California’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues to rise, surpassing anything the state has seen this year.
That California Department of Public Health Tuesday reported the nationwide positivity rate of 13.2%, up from 11.4% the previous week. The rate has increased tenfold since the beginning of April, as new, more transferable varieties grow throughout the state.
At the same time, the state has seen a decrease in its case percentage, which now stands at 34.5, a decrease of 3.6% from last week. But that can be attributed in part to low test levels across the state, according to health officials. Test rates have plummeted since early June and have now fallen by more than 30% as Californians refuse to test or choose to use rapid home tests that are not reported to the state.
Following nationwide trends, the Sacramento County’s positivity rate has risen to 13.5% in the past week, up from 12.4%.
Placer, El Dorado and Yolo counties have also seen positivity rates grow this week – they are now at 13%, 15.2% and 7.7% respectively.
State-wide hospital admissions also continue to rise, an increase of 13% from June 18 to June 25. The state says 3,177 people are currently hospitalized with the virus. However, the increase has not been accompanied by increasing mortality; fatalities have been stable in the state since April.
BA.4, BA.5 variants dominate
The BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants are now the predominant strains of coronavirus in California and across the country, new data from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
The new strains have been labeled as “variants of concern” by the CDC and various European agencies and are generally thought to be slightly more transmissible than other omicron strains. According to Yolo County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson, the new variants also pose a concern because they can easily re-infect people who have recently had other versions of omicron.
This week, CDC data showed that the newer variants now account for more than 50% of cases nationwide.
In the CDC reporting region, which includes California and large parts of the West, BA.4 and BA.5 together account for 53.2% of all new cases in the week ending June 25. BA.2.12.1 and BA.2, meanwhile, accounted for 46.8% of new cases.
The latest figures from Yolo County – the only county in the Sacramento area that sequences for BA.4 and BA.5 – showed that the new strains accounted for 37.4% of the cases in the week ending June 18th. Sisson said last week that she expects BA.4 and BA.5 to become dominant in the county this week.
“I think things will get worse before they get better in terms of case rates as well as community transmission,” Sisson said in an interview last week, attributing her concern to the growth of BA.4 and BA.5.
Bay Area county dropper mask mandate
Twenty-five of California’s 58 counties – including Sacramento and Yolo – are categorized in the CDC’s “high” level of community dispersal and are recommended by the agency to have an indoor mask mandate in place.
But in the last month, only Alameda County had introduced such a mask mandate – and on Friday, health authorities dropped it completely.
The county announced the end of its indoor mesh mandate after falling to the CDC’s “medium” level of community dispersal.
In a press release, county health officials cited declining case numbers and stabilization of daily hospital admissions as reasons to lift the mandate. Indoor masking is still “highly recommended”, said the release.
Alameda County was the last major California jurisdiction with an indoor mask mandate.
Case rates in the Sacramento area, admissions fluctuate
Sacramento County’s latest case rate – which reflects the week ending June 20 – is 34.5 per. 100,000 residents, state health officials said in Tuesday’s update. This marks a decrease of 6.3% compared to the case rate a week ago and a decrease of 0.6% compared to the latest metric released on Friday.
Hospitals in Sacramento County on Monday treated 198 COVID-19 patients, state data shows, a 3.1% increase from 192 a week earlier. The total number of intensive care units was 25, which is an increase of four from last week.
Placer County’s latest case is 21.9 per. 100,000 inhabitants, a decrease of 17.3% from a week earlier.
Hospitals in Placer County treated 85 virus patients on Monday, up from 76 a week earlier. The total ICU dropped to six from seven.
Yolo County’s latest case is 40.8 per. 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 12.6% from a week earlier. It has the seventh-largest case rate in any California county.
Hospitals in Yolo County treated nine virus patients Monday, up from three a week earlier. The total intensive care unit fell to one from two.
El Dorado County’s latest case is 23.9 per. 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 2.1% from a week earlier.
Hospitals in El Dorado County treated six virus patients Monday, the same as a week earlier. The total ICU remained at one.
Sutter County’s latest case is 26.5 per. 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 1.1% from last week, and Yuba Countys is 25.9 per capita. 100,000, a decrease of 16.7%, state health officials reported Tuesday.
The individual hospital serving both Yuba and Sutter counties treated 12 virus patients on Monday, down from 18 a week earlier. The total intensive care unit fell to two from five.