California sees stunning rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, health secretary says

Those hoping for good coronavirus news Tuesday should not have tuned into Dr. Mark Ghaly's noon press conference. The California Health and Human Services secretary shared concerning statistics about COVID-19 spread in the state.

California has seen 15,329 cases over the past 24 hours -- nearly the highest daily case number we've seen since the beginning of the pandemic.

The testing positivity rate is just shy of 6% in California. As of Tuesday, the seven-day average was 5.9%, Ghaly reported.

There's bad news when it comes to hospitalizations, as well. COVID-19-related hospitalizations are up 81% over the past two weeks. ICU hospitalizations are up 57%.

"Statewide, I don't believe we've ever seen as many hospital admissions increase like we did just in the past 24 hours," said Ghaly. "I hope, but don't expect, that it will be the highest we ever have."

As cases continue to rise, hospitalizations are expected to follow, he explained.

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"We often emphasize the case numbers, but really the cases are concerning in part because they really foreshadow what the impact is going to be on our hospitals," said Ghaly. "Twelve percent of today's cases end up hospitalized about two to three weeks later."

California moved seven counties into more restrictive reopening tiers Tuesday.

Alpine and Mariposa counties were moved from "yellow" to "orange." Calaveras County was moved from "orange" to "red." Colusa, Del Norte and Humboldt counties were moved from "red" to "purple." Lassen County was moved back two tiers, from "orange" to "purple."

Modoc County is the only one trending in the right direction, moving forward from "red" to "orange."

Now, no counties are left in the yellow tier, the least restrictive of the four.

MAP: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules

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All of Southern California is already purple on the state's reopening map, as is most of Central California. Three Bay Area counties were at risk of moving backward: San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties. However, they all remain in the red tier.

"Let's not make any mistake, they've seen a significant surge in cases," said of the Bay Area counties. "We believe that some of the tools that they put in place will be helpful, and we hope to see them hold steady where they are, but we're fully prepared that they may not."
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