Sat. Sep 30th, 2023

Last week was the deadliest yet in California and the Bay Area since the coronavirus crisis took hold. The state reported more than 100 deaths on two separate days, and the death toll swelled by nearly 75%.

Will that be where this state peaks, or is there worse to come? A model from the University of Washington likes what it sees out of California, but reporting delays over the weekend could result in a spike in cases and deaths reported Monday.

There were 20 new deaths and 757 newly reported cases Sunday, but the day before was the state’s deadliest yet — 106 new fatalities — and many counties did not issue updates. As of Sunday evening, there were 31,511 confirmed cases in the state, with more than 6,400 in the Bay Area, while the death toll stood at 1,176 — 199 in the Bay Area.

UW researchers believe the state is past its peak and could be one of the first in the country to begin to safely reopen. In its latest update, the UW model slightly increased its projected number of deaths the state will experience, from 1,483 to 1,658, but continued to project April 16, four days ago, as the day on which the state will report its most deaths.

California could fall below 1 prevalent case per 1 million by mid-May, on track to begin easing social distancing measures the week of May 18.

What does that mean? First, that ratio: It estimates when there will be one or fewer active cases per 1 million residents in a state, meant to “represent a conservative estimate of the number of infections each location could reasonably try to identify via active case detection and contact tracing in order to prevent COVID-19 resurgence,” the researchers wrote. The lower the prevalence rate when a state reopens, the lower the chances of a resurgence in cases.

Few states are on a faster track to reopen than California, according to the model. Its May 18 timeline aligns with Washington and Nevada, for example, but is a week behind Alaska and Idaho. There are 15 states that will need to remain locked down beyond the first week of June, according to the model.

Even when California and other state begin to ease restrictions, the model is counting on “robust containment strategies” in those states that includes “widely available testing, contact tracing and case-based isolation (and) restricting mass gatherings.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a coalition with Washington and Oregon to determine when the West Coast states will begin to reopen. Among the six pillars needed to lift the shelter in place orders are widespread testing and contact tracing.

The states will also need to see continued decreases in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The rate of new cases is slowing, but the state is still receiving north of 1,000 positive tests each day. It’s believed the death curve will begin to slope down this week, but weekend reporting delays could also slow that.

The number of hospitalizations, however, has been on a consistent downward trend. On Saturday, the most recent day for which data was available, there were 3,196 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and 1,163 in intensive care units, both slightly down from the previous day.

In the Bay Area, the number of patients in acute hospital beds, as well as ICU beds, is lower this Monday than it was a week ago. In the San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa counties there were nearly 25% fewer patients hospitalized and nearly 10% fewer in ICUs.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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