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California’s COVID-19 deaths hit new low for August

At no point in the first two weeks of August did California average fewer than 130 deaths per day from COVID-19. At its apex, Aug. 6, the seven-day average swelled to 145 deaths per day.

But on Sunday, after the fewest deaths reported in a single day in a month, the seven-day average dropped below 130 for the first time since July 31, according to data compiled by this news organization. Although some counties don’t issue updates over the weekend, leading to depressed totals, there were fewer cases reported Sunday than the previous one and fewer deaths than any of the past four Sundays.

There was a smorgasbord of positive metrics statewide on Sunday beyond the declining daily death toll.

With a backlog of some 300,000 tests almost fully resolved, the counties that did report new cases Sunday reported a total of 5,061 — the fewest since Aug. 2, also a Sunday. The 16 deaths across the state were the fewest reported in a single day since July 19. And hospitalizations fell to their lowest level since June 28, with 5,027 Californians being treated for COVID-19 as of Friday, the most recent day for which data was available.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said “this will be the last day we will have to report backlogged cases.” But in an update Sunday, Los Angeles County’s health department said its low numbers could still be affected by the backlog, in addition to weekend reporting delays.

Excluding the July 4th weekend, when LA paused reporting, the 1,188 new cases in the county Sunday were its fewest in a single day since June 19. While the nine fatalities were the most of any jurisdiction in the state Sunday, it was tied for the county’s fewest in a single day since the beginning of April.

However, some of the counties currently dealing with the heaviest per-capita outbreaks in the state didn’t report new data Sunday. While Los Angeles County reported about 2.8 deaths and 134 cases per 100,000 residents over the past week, the respective rates in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley were 4.5 deaths and 326 cases per 100,000.

Just four of those eight counties have reported new data since Friday, resulting in a dip from peaks in both numbers entering the weekend. Still, the rates were nearly twice that of Los Angeles County and even further from the Bay Area, which has seen a spike in cases recently, believed to be driven by the influx of backlogged tests — a mirror image of the region’s death curve, which has dropped precipitously since the first week of August.

The per-capita case rate in the Bay Area was at about 126 per 100,000 over the past week — up nearly 50% from a week ago, when it was at about 87.3 — while deaths per 100,000 were down to 0.75, a 21% decline in the past week and 32% from its Aug. 4 peak.

There were six deaths in the region Sunday, with three in Sonoma County, two in Alameda County and one in Contra Costa County. Alameda and Contra Costa have combined for 60% of the deaths in the region over the past week. There have been 20 deaths reported in Contra Costa County in the past week and 16 in Alameda County, while nowhere else in the region has reported more than seven.

Although the steady decline in hospitalizations has continued statewide, the Bay Area has seen a bump in past week. There were 717 patients hospitalized Saturday, up 7% from a week ago. Alameda County’s hospitalizations had fallen to a low of 163 last Saturday, but they had risen back to 181 this Saturday. San Francisco also hit a recent low last Saturday, with 77 hospitalized patients, but it had risen back to 94 in the past week.

Meanwhile, a steep decline in Los Angeles County continued to bend the statewide curve down, despite the modest increase in the Bay Area. There were 1,341 patients hospitalized in LA County on Saturday — down 13% in the past week and by more than 40% from its peak about a month ago, when there were 2,232 patients hospitalized.

Overall, the number of patients in California currently hospitalized with COVID-19 has fallen by more than 2,100 in the past month — a 30% decline from its peak July 21, when there were 7,170 patients hospitalized.

Statewide, the seven-day average of deaths was about 124 per day as of Sunday — down 11.5% in the past week and 14.6% from its deadliest week, when 1,016 Californians died from the virus. The 124-per-day average equates to 867 more Californians dead from COVID-19 in the past week.

Nationwide, the death toll Sunday crossed 170,000 Americans dead from the virus since the pandemic began stateside about six months ago. No country has accumulated a higher death toll or more cases, of which there were at least 5.4 million in the U.S. as of Sunday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

That means one in about every 2,000 Americans has died from the coronavirus, while at this point, about one in 60 have been infected with the virus. In California, where the case count grew to 624,926 and the death toll hit 11,244, according to data compiled by this news organization, one in about every 3,500 have died from the virus, while to date, about one in every 63 has been infected.


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