After a week of rollercoaster numbers that have generally trended up, the State of California on Friday recorded its highest number of new daily Covid cases since the dark days of January. The number of new cases in the past 24 hours, 14,402, was up more than 50% from the 9,517 cases tallied just the day before. Looking back a little further, the number of new daily cases has nearly doubled in the past nine days, from 7,457 on July 28 to 14,402 on Friday.
Friday’s total is the largest one-day number of new cases since January 27, 2021. It officially puts the current peak of the 2021 summer surge above the peak of the summer surge last year, which saw 12,614 new cases on August 14, 2020. See chart below for trends.
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One contributing factor is surely the rise in testing. While daily test numbers had fallen below 30,000 in the state in early July, as of Friday that data point had risen above 250,000. More tests lead to more cases being discovered. But measures not tied to test numbers, such as the 7-day average case rate per 100,000, have also risen markedly.
On Monday, that rate was 16.7 infections per 100,000. On Friday, that number clocked in at 21.1 infections per 100,000. That’s a 26% rise over the course of five days in a number that — unlike daily cases — is averaged over 7 days to minimize volatility.
Likewise the state’s 7-day test positivity rate — another trusted indicator of spread — was up from 6.9% on Monday. That’s an 8% rise. On June 15, the day the state threw off Covid-19 restrictions, the 7-day test positivity rate was 7.1% on Friday. That’s a much less critical rise, but it also coincides with a 25% rise in the number of tests, from about 194,000 on Monday to the aforementioned 250,000 on Friday. An increase in testing tends to drive infection rates down, so the fact that the 7-day test positivity rate has risen at all as testing has risen markedly is notable.
The rises have happened this week even as numbers in the state’s largest county, Los Angeles, may be plateauing. If true, that would mean the rate of spread among the other three quarters of the state’s population is even higher than the statewide averages indicate.