SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California continues to hit grim milestones as COVID-19 cases continue to surge statewide, with dangerously low ICU capacity and fatigued healthcare workers. On Wednesday, state health officials reported the Golden State managed to break its single-day record of new cases, surpassing a record made just three days prior.
As of Wednesday, there is now a total of 1,671,081 coronavirus cases in California and 21,481 deaths.
Statewide, there were 53,711 new virus cases, which was a 3.3% increase and 293 people died of virus complications, a 1.4% increase from what was reported Monday.
In Los Angeles County, there was a 2.2% increase in new cases from Monday and a 1% increase in deaths, according to California’s COVID-19 website.
In fact, LA County shattered a record for most deaths in a single day.
Southern California and the state’s Central Valley — regions that together include 23 counties and most of the state’s nearly 40 million residents — had exhausted their regular supply of intensive care beds and many hospitals were tapping into their “surge” capacity.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the transmission of the virus is rampant and noted two people are dying every hour in the county.
“We’re experiencing an explosive and very deadly surge,” Ferrer said.
Things were not looking any better in other portions of Southern California.
Earlier this week, Riverside County said licensed ICU bed availability dropped to 0%.
Meanwhile, in Orange County, officials rolled out mobile field hospitals to handle the surge in patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
California is averaging more than 35,000 new COVID-19 cases a day. Health officials estimate 12% of them — 4,200 — end up in hospitals.
The record tally of cases reported Wednesday included 12,630 older cases that were added because of a new data collection method, according to the state Department of Public Health. But even without those, the daily total was the most during the pandemic.
Hospitalizations are now are nearly 15,000, and California now is averaging 177 deaths per day and has a total of 21,481.
The alarming numbers come as some healthcare workers received their first doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine that arrived in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles counties late Sunday night.
The first doses in LA County were administered at Kaiser Permanente in East Hollywood on Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the state has ordered 5,000 more body bags for distribution to morgues in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Inyo counties.
Now, the week before the Christmas holiday, 55 of California’s 58 counties sit in the state’s most-restrictive tier with the most strict coronavirus guidelines.
Health officials are urging Americans not to travel, to avoid gatherings, and to stay home during the holiday season to help mitigate the virus spread.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.