Health officials say California has surpassed 25,000 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The grim milestone recorded on Friday comes as the nation’s most populated state faces a surge of COVID-19 infections that has hospitals stretched to capacity and forced nurses and doctors to treat more patients than usual.
The state Department of Public Health says hospitals in Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, which together account for a large majority of the state’s 40 million residents, have no capacity left in intensive care units to treat Covid-19 patients.
Hospitals are housing patients in hallways, conference rooms, a cafeteria and gift shops. Makeshift hospitals are being set up in tents, arenas and schools.
California was the third state to reach 25,000 deaths, behind New York, which has nearly 38,000 deaths, and Texas, which has more than 27,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
California’s reported its first case of Covid-19 in late January. It recorded it’s 10,000th death from the virus in August.
Most of the state is under newly extended restrictions that have closed or reduced capacity of businesses, and people are being urged to stay home as much as possible to try to slow the spread of infections.
A mutant variant of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious has been found in Southern California, where the state’s most populous county recorded more than 10,000 deaths and authorities warned they will be patrolling streets to shut down large New Year’s Eve gatherings that could spread the infection.
Los Angeles County reached a “terrible milestone” with 274 additional deaths in 24 hours for a record toll of 10,056 deaths, Los Angeles County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer announced on Wednesday.
The Covid-19 daily death toll over 14 days has averaged about 150 people, or “about equal to the number of deaths from all other causes, which is about 170,” said Ferrer. “Most heartbreaking is that if we had done a better job reducing transmission of the virus, many of these deaths would not have happened.” The county, which has had about 40 per cent of the state’s virus deaths, is one of nearly two dozen in Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley area where hospital intensive care units have technically run out of room, although ICU patients are being placed in other hospital areas under “surge” procedures.
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