Story at a glance

  • California’s coronavirus death toll hit 15,000 over the weekend.
  • Despite the sobering mark, hospitalizations and new cases continue to fall across the state.

The state of California hit 15,000 coronavirus-related fatalities on Sunday.

Data from Johns Hopkins CSSE and The Associated Press confirm that the state's death toll stands at approximately 15,026 as of Sept. 21 — the fourth highest in the country. The only states topping California’s death toll are Texas, New Jersey and New York, representing third to first, respectively.

Despite this grim mark, the Golden State’s infection rate is down at about 3 percent within the past week, the lowest level it has been at since the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. 


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Similarly, the California Department of Health reported about 2,600 coronavirus hospitalizations on Saturday, the lowest daily patient count the state has seen since April. Patients admitted to ICUs have also declined, which translates to a lower fatality rate.

These broad declines follow a summer of spikes in coronavirus cases, especially across Southern California. In August, cities such as Los Angeles were forced to take major preventative action as cases continued to rise, with Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) ordering utilities of residents who flaunt public health rules and host large private house parties be shut off.

A New York Times analysis shows the state has been in a steady decline and entering a plateau of new confirmed cases since mid-August, with the rate of positive tests over the past 14 days coming in at 3.1 percent as of Sept. 20, per state health department data. This is a 1.5 percent decline in new confirmed cases over the past two weeks. 

These encouraging data points come as Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill into law requiring California businesses to disclose COVID-19 infections or potential exposures on Thursday. 

The new law, AB685, aims at establishing increased transparency surrounding infections among essential workers, such as restaurant employees and health care staff. It goes into effect Jan. 1, 2021. 

Nationwide, the U.S. is expected to hit the 200,000 death toll this week, with Johns Hopkins reporting 199,660 fatalities as of Monday. 


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Published on Sep 21, 2020