SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California's top medical adviser said Wednesday that coronavirus cases continue to double in the state every three to four days, a fast pace on par with New York, where some hospitals are overwhelmed and nearly 200 are dead.
If that rate holds, California hospitals could see a surge in patients in one to two weeks, said Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's secretary of health and human services, during a Facebook news conference.
"We originally thought that it would be doubling every six to seven days, we see cases doubling every three to four days," Ghaly said. "(We're) watching that trend very, very closely."
Nicholas Jewell, a biostatistics researcher at the University of California, Berkeley who has been tracking the pandemic, said the coronavirus is spreading rapidly throughout the U.S., at a rate quicker or on par with countries hit the hardest.
"The U.S. is now at the top of the charts for doubling rates," Jewell said. "This is not the time to take your foot off the pedal and look forward to going to church on Easter."
President Donald Trump said this week he hoped to remove social restrictions by the April 12 holiday, a proposal that received strong pushback from governors including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and health experts across the U.S.
Ghaly said the estimates on how fast the virus is spreading are based on a model created as the epidemic first broke in California and updated with new data on a daily basis, including information from hot spots such as Santa Clara and reports from large hospitals.
"We take that information every single day," he said.
But even as Newsom announced that testing in the state had been conducted on more than 66,800 people, he acknowledged that, "it's not good enough," to predict an accurate picture of what is happening or meet medical needs.
It was not immediately clear if the new tests included in the updated number represented an increase in testing or tests that were done over past weeks since the start of the outbreak, and what information they would provide to researchers. As of Wednesday morning, Newsom said 2,535 people in the state had tested positive, including 37 children under the age of 17.