California has the lowest weekly average of new COVID-19 cases since Dec. 1 and the fewest patients hospitalized with the virus since Dec. 11, the latest signs of the decline of a massive wave of cases and deaths started in the winter and over the holidays.
On Friday, California counties reported 14,170 new COVID-19 cases, according to data tracked by this news organization. The state now has a seven-day average of 14,708 daily cases, the lowest it’s been since Dec. 1. On a recent Jan. 10 peak, the state was averaging 44,629 new cases.
Los Angeles County, the most populous and hardest-hit in the state, reported the biggest share of those with 4,426 new cases on Friday, followed by San Diego County with 1,453, Orange County with 1,028 and then Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.
Hospitalizations have also been trending downward — the number of patients hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 cases declined 3.1 percent on Thursday, to 12,863. That’s the fewest patients hospitalized since Dec. 11, and a 41 percent drop from a Jan. 6 peak. The number of patients in intensive care unit beds with confirmed cases of COVID-19 also declined 5.6 percent on Thursday, to 3,432. That’s the fewest ICU patients since Dec. 16 and a 42 percent decline from an early-January peak.
California also hit a welcome milestone on Friday, passing its 4 millionth vaccination dose administered. The state has administered 4,199,626 doses, 61.7 percent of the doses delivered in the state.
That milestone comes amid questions about equity in vaccine distribution. Statewide data hasn’t been released on the race and ethnicity of vaccine recipients, but numbers from Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo counties show Latinos have received a small share of doses despite being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Despite the improving case and hospitalization numbers, deaths continue at near-record levels in California, where counties reported 536 COVID-19 fatalities on Friday, for a seven-day average of 489 daily deaths. Deaths usually lag behind trends in cases and hospitalizations.
Los Angeles County reported the most fatalities on Friday with 225, followed by San Mateo County with 41, San Diego and San Bernardino counties with 39 each and then Orange and Santa Clara counties.
In the Bay Area, Santa Clara County led the way with 328 new COVID-19 cases and 18 fatalities for a total of 104,076 cases and 1,523 deaths since the start of the pandemic. San Francisco reported 313 cases and 17 deaths for a total of 31,857 cases and 345 deaths.
Alameda County reported 220 cases and nine deaths for a total of 75,395 cases and 1,030 deaths. Contra Costa County reported 214 new cases and 10 deaths for a total of 58,462 cases and 552 deaths. And San Mateo County reported 148 new cases and 41 deaths for a total of 36,599 cases and 436 deaths during the pandemic.