After a relative New Year’s lull in confirmed infections, California posted a new single-day record for coronavirus cases Monday, logging more than 74,000, according to a Times tally of local health jurisdictions.
That is 11% higher than the previous record, when 66,726 cases were registered Dec. 28. The state is now averaging about 37,000 cases a day over the last week, down from a high of about 45,000 in mid-December. But the situation is still far worse than the beginning of last month, when 14,000 cases a day were recorded.
California also posted its sixth-highest daily tally of COVID-19 deaths: 379. That helped pull up the average number of COVID-19 deaths over the last week to 353 a day, the highest number yet.
In Los Angeles County on Monday, an additional 79 coronavirus-related deaths were reported and an additional 10,851 infections. The county is now averaging 184 deaths a day over the last week — the equivalent of someone dying of COVID-19 every eight minutes — and about 13,500 cases a day, a count expected to grow because many testing sites were closed for the New Year’s holiday.
After a brief New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day drop, COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to break records in L.A. County, rising to 7,898 on Sunday — 201 more than the previous day. Of them, 1,627 were in the ICU, also a record.
The growth in the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU wards has been astonishing — quadrupling since late November.
“Given the current state of the pandemic in Los Angeles County, the worst is almost certainly still ahead of us,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, the L.A. County director of health services, warned. “As of today, hospitals continue to be significantly strained. All hospitals are being inundated with COVID patients.”
She described overcrowded conditions at hospitals forced to leave patients in hallways or keep them waiting in ambulances.
“The demand for oxygen is so great that some hospitals are having trouble maintaining an adequate degree of air pressure to keep a high-flow rate of oxygen pumping into lungs of COVID-19 patients that have been inflamed,” Ghaly said.
“It is getting harder and harder for health care workers to care for those coming to the hospital with gunshot wounds, heart attacks, strokes and injuries from car accidents,” L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “Hospitals are declaring internal disasters and having to open church gyms to serve as hospital units. Our health care workers are physically and mentally exhausted and sick.”
Solis and health officials expressed dismay at protesters who voiced opposition to wearing masks during the worst public health care crisis of the last 100 years.
“We are in the midst of an unprecedented and dangerous surge,” Solis said. “Despite what protesters claim, this is not a hoax.”
Times staff writer Andrea Roberson contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.