Adhering to a grim schedule that was predicted by public health experts, the holiday-season surge in COVID cases is now showing its spike in deaths, both locally and elsewhere.
Across the state, the death tolls in recent days have been especially high, with an average of 473 COVID deaths recorded each day since January 1. But for the past three days straight, there have been over 600 deaths in California — with Thursday marking a record with 764 — and in the Bay Area, we just saw the highest one-day death toll since the pandemic began, with 113 new deaths in the nine-county region reported on Thursday. (Due to lags in data reporting, these deaths likely all occurred earlier this week.)
The total COVID deaths as of this hour in the Bay Area stands at 3,659, and multiple counties have been adding upwards of 30 new deaths per day in recent days. Just this morning, San Mateo County added 31 deaths to its total, bringing the county's toll to 340. San Francisco County's total stands at 275.
On the plus side, there are fewer severe COVID cases entering local hospitals, and the number of total hospitalized cases in the Bay Area has been declining slowly but steadily over the last week. As of January 20 there were just over 2,100 COVID patients in Bay Area hospitals, down from a peak of 2,369 on January 6.
The decline in hospitalizations is being seen statewide as well.
The state is using its own projection models for ICU capacity to determine when to lift a region's stay-at-home order, and the Greater Sacramento region — which includes the Tahoe area — saw its order lifted by surprise last week despite still having less than 15% of ICU beds available. As the Associated Press reports, the state is not being entirely transparent in showing their projection models — and so it remains unclear when the Bay Area might see its stay-at-home order lifted. At last check on the state's website, the best guess was the second week of February.
The state's COVID hospitalization forecasts shown here mostly show hospitalizations going down as we move into February, but it also shows deaths continuing to climb. By these projections, California is expected to see its 50,000th COVID death in the next two weeks.