A grim milestone for California as the state became the first in the country Thursday to surpass 2 million cases of the coronavirus, just six weeks after reaching 1 million cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and California Governor Newsom.
More than 23,600 Californians have died from the virus since the pandemic began, with Los Angeles County leading the surge with one-third of COVID-19 cases and accounting for nearly 40% of deaths.
More from Deadline
“We know that this emergency is our darkest day, maybe the darkest day in our city’s history,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said as he urged people to cancel plans for holiday gatherings.
If the surge continues in Los Angeles over the next two weeks, hospitals may be forced to ration care because of a lack of medical staff, Garcetti said. “That means the doctors will be forced to determine who lives and who dies,” he said.
The dire numbers come as public health officials urge Californians to avoid social gatherings and traveling for the holidays.
The county on Thursday reported 148 deaths in a single day, a new record, and nearly 6,500 people hospitalized, with 20% in ICU.
In the San Francisco Bay area, Santa Clara County was down to 35 ICU beds, putting hospitals dangerously close to rationing care, Dr. Ahmad Kamal, the county’s director of health care preparedness, tells CBS Los Angeles.
Still, there are positive signs. The transmission rate — the number of people that one infected person will in turn infect — has been slowing for nearly two weeks. After reaching a peak of 13.3% positive cases statewide, numbers began to trend down over the past week, to 12.6%. The number of new positive cases is down slightly to 39,069 from nearly 44,000 newly confirmed cases.
Today we reach 2 million #COVID19 cases but behind those numbers is a person.
351 lives lost yesterday – our hearts are with those families.
To our health care heroes – we see you. You matter. There is nothing more courageous than the work you do. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/ajvmNXXViP
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) December 24, 2020
Best of Deadline