(KTXL) — California is recording the highest COVID-19 case and test positivity rates since the pandemic started, but this time around, hospitalizations and deaths are not part of the spike.
Pending numbers from the state’s dashboard show a seven-day average case rate of 113.3 per 100,000 for the last day of 2021. At the start of 2021, when the state and the country saw a dramatic increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19, the highest average was recorded at 112.3 for Jan. 8.
Positivity rates from COVID-19 tests are also the highest they’ve ever been in California, with the pending seven-day rate at just over 20%, a 9.7% increase from a week ago. The demand for tests is reflected both in the numbers and the long lines at clinics, school campuses and community sites.
Now, however, the state is seeing a downward trend when it comes to deaths tied to COVID-19. The highest single-day count following the holiday season of 2020 was a little more than 700 deaths, with a seven-day average of 1.7 per 100,000. The most recently completed data recorded a single-day count of 36 new deaths on Dec. 12 and a seven-day average of 0.1. Pending numbers for the start of 2022 show new deaths in the single digits.
Hospitalizations also rose to overwhelming numbers around this time last year, with the highest 14-day average at nearly 22,500 patients. While numbers now are slightly increasing, the latest data puts the current average at more than 5,300 patients, with the total number of patients for Monday at 7,914, or 600 more patients from the day before.
As the super-contagious omicron variant rages across the U.S., new COVID-19 cases per day have more than tripled over the past two weeks, reaching a record-shattering average of 480,000.
Meanwhile, hospital admissions averaged 12,700 per day last week, up 46% from the previous week, but well short of the peak of 16,500 per day a year ago, when the vast majority of the U.S. was unvaccinated. Deaths have been stable over the past two weeks at an average of about 1,200 per day, well below the all-time high of 3,400 last January.
Public health experts suspect that those numbers, taken together, reflect the vaccine’s continued effectiveness at preventing serious illness, even against omicron, as well as the possibility that the variant does not make most people as sick as earlier versions.
The omicron variant accounted for 95% of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday, in another indication of how astonishingly fast the variant has spread since it was first detected in South Africa in late November.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Correction: The seven-day average for deaths tied to COVID-19 has been corrected.