Coronavirus: California death toll surpasses 30,000; ICU capacity plummets in Bay Area

As California collected its latest grim milestone Monday in its battle with COVID-19, hospitals in the Bay Area inched closer to entering surge capacity for the first time of the pandemic.

With 482 fatalities reported across the state Monday, according to data compiled by this news organization, the cumulative death toll from the coronavirus in California crossed 30,000, with an average of approximately 491 per day over the past week — the state’s deadliest seven days since the onset of the pandemic with more than twice as many fatalities as two weeks ago. More than 2.7 million Californians have contracted the virus, after another 54,302 tested positive on Monday. At about 42,000 cases per day over the past week, California is averaging approximately 10% more infections than it was two weeks ago but still fewer than in the week prior to Christmas.

Fewer Californians are coming in to hospitals with severe cases of COVID-19, but the situation in many intensive care units remains at its most dire of the pandemic. The active count of COVID-positive patients grew by 21 on Sunday to a total of 21,668 currently hospitalized, including 4,868 in ICUs, both at or near record-highs. However, hospitalizations have increased by about 10% in the past two weeks, well below the 45% growth rate in the previous two-week period.

In the Bay Area, just 0.7% of staffed and licensed intensive-care beds were still available Monday under the state’s calculation, the closest the region has come to operating in what Gov. Gavin Newsom has called “surge capacity,” meaning new patients may still be admitted to ICUs but the quality of care may diminish. In the hardest-hit regions of the state, Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley, hospitals have been operating beyond 100% of normal capacity for more than three weeks.

Within the region, however, capacity ranges from almost none in Santa Clara County to nearly a full third of intensive-care beds in San Francisco and Alameda County. Two non-surge ICU beds were open in all of Santa Clara County on Sunday, according to the county, but accounting for staffed surge beds increases capacity to 7%. In Napa and Santa Cruz counties, capacity had reached 0%; San Mateo and Contra Costa each reported about 10% capacity; and Solano and Sonoma counties both exceeded 15% of ICU beds available.

Deaths have accelerated rapidly across the region, nearly tripling in the past two weeks, outpacing every other region in the state. However, at about 55 per 1 million residents over the past week, the Bay Area still reported fewer fatalities per-capita than the rest of the state. The rate in Southern California was over 100, more than double the number of deaths two weeks ago, while it was about 75 in Greater Sacramento and the San Joaquin Valley. In Northern California, the per-capita fatality rate over the past week was about equal with the Bay Area.

On Monday, Santa Clara County recorded its third-highest death toll of the pandemic, with 36 new fatalities; however, the county does not report new deaths on weekends. More than one-third of the fatalities in the Bay Area in the past week have come in Santa Clara County, nearly twice its share of the region’s population. Averaging nearly 25 deaths per day, the county is on pace to become the first in the Bay Area to surpass a thousand fatalities within the next week.

Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley continue to account for the majority of the fatalities in California. Across the San Joaquin Valley, there was a record 133 new deaths reported Monday, including 91 in Fresno County, also a new high and second-only in the state to Los Angeles County, where the nation’s leading death toll grew by 137.

The two regions also have distinctly higher rates of infection in their populations than their three counterparts. More than 100 in every 100,000 residents in the San Joaquin Valley tested positive each day over the past week, and close to 130 for every 100,000 did in Southern California. In the Bay Area, cases have increased about 20% in the past two weeks but remain at half the per-capita rate of Southern California, at about 63/100K.

Across California, there were about 106 daily cases for every 100,000 Californians in the past week, a rate exceeded only by Arizona and Rhode Island. The Bay Area, Greater Sacramento and Northern California regions, however, all have infections rates below the national average, which has increased to about 76 per 100,000.

Nationally, more than 22.6 million Americans have been infected over the course of the pandemic, including 37% more in the past week than two weeks ago, at over 250,000 per day, according to data collected by the New York Times. After breaking daily records last week, the U.S. death toll surpassed 376,000 on Monday, according to the Times’ data, with an average of approximately 3,250 per day over the past week.

Source: mercurynews
Coronavirus: California death toll surpasses 30,000; ICU capacity plummets in Bay Area