Coronavirus latest: California outbreak eases as new cases hit three-month low

Peter Wells in New York

California on Wednesday reported fewer than 5,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time since early November in a further sign the state is bringing its most recent wave of the pandemic under control.

The health department revealed an additional 4,090 infections, down from 5,692 on Tuesday, and marking the smallest one-day increase in cases since November 3.

While the latest figures may reflect delays in reporting following the long weekend, the sub-5,000 milestone underscores a change in fortune compared to the worst of California’s pandemic from mid-December to mid-January, when the most populous state in the US on several occasions reported single-day increases of more than 50,000 cases.

Other closely-watched metrics have also been heading in encouraging directions. The 14-day positivity rate, at 4.1 per cent, is the lowest it has been since mid-November and down from a recent high of 14 per cent in early January.

Hospitalisations, at 8,855, were below 9,000 for the first time since late November, while the number of available intensive care unit beds in the state was at its highest in just over two months.

Deaths, which tend to lag cases and hospitalisations, still remain relatively high. Authorities attributed a further 400 fatalities to coronavirus, up from a seven-week low on Tuesday of 64.

The state has administered 6.4m coronavirus vaccines, according to the health department. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as at February 16 put the total at 6.2m, or 15,719 doses per 100,000 people, which ranks it among the 20 US states with the lowest per capita vaccination rates.

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