COVID-19 numbers drop once again across California. Is the summer surge finally easing?

COVID-19 numbers continued to drop across California this week, as a case surge that lasted through the summer appears to be easing up.

The California Department of Public Health on Friday reported the statewide COVID-19 case rate at 30.6 per 100,000 residents, a 9% decline in the past week.

Statewide case rates have steadily declined since mid-July, after BA.2 subvariants and then the new BA.4 and BA.5 strains caused a consistent spike from April through the beginning of the summer.

Positivity is also dropping across the state, with officials reporting a positivity rate of 12.9% Friday — down from 13.6% the previous week. Statewide positivity has been in decline since it peaked at 16.3% on July 15.

Statewide hospitalizations also decreased this week, dipping below 4,000 for the first time since early July. Across the state, 3,988 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 457 are in the ICU.

Sacramento County’s positivity rate fell to 11.6% this week, down from 12.1% the week before. Key COVID-19 metrics have been in decline across the Sacramento region, as cases fall and hospitalizations level out.

More counties see medium and low spread

The number of California counties in the Center for Disease Control’s “high” community spread level continued to plummet this week. 21 counties received the high designation Thursday, down from 28 last week and 39 two weeks ago.

The entire four-county Sacramento region remained in the medium spread level for a second consecutive week. Before last week, Sacramento County had seen high COVID–19 spread for over two months.

The 21 counties still classified in the high level are: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Humboldt, Kings, Madera, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Orange, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Solano, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Ventura.

Eight counties are now in the low spread level, including Nevada, Sierra and Yuba.

The CDC recommends indoor masking for all counties seeing high levels of spread. But counties across the state continue to hold off on mask mandates. Los Angeles County scrapped plans for a mandate in late July, and this week dropped back into the medium spread level.

Sacramento City Unified School District has consistently tied its masking policies to the county’s community spread levels. The school district has yet to announce whether they will require masking when students return in late August.

Sacramento-Area Numbers by County

Sacramento County’s latest case rate is 25 per 100,000 residents, state health officials said in Friday’s update, a 16.1% decrease from one week earlier.

Hospitals in Sacramento County were treating 185 virus patients Thursday, state data show, down from 224 one week earlier. The intensive care unit decreased to 22 from 29.

Placer County’s latest case rate is 18.2 per 100,000 residents, a 13% decrease from one week earlier.

Hospitals in Placer County were treating 77 virus patients Thursday, up from 73 one week earlier. The ICU total increased to 10 from six.

Yolo County’s latest case rate is 19 per 100,000 residents, a 19% decrease from one week earlier.

Hospitals in Yolo County were treating eight virus patients Thursday, the same as one week earlier. The ICU total decreased to two from four.

El Dorado County’s latest case rate is 13.4 per 100,000 residents, a 31% decrease from one week earlier.

Hospitals in El Dorado County were treating 10 virus patients Thursday, up from 7 one week earlier. The ICU total dropped to zero from one.

Sutter County’s latest case rate is 32.2 per 100,000 residents, up 2.8% compared to last week, and Yuba County is 26.7, down 8.6%, state health officials reported Friday.

The only hospital in Yuba County, which serves the Yuba-Sutter bi-county area, was treating six virus patients Thursday, down from 10 a week earlier. The ICU total dropped to zero from two.