California added just over 12,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily number of cases in a state troubled by a dramatic holiday wave since Thanksgiving, according to data from the state’s health department .
“We haven’t seen a number quite like this for quite some time,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said at a press conference. Just two weeks ago, the state reported an average daily tally of around 40,000 new cases.
But as state health officials see signs of optimism after the darker months of the pandemic, they are renewing their calls to avoid gatherings before the Super Bowl and Lunar New Year, warning that it could lead to another deadly outbreak of the virus that claimed the lives of more than 41,000 Californians.
Looking forward: Hospitalizations are expected to drop by more than half over the next month, Ghaly said. Over the past two weeks, there has been a 29% decrease in hospitalizations with over 14,000 patients on treatment. About 3,800 of these people are in intensive care units.
These projections led to the fall in regional stay-at-home orders statewide. Intensive care unit capacity projections have been a driving force behind these restrictions, and the entire state is now expected to be well above the state-set 15% threshold. Southern California, which has been the hardest-hit region in the state, is expected to have the largest intensive care capacity in the state by the same time next month, according to new projections.
But more than 1,000 instances of Covid-19 variants have been detected in California to date – two different versions of the West Coast variants as well as the UK variant.
“Variants create another wild card,” Ghaly said, adding that the new strains are a real cause for concern that is being watched closely as the state continues to actively sequence mutations and build capacity to do more. .
“If you give Covid an inch, it will take a mile,” he warns.