California is experiencing a sharp rise in cases of coronavirus unlike what has been seen during the pandemic. But is Golden State in the same difficult situation as Florida, Arizona and other states where the virus is spreading fast?
Let’s look at the numbers.
Confirmed cases: New cases slowed somewhat in California on Wednesday, as county health departments reported 6,874 positive tests, shy of daily records set Monday and Tuesday but higher than any day before, in addition to 81 more fatalities. The state’s total case is now 237,661 and the death toll has reached 6,165, according to data compiled by this news organization.
Texas and Arizona have set new fall records each of the past two days, while Florida̵
Over the past seven days, California has averaged 6,033 new cases per day, its highest point in the pandemic. It’s roughly the same as Texas, which has reported an average of 6,020 new cases, but Florida reports most new cases per day this week: 6,251. Arizona has seen a meaningful increase in cases, but its daily average is still well shy for the three previous states: it added 3,455 new cases per day this week.
No other state comes close to these four in the number of cases over the past week, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Per capita: California is the most populous state in the country, home to about 40 million beach guests, alpinists and everything in between. So it makes sense that only New York – the first episode of the virus in the United States – has reported more overall cases.
And yet, Texas – a state with 25% fewer people – matches California in new cases and cases in Florida – with half the population – spike even higher.
Only two states in the country – Arizona and Florida – received the “high risk” designation from Harvard’s Global Health Institute. They look at the number of new cases in the last seven days per 100,000 inhabitants. With that metric, Arizona and Florida suffer the worst current outbreaks, with 39.1 and 30.7 new cases per 100,000, respectively. California and Texas, with their higher populations, fare better with their respective per capita infection rates of 13.6 and 18.8 per 100,000. Both are ranked among the 14 states with the second highest risk rating.
It is also worth noting that different parts of each state may suffer more or less severe outbreaks. The Bay Area, for example, has deterred the worst of the virus. On average, there are about 7.25 new cases per capita, even as outbreaks begin to grow in the region, compared to Los Angeles County, where 22.9 of every 100,000 residents per day tested positive over the past week.
According to Harvard researchers, Imperial County is the only county in California that meets the high-risk designation of at least 25 cases per day per 100,000 residents over the past week. In Texas, there are 30 counties that are considered “high risk.” Florida has 29. And in Arizona, 10 counties meet that mark.
A number of other mostly southern states have test positive and per capita infection rates higher than California’s.
New daily cases per 100,000 inhabitants (the last seven days)
- Arizona – 39.1
- Florida – 30.7
- South Carolina – 24.7
- Louisiana – 21.0
- Mississippi – 20.5
- Nevada – 20.0
- Arkansas – 19.8
- Alabama – 19.6
- Texas – 18.8
- Georgia – 18.7
- Utah – 16.7
- California – 13.6
- Tennessee – 13.5
- North Carolina – 13.5
- Iowa – 12.2
- Idaho – 12.0
Source: Harvard Global Health Institute
Percent positive (last seven days)
- Arizona – 24%
- Florida – 16%
- Nevada – 14.9%
- Texas – 14.4%
- South Carolina – 14%
- Mississippi – 13.9%
- Georgia – 13.3%
- Idaho – 13%
- Alabama – 12.5%
- Utah – 10.2%
- Kansas – 9.4%
- Arkansas – 8.9%
- Tennessee – 8.1%
- Louisiana – 7.4%
- South Dakota – 6.9%
- Iowa – 6.9%
- North Carolina – 6.8%
- Wyoming – 6.6%
- California – 6.4%
Source: COVID Tracking Project and Johns Hopkins University
hospital: Just as cases are spread differently, so follow hospital admissions, which means that some medical centers are at or near capacity, while others have plenty of beds available. In the Bay Area, some hospitals have begun accepting patient transfers from counties like Imperial, causing their total number to inflate.
In California, COVID-19 patients take up about 7% of the state’s total hospital beds – 5,477 on Wednesday – and don’t count on the additional 50,000 beds the state has ready. It currently has more than twice the number of available ICU beds (3,580) than is currently used (1,613). But in Riverside and Los Angeles counties, their ICU is almost full.
The same difference exists in Texas, where hospitals in the Houston area are approaching or already have capacity. In nine counties covering the Houston metro area, hospitals were 83% full Wednesday with only 10 ICU beds available. In northeast Texas, 43% of its hospital beds with 92 ICU beds are available. Statewide was 6,909 patients admitted on Wednesday with an additional 13,000 beds available. The state reported that 1,322 ICU beds were available across the country. It does not report the number of current ICU patients, but the state’s largest hospital in Houston had 507 patients in ICU beds with COVID-19 by itself on Wednesday.
In Arizona on Wednesday, 89% of ICU beds and 86% of all hospital beds were full. There, the number of patients admitted with COVID-19 had almost doubled in the past two weeks, from 1,582 on June 16 to 2,876 on Tuesday, while its ICU patients increased by 33% over the same period. In California, hospital admissions increased by 64% during that time.
Up to this week, Florida had not reported hospital data, despite health experts calling for a key metric to track the progress of containing the virus. On Thursday, 15,150 Floridians were hospitalized with COVID-19 – three times that of California. Texas also has more patients admitted than California, 6,904 patients in hospital beds report Wednesday.
Testing: None of Arizona, Florida or Texas is testing more people or with a higher per capita than California. But the percentage that comes back positive in these states is significantly higher than in California, where 6% of its tests have been positive over the past week.
Arrason’s positivity ratio is 24% eye-catching, easily the highest in the country. It has also reported only one day with more than 20,000 total tests. Florida and Texas are testing more people, but still far from California, which has conducted nearly 95,000 tests a day over the past week. In Florida, 16% of the average 44,570 tests a day come back positive, while Texas performs 41,670 tests a day with 14.4% back positives.
California tests 2.4 out of every 1,000 residents every day, the ninth highest per capita in the country. In Florida, the number is 2.1 per 1,000; in Arizona: 2.0; and in Texas: 1.4 per 1,000 residents.
Death: California experienced its deadliest day in nearly a month on Tuesday, but has not yet seen a rise in mortality in proportion to the increase in cases. The same has been the case for Texas, where deaths crossed 2,500 with a further 52 deaths reported Wednesday, and Florida, where 45 deaths increased the death toll to more than 3,500. Arizona, a state with a population smaller than the Bay Area (about 7.3 million), reported more deaths on Wednesday than the entire California, 88 to 81.