California, the current epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the US, has become the country's first state to have more than 600,000 confirmed cases, authorities said. A report released by the California Department of Public Health on Friday showed an increase of 7,934 COVID-19 cases, which included 3,505 new infections in 24 hours and 4,429 from a lab-reporting backlog of previous days, reports Xinhua news agency.

Public health officials also confirmed 188 more deaths in the daily report. So far, there have been 601,075 confirmed cases and 10,996 deaths in California since the start of the pandemic. The seven-day positivity rate is 6.5 percent and the 14-day positivity rate is 6.2 percent, according to the Department of Public Health.

USA COVID-19
USA COVID-19 (Representational Picture) Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

Increasing Number of Cases

The positivity rate reflects how prevalent positive cases of the disease are when compared to the number of tests being done. Officials said that local health departments have recorded 27,919 positive cases in health care workers and 143 deaths statewide as of Thursday.

In Los Angeles County, the most populous in the state, local public health officials reported 2,642 new cases and 45 new deaths. To date, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has identified 218,693 cases and 5,214 deaths across all areas of the metropolitan region.

Too Many People Spreading the Virus

The county's public health officials noted that there has been a 25 percent reduction in daily hospitalizations in the last couple of weeks. The 7-day average of daily hospitalizations in the county is 1,521, whereas, in the week ending July 31, the figure was 2,026.

"The lower number of daily COVID-19 hospitalizations is encouraging, however, we still have far too many people spreading this virus," said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, in a statement.

"Only when we get to low community transmission rates, can we reopen our schools and get more people back to work. The choice is ours to make -- our recovery journey continues only if we all do our part today to slow the spread," she added.