LOS ANGELES -- The California coronavirus outlook worsened over the holiday weekend, as hospitalizations continued to rise and more counties were added Sunday to Gov. Gavin Newsom's COVID-19 watch list, which is now at its highest level since the pandemic began.
The rate at which coronavirus tests in California are coming back positive has jumped 42% over the last two weeks, according to data published on the Los Angeles Times' California coronavirus tracker. An increasing rate of positive test results is an indication that disease transmission is worsening.
The Fourth of July marked the 15th consecutive day that California tallied record hospitalization numbers of confirmed coronavirus patients. On Saturday, the state recorded 5,669 patients with confirmed coronavirus infections in California hospitals -- an increase of 62% over the previous two weeks.
On June 27, just a week earlier, the state had reported 4,498 hospitalized patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19. On June 20, the number was 3,494.
The number of intensive care unit patients statewide with confirmed coronavirus infections is up 63% over the last three weeks. On Saturday, there were 1,711 people with confirmed coronavirus infections in the ICU; on the previous Saturday, there were 1,376; the week before that, there were 1,149; and on June 13, there were 1,049.
And Los Angeles County officials said Sunday that the holiday weekend saw the highest single-day count of new cases since the pandemic began. More than 3,200 new cases were reported in the county on Friday.
Contra Costa County, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and rural Colusa County, northwest of Sacramento, were added Sunday to the list of regions being monitored for their rising case counts and increasing hospitalizations, bringing the number to 24. Marin, Monterey and San Diego counties joined the list Thursday.
In many areas, the jump in cases is attributed to more people leaving home to go to work or seek services and a rise in family and community gatherings -- hallmarks of summer and an increasing restlessness as the pandemic drags on. Marin County, according to the state, has an additional problem; an outbreak raging in San Quentin State Prison has infected nearly a third of the inmates.
On Sunday, Marin County officials announced that indoor restaurant dining rooms would again be required to shut their doors, bringing an end to a short window of sit-down service and hold-in-your-hand menus. Restaurant dining rooms in the area had only been open for a week since the statewide shelter-in-place order was established in mid-March. The current ban will last for at least 21 days.
Nationwide, the picture is also grim. The former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that "we're right back where we were at the peak of the epidemic during the New York outbreak."