Governor Gavin Newsom delivered some happy news to Californians on Friday when he reported 7,934 new coronavirus infections. While that number is still significant, it’s much lower than the 11,645 reported on Wednesday. Wednesday’s number included 6,212 backlogged cases, according to Newsom, which meant the real daily total was about 5,300.
Likewise, the governor announced that 4,429 of Friday’s cases were from the previously-reported data backlog. That means, he said, if you subtract that backlog number from the total of 7,934, the new cases in the state were actually only 3,505 on Friday. That’s the lowest number of daily new cases the state has reported since June 16.
More from Deadline
Newsom said the state has been through the roughly 295,000 backlogged cases and that there were “roughly 20,000 positives in that cohort.”
“This will be the last day that we will have to report backlogged cases,” said Newsom. “This was the day we committed to to reporting out our efforts, to clean up the backlog, bring all the positive cases related to the backlog” to the fore, he said.
He announced that the state saw a 19.9 percent decrease in hospitalizations over the past 14 days. There was a 14 percent decline in ICU occupants impacted by COVID-19.
“Even in the Central Valley,” said Newsom, “we’re seeing a rate of growth that’s beginning to decline.”
If these trends continue, the governor said schools will reopen “sooner rather than later.”
In the past few days, California’s new daily case numbers have swung wildly. California’s COVID-19 dashboard indicated on Thursday that the state had 7,085 new cases. That’s a lot less than the 11,645 reported on Wednesday. In fact, it looked a lot more like the 7,751 new cases reported on Monday, before the backlog numbers began showing.
Still, California’s infection rate and case numbers seem to be declining.
The state’s reported COVID-related death numbers, however, are not impacted by those errors. On Friday, the state saw an additional 188 deaths, putting it on the brink of 11,000 recorded coronavirus deaths since the pandemic began. The exact number is 10,996.
Those numbers have remained stubbornly high as coronavirus-related hospitalizations and ICU use have declined. But deaths are a lagging indicator. That means that, as fewer patients require that critical care, so too will the number of fatalities from the virus drop.
But, the state may not be out of the woods yet. Newsom warned that, even given ramped-up testing, he feels coronavirus is “significantly more prevalent than those numbers [suggest] and it’s because we have not scaled our testing” to meet the magnitude of the crisis.
Watch Newsom’s news conference below.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control issued his own warning on Thursday. Dr. James Redfield said that the pandemic, paired with the oncoming flu season, could create the “worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had.”
Redfield said the severity of the fall depends on how consistently Americans wear face masks, stay 6 feet away from each other, wash their hands and avoid crowded gatherings.
The scenario that health experts warn of is a flu season piling on top of an already widespread and active pandemic. That would overwhelm hospitals and result in far more deaths as people are unable to get treatment.