LOS ANGELES (AP/CBS13) — California health authorities reported Saturday another record one-day total of 695 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads.
California’s death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to 29,233, according to the state Department of Public Health’s website. The state website also added another 52,636 positive cases on Friday.
Meanwhile, hospitalizations are nearly 22,000 and state models project the number could reach 30,000 by Feb 1.
A surge of cases following Halloween and Thanksgiving produced record hospitalizations in California, and now the most seriously ill of those patients are dying in unprecedented numbers.
The biggest fear is that hospitals will be tipped into rationing care in a few weeks when people who ignored social distancing rules to gather with friends and relatives for Christmas and New Year’s Eve start showing up for medical care.
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The post-Christmas surge was worsening in Los Angeles County, where figures released Thursday and Friday showed a new daily caseload of nearly 20,000, significantly above the average of about 14,000 new cases a day over the last week.
“This very clearly is the latest surge from the winter holidays and New Year’s — no question about it,” Dr. Paul Simon, the county Department of Public Health’s chief science officer, told the Los Angeles Times.
He said he expects the number of hospitalizations and deaths to remain high throughout January because of what occurred over the holidays.
“We’re going to see high levels of hospitalization and, sadly, deaths over at least the next two to four weeks.”
Los Angeles County has a fourth of the state’s population but accounts for about 40% of COVID-19 deaths.
In Sacramento County, public health officials reported over 71,800 total cases as of Friday and 977 total deaths since the pandemic began. There was also a total of 497 COVID patients hospitalized with 115 in ICU.