With the vaccine beginning distribution this week, the end of the pandemic is in sight—but the road is still a treacherous one, especially for residents of the hardest-hit areas. The number of COVID cases nationwide continues to grow rapidly, and one state is facing particularly dire statistics. With skyrocketing daily reported cases, deaths, test positivity rates, and hospitalizations, California has emerged as the new epicenter of the COVID pandemic, The Washington Post reports. Although state officials in California have implemented various restrictions, the outbreak is nowhere near containment. Keep reading for a breakdown of California's crisis, and for more on the future of the pandemic, If You Did This in 2020, You Can Get Your COVID Vaccine Sooner.
California set a nationwide record for daily new coronavirus cases.
California continues on a cycle of setting and then breaking the record for the number of new daily cases reported. On Dec. 17, the state reported almost 106,000 new cases over the course of just two days, according to The Guardian.
"If California were a country, it would be among the world leaders in new coronavirus cases, ahead of India, Germany, and Britain," The Washington Post reported. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
The state's test positivity rate is also high.
According to The Washington Post, California's positivity rate is climbing alongside the number of new cases. The positivity rate, which is the percent of tests that come back positive, indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading. California's positivity rate is now 11.5 percent, per the Post, which is more than double what experts consider to be high risk. And if you're worried about getting sick, This Strange Pain Could Be the First Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.
California is running out of hospital beds.
In many of the counties in California, intensive care unit capacities are at less than 1 percent, according to the Associated Press. Hospitals are unable to handle the caseload of COVID patients that are in need of care. "I want to be very clear: Our hospitals are under siege, and our model shows no end in sight," Christina Ghaly, director of Los Angeles County's Department of Health Services, said at a news briefing on Dec. 16, per The Washington Post.
Ghaly predicts that "the worst is still before us" because it takes about a week for people to be sick enough to warrant hospitalization. Consequently, Dec. 17's hospitalizations are mostly reflective of cases that are about 10 days old—back when California was reporting a daily average of 10,000 or fewer cases. And for more on the vaccine, discover The One Thing About the COVID Vaccine That's Surprising Even Doctors.
The state also set a record for the most daily new deaths.
On Dec. 17, California topped their record-breaking previous number of 293 daily new deaths with 379 new deaths in one day. As a result, NBC reports that California activated a "mass fatality program." The program is designed to be an essential resource to local agencies as deaths rise, according to the California Office of Emergency Services.
While it's unclear what's next for California, Gov. Gavin Newsom pointed to the vaccine as "light at the end of the tunnel," The Washington Post reported. In the meantime, however, the state is "still in the tunnel," Newsom added. And for more reasons to feel hopeful about immunization, Dr. Fauci Just Debunked the 4 Biggest Myths About the COVID Vaccine.