LOS ANGELES — In another dramatic sign of how rapidly California is recovering from COVID-19, the state recorded its lowest hospitalization rate since the first few weeks of the pandemic, according to data reviewed by the Los Angeles Times.
The numbers come just months after the winter surge left hospitals across Southern California overwhelmed with patients and a spike in deaths.
But over the last three months, COVID-19 has receded rapidly across the region, allowing a massive reopening of the economy and the hope for a return to some kind of normal by the summer.
California is now at the bottom of the nation when it comes to coronavirus case rates. On Tuesday, Los Angeles County progressed into the least-restrictive tier of California's color-coded closure system, clearing the way for the nation's most populous county to reopen its economy to the widest extent currently possible.
With more vaccines available and cases plummeting, hospitals are seeing dramatic relief.
The number of COVID-19 patients reported statewide Monday — the most recent day for which data are available — was 1,608. That's lower than the lowest number in The Times' record of hospitalizations reported by state officials, which began March 30, 2020, when 1,617 people were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 infections.
Monday's number is a 93% drop in hospitalizations since the peak — on Jan. 6 — when 21,936 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals.
L.A. County on Sunday posted its lowest COVID-19 hospitalization number — 386 — just 5% of its peak of 8,098. In recent days and weeks, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties have also posted their lowest COVID-19 hospitalizations since the first few weeks of the pandemic.
In San Francisco, there were only 15 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday — 6% of its peak of 259, according to figures provided by the state.
"Hospitalizations are at the lowest levels of the pandemic since we've been measuring," San Francisco Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax told the San Francisco Health Commission on Tuesday. "After 15 months of this pandemic, we are in a much better place."