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California surpasses 400,000 COVID-19 cases as state sets record for infections, death toll

Coronavirus tests are administered in Orange County.
Coronavirus tests are administered in Orange County.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

One day after a record-breaking number of new coronavirus infections, California has surpassed 400,000 overall cases, data from the Los Angeles Times tracker show.

By comparison, the New York Health Department has reported more than 408,000 infections. But that state has reported more than 25,000 deaths, while California’s death toll is approaching 8,000.

The news comes after California again reported its highest number of coronavirus cases in a single day, with 11,554 cases recorded Monday, according to The Times’ tally of reports from the state’s 58 counties.

That number surpasses a record broken just one week ago, when 11,142 cases were reported.

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In Los Angeles County, officials on Tuesday reported 50 additional coronavirus-related deaths and 2,741 new cases. Individuals who are 41 and younger account for about 57% of the new cases — an ongoing trend that county officials have said confirms that younger people are driving the spread of the virus.

There are 2,218 people hospitalized for the virus. Of those, 26% are in intensive care.

The state is also reporting worsening death tolls. The seven-day average of coronavirus-related deaths has been hovering between 91 and 99 each day since July 10, the worst it has been since the pandemic began.

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For the weeklong period that ended Monday, 674 deaths were reported in California, the highest weekly total to date. In the previous seven-day period, 640 died, which had also been a weekly record; the week before that, it was 474.

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations are also at record-breaking levels. In fact, records have been broken for 28 of the last 30 days, including Sunday, when 6,921 people statewide were reported in hospitals.

In Ventura County, 207 new cases put the area five short of 6,000, Rigoberto Vargas, the county’s director of public health, told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

More than 1,500 people have been tested since Friday, Vargas said. The percentage of those found to be positive among all 97,124 who have been tested is roughly 6.2%.

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Ventura County has reported four deaths since Friday, bringing its toll to 62, nearly double that of neighboring and smaller Santa Barbara County, which has recorded 32 deaths. Ventura’s mortality rate rose to 1.04%, higher than that of Santa Barbara, 0.7%, but lower than Los Angeles County, at 2.6%, Vargas said.

Hospitalizations in Ventura have risen to 95, a jump from 89 on Sunday but still lower than a high of 101 early last week. Of that group, 24 are in intensive care.

“The last two or three days, the numbers have been in the lower 80s, lower 90s, so hopefully the 95 will come back much lower the next few days,” Vargas said. “We’re really keeping our fingers crossed.”

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In Orange County, the number of overall cases is now the second-highest in the state.

The cumulative COVID-19 case count in Orange County was 29,986 Tuesday, just ahead of Riverside County’s 29,983. Only Los Angeles County has more, with nearly 160,000 cases.

Despite the grim news around the state, there are signs the situation may be improving after a shutdown of indoor services at businesses including bars and restaurants, closures that have been underway for the last three weeks.

Hospitalizations grew by 7% Sunday, compared with the previous Sunday; that’s an improvement over July 12, when hospitalizations were up by 12% over the previous Sunday. On July 5, hospitalizations had grown by 21% over the previous Sunday; and on June 28, the figure was 29%.

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COVID-19 cases in Orange County reach 29,986, just ahead of Riverside County’s 29,983. Only L.A. County, with about 160,000 infections, has more.

Also, the rate at which coronavirus tests are coming back positive may have finally stabilized, although it is probably too early to know whether that trend will continue.

On Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the so-called positivity rate over the previous seven days was 7.2%; it had been 7.7% the previous Monday.

On Friday, Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency, said he was encouraged by the stability in the positivity rate after weeks of increases. In late May, the positivity rate was around 4%.

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Ghaly suggested Friday that it is too early to call it a trend, but if the positivity rate continues to fall, it could mean that the reclosure of some businesses is working to help control the spread of the disease.

“As soon as we feel confident in that trend and we see other numbers start to stabilize, we’ll credit some of the moves we made over the last few weeks,” Ghaly said. “It’s been about three, four weeks since we ... first started to make moves ... so we’re right in that time period where we may see some of the changes in the benefits of those [policy changes].”

It was just over three weeks ago — June 28 — that Newsom ordered bars closed in seven counties, including Los Angeles. On July 1, he ordered the closure of bars and indoor restaurant dining rooms in 19 of the state’s worst-hit counties, affecting 72% of the state’s population.

As of Monday, 2,232 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms, the sixth consecutive day that hospitalizations surpassed 2,100.

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Newsom expanded the shutdown last week, ordering the closure of all bars and indoor dining statewide. He also shuttered the indoor operations of a number of businesses — including gyms, malls, hair and nail salons, places of worship and offices for nonessential industries — in dozens of counties.

Some of the areas with the worst per capita coronavirus rates are in counties with state prisons hit hard by outbreaks. Lassen County in the remote northeast corner of California is reporting 805 cases per 100,000 residents in the last 14 days, and Marin County is reporting 565 cases per 100,000 residents.

Imperial County in the southeastern corner of the state is still suffering, with 786 cases per 100,000 residents. The Central Valley is also hard hit, with case rates in Stanislaus, Madera, Kings, Kern, Merced, Fresno and Tulare counties ranging from 400 to 700 per 100,000 residents.

Of the state’s southern urban and suburban counties, L.A. County is reporting 420 cases per 100,000 residents; San Bernardino County, 410; Riverside, 396; Orange, 383; Ventura, 231; and San Diego, 216.

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Northern California’s metro areas have reported lower numbers, with Sacramento County reporting 194 cases per 100,000 residents; San Francisco, 151; and Santa Clara County, home to Silicon Valley, reporting 124.

The state’s target for keeping the coronavirus under control is no more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents over the previous 14 days.

Times staff writers Andrew Campa, Colleen Shalby and Luke Money contributed to this report.


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