(CALMATTERS) – Gov. Gavin Newsom tried to reassure Californians Wednesday that “we will get through this,” despite an alarming surge in the state’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
The governor noted that the state is testing more than 100,000 people each day and has the capacity to treat as many as 50,000 patients at a time. He focused on state and local public health officials’ enormous efforts in recent months to bend the coronavirus’ deadly curve, including amassing large stocks of protective gear for health workers and setting up field hospitals.
But after being the first state to impose a stay-at-home order, California faces a battery of grim statistics as the state reopened – and now is poised to potentially send millions of children back to school next month.
Containing the virus in a state as large and populous as California was always going to be a massive undertaking, requiring planning for counties with more than 10 million people, such as Los Angeles, and those with just over 1,000, like Alpine County to the north.
Epidemiological models for California suggest that COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to rise statewide in the short term. The daily number of people who need to be hospitalized, now standing at nearly 6,000, could rise to more than 16,000 by Aug. 7, straining hospitals in the state’s hot spots for COVID-19 outbreaks.
On Wednesday, public health officials reported 11,694 new daily cases (including backlogged tests from Los Angeles County), 114 deaths and 6,100 hospitalizations. Three new counties – Napa, San Benito and Yolo – were added to the state’s watch list, which now includes 26 of California 58 counties. This list includes those counties that see increased transmission and hospitalization for more than three days.
Although Newsom on Wednesday compared California’s 7.1% “test positivity rate” – a measure of how widely the virus is circulating – favorably to those of other states like Arizona, California’s rate once again is on the rise after hovering under 5% through much of June. He acknowledged that “every decimal point is a point of concern.”
Newsom said the surge in cases has been driven in large part by a lack of people wearing masks and keeping an appropriate distance, mixing of different households and outbreaks in prisons and among essential workers.