June 24, 2020 / 10:18 PM / 12 days ago

California hospitalizations surge with new COVID-19 cases

FILE PHOTO: A medical staff member treats a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista, California, U.S., May 12, 2020. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - The number of people hospitalized 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 hospitalizations 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 criticized 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.

Hospitalizations 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.”

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; editing by Bill Tarrant and Richard Chang

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