After seeing an increasing trend in COVID-19 cases throughout the months of June and July, California may be ready for some good news. For the past week, the state's average daily case rate has fallen 20%, from 9,859 cases in the last week of July to 7,764 in the first week of August. Crucially, the state's positivity rate, or the percentage of people who receive a positive result after testing for COVID-19, has also decreased from 8% to 6.1%. This indicates that the decrease in cases is not due to less testing, but is rather caused by fewer people getting and spreading the virus.
Again, it is important to keep in mind that we must maintain proper social distancing and mask-wearing practices to ensure that we do not see another spike in cases. Governor Newsom attributes this decrease in cases to the halting of reopening plans, and cautions that if cases begin to increase, reopening will be further delayed.
Although overall cases are decreasing in California, some Bay Area counties are actually seeing increased cases. While 74% of survey respondents in July in California said that people should be wearing masks at all times in public spaces, increasing numbers of people are holding gatherings with friends and wearing masks less frequently. This phenomenon has particularly been observed in outdoor parks, where in some cases, only 10% of visitors wear masks as they chat with friends. This noncompliance to city and state guidelines is the main factor that is causing local outbreaks, and many city leaders and officials have warned against continuing with this complacency. All of the Bay Area counties have been added to the state's watch list, and only one is close to getting off of the list.
Santa Clara County may be off of the list soon, as they have fewer than 100 cases per 100,000 residents. This means that they may be able return to normal schooling sooner, as the state requires that counties must be off the of the watch list for 14 days to have in-person classes. Other counties should follow in Santa Clara's example, increasing testing capability and imposing stricter masking guidelines.
Source: New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/california-coronavirus-cases.html
Bay Area Total Cases and Deaths by County
Table: NBC Bay Area staff Source: County health department
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