California becomes first state to hit 2 million COVID-19 cases


Registered nurse Carmen Verano answers a phone call in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California on December 18, 2020. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

CONCORD, Calif. (KRON) — California has beaten out Texas, Florida and other high population states in a race that nobody wanted to win: first to 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The state reached the grim milestone this holiday season, according to tracking data from Johns Hopkins University. A recent coronavirus spike has been partially blamed on Californians celebrating and traveling for Thanksgiving. Now, local and state officials are pleading for people to skip the Christmas parties.

Staying home for the holidays is not just about containing cases. It helps healthcare workers who are overwhelmed with patients.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom did give some signs of hope that the stay-at-home orders are working. The rate of positive cases is starting to trend down, although it’s still dangerously high.

The Bay Area region is down to a collective 12.4% ICU capacity. Many specific counties have much less capacity than that.

The overfilled hospitals do not just impact COVID-19 treatment, but also anyone who needs medical attention for other issues like heart attacks and car accidents.

In the Bay Area, a regional stay-at-home order which is triggered by regions falling to 15% ICU capacity is supposed to stay in place for a minimum of three weeks — that would mean several of the state’s most populated counties would reopen on January 8th.

That deadline will be extended if the ICU capacity does not climb back to above 15%. And if people ignore warnings about Christmas celebrations, the extension is likely.

More than 19,000 Californians are currently hospitalized statewide and more than 3,000 are in the ICU.

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