SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Coronavirus cases have surged past the 400,000 mark in California, which is now approaching New York as the state with the most infections in the country.

Data from the California Department of Public Health shows the state has confirmed a total 400,769 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday, 9,231 additional cases from the previous 24 hours. California has also reported a total of 7,755 total deaths from the virus, 61 more than the previous day.

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As of Tuesday afternoon, New York has 412,034 coronavirus cases and significantly more deaths than California with 32,203. Florida is third on the list with 360,386 cases and 5,071 deaths. Nationwide there have been 3,895,803 cases and 143,032 deaths.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday that while California is still in the throes of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, state officials are proud of the state’s collective action so far.

Ghaly waved away the fact that California is expected to pass New York soon as the state with the most cases in the country, arguing that California’s large geographical footprint is more to blame for that status than anything else.

“At the end, I really expect and hope that California is going to be the state that adapted the most, learned the most, prepared the best and that we are going to really reduce [the coronavirus’] impact,” Ghaly said.

Ghaly cited the state’s first-in-the-nation shelter-in-place order in March and the time it bought state and local public health officials at the beginning of the pandemic as bright spots in the state’s efforts to combat the pandemic.

The state’s prescient action, Ghaly said, allowed the state to learn more about how the virus acts and stockpile both personal protective equipment like surgical masks and gloves and hospital bed capacity at hospitals across California.

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“We’re in this for the long run—not just the first few months but we’re in it ‘til the end,” Ghaly said. “(Gov. Gavin Newsom) often says ‘let’s not just run the 90-yard dash, we have to get all 100 yards and we are committed to that.”

Ghaly argued that the state’s reopening plans in May and June were backed by positive trends in California’s coronavirus case and hospitalization data, but some residents took it as a cue to resume life as normal.

As a result, the state’s positive test rate has trended above 7 percent in recent weeks and seven-day case averages have hovered between 8,000 and 9,000 per day. Hospitalizations and deaths have also trended upward.

Ghaly reiterated that following state public health mandates and guidelines like wearing a face-covering in public, practicing physical distancing, and avoiding large crowds will allow the state to smother the pandemic as soon as possible.

“Simply wearing a mask can go a long way to supporting your community, your family and all of us; to get kids back to school; to keep our businesses going; and, hopefully, looking forward to a day where that reality is more comfortable and settled for all of us,” he said.

 

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