Los Angeles County registers highest deaths in a single day from COVID-19

Los Angeles County on Friday registered more COVID-19 deaths in a single day than ever before — 318.

It's the first time the daily death count has ever reached that high. By comparison, an average of 170 people die in the county every day of all other causes. The 318 new deaths lift the countywide death toll to 11,863.

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Los Angeles County also reported another 18,313 COVID-19 cases,
bringing the overall total since the start of the pandemic to 889,405.

The virus is surging in virtually every state, with California hit particularly hard, reporting on Friday a record three-day total of 1,535 coronavirus deaths. Skyrocketing caseloads there are threatening to force hospitals to ration care and essentially decide who lives and who dies.

RELATED: COVID-19 cases continue to surge as California reports 50,000 additional cases, 493 deaths

Over 1.9 million people around the world have died of the coronavirus, with more than 360,000 in the U.S. alone. The nation logged its deadliest month yet in December, and health experts are warning that January could be more terrible still because of family gatherings and travel over the holidays.

The rising number of deaths has led to issues at some hospitals, which were running out of space to store bodies, particularly with overrun funeral homes unable to accept them. A California National Guard team was previously dispatched to the county coroner's office to assist with the management of the increasing deaths.

RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information

In a statement Thursday, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services said a temporary morgue will be erected in the parking lot adjacent to the county coroner's building. The facility will include at least five 53-foot trailers supplied by the state, and five more supplied by the county, along with an unknown number of "ground refrigerated storage containers"

"It is important to know that there is a plan, it is under way, and it is active today," OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said. "We will continue to
work at that with each of our 58 counties to ensure that all of these folks are taken care of in the most respectful manner."

Given the rising case and hospitalization numbers -- which health officials have warned will worsen thanks to Christmas and New Year's gatherings -- the Department of Public Health issued another warning Thursday for businesses to ensure they are fully complying with infection-control measures.

"Everyone in L.A. County, businesses and residents, needs to follow the rules if there is any chance we can get out of this surge by the end of the month," Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "Every day we report a large number of people newly infected with COVID-19, it is like a reset on the clock for when we can get back to our recovery journey. I implore everyone to stay home as much as possible."

"Shopping for anything except food and medicine and mingling with others are activities we all need to stop doing for the next few weeks as it increases risk. There are just too many people spreading the virus, too many people sick and hospitalized and each person that dies is one too many."

The California Department of Public Health issued a new public health order Tuesday that requires some non-essential and non-life-threatening surgeries to be delayed in counties that have an ICU capacity of 10% or less and that are located in a region with an overall adjusted 0% capacity. That includes Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Imperial and San Bernardino counties.

CNS contributed to this report.