California Covid Cases, Hospitalizations Hit Summer Surge Highs As Wild Swings Continue

Daily Covid cases in California hit a new high for the current summer surge, with 14,716 reported on Friday. That’s up 10% from the season’s previous peak of 13,377 on August 9, and up a whopping 159% from the 5,678 new cases the state database now shows for Tuesday of this week. It tops the summer 2020 surge, which peaked on July 13 with 11,658 cases.

The state’s data on its dashboard has taken wild swings of late, especially on Fridays. Last Friday, 14,099 new cases were reported resulting from the biggest one-day jump of the pandemic, a nearly 4,000 case increase. One week prior, cases jumped nearly 50% in 24 hours, from 9,517 to 14,402.

State officials have said such peaks and valleys are, in part, the result in reporting delays from California’s 58 counties. They have pledged that bunched up cases are later backdated to the actual onset of infection. Often, the state’s reporting includes the proviso, “Numbers may not represent true day-over-day change as reporting of test results can be delayed.” There is no such note on today’s numbers.

Another contributing factor to the data rollercoaster is the state’s recent decision to stop posting numbers on weekends and report three days’ worth of numbers on Monday. Those stats are supposed to later be backdated, but that could take days.

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So is there really a rise in cases in California? The short answer is, “Yes.”

More reliable measures of the spread of infections, such as the 7-day average of cases per 100,000, have risen markedly. On July 4, the overall 7-day average of Covid cases per 100,000 was 4.6. Last Friday, that number was reported at 24.6 per 100,000. Today, it hit a summer 2021 high of 28.0 per 100,000.

The 7-day average of cases is considered a good measure of the rate of infection spread because it’s both an average and set to a seven day lag, which gives slowly-reported numbers time to be reconciled and backdated, which is what’s happening of late with California’s case counts.

Another number that’s more up to date is the hospitalizations tally. The total number of hospitalized patients with Covid-19 was 8,236 today. That’s up over 1,000 patients in one week, and also a new high for the summer of 2021.

On Monday, the state’s Health Officer, Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, issued an order meant to ensure rapidly filling hospitals and ICUs flexibility. Aragón’s order requires hospitals statewide to accept transfer patients from facilities with limited ICU capacity when clinically appropriate. The order will take effect August 18, 2021

“We are continuing to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant of Covid-19 and are taking action to ensure the state’s health care delivery system is prepared and can respond should the situation worsen,” said Dr. Aragón. “Today’s action will make sure all patients in California continue to receive appropriate care.”

The last time the state took such drastic action was during the deadly winter surge of the virus.

The number of daily deaths reported is also up. One month ago, on July 22, the state reported 31 new Covid-related deaths. Today, that number was 120.

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