After widespread surges in recent weeks, more Californians are now hospitalized with COVID-19 than any other point of the pandemic, according to this news organization’s analysis of state hospital data.
California’s hospitals added more than 400 patients in the past 24 hours — and more than 1,000 in the past four days — to reach a total of 7,415 people hospitalized with the disease around the state, surpassing a previous high of 7,170 on July 21, at the peak of the state’s summer surge.
The number of Californians hospitalized with COVID-19 has more than doubled in the past two weeks, and 15 counties reported their highest hospitalization counts of the pandemic.
Around California on Sunday, county health departments combined to report 10,525 new cases and another 19 deaths, according to data compiled by this news organization, despite many not issuing updates over the weekend, or for some, since before the holiday. Still, the daily average of new cases climbed to an all-time high, nearly 14,000 per day over the past week, while the cumulative death toll reached 19,151, with an average of about 61 per day over the past week.
While many cases result in mild symptoms or none at all, the metric of hospitalizations is able to track how many people are ill enough to require medical assistance. Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s top health official, has said about 12% of newly detected cases eventually result in hospitalization between two and three weeks later. Upticks in hospitalizations, a sign of more severe cases but also a cause of increased strain on the medical system, have been followed by increasing numbers of fatalities.
California is averaging nearly 50% more deaths and 75% more cases each day than it was two weeks ago, while hospitalizations have increased by 101% in that time.
COVID-positive patients now take up more than 10% of all hospital beds in California, a new high-water mark.
In nine counties, from the northern Sierra Nevadas to the Central Valley and the Inland Empire, at least one in five hospital beds are currently occupied by coronavirus patients. Hospitalizations have doubled in the past two weeks in Kings, Siskiyou and San Bernardino counties, where at least 20% of hospital beds are taken by COVID-19 patients; in the latter two, they reached an all-time high.
A total of 15 counties, including Santa Clara and Solano in the Bay Area, reported all-time highs in hospitalizations, and others are on pace to surpass previous records.
The Bay Area is still short of its previous record, when 825 patients were hospitalized throughout the region in mid-July, but Santa Clara and Solano counties each reached new highs, with 263 and 64 active patients, respectively. In total, 799 COVID-positive patients are currently hospitalized throughout the region, or about one in every 10,000 Bay Area residents, nearly double the total two weeks ago.
The active hospitalizations in the state are split proportionately between Northern and Southern California, with the demarcation line at the San Luis Obispo-Monterey county line, but they are rising faster in the northern section of the state.
Hospitalizations in Northern California have soared by 144% in the past two weeks, compared to a rate of about 80% in Southern California.
In Northern California, Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Butte, Placer, Yuba, Yolo and Sacramento counties all reported record numbers of hospitalizations.
In Southern California, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties all reported their highest number of hospitalizations, while the active count in Los Angeles County has doubled in the past two weeks and is approaching its previous peak from mid-July.
North of Los Angeles, up the Central Coast, Ventura County, Monterey County and Santa Cruz County all reported their most hospitalized patients of the pandemic.
The sharpest increases in hospitalizations came in sparsely populated Yuba, Mendocino, El Dorado and Nevada counties, where the active total has tripled in the past two weeks.
In 25 counties throughout the state, there are at least twice as many patients hospitalized now than there were two weeks ago. In Alameda, Contra Costa, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Orange, San Francisco, San Mateo, Stanislaus and Ventura counties, the total has doubled from two weeks ago but hasn’t yet reached an all-time high.
Altogether, nearly 20 in every 100,000 Californians is currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest rate since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Nationally, more Americans are hospitalized with COVID-19 than any other point of the pandemic, at a rate of more than 28 for every 100,000 residents of the U.S., or a total of more than 93,000, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
At least 13.4 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19, and more than 266,000 have died from the virus, according to the New York Times, at a clip of nearly 1,500 per day over the past week.