COVID-19 indicators trending down in recent weeks

Human coronavirus. Human coronavirus causes respiratory infections and gastroenteritis. Image produced using high-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI) from an image taken with transmission electron microscopy. Viral diameter around 80-160 nm. (Photo by: BSIP

State indicators of the novel coronavirus' spread have trended down in recent weeks as the state's average daily test positivity rate has fallen below 4.5 percent in the last seven days, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.

Cases have been trending south since mid-July, when the state issued a temporary shutdown of indoor operations for businesses like bars, movie theaters and restaurants.

Since hovering around 7.5 percent at that time, the state's test positivity rate has also steadily declined. While the seven-day positivity average sits at 4.4 percent, the state's 14-day average daily positivity rate now sits at 5.1 percent. 

Newsom cautioned that while the rate of positive tests has trended down across the state, the pandemic will still be potent if people let their guard down.

"We saw this a few months back, we started to see progress over an extended period of time and, invariably, people said 'well, looks like we're out of the woods,'" he said. 

The drop in the average positivity rate comes as the state begins to ramp its testing capacity back up from the swoon it suffered in recent weeks due to wildfires, poor air quality and a heat wave on the West Coast.

Daily coronavirus tests dipped from about 180,000 in early August to between 80,000 and 100,000 two weeks ago due to the wildfires and subsequent evacuations in the Bay Area. 

Since then, the seven-day average of daily tests across the state has risen back above 100,000. 

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions have declined at about the same rate, 23 percent over the past two weeks, Newsom said, adding that it shows "real progress" in containing the virus' spread. 

Newsom advised people across the state to continue the steps they've taken to reduce the spread by wearing a face covering and maintaining distance from others, particularly during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Following the state and local health guidance, Newsom said, will be critical as the state gets deeper into a flu season that could coincide with a second wave of coronavirus cases and deaths. 

"It's more important than ever to be vigilant as we work through the next few months," Newsom said. 

As of Wednesday, 712,052 coronavirus cases have been confirmed across the state, including 13,163 deaths.