Coronavirus infections and deaths continue to slow down across California, as the seven-day infection rate and hospitalizations drop to their lowest points in months.
Since peaking in July, both new cases and hospitalizations steadily cooled off throughout August and September. Now, the state’s seven-day new case average has decreased to 3,201 cases as of Friday — the lowest it’s been since mid-June, according to data compiled by this news organization, and about one-third of the 9,000-plus average daily cases reported during the July peak.
Hospitalizations have plummeted even more dramatically. Just 2,339 confirmed COVID-19 patients across California were hospitalized as of Thursday, when data was most recently available — the fewest since early April. Los Angeles County, which has long been one of the pandemic’s statewide epicenters, makes up about one-third of those patients with 698 hospitalizations, marking a nearly 70% decrease since its peak of more than 2,000 in mid-July.
Deaths — which peaked in August as people who fell ill over the summer passed away — have likewise hit their lowest point since July 7. The state reported a seven-day average of about 76 deaths as of Friday, down from about 145 weekly deaths in early August.
In the Bay Area, counties reported a handful of new deaths Friday, including five in Santa Clara, two each in Contra Costa and San Mateo and one each in San Francisco and Marin. Santa Clara and Alameda counties have remained neck-in-neck for the most cases overall since the pandemic began — both topping 21,000 — but Alameda leads the region in terms of deaths, with 420 overall as compared to Santa Clara’s 330.
Despite the progress throughout the summer, epidemiologists have warned that the fall could bring another swell of cases — particularly as a slew of schools and businesses reopen under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s color-coded reopening system. Much of the Bay Area is in the substantial “red” tier, while San Francisco was the first to enter the moderate “orange” tier, the second-least restrictive of the four. San Francisco, Contra Costa and San Mateo have each said they would allow indoor dining and other spots like places of worship and movie theaters to reopen at limited capacity.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly warned last week that the state is closely monitoring negative effects of such reopenings, particularly to avoid a projected nearly 89% increase in hospitalizations by next month. The state also unveiled an “equity metric” this week that will prevent counties from opening up if they have glaringly unequal infection rates between different neighborhoods.