California Reports Record 695 Virus Deaths in a Day

LOS ANGELES—California health authorities reported Saturday a record one-day total of 695 coronavirus deaths as many hospitals strain under unprecedented caseloads.

California’s death toll since the start of the pandemic rose to 29,233, according to the state Department of Public Health’s website.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations are nearly 22,000, and state models project the number could reach 30,000 by Feb 1.

A surge of cases in mid-October produced record hospitalizations in California, and now the most seriously ill of those patients are dying in unprecedented numbers.

Already, many hospitals in Los Angeles and other hard-hit areas are struggling to keep up and warned they may need to ration care as intensive care beds dwindle.

Every intensive care unit bed at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard is full, and emergency rooms are packed across Ventura County, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the Ventura County Star reported.

When a code blue is sounded at the hospital signaling a cardiac arrest, nurse Yesenia Avila says a little prayer.

The codes have been coming often. On one particular shift, she said three COVID-19 patients died within an hour.

“We’ve never seen this much death before,” Avila told the newspaper. “I’ve been in health care for 22 years, and I’ve never been scared. Right now, I am … I fear for my children.”

The pressure facing the healthcare system is significant in Los Angeles County, where figures released Thursday and Friday showed a new daily caseload of nearly 20,000, significantly above the average of about 14,000 new cases a day over the last week. In all, 100,00 new cases were recorded this week.

With new figures released Saturday, the county surpassed 12,000 deaths caused by COVID-19—1,000 of which happened in the last four days.

Los Angeles County has a fourth of the state’s population but it accounts for about 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths.

NTD contributed to this report.