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Coronavirus: California's largest counties report uptick in cases

Coronavirus: California's largest counties report uptick in cases

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The number of cases of COVID-19 in California ballooned over the weekend as the nation’s largest county continued to sort through a significant backlog of tests.

In total, there were over 60% more cases reported around the state Saturday and Sunday — a total of 6,159, according to data compiled by this news organization — than the previous weekend, which sent the seven-day average soaring to 4,335 cases per day — an increase of 47% in a week.

Since Thursday, thousands of reported cases in Los Angeles County have been a product of “technical issues with data reporting systems this week,” county health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a release, which led to at least 1,000 backlogged cases, in addition to new ones, reported on each Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

However, data analyzed by this news organization show transmission on the rise in many of the most populated areas of California.

Of the 16 counties in the state with a population of at least 500,000, all but one reported more cases in the past week than the preceding one. In the larger Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin and Santa Cruz counties were the only jurisdictions of any size to report a week-over-week decrease in cases.

With its backlog of cases, Los Angeles County reported the largest week-over-week increase. But even subtracting LA County leaves the statewide average 33% higher than it was a week ago.

In the Inland Empire, Riverside and San Bernardino counties each reported an increase in cases of 69% in the past week. In nearby Orange County, there was a 56% increase in cases from a week ago.

In the Bay Area, Alameda and Santa Clara counties each reported at least 37% more cases than last week, while the increase in Contra Costa County was about 26%. An uptick in cases in San Francisco two weeks ago appeared to slow in the past week, as the city reported a modest 4% gain over the past seven days.

Overall, the Bay Area reported fewer infections as a portion of its population than the state or the country.

The per-capita rate in California crept up to about 11.0 cases per 100,000 residents per day over the past week, after it reached a recent low of about 7.5/100K a week ago. As the virus roars across the nation, the per-capita rate in the U.S. has soared to about 21.3/100K — more than three times higher than the rate in the Bay Area of about 6.5/100K.

On Sunday, the national seven-day average of new cases reached its highest point of the pandemic, according to data collected by the New York Times. The average of 69,814 cases per day eclipsed even the first peak in the Northeast this spring and that of the South and Southwest this summer.

The U.S. reported more total test results — more than 1 million per day — in the past week than any other prior to it, according to the COVID Tracking Project, but the increase in cases has outpaced additional testing. Additionally, the number of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in all 50 states grew by about 15% in the past week to its highest point since the tail end of this summer’s surge.

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