California is “currently experiencing the fastest increase in Covid-19 cases during the entire pandemic” according to an announcement from State Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón on Wednesday. He reported the state is currently experiencing 22.7 new cases per 100,000 people per day, with case rates increasing tenfold since early June. (The state data dashboard says 23.1 per 100,000, but either way infections are skyrocketing.)
The case rate has, indeed skyrocketed. It’s considered one of the best measures of the rate of spread because it is a 7-day average and calculated over a uniform number of residents. It’s also reported on a 7-day lag, so current spread could be even higher.
In roughly the past two months — since June 2 — the state’s 7-day average case rate per 100,000 has risen from 2.0 to 22.7. That is, indeed, a tenfold increase — more than that, actually.
The only other period of the pandemic that compares in terms of case rate rise was from October 26, 2020 to January 4, 2021. During those two-plus months, the case rate exploded from 10.5 per 100,000 to 103.5 per 100,000. That peak number was, of course, much higher than the current case rate, but it was also before the Delta variant and before vaccines became widespread as a defense against the virus.
Another factor: California threw off its Covid restrictions on June 15. Nearly all the recent case rate growth — it was 2.2 per 100,000 — has happened since then.
At present, 63% of Californians 12 years of age and older are fully vaccinated. Children under the age of 12 are not currently eligible for any authorized vaccines, so accounting for that, roughly 13% of the population brings the percentage of the state’s residents who are fully vaccinated down to approximately 55%.
But the number of daily new cases in the state is currently about triple what it was last October 26, meaning the rise in infections is starting from a higher floor, even as the number of daily tests administered is nearly the same.
The other trusted measure of virus spread, test positivity rate, is up eightfold since June 3, from .08% to 6.4%.
Hospitalizations — a lagging indicator — have increased more than sixfold since then to over 7,000 reported on Wednesday. The last time they were that high was February 20. The difference now is they’re on the rise instead of falling.
The number of ICU beds available was 1,807 on Wednesday, the lowest it’s been since February 24.
The final lagging indicator — deaths — have thankfully not picked up yet, likely due to vaccinations. They hit a recent high of 23 on July 31. On February 24, they were at 165.
The numbers were part of the basis for the State Public Health Officer Order Aragón issued requiring all teachers and school staff in the state to either provide proof of vaccination or submit to regular testing. Shortly thereafter, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 to have the city attorney prepare an ordinance requiring people to show proof of at least partial vaccination against COVID-19 to enter most public indoor spaces.
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