New coronavirus cases, hospitalizations in California climbing at a slower pace

Coronavirus infections and hospitalizations in California are climbing at a slower pace than they have been.

That's the word from the state's Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. "This is promising news, of course," he said in a COVID-19 media briefing Tuesday. "We have been talking about hope that we would see lower post holiday surge than we did see post Thanksgiving. And we are beginning to see indications that is actually the case."

The state's test positivity rate is holding steady at 13.5% after weeks of consistent increases.

"The good news here is (we) believe it's really stable, bouncing up and down as we always see, but stable overall which is much better than what we've been witnessing," he said.

Dr. Ghaly said the state is reviewing new guidance from the federal government and and may decide soon to expand vaccine availability to people over 65 or those with serious underlying health conditions.

According to Dr. Ghaly, the four California regions under the state's stay-at-home order will remain under the guidelines for at least three weeks, continuing to do so until ICU capacity projections are above or equal to 15%. Those include Southern California, San Joaquin Valley, Greater Sacramento and the Bay Area.