Coronavirus: California breaks cases record again as deadliest stretch continues

California reported some of its worst numbers of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, setting yet another record for new cases and logging its second-highest single-day death count.
The state’s counties collectively reported 54,532 new cases, topping by nearly 3,000 the previous single-day record set just a day earlier on Thursday. They also recorded 279 deaths, the most of the pandemic besides Wednesday’s catastrophic count of 428.
Both the state’s seven-day case average (40,254) and seven-day death average (224.86) also reached new record highs on Friday as California surpassed 1.8 million cumulative cases, according to data compiled by this news organization.
The pandemic’s deadliest stretch refuses to relent. Record-breaking days in case counts have become commonplace in California over the past month, with each day and week carving out a grim new reality.
And although this week’s arrival of vaccines to different parts of the state brought the promise of safety for frontline health-care workers, it’s unclear to what extent vaccines will slow COVID-19 transmission.
Still, Californians received good news on Saturday as Moderna began distributing millions of doses of its own vaccine throughout the country. California expects to receive 672,000 doses of the vaccine, which hospitals are prioritizing for frontline health-care workers at the outset.
The Bay Area reported 4,640 new cases and 62 new deaths on Friday, both figures marking the region’s second-highest single-day totals of the pandemic, with the record-holding days occurring earlier this week.
Together, the 10 counties comprising the region have now seen 210,133 coronavirus cases.
Santa Clara County continues to lead the charge in case and death counts, logging 1,471 new cases and 17 new fatalities on Friday. San Mateo County recorded 15 deaths, by far its highest count of the pandemic, while Alameda County saw 11, its second-highest count after Wednesday.
On Friday, Bay Area residents received phone alerts that the region had entered a stay-home order, though many counties in the region had voluntarily adopted stay-home restrictions weeks earlier.
The order, which took effect at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, mandates state restrictions — including a ban on outdoor dining and limits on indoor retail capacity — for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties.
It arrived after the Bay Area’s ICU bed availability fell below the state’s 15% threshold for new restrictions. At the end of Friday, the region’s availability stood at 12.8%, according to state data.
As deaths continue to mount — the state has recorded its first-, second-, third- and fourth-deadliest days of the pandemic in the past week — officials have established new mobile facilities and begun distributing thousands of body bags.
Despite the Bay Area’s grim standing, other regions in the state proportionally have far fewer beds to offer new COVID-19 patients.
ICU bed availability in both the Southern California and San Joaquin regions was 0.0% on Friday, according to state data, although that does not mean hospitals in the region are unable to offer any ICU care. It does mean that the quality of care will drop off and that health-care workers will be strained to keep up with patient loads.
San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties continue to stack up cases in Southern California, respectively logging averages of 206.9 and 134.5 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Meanwhile, the greater Sacramento region’s ICU bed availability, which has hovered around California’s threshold, stood at 14.5% at the end of Friday. But, per the rules, the region will remain under the state’s stay-home order for at least three weeks before it can loosen restrictions again.

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