Peter Wells in New York
The number of hospital admissions for the coronavirus in California has dropped below 15,000 for the first time since mid-December and is expected to decline by more than half in the coming month.
The number of people currently in hospitals in California has dropped to 14,999, according to data reported by the state health department on Tuesday. It was the first time below the 15,000 level since the numbers were reported on December 14.
Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary of health and human services, said during his regular press conference on Tuesday that the number of hospitalizations is currently 14,221, likely due to more current data.
Dr. Ghaly said that based on current infection trends in the state, the number of hospitalizations is expected to drop to 6,557 on March 4.
The number of beds in intensive care units statewide rose to 1,284, according to health department data, the highest level since early January. Availability of ICU beds became a critical metric in December that determined when broad regions of California would become subject to stay-at-home orders. Areas like Southern California, including hard-hit Los Angeles, and the San Joaquin Valley, spent weeks with no availability of regular ICU beds.
By early March, all five regions of California are expected to have more than 30 percent availability of intensive care beds, Dr. Ghaly said.
Another 12,064 new infections were reported, up from 15,358 on Monday. That was the fewest new cases since the end of November.
Another 422 fatalities were attributed to the coronavirus, double the number reported on Monday and compared to the last week’s average of about 543 deaths per day.
In late January, encouraging trends in ICU use, hospital admissions and cases paved the way for Governor Gavin Newsom to lift the home stay mandate for all counties. As of Tuesday, 54 of California’s 58 counties are still in the purple tier, which imposes the strictest restrictions on business activities and social gatherings.
While business trends are declining statewide, Dr. Ghaly said they still remain high, and urged extra vigilance ahead of the upcoming Super Bowl final in the National Football League and Lunar New Year celebrations to avoid they turn into “spreader events”.