California Governor Gavin Newsom began his Thursday news conference speaking about the state’s efforts to mitigate wildfires, announcing the addition of 12 Blackhawk helicopters to the state’s fleet as wildfire season begins to peak. He then transitioned to addressing a more immediate conflagration.
Newsom announced a record number of daily deaths in the state from COVID-19, with 149 lives lost over the past 24 hours. That’s up about 23 percent from the previous high of 115 deaths. That grim mark was reported on April 22, during the previous peak of the virus in California. The total number of lives lost in the state due to coronavirus is now 6,711.
Newsom pointed out that one recent tally of daily deaths was 6, and that delayed reporting can inflate or deflate daily numbers. As a result, Newsom asked Californians to focus on the 7 day mortality rate, which is 73 lives lost each day. He said that number indicates how devastating the virus continues to be. It is worth noting that the previous high of 114 deaths occurred just two days ago, on July 7.
The state’s largest county confirmed 50 new deaths on Thursday. That number of new deaths was much higher than the 7-day average of 24 deaths, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Newsom reported 7,031 new cases of coronavirus in the state on Thursday. The 7-day average of new cases is currently 8,043, a number that, three days ago, would have been an all-time high.
You can watch the governor’s news conference below.
The 14 and 7 day rolling test positivity rates are both at 7.3 percent, according to Newsom.
Just one day before, the state reported a 7.1 percent positivity rate over 14 days. “That 7 percent can spike,” warned Newsom on Wednesday. “[It] can quickly turn into the 20-plus range.”
Hospitalizations were up .4 percent and ICU admissions down .1 percent on Thursday. Those are minuscule amounts but, again, Newsom emphasized focusing on the 14-day average for both of those metrics.
The governor said on Tuesday that hospitalizations had spiked 44 percent over a two-week period. The state had 41,000 beds out of 75,000 occupied. About 18 percent of those cases were COVID-19-related.
Likewise, the 14-day ICU admission average was up 34 percent on Tuesday, with 15 percent of those beds occupied by coronavirus patients.
On Wednesday, Newsom announced a staggering number of new coronavirus cases in the state. Over the previous 24 hours, California had seen 11,694 new cases, which included a backlog of cases from Los Angeles County.
Testing backlogs have spiked the state’s daily new-case numbers before, but Wednesday’s number so far exceeded the state’s previous all-time high of 7,149 reported on June 24 that it cannot be ignored.
For a more measured idea of where the state is, the seven-day average of daily cases provides some perspective. California averaged 8,116 new cases in the 7-day period that ended on Wednesday. That daily average, in itself, exceeded the previous single-day new cases record.
After Newsom spoke on Thursday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 1,777 new cases of COVID-19, that’s down from 4,015 new cases on Wednesday, which was L.A.’s highest number of new cases since the pandemic began. The high number of cases was due, in part, to a backlog of about 2,000 test results received from one lab that had just submitted lab results from July 2-5.
There are 2,037 people currently hospitalized in L.A. County, 26 percent of whom are confirmed cases in the ICU. That remained substantially higher than the 1,350 to 1,450 daily hospitalizations seen four weeks ago.
Nine percent of all people tested in the county were positive. The daily positivity rate — a composite of a 7-day rolling average — is 9.2 percent.
To date, there have been 124,738 positive cases of COVID-19 identified in LA County and a total of 3,689 deaths.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti began his coronavirus press conference with a warning.
Noting that Los Angeles is currently seeing its highest level of hospitalizations since the pandemic began, Garcetti warned, “These [next two] weeks are absolutely critical. Critical to whether our schools open, whether our economy thrives.”
He reminded residents that “All options remain on the table. We will do whatever we need to.”
If things get worse, said Garcetti, “We’d likely return to a mandated stay-at-home order,” in one or two weeks.