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California passes 1M mark for Covid-19 cases

California passes 1M mark for Covid-19 cases 1

A healthcare worker gathers information from a motorist at a drive-in coronavirus testing center in Los Angeles, Calif. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

California passed the 1 million mark Thursday for Covid-19 cases, becoming the second state after Texas to hit that threshold.

The unfortunate milestone comes as the country and the nation’s most populous state are experiencing a surge in the worldwide pandemic. The U.S. now has more than 10 million confirmed cases.

The significance: Johns Hopkins University data and other trackers projected California crossed the million mark Thursday.

The state typically lags those trackers and said it had a total case count of 991,609, with nearly 7,000 newly confirmed cases over the most recently recorded 24-hour period.

While California accounts for many of the country’s cases, the state of nearly 40 million has still managed to control its outbreak more effectively so far than many other states. On a per capita basis, California’s infection rate remains lower than most other states.

But state and county officials have been pointing to alarming trends in recent days. California health officials said the state’s positivity rate — the percentage of those testing positive — has reached 3.9 percent, a significant increase from the 2.5 percent it reported on Oct. 15.

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County moves: State health officials this week moved San Diego and Sacramento counties to the most restrictive purple tier, reducing activities for nearly 5 million people. A number of other counties were forced backward in the state’s four-tier reopening system due to increased case and positivity rates.

Los Angeles County, which remains stubbornly in the purple tier, has experienced over 2,000 new cases nearly every day since last week. The county is testing more than ever, but the positive test rate is also climbing there. The state’s largest county has a quarter of California’s population but roughly a third of its cases — 330,450 since the pandemic began.

L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Thursday dissuaded residents from traveling during the upcoming holidays, but recommended they quarantine for 14 days upon their return if they do so. She also warned that “additional actions” may have to be considered if the county can’t control its spread.

Other counties are trying to manage their outbreaks by calling for restraint. Alameda County, which is in the orange tier, on Thursday opted to pause more business reopening because county health officials said they expect to face more state restrictions next week as infections rise.

Marin County on Thursday announced that the county also would roll back indoor dining, movie theater and religious gatherings from 50 percent to 25 percent capacity.

What’s next: Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly is scheduled to give a press briefing Friday. He has indicated that the state is preparing additional guidelines for people to follow during the upcoming holidays. Officials have pointed to gatherings with people outside one’s immediate households as a major source of new infections.

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