California Coronavirus Update: State Smashes Covid-19 New Cases Record on Friday, Sees 16% Jump In Single Day As Newsom’s Lockdown Looms

Virus Outbreak California
Shoppers stock up at CostCo ahead of CA Gov. Gavin Newsom's new rules that take effect Saturday. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The day after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new “Regional Stay at Home” plan that will take effect tomorrow, the state reported a 16% jump in new daily Covid-19 infections, at 22,018. It’s the second record high this week. The other was Wednesday’s 20,759. On Thursday, there were 18,591 new infections.

For comparison, California reported 4,566 new daily Covid infections on 11/4. One month later, that number has surged over 380%.

This week’s Thursday-to-Friday jump is one of the largest day-over-day case count increases of the pandemic. Only two others are higher, one in August and the one from Tuesday to Wednesday of this week.

The state’s current test positivity rate is now 7.3%, up from 7% just 24 hours earlier. That’s very close to where it was during the pandemic’s late July peak, at 7.5% despite the fact that the number of tests is up 10% since then. That usually decreases the positivity rate.

On Thursday, Newsom said he was “pulling an emergency brake,” announcing a “regional” stay-at-home order in California based on a region’s available intensive care unit capacity.

The lockdown divides the state into 5 regions: Northern California, Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area and greater Sacramento.

The stay-at-home order, which goes into effect on Saturday, will apply to regions where ICU capacity falls under 15%. Los Angeles County had only 122 such beds left as of Wednesday; Imperial County had only two ICU beds available on Thursday; and counties in the state’s Central Valley. Newsom indicated that four of the five regions, including Southern California, would be under the 15% ICU threshold by early this month. The fifth region, the Bay Area, is on track to meet that threshold by mid-December.

Earlier in the week, the state projected — see chart — that Los Angeles will be out of ICU rooms entirely by mid-to-late December, meaning that patients who need such care to live would be left without it, occasioning an even larger spike in deaths.

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

New deaths on Friday were up .7% from the day prior, a number that is sure to rise markedly as California moves into the darker part of December. The total number of Coronavirus-related deaths in the state will likely pass 20,000 in the coming week.

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations also hit an all-time high on Friday, at 9,948. That’s up 2.5% in 24 hours.

ICU beds occupied to Covid-infected patients are actually decreasing, as treatments for those with the virus improves. But that may not last for long, given that the number of patients now needing special care is a result of the new daily infections the state saw two weeks ago. That number was a little over 11,000. On Friday, the number of new infections was twice that, meaning according increases will be seen in hospitals and ICU wards 14 days from now.

Data released by the state on Thursday put Southern California at 20.6%, just 5.7% above the threshold for the new Regional Stay at Home Order to take effect in the area. See chart for ICU capacity in all five regions.

Under the governor’s new stay-at-home order, retail still will be allowed, but at max 20% capacity. Bars, wineries, personal-service businesses, hair salons and barbershops are to be closed. Schools with waivers can stay open, along with “critical infrastructure.” Restaurants will be limited to takeout and delivery service only.

Newsom also said all non-essential travel would be “suspended.”

Regions that fall under the 15% ICU threshold will have 24 hours to comply with the restrictions.

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