California shattered three coronavirus records on Friday, reporting its highest number of new cases, hospitalizations and patients in the intensive care unit since the start of the pandemic.
State health officials reported 35,468 newly recorded cases, bringing California to 1,485,703 confirmed cases to date. California’s seven-day average of daily new cases has now reached 22,456 people per day.
This was accompanied by the most patients hospitalized with the virus, 12,013, and the highest number of patients in intensive care, 2,669.
California’s hospitalizations were already at record levels, and the state has seen a roughly 70% increase in ICU admissions in just two weeks, currently with less than 10% ICU capacity remaining statewide.
Last week, the Southern California region along with the San Joaquin Valley were ordered to follow the strictest anti-COVID-19 rules since March under a new state stay-at-home order for dipping below 15% ICU space. The new order aims to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed by restricting infectious contacts.
Thirteen other counties in Northern California were placed under the restrictions as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday, which included closing outdoor restaurant dining along with hair and nail salons and reducing retail store customer capacity.
Cities also were dealing with overflowing ICUs. Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s top health official, urged people to immediately follow health guidelines by staying home when possible or face the possibility of as many as 1,500 deaths by the spring.
Much of the Bay Area region, where hospital capacity was close to 17% on Friday, voluntarily entered the state’s new restrictions. Some counties held off while others were dealing with a record number of new virus cases and hospitalizations. In Santa Clara, a county part of the joint order, three hospitals reached full capacity this week.
The San Joaquin and Southern California regions are the most troubling, with just 4.5 and 6.2 percent of capacity remaining. The Greater Sacramento Region, now under tighter restrictions, was down to 14.8 percent and Northern California has 26.6 percent available.
Another 159 Californians died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. That too is a record. California has reported a total of 1,485,703 cases and 20,662 deaths since the pandemic began 10 months ago.
A COVID-19 patient is treated in an isolation room in the emergency room at Regional Medical Center of San Jose, an acute-care hospital, on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 in San Jose, California. Following Thanksgiving there has been an uptick in COVID-19 cas (Getty Images)
Public health officials blame the surge on people ignoring safety rules to wear masks and social distance except for people in their own households. They have voiced fears that COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations will continue to soar as people ignore stay-at-home orders to gather for the holidays.
The restrictions — the toughest since a spring lockdown — have met with defiance from some business owners who say it will ruin them after nearly a year of seeing their clientele avoid public places because of COVID-19 fears and on-again, off-again restrictions.
KTVU and the Associated Press contributed to this report.