California sees record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations
Los Angeles — California broke a record Sunday with more than 7,400 coronavirus hospitalizations as counties statewide prepared for stricter COVID-19 restrictions to take effect amid surging cases and Thanksgiving travel.
Health officials are preparing for a wave of cases in the next two or three weeks that could be tied to Thanksgiving gatherings. Authorities had urged residents to stay home and keep their interactions with others limited, yet millions nationwide defied that advice.
As of Sunday, California has had nearly 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. The state reported around 15,600 new cases on Saturday. There have been 19,121 virus-related deaths in California during the pandemic.
The state reported 7,415 coronavirus hospitalizations on Sunday, citing the most recently available data from the previous day. More than 1,700 of those patients are in intensive care units. The new total hospitalizations breaks the state's previous record of 7,170 in July.
The figures are expected to rise in the coming days as similar trends are echoed nationally.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday. The highest previous daily count was 196,000 on Nov. 20, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Since January, when the first infections were reported in the U.S., the nation’s total number of cases has surpassed 13 million. More than 265,000 people have died.
“The big unknown here is what actions were people taking over this long holiday weekend,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
If people engaged in high-risk activities, she said, “we’re in for a very rough time because we will have a surge on top of a surge.”
Counties statewide issued new restrictions, many set to take effect Monday, in an effort to avoid overwhelming hospitals.
LA County, the nation's most populous, will impose a lockdown calling for its 10 million residents to stay home “as much as possible,” prohibiting them from gathering with people outside of their household for public or private occasions beginning Monday, except for faith-based services and protests.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has estimated that the county's COVID-19 death toll could reach over 11,500 by the end of the year — meaning that more than 4,000 residents could die in just the next five weeks, the Los Angeles Times reported. A record number of people in the county were infected last week.
In Northern California, Santa Clara County — home to Silicon Valley — is banning all high school, collegiate and professional sports and imposing a quarantine for those traveling into the region from more than 150 miles (241 kilometers) away.
San Francisco and San Mateo counties moved to the most restrictive purple tier in the state’s pandemic blueprint for the economy, forcing most indoor activities to close by noon Sunday and placing the counties’ residents under curfew starting Monday night.
In San Francisco's famous Golden Gate Park, the new 150-foot (45.7-meter) Ferris wheel named SkyStar closed Sunday under the new tier. The wheel was supposed to be the centerpiece of the park's 150th anniversary and was only approved to open in late October. No reopening date has been announced.