The number of Covid cases in California is falling, but experts warn of a winter surge

After a worrying summer surge, the number of Covid-19 cases has been declining in California and across the country in recent weeks.

The state’s positive test rate reached 13 percent in late August, the highest level since the summer of 2022, but has since fallen to seven percent. The weekly average of new hospitalizations with Covid has fallen by about 30 percent since the peak in early September, according to state data. And across California, levels of the coronavirus in wastewater appear to be dropping.

As Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, he told the Los Angeles Times this month: “The Summer Strike is over.”

But public health experts present this moment as a reprieve rather than a true end to our Covid worries. They expect a winter surge in cases, as has happened every year since the start of the pandemic.

“We have already seen this story,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We have a little bump in the summer and then it drops. People get complacent and it comes back to a high after Halloween and Thanksgiving.”

Given that pattern, the Biden administration has once again made free at-home Covid tests available. Experts recommend that everyone over the age of 6 months get an updated booster. The shots, released last month, have been reformulated to better combat the latest variants, and most Americans can get them for free.

dr. Tomás Aragón, director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement that keeping up with Covid vaccines is the best way to “maintain strong immunity and protect yourself and others from serious illness, hospitalization and death.” He added that the new booster could also reduce symptoms in milder cases, allowing people to return to their normal lives more quickly.

And if you need an extra reason, consider what public health experts have called a “triple epidemic”: There’s concern that the winter spike in Covid could coincide with the usual annual spike in flu and respiratory syncytial virus — which happened last year — and a large number of patients, burdening hospital resources throughout the country.

That’s why federal health officials are urging Americans to get vaccinated against all three viruses this fall.

“October is the best time to get the flu shot and the updated Covid vaccine,” Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he told the San Francisco Chronicle during a visit to a Bay Area nursing home last week. She added: “The severity of the season has a lot to do with how many people get vaccinated. The more people are vaccinated, the more likely we will have a milder season.”


Today’s tip comes from Regan Davis, who lives in Carmichael. Davis recommends Noyo Headlands Park at Fort Bragg, on the Mendocino Coast:

“On a recent visit to Fort Bragg, we drove down Highway 1 from our motel room to the old airstrip that now serves as a parking lot at the south end Noyo Headlands Trail. The port fog horn wailed in the distance as we walked towards the loud barking of several seals — a row over the rights to the buoy. On the trail, the air is soft to the touch, and colorful wildflowers anchor the cliffs. The west is all the Pacific Ocean; Mendocino Point stretches to the northern horizon. Ahhhhh.”

Tell us about your favorite places in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We’ll be sharing more in future editions of the newsletter.


What are the best things that have happened to you this year so far? What were your victories? Or your unexpected joys, big or small?

Tell me at CAtoday@nytimes.com. Please provide your full name and city where you live.


A new park celebrating the history of San Jose’s Chinese-American community opened to the public last week with a ceremony and sake toast.

The park, Heinlenville Park, in the city’s Japantown neighborhood, is named after John Heinlen, a German immigrant and businessman. Heinlen helped the local Chinese community rebuild after an 1887 fire, believed to be arson, ravaged the city’s original Chinatown downtown. As a landlord, Heinlen provided cheap leases to the community, paving the way for the vibrant Chinese cultural center that became known as Heinlenville.

The neighborhood disappeared just four decades later, in part due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, but its mark on the city can now be felt and seen because of Heinlenville Park.

“You won’t read about John Heinlein’s legacy in history, but you will experience it here,” Connie Young Yu, historian, he told The Mercury News. “This park embodies a story that San Jose should be proud of.”

The park will be used as a multicultural gathering space and includes details such as a 19-foot metal sculpture with traditional Asian symbols and a paved path tracing the area’s Chinese-American history.


Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya

PS Here today’s Mini Crossword.

Maia Coleman and Briana Scalia contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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