California Coronavirus Update: Daily Cases Explode, Set Record; Gov. Newsom On Verge Of Issuing Strict Shutdown Order As Numbers Skyrocket

Jeff Chiu/AP

One day after California’s largest city saw what officials here called the “worst day” of the pandemic so far with its highest-ever daily new Covid-19 case count, the state itself shattered the previous daily cases record it set just last week.

On Wednesday, the state’s Covid-19 dashboard indicated that 20,759 new cases had been reported over the past 24 hours. That’s nearly 2,500 more cases than the previous high of 18,350. Even worse, as testing numbers have generally trended upward, the state’s test positivity rate has skyrocketed, as well. (More tests usually mean a declining positivity rate.)

The 14-day test positivity rate sat at 5.6% one week ago. On Tuesday, that number skyrocketed to 6.5%. Over the past 24 hours, it rose nearly a half percent to 6.9%. In a state as large as California, that half percent alone could mean as many as 200,000 more infections.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom all but promised a more stringent stay-at-home order was on the way.

“If these trends continue we’re going to have to take much more dramatic, arguably drastic action,” he said. “If these trends continue, the potential for a stay-at-home order for those areas in the Purple [tier] is more in line with the stay-at-home order that folks were familiar with at the beginning of the year.”

As to what threshold could trigger further action, “We are looking at intensive care capacity as the trigger for further action,” California Director of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly said.

On Tuesday, the California Covid-19 dashboard indicated that, while the state had actually seen a decrease in infected ICU patients, the line tracing the number of hospitalizations was nearly straight up, with the state reporting a record 9,365 people hospitalized with the virus. See hospitalization chart below.

The number of hospitalized virus patients who wind up in the ICU has reliably stayed at 12%. That means, over the course of two weeks, the state could see an additional 530 ICU patients. That would put the total number of Covid-19 hospitalizations at about 1/3 of the state’s total. And given there are a host of other maladies that will likely also send residents to the ICU, that could mean acute care facilities are overwhelmed. Newsom predicted exactly that on Monday.

The governor went through a chart of state projections — see below — that indicated the number of Covid patients in California’s hospitals could double or triple in the next month. Even more frightening, he indicated that state models show California ICUs will be overwhelmed by mid-December. In Los Angeles, the tipping point is projected to come in mid- to late December.

CA Covid ICU projections
California Covid-19-related ICU projections

“This is in absence of improved…efforts,” stressed Newsom. He noted that Californians could still “bend the curve” with their actions. That does not seem to be happening. In fact, the more likely scenario is that the state is seeing “a surge on top of a surge.”

On Monday, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer and Dr. Anthony Fauci both warned of “a surge on top of a surge,” meaning the county’s already record number of cases would be joined by a wave of infections caused by Thanksgiving activities. “We anticipate,” said Newsom on Monday, “given Thanksgiving gatherings, that we will see another surge in cases.”

If the state is indeed seeing the beginning of that surge and the day-over-day increase is already this big, the situation is truly grim.

According to a story updated on Wednesday by Capitol Weekly. the governor is currently making decisions on what a new shutdown would look like.

Per Capitol Weekly:

Sources familiar with the discussions said late Tuesday that the plan — reminiscent of an earlier crackdown during the spring — evolved amid reports of a dramatic increase in infections and a spike in overcrowding at hospitals’ intensive care units.

The administration believes a “blanket order” may be forthcoming and likely would affect areas of the state representing most of California’s population, sources said. Sources said the announcement was expected Wednesday, but this morning administration sources said that no announcement was likely today.

On Monday, Newsom said the new order will be out in the “next couple days.”

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