13,000 new cases in the past two days, according to data compiled by this news organization.
County health departments reported another 6,498 newly confirmed cases Tuesday, just shy of the daily record set the previous day, including 656 across the Bay Area’s 10 counties. Santa Clara County (121) recorded a record number of new cases one day after Alameda County set its daily mark with 202 new cases Monday; it reported another 133 on Tuesday.
The new cases come as the state’s testing capacity continues to increase. Labs across the state conducted 559,000 tests in the past week, 19% more than the week prior. Testing has been accelerating at that rate for weeks, but the positive-rate is beginning to creep back up to levels not seen since mid-May. The seven-day average increased to 5.3% with Tuesday’s new cases after weeks of sitting around 4.5%. It was the first time the rate hit 5% since June 2.
Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s public health director, called the uptick in new cases “worrisome” and said the county would not be applying for a local variance to reopen more of its economy.
It amounted to the Bay Area’s second-most cases since the onset of the outbreak, just below Monday’s total, but there was just one fatality reported in the region. Statewide, another 78 people succumbed to the virus, an increase from Monday and the seven-day average — but short of death totals reported on the previous three Tuesdays.
“This is far from over,” Dr. Sonia Angell, the state’s public health director, said in a statement Tuesday. “Increased testing will continue to detect more cases, but this only serves as evidence that COVID-19 is in our communities. As we move more, we are at greater risk. Continued increases in COVID-19 cases are expected and likewise, hospitalizations are starting to increase.”
Ten days ago, June 14, there were 3,103 patients hospitalized around the state with the virus. By Monday, the 22nd, the most recent day for which data was available, that number had increased to 3,868 — a 25% spike in just over a week.
Although the Bay Area is experiencing its worst stretch of detected cases, the rise in hospitalizations has come primarily in Southern California. In that timespan, Los Angeles County’s hospitalization levels have risen 21%, while neighboring San Bernardino and Orange counties are up 46% and 17%, respectively. Riverside County, east of Orange County, has added 88 more hospital patients — a 39% rise.
The Bay Area, including Santa Cruz County, has fewer patients hospitalized than any of those four individual counties, but that number is still on the rise. There were 264 patients hospitalized as of Monday, up 8% from a week ago and the region’s most since May 18.
The surge in California comes as many other states are experiencing peaks in new cases and hospitalizations. The U.S. reported its third-highest number of cases since the outbreak began — 34,700 new cases Tuesday were the most since two days in April, according to Johns Hopkins University. Arizona, Mississippi, Arizona, Nevada and Texas also reported new highs in confirmed cases Tuesday.