Growing signs Omicron is leveling off in California

While California continues to see disturbing rises in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, there are some early signs the unprecedented Omicron wave is slowing.

The shift is uneven across the state, but the numbers suggest California could be reaching a crest in the latest surge. States on the East Coast that were hit earlier by the Omicron wave have already started to see a sustained decline in infections.

California has recorded more than 7 million coronavirus cases as of this week. The tally, recorded in the state’s databases late Monday, comes one week after it recorded its 6 millionth coronavirus case.

Here are what the numbers show:

Cases still high but leveling

The exponential growth in California’s case rate appears to be leveling off, although it probably will take a few days — following any reporting backlog from the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend — to be sure.

According to data released Tuesday that reflect numbers through Monday, California was averaging 104,000 cases a day for the most recent seven-day period, slightly above the prior week’s rate of 101,000; the week before, the state was reporting 55,000 cases a day. California’s case rate reached a high of more than 115,000 cases a day in the middle of last week, and fluctuated between 114,000 and 115,000 for a few days.

Some of the state’s most populous regions may be starting to see a leveling in case rates. Southern California recorded 69,000 new cases a day over the most recent seven-day period, about flat compared with the 71,000 from a week earlier. The week before, the region tallied 39,000 cases a day.

L.A. County

Los Angeles County posted a record number of coronavirus cases last week, nearly 42,000 a day. But based on numbers released since then, the county is now averaging about 38,000 cases a day.

Bay Area

The Bay Area is now averaging about 19,000 coronavirus cases a day, a rate that has fluctuated between 18,000 and 22,000 for roughly the last week. The Greater Sacramento area recorded about 5,500 cases a day for the most recent weekly period. The capital region has been fluctuating between 5,000 and 6,000 cases recently.

In Santa Clara County, coronavirus levels in wastewater started declining about 1 1/2 weeks ago. Officials expect the dip will presage a sustained decline in coronavirus cases.

Central Valley

In the Greater San Joaquin Valley, a region that has generally lagged behind trends in Southern California and the Bay Area, cases are still going up. The area tallied 9,300 cases a day over the last week, higher than the 6,500 cases a day for the prior week; the week before that, the region recorded 2,900 cases a day.

Rural Northern California

In rural Northern California, about 750 cases a day were reported in the last week, up from about 680 the week before, and more than double the roughly 300 cases a day the sparsely populated region reported two weeks ago.

Positive COVID-19 test rate declining

The rate at which California’s coronavirus tests are coming back positive has also started to decline. For the seven-day period that ended Jan. 10, California hit a record positive test rate of 23.1%. Since then, the rate fell to 21.5% for the seven-day period that ended Saturday. The rate is still very high; by comparison, in early December, it was around 2%.

A similar trend is holding for Los Angeles County. L.A. County’s seven-day positive result rate may have peaked at 22.7% for the seven-day period that ended Jan. 3; for the weekly period that ended Tuesday, the positivity rate was 16.3%. In the first week of December, it was around 1%.

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