LOS ANGELES -- California, which has some of the strictest mask and vaccination mandates in the country, has improved to a "moderate" rate of transmission for COVID-19, the only one of the 50 states to drop to that level, according to the latest CDC data.
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California also shows the lowest death rate in the country from COVID-19, with 0.2 deaths per 100,000 reported in the last seven days. As the most populous state, California has reported more than 70,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Forty-four states and U.S. territories remain in the "high" level of transmission, on average seeing a worsening of their case rates in the last seven days, according to the CDC.
There are eight states and territories in the "substantial" level. In the "moderate" level are one state, California, and two territories, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Within California, Southern California counties are also showing improvement in COVID case rates.
Five Southern California counties - Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino - have all now improved to the "substantial" level of transmission - down from "high."
Several Central and Bay Area counties have dropped even lower, to the "moderate" level, including Monterey, Alameda, Marin and San Mateo.
California is averaging 34.4 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population, according to the CDC data. About a month ago, the state was reporting 95 cases per 100,000.
By contrast, all the other states west of the Mississippi are averaging well over 100 cases per 100,000. Some like Idaho, Montana and North Dakota are averaging well over 400 cases per 100,000.
The CDC defines "moderate" - coded yellow on data maps - as from 10 to 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days.
"Substantial" - or orange - is defined as 50-100 cases, while "high" or red is more than 100 cases.
The video in the media player above is from an earlier report.