California is one of a handful of states where coronavirus cases and deaths are going up more than researchers expected, according to the latest projections in a widely relied-upon model of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Christopher Murray, director of the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the institute’s latest projections suggested the nationwide fatality count would reach 137,000 by Aug. 4. It stands now at nearly 80,000.
The picture is mixed in some of the country’s most populous states, he said.
“Some good-ish news coming out of New York and New Jersey and Michigan, where the death cases and death numbers are coming down faster than expected,” he said. “Some other states where cases and deaths are going up more than we expected — Illinois and then Arizona, Florida, California as examples of that.”
California added 2,244 coronavirus cases and 64 related deaths on Saturday for a total of 66,825 cases and 2,695 deaths. About 40% of the new cases — 907 — were reported by Los Angeles County, as were 45 of the new deaths, or about 70% of the statewide death toll.
Overall, L.A. County has reported 31,241 COVID-19 cases and 1,515 related deaths as of Sunday morning, prompting public health officials to urge caution even as some recreation areas and businesses are permitted to reopen.
“The virus has not changed,” Barbara Ferrer, the county public health director, said Friday. “It can still spread easily, and it can still result in serious illness and death.”
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San Bernardino County reported its largest one-day increase in new cases Saturday, adding 273 cases and three deaths for a total of 2,902 cases and 114 deaths. Some of the new cases are linked to an outbreak at the California Institution for Men in Chino, where at least 386 inmates had been infected and four had died as of Sunday morning, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Case counts also have shot up in Santa Barbara County, where an outbreak at Federal Correctional Institution Lompoc has sickened 792 inmates. At a neighboring medium-security prison on the same grounds, 31 inmates and 14 staff have become infected, officials said. Two inmates have died after contracting the virus there.
Combined, the two federal prisons in Lompoc have 823 infected inmates, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons. That accounts for roughly 66% of the 1,250 cases reported by Santa Barbara County to date.
Though urban and densely populated counties have been hit hardest by the virus, there were also signs it was spreading to some rural areas.
Trinity County reported its first case of the coronavirus on Friday, the county public health department said in a news release. Officials released few details but said they were working on identifying others who might have been exposed.
Murray, of the University of Washington, also said Sunday that scientists were tracking how much people were moving about in states where businesses were reopening — and that the additional movement would translate into more infections, hospitalizations and deaths in about the next week and a half.
“We’re just seeing explosive increases in mobility,” he said, “in a number of states that we expect will translate into more cases and deaths, you know, in 10 days from now.”
That is particularly true, he said, in states such as Georgia, which moved more quickly than most to ease shutdowns. “Somewhere like Georgia, which was one of the first — it is in the category of a big increase,” he said.
Other emerging hot spots, he said, include Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.