New signs that the coronavirus is spreading more rapidly in California than anywhere else in the U.S.

Newer coronavirus subvariants ticking up in California amid concerns of winter wave

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The new coronavirus infecting more Californians, including those who have had relatively mild infections, has spread more rapidly in this southern-most state than in nearly any other area of the U.S.

Experts in public health and infectious diseases say the virus is spreading at a faster rate, is more contagious and more likely to cause more severe illness in the elderly, the poor and anyone who has underlying health conditions.

“We’re still seeing a lot of relatively mild cases, very low case loads, and that is a bit confusing,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, a senior health official for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But we’re seeing some of those mild cases move to a more severe level, where we’re worried that is a really bad sign.”

Officials with the California Department of Public Health and the state’s health care providers say they have not detected any new clusters of the virus. But that doesn’t mean the virus is not showing up, and experts caution that such clusters do not guarantee the virus will actually spread.

There are new signs that the virus is spreading more rapidly, possibly because of warmer weather in California — and perhaps because this spring is the early season for the pandemic.

According to the state Health Department, at least 3,726 people have tested positive for confirmed Covid-19, a respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, and 48 have died. The department reported Thursday that a total of 1,388 people have been tested in the state.

There are now more cases in California than anywhere in the nation. There have been at least 690 cases in Washington and more than 3,700 cases in New York, which has seen 4,813 cases and at least 1,831 deaths.

At least 834 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the state Health Department. At this point, the California numbers do not include cases from neighboring states, where the outbreak has gone even further.

The new virus has infected about 2,000 people in the United States, and the death toll stands at at least 42.

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