The 9,988 new cases represents the first time since the vaccine has been publicly available that the number of daily new infections has neared the 10,000 mark. The last time it was that high was in January 2021. It represents a 20-fold increase in one month, since the number of new cases dipped below 500 in late November according to county data.
The silver lining to the grim statistic is that, with the vaccine now widely available, the number of deaths from COVID-19 has not risen by the same level as the number of cases.
The county reported 21 new deaths from COVID-19 on Friday. By comparison, in January 2021 the number of deaths routinely stayed above 200 per day. Health experts note, however, that death figures tend to lag new cases, meaning an increase in deaths is still possible in the near future.
Earlier this week, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the area is seeing “one of the steepest rises we’ve ever seen over the course of the pandemic.”
“These numbers make it crystal clear that we’re headed into a very challenging time over the holiday,” she said. “If our case numbers continue to increase at a rapid pace over this week and next, we could be looking at case numbers we have never seen before.”
The county’s 7-day positivity rate has jumped to 9.6%, up from 4.6% earlier in the week.
And the new numbers don’t include results from at-home testing kits, which are not reported to the county.
Testing sites are also seeing a big increase in visitors.
“This spike is incredible,” said Christina Haidet, who works at a Long Beach health department park testing site. “To be honest with you these numbers that we saw yesterday, my site has never seen. This site is a smaller one, we usually see at most 100 patients a day. Yesterday we saw over 1,500.”
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out new actions to slow the spread of the virus in California that includes a booster mandate for health care workers, increased testing access for students, and expanded hours at testing sites.
The governor said testing site hours will be expanded for state-operated centers that have reached capacity. California has established 6,288 testing sites statewide.
Last week, Newsom, who imposed the first statewide shutdown order in March 2020, warned that cases would likely rise and re-imposed a rule requiring everyone to wear masks at public indoor gatherings.
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