California First to Drop High COVID Transmission Status, Has Lowest Case Rate in U.S.

California on Wednesday was the only state identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) as falling below the "high" level of community transmission of COVID-19.

A CDC map showed every other state in red, the color the agency used to identify locations where high levels of community transmission were occurring. The CDC identified "high" community transmission of the virus as locations that have a seven-day average of 100 new cases or more per 100,000 people.

According to the CDC's map, California has reported an average of 97.8 new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days, allowing the state to fall in to the "substantial" level of community virus transmission. The "substantial" level is identified by the CDC as a seven-day average case rate between 50 and 99.99 new cases per 100,000 people.

California drops below high transmission
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 community transmission map on Wednesday showed California as the only state to drop below the "high" transmission level. Above, a woman holds up a sticker after getting a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic on August 19, 2021, at Tournament House in Pasadena, California. ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The San Francisco Chronicle was among the first to report California's community transmission level drop on Tuesday.

The U.S. as a whole was identified as having a "high" level of community transmission, with a seven-day average of 295 cases per 100,000 people and a seven-day positivity rate of 9.49 percent, according to the CDC's data.

The CDC's map has changed as states reported fluctuating case rates, with other states and territories occasionally dipping into the orange "substantial" transmission level. But California is the only large state to emerge from the "high" transmission level thus far, according to state epidemiologist Erica Pan.

Aside from Puerto Rico, California was the only state or territory to occupy the "substantial" transmission level as of Wednesday. The CDC's data showed 52 states, territories and jurisdictions in the "high" level, two rated "substantial" and three in the "low" level. The territories with "low" levels of community transmission were identified by the CDC as the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau and the Republic of Marshall Islands.

No location occupied the "moderate" level of community transmission, which the CDC identifies as reporting between 10 and 49.99 cases per 100,000 people or a testing positivity of between 5 and 7.99 percent over the last seven days.

California, which is the most populous state in the country, has reported more virus cases than any other state since the start of the pandemic, with the California Department of Public Health on Tuesday reporting a total of 4,372,806 cases. By Tuesday, an estimated 68.5 percent of the state's residents were fully vaccinated against the virus and 9.9 percent of Californians were partially vaccinated, according to state data.

Newsweek reached out to the California Department of Public Health for comment and will update this article with any response.

Updated 09/15/2021, 3:14 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information and background.