On Monday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced what should have been good news: The state’s number of new daily cases dropped to 29,633. That’s down more than 20,000 since the state hit its all-time high of 53,711 on December 15 and substantially lower than the 7-day average of about 37,000.
Likewise, the Golden State’s test positivity rate has remained steady for the past week at about 12.4%. That’s not optimal, but it is better than the rapid rise seen over the weeks previous. But, Newsom warned, those numbers are likely the calm before the next storm.
“This remains a deadly disease. It remains more deadly today than at any point in the history of this pandemic,” warned the governor.
– New cases today: 29,633
– Average daily tests: 285,500
– Average test positivity rate: 12.4%
– Hospitalizations: up 18% last 2 weeks
– ICU: up 22% last 2 weeks
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 4, 2021
Newsom noted that the state’s total tests per day were down over the weekend, which impacts the number of cases identified. Indeed the state’s largest testing facility, at Dodger Stadium, was closed over the weekend, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
More concerning is the fact that this Friday will mark two weeks since Christmas. LAX experienced the heaviest travel days of the year around the holiday, while across the nation, Americans traveled at a rate of about 1 million a day in the says before and after. And as health officials have forecast repeatedly, greater mixing means greater transmissions, infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
Newsom warned of a sense of complacency setting in due to “a lull” in numbers. He said state officials were expecting “a surge on top of a surge…associated with the holidays.” That would be over and above the elevated levels of cases, hospitalizations and deaths from Thanksgiving. Newsom predicted the rise would be “coming in the next number of days and weeks.”
The state recorded 97 new deaths from the virus on Monday. Newsom warned that that number might be low, reminding residents that the seven day average of daily deaths is 336.
Likewise, hospitalizations and ICU capacity, he said. Hospitalizations increased seven-fold in the prior two months, according to Newsom. ICUs saw 6-fold increase over the same period. “It just shows what can happen in a very short time,” warned the governor.
“We are anticipating higher cases in the coming week,” confirmed CA director of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly. “What does that mean? I think it’s going to require us to make a hard choice to reduce our mixing and stay at home.”
Watch Newsom’s press conference below.
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