The COVID picture around the Bay Area has been slowly but surely improving, with hospitalization numbers finally ticking downward and new case numbers in single digits some days in some counties.

The seven-day average of daily new cases in the Bay Area was 174 over the last week. That is down dramatically from an average of 518 recorded cases each day in the first week of May.

Over the holiday weekend, the Bay Area recorded only one new COVID death between Saturday and Monday, after seeing 327 deaths during the month of May. And COVID hospitalizations have reached single digits in several local counties, dropping from 333 people in beds at the beginning of May, to 214 on Monday.

Across California, the test-positivity rate hit a new low on Monday of 0.7%.

Nationwide, the trend is similar. On Saturday, only 11,976 new cases were reported in the U.S., marking a new low — the country has not seen a case number that low since March 23, 2020, as CNBC reported. And the death rate around the country is rapidly dropping as more people get vaccinated. 129 new deaths were recorded across the country between Monday and Tuesday, and 137 deaths were recorded the previous day.

On average, during the first week of May, 700 Americans were dying of COVID each day.

As of Tuesday, the state has improved the tier assignments for two Bay Area counties as a result of dwindling case counts. Solano County has finally left the "Red" tier, being the last Bay Area county to do so. And Marin County was moved into the "Yellow" tier, joining San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties in the least restrictive tier. With just two weeks left of the four-color tier system, Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, and Sonoma counties all remain in the "Orange" tier.

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a lottery for all vaccinated Californians, as an incentive for more state residents to get their shots over the next two weeks. Anyone who's been vaccinated in California is automatically entered, and on Friday, June 4, there will be a drawing that will see 15 vaccinated Californians win $50,000 each. Another drawing happens on June 11 with more $50,000 prizes, and on June 15, 10 people will win $1.5 million each.

Photo: Tim Mossholder