California hospitalisations surge with new COVID-19 cases

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The number of people hospitalised in California with COVID-19 has increased by nearly a third over the past two weeks, with about 1 500 suspected or confirmed patients requiring intensive care, officials said on Wednesday.

The state also reported its largest ever spike in confirmed new cases on Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom told a news briefing.

Further increases are expected when test results from people who participated in massive anti-racism protests start coming in, he said.

Coronavirus infections and hospitalisations have also risen sharply in other parts of the United States.

California’s 7 149 new infections announced Wednesday brought the state total to 190 222, caused partly by a rise in testing, Newsom said. But much is the result of people failing to engage in safe practices when gathering with friends and family, or visiting newly reopened businesses, he said.

“These numbers do beg the question and that is what can we do more to keep you safe from the spread of this virus,” Newsom said.

He criticised local officials in parts of the state who said they would not enforce public health restrictions aimed at slowing the virus’ spread, including a new statewide requirement that people wear masks in public.

Counties that flaunt the rules risk losing state funds meant to help defray pandemic costs, he said.

Hospitalisations are up 29% over the past two weeks, and 30% of the state’s available intensive care beds are being taken up by COVID-19 patients, Newsom said.

Many cases could still be undetected. Newsom said several counties were having trouble paying for tests, to the point where some areas were “testing deserts.”