Coronavirus: Deaths stack up in California as hospitalizations plateau

California continued on Wednesday to report new cases of COVID-19 by the tens of thousands, in addition to hundreds more lives lost to the virus. But in one bright spot, for the first time in months, fewer Californians are currently hospitalized than were this time last week.

The average daily case count in the state continued to rise modestly with 43,182 new cases reported Wednesday, according to data compiled by this news organization, now 20% higher than two weeks ago and inching closer to its pre-Christmas peak. With another 564 fatalities reported Wednesday, California’s eight deadliest days of the pandemic have all come since New Year’s Eve. An average of 510 Californians have died every day over the past week, more than double the average daily death toll from two weeks ago.

But with 21,654 COVID-positive patients currently hospitalized, there are about 250 fewer Californians receiving care for severe cases of the virus than there were a week ago, the first prolonged plateau or decrease in hospitalizations since last October. The days and weeks ahead will tell whether the reduction holds, of if it will follow the trend of cases and begin to rise again after a plateau over the holidays.

State models believe the lull is only temporary, and that nearly 24,000 Californians will be hospitalized by this time next month, with an additional 1,300 ICU patients on top of the 4,829 who were already receiving intensive care, as of Tuesday. Those models also forecast another 11,000 deaths in the next three weeks, which would mean the state’s current record-setting level of fatalities would not slow until at least the first week of February.

In the Bay Area, ICUs reached more than 99% capacity over the weekend before recovering slightly by Tuesday with 4.7% of staffed and licensed beds available, still well below the state-mandated 15% threshold. As ICUs have filled, deaths in the region have increased rapidly. One in five fatalities in the region over the course of the pandemic has come during the first 13 days of the new year.

However, Southern California, where hospitals have been operating in surge capacity for nearly a month, continues to account for the largest share of the statewide fatalities. Seventy percent of the deaths in the past week have come in Southern California, despite it making up just over half the state’s population, while the Bay Area was responsible for about 12% of the past week’s deaths in California, approximately half its share of the statewide population.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles County was responsible for nearly half of the state’s casualties, twice its share of the statewide population. Health officials reported another 281 fatalities as the county’s death toll grew to 12,955, the largest of any county in the country and a total four times higher than in the Bay Area. Elsewhere in Southern California, San Diego County reported 54 deaths; Orange County reported 31; Ventura County reported 16; and Riverside County reported 13.

In the Bay Area, Santa Clara and Alameda counties each reported substantial …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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