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California's COVID-19 hospitalizations rise 81% over 2 weeks as pandemic rages

Spike in COVID hospitalizations in California
California's COVID-19 hospitalizations spike 81% over last 2 weeks 21:11

Hospitalizations in California due to confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus have risen more than 81% in the last two weeks, and ICU hospitalizations have increased 57.1%, Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency, said during a Tuesday press conference. The grim announcement comes as states across the nation are facing steep spikes in coronavirus cases. 

The doctor warned that the "pressure on our hospitals will continue" as the state grapples with a surge of infections ahead of Thanksgiving.

"When you see the numbers more than double in just three weeks, we are concerned," Ghaly said. He noted that many intensive care units in parts of the state are on the brink of capacity.

Ghaly urged residents to heed health guidelines like wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and hand washing.

California reported on Tuesday that there were 15,329 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The seven-day average of cases is 12,532. There is a 14-day positivity rate of 5.6%, according to Ghaly, which represents a 51% increase since November 10.

Ghaly noted on Tuesday that there are 45 counties in the most restrictive "purple" tier, eight counties in the "red" tier and five counties in the "orange" tier. Depending on the color matrix, shown below, counties are to follow specific COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Much of the state imposed a curfew over the weekend in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The order, which went into effect on Saturday, stops gatherings and non-essential work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. in areas under the state's purple tier label, where virus transmission is considered widespread.

"The virus is spreading at a pace we haven't seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge. We are sounding the alarm," Newsom said last week. "It is crucial that we act to decrease transmission and slow hospitalizations before the death count surges. We've done it before and we must do it again."

California was the second state after Texas to report 1 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. In total, the U.S. has reported more than 12.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 259,000 deaths, per a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, Moderna has said that its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from the company's ongoing study. Earlier, competitor Pfizer announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared more than 90% effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.

Infectious disease specialist explains why AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine can vary in effectiveness 07:46
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