California COVID surge shows early signs of leveling off


California’s deadly surge in COVID-19 infections is showing early signs of leveling off after besieging hospitals, morgues and ambulance services for weeks, but the crisis remains far from over, the state’s top health official said Tuesday.

The number of newly hospitalized coronavirus patients statewide has declined to 2,500 admissions every 24 hours over the past two days from a previous daily average of about 3,500 new admissions, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said in an online briefing with reporters.

Ghaly called it “the biggest signal to me that things are beginning to flatten and potentially improve.”

He cited several other promising trends, including a slowdown in confirmed daily case numbers – 36,487 reported Tuesday, down from a seven-day average of about 42,000 cases every 24 hours – and a leveling off in the rate of diagnostic tests coming back positive, stabilizing at 13.5% after weeks of a steep upward climb.

He also pointed to a reduced rate in the uptick of the number of COVID patients in hospitals, standing at 21,747 on Tuesday, up 5.5% over the past two weeks. He said that marked lowest rate of increase since late October, when California last saw a week-on-week decline in hospitalized COVID patients.