California surpasses 5,000 coronavirus deaths amid spike in cases

California surpasses 5,000 coronavirus deaths amid spike in cases
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California surpassed 5,000 deaths caused by the novel coronavirus over the weekend, with the nation's largest state seeing a marked uptick in confirmed cases.

As of Sunday, California's health department had reported 148,855 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and 5,063 deaths. Sunday’s update marked a week-over-week increase of 20,940 cases, the highest in the nation.

The grim milestone comes as pockets of the U.S. experience surges in the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, prompting fears about ongoing reopening plans. California, Texas, South Carolina and Florida are among the states reporting consistent increases in cases and, in some cases, hospitalizations.

Data from the California Department of Health shows that the state has reported at least 2,000 new COVID-19 cases every day of this month. Health officials reported 3,660 new cases on Friday, the highest one-day increase since a record 3,705 were reported on May 30.

Much of the surge in cases is taking place in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties. Los Angeles County recorded a single-day high of 1,848 new cases on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported. That county alone has reported nearly 72,000 confirmed virus cases and 2,890 deaths, more than half of the state’s death toll.

San Diego County also reported a single-day high in coronavirus cases on June 5 with 240, though the county has not reported more than 200 cases in a single day since then. Riverside County recorded 612 confirmed cases of the virus on Friday, its new single-day high.

Mark Ghaly, California’s secretary of health and human services, on Friday cautioned against drawing too much from the reported increases, noting that a rising testing rate can be a factor.

“We’ve ramped up testing in an extraordinary way, nearly hitting our goal that was set for August — not June, not July, but August — of getting to 60,000 to 80,000 tests a day,” Ghaly said, according to the Times. “We’re already knocking on that door, averaging in the mid- to high 50s over the past few days across the state.”

Ghaly said that officials are instead focused on the rate of positive test results and the number of daily hospitalizations.

The state health department said in a statement on Sunday that California’s hospitalizations had remained stable in the long term. It said the positivity rate had also remained stable in its 14-day average.

“We closed down to prepare, we created the awareness among those in our communities, and we’re starting to begin the reopening — bringing back the economy, bringing back that vital social and economic presence in our communities — while we still stay vigilant and watchful over the movement of COVID-19 so we can stay in front of it as much as we can,” Ghaly said.

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia coronavirus case count tops 600,000 California slams 'inaccurate and outdated beliefs' of parents suing to reopen schools Bass on filling Harris's Senate spot: 'I'll keep all my options open' MORE (D) was one of the first state leaders to impose a stay-at-home order in March in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The state began gradually lifting restrictions on nonessential businesses in May. 

The state remains in Phase 2 of its reopening plan. However, some counties have been permitted to enter Phase 3 and reopen businesses deemed to be higher risk given local conditions, according to The San Francisco Chronicle